Home > Archive: May, 2016

Archive for May, 2016

Bills, Bills, and More Bills

May 30th, 2016 at 03:12 pm

The tide has definitely turned. The quiet tide where we barely spent any money this year.

I don't even know where to begin.

**BM seems pretty certain he wants to go on the school DC trip. Since we don't want to do payments, it turns out we probably have to pay for that around June 1. (Okay, my planning was REALLY bad on that. Never occurred to me that we'd have to pay that a full year ahead of time).

**Last week I got dh's MRI bill (from January). Of course!

{The MRI bill and school trip stuff is $4,000 total. Plan is to charge up in June so that I don't have to pay until July}.

**I did buy our own Washington D.C. airfare this month.

**Dh got that phone deal he couldn't resist. Which is chump change compared to all this.

**We picked up an extravagant birthday gift for LM because it was on sale. I think it was around $160. Will save for July birthday. (This was before any of the above).

**Both dh and BM are taking classes this month for some unique passions. Will have to touch more on that later. Kind of curious to see how both pan out a bit more before I blog about them. Dh spent $125 and BM spent $40, this month.

**This week I saw that one of dh's favorite bands is playing regionally. First show in 7 years. It's not until October but tix go on sale this week.

**I did see a groupon for the local water park and was tempted, but decided we had spent more than enough money this month. (Thinking for BM's birthday, but other deals will come around).

To this point it's been fine. But if anything else comes up...

MRI aside, it's all fun stuff at least.

Edited to add: Decided to nix the concert. It was really expensive. Which I probably wouldn't have thought twice about before all the big surprise bills this week. Dh just happened to bring up last night (since I had told him not to spend more money this month?) and I Said, "Well... I do think the tickets are kind of ridiculously expensive." We just hadn't seen each other all week to discuss and kind of assumed the other *really* wanted to go. But we discussed it and decided we didn't want to pay for a ridiculously expensive concert. Just a reminder how extra money gets blown when things are hectic and assumptions are made. {Without BM's trip we would have gotten the tickets and enjoyed. But it was just re-discussing after $4k in bills fell out of the sky. It quickly fell down the priority scale}.

All of that said, we are still at "peak liquidity". & probably will still be there after all this sorts out. I can live with that.


As a frugal win, I did cut LM's hair. He doesn't have much hair and dh was complaining that his last haircut took like 5 minutes, if that. I didn't care because I get him a $10 haircut once every 12 months or so and lord knows BM and I always get our money's worth (tons of hair, takes a long time to cut). I told dh, "Trust me, it evens out." But in the end I decided to give it a whirl. Worst case is I muck it up and pay someone to fix it. It turned out way better than I ever thought it would. I had cut their hair when they were preschool age but was nothing I would subject them to once they hit school age. I think it was pretty obvious I cut their hair and wasn't that great at it. But I guess LM has super easy hair for the moment. So I am glad I gave it a try.


In other spending, dh did also buy a laptop this weekend. He thinks it will help with his writing. After watching computer reviews and sales for a while, he was able to pick up a small laptop for $200.

I'm personally happy to have a much smaller laptop to take on our upcoming vacation. I am glad he found a deal before our trip.

I think mostly dh wants to take his writing with him everywhere so that he can take more advantage of down time. I don't think upcoming "down time galore" was his motivation but I expect he will be getting a lot of use from the laptop.

May Savings

May 30th, 2016 at 01:52 pm

Received $42 bank interest for the month of May.

Snowflakes to Investments:

Redeemed $50 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $70 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $5 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$8 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$ 200 to investments
+$ 300 to cash
+$ 900 to IRAs

Also, redeemed $208 Barclay card one-time bonus.

Savings (From dh's paycheck):
+$ 230 to Investments

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):

+$1,300 to cash
-$400 Drama Camp (summer)


As to dh's paycheck, I turned off the 401k mid-month. I think because we had so many bills coming up. (I don't remember exactly why I turned it off when I did). So we put 50% to 401k first half of the month, and that's it. I used his check to cash flow some of the May/June craziness. Turns out he will only get one paycheck in June so I am so glad I did that. I'll turn the 401k back up to 50% as necessary for tax purposes. Taxes were the only reason we put so much into his 401k, but in the meantime my OT was not as much as usual and his work has been slow, so don't need to put so much in the 401k. (Is not a financial priority at all, to fund his 401k, since we have more than enough saved for long-term retirement). So I will see where we are at in the Fall and what is more efficient. If we can use his fall paychecks to pay for some of BM's class trip, that would be great. At some point I know I will have to put 50% into his 401k again(maybe October - December, or something like that. He has the summer off).

The savings drain will be pretty big for the next two months. Will pay for BM's class trip and our vacation. Oh, and I got dh's MRI bill too. That's $8k+ right there. Fun Fun!

