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Archive for October, 2018

Electric Car Costs Update

October 28th, 2018 at 02:15 pm

I received my home gas bill and it was something like -$20 due to an energy credit. (They owe us $20). Our home is crazy energy efficient, though we have the more expensive private utility for our gas. So our bills average around $30 per month throughout the year. People all the time presume we have like $300/month heating bills in winter, if we have a larger home than they do. ??? I've never had the heart to tell anyone that is our bill for the entire YEAR. This is also one reason we would very seriously consider new construction again. We've been really spoiled by the low utility costs in this house. I'd describe it as more frugal energy efficient. Most of the energy savings was put into wrap and insulation. Not into things like solar (that cost a LOT of money).

Anyway, I saw the gas bill, so thought I'd check on our electricity usage for the month.

This was electricity usage pre-electric car:

This is electricity usage with overnight car charging (for lower electricity rates):

I was trying to figure out why our electricity was spiking so much more in the evenings on older bills, and I finally realized that was A/C. This second picture is more average electricity usage for us during the fall.

We can charge the car between midnight and 6am for cheaper electricity rates. There is a delay on the charger where you just set how many hours later you want to turn it on. Or you can set that up in your car. I think there's a way to set it up so that if the car knows it is at home it will always delay to midnight, or something like that. I suppose that is something we should figure out. But for now, I just usually set it to charge 8 hours later, when I get home around 4pm every day. Or sometimes if MH is going to run MM to gymnastics or something like that, I charge it until 5:00 and then unplug it. Is just enough charge to make a trip like that.

The summer rates are going to be INSANE during the week for 5pm-8pm, so we are just trying to get into that mindset/habit NOW. We have about 6 months to adjust. Mostly we are doing all the laundry on the weekends and making sure to charge the car at midnight.

I was really pleased to see this last summary pop up, when I logged in to electric company website today. It's going to be so easy to calculate the electric car costs.

For simplicity sake, will probably just use that '12am-6am usage' figure.

So, for this month we used 284 kWh so far, from 12am-6am. It looks like we used about 1.50 kWh per day, during those hours, before we bought the car, so gives us some kind of baseline usage. BUT we also sometimes top off a few miles on the car here and there during the day, so will just consider that to be a wash. Keeping it simple.

284 kWh x $0.0819 = $23.26

If this were the bill for the entire month, that is the number I am going to allocate every month to car fuel costs, instead of "house electricity".

Teen Job

October 27th, 2018 at 06:12 pm

MM(15) got a job!

He always has been charmed, and I think that continues for him. My "forever employer" is just up a creek and needs any help they can get to cover work backlog, and until they hire new employees.

In addition, I wouldn't be surprised if I am able to hire him on at my new employer next summer. Will cross that bridge when we get to it, but probably some good opportunities for him. At new job, it's SO busy and they like to hire family members. I will bring it up as summer approaches.

Anyway, this all started because "awesome admin" is helping "forever employer" however she can. She was saying like she wished she had someone who could just scan documents (huge backlog) or something like that. I joked that my son could do it. But in the end both him and both her really liked the idea. So I hashed out the details with "forever employer" this week.

I've said before that one of the perks of living in a higher cost region is if we just live off the one income, all the other incomes are gravy. & the gravy is bigger, though MM has absolutely no expenses at this point in his life. He will definitely take advantage. His starting pay is $12 per hour.

For now, I think they'd just appreciate help for a couple of days. But if it works out well, he may have some work through spring. Though we totally understand if they hire someone good and don't need the help after next month. Will see.

As to me, I need a break. I still have gotten to absolutely nothing on the home front. I still need to take some time to sort out my education/licensing, so am loosely thinking of taking the next two weeks off entirely from Job #2, to tend to that. & Christmas is my DEAL BREAKER, and so maybe taking the last two weeks of December off of 2nd job??

For the past 17 years, Christmas week is a crazed deadline, and is just where I have to draw the line with helping "forever employer". It was the one thing I looked forward to more than anything, with this job change. I will still be working a 40-hour week at Job #1, but absolutely no nights/weekends/OT that week. Phew!! (12/31 is just the most unforgiving/tight deadline, so is my least favorite). I've always worked multiple jobs or long hours, so that part (potentially working tax season) doesn't bother me as much. I still think that is relatively short-term. Like maybe a year or two? If that?? & I am not offering to do any high-stress/tax season type work. So I know MH is concerned, but I keep telling him this is not TAX SEASON. Heck, we've been talking about taking some time off during spring break just because I can. I am still totally free to do that. I haven't even offered to help at all with taxes. Just easy bookkeeping work.

For the rest of this year, I am not working anything like I did the last two weeks. I am thinking maybe 8-12 hours per week. With two weeks off first and then two weeks off at the end of the year.

For 2019, will cross that bridge when I come to that.

I am motivated financially, due to pay cut with new job. Will definitely be more than fine without the extra money, but it's easy money. I can't so no to the easy money.

So my plan the next two months is to only work maybe 12 hours x 4 weeks max??

On the plus side, I am catching up on 3+ months of work that was never done, so as I type this out, I feel better about the next round of Quarterly deadlines. Phew! Just a note to myself that having more than two weeks to cram ALL this work in, will be nicer for next time.

There is one wrench in my plans to take time off. If I am driving MM(15) over to "forever employer" to work some weekends, it would make the most sense for me to get some work done while I am there. His loose first day is planned for next weekend. Will see how that pans out.

October 21-26 - Crazy Busy!

October 27th, 2018 at 04:23 pm

October 21
$107 Groceries
$ 20 Round Table Pizza (Used $5-off coupon)
Dinner: Linguine with spinach and pine nuts

MH went to see a free movie (movie pass) and the kids decided to randomly crash at their friend's house for most of the day. This was decided while MH was at the movies, and I had to drive them. But I obliged because DL(13) was in such a good mood about it. In fact, I had taken a nap and had woken up and was just listening to him talk to his friends online. It was just "cute" and he was in a super good mood. Then he tells them, "I have to go wake up my mom so that she can take us over!" I pretended to be asleep and chastised him a bit but said if he promises to NEVER wake me up again like that, I could take him. I wasn't really asleep anyway. TEENAGERS!


