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College Update

August 8th, 2019 at 05:27 am

Where we have been at with the college thing is that my oldest son has all the tech genes that completely skipped us. So, not only is he interested in the shortest and most practical route from Point A to Point B (typical engineer), but he also lives exactly where he needs to be to go to college. Not exactly where we live, but it's all pretty much in our backyard.

So while I am open to just about anything (within reason), MM(16) has a gazillion A+ colleges to choose from that cost pennies.

So that's mostly where I am at with things (and where I have always been).

On the flip side... MM(16) has always been an extreme outlier. When he was younger, I thought it might mean he was cut out for Ivy League. I always felt very *shrugs* about this because no one in our family (parents/us/siblings) had ever spent any significant dollars on college. & our parents have done *very well* financially over the long term. So, if one out of every 10 of us is an outlier, we have the cash to help them. For us, MH could take on a full-time job to pay cash for college. & in addition to that, our parents would be willing to help. & there's scholarships. MM has nothing but options.

MM(16) went on a tour of several colleges, a couple of weeks ago. We were curiously waiting to see how that shook out. Before that time, he had only toured our alma mater (which has been his #1 choice).

There was one obscure private college that I was glad they were going to hit on the tour. I had a friend (very similar personality) who went there, and so was just curious. I then read it is the "most expensive college in the U.S." So, of course, MM came back with this school as top contender. *sigh*

Honestly and truly, I feel pretty zen about it. If it's meant to be, we have the means to make it work. I think this sums it up pretty well. MH was worried maybe everyone was getting a little too emotional about it. I said last night, "I have the feeling MM will end up at this school, he can get it in, and it will work out. But it's not like we are going to lose any sleep over it if he doesn't get accepted." I think we all feel pretty *shrugs* about it. I just have a very good feeling about it. But you know, *boohoo* if we get to save a billion dollars and he can go to school at any of the top engineering schools in the Bay Area? Pretty much, he can't go wrong. Nothing feels very much at stake here. In fact, I don't even know if MM will choose this private school over more affordable options, if he does get accepted. He's just too logical and practical. We've already discussed that the location isn't particularly ideal. Sure, everyone there gets Bay Area internships. How useful is that when you go to school 6 hours away?

So, that is where we are at with things. It's clear as mud. Flip a coin. Our alma mater is absolutely impossible to beat as far as cost/benefit. So, does he go to school at a school that cost pennies or does he choose one of the most expensive schools? Talk about black and white! Will see...

It's been kind of funny because my husband has accused me often of being close-minded when we talk about college. ??? I always tell him I am open to anything, but come on, there's a 90%+ chance MM just goes to our alma mater. Why would we consider anything else? I guess I know my kid, his talents are the same as many in our family, and I am familiar with most the relevant schools. Even so, I am surprised how much I called it. He's interested in the all of the colleges I would have expected him to be. Some of the other colleges I didn't know much about and he wasn't interested in. So pretty much nothing new came out of this trip, except him being particularly enamored with the one school. It doesn't surprise me at all, but I also wouldn't have been surprised if he decided that was a racket and impractical.

MH has never heard of this school before, and feels kind of like the train left the station without him. We left him in the dust. I finally said, "Do you believe me now? I've always said I am open to absolutely anything." Yeesh! He believes me now. & I admit if I had never heard of the school, I'd probably not be too thrilled with this turn of events. IT's funny how the tables have turned. But for such a small school, they sure have a lot of tours. So we are loosely planning to go tour the college in the spring. We need to get MH up to speed, and lord knows I know very little about the school. We need to see it for ourselves, and ask a lot of questions.

