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Archive for July, 2023

June '23 Savings

July 30th, 2023 at 06:57 pm

Received $120 bank interest 

Received $262 I Bond interest 


Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $34 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $71 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $9 cash back on dining out/gas card (used for groceries this month)


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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

+ $38 investment dividends


TOTAL: $157 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



Snowball to Savings/Investments:

+$1,200 MH Income


Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  450 to investments

+$1,000 to cash (mid-term savings)


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$1,650  Back Fence Replacement

-$   300  Kids' Car Repairs (amount over annual budget)

-$   185  MH Purchase


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  800 Kids' Car Repairs

-$    80 Computer Backup Fee (annual)


TOTAL: $2,622 Deposited to Cash & Investments



Hybrid Miles Driven:  820

Fuel Costs: $22 Electricity + $30 (Gas)

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

MH drove my car to pick up DL(18) when he had the ER emergency (90 miles away).  It wasn't that much of an emergency, but at the time we thought he might make it back to Urgent Care before closing, if he didn't have to stop. 

I briefly considered this an EV failure.  But then decided that's dumb.  The only reason MH's car wasn't charged up is because I charge my hybrid on most weeknights.  If we had only EVs, it should be pretty simple to keep (at least one) fully charged for an emergency.  

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 1,938

Fuel Costs: $31 (home)  & $44 (Out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

We did 150 miles of free charging this month.  Charged once at the in-laws' house.

High miles = 4 round trips to Tahoe (DL's job) and one college pick up (600 miles round trip).  & then I gave MM(20) $30 for gas when he drove DL back to work once.  Oh, and one of those trips was our own camping trip.  The rest were more practical getting DL to/from work.  (We only used public chargers for the college trip.  We stopped to charge once each way, while eating a meal.)

I expect more of the same for rest of summer.  Less crazy driving this month (July) but MH is planning to go to the college town to help MM(20) move some things at some point this summer.  & we are planning one or two LA trips.  August will be crazy on the miles front. 

Note:  I just looked up electric bill re: increased summer pricing.  We pay a lot more for electricity during summer months but our rates are only up 2% over last summer.


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

I Bond interest is down because done with the ~10% rate.   Will get ~7% for the rest of the year.

I totally forgot to mention in my last monthly update.  I am saving ~$1,200 taxes with the ortho expenses this year.  To front load that money and to help cash flow the ortho expenses, I changed my withholding the rest of the year.  I lowered my tax withholding by $200/month and am parking that $200 into investments.  I expect this to just be a short term boost.

June was a little less "death by a thousand cuts".  I've already mentioned that the kids' car needed a new starter.  Our forever mechanic was too booked up and referred us to a much more expensive mechanic.  In addition, they found some leaks and things, which gives me the impression that they aren't as conservative as our mechanic.  (100%, nothing is leaking from the car onto the ground).  Who knows.  As I told MH when we dropped off the car, "When you have a problem and have to have your car towed, it's not one of those times you get warm and fuzzy feelings about a mechanic."  But I've learned over the years that we like to hire more conservative people for various things (if it ain't broke, why fix it).  Considering the high price and the fact that our forever mechanic didn't mention these things (they had our car twice in recent months)...  I will add it to my list to find another car gas mechanic too.  & it's just going to be hit and miss, in the meantime.  Sometimes forever mechanic can fit us in and fix the car the same day (by far my first choice, even if we have to wait a few days).  But sometimes they are just too booked up.  

It is what it is.  I am not too put out about it.  Thank goodness we've had people like our forever dentists and forever mechanics (one in each city) during our teens, 20s, 30s.  At this point in our life with a seven figure net worth and kids almost out of the nest...  It's not a huge deal to pay a little more for some of these things.  I certainly could have not afforded this new mechanic myself, through most of my teens and 20s.  With our older cars that generally needed more work.  But today it's kind of moot.  Was looking for an EV mechanic anyway.  So will just add it to my list to find a gas mechanic too.  It just might take a while to find the mix of quality and affordability that we are used to.

We made out pretty well with the fence replacement.  We got a quote end of 2017.  I believe it was in the range of $1,400.  None of our neighbors were cooperating and MH did not want us to pay the whole thing.  *sigh*  Then everything got crazy and lumber prices skyrocketed, etc.  I have been working with a fence company this whole time (my boss owns the company) but they are weird.  It's complicated.   Several things changed this year and I felt it was worth getting a quote from them. 

So I was discussing with my boss and I think he gave me a rough quote of $2,100.   Which was on the lower end (of average prices), but was for a licensed/insured contractor.  Definitely a good deal.  In the end, the quote they gave me was $1,650.  It sounds like my boss told them to give me an even bigger discount, after we had talked.  The fence is great and beautiful.  

