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Archive for July, 2008

Median Mortgage Payment

July 31st, 2008 at 08:28 pm

In 2006 the median monthly mortgage payment was $2291. (In Sacramento).



On one hand, I am not surprised. I remember marveling at the fliers when our neighbors sold their homes in 2004 - 2006.

"All this yours, for a mere $3k/month."


& I certainly know a lot of people in the area, with bigger mortgage payments.

But when I think to shortly before we moved here I think of house payments in the maybe $800 range. (I still can't get over how dh's cousin paid a mere $100k for his 4-bedroom home here, in 1999. If only we were 2 years older - our house would be paid off).

I saw some statistic somewhere, that I can't find now, that the median mortgage payment was about $1100 in 2000.

I am surprised it was that much. But the median can be hard to measure at face value. $1100 seems fair.

So that's 110% increase or so, in 6 years???

I will be curious to see where that median figure settles, once all the dust settles.

Maybe in the $1500 range.

The foreclosure rate is something like 100% for people who paid above a certain threshold for their home (over $475k in our neighborhood - every single last one fell. Though some had paid up to $650k).

I imagine all those foreclosures have got to bring down the median a lot!

Our mortgage was in line with the median when we bought, but since we have never increased our loan amount or interest rate, well, we can brag our payment is 50% of the median today.

Though it doesn't exactly mean much.

Then again, we could have maybe stomached a $300k mortgage or so - that was always rather our limit. If we had been looking at houses here in 2005 we just would have rolled our eyes. No thanks! Those were the kind of prices we were running from.

I was just thinking the other day that if we had a crystal ball we could have sold our house in 2005 for the realm of $650k (boy were we close to selling it anyway). & then if we got home sick or whatever we could have just moved back and scooped up the same house early this year for $350k again. Just waited for it to foreclose...

That would have been pretty sweet. Hell, we could have paid cash.

If only we knew.

I do know a lot of people who fled up north in 2004 - 2006. I haven't heard of them swooping in and buying back their houses at a fraction of the cost. Though I wouldn't be surprised if there is somewhat of a phenomenon of people moving back with prices settling so low again.

Then again, maybe they just move on. We have talked much about if we would move back home if it were suddenly more affordable. The decided decision is "hell no," but I must admit that comes with a fair amount of certainty that the area will never be near what we consider "affordable." I do admit closer proximity to family would give us second thoughts. But seems to nearly impossible, why even think about it.

But people who fled Sacramento at the peak clearly have that luxury to return. IF they wanted to.

It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

Poland and Concerts

July 31st, 2008 at 02:51 pm

I was invited to Poland!

Something I will have to think about. I am not really much into traveling so I admit mostly I will probably wuss out. Then again, if I can talk my friend into going with me... The idea of traveling to a very foreign country alone is just a little daunting to me. Doesn't sound very fun. Wink

But I have a friend there for about a year and just invited me to visit and stay for free.

An interesting offer.

For now air fare looks in the range of $2k.


So I was just thinking to myself, eh, it's not on my list of places to travel. BUT if I have some windfall between now and then (next summer) I will take it as a sign. & I will kind of leave it at that. Many other things I rather put my money towards, but if I have some extra, it is an opportunity to strongly consider. Big Grin

& maybe I can find some more reasonable travel arrangements - just what I saw on first glance.

We also need to save our pennies for Hong Kong! Dh's aunt lived there many years and is returning in the near future. I know it will be a wonderful opportunity to take the kids. (Dh was able to go as a kid and had a wonderful adventure there).

My adult life of travel is so night and day how it was as a child. My parents never traveled much before my dad made a very good friend with someone in Japan. (Now he travels often to visit, and really enjoys Japan). A lot of my friends traveled Europe in college but I Was too busy working and paying my bills.

But no matter, I have seemed to catch up enough. In adulthood my parents took me to Europe and Japan. & Hong Kong and Poland are on my horizon now! I think I am feeling more brave after my trip to Japan. So it feels rather unlike me. I guess I am usually a little too practical too. But suddenly the thought of Poland sounds rather adventurous and fun. What the heck?

Though practical Monkey Mama has other financial goals to tackle first. & since I am not really huge on travel I am not going to cry if I miss the opportunity now. (There will always be others).


Last night dh dug out some old rare coins he had kept. None of them are worth very much (we looked up a few last night) but he had his coins stored with his old concert tickets. Like every concert he had ever been to.

It's kind of funny because when we were teens we both learned to manage our money when it came to tapes and CDs and the like. I found an old journal where I bought insanely cheap music on a weekly basis with my dad. It was our thing. But really how I learned to manage money.

Once college hit I could no longer afford CDs. They just went through the roof and I didn't have the budget. I buy one occasionally now. VERy occasionally. & I roll my eyes when music artists gripe about napster and the like. Give us some affordable options and I would gladly buy more music, but it has just gone through the roof rather quickly. (Though the MP3 thing is a step in the right direction - we buy a decent amount of MP3s).

& of course we feel much the same way about concerts. Somewhere between dropping to one income and having kids, concerts have become completely unaffordable.

Occasionally we will price a concert, and then cringe. Say, nevermind. It's something I have noticed over the years, but thought it could be somewhat us.

BUT I do remember when I was a very broke, struggling college student, going to many many many concerts. So it kind of puts it in perspective.

So yesterday dh found all these concert tickets and starts reading them off. He was laughing because we were going to concerts like every weekend for a time - sometimes 2.

So it hit me. I asked him if the prices were on the tickets.

Um, yes. 1996 - most were under $10.


$20 for the BIG names. He had one $25 ticket and a $36 ticket for Lollapalooza.

The rest were in the $9 - $20 range.


We tried to buy a ticket for some show recently where the tickets were something like $15 each, but the fees to buy the ticket were $20 each. I think that was the last straw for us.


So now I remember why I could afford to go to 4 concerts in a month when I was broke, and why now that we maybe make 3 times the income, combined, we can't even justify the cost more than maybe once a year.

Bah to the music industry.

There's some inflation factor there but most of the tickets had been purchased 10 years ago. Inflation has not risen that much, overall.

I can't help but wonder if the overall debt nation has contributed as well. Who buys these tickets? Who can afford the $75/pop for nosebleeds at a so-so concert (with all the fees and everything)?

Oh well, I won't sweat it. We certainly have other priorities these days. But it was really interesting to see all those ticket prices. Kind of what I had been feeling, but was nice to see my memory was correct.

It's kind of a bummer though because though we would love to take the kids to some more benign concerts (maybe when they are older) I think it's rather out of the question with modern prices. It will be more rare than common, which is too bad for this musical family.

Energy Usage

July 30th, 2008 at 09:44 pm

In the forums I just answered a question on the topic, but figured I'd post here too.

Annually we use 303 therms of gas. For the past year we paid $437.

Annually we use 5473 KWh of electricity. For the past year we paid $605.

Average = $87/month total.

I figured I'd update since I had even better numbers to share before, and then we learned our electric meter was
"off." LOL. Not so well as we though.

But still, over a year later, nothing to get worked up about.

In addition to that we contribute $5/month to a Green energy program (through our utility).

I don't like PGE's programs, but we have a city-owned electric company that has made much more progress with green energy - so I contribute through them.

We have 2600 square feet, someone is always home, and no we don't sacrifice COMFORT when it comes to hot water or air temperature. Though our 68 degrees in the winter and 80 degrees in the summer may be a bit conservative to some, we find it very comfortable.

& I LOVE HOT water - LOL. We are a bit of hot water hogs.

I had to share because AGAIN - just last week - someone asked me if our bills were $500 in the summer.

We do have a large home, yes. No, I have never had a bill near $500. OMG!

I found out a couple of years ago that my MIL Was lamenting to everyone about our gigantic utility bills. (She never bothered to ask). Funny enough, I found out because I always bragged to my mom about how low are bills are. Sometimes I will get a $5 gas bill in the summer. & of course I have to brag to my mom.

So, one day my MIL said in front of my mom about us poor kids and our hundreds of dollars in monthly utilities. My mom was like, huh? LOL.

I never set MIL straight - whatevah. She still never bothered to ask us. Just assumptions.

But it really annoys me about the stereotype of larger homes. So I set it straight every chance I get. (Well, except with MIL because I think that whole thing is kind of funny. Though if she ever said anything like that to my face...)

Did I mentioned how energy efficient newer homes were? With energy efficient appliances??? Big Grin

I've already said it before, but I will say it again. Since we moved somewhere with a considerably lower COL, our insurance, property taxes, and everything are the same (if not cheaper) in our current home than they were in our old condo in the Bay Area.

The utilities were the icing on the cake. Lower!!! Twice the space, and way lower utility bills.

So yeah, I know a lot of people think at face value that our home is not very financially sound. But it costs little more, in every way shape and form,than a condo half the size did, back home. Eh.

Spendy July/Investments

July 30th, 2008 at 02:31 pm

You could argue we put too many of our eggs in the house bucket in our 20s, but I have no regrets. Doing so, for one, means we aren't in the mess most of our fellow young Californians are in. (We put a lot of cash down but refused to pay $600k for a home, all the same).

But even as housing tumbles and rents are rocky, we still pay far less for our home than it would be to rent something comparable (always have).

So there is a large measure of method to our madness. Big Grin

BUT, I am pleased to report that I was glancing at my net worth schedule, and as of July we have only $1k more in cash equity in our house than we have in cash and investments.


Which means, by the end of the year, we should have more cash/investments that cash paid on our home.

I think that is an interesting milestone. For the longest time it seemed most of our assets went to our home... We saved dh's salary for years, to pay off as much as we have.

It runs something like $91k in investments and $92k cash paid on home. Today.

For the long run, I expect our investments to blow the mortgage out of the water. I am only 30. (TIME is most definitely on our side).

You could argue if we should have paid down more aggressively, or invested more instead, but I am VERY happy with this balance. I think we did the right amount of both.

I am also pretty darn close to hitting six figures in my savings and retirement, which is another neat milestone.

But anyway, though we felt it was important to load up the house basket while we were young, I am glad to move past that. I didn't want all my net worth made up of equity, forever. Though there is little I can do as far as equity equity. If it wants to stay super high, I won't stress that my investments are less. Worse problems to have. Big Grin (We still probably have a solid $150k of equity in our home, today. But for measuring purposes I am more concerned what we paid on the home, particularly since there is a risk the value of our home will fall significantly more).

P.S. I do look REALLY forward to when my mortgage balance is LESS than my investments. Have a ways to go on that one...


July is VERY spendy!!!! Ugh...

$85 to school for supplies/field trips
$100 on uniforms/backpack/start up costs
$105 Indian cooking lessons
$110 Swim Lessons
$75 new cell phone (rebate to come)
$30 Hands free head set (new law)
$200 Birthday Party
$100 Car Repair

These are all under the Misc. category which I usually budget something like $150 for.

The rest would be covered under short-term savings (birthdays, car repairs and such) but it seems like I have been pulling more out than I have been putting in lately.

All this would be fine, for one month, but I have some potential, very unexpected, dental bills for BM. Ugh!

So I am feeling the pinch this month.

I was really looking forward to saving $200 this month - portion of preschool savings. But I have decided to put that savings off one more month. For Kindergarten start up costs. (I did divert $100/month to the short-term fund for this kind of stuff, so will be prepared next year. Just not prepared coming immediately off pricey preschool/daycare).

I keep telling myself that the extra $3600/year will help. I just have to give it some time to build. (No plans but to save it all).

Also, I am eyeing the medical deductible fund, as far as dental expenses, to ease my financial stress level. Our HMO is terribly slow to bill, and though I am quite sure we will hit our full deductible (murphy's law of course), it isn't set in stone. There may be some extra cash there. In the meantime there is plenty of float. The $1k cash I have should cover the dental.

These are the budget gymnastics I am going through to make July work.

Dh's extra money has helped much though. I don't want to rely on it, but it helps in a crazy month like this.

Extra money to the ROTHs? Yeesh. One of these days...

This was, thankfully, an extraordinarily spendy month. Not the norm! It just feels a little overwhelming.

I am ready for a slow/calm spend month. Here's to August.

The Day Old Bread Store

July 30th, 2008 at 01:45 pm

Yesterday we ate very cheaply.

My parents picked up a pile of bread products at the Day Old Bread Store. A whopping $2 for a giant bag of bread. The GOOD stuff. English muffins, dinner rolls, giant onion rolls, etc.

Anyway, they gave us a pile of it when we were last in San Jose.

(We need to find one of those - we have a wonder bread place but it is a bit out of the way).