This leads me to revelation #2. So, I am looking into other school tours. We obviously have to hit Berkeley and Stanford. Close to home, easy to tour whenever. Anyway, I am truly open to anything. I am always thrown off when "being open to living at home" or "being open to community college" is taken as the polar opposite. I've gotten so many lectures about this stuff when I've actually never seriously considered that MM would live at home for college anyway. ??? I think that is because of his tech leanings and us being generally underwhelmed by college options in our lower cost haven. Meh. Honestly, I wouldn't even send him to community college here. I think the odds that he will live at home for college are at about 0%. So... I had to laugh at myself when thinking about college tours, I didn't even think of anything local?? & then we went on a drive to Yosemite last week and we passed a billion (so it felt like) colleges I didn't know much about. It's like, "Oh yeah, there's that college and that college and that college..." & then I got home and started thinking about all these other big name tech-y colleges (that I had forgotten about when making initial list). UGH! So, I asked MH if he wanted to tour a couple of the local schools. He did, so I will add them to the list. But I told him that other than that, I Was done. If he heard of some other college that really struck his fancy, to let me know. But I think we can officially check off that we did our job as parents, if we take him on an additional 2-4 tours.

I share, because I think this illustrates why we haven't seriously considered any out-of-state colleges. We are pretty much drowning in affordable/excellent public options. This has always been a very clear trade-off to higher housing costs. I had always planned to take advantage (and we certainly did so with our own degrees too).

I guess #1, this is where we are at currently with all things college. But #2, I have to throw it out there in case I do eventually announce that my son is going to some crazy expensive private college. Because if I don't share this post, it might seem like that is coming way out of nowhere. Like with my husband, I know I have always said I am open to absolutely anything (within reason). But he didn't *get it* until last weekend. I expect it's the same in my blog.

As a refresher, these are our parameters re: college:

We both agree that we expect the kids to work significantly during high school and college, that our own financial health comes first, and that we don't want to borrow a penny for college. We don't want them to graduate with any student loan debt. We are willing to help our kids in any way we can as long as we are within these parameters.

It always strikes me kind of silly as people get really bogged down with the details. If I had a dollar for every person who told me just how their kid will go to college (where, how they will or won't work, if they will live at home or in the dorms, etc.) from like the day their child was born. This has always struck me as completely insane. Heck if I know! Depends depends depends. I've never focused on the details. It's the parameters I mentioned above that matter to me. Not mortgaging my future (or encouraging my kids to mortgage their future), and it has to make any sense whatsoever. But beyond that, I couldn't tell you any of the details. Even 2 years out, still feel very much, "It depends how it all shakes out". & of course, more opportunities always arise when you keep your options open. The second we start locking things down and being inflexible, the less options we will have. Which is why we are going to wait until it all shakes out.

In addition to that, it's been very important for us to have our kids work and save money now, because I don't know how college will shake out. It's very likely my "extreme outlier" child will not be able to work during college. Obscure private college heavily encourages summer work and internships. That would be very much in line with our values. But it's pretty clear that he probably couldn't work during the school year, at that college. I wanted to clarify because I did put "work" in there. I've never taken it for granted that our kids could work as much as we did during college. That was more, "Our kids aren't going to sit on their butts and do nothing during the summers," if nothing else. There will be always be some way to work and contribute, and that's all I mean by that.

Edited to add: To be clear, our "expected contribution" at private college is literally 10 times as much as sticker price at any public college. Unless he does very well on the academic/sports scholarship side of things, the cost of this private college will be ridiculous. It's a decision that is impossible to make until we have college acceptances and scholarships in hand. Until then, it's going to be clear as mud. Will plan for both extremes.

College Note

January 12th, 2018 at 06:26 am

The PTA meeting we went to this week was for DL's school. Because his school is an art/academic focus, he's required to take 8 classes every semester (in order to squeeze in the crapload of electives). In contrast, MM(14) only takes 6 classes. So DL will graduate with a few extra credits. I don't see any reason why he'd supplement his high school education at all.

That said, they were mentioning AP classes and community college and so on. & apparently community college courses are free to high school students. I don't know the details, but wanted to take note.

That said, it costs pennies regardless, so I already considered it "free". But it's apparently really and truly FREE. (Off the top of my head, I think a regular college course would be $100, for reference).

I am taking note for my other child. I wouldn't be surprised if he graduated early. There is family precedent there. Right or wrong (I don't know) we've really leaned on him to just slow down. But he has such a light courseload (for him) that I can totally foresee him getting through several college classes before he graduates high school. It's more the norm these days anyway. In his case will just be more self motivated.

