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Archive for September, 2012

Google Wallet - Update

September 28th, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Success!! *barely*

& thank you to the very patient CVS checkout person who helped us get this stupid thing to work. !! {See my last post}.

We went to CVS today and dh had the grand idea to buy gift cards. I think we settled on $25 Amazon GCs and $20 BK GCs (because not much came in less than $25, and we weren't sure if there would be tax. Probably not - but why risk going over $50 - because then it would definitely not work).

I grabbed a couple of candy bars to round it out and the google wallet would not work. Cashier told us they needed last 4 digits of credit card to buy gift cards electronically. I imagine there was probably some rule about buying gift cards. IT could even be more of a CVS rule than a google rule. Dh was pretty peeved.

Plus, this is like the third time in recent weeks I ran some errands in the middle of the day and it was really crowded. You should have seen the backup we caused. !! {Mental note: Never go shopping in my neighborhood in the middle of the day - nights and weekends are WAY preferable - if nothing else more cash registers open. Maybe that is a lot of it}.

So, back to square one. Since it mostly seemed to be working, gift cards aside, we decided to give it a go. So, we shop shop shopped. OF course, then it wouldn't go through. We tried about 5 or 6 times, and the last time it decided to go through.

MEanwhile, the people behind us are like, "WOW - that is COOL!" Dh, me and the cashier were like - "Um no - this is not cool." LOL. It's cool if it would work.

The CVS is not too close to us, but I was impressed with the prices. Should hit it up more - it is on the way to the gym, to piano lessons, to soccer, etc. So can be utilized without going out of the way.

We scored:

-2 liter of pepsi
-Halloween Candy (5 bags)
-lifetime supply of soap, so it seemed (16 bars?), because were "buy one get one free"
-2 deoderants
-4 candy bars (for airplane)
-Travel-sized Toothpaste
-Several hair things (plastic clips) - some "buy one get one free"

Total was $46 - so we have $4 left. Also got a $3 coupon - "extra bucks" - for later. I don't know if it will make sense, but technically gives us $7 total to use in Florida. Might be nice to buy sunblock (is all I have on my list so far - to buy there - aside from hitting up a grocery store. IT will have to be on the way though. Because who knows if the google wallet will even work).

So, I think we did well for how little thought we put into it. Got some practical things.

Which reminds me, the "travel size" section was really cracking me up. & I probably didn't need the travel sized toothpaste, but I am picky about my toothpaste, it was free, and will free up some space. Some of that stuff is just silly! Razors in packages of two? Because you can't buy a bigger package and pull out 2 razors? I really don't get it!

Google Wallet

September 28th, 2012 at 07:33 pm

When we got our new phones, one of the perks was getting a free $50 balance on google wallet. Woohoo!

*Woohoo,* except it has *never* actually worked. Rolleyes

So yesterday I was talking to my mom and she mentioned how my dad liked to pay things with his phone. I said, "Really? Is he using google wallet?" Yes, he was. "Where the heck did it even work?"


So dh and I have a mid-day CVS date. HA! I told him I would gladly help spend that money. I have no idea on what.

I am trying not to get too excited because odds are it will not work. My mom was kind of like, "Gee - I wouldn't give up on a free $50 like that!" I was like, "you don't even know." You don't even know how many stored we tried. & then it's frustrating because you planned things around the "free" purchase but maybe you needed it anyway and didn't want to not just pay for the stuff and move on. A lot of the places are food places. Dh went to a food place and it didn't work. But you still want to pay for the food. On and on and on. Which as why at some point we just gave up.

I know the whole point of the free stuff is to get you to like it and use it - but this is something that has really backfired.

Oh, and apparently dh's balance expires like next week - so it's use it or lose it time! Glad I had that random conversation. Big Grin

2013 Retirement Fund Limits

September 27th, 2012 at 02:19 pm

**I was recalling that it must be getting close to that time of year. Several have calculated that the IRA contribution limits will be $5,500 next year. ($17,500 for 401k). It's not "official," but looks to be certain.

I think that is awesome, because we can max out. It will have been 5 years since it increased.

On the flip side, I am wary of how much we will have for any mortgage pay-down, this year or next. I'd rather put it to the ROTH/tax shelter, so I am okay with that.


**In other news, Grandma is finally home from the hospital. & she is good as new! Dh spent the weekend with his family, and it was well needed. They apparently go insane when family crisis hits. I didn't expect that. I figured they were insane with dh because it was dh, and his surgery was so super serious. But, apparently that is just how they are. Dh gave me an earful when I got home and I knew precisely what he was talking about - they totally drove me *insane* when he was in the hospital. I think it's possible Grandma was able to go home because he brought some calmness and sanity to her hospital room for a couple of days. I can only hope they take it down a notch now that she is home. *crossing fingers.*

For one, they are just so negative. They whispered to dh how they were concerned she will *never* recover from this. Meanwhile all the hospital staff says is that they have never seen anyone recover so fast. For the record, the first thing she did when she got home was clean her apartment. Rolleyes Obviously she is totally fine. Not bed ridden or brain damaged, in the least.

So, dh is a SAINT.


Dh and I went out to dinner Monday to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary. Wooohoo!

Among our peer group, this is basically unheard of. Especially among our like-minded friends, which is hard to wrap our brains around. (Why are our like-minded friends so marriage-phobic or have so many failed marriages - the failed ones failied VERY quickly). Anyway, so every year that passes I feel like we have been married like 50 years or something, any more. We are hands down the "old married" ones. I just know we are blessed and have something rare. & since we met so young and waited a while to marry (wanted to finish college first, etc.), it's more of a "17 year" celebration. How am I even that old??? Big Grin


P.S. Almost forgot the GOOD news! Got an ER bill for $250. This was knocked down from an estimate of $900. I can not be sure this is all of it, but apparently the estimate I did get was rather useless. (I had a feeling - I just had no idea if it was high or low).

Double Dip Worked

September 24th, 2012 at 05:37 pm

I have been checking, because waiting for the first billing cycle to close on my latest Chase card. Today I logged in and it hadn't closed yet, but I happened to notice my reward points already posted. !! That is the first time I have seen points post before a statement, though it is possible the statement is there now. Maybe they were processing it when I peeked.

Whatever the reason - woohoo! I can redeem my $420!
We are using it for a hotel stay in November, on the beach.

This means I will seriously think about more double dips. We already did a Citi double dip.

On to the triple dips!!

Never Boring!!

September 22nd, 2012 at 03:10 pm

**I don't even know where to begin on our weekend to-do list. !! Soccer, robots, both kids have big projects due, etc. Plus it would be nice to catch up around the house - looks a bit like a tornado hit it.

