Home > Archive: August, 2022

Archive for August, 2022

2022 Credit Card Reward Tally

August 28th, 2022 at 01:57 pm

2022 TALLY:

$15 AmEx Reward (for charing insurance)

$30 Citi Reward (for charging hotel) **pending**



**In addition, various monthly rewards that I will tally at 12/31


I just redeemed the insurance reward and just signed up for the hotel reward, which will apply to college move-in.  The $30 reward just happens to be for spending the amount we booked the hotel for.  

I was considering a travel rewards card this year.  But the film festival that MH got into ended up being so last minute, we scrambled to lock our travel plans in ASAP.  I could have gotten some nice travel rewards if we had more time. 

I don't foresee any traveling except for festivals, so it seems pointless to plan ahead. (No point in getting a travel card we won't use). But maybe some future festival will give us some more lead time.

I think both kids will both do a ~$150 credit card bonus this year.  

But there's nothing on my horizon.  I feel like every time I say, "Meh, I a don't think I will bother this year," some too good to pass up deal falls from the sky.  Will see...

The (bigger, one-time) credit rewards gave us breathing room in the past.  But I worked in some breathing room into our budget this year, so we are far less motivated this year.  Also, I am still working through gift cards for some 2017? credit card reward.  If it's not a cash reward, I am not going to bother.


August 27th, 2022 at 07:18 pm

MH finally got out of COVID jail.  He had been feeling completely fine for about a week but got his first negative on Wednesday.   Phew!  

The rest of us are fine.   I might have some time now to do anything else but cooking/dishes/domestics/kid stuff.  I have time for work again. Though MH was kind and ran to the grocery store the second his mom told him she tested positive.  We still have food for days.  I ran to the store over the weekend and was more than I expected.  Just refilling things that had run out.  But other than running out for sausages Tuesday, so that I could use up some leftover buns, I didn't buy any food for meals.  I appreciate not having to do a monster grocery run.  I presumed I'd go back to the store mid-week (to shop for meals) but just went to pick up fruit and a couple of things for recipes.  Black beans and cream.  I believe that was it.  Still have 2 more dinner that we can to make.  MH didn't plan that far ahead (14 days).  I've just been going through the "we always have ingredients on hand" recipes.  They were in the pile with "recipes MH bought ingredients for," so I just went with that. 

MH's employer will let him go back on Monday. 

MH also got into his first non-local film festival!  🥳🎈

I think pretty much we had given up.  Was just starting to discuss doing a long weekend trip in a couple of weeks (before MM went back to school).  Which seemed dead given the 2-week COVID delay.  It's moot now.

We are going to Arizona!  Hell froze over and it's during DL(17)'s school break, so we can both go and don't have to worry about getting him to/from school.  I am excited about it. 

We were kind of "You only live once," going into this, and mentally prepared for spending tons on travel this year.  But that was before all the rejection, MH missing two weeks of pay, literally just paying full sticker price for MM's college (financial aid is delayed), etc., etc.

But then I remembered we have a vacation fund (duh).  & MH was able to get a free timeshare.  I think we can pretty much stick to our small vacation budget with this trip and MM's college move-in.  

Other things going on...  I think DL(17) is over the driving learning curve.  I was nervous to do my first freeway drive with him. I've always had a standing Sunday driving invitation but he's never taken me up on it before.  In the end, he did very well.  No one was on the road, which is the whole point of the Sunday invitation.  That worked out well.  He's got a couple of more months (and probably 30 more hours he needs to log) for his license.

DL(17) has also decided that he wants to run a marathon.  I bought him very expensive shoes last weekend.  I guess this will torpedo our grocery bill.  If he starts eating at all like his brother did when he did track.  

MM(19) got his college move-in date confirmed.  I shouldn't have to change our hotel reservations.  Phew!  & the hotel prices weren't half as crazy as they were in June.

At some point I saw that CA grants were delayed until (at least) October.  I expect this is why MM's financial aid is all greyed out (is still pending).  I thankfully thought to look up due dates.  Was really thrown off by the early tuition due date without financial aid deferral.  Due 3-4 weeks earlier than we paid last year.  But saw it early enough I got money transfered and paid.  I don't know how most are managing with this surprise.  What a pain!  I've got a pile of cash just sitting there for the school year, so we will manage.  I expect we will just sort it out next quarter.  I don't want to pull from MM's college fund until I have any idea what his actual costs will be for the year.  

