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Archive for April, 2008

Eating Today/College Savings

April 30th, 2008 at 08:00 am

I wish I could share more what we have done to keep food costs down, and why we barely notice a dent in our budget with rising food prices. But, that is not my department. That is dh's. He does his job well. The better he keeps our costs down the less I care if he ever works again. But I think that is what a lot of people don't get. Though he doesn't bring in income, he has much more time to work on cutting costs. Which is the same in the end. Upping our cash flow.

Anyway, all I can share is what we are eating. I actually am very bad at eating fruits and veggies so every morning I take a small cup of apple sauce. Dh buys the giant containers of apple sauce and I pour a small amount into one of the kids' portable cup (with flat lid) to take to work. I used to drink juice in the mornings. I find this to be a healthier way to get some fruit in my system.

The kids are snacking on graham crackers before preschool. They'll eat a proper breakfast there. (Included in tuition. Which to be fair, does include a fair amount of meals).

The kids will also eat lunch and snacks there all day. I guess to keep in mind that the kids have 2 lunches a week over there, which I am sure impacts our grocery bill somewhat.

For lunch I will eat leftover burritos and rice. I find burritos to be the "perfect" leftover food. I actually requested that dh cook a good leftover meal this week since we didn't seem to have any. (Insert that I am a picky eater - we have lots of leftovers - but I also like things that are easy to pack). So he made them last night.

Dh will eat some leftovers most likely. HE doesn't eat breakfast.

I am not sure what dh has up his sleeve for dinner.

I have a couple of things of yogurt at work in case I ever get hungry. I never seem to lately.

We have some snacks at work (kind of rare - but I know I will probably have a free cookie with my apple sauce today. Big Grin )

The only other thing I can say is I am a pepsi fiend. BUT I find $1-$2 for a serving of pepsi to be quite insane. I used to keep cans at work, but I tend to over drink them. So I have taken to getting my pepsi fix in the morning. I usually just take a giant plastic cup and pour a small amount of pepsi in there (1/2 can at most) and get my fix in the morning. That way I can take it to work, and not over drink pepsi. (I keep 2 litres at work sometimes, but then I just drink too much. So this is where I am at for now).

Anyway, when I finish my pepsi then I fill up my giant cup with lots of water. Water is free at work. At home we drink tap water (mostly filtered through the fridge).

I have also in the past, reused smaller pepsi bottles and poured small portions in, so I could keep it fresh and fizzy for lunch.

That is how we keep our soda costs down.

I really like the 1/2-sized cans, but we stopped buying them because they are rather expensive. I find those to be perfect serving sizes.

I am toying with the idea of going on a soda diet to lose these few pounds. It will be REALLY hard. But part of the reason I have been losing weight is I have been so sick these last few months and I can NOT drink soda when I have a cold. It is the only time I can not stand soda. So I think the 3-4 weeks I was too sick to drink soda made a difference.

I am trying to warm up to the idea.

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In other news, I had been wanting to save up enough money to invest the kids' UGMA a little more aggressively. Right now I have $1k each (abouts) in Vanguard Star. BEcause it had a $1k minimum. But overall would prefer something more aggressive.

Anyway, I have heard a lot of good things about T Rowe Capital Appreciation. I heard it touted as a balanced fund, and when I look at it, I don't see it. But then again, it like has never had a down year (until now). It looks like the kind of aggressive thing I am looking for. A little more aggressive, but rather "safe" all the same. IT has some bonds I guess which makes it balanced. Though it is much more stock heavy than something like Star.

Anyway, I heard the idea on the radio and am considering it. When I looked up the fund it looked rather promising.

Yesterday Thriftorama was asking about education savings and I was looking up Coverdells a bit since I don't know much about them.

I am more confused than ever! LOL. Honestly, none of my clients are saving for college or ask about it. Why I haven't a clue - I just don't deal with this area of the tax code much.

I thought 529s could pay for transportation and room/board, but everything I read yesterday said no. I honestly think those were old articles because I did have a client who used their 529 for this stuff last year and I remember double checking all the rules. So I share that as a caveat to be careful what you read. The rules have changed much over the last few years. Though it leaves me feeling I have MUCH brushing up to do.

