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Archive for November, 2008

Financial Update

November 30th, 2008 at 08:33 am

I got my gas bill and it was only $15. I was trying to beat $22, from last November.

Well, we accomplished this, BUT the bill ended 5 days sooner this year - on the 25th - for whatever reason. So it wasn't very comparable. I think we turned on the heat on the 24th. (It was a 30-day bill, but earlier in the season by a few days. Which could make all the difference).

Then again, we didn't host Thanksgiving last year so I cringed at all the cooking, laundry, hot water, etc. was used/done on Thanksgiving. Not sure it will help my next bill.

The number to beat for December is $75.
(Just trying to improve on last year).

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I updated my totals to the left.

I just hit $2500 again in my savings account, after posting November interest of about $25. Woohoo.

I don't expect it to hold through 12/31. We have to hire someone to fix our gutters next week.

We saved $4200 this year (close to our $5k goal) but spent $1700 on stuff around the house. My goal was to save $5k BEFORE we started catching up on stuff. But broken computers and fridges had other plans. & then I figured what the heck, and started getting caught up on stuff around the house. (Stuff like thermal drapes). So failed spectacularly on my goal, but am not too upset about it. Still moving forward.

It's kind of amazing how things work out. We haven't saved up any money for stuff around the house in years. Low priority since dh stopped working and such. & things have been okay. Nothing broke around the house when we were broke. But this year we start saving for household stuff again and next thing you know we have thousands in unexpected bills. Kind of annoying, but just glad we had the cash for it all. Looking back we had a few lucky years, so it was bound to catch up with us at some point.

My goal is $5k to this fund in 2009. I hope to still have $5k in this fund come 12/31/09. About 50% funded by overtime and interest, and 50% funded by savings. So makes our goal to spend $2500 on home repairs in 2009 (expected) and have $5k going forward. If I get a bigger raise than expected, or any windfalls, this is likely where it would all go. So I would love to make a higher goal. But $5k is rather realistic at this point.

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I don't expect to add any more to retirement this year. So looks like we will hit 12% again. Mostly funded by employer. Goal is 14% for next year. Goal is 20% by 2010. (10% us & 10% employer). So, not hitting it too heavy in 2009. Just trying to move forward. 2010 should be an easy year to divert preschool tuition to retirement.

I'd probably rather focus more on cash savings at this point, BUT with the market so low, we want to take advantage and add more to our retirement next year.

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Mortgage - we paid off about $3800 this last year. Next year we will pay closer to $4500. Just regular payments, but considering adding $20/month next year.

It's starting to make a dent!

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I haven't looked at our net worth, but Quicken tells us most of our investments are down 30% - 50%. Eh. I'll look 12/31. It won't be pretty!

I depreciated our cars by $4500 this year. I figured since our net worth was in the toilet anyway... A good time to take the hit.

Depreciated dh's car by $500, to $2500. Could probably get $3k-$4k easy for it, the way gas prices have been. (It actually appreciated this year; it gets 40mpg freeway). But I figured to depreciate $500/year going forward. Fair enough. Rather aim conservative.

The gas guzzling van? Plummeted in value this year when gas prices were high. I estimated $12k last year (which is about what we paid for the thing in 2006). BUT I saw them going for $8k when we briefly considered dumping it ourselves. I am sure value has gone back up a bit, but gas prices can also shoot up again. So I figured I'd take the big depreciation hit this year. Will continue to depreciate that one about $1k/year, going forward.

Since the van is like half of my emergency fund (well, was) I tend to keep an eye on prices. So yeah, needless to say I was shocked to see it going for $8k for a time. Yeesh. A big depreciation hit for 2008, for sure.

& with gas prices rock bottom, I am currently glad we didn't dump it. Ask me again later...

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Short-term savings...

I looked at the last year to see where things landed. We have been saving $1k/month. $12k/year.

This is for known, regular, larger expenses (or for anything that's not monthly and regular). So I already know what this adds up to for 2008 - have received all the 2008 bills by this point.

