Home > This & That - Mostly Good

This & That - Mostly Good

October 10th, 2013 at 02:33 pm

Phew! The universe seems to be cutting us some slack this week.

**Got back from our "Plan B" vacation. We cut it short by about 5 days - so not much else planned the rest of the week. Might go see a couple of movies.

I will say I haven't had a nicer drive in "forever". No traffic whatseoever - didn't particularly see any crazy drivers. How is that for a miracle? With the year we have had I was also crazy afraid of some bad luck like a breakdown. So I am relieved to say it went very well. (I've probably never done a road trip of any length in such a new vehicle and had no logical reason to be worried - it's just been that kind of a year).

So, we do feel relieved to be home in one piece.

**WE spent about $1,000 for the trip. I will break it down when I get a breather. I think we honestly easily could have made it a $500-ish trip. I told dh to keep that one in our back pocket if we were ever particularly broke and wanted a getaway. We splurged on show tickets and a kitty hotel, which was about $400 of our costs. So, $600 for gas, hotel, food, transportation and so on.

The State Park we went to was AMAZING and probably made up a bit for skipping Death Valley. I think we saw some similar landscapes. The kids seemed to warm up to Vegas by last day and seemed to really enjoy the last night. Days 1 and 2 I wasn't so sure. Vegas was certainly PACKED. I think a lot of travelers were diverted there.

**Sprint coverage sucked eggs most the trip and so dh told me he was done with them. I think he had been holding out hope for 4G, but this trip just sealed the deal. He has to call and complain and get our credits back for the rest of our contract. We will start running numbers. We will probably go back to Verizon. At least we have a feel now of what kind of data usage we use, and so on. Before, was just boycotting anyone who didn't offer unlimited, but he is just not happy with other options. We've never been happy with any phone carrier but Verizon. They may be pricey but they offer exceptional coverage and service.

**We came home to our 2014 health insurance premiums. Gah! They usually e-mail it and certainly wasn't expecting that. In fact, we had been discussing that on the way home. In the end, we dodged a bullet. Only went up 5%. (I know - ONLY!! But we have had too many years of 10% - 20% increases). Which means we have one more solid year of insurance cheaper than our mortgage. Next year looks to be the year, where our insurance costs more, for sure. For reference, this is in CALIFORNIA. It's not like housing is exactly cheap.

I haven't looked up the exchange yet but never expected much from it (while gainfully employed). I appreciate the options for the unknown future though. But anyway, we have "young and healthy" insurance and so did not expect much. For reference, the Platinum plan was being quoted as $1500 per month, while we pay $900/month for a lower deductible and far better coverage. They released the rates around September 1.

In addition, I do have health insurance through employer, so that is another wrench. IT's just really crappy insurance and expensive. It's like I'd pay $1,000 per month to add the family, and nothing we needed would be covered. That kind of thing. But, since *I* have insurance offered to me, I do not believe *I* can buy insurance on the exchange. Even if it is crappy by my own measure - it meets the minimum requirements.

Our income is near the cutoff for income tax credits, so I doubt I will find the worse plan that costs more any more enticing. If I were unemployed, it would be fully subsidized, and that would be a whole other story. But seriously, how does that even work? I have to cough up $1500 per month now and wait for a $18,000-ish tax refund after the end of the year? Holy cow!! I guess it's better than no subsidy.

So, anyway, the long and the short of it was I did not expect to use the exchange. But, I will look up actual rates now that it is all set up and check our tax credit and so on. I haven't done that yet.

My dad told me his insurance was going from $2,000 per month to $300 per month on the exchange. They have no income, so that is not surprising. I have to re-strategize for them since we were converting all their IRAs to ROTHs, ideally before they turn 70. But, it might be better to leave their income very low and get these healthcare subsidies until they turn 65. I expected the exchange to help them more with all their pre-existings.

{Their insurance is still $2,000 per month, but they will be getting HUGE tax refunds as most of the savings will be tax credits}.

