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2024 Credit Card Tally

February 17th, 2024 at 04:40 pm

2024 TALLY:

$766 Capital One Venture (Moi)

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$766 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

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

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We hit the $4K spend on this credit card and so the bonus appeared shortly after.  It took just under 2 months.  I charged two months of health insurance, one airplane ticket, and one hotel week.  I wasn't thinking about it and didn't realize the hotel would charge in smaller chunks.  It looks like they are charging one week at a time.  It just happened to be enough to hit the bonus.  I was otherwise planning to charge some car insurance.  We have a couple of more months but I wanted to earn the reward in time to pay for the hotel.

There is a $95 fee on the card, but we spent enough we earned other reward points (more than just the $750 bonus).  The other rewards so far offset the fee.  The total tally will probably be another $40, bringing the total reward closer to $800 (net) on this card.

I had applied $45 rewards to airfare.  Was able to apply $800 rewards to the $800 hotel charge.  Minus $95 fee = $750 Net.

One reason we are doing so well on movie budget/spending is that the original plan was that I was going to fly out too.  I think it's official that I will not bother.  MH might get some time off tomorrow but is otherwise working 15-hour days.  He skipped dinner the other night because he needed sleep more than food.  Anyway, tomorrow is his only day off and the weather took a cold turn in Ohio.  It's for the best.  I really need the 3-Day weekend to regroup at home.  

Note:  Edited to add $16 more rewards (re: next chunk of hotel charged)

2023 Credit Card Rewards Tally (Final)

January 6th, 2024 at 03:19 pm

2023 TALLY:

-0-

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-$0- TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

Ongoing rewards:

+$297 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/streaming services)

+$101 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)

+$154 Visa Rewards (3% cash back restaurants/fuel).  Ended up also using for groceries in Q4 (3% cash back)

+$1,261 Citi 2% card (2% back everywhere - health insurance/medical is the *big* expense that we charge, is more than our mortgage payments)

Grand Total = $1,813

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 2023).

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

Year 2023 = $1,813

Total 13 Years = $33,228 ***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.***

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I guess that we are consistent.  Rewards were +/- $1 for both Visa and AmEx. 

Somehow squeaked by with slightly more rewards this year.  Even though we did no one-time bonuses.  This is just an indication that it was a spendy year. 

Honorable Mention to I Bond interest: ~$2,900 interest this 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 why I did not pursue more rewards.  

I have already signed up for a $750 travel bonus for 2024 (in my name).  I am hoping this will offset most of our airfare re: movie shoot.  MH just booked a flight for $400.  I am also considering doing a second $750 travel reward in his name.  

Will see how things sort out in future years.  I also think we are just less interested in these bonuses with our raises in recent years.  We need less 'extra money' to fill in the gaps.  But The $750 or $1,500 will be nice during a big travel year (and with two in college and everything).  I also applied for a bigger cash bonus last year but was denied.  I suppose that's another factor.  

Gift Card Balances December 2023

December 9th, 2023 at 03:11 am

MOVIES:

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$100 Fandango

$  20 Regal

 

RESTAURANTS:

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$50 Cracker Barrel (small balance left)

$50 IHOP

$50 Seasons 52

$ 25 x 1 Jamba Juice (small balance left)

$ 15 x 1 Jamba Juice

$ 10 x 1 Jamba Juice

 

RETAIL:

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REGIFT:

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$25 Dutch Bros

$25 Door Dash

$10 Starbucks

 

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

I had a big gift card haul at work Holiday party.   

Pretty much everything is new (from work), except for the cards with the small balance left.

I am going to regift the Dutch Bros gift card to DL(18) for Christmas.  He's the only coffee drinker in my family.

Door dash is just not our thing.  We very rarely eat out and we don't do food delivery at all.  In addition to that, Door Dash costs $$$$$$$.  (Seriously,  just paid $14 for a pizza I usually pay $8 for.   I did a double take when my work ordered pizza for lunch on Friday, from a place I frequent personally.  The extra $6 was before the Door Dash fees and tip.  We could have walked to pick up the pizza, it was ridiculous.)  Like the coffee, it's just going to always be a regift thing.  I will give the Door Dash gift card to my employee.

Edited to add:  I received a Starbucks gift card later and gifted it to my other employee.

Oct '23 Savings

November 6th, 2023 at 02:19 pm

Received $98 bank interest 

Received $208 I Bond interest 

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $40 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $128 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $10 cash back on dining out/gas card 

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $8 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $186 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$1,035

 

Snowball to Savings/Investments:

+$1,300  MH Income

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  450 to investments

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

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$2,000 Investment in MH movie project

-$   505 Medical Bills (DL ER)

-$   657  LA Hotel (re: movie project fundraising)

-$   400  Tucson Airfare

-$   265  College Travel

-$   107  DL College Expenses

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$    952 Auto Insurance

-$      78  Pest Control

 

TOTAL: $813 Deposited to Cash & Investments

 

Note:  Also pulled $850 November rent from 'college savings'  

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Hybrid Miles Driven:  762 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 1,534

Note:  150 Free EV miles this month re: college trip and parking downtown

We drove the EV 735 miles re: college town trip & MH met up with a friend in the Bay Area.  That's all I remember off the top of my head, but was probably about 1,000 of the EV miles.

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

Interest is going to start dropping down significantly.  Bank interest is down re: lots of expenses (and more to come).  I Bond interest will drop significantly after November.  The mega interest is expiring on those bonds.

Movie project update:  It funded!  Woohoo!  We put in $2,000 towards the end of the campaign but then it was extended for 30? days?  Because it was a Horror movie and Halloween and all that.  Not planned at all, so that was a nice surprise.  By the skin of our teeth...  As of right now, it's raised about $2K more than the minimum.  So our $2K was completely unnecessary?  But it's nice to whole thing won't get canceled if someone cancels their $500 or $1,000 contribution or whatever.  The buffer is nice.

Most definitely have not ruled out contributing more.  But I am relieved that at least that can wait for December windfalls to sort out.  (Including college financial aid, which is again delayed to December.)  In the short run, our obvious financial contribution will be travel expenses early next year, re: filming of movie in another state.  That's what we need to plan and save for.  & MH was just telling me he expects a lot more travel next year, re: this movie.  

But it's nice that we aren't scrambling to do a bigger contribution right now.

Edited to add: I think it might be happening?  Saw that both schools are disbursing state grants this week?  Fingers crossed!  Still in 'will believe it when I see it' mode.  I'd just be happy if financial aid gets sorted out before I start paying for the next quarter/semester.  In both cases, should owe nothing for the next quarter/semester.  If financial aid is applied to the next quarter/semester and we received refunds from the first quarter/semester.

Second edit:  The $7,000 state grant is showing up in MM(20)'s financial aid today.  I mean, at his college.  I will still believe it when I see it.  But that's a pretty good indication that the school has received updated numbers.  I had already heard that people were receiving refunds.  Hoping his shows up in the next couple of days.  Though really I just need it to show up Wednesday.  He told me he is registering for classes Wednesday.  So I could literally apply the refund to his tuition on Wednesday.  Will put the remainder back in his college fund.

Grocery Rewards

October 30th, 2023 at 02:26 pm

I presumed that we'd hit our 6% grocery reward cap about now.  Usually we switch to another credit card the last quarter of the year.  But apparently our grocery spending is down.  That is probably because MM(20) was gone most of the summer and DL(18) was paid for room/board at his summer job.

I am just wrapping up the month and noticed that we got a full 6% last weekend, on grocery run.   Doing the math, and it looks like we can probably squeeze out one more grocery run at 6%.  Have about $150 left to earn 6% cash back.

After that, will switch to another card that gives us 3% back on groceries.

 

Sept '23 Savings

October 24th, 2023 at 02:48 pm

Received $111 bank interest 

Received $240 I Bond interest 

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $40 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $138 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $26 cash back on dining out/gas card 

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $16 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases usually, plus college apartment purchases this month)

 

TOTAL: $0 Snowflakes to Investments

Note:  Was a high snowflake month re: big spending, but I also chose to skip putting all these snowflakes to investments.  I usually skip one month per year.  There's always some month that's just too crazy and could use the extra cash. 

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$905

 

Snowball to Savings/Investments:

+$550  MH Income

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  450 to investments

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

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$1,200  Vacation Expenses (LA/Central Coast)

-$1,050  Hybrid Tires & new door handle kids' car

-$   185  DL College Expenses (parking)

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$    450 Dentist (x3)

 

TOTAL: $1,520 Deposited to Cash & Investments

 

Note:  Also pulled $850 October rent from 'college savings' and $500 (new mattress) from 'college savings'.

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Hybrid Miles Driven:  1,411 (811 electric + 600 gas miles)

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 1,131

Note:  I decided it was useful to track total miles driven in my blog.  I expect to just track total miles driven, for my own personal records.  Will eventually get recorded in my financial software and this number will help me to calculate fuel costs.  

I don't expect much commentary in the future, but it was a very high miles month.  I did drive the hybrid 600 miles re: MM(20) college drop off.  We chose the faster gas option for the quick one-day trip.  We drove the EV To LA in August and MH drove to the Bay Area 3? times in September.  So we also figured we'd give the EV a break and put some miles on my car.