October 22
$258 Symphony Season Subscription
Dinner: Fiesta Chicken Burritos

I did go ahead and buy some Symphony tickets. The Season Subscription worked out to $40 per ticket, good seats, with fees and everything. If nothing else, the convenience fees were so high for the single concert purchases, that was where most the savings was. So we paid $40 per ticket for good seats. We otherwise would have paid as much for the nosebleeds probably. The same seats were $60 per ticket if we purchased each concert separately.

I ordered the Pops Subscription, which was Broadway, Queen & Star Wars. (I know MH will LOVE the Star Wars one). The guest conductor we saw last time was AMAZING and he is doing two of those shows, and is why I know MH will love it. The Queen show has a different conductor. I may buy a couple of more tickets so the kids can go. No one (in my household) wants to go to the Broadway one with me, but I will find someone to go with me.

The classic series is $30 per concert. I don't want to go to *every* concert. We do go to a lot of other concerts (art museum, art school, etc.). It may be that I just buy tickets to one of those and will see how bored MH is with it. He will 1000% go, because he knows he drags me everywhere. But it may be I consider just buying a solo season subscription at some point in the future. I don't know if I know anyone else who really wants to go to a bunch of classical concerts. & I could be mis-judging MH. He may enjoy it. But I think it's an easier sell once or twice per year, at this point.

I stopped by "forever employer" on the way home from work (is 100% on the way to/from my old job) to drop off the work I did over the weekend and discussed working past October. (It wasn't on my radar to discuss it, but employer wanted to ask what pay rate I Was expecting). Will probably go back to my old pay rate. Still not sure what exactly I will be doing, how many hours, how quickly before I burn out. Lots to figure out. In my mind, I am probably committing through April or May.


October 23
$9 Lunch
$14 Dinner
Dinner: Out

I was thinking of just focusing on work this week and not going out for lunch, but "twin" invited me to lunch Tuesday. I couldn't say no! (I had invited her all the prior times. I just had no plans to initiate during such a busy week).

I figured MH Would probably never meet me for lunch or anything like that, because my office is so far away from home. BUT, there was a free movie screening in my work neighborhood on Tuesday night. So he came by my office and we had a quick dinner before the movie. We saw Bohemian Rhapsody. It was really good.

On the plus side, I was able to have MH pick up some files for me, from "forever employer", on the way. Saved me a trip!


October 24
$10 Gymnastic
$11 Groceries
$107 Christmas Purchase
Dinner: Korean Beef Bowl

Work Work Work

MH picked up some groceries (no idea what) and took MM to gymnastics.

MH also ordered some electronic toy for his parents for Christmas. They are the only ones we buy for. They go kind of crazy re: Christmas though they are toning it down a wee bit over the years. I don't know anyone else who actually wants to participate in any Christmas/Birthday gift giving. & I mean, I often exchange gifts with friends and family, but it's more "from the heart" and "I saw this and I thought of you" stuff. Not any holiday obligations.
In contrast, my in-laws go crazy but in a way that sucks *all* the fun out of it. *sigh*


October 25
Dinner: Salisbury Steak

I stopped by "forever employer" on the way home to drop off work I did Wednesday. It was super weird because "twin" was there working. She agreed to help through October only, if they just hired her through her new employer. So that was the arrangement she was able to make. "Awesome Admin" is going back full-time through April, but she was not there. Anyway, it felt like I walked into a time warp, with most the old employees there.

At home, I finally got around to setting up some invoices for work I did this month. I sent out about $400 invoices. I expect to invoice about $3,000 total this month. ("Forever employer" is paying me double my billing rate, so that is the bulk of it. Will send them a bill when I am done with October deadlines).


October 26
Dinner: Salsa Verde Carnitas (crockpot)

I have so much work to do for Job #2, but I just came home and crashed instead. I slept for around 11 hours.

I feel refreshed, but I still have about 16 hours of work/deadlines to get through. *sigh*

I would probably just take the entire next week off, but... I have more news on this front. Next post.

Credit Card Rewards Update

October 27th, 2018 at 03:38 pm

2018 TALLY:

$561 Gift Cards (Capital One Venture, Moi)
$ 10 Hulu Credits (American Express)

**In addition, various monthly rewards that I will tally at 12/31.


I was just paying bills and saw a Hulu Reward offer on our American Express card. Should get $5 back per month, for next 4 months. $10 this year and $10 next year? (We Pay Hulu around $10 per month in lieu of cable).

That reminds me, I need to set up a couple of Citi Price Rewinds (where Citi automatically price matches for 60 days). We had a couple of big purchases this month. I always set up big purchases even if I never expect to get anything. Was just looking and nothing has come within even $100 of the charger we picked up at Costco. But who knows, someone could have some super crazy sale in the next few weeks.


I think I probably would have mostly passed (on one-time bonuses) this year given all my employment upheaval. Life has been CRAZY this year and I am being ultra protective of my credit score since I work in the financial industry. It's always been like 800+, but I just don't feel like it's the year to open 5 new credit cards in my name. Might raise some eyebrows during any employment consideration. (& I am probably just being overly cautious, but that is how I roll). & I did open 4 cards in MH's name last year so I am giving him a break. But anyway, this travel reward was easy and too good do pass up with our travel plans.

In the end, my new employer never ran a background check or a credit check on me. I actually am kind of horrified about their being so lax on this front and will probably chastise them a bit about this in the future. It's on my infinite list of things to address.

October 20 - Kittens!

October 21st, 2018 at 04:41 pm

October 20
$15 Groceries
Dinner: Spaghetti & God Sauce

I think I only worked about 6 hours on Saturday. Got distracted by some other things (tending to some chores), and did end up doing some cooking, etc.

In the morning, DL(13) was in a cooking mood. So he made chocolate chip pumpkin bread. I have a super easy recipe that makes a ton. I had literally just sat down to work, and don't remember who thought of that recipe (him or me) but I talked MH into supervising him. I am sure next time he can do it on his own.

We really fell off the wagon as to having kids cook. I told MH if he went over what the kids wanted to make this week I could supervise. I generally get home by 4:30 so can help more on that front. He was resistant because he's in the mindset I am doing WAY too much. But you know, cooking will get my eyes off the computer screen for a bit and I'd rather get in a better schedule of kids helping us. & if we make this a more regular thing, they shouldn't need any supervision/help. The point is to hand off some of the chores to them! But anyway, I just told him that I'd personally embrace "difficult teenager's willingness to help." You know, lean into that. Because if he won't, lord knows I will.

