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September 24th, 2022 at 02:20 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Nice Surprise! (Travels and Spending)

September 21st, 2022 at 02:39 am

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

He is back to paradise...

A pretty scene on the drive home:

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

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

Total miles driven: 820

Total free miles: ~500

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

$242 Dining Out

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

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

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

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

Fuel: $22

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

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

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

August '22 Savings

September 7th, 2022 at 03:30 am

Received $67 bank interest for the month of August.

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


Snowflakes to Investments:

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

--Redeemed $70 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $8 on dining out/gas card 


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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


TOTAL: $141 Snowflakes to Investments


Snowball to Savings:

+$0 MH Income


401k Contributions/Match:



Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$472 Kids' Birthdays

-$300 New VR Quest

-$230 Senior Pictures

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


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  300 Dentist (MH & DL)

-$    60 Quicken (personal finance/accounting software)


Pulled from 'College Savings'

-$7,700 Tuition + Rent


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


Hybrid Miles Driven August:  860

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

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

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


Electric (EV) Miles Driven August: 996

Fuel Costs: $21 (home) 

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)


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

Note:  Home charging rates are higher during summer months.

We did 105 miles of free charging this month. 

EV = free 105 miles @ animal shelter 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July '22 Savings

August 7th, 2022 at 12:46 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:



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 05:50 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:



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.


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. 

DL & MH Updates

July 17th, 2022 at 12:18 am

DL(17) update...

DL had his birthday last weekend.  We got saved by the bell because he wanted to go to his bestie's house (they share the same birthday) *and* MM(19) was available to drop him off and pick him up (after sleepover).  Phew!  MH and I ended up busy with my parents' emergencies.  

DL(17) scored a free guitar and MH bought him some electronic/music thing that he loves.  A sound mixer of some sort.  As to the guitar, someone just abandoned it at his friend's house some years ago.  He asked if he could just have it.  He said he doesn't think anyone else had ever touched it (since it was left there).

I guess we did also order out his favorite food on another night.  & MH took him to a couple of thrift shops last week, to spend some of his birthday cash.

Things have been pretty normal here for a very long time.  The one exception is the teen animal shelter volunteer program.  The organizer and some of her adult helpers have autoimmune disorders, so they have been very slow to resume. In the end, they resumed around July 1.  DL(17) had signed up around Feb 2020, so he has been waiting very patiently.  He's done two shifts and really enjoys it.

I went over to the old free charger last time.  It's very isolated and not my favorite place to charge.  But with my hybrid car I can at least get 1/2 the drive covered.  While sitting there, I thought maybe I should check if any new chargers had popped up.  There were several new free chargers in the area but most of them were not accessible or were turned off during the weekend.  I did find one a block or two down, but someone was using it.  Today I gave it a try and no one was charging, so I got this new charger to myself.  It's probably a toss up which place is better to charge, but I personally felt a little more comfortable at this charging station. 

& I did remember to take the EV this time.  It charges twice as fast as the hybrid, so am basically able to get free fuel for the entire drive.   I got about 50 free miles today (for a 40-mile roundtrip drive).

I didn't even think about it while I was charging last time, but afterwards I thought to look for a free fast charger.  Those are more unicorns and I really didn't expect to find anything.  But in the "It never hurts to ask" vein...  I found one!  I would have checked it out today but the car was pretty well topped off.  We left it charged after Bay Area trip last week because we didn't know if we'd have to go back to help my mom again.  It seemed likely we would.  Most any other time we can plan a little better and I will try the free charge next time.  (The car charges faster if the battery is more depleted).  Next time...

I suppose I also have a couple of MH updates.

He was working on a movie production but it was abruptly canceled a couple of weeks ago.  MH is super bummed about that.  But at least it was earlier on before too much work was done.  Don't get me wrong, he's put many hours into this thing already.   But the bulk of the work had not been done yet.  It sounded like maybe a dire emergency and we were really concerned, but it ended up being more that the guy making the movie has a big and unexpected move.  I guess that's an extra bummer because MH enjoyed working with him.  Less potential for future projects if he moves hundreds of miles away.

MH also found out he got into another local film festival.  But...  They canceled due to COVID.  It's only the second one he has gotten into, so that is a super bummer.  I mean, I think they are moving it to online.  He wanted to network *and* see his movie with an audience.  It doesn't seem meant to be. 

May '22 Savings

June 11th, 2022 at 03:36 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:



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


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. 


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.

April '22 Savings

May 14th, 2022 at 01:59 pm

Received $25 bank interest for the month of April.


Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $33 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $96 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $3 on dining out/gas card


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $10 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)


TOTAL: $142 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



Snowball to Savings:

+$1,300 MH Income


Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$365 Movie Expenses (Film Festival Submissions, copyright new script, etc.)


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  941 Auto Insurance

-$  500 Life Insurance

-$  253 Annual DMV Registration (EV)

-$  300 Dentist

-$  386 Medical 

-$  200 Misc Expenses for MM(18)

-$    25 Driving Course for DL (16)


TOTAL: $1,837 Deposited to Cash and Investments


Hybrid Miles Driven April:  715

Fuel Costs: $19 Electricity 


Electric (EV) Miles Driven April: 1,185

Fuel Costs: $22 (home) + $6 (out)

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

We got about 70 miles of free charging this month.  We just got lucky.  We went out to a park and a restaurant one weekend, and they both just happened to have free charging. 