I also was reading about ESAs (Coverdells) and thought they looked pretty darn appealing. I do not like how 529s are so limited (in investment choices). ESAs are much the same, but with dollar limits. But can be used for more expenses and can be invested just about anywhere. I was just about sold until I read they expired in 2011, though it took me a while to research if that was still true.

Yes.

Most of their benefits expire anyway.

But they can be transferred into 529s.

Anyway, I also read something new that I did not know. With the Coverdells, if the oney is not used for education because your child gets a scholarship, there is no penalty. I had not realized that. That had been one of my beefs with college savings plans all alonog - what if your child got a full scholarship? I know a lot of people who have. & as my kids are rather bright, I don't think it is a false hope that they may have a paid-for education.

Anyway, so this is much of what I learned yesterday.

From what I could glimpse, and considering how little ESAs are given any credence in the investment community, I think the writing is on the wall that these will probably get phased out. Kind of a shame. I always prefer to invest in things like ROTHS where you can invest almost anywhere, as opposed to 529s and HSAs which are VERY limited.

I am leaning towards funding an ESA for the kids this year, keeping in mind if my prediciton is right we can roll it to a 529 in future years (maybe when there will be more investment choices). The minimum is $1k at T Rowe. !!!! Perfect. The kids will probably get $1k each for their birthday and that is what I am thinking for now. I already have a T Rowe account, so will be easy to add those on.

I am also considering if I will resume $50 monthly contributions for BM, once he is done with preschool. That money only has so far to go and I wanted most of it to go to ROTHs. BUT I always go back to as long as I am getting 10% retirement contributions from my boss, as long as I am saving, it matters little where it goes. It probably is more useful towards college than towards our retirement, while we have such a retirement windfall. Plus the more we get in college earlier the less we will have to save later.

I am thinking of diverting $50/month for BM, and then the same for LM when he is done with expensive preschool.

Well I have a couple of months to think on this.

Feeling Relaxed...

April 29th, 2008 at 05:32 pm

Not a lot of time online this week. !! I guess since less time working and less time online? OF course, beyond that, just in spring cleaning mode.

I cleaned up my office today and I feel SO relaxed.

OF coursed, having the time to take a breath probably has more to do with it than anything. Though cleaning up a little does calm me.

Oh yes, and my last client came in with her e-file signature today. I think this is a stellar new record - I have no clients on extensions - none that I sign for anyway. !! Woohoo!!!! Tax season is officially over for me. Though I have one for my boss that is about done, and one that I am waiting for info on. But still, no more for me to sign. & having 2 in limbo in April 30th certainly is not bad (I am sure I had way more last year, at this time).

I also got all my April 30th deadlines out, but now I have a slew of 3/31 financial statements to work through (behind with all the deadlines) as well as a couple of 12/31 and business tax returns that have not been completed. I think I will be pretty busy before my vacation.

In other news I keep reading about food and gas. To be fair, I *get* how this affects the lower class. But am I The only one sick of the middle class going on and on and on and on? Though I notice a slight increase in our food bill, it is not much at all. As far as gas, it has been inching up. It affects how often we drive to San Jose to see our family and stuff like that. But if we were going broke over a $300 monthly line item in our budget, that would be kind of sad. I probably under-estimate the benefit of us only having one commute, and a short one at that. & I admit gas prices have affected our habits. Likewise, I am trying to brace myself for the worse case scenario. (Which is probably much farther down the road).

But I keep reading about people who have doubled their food budgets. I haven't a clue what you all are doing. Ours has gone up 10% tops, to date. We just don't spend that much on food to begin with. I expect it will get worse, yes. That is why it's kind of scary when people are freaking out so much, so early.

Is it just me?

I also have to admit that part of the reason our food costs have been down is we have been shifting to more eating out. The amount in our budget has not gone up - for dining out - but with these coupons (& desparate restaurants) we have been eating out twice as much on the same budget. We are certainly taking advantage where we can.

In other news, we did run the A/C 2 days this week, already. Today was considerably cooler, so we'll see. But, ugh - the heat!! IT got to about 83 upstairs so we flipped on the air for a while before bed - to make it comfortable - the last 2 nights.