Ended up spending about $13,500 from this fund in 2008:

$4595 Property Tax
$3545 Insurance (Auto, Life, Disability, Home, etc.)
$1550 Vacation
$1225 Dentist (regular checkups)
$1200 Car Maintenance/Repairs
$1300 Misc.

We will probably receive $1k for Christmas to plump up this fund a bit for 2009. Will add $12k again. (I figure we will add another $100/month come 2010, when we have more wiggle room).

Expect property taxes to be about the same next year. (California assesses very differently than most areas - based on purchase price - not volatile market values. So no chance of a decrease next year. It's based on January 1 and values overall are still higher than our assessed value. Not like prices will decrease dramatically by January 1).

Our auto insurance continues to decrease, as well as a lot of our disability and life insurance. BUT our flood insurance is going up something like $500 next year. I think it will all about even out.

Vacation - our plans for 2009 are well within $1500.

Dentist - will go up a bit since LM is now going every 6 months.

Car Repairs - a little more this year than usual, but dh's car is getting pretty old (near 100k miles and though it has pretty much never had any repairs, it is a cheapie car and we expect a lot more upkeep in the coming years), and my car just plain sucks. Always taking it in for door locks and windows and stupid stuff like that. So I expect the same or more next year.

Misc. - where we have room to work with. We put a lot of stuff here when we were squeezed by the cost of 2 in preschool. I think our monthly budget will cover more of this stuff in 2009.

So, will contribute $1k monthly for 2009 and will consider $1100 monthly in 2010.

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So yeah, just kind of an overall roundup for 2008.

Not a great year, but I am happy to be moving forward. Particularly in this economy.

No GPS - But a Webcam Instead...

November 29th, 2008 at 05:07 pm

I remembered the one feature I wanted on a GPS as dh went out the door today to pick one up. I wanted one that would show coordinates for hiking/geo caching and such. I reminded him as much.

When dh got to Fry's he was able to try out the display model. I don't think he had a lot of issues with it, but side by side to the Garmin, it just wasn't near as nice. He also said it was the only one there that didn't have coordinates. (& the Garmin will give you directions to coordinates. Cool!)

So he decided not to pick it up after all. He wants to wait another year for prices to drop and technology to improve. (That's how we usually buy things. We have tons of electronics, but we wait a lot longer than most people and tend to keep things forever). So it looks like we will wait a bit.

No complaints here!

For now we just borrow his mom's anyway. We have it right now.

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In other news, his aunt is moving back to Asia soon (she lived there for decades - and though she has been lucky to be in the States for a couple of years - she is heading back out in 2009. Missionary stuff).

Dh's mom decided the perfect Christmas gift was webcams for everyone, and we should get set up on skype. We've talked about it before, like when the kids were born, but I guess dh's uncle was showing his setup off at Thanksgiving and they have been thinking of better ways to keep in touch across the globe.

So dh picked up a webcam today and has been playing with it all afternoon. IT's actually pretty cool.

It was funny to see Analise's post about skype just as I came online to post this. I have only used it once, today, but I can vouch for it. It's pretty sweet!

Anyway, no GPS as planned. But we have other nifty technology to play with.

I keep thinking back to the video phone concept of years past, and how completely cool this is in comparison.

Target for the 10th Time this month

November 29th, 2008 at 10:31 am

I feel like I have been there 10 times anyway. Yeesh.

I went to aerobics and stopped by Target on the way home. About 9am - it was nice and empty. Yay!

I needed a new/bigger helmet for BM. He is a wild child and I didn't want to go cheap. Toys R Us just had cheap stuff so I went back to Target today.

I found one all by its lonesome without a price tag. IT didn't match any other helmet brands. I looked down a few aisles to see if more helmets were stored elsewhere. I tried it in the price scanner - didn't work. It looked REALLY nice and sturdy. I figured it was more expensive - but was exactly what BM needed (he's a wanna-be stunt man).

The lady at checkout asks me how much it cost. Good question. She didn't want to get her manager. I said most of them were $19.99 but honestly no idea how much this one is. I figure maybe I'd get it for $20. Woohoo.

She finally decided to call her boss though and they were looking forever. Good lord. Finally found it. $15. On clearance. Glad I waited. Big Grin

I have no idea where it came from but it was just the quality AND the price I wanted. Woohoo.

