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This & That

December 19th, 2021 at 02:35 pm

November is probably going down as one of our most expensive months ever.  I don't think that December is off to a great start, either.

I paid about $6K for second quarter college expenses.  Paid the same amount for property taxes.  We drove to the college a couple of times, MH went to Florida and bought a laptop.  Medical expenses, etc., etc.  I was just balancing everything out Dec. 1 and so it looked a little *Yikes!*  But the money Gods have been very nice to us, and so I can probably save MH's next two paychecks (December).   We always pay off the prior month charges and pay all bills the first of the month.  But I am not used to MH working and the extra income (after 18 months off work).  So the money is rolling in pretty nicely.

I got my bonus, but it's mostly going to medical expenses.  My raise (larger than usual) is going to taxes and health insurance increases.  It is what it is.  I pay all the household taxes out of my paycheck (for simplicity).  & I am coming to the realization that it's just always is how it's going to be (my raises will just go to taxes), unless I pull some taxes out of MH's paycheck.  So I am pondering that.  I can keep the simplicity if we deduct a flat dollar amount from MH checks.  That's fine, but we are also coming off of a 18-month layoff and it was nice to just pump up my paychecks with tax savings, same as we did when MH was laid off 20 years ago. Pulling taxes from MH's paycheck will remove some of that "emergency cushion".  But...  I feel like we are ready to graduate into a more relaxed budget. 

Before I realized that my raise would mostly go to taxes**, I was pondering increasing our misc./total spending for the first time ever.  I will have to ponder some more.  If it doesn't pan out, fair enough.  This year has been our most expensive medical year, in addition to paying cash for college.  It might just not be the right time.  I feel so close...  But not quite there yet.  

**Not sure on this yet.  Depends on what they do with the child tax credit next year and why I didn't realize at first that my raise would likely just end up going to taxes.  It seems kind of moot because DL(16) will 100% age out the following year, if not next year.  So I need to start financially and mentally preparing for that big tax increase.  

MM(18) had wisdom tooth surgery this week.  Was not on my radar whatsoever because I have zero wisdom teeth (and MH never needed any removed).  That will eat up most of my bonus.  What was left, will cover our SF weekend in January.  We have a free hotel and my bonus will cover all the shows (SF Sketchfest).  Will have some Christmas/Birthday money to cover parking/meals that weekend. 

Other travels:  Dropped MM(18) off at his college last last last weekend.  (Okay, this post is taking me forever to publish).  We never travel during busy/Holiday times and just weren't thinking.  Had planned more of a leisurely weekend but eventually realized we just had to get out of there and home ASAP.  So we left pretty early Sunday morning.  I think it still worked out pretty well.  We tried a more reasonably priced hotel and went out for a really nice dinner Saturday night.  We were able to beat most of the traffic.  & we did get gas first thing when we got to MM's college town, so that we wouldn't forget.  😉

{That is probably the last gas trip we will take to the college.  Phew!  Our recall number came up and so we get a new EV battery next week.  In the meantime, we've had to limit charging due to risk of fire.  After the fix, should be a useable long road trip car again; can charge and discharge all we want.  Extra bonus: the newer batteries are bigger so we will also get a longer range with this fix.  Merry Christmas to us!}

MH ended up going to Florida to help settle his Grandfather's estate.  He's not the executor, so don't ask me...  ???  Just a weird toxic MIL thing.  By itself, no big deal.  But just the usual over-reliance on MH and no concept that he has a job/family.  & I mean, he's trying to get back to work after 18 months off but it's just been one thing after another.  In the end, MH was able to change to an earlier flight home.  Phew!   

I personally didn't expect to be so knee deep in (estate) details so soon.  Silly me!  I forget why I am always knee deep in everyone's estates.  If nothing else, I will get the tax questions.  But even with friends, they usually deep dive with me because they know I will understand, in addition to wanting financial guidance.  So between that and MH helping with the details, we were both thrown head first into everything.  