**I talked to my dad last night and he no longer wants to take BM to Japan. I am a little disappointed because him and his Japan friend aren't getting any younger and healthier. BUT, he said he wanted to take BM in 2015 instead. I think I can live with that. He even said he wanted to pay for him if they went in 2015. I felt like it would be dumb to pass up the opportunity, BUT, it does put a lot of financial pressure off of me. So, phew! {Next year my dad wants to do a solo trip and wants the flexibility to go any time of the year}.

**We have $1500 left over from our planned vacation budget, for this week. I'd probably realistically expect to spend $2500 on our 10-day National Park vacation. We save $1500 every year for vacations. MIL gave us a check for $1,000 right before we left (totally unexpected - for anniversary and trip). I don't know if she would have given us the check if she knew we could not go to the National Parks. But, whatever. I already sent it to the credit card so it's all paid for. We spent just about that much. I wouldn't say that we planned it overly much or limited it to only $1,000, but maybe we did subconsciously. We certainly splurged more than we would have been able to given our very expensive year. So, that was certainly nice.

So I have this $1,500 that I Was thinking for Japan.

Since Japan is cancelled, then we could really use a $3,000 vacation budget next year ($1500 x 2 years). We have a wedding to go to near Yellowstone. But, without the Japan trip, we can also re-try our 10-day trip next October. It's an election year and so we discussed that the odds were Congress wouldn't be so stupid next October 1. Though, who knows. Rolleyes We hadn't really considered it otherwise because we had like 3 other opportunities next year otherwise. We felt we would probably stay home next October, though the kids get an ideal vacation week (& only THREE more!!!). But, going on 4 vacations next year just wasn't going to happen. 3rd trip was visiting my sister.

Before I talked to my dad about Japan, dh and I had discussed driving up to Montana for the wedding and hitting at least Bryce and Zion. I haven't really looked at a map and don't know how feasible it was. BUT, I told him the kids had seen more than I ever saw before like my 21st birthday (I mentioned we absolutely never vacationed anywhere when I Was a child). & so I was fine with ditching them since the wedding is while they are in school. I am not getting younger and I wanted to see some National parks. So, we had talked about doing a big road trip just the two of us. But, I did not know the wedding was literally near Yellowstone (Montana is a big state). Dh just told me that was the case. So, maybe we will just fly and do Yellowstone for a week or something. & we will try again in October for the rest.

In the meantime, I wanted to prepay our property taxes. Which, only ties up the money for about 4 months. I decided that was the best bang for my buck since would get me an income tax deduction. But, that was while the market was flying high. I will have to ponder that - have until about December 10th to decide. This extra $1500 vacation money would be perfect for that. It's tied up, but then I won't have to cough up $2000 next April. I think that is mostly the plan, but I may fund our IRAs if the stock market takes a dive in the coming weeks. I hadn't wanted to drop our cash down and was thinking of funding in April. I expect some cash infusions in December (gift) and April (overtime). BUT, I will put in the full $9500-ish I still need to max our ROTHS if the market takes a significant dip. & I may forget about the property taxes in that case. It can wait another year.


Edited to Add: I forgot one thing. We also expected to save $150-ish this week not being home (regular gas and groceries spending). & I needed $165? to get our mortgage below $190,000. SO, I will add that extra amount to the next mortgage payment - whatever the exact dollar is will come from this savings. I know we will be home 4 days this week, but the gas savings is pretty solid since no school or work commute this week. We will have to eat very cheaply. Which is fine - ready for some good home cooking. I can't stand all the eating out when we vacation, we are so spoiled by the good home cooking.

0 Responses to “This & That - Mostly Good”

Leave a Reply

(Note: If you were logged in, we could automatically fill in these fields for you.)
Will not be published.

* Please spell out the number 4.  [ Why? ]

vB Code: You can use these tags: [b] [i] [u] [url] [email]