**Welcome to Hotel Monkey. Dh's friend needed a place to crash. My dad will crash the night before we fly out - but we scored a free ride to the airport, in exchange. Big Grin This will probably save us $50! We will just catch a cab ride home - it was the 2-cab-thing that cost just about as much as parking. This changes things drastically. Can you tell I am excited? My dad has something going on in our city the day we fly out - early in the morning.

**I've been shopping shopping shopping. SO over it. May I never need to step in a store for the rest of the year! IT will be possible. I usually don't shop much. Still trying to sort out my messy cat (so keep running back to the pet store for stuff). I bought some awesome Christmas/Birthday gifts for my mom for $7. I am very pleased with that! Big Grin I won't wait for Christmas. Dh is delivering for me this weekend. Though I saved the birthday one for later because it wasn't quite as exciting. Had to pick up some snacks for soccer. I could have had dh do it, yes, but felt I was out shopping shopping anyway. Picked up some more $2 clearance shirts at Target - for the older child.

**Yesterday we got to say goodbye to the Space Shuttle Endeavor on its "Farewell California" tour.

I didn't personally see it, but it did rumble right over my head. BM says it flew pretty low over his school too - at least he got to see it fly by.

**It's not surprising that some of our neighbors are getting involved in local politics. They are the types. BUT I think they have just been so focused on our charter school - has been a lot of energy and work to get it set up and to continually add grades {& most these people had small children, to boot. Who are growing and taking up less energy on some level}.

That energy is being redirected in several ways. More focus on after-school type stuff. & now a friend of ours is running for the school board. This is awesome, and dh is committed to any non-financial support he can give. (Though he assured us even $10 would be a great help - so we will probably contribute something like $20).

Boy, dh's schedule is getting awfully busy!!

Anyway, last night a neighbor held a meet and greet for the candidate, so we scored some free food in exchange. Maybe we can make it a $30 donation, since we were well fed!


September 21st, 2012 at 02:33 pm

**Amazon withdrawal! Our amazon credits ran out. Dh was telling me how there was all sorts of cool stuff coming out this next month (of course). Blu Rays, cds, whatever. I told him he could pass off whatever possible on my Christmas wish list too. Though patience is not his strong suit. (You would think his family would know by now that I am not into that crap in the LEAST - but would be worth a try?).

Anyway, he has a substantial credit at the new/used store, and so picked up some new stuff on credit. Phew! Will carry us through until the next credit card rewards?

We both have birthdays, and Christmas coming up, and his family is generous. Considering how much we have caught up this year, I could not imagine asking for one thing for Christmas. We certainly don't *need* anything. [I usually keep a list throughout the year, or focus on needs]. So, seriously, I will just fill my wish list with his crap. It's plenty of "gift" not to have to pay for that stuff. Christmas/Birthday is largely where dh scratches this type of itch.

He hasn't been buying or selling any games and systems lately - it's just been very dry. For some of these new blu rays he may have some old DVDs to sell.


**Dh went to a volunteer appreciation potluck the other day at the public TV station. I didn't go because it was during BM's soccer game. Dh received a free water bottle and a $25 jamba juice gift card. Score!!

The kids and I already redeemed 3 jamba juices. Probably enough to buy 3 more. {I told them not to get used to it - and hope they like my homemade smoothies since they are infinitely cheaper!}


**Dh's grandma is still in the hospital as they are just now allowing her to eat and drink again. Crossing our fingers that goes well - getting her digestive system back up and running. Dh will go this weekend to be with his family - the rest of us have too much to attend to at home - and kids couldn't see her anyway.

I think if we hadn't had so much hospital time in the last few years that I would be much more open to working more at this point in our life. BUT, it's been such a luxury to be able to deal with all this (when it was us) and to step up to the plate when it is our family. Because, the rest of our siblings and cousins have not been able to step up to the plate in the least. My dh is very nurturing. He may be more taking care of our parents than working in the years to follow. I didn't grow up near any family, and I feel extraordinarily blessed to be flexible enough and close enough to help when times get rough. Even better to be with someone like dh who handles it all very well.

I Was thinking about it because BM had quite a schedule this year, and it kind of fell apart the last couple of weeks between him and Grandma both in the hospital. I was thinking, "I knew we could handle this, but of course the crap had to hit the fan at some point. I hadn't planned for that." Though I should have - because it always does!

We also totally flaked on a meeting with BM's teacher - HA - due to all the chaos. We rescheduled and I was worried she would express concern with us not quite keeping up with everything the last couple of weeks. She was totally cool, so phew. Somehow BM thrives in all the chaos. I think we are so used to being conscientious and holding up our end of the deal that we largely feel, "So what if we are letting things slack?" these days. Can't be perfect all the time! BM missed a lot of soccer and robot club. We begin to make it all up and catch up, this weekend. Kind of sort of, because then we go on vacation. Big Grin Well, here's to October and November then. Things should settle down. & if they don't, what can you do?

Medical Bills / Tax Update

September 20th, 2012 at 02:21 pm

**I was starting to think I could make mad progress on the mortgage this year. Just waiting to see how things settle out the rest of the year.


This is also one reason I am reluctant to invest aggressively outside of ROTHs. Once we build up a certain sum, that will be fine, but there is too much "need it now/need it NOW!" IT's going to take a while to work up to that - where I actually have monies that I might not need for 5+ years.

Anyway, just bills bills bills. As long as 15%+ of our income is going to medical bills, I don't have a lot left for the mortgage. But this is why I Was leaving final decisions to 12/31. I didn't want to put a chunk to the mortgage, and then be scrambling to pay bills.

So, we wait and see.

**The kids' dental visit actually wasn't too bad. They needed all kinds of sealants - I am happy to pay money for prevention. IT seems to be working - BM has outgrown his cavity-proneness.

So between checkups, x-rays, sealants (all times 2) the bill was $1k. Ugh! To be fair, I am sure I had $500 in the budget, so is only $500 more than expected. This on top of recent medical bills. & poof - $1500 *less* for the mortgage - in just one week.

They also reduced their no-insurance discount. Was 10%. Now is 8% by check or 5% by credit card. Will probably stick with the 5% by credit card (can get 2% off that, with the credit card reward). IT's all tax deductible for me - we itemize medical deductions since well over 7.5% of our income. So there is a 20% discount of sorts, on top of that.

Orthodontist wants to see him in 6 months. I will brace myself for that one!

This dental office has an ortho in-house, which is very convenient. BUT, we will shop around once they start recommending any real work. For one, this office is a bit of a drive. I think age 10 is when ortho talk tends to get serious, so I am gearing up for that next year.