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

I was so confused about that dining out/gas reward.  I was sure it was a mistake or some mystery $10 had been added to the reward.  But today I took the time to calculate and it was correct.  Had a lot of vacation expenses on September statement that were August expenses I already paid.  I was thinking, "How does $450 x 3% = $26?!"  

Thankfully, MH is back at work. 

It was an extremely spendy months (details that will sort out in my October update).  Ugh.

Not feeling confident re: sidebar savings goal.  Spending more than we are saving, re: mid-term expenses (the last couple of months).  I am not deducting any college expenses re: this goal (in my sidebar). The point of this goal is to cover college expenses.  So if I save $10K this year and spend $10K on college expenses, I'd consider that a goal met.  What's interesting is I got DL's college expenses dialed in ($1,500 per year) and am just pulling MM's college expenses from other savings/investment buckets.  But I will continue to keep this $10K goal.  There's the 'crap happens' factor.  Still saving up for MM's next round of ortho and surgery.  Still saving up for the college stuff that isn't nailed down yet.  & feeling behind on home maintenance reserves, while all this money is earmarked for college.  Oh yeah, and medical bills.  That is the other reason we need to save so much cash.  Always the medical bills.

August was *very* spendy re: college bills.  (Paid ahead because financial aid hasn't sorted out yet.  Meaning that I am expecting substantial refunds that should cover next semester/quarter.)  I accidentally deleted my August summary and so I don't know if I will circle back to it.  Life would have to slow down a bit.  & unfortunately it was a monster update.  This month was kind of ho hum, but things seemed to have taken a turn for the crazy re: September spending (that will sort out in October).

I wrote the 'not feeling confident about sidebar goal' comment at the beginning of September when I already had 90% of this information and started this pot.  (I just wait for credit card rewards and MH's income to sort out, to finalize monthly summaries.  I pay the bills the first of every month so have everything else nailed down at the beginning of every month.)  MH hadn't had a paycheck in months and I was feeling the stress in that.  Things have taken a turn and I expect we will be spending down savings more aggressively than planned, this year.  But it all feels a little *shrugs* now that MH is back at work and we have extra money coming in.  30 days later I am probably thinking, "Oh, we are going to be spending the money!"  I probably entirely give up on sidebar goal at this point.  But I definitely feel more *shrugs* about it while MH has some good income months on the horizon.

July '23 Savings

August 19th, 2023 at 02:48 pm

Received $122 bank interest 

Received $240 I Bond interest 

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $30 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $75 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $7 cash back on dining out/gas card 

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $8 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $120 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$795

 

Snowball to Savings/Investments:

-$0-

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  450 to investments

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

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$165  Garage Door Repair

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$130 Graduation & Birthday

-$100 Travel (college trip EV charging & multiple gas trips to camp)

-$100 DL supplies for summer at camp

-$  78 Pest Control

-$  70 Concerts

 

TOTAL: $3,584 Deposited to Cash & Investments

 

Note:  Also pulled $1,375 July/August rent from 'college savings'  

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Hybrid Miles Driven:  

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 

These auto updates are slowing me down.  I decided to let it go.  I think I have got the point across that we are saving a lot of money re: car gas. 

Still expect to completely breakeven on EV purchase in just 5 years.  (Fuel saved = cost to purchase car).  I can circle back in 2025, do some math, and see how this played out.  I expect gas prices will rise and the breakeven point will just happen faster.  Interestingly, was not our motivation whatsoever re: EV purchase.  Was much more interested in the quiet (re: hearing diability), just charging the car at home, not worrying about brakes on big hills (if ever).  Stuff like that.  But I always get "Your bad at math" comments.  Always from someone with a $60K+ brand new SUV/truck with fuel payments that rival my mortgage.  This has just got me thinking more and more how the car entirely pays for itself.  Very quickly.   

I always think, "What on earth do they think I paid for this car?  $100K!?"  It was a $15K slightly used sedan.  Americans aren't known for their financial sense, what can I say.  I know there's some expensive EVs out there but I don't know anyone buying those cars.  MH's financially independent friend just bough a Bolt.  He was eyeing the fast charging Kia? but told MH the Bolt was half as much.  He just couldn't get past that, even if he could easily pay cash for the $40K car.  My bff was financially independent in her early 40s and ended up with the same car.  She is frugal to the extreme (most years lived without a car).  She found a $100/month lease deal because of course she did.  & my in-laws bought a Bolt this year.  I've never had a car that all my friends and family were buying up.  It's just such a no brainer if you are cost conscious.   It's *the* car.  I think it just stands out as the frugal sweet spot.  You can go cheaper and deal with other issues (low range and battery degradation).  I certainly have had some very broke friends buying or leasing less practical EVs due to low cost.

If there's something new and interesting on this front, I can do a separate post. 

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Note:  I am always lagging a month behind because any bills charged in June will be paid off July 1 and reflected in my July numbers.  I charge in one month and the next month I figure out how to pay for everything (if I need to pull anything from savings).  So this update reflects June spending & July savings.

MH has the summer months off.  His time off keeps getting shorter and shorter.  I think it's only going to be July & August that we don't have the extra income.

Monthly college rent will be a new thing.  I am just pulling from savings in the short run but will reimburse form I Bond money at the end of the year.

Nothing crazy on the spending side.  But we have exhausted short term funds for the year.  Ugh!   & I mean, I will continue to save for the dentist, property taxes & insurance.  But every other category (vacation, auto repair & misc.) has been exhasuted already for 2023.  I've been resisting bumping the monthly savings amount because of all the more one-off kid centered expenses.  But when I look through 2023, I don't see a lot of one-off expenses. 

At the least I should probably add $50/month to short term savings (will start in January).   For the summer I will have to pull from mid-term savings.  The rest of this year will pull from MH's income.

Finally got garage door repaired.  It was a nice surprise that it was a quick fix.  Another long story, but it's done. 

June & July were nice savings months, but it's all going to go to heck in August and September.  August will probably be the worst.  No MH income, tuition due, etc.   & I am charging a lot of expenses that will be paid in September.

June '23 Savings

July 30th, 2023 at 07:57 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:

+$950

 

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

 

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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.

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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.   

Gift Card Balances June 2023

July 1st, 2023 at 04:29 pm

MOVIES:

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$50  Art House Theater (small balance left?)

 

RESTAURANTS:

------------

$50 Cracker Barrel (small balance left)

$ 25 x 1 Jamba Juice (Gift)

 

RETAIL:

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$50 Kohls (Gift)

 

REGIFT:

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$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.  

May '23 Savings

June 24th, 2023 at 04:35 pm

Received $111 bank interest 

Received $308 I Bond interest 

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $23 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $150 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $12 cash back on dining out/gas card (used for groceries this month)

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $11 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $196 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$1,012

 

Snowball to Savings/Investments:

+$1,550 MH Income

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  450 to investments

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

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$2,935 Ortho Final Payment

-$   900  Rental Deposit for MM(19) junior year

-$   310  New Phone for DL(17)

-$   425  Ethernet wiring for Gigabit fiber

-$     60  Medical Expenses

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  760 LA Trip

-$  115 Staycation

-$  605 Concerts

-$    85 Gifts 

-$    78 Pest Control

-$    76 College Orientation

-$    60 Flat Tire 

 

TOTAL: -$282 Net Pulled from Cash/Investments

 

Pulled from Gifted College Funds:

-$1,000 For Summer Class

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hybrid Miles Driven:  892

Fuel Costs: $30 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 473

Fuel Costs: $11 (home) 

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

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

We did 50 miles of free charging this month.  (Free charge downtown)

Ouch!  Our summer electric rates went up significantly.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

Credit card rewards were wonky this month.  MH put one grocery charge on the dining card.  & of course it was a big one ($200).  So the grocery rewards were way down and the "dining" rewards went way up.  & a *lot* of rewards (on main credit card) with all the spending.  Both charged and paid for the invisalign, so that was a lot of the rewards.

Apparently it's going to be a year of tires. I had one very flat tire.  I was able to pick up a new (used) tire and be on my way quickly.  I presume I hit something because there was a very small gash in my tire.  "Gash" is a strong word, but it was more of a line than a small hole (the slow leaks I usually get from hitting nails). 

We did also buy a *lot* of concert tickets.  Two big concerts we are looking forward to.  Bought a round of tickets for MM's end-of-year school concerts.  & then MH got some less expensive tickets for a concert in San Francisco this summer.

Gifts were for all the CA e-files I paid for, for relatives.  Put us over our budget, so I just considered it a gift and had to pull from short-term savings.  Also bought DL(17) some balloons for his last big high school concert.  It's the kind of thing we generally don't do, and so he was *really* surprised!  I was actually on my way to get the balloons when I got the flat tire.  Just turned out I had some guardian angels that day and ended up at a tire shop in another part of town that happened to have a Party store.  (I mean seriously, when I try to do fun things, this is what happens!  I was shocked I was able to get the balloons after all that).  I waited longer for helium than I did for the tire.  It was DL's lucky day, I guess.  

DL(17) dropped his cell phone and broke it.  I believe this is the first time this has ever happened in our household. (I don't recall any of us dropping/breaking a phone before.)  He's still a minor and he (didn't) have a job when it broke, and so we just bought him a new phone.  We paid $500 up front for the newest? Pixel model, but it was only $310 after trading in the old phone.  I already got the credit. 