I gather that FIL didn't expect to inherit anything (due to a second marriage) and that he is surprised by the size of the estate.  My MIL is being very weird about the whole thing, doesn't want any of the money, wants to pass it all on ASAP to kids and Grandkids.  I'd prefer that they slow down and give it some time.  

I don't really know what any of this means, but it's been thrown out that they want to do the max gift to everyone in my family.  $30K per person, though I wouldn't expect that until 2022.  & I know the gift limits are going up next year, but that buys the in-laws some wiggle room to also do the usual gifts (e.g. the $1K per year/each they have been giving the kids for college). 

Getting into the nitty gritty is another post for another day.  The obvious is the mortgage.  It was our gut feeling as to what to do with our money and it was still the obvious when circling back to long-term goals/plans.  For me personally, I just find it impossible to believe.  & MH is grieving, so there will be more in depth conversations about it all when the money is in hand.  For now...  Yeah, my mind just can not compute.  It's just that past large financial wins have always fallen through at the last minute. MH's family has always been very generous as opposed to my money hoarding family (we both will meet somewhere in the middle when it comes to our own kids.  Seriously, can our parents be any more opposite??).  Though MH's parents are generous, this is the first time they've had a large windfall.  So this does not compute at all for me and I will believe it when I see it.  But at some point I will do a more in depth post of our current financial position and our thought process on the windfall.

In the short run, all I have left in cash is our emergency funds.  (I just peeked to see exactly where we were at.  6-month emergency fund + $33?  That's where we are at).  + probably $1,000 MH's paychecks this month (no further expenses to pay until January).  Plus some Christmas money.  Will see...  MH's work is busy (way busier than I realistically expected) so that is another windfall of sorts.  I don't feel financially stressed whatsoever, because we are saving so much.  Cash is dwindling because it was such an expensive medical year.  

So there's that.  But then I received a $100 check for my birthday (from my parents) and I couldn't even fathom what on earth to do with that.  I ended up donating to a homeless family. 

Obviously, the financial wins currently far outweight the financial challenges.  I guess that sums it up pretty well.

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I don't have much to say about Christmas.  Our focus this time of year is charity (versus consumerism).  Time flies.  I was looking up in my blog and this is the 5th year that the in-laws gave us $1,000 to donate.  I would have guessed maybe the third year.   But it's the 5th year!

I hadn't looked at things yet, where we donated everything to last year.  But looking through prior Christmas posts, I forgot we also came up with about $500 last year.  *sigh*  Wasn't on my radar at all with mega medical expenses and paying cash for college, etc.  But I can see that I will probably use $500 of the windfall to do that.  I will want to donate to a lot of the usual places:  DL's school, food banks, animal shelters, etc.  

(Usually I earmark some of my bonus for charity, but just didn't have any bonus money left after paying for the surgery).  

We actually were able to donate a $500-ish piece of furniture (misdelivered, we paid -$0-) to that homeless family and I had a new pillow & blanket that I gave them.  (They just got into an apartment).  Based on dollars/value alone I would feel good about things, but I don't want to skip some of the charities that we always donate to.  The list seems to just be getting longer every year.

MH found out that someone who helped with his movie passed away.  😞  He's taking his $250 (1/4 of $1,000) to give to this person's chosen charity and a scholarship fund in their name.  The kids haven't decided yet, where to donate.  

Stuff with MH's movie continues to be interesting.  That just reminded me.   I guess he had committed to paying everyone?  I had no idea! (I knew he wanted to, but didn't know he told everyone up front).  For reference, MH has never recieved a cent helping out with small/independent movies.  The interesting part is that he started to dole out money this week and probably roughly 1/3 the people are refusing to take payment.  ???  Told him to keep that money for applying to festivals, etc.  But I guess that's the bigger value for the actors, if the movie gets some exposure.  & like the donors for this film, there seems to be a mix of "starving artist" and "lots of money to throw around" types.  I am just used to the starving artists (and the general broke-ness of our peer group).  Though even some of the starving artists have been generous with donations.  I continue to be surprised. 

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