Anyway, dh told me a little bit back he had some extra ground beef in the freezer if I wanted to use it for anything. So yesterday I figured a hamburger sounded mighty tasty, but knew I wouldn't get away with it while the kids ate other leftovers. LOL.

So I pulled 2 mini-hamburgers out for the kids, and saved myself a few calories I guess. I was thinking of the nice onion rolls we had from my parents (which were very fresh even 10 days later).

We also still had some dinner rolls, so I put the kids minnie hamburgers in those.

What a hit!

That was my cheap meal of the week since it was all leftover/free stuff.


July 30th, 2008 at 01:11 pm

Today I got a little letter from a mortgage broker about HELOC. How now is a good time to borrow up to 90% of my equity in the form of a HELOC.

Anyway, it said in various places in the letter that there were absolutely NO FEES.

In fact after one sentence how there was NO FEES, there was a sentence how there were minimal closing fees and an annual fee.

What are we? Idiots?


That's my interesting tidbit of the day. Wink

(Yeah, this guy was recommended by a somewhat financially savvy friend - I didn't want the mortgage brokers who screwed over almost everyone I know. The guy seems nice enough but he really wants us to buy rental real estate. Good Lord. But yeah, the letter about no fees, when clearly there are lots of fees, is not a warm fuzzy for me).

P.S. My wallpaper at work is a gorgeous picture of Bryce Canyon, that my father shot. I had never been there or seen anything quite like that. I do notice now that I stare at it every day it's not so fascinating. LOL. But I usually cycle between pictures from my dad and pictures of the kids. Which says, my kids are #1! But sometimes my dad sends me an awesome picture. Wink

The Random, Last Minute Traveler

July 28th, 2008 at 10:26 pm

I just booked a flight to Denver in September.

Finally talked my Grandma into letting me visit. My parents are going and though she has been very resistant to my family visiting too (just overwhelming) we finally talked her into BM & I visiting for a day while my parents are there.

So, yes, rather random and last minute. For the likes of me anyway.

The funny thing is I cringed at the thought of airfare and didn't think it was a terribly practical idea. But I discussed it with my mom today when she told me they had set dates for their drive to Denver.

LM and Dh can be difficult, cranky travelers. (So could I be, probably). But I thought the idea of just bringing BM along was rather refreshing. My mom agreed. & even more importantly, my Grandma did too!

I am not sure we were totally set on the idea. But she has never met my kids, her only grandchildren. I just felt it was important. For her to at least meet one of the kids.

My mom kept trying to talk me into driving and I told her either we couldn't justify it or I would prefer to pay a premium not to lose 2-3 days driving. (They wanted to take 2.5 days each way to drive). & though BM probably travels well enough, not so thrilled being crammed in a car with him 3 days.

So I took a deep breath and searched the airfare, expecting the worse.

Instead I found $200 round-trip, non-stop, door-to-door.

I didn't even look further. Nice airline. Convenient. I'm set!

My mom hates flying, so I Can't fault them for not even pricing airfare. (Though I can assure they will pay more for gas than our flight for 2 will cost).

BUT my MIL is also going to Denver in September. She hates driving, but is driving.

I am just wondering if in general people are making driving arrangements for longer than usual, and not even pricing the airfare?

You could have blown me over when I saw how affordable our flight is.

So I Am rather excited about the whole thing.

What an adventure for BM.

I hope we don't regret not spending more time there, but this is probably really the best way to do it.

We're flying in a Wednesday late afternoon and will be back Friday morning.

My parents of course INSIST on paying everything, but I Was just very pleased to find travel arrangements even I Could both stomach and afford. It would have been hard for me to accept something like $1k for airfare. Instead they will probably pick us up at the airport, and pay the $600 or so for flight and room.

I am pleased to say I would have gone and paid my own way, regardless. Though the help is nice, self sufficiency is nice too.

& instead of writing off airfare as some crazy insane thing we can never afford again, maybe I will price things once in a while. Wink

Anyway, my friend just told me she was waiting for her 6 & 8-year-old to age and be better travelers. I kind of laughed ( she probably knows something I don't know). All I Could think today was what a breeze it should be to travel with BM now, as opposed to past years with diapers, bottle, baby car seats and the like. I guess we'll see how I feel after this trip, but the flight is only 2 hours. HE did well enough on the 6-hour+ drive to LA, and he is rather adaptable. I guess we'll see. Will go good or I will be like my friend, forever waiting, I guess.

I just pretty much refused to ever travel again with the kids while they needed kiddie car seats. The very portable booster seat I can handle. BM is amazingly mature for his age and I think he will be Fab travel companion. Wink

Weekend Fun and Resort Living

July 26th, 2008 at 08:15 pm

In other news, I just wanted to share an interesting post from MMND. On How To Live a Resort-Type Lifestyle:

Text is and Link is

Interesting to think about.

I just have one caveat to add. Well 2.

I am not so sold on the "renting is better" but we have only owned our home here a few years and rents are double our mortgage. (Was triple in expensive land - Bay Area). So though I understand how renting is often cheaper, I still can't wrap my brain around it. Nothing I have ever experienced. But it is California...

My second caveat is that once you get used to resort living, there really is no turning back. It sets the bar rather high, and with time you do kind of get bored with it. So for that reason it may not be so ideal.

But if it's affordable, then why the heck not?

I think we are rather pro resort living because we lived in a condo back home with a lot of amenities (as all we could afford, but we did get accustomed to the amenities). & then when we moved here in 2001, resort communities were all the rage. We went with new construction, which I am not sure existed without a resort sort of plan. So we just went with it. What the heck. The move meant our lifestyle went up tenfold while our expenses actually decreased a bit.

As such, I have never been particularly big on vacations. Like my own Fri-Sun thoughts, I think it is kind of pathetic to live for one week out of every year (or something along those lines). I know when we moved here we thought very much like we would be on vacation every day. OR every week. OR at least once a month.

But that is also where I come with the wise words that the novelty most certainly does wear off. I remember being giddy when we moved here, but now it's just kind of, eh. We see it every day. So I do appreciate the "novelty" of a vacation - keeps it fresh. (There is a psychology to the idea of "vacation").

The community we live in isn't particularly grand, but we have some nice public parks and tennis courts, etc. Three parks easily walkable for us.

We also have a private lake in our community, and a private clubhouse and pool.

We have homeowners fees, but they are quite small and actually have gone down with time (thus far). The lake is really the expensive part to maintain. So we'll see how that pans out in the long run.

One pool to maintain divided by 1000 homes? Pennies compared to owning our own pool. We luck out though in most of our neighbors don't take advantage of the pool or the lake. So we QUITE enjoy the peacefulness of both.

Anyway, it's not something I talk about much, but I feel we live a resort lifestyle in a sense. In addition, it's just a couple of hours drive to anything we would want to do in the state (beach, mountains, Tahoe, camping, hiking, etc.). & it is just a short walk to a fair amount of leisure (parks, pool, lake).

I also notice, too, living in an area where most people prefer to keep to themselves, the lake and pool do give us an area to connect with our neighbors. As does the homeowners association. So they are kind of nice perks in their own rights. We have actually made a few friends by the pool.

Anyway, dh and I so enjoyed condo living when we were young and childless that we have thought much of going back to condo living once the kids were grown. We figured we could probably downsize and simplify at that point.

We hadn't really thought much about where we would maybe downsize to. I guess we mostly figure that is so far in the future. We probably just want to settle where our parents settle, or our siblings. & who knows, for now. We get the feeling they all may leave the state eventually. (Too expensive!)

So I hadn't really thought about it, but MMND's post got me thinking. I think I would definitely push for a resort-type condo. Whether we rent or buy - depends on a lot of factors. We'll just have to see.

I just had to add too, I have seen the few articles about people who rent mansions on the beach for short bouts of time. You know, the ones who move every couple of months (what are they, house sitters maybe?)

Ugh. IT was kind of the same vein - live like a millionaire for pennies. BUT I couldn't take all that moving!

I think this is a more realistic way to achieve much of the same kind of goal.


July 24th, 2008 at 08:38 pm

**Dh got a new cell phone. $20 after rebates and all that stuff. It's NICE too. We generally buy the nicer phones with rebates and deals, since we prefer not to replace them every 2 years (the crappy freebies). In the past I would keep my cell phone 5 years, easy. BUT we may have to rethink that going forward. Technology just seems to be speeding along at warp speed. Where once I wouldn't mind holding to a cell phone 5 years, I Feel strangely out-dated (my phone having been bought exactly 3 years ago).

Well, I'll keep my eye out for a similar upgrade deal. Big Grin In the meanwhile, I will survive.

**Dh and I had our lunch date at Round Table yesterday. BM tagged along. $12 for all-you-can eat for the 3 of us (with coupon). Not bad. DH and BM certainly ate their fair share!

**BM has his last private swim lesson today. We'll play it by ear. In 7 short lessons (will 6 down, 1 to go) he has gotten comfortable with dunking his head, jumping into the pool and swimming, and well, he can swim quite well.

I hope and assume his teacher will work with getting him to jump in the deep end and swim. He can certainly do it - he just needs the confidence.

In the meantime, he has no fear of the deep end otherwise. We were in our community pool over the weekend and someone challenged him to a race across the deep pool and he just took off (with his kickboard). I was like, "hold on, wait a minute, I do not know if I can save you if you fall off!!!" I am not so strong in the water and the pool was quite long. (Plus I had LM in my arms). But it was nice to see no fear there. He just needs to know he can jump in the deep end and swim just like he does in the shallow end. Big Grin

So, I am pleased. Will probably take him practicing this weekend and see what we think. If we can just commit to practice a couple of times a week the rest of summer, and his skills don't slide, then I think that will suffice. May be ready for intermediate lessons next year. OR we can just resume private lessons again (even better).

$110 well spent!

**Work is crazy!! (Mostly why I have been MIA a bit). 7/31 is a big deadline for me.

**I am in love with Facebook.

I have been having so much fun over there. A friend invited me a while ago and this quickly led to a reunion with a childhood friend (last weekend). This week I stumbled upon two of my very best friends from middle school.

Anyway, it has just been very fun, and I think Facebook is 100 times better than MySpace. Big Grin

I realize too I miss the diversity of my childhood friends. With age I hung around a lot more accountants (college, jobs). & moving to Sacramento I mostly hang around older, white accountants. LOL. It's just nice to experience a slice of that diversity again. It feels oddly comforting. None of my childhood friends are accountants. & yeah, it's refreshing to talk about things besides diapers and sleepless nights, as well. (As I run across more childless friends).

I think also as I struggle with friendships as I age, it is nice to know somewhere along the road I made very strong friendships.

Don't ask me why we didn't keep touch. I think a lot of it was I worked so hard in college. I kept in touch and hung out much with a few great friends, but grew apart from many of the rest. IT was hard to see so many people skate through college, completely paid for, and go off to school, while I Was working so many jobs and trying to make it on my own (Sticking around close to home; too broke for dorm life). As I find my friends from the past I am making a mental note not to let them go again, not so easily anyway. Big Grin

**I perused online (should have done this sooner) on a fix for my car door lock problems. I found a quick, easy FREE fix. I printed it out and put it in my glove box for next time. Now I feel stupid paying the dealer $100 to fix. (& my mechanic $500 last time!). The fix was to literally pull out a fuse and put it back. I think we had looked closely at the fuses when it came to the windows, but not the doors (since those went next and we thought it was an electrical problem at that point).

As an aside, I Was also looking up quick fixes for the sticking window. No one else had figured it out it was simply a "grease" problem. I have to grease it up in the winter. Well, my mechanic has to, but I think he largely did it free. Which we did not have the right tools to get to the mechanism, so will have to bug him again I am sure.

SO A+ to my mechanic for the window fix.
F for the door lock fix. C- to the dealer for charging $100. Ack! I am sure they just did the fuse "pull out and replace."

I am learning it is good to get other opinions, even when you have that "ideal" honest mechanic. They just don't know everything (too much to know). Wink But at least I know he would never charge me $100 to pull out and put back a fuse. YEesh.

The internet is such a great tool in that regard though.

**Dh and I are going on a date this weekend to see the Dark Knight.

It just occurred to me that this is the only forum/space that has not been inundated with the Dark Knight! (Don't think I've seen a mention).

Kind of sick of hearing about it, but want to see what everyone is talking about.

We're #1!

July 22nd, 2008 at 08:36 pm

Editorial: California as No. 1 Tax Jurisdiction

Text is and Link is

Lucky us!

We will quickly surpass NY as highest taxed state. As if the high cost of living just wasn't enough.

Very will written editorial though.

If this passes, the income tax rate (top tier) will jump from 9% to 12% in just a few short years. The business climate is already terrible here with the high taxes. It was before they bumped it from 9% to 10%. Since then it has certainly been downhill.