My plan was mostly to work all day, but I had agreed to take a kitten break. One of my old clients is fostering kittens. I LOVE her regardless and is nice to foster our friendship outside of work. But OMG, her home is always filled with kittens. She has been busier than I have been, so I haven't seen her in a few weeks, but she told me it would be great and helpful if I went and played with kittens while she was out. MM(15) finally agreed to go with me yesterday. They were bottle fed kittens. O.M.G. I had no idea! They just kind of attack you and purr like crazy. We walked in and they just started climbing all over us. We just giggled the whole time. I had gone over a couple of times to help socialize the "getting socialized" kittens, and they seemed friendly enough, so I had no idea. I guess I've probably always adopted the scared cats too. I have never experienced anything like this! They just loved loved loved having some people to play with and to sleep on.

It was hard to tear away ourselves from the kittens!

On the way home I got some groceries. I picked up some eggs in case DL was in the mood to hard boil eggs. I had been wanting to make pumpkin bread too, so he is making my life easier. He is not the "makes my life easier" kid, so I was kind of eating this up yesterday. If eggs will magically boil themselves and pumpkin bread magically gets made.

Our store has not been stocking pumpkin this year (???) so I made sure to pick some up while there (I took the last can). Picked up some meat and tomato sauce for dinner, and garlic bread. & a few other odds and ends.

The God Sauce I made for dinner is just a pasta sauce that I make. The first time I made it, DL told me it was so good it was like it came straight down from God. Something like that. To this day, we call it God Sauce. MH can't stand it (is lots of vinegar and garlic) and so I often make this dinner when he is out because it is super easy and the kids go crazy for it. In this case, no leftovers. *sigh*

MH was off on a movie shoot yesterday. I think they were supposed to be done last month but they are crazy behind now. I think he told me yesterday it might be 6 more months.

October 18-19

October 21st, 2018 at 04:02 pm

October 18
Dinner:Chicken Satay (Thai)

Someone delivered free (very small) sandwiches to my office. I don't remember the eatery and they were just okay. But that was a nice perk! They were trying to generate business, I suppose.

I can't tell you what a 180 I have done in office environment. My "forever employer" was actually somewhat snobby and their office was a bit of an art museum. Absolutely beautiful offices. BUT, they built the building around 40 years ago and the area has really gone downhill since. Seriously, on like my last week there, someone was setting up a tent in our parking lot in the middle of the day. UGH! I don't know if problems were getting worse because our building was clearly becoming semi-vacant or what. Other than that, it just comes in waves. It may be quiet for several months, and then some weeks there are people fighting outside every day.

New office is in the Beverly Hills of my region. The most expensive zip code.

Let's just say, no one ever came to our old building handing out free sandwiches. Ha!

I hadn't really given it much thought, but "awesome admin" keeps telling me how much "safer" she felt at her last new job, though it was a little ghetto in many regards. I will say that I did pull over to call my mom for some reason the day I dropped off my employment paperwork. In the business park parking lot I pulled over somewhere and mentioned to her it was so peaceful and nice. I definitely noticed that right away. But it's amazing how quickly we adjust to these things. Hadn't really thought too much about it otherwise. Is just my new normal.

Because I do only have a 1/2 hour break, I often just sit in my car at lunch. I would have NEVER done that at my old job. It's some combo of the nicer neighborhood and also being able to run the electric car and listen to music and keep the temperature inside nice.


October 19
$17 School Play
Dinner:Pork chops & Brussel sprouts

MH took MM(15) to the high school play. This is not the art school, so I wasn't as interested. I had to work anyway.

I have some free tickets available for the art school, but all the plays/musicals they did so far this year seemed depressing and/or I was too busy anyway. Will have to pay more attention. I think I am owed 4 free tickets at this point.

That reminds me, we skipped PTA meeting this week. I told MH that the money I would get from one hour of working would buy us 7 parent hours. I am going to do that, instead. This school is so nice on this front. If you can help more time-wise or money-wise, they will take whatever. I thought this was going to be more of a "time" year but apparently this is a "money" year. Take my money, because I am busy!!

October 16 - Splurge-y

October 21st, 2018 at 02:47 pm

October 16
$15 Lunch
$60 Dinner
$875 new cell phone

See last post for context and splurge-y turn of events.

I met "twin" for lunch. There is actually a vegetarian Indian restaurant right by my office and they have several $5 dishes. I was thinking, "OMG!" In the end, I talked "twin" into eating there though she had never tried the place or eaten Indian food in general. I got a full meal and an appetizer to share with her. In the end they were so SLOW! Next week I may order ahead to-go and just grab a $5 dish some day to see how that goes. But yeah, I only have a 1/2 hour lunch and she was still eating when I left 45 minutes later. The food was good, so I will try the take-out later and see if that is faster. I can foresee grabbing a bite here once a week if the To-go works out better.

We went out to a splurge-y dinner at our favorite Indian cafe (yes we like Indian food! Most my friends growing up were Indian and I was spoiled by all their mom's home cooking). It was DL's first day back in the States and he really wanted to go out to his favorite restaurant. MH obliged him. I had extra money coming in, so whatever. MH was super generous on the tip again, though it's just counter service.

MH also ordered a new cell phone. He actually kept his last phone a full three years, which is a long time for a phone-obsessed techie. Heck, I really was just limping my phone along (during that last year) when I kept mine for 4 years. Anyway, I am in full agreement with replacing his phone now, before we have a potentially lower income year (2019). BUT, I think the amount of money he spent on this phone is RIDICULOUS. I am sure he thinks the amount of money we spent on this car is RIDICULOUS, so I am not really one to talk right now. Big Grin

So I am kind of grumbling to myself a bit as the entire first 10 hours of work I do for "forever employer" is going straight to pay for this phone. But on the flip side, I did appreciate the money seemingly falling from the sky, to pay for this phone. I just look forward to the part where I get to splurge on something too. I have to pay for last weekend. & then what's next down the line is I still want to get car windows tinted (haven't had the time). & I had been wanting to buy some show tickets. Which was one of those things that was going to go by the wayside with income cut, but now I have this extra money to fund that. I think the annual Sketchfest tickets go on sale in a couple of weeks and there was a couple of Symphony concerts I wanted to get to (I haven't looked up the price yet so I have no idea on that; how many concerts we go to and how many people, will depend on the price). I may have worked enough extra this week to pay for all of that, and can probably work another 15-ish hours next week too. Regular income/budget is all good. If I keep having side work, I will work on 2018 mortgage goal. I usually fund that with OT, but I didn't get paid OT this year ("fake employer" never gave me promised OT/bonus) and we instead prepped for unemployment and replaced an old vehicle, etc. I would be over the moon to earn an extra $3,000 to fund mortgage goal. I didn't expect this!

