Home > Archive: May, 2022

Archive for May, 2022

This & That

May 30th, 2022 at 12:20 am

MH made it into a San Francisco film festival!  & he was the headliner!  It was such a hodge podge of genres, that it's not fair to say that it was the "best" movie, but was definitely the most entertaining.  The downside of being last is that most the crowd had left (the event was long).  But it was received very well and it will be neat to see it in a fuller theater some day.  Fingers crossed.  The acceptances and rejections are rolling in slowly. 

MH also randomly received a 10% raise Friday.   Retroactive, so his check will be bigger than expected.  Of course, he usually gets a raise in the fall.  I presume it's just a little early this year.  (He will get one or two paychecks at the new rate, but then will be off work for the summer).

MM(18) accepted a summer job offer in his field of study.  It sounds like this company is doing some work at his school and can translate into some work during the school year.  But the summer job is part time and then he has secured the TA job for the fall.  It was dependent on his class schedule but it sounds like he got it worked out.  He made out pretty well with the part time high paying summer job (will have both $$$ and time).  It's at home, so he won't have any expenses.  Heck, this company is randomly in the same parking lot as my job, so we will be able to mostly carpool.  

DL(16) is starting to apply for jobs.  He just thinks he is going to be bored out of his mind this summer.  He's ready for his own money and some more independence.  (He still has a couple weeks left of school).

In other randomness, unfortunately the last set of dishes we bought have not held up well at all.  They crack/chip and then get too hot in the microwave.  The set before that were just too plain and I didn't care for them.  I have those set aside for the kids and MM(18) will be using them next school year.  (It's also nice to have extra dishes for entertaining).  

It took a while for us to agree on anything, but I ended up liking the new set of dishes even better in person.   Phew!  We spent less money this time around.  Will see if these hold up for more than 10 years.  

I did also order a couple of school branded gifts for my niece (she's going to the same college as MM).  I just ordered online for MM(18) to pick up.  Will have to remember to get from him when he gets home.  Wanted to pick up a couple of small things but didn't want to pay for shipping.  I will also send her $100 this week.  Is what I recalled, but I looked it up and confirmed that is how much money SIL gave MM(18) for his graduation.  

There's been several virsuses going around and has hit our house hard.  It figures.  I was just getting medical issues resolved and then ended up sick.  This one knocked me down hard.  Was sicker than I've been in a few years.  & even that was not too terrible, but I have been tired for weeks afterward.  Even yesterday, I laid down and crashed for 3 hours. 

We haven't personally been dealing with price increases.  But...  The hotels by MM(18)'s college?  Holy cow!  People have money to burn.  It's just absurd all of a sudden.  The hotel we have often gotten the nicest room for $200-$250 per night?  It's now $700 (for the most basic rooms) some nights!   I had a staycation a couple of weeks ago but the one fun/splurgey thing we had planned was to visit MM(18).  Maybe would have also stayed by the beach if it wasn't a bajillion dollars.  We probably booked the most expensive hotel we had ever booked, to stay nowhere near the beach.  Everything was just ridiculous.

I ended up changing the reservation a couple of times and wasn't interested in pre-paying a $350 hotel room.   (Crap happens). We lucked out because the last one I booked we could cancel up until check-in the day of.  We made it about 80% down to the college and DL(16) even came with us.  But DL had a bit of a mental breakdown and we turned around.  He had a fever by the time we got home.  Some parts mental and some parts physical.  I at least had the presence of mine to cancel the hotel, with a few minutes to spare.  

We had already decided to not book a hotel at all when we pick up MM(18) after finals.   Even mid week prices (if we could swing mid week) were already crazy.  It's kind of moot because he has a late Friday final and so we can't pick him up until Saturday.  Move out and graduation.  Ugh.  Of course it's the one quarter he can't get out by Wednesday or Thursday.

In the end, I did see someone praising hotel prices about 30 miles south (along the coast).  I am okay with one crazy expensive hotel.  (It's probably going to be $350, but at least it won't be more than that).  I just didn't want to do more than once this school year.  So I am starting to think we may just book a hotel that Friday, because we canceled the last one.  I thought at least we could get out super early Saturday, but I guess the first graduation is 8:30 am.  So much for "beating the crowd".  But I suppose we might beat some of the move out crowd.  Well, after spending many hours scouring hotels, I have to start all over again.  Hoping that MH and I at least get a more leisurely drive out of it and maybe a nice dinner out and some nice views.  I may give up.  At least we can stay with our parents to break up the drive a little bit. 