As an aside, LM has always had a monstrosity of a head. The aged 3 helmet is a little small on him, but 5+ was a little too big (I was surprised by this actually). I figure he could have BM's old helmet because he is quite cautious and can't go very fast anyway. It's better than nothing, and probably better than "too big". Can probably buy him a bigger helmet come spring or summer.

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We had discussed getting a GPS this year (we haven't given each other gifts in a couple of years and figured that would be our gift). But as the end of the year approaches we both haven't been as thrilled with the idea. Figured we'd go giftless again. (I was actually surprised because it was all dh could talk about all summer).

Anyway, he saw a good deal today and is running out to pick it up.

It's not Garmin as we had originally planned, but dh has read all the reviews and wants to get it anyway. We can at least try it out and return it if we don't like it.

So, about $100 for that.

Yeah, we expect a lot of birthday and christmas cash this month. Phew. It's been a little spendy...

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I did decide to skip Karate for December. It's only 3 weeks anyway and it had been rather spendy. The thought crossed my mind and dh did not mind skipping it. So, phew.

WE did find a hole in a gutter on the house (probably bird related - no trees, but lots of birds). We will look into getting the gutters cleared and that part repaired next week. We don't have a ladder near tall enough and just not something we will attempt. I looked around the rest of the house and didn't see anything else obvious. I hope it's just limited to that one area. I assume birds, but who knows what happened there.

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I went for a drive after Target today. We were experimenting with some of the back roads, looking for a path to the river that was reasonable enough for the kids. As I expected, it doesn't really exist. On one hand, I drove about 5 miles around and did not see ONE car. It was almost 10am. So it is desolate enough that the kids could probably ride. Perhaps. Then again, the big ditches on the side of the road (and really nowhere for a bike) wasn't thrilling to me.

Then, when I got to the river I was surprised that it was all private property. I hadn't really thought of that. Boy did I see a LOT of for sale signs too.

Anyway, so much for a nice river ride from our house. I saw a public park about 4 miles out and it looks more like a beach than a park with trails anyway.

So, not the river ride I had envisioned, but was definitely beautiful. Very peaceful, and the fall trees were pretty.

But we certainly have a LOT of exploring to do in our neighborhood, regardless. It's been kind of fun. We're minutes from the city, in the suburbs, but surrounded by completely open space. I've often said we have the best of all worlds. For the long run we always assumed it would be built up and we'd just end up in the middle of the suburbs. & that is probably true. In the long, long run. Some of our neighbors (behind us?) paid a premium to keep the open space behind them. We always thought that was complete BS. Yeah, right. Sure, you paid a few thousand dollars and they will never build behind you? Who dreamed up that scam? But with the real estate market now? We'll have this open space for a while. So it is definitely fun for bike riding and exploring.

On the flip side, am bummed we have little access to any public river paths. Bummer!

The last 24 hours

November 27th, 2008 at 07:53 am

Cleaned 3 Bathrooms (mostly toilets) - since we have 20 guests (or I guess 20, including us - I should clarify) I figured I should make the upstairs bathrooms presentable (not sure one bath will cut it).

Did what felt like 20 loads of laundry - including bed sheets because I had been meaning to...

Prepped the dining room/somehow found 20 chairs/seats

Cleaned cat litter box

Dusted piano and stairs

Vacuumed entire downstairs/vacuumed bathroom floors and scrubbed those a bit (at least those are small)

Cleared kitchen and wiped it down, cleared dining nook table and wiped it down - more vacuuming after that

I didn't put a lot of effort into any one job because it's all going to be messy again once the day is over. So I figure I will repeat this exercise Friday but actually maybe some more deep cleaning then.

It took me an hour in traffic to pick up LM from preschool. UGH. I should have picked him up at 2 instead of 5.

I actually had a movie date with dh but he took the freeway (at 2) and we got stuck. We have free movie tickets. We turned around and decided we would pay for babysitting later. Missed our chance. BM has been gone all week but Grandma is bringing him home today.