We did also do a Bay Area trip (Easter) with -0- fuel stops.

For the Easter trip, we got home with about -0- miles to spare.  It was a little stressful and I had heard that like a gas car there is still 20 miles left at that point.  But afterwards I read that isn't necessarily the case.  Who knows.   Logically we still had plenty of buffer to get home, even if the car computer decided to freak us out during the last couple of miles.  The miles guesstimate was being a little glitchy.

Accordingly, we decided to err on the safe side and just stop to charge when we went to visit our parents last weekend.  It was probably completely unnecessary.  But I also wanted to scope out more chargers.  In this case, the most convenient stop was at another Outlet (where we usually stop; lots of chargers, food and bathrooms.  So makes a good pit stop).  I am glad we did because by then it was after hours (around 9pm) and I can see I would never feel comfortable going there alone.  In an abandoned/dark parking lot at night.  There is a charger right by my parent's house and I can see it's just wise to stop there for a quick top off.  It's at a grocery store and is probably always bustling.  Those chargers are out front and not hidden in the back like a lot of these chargers are.

We stopped for 5 minutes, spent $1.55, and added about 20 miles to our range.  

In the end, we drove 260 miles and had 30 miles left when we got home.  The buffer was probably not necessary, but it's around the 10-mile mark that the car freaks out and tells you that you need to charge ASAP.  We saved ourselves some stress.

We did also pay $4 for a monthly Electrifty America (EA) pass (which I included in fuel costs above).  With the extra $4 you do get a discount on charging that has always been worth it.  But as EA informed me we saved $0.60 on this one charge (the only one we paid for this month), I told MH I didn't think we need to pay the $4 any more.  We are going to keep it for May because we are going on a long trip.  One big charge/refuel will pay for the $4 (in savings).  But it's clear that we will no longer get any benefit out of this for anything but longer road trips.  So we will cancel that after our May road trip.  Er, after June.  I guess we will be picking up MM(18) from college in June.  After that, we can just activate/pay the monthly pass on months that we know we will be traveling 300+ miles (one trip).  Maybe the breakeven point is 400 or 500 miles but we just don't do anything in between.  (The college is a 600 mile round trip; Bay Area trips are generally 250-300 miles).


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.

I ended up being way too nice to MM(18) when he was here for spring break.  His very liquid cash reserves are getting "low".  Relatively, getting on the lower side.  He needed some nicer headphones but picked out a higher end pair.  I just bought them.  To be fair, I tried to put new running shoes on his credit card (told him we'd sort it out later, based on how jobs shake out for him) but I was unable to put it on his credit card and use MH's REI member discount.  So I gave up and just paid for those too.  In addition to paying for gas for the car, MM(18) was spoiled rotten.

But things are going well on this front.  MM(18) told us at Easter that he has a job for the fall quarter.  It's a TA type position that pays $1,200.  Will be a few hours per week.  That should cover his spending next year, so that was a nice surprise.  (He's only spent $500-ish the last 8 months on campus.  With all food/transportation/extra-curricular mostly provided.  $750 if I throw in the spending I did for him this month.). 

& then it sounded like he got the summer engineering job.  Just talked to him and it sounds like no formal offer yet?   But it's close.  & he already has a lead on another internship *and* an undergrad research project (2 years).  The research project would be $1,700 his junior year (another year of spending money).  Summer jobs will get him a car paid for in cash.  (He already has about $6,000 to that end, it's just tied up in mega high yield savings accounts). 

I expect the extra spending on MM(18) to be very one-off.  

I've already locked in May Spending.  The breathing room is working.  MH has had some weeks of a full working schedule and we haven't tapped any of his income to cover any expenses (for months).  So that is working out nicely.   I'd say that it should be an easy transition to summer (no second income) but maybe not if I am feeding MM(18) during summer months.  I suppose we've had extra extra breathing room with the lower grocery expenses during the school year (one less mouth to feed).   <----I haven't done anything with grocery savings.  2021 was total chaos and we are doing terrible on the food waste front.  But it's hard with how much MM(18) is home and trying to go back and forth between extremes.  Hoping we have the time/energy to be more food efficient in the fall.  

The bigger picture...  We've never had more than $50-$100/month in our budget for misc, spending (things like clothes, haircuts, eating out, allowance spending, whatever random spending might come up in a month that isn't very fixed and predictable).  I put myself through college, we saved up for a down payment in San Francisco (saved 70% of our income for a time), then we dropped our income in half to have kids.  This level of spending is all I know as an adult.  But this year I bumped the misc. spending up to $275/month, and yes we do have some extra extra wiggle room with the grocery savings.

