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Archive for April, 2022


April 30th, 2022 at 02:58 pm


I believe we had our first charity pickup since the pandemic started.  I might have put out one bag last year at some point?  I don't remember for sure but I think I did have a charity write off.  Since then, there was one scheduled pick up but they never showed.

They just randomly scheduled for my work-from-home day.  So I optimistically set my *4* bags out.  When I looked outside around noon the bags were gone.  I am so happy!  At least two of those bags were filled when cleaning out MM(18)'s room last summer.  There's still a few things to figure out but the bulk of the stuff has been cleared from his room.

Well, now I don't have to figure out where on earth to take any of this stuff.  I would have no idea, we've always had so many charity pick ups in our neighborhood.

{Edited to add:  I found another donation bag while cleaning up the house this week.  I think it was the one missed bag, I had left it downstairs and then it got buried under junk.  I will pull it out so that I don't forget about it.}

I went by the grocery store to pick up some flowers yesterday but they were cleared out.  I don't know if it was the post Easter clear out or if they are short a florist or what.  ???  Anything that remained (not much) was pretty sad.  But I finally spotted these flowers, which were gorgeous.  $5.  I am easy to please.

I feel like I am coming out of the fog.  It's hard to separate out the mental/physical stuff because it seems to be all intertwined.  But I am feeling really good physically and will have some lab work done next week.  It will be interesting to see the results.   Without the lab work, I can say I feel more "normal" than I have in years.

This was started as a small post I never had time to finish.  So I am going to just end up with two mismash posts (if I ever get to the other bigger post I am in the middle of).

A couple of other things that are very fresh in my mind...

DL(16) had his jazz band concert last night and it was *amazing*.  This is the art school, so their performances are always incredible.  Lots of talent.  They usually do one mega long concert for everyone but separated out the jazz and percussion for last night.  This would have been like a 5 hour concert otherwise, I am gathering.  I guess it's nice they let the jazz bands shine versus doing just a couple of songs each.  Next week they have all the orchestras and everything and will be more a slog listening to all the beginners.  

That was kind of, "What just happened?" They were just next level last night.  

My in-laws came to see the concert and brought the news that my niece chose MM(18)'s college.  !!!!!  Yes!

It's just so random.  I don't think this school was initially a top choice for either of them, but they were both swayed.  So it feels so random in the end.  But I think MM(18) was probably a factor in helping to sway my niece.  Well, I am excited!  The possibility of shared car rides and housing (in the future) is nice, but probably more likely we will be more helping out my niece than the other way around.  Just by virtue of being one year ahead.  

Man, these college trip visits are going to get expensive.  !!  More mouths to feed.  Will obviously have to save her from the terrible dorm food, when we visit.  It's all good.

March '22 Savings

April 10th, 2022 at 02:31 pm

Received $23 bank interest for the month of March.


Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $46 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $83 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $6 on dining out/gas card (bought some gas for MM)


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $7 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)


TOTAL: $142 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



Snowball to Savings:

+$1,550 MH Income

+$300 (for doing GMIL taxes)


Savings (from my paycheck):

+$1,050 to cash (mid-term savings)


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$1,700 New Mattress 

-$  350 Movie Editor (payment for finished movie!)


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

+$1,500 to cash


TOTAL: $3,455 Deposited to Cash and Investments


Hybrid Miles Driven March:  903

Fuel Costs: $24 Electricity 


Electric (EV) Miles Driven March: 775

Fuel Costs: $16

Note:  I don't recall any free charging this month. 

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

We did a Bay Area trip and didn't have to stop to charge.  !!  Without the crazy (below average) temps, we got a better range estimate.  We got a 277-mile range.  Drove 253 miles and still had an estimate of 24 miles left when we got home.  MH cut it closer on his last winter Bay Area drive (he did not stop to fuel that time either).  But this was the closest I had cut it (I was driving).  Since getting the hybrid and tracking more, I'd say our average Bay Area trip is 250 miles.  This means a 2x gas stop trip is now a 0x fuel stop trip.  (We received a bigger battery due to a recall, so this means more range on the car than what we originally purchased).  We always filled up on the way out and then stopped on the way home (gas cars) so we had gas for the work week.  It's divine not having to stop for fuel at all.