**I thought as medical bills were mounting, that maybe I should revisit my tax calculation. I know I have been under-withholding a bit, BUT, the medical bills are a HUGE variable. The year before I got refunds - last year I owed a lot - only difference being the medical.

So I plugged in some better estimates, and relieved to see we will only owe about $900 for 2012. That is with 100% ROTH contributions - no reuglar (tax-deductible) contributions. Phew! I am fine with that. AMT would put us owing closer to $1500. OUCH!! I am quite sure AMT will be fixed. For reference, our income is low enough that the Feds only tax us about 3% on our entire income last year. AMT = the tax for the rich of the rich. Just to illustrate how broken AMT is. Rolleyes

**I think many assume that my tax bill is so low due to my tax knowledge. I suppose I make better tax decisions due to my tax knowledge. But I did not choose my job (employer had large tax-free compensation for many years), did not choose to buy a house, to marry, or to have kids, and to pay insane sums for medical insurance, due to the tax code. The way I live my life is just heavily incentivized. (Is that a word? Big Grin )

& so it continues! Because I worry next year that taxes will start to go steep, and at some point I will have to increase my withholding due to this refinance. & higher taxes. My "breakeven tax return" has turned into "owing $900" over the past few years - I haven't changed my withholding in ages. Mortgage interest deduction has been decreasing, etc.

& then it hit me - orthodontia will be a nice tax break for us. I just never had even thought about it before. SO, probably no need to change my withholding. One more thing I didn't choose for the tax break, but it will help us limp along with LOW taxes another few years.

Fiscal Doings

September 19th, 2012 at 08:05 pm

**Dh earned $85 for a focus group last night. Woohoo!!

**I got an emergency room statement - looks like bill may be $1k-ish. Will see. This was not a bill. So if it is a good estimate, it is useful. If not, it is not useful! Heck if I know. Though I'd be content with $1k. (Our deductible is $3k, and I am worried I will get a $3k bill).

I just received a $1k check from MIL. It was supposed to be for vacation, but welcome to my life. Easy come, easy go.

I don't know why it feels like it would be a miracle if we could just stay out of the hospital one year. *sigh* But I do know people going through so much worse (cancer and so forth), so I find it hard to complain. But I still feel underlying/passing aggravation. I'll forget about it quickly. Nice to vent, but no reason to dwell.

**Reminds me, kids have dentist appointments today, which is rarely good news. Will see! Beyond BM's wimpy cavity-prone baby teeth, I hold my breath every time as he is getting to that orthodontia age. One of his best friends - same age - just got braces. Lord help me - I thought I had at least one more year.

**Today I bought tickets for the Robot Wars. We are so excited about that!! Very nerdy. We were watching them last year on TV and since the robot wars are local we decided we have to see that live!! It will be in late October. I'll probably just tack this on tho the vacation budget - was $70 for the four of us. Basically it's "demolition derby" with robots. Totally cool!!

Vacation Budget & Planning

September 18th, 2012 at 01:35 pm

I was going to do this a few days ago, but then everything vacation was up in the air.

But since we seem back on track, here we go. I find it useful to write everything down, just so there are less surprises. & it always adds up faster than you think!

Our annual vacation budget is $1500. We usually spread it out a lot more throughout the year and do a lot more staycation type stuff. Or travel closer to home (driving). This year, we haven't done squat, so we have $1500 leftover.

I was looking at the budget last week and I think we had about $100 left over for food, so I figured we'd be tapping into other savings a bit. This is just a unique/rare trip. But, that said, I would be a lot more stressed about the food side while we are there. Because every penny over would have to come from somewhere else.

I knew the in-laws would likely give us a couple of hundred dollars (which has the added bonus that we don't have to go to the ATM - just one less chore - since we don't keep any cash with us in general, but like to have a few more dollars on hand when traveling - even if we usually just deposit most of it when we get home).

BUT, MIL gave us a generous check over the weekend - intending to pay for all the parks. Which it just about exactly will pay for. {I was not expecting anything like this, in the least!!}

I only added $500 of it to the budget, since we don't need to spend $1,000+ on food. Wink $709 left over for food is also ridiculous, but it's just the point where I am not going to stress. Whatever we have left over upon our return will go to savings/mortgage.

My first inclination was to put the $1k check to the mortgage, but I have medical bills on the horizon (could be large - I am not sure) and we have another vacation coming up in November. So I already put the $1k to the credit card (balance is a credit balance) and I will consider the parks paid for. (There is always a possibility we will not go to all these parks - someone could be sick - we may chose to chill one day - so could have even more left over for savings).



I wanted to lay out my vacation planning because I have been doing it a little bit at a time. All we really have left to do is make the arrangements for our cat and pack. !! I feel like all the hard work is done.

--Around May? we decided to go to Florida and book our airfare. Since $1500 is obviously not enough for a week in Florida, we decided to divert 5 months of savings to airfare. We have already replenished it, and by careful airfare shopping I was able to drop the figure down to "4 months of savings."

{This is the first *big* flight/trip for four that I have ever considered as a family with our own funds}.

So this is why I don't have airfare on this budget - it's done and paid for. I am trying to manage everything else that we have yet to pay for.

--Cat Care - I already checked with neighbor and a friend if they would be available to help with the cat. So I just have to finalize that. I am doing a tax return for a friend, so will probably give neighbor $30 for the help (is a teenager). My cat makes such a mess in her old age, that I bought a GIANT litter box in the hope she isn't as messy as usual. I literally scoop it every day, and am just trying to make it easier on whoever watches her. I will probably buy a second GIANT box to that end.

WE can't find any spare house keys, so dh will make a couple this week.

--Dh has been collecting quarters for tolls, and I am just rolling my eyes. Obviously extremely slow going consider how we don't even use cash for anything. Wink One of us will run to the CU and get two rolls of quarters - he finally agreed this made sense. Rolleyes

--I spent a lot of time last week considering transport options. Airport parking is the most expensive, BUT there is not savings of any note by paying for transport. So, parking wins. Convenient convenient convenient. (One option we have living so close to the airport is that several hotels in our neighborhood have parking at $2-$3 per day cheaper, but their shuttles "run every hour" and had some pretty poor reviews. So, we will pass! The shuttle/economy parking at our airport is very good- never remember waiting at all - they must run every 15 minutes. I will double check before we depart, as these things do change).

--In May or June we booked our hotel - free with MIL's timeshare points. Sometimes they have fees (usually taxes or parking). So, will see.

--On the car rental - I reserved around $130 for one week. We will probably want to add me as a driver - will pay whatever it is. I read that we do not need a transponder and that they try to tack it on anyway, so we will be vigilant about that. We will have our quarters for tolls - their transponder fee is absurd. This will be an issue in the future since apparently they are going all electronic. But I researched carefully that we do not have to have a transponder for the areas we will be driving.