Checking In

January 1st, 2018 at 08:53 am

Work has been crazed. The last week of the year is always the busiest/most stressful work-week of the year for me, but was compounded this year by many different factors. I am taking this long 3-day weekend off to recover and reset. Then it's diving head first into the busy season (for the next 4 months).

MH was asked to work the prior two weeks, and there was talk of maybe this week too? He usually has 6 weeks off during winter. In the end, Friday was his last day of the season and they said they will probably need him again in three weeks (normal start time). He missed having winter break home with the kids, but they are old enough I don't know that it mattered. If they were younger, he would not have worked so long. We are so present with our kids though, I will admit it felt weird for us to be so tied up with work. During tax season (and December usually), his work is REALLY slow, and so most of the time it works out to be more yin and yang.

In addition to all that, I've been running kids all over the place. They had infinite short days at school (prior 2 weeks ~ I think because two different schools so every day one of them had a short day for this or that reason, just happened to not be the SAME days), and DL's vocal performance ended up being a 4-night commitment. Their vocal concert was absolutely amazing though, and I didn't mind some forced breaks. On Friday I picked up DL from a sleepover at 11am. Just a lot of domestic stuff that MH generally would have been handling.

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FISCAL DOINGS:

Ended the year with net worth up $95,000. !! I think that is the first time we've done that without the bulk of the gains being real estate gains. (We've done this many times before ~ six figure increases ~ with California real estate).

More details later...

SOME FINANCIAL NOTES RE: IN-LAWS:

**Was discussing timeshare with MIL. She is VERY tone deaf (her way or the highway) and her plan has always been to pass on her timeshare(s) to us though we are not interested in the slightest. Sure, free places to stay wherever is all good. But paying the annual fees and dealing with all the red tape, plus feeling obligated to use every year? No thanks!? Especially for two people who would be perfectly content to never get on an airplane.

Anyway, she is getting really disgruntled with her timeshare situation. & has made very clear she is not sticking us with that crap. I guess if you wait long enough (20 years!?) sometimes these things sort themselves out.

**MIL and FIL have decided to gift their car to MM(14) next Christmas as they are both VERY excited about this!

Again, this is one of those things that just needed time. There was talk of buying MM a car at some point, which just made me uncomfortable. They are totally the types to do that without consulting with us. I thought that might be a FUN bridge to cross eventually (NOT!). But they also have 4 grandkids very close in age and I am guessing they were getting ahead of themselves. Anyway, the latest is that they want to gift their vehicle to MM when he turns 15.5 (which is actually very helpful as it gives him a car to learn to drive on). They made clear to MH that this car is for BOTH kids. Again, is kind of what I was thinking anyway. So maybe this will resolve in a very helpful way.

{I don't remember the details, but it may be a 2005 with something like 150k miles? I think it sounds like a perfect first car for a teenager. I would happily pay for it, knowing it was well cared for. But I am not surprised they just want to give it to him}.

In my case, my parents weren't in any kind of financial situation to help me and neither were my grandparents. & I could just walk to school. I bought a car because I *wanted one* but that fell entirely on my shoulders. This situation is just very different. MM would prefer to ride his bike to school, but it's just way too dangerous. We don't have any public transport, and he knows he's not going to get any freedom on that front unless he has a car to drive. (Meanwhile, he would have preferred to just bike or take the bus for the past several years). BUT, he also has a brother that is only two years younger. MH would like to go back to work full-time, and we would put that responsibility on MM (taking his brother to school). I would rather provide a car in a situation where the car is more needed AND will make our lives easier. I was thinking that gives him two years to save up for a car and to come up with a more long-term plan. It only seems fair to offer the same to his brother. When he turns 18 and goes off to college, then his brother could use the "temp/learning" car.

I don't know how long it will last, but I will enjoy being on the same page with the in-laws. Will see how it shakes out in another year or so. I wouldn't hold my breath. But it's nice to have a plan and to be offered such a generous gift.

**On the flip side of the coin, MIL did not fund kids' college this year. No idea what that is about. MH won't ask her about it and I wouldn't touch that with a ten foot pole.