Our vacation fund is exhausted, with the LA trip.  It ended up being one year earlier than we expected.  MH bought some show tickets through a crowdfunding campaign.  They had labeled it as a Spring 2024? concert but it ended up being "next month".  🙄  We were able to roll with it, but this is really not helping my "We just react to everything" feelings.  It's not going to be a year where we sit down and make conscious plans about what we would want to do.  I did throw some of the concert tickets to the vacation budget.  It's a Bay Area concert and will make a staycation out of that.  I didn't want to drive home at 1am afterwards, like we did the last time we went to a concert at that venue.  So was putting the one concert more in the staycation/vacation category in my mind.  It's just a one year "caught off guard" budget fail and will plan accordingly in the future.  But just one more thing that will probably draw from our savings this year.

I completely abandon investing any of MH's paycheck.  Too many big expenses already this year, and too many big expenses to plan for.  I'd say that I can revisit once financial aid sorts out.  I think the biggie is that I had planned to use I Bonds for MM's rent next school year.  But our I Bond rate will be 7% through 2023.  This means I will cash flow rent with MH's income and then reimburse ourselves when the bond rate drops down below 4% (in January)?  I may throw a chunk to investments at that time.  To be revisited because financial aid should sort out this summer.  There's still a possibility that rent costs will be less than we planned for.  Not holding my breath, but it is possible. 

I kept asking MM(19) how to reimburse his roommate for half of the rental deposit.  I had mentioned he could just get a cashier's check at our Credit Union.  & maybe that came up because it would have to be a cashier's check if paid directly to the rental company.  But anyway, I guess he just took care of it.  Brought it up in passing some weeks later.  He said he did a cashier's check but they did not charge him a fee.  I wonder if they just printed a regular check for him, which probably makes more sense.  MM(19) also signed up for a summer class at the college.  He initially told me it would be a community college class.  Which might have cost 1/3 as much?  But he needed the credit for his fall schedule or winter quarter and so decided to go the easier route and just take at his college.  Which I fully support.  I expected it to be ~$1,000, which ended up being exactly what it was.  (If it's $3,400 for 12 units, I expected roughly 1/3 the cost for 4 units).  It will just be an online class that he can work around his summer job.  I pulled the $1K from his gifted college fund.  

We got a flier about upgrading our internet to 1 Gig fiber.  We have had fiber "forever".  Most we know do not have access to fiber.  So I asked MH if there was a reason we didn't have this other company.  He had never heard of them and so called.  It's just another brand under the umbrella of our current company.  So no, there still isn't any real competition out there.  Ideally the upgrade would save us money, but MH did not realize we would have to upgrade our wiring.  & even after that, a lot of our devices top out at 100 mbps.  But it's future proofing that needs to be done eventually.  While fixing everything (all the issues the Gig fiber caused), we decided to also run a line to our bedroom.  I wouldn't thought of it, but MH was thinking aloud and asking if I needed faster internet for work.  I said no but that the TV can be slow.  Not often, but every once in a while.  We haven't even run the wire to the TV (they put the outlet by my computer, where it was convenient to put the outlet).  Because then he realized the roku tops out at 100 mbps.  *sigh*   The whole thing has been such a mess, but we will be happy with all this at some point in the future.

Just one more thing to add to a very expensive year.

We also replaced our back fence which went about as well as the fiber upgrade.  On the plus side, got a really good deal through work and they never billed me.  HA!  So that was planned for this month. I was going to write the check May 1 but now I am just kicking the can down the road to June.   

Edited to add:  Just when through June numbers and it may be a +$2,500 month.  Phew!  It's a little easier without $3,000 ortho bills.  Still, I was surprised because we had some big expenses.  

MM(19) Credit Score

May 21st, 2023 at 01:56 pm

Take 'one size fits all' financial advice with a grain of salt.

Probably the #1 question I get about credit card churning is "Doesn't that destroy your credit score?" ~ that we close the cards when we are done using them.

It does absolutely nothing to our credit score.  It appears that 90%+ of our credit score is just always having paid on time.  & utilization otherwise seems to be the only thing that has any bearing on our credit score.  If I apply for 3 new credit cards tomorrow (new inquiries) and close most of my old cards tomorrow, my score might(?) drop from 840 to 830?  This doesn't mean anything.  & honestly, I've never even noticed a 10 point drop.  But admittedly, I am not staring at my credit score or worrying about it.  (I watch my credit score, but I don't look at it every single day).

Also, it doesn't matter if your score is 750 or 850.  You get the same exact results either way.  750+ is basically a perfect credit score.  Life is exhausting enough as is.  No need to spin your wheels on things that don't matter. 

I've literally had an average one year of 'open credit' and a 800+ credit score at the same time.  When we last refied our mortgage.  *shrugs*

Note:  Good credit stays on your credit report for 10 years.  This is the *how* you can have all new credit and still have a very strong credit score.

The equation obviously changes if you are just starting out, trying to build up a low score, etc.  

Well, you would think.  This is the point of this post.  

I opened a new card for DL(17) a bit ago.  MM(19) was able to get his own credit card and I have way too many credit cards.  So I closed the card that I had opened for MM(19) to use during his high school years.  I think *5* credit cards is more than enough to keep track of, and I just no longer had any use for this card.

I was cautious and did wait until MM(19) was able to get his own credit card with a decent credit limit. 

MM's credit score has been 770-780 since he applied for his own credit card when he turned 18.  Before that I had added him as an authorized user on my Target card and on the card I got soley for him to use. 

This ended up being genius because I never keep cards open long term.  Just keep them open if I am still using them.  I put him on the Target card for convenience, but it just also happens to be the oldest credit card that I have.  10+ years!  Also, the card I got specifically for MM(19) wasn't showing up on his credit report when he turned 18.  But the Target card was.  When I realized, I added DL(17) to the Target card too, to give him a credit boost.

When MM turned 19 he applied for a new credit card.  I believe they only gave him a $1,000 credit limit and I didn't find that to be too practical.  But between the $500 limit credit card & the $1,000 limit credit card...  I told him if he charged anything large like auto insurance, to just pay off immediately.  That utilization can hit your credit score pretty hard if you aren't careful.

Interestingly, I was trying to refresh my memory and his credit card is showing a $3,500 limit, on his credit report.  !!  If that's correct...  Phew!  I've been waiting for this "credit card companies are insane" to kick in so that it's more useful for him.  He can now charge up anything and everything without fretting about the utilization.  It's just much more convenient and useful.  But this is insane.  That they are giving a kid with $5,000 annual income a $3,500 credit limit.   ???  It took a little bit of time, but I guess we found the point where it gets insane.

I will have to ask him if he had noticed the credit increase, or confirm with him if that is correct.

So, where was I?  MM(19) started with a 770-780 credit score.  After he got his own credit cards and had a workable credit limit, I shut down the card I had gotten for him to use during high school year.  I did not anticipate him using credit in the near future.

And...  His credit score dropped from 780 to 770.  & then the next month it went back up to 777.

There you have it.  I was surprised and irritated by the caution I took waiting to close this account that no one was using.  🙄  Even for the very young credit, the card closing didn't amount to a hill of beans.

Full disclosure:  MM has 100% on time payment history, 5% credit usage, 3 credit card accounts, 5 year average credit age and 1 inquiry.  (He has 2 credit cards + is still the authorized user on my Target card).

The only advice he is being given is to change his mix of credit.   It's the only thing he can do to improve his score at this point (per credit karma).  Adding an installment loan. I really don't see the point of doing 8%+ student loans (plus 1% up front fee).  It's moot because wouldn't touch these scammy loan servicers with a 10 foot pole.  Before interest rates rose significantly, I more considered these loans on the level of payday loans.  Who knew they could get any less appealing, but the high interest rates aren't helping.  & for a car loan, he's probably going to need a co-signor because of his income.  Meh.  I'd rather loan him money at very low interest rates if he does need a loan.  But I don't anticipate him *needing* to borrow any money.   

Like us, he will probably add an installment loan when he gets a mortgage.  

Edited to add:  I confirmed with MM(19) that his credit limit (on the one card) is now $3,500.  He hadn't noticed.

Second edit:  Re-reading this post, one point to add to clarity.  MM applied for his own student card when he turned 18.  & then when he was 19 and had a job, I had him apply for a regular Chase rewards credit card.  So that is why he has two cards.  The student card still only has a $500 limit and is far less useful.   He can probably just convert it to a regular rewards card (with our CU) at some point when he has more income.

April '23 Savings

May 15th, 2023 at 02:13 pm

Received $124 bank interest

Received $304 I Bond interest

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $43 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $142 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $11 cash back on dining out/gas card 

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $8 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $204 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$935

 

Snowball to Savings/Investments:

+$1,300 MH Income

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  250 to investments

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

-$   697 Medical Expenses

-$   230 Furniture 

-$   200 Household Purchases 

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$2,935 Ortho Deposit

-$   911 Income Tax Due for 2022

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  500 Life Insurance

-$  450 Hybrid Insurance

-$  440 EV Insurance

-$  300 LA Weekend (show tickets)

-$   248 DMV Renewal (EV)

-$   150 Dentist (MM)

 

TOTAL: -$1,444 Net pulled from Cash 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hybrid Miles Driven:  543

Fuel Costs: $15 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

Was a lower miles month because I had some time off work.