So yeah, that should have been my clue to go get LM. Preschool is by my work and I usually have more of a reverse commute. So I had to drive with the commute and the holiday traffic made it maddening.

Took LM to Michael's. They had $1 calendars so I picked up a couple for the kids (like full-size calendars!). I bought a frame for 50% off. It is NICE. I found a poster I bought like a decade ago and was keeping my eye out for a frame. This was the only one I could find that was not CHEAP. But it only cost $12 since it was 1/2 off.

This morning I made 2 batches of fudge (easy recipe) and I am working on deviled eggs right now (boiling/cooling while I type).

I also spent the day storing ice (pouring from ice maker into baggies) in case we decide to use the cooler for drinks. Just a LOT of little stuff like that all day - yesterday.

Dh cleaned up his crap a bit - so that was good. He is in charge of most of the cooking and grocery shopping, etc. so he did his fair share. He spent $100 at the store Tuesday, including $10 for a 20-pound turkey. Not bad! If it was me I would have picked up a second one for the food shelter. Great price. He is not very charitable though.

We aren't providing all the food. But PLENTY. So I was impressed he came in about $100. He said he wasn't sure he would get to the $100 level for our 25-cent gas discount. But he did (just barely) and filled up his car for $1.70/gallon or about $15 for the entire tank. Crazy! One day we're paying $3.50, the next we're paying $1.70?

Anyway, I probably wouldn't have done so much yesterday but Tuesday I was both lazy and had a MASSIVE headache all day. So I actually slept most of the day. & LM was more demanding than I expected, so we did a lot together. Monday afternoon dh and I spent time together, so I left all the work for the last minute. Glad I had all day and kind of glad we didn't go to the movie after all. Maybe tomorrow... 007.

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MUCH to be thankful for this holiday season.

Primarily thankful for our health, since it seems our extended family has had a really hard time of it lately. Glad that our little nuclear family is very healthy. Very thankful for that.

Also, thankful for our financial situation, since so many people are facing hard times.

Thankful for my wonderful kids, wonderful hubby, wonderful parents, etc.

& Thankful we will get to share a feast with so much of our family today.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Paint Day

November 24th, 2008 at 07:45 am

So I shouldn't be online. But then again LM is sleeping and I am up at dawn, as per usual. Not like I am going to start painting his room now. Hehe.

We did most of the masking yesterday except for the bottom baseboard (we got tired out. Not a good sign for today. LOL. Actually, our problem more was we started late and it was past LM's bedtime when we stopped. But we did get a good start).

Took inventory and we had rollers, one large brush, plenty of tape.

Missing: a pan for the paint/rollers. Dh was VERY perplexed by this. I said obviously we threw it away (for a good reason). If it's not with the paint stuff, it's not here.

We also had no other paint brushes - we had given them to the kids to play with and they were completely unusable.

Ooooh, but I found a giant box of unopened painter's plastic. Lord knows where THAT came from. LOL. We usually use cheap garbage bags or something. We must have bought at one point - never even opened it.

So dh ran out and got a pan for the rollers and some smaller brushes for some of the edges and stuff. HE spent $16. (I also requested a putty knife and some hardware for the front drapes - while he was at Home Depot). He ended up getting a nice pan that we can reuse (keeping in mind he did not want to buy a cheap one and just throw it away).

I am not sure how much of the $16 was directly paint supplies, but add $2 for paint, I'll say the cost will be no more than $18.

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I've got the posters for LM's room but his new drapes have not arrived yet. Hoping they arrive before Thanksgiving so we can get it all put together by then. Drapes and posters will make this closer to a $100 project. But still, not bad for a complete room makeover, eh? & the thermal drapes should be REALLY nice. His bed is right under the window and I think this will warm it up a bit.

Ooooh, It's Toasty in here

November 23rd, 2008 at 08:37 am

Because I turned on the heat!

It's been so mild that last time by the time the house hit 63 inside, it was already starting to warm up. So we stuck it out (a day or a morning or whatever). So, I am proud we have been a little less anxious to turn on the heat. The kids are also getting older and I worry less about freezing them out.