Is out of character for her, so I thought she might realize eventually (nieces' birthdays or Christmas). Christmas came and went with no mention, so I guess it's official the kids' college money will not be added to (2017).

I honestly think she forgot.

This doesn't change anything for us. I just share because their "college" accounts will be stagnate unless MIL starts contributing again (was $1k per year, per child). Anything we save up, we would not put in our kids' names or tie up in education funds. & I don't see making the effort to save any more than we already are.

Edited to add: The college money was just forgotten. Received in early 2018.

Harvesting Tax Gains

July 20th, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Today I harvested some tax gains. Is a strategy to keep "taxable" investments tax-free.

In the process, I just converted to admiral shares and way lower expense ratios. In theory, I'd generally just immediately buy back what I sold; selling solely to lock in 0% tax rate on those gains. But in the end I decided to move funds over in the process and to be a little more efficient.

For myself, technically any long-term capital gains are tax-free for Federal. But... That's not entirely true because bumping up our AGI (even just a couple of thousand dollars) wreaks all sorts of havoc on the rest of our taxes. It decreases what we can put in tax-deductible IRAs and reduces our medical expense deduction, etc. But, whatever. It's not like it's going to get better than a 0% tax rate. (I mostly expect our income and taxes to be much higher in the future).

Since we've mostly been able to shelter our investments in retirement funds, this is the first time that I've had a tax-free gain to harvest. At about $3,000 for long-term gains and I figured I could live with that. (I probably wouldn't want to add much more to our tax return. We are already on track to maybe have 10% more wage income than last year).

For the kids, I have been selling off funds frequently to the same end, though I got a bit of a break the past two years. But for today, MM was at a good selling point. $1,000 investment income is tax-free for them. $1,500 is just some very minimal state tax. I might have timed it well enough that they are more in the $1k range and won't owe any state taxes.

Note to self:
$1,000 investment income is the sweet spot for kids. No requirement to file a tax return at this investment income level.


If you have no idea what I am talking about, here is a link that explains:

Text is https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Tax_gain_harvesting and Link is
https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Tax_gain_harvesting

I guess this came to front of mind because my dad *finally* sold some mutual funds that he had wanted to sell a few years back. He's waited for tax reasons, and I guess given my tax perspective I have no idea what he has been waiting for. !! I mean, Obamacare was the reason the last two years, but now in 2017 I would have sold January 1. Not sure how long 0% investment tax rate will be around and am glad he finally took advantage.

As for the kids' "college" money, it's conservatively invested (balanced fund) and I have an equal amount in cash (our cash savings/emergency fund). So I feel that I Can shoulder any short-term market fluctuations. It seems way too premature to do anything with that. Kids start college in 4 & 6 years. Keeping in mind that we used our own "college money" for a home down payment instead of college. (College is still super cheap here and housing is only more insane now than it was then). This really could be money that remains untouched for 10+ years. So for now, we have no plans to cash out any college money or to shift to a more conservative allocation. We may set aside more new money in cash, as college becomes more imminent.

More on the Common Data Set (College)

May 9th, 2017 at 02:02 pm

I had wanted to share the common data set as to starting to nail down actual college costs (versus just picking numbers out of the air).

{See last post}.

But of course, if you've been looking up this information, you see that there is loads of other useful information in these reports.

I was just poking around a bit today and found a series of interesting articles on the subject:

Text is http://www.thecollegesolution.com/tag/common-data-set/ and Link is
http://www.thecollegesolution.com/tag/common-data-set/

Enjoy!

I think that for myself, none of this is terribly useful until my kids start nailing down where they might want to go to college. Wink

The Cost of College

May 7th, 2017 at 06:47 am

I get the sense from college conversations that many are just making stabs in the air as to the actual cost of college.

It's actually kind of ironic because I know many people seem to think I am crazy when I talk actual costs. But the reality is that I have been tracking actual costs and real numbers. That is what we are planning for.

That said, it's apparently been a while so I will adjust my projections today. With a kid starting high school this fall, I will probably make it an annual thing to update actual costs. Should probably start keeping a closer eye on it, as to planning ahead.