Reminds me of that little story about how when you tax the wealthy too much they stop coming to the table. California is illustrating this quite beautifully.

I know people probably roll their eyes when I say that I would rather live on less and keep more, than make twice as much and pay ten times the taxes. I am just now *getting* that maybe other people don't get that so much because they are in other states and making a decent wage doesn't mean 50% to the government.

Around here? Literally if I made $200k (easy enough if dh and I both took management level jobs), half would go to the government.

I am quite happy to make more like $75k and keep most of it.

It's a LOT less effort.

As such, I will stick around. If I ever made real money though, not sure I could take it any more. I'd flee the state too.

Anyway, I've had a few clients with New York income and I always cringe at all the taxes. (Isn't there a city income tax too - in NYC?).

So it's just extra crazy to think we want to be worse than that. Ugh.

Thank You Nintendo

July 22nd, 2008 at 02:08 pm

Dh has been doing well with the selling Wiis. Though this market largely depends on Nintendo under-stocking their product. They seem to be doing quite well at this, so other people can make easy profits. (Wondering in the wisdom of their business model).

So anyway, we enjoy, but dh figures eventually the Will will lose favor or be stocked in the stores, and it won't be so lucrative.

On the other hand, he is also making a killing on all of the old Nintendo game systems.

He keeps buying them up in bundles with games, and turning around and selling for double.

Yesterday was a good day on ebay. He thought he may bring in $40, at least, and sold a few games for about $70. He thinks he will sell the system for $50 (has in the past weeks). So he paid $60 and turned around everything for $120. (Well, ideally).

I am still giving dh space, but I hinted yesterday that I may need some of that money for dental bills. He is at least forewarned.

It's also been very helpful because this month has been rather expensive, between school expenses and swim lessons, etc., etc. I was okay to take the first month out of preschool savings to cover this one-time stuff, but with dh's money I think I will just go with the status quo. I had wanted to set that $200 aside, and for now I think I just will.

If dh keeps this up, there is little to stress about financially.

On one hand, this is a great business because it is so time flexible. I mean, what is the alternative? Minimum wage for many hours? On evenings and weekends? I think this is much more lucrative. BUT it is also much more expensive as far as taxes. He hasn't even cleared $1k cash profit yet, and so I haven't thought much as far as taxes. But once he clears $1k, we will definitely have to set aside about 1/3 for taxes. {I just expect enough tax refund for now, to cover the first $1k}. That dang self-employment tax! It definitely stings. Since I get to keep 85% of my check, it just stings that much more.

On the plus side, they just raised the gas mileage rate for businesses. Since he has been driving so much in his 40mpg vehicle to pick up games and such, I guess we will probably have much less tax profit when we consider the mileage expense. Something to consider. Though we don't really spend much to run or maintain his car. So that helps lower the effective tax rate in a sense, I guess.

Trying to look at the bright side?

Well, the bright side is having extra money. It's entirely weird. & nice!

Dh does not take the kids on his Craigslist runs, so since BM is home for a month with him, he was just telling me he didn't expect to buy much this month. BUT he has been picking up so much stuff on the evenings and weekends, I doubt it matters. I realize he may have an advantage being home during the day and having a couple of days a week he can run out and grab stuff (be the first!). So he may lose a bit of an edge for the next 30 days, but I am sure he will still buy and sell a few.


I got the sewer bill and it was about $5 higher. Ugh!

I read the fine print. It is going up $2.25 a month.

It seems worse since we only get billed every other month.

That is an 8% increase! Like the $90 or so we pay for water/sewer monthly wasn't enough... (We pay more for water than for energy).

I have been in some weird void where all of my bills had been going down. Our cable bill went down "just because." The city allowed us a metered water option late last year, which was cheaper than the flat rate we have been paying. All of our insurance has gone down, etc.

This year hasn't been so lucky. Our cable company went out of business and we couldn't find such a cheap alternative. So our cable bill is now up.

& now our sewer bill is up.

I am sure there is more to come...

Big Kid Stuff

July 21st, 2008 at 02:48 pm

I am moving rapidly into the realm of big kids stuff. I don't know if "big kid" is the appropriate word. But compared to my toddler, yes. Big Kid!



I briefly mentioned yesterday that we started BM on an allowance yesterday.

Dh and I talked and reminisced much over the weekend about our own childhood money learning.

They funny thing was his parents were much better about teaching him about buying used. I got much the same lesson when it came to cars and appliances, but funny enough, not the little stuff.

Well, since our kids have become garage sale junkies, no need to worry, they have already learned.

We discussed giving BM a $1/week allowance and a pile of chores. But we finally decided on $2/week since it actually gave him room to learn something. (I just didn't feel $1 was enough).

Looking online I saw at this age the average was $2.50/week. Since I don't want to deal with the change, $2 will do. Maybe we will up it to $3 next year, and up by a dollar every other year or something. Though I mostly just wanted to get an idea what other people were doing. Not that I care. I guess it is more important what works for us!

So, we'll see.

We gave him after-dinner clean up duty and gave him more responsibility for making his bed and cleaning up his room. & he will help us vacuum once a week.

He is at an age where he LOVES to help. & though we arbitrarily picked age 5 as the start point for allowance, it really seems he has been really ready of late. The timing is just good.

We don't tie the allowance to chores. The allowance is to learn to manage money (I've heard the negative but dh and I always had a small allowance - until we had real jobs anyway - and we are great with money. So why mess with what our parents did).

The chores are just his responsibility as part of the household. Sort of tied, but sort of not. There is certainly no option to opt out. But now that he is older and more responsible he has both chores and an allowance. Just how it goes for us.

I have one thing to work out with dh. Our parents never emphasized long-term savings or charity. & I feel these are kind of our downfalls. So I think we should take an automatic portion out to college savings (like 10%). To mimic retirement savings. I don't think dh agrees, but that is something we need to work out. I think it is a good principle to learn young. Always set aside a small portion for the long-term future... & I will talk to him about charity. I don't necessarily agree to tie up a percent of income. But I think we would improve in that area as well.

We'll also open a savings account for him, for when his piggy bank gets full. & teach him how we move most our cash to earn high interest when we aren't using it. So will get well into the financial education very quickly.


The other side of the big boy coin is school.

I just paid $85 to the school. $25 for supplies (they provide - we just pay them) and $60 for field trips. Though any unused portion will carry forward to next year.

School uniforms is another story. I have issue with them. BUT my biggest issue is that they really push them as a measure to "help the poor."


They picked Land's End which is like $100 for a full uniform (shirt, pants, socks, shoes, whatever). They recommend $75 jackets. ????

Likewise, my usual thrift shopping is thwarted. MUCH harder to find what we need.

So I am not exactly happy. I am not poor, but I don't see the point in spending hundreds of dollars on clothes that will fit my kids for 3 months. They grow like weeds at this age.

& I am completely insulted for those who are poor.

Anyway, I found affordable alternatives at WalMart (no where else really) and that is allowed. But I generally wouldn't buy clothes there. I think the quality is crap - it's just the only thing in my budget.

Anyway, so I roll my eyes as I feel backed in a corner to shop Wal Mart. & I think those parents are morons if they think the Land's End kids aren't going to make fun of the kids who go for cheaper alternatives.

If I could just go Thrift, they wouldn't even know the difference.

I'll keep my eye out - I might found something else - but it is just far more work than I care for.

Anyway, as I roll my eyes at the principle and see little how it will make a difference, I am also just disgusted with how plain and boring everything has to be. No individuality. Poor kids...

So I do have to buy a backpack still, and a plain little lunch box. & shoes with no logos, characters or lights. Bah.

Thank goodness for MIL. She bought a pile of clothes. I still need to get a jacket and sweaters and all that. So I have to go through and see what the damage will be.

I am just not happy to spend all this money.

The plus is LM will get use of out of this stuff in a couple of years. So there is some saving grace...

Another Game...

July 20th, 2008 at 04:12 pm

I guess we have been on a game kick, as we realize BM is quite adept at playing many of our favorite family games.

So my dad got all excited and brought out SET over the weekend. I know BM is rather smart for his age, but he kicked our butts. LOL. I looked at my dad and said, "I think this is a game where kids are better than adults." Indeed, it is.

But anyway, I think it is more rare and I wanted to share.

They do sell on Amazon.

Text is and Link is

A very nerdy/genius type friend showed us this game, probably when I was in high school.

My dad enjoys it so much he made a computer program of it. OF course, he said he would give us a copy, but we need a LARGE computer screen. Which we don't have.

I doubt it is something we'll see at the garage sales, but we'll keep an eye out. We may buy it new down the road.

But it is a really good thinking game for kids. & yes, they do quite well with it. I am even impressed they recommend for ages 6 and up. Seems like we have been playing so many games with both our kids that are recommended ages 7 & up. You just roll your eyes. The 4-year-old loves all these games... So SET is a little more realistic on the age level, but I think most 5-year-olds would enjoy it as well.

Oh. I also found an online version to try...

Text is and Link is

What a Couple of Days!

July 20th, 2008 at 03:05 pm

I've been quiet because life has been BUSY. But mostly in a good way.

First, for the stressful stuff. A lot of my friend's kids have had cavities very young, and this is very odd to me. I cam attribute all of my cavities in life to braces and pregnancy (maybe?). LOL. I had one rather recently, and I blame pregnancy. Hehe. But it can hurt your oral health - all the hormones.

Cavities as a kid? No. I have very good oral genes in that sense. I had braces for a million years and many surgeries, so got some bad genes there, but cavities overall never had been a problem.

So I turned to dh rather recently and griped about why so many little kids got so many cavities. When he admitted he had them too as a child.

I just didn't know that it was so common. That their enamel is so thin.

Anyway, so we went to the dentist Friday and BM had his first x-rays. My dentist hasn't really wanted to take him on, but he LOVES the dentist and did quite well. They really could have done x-rays on visit one. Wish they had...

This was his third visit and they finally braved x-rays.

& the poor kid has a plethora of cavities. Frown

At first I was just very concerned for him. BUT I am also a little stressed financially, about it.

Of course they are talking to us about eating sugar and all that.

What sugar?

Our kids just eat so well.

I blame dh's genes. LOL.

It gets better. The dentist starts going on how we should really get insurance. I had really concluded we should just self insure. Even though I know my kids will need lots of work, since they have obviously inherited my mouth.

So any input on where to get good insurance is welcome. I haven't found anything useful, nothing offered through my job or professional organizations, etc. Something through my health plan but it is mostly more expensive than it is worth. Maybe we could add the kids on a trial basis. I do admit I thought in terms of an adult before. The kids might need a lot more work. See if we come out ahead at all...

Anyway, I think he was exaggerating a bit though, PHEW. BEcause as we walked out they mentioned we really needed panoramic x-rays, and handed me an estimate. They just blindly assumed we couldn't afford it Friday (my HUGE PET PEEVE).

How much is a panoramic x-ray? $90.

Could I have swung $180 on Friday? Um, yeah!!!

But they handed it to me all apologetically, like they knew we could never afford it. ???

It made me feel a little better when he was trying to freak me out about insurance. I think he was exaggerating a bit. I do realize orthodontia is far more expensive, but I also realize you end up paying a chunk out of pocket either way.

Anyway, of course he didn't want to touch any of that with a 10-foot pole. (The cavities). I have mostly pushed taking BM there because I TRUST him. But we have found a good/reasonable pediatric dentist here in the area (LM needed one). So I feel a sigh of relief I have somewhere else to take him. He recommended we get him over there since they may want to get started on preventive things, etc. He has a lot of overcrowding as did moi, as a child.

The financial stress is I thought I had a few more years to save up for this stuff. But it is coming on rapidly. !!

Our dentist did tell us to start flossing because he had over crowding and it is just something that fell by the wayside. I feel terrible now. We had the warning, he said all his cavities could have been avoided with flossing. All between the teeth! So I learned something new. & feel terrible if we had taken it all more seriously, this could have been avoided.

I am not sure how much longer he will LOVE the dentist. But I know the pediatric place is excellent with kids, and he will probably be just fine.

& it's nice we still have our dentist for the second opinion. I think we will need it much in coming years.


Yesterday I met up with some old friends. One I have kept in touch with regularly but maybe have grown apart from a but the last few years. The other one was a wild child I had not seen since high school.

It was a VERY interesting meetup. Had a great time. It struck me how much the one I hadn't seen in 14 years had grown and matured. She actually married right out of school and was for almost a decade. She got divorced and decided to turn her life around and go to med school. So as I remembered her as a very wild child, and was rather cautious to meet up with her, I was actually very surprised how much she had changed over the years.

