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Archive for February, 2022

MM(18) Money Update

February 13th, 2022 at 03:42 pm

Getting through "started but not published" posts.  This is the last one.  I did a DL(16) money update about a month ago, but here is the MM(18) update.

MM(18) had a one-month job lined up that would net about $3,500.  This was last August.  It fell through but was probably for the best.  He likely would have quit with the fires and terrible outside working conditions.  He was able to make $1,500 doing temp work in my office.  An employee went on a long international vacation and he had been helping us out the prior two years.  He was the obvious go-to for a summer temp.

No one in our families had "gone away" to college, particularly for freshman year.  So we agreed that MM(18) should not work while he gets his bearings.  It was just a lot, even if he is very adaptable and I am sure he probably would have been fine. 

In the end, we have decided that working is penny wise and pound foolish.  Probably not in the ways that would be presumed.  MM(18) would have no problem working and getting all As.  But I heard it was feasible for freshman to get very high paying summer internships.  I wasn't going to hold my breath on that one.  But it's quickly becoming obvious this is true and the *why* of this is true.  MM(18) is spending his ample free time joining clubs.  He is building an electric car from scratch and also working on the engineering side of an art installation.  Those are his two major projects.   Not only is he getting very practical experience, but he's networking.  The first few weeks of college he had already met several juniors/seniors who are moving on from their internships, and attended networking events with big name companies.  So it seems pretty pointless to work during the school year for very few dollars, when he can make $15,000 over the summer (without balancing work/school).  

Current Job Situation:  ??????  Weird re: Pandemic

I copy and pasted what I wrote about DL(16).  Just because he *can* get an internship this summer, doesn't mean much.  MM(18) told us a while ago that he didn't expect he would want to get an internship this summer.  & I mean, he was presuming they would mostly be in LA or SF.  In addition to being more difficult to get as a freshman.  We are fine with that.  I honestly don't think he will ever move home again, and so it will be nice to have him home this last summer.  

This is just a completely random/new development, but MM got a lead on an internship here and has a job interview during spring break.  It's extra random because this company is right next door to mine (shares the same parking lot).  Talk about a small world. 

Anyway, with the job falling through last summer and the pandemic and everything, I expected things to be pretty tight for MM(18).  It's been made extra complicated because he's aged out of his 7%-interest account.  That was another $500 I thought he'd have access to this school year.  But though he's clearly aged out (it says so on his statements, that the interest rate is only something like 0.02%) they are still giving him 7%!  So of course he doesn't want to touch that $500 as long as he is getting mega interest.

In the end he only spent $200 his first school quarter, and the vast majority of that was finals week when he finished like on Monday and waited all week for a ride.  He gained a girlfriend and she had her car.  So they went out shopping and went out on a date (he paid for an expensive meal).  If not for that, he probably would have spent a whole whopping $100 for the quarter.

He is enjoying the all-inclusive lifestyle (and lives in paradise).  There is no lack of things to do.  He's been back for 6 weeks and the only thing he bought was books for the second quarter.  I am just checking his bank balances.  He has about $800 left.  So he roughly started the school year with $1,000 and is left with $800 to get through the next 4 months.  I think he will survive.  During school, he's just too busy to spend money.  & I am glad he splurged and enjoyed a bit when he did have some down time.  During winter break he was recovering from wisdom tooth surgery, and his high school friends seemed mostly interested in hanging at each other's houses (I expect due to several reasons.  If nothing else, never got in any habit of "going out" during the pandemic, in addition to maybe being enticed by parents who wanted more time with their kids.  MM was offered a lot of free meals).  Whatever the reasons, he didn't spend any money when he was home.  

MM(18) also has $5,500 in super high yield savings accounts.  I just know he doesn't want to touch any of that if he doesn't have to.

So the summer job thing is a big question mark at this point but he has some possibilities.

MIL usually gives the kids $1,000 per year for their college savings.  Because we are paying for tuition/room/board, I think I am probably going to give MM(18) this $1,000 to cover spending money his sophomore year.  Just some, "if you don't get a job this summer" insurance.  It seems the best use of this money at this point.   We already have funds set aside to cover his last 3 years of college (presuming worst case of no scholarships).  I'd rather utilize this $1K as "not having to work" money. 

