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Home > Archive: April, 2019

Archive for April, 2019

Spring Break

April 24th, 2019 at 01:07 pm

Just a quick check in. I noticed that it looked like pictures were working again (but no one mentioned it was fixed).

I did my first spring break in about 20 years. I hadn't realized it was Easter weekend when we booked. So it probably magnified things, but I learned I wasn't missing much. Crazy expensive and kind of crowded. The last couple of times we went to this hotel was around Thanksgiving and we had the place to ourselves. & the weather was better in November. But it's nice to know I haven't missed much.

It was a very well needed break. Certainly no complaints about a relaxing/long weekend. The kids only had one school day off together, so we just took a long weekend off.

I am very cautiously optimistic that things will settle down in the next month or so. Lord knows they have settled down, a ton, but I am still working more than I am used to. I think between that and just being so emotionally exhausted from the last 15 months or so. It will take some time to recover. Hoping for some peace and quiet this summer.

I am only keeping second job through May 12th. So just a few more weeks of "busy". A couple of weeks after that MM will be done with school, he will be a self-sufficient driver next school year, and so my schedule is going to free up significantly over summer.

Electric Car Update

April 14th, 2019 at 08:53 am

Not much new to report on this front. Battery did not perform as well in winter, but most days was enough to get me to/from work. On particularly cold mornings where I ran the heat more, I might have use a few miles of gas on the way home. This might equate to one tank of gas every winter (if even that much).

Things have way settled down re: how many miles we are putting on this car. It helps that MM(15) has his own car now. He is the one that we drive everywhere. I'd say we are putting about 1,000 miles per month (much more reasonable) plus using for Bay Area trips. Which we haven't done the past couple of months.

MH and MM are maybe putting 300 miles per month on each of their cars. But it's becoming clear that MH's car will probably remain the "out of town" car for longer trips. Will probably still mostly use the electric car for Bay Area trips (which are much more frequent). Honestly, is probably the only reason we'd ever get through the gas anyway. Which you have to use up at some point (to replace with fresh gas).

I don't remember the last time I Went to a gas station. It's really only necessary on our way out of town (or on the way back home). Which means it's no longer an ongoing chore. I really like the simplicity aspect.

I was going to share a "gas savings" update, but I guess pictures are still not working.

So I will use my words...

We paid a $8,000 premium for this car (over our "forever" car budget of saving up $100/month). {The older we get the nicer cars we can afford and the longer they last, so the more we can save, without having to ever save more per month for a car}. But in this case, we splurged. I intend to offset the splurge with gas savings. We replaced a gas guzzling minivan and I doubled my commute, so the savings is substantial. I just started tracking this year because last year we were paying for the fast charger we installed in our garage. That was paid for with first few months of fuel savings.

This first three months of 2019 we have saved $535 in fuel and oil changes. Shaving $535 off of the premium we paid for this car. I expect to breakeven in about 4 years.

{Oil changes are only necessary every 2 years on this vehicle. We do oil changes every 6 months on our gas vehicles. Electric car is significantly lower maintenance all around.}

I have started working from home one day per week, to reduce the wear and tear on the car. I could have maybe pushed for it sooner, but waited 5 months to get settled in new job first. I actually personally dislike working from home (used to) but all of the variables changed in this situation. If my office is just 10 minutes away (as it always was before), I much rather keep work/home separate and go into the office. But anyway, the major variable that has changed is I can save an hour of driving if I just stay home. & my work/life boundaries seem to have been totally shot in the past year or two anyway, so it's less of a big change than it would have been prior. Thirdly, the work is different enough that I am okay with it. If this was 20 years ago at my old job, I don't think I'd be very happy. The work culture at my first post-college job was pretty insane on the work hours front. So I really drew a firm line about taking any work home. & then I just kind of extended that to my last job because the culture was very good re: work/life balance.

I suppose I tested this out at my new job. Towards the beginning my boss asked if I wanted to be set up to work from home, and I said no. He look surprised, but then he *shrugged* and said okay. Which I think kind of says it all. It's a very family oriented office (everyone else has young kids). So he really encouraged everyone to work from home if they have sick kids or have to leave early, etc. Super flexible job. (This was mentioned in my interview/encouraged, because of my longer commute that I should work from home some days). But beyond that, the culture is very 9-5. (It's actually more 7-3). For these reasons, I eventually caved and decided that I needed to reduce my commute hours. This may be the first job I've had that I can keep very clear work/life boundaries, even if I bring work home. Between that and things changing a wee bit during the past 20 years (technology), I am embracing it. I think it's working out pretty well.

After typing this out, duh, I also don't think working from home with (young) kids would have ever been particularly useful or productive. I suppose that is another variable that has changed substantially.