As to bonus, that is still being fought and I haven't ruled out filing a complaint with the labor board. With a little time and space, I am thinking I should just file the very open and shut "late final paycheck" complaint, which is a $3,000-ish penalty they owe me for giving me my last paycheck late. That would be about net what the bonus would be anyway, but the penalty is tax-free income. I won't file that yet because I "should" also file the OT complaint at the same time (or I lose rights to that bonus), but other lawyers are currently fighting that battle for me. So I need to wait for some resolution on that front, probably. I have something like 12 months to file a complaint. Before I was more in the head space I didn't want to deal with it at all. But I can see I am being much more clear headed about this right now. I was caught up in not sure if I wanted to bother if the lawyers took half AND I just wanted to move on with my life. But I can see taking the easy $3,000 puts us pretty square anyway. I shouldn't need a lawyer to prove I gave proper notice AND my paycheck wasn't dated until a full 2 weeks after my last day. I hadn't really considered the possibility before of fighting that battle on my own. I also didn't want to like take a day off so soon after starting new employment (for labor board hearing) but as time passes and I get to know new employer, I feel better about it.

Mid Month Update

October 21st, 2018 at 01:30 pm

Mid Month Update on spending totals:

Fuel $41 ($36 gas car + $5 hybrid**)
**Net of work auto reimbursement for driving 90 miles
Tolls $5

Note: Electric fuel costs were about $15 for the half month

Groceries $433
Dining Out $48
Household $20 (towels)

Gymnastics $30

Copy Machine/Scanner $8
Movies $12
‘Vacation’ $208

I was going to do a mid month update, regardless. It’s been a pretty typical month for us, so far. But the second half of the month gets CRAZY, so I guess it’s good to get this snapshot. (I will eventually get to the “crazy”).

Fuel spending is way down, of course. Though we drove out of town three times already this month.

Groceries have been bought for 3 out of 5 weeks, so we are on track with $650 monthly budget. We will have two more $100-ish grocery runs this month. (This includes cat food/litter and all consumables).

The vacation spending was a splurge that will come from savings (or money that we would have put to savings in a regular month, probably more to the point).

Aside from vacation spending, that needs to be saved for monthly, I’d say it’s been a pretty typical month for us. This level of spending should be sustainable for us, with my pay cut. I know I need to post more about that.

Short update on craziness: Old “forever” employer hired me very part-time at a very high rate. They do need the help and it is a deadline month, but I am also trying to cram in as much work as possible at the higher billing rate. I am sure there will be more work after October but not sure how long they are willing to pay me so much. Knowing that we have this extra money coming in, we aren’t tightening up things as much. The rest of the month will be very splurge-y.

I was really prepping for time off and unemployment, but money/work keeps raining from the sky. It's all good! It's busy and I have no idea when I will ever have any time on the home front (or for anything else but work), but I LOVE all the work that I am doing and have set aside most the work responsibility and stress, for now. (New job is awesome, and I've left behind all the parts of my old job that were higher stress). After October, maybe I will take my evenings back and just work Saturdays or something like that.

October 15 - Out of Town Again

October 18th, 2018 at 02:41 am

October 15
$12 Fuel (hybrid)
Dinner: Out

We drove to the Bay Area to pick up our international traveler.

In-laws insisted on taking us out to dinner. I have no idea why! Was trying to get them to let us bring them dinner. They had spent 14 hours on an airplane.

But it worked out. Absolutely no traffic for 95% of the drive. We planned to stay there a couple of hours to wait out crazy long-distance commute traffic, before turning around and coming home. Going out to dinner was just enough time to wait out "crazy insane traffic." Though if they were too tired, it would have been nice to see my parents for a bit. But DL just wanted to get HOME.

Though I know DL(13) was absolutely exhausted and ready to get home, I told MH that I prefer not having to stop for gas in the a.m. again. The gas light came on just before we got home. We stopped to put in about 3 gallons of gas. I don't think we have any plans to go out of town or to use any gas the rest of the month, so didn't fill up beyond that. We stopped at the super cheapie gas station on the way home. (The two gas stations closest to our house just happen to be the cheapest gas stations in our region).

October 14

October 18th, 2018 at 02:35 am

October 14
$122 Groceries
Dinner: Shepherd's Pie

I made some sloppy joes for lunch, which actually made lots of leftovers because the kids were not around.

MH did a grocery run.

We watched 'Singing in the Rain' though I really didn't have any time. 14 movies down. 86 movies to go! (We are watching the AFI Top 100).

I spent the rest of the day doing side work. I have 4 clients that hired me directly, while "old employer" mess gets sorted out. I will update on that, whenever I can get to it. Some good news, and then of course everything has to be drama or crazy.

October 13 - Vacation Day in SF

October 14th, 2018 at 05:49 pm

October 13
$100 Segway Tour
$ 18 Parking SF
$ 5 Tolls
$ 70 Lunch
$ 20 Dinner
Dinner: OUT

MH owed me a raincheck, because he was working any time off I got this year. I mean, I think I took an unpaid week off in May and another week off during summer. Not sure if time off between jobs counted because I never ended up with any down time anyway. But had told MH at some point (May?) I really wanted to do a segway tour in Golden Gate Park. Just something fun to do. So we put a pin on that.

No idea how to pay for this out of the budget. Vacation fund has already been spent for the year. I mean, we have the cash. But just to say this wasn't particularly planned for. But given events of the last week this is now entirely moot. I will get to that in my next post. Short explanation: Will have some money windfall this month, and I will be working a TON.

We had already earmarked this day because though we were both pretty exhausted, the kids were going to be gone all weekend and it seemed a good of time as any. & now I know I am working non-stop for the rest of the month. Which was all the more reason to take a bit of a vacation day.

We started out in my favorite part of San Francisco (which is so easy to drive to also, no downtown madness) and we ate lunch at my favorite beachfront restaurant. (I just ate there with bff a few weeks ago). We were questioning this decision when we arrived around 1pm on Saturday and the usually infinite beach parking was total insanity. People double parking all over the place; we got trapped in the parking lot for quite a while because people were just sitting and waiting for spots to open up and no room to go around. I told MH I swore I'd been there on the weekend before and had never seen anything like this. Ugh! But we did find a spot near an exit and felt like maybe we could get out in less time than it took to get in.