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 2,111

Fuel Costs: $22 (home) & $60 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

Most charging (both cars) was done at home or at free chargers.  (Except for LA trip).

We did 120 miles of free charging this month.  We got 40 free miles at the San Francisco museum and MH got 80 free miles at his parents' house (40 miles x 2 visits).

It was 3 separate Bay Area trips this month, plus a Bay Area stop on our way down to LA.  Thus, the 2,000+ miles on the EV.

The biggie was our LA trip.  Off the top of my head, that ended up being 950 miles.  We spent $60 electric fuel on that trip.  We got a free overnight charge at the in-laws house Day 1 and a free hotel charge on the last night (in LA).  It was ~$20 to charge overnight at the mid point hotel.  Not cheap, but very convenient (about the same cost as gas).  We saved about $60 with not having to buy gas. Overall, for the LA trip we just stopped when we ate or took pit stops.  It was no less convenient than a gas car in that regard, but probably more thought and planning.   

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

Whew!  That felt like a "death by a thousand cuts" month.  I am surprised we ended up that much in the black.  But, just a lot of bills were due.  & starting to pile up the medical bills for 2023.

Edit:  Okay, so I started this post before the credit card was stressing me out.  Decided to just pay off the ortho bill.  Could have paid it in May.  Was ~$1,500 in the black before that.  Revised statement:  I am surprised I am not more in the red after paying all those bills. 

I bond interest was bumped up with new $10K purchase early this year.  (When new rates were announced, I decided not to buy any more I Bonds at this time.)  I still have 2 months of mega interest before most my bonds drop back down to 7%.  

The big news is that I decided to do invisalign.  I had wanted to do a separate post about it but not sure I will ever get to it.  Even after 5 years of braces & major jaw surgery, I still appear to be the worst case of the household.  For the most part I presumed I wouldn't be eligible for invisalign and thought braces would be cheaper.  In the end, I am eligible and it cost the same either way.  But I would have paid more for invisalign.  I felt very, "Shut up and take my money!" as they really explained it to me.  I just got the invisaligns this week and so far it is 10 times easier than braces.  

For the most part, I know logically I should get this done while we live in this neighborhood.  My kids' ortho is *amazing*.  But so much trauma around my last round of ortho, that I didn't think I'd be able to do it.  But I am very intuitive and it's just time.  I expected the whole thing to be very terrible, even if it is "time".  & then everything about the whole process has been so easy.  I am grateful for the 30 years of technological advance. 

I decided to use my 2022 ROTH IRA funds to pay for the ortho.  Investing in myself and future in another way, for this year.  Off the top of my head, this leaves our 2022 retirement contribution rate at 14%.  I can live with that.   I initially thought I'd divert $3K from retirement and cash flow the rest.  But with the $6K price tag (the most I expected it to be) I decided to just pull from "retirement" funds.

The furniture and household stuff is just residual from my "nesting mode" in March.  

May is going to be much worse.  I have a lot of big cash expenses this month, will pay off the rest of the invisalign, etc.  Trying to get things taken care of, but everything we fix seems to just bring up more problems.  That just seems to be the wavelength we are on.   

March '23 Savings

April 15th, 2023 at 03:06 pm

Received $116 bank interest 

Received $246 I Bond interest 

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $49 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $68 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $3 cash back on dining out/gas card 

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $6 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $126 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$955

 

Snowball to Savings/Investments:

+$1,500 MH Income

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  250 to investments

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

-$   315 Misc. Big Purchases

-$2,300  College Tuition 

-$1,000  Tree Trimming 

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  524 Car Maintenance (Hybrid)

-$  330 Dentist (x2)

-$  275 San Francisco Weekend

-$   263 DMV Renewal (Hybrid)

-$    78 Pest Control

-$    42 Backup Battery (VOIP)

 

TOTAL: $566 Deposited to Cash and Investments

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hybrid Miles Driven:  812

Fuel Costs: $20 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 716

Fuel Costs: $10 (home) + $2 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

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

We did 85 miles of free charging this month.

We did one Bay Area trip.  40 free miles of charging (in-laws' new charger) and $2 charging at a fast charger.  That would have been unnecessary but we left for a test drive and to show the in-laws some things with their new car and didn't want to leave the garage door open.  We have a plastic cord passthrough that we put under our garage door when we charge outside and so I have since bought a couple of more.  Will plan to keep one in MH's car and will give one to the in-laws. 

I suppose we gave the in-laws ~100 miles of charge when they drove up here for St Patty's Day.  I will just consider that a gift.  It's not our driving.  But I will have to ponder how I want to account for that, because I don't want it to skew our electric utility (financial tracking). I'll probably carve out that 100 miles (x kWh rate) as a gift.  Or longer term maybe it will just even out.  

We did also go to a show downtown and got 45 free miles.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

The big expense was trimming several trees in our yard.  Mostly we have one bigger tree and then there is our neighbor's monster tree.  Long overdue to trim that back.  We paid very little last time.  Person I found this round was more expensive, but I think they did a *lot* more work.  I think last time was more "get that tree off my tree" while this guy trimmed everything back to the fence line, including the entire height of neighbor monster tree.  It should last a little bit longer.  

I am in nesting mode.  Does this happen when your kids turn 18?  I couldn't tell you why.  Maybe some combo of having some breather and also feeling flush financially.  Maybe also emerging from a long winter.  It's just a little deja vu to the pregnancy nesting.

We did our last free timeshare stay in February?  Who knows...  MIL has been wishy washy about everything financial, and that is now extending to their timeshares.  At first they told us we could not use for our LA trip this month because they had canceled everything.  But now they want to extend a year.  We were so happy they were wrapping up this timeshare mess (do not want to inherit) and so are not thrilled that they are prolonging.  MH has been very clear about his feelings, but they insist they aren't keeping it for us.  (Lord knows what the actual truth is.)  It's moot for April LA trip because we already made plans.  If not for all this, we would have stayed at the usual free place and done some extra driving.  But we had already wrapped our minds around staying closer to our destination and paying for the hotel.  & because we don't want to encourage them and had very little notice, I expect we will go over our vacation budget this year.  Just mentioning because just one more thing on the $$$$ side.  (We don't have any big plans, but it all adds up a lot faster when you have to pay for every hotel stay.)  

I did not sweep any of MH's income to investments this month.  Hear me out.  My goal is (was) to sweep everything above $1K per month (MH income) into investments.  When I received MH's last check of the month I was preparing to sweep $500 into investments.  Cash is at $7,000 (projected 4/30, after big expenses.  This does not include emergency funds or funds earmarked for college). It was stressing me out more at the beginning of the year (after big mortgage paydown) when cutting it close.  But having $7,000 left after some major expenses...  Things are progressing nicely and I am happy to resume bulking up investments. 

But...  I am pondering a big expense and getting a quote in April.  Will see how that shakes out before I start committing bigger dollars to long-term investments.   Happy to say that investments are increasing rapidly, regardless.  It took me one year to invest $2K (with snowflakes).  It's going much faster with the $250/month we are contributing from my paycheck, plus snowflakes.

2023 is going to be an expensive year.  

Feb '23 Savings

March 18th, 2023 at 02:24 pm

Received $127 bank interest for the month of February.

Received $246 I Bond interest for the month of February.

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $35 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $108 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $10 cash back on dining out/gas card 

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $9 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $162 Snowflakes to Investments

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$1,250 MH Income

-$  945 Replaced Tires

-$  400 Over Spending

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$940

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  250 to investments

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

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

+$  222 Insurance Rebate 

-$1,380 Various Insurance

-$  410 Vacation Expenses (beach weekend/college drop-off)

-$  160 Dentist 

-$    80 Misc.

 

TOTAL: $2,322 Deposited to Cash and Investments

 

Pulled from Gifted College Funds

-$4,300 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hybrid Miles Driven:  699

Fuel Costs: $14 Electricity + $8 (Gas)

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

We drove my car to San Francisco.  We decided to use up the gas that MH had put in the gas tank for the Oregon trip.  (We ended up with two Oregon trips canceled due to weather).  But the tank got so low, we did put a couple of gallons in when we got home.  I like to keep 3 gallons in the tank.  This should last me an entire year. 

In March I forgot to charge once and it's been crazy cold, so we put some more gas in the tank (will see in March update).  It was probably more the cold.  (I took the EV to work when I realized I had forgotten to charge.  Not worth going to a gas station *and* wasting an extra $5 on my commute.) 

Week of 3/13:  The cold is backing off.  Instead of needing to burn through a few miles of gas to get home, I am now getting home with 10 miles electric range left.  I feel like the car is over estimating at this point.  But 70F degrees and sun is more optimal for the battery.  

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 1,146

Fuel Costs: $14 (home) + $5 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

Most charging (both cars) was done at home.

MH went to the Bay Area to help his parents look at cars and visited his grandmother.  He did a lot of driving around and spent $5 at a fast charger.   Went to the Bay Area another weekend to work on a movie.  He did not need to stop and charge on that shorter trip.