So... I heard this tidbit about a decade ago? Every (4-year) college provides a "common data set" report on their website, for every school year. There is a lot of information in these reports, but includes a clear and concise summary of actual tuition + fees that students pay. They also share room and board costs, the cost of books and supplies, etc.

When I first heard this, I looked up my alma mater. My alma mater had this information going back to the years I attended, so I looked through those numbers and I will say that this is really good information.

Confident in the usefulness of the numbers, I started to track public school costs in our state. This is probably easy for us because we live in a large state with so many excellent college choices. So this is all I am bothering to track, for now. & of course, I presume we can narrow down as kids get older and start to zero in on what they might want to study or where they want to go to school.

In a recent college post, I did throw out $20k as the number I have been using to estimate the cost of 4 years of college. I don't remember the last time I looked up the numbers, and was clearly rounding. But as of today, I will revise to $30k. Per information below.

For me personally, I am leaving out room and board, and the cost of books and supplies. Kids need room and board regardless, and dorm living is not a requirement to go to college. I figure at the very least they can pay for their own books and supplies, so I am not going to worry about that part.

So I took the tuition and fees for the 4-year public college, and multiplied by 4 (years). Tuition + fees = $29,762. I will just round up to $30k. & of course I know that costs will increase in the next few years. But I have those years to adjust and save more. For now, I am going to take some time to wrap my brain around this new $30k estimate.



The costs above are from my alma mater. It's probably hard to come up with a better cost/benefit scenario as to college. This is in the middle of Silicon Valley. Location location location.

We have another public option. The UC (University of CA) system:



That comes up to about $14,000 per year, tuition and fees. I would presume community college first 2 years (cost pennies). Rounding up, that's $30,000.

So I know that planning for $30,000 will buy my kids a lot of options.

{Over the years, it's worked out that both options cost about the same}.

As an aside, our community colleges cost $46 per unit. I would just budget -0- as to saving ahead for community college. We can cash flow any community college costs.

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I mentioned in earlier post that in-laws were giving us money (annual gifts) for college. We have $40,000 saved already, from these gifts. I'd like to get this up to $60,000 ($30k x 2) to cover a full degree for each of our kids. It seems we are well on track with that. I don't need *all* that money before they start college, but looks like we most likely will, with future gifts and investment gains.

We would like to match this sum, to buy our kids more options and/or maybe cover room and board.

For now, we have $20,000 saved up. We are saving $8,000 per year. This puts us well on track to match their gift money before they start college. We will make $60k our new "college savings" goal.

I know costs will increase and we will have to increase our goals over time. The nice things is we have time. We don't have to have all this money saved up before they even start college. I think knowing this and planning for future increases is why I Feel rather *shrugs* about adjusting my estimates.

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Edited to add: Based on comments below, I wanted to edit to clarify a bit.

The colleges I cut and pasted above have very low on-campus living rates. There are several excellent public colleges in the region we grew up in. These are areas we know very well. Also, my kids *can* live at home and earn a profitable college degree. Rent/dorms is just not a necessary cost of college, for us.

Another College Post

May 5th, 2017 at 11:04 am

I had a couple of other (college) posts I wanted to get to (and I will eventually) but saw an interesting article today from the NY Times:

As College Deadlines Near, Families Wonder What They Can Pay

Text is https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/28/your-money/paying-for-college/as-college-deadlines-near-families-wonder-what-they-can-pay.html?_r=0 and Link is
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/28/your-money/paying-for-col...

"The colleges talk a good game about affordability. But once the teenagers do their part and gain admission, their families get lowball offers for aid and are daunted by the debt they would have to take on to make the numbers work."

& re: free college in New York:

"Sara Goldrick-Rab, a Temple University professor of higher education and sociology, and author of “Paying the Price,” worries about the New York program and the assumptions that many overly optimistic students may make. Data suggests that at least 20 percent of students who are financially eligible at first will end up leaving the state and having their grants turn into debt."