The restaurant/brewery has a low cost lower level and an upscale upper level. Bff and I had decided to splurge on the upper level last time. On Saturday, the wait downstairs wasn't horrible but was wondering if it might take an hour to drive the 3 miles to our final destination, so we decided to go with the no-wait upscale restaurant upstairs. I told MH the food was really good; we had some money to splurge anyway.

We ate *very* well. We were feeling pretty pressed for time, but I looked outside and it looked like everyone had just disappeared. Tons of empty spots and no more crazy traffic jam on the main road. Phew! We had arrived in some sort of "what on earth have we gotten ourselves into?!" chaos and it was practically a ghost town when we left around 2:30. ???

We were so scared off of "insane mobs of people" that we took an exterior route to the Golden Gate park parking garage. (Google maps/Waze was showing me all sorts of slow traffic within the park). This cost us $18, but was probably worth it to ensure we got to our tour on time. Hindsight 20/20 we could have probably found free parking all day. All my usual hangouts have free parking, so this was the only place we paid for parking. $18 for a couple of hours.

We were pretty early, but by the time we found the meeting spot we were pretty much on time.

I've never ridden a segway before. It was somewhat terrifying. But it was fun and definitely a good place to do a tour like that. So many characters out and about, and I have never seen most of Golden Gate Park. But I think I was really wise to just sign up for the short tour to see if I even really like it. 3 hours would have been a lot! This tour was more like an hour. Was $50/each.

Afterwards there was some live music we stopped to enjoy. For maybe 5 minutes. We decided we should probably move our car and go find somewhere free (or at least reasonable) to park.

We headed over to the Sutro baths, which was close to where we started and is my absolute favorite area of the city. The old bath ruins, the beach, and then just lots of nature. We went for a nice hike in the area before heading home.

In the end, I had some initial doubts about what on earth we were doing there on a Saturday, but it ended up being a very pleasant day.

We stopped for some fast-ish food on the way home, and got home around 9pm.

Due to traffic, we went over the Golden Gate both ways. Which I prefer anyway (is a very pleasant drive, though a bit out of the way). We don't have our license plates yet so it was a free crossing. That is how we managed all that paying only $5 in tolls. We went over some other bridge that had no tolls (may also be electronic?) and then paid $5 at the last toll that we usually drive over on the way home.

We just went around all the traffic so didn't get stuck in any traffic.

Total fuel costs for this 225-mile trip? $13.61 (That's about $1 electricity, the rest is gas fuel. We averaged 45 mpg with the gas fuel).

That's good because we have to drive down to San Jose Monday to pick up DL. His flight arrives Monday afternoon.

October 12 - Childless Weekend

October 14th, 2018 at 05:14 pm

October 12
$27 Fuel (hybrid car)
Dinner: chicken enchilada casserole

Friday was pretty uneventful.

I did need to make an unscheduled fuel stop because I was mostly out of gas after work trip. Though I don't need gas fuel to run the car, I believe it is important to have some gas in the car to keep everything working properly (uses the gas generator for some car function). I filled up all the way because we had two Bay Area trips planned in the next few days.

Thursday night we were going to go out to some event at the art museum. But we were both too exhausted. I was going to be supportive of MH, but was so relieved when he said he was too tired to go out. Phew!

The film production company he has been volunteering for was going to be showing some of their films and he wanted me to meet some of them, etc. Oh well...

By Friday we were definitely ready for a very quiet night. DL is still in Finland. MM(15) was whisked off to go camping in Tahoe for the weekend, with one of his friends.

No spending on Friday except for the fuel stop (which was really more of a work expense than a personal spending thing). I guess I'd consider it a no-spend day, in that regard.

Oh, and employer brought in lunch because most of us were out of the office Thursday and we had a computer system changeover (while we were out). Nothing was working Friday and everyone was freaking out. I personally didn't have much to changeover (boss didn't give me access to a lot of things before, knowing this change was pending) and bills/money (moi) was given first IT priority. So I wasn't freaking out too much. But I probably barely squeaked by without a lunch break and it works out because I was going to leave early on Monday anyway. I feel like I've already made up the time for that.

October 11 - Field Trip & Auto Reimbursements

October 14th, 2018 at 04:11 pm

October 11
-0- Spending
Dinner: Tortellini with cream sauce

No spend day!

In the end we did a re-do of work field trip (was canceled prior week due to weather). Drove out to new home construction site about an hour out of town. Completely in the middle of nowhere.

One of the realtors took 10 of us out to lunch (our office + sales staff).

This is the tiny town:

As to the homes, WOW! Got to tour the models. It's a small home builder. Although we loved buying a new home when we bought our current home, and it was an exceptional deal (much cheaper than resale) given the circumstances at the time. We've been pretty "meh" on going that route again because it was a lot of work (lots of push back about every little thing, I know they HATED us because MH pushed back with every little change and whatever). Not sure I really want to go through that again. But more to the point, we've never owned real estate outside of a HOA and all the newer stuff is HOA.

In the end, this is something I will ask eventually and learn more, but my home builder employer seems to refuse to build with any HOAs. I guess my next question is how rare is it to establish a HOA later down the line.

So I don't know about the job (it's all good so far, but it is a very "economically dependent" kind of job, and who knows. Just being cautious as to the long term). I don't know how long the job will last, but I am really sold on buying one of their homes in the future. We may just do this again!

The home builder we bought from was very small and flexible, and this company is the same. To buy a custom home in our state would be infinitely expensive but these homes are really unique and they are willing to customize anything within reason. Which is some of what we did with our current home, but I think these floorplans are even better.

I told MH the little town was so cute, and the food was so good where we ate out, I might take him and the kids at some point for a weekend trip. I am curious what MH would think of some of the models and colors/styles of everything. We easily agree on about 99% of stuff, but home decor is like something we can never agree on. I am in love with some of the floors they had and I thought, "Probably MH will hate it." *sigh* So, first things first. Does he even like the layout?

In the end, everyone in my office had carseats (PITA to remove) and so I offered to drive. I will get a $45 auto reimbursement.

I spent about $7 on gas and will be reimbursed $45, so that is not a bad deal. Is not on the same scale as my last high miles job, but it works.