Can't remember if I got into this or not.  We didn't touch MM's college fund Year 1 because he had free tuition.  But MH and I had discussed more recently that we don't want to cash flow tuition *and* rent.  So...  Unless some very last minute scholarship pulls through...  Seems unlikely at this point.  Will start pulling from his college fund.  My best guess is that our actual tuition cost will be $5K this school year.   


Ortho Update

August 21st, 2022 at 01:47 pm

Older post that I didn't get around to posting before the whole COVID thing...

Ended up with GREAT NEWS a couple of weeks ago.

Thursday night there was a message on our answering machine re: early morning Ortho appointment for DL the next day.  Wanted a parent to come to discuss "Phase 2," yadda yadda yadda.  He has more my mouth and issues which was way too many years of braces, every contraption ever invented for ortho, plus jaw surgery.  & my jaw is probably better than it was but is still messed up.  I know DL(17) is a different person and maybe his problems weren't so severe, but they basically corrected most of the same problem with *18 months* of braces.  Just braces, no other contraptions.  Technology is amazing. 

They've been pretty positive in recent years that he's done and won't need surgery.  But...  This is just playing telephone and what he tells us.  So I was a little stressed about that phone message.

In the end, he was cleared re: no more braces and no surgery necessary.  Yay!  Also, no wisdom teeth concerns (yet).  

MM(19) has other issues and will need surgery.  I am just relieved it's not going to be surgery x2.   

We should probably set some money aside for that, or for DL's wisdom teeth.  I am making a note to ponder this re: end-of-year cash gifts.  This is my takeaway from the stress I felt re: potentially paying for more braces or getting another wisdom tooth surprise.

Edit:  This was just a text because MH went out of town after the appointment.  When he got home he told me the pictures of the changes in DL's mouth were just unreal.  He was really impressed. 

Frist COVID Exposure

August 17th, 2022 at 04:01 pm

The in-laws just got back from a big international trip.  MH went over to help them with things on Friday.  At some point (before they got back) he said that obviously they were bringing COVID back with them.  Probably should not have gone.  Hindsight 20/20.  In the end, MIL felt sick but didn't tell MH while he was there.  😠 She tested positive on Saturday.

I expect this is our first real exposure.  Meaning, spending any amount of time within 3 feet of someone COVID positive, without masks. 

MH went into more isolation mode Sunday night when he felt a tickle in his throat.  Thought he was likely being paranoid.  But he woke up with a sore throat.  Home test was negative but he got a PCR test that day and it quickly came back positive.  (It was obviously COVID, no matter what the tests said).

MH was supposed to go back to work on Monday.  He didn't get a chance to even go back for one day, so he won't get paid sick time.  (Technically would have had to been back at work for at least one day, to get sick pay.  Now he's just prolonging his summer break).  So that is also a bummer.

It's going to be an exhausting week, covering for MH.  I've managed by blowing off work a lot this week.  It's strangely quiet this week at work.  Like, quiter than it's ever been.  So, there's that.

I stopped to get gas yesterday.  My car won't remote start if it has less than 2 gallons of gas left.  Which I understand from the point of a gas car but drives me batty with my hybrid.  It's supposed to be 105F degrees all week and will be doing some extra driving.  After a summer of luxuriously cooling off my car before I get into it, I really didn't want to lose that luxury during the hottest week of the year.  So I went to the gas station and spent $10 (2 gallons).  I'm on a "gas once per year" schedule at this point.  That should be my only gas station stop for the year. (I generally burn off a wee bit of gas in summer and winter, when electric range doesn't cover 100% of my driving.  Reduced range in more extreme temps.  I don't think the heat reduces the range, but blasting the A/C does).

MM(19) was camping and hadn't been home since Friday morning.  He stayed with friends Sunday night.  He'd be wise to stay away, but last I heard he was coming home Monday night.  (He ended up coming home late and leaving early for work).  He works Tues - Thurs so probably won't be home much. 

MM(19) did help me with dinner last night and picked up his brother from his friend's house.  Phew!  Monday was all chores and errands. 

