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Archive for January, 2023

Dec '22 Savings

January 28th, 2023 at 02:59 pm

Received $79 bank interest for the month of December.

Received $220 I Bond interest for the month of December.


Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $2 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $113 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $25 on dining out/gas card (+ groceries during Q4)


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $5 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

+ $141 Dividends

+ $100 MH income (to meet 2022 goal)


TOTAL: $386 Snowflakes to Investments


Snowball to Savings:

+$1,132 College Refund

+$4,000 Bonus


401k Contributions/Match:



Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)

-$1,000 Auto Repairs (Kids' gas car)

-$  600 Play Station 5

-$  530 Flood Insurance

-$  270 AAA

-$  150 Holiday Break College Travel (Train + Plane)

-$  150 Gas (Rental + Kids' Car)


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

+$1,500 to cash


TOTAL: $7,367 Deposited to Cash and Investments



For Comparison:

Gas Rental Miles Driven: 220

Fuel Costs: $17

Ended up being 16 cents per mile for the rental.  Cost was 7x what I pay for electric fuel.  I am glad it ended up being such a short rental.  I thought we would be paying hundreds of dollars for gas.  I only drove the rental about half as much as I drive my car usually.  Paid for most of the gas last month.


Hybrid Miles Driven:  347

Fuel Costs: $9 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)


Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 1,071

Fuel Costs: $17 (home) + $17 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)


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

2 Bay Area trips (Holidays)

We've mostly been using Electrify America for charging.  But I found a AAA deal for EVGo, which made the cost more comparable.  We were able to set it up so that EVGo recognizes the car.  You just plug in and it charges your credit card.  MH also wanted to try it out because his parents are buying an EV.  Wants to make it as simple as possible for them.  This time we just got it all set up.  Next time we see if it's really that easy.

It was under 50F degrees when we drove home, so the battery range took a hit.  (50F is when I really notice it on the hybrid.)  Between that and using the heat/defrost (a big energy drain) we stopped for a 100 mile charge.  Most of the time we shouldn't have to stop at all on this drive.  The range has also taken a big hit with the new tires (less efficient) but last time I only stopped to charge for 5 minutes.  & that was probably unnecessary.  Just to show what a difference winter makes.  It easily could have been over 50F degrees, and so it's not a big impact for us.  Christmas and New Years long drives might be the only time we really notice the cold impact on the EV battery.  It was a rare time that we stopped just to charge (without running errands, eating a meal, going to a movie, taking a rest on a big drive, etc.)

Christmas Day was same, with far below average temps.


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

I failed at saving MH's income this month.  If I had any time or energy I'd break it down, but it just doesn't matter to me at this point.  I did add $100 of his paycheck to investments, to top off 2022 investment goal.  I only needed $50, but rounded up.  This goal was otherwise met with credit card rewards and dividends.

Things were made worse by a last minute auto repair.  Their credit card machine wasn't working and so MH took a check to pay.  A series of random events which led to a very rare last minute cash purchase.  This is messing up my accounting!  But all else being equal it would have been a January expense (charged in December, cash sorted out in January).  So that is how I will treat it.  If I account for it now, I have to pull from mid-term savings.  Short-term savings has been $0 for a while.  In January I will be able to reset the short-term savings clock and will have cash to cover a random auto repair.  (Will reimburse the checkbook.)  I was already planning to use this last few hundred dollars to reimburse MM(19), mostly for groceries.  All these cash expenses are just throwing me off.  But it will work out if I just reimburse the checkbook, and then will have the cash to reimburse MM(19) what I owe him.  Having two ~$300 cash expenses to sort out is incredibly rare.  

It took me a minute to figure out why 401K/match was so high.  The flip side of the coin is that I will only receive one paycheck in January.  (I received 3 paychecks in December.  January 1 paycheck was paid a couple of days early.) 

I received two refunds from the college.   Finally.  (That only took 5 months for the State and the college to sort out.)  That said, the State of CA is being very slow to pay us our inflation relief check.  So now that is dragging on.  (At this point it's clearly lost/stolen, but I can not request a replacement check for another week.)

I Bond interest will bump up in future months.  I have $10K cash set aside.  Have just been waiting for January so that I can add this last $10K to the I Bonds.  I also have some 2022 I Bonds that are bumping up to a higher rate soon.  So these I Bond interest numbers will continue to increase.  I will get the $10K cash moved over ASAP so that I can get interest for the full year.  But I will take my time pondering if I want to do more.  For another $10K or $20K, I might wait closer to the last minute and see what the new interest rate will be.  (I'd park some of the kids' gifted college money in I Bonds.  This is the only reason I have so much cash for I Bonds, in the first place.  Just piling all this college cash into the I Bonds.)