With warmer temps, switching back to EV tires (both contributing to longer electric range), and the in-laws having a charger at their house now.  We may be done with the bulk of our "out and about" charging.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

My first impression of January spending (paid for in February)?  Ugh!  But I am letting it go.  We were clearly feeling flush with cash and did dome splurging (after the Holidays).  To the point I was about to subtract from January savings.  But I had already transferred MH's January paychecks into savings.  So I will just leave it be and will save less in February.  & I mean, MH received a $100 check for his birthday and we did a $100+ dinner out.  Then I put the birthday check into savings.  Duh.  (The overall theme is that I was too quick with dumping every extra penny into savings.)

Sometimes I scratch my head when things are really out of balance.  But it's very clear and obvious this month.  When I add up all the extras, it adds up to $400.  MH spent $145.  At this point he's probably contributed more than we received for crowdfunding.  He's still feeling generous on that front (paying it forward).  I spent $60 on gifts for MH's birthday.  We haven't exchanged gifts in ~20 years, but I didn't think the kids were getting him anything and it felt appropriate to buy him a gift.  Gifting is something we may resume (on some level) with adult kids and both of us working.  It probably won't be all the time, but it will be more than "never".  Misc. $186.  Stuff like a school donation, replaced toothbrush heads, toll refill, annual backup expense, etc.  A lot of this is more what I'd usually put to short-term expenses, but we ran through short-term early on last year.  I am a little reluctant to pile up the misc. in months while MH is working.  Would rather save short-term space for one-income summer months. But I am also reluctant to bump up the ST savings because I expect some expenses to fall off soon.   

That pretty much sums up over-spending.  We used our "breathing room" to do a little extra dining out.  Everything else is accounted for above or is a fixed monthly bill.  Or I guess I should say that the rest is within fixed monthly budget (things like groceries).

The college fund note is in regard to kids' money.  But that money is in our name and I include it in our net worth.  So it will continue to be a drain on our own assets, as we draw down those funds for college expenses.  

Jan '23 Savings

February 15th, 2023 at 01:44 am

Received $94 bank interest for the month of January.

Received $246 I Bond interest for the month of January.

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $36 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $96 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $21 cash back on dining out/gas card (& grocery rewards from Q4 2022)

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $7 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $160 Snowflakes to Investments

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$1,300 MH Income

+$  250 MH Award Money (Script Contest)

+$1,130 College Refund 

+$1,050 State Inflation Relief

-$ 700 Stereo System + backup camera (kids' car)

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$563

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  250 to investments

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

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$1,200 Home Insurance

-$  360 Auto Repairs (kids' gas car)

-$  210 Annual Movie Pass (Regal)

-$  175 Museum Membership

 

TOTAL: $4,898 Deposited to Cash and Investments

 

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Hybrid Miles Driven:  605

Fuel Costs: $16 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 1,516

Fuel Costs: $21 (home) + $46 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

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

Lots of driving this month.  One college trip (round trip ~650 miles), one Bay Area trip (~250 miles) and then MH traveled about 140 miles roundtrip for a San Francisco trip.  He drove 70 miles and then took the train the rest of the way.

The hotel charging was expensive, $23 for a full charge.   Is more in line with gas prices.  But was worth it and very convenient to just charge up the car all the way, overnight.  The rest of the charging expenses will decrease substantially in the future, with warmer temps and more efficient EV tires.

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

I chickened out about sweeping MH's income (above $1,000) to investments.  I am struggling with feeling a little "cash poor" after that big mortgage paydown.  We just bought a second set of new tires (when the first were a bust).  We will have fence replacement expenses soon.  & while in storm/fence/tree mode, will get our trees trimmed.  There's college expenses in February, and $12,000 I need to send to IRA for 2022. 

MH did unexpectedly receive some Holiday pay (for the week after Christmas).  I suppose some of this is moot because I didn't expect that MH would bring home much in January.  That was just a nice surprise, but we are also trying to get these tires covered.  With unexpected money, ideally. 

It should just be a short term stress.  Will add back some buffer quickly, these months that MH is working.  & college expenses should be pretty minimal until August.  I am going to pull some money out of college funds, for the first time.  Tuition for the whole (academic) year, which will offset MM's last rent bill for the school year.  & the two refunds I just received from the college will be all I need to cover tuition.  Just parking the refunds until it goes back out again. 

I had written off our inflation relief check as lost/stolen.  Tried to call three weeks ago.  Was told I had to wait until January 31st to get a replacement card.  The original showed up in the mail on January 30th.  Phew!  That would have been so irritating to cancel/replace and then just have it show up the next day.  I applied to the car stereo purchase, which was the original plan.  (I don't remember if that was the original original plan, but was easy to justify the stereo upgrade knowing that this money was coming.)  I suppose that works out pretty well.  The rest, and MH's unexpected Holiday pay, should cover most of the tire purchase. 

January was clearly a big cash boost, and I do appreciate it.  MH also finally got that $250 he won a while back.

I was just updating sidebar.  I am just going to call it.  MM(19)'s first two years of college paid for in cash.  I won't send the final 2022-2023 payments over for another few weeks, but clearly we have the cash to cover it.  Extra so, if I am just applying recent college refunds and pulling from college funds.  I put this *goal* more in my sidebar as a clarification.  The feeling of it is *shrugs*.  It's less of a goal and more just how we roll.  It's also fairly official that DL(17) will be the 4th person in our household to take advantage of CSU (CA State University).  This is just solidifying my *shrugs* feelings about the cost of college. 

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:

+$1,800  

 

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

 

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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.

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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. 

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)

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$245 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

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.***

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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.

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  

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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).

Nov '22 Savings

December 11th, 2022 at 07:49 pm

Received $73 bank interest for the month of November.

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

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

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

   Less: $95 Annual Fee 

--Redeemed $92 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $33 on dining out/gas card (+ groceries during Q4)

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $8 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $40 Snowflakes to Investments

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$1,200 MH Income

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$890

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)

-$1,200 Life Insurance**

-$  580 Travel Expenses/Film Festivals

-$  400 MH new cell phone

-$  100 Web light and microphone (for film festival interviews)

-$   78 Pest Control

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

- $5,800 Property Taxes (cash)

 

TOTAL: -$3,325 Net Pulled from Cash 

 

Pulled from 'College Savings'

-$7,830 Tuition + Rent

 

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For Comparison:

Gas Rental Miles Driven November: 224

Fuel Costs: $55

The rental came with 1/2 tank of gas.  Will probably spend $100+ in December. 

I am getting ~30mpg on my (freeway) work commute. 

 

Hybrid Miles Driven November:  276

Fuel Costs: $7 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

This car is stuck in body shop re: early November accident

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven November: 706

Fuel Costs: $13 (home) 

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

 

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

We did 25 miles of free charging this month (at the mall).

Note:  I am putting some of my commute miles on the EV.

I don't think we did any out of town driving this month?  DL(17) and I drove to the Bay Area once (for a college tour) but we took his car.

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

November is particularly ugly because I had some large *cash* expenses that I couldn't push off to December.

**Life insurance.  This is my insurance that went up 4x? for turning 45.  I need to address it.  Will either be eligible for ~1/2 rates (based on health) or will have to shop around.  Before age 45, this insurance was very inexpensive.  This is on my to do list.

Note:  Just got my LT disability renewal which didn't change much.  But reminded me I do get cash rebates on these premiums and I just looked it up.  I may get $300 back re: bigger life insurance premiums.  Obviously still need to shop around, but it's not quite as nasty as it sounds.  While going through the application and medical stuff, I am going to apply for a bigger disability benefit.  I didn't make enough income before.  & if I am going to have them pull my medical records anyway, might as well kill two birds with one stone.

Short term savings is *done* and zeroed out for the year.   I'd generally charge life insurance to short term, but I didn't plan for such a large insurance expense. 

Because there were no more short-term funds, everything else was deducted against mid-term savings.  Travel expenses above our budget, new cell phone, etc. 

MH finally invested in a ring light and a nice microphone, because he had some online interviews set up (re: film festivals).  We've been very frugal on this front (er, we've been cheap).  I think MH and DL might still be sharing a webcam.  I don't need one.  MM(19) has a webcam integrated into his college laptop.  Oh wait, we only had one webcam pre-pandemic but MH eventually bought a second once, after things settled down. DL(17) does have his own webcam now, which he does not use much.  Anyway, my point is that this purchase was very long overdue.  I am sure MH's friends and relatives appreciate that he got a light and doesn't just sit in the dark now.  😁  He's always used skype a lot, with friends and family (for past ~20 years).   He probably should have bought a light 10+ years ago.  & the microphone is just crappy on his current webcam.  MM(19) might appreciate our investment, we do skype with him a lot to keep in touch, while he is away at college.

MH did also invest in a new cell phone.  His cell phone was 4 years old.  I think this is one of the longer stretches that he has had a phone.  His last phone, I considered to be very expensive.  I personally try to stick to ~$100/year Max (willing to buy a $400 phone every 4 years).  So overall, I was happy with what MH spent, and was less than I expected.  (It's a $650 phone, but he received $250 for trading in his old phone.)

Re: tuition & rent ~ The school owes us $2,300 (CA middle class financial aid x 2 quarters) and we intend to reimburse ourselves (from college funds) $2,500 for our net tuition costs (x 2 quarters).  This leaves about $3,000 (net to cover) which was pulled from rent money that we set aside in 2021.