We were planning to buy a booster car seat there, but I found one at Target for $15 last week (very small). I was going to put it in our luggage but not sure it will fit. At least I know $15 seats will be easy to find (I can return it and just buy a seat in ORlando). LM is 7 and very tall, so I have no problem waiting until we get to the store, or driving him to and from the airport without a booster. The car seat rental industry absolutely sucks eggs, and the car rental company charges more like $13 per DAY. Rolleyes The airline will likely make us check it, could get lost, could charge us - so I don't want to mess with our nice seats.

I have been so looking to the day where we don't deal with all this. We are 90% there. Next time will be heaven! Big Grin

--I priced all the park tickets, taxes and parking. I haven't found any discounts, because we are buying only one-day tickets. IT is what it is. Dh and I have two one-day park hoppers left over from the year 2000. So we are saving a little there. The plus is we are just buying all tix at the gate - this leaves us a lot of flexibility. IF we all get sick one day and have to skip one day, we won't be out the tickets.

--The museum and Gatorland are just big *maybes* if we are up to it. I have never been to Gatorland, so that one is probably more of a priority. It's dh's family tradition.

--Aside from gas and food, I don't see us spending anything else while we are there. GMIL gave the kids $50 for souvenirs, but I wouldn't be surprised if they keep it to spend on something more important to them (like video games). So, will see. None of us is into the "stuff."

--I got paid yesterday, so paid all the bills through mid-October. So I don't have to worry about any of that on vacation (& jiggled things around since I won't get my paycheck until we return).

--We borrowed two carry-ons from family - might only need one (for the kids). I already have one. We have never traveled "four of us" and "so long a trip" since airlines started charging for checked bags (airlines have also reduced carry-on sizes, rendering most our bags useless). I think 2 carry on luggages will probably be more than ample (we will also all carry backpacks). Our strategy is to pack 3-4 days of clothes and to do laundry mid-week. Since it's a "family visit" too, we should have plenty of down time for that. Florida = packing light clothing, so makes it easier. I picked up a couple of light exercise/water resistant type shorts at Target, on sale/clearance. It will help me immensely to pack light, and to be comfortable. It's just not the kind of clothing we have or need in our non-humid/dry climate.

So, all in all, I got some cat things to take car of, and we have to pack. Dh is going to get keys made and I will pick up some quarters. I think most the work is done!!

We don't leave for a couple of weeks. I really am the anti-procrastinator. I just want to relax and enjoy best we can. I think I have done everything that I can to that end!

It's Going - surgery update

September 16th, 2012 at 02:59 pm

So, GMIL had her surgery already!

Still too early for final decisions, but vacay is probably a go.

GMIL did great!! Tumor was not cancer. We have this streak in our family lately. Lots of tumors - always benign. Admittedly no final biopsy results yet.

She is doing really well but dangerous part is she will be off her feet so long. she was 100% spry going into surgery - not sure she will ever be as active again. But I still think she has good odds. Most 87 yos might not fare well with this kind of surgery and bed/recovery time. But most 87 yos aren't so healthy, active, and have so much family support. Next few days may be riskiest as she is 100% bed ridden for whatever reason. Seems its always so important to get up and walk after surgery. So that seems to be the area of most concern right now.

Dh was initially concerned that MIL was holding back info. (As she left some relatives in dark and based on past experiences). So I think he feels great relief to be with family and to see her in hospital. I told him if he was that concerned that he has all the time in the world and to stick to MIL like glue. Wink . But since things are well I think he will come home with us today.

Feeling Jinxed

September 15th, 2012 at 04:58 am


Pretty much out of nowhere, GMIL is having some serious health problems. Which seem to be stemming from a tumor, which they just found. She is 87.

We decided to go see her this weekend. The reason being we plan to vacation soon. Well, who knows...

Feeling jinxed, because we planned this trip when my Grandma passed just a few weeks before we were to visit her. So we planned a trip to Florida to see dh's paternal grandfather, instead. Which is apparently up in the air now due to GMIL's health.

The planner nature in me was to think through the possibility of cancelling the trip (or going without dh) and kid logistics if dh leaves town. Nothing is of any huge consequence. I can easily cover the kids without daycare, this time of year, and aside from airfare (which I know from recent experience is fully refundable in the worse scenario) we haven't put a cent down on this vacation. Dh is of a similar nature and started fretting. I told him I figured it all out and not to worry his pretty little head about it. Pretty much. No decisions can be made at this point. & I don't give a flip if we lose the airfare, anyway. & he doesn't need to worry about the kids if he needs to be with his family. So I just don't want him to worry about *any* of this.

So, I warned the kids of the possibility. I don't think dh or I care that much, but they probably need time to get used to the idea of skipping vacation. I admit I probably had a few minutes of freaking out about it, but I am not a big vacation person, and it didn't take me long to adjust to the idea that we might not go. Aside from the irony of missing more "very precious" grandparent time. !!

The good thing is GMIL is feeling very well, so it will be nice to spend some time with her this weekend. Hopefully outside of the hospital. I think she is very healthy and she has a lot of family support, so fingers crossed. Her odds seem good. I think everyone is just trying to be realistic given her age. *sigh*

This Grandma lives in San Jose - so just a couple of hours away.

{If she ends up having surgery or something, dh is just no longer interested in the least with the idea of being on the other side of the country while his family goes through this. I also think it's probably better to skip the trip than to take the financial risk of being stuck there if something happens. Canceling/losing carefully purchased airfare is one thing. Feeling like we have to fly home last minute could be exorbinant. All of this is especially if we are just going to be worried and distracted the whole trip - then why even bother. So, will see}.

Progress, Not Perfection

September 14th, 2012 at 01:31 pm

I quote Lucky Robin. Big Grin

In the year 2007 I believe, I made a pretty aggressive goal to have "$150k in retirement" by age 35. I think I was thinking more like the day I turned 35, and was definitely counting some more work retirement contributions in that calculation (another $10k-$20k that I never got). & even then, this goal felt pretty "pie in the sky."

For reference, in the year 2007 I only had $55k-ish in my retirement funds.

But, for all the setbacks, and how aggressive I felt the goal was at the time, I am getting pretty darn close!!

As of yesterday, had about $135k, including cash I already have for ROTHs but did not contribute yet. I can't physically put any more money into retirement accounts (that cash maxes me out), so it is what it is. I also don't really have any other investments (aside from things that are in the kids' name - obviously not for retirement!).

& I could set aside more money "for retirement" (in taxable accounts) to meet my goal, but it doesn't make any sense considering big picture, tax considerations, etc. So I will not do that.