With MH back at work, we've figured out a charging groove.  As expected, I charge every night (for my commute) & MH is just charging his car up on the weekends.  This is for overnight (lower rate) charging.  We can both always charge whenever if we need more miles.  & clearly every weekend is way more than MH needs to charge. (He's getting about 350 miles per charge, with more daily driving and more stop-and-go).  But it's nice to have a habit set, and to not expend any mental energy re: car fuel.  I don't miss the days of schlepping to the gas station. 



Note:  I am always lagging a month behind because any bills charged in February will be paid off March 1 and reflected in my March 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 February spending & March savings.

This is what I wrote last month, which sums it up pretty well:

February ended up being a really good month and will be reflected by mega savings numbers in March.  Even with the purchase of a new mattress, March should go way the other way with more savings than spending.  

I was able to bump up my paycheck savings to $950/month with raise.  Added an extra $100 with retroactive pay adjustment (to catch up February).

GMIL always insists on slipping me $300 for doing her taxes.  She won't take no for an answer.  I probably usually somewhat count on this money.  Whereas this year the thought hadn't even crossed my mind and it was a surprise.  Probably just because I am not even used to MH being back at work and having all this extra money.  It's just extra extra money, at this point.  

I received this money the same day that we got the final edit for MH's movie project.  So that works our pretty nicely.  The final payment to the editor was $350.  Almost a wash.  

I Bonds were purchased this month.  It ended up being pretty fast/easy to set up. But I won't be reflecting interest numbers for three months.  We won't get any interest for first 3 months, because there is a '3 month interest penalty' if you redeem before first 5 years.  I will just wait until the interest $$ reflects on the I Bond value (starting July 1).  It will be 7%+ on $20,000 so will be a big boost to my interest numbers, the second half of the year.  & I am moving money over from investments, so this will be in addition to the cash interest we already have.  (I had some "cash" in my investment account basically earning nothing.  Want it very liquid because this is either going to be college money or 'next home down payment' money, presumably all spent in the next few years.) 

I cashed out this college money in late 2020 ($20,000).  Should have bought these I Bonds in November 2021 when interest rates hit 7%+.  & would have been wise to have taken advantage of 3%+ interest rates last May.  But I think 7%+ is what is pushing this to the no-brainer category.  It's getting my attention.  Making its way through the murky "I don't have the mental energy to deal with ANYTHING".  I might have been more on top of in better times.  But *this* is getting my attention now.

I can see that if rates stay high for a while that I may just consider this money to be emergency funds instead.  If we'd rather spend down 0.50%-interest cash in the short term.  & leave higher interest I Bond money untouched. 

March spending is done and paid for, so I have a good idea of how April numbers will shake out.   We somehow ended up net positive after a lot of expenses (a lot of insurance came due, some medical expenses, etc.).   The overall goal is to get some of these festival submission fees paid and movie stuff paid for while MH is working (out of his income).  He has the summers off.  

I still don't have much clarity on the college front for next school year.  They doled out scholarships to incoming freshman in March, but now I am hearing that we might not hear about scholarships until July, after grades post (for non-freshman).  So my mode right now is to just hoard money for college and movie stuff, and see how much we can hoard before summer when our income is reduced.   I do think we are about done getting MM(18)'s college paid for (even if he never gets another scholarship or gift).  Would just be nice to have more clarity on that front, so we can work on bigger picture planning and know if we have more freedom to move on to other financial goals.  If we know that we aren't going to touch his gifted college money ($30K), that is also just more financial pressure off of us for more long-term planning.   Just as an example, he's starting to talk about getting a car next summer.  If he has mega paying summer jobs and scholarships, we aren't going to sweat helping him with that.  If he doesn't get a big job this summer and he doesn't get a single scholarship, then we might want to come up with a few thousand dollars to help him.  Just stuff like that.  Is why it matters, even if we have full sticker price money set aside already.   & any money he doesn't need for college, is money that is already saved for DL(16) college, which is our next big financial goal.  So yeah, I am looking forward to more clarity.

More Busy...

April 10th, 2022 at 12:04 am

Hell froze over and MH finished his movie!  We had a small premier party this week (for cast and crew).  After brainstorming and shooting down a lot of ideas, it ended up all coming together.   & I mean, I was willing to spend $1,000 on this party (particularly since we never did a wrap party).  Needing the space, a movie screen, catering, etc.  Most of the movie theaters were much cheaper, but just not a great venue to watch a short film.  Not a great place to cater or mingle.  In the end, the editor really wanted to show off on a bigger screen and so offered her place of work.  It was *perfect*.  We were quoted $235 for the space + projector.   We were only charged $200.  & we spent about $100 on food (including a custom cake).  So the grand total ended up being $300.  & I am sure I will absorb other party food costs in our monthly budget, but we spent $300 that was clearly just party spending.   