Even my "best friend" who I felt had been going down a very different road, seems to have grown up a bit the last few years. I am hoping we can get together more. Since we have moved to Sacramento, it has just been so much more difficult. The public transport between here and San Francisco just sucks. & the drive is even worse. So when we moved here though I felt we weren't much farther away, we really are. When we moved here is when we REALLY lost touch.

Anyway, it was interesting because my sister has followed much the same path of my wild child friend. We talked about her a bit and she just said, "Your sister is young. She'll outgrow it." I guess she speaks from experience. So it was rather enlightening.

I told my mom that my friends were growing up. & probably me too. She noted that there was a HUGE difference between her 10 and 20-year high school reunion. I guess there is a certain amount of maturity that comes from graduating from your 20s.

Anyway, I went to a high school with about 1000 in the graduating class. (Yes, one thousand!) Likewise, no one is about to take on a reunion on such a large scale. Which I have always found rather disappointing.

I guess with the likes of MySpace and Facebook I get a taste of reunion that I would probably never get otherwise.


We ate way too much food and spent way too much money. Dh hung out with his friend and had a sit down dinner, as did I with my friends. & all the gas and everything. But yeah, we also had dinner with my folks yesterday. They paid, but I am sure I gained 5 pounds yesterday. !!


Because we spent too much and ate too much, dh decided not to do Garlic Festival this year.


He had been wanting to go, and since it is rare he chooses something like that, I was fine with it. BUT not looking forward to the heat. & also realized it was hard to justify financially.

So I am relieved he decided against it. It is last July of every year so we just decided we had to set our next dental appointment for that weekend. Could become a tradition. Get our teeth cleaned and go to the Garlic Festival.


The rest of the weekend was mostly spent in MIL's pool. Had a swim "party" with the cousins and ate pizza. & we went swimming twice yesterday at MIL's insistence that we use the pool. (Since it never really gets used any more).


It was the most marvelous weekend because we didn't have to pack a caravan, and because they kids were so easy. We have never had such a simple trip. They are getting MUCH easier with age. Bed time was a breeze and we went diaperless for the trip. No one woke up freaked out in the middle of the night (in a "strange" place). Yay yay and yay!


Today we probably will take BM down to the pool to practice more swimming.

I should probably go to the gym.

Oh well, I don't think we have much to do today. Just, recover from a busy week. Phew!


I need to do some Craigslist listings.

The one stroller I had hope would sell well, was taken by dh's sister. Oh well. Still glad to be rid of it!

BM told me he had wanted to sell something of his (no doubt watching our habits very carefully. We have been selling MUCH in recent weeks). I mentioned he should ask his brother if he wanted it first. He was not happy about it. I told him we totally knew how he felt, but it was the nice thing to do. Wink Might as well get used to it...

BUT reminds me, since he is 5, we are starting the chore and allowance thing, as of today. He is VERY excited about this.

& yes, that is a glimpse of busy busy here...

Poor Working Moms...

July 18th, 2008 at 05:47 pm

Not much to report here.

So I figured I'd go off on a tangent, though it is largely related to our approach to personal finance.

It has struck me lately that the blogs and forums (here and elsewhere) are full of talks about how impossible it is to have both kids and financial freedom. & a lot of the times these discussions tie in with how impossible it is to balance motherhood and a career.

I guess I am saddened to see, for all the strides women have made over the years, that so many women still feel they either have to work or stay home. There doesn't seem to be much consideration of some sort of middle ground.

Likewise, through all the discussions I realized a few things about myself.

For one, I don't really identify, for the most part, with young working moms. I have always identified more with older people, and I guess funny enough, that still holds true as I age. I think I identify more with older childless women. More than younger women with children. Mostly because I just can't take all of the "I am miserable" and the "I cant's." More on that later...

Likewise, I am tired of reading how one spouse has to sacrifice everything when you have children.

Don't get me wrong, having children is not an EASY road. We have certainly had our moments. We have certainly sacrificed some amount of freedom we had before kids.

But when I look at our lives I don't feel like dh and I particularly sacrificed much for our kids. My dh is degreed and has much work experience. He is perfectly capable of standing on his own financially. Likewise, he gave up a career he hated and got the guts to pursue his starving artist pursuits. Something he was far too practical to do before we had kids and he was home anyway. I encouraged him many times before kids to quit his job and pursue his dreams. Having kids gave him the guts.

Likewise, having children was more his dream than mine, and he does quite well with them. I got to keep the job I love. & yet I have plenty of time for my children because my spouse does so much to take care of the house and such. My experience is largely that of a very involved working father. I'm generally not worried about the household or how my children are taken care of. I know they couldn't be in better hands. & I know dh is much better with the raising them than I would be. It's just much more his *thing.*

Thus, we play to our strengths and neither of us has sacrificed very much in the process. There is certainly compromise, but there is always is compromise when you share your life with someone. Or when you bring other people into this world.

Of course, our life could be better and more balanced. Probably anyone's could be, but it gives us something to strive for.

Anyway, I share all this because not only have I noticed all this chatter on the internet lately.

BUT this topic came up quite heavily at the kids' birthday party. Whereas when the kids were infants we found plenty of peers home with their kids, we are starting to feel like a dying breed. At the party almost every mom there had announced that they had returned to work rather recently. & they all commiserated with each other greatly. Going on about their 20-hour days between their inflexible jobs and not-so-helpful husbands.

Then they all kind of looked at me in pity. "Poor MonkeyMama, she has done this for FIVE years!!!"

& my response was, "Huh?"

I just don't identify with their plight in the least.

I have concluded, for the most part, that people assume my spouse is a leech who does nothing. He is a man after all. & I am often quite insulted at what people have to say. But it's like, wait a minute, my spouse is home full-time taking care of the household and the child rearing. No, thankfully, I have not lived your miserable existence for the last 5 years. !!! If so I would have gone quite mad by now.

Of course, on the flip side, as we pass the ages where daycare is no longer more expensive than a second income, we have discussed the future and reveled in the idea of a second income to save. At some point down the road anyway. A lot of the times we look to this route quite cautiously, knowing it will bring great stress and work. Much more than we are accustomed to. We also champion the money we save with a spouse at home and are well aware a second income will have its share of expenses.

But spending a day with those moms? I am happy to stay on our current path. The second income just doesn't sound so grand, if that is the baggage that it comes with.

I told dh whenever I was down about our own financial situation I just had to spend 2 seconds with those moms. OR just about any working mom.

In comparison, both my spouse and I have plenty of joy and leisure in our lives. I am not even entirely convinced we have that much less money. LEss money, yes. But THAT much? Not really. The taxes on that second income always make me cringe. I know it will be much harder to stick to a tight budget when you consider a second commute and the loss of all that time shopping for deals, etc.

Anyway, in recent months I made a not so conscious decision to exit out of the mommy crowds. A lot of it was just the rude RSVPing and all that I had griped about. But I kind of just realized, I just don't really identify with the other moms. I think I am tired of them all pitying me as a working mom. IT just gets old. Who said I needed any pity? Likewise, I am tired of hanging around so many people who are just absolutely miserable. & my conclusion is that most moms are absolutely miserable. IT's kind of sad to say. I have been making an effort to hang around with my less miserable mom friends. & it has been a lot nicer. They are out there. Just harder to find.

But yeah, if nothing else. I am not sure I Can get across that I never had to pack up my children for daycare or communicate to another caregiver outside the household what they needed. I understand this an extremely unique position to be in. Likewise I Don't have to spend my evenings prepping them for the next day or whatever. Our evenings are for fun. Dh takes care of the work they need during the day.

You could argue I am lucky to have such a spouse. But it works both ways. HE is just as lucky to have me. Big Grin

& I think I mostly put this out for the "independent" women of the world who are scared having children will ruin their lives. You know, it just might if you sacrifice your own happiness or principles in the process. But there is not only 2 ways to do things. There are a million shades of gray in between. I think that is what happy moms realize and practice. So I just had to share.

I am one mom who is not miserable in the least, and though children have set us back financially, I still think it is quite possible to do quite well financially, even with children.

I think if nothing else we have both give ourselves much more permission to slow down and enjoy, now that we do have children. & there really isn't anything wrong with that. IT is rather freeing. IT's kind of nice we can slow down, enjoy, take on much more financially, and still do okay, in the grand scheme of things.

YTD Comparison

July 17th, 2008 at 02:05 pm

One thing I have forgotten is that as I get more data in Quicken (I only started using it in 2006) I can do more comparative reports. I think it is for the long run that Quicken gets VERY interesting. I think it will be fascinating to look at our budget in 10 years and compare it today.

But, since I have not had much data, I haven't been able to largely utilize comparative reports, before.

It recently occurred to me that I could run a YTD comparison of expenses. Compared to last year...

*Our auto expenses are actually down because our insurance went down. Our fuel is not up much really. We have just changed our driving habits. (Mostly drive the van less and drive the subcompact more).

*Cash - we have actually taken out less cash this year. Dh took out $440 or so for his little side business. Which actually has been reimbursed in some form or another.

We have only withdrawn $90 cash from the bank this year, then, technically. I have switched to credit cards only so makes a big difference. IT is very rare when either of us uses cash.

*Charity - we don't have a regular giving schedule so find it rather odd we are equal with last year... Just a fluke!

*Childcare - I am paying for 2 - so yeah it is a little more.

Explains 70% of the increased expenditures this year. & that is gone as of TODAY! So not much to fret over. BM's last day of preschool is today. Very bittersweet. The pocketbook is very happy. Big Grin

Oh yeah, this year with the kids out of diapers, we have justified more childcare for date nights, as well. (shifting the diaper costs to date night costs).

*Diapers - I had a separate category for the diaper service, which we dropped late last year. Though BM is largely out of diapers as of today, so that does help the bottom line immensely.

*Dining - yeah, we have been eating out more. The coupons have been stellar this year. & comes with the more dates, etc. We've been making room in our budget for this.

*Education - a lot last year went to LM's toddler class, which we dropped with his start in preschool.

*I guess we have been a tad more gifty this year than last.

*Groceries - spent slightly more on groceries. We haven't notice much increase in our grocery spending, and thus, the proof is in the pudding. Don't ask me for out secret weapon. We just haven't noticed much increase in price in our own food buying habits.

You could extrapolate that we spent an extra $13/month on groceries. Honestly, we've been buying a lot more expensive items and luxuries this year. So accounts for most of it.

*Gym - we didn't have membership before June of last year.

*Disability insurance premiums went down a bit.

*Medical is a little lower because we switched to a HDHP. However, we have some outstanding $1k bill in space somewhere (expect it eventually). So our overall expenses will probably be up from last year. (They always are!!)

They would have been ASTRONOMICALLY higher though (as they always are, year after year) if we hadn't of switched to a HDHDP.

*Misc - too many little things to make sense of. But mostly we have done much better this year.

OH - last year we bought a HDTV for $1k. That accounts for most of the difference.

*Mortgage Interest - going down down down... BUT we paid an extra payment somewhere in 2008 - it's just payment timing.

*Taxes - the difference is the amount I owed the IRS on 4/15. Was for a ROTH conversion. (Part of it anyway).

Otherwise, taxes are rather the same.

*Vacation is up but we got all our vacations out this year before LM turned 3 (while he was free).

All considered, we spent $2k more this year than last.

$3k more when you consider the TV in the equation last year.

$2k can be explained by childcare.

$1k can be explained by vacation (just paid for/accomplished sooner).

Another $1k can be explained by taxes.

So all in all, we notice little increase in our expenses over last year. You could argue we spent around $1k less than last year, all considered!

I also had a raise this year and will lower our childcare expenditures by $300/month, come August.

We're saving all that.

So our personal economy? Just fine for now.

Not spending more. But yes, earning more.

I admit I was rather surprised how in line our expenses were, to last year. Or maybe more surprised they were a little lower.

Particularly, as, with time, I think we get better and better at directing our money where we truly want it to go. I would argue we have always done that. But it just improves with time. I literally feel like we have had WAY more money to spend this year, than last. We do have a gym membership and the kids in preschool and all that. But all of our other expenses have remained largely unchanged. Or we were able to lower the unimportant stuff a bit to accommodate other luxuries. What it comes down to.


Also, when I cut out the tax expenses, I come up with $30k expenses for the first half of 2008. A SOLID $5k/month. Would be needed to maintain current lifestyle, after taxes.

You may recall that our emergency fund is based on 3 months of expenses at $4k/month.

