Home > Archive: September, 2022

Archive for September, 2022

More Film Festivals

September 28th, 2022 at 02:19 pm

DL(17) made a solo music album and sold his first copy.  He made $10.

I got my life insurance renewal.  I thought it looked more than usual.  It was 3.5 times higher!  The joys of turning 45.   There's a preferred rate that is about half as much.  I just don't know the odds I will get that, with all my recent health issues.  Will see... 

Ugh, I just got my medical insurance renewal too.  Is a bigger increase (8%) than it has been in recent years, but should just be grateful it's not more.  I remember seeing some crazy estimates early pandemic (like 50% increases in cost, something along those lines).  Note:  Medical has been our biggest financial challenge and biggest expense for many years.

MH got rejected re: a SF film festival.  That was surprising because it was the first more local film festival he did not get into.  But I am somewhat relieved because the calendar was getting a little crazy.

Next up is a local film festival that is doing a hybrid thing.  MH made the in-person cut and is once again the headliner for the entire event.  !! 

Then Arizona.  I don't know if he knows the order yet.  It's a bigger theater so should be the most interesting one.  Presuming his time slot is well attended.  

After that, we are going to a film festival in Napa.  MH is not in it, but he met someone who is.  We are planning a very belated anniversary dinner.  Will make a date of it. 

MH just asked me if we *should* go out to lunch today, for our anniversary.  After 5 days? of eating out in a row (between work and college trip) and with a 5-Day trip coming up?  No thanks?!  I told him we will do a nice meal in Arizona and also in Napa.

Edited to add:  MH got into an Oregon festival.  October is apparently his month.  They first took a script submission (his most recent movie script) and then later told him they will also screen his film.  As of right now, we are going to wait until Arizona to decide.  The Oregon one is probably not worth it.  But it's also cheap and easy to get to, so is why we are still considering.  

MM(19) went dark.  He's got his new credit card (in his name only) so I don't know what kind of spending he has been doing.  Probably just groceries.  He sounds pretty slammed.  I sent an, "Is you alive?" text a few days ago that he did reply to.  But that's about it.  I suppose I will see dollar amounts when he pays off his card.  He clearly sounds too busy to be spending money.  He has an on campus job this quarter.  Maybe 8 hours per week.  Plus some extra set up re: job while trying to move in and coordinate with 4 new roommates.  & his girlfriend moved in a few weeks early for her job, so they had a big date planned.  Hadn't seen each other much since MH ended up with COVID.  (Her sister is immunocompromised, so she kept her distance).

MIL is coming to take DL(17) out to dinner while we are in Arizona.  Just check in on him and see if he needs anything.  Give him an extra treat.   While she is here, will pick up an extra load for MM(19).  Now that she has two grandkids at the one college, they are planning a visit (sooner than we can get there).  In the end, it's not going to be much and we probably could have fit it all last weekend.  The only bulky thing is a set of dishes that I doubt he will need?  MH had paper plates left over from filming his movie, so we sent those down until we could get dishes settled.  Will talk to him about it today. 

Edit to add:  Ended up speaking to MM(19).  He also wants his guitar but didn't end up needing a full dishes set.  So yeah, probably could have fit everything but the guitar, on the first trip.  I forgot about the guitar, which is clearly big and bulky.  He told me he spent $12 eating campus food that first week (he expects that to be average) and he only spent a few dollars at the grocery store.  ???  Will see...  Clearly girlfriend is feeding him a lot.  She likes to cook.  & bake; she made some pies.  So he is eating very well.  He is enjoying much better food (even if he just sticks to his kitchen/cooking, has nowhere to go but up) and having a private bedroom.  He is clearly very happy with things.  

MH wouldn't let me give any food away at work.  I think we have one serving left of burritos/rice (might be too old at this point).  He did not cook at all last week.  The fridge was pretty cleared out by Sunday.  Sunday I cooked up some salmon (on sale) and MH made potato soup so that we'd have some leftovers.  But he skipped cooking yesterday.  I don't know how much he is being more mindful (and less in denial) with MM gone.  But I expect there's some extra pressure with all the out-of-town plans.  He's thinking more carefully about it and more willing to just skip cooking.  I am sure I nagged him many times last school year to just skip a night.  So skipping 6 nights is pretty amazing, but we had a fridge full of way too much food and he was hell bent on eating it (versus giving it away).  


Zero Credit Score

September 24th, 2022 at 03:36 pm

My boss is applying for a new business credit card and is having issues.