This reminds me... My first job out of college was all travel. I was putting around 25,000 work miles per year on my car. I had just bought a 10-year-old sports car (though very fuel efficient) for around $5,000. It only had 30k miles on the odometer? But the low price was due to the age of the car. I was earning around $1,000 per month in tax-free auto reimbursements, or about $12,000 per year. Seriously. Enough to replace my car several times over.

This is one of those things people have been really snotty (to me) over the years. Because they ASSUME. I've had people tell me they can't own such old and unreliable cars because they have to travel so much for work. *rollseyes* & look, it's been about 20 years since I have had this job. I have probably barely mentioned in my blog. If anyone on SA ever said this to me, whatever. I think it's a fair assumption. But when I was a couple of years out from that job, I was just always dumbfounded what people who barely knew me would assume. Because obviously I've never had a high miles job. ??? Why would anyone assume that? Because I drive old cars?

Anyway, so, this $45 reimbursement is not anywhere on that scale. But I am thinking that I may be able to completely offset *all* of my gas driving costs with work reimbursements, and that is pretty cool. I will take it!

20 years ago I had paid so little for the car in the first place that I was really able to leverage the reimbursements. In this case, I will be able to leverage somewhat my "super cheap fuel".

P.S. I have never in my life owned an "unreliable" car. I have owned some very old cars, but they were all perfectly reliable.

October 10 - Movie Night

October 14th, 2018 at 03:31 pm

October 10
$ 12 movies
$ 36 Fuel (gas car)
Dinner: Chicken artichoke pasta

DL(13) skyped us again from Finland. They were able to see the Northern Lights their first night in Lapland.

MH and I went to a free movie screening. It was the "Hate U Give" movie. MH saw a rare super advanced screening of that one many months ago (probably not even the final cut) and said it was exceptional. But MM(15) didn't want to go two nights in a row. In the end, they chose to show it in a small theater. *sigh* It was pretty clear we'd be most likely stuck in the front rows (which I can't do). So we bailed at the last minute. MH had 3 movie tickets and he is still using Movie Pass. (He's been racking up free movie tickets because you can rack up theater rewards while seeing all the free movies with your movie pass, and I don't even remember the last time I went to the movies, it's been so busy).

We didn't wait to see for sure that we couldn't find seats because the cheapie theater was across the street from the theater we were at, and several movies were already starting. We just figured MH had already seen the movie and it was the kind of movie we would be willing to support financially and plan to take the kids to eventually. Let someone else see it for free in our place. We went across the street to see "A Star is Born".

Oh, but MH has a problem and wouldn't let me use the "free movie ticket" at the cheap theater. Save it for the expensive theater. Though he may have 3 more free tickets by the time I ever go to a pay-for movie again. *sigh* But that is my MH! So we paid $6 for my movie ticket (MH used his Movie Pass) and then $6 for a soda to go with the free popcorn. I hadn't really eaten a proper dinner and the smell of popcorn was getting to me while standing in line for free movie for like an hour. (That is always the catch with the free movies. First-come/first-serve; lots of waiting in line). I could not believe the cheapest drink was $6. Bottled water cost more, but needed something to wash down the popcorn. Next time I will bring a water bottle from home. Yeesh!

I think MH did the first fueling of the old gas car this month.

MM(15) took the PSAT at school today, for free. (His school just pays all of the fees).

That reminds me, I didn't even know that AP tests cost money. I saw some discussion about that during summer and I decided to ask school board friend about that. I didn't even know because it had been paid for last year. I didn't know if that was a school-wide decision or a district decision or what, so was going to ask friend who serves on the District Board. In the end, it came up in passing and MM(15) told me his school pays for all of the AP tests. (I guess I should have asked him!) One of his teachers also mentioned this during Back-to-School night this year.

October 9 - Lunch with Twin

October 14th, 2018 at 02:59 pm

October 9
$ 8 New scanner/printer
$10 Lunch Out
$88 Groceries
Dinner: Taco Rice Salad

I got a new scanner/printer for side work. I had asked MH to research and maybe pick one up for me. I was running out of time so I believe he picked it up Tuesday and set it up for me Wednesday. I tested it out Thursday. Phew!

It only cost $8 out of pocket because I had a $100 Staples gift card (credit card reward).

This is a very nice upgrade from the 1990s era copier I had from my last period of self-employment. (Which was the cheapest copier I could find. Still works!)

OLD COPIER - No longer useful since it won't scan and I can only copy one page at a time.

I needed a scanner and a paper feeder, which apparently is very affordable these days.

I would also like to buy a nicer/heavy duty shredder. Is the one big perk I will miss from my old job (we had such a heavy duty shredder, I just took in a batch of personal stuff every month or so).

I was awaken by a skype call (from Finland) at 6:30am. Which was nice and lovely, but we generally try to leave the house at 6:40am. Ack! I took the alarm clock out of retirement. Don't think I really need it, but I definitely need the backup until we settle into new schedule. I initially thought maybe I was catching up from missed sleep during the time period when I left my last job. But on Wednesday night it kind of hit me like a ton of bricks, the exhaustion. I was able to wake up before my alarm clock on Friday. Maybe I will never know the reason I was extra tired. But Thursday I was so relieved when our plans out were canceled. It may just be emotional exhaustion from all the extra GO GO GO and socializing. Staying in, I didn't feel as exhausted, and my body was able to wake up on time.

Anyway, we hit all the lights green and miraculously made it to school/work on time, after late wake up on Tuesday. I didn't have time to think about packing lunch, so I invited "twin" to lunch. The 1/2 hour lunch isn't very satisfying with so much going on at old job, but it may be fine if we eventually settle into a weekly lunch date. I've generally always left one lunch out every week in my budget, for socializing, but work too far out and have a short 1/2 hour lunch, so it's only lunch with my friend who literally works right around the corner. I don't foresee ever meeting MH for lunch at this job, or anyone else.

In the evening MH and MM(15) went to a free movie (free advanced screening).

October 8 - Uneventful

October 14th, 2018 at 02:51 pm

October 8
$4 Lunch Out
$10 Gymnastics
$27 Groceries
Dinner: Shepherd's Pie

Monday was a very uneventful day.