& I mean, our fence was falling down all over the place back in 2017.  I am tired of my fence looking like crap, just because everyone else is in over their head with their giant mortgages.  It was far past time.  I don't know why but MH was *over it* this time.  He was maybe regretting turning his nose up at $1,400 and then watching lumber prices skyrocket.  Or he realizes that our neighbors are never going to help us.  

I had wanted to pay for the fence in May, but they forgot to bill me.  I waited a few weeks before I brought it up.  As their accountant, I was hoping they would figure it out on their own, but they did not.  So I guess that is also skewing my June numbers downwards.  But I am not used to actually getting interest on savings accounts, so I suppose that worked out pretty well for me.  I made a few extra dollars of interest, and had more time to replenish savings before I wrote that check.

I usually type up these posts the first of the month and then wait to see how MH's income and credit card rewards shake out.  & car miles.  So this all feels like a bajillion years ago at this point.  I am just moving slowly.   

Interesting Podcast

July 22nd, 2023 at 01:45 pm

DL(18) hasn't spent any money since June 8th (last week of high school).  He did have one weekend day off where he did a hike and picnic with his co workers (food provided by employer).  & then for his birthday weekend he got taken out by friends.  & he went on a bike ride.  No reason to spend any money.   I suppose this is an extra savings boost, with the 'away from home' job.  It was forseeable, but it's interesting to see that he literally spent $0.  

The new internet bill was higher than I was expecting (only $4? lower than our old bill?).  There was a 'doesn't make much sense' $10 charge that I asked MH about.  He said he didn't know, but he called and got that removed.  Should be saving closer to $14/month.  Took a promo rate for 10x faster speed.  About 10 minutes after he called, the internet went out.  Ugh!  I have no idea if it was related or not.  It sounds like it likely was, but MH is the IT guy and he thought it was just a coincidence.  He reset the router and all was well.  

MM(20) has become more interested in meat substitutes.   Which are apparently much more affordable in his college town.  We had discussed it, how some meals probably worked a little better with the fake meat, etc.  But I didn't realize MH had bought some beyond beef.  He made lasagna for dinner and I was confused when MH was making a big deal about there being bacon in the salad.  While serving such a meaty dish.  Okay?  (I don't think MM particularly cares.  His goal is to eat less meat.  Not to go completely vegetarian).  But then it made sense when they told me the lasagna had 'Beyond Beef.'  Aw man!  I wish they hadn't of told me.  I really would have liked to have tried it without any bias.  Overall, the first taste was, "Yeah that's strong and I think I would have noticed."  But after that, I did not notice at all.  MH had the same experience.  It has some flavor to it, which most people seem to like.  I think I would have preferred more bland and just absorbing the lasagna favors.  But like I said, didn't notice after the first bite.  No big deal.  MM(20) told us that the Impossible meat was more identical to beef.

The Beyond Beef was far more affordable, at $9 per pound.  Versus $6 or $7 for ground beef.  MM(20) told us that he only pays $6 for a pound in his college town.  & it might just depend on the store.  I later saw something like 12 oz Impossible meat for $6 at Target.   I expect MH will be buying fake meat from Target, in the future.

It will be interesting to try in some dishes and see how it turns out.   I expect the fake meat will work better in some dishes than it will in others.  I give a big thumbs up to lasagna.  

I've been enjoying Ramit's 'I will Teach You to be Rich' podcast.

I think for the most part he is coming from the opposite place of Money Mustache (who I also really enjoy).   The common ground is that Americans spend way too much on cars, houses, and (high interest) debt.  

The first few episodes I listened to were all, "I make $300K+ but I am scared to spend money."  I can't say I related to these on any level, but they were interesting to listen to.  & I expect this is why Ramit is not a fan of the whole 'early retirement' thing.  

The episodes have since gotten more interesting.  I think the most fascinating one was a more upper middle class (raised) woman who married a man who grew up lower class.  He didn't see the point in saving for college.  She wrote this off as "crazy".   It's always been obvious that people have very strong opinions on the college topic.  But I never really stopped to think *why* that is.  Ramit delved into class differences and it makes a lot of sense.

I can see that I have a strong mix of middle class and lower class beliefs, with my mixed upbringing.   & I mean, my mom grew up middle class but her parents were deeply impacted by growing up in the Depression.  Which is probably the only reason she could relate to my impoverished Dad on a financial level.  Of course, the college topic is interesting because I have always felt completely *shrugs* about it.  Certainly wasn't raised in a 'college is the most important' middle class type household.  But I just feel very non-commital either way.  If we didn't have the money, our kids don't need our help.  They would be fine.  If we have the money, I don't see the big deal about helping them.  The clear melding of the two classes.  (I now have some perspective why my blase feelings about it all are usually met with *horror* by the middle class.)  <---- A lot of that horror also clearly comes with the idea that college has to cost a bajillion dollars and that community college is generally beneath them, etc., etc.   All that middle class college baggage.  While my kids would have been third generation with a clear road map to figure out for themselves (if that's the road we took).   Community college, working through college, etc.  (Impossible/usurious loans are not part of that road map.)