Is through our bank, that we have a long relationship with.  They finally told him, "Yeah, we noticed a while ago you had a zero credit score but clearly you had good credit and it didn't affect things on our end."  Re: bank line of credit and personal guaranty (he also has a bajillion dollars).  "But it's going to be a little more work to get around the 'credit approval' robot."  

I was fascinated by this.  He told me they don't use credit cards (he's in his early 30s) and they paid off their house in 2019. (I knew this because I sent the payoff wire).  I thought good credit stayed on your report for 10 years (it does) *and* that it would take a lot longer for a paid off loan to impact your credit score.

Most especially because this is probably the #1 comment I get re: credit card rewards.  I don't keep old cards open.  Everyone freaks out about that but it's never been an issue.  I had a 780+ credit score at some point when we had only 1 year of open credit (around the time we did our last refi).  I just happened to jump to a new primary credit card around the time we refinanced.  & we never keep old cards open.  The results = *shrugs*  

So...  I was fascinated when my boss told me it was about 18 months? from a 800+ credit score to *zero*

I guess that's how it works when you have absolutely no open credit.

I don't know if this means anything to me personally.  In a perfect world I would love to stop using credit cards (on principle).  But they are just so convenient...  I don't know that we will ever drop credit cards.  So will probably always have some form of credit.  


September 24th, 2022 at 02:20 pm

Did you see that Frugalwoods moved up from a $10K vehicle to a ~$35K+ vehicle?  😱

I am sure they could easily afford it, and didn't have much choice.  But I just couldn't even imagine wrapping my brain around that.  Yikes!

I am starting to feel like a genius for pulling the EV car trigger.  If it allows us to wait out this used car insanity.  We were so spoiled by the decades that most people turned up their nose at the idea of buying used. 

Oh yeah, so I looked it up out of curiosity a couple of weekends ago.  Our car (that we paid $17K for) is now going for $30K.  With the +20K miles we've added to it since we bought it.  That's crazy!  I probably had looked that up a few days before Frugalwoods posted about their new car purchase.

I am not sure what MM(19) will do.  Maybe both kids.  But the car they have has many years left in it.  & I am not as concerned about DL(17), who has a car that he can probably drive through college years.  

We actually had a discussion about it a few weeks ago because MM started expressing more interest in getting a car his last two years of college.  But he later clarified he was just thinking ahead to next summer and knows he won't just have a car to take to work, if DL(17) is using their shared car.  I had told him that honestly MIL would probably just let him borrow her car for the summer (if she doesn't just give it to him).  & then he said something like, "Why do they need two cars anyway?"  Good point.  & FIL might not be driving much longer anyway.

MIL had already voiced wanting to give her car to MM(19).  It's just when she said that before, it was completely ridiculous.  The car is now a few years older (I have no idea how old, I don't remember at all, but it's just a little less ridiculous at this point).  They came into some money last year and are thinking about going electric.  

If he needs/wants a car at college, just depends where he ends up living. **

I should probably get quotes for full coverage on the gas car and run through the math.  The whole point of the old beater is not having to get full coverage on a new driver ($$$$$).  But...  With this absurd used car market.  It might be extra peace of mind for the first 6-12 months that DL(17) is driving on his own.   I will ask for quotes when we get him coverage.  & I'll have to look up what that car is going for these days, to help guage if the extra insurance would be worth it.   Will see.  I'd still have DL(17) pay for the basic insurance, but we'd pay for the extra coverage if it made any financial sense.  Note:  The car was worth ~$4,000 pre-pandemic; we've put very little miles on the car.  $5K was always our cutoff for full coverage.  It's probably pretty borderline at this point. 

**Reminds me:  MM(19) has a lead on dirt cheap housing.  1/3 of what we are paying now.  !!  His girlfriend has some job on campus that comes with housing deal.  I told him to let her be the guniea pig this year, but I was intrigued.  So far...  I don't know.  I guess there's been a lot of problems but some of that is one person didn't work out and they have an opening.  I think this year is set and fine and paid for already.  But just thinking to future years.  I am intrugued but this is a situation where there are obviously trade offs.  It's not like my housing hack in college where I paid about as much for a *better* living situation.  She's putting up with a lot for the cheap housing.  We may be able to figure that out too (pay less for better housing options), but it's just harder being 300 miles away.  Unless he's just able to figure it out on his own.  Which is what I did. I am sure he can figure it out but he also doesn't have the financial motivation.  If his parents weren't paying, he'd already have the job with the cheap rent.   I am mostly intrigued because he will be stuck with off campus housing in the future and it sounds like a nightmare to figure out.  So if he can lock in some alternative/cheap housing, sounds good to me.

