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Electric Car - April Update

May 12th, 2019 at 06:36 am

Electricity costs: $25

1,060 Electric Miles Driven

306 kWh Used x $0.0819/kWh = $25

{306 kWh overnight electricity usage, per electric bill. This is the easiest/best approximation of how much electricity we are using to charge the car}.

Fuel Savings: $174

1,060 Miles/ 20mpg old minivan
=53 gallons of fuel

53 gallons x $3.75 = $199
{This is probably very conservative because presumes I could have gotten 3-4 gas coupons in one month}

$199 cost of commute in old minivan
-$25 cost of commute in new electric car
-----
=$174 FUEL SAVINGS

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As an aside, I had a clarifying question on my last blog post. I am just tracking the savings I am experiencing with the automobile change. Sure, I could have switched to a gas sedan, but that would have still cost money. I do not believe the cost savings would have been worth changing gas vehicles. I think mostly it's more complicated than that and we wanted to test the electric waters. The Volt was my absolute dream car (style) if money was no object. This was not a 100% financial decision.

I will say that we had wanted to trade to a more fuel efficient sedan for the last 10-ish years or so, but it never made any financial sense. Even the electric we just couldn't justify until I suddenly had a longer commute. Then the math started to make sense. I didn't run the math on a gas sedan because I didn't want a gas sedan.

Along the same lines, the $8,000 has nothing to do with electric car costs versus gas sedan costs. It's the premium we paid over our own car budget, for the car that we wanted. We were willing to make the up front investment because the fuel savings will pay for this premium. With the fuel savings, it works into our modest car budget.

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We will most likely replace our gas sedan with a Volt, in the near future. I'd say probably in the next 12 months.

I made a comment on last post that was incorrect, so I will just clarify here. We had already decided we want to pick up a second Volt. We are giving it a year (probably?) because it sounds kind of weird to put all our eggs in one basket (one car model). & so we are waiting, saving up cash, and making sure that we aren't being too rash.

I do not believe that we will be buying outside of our car budget for this second Volt. Our "forever" budget of $100/month gives us $5,000 (today) plus trade-in value of our gas sedan. Or about $15,000 cash to buy a slightly used Volt. This wouldn't change any part of our financial picture long-term except lower car maintenance and cheaper fuel. We usually would have waited at least 15 years to upgrade our car again, but spending "4 years of savings" to buy a "4 year newer car" is the same difference in the end. It doesn't affect our bottom line or big picture.

Anyway, I saw some barely used Volts in the $13k range. One year older model than mine, but same exact car. O.M.G. I'd like to continue to wait out price drops and save more cash. If it doesn't get any better than that, then clearly we just buy next spring when they come off lease and flood the market again. We generally buy our cars this time of year, because of these deals.

I mentioned offhand to MH, and he perused the cars on his own time. He came to me yesterday and he said, "Nope, that is NOT our car. They do not make our car. How on earth did we find this car?!" I think mostly we bought lower level model with premium features (just the features we would have wanted). Most notably, anything with heated seats and premium sound comes with leather seats, which MH despises. I told him I could probably live with leather seats. It wouldn't be my first choice, but I don't know that I despise them as much as he does. Depending on the color of the new car, I might be willing to take it. I've otherwise kind of been, "Don't touch my car. Get your own."

Anyway, MH Was pointing out that the cars that are more in line with our car and have the same features are still in the $20k range. Fair enough.

I expect that these are decisions we will be making in the next 6-12 months.

April Savings

May 4th, 2019 at 08:09 pm

Received $72 bank interest for the month of April.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $42 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $33 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $12 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
$ 12 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)
$ 1 Rounded Up

TOTAL: $100 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$700

Snowball to Savings:
+$ 800 MH Paychecks
+$2,000 March self-employment income (received April)

TOTAL: $2,800 snowballs to savings

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$ 2,365 Medical Expenses
-$11,000 Fund IRAs 2018

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$ 720 Auto Insurance
-$ 500 Life Insurance
-$ 300 Dentist
-$ 294 DMV (Auto Registration)

TOTAL: $1,443 deposited to cash and investments

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Last month's commentary:

Still just hoarding cash. Second job is winding down (I hope). I have $3k medical bills coming up, want to pay cash for braces this year (x2), have to cover all my professional expenses going forward, etc., etc. Just hoarding cash for all that, and preparing for a big income drop this summer.