October 6 & 7 - Weekend

October 9th, 2018 at 01:05 am

October 6
$ 3 Groceries (garlic bread for dinner)
$23 Fuel (Hybrid Car)
$25 Target ($5 Groceries + $20 towels)
Dinner: Spaghetti @ Parents' House

I had picked up a couple of $5 towels at Target the week prior and decided to stock up on a few more. I also did like 5 loads of laundry (so it felt like) and noticed our old cloth napkins were pretty sad, so picked up a few more of those. All that stuff was on sale, I just ordered online. The kids would probably appreciate some nicer towels (that aren't like 20 years old). I had been storing all the old towels under DL's sink in the kids' bathroom, but he keeps using them. I bought the new towels for the kids. While thinking about it, I may just move the old towels somewhere else. I have mostly empty space in the small pantry we have upstairs.

MH volunteered at the public TV station on Saturday. When he was done, we drove to the Bay Area. We saw my parents first and had dinner with them. After the Safeway nightmare a couple of weeks back, I told them we would pick up some garlic bread (in our city) to go with dinner. MH also filled up the electric/hybrid car with gas, while at the grocery store, with a gas coupon. We just filled it up all the way because we will be driving to the Bay Area 1-3 more times during the next couple of weeks. (Don't ask! It's just one of those months). Is our 'low cost of living' trade off, but I think I will be very happy with the low cost of fuel to get to/from, and is also probably why I am entertaining actually making all of these trips. If we were paying full price for gas, something may have to give.


October 7
$14 Lunch Out
$12 Diner Out
Dinner: Out

The reason we went to the Bay Area over the weekend, was to drop off DL(13) for his Finland trip with my in-laws.

Phew! I can't believe he went through with it. He's just been so moody, and before that was reluctant to go. I guess he is their problem (in-laws) for the next several days.

MH dropped them off at the airport around noon Sunday. Then we drove home around 1:00. No one was particularly hungry, so we stopped mid way for a light Taco Bell lunch. For dinner, we hadn't planned ahead at all. I ended up ordering a small pizza for MM(15) and I. I had a Round Table coupon, 10% off. I don't know if I have ever ordered a small pizza before. But I didn't think anyone else wanted any and was just going to get a personal size pizza. When MM said he'd like one too, I looked up the measurements and the costs. Was about the same size as two personal pizzas, but much cheaper to just get the small.

Though we have been eating out a ton, we are well within our budget. Mostly just a few dollars here and there. I'd like to meet up with "twin" for lunch this next week, but other than that I think it will be mostly leftovers for lunch and home cooking for dinner. Though we may treat MM for a dinner out if it's just the three of us. Our dollars will stretch a lot further if it's just the three of us, and will probably also have a lighter grocery week.

October 5

October 9th, 2018 at 12:55 am

October 5
-0- No Spending
Dinner: Steak & Potatoes

This was my first full-time week at new job and first week with fast charger. My fuel (electric) costs for the week amounted to $5.

October 4 - Free Lunch

October 9th, 2018 at 12:53 am

October 4
$52 Groceries
Dinner: Cheeseburger Pasta

MH did another grocery run. Can't say I've really talked to him all week. I am guessing he just didn't have time (to plan one big trip) and so broke it up into a couple of smaller trips this week.

For work, I was going to go on a bit of a field trip but it was canceled due to crazy weather. I work for a home builder now; we were going out to look at the construction process for some development that is probably close (location-wise) and where we can see construction in its various phases.

We actually bought our current home as new construction. I appreciate it because I have any idea what they are talking about half the time. It gives me some insight from the buyer side. & now I am learning more than I would ever want to know about the seller side.

In the end, I had planned to get like a $2 Taco Bell lunch on this day, because I wasn't really sure if we'd just stop to eat on the long drive back to the office. Because of the weather and everything, and some horrific accident on the freeway in the a.m. (delaying some employees by hours) they ordered in lunch and paid for it. I got the sense it was a rare thing.

I am feeling VERY at peace with everything. Was my third quiet night in a row?! I spent the last couple of evenings catching up on chores around the house. Phew! I was happy and I had lots of energy. This is my more normal mode, but I lost it somewhere along the way. (Well, normal mode is a lot more relaxation, but I will take, "Time and energy to tackle piles of neglected chores.")

I hesitate to even say it, but everything has calmed down since last weekend? A rare week of peace during this crazy crazy year.

I admit I didn't go to the old office at all this week. Didn't even hear from them at all? I stopped by the week prior and it was complete chaos. I think it was early-August when they pleaded with me to "wait two weeks" while they sorted things out with the lawyers. *sigh* Fast forward to last week of September, and absolutely nothing has been decided or resolved. New receptionist's father was in the hospital and she was beside herself and expecting she would need to take some time off. It's completely unreal over there (endless medical and family leave because of all the tragedy). Last I heard was that cancer employee was probably in late stage cancer (it had spread very aggressively to her lymph nodes already).

UPDATE: I've since been told that "useless employee" has officially resigned. Cancer has spread. Both my old employer's wife and "awesome admin" wanted to talk to me; they may want to fill me in more about what is going on with her.

October 3 - Crazy Weather!

October 6th, 2018 at 12:52 am

October 3
$10 Gymnastics
$28 Groceries (Target)
$ 3 Groceries
Dinner: Salsa Verde Carnitas

I also made pumpkin bread this night (after promising MM many many times).

I had posted some old beach/sand toys on Craigslist (for free) and someone picked them up today.

The weather was completely crazy today! I was going to leave work a little early but the sky just opened up and the parking lot was becoming a river (right around the time I was going to leave)! UGH! I had gotten a flash flood warning at lunch (for the noon hour) which seemed pretty random because it was a beautiful/sunny day. Anyway, once the craziness passed, around 4:00pm, I took a deep breath and drove home. By some miracle, I made it all but the last 3 blocks home before I entered some other *crazy* storm. I think because the wind seemed to come out of nowhere, I was thinking "hurricane" type weather. Which is one of the first things MH or MM said to me when I got home; that it was some kind of unusual tropical storm or something like that.

So, I don't know how I got so lucky, but I had as pleasant of a drive as I could have. We had thunderstorms most the evening.

I don't remember exactly which date (or why) MH made the $3 grocery run.

MH also picked up some Target groceries while waiting for MM (gymnastics). Usually we buy things like granola bars and cat food/litter at Target.

