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Archive for November, 2018

Long Weekend

November 24th, 2018 at 08:49 am

Thursday we drove down to spend Thanksgiving with our families. Usually we host (potluck ~ we don't do the cooking), but in recent years it's been dwindling down to "every other year". Lord knows I bowed out a long time ago, for this year.

We were most thankful for fresh air. We had a big storm and it cleared out all the smoke. Which I know just created more problems overall, but it was so nice to breathe fresh air.

Yesterday I Was just zonked. I wasn't thinking too much about the smoke, but I think that could be some of it. Some combination of oxygen overload and maybe getting some of the smoke out of my system. I mostly slept.

I told MH I'd watch three movies this weekend. We should be done with 20 out of 100. (We are watching the Top 100 movies, AFI, along with the podcast Unspooled).

Weekend goals:

Saturday - clean house and get house in order. Fingers crossed!! (Every time I have tried this year, something seems to get in the way). If I could just cross off a few bigger chores, and feel like I am making progress on this front...

Sunday - baking?

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For Black Friday, I submitted a Citi Price Rewind for the cell phone MH recently bought. It was on sale for $150 less. I will get the price match, if Citi will match Black Friday prices. Will see...

{This makes the price far less ridiculous, though will be stuck with the higher sales tax}.

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Other than that, we've been spending ridiculous sums of money on concerts. Everything we were interested in went on sale last week.

Also, Sketchfest tickets went on sale. I believe we entirely skipped it last year. Just nothing grabbed us and we were kind of burned out on the spending/travel.

For this year, pretty much everything we were interested in was during MH's birthday weekend. That never happens! Usually it's a lot more spread out and it's figuring how much time we really want to spend traveling to San Francisco. In this case, we got tickets to everything we were interested in, and already got a free timeshare stay right by the theater (where all the shows are at). So MH will have a very fun birthday weekend. These tickets are generally quite inexpensive, especially when it's just the two of us. Will just pay with Christmas money, and the room is free, so it will be a frugal weekend. We will plan to eat very well, but he will probably get some birthday cash to cover the dining out.

Obligatory Holiday Post

November 24th, 2018 at 05:55 am

Here is my Christmas post from 2014:

[url]http://monkeymama.savingadvice.com/2014/11/30/christmas...

My job is crazy insane busy during the Christmas season, and so this has been a very big factor in our attitude about Christmas. I don't have the time and the energy and so mostly sit out the season.

Our attitude is also compounded by the in-laws' Christmas gift extravaganza. It's like, the kids got 100 toys from Grandma, so no one else gets absolutely any joy giving them gifts. Even my parents just don't get them anything. I share just to point out that all of the above is more for the adults than the kids. My kids know that their paternal grandparents are a little crazy and excessive but that everyone else we know is the complete opposite. I think it's obvious to them that their experience with Grandma is not the norm. They have never once asked me why no one else gets them any presents - aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. It's never occurred to them that they should be getting presents from everyone. They just think Grandma really really likes Christmas!

I read through those articles again and it reminded me of the final rules of Christmas simplicity in our house. We don't travel and we don't cook. My spouse has a problem with taking the kids anywhere on Christmas day because he hated that when he was a kid - he wanted to stay home and to play with his toys. So, Christmas day is always at home. I am more than fine with that because is I am lucky to get Christmas day off and certainly can't swing more time off than that.


I'd say not much has changed. I have a new job situation (so might have a wee bit more time over the holidays). But... I don't expect that I would do anything more but collapse this year (from exhaustion). I am not making any new traditions, that is for sure. I will be able to spend a little more time with my family.

My kids are completely disinterested in the consumer treadmill. As teenagers they don't want *anything* for the Holidays. It's funny how often people tell me, "But you have to buy MORE when they are teenagers because they want so much stuff." I don't think parents realize how much kids absorb from their own parents' attitudes and actions. If nothing else, the kids have never seen us make shopping a pastime. So they just never got the memo.

Thus, we don't save up any money for the Holidays or plan to do any spending.

Now that I think about it, next month is going to be pretty busy because I am working two jobs. (Even though I am taking Christmas week off at job #2). So I think this year I am not going to do anything differently. But next year I could see putting a little more time and energy to baking and volunteering. That is what I would want to do with more time and breathing room around the Holidays.

Getting Somewhere...