Second job is definitely winding down. I am hoping to deposit another $3,000-ish in the next couple of months. But I am only working two more weeks for old/forever employer. I am cramming on deadlines this weekend and then it's just running up as much hours as I can to pay for braces. The work is there, since their workload is far beyond their capacity at this point. It just depends on my motivation. Which has mostly been wavering, but I have a dollar figure for braces. I am paying cash up front this week. So this is my renewed motivation. Is another post for another day, but it feels good to have more clarity on that situation and to cross a large financial goal off my list.

Last net worth update:
Net worth is up about $40,000 for the year. Or about 2/3 of our annual goal. Most of that is stock market recovery from end of last year.

Net worth is up $60,000 for the year, which is my goal. I am feeling pretty good about dropping second income at this point.

The reduced salary at my new job has little to do with our forward financial progress and is more shifting things around. I've traded $11,500 cash (used to fund IRAs) for $7,500 in retirement benefits. I only need to come up with $4,000 net to be whole. So while I am bracing for significantly less cash in June, I don't expect any change to big picture goals.

Spring Break

April 24th, 2019 at 01:07 pm

Just a quick check in. I noticed that it looked like pictures were working again (but no one mentioned it was fixed).



I did my first spring break in about 20 years. I hadn't realized it was Easter weekend when we booked. So it probably magnified things, but I learned I wasn't missing much. Crazy expensive and kind of crowded. The last couple of times we went to this hotel was around Thanksgiving and we had the place to ourselves. & the weather was better in November. But it's nice to know I haven't missed much.

It was a very well needed break. Certainly no complaints about a relaxing/long weekend. The kids only had one school day off together, so we just took a long weekend off.

I am very cautiously optimistic that things will settle down in the next month or so. Lord knows they have settled down, a ton, but I am still working more than I am used to. I think between that and just being so emotionally exhausted from the last 15 months or so. It will take some time to recover. Hoping for some peace and quiet this summer.

I am only keeping second job through May 12th. So just a few more weeks of "busy". A couple of weeks after that MM will be done with school, he will be a self-sufficient driver next school year, and so my schedule is going to free up significantly over summer.

Electric Car Update

April 14th, 2019 at 08:53 am

Not much new to report on this front. Battery did not perform as well in winter, but most days was enough to get me to/from work. On particularly cold mornings where I ran the heat more, I might have use a few miles of gas on the way home. This might equate to one tank of gas every winter (if even that much).

Things have way settled down re: how many miles we are putting on this car. It helps that MM(15) has his own car now. He is the one that we drive everywhere. I'd say we are putting about 1,000 miles per month (much more reasonable) plus using for Bay Area trips. Which we haven't done the past couple of months.

MH and MM are maybe putting 300 miles per month on each of their cars. But it's becoming clear that MH's car will probably remain the "out of town" car for longer trips. Will probably still mostly use the electric car for Bay Area trips (which are much more frequent). Honestly, is probably the only reason we'd ever get through the gas anyway. Which you have to use up at some point (to replace with fresh gas).

I don't remember the last time I Went to a gas station. It's really only necessary on our way out of town (or on the way back home). Which means it's no longer an ongoing chore. I really like the simplicity aspect.

I was going to share a "gas savings" update, but I guess pictures are still not working.

So I will use my words...

We paid a $8,000 premium for this car (over our "forever" car budget of saving up $100/month). {The older we get the nicer cars we can afford and the longer they last, so the more we can save, without having to ever save more per month for a car}. But in this case, we splurged. I intend to offset the splurge with gas savings. We replaced a gas guzzling minivan and I doubled my commute, so the savings is substantial. I just started tracking this year because last year we were paying for the fast charger we installed in our garage. That was paid for with first few months of fuel savings.