I find the podcast fascinating.  Digging into all these deeper psychological money issues.  Other episodes I have listened to were couples who were spending beyond their means and admitted to Ramit that they just don't want to change.  After grilling them for an hour, it's what it all came down to.  They know intellectually it's not sustainable but just don't have any real motivation to do anything about it.  The last episode I listened to was a woman who just floated through life and never made any financial goals or has never taken any responsibility for anything.  (For my very goal oriented brain...  Does not compute!)  Some of these are painful to listen to.  I enjoy the ones where there is some breakthrough.  Some Aha! moment.

DL(17) Updates

July 8th, 2023 at 01:54 pm

Today is my last day with minor children.  🤯

This is bringing up a lot of chores that I need to tend to.

Lord knows if DL(17) will ever get paid.  I don't know how much the city and state are exempt from some labor laws, and how much they are just flat out ignoring labor laws.  Ugh.  (MM worked for the state when he worked for the college.  DL is currently working for the city).  

I have been helping DL(17) work through a lot of (city) red tape.  

Oh yeah, and the poor kid had a rough week.   He's mostly been sick.  If we realized he'd be down for so many days we would have picked him up.  But it's moot at this point.  He's wrapping up his last breakfast shift of the week and then will be able to come home for 48 hours.  I hope that helps for getting him rested and well. 

MH asked me yesterday, "Wait, do we have any birthday presents for him?"  Meh.  We've never been big on presents.  (To the point I never would have thought about it.)  MH is more big on presents, so something for him to figure out.  But he later told me, "We are buying him a college laptop.  That's his present."  Fair enough.  MIL already mailed him a gift, I think he has some graduation cash from my SIL (came in the mail), and MM(19) left him a gift of some sort.  Probably something homemade.  I am surprised he even bothered.  & of course, will treat him to some good food while he is home.  MH made some fresh salsa and bought some treats for him.  & confirmed dinner plans with DL.  Food is probably my love language.  Not one much for material gifts, but DL will be fed very well.

MH already made salsa.  I will probably make some cinnamon bread.  I had been double batching it, but I might only have enough buttermilk left for one batch.  With MM(19) gone, the one batch might last more than 5 seconds.  Will find out.

MM(19) Updates

July 8th, 2023 at 01:37 pm

MM(19) got out of jury duty.  Didn't have to go in, and was freed Wednesday afternoon.  He bought train tickets the second he got the news, and headed to LA.  The prior weekend he went re: school club and had most expenses paid for.  Last weekend he visited the girlfriend, who has a job down there.  The train was pretty fast and it was cheaper than gas.  I gave him $40 for food.  Because the GF watched our cat while we were out of town, and refuses to take money.  So I told him to try to make her take the cash.  & if she won't, then to take her out to eat.  Or buy her groceries or whatever. 

I just noticed that MH's larger mega savings account bumped up to 4%.  It used to be 3.5% or something like that, when everyone else was paying 1%.  But they had been slower to adjust re: recent interest rates.  I moved my money out personally (it had dropped down to 2%), but I thought it might be worth MM(19) waiting it out.  That surely they would adjust.  I see now that they went up to 4% on April 1.  That works out well for MM(19).  He only has $2,000 in there right now, but he can put any summer earnings in this account.

I also noticed that MM(19) is done with 9.62% rate on I Bonds.  Will bump down to ~7% for the next 6 months.

MM(19) ends the school year with $937 more than he started with.

+$445 interest (10 months)

+$202 credit card rewards 

+$1,115 TA job (one quarter)

-$825 Misc. Spending**

Net = +$937 

**I don't have any details re: his spending.  It works out to spending ~$82.50 per month during the school year.  Off the top of my head, this would be contributing gas to GF and gas re: multiple trips to LA during the year (school club), meals out (mostly when on the road), toiletries, haircuts, and any personal spending, books and school supplies, etc.  Net of credit card rewards on his newer credit card (that I have no access to).

Not included above, I sent MM $800 for groceries.  That works out to $80 per month.  Which is ridiculous, compared to the $300/month he eats at home (in less expensive region).  🙄  

I know he gets a lot of meals from the GF.  If I thought literally he was only eating $80/month food, I'd be more concerned.  But I am guessing he gets at least $100/month of food from his girlfriend.  