January is also done for us, financially.  Paid bills January 1, and all paychecks have been received for January.  Will end the month up ~$2,700. 

Car Stuff - Part II

January 22nd, 2023 at 05:04 pm

MH's parents told him last month that they are going to buy an EV in 2023.  They are eyeing the Bolt, same car we have.

They've probably never spent more than $15K on a car.  They prefer to buy new and will probably end up in the $25K range.

I am 1000% in the "they should splurge and get what they want" head space and am happy to see them buying something a little nicer than they usually would.  But...  I don't see the point in going new for a Bolt.  They replaced all the batteries with the recall.  So the barely used ones will have just as long warranties as the new ones.  There's no improvement in range, charging speed, in anything.  It's the same car.   If anything, they are shipping them without features because of the chip shortage.  All the more reason to just buy used.

Anyway, they told MH that they would want his help buying the car.

Shortly after that, the IRS announced that they are still sorting through new EV tax credit rules and that in the meantime, the Bolt gets the full $7,500 credit.  For a few months, while they sort out all the new rules. We told the in-laws and they wanted to go car shopping January 1, given this new development.

Since then, they've been wishy washy.  MH and I pounce on a deal when we car shop, so we were ready to pounce (and was doing homework the last week of December).  This apparently freaked out the in-laws and they changed their mind.  They've since been wishy washy, with everything financial.  To the point maybe we should discourage them and they need to just take some more time before making any big financial decisions.  But I guess MH was with his parents yesterday and they said they are ready now.  So he may make the trip again next weekend, to help them buy a car.

It will be a really nice perk for us, when we can just charge at their house.  I suppose some of the last minute change of mind is they just talked to someone with a Bolt who said they can charge 30 miles overnight without a fast charger.  If they can just plug into a regular outlet in the interim, they are feeling more confident about it.  They have an older house and it will take some time and money to get a Level 2 charger installed.  

{They think they are only going to drive this car around town.  🙄  They have *no idea*.   I know they need time to warm up to it and get used to it but they aren't making any sense.  They should be able to make the roundtrip to our house without any stops.  Getting free electricity at our house would just be gravy.  When they visit the grandkids at college, they can just charge overnight at a hotel.   Or while they stop for a meal.  It would never make any sense to take their loud and 'expensive to fuel' gas cars.  I expect that they will realize this quickly, once they have the car.}

When we were talking about the January 1 buy date, I told MH I thought they should get the ball rolling.  I'd expect a stampede on January 1.

But...  I forget we live in California and the rest of the country is weird.  😁  I swear, just about everything is different.  Have been seeing in my Bolt group people complaing about it taking months to get cars.  & how some were taking advantage of car sales year-end quotas and being able to haggle, while taking delivery in 2023 (and getting tax credit) because it takes time.

MH kind of rolled his eyes at me but humored me.  I thought maybe they should go shopping that last week of December.  MH said he'd make some calls.  In California, maybe extra so in the SF Bay Area, EVs are abundantly in stock.  & so I realized this kind of worldwide and nationwide experience was N/A.

We've never bought a new car and it all sounds terrible.  All the talks about scammy add ons and mark ups and everything.  But in the land of abundant new EVs, this is more N/A.  We've narrowed down a few dealerships that aren't adding more than $500 or $1,000.  (Which will be entirely offset by Costco and military discounts that the in-laws are eligible for.)

MSRP on the 2023 Bolt was $26,500.  I saw an article at some point that they raise the prices $900, after the first of the year.  If they go new, the in-laws will probably pay ~$29,000 (includes sales tax) and will get the $7,500 Federal tax credit.  Net cost $21,500.

MH did think to check used car prices, which was wise.  I had seen that MH's car was worth $30,000.  I probably wouldn't have even bothered looking.  But used car prices dropped dramatically in December.  Phew!  We found a Bolt for $22K.  It was clear from the listing that they had initially priced it at $30K and had dropped the price down very recently. Saw others in the $22K - $24K range.  I then remembered that there was also a used EV tax credit in 2023.  That credit is $4,000.  So we were pushing the used Bolt and that's when MH's parents changed their mind.  I think they just got overwhelmed how quickly it was happening. 