October 2 - Lunch Out

October 6th, 2018 at 12:29 am

October 2
$82 Groceries
$ 8 Lunch
Dinner: Zuppa Toscana (soup)

Total electric (car) fuel costs October 2: $1.02
(This was for 48 miles, or a very average day of new commute)

Did I mention that we have just been putting out fires left and right? MH didn't have time to go grocery shopping until Tuesday. (Would have generally gone over the weekend).

I didn't plan well at all and I went out for lunch. At my old office, it was a bad neighborhood and there really wasn't anywhere nearby to eat. The faster food places generally had very long waits, consistently burned food, and often ended up going out of business. I can see (looking back now) that I never had a lot of temptation on this front.

Today I hadn't planned well and I was starving around noon and remembered one of my favorite Delis was in the area. ("Twin" had told me this). The bad news? It's so close I can walk! Anyway, new work neighborhood is totally complete polar opposite. I am happy to say that the deli wasn't crowded at all around noon. Not sure how other places are, but today was the first day I really had the mental capacity to take note of my surroundings. (I've just been on such brain overload). Today I took the time to look around and see what stores and restaurants are in the area, on my drive in.

I did eat only half my sandwich and kept the rest for Wednesday. I doubt I will have the time to meet "twin" for lunch this week so maybe it works out. I'd like to start doing a weekly lunch date with her.

October 1

October 3rd, 2018 at 12:20 am

October 1
$23 Target (Groceries)
$10 Gymnastics
$ 0 Movies (Free Screening)
Dinner: Pasta with chickpeas and garlic sauce

MM(15) is just now returning to gymnastics post broken toe.

We stopped by Target (right next to gymnastics) to pick up some face wash (for the teenager), some hair ties, and toilet paper. I always just throw this household type stuff in our "grocery" category. (I don't remember the last time I bought toilet paper, but we were dangerously low; MH couldn't get to Target until Wednesday. We were in the neighborhood, so I just put it on my errand list).

October Reset

October 2nd, 2018 at 12:52 pm

I am doing a major financial reset with my pay cut. I'd say all but the last couple of years and our two-ish years of DINK living (Dual Income No Kids), other than those years we have always been uber frugal. I mean like I was saving 80% of my income out of college because I couldn't figure out how to afford the roof over my head otherwise. & we dropped our income in half to have kids, so just more of the same (though less extreme). On one hand, I would like to just coast this next 9 months or so and see what happens. Eventually I should be able to prove myself and be in a better negotiation position. If this job doesn't work out for any reason, the experience will also help me greatly with being able to increase my salary. Also, MH really wants to return to the full-time workforce, but we just want to give it another 9 months (when MM has a drivers license and both kids will be in high school). So I don't see any drastic budget changes or anything like that, but we definitely do need to rein it in.

We've mostly never increased our monthly budget and so I don't see making any changes on that front. (It's very "shoestring" in many regards). But what will probably be more apparent in my blog is sending my kids on less extravagant/expensive trips (unless grandparents are just willing to pay for everything) and probably cutting back on things like musicals and the Symphony (which we really only added in the last few months). Oh, and no more jetting off to Europe (which I have no desire or plans for). Having not had the means for these things for 90% of my life, I don't think it will be any big adjustment.

Will also probably go back to "saving minimum 10% to retirement" (from paychecks) and won't be adding to "taxable investments" for a while. I haven't done a monthly savings update because we have just been hoarding cash like crazy. But I will reset sidebar goals (they aren't realistic at all with 20% pay cut I've had since January 1. First I lost my overtime and then I took another 12% pay cut with this new job). Instead of saving 30% of my income, we will be lucky to save 10%. Which is my minimum. I would have accepted a lower paying job versus living on unemployment (a 75% pay cut), but I am happy to say this is a job I can live with long term. We save MH's income, so household savings will be around 20%. Not bad for a 20% pay cut. You can see why we aren't in a huge rush to raise his income. (We probably would be all else being equal, but still dealing with a very emotional teenager who probably isn't ready for that. It's all good. In 9 months I can change my work schedule to 7:00-3:30 and I think things will be set up pretty nicely for MH to focus on his career. I think I would have a heart attack if he had to start a new job right now too. I'd love some time to settle into my new job and to make sure it is the right job for me, before we experience more drastic changes. Also, MM should have his drivers license by then, which will help a ton, and is why I can then work crazy early).

I do always track our expenses, but I will track in my blog for October, for better accountability. In my mind, I am just considering it to be a spending reset.

MH already told me that the film production company he has been volunteering for is running some event at the art museum this month. As museum members, I believe we only have to pay $5/each to get in? $5 or $10. Stuff like that, we can easily afford. It's paying $50-$100 to attend one show that is on the back burner. Thankfully our art museum has some pretty amazing concerts (that cost pennies), and so does DL's school (lots of theater, musicals, and concerts).

Last week was a complete whirlwind. Monday did not start out any better. Work is completely crazed. (Though I felt I actually got somewhere Monday with a week of training behind me, working a full-time day, and actually being able to pin my boss down to answer some questions from last week. My To-Do list did not double yesterday, like it had seemed to every day the week prior. Phew! But it was hard to even take a break and my boss's wish list for this week was clearly completely absurd. He also was annoyed I stayed 15 minutes extra to wrap up what I was doing, so I am not too worried about it. They are very serious re: their 9-5 "go home and spend time with your family" culture). Other than that, just endless fires to put out on the home front. Less death and dying and horrible-ness. I appreciate that, for sure. But I am still exhausted. Hoping for some down time tonight.

Electricity Costs October 1

October 2nd, 2018 at 12:26 pm

Yesterday I drove 66 electric miles. That was around 50 miles with my (new) commute and dropping off MM at school. The rest was city driving; running errands and dropping off MM at gymnastic class.

I could have done all electric regardless, but it was nice to have the fast charge in between. (If I got home from work and plugged in for a couple of hours on the slow charger, I would have barely squeaked by with enough miles for evening errands).

Total electric fuel costs October 1: $1.36
**corrected after original post**

Cost to drive gas guzzling minivan 66 miles: $11.06

Fuel Savings: $9.70

There is no doubt we would have pulled the trigger on replacing the minivan, regardless. Might not have necessarily done it before I started my job and didn't have to go so "new" and expensive. Didn't even have to switch to an electric car. (Our other gas car is twice as fuel efficient as the minivan was). I am guessing this is a lot of why we have talked about the replacing the gas guzzler for so many years but was never quite able to pull the trigger. We just haven't had the financial incentive to. But wow, look at that financial incentive now!