This first three months of 2019 we have saved $535 in fuel and oil changes. Shaving $535 off of the premium we paid for this car. I expect to breakeven in about 4 years.

{Oil changes are only necessary every 2 years on this vehicle. We do oil changes every 6 months on our gas vehicles. Electric car is significantly lower maintenance all around.}

I have started working from home one day per week, to reduce the wear and tear on the car. I could have maybe pushed for it sooner, but waited 5 months to get settled in new job first. I actually personally dislike working from home (used to) but all of the variables changed in this situation. If my office is just 10 minutes away (as it always was before), I much rather keep work/home separate and go into the office. But anyway, the major variable that has changed is I can save an hour of driving if I just stay home. & my work/life boundaries seem to have been totally shot in the past year or two anyway, so it's less of a big change than it would have been prior. Thirdly, the work is different enough that I am okay with it. If this was 20 years ago at my old job, I don't think I'd be very happy. The work culture at my first post-college job was pretty insane on the work hours front. So I really drew a firm line about taking any work home. & then I just kind of extended that to my last job because the culture was very good re: work/life balance.

I suppose I tested this out at my new job. Towards the beginning my boss asked if I wanted to be set up to work from home, and I said no. He look surprised, but then he *shrugged* and said okay. Which I think kind of says it all. It's a very family oriented office (everyone else has young kids). So he really encouraged everyone to work from home if they have sick kids or have to leave early, etc. Super flexible job. (This was mentioned in my interview/encouraged, because of my longer commute that I should work from home some days). But beyond that, the culture is very 9-5. (It's actually more 7-3). For these reasons, I eventually caved and decided that I needed to reduce my commute hours. This may be the first job I've had that I can keep very clear work/life boundaries, even if I bring work home. Between that and things changing a wee bit during the past 20 years (technology), I am embracing it. I think it's working out pretty well.

After typing this out, duh, I also don't think working from home with (young) kids would have ever been particularly useful or productive. I suppose that is another variable that has changed substantially.

Edited to add: I didn't mention, but electricity costs are still about $25/month for the car. That hasn't changed with the lower miles/less driving, because anything above that is going to be gas miles.

P.S. According to my blog, our electric costs started out at $35/month? I will have to check my math. I think it's been $25 in recent months. We have the same electricity rates for 8 months of the year but will change to summer rates (UGH) in June. I did have a week off in February and started working more from home after that, in addition to MM getting his own car, so that may account for the $25/month electricity average during the past 3 months.

Edited:

Added picture now that it is working.


I am starting to wonder if increased summer electric prices will be offset by increased summer gas prices. I may get to keep chugging along at this pace.

Credit Card Rewards Tally 2019

April 6th, 2019 at 07:39 am

2019 TALLY:

$540 Gift Cards (Citi, Moi)
$150 Bank Bonus
-----------
$690 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

**In addition, various monthly rewards that I will tally at 12/31.

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I just saw that the points posted for my latest one-time bonus.

Citi has significantly better gift card rewards than the last time I did this. Will probably pick up some Target and Kohls gift cards, in addition to some movie theater gift cards. Then a handful of dining out gift cards so we can go out and enjoy a bit this summer. All of this will help us immensely during our "income gap". Which I expect to be during the summer months when MH is not working.

I will probably try again for a Chase bonus. I was denied the last time I tried, though I didn't have anywhere near the "5 credit card apps" or whatever they were denying for. But I only applied for one card this year and last year. It's worth a try.

On the flip side, I told MH that I think this is my last big push. We really relied on this extra money to help us through lower income periods and periods of lower bank interest, but I just don't see continuing to do the same bank bonuses over and over and over again. The ongoing rewards and cash back for everyday purchases, those I have done my entire life and don't intend to stop. But I can see wanting to juggle less bonuses and one-time reward cards, for the long term. Will see...