Some bigger picture comments on this:  I was reluctant to increase spending because an extra $100/month spending means an extra $30K to save for retirement (presuming a 4% withdrawal rate).  Financial independence is what is important to us, and I am not too keen to move the needle.  But I also had some unexpected raises and a lot of conversations last year about being too retirement heavy.  So I do think it was prudent to relax our budget a little bit.  (Certainly nothing I ever expected *while* putting our kids through college. I was envisioning 5-ish years of keeping it tight and then, "I'd rather work less than spend more.").

We've enjoyed the extra breathing room, but we quickly abandoned our plans to fit more eating out into our budget.  I've always said that I notice eating out on the scale before I notice it in the checkbook.  I don't care if I order a salad with no dressing.  It's an extra 1,000 calories in a restaurant.  (I am exaggerating, but is how it feels).  This is extremely noticeable when you have spent decades eating mostly home cooked meals.  We've scaled back to 0-1 extra meals out per month.  

In the end, MH and I went to a local college arboretum a couple of weekends ago (completely free) and it was *amazing*.  I'd rather just go back there and have a picnic.  I feel like we have gone full circle.

That is how I am feeling for the moment.  Will just be my income for summer months (plus MM(18) home emptying the fridge and cupboards of all of our food), so it's a good minset for summer.  

This is probably 90% of why financial independence is getting so close for us.  I'd rather just read library books and go have a picnic in the park.  MH is good with the unlimited movie pass.  (He will literally go to the movies every single day).  The electric car is probably one of our biggest frugal wins.  Getting to anywhere just doesn't cost anything at this point.  We have Bay Area trips every weekend this month and that's just going to be *shrugs* financially. 

March '22 Savings

April 10th, 2022 at 02:31 pm

Received $23 bank interest for the month of March.


Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $46 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $83 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $6 on dining out/gas card (bought some gas for MM)


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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


TOTAL: $142 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



Snowball to Savings:

+$1,550 MH Income

+$300 (for doing GMIL taxes)


Savings (from my paycheck):

+$1,050 to cash (mid-term savings)


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$1,700 New Mattress 

-$  350 Movie Editor (payment for finished movie!)


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

+$1,500 to cash


TOTAL: $3,455 Deposited to Cash and Investments


Hybrid Miles Driven March:  903

Fuel Costs: $24 Electricity 


Electric (EV) Miles Driven March: 775

Fuel Costs: $16

Note:  I don't recall any free charging this month. 

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

We did a Bay Area trip and didn't have to stop to charge.  !!  Without the crazy (below average) temps, we got a better range estimate.  We got a 277-mile range.  Drove 253 miles and still had an estimate of 24 miles left when we got home.  MH cut it closer on his last winter Bay Area drive (he did not stop to fuel that time either).  But this was the closest I had cut it (I was driving).  Since getting the hybrid and tracking more, I'd say our average Bay Area trip is 250 miles.  This means a 2x gas stop trip is now a 0x fuel stop trip.  (We received a bigger battery due to a recall, so this means more range on the car than what we originally purchased).  We always filled up on the way out and then stopped on the way home (gas cars) so we had gas for the work week.  It's divine not having to stop for fuel at all.

With MH back at work, we've figured out a charging groove.  As expected, I charge every night (for my commute) & MH is just charging his car up on the weekends.  This is for overnight (lower rate) charging.  We can both always charge whenever if we need more miles.  & clearly every weekend is way more than MH needs to charge. (He's getting about 350 miles per charge, with more daily driving and more stop-and-go).  But it's nice to have a habit set, and to not expend any mental energy re: car fuel.  I don't miss the days of schlepping to the gas station. 



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.

This is what I wrote last month, which sums it up pretty well:

February ended up being a really good month and will be reflected by mega savings numbers in March.  Even with the purchase of a new mattress, March should go way the other way with more savings than spending.  

I was able to bump up my paycheck savings to $950/month with raise.  Added an extra $100 with retroactive pay adjustment (to catch up February).

GMIL always insists on slipping me $300 for doing her taxes.  She won't take no for an answer.  I probably usually somewhat count on this money.  Whereas this year the thought hadn't even crossed my mind and it was a surprise.  Probably just because I am not even used to MH being back at work and having all this extra money.  It's just extra extra money, at this point.  

I received this money the same day that we got the final edit for MH's movie project.  So that works our pretty nicely.  The final payment to the editor was $350.  Almost a wash.  

I Bonds were purchased this month.  It ended up being pretty fast/easy to set up. But I won't be reflecting interest numbers for three months.  We won't get any interest for first 3 months, because there is a '3 month interest penalty' if you redeem before first 5 years.  I will just wait until the interest $$ reflects on the I Bond value (starting July 1).  It will be 7%+ on $20,000 so will be a big boost to my interest numbers, the second half of the year.  & I am moving money over from investments, so this will be in addition to the cash interest we already have.  (I had some "cash" in my investment account basically earning nothing.  Want it very liquid because this is either going to be college money or 'next home down payment' money, presumably all spent in the next few years.) 

I cashed out this college money in late 2020 ($20,000).  Should have bought these I Bonds in November 2021 when interest rates hit 7%+.  & would have been wise to have taken advantage of 3%+ interest rates last May.  But I think 7%+ is what is pushing this to the no-brainer category.  It's getting my attention.  Making its way through the murky "I don't have the mental energy to deal with ANYTHING".  I might have been more on top of in better times.  But *this* is getting my attention now.

