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Archive for June, 2022

Back from Camp

June 28th, 2022 at 02:49 am

Life has been a whirlwind the past couple of weeks.  We don't have anything planned for the rest of summer.  The stars just aligned to craziness last week.  It was all the things.

Celebrated my parents' 50th Anniversary.  Did our annual family camp trip.  Those were the biggies.

Camp.  It's a miracle it stands and we felt very blessed.  Even if there was a lot of challenges (from the fire).  One smart thing they did was request that campers volunteer, to make up for staffing shortages.  DL(16) volunteered and had a blast.  & made $165 tax-free for 8 hours of work (in the form of a discount; we transferred the money to his bank account).  It takes a certain personality and he would never want to live there all summer.  But...  He got some taste of the behind the scenes.  For him, camp is the highlight of the year, and getting to "work" was just icing on the cake.

We saw a bear at Lake Tahoe.  That was exciting.  

Oh yeah.  The cabins smelled smokey and all of our belongings smelled like ash trays when we got home.  We felt so blessed to be able to go to camp this year, but it definitely had its challenges.  They are still working to replace burned sewer lines, etc.  We saw melted light bulbs off the patio.  I really can't wrap my brain around it.  Light bulbs melt (at 3000 degrees) but all the structures (and most of the trees) still stand. The fire fighters are miracle workers.

MM(18) starts his summer job tomorrow.  This is the job that is randomly in the same parking lot as my work.  So he will get to save a bajillion dollars in gas.  Both him and his girlfriend have major adjacent jobs this summer, both Tues - Thurs.  Is just how it worked out.  Anyway, we are carpooling tomorrow.   


Gift Card Balances June 2022

June 26th, 2022 at 10:50 pm



$50 Hotel Coupon




$50  Regal

$50  Art House Theater




$50 Cracker Barrel (small balance left)

$25 Chili's

$5   Jamba Juice (Gift)

$ 25 x 2 Jamba Juice (Gifts)




$100 x 2 Target (Emailed/paper gift cards)

$25  Kohls Gift Card (DL Christmas Gift)




$25  Starbucks


Note: Edited over time to remove used gift cards. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We just got through a restaurant gift card from 2017!  

I keep passing over larger credit card rewards because they are mostly for gift cards.  & it's taking 5+ years to get through the last batch of gift cards...  But I admit I should probably look into it further.  If there is any gift cards we can use.  Dorm stuff?  I think MM(18) is pretty well set, but he will have a kitchen and more space in the fall.  I should probably look into it and ponder more.  

I mentioned to MH we had the Chili's card and that maybe we should just give it to MM(18).  MH told me there was a Chili's in our neighborhood (I had no idea) and so we are loosely planning a movie/lunch date at some point.  Probably in July.  I want to get that last very old gift card used up. 

I am not sure where we are at with movie gift cards.  We might have used up the art house gift card.  & I think MH ended up buying a second $50 Regal gift card, but I don't remember for sure.   MH has an unlimited Regal movie pass, and earns more points than MM or I would ever use for free tickets, so he gets through the movie gift cards very slowly.  I mentioned in my last gift card update I was shocked he still had some money left on the last Regal gift card.  At this point I think? it's a safe assumption that he used up the old Regal gift card.


Purging & Upgrading

June 16th, 2022 at 12:31 am

I have no idea how, but MM(18) had about $420 college dining dollars left over.  I just bought the smallest plan (he will have an apartment/kichen next year).  So that he can roll over the dollars.  Paid $250 for $275 campus dining dollars.  That gives him $695 when he goes back to school.   Or about $75/month.

I think we will be able to carve out the rest of his food spending from our grocery budget.  Ideally, we can squeak by with $225/month for groceries ($225 + $75 = $300/month).  Who knows.  Is just what we will try to start with.  I don't know if he will have access to a car.  If he does, that will help with grocery costs. 

Insurance is due on the kids' car.  I just charged it to MM(18)'s credit card.   Between the "away from home" student discount and his good driving record, it dropped about $150 (6 months) from last year.  I figure (that MM) paying $230 is reasonable for basically one year.  & he should have some paychecks before the balance is due.   (I paid the prior renewal because he wasn't home or using the car).  

I noticed that his "good student" discount was missing, so inquired about that today.  I might not have noticed otherwise (with the rate being so low this time), but they asked me for his grades several times after I sent it in.  So I wanted to make sure it was applied, and it was not.  I've since heard back to send in his grades for further discount.  

With the unexepected found time this last weekend (MH found a ride home from college), I redirected that time to long put off chores.  The biggie was getting through some purging.  Made some progress, but have a ways to go.  Was extra motivated with a new furniture purchase, which I will try to share (a picture) below. 

Edit:  Made further progress today.  Just one big/bulky item left, that I probably most wanted to get rid of.  But I haven't listed it for free yet.  So there is still hope.  I just hope it goes quickly when I list it for free. 