But, will see how the rest of the year goes. At this rate, I suppose anything is possible. 3 more months until my 36th birthday. Big Grin

& I would be willing to max out ROTHs 1/1 to meet this goal. Off by 30 days from my goal? Who gives a flip! I am at the whim of the stock market. Who cares about *perfection*? I can't beat myself up about it if the stock market takes a dive tomorrow.

I'll post again on this subject and my progress, around my birthday. Again on January 1, if need be.


Next goal? Pay off mortgage by age 45. I have no idea how - but I think even if I fail, I will be pretty darn close. What's the worst that happens? Pay it off at 46?

{Truth is, I can imagine scenarios where we pay it off in just a few years. Other scenarios it would be put off indefinitely - like prolonged job loss - but you just have to hope for the best}.

P.S. Our retirement vehicles are maxed out, so not much else to do there. To obviously be re-evaluated as economic and job factors change. But on the retirement, I do feel the *hard* part is done. Around the $100k mark, compounding really starts to take over. We can commit to max out, but other than that, I think it's prudent start hitting other financial goals. I think I am just a "one focus at a time" person - always have been. I really enjoyed hitting the mortgage hard when younger, and hitting retirement hard for a time. IT's going to be back and forth until the mortgage is gone. But I do think the *hard* part is done with both of these monsters. Big Grin Plenty of work to still do, but over the hump.


I like aggressive goals for two reasons:

1 - If you fall short, you still did pretty darn good. Big Grin

2 - I am continually amazed at what I have been able to achieve in this life. It definitely takes more than "thought." But, by the same token, "thinking it" is often 90% of the battle.

Perfect example? My spouse told me he thought we should buy a residence, in our early 20s. & I thought he was out of his flipping mind!! But, we sat down and ran the numbers, it actually made sense, and we were buying a condo just a couple of years later. I basically went from "I can never afford a home here" to "homeowner" in 2 years.

Parade of New Cars, etc.

September 13th, 2012 at 08:36 pm

**Who, what is with all the new cars? Yeesh. New cars everywhere.

I was starting to get used to people keeping cars longer (perhaps living within their means?). What happened? Big Grin

I noticed a *lot* of new cars at the kids' school - then started noticing more on the freeway too.


**Ugh Ugh Ugh! Our promotional rate expired on our internet, and they won't give us a discount. Rolleyes What happened is that the super awesome little guy was bought out. We noticed this in the news, earlier in the year. The story of our lives!! This is the immediate consequence.

I am almost embarassed to even admit it, but our internet bill just went up from $40 to $70/month. !!! I think at most, we might have paid $50 for it, at some point. Yeah, it's super high speed internet (fiber optic) and it's really the only reason I think dh is okay with the "no cable" thing. Since we are able to stream such high quality to our TVs. Which is why I was willing to pay $50 for it. & he does utilize the high speed for his "work" (uploading videos, etc.). It's unpaid work at the moment, but hoping to make a profit at some point.

But anyway, the plan of action? I've only got to pay two more bills this year, so I am just going to wing it. Dh will call and complain a bit, talk to retention, yadda yadda yadda.

We are just going to have to fight it out next year. Jan. 1 I will rework the budget. Dh talks numbers, so it will be a good time to discuss. Jan. 1 I will know my 2013 salary and health insurance rates. We can evaluate the insanity at that point.

Something better will eventually come along. Dh will keep an eye and ear out for alternatives. It's just, "how long?"


**I've been slowly piecing together vacation details. I was thinking about it today, and suppose this is part of my "simplicty" approach to life. It's easier to break down planning for a vacation into many smaller tasks, over a long period of time. The only thing left for the last minute will be the packing. I like to brainstorm lists the final days before we leave - which means we don't tend to forget things. I think about it a few days, and then check the list before we finalize the packing. As with anything, there is nothing very formal or special about my organization. I grab a scratch piece of paper and just jot a few things down.

I was just talking to my mom the other day and she said something like, "Why do people make things so complicated?" Is that where I get it from? Big Grin

Meanwhile, I asked MIL if we could borrow a carry-on luggage, because she is driving up for a visit this weekend. She said she would bring 4 bags for us to choose from. Rolleyes I know she means well - but this is "making things way more complicated than it has to be." HA! If the roles were reversed, I'd figure beggars couldn't be choosers. Wink

Anyway, I think I am going to work up a vacation budget and post more about this tonight. I can lay out my thought process, what's done, and what needs to be done still. I did a lot of research this week, and want to get it documented before I forget. {I honestly have a good memory and tend to keep most stuff in my head. But, I think my brain is getting to its limits on this trip - time for a spreadsheet}.

Some Links

September 11th, 2012 at 01:09 pm

I was catching up on my e-mail the other day, and lots of interesting articles in my inbox.

Big-money funds buy foreclosures -- to rent

Text is and Link is

"No condos wanted, and no "McMansions", either. The objective: Bank-owned "family'' homes, with, say, 1,800 square feet and 3 bedrooms, in stable neighborhoods where prices are expected to rise.

That's the sweet spot for Carrington Capital Management LLC, a private equity fund with Orange County ties in an increasingly competitive field -- big-money players going after foreclosures."

I share because I have kind of watched in awe as the flippers have moved back in (& have been surprisingly successful). Most the houses in our neighborhood have been foreclosed, bought by flippers, and then bought by investors to rent out. I have also mentioned that most buyers are not even from the area; many not from the U.S.

So, what has changed??? The market almost feels more speculative now than it did in 2005. {I know a few individuals buying homes, but no one who is buying anything within the realm of reason, or with more than a 3% down payment. ???? So, what has changed?}


An Ethics Test Your Adviser Might Not Pass

Text is and Link is

New research suggests most assets are managed by firms with regulatory violations or conflicts of interest.

Man, I see this *so much* in my line of work. So, I didn't find this surprising in the least.

& ha, my favorite investment advisor, Merrill Lynch, made the list for felony, misdemeanor, SEC violation - they got a giant red x in every single category. Surprise surprise!!

Even Vanguard had commodities trade violations (on the red list!)

Critics also say that what Diligence perceives as potential conflicts are commonly accepted practices throughout the industry -- for example, the hybrid model of firms that both sell products and provide advice

But that's the problem - it's a HUGE conflict of interest! Just because it is a commonly accepted practice doesn't negate that.

P.S. I am skeptical how squeaky clean all those green companies really are - yes. Wink I've seen it over and over with small asset management firms. A lot of them are squeaky clean until they run off with your life savings. So, you just have to be careful. Take this list for what it's worth - a list of companies that have already been caught red handed. Others yet to be caught.