***CAVEAT - I absolutely do not recommend utilizing credit card rewards in this manner, unless you are in full control of your credit card spending. We treat our credit cards like debit cards; only charging if we have the cash on hand already. We've never paid a cent of late fees or interest.***

March Savings

April 3rd, 2019 at 04:43 pm

Received $83 bank interest for the month of January.

Also received a $150 bank bonus.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $30 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $46 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $9 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
$ 4 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)
$100 Tax Refund
$170 Dividend

TOTAL: $359 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$800

Snowball to Savings:
+$ 0 MH Paychecks
+$ 750 February self-employment income

TOTAL: $1,550 snowballs to savings

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$ 890 Elliptical purchase (dropped gym membership)**

**My super awesome discount gym closed and transferred my membership to a really crappy gym.

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$ 450 Misc. Expenses (school lunches pre-paid for a few months, medical bills, etc.)

TOTAL: $2,750 deposited to cash and investments

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Last month's commentary:

Still just hoarding cash. Second job is winding down (I hope). I have $3k medical bills coming up, want to pay cash for braces this year (x2), have to cover all my professional expenses going forward, etc., etc. Just hoarding cash for all that, and preparing for a big income drop this summer.

I don't know what happened to MH's income. I wasn't able to save any of it (around $900) which is totally ridiculous. But I am still pretty buried and it is most likely an accounting error. Either that or we over-spent something like $400 last month and $400 this month. That is more likely. I know we didn't over-spend $900 this month. Anyway, I share to explain why I saved -$0- of that, but will chalk that up to "life is chaos." Because I track our spending so closely, is why I am fine with, "I don't have time to track it down and don't care." I suppose is the flip side of working crazy hours/extra money. Our life is usually more slow/relaxed, and lots of time to pinch pennies. Life is just the polar opposite of that right now.


All of this is still true. I put $2,000 medical bills on new reward card. I pulled this out of savings in April, along with $11,000 to fund IRAs (for 2018). All of this will show up on my April report.

{I ended up funding our IRAs today}.

I also didn't save any of MH's income in March (again) and couldn't tell you why. It's kind of moot because March is really just paying all of February expenses (credit card charges). So this month was already over (spending-wise) when I did my last monthly update. I don't know that anything has particularly changed, but March expenses (paid in April) ended up balancing to about the penny. & that was during a crazy busy month when I doubt we were particularly frugal (except for being too busy to spend money). I actually just found $150 I accidentally transferred to savings for April, and will fix that by the end of the month. I expect I might find more stuff like that if I look back the last two months.

Net worth is up about $40,000 for the year. Or about 2/3 of our annual goal. Most of that is stock market recovery from end of last year.

I will try to do some more work posts later. But I am starting to feel more *chill* about dropping second income. Some of my reluctance to drop the second income was not having any real idea how things would go with new job. But after 6 months, I feel pretty confident I have found a long-term work home. I also think it's pretty likely I will replace my old salary this year (with the one job). This was part of my strategy and willingness to take a pay cut in the interim.

This & That

March 17th, 2019 at 07:27 am

I had a post mostly typed up, but it disappeared. *sigh*

I don't even remember what the heck I had written about.

What I do remember:

I got the *all clear* on two different medical fronts last week. Woohoo! Even better, I got to enjoy this good news for more than like an hour or a day (before the next disaster).

I'd say that things have significantly settled down in the past couple of weeks. On the medical front, I have been monitored for two different issues for about 12+ months. In fact, I got the one questionable medical result the same day my old/forever employer announced he was selling the business. So all this stress has been intertwined. I know I also mentioned DL(13) for some reason (in disappearing post). I don't remember why I mentioned, but I think he has turned a good corner. I was saying that any one of these things is a huge stressor, but it's just been everything piled on top of each other. So removing potentially *three* huge stressors has been pretty awesome.

Don't get me wrong, I know a lot of people going through a *lot* of horrible crap right now. But I guess it's settled down a bit in our closest circles. I feel like I can relax and breathe.