But lord, reading some of the heat posts I am glad to be in California! For sure. I love my some heat a little too much. But it won't cost me an arm and a leg, so I am happy. Big Grin

Anyway, today is freezing (65 downstairs and 63 upstairs) and the extreme warm weather has ended so I didn't see it warming up much on its own.

So I flipped on the heat today. & it feels good!

(I think the thing is it is hard to justify keeping it colder in the house than outside. So 63 is my freezing point. It will probably be warmer outside today).

I am still being more conservative than usual. I flipped it on to 68 degrees upstairs - took 15 minutes to warm up. & just flipped it on downstairs. Well, it just turned off actually. Took about 5 minutes to get to 68. Usually we start with the morning heat only. So my next personal goal is not to turn the heat on otherwise.

I could have maybe made it To Dec. 1, but I am going to be home all week. Blech. I'd rather have some heat. That's my other excuse. Wink

My other personal goal is just to have lower gas bills than last year. The number to beat is $20 for November. I am pretty confident we have it in the bag, simply because it has been so warm this month. (& another reason why I rather just be comfortable. To tun the heat 20 minutes a day apparently doesn't cost very much!). To beat last December I will have to stay under $75 in December. I think we have been keeping the house enough cooler than usual that it will be easy to beat $75. Though, of course depends on the weather Gods.

(Oh - I just saw the weather - it was 37 degrees last night. That's winter weather - no wonder I am so chilly. I guess that is my breaking point. Whatever the thermostat says, it is just extra chilly today. The coldest morning, by far).

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Well, in other news, dh got a Wii Fit.

It's pretty fun. Problem is we were all fighting over it.

I liked the yoga and the strength training. The balance games were also fun (what the kids did). BUT I thought the aerobics was kind of stupid. For one you are supposed to run in place (I didn't even get my heart rate up - I couldn't quite figure out how to run in place and make it very worthwhile - I decided to run in circles around the room - which is really boring). They also had a step aerobics thing, but it was boring and again, VERY slow and easy. So yeah, not so impressed on the aerobics. But I guess I have enough aerobic outlets (aerobics and gym and such). The strength training was another story. It was kind of intense. The yoga was neat as well.

My dh likes to stay up until 1am most of the time, but he fell asleep downstairs, last night. I figured because one of the kids was up and woke me up around 1am. So when dh came to bed around 2 it woke me up. I asked if he had fallen asleep, and he said yeah. It was the yoga. That made me giggle because we took a yoga class in college and he fell asleep a couple of times. LOL. I was picturing him falling asleep on the Wii balance board thing. Hehe. But he said, no, he just got so relaxed doing yoga that he fell asleep shortly after while watching TV. I think that is so funny! Well, typical dh. I think we need a "no yoga at night" rule for him. We have a nice system - he takes the kids before 1 or something and I take them after 1. Not that it matters so much these days (they are rarely up at night). BUT for those nights when something is up, we both get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep, at least. I wasn't very pleased to be up last night with LM, when dh wasn't even in bed, that is for sure.

Well, we'll try not to get too attached. Dh may want to sell sometime in December. People go crazy and pay huge amounts for this stuff in December. So we aren't too attached. Then again, dh had never seen a used Wii fit on sale, certainly not for so little, so I am not sure he wants to let it go. We may keep it but sell the Wii and be Wii-less for a month or so. We'll see how the market is.

I think I will be sticking with the gym and my aerobics class, BUT may work on the strength training/yoga.

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Oh yes, I almost forgot. I de-cluttered a bit in the Master closet. It's not really horrible in there (it's a huge closet but we keep it relatively un-cluttered).

So, somehow I found an hour, escaped the kids, and worked on it. I found things I had looked for before, but couldn't find. (Kind of weird and spooky since they were just there - I swear I looked through all those boxes before).

Oh yeah, and dh wasn't kidding. He spent something like $50 on used Legos, which seemed a bit much. (Christmas for the kids). But he kept mentioning he had to go through and sell some of it because it was too much.

Now I see! 3 boxes FILLED to the brim with Legos. LOL. Yeah, it's a bit much. I think he could turn around and sell most of it for $50, and just keep the good stuff. Hehe. I understand this purchase a little better now.