We haven't turned on the heat in well over a month. But A/C season usually does not hit until late May. Though certainly it is a fluke - today was much cooler.

Finally, the medical bills are starting to roll in from BM's ambulance ride in early February. I Received a $200 emergency room bill (mentioned before) which was nothing, but yesterday the ambulance notice arrived. $1500. !!!!!! His deductible is $1500 and we already paid around $500 in doctor visits, lab tests and with the emergency bill we already received. So... IT wasn't the bill and I expect the bill will be $1k.

I was talking to my mom when I opened the bill and she offered to pay the $1500. It REALLY stressed me out though it really shouldn't have. I was clear that our premiums were $3k lower this year and in the grand scheme of things it wasn't a biggie. I am used to paying out the nose for medical insurance/expenses.

But my mom was quite insistent and I Was in little mood to argue. Big Grin

I know you will probably never believe me but these are NOT the parents who raised me. My parents don't go handing me money for no reason. This would be the second biggest windfall I have ever received from them. (Largest windfall being a cash gift they gave me last year).

On the flip side, I have said it before, and I will say it again. This is the way parents should do things. Don't give you a dime and teach you to take care of yourself. LEarn to expect nothing from others. Then when you are old, wise and figure it out, share the wealth a little. Sounds good to me. IT has much to do with their unexpected windfalls in recent years as their elderly relatives pass on. VEry unexpected they would get anything from my father's poor family. Instead they have received well over six figures. IT just happens to coincide with me getting my financial affairs extremely in order. I think I appreciate it more than I even would have 5 years ago.

On the flip side, it makes me feel bad to an extent because if my parents decide to give me $1500 and I get $1800 from the IRS, well geez. It's easy to make progress with these sorts of windfalls. Chalk this one up to another easy year.

I'd bulk up my mid-term savings with both. I want to get it to $5k before I consider using some of that money for stuff around the house. This would get me to $4k by summer. (& since the medical bills are well covered).

We'll see. I am not going to ask or anything, but if I get a check in the mail, I won't have any qualms about cashing it.

I will admit we are spoiled by our parents.

I am proud we are where we are mostly of our own sweat. But I admit that this kind of cash infusion makes the upward climb 1000 times easier. IT also makes me think often how different our kids have it from us. Whereas our parents were intent on us learning to take care of ourselves, they seemed to have lost their minds and want to spoil us and the kids, now that we have kids. IT's kind of strange. HAlf the time I think, "who are these people?" Then I go into my own worries if our kids will be too spoiled and really get things on a level dh and I do. OTher days I think they will have ALL the opportunities in the world. If they have 2 generations ahead of them who do things right and have some money to spare. LUCKY kids - for sure. I'll try my best to make them understand how lucky they are. That's all I Can do. Our family tree was changed by our parents. No one before them had any wealth. IT's amazing to see what a difference it makes as it starts to trickle down.

Though I know anything can happen. Our parents can use all their cash up in nursing homes - who knows. But for now they seem to have some abundance and they want to share. For that we are VERY blessed.




Trying Again

April 26th, 2008 at 09:00 am

I noticed Kohl's is having a sale on shoes, and I also have a $10 off coupon. So I will go over there and give it a whirl.

The funny thing is I think I have come to prefer online shoe shopping for shoes. Because it is so hard to find shoes that fit my big/wide feet. I know, doesn't sound like it makes sense, but zappos.com has wonderful customer comments for their shoes and lots of talk how which ones run narrow, etc. So I got may last pair of walking shoes on there and they fit like a dream. If I don't have a great shoe I have a tendon or something in my leg (I don't even remember any more what it was) that gives me a lot of trouble. But my shoes fit great and have held up quite well.

Since they are holding up okay I think I will keep them for walking. BUT they are also getting tired. I would like to get some cross training shoes for aerobics and such. The walking shoes don't seem so great on the gym equipment. I wonder if the cross trainers would be preferable.

Dh thinks I am crazy to spend so much on shoes but he just doesn't understand. I really do notice a difference depending on the type of show I wear. I figure spending a chunk of change is better than being in pain and paying and unable to workout, visiting the doctor more, etc.