So MH is just kind of, whatever, will call them next weekend and see if they are really serious.  Before he starts calling dealerships again and searching for used cars.  Will see if these cars remain well stocked with the new tax credits.

We personally never considered "new" because we don't pay enough tax to utilize the tax credit.  You have to have a $7,500 tax in the first place, to offset with a $7,500 EV credit.  I need to confirm if the in-laws even pay that much Federal income tax.  This could quickly sway the pendulum towards buying used versus new, if they can't utilize the full credit.

Car Stuff - Part I

January 22nd, 2023 at 04:12 pm

I hadn't thought much about it because "saving money" really wasn't a reason that we bought our EV.  I mean sure, it made it easier to justify financially because of all the fuel savings, but it wasn't the reason we made the switch.  Fast forward to high gas prices in 2022 and this seemed to piss off people and they misdirect their anger at EV drivers.  So have been fielding a lot of really stupid comments.  The comments peaked when gas prices peaked.  Haven't heard much lately.  Anyway, in that defensive mode, I just started thinking more and more that our car will entirely pay for itself in 5 years, with fuel savings.  As I explain to people that their truck/SUV cost more than my $17,000 used EV.  That it's not going to take 100 years to break even on the "extra I had to pay for the vehicle."

I suppose I was more focused on the splurge and the luxury of it.  But as I correct people, I am just thinking more and more that it's entirely paying for itself (very quickly) in fuel savings.

I do want to come up with some kind of tracker.  It's probably pointless because I don't care enough to put much thought or energy into it.  But I've already done the math at $4/gallon gas prices, which is where things have settled here and mostly been at.  The only rub is that we need both the hybrid and EV to save $3,000 per year on fuel.  So that is why the breakeven will only be 5 years on the EV.  I'd like to do that countdown first and then circle back to the hybrid.  (Both of these cars will entirely pay for themselves.)  It's very intertwined.  With the EV, we are able to keep all of our driving on electric.  I take the EV if I have to make a stop before/after work.  Or if I don't have time to charge the hybrid after work but have plans after stopping home.  Then I switch out the cars.  

This is another reason "fuel savings" wasn't a big motivator for this purchase.  MH mostly commutes 6 miles roundtrip.  I probably didn't anticipate how our household would just go all-electric with the EV purchase.  How much I'd switch my driving to the EV.  

On the flip side of the coin...

We are learning.  It's new technology and new things to figure out.  

MH didn't listen to me about getting OEM tires to keep 300-miles range.  He picked up some other tires and the range has been terrible.  99% of the time it just doesn't matter, but it is very noticeable on bigger trips.  He got new tires last August.  We noticed when we drove MM(19) back to school, but the car was also loaded down with stuff.  It was the first time we had moved his stuff in the EV.  

If MH were a single man, I think he's just suffer and live with his bad choice.  I've told him since that trip to just buy OEM tires.  He has to get over the sunk cost.  I've mentioned it a few times but he's really digging in his heels.

We drove MM(19) back to school a couple of weekends ago and MH finally let it go.  He told me on that drive that if someone told him he could spend $800 to increase his fuel efficiency by 20%.  I mean, duh.  It's a no brainer.  It took some time, but he's got over the sunk cost.

Pretty much the next day he got new tires on the car.  I am holding my breath a little bit because he is still being difficult about the OEM tires (harder to get) and is trying some newer electric car tires.  These EV tires came out a couple of weeks after we bought the other tires.  Talk about bad timing.  

MH did end up driving to the Bay Area yesterday, helping his parents with stuff.  It's hard to guage because temps were unusually low.  But it sounds like these tires might be the sweet spot.  A little higher quality but built for the electric car.  More quiet, and more efficient than the last tires.  

Will give it some more time.  If we are really happy with these tires, I will buy the same tires for my car this summer.  If there's still some range hit, I might just go with the OEM tires again.  (Both our cars had the same OEM tires.) 

After searching used tires on FB and Craisglist...  Ugh!  I had no idea there would be thousands of tires for sale.  This got my wheels turning.  I thought maybe we could just put the non-EV tires on the kids' car.  I just looked it up though and it's not the right size.  That is a super bummer because as I look it up, it's probably getting time to change those tires too.  We will be spending a lot of money on tires, but then should be good for a while.

Net Worth Update

January 21st, 2023 at 05:59 pm

Our net worth decreased by $65K in 2022.  This works out to $15K cash spent (college, new mattress, MH's movie and film festivals, etc.) & a $50K decrease in stocks.  I am depreciating our autos aggressively but that is offset by mortgage paydown.  Home values remain steady.