Anyway, this is what I came up with, with my hour purge:

*1 GIANT bag full of trash. An old/thrashed pillow, some old/thrashed shoes, bags of old under garments and panty hose and stuff (no idea why I was keeping it?), a pile of music tapes, etc., etc.

*For goodwill - a pile of belts from when I was in high school I assume. It is laughable how SMALL they are. My waist is probably a size like 10 or something and I used to be a size 0. I couldn't even get these belts half way around my body. I thought I struck gold, and then when I tried them on it was like, well, nevermind!!!! I also found a small fan, a baby gift, and 4 CD storage containers (rather large). & a walkman! Goodwill, Goodwill, Goodwill.

Beyond that, just kind of moved things around a bit to make more room.

There are still some doozies in that closet. I figure if I go through it once a year maybe we'll get there some day. For now, it's manageable and I am happy.

I would like to probably donate my wedding dress (I've seen the billions for sale on Criagslist so I rather just donate it to someone who could use it). But yeah, I no longer see the point in keeping it. & that is one BIG box in there.

I also have a 100-CD player/changer thing. & some OLD roller blades. That stuff is all up on the shelves so I am happy to leave it for now, with a mental note to take them down and take care of those, maybe in the next year. We've been in such a crazy purge mode I feel okay slowing down the pace a bit. I guess I was feeling accomplished so I didn't want to take it all down and feel back to square one. !!

I often wonder if we will ever be "done"
purging. Dh also rather try to sell some of this stuff. "Be my guest," I say. For me, I'd rather just be rid of so much of it. So we may try to sell the CD storage, but am not going to put a lot of time and effort to it - for sure. Next Goodwill pickup and all that stuff will be gone. Yay!

I also just found a lot of interesting odds and ends...

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Well, today we are meeting some family for lunch. & I guess we are going to be busy paint prepping.

We paid $1.76 for gas yesterday in the van. !!!!!!! Woohoo!





It's been a Few Days...

November 22nd, 2008 at 08:11 am

So a lot to update I guess...

**Dh rounded up the kids' change and some change I found (in a moving box no less) and all our change actually, and took it to Coinstar for an Amazon gift certificate. About $16.

I'd say that is about 10 years of coin savings for us. LOL. Actually, I've said before many times, I don't *get* the whole change saving thing because I rather keep the cash I don't need in my bank, earning interest. But that's just me.

The kids are another story. Whenever anyone drops change near them, they dive for it. & then the change droppers just let them keep it. They insist. They find a lot of quarters this way. (Yes, they have an edge us adults don't have). They also find a LOT of dimes on the ground. My eye sight is just not that good. LOL. So about $6 of it was their change and $10 was mine. But I no longer deal in cash so in the future it will all be theirs.

(I did used to collect change, and that is why I found the $10 in a box!).

**Dh made another $100 on Ebay. Our "non-payer" DID pay when she got paid Friday. I was skeptical and dh was trusting. He wins this time.

Dh wanted $50 for his selling/buying, so I will probably get to keep about $50, if the last person ever pays.

**I was called for a focus group, they interviewed me like 15 minutes, and I didn't make it. I tried Pinecone, I tried MySurvey. No one wants my demographic. !! (It doesn't help that I don't shop much). Dh gets an average of 4 focus groups a year. I get 0. I was bummed though because this one looked promising. For an easy $65. Oh well!

**I spent too much money. I bought some posters for the kids' rooms. Online. With shipping I spent almost $50. I felt bad, but oh well. LM's room is really coming together.

**How could I forget? I am on Vacation. Yay! Work was so slow the last couple of days, I left early yesterday.

This was bad. I was craving cookies, so I picked up cookies on the way to get BM for school. For dinner I talked dh into pizza. Though we did do the store bought on which is really cheap on Fridays. So at least that is something.

Anyway, after BM came home, we went on a nice bike ride and we did the smaller puzzle I bought last weekend. We finished it in an hour or so, BUT it was fun. What they did was half the puzzle was bigger sized pieces and half the puzzle was little pieces. Dh did the little side, I had to do the bigger side with the kids. LOL. LM did really well though. So after Thanksgiving we will break out the adult puzzle and see if they can get a little more into it.