Anyway, so Kohls is having a big sale on shoes. I'll go check it out. I doubt they will have much in my larger size, but I will give it a try. Could be considerably cheaper than zappos. We'll see. I could theoretically get a $80 pair of shoes for $40 at Kohls, with my coupon. So that is what I will try.

Spend Spend Spend

April 25th, 2008 at 11:22 pm

Ugh.

April & December are our spendy months. April was insane. Life insurance, property taxes, $1k to IRS, on and on and on and on. Mostly prepared for most of it, though the IRS got me. Still sucks no matter how prepared.

Anyway, May and June tend to be our calm months. No bills are due.

So what do I have in store for May:

Vacation - $1500 range

Yosemite - $400 - Apparently due May (I had wanted to charge it in June for extra rewards - Bah).

Medical - $600 - I just got BM's emergency room bill. Well, part of it anyway. Due May. It's trickling in. I figure at this rate we may be getting bills for it in a year, still. I have never received a medical bill in my life, before this. Just the way my HMO is - they take care of it. We pay big premiums, we pay little out of pocket (besides co-pays anyway). Anyway, now that we switched to HDHP, they decide to send us little bills every few days. They are driving me mad. I had to sit down and stare at the thing for a good long time yesterday to make any sense of it. I finally realized it was a "physician bill" which was completely different from our almost identical looking "hospital bill." I figure one of these days we'll get the "ambulatory services" bill.

Plus they keep sending me all these statements that don't include half of what we have been in for. The paperwork is maddening. & yeah, hard to make sense of.

Good news is that BM's emergency room physician only charged $220. Though like I said, I assume more bills to come there. Maybe a hospital bill to go with that?

Dh was charge $400 for a hearing test. Egads. & I was worried about the emergency room visit?

I was rather taken aback, but dh reminded me it had been like an hour long ordeal. I then start to see - 5 minute visit with doctor isn't so bad (little $50 charges here and there for our numerous visits this year) but that yeah, a more intensive screening costs a wee bit more. At least that makes sense.

So - $600 there.

All that is suddenly $2500 in extra bills for May. Eeks.

I told dh that as I tend to be more "big picture" that I haven't been doing so well with managing cash flow. It all fits in the budget, but our cash reserves are rather on the low side until our stimulus check arrives. I think we're okay, but it really couldn't come too soon... If you look to the left, and consider my $600 medical bill (haven't adjusted yet), you see our cash reserves are pretty shot. I haven't even subtracted out vacation yet - egads. Though I have to remember all of these are charged and the cash won't be due until June. Phew. We'll probably save up $2k in the next 2 months for this kind of stuff, likewise.

But today, not a lot of room for more bills...

Yeah, we have our lovely efund, but a chunk of it is sitting in my ROTH. So doesn't help me feel great. I don't want to touch that thing for nothing.

Mostly we just have to get through June without Murphy knocking on our door. I am sure we will be fine, but I am wondering what happened to my fine planning skills. Wink

Of course, we now have a good $2k in our mid-term savings fund, which was $0 for the last 2 years or so. So that's something. We have a lot of catching up to do though.

The stimulus check will pretty much wash out our IRS bill and add a good $1k to our mid-term fund. We're making decent progress.

Just feel a little cash tight in the interim. Hopefully to feel quite cash flush come June. Which also coincides with freedom from daycare costs for BM. Woohoo. Yeah, end of June I should be feeling pretty darn good. Big Grin (That is when our stimulus is due to arrive, as well as last month of paying for 2 in preschool - will be good times).

Anyway, I hadn't updated my Quicken all week (I guess since work was so busy, I don't even know why). I just did, and was actually pleasantly surprised with our $200 Yosemite deposit and a some $500 in professional dues (most to be reimbursed) that our credit card bill looked quite reasonable. How on earth? I finally pulled up a monthly report and realized we didn't really spend much on groceries this month (maybe $250 to date?) and our gas was pretty reasonable ($200 of $300 budget to date). So left us a lot of wiggle room elsewhere. Phew...