September 10th, 2012 at 01:56 pm

I think we all got a little bit of some bug. Though we went to emergency around 6am in the morning, I had a full 9 hours sleep before that. I came home and crashed until noon, napped in the afternoon, and slept another 9 hours last night. Yeesh! I've been feeling kind of "ugh," for weeks - attributing it to allergies. I am pretty confident that I slept off the virus that befell BM. IT just contributed to the "ugh."

BM refused to sit still so we watched a lot of movies.

He is asleep, which is very unusual for him at this hour (7am), but he is breathing well and his fever has been gone since yesterday morning (don't think anyone gave him a fever reducer). I won't wake him up for school - glad he is getting some sleep. He will probably want to go to school - but he can go late if he feels strongly about it. I am quite sure he will probably feel 100% today.


I didn't think much about the emergency room - was $200 for the visit and meds. But I thought later that we haven't maxed our deductible yet this year. So, I have no idea how much it will cost us in the end. My guess is a few hundred dollars for doctor's time and for medications delivered in the ER. Could be thousands - you never know.

Will see!

& such is our life!


Friday I splurged on an extraordinarily expensive hotel reservation. It was a rare splurge, but was feeling confident about the rest of the year. Thinking probably a $5k deposit to mortgage on 12/31, barring the unexpected. Of course the unexpected didn't waste any time. Rolleyes

This trip - to Pismo beach - is end of November. Probably won't get any medical bills by then, but we can guage how the rest of the year is going. Most anything that comes up in December can be paid in January, anyway. So it's a pretty safe point to see where we are at for the year. We can save $150 by downgrading room to a non-ocean-view. I'll wait closer to the last minute to decide. We are 100% going, but don't *need* such a nice view to enjoy the trip.


Trying to do something productive yesterday, I priced out or Orlando tickets again. It's flipping $1,000 for 3 days (Universal cost as much as Dinseyworld - yeesh!!). & that is including the fact that we have 2 non-expiring tickets from the year 2000. !!

I already knew this, but was hoping to knock it down a little bit with discounts. I don't seem to be finding anything (every discount seems to be reserved for multi-day tickets, which we are not buying). Ugh! Buying 2 or 3-day tickets for a gajillion dollars isn't particularly enticing.

I think this is a rare trip in that we really want to go to Universal and check out the Harry Potter stuff, but doubt we will go back again? Not every time we go to Florida? Usually 2 days in Disney would be *plenty* for us. (Maybe primarily because Disneyland is in our backyard, and Universal Hollywood - so there is a lot in Florida that is not too unique or exciting to us). But, I will admit that if we are going to buy 3 days of tickets, might as well do it when we have a couple of old tickets to use up.

How well we do on our vacation budget in Florida, will also be a deciding factor for Pismo Beach hotel choice. It's hard to say. Grandparents may treat us to some meals - MIL and GMIL like to hand us cash before we vacation.

Emergency Room, Of Course

September 9th, 2012 at 02:22 pm

We had first game of soccer season and BM seemed pretty bored and disinterested. He told me after, "I am so tired." Then he started that barky/croupy cough thing that should be long outgrown by now.

I thought, "Only my kid develops pneumonia in the middle of a soccer game!". His MO is to absolutely never get sick. But when he does it is always extreme and out of nowhere. The plus side is he is always good as new, lightning fast.

So yeah, since he is 9, I thought he sounded more pneumonia-like. Tried to make him slow down and rest (ha!).

This morning was near-exact repeat of our 911/ambulance ride when he was 4. Except no 911. High fever, huge tonsils, wheezy breathing, croupy cough. Last time we both panicked. All I know was he couldn't hardly breathe. This time he was taking long labored wheezy breaths so I sent him outside (cool air) and found probably long-expired asthma treatment. Didn't seem to help at all so woke up the fam & jumped in the car. (forgot his shoes- ha!). The oNLY reason no 911 is because he was extraordinarily calm, which made me calm. BTDT, also helped. Him being calm saved us $1000-ish. Can't say I could do the same. I am a pretty calm person, but probably not if I could barely breathe!!

Thank goodness for our phones!! Dh just texted me is just a virus. He will probably be good as new/at school tomorrow. I appreciate I had any warning he was sick, this time. Last time paramedics and doctors asked how long he had been sick. Um, he just woke up like that?!? This was better. I literally thought yesterday, " How com every time BM is sick he ends up in the ER?". I had a feeling. Though didn't expect quite this!!

Update: He was discharged with a new nebulizer. Which will probably never be needed again. Well, I mean, before it expires.

Trying to Plan Ahead

September 8th, 2012 at 09:49 pm

**Well, internet/phone was restored at the office mid-morning on Friday. Yeesh!! I was going to probably just take most of Friday off otherwise, but was nice to get some stuff done. We were basically down two full days.

**Going on vacation is such a chore, if you ask me. Blah!! I suppose I much prefer mini-vacations. This weeklong thing is stressing me out.

I was pleased with myself today because I set up all my online bill payments for the first of the month. I just delayed a savings transfer for until we get back from vacation and I get my 10/1 paycheck. Bought me a little buffer. The payments due at the first of the month don't amount to much - they are all set to be paid. When we get back I can deposit my paycheck and do all my savings transfers.

Mission accomplished!

Then I got the mail today and I got a $400 life insurance bill, due 10/1. Seriously? Rolleyes Since when do I get bills that are due in less than a month? I am so annoyed! For whatever reason, it just wasn't on my radar. Partly because I just quadrupled the coverage. I generally have a good idea when all the *big* bills are due. This is just the first time it is *big.*

I put it in and I didn't have to juggle anything around. So, phew!! I just set it to pay next week.

Okay, what next? I think I am all ready for vacation, on the money and bill side!! That *really* should be it for the surprises.

{Yeah, I believe this is my only insurer who does not take credit card payments. Is through my professional association. Which adds to the novelty of getting a bill that I only have 3 weeks to pay}.

So, On October 6th...

September 6th, 2012 at 09:03 pm

"So, On October 6th..."

This is what dh says to me a few minutes ago. & I laughed before he even finished the sentence.

What is on October 6th? One of the most awesome concerts of all time - and it's FREE. Of course!! {Les Claypool, a favorite local band who recently came out of retirement, and a favorite new band we have just really gotten into - plus others as it is a whole festival thing).

I mentioned that the stars were aligned to everything fun and cool in October, and that we turned down several things already, due to our Florida trip, and there is only so many things you can do in one month.

But, seriously?!? (We will be in Florida, so oh well!)

We are also waiting for the artist lineup for one of our favorite annual benefit concerts. I personally haven't been in a long time, but I am getting the feeling that it will be a pretty awesome lineup this year. I just told dh the other day, "You know we are SO going!" Don't know any details (aside from dates), but the writing is on the wall - we will want to go.