Re: my sidebar big picture goal, this leaves $120K to come up with in the next 4 years.  Considering that our goal was to increase net worth by $60K every year...  We are still very on track.  What goes up, most come down.  We started out this goal with some prosperous years, and of course expect to have some down years.

I am looking it up and I have $35,000 of kids' gift money sitting in investments in our name (included in our net worth).  In addition to $40K I have loosely earmarked for college.  That's $75K we may be drawing down over the next 4 years.  So it may be more realistic that we need to come up with $195K (120K + 75K) over the next 4 years, to stay on track.  

Estimate Net Worth Change for 2023:

Mortgage: Paydown $10,000  <--Regular payments + $2,000

Retirement: Contribute $24,000

Investment Gains: $22,000  <---Investments doing the hard work for us


Our net worth changes never look anything like our estimate (it's rare any asset class actually has an average year). But, I go through this exercise just to make sure my goal is realistic and doable.

Retirement gets a boost re: extra $1K we can contribute to IRAs in 2023 (new contribution limit), in addition to getting a raise boost.  We both do 9% to our 401K (with match), which will be a bigger dollar amount re: 2023 raises.

Overall, I am happy with things.  Our asset allocation is appropriate for our risk tolerance.  We were also able to keep our net worth at a solid seven figures.  

Storm Aftermath

January 18th, 2023 at 01:19 am

I think that the storms are over. The reward was this sunset.

I was sad to see that this plant had toppled over.   

(Picture is from summer 2021) 

Between all the storms, and also having a class (online) Weds/Thurs, I didn't venture out until my dentist appointment on Friday.   I left our newer neighborhood 'small tree' bubble.  I was driving on a road that had a large park on one side and an older neighborhood on the right side.   O.M.G.  It just looked like such a disaster zone.  Tree limbs and tree stumps and cut up trees just filled yards and lined up streets.  The park had a lot of fallen trees that were clearly low priority because they weren't blocking roads.  & I mean, I just drove by and saw a small glimpse of a very large park.  This was 6 days after the big wind storm.  There's still a lot of work to do.

I saw an estimation that 1,000+ trees fell in the city. 

Saturday we had a big rain deluge.  It didn't last long but caused a lot of street flooding.  I am grateful it was short. 

On New Year's I heard that was the biggest storm in 30 years, or during the time we have lived here.  That just feels like "nothing" at this point, after all these mega storms the last couple of weeks. 

Now it's on to sunny skies.  Phew!

Note:  Still storms elsewhere and a lot of snow expected in the mountains.  But it sounds like the last storm or two will pass us by.

2022 Credit Card Rewards Tally (Final)

January 16th, 2023 at 02:28 pm

2022 TALLY:

$200 Capital One (DL credit card - used for auto insurance)

$ 30 Citi Reward (for charging hotel)

$ 15 AmEx Reward (for charging insurance)



Ongoing rewards:

+$298 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/streaming services)

+$75 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)

+$153 Visa Rewards (3% cash back restaurants/fuel).  Ended up also using for groceries in Q4 (3% cash back)

+$1,032 Citi 2% card (2% back everywhere - health insurance/medical is the *big* expense that we charge, is more than our mortgage payments)

Grand Total = $1,803

I just want to add that historical figures below do also include bank bonuses. They just don't generally work very well for us so I do not utilize as much.  (We did -0- bank bonuses in 2022).

Year 2011 = $4,164

Year 2012 = $2,782

Year 2013 = $2,623

Year 2014 = $3,128

Year 2015 = $2,585

Year 2016 = $1,906

Year 2017 = $3,578

Year 2018 = $2,096

Year 2019 = $2,266

Year 2020 = $2,107

Year 2021 = $2,377

Year 2022 = $1,803

Total 12 Years = $31,415 ***Mostly Tax-Free Income***

Note: I have been tracking since 2011 because that's when the rewards got CRAZY. We have always utilized cash back on credit cards. It's just been extra rewarding during the past decade.

***CAVEAT - I absolutely do not recommend utilizing credit card rewards in this manner, unless you are in full control of your credit card spending. We treat our credit cards like debit cards; only charging if we have the cash on hand already. We've never paid a cent of fees or interest.***


Honorable Mention to I Bond interest. ~$1,200 interest this year and will be more next year.  I won't include it because it's not a "bonus".  It's basically the equivalent to bank interest.  But it was such a boost this year, and might be some of the reason I did not pursue more rewards.  