Weekend Doings

May 16th, 2016 at 04:13 am

Yesterday I had a day out with the kids. 2 weekends in a row. We got 3 free tickets to an advanced screening of Angry Birds. Dh decided to sit it out since both the kids wanted to go.

We took some books to entertain us and got there about an hour early, but it seems like we probably could have gotten there much closer to the screening time. It wasn't as packed as the last one I had gone to. There were some empty seats. Though if we went too much later it might have been harder to sit together. The other nice thing is that there is no commercials or previews, so it's not an apples to apples comparison as to paying for a movie. You'd still want to get there a little early or at least have to sit through a lot of stuff before the movie started.

After the movie I took the kids out for Mongolian BBQ, since there is one right next to the theater. I thought the place might be crowded after the movie, since it got out at 12:30. But it really wasn't. I at some point had a light bulb moment that "free movie" types probably don't go out to "$10 per person lunch" afterwards. Lord knows 99% of the time we wouldn't, and there's definitely some eccentric people at these screenings. I am sure a lot of very cash limited and frugal types.

BM had wanted to go to Monglolian BBQ on Mother's Day, since we had been right by one, but I didn't want to eat out on such a busy day. So I just thought it would be a nice treat for the kids.

From there we ran to Target because they kids were out of toothpaste. BM also wanted to pick up a bigger re-usable water bottle for school.

While at Target, I spotted some plastic tumblers that I really liked. I've been buying some online and wasn't really happy with the first ones I got (too small) so I had bought some more. Which were fine. But, maybe too large? As we had never put them away inside the cabinets. So... I saw the "just right" ones at Target. I took a picture of them to order them online later.

& then I treated the kids to white cherry icees, because I was feeling generous. (I can't believe they still have those! I just remember getting those when I was pregnant, or in that time frame somewhere. Then I started doing most my shopping online and completely forget about them. But my memory was jogged recently and I couldn't believe they still have the white cherry icees. My fave!)

I did drag the kids to the grocery store on the way home to get some items for dinner. I picked up a bouquet of flowers while I Was there. I always peruse them but nothing much has struck me this year. But yesterday I found some. (They are generally fairly cheap and very fresh).

When I got home I couldn't find the same tumblers online. Well, I found them for $40 though they had been more priced $20 (for 8) in the store. ??? So I asked dh if he would go back with me later. After dinner we went back and he did some grocery shopping and I was able to pick up 8 of the pretty tumblers for $20. (I LOVE them! Way more my style then the others I had bought). I put the 8 "too big" ones in my donation pile and made sure we had cabinet space for the new ones. I am so used to the ease of shopping online, but sometimes it's easier to shop in person. This was a much better in-person type purchase.

Oh, and we feasted for dinner last night. I have this family porcupine meatball recipe that dh and the kids don't care for. So I just make it for myself sometimes. That was my plan, but dh made Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden knockoff) for dinner, which I definitely had some of. & I roasted some cabbage.

Reminds me, I tried a new salmon patty recipe a couple of weekends ago (made with fresh salmon) and it was a huge hit with the kids. My parents are coming up in a couple of weekends and I will have to make for them. Or maybe that's just evil. We have this canned salmon patty family recipe, but I don't know if I can go back now. Big Grin Oh whatever, my parents can afford fresh salmon.

In other news, dh activated that phone and it actually worked! It was some deal he got about 18 months ago where it was $60 for a Moto G. The catch was that it was a Boost mobile phone but it was supposed to work with Ting after a year, or something like that. It sounded a little iffy. But, hey, it worked! He has agreed to get rid of our first 2 smart phones, which are out-dated. For now it's just talk, so I will have to lean on him a bit. I somehow don't think he has a plan of what to do with these phones. He's just agreed to purge them. Where and when, I don't know.

2016 Stats

May 15th, 2016 at 01:46 pm

I wanted to do a reality check on our spending for this year. I just had to spend a minute or two running reports in Quicken to gleam the following.

2016 Stats through April 30th:

--Spending is $15,580 for 1/3 of the year.

This is $3,132 less spending than same time frame last year.

Major difference is that we paid $3k for Japan trip in spring 2015.

I'd say we are pretty consistent. The Japan trip was clearly a one-off.

One thing I was concerned about is if we were justifying more spending with dh working. I'd say the answer is no.

In fact...

--Gross Income is up a mere $326. Versus the same time period last year.

Factoring taxes, I'd say our net income is lower.

Is dh working for the money? Clearly no.

{I made less OT money and didn't chase as many credit card type rewards}.

Other Stats:

--Net Worth is up $20,000, from January 1.

--If we paid off our mortgage today we'd have $125,000 left in savings/investments.

I think we have crossed the line to feasible. This would leave our Traditional IRAs and kids' college money (gifted) intact.