We will have to have some discussions and figure out next year.  Paying rent quarterly to the school (with tuition), I have just been reimbursing MM(19) grocery expenses once per month.  But with the off-campus housing, I'd like to just send him a monthly allowance to cover room and board.  (Because will also be paying rent every month.  Just want to do one monthly reimbursement).  I think $150/month might be more appropriate for groceries, but want to make sure he is spending a little more and eating enough.  So we need to talk about that.

Bigger picture, MM(19) has $11,700.  & that's just more liquid cash.  He also has college funds and ROTH IRA.  Last we talked about it, he's thinking of buying a car next summer.  But he's been very wishy washy on this front.  He seems hell bent on going very cheap with the car.  Unfortunately, I don't think the 20yo kids' car has given him a realistic view on car expenses.  It didn't need a repair for the first 4 years (when he was paying for all of the expenses).  Dude, if your grandparents *and* your parents are happy to pay for your college.  Take the money and buy a nicer car that will last you a very long time.  We did too good of a job setting our kids' car expectations, but I didn't know they'd just be handed everything (car + college degree).  I think MM(19) could easily buy a $10,000 car that will last him a very long time (if he waits until he is 21 to buy a car).   

Well, I got sidetracked re: kid stuff.  I just wanted to see how the school year shook out for MM(19).  Before, I really had no idea how much spending money he would want/need re: college, and was tracking just to get an idea about things.  At this point, I have much less access to his finances and he's clearly got enough money to cover expenses.   The next chapter will be figuring out how to handle the monthly expenses next school year.  I should probably just transfer him rent money for July.  His first month rent must be due next week.  Off campus, he's stuck with a 12-month lease.  

I am checking where we are at with things.  I have $11,200 I Bonds set aside for MM's junior year rent.  In my mind it was $10K (original investment) and I only had 11 months of rent covered.  But I am going through the math and I think I have 12 months rent covered + about $85/month to cover utilities.   With the interest earned on these I Bonds. This is my big chore for next week.  I need to sort out insurance with the rental company and make sure MM(19) gets his first month's rent paid.  Utilities won't start to sort out for another few months.  

Of course, I am still getting ~7% on these bonds, so I won't be cashing any I Bonds out soon.  I will just cash flow rent and reimburse myself when the interest rate drops down (December).  I'll be draining our cash down in the meantime.  But mostly this is money we want to use to fund our IRAs (when the year is over).  So it works out pretty well.  I'll have a $6,000 chunk to cash out in December and will just move over to IRAs.  In 2024, I can just pay the rent with I Bond money every month.  

Even though the I Bond money is tied up for another 6 months, I am pretty happy with where we are at re: MM's college funds.    I am just presuming that he will get the usual $1K college gift from in-laws (this month) and will be able to use that money to furnish his apartment.  He's not going to need much and will mostly buy used.  I think we can stretch that money out to furnish his apartment and also get him a very used bike.  (No point spending any money on a nicer bike that will just get stolen).

Well, I started this post a bit ago.   I leaned on MM(19) to call the leasing office.  He needed to talk to a human because I don't think anyone plans to move in until September.  Found out he needed a cashier's check for the first month rent.  He just happens to be in the college town this weekend, so it worked out.  He had time to go to the CU and will drop off the check this weekend.

MM will be traveling to the college town two weekend in a row.  But the leasing office is closed weekends, so I don't know when he will ever get the key to his apartment.  He seems very "meh" about crashing in completely empty apartment.  Would rather just crash with friends in their nice furnished houses.  

(Yes, this was after two weekends in a row in LA.  He is alternating work trips with vacation trips.  I think next weekend is just a big birthday weekend.  I think he's staying at someone's fancy pants parent's house on the coast).

I put it on my calendar that I will need to start sending him rent money before the 1st of the month.  July was easy with the partial month, but I guess technically will need to send him a second bigger check this month, before August 1.

Gift Card Balances June 2023

July 1st, 2023 at 03:29 pm



$50  Art House Theater (small balance left?)




$50 Cracker Barrel (small balance left)

$ 25 x 1 Jamba Juice (Gift)




$50 Kohls (Gift)




$25  Starbucks


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

MH and I had a peaceful night (kids gone) and went out for a nice dinner.  Got through our restaurant gift card from Christmas. 

I ended up using the Amazon gift card from Christmas.  Looking back, I ended up just using it for some household purchases.

I am glad I revisited the list.  I completely forgot I had jamba juice gift cards.  I usually keep for a treat during summer months.  & it's really hot right now, so that sounds like a nice treat for next week.  I'd never personally pay $6 or whatever for a smoothie.  But I've been asking for the gift cards for Christmas/birthday, because it is a nice treat.  There's a jamba juice by my work and it's not too terrible if I go early enough in the day.  (I suppose that's the other thing. I don't want to pay $6 *or* deal with the crowds). 

Mental note:  Need to stock up on smoothie ingredients at home, now that the weather is warming up.