This is still pretty valid since we pay most medical expenses from the medical fund AND because stuff like preschool and gardener are about $700/month and would be dropped in a second before I would touch the emergency fund. I am sure there is another $300/month fat to cut in case of emergency. EASY. So I am still quite pleased with the $4k basis for now. Eventually I would like to move up our emergency fund to cover more months of expenses, and all that. But for now I think it suffices.

It is a good exercise to see if our basic living expenses are still where I thought they were. & I think keeping our total expenses (with luxury) in the $5k monthly realm, is quite reasonable. I wouldn't want to get much past that though.

& let me tell you, there are PLENTY of people around here (where I live) who would argue a budget of $5k/month would be miserly and poor.

I beg to differ... With care and planning, there is nothing miserly or poor about our lifestyle. Wink

In fact, $4k/month doesn't even sound that bad if you ask me. & that includes shouldering some pretty hefty medical expenses.

Mid-Week Update

July 16th, 2008 at 10:09 pm

This week is just CRAZY. Haven't found a moment to blog.

*Dh bought a game on sale. Was something like $10 off plus got a $10 gift card (Circuit City).

Today he went over there today and used the gift card to buy 2 Leapster games for niece. They were marked off 70%. So $30 worth of gifts for niece, FREE. Paid with free gift card.

*Took the car into the dealership for a recall notice. (Put off way too long...). Of course, dh called a few days ahead of time, and yet after dropping it off a couple of hours, they then told him they didn't have the part. UGH! So you pay ten times as much at the dealer, and look at that service! Not happy!

BUT my mechanic charged around $500 to fix the door locks last year, and they are not working AGAIN. I had since had a tip to take it to the dealer. Though I am extremely anti-car dealer, I sucked it up. I guess it was a good tip. Well, perhaps. They charged $100 to look at it, and nothing else. Dh said the door locks did not work right away though. Still intermittent.

What's with this friggin car and door locks.

$100 was certainly better than $500 though. Will they work for a whole year again? Looks unlikely.

*To save gas money (& not that we wouldn't so this anyway) dh took the opportunity today to take the kids for a walk and do some shopping, while they waited for the car. So they wouldn't have to put me out. I met them for lunch anyway, but it was only a 5-minute drive for me (From work). Kind of an "in case the car was there all day." But it was ready by the time we finished lunch.

I also had a seminar downtown (just a few miles for us) on Monday, so dh dropped me off that day. Less to save gas; more to save on parking fees.

*BM's first swim lesson was cancelled Monday (pool contamination). So yesterday I paid $110 (as opposed to $125) for his 7 remaining classes. By the end of his half hour class yesterday he could swim across the entire pool.

Color me impressed.

He has some work to do, but 6 more classes as well. I am extremely optimistic. Perhaps we will do City lessons next year, need be, to hone his skills. Then again, being able to walk down the street for private lessons? For $110? Not shabby.

We tried to practice swimming over the weekend but he just wasn't going for it. Something about a complete stranger and suddenly he tries very hard. Hopefully will give him the confidence to practice with us the rest of summer. But yeah I am surprised the guy somehow got him horizontal and across the pool on his own. Took him 20 minutes. I am afraid it would take me years. LOL. Mostly because I didn't have the same cooperation. But there was certainly some skill there.

*This week has been QUITE spendy.

Dh signed up for Indian cooking lessons. $100.

Monday I didn't have to pay for parking but ended up paying about $10 for lunch. (No boohoo from me either way; my boss foots the bill for all these required classes).

Today I met the fam for lunch. I think it was $20 at the buffet. So not bad.

Dh spent $90 yesterday on dinner for his visiting family, and pictures (pictures of the kids with the cousins). I honestly don't see the point. My dad would do the same for free. Usually his mom pays, so I wasn't so thrilled.

BUT was reimbursed $60. 80% of the food and 50% of the pictures. Waste of $20 for pictures if you ask me. I guess we'll see how they turn out.

Dh's sister ordered birthday gifts for their mom, and paid. Dh picked up our kids' b-day gifts, that were from her. So we called it even. Phew.

We'll probably drive to the BAy Area twice this month. We have a dentist appointment Friday (which is also not exactly cheap) AND we dh really wants to go to the Gilroy Garlic Festival the following week.

I am not so keen on the weather. (will be HOT!!!!!!)

But we are definitely seeing plenty of family this month.

Anyway, got the landline phone bill and it was quite high since it included the charge for our new DSL modem.

Our cell bill was quite high because we went over our minutes. Ugh. Not something we generally do. Certainly not since we upped our minutes about a year ago. I had let BM grab the phone to call both grandmas lately. I think next time he will have to use the land line. 3 cents a minute vs. 45 cents on the cell. Lesson learned. That one just shocked me since I hadn't really noticed we had used the phone so much more. OF course I Was just getting over that one when I saw the DSL bill. It threw me off for a minute, then remembered I had expected that one.

We'll be fine as long as we lay low the rest of the month. But this week promises to be spendy. I am meeting some friends for lunch Saturday (one I haven't seen since high school!). & there is probably more I am forgetting...

I may propose that dh pay for the Garlic Festival with his little game profits. It is possible we will come out ahead if his parents are generous with gas money again. We'll see...

*I did finish my crossword puzzle for my CU's 75th Anniversary prize (one being $20k). It wasn't exactly easy. I got 15 days to mail it in. (I also read the fine print and realized dh can enter too. Woohoo. OF course, the down side is anyone in California can. Bah).

*The sky is mostly blue here and the weather has actually been pleasant. Go figure.

Send me Lucky Vibes!!!!!

July 13th, 2008 at 03:34 pm

Well, my credit union is giving away $300k for their 75-year anniversary. They have 600,000 members and are giving away about 160 prizes (varying from $100 to $20k).

So, send me positive vibes. I want to win me $20k. ! LOL. I mean, you actually have to do a crossword puzzle and get it right for an entry, so I don't expect every member to enter the contest. Since the puzzle is hard - LOL - I think I have good odds. Well, if we can figure it out. Big Grin

Likewise, we got a winner of a home video last night. LM was seriously eating in his sleep. After their birthday party, he was just so exhausted. & yet SO stubborn. He actually ate his pizza and then asked for more. But while I Was heating up some more food he was looking REALLY sleepy. Of course to suggest so much really set him off. So he starts eating and I notice he is chewing with his eyes closed. I was actually kind of worried he would choke, but every time I tried to remove him from the table (or suggest he may be tired) he would FREAK out.

So, dh got out the camera and we got a winner of a video. I mean it's just the exact kind of video what wins on "Funniest Home Videos" all the time. The kids always win and this was about the most hilarious thing I have ever seen.

Yes, you can eat in your sleep, if you are stubborn enough. LOL.

So send me vibes there. Send me $100k grand prize vibes. Wink

He actually did fall asleep with a little food in his mouth. So he was scaring the crap out of me the whole time. Yeesh.

Anyway, eventually, well after the video was taken, I was able to remove him from the table. & to move the food away from him.



Yes, for now, these are my more immediate plans for wealth. LOL. Though I still have my slow and steady backup plan. Wink


Yesterday we had the kids' party and it was a blast.

Items of note:

*Spent about $160 on pizza, favors, party supplies, and FOOD! But for the pizzas we went mostly home cooked though.

My mom slipped me $40 for the pizzas, so guess we really spent $120. Not bad for a WONDERFUL party. Had about 25 people.

*This was the first year it wasn't in the realm of 100-110 degrees so we actually let the kids and their best friend run around in the back yard for a couple of hours after the party thinned out. Was GREAT. Put on the sprinklers and they had a blast.

Usually too hot to go that route. So we really enjoyed that luxury.

*I asked for no gifts from all the friends and neighbors, which is usually hit and miss. Last year no one respected those wishes and they received a small toy store. Which is why I ask for no gifts. Ugh!

So, this year I could have not asked for it to be more perfect. MIL got here first and gave the kids their gifts. LM got this pirate ship thing that completely mesmerized the pile of kids for 2-3 hours. Couldn't have been better. (Particularly since no one RSVPed and I thought there would be no kids. UGH!)

Anyway, a family member renewed their gift magazine subscription (Highlights - High Five - WONDERFUL gift).

My mom got them an UNO game. Their cousins got them some gifts. A neighbor made a hand made little card. (LOVED it!!!!!!). & a couple of people brought nothing (YAY!). Their best friend brought them a couple of hot wheels.

I was VERY pleased. I certainly don't mind them getting gifts/toys. I just don't see why they need a small toy store every July. LOL. But I guess I enjoy it when people get creative.

Great grandma gave them each $20 to "do something fun." We were thinking of taking them bowling. & maybe to San Francisco zoo. (It's very cheap but $20 will cover some of the gas. Big Grin )

Grandma spoiled them as usual. $2k to the college fund. (Since she retired I didn't entirely expect. Then again, I know her). She also got BM a pile of uniform clothes for school, and said she wants to pay for a year of piano lessons.

On top of the pile of toys, is precisely why we didn't want much more. She is most definitely a gift hog. My mom doesn't even get the kids anything half the time because she knows that they just get WAY too much from that side of the family.

Oh yes, and their great-grandfather sent them each $20, so we will put $1020 each to their UGMA funds.

*No one RSVPed. BAH! We have a "kid" McDs thing today and I really thought no one would show up. Now I am scared 10 people will show up.

Sure, one person forgetting to RSVP? Whatever. But we had 2 adults and 4 kids show up without RSVPing yesterday. Though I was glad they could make it, I was rather annoyed all the same. When no one RSVPs, it creates quite a nuisance. They were the only non-family, non-best friend invitees so I thought it was going to be WAY more low key and didn't have any activities planned.

Well, it worked out.

I am trying to remember how many kids I invited for today (McDs) and how many will show up. LOL. Was mostly preschool kids so I don't know. I don't remember. I know 3 kids are coming. (2 families). & NOW I am worried 6 will show. Not sure if we are prepared.

I actually thought I went overboard on the party favors, but I only have 3 left for today! !!

*Beyond all that, it just went really well. I think we all had a great time.

& I probably couldn't feel more spoiled. Piano lessons is something we have been toying with. But it is expensive and VERY hard to justify because I am quite capable of teaching the kids. But there is much to be said for a schedule, a routine, and another perspective. So I think that is a VERY lovely gift. & kind of solves a personal conundrum we have had.

I admit MIL seriously has a knack for reading our mind sometimes. I am pretty sure it is not something we have discussed with her. She just told me she always wished she had done that with her kids and since we had a piano...

MIL admittedly likes to use her money as a power trip of sorts. No denying it. She is a control freak and she has tried to get us in the past to do things we do not want to do, with her money. BUT I think we are good at setting our boundaries. She REALLY wanted to put BM in a structured preschool and we politely refused (though we had to refuse something like 10 times. LOL). But most of the time she comes up with something we really want for our kids. So we lucked out this round. Something we wanted but couldn't really justify financially TODAY. Though we probably could in a year or 2. So gets us a head start.


Well, wish me luck today. This is one exhausting weekend. LOL. The expense of today's party depends on how many kids show up and how many Happy Meals I am obliged to buy. Other than that, I am simply bringing leftover cupcakes. I guess the Happy Meal toys could be ample party favors if too may kids show up.


Next week is BM's last week of preschool.


They are having birthday parties there and a good-bye party. So it is just party party party over here. !! I wonder if she will separate the birthday parties from the good-bye party. Knowing her, probably. They are only going 2 days, so will probably be 2 days of parties.

So the kids will probably get like four parties in the course of a week. Lucky ducks!

The Well Oiled Monkey Machine

July 12th, 2008 at 02:06 pm

The Monkey household is a well oiled machine.

I think I am still in shock some days how quickly I can get things done around the house without wee little ones underfoot.

What I attribute to laziness around the house, the last few years, I now think is hardly laziness. I can accomplish 100 times as much in a short period of time, now that I don't have the constant interruption of babies. Which is the other part of it.

So anyway, last week I wrote up some rough menu on what I wanted for the weekend. I was too busy with work to think much ahead. I figure I'd stay up all night Friday if I'd have to, cooking and cleaning.

But I came home and dh had done a lot of the advanced preparation of the food.

I worked on clearing out the family room and kitchen and some of the cooking I had wanted to do.

I don't think dh hardly said 5 words to each other on what needed to be done or what we wanted. We just knew and it got done.

I did ask him to vacuum the carpets. I'll give us that. But it was nice I didn't have to ask anything else. It just all came together.

The kids went to bed and I figured I should too. We were well ahead of schedule.

I told dh this is our 5th kids' birthday party. We're getting better at this.


Today everyone will marvel how I worked a full week and still put together such a wonderful party.

Poor dh.