November 19th, 2018 at 06:47 am

Cramming 3+ months of work into 2 weeks (10/31 deadlines for old employer) - DONE!

20 hours of professional continuing education - DONE!

{I still have four hours left to do, but I am done with the more time-consuming self-study portion. & I get a reprieve for 2 weeks}.

Organizing/Filing Old/Forever employer work files - DONE!

This last task has been driving me *crazy* all year. I was bringing home files that I needed/wanted to keep, but in dribs and drabs. Because I knew I would most likely quit, but just didn't feel any rush on that front. It's just strewn about the house. Anyway, in the end it took a whole *2 hours*. But I don't know when I would have ever found that 2 hours otherwise. Yeesh! Anyway, it was some combo of that, job search papers, and current work files for second job (work for old employer). But I got fairly organized yesterday. & before that I was semi-organized on the current work I was doing and all the job search stuff. So it wasn't too bad. I just needed to find the time and commit to get this out of my hair.

For reference, I think everything I brought home takes up about 2% of my file cabinet space. Is not a lot. Plus a few books. It was the feeling so "scattered" that was really driving me crazy!

Anyway, it feels *so good* to cross these last two tasks off my list. Feeling like I am actually getting somewhere.

I was able to multi-task while doing the self study, thankfully. (I wasn't too sure and didn't want to waste my time and fail the test). So I did about 4 hours of electronic and paper file cleanup during class #1. I did about 3 hours of billable work during class #2.

I otherwise have not done any work for old employer this month. I didn't get to much else on my to-do list and have a few errands today. (Some of that was due to a friend in crisis. This year won't let up!) & am definitely taking this long weekend off from any paying work. But the work will still be there... Honestly, it's much more favorable for me to do December work and bill in January anyway. I expect our household income to drop about $20k next year (W-2 income) and I can actually keep some of this extra money I am making, if I can push the income off to next year. Taxes are just eating away anything extra that I make this year.

I have just been going crazy with the feeling of getting further and further and further behind. I am *hoping* that I am turning the corner. I plan to work my butt off the next three days, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. So happy to be done with all of this *Cramming*. Now it's just getting caught up on the stuff I set aside so I could cram.

This & That

November 16th, 2018 at 06:14 am

Still in super busy mode. & still completely exhausted on the emotional front (always someone in the hospital or having a crisis).

Speaking of tragedy, the kids have school off Friday because of the smoke in our region. Smoke from the fires. That's a first. The air quality is just horrible here and we feel very trapped indoors.

I actually had an impromptu day off on Monday. Hallelujah! That was a long overdue day off, and so appreciated. We were having major IT issues at my job. With no computers, there was nothing we could do. So we moved up a meeting and then my new employer took us out to brunch. After that, we gave up and went home. I was over the moon.

MM(15) has been doing work for my old employer, and that is working out really well. I expect that he will make around $500 this month. I won't hold my breath about extra work past this year, but it looks pretty likely we will both be needed through tax season.

I was able to kill three birds with one stone, during the past two weekends. I took MM into my old office. I had two webinars planned and so just said MM could work until 3:00 or whatever (I couldn't leave until my classes were done). I parked myself and watched my classes while he worked. I was also able to do a little work for my old employer. Some multi-tasking.

I otherwise did not do any second job/OT during the past 15 days or so. Took a breather! Absolutely no deadlines until January, so nothing is really pressing at this point.

My goals are ambitious for this next week. I need to complete 8 more hours of education, for my professional license. It's actually 12 hours, but I have one last class scheduled in December. The other 8 hours are self-study and will be a little more work on my part. I am hoping the first 4 hours goes well and I feel up to just knocking it out (the second 4 hours) this weekend. I want to be DONE!

I am not planning to go back into the old office at all because MM(15) has so many days off this month and is just working weekdays for the rest of the month. (I just drop him off on my way/to from my job). We can re-evaluate in December.

Anyway, I want to knock out all my education AND I really should be doing some work for old employer. I am okay with piling on the work these next several days because my plan is to take the long 4-day weekend entirely off next week. Phew!

I'd like to maybe take next Thursday/Friday off and then spend the weekend tackling the house. Still so behind because I never had time to deal with anything.