Financial aid office is still crazy behind and has kicked the can down the road to 2023.  Was supposed to sort out refunds in early December but gave up and is saying "January" now.  Which means of course, "We are closed for the rest of the year and will get back to it in January."  Lord knows when they will actually figure it out.  In the meantime, I still have no idea the odds that MM(19) will get any other scholarships this school year, etc.  On the plus side, will owe very little (if anything) for spring quarter.   

Looking ahead to December, I just feel very saved by the bell.  We have multiple large inflows of cash coming in.  So otherwise it was a spendy month (though we would not have gone negative, like we did in November.  No *big* expenses like property taxes and college bills).  But it will be a very flush month, with all the extra cash flow.  I will probably net $4K with my bonus, and we should get $1K from the state any day now (inflation relief).  

 

2022 Credit Card Rewards Tally

December 2nd, 2022 at 04:56 pm

2022 TALLY (Preliminary):

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

$ 30 Citi Reward (for charging hotel)

$ 15 AmEx Reward (for charging insurance)

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$245 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

Ongoing rewards:

+$296 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/streaming services)

+$71 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)

+$128 Visa Rewards (3% cash back restaurants/fuel).  Ended up also using for groceries in Q4 (3% cash back)

+$919 Citi 2% card (2% back everywhere - health insurance/medical is the *big* expense that we charge, is more than our mortgage payments)

Grand Total = $1,659

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 = $1,659

Total 12 Years = $31,271 ***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.***

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I am just leaving this as a placeholder.  All I need to do is add in the December rewards when I have them, for the final 2022 tally.

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.  

In addition to the I bond boost, I just am not as motivated with MH working, and with the kids making their own money and paying for more of their own expenses.  The credit card rewards made all the difference during our lower one-income years.  I feel like I say "meh" every year, that I am losing interest in these.  But...  I keep getting enticed by the easy $800 here and there.  This might be the first year I let it go.  (The year is not over it.  Will see.)  I did do a big reward (in 2021) to pay for MM(19)'s college laptop and I might to the same for DL next year.  So I can see some potential bigger rewards on the horizon.

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 will be our lowest year (since tracking). 

Gift Card Balances Dec 22

December 2nd, 2022 at 02:52 pm

HOTEL:

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$50 Hotel Coupon

 

MOVIES:

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$50  Regal

$50  Art House Theater

 

RESTAURANTS:

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$50 Seasons 52

$50 Cracker Barrel (small balance left)

$ 25 x 1 Jamba Juice (Gift)

 

RETAIL:

---------

$50 Amazon (Gift)

$50 Kohls (Gift)

 

REGIFT:

---------

$25  Starbucks

 

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

As Birthday/Christmas season hits our household, I have a few gift cards to add to the list.

MH was ordering movie tickets last week.  MM(19) and I were going to go to a movie with him.  (MH has an unlimited pass for himself).  I was shocked he still had credit on the movie theater gift cards.  I guess MH has earned a lot of free passes (that mostly MM(19) utilizes).  

I am going to regift the starbucks gift card to my coworker (holiday gift).  No one in my household likes coffee or starbucks.  I am sure I will get new Starbucks cards this season, for the regift pile.

We haven't stayed in our 'forever' hotel since we got MM(19) moved in his first year of college.  They tripled the prices after that (it's absurd).  It was always definitely a huge discount for what it was, but now it's gone extreme in the other direction.  I share just to say that I don't know if we will ever use this hotel discount.  If prices settle down, maybe. 

I received some new retail gift cards (gifts).  There's nothing I need/want at this point, so will just hang on to them for when something comes up.  I just did some recent Kohls shopping and I don't buy much on Amazon.  I mean, I am sure something will come up.  

Oct '22 Savings

November 12th, 2022 at 03:16 pm

Received $75 bank interest for the month of October.

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

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $4 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $98 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $26 on dining out/gas card (+ groceries during Q4)

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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

 

TOTAL: $133 Snowflakes to Investments

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$1,250 MH Income

-$  150 College Expenses (dorm insurance, kitchen supplies)

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$970

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  900 New Tires (EV)

-$  450 Car Insurance (hybrid)

-$  645 Travel - College Move-In

-$  535 Travel - Arizona

-$ 150 Dentist (MM)

-$   50 Password Software

 

TOTAL: $2,178 Deposited to Cash and Investments

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Hybrid Miles Driven October:  785

Fuel Costs: $21 Electricity + $37 Gas

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven October: 1,370

Fuel Costs: $24 (home) + $8 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

 

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

Note:  Summer rates ended and we will pay lower electricit rates for next 8 months.  

We did 100 miles of free charging this month.  Free Miles Downtown (film festival)

Spent $6 charging on ~270 mile Bay Area trip.  

Spent $2 charging on 300 mile Bay Area trip.  (Used EvGo while meeting a friend for lunch. I still apparently had some old credit.)

We also drove to the Bay Area (a 3rd time) and Napa. 

Note:  Purchased gas for Oregon trip and then ended up not going.  Will have to burn through this gas at some point.  Waiting to see how other film festivals shake out.  Otherwise, will do a gas run to Bay Area at some point.  That will burn through most of the excess gas.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

What to say about October?  It's what I expected.  Off the top of my head, still have ~$650 left in the vacation fund; will finish zeroing out next month.  October was *the* big travel month, but most of that was charged in October and will be paid for in November.

I did see that our credit cards rewards are being upgraded on my credit union card.  At first glance the only difference I saw was that gas is going up from 3% to 4% cash back.  I don't think that will help us much.  With DL(17) taking over the gas car, I expect to only spend ~$15 on gas per year.  

I Bond rates should bump up next month.  We are still getting first 6 months of 7.12% rate.  Then will get 6 months @ 9.62%.   

Interest rates on our savings accounts continue to go up.  

Our car maintenance has been ~$0 for the past 4 years.  I had a $1,500 annual car repair placeholder that I have just kept in place because we received the kids' (20yo) gas car 4 years ago.  I figured I'd keep the same car repair maintenance placeholder.  (We used to have two older cars, but now have two newer cars under warranty, ourselves.  The two older cars would always throw off more car repair bills).  But in the end, the kids' old gas car has been extremely low maintenance.  It's a great car, but also barely driven.  I think "barely driven" is more to the point as to the very low maintenance.  & the EVs are extremely low maintenance.  

It was nice while it lasted, but this year we will have some catch up on repair bills.  We had some repairs on the old gas car (will show up next month).  & it was time to replace OEM tires on the EV, which we got 50K miles out of.  Not bad, for factory tires.  I am so confused though because my car has more miles and way more life left on the (same OEM) tires.  All I can figure is that the ~90% freeway driving is much lighter on the tires.  While MH was getting his tires changed out, I was going through tire discussions in my hybrid group and saw some opinion that should replace tires after 5 years due to the weight of the car and the thinness of the energy efficient tires.  But when I got home that day and looked carefully at the tread, I decided that is ridiculous.  I mean, I was almost ready to just switch my tires out too.  I will give it a year and spread out costs a little bit.  I can still be cautious and switch out next fall.  Both our cars are 2017 model years.  I will probably switch mine out at 75K miles.  (An extra 25K miles with all that freeway driving.  MH did buy his car more used, so maybe the prior owner was also harsh on the tires).  With MH's car, we replaced the tires about a year before we needed to.  But we didn't have any expenses for 4 years and we had a used tire on the car (to replace a flat) that was nearing the end of its life.  We just found it easier to replace all the tires and move on.

Looking ahead to November.  Ugly...  Just paid Property taxes and MH's rent for the second quarter.  Big transfers out of savings this month.  In addition to paying off some big credit card charges from prior month.  & I would pay tuition if MH Had been able to register or if financial aid office was caught up.  Will see...

I did just update sidebar.  Tentatively checked off $10K savings goal.  I do expect to fall backward this month and so won't give it a full check off.  But I think December looks promising to solidify this goal.  On the plus side, I am not pulling college money or property taxes from this bucket.  So all of this big money drain in November should mostly not affect our $10K (mid-term) savings goal. 

Edited to add:  I usually draft this post around the beginning of the month I am updating, because I have most numbers and most spending done.  So...  That was 6 weeks ago?  I did end up in a car accident this week.  Ugh!  Someone hit my car on the freeway.  Everyone is okay and that is what is important.  (& for the first time since college, the other person actually pulled over and took responsibility.)  My November numbers will be weird because I expect my car mostly to be in the shop and will have to rent a gas car.  MH will take the rental (for his 3-mile commute), to minimize gas costs.  We are going to drive this gas rental as little as possible. & the timing is good in that we don't have to spend our own gas driving DL(17) to school.  He got his license just days before my accident.  

Oh, and one of my tires was hit in the accident.  I presume the shop will replace it and then I will be left with uneven tires.  I may just bite the bullet and replace all the rest of the tires at ~67K miles.  If I wait until December, I can at least make it a 2023 expense (charge in December, paying with January 2023 budget).  I guess that whole thing I am rethinking again.  I suppose it may be optimistic to assume I can even get my car back this year.  

Gift Card Balances Oct 2022

October 23rd, 2022 at 04:56 pm

HOTEL:

--------

$50 Hotel Coupon

 

MOVIES:

--------

$50  Regal

$50  Art House Theater

 

RESTAURANTS:

------------

$50 Cracker Barrel (small balance left)

$25 Chili's

$ 25 x 1 Jamba Juice (Gifts)

 

RETAIL:

---------

$100 x 2 Target (Emailed/paper gift cards)

$25  Kohls Gift Card (DL Christmas Gift)

 

REGIFT:

---------

$25  Starbucks

 

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

We just got through a restaurant gift card from 2017!  