I could say a million times, "well, dh did most the work." It goes right over their heads. Grocery shopping? Cleaning? Cooking? Obviously I did it ALL!!! (NOT!!!!)

Honestly, I am a little freaked out. Who is this man??? LOL. He is making money and doing more than usual without asking. Not that he doesn't usually do a lot. But I usually have to ask or direct a lot more. So I have to admit I am a little in shock. But oh well, I won't question it. I will just enjoy!

Dollar Store Finds

July 11th, 2008 at 08:03 pm

Didn't realize Dollar Store had helium-filled balloons. To order. !!

I passed since I just went on my lunch break. They would pop in the car with the heat, no doubt. Though I guess I could have brought them inside. I think I may pass on balloons this year. Feeling very lazy with the kids' party.

I did spend $22. $24 with tax.

10 books and activity/coloring books for party favors (& future gifts).

I hate stupid, cheap party favors and so I have struggled with what to do. Some part of me can't not give any favors. IT just feels wrong to me, for whatever reason.

At first I Was overwhelmed by choices, but saw some really nice coloring books and little board books for the younger kids. Sold! Nice gifts if you ask me. Though I can attest we may have too many. But it beats those small little choking hazards and toys probably covered in lead anyway.

I honestly just wanted to hand out $1 bills, but dh did not agree.

That was $10. Not many RSVPs so I took a pretty big shot in the dark (but erred on the side of too many).

I spent $3 on silly string (2) and some play money. I just could NOT resist. I think LM will enjoy it though BM has accounting tendencies. LM likes to play make believe more. BM is too practical for that. So we'll see.

Which means I spent $9 on party supplies. Plates, bowls, napkins, and cutlery. I erred on the side of too many, for sure.

The cups were crap. Too small. I will hit Walgreens on the way home and hope I can find bigger cups.

I probably wouldn't have spent $9, but I splurged for some Sesame Street themed cups and napkins. To intermix with all the plain/generic stuff.

I guess I figured a theme on the spot.

My parties have always been quite simple. We will slave over the food, but little else. & even then, "slaving" would be stretching it.

But we tend to have a theme and I Tend to buy a few balloons for their party.

This year I am just passing. Eh. It will be simpler and more casual than usual.

I have only done one crazy party, and that was BM's 2nd party when I was 9 months pregnant. LOL. I was in that nesting stage and I Wanted some super awesome crazy party. Well, by my standards anyway. The theme was Clifford and I made a paw cake and dog bone cookies (slaved over). We had all the decorations and favors. YEah, that was my weird year.

Never again.

Anyway, dh's mom was really into those big themed parties.

In contrast, growing up at my house, we always like invited a couple of friends over and ordered pizza and watched a movie. So that is more how I roll.

Dh scares me sometimes when he talks of re-creating his childhood birthday parties. I told him straight up if that was his thing his mom could help him. IT could be their baby. I have no interest in making a Spiderman cake and hiring Spiderman, and on and on and on. So it will be interesting to see the way of the kids' parties when they are older. If that is what they want to do... I just have no interest in it. Big Grin

Somehow I survived without the fanfare. I just don't see the point. Once in a blue moon sounds great, but every year? Ugh.


July 11th, 2008 at 02:36 pm

Deleted my blog entry. Didn't mean to.

Feel like a dork. LOL.

It was about programmable thermostats.

Oh well!


Today is busy busy busy busy.

Work is interesting. I have a lot of little projects going on. I hate little things. !!

BUT we also have a new employee. A GOOD one!!!!!!

So anyway, I keep giving him all my work and so I can focus on the little crap.

This is what I dislike with experience. I think ideally my boss would prefer I allocate most of my work out and focus on the higher up and administrative stuff.

I was happiest when I was new and did all the low level work.

So it's a bit of a struggle for me.

Of course the one manager we have now is worse than me. He is s'posed to be shifting down more difficult work to me, but he tends to hang on.

But I can't fault him; I know I do the same.

But this week I seem to be so overrun with crap work that it is nice having someone to delegate to. Phew! The truth is that I have way too much on my plate to tackle on my own. A lot of the work I enjoy doing has to be delegated, but in the end it is the best for my sanity.

Anyway, tomorrow is the kids' party. I totally forgot to run to the Dollar Store this week for paper plates and party favors, etc. So will run there today, ideally at lunch. Then will come home and be cooking and cleaning.

I am very lucky to have a helpful dh. Any other time I'd take the day off or leave work early, but work is just too hectic. Dh will save my bacon this time.

Today will be long and busy!

Smokey Here

July 10th, 2008 at 03:04 pm

Dh and I went to So Cal for a wedding in Fall 2003. We were very close to all the fires at the time, and it was actually kind of a novelty. I mean, we were watching the news - everyone losing their homes, half the people at the wedding we talked to were worried about their homes, and our flight home got canceled due to the fires. So it wasn't a very FUN experience. But the ash raining from the sky was a bit of a novelty. We were only there for 24 hours or so.

The fires here aren't close enough to be raining ash, but I am getting really sick of this whole smoke thing. We already had a week of this, and this week has gotten MUCH worse.

Yesterday the smoke was seeping into the office. I don't even know how long I can last there. Or if I would want to. At least our house seems to be keeping the smoke out. It was refreshing to get home last night.

It is also 110 degrees, I think much because of the smoke. So I am just not a happy camper this week.

I am never happy to be completely holed up indoors.

I don't particularly remember any Nor Cal fires in the past. Nothing like this.

The nearest fire is 90 miles away, but it is really wreaking havoc.

I guess I am getting a taste of life in So Cal. Remind me to never move there!!! Places like San Diego have tempted me in the past. But, nevermind...

It does usually get HOT here in the summer, but 99% of the time it cools off very nicely in the evening/nighttime.

So anyway, 110 degree weather means no cool off, and I wake up sweating.

I woke up around 1am or 2am last night just SWELTERING. The thermostat said something like 82 but it felt like 90. So I put the air on at 81 hoping that would do. We did run the A/C most of the night.

I am downstairs now and am just sweltering. Thermostat says 80 but is it clearly much warmer in here. Ugh.

Yesterday it was 82. The cold air from upstairs has no doubt affected the thermostat in the entry way, though it feels just as hot (as yesterday) when you get into the family room.

Today is s'posed to be the last day of extreme heat. Crossing my fingers. I am hoping cooler nights means more wind and good riddance to some of this smoke. IT blew completely away for a week in between there. At least we had a break.


I think I am turning into a bit of an ebay addict. Big Grin

My auctions yesterday were rather hit and miss.

How dorky is this. I have a pile of kid clothes that are spring/summer. I kept putting them off thinking I couldn't sell those in the summer. I finally listed them this week.

But along with those I also put up some "winter" shoes. I didn't think of them much as winter shoes. They are sold as winter shoes, but I don't think they would be good winter shoes. I can wear them any month though I admit I would not likely wear them in July or August - a little too warm. But the weather is mild here and I find them to be a nice casual shoe.

So I put those up and I only got 99 cents. I don't think it hit me until after the auction ended that maybe I should have held off a couple of months to post them - closer to fall.

Doh! LOL.

But I probably over estimated on the shipping so I think it works out. Maybe made $2-$3.

Hoped to make more.

BUT I had a pile of used bibs to sell. So 2 people got into a bidding war and it got bid up to about $15.

$15 for my pile of old bibs?

$0.99 for my brand new shoes? (NIB)

I am happy with the combined result.

I guess I am now a fan of multi-listing. Before I would just sell something in a blue moon. Something I KNEW would sell high.

So this has been an interesting experience.

Dh had an auction end $0.99 as well.

But the rest of his have done far better than expected.

I am just happy to be rid of the stuff.

I think I see a lot of ebay in our future. I think we will be more likely in the future, to use ebay for small things around the house. Likewise, dh is selling a lot of games he is picking up from garage sales. HE joked I should go bib shopping at the garage sales. He does have a point. Easy to ship. That was an EASY auction for $15.

So, with all our "little" auctions I just transferred $90 over from Paypal.

So I am just very pleased. A very easy side income stream.

Probably a little late to the table, but here we are.


Dh also bought another Wii yesterday. He snatched up a $200 Wii with a LOT of extras.

I think he may have been keen to keep this one, but he said it wasn't very well taken care of (not near as nice as the last few he got).

It was a teen and he went over to pick it up. While he was there he said it was kind of awkward. The parents were going on and on how they paid $500 for the system. They were like, "We just bought that for you! You know that cost us $500!?! You are selling it for $200!?!" He said they were very nice but were teasing their son about the whole thing and making a point what a great deal my dh got. They also mentioned they had gotten MANY replies about it. But dh spotted it first.

He's like, duh. Would never pay $500 for all that. NEVER.

Likewise, the kid could have easily gotten much more. Of course he got a lot of responses.

So not only is the kids spoiled but he didn't even get near as much as he could with it. Dh hopes to get $350. It was a really good package.

That was his score for the day. He said maybe $300 because the games were a little beat up.

& still leaves him $400 seed money.

Did I mention I am REALLY enjoying having some extra money around? Money I didn't have to work for. I had almost forgotten what that was like. Wink

Today's Progress

July 9th, 2008 at 03:41 am

Cleaned the freezer.

It wasn't very planned or anything, but struck me afterwards as a simple 10-minute exercise we should try every day (clean something/anything).

Found: chocolate chips

Tossed: Lots of french fries?

Anyway, I was looking for hot dogs, since dh ran to the post office and I was stuck with dinner duty. I was actually shocked we didn't have any. But I was thinking to the kids' party this weekend and how we needed freezer space (as I rooted through all the freezer goods thinking, "there must be SOME hot dogs in here." There weren't.

The freezer wasn't very crowded but I had cookie dough in there I bought in like 2004.

So I spotted that and thought, "That has to go. Now! BEfore the trash pickup."

So yeah, there was some frozen tater tots and fries, and some frozen peaches that were ancient.

Not too bad.

I couldn't find a date on the chocolate chips and not sure how old, but we need them for the weekend. I think they are okay. I guess I will try some first before I plan the party around them. That may be good. Wink

Most of the veggies had a 2009 date. So that is something. But for the peaches, we just tossed "junk."


I am $50 richer today thanks to Ebay. Big Grin

Dh is $320 richer thanks to the sale of his other Wii. (This week is night and day from last week - was so SLOW on the Wii front last week).

My wallet $20 is replenished and dh has about $600 cash for further buying and selling.

I think my checking account is okay and I can earmark my MLM final sale profits to charity. Is my goal as of today. I need to check my checking account balance before I get too excited about this plan though.

I have a couple of other small ebay things closing this week, but I don't expect much.


Today is my last day of being a mom to a "baby."


We spent a chunk of the evening looking at LM baby photos.

It still throws me off how strong that "baby instinct" is sometimes. I am very happy to never have another child again. VERY happy. It's all too fresh and I am still exhausted from the last few years. Put looking at those pictures was like holding a newborn in my arms. It gets me every time.

Luckily dh and I can usually talk some sense into each other when we get in those moments. Wink

Someone was just telling me the other day that goes away when you get *old.* Phew.

But for today I am a little melancholy that my 2-year-old will be 3 tomorrow. It's like it just hit me I no longer have a baby or a toddler in the house.

& those pictures were really the double whammy. They just grow up so fast!


July 8th, 2008 at 02:28 pm

For the last month dh has been buying/selling stuff on Craigslist. Stuff like Wiis and Nintendo games. He's also sold quite a few games on ebay.

Anyway, last week was a HORRID Wii week. Not sure what was going on. BUT dh sold his old projector and have me the cash to replenish the checking account. So I figured I'd leave him be. He had two Wiis to sell and he can do whatever with the money.

This week has resumed to normal. Dh sold one Wii in a snap yesterday and just listed the other one.

With the sale of that Wii he broke even, and he expects $300 for this one (maybe more) since it has a lot of games and extras).

So with the sale of the Wii yesterday, he officially broke breakeven. Big Grin

Plus he expects $40 from ebay this week. In addition to the $300+ potential from the second Wii.

Which means he has raised enough to buy his own Wii. I think when he finds that "awesome" deal he will snatch it up. Plenty of people listing them for $200. For now, he thinks he will wait to Christmas.

Then we will officially own every game system known to man (just about).


Dh admitted that he wanted to help fund the ROTHs and all that kind of stuff.

BUT he told me over the weekend he needed some cash from the ATM to buy a new system.

I thought I had been entirely fair taking the projector money and calling it even (he probably owes me $100-$200). But the reason was I was sick of him pulling money out of the cash account.

So I said, "What the hell?" Pretty much.