Edited to add: I didn't mention, but electricity costs are still about $25/month for the car. That hasn't changed with the lower miles/less driving, because anything above that is going to be gas miles.

P.S. According to my blog, our electric costs started out at $35/month? I will have to check my math. I think it's been $25 in recent months. We have the same electricity rates for 8 months of the year but will change to summer rates (UGH) in June. I did have a week off in February and started working more from home after that, in addition to MM getting his own car, so that may account for the $25/month electricity average during the past 3 months.


Added picture now that it is working.

I am starting to wonder if increased summer electric prices will be offset by increased summer gas prices. I may get to keep chugging along at this pace.

Credit Card Rewards Tally 2019

April 6th, 2019 at 07:39 am

2019 TALLY:

$540 Gift Cards (Citi, Moi)
$150 Bank Bonus

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


I just saw that the points posted for my latest one-time bonus.

Citi has significantly better gift card rewards than the last time I did this. Will probably pick up some Target and Kohls gift cards, in addition to some movie theater gift cards. Then a handful of dining out gift cards so we can go out and enjoy a bit this summer. All of this will help us immensely during our "income gap". Which I expect to be during the summer months when MH is not working.

I will probably try again for a Chase bonus. I was denied the last time I tried, though I didn't have anywhere near the "5 credit card apps" or whatever they were denying for. But I only applied for one card this year and last year. It's worth a try.

On the flip side, I told MH that I think this is my last big push. We really relied on this extra money to help us through lower income periods and periods of lower bank interest, but I just don't see continuing to do the same bank bonuses over and over and over again. The ongoing rewards and cash back for everyday purchases, those I have done my entire life and don't intend to stop. But I can see wanting to juggle less bonuses and one-time reward cards, for the long term. Will see...

***CAVEAT - I absolutely do not recommend utilizing credit card rewards in this manner, unless you are in full control of your credit card spending. We treat our credit cards like debit cards; only charging if we have the cash on hand already. We've never paid a cent of late fees or interest.***

March Savings

April 3rd, 2019 at 04:43 pm

Received $83 bank interest for the month of January.

Also received a $150 bank bonus.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $30 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $46 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $9 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
$ 4 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)
$100 Tax Refund
$170 Dividend

TOTAL: $359 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:

Snowball to Savings:
+$ 0 MH Paychecks
+$ 750 February self-employment income

TOTAL: $1,550 snowballs to savings

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$ 890 Elliptical purchase (dropped gym membership)**

**My super awesome discount gym closed and transferred my membership to a really crappy gym.

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$ 450 Misc. Expenses (school lunches pre-paid for a few months, medical bills, etc.)

TOTAL: $2,750 deposited to cash and investments


Last month's commentary:

Still just hoarding cash. Second job is winding down (I hope). I have $3k medical bills coming up, want to pay cash for braces this year (x2), have to cover all my professional expenses going forward, etc., etc. Just hoarding cash for all that, and preparing for a big income drop this summer.

I don't know what happened to MH's income. I wasn't able to save any of it (around $900) which is totally ridiculous. But I am still pretty buried and it is most likely an accounting error. Either that or we over-spent something like $400 last month and $400 this month. That is more likely. I know we didn't over-spend $900 this month. Anyway, I share to explain why I saved -$0- of that, but will chalk that up to "life is chaos." Because I track our spending so closely, is why I am fine with, "I don't have time to track it down and don't care." I suppose is the flip side of working crazy hours/extra money. Our life is usually more slow/relaxed, and lots of time to pinch pennies. Life is just the polar opposite of that right now.

All of this is still true. I put $2,000 medical bills on new reward card. I pulled this out of savings in April, along with $11,000 to fund IRAs (for 2018). All of this will show up on my April report.

{I ended up funding our IRAs today}.

I also didn't save any of MH's income in March (again) and couldn't tell you why. It's kind of moot because March is really just paying all of February expenses (credit card charges). So this month was already over (spending-wise) when I did my last monthly update. I don't know that anything has particularly changed, but March expenses (paid in April) ended up balancing to about the penny. & that was during a crazy busy month when I doubt we were particularly frugal (except for being too busy to spend money). I actually just found $150 I accidentally transferred to savings for April, and will fix that by the end of the month. I expect I might find more stuff like that if I look back the last two months.

Net worth is up about $40,000 for the year. Or about 2/3 of our annual goal. Most of that is stock market recovery from end of last year.

I will try to do some more work posts later. But I am starting to feel more *chill* about dropping second income. Some of my reluctance to drop the second income was not having any real idea how things would go with new job. But after 6 months, I feel pretty confident I have found a long-term work home. I also think it's pretty likely I will replace my old salary this year (with the one job). This was part of my strategy and willingness to take a pay cut in the interim.