MM(19) did do a $200 credit card bonus this year.  But he didn't need me to co-sign his credit card.  I was not involved in that, so won't add that to the tally.  I did get DL(17) a credit card and a bonus (and helped him with the spending to get the bonus.)  Same as we did for MM, it was nice to have a $200 chunk to apply to his first big car insurance bill. 

There was also a couple of obvious small rewards that I just had to click a button and/or switch credit cards to redeem.  (I didn't seek them out, but I got an email or saw mentioned online.)

Given the low energy I put towards looking for credit card bonuses recently, it's no surprise that this was our lowest year (since tracking). 

I expect 2023 to be even lower.  With interest rates rising and mega I Bond interest, I will have less motivation to chase credit card rewards.  Also, we were both just rejected for a bigger credit card bonus.

Raise Finalized

January 15th, 2023 at 01:12 am

Received an inflation raise of 6%.  Woohoo! 

This is extra nice because we have not personally experienced an increase in our expenses.   

Extra extra nice because taxes were strangely *shrugs* on new income.  I lost a $2K tax credit in 2022 but will gain it back in 2023.  I will just leave Federal tax withholding as is.  It's a little high, but I don't want to get too used to paying less taxes.  We have nowhere to go but up.  I did bump up state tax withholding a little bit.  

After that, we are left with $400/month, which will exactly get us to the goals I was envisioning.  Weird how that works out.  I mean, it's like down to the penny.  So I don't have to touch the new (2022) "breathing room" in our budget, to meet these goals.    

I am bumping up monthly cash savings by $50/month.  Making it an even $1K contribution.  I don't foresee increasing this.  With the exception of making this a full  $1,083/month in the future.  To cover IRA contributions (from my income).   The old $12K IRA contribution limit (x2) is probably why I have that $1K/month figure in my head. 

This leaves $250/month to throw at investments.  Happens to be where we left off, and was the figure I wanted to hit this year.  If I didn't have enough raise, I would have commited a flat amount from MH's income.  

Oh yeah, and the other $100 will go to health insurance increases.  For the past ~15 years, it generally goes up $100/month, every year.  That is nothing new.  

Still taking a breather, re: longer term goals.  That said, I can tell you three things:

1 - Efficiency is too important to us.  We won't be decreasing retirement contributions, accordingly.

2 - We don't want to increase retirement contributions.  

I mean, I am okay with bumping up to the new IRA contribution limit (with MH's raise).  & will have to re-evaluate (in the future) re: #1.  Rather park our income in retirement funds than hand over to the IRS.  But other than fiscal efficiency, it's not a goal of ours to put any more away into retirement.  

It's clear after this period of "auto pilot" that we don't want to make any big changes. 

3 - This will probably put our new goal at $800K retirement funds by age 50.  Just doing the math. 

This is what I had calculated before my raise.   Extra investments (raise) doesn't move the needle much on a 5-year goal.  Fair enough.

When will I circle back and start thinking more long term?  Commit to these new retirement goals and memorialize in my sidebar?  I think I am going to wait until college shakes out this calendar year.  Let a little more limbo sort out.  I just need to give it more time.

Overall, I am very happy with things.  Being able to have more breathing room in the budget and to also be throwing a chunk into taxable investments again...  


DL College News

January 12th, 2023 at 04:04 pm

DL(17) was officially accepted into the local State college.  They give very high priority to local high school students.  I think it only took this long because their business college is impacted.  He was getting a little stressed that his less studious friends were getting immediately accepted.  So I know he is relieved that it is official.

I think there's probably a 90% chance he will stay home and go to this college.  Has been leaning that way as more of his friends are choosing to go to this college.  

This is the only college he applied to.  His first choice (was) a Bay Area community college. 

With Federal tax credits and state middle class grants, we are talking $6,000 for his 4-year tuition.  (Full sticker price is $32,000).  

This is why we did not spend decades saving up for college.  The kids also both received ~$30K from in-laws for college.  I knew this would cover a 4-year degree.  I've been basing this off of full sticker price (in-state).  Projecting future college costs (in the past) and concluding that $30K would cover tuition.  I have never counted on tax credits that come and go.  I had no idea we'd get so much middle class state aid.  So pretty much we had set aside the full sticker price but are not paying anything close to that.

2023 Goals (Updated)

January 11th, 2023 at 04:16 pm

I don't have my raise yet, and so this is what I have for now.