We've been discussing for several months at this point, but finally used that Chili's gift card.  

Yeah, the *one* thing I wanted to buy more breathing room in our budget for was more "dates" and eating out with the hubby.  Which...  Has gone nowhere.  We did a couple of nice meals early in the year and then decided it just wasn't our thing.  The grass looked greener, I guess?  But once I made it a priority and put it in the budget, neither of us were interested.

So this is why we have talked about using up this gift card finally, since summer.  & sounded more promising when MH told me there is a Chili's in our neighborhood. Must be new?  After all that, we went to the Bay Area yesterday and just didn't want to spend money (not full meals out x2 money).  I grabbed the gift card just in case.  It worked out perfectly because we got a late start home and decided to just stop and eat, to break up the drive.  There was a Chili's at the half way point.

We made out pretty well.  The grand total was $6 (including tax) for a steak dinner, 1/3 of a beer, and an appetizer/main course/margarita special that MH ordred.  I got the last of the beer (they ran out) so they just gave it to me for free.  A 1/2 glass probably would have been ideal for me, so I just went with it.  Lord knows I wouldn't have wanted another full glass of (another) beer, in addition to the 1/3 glass.  Because we spent so little on the meal, I tipped generously.  We also had enough leftovers to feed DL when we got home.

I am not sure where we are at with movie gift cards.  We might have used up the art house gift card.  & I think MH ended up buying a second $50 Regal gift card, but I don't remember for sure.   MH has an unlimited Regal movie pass, and earns more points than I would ever use for free tickets, so he gets through the movie gift cards very slowly. 

As the year wraps up, trying to get through the retail cards.  I just have been using the Target gift cards when I do online orders.  Which is usually toiletries and really boring stuff, but I did treat myself to a monkey sweatshirt the other day. 

& I lucked out with Kohls.  I noticed the jeans I had were getting kind of sad (a pair that I didn't expect to be coming apart already).  So I popped online and my jeans were on sale for $20.  I gave DL(17) $25 cash for the Kohls gift card last Christmas, but had yet to use the gift card.

Jamba Juice, I was going every week during early summer but I guess I got bored with it.  I don't know.  I got through one $25 gift card and have another one for next summer.

 

Sep '22 Savings

October 15th, 2022 at 04:25 pm

Received $70 bank interest for the month of September.

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

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $49 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $84 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $12 on dining out/gas card 

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $7 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

+ $65 Dividends

 

TOTAL: $217 Snowflakes to Investments

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$930 MH Income

-$150 Grocery Budget Overage

-$230 Misc Over-Spending 

-$  50 Gas (Kids' car, DL practice driving)

-$100 To Friend in Need (came up last minute)

-$100 AP Test Fee

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$850

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  486 Airfare

-$  286 Annual Vet Visit

-$  220 Running Shoes for DL

-$    78 Pest Control

 

TOTAL: $2,997 Deposited to Cash and Investments

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hybrid Miles Driven September:  760

Fuel Costs: $25 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven September: 1,300

Fuel Costs: $19 (home) + $17 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

 

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

Note:  Home charging rates are higher during summer months.

We did 500 miles of free charging this month.  Electrify America is going through some upgrade and has been free for weeks now.  It was just a nice surprise (to us) when we drove MM(19) back to college.

Driving will probably be more next month.  Planning a drive up to Washington.

Side note:  Gas is $6/gallon here.  We are saving hundreds of dollars on fuel every month.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

August spending was...  Blech!  

We are personally very insulated from inflation.  My best guess is that with our higher prices (HCOLA), we just aren't experiencing inflation the way most in the US are.  This is coupled with generally not being spenders (& not buying gas, etc.).  So...  Inflation is not a factor in our grocery blown budget this month.  MM(19) was home more, MH was sick and didn't grocery shop for about 2 weeks.  I did the best I could but I know I am not as efficient as the master.  In addition, I stocked up on things.  Off the top of my head, I bought hairspray, toothpaste, and laundry detergent.  Enough to last another year or so.  (Not much of a stocker upper, but generally buy 2x anything I purchase for myself.  Just to go to the store less.  A large laundry detergent box will last us a year.  I bought 4 cans of hairspray because it was on sale.  DL goes through hairspray quickly.)  I just lump all household spending like this in our 'grocery' budget.  

Edit to add:  A lot of our food is produced in our state, so I expect this is also a lot of it. 

{This is just to-date.  Obviously, rising fuel prices affects prices on everything and ask me again in another few months.  To-date, I have nothing to contribute to the inflation conversation.}

That does remind me, some of our spending this month was buying gas, with our -$0- gas budget.  Should just be one-off for a couple of months.  DL(17) will take over gas car expenses when he gets his license (very soon).

We've completely exhausted our Misc. short-term savings.  Will have to just pull from MH's income the rest of the year.  Like the gas, it's one-off and so I am just rolling with it.  I won't be adjusting our budget.  MM(19) is taking over most of his expenses (that would have gone under misc. short-term) and this is the last year we will have high school expenses for DL(17).  Ugh.  He's doing *3* band classes and a vocal class so we will be spending a ton on concert tickets this school year.  So that might get a little crazy, but also should be very one-off.  (We always buy tickets for the grandparents, etc.)

Edited to add: Apparently we will pay for a couple of AP classes for DL(17), but again, very one-off.  I dodged a bullet.  MM(19) took a bajillion tests.  Several AP classes every year, ACT, SAT, PSAT, IB, etc.  His school paid for everything.  I think it's $100 for the one AP test.  DL(17) isn't going to bother with the SAT or ACT.   So it sounds like it will just be the two AP tests.  & even that's kind of random.  No idea why on earth he wanted to take calculus this year.  He takes more after his dad/brother I guess.  But he's never going to use that in the future.  & is generally opposed to unnecessary work.  So this is why I am just finding out (senior year) that his school does not cover AP tests.  

Heck, we've completely exhausted short-term funds, except for property taxes and insurance.  Will pay taxes in November.  & I guess we still also have funds left in our vacation (short term) bucket.  

Misc. spending was doing some crowd funding (more paying it forward) and buying some games and accessories for the new VR.

I was hoping to kick off the airfare another month, but it squeaked by on the last day of the credit card cutoff.  It doesn't matter.  But psychologically, expected a bigger cash boost this month.

I just noticed that we have exhausted the 6% cash back on our grocery card.  Hit the cap for the year.  Will switch over to our dining/gas card which pays 3% back on groceries.  I usually just pull those cards out of our wallet for the last quarter of the year.  (Would never remember, otherwise).

I already balanced out October.  Was a -$0- month on the savings side (cash savings/my salary).  But I will have MH's income, 401K contributions, credit card rewards, bank & I Bond interest, etc.  Off the top of my head, might be a +$2K month.   It was just mid term/short term was a wash with what I put in and took out.  

And then...  November.  Ugh!  MH just replaced his phone.  We will have a lot of travel expenses (Arizona + Oregon).  Oh, and I just charged my life insurance that went up x4 because I turned 45.  All of that...  Plus paying *cash* for college and property taxes.  November will be very ugly.  

That said, we are making good progress.  Big picture, things are chugging along just fine.  Just dealing with a lot of one-off expenses right now.  

Note:  The rumor is that our CA college grant should have posted this week.  I will talk to MM(19) about it this weekend.  November is going to be ugly no matter what, but this will make it slightly less ugly.  The planner in me will be happy to know what our *real* tuition costs are for this school year.  Finally...

August '22 Savings

September 7th, 2022 at 04:30 am

Received $67 bank interest for the month of August.

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

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

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

--Redeemed $70 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $8 on dining out/gas card 

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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

 

TOTAL: $141 Snowflakes to Investments

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$0 MH Income

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$750

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$472 Kids' Birthdays

-$300 New VR Quest

-$230 Senior Pictures

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

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  300 Dentist (MH & DL)

-$    60 Quicken (personal finance/accounting software)

 

Pulled from 'College Savings'

-$7,700 Tuition + Rent

 

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hybrid Miles Driven August:  860

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

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

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

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven August: 996

Fuel Costs: $21 (home) 

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

 

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

Note:  Home charging rates are higher during summer months.

We did 105 miles of free charging this month. 

EV = free 105 miles @ animal shelter 

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

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

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

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

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

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Note:  I am always lagging a month behind because any bills charged in July will be paid off August 1 and reflected in my August numbers.  I charge in one month and the next month I figure out how to pay for everything (if I need to pull anything from savings).  So this update reflects July spending & August savings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2022 Credit Card Reward Tally

August 28th, 2022 at 02:57 pm

2022 TALLY:

$15 AmEx Reward (for charing insurance)

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

------------

$45 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

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

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

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

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

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

July '22 Savings

August 7th, 2022 at 01:46 am

Received $50 bank interest for the month of July.