I said whatever because he had already arranged the purchase. The only thing worse than him buying MORE stuff was backing out of a deal - I thought that was rather rude. But he backed out.

I had a realization though. I am not going to be a nazi over his money. Our money is most definitely OURS. But as I am the ones who manages it, and earns it, there is probably some very small level of unfairness there. I am scrutinizing every dollar. & though I would say I am fair, I don't really have to answer to anyone as much as dh ends up answering to me.

So I made a mental note last night just to let it go. I guess I can make a verbal deal with him. If he doesn't pull any money from the checking account any more (meaning he has to wait for his $600 of stuff to sell before he starts snatching up more things. There will ALWAYS be deals). As long as he doesn't bug me, I won't bug him.

I will strongly encourage him to think about funding the kids' college or our ROTHs, with some of his profits. But it is something I can just casually mention once in a blue moon.

It's kind of a catch-22. There is nothing really fair for him to have money to spend willy nilly. He had approached me in the past about this. I said if every dime he made was play money than I made $60k play money every year. (Take home pay - LOL). I was just like - I don't think so!

But I think he is a little extra motivated to have some extra money for fun, and though I don't agree with him having side money for whatever (I don't get side money for "whatever."). Though I don't entirely agree, he has a lot more "whatever" he wants to buy. & it is less about the money and more about him just having some more financial autonomy. Something he largely gave up staying home with the kids.

I can see the value in that and give him some breathing room.

& honestly it puts a LOT of pressure off of me. I don't have to fit all his crap in my budget. LOL.

I guess marriage is compromise...

I think really it's the kind of thing I just won't even bring up for a while. BUT if he has $1k sitting around in cash I may have something to say. LOL. But I actually have a mostly empty savings account that is perfect for that as well. I will mention that to him. & if his profits reach "x" I think it is fair to start allocating a percentage to savings or something. But for now I think I will keep mum and see where things go. & if he volunteers to help with the savings, etc.

He is even keeping track of his income and expenses so I am very pleased. (Not that I mind doing that stuff, but I kind of enjoy not mothering over the whole thing).

I think this is the birth of dh's new business venture...

& if he can pull $300-$400/month??? Big Grin That's quite an income boost.


In other news, I got all my MLM crap up on ebay and with 4 more days to go it is already up to $50!!!!!!!!!!! I was hoping for $100-$200. So I am stoked how well it has done. I expect it to bid up a lot in the last minutes. I am not quite sure why it has so much bidding already. I guess I am hopeful that means I will realize $200. We'll see...


Ugh. 110 today. Hope I don't melt.

**Monday Tidbits**

July 7th, 2008 at 08:25 pm

**The smoke is back. Bah. Well, this week it comes with heat. Glad we enjoyed some time outdoors while we could.

**BM starts city swim lessons today.

I think his private lessons start next week. I am not impressed with the instructor because it takes her a month to get back to me with every correspondence. So that's why I say, "I think." But she hasn't charged me yet and is VERY reasonable for private lessons. So I hope in the end of 3 weeks BM has some significant swimming skills. Starting with the City this week, and it overlaps with his private lessons next week. I guess we will show up Monday with a check and see is she expects us. Maybe the City lessons will suffice...

When the weather cools off a bit maybe we will work on bike riding skills. I just noticed recently all his "only child" friends can swim and ride bikes on their own. I felt asleep at the wheel until I realized that we have been busy with an infant/toddler the last 3 years. LOL. Though I was swimming at 4/5, I don't think I figured out the bike until I Was 8 or 9. I was slow. I blame my parents for not allowing training wheels. Of course, we may have done the opposite. We slapped on the training wheels, but have had little incentive to move past them.

**Our latest garage sale find was "Jenga." We played with the kids last night. We figured BM would be fine, but LM would be too small (he is 2, for a couple of more days). Since LM had no idea what he was doing, but was VERY careful, he turned out to be a formidable opponent. LOL. He kept taking key pieces and leaving it to topple when the next person breathed.

Dh had avoided the game in the past because it said ages 7+. Well, I am glad he grabbed it. He was telling me though BM is a little wild he didn't see why he couldn't play. But yeah, LM was the real surprise. The kids just LOVED it.

**BM's latest garage sale find was a pair of eyeballs for 3 cents. He took along 3 cents assuring me he could find something. So he went up to the seller with the eyeballs and his 3 pennies, to ask how much they cost. Wouldn't you know, the eyeballs cost 3 pennies?

You know, I was going to say he is learning much - on the art of negotiation and all that. But this was my first time tagging along, and I realized that he may not be learning much since he gets the "young and cute" discount. LOL.

But they have gotten some stiffer deals, so I am glad not everyone falls for that. If so, they would learn nothing.

**For LM we splurged for a day at the zoo (Well, a morning anyway, at the small zoo). But we had a GREAT time since we left early to beat the heat and really no one else was there. We saw way more awake animals than last time. Admission was around $8 and we spent $8 to ride the train (LM is TRAIN CRAZY - so was his special treat). The kids wanted to eat there as well so we spent $6 on corn dogs and lemonade. Grand total was $22. Not bad for such a nice day. The kids played at the park after that, but we left before it got too hot. Dh and I just ate at home - trying to empty the fridge for the party next weekend.

Dh has been stockpiling gifts all year (a lot of them free from his mom's Scholastic points). So we don't intend to buy anything for the kids. We'll wrap them up something on their actual birthday, and maybe even for their party. But that's about it.

The grandmas have it well covered. Egads. So yeah, there is just no need to buy them stuff.

BM wants to go to Chuck E Cheese, which we may actually be able to do on his actual birthday.

They have their 2 parties this weekend. I really just don't expect to spend much on them. We are having fruits, veggies, pizza (We have coupons for the good pizza places). Dh may make salsa, and we'll make ice cream cake and cupcakes. If my mom slips me cash for pizza, we may come out ahead. Big Grin

Sunday is the McDs party - I don't think many kids are coming. Will buy a few Happy Meals and bring some leftover cupcakes. We may buy some balloons as a treat. Maybe not. But that will be the extent of that. Still haven't decided on party favors.

I asked no gifts for everyone outside the family. Yeah, the fam has it covered. I will be curious to see who obliges. Some years people do. Last year no one did - they ALL brought gifts. So, we'll see. I don't know what to do if the kids get a zillion toys.

**So yeah, this week we will work on cleaning the house (it actually doesn't look half bad - weeks of past work is starting to pay off). The de-cluttering is getting more noticeable.

We also have a large pile on ebay and Craigslist, which is keeping us busy.

Poor dh though. The kids are home from preschool this week (vacation for the owners) and with the hot weather and smoky air they are stuck indoors.

I know he will resort to the usual - take them shopping, to the library, and to the gym. But it will be a long week compared to what he is used to lately. He usually gets 1 or 2 days off.

That means, for me, with no daycare driving, I have lots of time at work. 5 full days and nothing much on my plate.

Which I better take full advantage. Next week I am only in 3 days and there is lots of stuff going on.

**ETA: On the weather front it is s'posed to be 110 degrees T/W/Th. UGH!!!

By stark contrast, June was the mildest June of the mere 7 Junes we have lived here. Our June electric bill looks to be about 10% LOWER than May and 20% lower than last June. I don't have the June bill yet, but that is what our usage stats say.


The only reason we ran the A/C in May was because we left it on 87 degrees while we were in LA and there was some extreme heat wave (so our cat would not melt).

We left the A/C on 87 for our camping trip but it was obvious it hadn't even run, in mid June (it turned out to be a VERY mild week in Sac). We only have been turning it on in the evenings for the last week or 2. Dh has been flipping it on around 6pm dinner and I flip it off at 8 for bed. We haven't even turned it on upstairs because the 82/83 degrees up there felt quite pleasant after camping. LOL. We usually flip it on a short while before bed. But not just that, it just hasn't been that hot. IT cools down at night rather quickly.

Well, the mild weather was REALLY nice while it lasted. July won't be so kind...

Today is well over 100 degrees...

Appearances are Deceiving

July 6th, 2008 at 02:36 pm

Was having a discussion with our neighbors about local grocery stores.

The local/big grocery chain is Raley's/Bel Air.

It is a somewhat upscale grocery store chain.

We do also have a Safeway (which was much later in coming). Albertson's went out of business.

Anyway, as the Raleys and Bel Airs get closer to our home, and the other stores dissolve, we have been frequenting then MUCH more.

I think initially we rather avoided them. In fact, we were very disappointed with their selection. They didn't carry a lot of products that we buy (& we really mostly buy boring, average stuff. LOL).

But when one opened up within walking distance, and no one else seemed to notice (the place is largely a ghost town) we got hooked on Bel Air.

Around the same time they totally changed their marketing strategy. From "upscale" to "low price leader."

Though their stores are still VERY nice, has unparalleled customer service, and has its share of expensive food, we have also found it one of the best places to bargain shop.

So we were sitting around chatting about grocery stores with neighbors and they were all going on how expensive Bel Air was.

Um, we actually find Safeway to be MUCH more expensive overall.

I couldn't help but wonder what they were buying. LOL. BEcause what you buy will make all the difference at either store.

But I also wondered if they even pay attention to prices at all - or just judged by appearance.

I find the whole thing very interesting.

I have friends with double the grocery budget who hit up Costco, Sam's Club and Trader Joes, thinking they are doing quite well.

I hate to burst their bubble when I say we spent half as much at Bel Air last month. LOL.

Of course Costco is something we could never really justify with the cost of membership. We always thought, "Maybe that will make more sense when we have kids." & I think it might, on some level.

But it is interesting to join a community like this where the overall conclusion seems to be that Costco was over-priced.

Costco = Over-priced?
Bel Air = low price leader?

Who would have thunk?

I guess this is when it pays to look past the marketing, and to really look at the prices.


Reminds me...

I had given up on price books because there is just not enough hours in the day.

But I did photocopy a grocery receipt to share here. I kept a copy and I think maybe that is what I will do going forward, keep copies. It isn't terribly organized. You kind of wish the stores would alphabetize their receipts.

BUT I think it is better than nothing. It gives me something to look back over.

So I am going to work on my very lazy, half-hearted price book. Just keeping receipts.

Curiosity has gotten the better of me lately, with rising grocery prices. But I don't have much to look back on, as far as what we paid historically. So this will be MUCH better than nothing.

Frugal Weekend

July 5th, 2008 at 08:01 pm

Yesterday we did try for the THIRD time to go to our fave (albeit upscale) restaurant.

We fed the kids first. Dh called to see when lunch was and no one answered, so he fed him (it was like 12:10). I rolled my eyes since obviously they would have fed them. lunch starts at 12, we thought anyway, but it lasts longer than 5 minutes. LOL.

Though I wouldn't have bothered, I Was glad dh did, saved us $5 or so for a couple of kiddie meals at the kiddie care place.

Anyway, we went to drop off the fed kids and the place was CLOSED. LOL. I thought third time may be the charm.

AT that point I Was ready to just take the kids with us. Which is fine, particularly since they were full; we wouldn't feel pressured to buy them an expensive meal. They do rather well in the restaurants though then again they may be extra bored if not eating.

So dh talked me into Panera instead. I was provided a couple of meals there, for work, and it was awesome. I just mentioned to dh and he had spotted it near our house, so seemed appropriate.

Of course we parked and dh could spot all the way across the parking lot that this new Indian cafe was open. We went over and I Was very impressed. We had a little place open up a while ago that was really so-so. Dh didn't ask for HOT, so his was rather bland, but all my food was rather good. It has lots of potential. For its second day open it seemed to do okay. Keeping fingers crossed.

The kids even ate a lot of our food - which was a great sign.


In the evening we went to watch fireworks at the mall. It's just a few minutes away and the whole thing was free. We had a spectacular view, but were far enough away that LM was not scared at all.


We should have just stayed home, though I guess I was glad to be out. There was a large pyrotechnic show right in front of our house.

I think I can quote dh as saying, "Glad that's not our street" when we passed some families with some tame sparklers. No, our street, in front of our house was THE show. LOL.

I have 2 issues with fireworks.

1 - Since they were illegal where we used to live (& the law largely respected and/or enforced) all I have ever known is "Fireworks are band and dangerous." So I don't much like them.

2 - I can realize I am a bit of a wet blanket, but I think in these newer developments they really should be largely illegal. The streets are rather narrow and the houses really close together. I Was really uncomfortable with a lot of the fireworks going on. I have no idea what is legal or illegal. But stuff shooting up into the sky with not a lot of room, was not very pleasant for me.

So I am just glad the house is still standing.

The plus (I can say now that I know my house is still standing) is we saw quite a show from our driveway. Guess we didn't have to waste the gas...