Same goals as last year.   Bumped up IRA goal to new contribution limits (thanks to MH's raises). & added a dollar figure to keep mortgage moving down by $10K per year.  

1 - Pay cash for college

2 - $10,000 to savings

$1,000/month, plus interest.  Topping off with snowballs.

Although we are saving more than $10,000 ($1,000 x 12 months = $12,000), I am leaving some buffer for bigger expenses.  I will count additions and subtractions to mid-term cash savings.  But I will ignore college draw downs.  The main purpose of this goal is to fund college expenses.  

3 - $7,000 to investments

$250 per month, plus snowflakes (credit cards rewards & dividends)

Will also sweep MH's income (over $1,000 monthly) into investments.  

4 - $2,430 to mortgage

Topping off with snowballs and/or excess cash saved

Keeps us on track with $10K principal paydown per year

5 - 9% of household income to work retirement plans

This is the minimum for the match; I'd otherwise rather fund IRAs. 

9% figure does include match.  

6 - $13,000 to IRAs 2023 (MAX)

Will fund with MH's income


Re: Investments (#3).  We abandoned taxable investing in 2018, when my last job went to heck.  We then shifted gears to my (new) work retirement plan (putting in the minimum for match).  

We had built up investments very quickly, but I've since cashed all that out and parked in I Bonds (loosely earmarked for college expenses).  So we'd like to start over this year.  We had left off at $250/month salary contributions and so that is what I really want to do.  I don't know if I will have enough raise to cover that, but should be able to at least do half of that.

I am also thinking about sweeping MH's income into taxable investments.  Maybe anything above $1,000 in a month.  

We usually can come up with $2K per year snowflakes.  Mostly credit card rewards. 

All of the above might reasonably be +$7K to investments in 2023?  I will update when I have my raise and taxes figured out.

I need to re-evaluate short-term savings but I think I will kick the can down the road another year.  I feel like so many of these expenses should go away.  A few items re: 2022 short term savings that I don't expect in the future:  Kids' car insurance, smog check, & DMV renewal, new driver driving course, MM(19) expenses, Concert tickets (x4) for every DL band class, clothing for the kids, track shoes for the kids, etc.  Yeah, just a lot of kid expenses that I don't expect to be paying for any longer.   2022 was a weird in-between year with MM(19) mostly away at college and DL not having his driver license yet, but now DL(17) has assumed most car expenses.

This reminds me, our vacation budget will also need an overhaul.  I have our $2K vacation budget in the short term savings bucket.  We save for it monthly.  I might just leave it be.  Anything more can come from longer term savings.  At least until we figure it out and have another raise or two to refigure.  I am very happy with above goals, and would be okay with putting entire future raise (usually $50 or $100/month, if I am lucky) to an increased vacation budget.

MIL told MH that they are selling their timeshare.  ???  I have no idea what that means.  I don't think it will be that easy to unload.  But I do very much appreciate that they are wrapping it up.  Lord knows we don't want it.  But it's sad.  An end for an era.  FIL has been officially diagnosed with dementia (it was obvious) and MIL is nearing 80.  & I doubt they have used the past few years, with the pandemic and everything.

In the more distant past they considered this a gift they wanted to pass on.  I was going to not accept the timeshare if that happened.  But in recent years they seem to have waken up that it's a bit of a scam.  Or at the least, that we don't utilize enough for it to make any financial sense.

During this discussion, MIL was being super weird about money.  I share because my instinct is to just carve out some of their annual gift and add to our vacation budget.  (Letting them continue to pay for a lot of our hotel stays). But I don't know if we will even get a gift next year.  As weird as my in-laws are, they've never been too weird about money.  But right now they are all over the place.  All I can figure is that MIL is rethinking future income streams (might lose FIL's pension and social security?  Worried about future nursing home care?).  Could also be the stock market.  Probably all of the above.

I am hoping to get final raise numbers today and then I can finalize goals.

Phew!  Is the first day (in 4 days) that I haven't woken up to some catastrophe.  It's just been chaos, plus very busy at work.  I've got some 2022 wrap up posts to get to, one of these days...  But time marches on.

Edited to add:  Updated investment goal for final raise numbers.  Was just enough to cover the goals I wanted.  Phew!  Will do another post later.  

Storm Update

January 11th, 2023 at 03:47 am

Storm #5? rolled through.  I've lost count.  I think we are on storm #5.

Storm #5 would probably have been mostly uneventful.  But...  This storm was the snow geese massacre.  😞  The geese should have been ending their long migration, but crossed paths with a thunderstorm and started falling out of the sky.  