I did pull $100 from cash to reimburse MM's friend for gas.  (I had no idea how much big vehicle plus trailer gas is).  But I started with that and MM told us later that's about what they spent on gas on the way home.  Probably would have been more but I saw the vehicle was a hybrid when they dropped him off.   That helped...  

I then bugged DL(16), for like the 10th time, to give me some of his cash.  To the point I counted his piggy bank cash one day and he had $200!  (Just using him as my ATM machine, transferring the sum to his savings account).  I probably got a little more pushy after MM(18) took so much cash.  DL(16) tossed a lot of $1 bills at me and I said, "DL!  You have $200 in there!"  I guess he took out "half" the (physical space of) money but didn't realize.  So he tried again and gave me $170.  That was better.  Saved me a trip to the ATM.

I told DL(16) that his bank balance was $2,700, after transfering all that birthday/Christmas/whatever money he had piling up in his room.

Later DL asked me if it was too soon to go back to the thrift shop.  I said it is never too soon. 😉  (That's the whole point, can go every weekend if he wants).  To which he replied very reponsibly, "I need to get a job first."  Which is fine, but looking at his $2,700 bank balance, I might encourage him to go if he wants.  Or at the least, I will step back and let him pay (if he goes back before he gets a job).   

We seem to be going through a round of murphy.  

MH just replaced the bulb in his projector (home movie theater).  He asked me when we bought the projector.  2014.  So it has been 8 years.  Doing the math, it sounds about right as to bulb life.  For a very heavily used projector.

Fingers crossed.  Not 100% sure that was the problem (the free fix), but he's watching a movie and testing it out right now.  (The projector came with a replacement bulb).  

Then I noticed that our dryer was not turning off on its own.  It's liveable in the short run, but not ideal.  MH called our appliance repair guy last night and he warned us it might be $350.  Ugh!  MM's gut feeling was that it was important to fix *and* not worth being so wasteful as to buy a new dryer.  It's only 3 years old.  We were both very much on the same page. 

Happy to report that's all it was (could have been worse, which we were also warned).  I couldn't even remember the last time we reparied an appliance.  So between that and the newness of the machine...  Grand total ended up being $340.  The part was expensive and he found another small problem.

I did look it up and it had been a very long time.  We had paid him $60 to fix a dishwasher leak in early 2015.  So it has been over 7 years.   $185 to repair our washer in 2013.  I believe this guy had also come out in the past and charged us -$0-.  So though the $340 is very ouch...   Big picture, I am okay with it.   

In other randomness, I finally replaced a super cheapie ($15?) table that I recall my mom buying me when I moved out at 18.  (It was very cheap/wobbly and I have been wanting to replace forever).  I had picked out a replacement in 2015? but never pulled the trigger.  I think it was 2015 or 2016,  I just saw it come up in my photo memories.  Apparently spring is when I think about replacing the table.  Anyway, I finally did it!  The new table arrived, MH put it together right away, and this is what spurred some of my purging.  I like it better in person and the space is huge.  Is where I always hid all my donations, and it still works for that.

There's still a lot of hand-me-down furniture in our house and things we have never bought new.  But...  I think that was the only thing left over that just wasn't nice or functional.

& MH is wise.  As I consulted with him and was ready to pull the trigger, he said, "Do we even need a table?"  He's right.  But I just had it so in my craw at that point.  I wanted to scratch the itch!  I decided maybe he was right but that MM(18) would need some furniture soon.  Maybe for his apartment junior year.  (Maybe I could scratch the itch and then ponder letting it go).  But...  Now that it's here.  Screw that.  MH and I both really like it. 

May '22 Savings

June 11th, 2022 at 03:36 pm

Received $26 bank interest for the month of May.

Received -$0- I Bond interest for the month of May (will kick in next month).


Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $40 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $76 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $6 on dining out/gas card


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $2 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)


TOTAL: $124 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



Snowball to Savings:

+$1,400 MH Income

-$ 300 Donation to DL(16)'s school

-$ 100 Graduation Gift (niece)


Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$950 Movie Expenses (Premier Party, Film Festival Submissions, etc.)

-$585 Drivers Ed

-$180 Show Tickets

-$120 Crowd Funding (paying it forward)


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  150 School Band concerts & field trips

-$  144 DMV Renewal (Kids' car)

-$  100 State Tax E-file (x5)

-$   80 Oil Change (hybrid) 

-$   78 Pest Control


TOTAL: $2,112 Deposited to Cash and Investments


Hybrid Miles Driven May:  645

Fuel Costs: $16 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)


Electric (EV) Miles Driven May: 1,146

Fuel Costs: $16 (home) + $25 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)


Most charging (both cars) was done at home.