Anyway, I guess it is a conundrum, because you think why not set them off in a parking lot? Probably illegal. Private property... But it's not a "NIMB" thing. It's a "you need some more room" thing.


This morning dh went to a garage sale to scope out some Nintendo stuff.

He game home with a brand new boxed set of Dominoes for $1. Really nice!

I had been wanting them, but I think he was on the fence. He said they were $2 and he hesitated because he was thinking he didn't want to spend that much for them, but didn't want to offer less since it was new and shrink wrapped and all that. The seller noticed his hesitation and said they'd take $1. A reminder that it never hurts to ask. The worst they could have said was no.

I've been wanting them and they easily run $15 brand new. So, woohoo!

Funny thing is I thought it would be a long time before we could do a lot of games with the kids (besides Candy Land and the like, which I find brain numbing). But I think they will enjoy dominoes.

Reminds me, I also downloaded a free version of Rummikub on my computer. Now I am in trouble... (I think it's "Cub Rummy" if any of you want to try. Warning: Addictive)

Oh yeah, Friday the kids went to a garage sale and came back with an aircraft carrier, with their birthday money. It came with a bunch of jets and was REALLY cool. $4 for all that and $4 birthday money still left.

The nice thing is they are actually sharing it well. LOL.


I cleaned the living room and dining room. As usual, started easy. Which means I broke down a PILE of boxes I had been keeping for ebay and such. We just don't need them all. So I put about 20 boxes in the recycle bin. Still have around 10 we may or may not use.

I am impressed they all fit in the bin.

I also went through the coat rack and all the shoes on the floor - found quite a few old/too small shoes, jackets, and hats.

On top of what I had already pulled in recent weeks/months I now have 3 large bags for Goodwill. Hopefully dh can drop them off this week.

I am thinking for my de-cluttering mission (which is VERY ongoing - feels like it will never end at times. !!)... I am thinking that we will do the obvious, which I have already done much of downstairs and in the kids' rooms. I have to go through my closet and bedroom (which does admittedly have a lot of stuff. Particularly since our closet is the size of a bedroom - don't ask me why. We don't particularly like it. & I admit we do well since the floor is largely empty. But we still have a lot of stuff in there along the walls. I have a dresser and a chest just full of stuff, to go through. It's easy to fill the perimeter of the closet up real fast).

But once I go through and purge the stuff I have been meaning to get rid of forever, or that is so obviously useless or outgrown, etc. I would like to go through just every nook and cranny of the house. It may take a year. Maybe longer. I just feel like every nook and cranny needs to be scrutinized.

I also hope we can keep up this momentum. When we buy new things/replace things, we immediately purge of the old. That is what we are trying to do anyway.

We have always been GREAT at this with the kids' stuff. Very conscientious that we don't want piles of kid crap everywhere. We realize as we double the size of our family, we are very intent on keeping that under control.

I am afraid as we have been very cautious with their belongings, we have largely ignored our own. So we are trying to be better and practice what we preach a little more.


This morning I went to the gym (took LM because he has wanted to play in the play room there), and it is warm enough we may go swimming later today.

Tomorrow we go to the zoo for LM's birthday.

In between it all I have a house to clean.

Will probably work on the kitchen today and hope the boys can contain themselves for a week. Probably lots of last minute/spot cleaning Friday, unfortunately, for the kids' party.

I rarely clean because it just gets all messed up again. Such is life with kids. & husbands. Dh is great for the most part, but not with basic keeping the house clean. But yeah, I have far more time this weekend so I am working hard and will have to fight all week to maintain it I guess. But trying to get the hard work and elbow grease in this week.


So yeah, splurged on lunch, but saved on the childcare.

Will spend a few dollars at the zoo (& some decent gas). $5 garage sales.

Not a lot of cash outflow otherwise. Plenty to do close to home.

ID Theft #2...

July 4th, 2008 at 06:03 pm


I guess I am lucky I have had credit cards for 15 years or so and only lately have I had any fraudulent experiences.

But it's catching up with me!

Last year my identity was stolen - someone had my name/maiden name, address, DOB, SS#, etc.

They opened up quite a few cards and maxed out about $30k in two days.

It was rather simple to resolve (so obviously fraudulent), but not exactly fun all the same.

Anyway, I was at a loss since I do everything "right." I still don't know where the security breach came from. My best guess is some government agency or somewhere I keep investments. Though I am painfully aware there are what seems hundreds of places where this info could have been stolen from. There is little anyone can do really, we put so much faith in those that hold this information (our banks, investment houses, and the IRS, etc.).

Anyway, fast forward to today. I had a card with 1% cash back that I used for many years. I keep it as a backup card for now, since we upgraded to the Chase Freedom which has more cash rewards.

They called me and told me there was suspicious activity on the account. Since I have not used it in a long while, I though, "Oh oh."

Of course, last time some bank I never heard of called and asked for my SS#. & we went round and round because I wouldn't give it - but it ended up being a legit fraud department and was one call that helped me clear all this up fast.

So as I sat on hold I am googling their phone # all over the place thinking this sounds really legit (it's an insurance company which I am guessing is more rare for a Visa). But hell if I am going to give my personal info.

So anyway, thank goodness they did not ask. I would have had to get back to them once I verified the #. I have always been paranoid in that regard.

Well, dh was out so I checked where the cards were real quick and both his and mine were in my wallet actually.

So they asked if I had bought airline tickets yesterday, and I said no, and that was pretty much that.

Taken care of.

But I am just peeved.

I was just having a discussion with an older person yesterday about online security. I was telling them about my ID theft and I Was much more worried about paper and computer records than my online purchasing activites.

I admit that this was a card I used often in years past so I am mostly stuck to at a loss as to where the breach happened.

I guess it wasn't necessarily online.

But, ugh...

Happy July 4th to me!

Busy Day

July 4th, 2008 at 05:11 pm

Today I have the day off, but I will work FAR harder than usual.

I am listing a few things on ebay. I pulled them out a year ago. Maybe longer. So I am getting around to that FINALLY. Have some baby clothes (MIL bought way too too-small sizes and I had been waiting for warmer months to post the spring/summer outfits). I also have a pair of shoes I never returned and some other baby stuff.

Dh listed a few more games.

I had one more item for Craigslist.

HEck, most of the stuff I am getting rid of were gifts.

IT will feel good to be rid of this pile. Phew...

Then I can make a new one. LOL!!!


Oh yeah, going to sit down and plan a menu for the kids' party. I'll post what we come up with.

Dh is getting me some tequila as we speak so I can enjoy my "Tastefully Simple" frozen margaritas. Yum!

I also made the cinnamon muffins today. $6 for ONE thing of muffin mix. You know the muffin mix wasn't that great, but you dip them in butter and roll them in their "cinnamon" mix.

That is exactly how we make our homemade cinnamon toast. So the kids LOVED it and I Realized I could probably find a better homemade recipe online and use my old cinnamon technique. Ours is simply sugar and cinnamon. Theirs tasted the same.

Yeah, I am still annoyed at myself for buying as much as I did. I can assure you I won't buy refills. I am scoping out reasonable alternatives. Since we usually home cook most of the time, then it's no biggie for me just to start from scratch if I can find the recipes.


Beyond all that, we need to clean house.

I think today is kind of busy, but tomorrow we will probably go to the pool. (Mostly want to stay indoors in the afternoon and will be watching fireworks in the PM. We may drive over to the mall, but still far enough away that LM will not be frightened. I hope anyway).

Sunday we are going back to the zoo sanctuary at LM's request. For his birthday.

I asked the kids where they wanted to go - if they can go anywhere (Within reason anyway). LM said - "The gym!" LOL.

I told him I am sure we could arrange that on his birthday - he loves the play room.

So I suggested the zoo. HE was VERY game.

Dh picked Chuck E Cheese. I used to love it as a kid, but it has really gone downhill (we went once but BM does not remember). Anyway, so we will go, but I don't look forward to it. LOL. We'll go on a week night - hopefully less crowded. I am sure the kids will LOVE it.

Then we have the family/home party the following Saturday (I think we will get the adults hooked on Rummikub) and their little McDonald's party on Sunday.

So busy busy busy here.

I also told dh we could try for Indian food again this weekend. Third times a charm???

I want to do some major cleaning, so I probably have too much on my plate. !! But we'll figure it out.

We still haven't cleaned the carpets because the last guy we REALLY liked but he is apparently out of business. I need to ask around. I figured it's not the worse to clean them AFTER the party. Though I am a little embarassed how bad the carpet has gotten in the main living area.

Will renew my resolve to get that taken care of after the party, and will have new rules - NO food or drinks in there. Until the kids are 25 or something. LOL. which is most of the mess - spilled sippy cups.

Next week should be nice and quiet at work though since the kids do not have preschool. Phew. Frees me up so much not to drive them, and gas has precluded dh from helping me much.

The following week is useless. I have a day off, I have another day off for a seminar, and we have a big luncheon another day. So I have to buckle down and be EXTRA productive next week, and then survive all this birthday madness.


A friend was making outdoor party suggestions to me. I Was thinking, "Are you crazy?" No matter what day I pick the kids' birthday party day is always 110 degrees. IT has certainly never been below 100 degrees, and we have no shade during the day.

She did mention her son's birthday was July, but she might be luckier than me. More to the point, she has older kids, shade and a POOL! LOL.

She did mention bouncy house though. The kids would probably melt. Literally. I don't think they would even rent them to us in that kind of heat (I am sure there would be liability there since they are ovens). Thinking, no, my kids will never get their own bouncy house for their birthday. I just don't see the point anyway.

Go figure, I pulled up the forecast and it is s'posed to be 103 degrees on LM's birthday. I of course gave birth on the hottest days of the year, as well.

It has been unusually mild here (from my experience anyway). So the 103 degrees next week will be that much more shocking.


I'm staying indoors, thanks...

The Money's Flowing in Today!!

July 3rd, 2008 at 08:17 pm

Old projector - SOLD!

Old receiver - SOLD!

Dh had the gall to ask me if I could apply the receiver sales to his allowance. I had subtracted $200 for the new receiver - he wanted to add $40 for the sale of the old receiver.

I don't think so!

I said, "Dude, you took THREE years to sell your projector and you got half as much as you told me you would."

(Though I am frankly impressed he got that much, with the 3 years delay).

HE says, "I am talking about the receiver."

I said, "I know. & I am talking about how you owe me $500 from 2005. The year I let you spend $1500 on a NEW projector because you swore you could get $500 from the old one."


Anyway, he didn't argue after that.

But hallelujah I have waited a long time for this day. Big Grin

Sold the projector for $250, they picked it up today.

HE was about to head to the bank, to deposit it, lest I get more agitated about it. BUT he had an e-mail re: the receiver. He had posted it high not expecting much.

But he got an offer for $40. He called and they wanted to meet at a public place - which was where he was heading to.

So he deposited the $250 in the bank to replenish the chunk of change he had taken for Wii purchases.

HE now has $40 to replenish our wallets.

& our house is a little less cluttered.



Anyway, since I have a few smaller ebay items to post tomorrow, this does well to replenish the $400 or so he took for "seed money."

So we called it even.

I clarified he has 2 Wiis and that is his seed money now.

I am so excited I didn't have to touch savings for "seed money."

I think he is going to focus more on smaller purchases like games. HE made out so well on ebay.

IT's a catch-22. The Wiis are far more profitable, but harder to sell on ebay (shipping, etc.). & a much larger investment is needed for each one.

So I think his good ebay game experience means he will be perusing garage sales more and picking up games. I think it is a lot more work for little dollars.

But every little bit helps at this point. & it is less risky than sinking bigger cash amounts into these Wiis.

I still think it's a balance where he tends to hoarde his profits and buy his crap, and he keeps giving lip service to our ROTHs, but so far our ROTHs have not seen a dime.

Something to keep an eye on I guess. I'm watching him. LOL.

I also have a couple of strollers up on Craigslist that I just can not believe have not sold! There's some IRA money right there. I Feel jinxed. LOL. (I did not even list them high at all - they usually seem to sell rather easily. so just not what I expected).

I am happy to always seem to have enough money rolling in when I need a little extra. To cover bills and such. But I feel like I never have "extra for the ROTHs." So that is the jinxed part. I got like $200 of stuff on Craigslist, and with today's sales, this would all be gravy. Come on, sell for the ROTHS! Big Grin

ETA: Dh got 3 offers on one Wii (he is listing them one at a time to avoid confusion). IT was certainly his day. Which is good since he has all the high dollar items to sell. Phew.

It's not gone yet, but after a week of no bites, this is much more promising. I think he lowered the price $20. What a difference $20 can make sometimes.

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