Anyway, it AMAZED me how much time I had when I got home a little after 2:00. No idea. I guess I usually miss the daylight too.

(The extra cool thing when I have time off is that dh is always home too. I mean, we are pretty independent. BUT if I am sick I got someone to take care of me. & if I get bored on vacation, I have someone to talk to. Hehe. & right now I have someone to help me get the house in to shape!).

**I also got a couple of books at the library.

One is a funny little fiction book about a premature retirement (I will share more after I read it - like the title - I think the author is Rothman?). & a book on the history of words and saying. I just eat that stuff up.

Flipping through, one of the first words I came across was "bankruptcy." Seems appropriate. This one is funny! In Roman times bankers set up at benches/tables in the town square. They functioned much like modern banks. If they went under though, and could not pay back their deposits, the law allowed the depositors to take the banker's body in pieces in proportion to his owed debts. (LOVELY). In the Middle Ages it became customary for depositors to break the tables/benches of the "bankrupt" bankers, to signify they were no longer in business. "Bankrupt" simply means "broken bench." Over time it became the term used for businesses who became insolvent.

Anyway, yeah, besides my giant to-do list, I have some reading and crafts to do, lest I get bored with all my time off.

**Sunday night we will prep LM's room for painting and we intend to paint it Monday while he is at school all day. I think it is possible we can finish before noon. I don't expect it will take long to paint, nor that we will do more than one coat. Phew. We may need to buy a second paint brush and some masking tape. We'll see. We have to take inventory.

I would love to just do BM's room to and get 'er done. His room is boring but doesn't look like hell though. Dh is NOT going for it. I should feel lucky I talked him into the room that needs it. I guess if LM's room is very labor intensive I will appreciate the wait. & if not, I won't see the big deal to just do it some weekend or something. (Trying to be positive). Though most of me would love to just get it ALL done while we have the paint supplies out!

**Thanksgiving - we are having like 20 people over. Yeesh.

I hadn't given it much thought. Dh is in charge of the menu and groceries and such. But of course I will help out. So we need to sit down and discuss it, at some point.

It will be one of those years EVERYONE is coming, so it should be fun. Kids are real excited.

I just don't mind it much. The family helps a lot with the cooking. & well, we are messy enough. The mess doesn't scare me. Hehe. Really, I just LOVE not having to go anywhere on this holiday. & I have the time off to prepare (but not that it really matters - I don't have much prepping to do really. I've got dh!).

Health Insurance up 15%

November 21st, 2008 at 11:48 am

But what else is new, eh???

It's actually, not SO bad...

Our premiums are going up from $478/month to $549/month. ($71 month increase).

Deductible remains at $3k.

& we actually get prescription benefits (we had none last year). It's something, I guess.

We've had WAY worse years, so this I can handle. As awful as it sounds, I can handle it.

If we're lucky we can squeak by only paying $6588 in premiums all year (really not bad for private insurance for 4, in an area like this - far cheaper, and better might I add, than any benefits my boss offers). AND our max out-of-pocket is $9588 if we use our deductible.

So yeah, overall, this HDHP thing is still easier to swallow, then our old plan. Our old plan is over $1k/month and has a bunch of additional "out-of-pockets" anyway. I don't actually *get* that plan in the least. For the "cash poor" I guess. (Though you end up paying more in the end? & who can afford those premiums? I've read all the fine print and it's all lost on me. There must be some catch I am missing. The only difference I can see is I may pay $3k for a emergency room visit or a hospital stay, but that sure beats paying almost double the premiums, or another $5k a year. at least with the deductible there is a slim chance we pay $0 for the year outside our lower premiums).

Thank GOODNESS for these HDHP and HSA plans. They will save our bacon.

Anyway, I am very zen with this. I expect a $100/month raise at the very least. So I am happy. & anything above that goes in my pocket (which I do expect more). Yay!

& next year LM finished up preschool, and I can take whatever my health plan throws at me. So I can relax for 2 years... IT's just year by year here, and now I can relax. Phew.