Is not something we will consider until we can do so without raiding our ROTHS. But, we are getting there... It's starting to snowball down the hill. We went from $0 to $125k in just 3 years, and that should just continue to accelerate.

Middle School (Age) Doings

May 13th, 2016 at 07:37 pm

My dh has a phone obsession (no idea why; I don't think he really even uses his phone much). But, anyway. Bought some phone "for BM some day maybe", which is ridiculous since I've lost track of how many phones we have. & they will all probably be obsolete before BM ever needs a phone.

All is well that ends well. I just grumbled at dh initially. But I told him today that I wanted to take a phone inventory and to get rid of some of the older phones. He agreed and I think in the end we don't have any more phones than we need. & most were bought as incredible deals, so maybe it's not all bad.

Our plan hinges on one phone that LM is using at current. We are supposed to be able to use it with Ting, but it's a little iffy. So we might test it out this weekend just to see if we should keep it (for the kids). If that phone works okay, dh has agreed to get rid of our first two smart phones. Then this phone would be our backup phone. Which we have already promised to his aunt when she is in the States this summer. & lord knows every once in a while we need to activate an extra phone. Like when I have to air out my phone for several days. Wink I am fine with the *one* backup phone. (& we could always activate short-term if the kids need cell service, so it certainly gets used).

This new phone will be dh's "insurance" phone and maybe the kids could use it some day. I think that's fine and reasonable if we only have *one* future phone. A full-on replacement if we have a phone die prematurely, something like that. (Which we would never use because we'd just buy a phone that we actually want. But, whatever dh. If it makes you sleep better at night).

Dh has another recent hand-me-down from his mom that he doesn't need after all (new "future" phone will take care of what he wanted this other phone for). So... We suddenly have a phone available for LM. The timing kind of works because I recall it was 6th grade when a lot of the kids got phones. So though he's been using a more cheapie phone for games, this will be a nice step up. IT's not Ting-compatible, but once he wants to start calling and texting his friends we will just set him up with google voice number.

BM's phone is not Ting compatible either, but getting cell service doesn't seem to be on his radar. I expect we will be good for a while. If not, we have "backup" phone and "future" phone. If we suddenly feel like the kids need cell phone service. I haven't ruled it out for next year since it will be different and chaotic. Until then...


In other news, I am questioning my planning skills. I guess I am just in denial that my baby is getting older!

We've been discussing the whole 8th grade big trip for a while, but it never occurred to me I'd have to pay for that trip this year. I had some kind of a mental block about that. Well, technically the payment is due around January 1, for a March 2017 trip. Duh!

Dh has already given me fair warning on this issue. As it turns out, his parents planned a big trip to D.C. the summer before his 8th grade. So of course they were not interested in paying a bajillion dollars to send him again with all of his classmates. I think it probably didn't help that he went to a small private school, so probably felt a little more left out than I imagine our own kids would.

{I don't know that my 8th grade class even had a big trip. So none of this means anything to me. Lord knows my parents would never pay for a trip like that, when I Was a child}.

So, dh tells me about how upset he is about this and how he wouldn't do the same for his kids. So... He plans a big trip to D.C. *during* 8th grade. Don't ask me!

Since both our parents gave us large cash gifts last year, I basically told him, "Whatever." I honestly don't care. *I* am not paying for it.

I think if the trip was *just* D.C., we'd have to admit that this is pretty redundant. Dh may have his personal feelings on the subject, but he's also a really cheap guy. So I don't even know if he would be pushing for this.

But... They are also going to NYC. They had me at Broadway!

BM hasn't decided yet if he wants to go. But we got the information this week. Cost is $2,500-ish. We told him we had the means, and it's just up to him if he wants to go.

The way I am compartmentalizing this in my brain is mostly, "The grandparents have this covered." Whether they know it or not. Without their generosity, I don't know that I would feel so blase about this expenditure.

But, that said. It seems we have been throwing around the idea of a lot of big expenses, and this did throw me off a wee bit.

I don't know how much of it is "13 years of unemployment" thing or just that dh and I have never spent his income. I mean, we might save it for later and spend it down. But 100% of his income has always gone to savings of some form. At some point it hit me that we have dh's income to cover this. It just took me a long time to get there. & now I'd like to kind of forget that I ever thought about it. But yeah, that does makes this trip "no big deal" from a financial standpoint. I think I will continue my thinking as always. All of dh's income will go to savings. In turn, your assets get bigger and you more seriously consider splurges like this. I guess was kind of where we were, but I wasn't fully realizing how quickly we should be able to replenish this savings.

Dh and I did also discuss that we would not offer this trip to BM unless we felt we could offer the same to LM. OF course, LM could currently care less. Which is why BM tend to be so spoiled on the travel front. He's the only one in our house that cares about this stuff at all. Is not personally how I would spend my own money. But, I can appreciate the ying and the yang of it. I would bet money that LM will never ask us to send him on the 8th grade trip. Will see...