We did -0-? miles of free charging this month.  I don't recall any free charging.

We did plan about 300-ish miles of free charging for our bigger road trip last last weekend but as I mentioned in my last post we turned around because DL(16) was ill.  It wasn't well planned and we just stopped wherever.  

I am racking my brain because I thought we were out of town every week in May but I just figured it out.  

Week 1 San Jose ~ that was April 30th

Week 2 San Francisco ~ we took the train

Week 3 Bay Area ~ DL(16) had a band event but it wasn't far enough to warrant a stop/charge

Week 4 So Cal ~ spent $25 at chargers

June will be more of the same. 


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

I expect that this is the last DMV renewal I should be paying for the kids' car.  MM(18) will be back this month covering all expenses for summer (he has a job/summer commute).  Probably a small gap after that but DL(16) should be licensed and taking over the car expenses this fall.  MH and I covered some of the car expenses while MM(18) wasn't using the car and DL(16) didn't even have a permit.  I am happy to cross that extra expense off my list soon.

The donation to DL(16)'s school is somewhat required (in the form of either money or time).  I would have done some of this in December but the website was not working and I could not make donations.  Because of the large chunk, I just took it out of MH's income.  We probably skipped the past couple of years (in the craziness), and just have one more year left.  Something else that I can cross of my list soon-ish. 

The hybrid does need an oil change once every 2 years.  It was time.  Given that this is really our only vehicle maintenance expense and a more specialized car, we just went to the dealership ($$$$$).  

& then driver's ed...  The place we used for MM(18) raised their prices significantly.  It was only $300 before?  This is not a universal price increase.  It was just this one place that raised rates, but they still had amazing reviews (throug the pandemic) and we were really happy with them.  So I bit the bullet.  After the first drive, I am happy with this decision.  Would pay any amount of money to get DL(16) more comfortable with driving.  (Happy to say that it is paying off).

This should be the last big month for MH's movie expenses.  Future expenses will mostly be travel, if he gets into more festivals.

I e-filed taxes for everyone (better and more secure).  Did you hear that the IRS tossed 300 million "information returns" (e.g. W2s & 1099s) without processing them? 😱  I am skeptical that's all they threw away, given the bajillion IRS notices at work re: multiple paper filed entities (corporate and partnership tax returns).  This is on top of my snail mail ID theft I experienced 10+ years ago.  I chose to just e-file this year even if it was more expensive (than just paper filing with a postage stamp).  Our parents are very generous and GMIL is broke, and so I never in a million years would ask them to pay for any of this.  I filed tax returns for them and the kids.  (I've always just e-filed our own tax return, but have snail mailed a kids' 2-page tax return in the past).

MH bought tickets to a show.  We have since discussed two other concerts but they were just too hard to justify financially.   I moved those to the "nevermind" column category.   Both were kind of "would be fun," but not $200 fun.  Nothing we were very passionate about.

End of School Year

June 11th, 2022 at 12:13 am

DL(16) has had more interest in clothes/style in recent years.  He's been completely fine with Ross/Marshalls.  But when he bought a sweater online for $50, I told him he really needed to go thrift shopping.  Shortly after that, the topic just randomly came up at work and my co-worker told me the name of some shops that are good for teens/boys. 

We ended up going last weekend.  Half the places were closed on Sunday.  But he really liked the first place.  Afterwards, my co-worker told me there was also a really good Goodwill in the area.  I looked it up later and it was about a block from this other thrift shop.  She was holding out on me!  The pictures of this Goodwill were amazing.  (Mixed feelings about that, because I really don't need any more crap.  But I wanted to write down because can be useful for gifts and/or apartment shopping for MM).

DL(16) also wanted a haircut.  I just paid for everything because he has not secured a job yet.   

DL(16) humored me and went through his clothing when we got home.  He had a small purge pile.  We had a charity come by today and take 3 bags.  Phew!  Got past the pandemic backlog.  I'd have maybe kept more of the clothes for MM(18) to go through, but I just wanted to be done with it.  I did hold back a few items that I think were MM(18)'s at one point or that I thought he could use (and I checked with him if he wanted them).

{I thought I had one missed bag from the pandemic, but it was two.  & I added a third bag with some purging last month.}

Both kids are done with school today.  Wrapping up their last finals.

I ended up canceling the $400 hotel.  MH made a comment that we seem to very often cancel hotels in this region.  I don't even know if he remembered the vacation plans we had canceled twice (2019 & 2020).  I think I've canceled more hotels than I've kept reservations for, at this point.

But it's all good.  Boring.  But good.  MM(18) was able to arrange transportation home (for him and all his stuff).  It helps to be a minimalist.  

I am bummed to cancel our very brief beach vacation, but happy to have 12-ish (driving) hours of my life back this weekend.  

How in the heck is MM(18) done with his first year of college!?  It was over in a blink.