Edited to add:  I guess it was a good money week.  Spoke to MM(18) and he told us that we have a $175 refund in the mail from his college.  Woohoo!  The one State middle class grant we received, they gave us an extra $175 (when it all sorted out).  MM(18)'s freshman year is already paid for, so sounds like I will get a check any day.  

I did also book a hotel (before we found the extra $175).  I did find a beachfront hotel with a car charger and was about the best/cheapest thing I could find.  They only had one room left and I snagged it.  But I didn't have to scour the internet for hours because mostly everything is ridiculously expensive and sold out.  (I looked a little longer after I snagged this first room but quickly gave up).  Ended up being about $400 but even the Motel 6 at college town was $350-$400.  I am so glad I got a tip to check this one town because it wasn't coming up when I was looking +/- 30 miles before.  It's 35 miles out of the way but it's beachfront (highly rated) and we can afford it.  We will have a nice coastal drive down Highway 1 Saturday morning when we pick up MM(18).  

Other going ons...

Strangely, we had a no spend week.  I was just surprised there was nothing on any of the credit cards.  The exception was groceries.  3 stops at the grocery store, which isn't too unusual.  But now that I think about it, MH asked me to pick up orange juice when he was sick and then MH ran to the store in the middle of cooking dinner because we were missing something.

Today I balanced out June.  I've paid all the small credit cards ($40 Target, $100 dining out card, and $18 I put on MM's credit card for my niece's gifts) and will pay off the bigger balances after pay day.  I suppose we've got 3 more days this month but nothing is pending, I allocated $100 for groceries (any overage can be paid next month) and the credit card cycles have closed anyway.  Will probably bump anything else to figure out in July.  I was pleased everything balanced because we spent a lot of money this month.  Still not used to the extra breathing room.  But also still in general err on the side of over-saving, which is why I have nothing left for the next 3 days.  

I do have a return to take care of today, so I guess that buys me a little wiggle room if something pops up.  We have no plans, MH is recovering from this virus, and I just have chores to do this weekend.  I don't foresee any spending.  We've been on the road the last four weekends and so it's nice to have a peaceful weekend at home.

April '22 Savings

May 14th, 2022 at 01:59 pm

Received $25 bank interest for the month of April.


Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $33 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $96 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $3 on dining out/gas card


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $10 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)


TOTAL: $142 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



Snowball to Savings:

+$1,300 MH Income


Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$365 Movie Expenses (Film Festival Submissions, copyright new script, etc.)


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  941 Auto Insurance

-$  500 Life Insurance

-$  253 Annual DMV Registration (EV)

-$  300 Dentist

-$  386 Medical 

-$  200 Misc Expenses for MM(18)

-$    25 Driving Course for DL (16)


TOTAL: $1,837 Deposited to Cash and Investments


Hybrid Miles Driven April:  715

Fuel Costs: $19 Electricity 


Electric (EV) Miles Driven April: 1,185

Fuel Costs: $22 (home) + $6 (out)

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

We got about 70 miles of free charging this month.  We just got lucky.  We went out to a park and a restaurant one weekend, and they both just happened to have free charging. 

We did also do a Bay Area trip (Easter) with -0- fuel stops.

For the Easter trip, we got home with about -0- miles to spare.  It was a little stressful and I had heard that like a gas car there is still 20 miles left at that point.  But afterwards I read that isn't necessarily the case.  Who knows.   Logically we still had plenty of buffer to get home, even if the car computer decided to freak us out during the last couple of miles.  The miles guesstimate was being a little glitchy.

Accordingly, we decided to err on the safe side and just stop to charge when we went to visit our parents last weekend.  It was probably completely unnecessary.  But I also wanted to scope out more chargers.  In this case, the most convenient stop was at another Outlet (where we usually stop; lots of chargers, food and bathrooms.  So makes a good pit stop).  I am glad we did because by then it was after hours (around 9pm) and I can see I would never feel comfortable going there alone.  In an abandoned/dark parking lot at night.  There is a charger right by my parent's house and I can see it's just wise to stop there for a quick top off.  It's at a grocery store and is probably always bustling.  Those chargers are out front and not hidden in the back like a lot of these chargers are.

We stopped for 5 minutes, spent $1.55, and added about 20 miles to our range.  

In the end, we drove 260 miles and had 30 miles left when we got home.  The buffer was probably not necessary, but it's around the 10-mile mark that the car freaks out and tells you that you need to charge ASAP.  We saved ourselves some stress.