Spending is a little crazy right now.  Picked up some COVID tests at the store (we had none), picked up some prepared soup at the grocery store deli, picked up some OTC meds, etc.  Running the A/C 24/7, overnight and during peak time (when electricity costs triple). MH is holing up in his movie theater room and the projector just gets the room hot.  Probably extra so, while he won't open the door.  But even without that, no one wants to suffer through a hot evening while they don't feel well.  I suggested he leave the A/C on Monday peak time and I was surprised he readily agreed.  He agreed to that, but like hell he would turn down the temp a degree or two.  (Being too cheap for his own good).

I haven't talked to MH today.  He's had a sore throat and fever, but overall seems to be okay.

July '22 Savings

August 7th, 2022 at 12:46 am

Received $50 bank interest for the month of July.

Received $180 I Bond interest for the month of July.


Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $48 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $70 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $7 on dining out/gas card


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $4 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)


TOTAL: $129 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$250 College Dining Plan (Fall 2022)

-$100 Animal Shelter Donation (matched by friend)

-$130 New Side Table


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  175 Dentist

-$  150 Amazon Prime

-$  125 Clothing for DL

-$  110 50th Anniversay Dinner

-$  100 Transportation home from college (MM + stuff)

-$    78 Pest Control

-$    58 Smog check on kids' car 

-$    30 Vacation Expenses (camp)


TOTAL: $2,253 Deposited to Cash and Investments


Hybrid Miles Driven July:  810

Fuel Costs: $26 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

Includes 20 *free* miles 


Electric (EV) Miles Driven July: 867

Fuel Costs: $14 (home) + $11 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)


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

Note:  Home charging rates are higher during summer months.

We did 170 miles of free charging this month. 

Hybrid = free 20 miles @ animal shelter

EV = free 120 miles @ animal shelter & Free 30 miles @ movie theater

We ended up doing a couple of Bay Area drives to help our parents out.  We only need a quick top off to get home, but for whatever reason MH stayed at a charger for about an hour.  He decided to stop and eat dinner, and I guess there was a long line at the bathroom.  It may have been 45 minutes.  We paid for about 100 miles between that and a quick 5-minute charge on the way home (earlier trip).

I tried the free Volta fast charger that is a few miles from the animal shelter.  O.M.G.  It was the easiest fast charger I had ever used.  & it's nice to not be sitting alone in the middle of nowhere.  I got about 60 miles out of a 30-minute charge.  (Would have been more if I went with a more depleted battery versus mostly full battery).  The round trip drive is about 50 miles (with the drive to the charger) so that worked out pretty well.  There was a free Level 2 charger right next to the free fast charger (30 minute limit), so I just moved over to the slower Level 2 when I was done.  


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

Re: I Bonds, I threw another $10K into a trust account.  I won't be able to do the last $10K until January 1.

MH is off work for the summer, so it's just my paycheck for July and August. 

I had a last minute mid-term savings deduction when I paid cash (venmo) to the animal shelter for a dog who needs a very expensive surgery.  My friend was matching donations.  But July already paid and done (the first of the month) I just pulled from longer-term savings.  If I could have thrown it on the credit card, I'd maybe have been able to cash flow.  Our grocery spending has been unexpectedly low this month.

July was spendy (will sort out in August).  We had a lot going on.  So I think we are through the worst of it.  At least MH should have a paycheck in September, if we need to cover any August spending.

By some miracle, grocery expenses were very low this month.  ???  I thought I'd be more able to offset excessive spending (which will show up in August update).  But things were pretty tight, even with the low grocery spend month.  We have a very solid pattern of spending less when busy with work.  July spending (will sort out in August) was the first month this year I just couldn't balance and don't know what happened.  Clearly spending more with the working less.  Even with the 'breathing room' and low grocery month, the math just didn't work. 

I eventually got it to balance.  & MH was called back to work so it's moot.  I don't know how busy it will be but he will be paid for 1 week? in August.  

I guess that means July will be our only one-income month this year.  This is my July update.  It was pretty benign and everything balanced (income - savings/investments - expenses = $0).  August will be more ugly with the over-spending *and* college bills due.  One small unexpected paychedck will help.

As of July 31, no word on scholarships for MM(19).  It sounds like we won't know 100% until August is over.  After tuition is paid. 