Today I worked quite late and got way more work done than I imagined I would. I decided to take tomorrow off as a reward. I am so stoked. Tomorrow was to be my last Saturday, for the rest of the year hopefully.

I even thought I wouldn't mind going in for a couple of hours and cleaning up my office a bit. I left work at 6pm and got the last deadline (April 30th) off my desk. I was absolutely thrilled.

I am sure I could have justified working (still lots of catching up to do) and we had even talked about me working one day and taking Friday off.

BUT I felt accomplished and decided it would be quite a treat to take the weekend off. Say la vive weekend work.

I love this time of year as well because working 40 hours a week suddenly feels so simple. 5-day work weeks are suddenly quite divine in comparison to 6-days. So life is good. I intend to enjoy this weekend.

I do have MUCH to catch up on around the house.

BUT dh wants to go to the Scottish Festival and I admit it sounds quite fun.

Of course, I saw 90 degrees for tomorrow.

90 degrees??!!??

I also read in the paper that last weekend there was a freeze. I think why I have been so sick this week. We went out Saturday and Sunday and I Was freezing my buns off. I thought maybe I had been jumping into spring a little too heartily.

No, it was so cold that there was a freeze and a lot of crops ruined around here. Craziness. I remember being out, being surprised it was so chilly, and then just being sick all week. I can't help but wonder if it was the cold and the wild weather fluctuations. Certainly didn't help. I didn't quite have a grasp how insanely cold it had been. Our house has stayed rather moderate in all this.

On the flip side, I think I would usually need a little more warming up to 90 degree weather. One extreme to the other. I'll probably be miserable.

But I think the Festival will be fun.

Dh had also been planning a date this weekend. Matinee movie.

So I was pleased to see room in the budget for all this, with dh's wonderful grocery shopping this month.

Oh, and I did find a hike that I wanted to go on this weekend, but not sure we'll have time. Dh rarely wants to go out, so since he wanted to go to this Scottish Festival, I figured it was fair. Maybe we can hike next weekend. Though it was short and close so hope to squeeze it in.

I was so miserable all week I completely gave up on the gym. My aerobics instructor is in Yosemite anyway. I will try again next week. I would love to work out this year without coughing up a lung. This seems an impossible feat this year. Sick sick sick, and more sick.

I am losing weight anyway. I have pinned it on 2 things. I moved offices late last year and I walk MUCH more now. I am on the complete opposite end from the kitchen and the bathroom now. & the copier and everything really. Lots of walking. I am thinking this makes a difference.

I also primarily eat home-cooked meals and eat lunch in. BUT I have been skipping my little $1 junk meals more to save up more cash for more date nights with dh. I really usually don't order much or eat that much grease, BUT I am noticing a difference. I think it is more to it than that. But when I eat less junk I seem to crave it less at home too. I just overall seem to be eating less. It could be much of just being so busy too - too busy to eat/snack/munch. Somehow I am losing weight with no effort. Go figure.

Reminds me, I have been noticing my new office is quite warm. I have one wardrobe for work - my old end of the office is FREEZING. I have been quite warm this week and I start to remember part of the reason we were always so frozen out is the other end of the office gets so hot. I just hadn't thought about it. First summer in my new office. I think I may actually need to buy somewhat of a summer work wardrobe. Imagine that. I just wear my winter clothes all summer, seriously. It is just that COLD usually, inside. Well, it's more like a fall wardrobe - as it doesn't get that cold. But summer is anything but moderate. Wink

I am thinking this will actually be nice/preferable. Though I may invest in a nice fan to help. I don't enjoy the heat, BUT walking outside into the 100 degree heat may be preferable in more summery clothes. I wouldn't know. LOL.

In other news, BM's preschool teacher had a malaria scare. She got the flu in February with us, but has never really recovered. (Though I can't say we have either).

She had been in South America awhile back so they thought maybe she had picked up something. For a while they thought maybe mono. Latest was malaria.

Anyway, she just found out it was actually "just" the flu. The nasty nasty flu.

I am so relieved that she doesn't have malaria, though I really don't know what that it entails or what the ramifications are. Just sounds nasty.