The Electric Vehicle Recall & Fix

February 5th, 2022 at 03:40 pm

This electric vehicle recall was a roller coaster I just didn't have the time or energy to blog about.  Plus, easier to post the whole story when we have some resolution.

I also don't remember a lot of the little details and roller coaster, so maybe it's for the best.  

We bought our 2017 Bolt in summer 2020.  At some point after that, Bolts were starting to catch fire.  Probably some fires before then, but hindsight 20/20 it makes sense why those started to be a problem (more numerous) in late 2020.  Will get to that.

I distinctly remember thinking, "This can be really good or really bad."  Really bad = burning down our house (and/or starting the next CA mega fire).  Really good = getting a new battery!

Happy to come out the other end with the "really good" outcome.  

As to the roller coaster...  

They first tried to fix with a software patch but that didn't work. 

I remember it was July 2021 because MH was in Florida, when they announced that they would start just replacing batteries.  At the time, this was just 2017-2019 models.  A few days later a 2020 model caught fire.  !!!  So it quickly felt very back to square one.

I have to back up and say that if this was any other car we would have sold and moved on.  But there are no other (useful) electric models on the market in our price range.  Going back to a gas car is out of the question.  We would be miserable.  About the best compromise we came up with is maybe getting a second Volt (hybrid) for a while, until they sort this out. 

We did get into the queue a long long time ago, for GM to buy back our car.  They were crazy slow, which we were fine with.  We just wanted to be in the queue and don't know if that helped us move up the line for battery replacement.  The "buyback" was probably pretty useless.  We bought used and could do much better on the resale market right now.  We paid $17K for a car that's worth like $23K today.  The buyback would have been $17K minus some useage.  But we just wanted to be in the queue, express our concern, and didn't know if used values might falter through this mess, etc. (if GM would be the best offer to sell the car). 

Of course, we were very seriously considering investing a lot of money and trading up to a 2020.  Just to be out of this mess.  I am so relieved we didn't go that route.  (That was before we knew 2020 just had the same problems).  

I think once that 2020 blew up, GM just put all hands on deck.  It seems pretty quickly after that they really narrowed down the problem.   We were never overly concerned because the fire risk was pretty average for the 2017s.  The problem ended up being a 2-month manufacturing period of the 2019 model.  Those are something like 30 times more likely than the average gas car to catch fire.  😱  Obviously they fixed all of those first, and then are moving backwards to the oldest cars/batteries.  

The end result is a 5-year-old car with a brand new battery and a new 8-year warranty.  The new batteries are bigger and have a longer range, so we also have added more range to our car.  The EPA rating on the old battery was 240 miles of range, but we were consistently getting 260.  & I mean, mostly freeway driving (which is the least fuel efficient on electricity).  If MH just drives to work (city streets) the car might go 400 miles on one charge.  (Braking regenerates electricity, so the fuel efficiency is backwards of what you think re: gas cars.  Traffic and lights = more range).  

Old Battery = 60 kWh

New Battery = 66 kWh

That's a 10% increase in range!

Our 260-mile real (freeway) range is probably now 286 miles. 

We have not been able to really test this out because it has been unusually cold.  We were able to get 250 miles on Christmas Day (unusually cold) and it was freakishly cold the day MH drove the kids back to college (January 2) .  

December/January is our winter.  This should be more interesting the rest of the year.  & MH was able to do a Bay Area roundtrip without stopping for fuel.  He did this on January 31.  I imagine this will be much easier most of the year (with warmer temps). 

Edited to clarify:  During the recall we couldn't charge below 30% or above 90%.  So we weren't able to (easily) drive the electric vehicle to the college.  (Deep discharging and/or full charging was a risk factor with the fires).  Thus, some gas spending in 2021 that I am not expecting in 2022.  

Car Gas Spending

February 4th, 2022 at 01:04 am

In 2020 we spent $115 on car gas, for the hybrid car.   It looks like we did 4 Bay Area trips before we bought the all-electric vehicle in late Summer 2020.

After buying the electric car, I spent a whole whopping $6 on gas.  This was for a couple of gallons just to keep the hybrid in good condition.  I consider that more of a maintenance expense than a fuel expense.