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

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

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

--Redeemed $70 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $7 on dining out/gas card

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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

 

TOTAL: $129 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$750

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$250 College Dining Plan (Fall 2022)

-$100 Animal Shelter Donation (matched by friend)

-$130 New Side Table

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  175 Dentist

-$  150 Amazon Prime

-$  125 Clothing for DL

-$  110 50th Anniversay Dinner

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

-$    78 Pest Control

-$    58 Smog check on kids' car 

-$    30 Vacation Expenses (camp)

 

TOTAL: $2,253 Deposited to Cash and Investments

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hybrid Miles Driven July:  810

Fuel Costs: $26 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

Includes 20 *free* miles 

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven July: 867

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

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

 

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

Note:  Home charging rates are higher during summer months.

We did 170 miles of free charging this month. 

Hybrid = free 20 miles @ animal shelter

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

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

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Note:  I am always lagging a month behind because any bills charged in June will be paid off July 1 and reflected in my July numbers.  I charge in one month and the next month I figure out how to pay for everything (if I need to pull anything from savings).  So this update reflects June spending & July savings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June '22 Savings

July 17th, 2022 at 06:50 pm

Received $38 bank interest for the month of June.

Received $120 I Bond interest for the month of June.

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $39 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $69 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $7 on dining out/gas card

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $8 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

+ $9 Rounding (to reach an even $1K for first 6 months of year)

 

TOTAL: $132 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$935

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$1,175 MH Income

+    340 MH Extra Paycheck (worked way later into June than usual)

-     340 Dryer Repair

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$200 Movie Expenses (Film Festival Submissions, etc.)

-$120 New Dishes

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  240 50th Anniversary Gift

-$  200 Vacation Spending (Monterey)

-$  105 Misc Spending

-$    55 Field Trip/School Expenses

 

TOTAL: $3,930 Deposited to Cash and Investments

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hybrid Miles Driven June:  680

Fuel Costs: $22 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven June: 910

Fuel Costs: $19 (home) + $7 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

 

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

Note:  Higher summer rates kicked in this month (home charging)

We did 60 miles of free charging this month. 

Did a separate post due to longer update.

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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.

Note:  I Bond interest hit because we got past 3-month penalty time period ($0 interest).  

Big Picture: Emergency fund is funded. Cash set aside for college rent next year.  Remaining cash = $5,000.  Most of that excess was clearly built up this month.

I know we will very likely have $3K in medical bills this year (our deductible).  & would like more buffer for some of the more foreseen.  Home maintenance is the obvious.  In addition, starting to save for junior year college costs, with a general plan to spend sophomore year saving up for the last bit of expenses we expect for MM college.   So there will be some overlap while we have extra funds for multiple school years.  

{This does not include I Bonds, which are loosely earmarked for college expenses.  Or gifted college funds.  We have a few buckets to pull college expenses from.}

July is kind of "meh" and August is going to be deep in the red.  Could maybe squeak by in the black otherwise, but MH is off work, I have the biggest mouth to feed, and tuition/rent will be due in August.  In addition to some other bigger expenses we've already run up (that will be paid off in August). 

I still have *no idea* what our college costs will be next year.  I've heard that scholarships sort out in July, so we should find out soon.

{We were okay with the one-time scholarship because it's a very inexpensive school.  We will need to pull $2K for tuition in the fall, if MM gets -$0 scholarships.}

I peeked at the big big picture recently and we were down $30K.  I feel very *shrugs* about "the stock market being where it was just a year ago."  But am also very happy with stock/bond/cash mix.  Hint: never bought into going all-in on the stock market, which became very popular during very long bull market run. 

There's that, and also in the accumulation stage it is much better to buy lower.  I welcome the rare chance to buy stocks at a discount. 

I am bracing for a bumpier ride.  Non-fussed about it in the moment, but clearly hear the alarm bells and am bracing for the eventual bumpier ride.  

Edit:  I just realized I needed $9 to reach 1/2 our snowflake investment goal for the year.  I just threw $9 to that.  $1,000 of $2,000 invested, for the year. 

Gift Card Balances June 2022

June 26th, 2022 at 11:50 pm

HOTEL:

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$50 Hotel Coupon

 

MOVIES:

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$50  Regal

$50  Art House Theater

 

RESTAURANTS:

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$50 Cracker Barrel (small balance left)

$25 Chili's

$5   Jamba Juice (Gift)

$ 25 x 2 Jamba Juice (Gifts)

 

RETAIL:

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$100 x 2 Target (Emailed/paper gift cards)

$25  Kohls Gift Card (DL Christmas Gift)

 

REGIFT:

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$25  Starbucks

 

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

We just got through a restaurant gift card from 2017!  

I keep passing over larger credit card rewards because they are mostly for gift cards.  & it's taking 5+ years to get through the last batch of gift cards...  But I admit I should probably look into it further.  If there is any gift cards we can use.  Dorm stuff?  I think MM(18) is pretty well set, but he will have a kitchen and more space in the fall.  I should probably look into it and ponder more.  

I mentioned to MH we had the Chili's card and that maybe we should just give it to MM(18).  MH told me there was a Chili's in our neighborhood (I had no idea) and so we are loosely planning a movie/lunch date at some point.  Probably in July.  I want to get that last very old gift card used up. 

I am not sure where we are at with movie gift cards.  We might have used up the art house gift card.  & I think MH ended up buying a second $50 Regal gift card, but I don't remember for sure.   MH has an unlimited Regal movie pass, and earns more points than MM or I would ever use for free tickets, so he gets through the movie gift cards very slowly.  I mentioned in my last gift card update I was shocked he still had some money left on the last Regal gift card.  At this point I think? it's a safe assumption that he used up the old Regal gift card.

 

May '22 Savings

June 11th, 2022 at 04:36 pm

Received $26 bank interest for the month of May.

Received -$0- I Bond interest for the month of May (will kick in next month).

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $40 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $76 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $6 on dining out/gas card

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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

 

TOTAL: $124 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$900

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$1,400 MH Income

-$ 300 Donation to DL(16)'s school

-$ 100 Graduation Gift (niece)

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$950 Movie Expenses (Premier Party, Film Festival Submissions, etc.)

-$585 Drivers Ed

-$180 Show Tickets

-$120 Crowd Funding (paying it forward)

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  150 School Band concerts & field trips

-$  144 DMV Renewal (Kids' car)

-$  100 State Tax E-file (x5)

-$   80 Oil Change (hybrid) 

-$   78 Pest Control

 

TOTAL: $2,112 Deposited to Cash and Investments

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Hybrid Miles Driven May:  645

Fuel Costs: $16 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven May: 1,146

Fuel Costs: $16 (home) + $25 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

 

Most charging (both cars) was done at home.

We did -0-? miles of free charging this month.  I don't recall any free charging.

We did plan about 300-ish miles of free charging for our bigger road trip last last weekend but as I mentioned in my last post we turned around because DL(16) was ill.  It wasn't well planned and we just stopped wherever.  

I am racking my brain because I thought we were out of town every week in May but I just figured it out.  

Week 1 San Jose ~ that was April 30th

Week 2 San Francisco ~ we took the train

Week 3 Bay Area ~ DL(16) had a band event but it wasn't far enough to warrant a stop/charge

Week 4 So Cal ~ spent $25 at chargers

June will be more of the same. 

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

I expect that this is the last DMV renewal I should be paying for the kids' car.  MM(18) will be back this month covering all expenses for summer (he has a job/summer commute).  Probably a small gap after that but DL(16) should be licensed and taking over the car expenses this fall.  MH and I covered some of the car expenses while MM(18) wasn't using the car and DL(16) didn't even have a permit.  I am happy to cross that extra expense off my list soon.

The donation to DL(16)'s school is somewhat required (in the form of either money or time).  I would have done some of this in December but the website was not working and I could not make donations.  Because of the large chunk, I just took it out of MH's income.  We probably skipped the past couple of years (in the craziness), and just have one more year left.  Something else that I can cross of my list soon-ish. 

The hybrid does need an oil change once every 2 years.  It was time.  Given that this is really our only vehicle maintenance expense and a more specialized car, we just went to the dealership ($$$$$).  

& then driver's ed...  The place we used for MM(18) raised their prices significantly.  It was only $300 before?  This is not a universal price increase.  It was just this one place that raised rates, but they still had amazing reviews (throug the pandemic) and we were really happy with them.  So I bit the bullet.  After the first drive, I am happy with this decision.  Would pay any amount of money to get DL(16) more comfortable with driving.  (Happy to say that it is paying off).

This should be the last big month for MH's movie expenses.  Future expenses will mostly be travel, if he gets into more festivals.

I e-filed taxes for everyone (better and more secure).  Did you hear that the IRS tossed 300 million "information returns" (e.g. W2s & 1099s) without processing them? 😱  I am skeptical that's all they threw away, given the bajillion IRS notices at work re: multiple paper filed entities (corporate and partnership tax returns).  This is on top of my snail mail ID theft I experienced 10+ years ago.  I chose to just e-file this year even if it was more expensive (than just paper filing with a postage stamp).  Our parents are very generous and GMIL is broke, and so I never in a million years would ask them to pay for any of this.  I filed tax returns for them and the kids.  (I've always just e-filed our own tax return, but have snail mailed a kids' 2-page tax return in the past).

MH bought tickets to a show.  We have since discussed two other concerts but they were just too hard to justify financially.   I moved those to the "nevermind" column category.   Both were kind of "would be fun," but not $200 fun.  Nothing we were very passionate about.


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