So what's next? Bring it on universe. Taunt me with all the cool things I can't possibly do within the earthly limits of space, time, and money. Big Grin

I find it extra funny because it seems like we have had a whole lotta *nothing* going on this year, otherwise. Maybe one cool thing here or there, but never 5 things in one weekend.

Weird Week

September 6th, 2012 at 02:29 pm

To set the stage, lightning storms are pretty rare where we live.

So, this morning I woke up or was awaken by a large flash of light (that I could see with my eyes closed). We have a lot of windows in our house and the door was open, but our bedroom has blinds and heavy black drapes. I had a second or two to wonder if I was going crazy (what the heck was that?) when the loudest thunder I have ever heard in my life, clapped right over my house. O.M.G.!!!! Our house is so insulated that I could not even imagine what it might have been like to be standing outside. & if I hadn't of noticed the lightning, I might have thought someone dropped a bomb in our neighborhood. I don't know if I would have known what that sound was!

So, okay, I am awake!!!!

I figured we could enjoy the show, but that was it. No thunder after that. ???


I am also not sure what to do with work today. Yesterday I went in and the phones and internet were down (we have fiber optic). I didn't think about it until later, but we are supposed to have a backup internet line, too.

Maybe it's because I am young, but in these instances my older co-workers are inclined to sit around and twiddle their thumbs (& be seen). & it doesn't help that when we had a weeklong power outage at some point that I went home to get lots of work done, and the boss's wife called me back to sit around in a heatless/dark office. Yeah... In the end a client had some computer problems so I had to go home to help them. I think I got my point across why I stayed home. Doh!

So, yesterday I had some urgent stuff to take care of, and came home.

I called a co-worker's cell phone at some point to get the dish. IT turns out that the electric company probably severed a bunch of lines. AT&T and the power company had like 10 trucks out there. What a mess!! AT&T told someone in my office that SMUD did something they were trying to fix. Probably explains why we also have no backup internet. IT affected *everything.* AT&T, Surewest (fiber optic), and whoever we have our backup line with (could be ATT).

So, I just called the office and the phone line is *still* down.


I think I will go to the office in the a.m. and dig around for files to bring home. I don't have a ton to do because of the holiday and end of the month - hoping some clients dropped off some stuff yesterday. Maybe will drop off things today? I'd probably rather just take the day off and go work Sunday. This is so annoying!!

Smart phone saves the day. I can at least have my e-mail forwarded to my phone, so I have some form of communication with my clients, while I am in the office. It *Really* helps.

{All of our programs are in the cloud- so it's impossible to do any work without internet}.

Death to the Mortgage

September 5th, 2012 at 02:07 pm

Or maybe more to the point, "Death to the Mortgage Interest!"

I am at the point where shorter term mortgage are extremely enticing with lower rates, BUT not willing to give up the liquidity. So, I need to put away the amortization tables, at least until next year. Or until something significantly changes.

Our current mortgage goals are "to pay more principal than interest, going forward," and "To pay $10k off per year." At the least we are committed to paying more principal. In good years (gainfully employed) we can commit to the $10k annual payoff.

We've been in our house for 10 years, and have refied 3 times. We have only ever refinanced for lower mortgage rates - no cash outs.

Out of curiosity, I looked at where we are today on the principal balance, versus where we would be if we had never refinanced. Keep in mind, we have 30 years left on this loan, versus would only have 20 years left if we had never refinanced.

As of today? Our principal balance is $3k higher than it would have been if we never refinanced. Which is interesting because we were planning to pay about an extra $3k this year. I have the cash, but just making sure no one has surgery this year - probably won't commit this amount until 11:59pm on 12/31/12. But, I think that makes it pretty even steven!!

I found this really surprising (up to today, we have basically never borrowed against mortgage or prepaid anything - so this is basically just with regular payments). How is this possible? Well, our mortgage payment is about $600/month smaller than it used to be, BUT more of the payments are going to principal with the significantly lower interest rate.

Yes, I do still have 30 years left on this mortgage (versus the 20 I Would have otherwise) so it's not apples to oranges. But, obviously it's going to be pretty darn easy to knock off those last 10 years. If we commit to pay more principal than interest...

As of today, we are pretty committed to never refinancing at 30 years again. But, I may have said that before. Ask me again is I can get 2% on a 30-year. But I think the point is we would just get a 20-year mortgage in that case.

I was always amused by advice not to refinance again at 30 years because "one should have no mortgage debt in retirement." Our mortgage goal pay off is age 45-50. Who said anything about a mortgage in retirement? Wink I think we have already knocked off a year or two off our newest mortgage (with some very small pre-payments). So, if not of concern to us. Worst case - age 63-ish payoff. By next year we may have knocked it down to age 60. Odds are we will refi to a 15-year or a 20-year at some point. Which would be age 50-55 payoff.

All this to say, be careful of overly simplistic financial advice. I am all about keeping it simple, no doubt! But, I am also about thinking about the big picture and running different scenarios.

Lost a Lunch Box

September 4th, 2012 at 02:14 pm

Like the second week of school LM lost his lunch pail and it still hasn't turned up. *sigh*

On the flip side? BM has been in school for 4 years and has never lost one item. Well, I think he lost a tooth when it fell out. Ha!

So, four years and one last item. It's bound to happen, and we did better than expected. Since everything is on sale right now I picked up a couple of lunch boxes at $5/each. One as a backup. {I was thinking of doing this anyway}.

This reminds me, we use reusable tupperware in their lunches (the "disposable" kind that last years and years and years). On the first day of Kinder both kids tossed their tupperware, because they were instructed to toss everything along with everyone else. I explained to the kids that we don't throw away tupperware - that it goes back in their lunch box. & that was that. I've gotten so many comments over the years about how things must get lost and thrown away. Well, if you teach your kids to throw everything away their whole life, and that everything is disposable, that is how it goes. I honestly expected a few more lost tupperware over the years - but there just hasn't been any. Aside from the first day of school. I find it funny that they both did that!!


I redeemed $50 in Amex credit card rewards to my ROTH. I have hit $50 every month this year - even with all the other credit card rewards. For next month I charged up some health insurance to another card, BUT we will have all our Florida expenses on the AmEx. So, definitely $50 for next month. It will be $600 for the year.

That card is just 2% back on everything - is redeemed into my ROTH. I was thinking of maxing out 2013 ROTHs in April 2013. But, I will have to remember to save some room for credit card reward contributions. Maybe I will put in $9,000 by April and just see what I have left in order to max out at end of the year. Points can accumulate, but I think it's wise to redeem ASAP because rewards and rules change over time.