More One-Income Stuff

April 25th, 2008 at 07:54 am

Second incomes: twice the work, half the return:

[url]http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/CollegeandFamily/Loveandmoney/P37100.asp[/url]

I actually came across this article yesterday and thought it was quite EXCELLENT.

Probably all of my thoughts/experiences in a well written article. I mean seriously, I could have written it. Though maybe not so well. Wink

It was just on theme with my post yesterday so had to share.

Of course this article was in terms of families with one high wage and a low wage. BUT we found much to be true with 2 mediocre wages. Dh and I made equal wages when he decided to stay home.

So though the logistics were a little different for us, we came to much the same conclusion.

I particularly like th last paragraph:

"Also on the bright side, discovering that a second income really doesn't contribute much financially can free a spouse to learn new skills, go back to school, pursue an unprofitable dream career or launch a home-based business that may pay little during the first few years. If you're going to work for free, after all, you might as well enjoy it."

Which sums up our thinking beautifully. Dh hated his job, and he wasn't going to stay. I think financially this was much preferable to getting used to a second income that could not be sustained indefinitely.

I realize with time that I don't think we could have timed having kids any better, or that we would have ever been in a better spot to have one of us stay home with the kids.

We graduated college at age 22/23 and worked a few years, saving considerable dollars. Never lived up to the second income, as we didn't expect to have one forever.

We had our first child at 25/26. Dh just turned 32, and he has been home almost 6 years. He will probably return to the workforce, maybe go to college first to update his degree, in his 30s. Plus he already has a degree and a decent amount of experience, which is worth something. & yeah - so he returns to work at 35 or 40 - still has a good 20-30 working years left. (He actually worked 12 years before kids and is eligible for social security benefits as well - so kind of sweet timing there).

I can't imagine establishing myself in a career and working hard many years, and then trying to have kids. I think that way is a hard road, though it is now the norm. I also can not imagine having a kid much younger or before having a degree or some savings. So I think somehow we hit some sweet spot, in he middle. Took some planning, but also quite by luck.

So anyway, I don't think dh would have had the guts to really examine his career otherwise. I remember before we had kids he talked much of going back to school to get an emergency teaching credential (the state of education at the time meant desperation for teachers). I encouraged him many times to QUIT his job and pursue teaching. I told him if he was going to make a move like that, then was the time. When we were young. He just never could do it, no matter how supportive I was.

I remember he was concerned about teaching wages too and I asked him if he was out of his mind. I said, so we'll save $30k/year instead of $40k. YEah, I am really worried about it. (Not).

Anyway, so old habits die hard. Dh said something the other day about pursuing some high wage job. If he wants to because it is something he loves, then sure, I am all for it. More money is good. But his parents have it pounded into his head that you hate your job and make more money. (I find this ironic since my dad loves his job and makes more than the 2 of them combined. Obviously I prefer my parent's philosophy - do what you love). There is a lot to be said for not being miserable AND having money too. Big Grin

So anyway, he said something just the other day along those lines. I said, huh? Honestly, I prefer he make less so it doesn't all go to the IRS anyway. I think ideally he would make a smaller wage. & that fits in great because he wants to be an artist. So go for it. I wonder how many struggling artists out there wish they had a sugar momma like me. Wink & instead dh struggles and struggles with what to do.

Plus, if he is going to work full-time and make a comparable wage, hell if I'll see the point to work full-time. But when I say this out loud, we fight. He has it somewhere in his head that we need to make a ton of money, though mostly he knows better.

Well, we'll work it out. I was actually surprised the other day when he said he wanted to pursue a $70k-$80k job. I said, great, I can cut back my hours then. & I was surprised when he didn't like this. I did point out that would put us at an insane tax bracket. IF he was happy and wanted to make money, great. But that then I didn't feel as much need to myself. But I know when the time comes if we have this debate we can run the numbers.

I have no desire to live in a 2-full-time-working-parent household. BLECH. Talk about stress.

--------------------------------

Of course, on the flip side, we are entering a time of great transition. Of course we have agreed it makes no sense to work with small kids and with insane daycare expenses, etc.