It just gets more bonkers.  

On the plus side, the flood waters are receding at MM's college and classes will resume tomorrow.  There is no rain in their forecast for a few days.  Phew!

Parade of Cyclones

January 9th, 2023 at 07:26 pm

It's only the 9th.  2023 has been exhausting so far.

I just saw a news headline that called our weather a "parade of cyclones".  I guess that sums it up pretty well.

New Year's Eve was the biggest storm we have ever had.  Power went out for 5 hours.  I don't even remember the last time we had a power outage.  A power pole line had blown over in the storm.

Another storm blew through right after that.  Not as bad, but still a lot of wind.  I think everyone was on hyper alert after first storm, but second storm did not amount to much.  Probably still a lot of downed trees and so on (as the ground became very saturated).

Between the two storms, it sounded like most in my office had downed trees and fences.

{We did lose a fence.  It was hanging by a thread, so no biggie and definitely not surprised.  Procrastination for the win.  Beats losing a newer fence.}

We had decided to take MM(19) back to school on Sunday.  I don't have any reason to pay attention to the weather.  I mean, this is extreme weather.  So I would have never looked that closely.  But my boss was paying attention to rainfall amounts re: construction.  He made a comment and we changed our plans.  Ended up dropping off MM(19) on Saturday.  It wouldn't have been my preference to make the drive on a busy Saturday.  But no one was on the road and it didn't rain.  The drive was lovely.  The weather was much nicer down south.  Phew!

Woke up Sunday and looked at my phone.  What the heck happened!?  One of the first things I saw was half of our region was without power and there was a roof in the middle of the road.  Did a tornado blow through?  It was another *crazy* wind storm.  Everyone has told me that it was completely bonkers.

We drove home 5 hours on the freeway Sunday.  It wasn't until we got to our city line that we started to see the excessive wind damage.  A billboard had been blown to shreds.  Several road signs has been knocked over.  When we got to our neighborhood, it was littered with tree branches.

This morning I saw that the pool we used to go to, the 300 pound lifeguard stand flipped over.   That's how windy it was.  

DL(17) was home during the storm.  Power was out again for 7 hours. 

Another storm blew through last night.  Now it's crazy rain.  The crazy rain we changed our travel plans for.  Like last time, I think the weather forecasters were over compensating and preparing for the worst (second storm in a row).  After seeing how localized that wind damage was (to the extreme) I felt more confident that maybe it wouldn't be so bad last night. (What are the odds that the worst of a storm hits the same place twice?)  It ended up being "nothing".  Slept through it.  No crazy wind or rain. 

We are supposed to get substantial rainfall over the next couple of days.  That is concerning, with all the water ways being so full from the first two storms.  

Today I woke up to news of all the flooding in MM(19)'s college town.   Ugh.   They are supposed to get many inches of rain with this next storm.  Classes ended up being entirely canceled, mid morning.  I am sure this was after MM(19) went to his first class.  I think they were trying to move things online, but clearly that wasn't helpful for those stranded, dealing with flood waters and power outages.  Eventually just gave up and canceled classes.  It sounds unlikely that tomorrow will be any better.  

There is nothing but rain in our forecast.   What a mess.

We are moving onto big storm #5.  I don't know if this is the last crazy storm or if there is more to come.  Or if it matters, as there is nowhere for all this rain to go.  (Doesn't have to be crazy/stormy to be too much rain, at this point.)

We were going to a film festival in Oregon this weekend.  I expect that we will cancel this trip.  We never even bothered booking the hotel, because of the weather. 

I personally wanted to cancel our beach hotel this past weekend.  Wanted to just send MM(19) back to school on the train.  But both MH and MM seemed pretty set on making the drive.  This is why we ended up just moving up our plans by one day.  I am glad we made it work, as I think to all the hotels and plans we have had to cancel already this past year.  I appreciate that we got a bit of a reprieve during all this craziness.  

Edited to add:  Flooding is getting very serious around the college.  😞  MM is fine.  It just has gotten so much more serious since I first posted this.  

Update:  MM's college got 8 inches of rain in 48 hours.  (Most of that was Monday morning).  More storms and rain to come.  I think the flash flood warning was reduced to a flood warning.  