I can see that if rates stay high for a while that I may just consider this money to be emergency funds instead.  If we'd rather spend down 0.50%-interest cash in the short term.  & leave higher interest I Bond money untouched. 

March spending is done and paid for, so I have a good idea of how April numbers will shake out.   We somehow ended up net positive after a lot of expenses (a lot of insurance came due, some medical expenses, etc.).   The overall goal is to get some of these festival submission fees paid and movie stuff paid for while MH is working (out of his income).  He has the summers off.  

I still don't have much clarity on the college front for next school year.  They doled out scholarships to incoming freshman in March, but now I am hearing that we might not hear about scholarships until July, after grades post (for non-freshman).  So my mode right now is to just hoard money for college and movie stuff, and see how much we can hoard before summer when our income is reduced.   I do think we are about done getting MM(18)'s college paid for (even if he never gets another scholarship or gift).  Would just be nice to have more clarity on that front, so we can work on bigger picture planning and know if we have more freedom to move on to other financial goals.  If we know that we aren't going to touch his gifted college money ($30K), that is also just more financial pressure off of us for more long-term planning.   Just as an example, he's starting to talk about getting a car next summer.  If he has mega paying summer jobs and scholarships, we aren't going to sweat helping him with that.  If he doesn't get a big job this summer and he doesn't get a single scholarship, then we might want to come up with a few thousand dollars to help him.  Just stuff like that.  Is why it matters, even if we have full sticker price money set aside already.   & any money he doesn't need for college, is money that is already saved for DL(16) college, which is our next big financial goal.  So yeah, I am looking forward to more clarity.

Feb '22 Savings

March 5th, 2022 at 05:36 pm

Received $25 bank interest for the month of February.


Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $37 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $85 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $6 on dining out card


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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


TOTAL: $132 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



Snowball to Savings:

+$600 MH Income


Savings (from my paycheck):

+$850 to cash (mid-term savings)


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$5,719 College Expenses

- $500 More College Expenses

- $600 Mattress  (used MH's income towards a new mattress)


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

+$1,500 to cash

+$  175 Insurance Rebate**

-$1,380 Various Insurance

-$  260 Dentist

-$  266 Annual DMV Registration (Hybrid)

-$   80 Miscellaneous


TOTAL: -$4,723 Net Withdrawn from Cash and Investments


Hybrid Miles Driven February:  704

Fuel Costs: $20 Electricity 

Note:  I'd estimate my commute at 800 miles per month.  Short month and a couple of days off.

Electric (EV) Miles Driven February: 486

Fuel Costs: $14

Note:  I don't recall any free charging this month. 

We also didn't have an opportunity yet to test out the bigger battery on a longer drive.

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

Note:  I haven't noticed any gas price changes in months.  Whenever it comes up online, I look at Gas Buddy.  I think as with many things, prices are already high here and so are slow to change.  I share because in the last day our gas prices went up 50-cents per gallon!  At the super cheapie gas stations we frequent(ed).  Last night I thought it was a typo or maybe premium gas, but the other gas station shot up 40-cents today.  So it's official, our gas prices are getting crazy now. 

Of course, I don't want to pay even $4/gallon (much less $5/gallon) for my commute, which is why we bought the hybrid in the first place.  


**Insurance rebate was for disability & life insurance through professional association.  The annual rebate was much lower than usual.  I presumed that is due to the pandemic.  I later got an email confirming this.  More life insurance claims last year.

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. 

This is mostly how it goes but I have two exceptions for this month:

1 - DMV.  Ugh!  After many many years of accepting credit card payments with no charge, they switched to charging a fee for payments.  This was before the pandemic?  Keep hoping they switch back and surprised they have not yet.  This bill is not due for a couple of months but I don't want to keep track of it, I just want to get it paid.  So I had to move money for this cash expense.  Paid in February.  Couldn't just charge it and pay it off next month.

2 - College Expenses.  Have to pay cash.  Again, could have paid later but I prefer to pay a couple of weeks early and to just pay the quarter in full (versus dealing with more frequent payments).

College Expenses: Paid for final quarter of freshman year.  This is roughly $730 tuition (will be completely offset by college tax credit) + $3K rent + $2K food. 

After that was done, MM(18) pinned me down to pay a $500 deposit for housing sophomore year.  I knew that was due soon, but thought I might have a couple of weeks of breather.  This is the only deposit I have to pay for next year?  Nothing else should be due until September. 

College Big Picture: 

A - I have money set aside to cover rent next year. 

B - Gifted funds are set aside for tuition, if needed.  Worst case sticker price is $20K for remainder of 4-year degree (tuition/fees).  MM(18) has $27K gifted funds.

C - We do also have $20K set aside to cover rent for last two years.  & we are still working towards saving college money for the next 16 months (basically spending sophomore year saving up for MM's junior year).   This is just in a "prepare for the worst" vein and our final contribution before we shift focus to DL(16)'s college expenses.