I think a lot of this is moot for us, having access to many high quality and affordable colleges. But, I've always been skeptical of the private school/aid route because it seemed like there is a lot that could go wrong (that would mean ending up in piles of debt). & of course, I don't see anyone talking about this, but this is just what I was thinking. You know, what if you take some kind of aid, lock in a college, and then lose the aid for some reason? So I was intrigued to see that my concerns aren't unfounded. At the end of the day, there's some value to just taking the low sticker price and not worrying about keeping your aids and scholarships. I share because I know this will weigh heavily in our own college decisions.

Regardless of your perspective or opinions, it's an interesting article.

College

March 29th, 2017 at 07:52 am

I figured I should start a "college" category in my blog. Still got a ways to go, but it's creeping up on us.

The *big picture* is that no one in my family has ever borrowed for college, so the road to a debt-free college is crystal clear to me. & I don't mean at all from a wealth/means standpoint. I put myself through college. Putting my kids through college should be infinitely easier, in comparison. They will have significantly more options than we had. It also probably helps to live in a state with abundant and affordable college choices.

Some of the ways that we expect to keep college costs down:

--Saving money ahead of time for college
--Scholarships
--MH working more while kids are in college
--Possibly finding an employer who will chip in with college costs
--Kids working in high school/college, even if just during summers
--Thinking outside the box as to housing (which is important with the high housing costs here)
--Mostly considering public colleges
--Community college (this is really what all the regional public colleges prefer these days, getting first two years done at CC, so motivation is more than just saving money)

Certainly not meant to be an all inclusive list, but in general sums up how we stayed out of college debt.

My husband and I actually had completely opposite college experience. Our parents were both opposite extremes, and so we seem to end up meeting in the middle. We both agree that we expect the kids to work significantly during high school and college, that our own financial health comes first, and that we don't want to borrow a penny for college. We don't want them to graduate with any student loan debt. We are willing to help our kids in any way we can as long as we are within these parameters.

I'd say that when our eldest was ages 0-10 that college was not on our radar at all. Part of the reason is that in-laws were providing college money. They gift the kids $1k per year, each, since birth. Initially they invested with their super pricey broker (load funds + ridiculous advisory fees) but for whatever reason they gave us the money to manage in recent years. Which means the money is actually growing instead of being eaten away by fees. Phew! At this point we are quickly closing in on $40k, which would cover two public college degrees, and allows for future price increases as they continue to receive gift money.

We personally have not tied up this money in college type funds because we don't have any incentive to. We would rather have free use of the money. We don't have a big enough income, but I do have enough tax knowledge, to not bother with 529 plans or other college savings options. To be clear, we are not paying any taxes on these investment gains. So we don't need the trade-off of extra hoops to jump through for tax breaks that we don't need.

Along the same lines, MH and I both used our "college money" for a home down payment instead. In a state where college cost pennies and housing costs are sky high, I think it seems very likely our kids will experience the same. So I don't want to be penalized for tying up their gift money for college when they more likely will use it for post-college housing. Ideally, we'd actually really like to pay it forward and save this in-law money to give them as a lump sum *after* college. I don't know if we will be able to swing it, but this is what we would like to do. & if we can't, we definitely want to do something like this for our grandkids. (I think if it was not for the in-law money, this would just be a "pay it forward to grandkids" goal).

Anyway, the "generous in-law situation" sums up ages 0-10 with our kids. Between that and the low cost of college here, and my hubby's prolonged unemployment, it just hasn't been on our financial radar at all.

That said, we have in the past put ridiculous percentages of our income into ROTHs knowing that we could use that money for college. I can't say it would have been our financial priority to tie up *all* our money in retirement funds, otherwise. So I am sure for a while that was our college strategy, and I did discuss in this blog during those times.

In 2014 we were in a position to start putting money away into taxable investment accounts again (in addition to fully funding IRAs). I guess college is the only goal at this point, besides retirement. Though I don't consider this *all* to be college money, it is certainly accessible if we need it for college. We are putting away about $7,500 per year. I think matching the in-law college money is a good place to start. It probably works out too that we will probably get there in another couple of years. At that point we may just back off and figure that $40,000/each is a phenomenal start. I think we'd probably most likely just focus on cash flowing the rest (if there is anything left to cash flow).