More Doings

May 8th, 2016 at 03:01 pm

**BM told me that his school uniform shirts were getting too small. I just happened to luck out with a sale at Hanes. I bought him 5 uniform shirts and 4 casual shirts for $40. Thankfully everything fit well. They changed the material on the uniform shirts and he said it is way more comfortable. Should only be one more year of uniforms for him. Hopefully one of my last uniform purchases?

**Went to Robot Wars a few weekends ago and spent way too much money. But we had a blast as we always do.

**We finally got a Dungeons & Dragons game started for LM and his friends. I think the stars just kind of aligned on this. Dh was able to get like 30 electronic books and a starter game set for like $30? (I mentioned in Feb). Plus LM has just been kind of finding his people.

We decided to kick start things to have a game every Friday after school, but I am sure we will eventually dial it back. Maybe every other week. We've been serving dinner with the Friday games but thankfully LM's friends don't seem terribly picky. We started with pizza and are just kind of working our way down to our more frugal potluck type dishes.

As an aside, this reminds me that dh ended up making chili for his potluck game night group, recently. He's been going for a year or two and they told him they all thought he had been a vegetarian. LOL. So they were surprised when he brought chili with meat. We have this rice and bean dish that is so cheap and everyone loves so much, so that is our main go-to potluck dish. They mistook frugality for vegetarianism. Wink I do recall also he has made homemade hummus and salsa for that group. Don't remember what else he has taken. Though I wouldn't be surprised if he's taken a veggie tray to counter all the junk food most people bring. Which probably plays into the impression that everyone had.


Since Mother's Day is always my first long weekend (or time off) for the year, it's always when I realize how disgusting my house is and I always seem to end up cleaning. (Tomorrow will be my first week day off this year, so making a 3-day weekend of it).

Plus we have a tradition that I take the kids over to the play place. Since it's only open for free play (on the weekends) rarely or on Holidays.

So I always joke that I do all the motherly things I don't generally do. That is definitely how today is shaping up. At the play place I take a book, buy some junk food from the vending machine, and generally enjoy a little extra bonding with my kids after busy season. This year I am not quite so deprived on quiet reading time or child bonding time, but will enjoy regardless.

I was surprised the kids even still wanted to go. They will outgrow this place any day now.

I probably won't be telling anyone else that I took the kids out by myself and cleaned the house on Mother's Day. They wouldn't get it. Wink

May Doings, High School Stuff

May 7th, 2016 at 03:22 pm

I guess this month is shaping up to be a bit of a chore month on the home front.

3 of us do have dental appointments and will have to get our cat his shots so that we can board him while we vacation. Just stuff like that.

We did have someone come out and clean out the gutters and power wash the house.

On the flip side, things have been pretty quiet. We are so ahead financially on everything that all through tax season I felt like I was forgetting something. But I think we've just gotten so efficient. I don't have anything in particular to tend to or clean up on the paperwork side of things and don't feel like I have done much this year. Since we are always pretty organized, it could just be that life has been *really* quiet. I do think that is some of it. But I am also really appreciating things like pre-paying the property taxes so that I have one less thing to worry about during tax season.


In other news, we had a meeting with the high school that went really well. They seem infinitely more interested in "proper math placement" than BM's current school. I think they just have different red tape and motivations.

Will see, but so far both schools and the district seem to have no problem with things. If you missed my prior post on this topic, BM's current (middle) school doesn't offer higher math than algebra. He's already been held back more than he should have. We were never promised anything, but our first choice would be that he take math at the high school next year. It's our preference that he take an actual math class with peers. We have the resources to get him a (free) private math tutor if need be, but we kind of figure that is our last resort. We also have some other options that are not very ideal. So this is Plan A. (Plan A seems to be everyone's preference).

I wasn't sure what to expect from the meeting. But I think the bottom line is that they want our kid to attend their low performing school. I do also think our principal framed it with this expectation so that they would work with us. Honestly, this high school is very strongly in the running (they have some great programs for the higher achieving kids). But we haven't made any decisions yet. While there to discuss math (which we did all of a couple of minutes), we did tour the school and talked about the engineering program. Up to this point we've just been thinking of this as a means to get BM the proper math class. We chose this high school 99% because of the close proximity to the middle school, but also because our principal has a very close relationship with the school. But I now realize it is a really nice edge to attend the school for one year and get a feel for the campus. I will say I already have a far more favorable impression of this school administration versus the other high school. But I also think attending the school for an hour per day will give us more information to decide than any first (or second or third) impressions ever will.

I still will believe when I see it. I am sure there is red tape to sort out, even if we haven't been presented with any red tape yet. Schedules have to mesh, etc., etc.