But the playing field is completely changing for us this year. Big Monkey starts public school in the fall. I am already paying full-time daycare in total dollars for the two to attend part-time preschool. So in theory, dh could get a full-time job and we could save his entire take-home pay, with no changes to our budget.

I have to say it is incredibly freeing.

Of course, we have no desire to put our child in full-time daycare. But I have brought up the subject, that we could put him in M/W/F and dh will be incredibly freed up all of a sudden. From having had 0 free time a year ago (well beyond nights and weekends, which are always very exhausting to both of us), suddenly dh can easily have the potential to have 3 free days a week.

Of course, on the flip side, we received BM's school calendar and there are a million days off. On one hand, I have a flexible schedule and I was prepared for some of it. But they decided this year to shorten summer by a month and take like every Friday off for the year. I looked at this calendar thinking, you have got to be flipping kidding me.

& as usual, though most of the year I could share much more in the care of kids, I have greatly reduced time and flexibility during tax season. Which is the bane of our existence for now (will be incredibly freeing in the long run as I could feasibly only work part-year, etc. But with kids it complicates things GREATLY).

So, we decided to kind of just bide our time and wait and see how things go.

I say this will be transition time for the next 5 years. Where care of the kids is still of great concern, but at least we can move pass this 24/7 care thing.

& in 5 years at least the kids won't need a babysitter every second of every day. When I think much of this becomes moot.

Dh's worked on a very promising movie project and made some great contacts, but has kind of hit a wall when it comes to selling the movie. He is quite confident he could sell it and recover the costs, but the screen writer/brainchild has already turned down a good offer, which would have recouped the costs (doh) and doesn't seem to have any true desire to sell it. Plus he moved out of the area. So dh is very frustrated. The other promising contacts he made are dropping like flies.

Anyway, don't ask me how he made these contacts. I think he did a lot of this when I was on maternity leave with LM. So I told dh the other day. I said, you know, you have 2 free days a week now. Get out and meet some new people, work on some NEW projects.

He just seems to need that push sometimes.

So he is. He really wants to work on writing his own screenplay so he can do his own movie and then have control over it. But he's kind of stuck on that. Anyway, he is considering taking screenwriting classes at the community college. He is also looking into a group that meets weekly on screenplays, though he is finding they focus much more on plays than movie scripts. However, he thinks he will give it a whirl and practice on a play.

The other funny thing is he is getting some attention for his writing abilities. He writes a lot of skits and some professional group just performed one of his skits - he won some contest. So I have been encouraging him to go that angle.

I think dh's biggest problem is he likes to live in a bubble and he doesn't want to leave that bubble. I have told him many times that I would be willing to move closer to LA so he could more seriously pursue his dreams. I brought it up again because with house prices on the slide, it may actually be doable. I have always wanted to live in San Diego, and look at those home prices slide. !!!!!

BUT he is just dead set against it. I remember back to how it is amazing I got him to move to Sacramento. He is extremely adverse to change.

So, that's his thing. He has to figure out how to make it work then. I guess there is a fair amount of work in San Francisco, and a budding local film maker scene. So it's not a lost cause. At least we don't live in the middle of nowhere.

But yeah, we will enter a time of transition. I think he will take a year or 2 to pursue his hobbies more vigilantly, now that he will have considerably more time.

I think from there he will seriously pursue going back to college, if not much comes of it. Get a major in film (update his minor) or maybe even pursue teaching. For now he doesn't seem to have much more direction than he did 6 years ago. Which worries me a bit. BUT I understand he hasn't been able to make a lot of progress with full-time charge of the kids. That I *get*

So I am hoping this is the catalyst for change...

I just want him to be happy. Which seems a very impossible goal at times. *sigh*

I am not sure what more I can do though. IT's in his hands at this point.

I am also optimistic that my income will be pretty sustaining in 3-4 years time and that I could really care less what he does at that point. Ideally. I expect to be maxing out our ROTHs and have all of our bases covered, really in about 3 years. LEss depending on more income, more thinking that I will pay for less childcare. If I paid $0 for childcare we could max out today. So I really expect overall to be in a good spot in a couple of years.

For now, life is still a little stressful on one income. But we are definitely moving into a whole new realm. & that is rather refreshing. Phew.