Road Trips & Film Festivals

August 6th, 2022 at 06:48 pm

MM(19) decided last minute to drive to Seattle.  I was a wee bit stressed about that.  It was originally going to be a 3-day trip.  ???  After leaning on him a bit that he needs to account for traffic, detours, getting lost, whatever, they eventually changed it to a 4.5 day trip.  Without any stops or traffic, it's about a 13 hour drive from our home.

I would have told you that we (MH and I) did the same trip when we were around 20/21.  Just looked it up and it was that age.  So I was just a year older than MM.   But...  That was a more leisurely summer trip.  Also, I had driven a bajillion miles on road trips before that big trip.  

We just wanted them to be more practical with their planning.  But with the longer road trip, they stopped at Crater Lake, went camping, etc.

Edited to add:  The trip was a success.  I'll stress less next time; he's a more experienced road tripper now.  

MH talked MM(19) into upgrading his cell phone.  The Pixel phones have some deal where you can trade up with a $300 credit (if you turn in your old phone).  So it's a $200 cash purchase for a significant upgrade.   I think the new phone is $450, but was closer to $500 with taxes.  Less $300 credit.  

I knew MM(19) would be spending more during summer months.  I wasn't expecting he'd be spending this much!  But it's nice to see that kid spend/enjoy his money.  In the past, he's been pretty extreme on the money hoarding front. 

MH called out a garage door repairman on Monday.  He didn't charge us anything.  We'd probably rather he spent more than 5 minutes, looked things over more carefully, and just taken the $250 to do the work that he felt was "too easy for us to bother paying him."  But on the flip side of the coin, a free fix isn't the worst thing.  I expect his diagnosis is right because I was so confused when MH said he was constantly having problems.  I never have problems with it.  But it's the sensors fading over time, probably.  MH is more likely to open the door in full sunlight.  Repair guy said the sensors struggle over time but we can just switch the wires (flip the sensors), and they will last another 10 years.  If it's happening at a certain time of day (when the sun hits it just right) it's more likely the cause.  I know it's not happening when I mostly go to/from work.  In the interim, MH had lubricated the door and it seems to be working fine.  He was waiting for MM(19) to get home.  MH feels comfortable re-wiring it, but thought MM(19) might enjoy it more or be more up for the task.

Will see...  The cost to replace the garage door opener is absurd, right now.  It's either a free fix or an expensive replacement.  (This wasn't on my radar at all, because is one of the few things we had already replaced in this house).

Things on the work front are good.  New employee came in a few hours for some training this past week.  She starts full-time on Monday.  I realized at some point that we have never have anyone fill this position full-time.  Our last admin assistant was hired on part-time (and it was always a part-time or very very part-time position, in the past.)  Our prior employee went "full-time" January 1, but then she constantly was taken time off for various personal dramas.   So though everything about this has been terrible...  It just hit me in the last day or two that we should be very well staffed.  Everything within our control.  It's the "out of our control" that has been very difficult and is what worries me.  😞  (If you missed it, the last employee quit because she needs brain surgery.  It continues to be mind boggingly absurd).  

I did price hotels for MM's move-in weekend and it wasn't too terrible.  Nothing like it was in June.  Of course, moving him in on a Sunday would be ideal, and we could stay a couple of nights (cheaply).  But he doesn't want to move in the day before classes start.  Fair enough.  We will move him in Friday or Saturday, and maybe stay a couple of nights.  It's moot.  There's no room for our stuff (for MH and I to pack bags) and someone needs to get DL(17) to school.  

Our plan was actually to do a couple of move-in drives.  It's either that or take two cars (once).  But I think we'd rather just take the electric car twice (the fuel costs pennies), and get a chance to see MM a couple of weeks after he moves in.

We had kept everything open for film festivals, but they are all starting to go remote or delay another year (COVID).  In addition to the long list of rejections.  So we were starting to think about planning a trip end of August.   Road trip, long weekend.  Maybe San Diego?