D - Waiting for scholarships & MM's summer job to sort out for more financial clarity.   

Another Note:  MH had a lot of time off work this month (just slow at work, plus some seasonal time off).    

I did throw MH's one paycheck towards the mattress; his March paychecks will pay for (most of) the rest of the mattress.  That and my raise should do it.  (I've already paid off the credit card, so technically just paying ourselves back in March).

February ended up being a really good month and will be reflected by mega savings numbers in March.  Even with the purchase of a new mattress, March should go way the other way with more savings than spending.  It was nice to enjoy some rare breathing room we put in our budget this year, so it felt a little splurge-y while also being able to keep aggressive savings goals.  I am sure the short month helped, and also just nothing really came up (by some miracle!?).  


The Electric Vehicle Recall & Fix

February 5th, 2022 at 03:40 pm

This electric vehicle recall was a roller coaster I just didn't have the time or energy to blog about.  Plus, easier to post the whole story when we have some resolution.

I also don't remember a lot of the little details and roller coaster, so maybe it's for the best.  

We bought our 2017 Bolt in summer 2020.  At some point after that, Bolts were starting to catch fire.  Probably some fires before then, but hindsight 20/20 it makes sense why those started to be a problem (more numerous) in late 2020.  Will get to that.

I distinctly remember thinking, "This can be really good or really bad."  Really bad = burning down our house (and/or starting the next CA mega fire).  Really good = getting a new battery!

Happy to come out the other end with the "really good" outcome.  

As to the roller coaster...  

They first tried to fix with a software patch but that didn't work. 

I remember it was July 2021 because MH was in Florida, when they announced that they would start just replacing batteries.  At the time, this was just 2017-2019 models.  A few days later a 2020 model caught fire.  !!!  So it quickly felt very back to square one.

I have to back up and say that if this was any other car we would have sold and moved on.  But there are no other (useful) electric models on the market in our price range.  Going back to a gas car is out of the question.  We would be miserable.  About the best compromise we came up with is maybe getting a second Volt (hybrid) for a while, until they sort this out. 

We did get into the queue a long long time ago, for GM to buy back our car.  They were crazy slow, which we were fine with.  We just wanted to be in the queue and don't know if that helped us move up the line for battery replacement.  The "buyback" was probably pretty useless.  We bought used and could do much better on the resale market right now.  We paid $17K for a car that's worth like $23K today.  The buyback would have been $17K minus some useage.  But we just wanted to be in the queue, express our concern, and didn't know if used values might falter through this mess, etc. (if GM would be the best offer to sell the car). 

Of course, we were very seriously considering investing a lot of money and trading up to a 2020.  Just to be out of this mess.  I am so relieved we didn't go that route.  (That was before we knew 2020 just had the same problems).  

I think once that 2020 blew up, GM just put all hands on deck.  It seems pretty quickly after that they really narrowed down the problem.   We were never overly concerned because the fire risk was pretty average for the 2017s.  The problem ended up being a 2-month manufacturing period of the 2019 model.  Those are something like 30 times more likely than the average gas car to catch fire.  😱  Obviously they fixed all of those first, and then are moving backwards to the oldest cars/batteries.  

The end result is a 5-year-old car with a brand new battery and a new 8-year warranty.  The new batteries are bigger and have a longer range, so we also have added more range to our car.  The EPA rating on the old battery was 240 miles of range, but we were consistently getting 260.  & I mean, mostly freeway driving (which is the least fuel efficient on electricity).  If MH just drives to work (city streets) the car might go 400 miles on one charge.  (Braking regenerates electricity, so the fuel efficiency is backwards of what you think re: gas cars.  Traffic and lights = more range).  

Old Battery = 60 kWh

New Battery = 66 kWh

That's a 10% increase in range!

Our 260-mile real (freeway) range is probably now 286 miles. 

We have not been able to really test this out because it has been unusually cold.  We were able to get 250 miles on Christmas Day (unusually cold) and it was freakishly cold the day MH drove the kids back to college (January 2) .  

December/January is our winter.  This should be more interesting the rest of the year.  & MH was able to do a Bay Area roundtrip without stopping for fuel.  He did this on January 31.  I imagine this will be much easier most of the year (with warmer temps). 

Edited to clarify:  During the recall we couldn't charge below 30% or above 90%.  So we weren't able to (easily) drive the electric vehicle to the college.  (Deep discharging and/or full charging was a risk factor with the fires).  Thus, some gas spending in 2021 that I am not expecting in 2022.  

Car Gas Spending

February 4th, 2022 at 01:04 am

In 2020 we spent $115 on car gas, for the hybrid car.   It looks like we did 4 Bay Area trips before we bought the all-electric vehicle in late Summer 2020.

After buying the electric car, I spent a whole whopping $6 on gas.  This was for a couple of gallons just to keep the hybrid in good condition.  I consider that more of a maintenance expense than a fuel expense.

I expect that 2021 would have been a $6 gas year.  We are to the point we are driving 100% electric.  But we had to put the electric car on hold for longer trips.  Which probably would have been completely N/A for us, but then we were driving MM(18) to/from college 300 miles away. 