I was feeling so frustrated last weekend. & is a lot of why I Was so happy to get an unexpected day off on Monday. My luck has been going the other way this entire year. I was in complete disbelief that I got a break! Anyway, so I guess that helped me to catch my breath and to hang on.

I am feeling frustrated probably because November is the slowest time of the year at my old job. Since my professional license is relevant to that job, I'd generally be doing all this on work time, and otherwise am practically on vacation all month. I worked 9-5, but might take 3-5 days off every November to do classes from home. Time off for the holidays. & the rest of the time the office is so dead and quiet and not much going on. Plenty of work to do, but was just so calm and peaceful. After a very long and exhausting year, some part of me is upset that my "17 years of QUIET NOVEMBER" is gone. It's just such a pattern that I am used to. But I know it will even out in the next month or two, or three or four. The trade-off will be "no crazy tax season."

I did get around to updating my sidebar. I still want to do some work/financial updates (might have some time in December?) but that is the cliff notes version. We have more retirement space to utilize, which significantly reduces our taxes. So we will be very "Retirement heavy" with retirement contributions in 2019. Or very similar to the early years of this blog. I honestly have no idea where we will be as far as my "10 year financial independence goal" and is something I need to look at. At this point in our lives our assets are working pretty hard for us and my pat cut might not impact that goal; if we rely more on asset appreciation than savings from income. But one reason I haven't bothered to even figure it out is the second job/extra income. & even if that evaporates, MH is planning to increase his income in the next year. So is something I want to work through eventually, but seems moot with all the extra cash I am making right now.

Edited to add: Last I checked, our net worth was up $80,000 for the year. Which means we have exceeded this goal for 2018, already. Will see where things land 12/31, but seem to be on a good track for this year.

I don't think my new job is financially ideal (right now) with this whole teen drivers/braces x2/college x2 thing right around the corner. BUT, I expect generous raises and bonuses with this employer and so expect the current state of things to be very temporary. & I think this job is absolutely ideal if MH does find more substantial or full-time work. Which is more the long-term plan. Even if MH went from $10k to $20k income, I think we would both be a lot happier with the shift in responsibilities (and that would put us where we were at before, income-wise). New job is working out really well and is another blog post I Want to get to eventually.

Electric Car Updates

November 4th, 2018 at 08:27 am

MH went out of town to do some political canvassing, yesterday. He was pleased with his gas mpg:



This is the spreadsheet I have been keeping to track fuel costs. I don't know if this sheet is ideal, but it's one I just found and copied. It worked in a pinch. I can tweak it later.


You can click on it to see the details more clearly.

We drove the car 2,000 miles total. UGH! I don't have a handle on total household driving because I didn't track miles on the other car. For November 1, I made sure to take a picture of both odometers. We generally average about 20,000 miles per year total. How we divvy it up between the cars just depends. But this was before I doubled my commute. For the long run, I expect to work from home one day per week, to lessen the wear and tear on our cars. October was clearly unusual with *a lot* of out-of-town driving. But there was also an element that we barely drove the other car.

{These cars are so under-advertised. We had *no idea* we could get 50mpg on the gas side of the car. We didn't expect this to also be our out-of-town car?
We just lucked out that we found a car with so low miles to start. I really didn't think we'd be piling on the miles this quickly}.

Electricity costs: $31.65

1,516 Miles Driven

386.4 kWh Used x $0.0819/kWh = $31.65

Fuel Savings: $226

1,516 Miles/ 20mpg old minivan
=76 gallons of fuel

76 gallons x $3.40 = $258

$258 cost of commute in old minivan
-$32 cost of commute in new electric car
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=$226 FUEL SAVINGS

NOTE: We were not spending that much on gas before because we bought the new electric vehicle at the same time I found a new job and doubled my old commute. But I do think it was somewhat critical to address our vehicle situation with the new commute. I also took a large pay cut, so the fuel savings is important.

Although my commute is HUGE compared to any frame of reference I have (I have never commuted more than 15 minutes?). I think it's a relatively small commute in the grand scheme of things. Isn't that gas savings mind boggling?? I think this is probably pretty average. It's probably pretty average that Americans drive gas guzzlers and would commute at least 20 miles each way.