I Wasn't going to look until after my birthday, but they sent me an e-mail to me. I didn't expect the new premiums until next week. & well, once I got the e-mail, of course I had to look! Glad it didn't stress me out too much. I Was going to wait because I didn't want to ruin my vacation.

All This Talk of Goals...

November 20th, 2008 at 07:37 am

Not much to report here.

I just realized that dh and I have not had even a weekend away ALL YEAR. What is up with that? Actually, I hadn't even noticed. Things have been so relaxed. Kids are getting much easier, so I don't need the break so much. But I thought about it because dh has been so grumpy about all I want to get done on my week off. It's so rare I get time off AT HOME, that I want to take advantage. I am sure we can squeeze in plenty of together time. Not like I plan to "work" 24/7. But I thought about it and realized it had been a while. So I suggested yesterday we get away for one of our birthdays (both coming up). San Francisco or Monterey since we don't have to drive very far for either. (Both rather equidistant from San Jose anyway, where we would drop off the kids. I just don't want to drive any further though usually I would be the first to suggest Pismo Beach or something like that. But 3 hours drive - plus 2 hours to San Jose - doesn't sound terribly appealing).

Anyway, I think we will make a goal to get away a little more next year. We will likely get free night stays in nice hotels, so it is not a very expensive goal. But a nice one to have!

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As far as 2009 goals, I haven't thought much of them and probably won't for a while. I need more info. In particular, waiting for our health insurance premiums (which usually make or break us) and waiting for my raise Jan. 1. Until I know what I am making and what my expenses are, it is hard to set financial goals.

But not like I haven't thought about it. I have 2 large competing goals. The mid-term fund and the ROTHs. I wanted to double our ROTH contributions, and I will if I have enough raise. But we also have some serious catching up to do on our mid-term savings. If my raise is small I am thinking of forgetting the ROTHs and bulking up the mid-term fund. I know I will be likely able to max one ROTH the next year (2010) once LM is out of preschool, and I get a generous retirement contribution at work, so though I really WANT to add more to retirement, it's a bit premature to make it a priority right now. Also, if we put a lot to mid-term savings to bulk it up, I can divert more of that income/savings to the ROTHs once we catch up a bit.

So, what we do exactly, depends on more information. I could see getting a very minimal raise and a huge health insurance increase. In that case, not sure what we will do.

If I got a large raise (not completely out of the cards) we could improve our savings dramatically. Maybe I could fund both goals and consider others.

Reality will probably be somewhere in the middle.

So, we'll see!

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A new goal is taking shape for me. I would like to get a nice bike and do some longer bike rides. Maybe join a local bike club or something.

We also need to get BM a larger bike and hand down his bike to LM. The kids need helmets and such. BM needs a new one and LM has a huge head - they could probably both wear the same size - so yeah - they both need helmets.

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My other goals are just things around the house. The primary reason to bulk up our mid-term fund, is for stuff around the house. For the more long-term (hoping to put off a couple of more years?) I am thinking a new fence and an outside paint job. For the short term, we need to replace light bulbs, have sinks sealed, have some tile repaired and sealed, and we also have a crack on the house to seal up and fix. Oh, and some tree trimming we were going to talk to our gardener about. (We also want to plant a fruit tree in the winter. In California winter is fruit season. Dh talked to a nursery last spring and they said come back in February - that is tree planting time).

So all these little things. I don't think any of the things I want to do this next year is terribly expensive, but it all does add up.

Anyway, I didn't feel we were in a financial position to really consider these things like the last few years, so it feels really good to get close to crossing things off our list. The solution for our tile problems is not to use our shower. Which isn't the worst (having only one shower in the house to clean). But it will be nice to get everything back in working order.

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The weather warmed up, but is cooling off again. Not sure we can make it to December with no heat.

If nothing else, wondering about Thanksgiving.

With ALL the body heat (like 25 bodies?) and all the cooking, I would say maybe we could do without heat. BUT if it gets really chilly we may want to turn on the heat for our guests. So I have the feeling Turkey Day may be the first heat day of the year.

Then again, I will be home all week and I am a whimp. So, with the cold, I may have a harder time. Maybe I'll break before Turkey Day.