Jan 2023 Credit Card Tally

January 9th, 2023 at 04:10 pm

2023 TALLY:

Citi Premier 80,000 Bonus points (Moi) - DENIED  

Citi Premier 80,000 Bonus points (MH) - DENIED  


We haven't done these Citi rewards in a long time.  Because the rewards are mostly gift cards, and so not as enticing.  But I was enticed today.  

Was thinking recently that we should be fair and do a credit card reward to pay for DL(17)'s college laptop (same as we did for MM).  & then I saw a good credit card reward bonus and was denied.  I tried again for MH but was also denied.  He had opened more cards more recently, so I thought it would make more sense for me to do this deal. 

I think it's fair enough.  We both maybe already did this bonus 4 times.  I am just confused because I am hearing about this deal from people who have already done this 10 times.  For that, I am confused.  But I can't be too mad about it.

I did check our credit scores, after that.  & double checked I hadn't closed a Citi card in the past 24 months, as per rules.  Yeah, I haven't opened a new card in years and certainly no Citi cards for the past 3+ years.

I wanted to document here.  Because I won't have any record of this otherwise.  I want to remind myself not to bother applying for this card again (in the near future).

Edited:  Official reasons for denial.  1 - Utilizing too little of our credit.  (That's a new one).   & 2 - Too many open credit lines.  I thought #2 might be a possibility.  We have 4 credit cards we use regularly for rewards, and then we each have a credit card we share with the kids.  So I was wondering if that 5th credit card might be pushing us over.  I never got around to decreasing the credit limit on DL's credit card.  I will make sure that is still on my to do list.  & it's also on my list to close the credit card I shared with MM(19).  He has his own credit cards now.

I don't know if #2 is a real/legit thing, or is just code for "You already did this bonus 4 times already, so we don't want you."  We don't have high credit limits on most of our cards.  Just $1K on the retail credit card and just $5K on the card I share with MM(19).

Parade Float Update

January 2nd, 2023 at 03:26 pm

I think my last post on this got buried.  Some in-progress (float) photos if you go back a few posts.

I figured I was a little biased, but just saw that the float won for most extraordinary!  

These pictures popped up re: judging yesterday afternoon.  The second picture was from MM(19).  When I saw the crowds of people at the judging, I really doubted that MM would get seats for the parade.  I mean, a bajillion people have helped to pull this off. 

What do I know?  He just sent me a text that he's on the bleachers, directly across from the TV cameras.  He didn't have to camp out all night for a spot.  I am excited that next year he is going to take me.  I just wanted to see the behind-the-scenes.  I didn't realize he'd also get front row seats to the parade.  😁



2022 Goals Met

January 2nd, 2023 at 02:16 pm

I am memorializing goals in my sidebar.  I kind of like the format I used last year, so will stick with that.

Pay cash for college 

$10K to Savings 

Final tally was $11,412.  The plan was to use this money to pay cash for college.  At the end of 2022 we had roughly -$0- cash plus emergency funds.  So that's about how it sorted out.  That we had just enough to cash flow college.

$2K to Investments 

Funded with snowflakes.

I topped off with $100 from MH's income, to make the full $2K.

9% Income to Work Retirement Plans 

MH and I both contribute the minimum for 401k match.  The 9% includes employer contributions.

$12,000 to IRAs 2022 

Done.  We won't fund until we do our taxes and the year is over.  But we did end the year with an extra $12K set aside for IRAs.  This is mostly thanks to annual cash gift from in-laws.

Bonus Goal that wasn't in my sidebar:

Extra to Mortgage 

We threw my bonus and gift money ($8,000) to the mortgage to pay down the balance to $99,999.  Woohoo!

The $8,000 extra payment shaved off 1 year of payments and $4,600 interest.

Why $8,000?  I did want to hit the psychological milestone of being done with six figure debt.  But this also puts us down to a total of 32 years of mortgage on our current home.   While my bare minimum goal is to knock that down to 30 years, the recent big chunks will allow me to put the mortgage on the back burner during these college years.  I can whittle down the last two years with much smaller snowballs.  I guess my bigger goal is to not (feel the need to) throw bigger chunks to the mortgage for a while.  This goal was satisfying on many fronts.

This was just more of a hope or a wish, versus anything that we would have been able to achieve with our income.  It wasn't on my sidebar, accordingly.  

Edited to add:  We ended up funding only one IRA in 2022 ($6,000).  I used the other $6,000 for Invisalign for myself.  It was a rather last minute decision in early 2023.  I would have done this instead of the mortgage, if I had known sooner.  I wanted to reflect in goals, but as I type it out, the money was saved.  It was just redirected at the last minute.