A Nice Surprise! (Travels and Spending)

September 21st, 2022 at 02:39 am

We got MM(19) moved into his college apartment.

He is back to paradise...

A pretty scene on the drive home:

I have to back up and say that I went to get my last free ~100 mile charge by the shelter, the weekend prior.  Was maybe going to justify one more to help offset this drive, but otherwise DL(17) needs to practice this drive in the gas car and will be driving himself soon.  So...  I pulled up to the charger (happy as a lark) and...  it asked me for my credit card?  Alas, it is no longer free.  Couldn't even get that one last free charge.  (It looks like they just move the free chargers around.  Another charger in the same network is free now.  Nothing very practical but I just need to keep it in mind if something comes up in that neighborhood, and keep checking).

It's moot because...  We pulled up to the first charger on the college trip and...  It was free!  

Total miles driven: 820

Total free miles: ~500

The plan was to go very practical this trip and just to charge while we were stopped anyway.  But the free charging quickly changed that scenario.  Stayed a little longer for free charging.  Also, we got new tires.  Between that and the car being so loaded down, the range was absolutely terrible on the drive down.  So between that and the free charging...  Was still just one stop each way, but longer than we initially planned.  & we made a lot more charge stops than planned.  For example, we went to Target and the chargers were free, so of course we took advantage.  

Electrify America ended up being free all 3 days.  Apparently because they are updating their network.  I don't know.  At first we weren't sure if it was just our first stop.  Or just the weekend.  But it ended up being free for the whole trip.  Woohoo!

Our first charge stop was interesting.  South of the Bay Area we stopped at the outlet mall on a Saturday.  Probably busier than we have seen it.  Had been more stopping there on off days.  We saw *3* electric Mustangs.  Never seen them before.  They are cute.  & we saw an Amazon prime truck charging. The Outlets have 8? EA chargers, have the Tesla chargers, the EV Go chargers, and some of the gas stations have chargers.  There is no lack of chargers here.  I was fascinated though because several people came and went quickly.  I texted my Dad at some point and he asked if we had to wait (clearly it sounded very busy).  I told him no, it was all the rich people with their super fast charging cars.  We saw another Mustang charging at the hotel later, which makes me think that is the most popular electric car right now (aside from Tesla).  But then I didn't see any after that.  Saw some giant pickup trucks charging too, the first day.  Rivian (which is a more local company, So Cal?)   We stopped the same place on Monday and it was much quieter.  But I saw a Porsche and two Ioniqs.  Other cars probably came and went, while we went for a walk.  (The first day I stayed in the car because we had it loaded with college stuff.  So I watched everyone come and go).  Ioniq ~ I think that's the Hyundai, they charge crazy fast.  MH talked to the Ioniq guy next to us.  He had just driven from So Cal to British Columbia and was heading back home.  (Their 2023? model will have a 380 mile range.)

It's fascinating to me how quickly it all changes.  Past road trips were all just older/retired people.  Usually men.  Everyone wants to talk about their cars.  How fast does your car charge?  What's the range?  (Our car might charge slow, but have talked to a lot of people with crazy low ranges, trying to do longer road trips.)   Generally no two cars were the same. This time was markedly differently.  Lots of family cars and kids.  No one's standing around and talking because their cars charge fast.  They are running to the bathroom and/or the store and grabbing a quick charge.

I suppose I have to back up more.  We had never loaded the EV up with stuff before.  I think the difference in the size of our cars is negligible but MH was worried it would be too small.  So we made sure to charge up both cars and were ready to take what was more practical.  In the end, I think the EV had more cargo space.  MH brought more stuff and there was more room.  Phew! 

(If we had taken my car, we never would have known we would have missed all that free charging.  My car is not compatible with the fast chargers.)


$394 Hotel (saved a bajillion dollars, found a hotel 30 miles from the college.)

$242 Dining Out

That's probably all I am going to put to the 'vacation' category.  This puts us to $870 of our $2000 vacation budget.    I think the $1,130 remaining is reasonable for Arizona trip.  (We have a free hotel for 4 nights).

We are getting a ~$1,000 inflation payment from our state.  Probably next month?  I am just going to throw at vacation dollars.  It will give us a little breathing room for Arizona.  (Food or gas will likely put us over).  & then leaves any money left over if we want to visit MM(19) this calendar year.  Or if any other festivals come up.