I expect that 2021 would have been a $6 gas year.  We are to the point we are driving 100% electric.  But we had to put the electric car on hold for longer trips.  Which probably would have been completely N/A for us, but then we were driving MM(18) to/from college 300 miles away. 

Total household gas spending 2021:  $348 

 $29 of this was putting gas in the kids' car.  MM(18) was dragging his feet spending his own money and then MH needed the car a couple of days while his car was getting the battery swapped out.  Knowing he'd be driving the gas car to the dealership and back, etc., he just filled up the tank.  

That leaves $319 gas for the hybrid.    We spent -$0- on gas from January through August (hybrid) and then spent that $319 the last 4 months.

That's for 5 college visits (600 miles x5) & two Holiday trips to the Bay Area.  We've done plenty of Bay Area driving trips in the all-electric vehicle, but MH was getting more wary towards the end.  Technically we weren't supposed to drop below 30% battery capacity but was getting pretty close with the Bay Area trips.  It just depends how much we were driving around and visiting relatives when we were there.  

Oh yeah, and I put a couple of gallons in during the middle of summer.  The gas level in the Volt dropped below 40 miles? and the car just kept beeping at me.  But what pushed me over the edge was I had never done the remote start before and started doing that during the summer.  Don't ask me why it took 3 years to figure that out (makes 110F summer days much more bearable when you can just cool off your car first!).  So the remote start stops working one day and I quickly realize it's disabled once the fuel level is "low".  🙄  Which makes sense obviously for a gas car, but makes no sense for a car in electric mode that uses basically no energy to run the A/C.  So that is why I added some gas in the middle of summer.  

I am hoping that 2022 is a $6 gas year for our household.  

Of course, the next question is how much are we paying for electricity?  I have no idea!  I am behind on my estimates, and some of that is because we stopped charging the EV overnight (due to fire risk/recall).  & I am just behind, because of life.  I can probably extrapolate all overnight charging to my car and just try to come up with an equivalent to cover MH's miles.  But then I'd have to convert to higher daytime charging rates.  Still, it should be quick to work through the last few months, I just have too many higher priorities at the moment.  

I will share when I have those estimates.  But mostly, I had been running all my projections based on $4/gallon gas.  Which I felt was quite conservative at the time (when we bought the hybrid in 2018).  Figured gas had nowhere to go but up.  The pandemic has stalled gas going up, but clearly it is happening now.  Anyway, at $4/gallon we pay roughly 1/3 that cost (for electricity) when we charge our cars overnight.  When we pay full price while traveling, that was usually about 1/2 the cost of gas.

The college trip is quickly becoming a free drive for us, with the electric car.  So that might go from a $55 (hybrid) gas trip to a $0 electricity trip.   (Maybe $10 is you count charging up at home before and after).

We came home on the I-5 after taking MM(18) back after Thanksgiving break.  We hadn't gone that route in many months and we were surprised how many new chargers there were.  

Free chargers are popping up at all of the rest stops in our state.  There was one by the college we kept stopped at and using, but now there's several on the I-5.  

Electrify America gives away free electricity during Holiday weekends.  !!  The charging was free from something like December 22 - January 2nd.   

Before this recall detour, it was on my list to some day try a free drive down to the college.  I've seen many people posting they've done free fuel drives from Northern CA to Southern CA.  But usually the free places are kind of in weird places.  Not as convenient as just stopping and charging while you eat.  But we were up to the challenge and is something we wanted to do. Anyway, it seems kind of moot now with free chargers all over the place.  I mean, will still take advantage of the free charge, but it just won't be much of a challenge.

Edited to add:  I started this post a long time ago and just hit publish.  I will start sharing monthly car fuel spending, so it will become pretty clear how much less we are paying for electric fuel.  I did share January #s in my January post.

January '22 Savings

February 2nd, 2022 at 04:04 pm

Received $27 bank interest for the month of January.


Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $32 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $97 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $15 on dining out card (also used for groceries)


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $15 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)


TOTAL: $159 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



Snowball to Savings:

+$375 MH Income


Savings (from my paycheck):

+$800 to cash (mid-term savings)


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$215 Medical Expenses

-$180 Target Gift cards on Sale


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$1,100 Home Insurance

-$ 630 Dentist

-$ 290 Auto Insurance (Kid Car) ~ paying for this while MM(18) is away and DL is not licensed

-$  78 Pest Control

TOTAL: $883 Deposited to Cash and Investments


Hybrid Miles Driven January:  668 

Fuel Costs: $12 Electricity 

Note:  Extra low fuel month because this is net of $11 work auto reimbursement (for driving 19 miles).  

Electric (EV) Miles Driven January: 1,392

Fuel Costs: $20

Note:  EV includes 500 free miles.  MH was able to get free electric charging when driving MM(18) back to college after New Years (we paid for the fill up before and after, at home).  In addition, MH got 50 free miles (x2) at the movie theater. 

All charging (both cars) was done at home or at free chargers.  

MH was able to do a roundtrip Bay Area drive without stopping to fuel.  (We got a newer/bigger battery due to recall and so the car has more range now).  I expect this will be easier the rest of the year but was cutting it close in winter.  Range is reduced in colder temps.


I stopped doing these updates in 2020.  I don't remember why. 

Since I am not blogging very much I decided to go back to this format.  At the least, I can do a monthly snapshot.   & I will add the driving data now that we are mostly driving electric.  With rare exceptions, we are driving all-electric at this point. 

Notes:  I am always lagging a month behind because any bills charged in December will be paid off January 1 and reflected in my January numbers.  I charge in one month and the next month I figure out how to pay for everything (if I need to pull anything from savings).  So this update reflects December spending & January savings, if that makes sense.

UGH, January was terrible on the spending/savings front.  But I suppose it was complicated by only receiving one paycheck in January and executing new 2021 budget with only one paycheck (of raise).  February might even out with the shorter month.  It's just a bummer we didn't utilize MH's high income month and save most of his income, but we had too many expenses.  I think I am just feeling too much squeeze.  The pendulum clearly swung after him being off work (no unemployment) for 6 months and just starting to feel like he may actually have a job this year.  So there were a lot of purchases that we felt we could do.  But on the flip side of the coin he is off work now and I don't expect any MH income for February.  I have paid bills through 2/28, presuming no extra income.  So it's a little squeeze on both ends.

We spent way too much on dining out, purchased some clothing and pet items, and also bought a set of pots and pans.  My future self will thank me though.  I probably would have bought just a couple of sauce pans, but I found a nice set for $250 and am keeping the rest for MM(18).  He will have a kitchen/apartment next school year. 

My primary goal is to hoard more cash for college.  We have next 18 months mostly covered.  But of course, want to be more ahead of the curve.  And/or have extra funds for anything else that might happen.  

Secondary goal is funding MH's movie.  It just came up over the weekend.  Will probably pay $350 to the editor this month.  As the movie wraps up, talking about doing a screening party.  Not sure how that will end up but I am encouraging MH to just go all out for that.  To-date we haven't spent any of our own money and we can probably consider the screening a gift from his grandfather.  & then there's talk of festivals and travel, but I think we can absorb a lot of that (frugally) in our (small) vacation budget. 

These are the two big things we want to hoard some cash for. 

If I seem a little blindsided by the movie (less prepared), it's been infinitely jinxed and delayed.  So it is very sudden that there's talk of wrapping it up, and will see if it does actually wrap up in the next couple of months.  🤞 

Today is payday.  Already paid the rest of the February bills (with float).  But needed my paycheck to pay off the big credit card.  We like to pay everything ahead and basically start the beginning of each month debt free.  So I will pay off that credit card right now.  I set all my credit cards to a monthly cycle and just pay them all off the first of every month.  None of this "waiting for statements and due dates" nonsense.  But the monthly credit card cycle is how I have to do it for my accountant brain.  That, and also managing multiple credit cards.  This just keeps it very simple.

Note:  Now that MM(18) has multiple credit cards, I should probably teach him this trick.  You just set the due date so that the card runs for roughly a monthly cycle.  If it closes a couple of days before the end of the month is best.  You can always prepay the charges for the last few days of days of the month.  All my credit cards close around the 28th of every month. 

Our taxes are done.  Just waiting for software updates so that I can file.