Total household gas spending 2021:  $348 

 $29 of this was putting gas in the kids' car.  MM(18) was dragging his feet spending his own money and then MH needed the car a couple of days while his car was getting the battery swapped out.  Knowing he'd be driving the gas car to the dealership and back, etc., he just filled up the tank.  

That leaves $319 gas for the hybrid.    We spent -$0- on gas from January through August (hybrid) and then spent that $319 the last 4 months.

That's for 5 college visits (600 miles x5) & two Holiday trips to the Bay Area.  We've done plenty of Bay Area driving trips in the all-electric vehicle, but MH was getting more wary towards the end.  Technically we weren't supposed to drop below 30% battery capacity but was getting pretty close with the Bay Area trips.  It just depends how much we were driving around and visiting relatives when we were there.  

Oh yeah, and I put a couple of gallons in during the middle of summer.  The gas level in the Volt dropped below 40 miles? and the car just kept beeping at me.  But what pushed me over the edge was I had never done the remote start before and started doing that during the summer.  Don't ask me why it took 3 years to figure that out (makes 110F summer days much more bearable when you can just cool off your car first!).  So the remote start stops working one day and I quickly realize it's disabled once the fuel level is "low".  🙄  Which makes sense obviously for a gas car, but makes no sense for a car in electric mode that uses basically no energy to run the A/C.  So that is why I added some gas in the middle of summer.  

I am hoping that 2022 is a $6 gas year for our household.  

Of course, the next question is how much are we paying for electricity?  I have no idea!  I am behind on my estimates, and some of that is because we stopped charging the EV overnight (due to fire risk/recall).  & I am just behind, because of life.  I can probably extrapolate all overnight charging to my car and just try to come up with an equivalent to cover MH's miles.  But then I'd have to convert to higher daytime charging rates.  Still, it should be quick to work through the last few months, I just have too many higher priorities at the moment.  

I will share when I have those estimates.  But mostly, I had been running all my projections based on $4/gallon gas.  Which I felt was quite conservative at the time (when we bought the hybrid in 2018).  Figured gas had nowhere to go but up.  The pandemic has stalled gas going up, but clearly it is happening now.  Anyway, at $4/gallon we pay roughly 1/3 that cost (for electricity) when we charge our cars overnight.  When we pay full price while traveling, that was usually about 1/2 the cost of gas.

The college trip is quickly becoming a free drive for us, with the electric car.  So that might go from a $55 (hybrid) gas trip to a $0 electricity trip.   (Maybe $10 is you count charging up at home before and after).

We came home on the I-5 after taking MM(18) back after Thanksgiving break.  We hadn't gone that route in many months and we were surprised how many new chargers there were.  

Free chargers are popping up at all of the rest stops in our state.  There was one by the college we kept stopped at and using, but now there's several on the I-5.  

Electrify America gives away free electricity during Holiday weekends.  !!  The charging was free from something like December 22 - January 2nd.   

Before this recall detour, it was on my list to some day try a free drive down to the college.  I've seen many people posting they've done free fuel drives from Northern CA to Southern CA.  But usually the free places are kind of in weird places.  Not as convenient as just stopping and charging while you eat.  But we were up to the challenge and is something we wanted to do. Anyway, it seems kind of moot now with free chargers all over the place.  I mean, will still take advantage of the free charge, but it just won't be much of a challenge.

Edited to add:  I started this post a long time ago and just hit publish.  I will start sharing monthly car fuel spending, so it will become pretty clear how much less we are paying for electric fuel.  I did share January #s in my January post.

January '22 Savings

February 2nd, 2022 at 04:04 pm

Received $27 bank interest for the month of January.


Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $32 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $97 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $15 on dining out card (also used for groceries)


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $15 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)


TOTAL: $159 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



Snowball to Savings:

+$375 MH Income


Savings (from my paycheck):

+$800 to cash (mid-term savings)


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$215 Medical Expenses

-$180 Target Gift cards on Sale


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$1,100 Home Insurance

-$ 630 Dentist

-$ 290 Auto Insurance (Kid Car) ~ paying for this while MM(18) is away and DL is not licensed

-$  78 Pest Control

TOTAL: $883 Deposited to Cash and Investments


Hybrid Miles Driven January:  668 

Fuel Costs: $12 Electricity 

Note:  Extra low fuel month because this is net of $11 work auto reimbursement (for driving 19 miles).  

Electric (EV) Miles Driven January: 1,392

Fuel Costs: $20

Note:  EV includes 500 free miles.  MH was able to get free electric charging when driving MM(18) back to college after New Years (we paid for the fill up before and after, at home).  In addition, MH got 50 free miles (x2) at the movie theater. 

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

MH was able to do a roundtrip Bay Area drive without stopping to fuel.  (We got a newer/bigger battery due to recall and so the car has more range now).  I expect this will be easier the rest of the year but was cutting it close in winter.  Range is reduced in colder temps.


I stopped doing these updates in 2020.  I don't remember why. 