Since I worked my way through college, I think the idea of MH working + kids working seems easiest on some level (would be a LOT of cash that we could put towards college). But, I think the "saving ahead" is important just because you never know. Relying on future income streams is a little outside of my comfort zone. So while some part of me thinks that "cash flowing with several jobs" is really the most obvious and the easiest, we always have a Plan A + Plan B + Plan C, etc.

Edited to add: I didn't mention financial aid. With the high wage/low college cost combo, regionally, I don't expect it to come up. I know it's infinitely more complicated than that, but that's just the short answer. It will be a better use of our energy to seek out scholarships that aren't based on need.

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In other news, I am sure I have discussed in the past about MH thinking of returning to college. I mentioned in my blog several years ago that nothing about the timing was right. With the economy in particular, it seemed like a particularly poor time to invest any money into a degree.

Today, things are lining up to make a lot more sense on this front. So I know it's something we will discuss more seriously as to the next two school years. I will have to leave that for my next post on the college topic.

Taxes, Ting, Groceries

January 31st, 2015 at 06:38 am

**I did file our taxes on Tuesday.

And... I already got a refund from the state. WHOA!

The irony is that I mostly never get state refunds because there have been so many years our state has been insolvent. I've already adjusted our taxes this year so that we should not get a penny back from the state for 2015.

IRS refund should arrive early next week. The entire $3,300 in tax refunds is earmarked for travel this year.

I have not filed the kids' taxes yet but they are mostly done. I might file them today. I just wanted to double check everything and I still have to pay the taxes they owe. They owed $6 in state taxes on about $2,500 of investment income. I try to keep their income tax-free but don't expend much energy towards that end. BM owed 5 of those dollars - I didn't notice his dividends were starting to get up there. More money, more dividends! I will revise my tax strategy to "$1,500 annual income" for him. If he owes the state $5 for that, I can live with that. (Federal is tax free $2k per year with the kiddie tax rules, but the state is only $1k tax-free).

**We got our first Ting bill since I have had work wifi. We barely used any minutes, texts or data this month. Our bill was $26.60. This is definitely what it will be at through tax season. When winter is over and my dad starts traveling again and I am not holed up at work 6 days a week, will see.

That's for the two of us. So, $13.30 per phone.

**Dh did a grocery run yesterday and did really good. He had earned $25-off and stocked up on a bunch of sales. Receipt said he paid $120 and saved $60. The pantry runneth over...

**Oh, and yesterday was kind of a lucky day all around. Surprise money in the checkbook. (Not expecting refund quite so fast). In addition, dh got his passport (we did not pay to get it faster, but they just sent it in a couple of weeks??). & dh also got the extra bulb for his projector (that was a rebate deal). Woohoo!

Lucky Day

November 20th, 2014 at 08:37 pm

**I noticed that the projector that we just bought was selling for $200 less today. (Probably has been one sale for a while, isn't that how these things go? Did it go on sale the day after we bought it?)

I wasn't sure it was the same projector, but I forwarded the link to dh. He pretty quickly wrote back that he had secured a $200 refund. Woohoo!

**Dh found a large amount of change, like he always does. It was up on a ledge and so I presume he just felt weird taking it. Because it wasn't on the ground? Don't ask me. Noticed it while picking up LM from school and I was going to let LM grab it on the way home, but forgot.

Anyway, I remembered later when driving the kids home in the evening and BM popped out of the car and the change was still there.

Three quarters and three dimes!

Other Fiscal Doings:

**Payday this week; paid off projector purchase. (When I get the $200 refund I will put it to savings).

**I redeemed $40 cash back from the Citi double dash card. Will throw into investments (snowflakes to investments). I expect to have $3,000 by year-end. (Not ALL snowflakes, but heavily contributed to with snowflakes).

**I harvested gains in the kids' investment accounts. I thought I was going to skip this year, but I can't complain about the market.

I basically just sold and re-bought their funds, to lock in tax-free gains.

**I made a play on Target stock after the data breach and that is paying off this week!

**I paid $2.65 for gas this week.