Food spending on this trip was mixed.  Treated niece/MM/MM's girlfriend to a big dinner on Saturday night.  But we only spent $10 on the drive home (fast food).  First day we fed MM(19) for lunch but then MH and I went to our cheapie/good place by the beach for dinner.  We've always gone there because it's *amazing*.  Only found out recently they have $4 pizza slices.  We spent ~$20 on that, beer and gelato.  Saturday we actually ended up having a big mexican lunch (YUM) and so MH and I just split an entree when we took out the kids. 

We went to Home Depot, Target, and did a grocery run (will absorb in grocery budget).  I don't think we will do a grocery run at home, this week.  MH made chili for DL(17) as requested.  So that he wouldn't have to cook while we were gone.  Then he forgot and didn't eat it.  It's to the point I will be giving food away at work this week.   We have so much food!  With the *big eater* gone...

Fuel: $22

Fuel detail: $5 to charge at home, $4 for EA monthly pass (for discounts we apparently didn't need/use). Hotel had a slow charger that was on the expensive side.  Not the most practical but is most of what we spent.  That was $13 for 114 miles.  

If we spent any more on fuel, I'd add it to the vacation budget.  But it ended up being so inexpensive, I will just absorb the cost in our monthly budget.

The next few weeks are busy busy busy with film festivals.

Applying for Credit Cards

September 8th, 2022 at 01:28 pm


MM(19) applied for a credit card today and received a $1,000 limit.  That is much more useful than his $500 limit.  He has an excellent credit score but income is the limiting factor.  So we just crossed our fingers and tried.  (I guess when he turns 21, we can count parental support, but we can't now if we aren't on the card?  Weird rules.  Something to keep in mind when he turns 21).  

My plan is to shut this other card down, once he gets that all squared away.  I got it solely for him to manage and use, but it is in my name.  

This is a step re: getting him more self sufficient.  I would have kicked him off my credit card when he turned 18, if it had been practical.  

While in credit card mode, I applied for a credit card for DL(17).

Both these cards will have a $200 up front bonus.  

MM(19) went for $200 bonus + 1.5% cash back on everything.  He was more interested in the bonus because he doesn't spend much.  I told him we could try but didn't know if he would be approved for some of these "excellent credit" credit cards, re: his short credit history.  Now we have our answer...

For DL(17) I opened a credit card in MH's name.  Just to spread it out.  Added DL as an authorized user.  They gave MH some ridiculous credit limit but we will get it reduced. 

I will let the kids try to get their own bonuses.  They each need to spend $500.  MM(19) is skeptical but will see how expensive groceries are.  DL(17) should have his first auto insurance bill soon (~$500).  I mostly got him this reward to help offset that. But I will charge something on each of their cards if they need help.  They have 3 months to spend $500 and to get their $200 bonus.


MM(19) is going to get his I Bonds purchased this week or next.  

I am just looking through his financial records.  He did get that cell phone refund and ended up paying a net $188 (with taxes) for his new phone.  He's very pleased with that upgrade.

He's done with his summer job.  He made just over $5,000.

Total cash = $10,700

Minus $500 he wants to keep in his 7% account.

& he needs to keep $100 minimum in his 3% account.

Minus whatever he doesn't want to tie up for a year.

I think he will at least move $5K over to I Bonds (is what he has had tied up in high yield savings account for some years).  & I think he'd be fine with $7K - $8K.  He doesn't have any car expenses during the school year and he will make ~$1,500 at his fall campus job.  

The decision is up to him.  Will see what he comes up with.

His job was only part time (allowing him to do some long travel weekends) and he has two full weeks off before he goes back to school.  All his friends went back to school some weeks ago.  So nothing too exciting planned.  Mostly packing and prepping for school.  Might take his brother on a hike/outing if the weather relents.


Our city had its highest temp ever on Tuesday.  116F degrees.  🥵

We are used to a dry heat but it was a little humid on Tuesday.  & made the temperatures feel more extreme.  

My work sent home all construction workers at noon, which I don't recall ever.  Not during a normal dry heat 110 couple of days, but this is more prolonged and extreme.  MH also got sent home and is being paid for his full shift this week.  He's maybe working 3 hours a day but getting paid for 5 hours.  Which is nice because they didn't have that much work for him anyway.  

High temps are supposed to last through Friday.

August '22 Savings

September 7th, 2022 at 03:30 am

Received $67 bank interest for the month of August.