Since I am not blogging very much I decided to go back to this format.  At the least, I can do a monthly snapshot.   & I will add the driving data now that we are mostly driving electric.  With rare exceptions, we are driving all-electric at this point. 

Notes:  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, if that makes sense.

UGH, January was terrible on the spending/savings front.  But I suppose it was complicated by only receiving one paycheck in January and executing new 2021 budget with only one paycheck (of raise).  February might even out with the shorter month.  It's just a bummer we didn't utilize MH's high income month and save most of his income, but we had too many expenses.  I think I am just feeling too much squeeze.  The pendulum clearly swung after him being off work (no unemployment) for 6 months and just starting to feel like he may actually have a job this year.  So there were a lot of purchases that we felt we could do.  But on the flip side of the coin he is off work now and I don't expect any MH income for February.  I have paid bills through 2/28, presuming no extra income.  So it's a little squeeze on both ends.

We spent way too much on dining out, purchased some clothing and pet items, and also bought a set of pots and pans.  My future self will thank me though.  I probably would have bought just a couple of sauce pans, but I found a nice set for $250 and am keeping the rest for MM(18).  He will have a kitchen/apartment next school year. 

My primary goal is to hoard more cash for college.  We have next 18 months mostly covered.  But of course, want to be more ahead of the curve.  And/or have extra funds for anything else that might happen.  

Secondary goal is funding MH's movie.  It just came up over the weekend.  Will probably pay $350 to the editor this month.  As the movie wraps up, talking about doing a screening party.  Not sure how that will end up but I am encouraging MH to just go all out for that.  To-date we haven't spent any of our own money and we can probably consider the screening a gift from his grandfather.  & then there's talk of festivals and travel, but I think we can absorb a lot of that (frugally) in our (small) vacation budget. 

These are the two big things we want to hoard some cash for. 

If I seem a little blindsided by the movie (less prepared), it's been infinitely jinxed and delayed.  So it is very sudden that there's talk of wrapping it up, and will see if it does actually wrap up in the next couple of months.  🤞 

Today is payday.  Already paid the rest of the February bills (with float).  But needed my paycheck to pay off the big credit card.  We like to pay everything ahead and basically start the beginning of each month debt free.  So I will pay off that credit card right now.  I set all my credit cards to a monthly cycle and just pay them all off the first of every month.  None of this "waiting for statements and due dates" nonsense.  But the monthly credit card cycle is how I have to do it for my accountant brain.  That, and also managing multiple credit cards.  This just keeps it very simple.

Note:  Now that MM(18) has multiple credit cards, I should probably teach him this trick.  You just set the due date so that the card runs for roughly a monthly cycle.  If it closes a couple of days before the end of the month is best.  You can always prepay the charges for the last few days of days of the month.  All my credit cards close around the 28th of every month. 

Our taxes are done.  Just waiting for software updates so that I can file.

Quick Check In

January 3rd, 2022 at 03:29 pm

I am happy how 2021 shook our financially and have done some tax projections and updated my sidebar for 2022 goals (basically same as always).

I will delve deeper when I have some time. 

Just popped on the computer this morning to execute some rebalancing trades.  The *one* thing I had to get done before today was I usually just do a Morningstar X ray to get a snapshot of our investments and returns for the year.  I mean, it take a couple of minutes for tons of data.  But it's the only thing I really had the time and energy for, and that had to be done this weekend. 

I guess fair enough, it was also driving me crazy and I sat down to figure out my 2022 taxes so I could update my 2022 budget.  That is also what I got done.  

Now that we have the electric car back at 100%, I think it would be interesting to do a daily spending snapshot.  As we no longer have mega grocery expenses (MM) and no longer have auto gas expenses.  But I know I won't have the time for it.  February might be a better month for that.

That reminds me of our one frugal "fail".  Electrify America (EA) was entirely free during the long Holiday week.  We took advantage and got 60 free miles on Christmas Day.  & then MH drove MM(18) and his friends back to school yesterday.  I am guessing we got 400 free miles.  It would cost approximately $10 total to fill up the car at home, both before and after.  $5 per charge at home.  I don't know how often we will be driving MM(18) to/from school (not as much in the future) but it's nice to have the electric option.  Even better when it's free!

Oh yeah, the fail part...  

MH chose to stop at a place at a restaurant and he had three teenagers to feed.  When talking to him later he mentioned I might have seen the $90 restaurant bill.  😲 (Nope, I had not seen that!)  But oh well.  I am trying to go through the math in my head and that would have been a $75 drive in the gas car anyway.  Nice to be able to give everyone a ride with that kind of money, treat all the kids, and then throw a tip on top of that.  (In return, MM had also gotten a free ride home at the beginning of break).

We usually never travel at all on busy/holiday weekends.  Obviously that is changing with the "kid away at college" thing.  The chargers were really crowded this weekend, versus usually no one really there.  ???  I don't know how much is people making the extra effort for free.  MH was willing to wait 10 minutes for a charger, if it was free.  I would say we only stuck to the EA chargers because they were free.  It was crowded but there was always at least one open charger when MH reached each EA station.  