For now, I am focused on tracking the fuel savings to offset the cost of the fast charger we installed in our garage. Once that is paid for, I would like to offset the premium we paid for the car. To be clear, we did not pay a premium because the car is electric. We paid a premium because it was a huge step up in car. We had saved $15,000 ($100 per month x 13 years) to replace the minivan. We ended up spending $22,000 + tax on this car (less sale of van), or $23,000 total cash out-of-pocket. I'd like to whittle down the extra $8,000 we paid with fuel cost savings. At this rate, we might breakeven in just 3 years. WOW! This wasn't really our intent with the car purchase. We had received a $15,000 completely unexpected cash gift that we decided to use towards buying a newer vehicle. I think it was more to the point that we felt I could buy my "dream car" with the extra money. I did not expect the fuel savings to be quite this substantial. I guess the substantial fuel savings is just icing on the cake!

$745 Cost of Fast Charger/Installation
-226 Fuel Savings October
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$519 Net Cost To-Date

It looks like we can get this charger "paid for" by the end of December.

NOTE: I am just ignoring gas fuel costs for simplicity. The Gas Fuel mpg comparison is 20mpg minivan versus 43mpg Volt. (I corrected my sheet after I posted it here). But the 43mpg is more in line with our other (gas) car, which is what we used to use for longer trips. So I don't know that we are seeing any fuel savings on longer trips or gas usage on the hybrid car. Will just track the smaller/electric trips, which is mostly my new commute.

October 30 & 31

November 4th, 2018 at 06:15 am

October 30
$41 Gas for gas car
$5 Lunch
FREE MOVIE
Dinner: Indian Butter Chicken

I have no idea why MH needed gas and how he spent $41 on gas. Didn't use a coupon?? I don't know.

I spent $5 on lunch out.

MH and I had another movie date night, but I wasn't feeling well and cancelled on him. I was relieved to have one less thing on my plate.

My female/TMI health issues started last summer, or long before all this STRESS. But I was being optimistic that things might resolve a bit with things settling down. Unfortunately, I ended up with my stress level back at around 11 again. Was just a horrible week. I just felt my #1 priority at that point should be to go home and rest my body. I was not having a good day on the female/TMI front. So MH went to the movie alone.

I probably needed a night off, regardless. Phew!

MH applied for a job today. I will blog about that later.

Edited to add: I pulled up gas prices today and they had gone up to $3.57 at our grocery store. I noted $3.25 at the beginning of the month. MH told me he didn't have a coupon/didn't plan ahead (no idea, very unlike him). The cheapie gas station is still $3.18. (They are slow to adjust sometimes, is just a very small gas station. Both these gas stations, closest to our home, are usually cheaper than Costco). I might go over to the cheapie gas station to put two gallons in the hybrid car, for our next out-of-town trip.

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October 31
$0 Car Stereo Fix
$4 Groceries
$40 Escape room
Dinner: Leftovers

I took the gas car at some point the week prior and I immediately noticed one speaker is out. I honestly have no idea if it just happened then or if MH was that oblivious with his single sided deafness. *sigh*

So he took it in to get it fixed on this day. In the end, something had just become disconnected. They told him we had a lifetime warranty, regardless. (Oh, they don't know how long we keep our cars!! Big Grin )

MH also inquired about a job he had seen posted there. (They do home theater and smart home sales also, which is right up his alley. Not his dream job by any means, but probably a million times more interesting than his current job). The other job he applied for was more the same, but really convenient because it is in our neighborhood.

I noticed that we had a donation pickup date (& I remembered!). I had a few bags collected over the past few months. Plus a few things I had set aside in the garage when we installed the electric charger and cleaned up the garage a bit. So it was nice to get all that cleared out of the house. I had an old scooter that was pretty beat up and not sure they would take, but they picked it up. Phew! A couple of old bike helmets, a skateboard, etc. From inside the house, had a couple of bags of clothing.

DL(13) ended up getting invited to an Escape Room with a group of friends. I guess MM(15) was invited when someone cancelled and then dis-invited when that person changed their mind? (He is always friends with all of DL's friends, kind of young at heart. Doesn't go so much the other way because the older kids don't think a 'younger brother' is as cool as an 'older brother'). But anyway, MM didn't seem to care either way. Thank goodness, because they didn't tell us until they picked DL up that we were expected to pay. Wha??? So MH handed them $40 and they didn't even give us $5 change. I heard him tell DL later, "Your friend owes you $5." Anyway, whatever, we will survive, but I would have been really peeved if it was $70 ($35x2) sprung on us.