I suppose #4 is that I got all of the clients (the ones I took on personally) transferred over to "twin" and her new firm. Phew!

I probably had a good 4 weeks to catch my breath (took time off from side work), but now I am diving into helping "old employer" for the next couple of months. It's still very "playing it all by ear" and wouldn't be surprised if it all ended tomorrow. But I think my current plan is to work another 8 weeks or so.

As to the workload, *shrugs*, I am working less hours than usual for this time of year, and I have not offered to do anything but super easy work. I've left behind 100% of the stress and responsibility. But I think I'm tired because it's been such a slog for the past 2 years or so. I was just checking the calendar, and we do have our beach weekend in 4 weeks. Which is something I could have never done at my old job (take a long weekend during April). So that will be nice. I think that will break up the next couple of months nicely.

I am getting through a lot of chores; I think I have a little more energy these days. Today I am going to get the car washed so that I can get my carpool stickers affixed to the car. (I received them a few weeks ago but just haven't made the time to deal with it). Yesterday I asked MH to mail off the kids' taxes while he was at the grocery store (also our closest postal center). Slowly but surely.

In other news, I just happened to notice that our assets have surpassed $900,000. $1 Mil hadn't been particularly on my radar before. But the $900k+ did jump out at me, as we just achieved that. I suppose that $1 Mil is our next big financial milestone. I've got a ways to go as to "net worth" with the mortgage, which is probably why I hadn't particularly noticed or thought about the "$1 Mil mark." But I think it's an exciting milestone, regardless.

Imperfect Produce

March 3rd, 2019 at 11:15 am

I signed up for Imperfect produce a couple of weeks ago and am really happy with the service so far.

This is a "farm direct" produce delivery service, but the jist is that it's a lower cost service for food that otherwise would be tossed (with the goal of reducing food waste). Because the food has minor imperfections and is not super market quality, etc. They advertise "30% below grocery store prices" for these imperfections.

First Impression = Awesome!

I don't know if they pick carefully for the first box (new customer) but the food was absolutely beautiful. I think some of it was on the smaller side, which is a lot of what their food is.

I didn't realize when I signed up that they also had snacks and other items (overstocks). We had a Nature Box subscription in the past, so it was kind of like combining our old CSA subscription with Nature Box.

The thing I like best about Imperfect Produce is that you don't have to get every single week. They have a "every other week" plan (what we signed up for). & it's very easy to skip weeks if you want to make that a "once a month" delivery. When we tried the CSA before, I think it was just too much. I am thrilled that we have two weeks to get through all this food, with Imperfect Produce. (If we don't go through it or the food doesn't last, we may consider the weekly option of a smaller box).

The kids LOVE it. DL(13) in particular has been eating through it. I think with the apples we got last week, they were a more expensive variety than we usually buy, and were just so fresh. Those were gone in a flash.

The reason I like these services is to kind of force us to try new recipes/veggies. So the "new" thing we tried was fresh snow peas. Have never bought or cooked fresh snow peas before. They were divine.

Of course, they don't deliver everywhere, but if you are interested check it out with my referral code:
[url]http://imprfct.us/l86gI[/url]

With the referral code, you get $10 off the first box.

They mostly deliver to the west coast & Texas (a handful of cities), but you can check out the map.

As for us, we have really low cost produce where we live, so I wasn't expecting much. I just put everything I would want to buy into our grocery store online shopping cart to compare prices. Some things were more expensive (much more expensive) which didn't surprise me at all. But anything we could save money on I did order through imperfect produce. On those items, our savings was about 20%. There was a $5 delivery fee, which made it a wash. But given the other benefits, I was willing to try it. I also was able to get my first order for free. So, nothing to lose as to trying it out.

I should back up a bit. If you just ignore it (don't want to do anything after you sign up), they will send you an automatic box of produce. But you can customize to your heart's content (you have a time window to do so). The whole thing was way more flexible than the last CSA we had signed up for.