Oh yeah, and then MH was called back to work in a couple of weeks.  I think MH had a feeling, but I was really surprised.  He recalls being called in early, in the more distant past.  (He usually goes back after Labor Day).   He agreed to go back, but just gave them a heads up that he will want to take a couple of days off.  I guess this means we could go somewhere in September.  Just wanted it to be while MM(19) was still home and could get DL to/from school.  I am waiting to see if we can get a free timeshare stay.  I told MH the other day, it wasn't even the cost so much, but it's the decision fatigue.  Just tell me where to go.  If it's just one choice *and* it's free, then I am so there. 

MH just told me he "unofficially" got into another local film festival.  He knows one of the organizers and she just told him.   They seem hell bent in doing some of it in person, but who knows...  

DL(17) College Plans

August 6th, 2022 at 04:20 pm

I was just putting this at the end of another post but it was getting too long and I figured I'd break out into the college category. 

Just noting where we are at with things as DL starts his senior year of high school.  Wouldn't be surprised if this is where we land, but expect minds to change over the next year...

DL(17) is starting to get all that 'senior year college apps' pressure and is starting to ask more questions.  I told him not to worry about it, since he doesn't have to deal with all the red tape and timelines (for community college).  But as he was asking questions, I recommended doing some homework re: colleges that are more in-person (his preference), looking up colleges where he wants to live, etc.

I am sure he will change his mind 10 more times.  Which is fine.  He has the time to do so.  Before this week, he's just been thinking about if he wants to stay home his first year of college, or live with relatives in the Bay Area (and has gone back and forth in recent years).  He is finding that the colleges are more abundant and higher quality in the Bay Area.  Which is probably why we never presumed he'd live at home (re: community college).  I mean, this was 1000% re: engineer child.  He clearly would have gone to community college in the Bay Area, if he went the community college route. But DL(17) seems to be leaning the same way (Bay Area), as he evaluates options.

He does want to live with SIL, so I asked him what college was around there.  He found a college I don't remember at all.  It's in a bougie zip code and has a good business program.  I can see why he is drawn to it.

So I spent the week asking people if they knew anything about this college.  No one's heard of it, but I am just talking to local people at this point, and not getting anywhere. I talked to my Dad last night and he said, "Heck yeah, I know that college.  They have a GREAT music program!"  Seriously!?  It might be *the one*.  After a long summer of just throwing himself into his music, DL(17) seems a little more open to a music minor or at least taking some music classes.  & it would be a great way to meet like-minded people in a city where he doesn't know anyone (his age).  

Our "we like backup plans for our backup plans" personalities want DL(17) to apply for State.  The application is simple.  He doesn't seem interested right now, but a lot can change in a year.

It will be interesting to see what he comes up with re: college and career counseling at his school.  Is supposed to be very good, so might come up with new options.  Also, sometimes things sound better when it doesn't come from your parents. 

College costs, for point of reference:

Community College:  FREE

This is a newer (CA) thing that mostly no one has heard of.  I am looking up this specific college (it seems to depend on college) and they have free tuition/fees/books.  Catch is you have to be a local resident.  (& a full-time student, right out of high school).  I don't know how moving factors but it sounds pretty moot.  The $1,500 annual sticker price (tuition/fees/books) would be free regardless with college tax credits.  I can see the value for struggling families and people ineligible for the tax credit.  But I don't see that it makes any difference for us personally.  No matter how you slice it, community college should be free for DL(17).  (First $2K college costs are eligible for a Federal tax credit to offset).

The 'free community college deal' does cover more than just tuition/books.  It does have that going for it.  It's just not enough to lose any sleep over if they won't count him as a resident.  

State College: $3K

Sticker price is $8K per year.  Minus Federal tax credit and middle class (CA) grant, we are looking at net $3K per year. 

I really don't care if DL(17) goes to State or community college.  Both options are well within our means, and clearly very inexpensive.  So we will encourage him to consider both of these options.  

Bigger picture, it's probably more wise to just go to State.  Odds are he'd just stay at State, if he started there.  $12,000 for the 4-year degree.  I'd push more for State, if it was just about finances.  But I think community college might be a better fit for him.  

He's not going to consider anything "expensive" or where he'd have to dorm.  Makes it much simpler.  These are just his personal deal breakers, but he might share some of our genetics.  😉  

Edited to add:  middle class grants took forever to sort out but went up 70% for the 2022-2023 school year.  If it goes up even just a little bit next year (as scheduled), we will only be paying $1,500 net for DL's first year at State.  Maybe less in future years.