I guess I don't know what the norm is, but if I invited the kids out somewhere, I am paying. I will say that when we took MM and his friends to the water park for his birthday, several people offered to pay and seemed shocked we were treating. & that was for a birthday party! So maybe I am the weird one.

Lesson learned. Next time we ask and don't assume.

MM didn't end up doing anything. I think it's the first time he sat out Halloween, but mostly his brother and all his friends ditched him. He was totally cool and fine with it.

I had some plans to sort through Halloween costumes and get some sold or donated. HA! That is my purge fail for October. Will try again next year...

October 29

November 4th, 2018 at 06:11 am

October 29
$?? Target (Groceries)
$14 Indian Grocer
$10 Gymnastics
Dinner: Spinach Manicotti

I keep getting locked out of Target card (new website?) so I have no idea what MH spent at Target. He picked up some groceries. I will update when I get the info.

MH stopped by the Indian grocery on the way home. I don't know that he picked up anything dinner specific, but DL(13) totally goes crazy for their Indian version of "hot pockets". I overheard MH telling DL that they'd stop by on the way home from school and stock up.

On Saturday night I burned out and I thought it was *finally* happening. That all this stress was catching up with me. It is a complete miracle that I have not been sick at all this year. Anyway, I turned off work around 6pm, MH made a very hearty/healthy dinner, and I felt so much better after that. Phew!

I e-mailed "workaholic" and told him I was DONE, but that I could finish some work Monday night if he still needed help. I meant it, but also never expected he'd actually need help. I felt conflicted because I wanted to cram more work in at high pay rate, but was hitting some wall where I was questioning my sanity. I hadn't gotten as much work in at higher billing rate as I had wanted to, but was losing motivation.

Anyway, in the end, I felt fine after I took a break, and "workaholic" never got to that work on Monday. So I had one more big work day push on Monday night.

I am mostly done. MH is monopolizing my time on Tuesday and I have a couple of client meetings (dealing with old clients still). & I have maybe one hour of work left to do Wednesday night and then some invoicing to do. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Phew! If I get home at 4:00 Wednesday and spend a couple of hours wrapping that work up, I can still have a nice/quiet evening. I am taking the rest of the week off. Time to rest and regroup.

Since I am not even getting to posting this a full week later:
Of course, life laughed at me and I ended up having another total week from hell.

October 28

November 4th, 2018 at 05:39 am

October 28
$31 Groceries
$16 Haircut
Dinner: Mexican Potato Soup (crockpot)

Not much to report. I wasn't noticing any decrease in our grocery spending, though DL was gone for for 10 days, MM was gone for one weekend, and we've been eating out excessively (for us). BUT, it hit this week. The grocery run this week was an entire $31. We have enough food otherwise, to get through the week.

MH ran some errands and got a haircut. All I did was laundry and work (job #2).

October 27 - Last Saturday

November 4th, 2018 at 05:37 am

October 27
$29 Deli Sandwiches
$124 Professional Classes
Dinner: Out

MH ended up taking MM to his volunteer shift at the animal shelter, because I was working all weekend. He went to the free car charger (which is right by the shelter) and got about 50-cents worth of free electricity. Or enough "fuel" for the drive home.

I don't remember why, but we decided to bring dinner in. I think MH was just feeling that he had not planned better. & when he brought up the idea of eating out, everyone was game. He picked up some sandwiches from our favorite deli. I still don't understand food delivery, but I guess is nothing our families ever paid for. Just to say we picked up our own food and didn't have any additional expenses for that.

Though I worked like crazy all weekend, I did take the time to sort out my professional licensing and education. The good/bad news is that I can take some live webinar classes during Saturdays. Phew! Is so much easier because then your credit is just based on attendance, and confirming every 15 minutes or so that you are there.

That said, the "cheapie" place that "twin" referred me to (I bought an unlimited class pass for 12 months) did not have two of the courses that I needed. I recalled I had a free course for some professional membership renewal, but I had to pay for the other one. I just used the CE company that I usually use. I knew they had the right course for my state and their classes are top notch. Next time I can take more time to shop around. These two could potentially be more time consuming because they are self study. Will see.

So yeah, that pretty much consumes my Saturdays for the rest of the year. It's pretty much 4 hours x 5 weekends.