It's a Miracle (Plus Cool Blog)

September 3rd, 2012 at 03:29 pm

It's a miracle! I think we found a vacation date that works for my work, kids school, my parents, etc. SO, we are trying again for that beach weekend.

I suppose I will use my credit card rewards for the hotel (leaves tons of rewards leftover). The gas will probably fit in our gas budget. Credit card rewards for hotel. Will have some eating out spending, but that is about it. The hotel is on the beach.

I am sure this trip will underwhelm the kids after Florida, but it is what it is. IT's taken like a year to mesh all of our schedules.


My folks came up Saturday and we went to a BBQ at the in-laws on Sunday.

We lucked out because the kids had some insane growth spurt type eating yesterday. They ate and ate and ate at the in-laws. Plan was to come home for dinner, BUT my mom had hemmed my pants and enticed us to stop by. So, when we got there I was mortified the kids ate and ate and ate. & then we fed them a second dinner when we got home. Rolleyes

How is that for planning? Let them eat their grandparents out of house and home. Wink Will see how they are today...

No plans for today, but will probably go to the pool. I think it "officially" closes as of tomorrow. But seems when it is hot sometimes they keep the pool heated a few weeks longer.


LM is doing drama club now. HE actually volunteered to do something! (Another miracle). IT's $150, but it's the only extra-curricular he will do this year. He is EASY.

Him and BM are just such opposite personalities, but it usually works out because BM hogs up the extra-curricular budget and LM doesn't want to do anything. So BM can hog it up all he wants!


Okay, so I am totally digging Mr. Money Mustache blog.

I have probably never even talked about early retirement, because aside from "preparing for the worst/hoping for the best," absolutely nothing about the early retirement genre appeals to me. Probably mostly so because I was raised to love my work and to follow my passions. The idea of hating my work so I can retire sooner just doesn't make *any* sense to me. I don't see "work" and "enjoying life" as mutually exclusive.

So what is amazing about this blog? It is about a guy who retired at 30. & it is more family focused than more early retirement blogs - that is probably the other disconnect for me with the most of them. IT's a family-focused guy that retired at 30. & he did so in the name of moderation. Okay, NOW we are talking. If I read this when I was 25, this might have changed my life. I would have considered it, because the whole thing doesn't strike me as insane, overly risky, or full of deprivation. Even from a biological standpoint, I don't think is is particularly risky.

I mostly enjoy this blog because I can identify with it. I understand it. To some it might sound insane, but I have seen these principles played out in real life. On a Scale of 1 - 10 Mr. Money Mustache may be a 10, and we may be a 5. We largely share the same life philosophies. We utilized this knowledge to have my spouse "retire" at age 25 while I don't care at all about early retirement. Mr. Mustache took it to the "10" level and completely retired at 30 - both him and his wife.

I am going to have to go back and read most the blog posts at some point.

Of note, here are some of the posts that sucked me in (but be warned that there is language):

First RetireThen Get Rich

Text is and Link is

**I've been watching our parents stress about early retirement and feel they were way short of their financial goals, while unable to find work in this economy. In the meantime, they are very Mustachian types and their nest egg keeps growing. So though maybe they hadn't met their goals pre-retirement, they will meet their goals in retirement. For my dad this means he was maybe only 50% to his retirement savings goal at age 57, but is 90% there at age 61. No employment necessary. & by the way, he doesn't need the nest egg anyway because it's just one more year to social security. ?!? So though he is 90% to goal, turns out goal was 500% more than he "needed." It's making me re-think retirement. My in-laws are in a very similar boat. This is no fluke - this is just what happens when you get used to living on 1/3 of your income.**


The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement

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**Again, this is true and I have seen it played out many times. Living on less means not only do you save more, but that you can stretch your savings further. & yes, it's really a pretty simple concept if you think about it.**


Oh, and how could I forget this one?

News Flash: Your Debt is an Emergency!!

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**I loved this one. This pretty much sums up the way dh and I are wired when it comes to debt. Which basically sums up why I'd rather work three jobs than run up one cent of credit card debt. & of course, to be wired this way is very unusual in our culture.**

Financial Juggling

September 1st, 2012 at 01:58 pm

**Woohoo! I got my Chase card. Phew! Was hoping to get in time to pay some 9/1 bills (was willing to pay a couple of days late, but might have given up by Tuesday).

Also, the due date was October 20th for the first Chase bill. Big Grin SO, I paid 2 months health insurance ($800 due today - paid the 10/1 bill too). Since I usually charge those around the 30th and pay off around the 20th. Doesn't mess me up *at all.* No juggling or re-arranging.

Auto insurance was due Monday - I paid it today.

This leaves me $75 to charge. I will probably use it to fill up the van next week - which will put me a few dollars short? But maybe I can give it to dh for when he gets gas.

What I don't understand is why they made me call a live person to activate the card. It's the most annoying/time consuming part of these credit card rewards. Everything else is so computerized/instantaneous. I can't get across how little time I spend to reap these rewards. BUT, today I sat on hold five minutes, and they didn't even try to sell me anything. Rolleyes What a waste of time! When I am done I just e-mail them to close the card. & I am putting the October 20th payment in Quicken right now so I don't have to remember anything. The hard part is done...


**Holiday weekend is really messing me up. I have to be vigilant with the checkbook, since I don't get paid until Tuesday and probably won't get the deposit in until Wednesday. I paid the piano teacher and just hope I get MIL's check for the piano teacher. Today. Even so, I will remote deposit and will have to make sure it is there Tuesday. & if not I will have to do a transfer. I just generally don't like to cut things tight/deal with it. BUT, I also try to avoid every moving money over for this kind of stuff. I can, but just try to arrange it that I don't have to. It's just another layer of complication. Admittedly, "move the money and forget about it" is probably less complicated. But it's just a little vigilance that I usually don't have to deal with. Which is easier than moving money and back and forth, I guess.

It's probably good though, because while I Was looking at the calendar and figuring when I could pay things, I remembered that next month will be worse. We will be on vacation and so I won't get to deposit my check until closer to the 10th. !!

BUT, with this credit card, I don't have to pay our health insurance until October, so buys me an easy $800 buffer. I think that might do!! I don't have many bills due the first of the month - just a few small things. 1st of the month is generally 90% to savings; mid-month payday covers the credit cards and mortgage. Which means I usually pay the mortgage and credit cards around the 30th, and then the few small things/transfer to savings after the first. Which means a whole lot of nothing most the month.

But I will have to pay all the bills before we leave. So just another chore to remember.

Who knew this credit card reward deal would make life a little easier? It bought me a $800 buffer for vacation. Which is more than ample to cover a very late payday.