Next is submitting to film festivals and seeing if anything comes of that.  Now for the fun part!

If MH does get into any festivals, I plan to apply for travel reward credit card(s).

MM(18) came home for spring break.  I mentioned earlier, it was a chore week.  Dentist, ortho, taxes, etc.  He had a job interview that went really well (summer engineering job) but I don't think he has heard back from them yet.  It sounded like they would likely hire him but they are doing local State college recruiting this week.  Juniors/seniors will get higher priority (fair enough).   Now that his resume is done, he will probably attend his school's job fair this month and see if he can find anything else local.  If he doesn't get a formal offer by then. 

Before this job opportunity just fell in his lap, didn't really expect that he would be able to find anything local.  But now he's kind of intrigued and will see what else there is.  His girlfriend has a couple of job prospects here and one of them is remote.  So I guess that's also another interesting twist we hadn't thought about (remote opportunities).  The plan is absolutely to find a summer SF or LA job in future summers, but just wasn't the plan for this summer and didn't expect to find much close to home.  

MM(18)'s overall plans are to find a summer internship and to knock out one class at the community college this summer.   

I briefly mentioned that MM(18) had a girlfriend.  The girl he really liked went off to college in another state.  So when he came home winter break, dating his high school friend, MH and I were both kind of, "Love the one you are with."  Didn't think too much about it at the time.  But they are absolutely adorable.  Saw a lot of them together during spring break, now realizing this is actually serious.   & MH's family is starting to meet her and gush over her.  🙄  Was there last weekend and just heard how cute she is and that she can cook!  Like it's 1950.  Um, she is one smart cookie too.  But yeah, everyone loves her.  

I doubt MM(18) would have come up for Easter, but now everyone wants his girlfriend to come to Easter!  It's only half way (between here and college) and so it's not a bad drive for them.  So that is an unexpected turn of events.  Heck, I am surprised she can make the time.  (She is working, in addition to an intense field of study, many clubs, etc.). 

{While it's mostly impossible to have a car as a freshman, girlfriend's sister has had some unfortunate medical stuff randomly come up and got a medical exemption.  So they have a car and MM(18) now has easy transportation for breaks and Easter weekend.}

If MM(18) didn't go to school in paradise, we'd probably leave it that we wouldn't drive down again until we pick him (and all his stuff) up in June.  But I would like to go down in May some time for a mini spring break.  So we might get to see MM(18) a couple of more times before school is out.

Reminds me, my niece is there with MM(18) today.  She applied to a bajillion colleges and today I heard that she has narrowed it down to two!  MM's college is still in the running but apparently her second choice?  Will see how she feels after this weekend.  They are having a big open house for the accepted students.  It would be so nice if they both ended up at the same college, but doesn't sound the most promising at this point.  I am looking at the calendar, I guess she has three more weeks to decide.   

Well, my big plans for the weekend are to do everyone's taxes.  DL(16) still needs to get his taxes done.  (He's my difficult child, so will just have to make him get this done at some point). Then GMIL and my parents.  I dodged a bullet.  Sounds like my in-laws were going to need help with their taxes but figured it out.  Completely foreseeable but just nothing I had really thought about.  I should mentally add them to my future list.  FIL usually does their taxes but he is slowing down.  

I guess MH is feeling pretty free with his movie being done.  I had told him I would go to the movies with him and to a concert tonight.  He started talking about the movie this morning and I am just, "Not today."  But now I feel obligated to do that tomorrow.  

This is just adding to the "busy" feelings.

I should be over the hump at work.  Knock on wood!   Getting past all the year-end stuff (lots of tax returns, etc.).  I'd probably take the first week off in May, but my boss had already claimed that week off.  So I went for mid-May.  Just to have a break and try to get caught up on stuff around the house.  Counting down the days...

Oh yeah, and fingers crossed...  DL(16) is working on his driver's permit.  Hoping that he can get it this month.  Just one more thing, but MH is handling all of that.  Still, it adds a bit of extra excitement to the mix.