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


Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $61 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $70 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $8 on dining out/gas card 


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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


TOTAL: $141 Snowflakes to Investments


Snowball to Savings:

+$0 MH Income


401k Contributions/Match:



Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$472 Kids' Birthdays

-$300 New VR Quest

-$230 Senior Pictures

-$191 Movie/Script Stuff & Crowdfunding (pay it forward) 


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  300 Dentist (MH & DL)

-$    60 Quicken (personal finance/accounting software)


Pulled from 'College Savings'

-$7,700 Tuition + Rent


TOTAL: -$5,665 Net Pulled from Cash/Investments


Hybrid Miles Driven August:  860

Fuel Costs: $28 Electricity + $10 Gas (2 gallons)

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

Note: I needed gas to be able to remote start my vehicle (and to pre-cool the car in the afternoons).  2 gallons should last me for 12 months.


Electric (EV) Miles Driven August: 996

Fuel Costs: $21 (home) 

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)


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

Note:  Home charging rates are higher during summer months.

We did 105 miles of free charging this month. 

EV = free 105 miles @ animal shelter 

MH went to the Bay Area once.  After mostly being stuck in isolation for 2 weeks, I couldn't tell you why so many miles on the EV.  Maybe a second out of town trip that I don't remember??  Where the heck did MH go?  Oh yeah, he did also go up to the cabin twice (I remembered one cabin trip & MH reminded me of the second trip).  & ~80 miles going 2x to the animal shelter.  I didn't bother with the free charge the second time.  MH had plugged in and the battery was too full. 

I double checked electricity prices and they were more than I remember.  So this bumped up fuel costs this month.

Saw a crazy online discussion about EVs this week.  Just something new that I hadn't seen before, so was worth sharing.  Was seeing a lot of negative comments re: conserving energy during a heat wave.  When EV drivers replied that they just charge overnight (and don't pay peak $$$$ prices anyway)...  Got a lot of replies like, "Yeah right!" and "You have to wake up in the middle of the night to charge your car!?"  

I had wanted to correct some of the myths out there, and that was a new one.  So I thought I'd share.  Of course all these super computer cars have all this programmed.  But we are pretty low tech.  Our charger just has a delay button that we push.  We choose how many hours we want to delay before the charging starts (and push the button X times, accordingly).  That's it. 

& of course, the EV has a big battery that stores electricity.  MH is charging every other weekend.  Even that is mostly excessive, but the point for us is more to just have a habit and not think about it.  (In addition to working around my more frequent weeknight hybrid charging; we only have one charger).  There's no need to be constantly charging an electric car.  

Edit:  I started this post a few days ago.  The news headlines are getting more weird and fear mongering by the day.  Just saw a headline that CA EV drivers have to walk while it's 110F degrees this week.  🙄  It literally says that in the headline, of some big reputable new channel.  This "news" is garbage.  


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

Holy cow, look at that interest.  Interest rates just keep going up in our bank accounts.  Our I Bond rate goes up significantly after September.

MH lost two weeks of work re: COVID.  Thus, short ~$700 that we were expecting this month.

This was the spendy no-work month that I alluded to in my July update. (The below is all July spending paid for in August).

The VR Quest 2 went on sale suddenly for 25% off.  MH could not resist that.  I do like the VR too but with my motion sickness tendency I never got too into it.  We have an older Sony VR helmet, so it's not our first VR setup. 

When MM(19) did senior pictures, they didn't do the tux (shared clothing) pictures due to COVID.  & he was too cheap to pay for the cap & gown sitting.  I really wanted to murder him when he told me that. 😁  They clearly phoned it in (with the $0 sitting fee) and we were not interested in any of the pictures.  For DL(17), *we* were able to sign up for him (we didn't tell him he had a choice) and we had to drive him over there.  So he did the cap & gown sitting.  I like this photographer better.  Liked.  Have been able to spend $10-$15 on pictures in the past.  But the senior photos were *ridiculous*.  Like $600 for their most basic package.  I cobbled something together. If DL was another kid, I'd just ask my Dad to do some photos.  But...  We are lucky that DL was a good sport.  I just bought some wallets and scanned them.  We can ponder re-doing photos later, depending on his mood.  The $200 was "DL may never sit for photos again" insurance.  At least the photos were professional and good. 

In the end, August (ignoring college expense) was pretty similar dollar-wise to July.  But the rub was the bigger mid-term savings deductions in August.  If it's coming out of mid-term, it's because I am drawing down "longer term" savings to pay for things.  & that is more "ouch". 

(If it's truly "long term", it's invested.  So is why I use the term mid-term instead, when it comes to cash savings.)