We did also pay $4 for a monthly Electrifty America (EA) pass (which I included in fuel costs above).  With the extra $4 you do get a discount on charging that has always been worth it.  But as EA informed me we saved $0.60 on this one charge (the only one we paid for this month), I told MH I didn't think we need to pay the $4 any more.  We are going to keep it for May because we are going on a long trip.  One big charge/refuel will pay for the $4 (in savings).  But it's clear that we will no longer get any benefit out of this for anything but longer road trips.  So we will cancel that after our May road trip.  Er, after June.  I guess we will be picking up MM(18) from college in June.  After that, we can just activate/pay the monthly pass on months that we know we will be traveling 300+ miles (one trip).  Maybe the breakeven point is 400 or 500 miles but we just don't do anything in between.  (The college is a 600 mile round trip; Bay Area trips are generally 250-300 miles).


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

I ended up being way too nice to MM(18) when he was here for spring break.  His very liquid cash reserves are getting "low".  Relatively, getting on the lower side.  He needed some nicer headphones but picked out a higher end pair.  I just bought them.  To be fair, I tried to put new running shoes on his credit card (told him we'd sort it out later, based on how jobs shake out for him) but I was unable to put it on his credit card and use MH's REI member discount.  So I gave up and just paid for those too.  In addition to paying for gas for the car, MM(18) was spoiled rotten.

But things are going well on this front.  MM(18) told us at Easter that he has a job for the fall quarter.  It's a TA type position that pays $1,200.  Will be a few hours per week.  That should cover his spending next year, so that was a nice surprise.  (He's only spent $500-ish the last 8 months on campus.  With all food/transportation/extra-curricular mostly provided.  $750 if I throw in the spending I did for him this month.). 

& then it sounded like he got the summer engineering job.  Just talked to him and it sounds like no formal offer yet?   But it's close.  & he already has a lead on another internship *and* an undergrad research project (2 years).  The research project would be $1,700 his junior year (another year of spending money).  Summer jobs will get him a car paid for in cash.  (He already has about $6,000 to that end, it's just tied up in mega high yield savings accounts). 

I expect the extra spending on MM(18) to be very one-off.  

I've already locked in May Spending.  The breathing room is working.  MH has had some weeks of a full working schedule and we haven't tapped any of his income to cover any expenses (for months).  So that is working out nicely.   I'd say that it should be an easy transition to summer (no second income) but maybe not if I am feeding MM(18) during summer months.  I suppose we've had extra extra breathing room with the lower grocery expenses during the school year (one less mouth to feed).   <----I haven't done anything with grocery savings.  2021 was total chaos and we are doing terrible on the food waste front.  But it's hard with how much MM(18) is home and trying to go back and forth between extremes.  Hoping we have the time/energy to be more food efficient in the fall.  

The bigger picture...  We've never had more than $50-$100/month in our budget for misc, spending (things like clothes, haircuts, eating out, allowance spending, whatever random spending might come up in a month that isn't very fixed and predictable).  I put myself through college, we saved up for a down payment in San Francisco (saved 70% of our income for a time), then we dropped our income in half to have kids.  This level of spending is all I know as an adult.  But this year I bumped the misc. spending up to $275/month, and yes we do have some extra extra wiggle room with the grocery savings.

Some bigger picture comments on this:  I was reluctant to increase spending because an extra $100/month spending means an extra $30K to save for retirement (presuming a 4% withdrawal rate).  Financial independence is what is important to us, and I am not too keen to move the needle.  But I also had some unexpected raises and a lot of conversations last year about being too retirement heavy.  So I do think it was prudent to relax our budget a little bit.  (Certainly nothing I ever expected *while* putting our kids through college. I was envisioning 5-ish years of keeping it tight and then, "I'd rather work less than spend more.").

We've enjoyed the extra breathing room, but we quickly abandoned our plans to fit more eating out into our budget.  I've always said that I notice eating out on the scale before I notice it in the checkbook.  I don't care if I order a salad with no dressing.  It's an extra 1,000 calories in a restaurant.  (I am exaggerating, but is how it feels).  This is extremely noticeable when you have spent decades eating mostly home cooked meals.  We've scaled back to 0-1 extra meals out per month.  

In the end, MH and I went to a local college arboretum a couple of weekends ago (completely free) and it was *amazing*.  I'd rather just go back there and have a picnic.  I feel like we have gone full circle.

That is how I am feeling for the moment.  Will just be my income for summer months (plus MM(18) home emptying the fridge and cupboards of all of our food), so it's a good minset for summer.  

This is probably 90% of why financial independence is getting so close for us.  I'd rather just read library books and go have a picnic in the park.  MH is good with the unlimited movie pass.  (He will literally go to the movies every single day).  The electric car is probably one of our biggest frugal wins.  Getting to anywhere just doesn't cost anything at this point.  We have Bay Area trips every weekend this month and that's just going to be *shrugs* financially.