Oct 1

October 2nd, 2021 at 04:16 am

October 1  

$7 MH Allowance Spending (Patreon)

$0 Target (Groceries/Houehold)

Dinner: Leftovers


Well this will be interesting.  Because any time in the past I have recorded daily exenses in blog, our biggest spending was generally groceries and gas.  No longer feeding an athlete teenager at home, the grocery spending should change drastically.  Also, we are driving 100% electric.

I just perused the credit cards and a patreon charge posted today.  Might have been initiated another day but today is when it showed up.  That's an MH allowance thing.  

MH was planning to make dinner tonight, while at the same time complaining about people not eating leftovers.  ???  I told him I would be happy to eat leftovers (have been all week) and maybe he shouldn't cook dinner.  Still majorly adjusting and it sounds like probably some food waste in the process.  Anyway, we had that conversation in the a.m. and he decided not to cook dinner. 

MH is volunteering at the public TV station tonight.  It's the first time since the pandemic started?   They were having trouble getting volunteers so he probably over-volunteered.  But I guess it works out.  I am sure when he committed he expected to be working during the week.

Oh yeah, and MH did a Target run.  He used a gift card; about $40 remains on Target gift cards.  He picked up a couple of grocery items, some laundry detergent (will last a year?) and some cat litter.  He went yesterday because I asked him to wait until October after putting cat litter and laundry detergent on the shopping list.  Our grocery budget is $850/month but September ended up being $900.  I tried to absorb film crew food spending into our grocery budget but it was just one of those months.  

MM(18) switched to tide pods a while ago (the sport version) to get the stink out of his athlete teen boy clothes/sheets.  So I don't expect our laundry detergent usage to change.  I just mean that the family size Tide laundry detergent we usually buy and keep a year, it's still going to last a year.  Strangely, we only discovered the family size recently, versus when we had kids in cloth diapers and did laundry several times per week.  (We used a laundry service for diapers but it was still a lot of laundry!  We had to wash all the diaper covers plus babies make a lot of mess).  I can still see buying the family size when it's just the two of us.  Just so we don't have to go to the store as often.  

Electric Car Updates

May 19th, 2021 at 12:53 pm

I heard last year that there was some retroactive tax credit for installing car chargers in your home.  We amended our tax return about a year ago and just got the refund check.  With interest, was about $250.

{These retroactive tax changes are driving me crazy!!  Much to my favor, but makes it hard to plan.  Should just be grateful I no longer work in tax and that it's just my own tax returns to worry about and constantly amend.}

We also returned from our beach vacay.  The hotel we always stay at is about 10 miles past the college that MM(17) will be attending.  We already did a very rushed 2-day trip in May.  It was fine and clearly the electric car is absolutely fine for this trip (600 miles roundtrip).  But we went an entirely different way this trip and had more time to be a little more efficient and to choose less expensive chargers.  Very roughly, might have spent $40 on our first trip (with very little time or planning).  Is a $75 gas fuel trip in our gas sipper (current gas prices), and we probably got it down to $30-$35 this last time. (I will get the exact dollar amount, below).  Of course, it will be cheaper when MM(17) is at college and we can use the free college chargers.  There's also a garage near the campus with chargers, at $1 per hour.  So we will have some good options.

This time, we went an entirely different route, stopped at different chargers, etc.  Last time we didn't see another soul charging.  This time we saw a lot more people.  Strangely, the busiest charger was in the sleepy little beach town we were staying at.  I'd expect to see more people charging closer to the Bay Area?  But the beach was a good stopping point for driving down to LA.

We did stop in the Bay Area to see family on the way down, but this was the first time we decided not to also stop and charge.  It makes more sense to charge when the battery is lower.  Then it charges back up more quickly.  So we let it go (though we were stopped anyway).  There's no lack of chargers to choose from on the 101.  So we went both ways on the 101 this time (which is the same distance as coming back more inland on I-5.  I-5 currently lacks chargers).  <---& even that I think is probably moot.  It's just going to take us some time to get more comfortable with the car and how it behaves on this trip.  We seem to be perpetually over-estimating by 50 miles (always having 50 miles left when we get to our destination).  It really isn't that big of a deal to come back I-5, there's certainly more than ample chargers.  I think we just enjoyed the more choice of going the 101 route.  Probably more psychological than anything.

We spent $32 charging (out and about).  Technically $37, including charging the car up fully at home before leaving (about $5 for a full charge).  Total miles driven: 665

Plugged in at home overnight and started out with a full charge.

Stop 1, about half way (150 miles).  Stopped for lunch which was *divine*.  Stopped for 1/2 hour and gained 100 miles of range. 

Car range is roughly 240 miles.  Destination was 300 miles.  Added 100 miles on the drive, so had 40-ish miles left when we reached the hotel.  We did stop and drive around the Bay Are a bit.

We did also use free fast chargers at the rest stops, but those were purely bathroom stops we'd do anyway.  We ended up with about 70 free miles from pit stops (one stop each way).

There's two ways to play the recharge for the trip home.  You can spend some time at a slower charger or you can fast charge (most efficient from about 20% to 80%).  Or I guess a combo of both.  It was a pleasant surprise to find out that the beloved hotel I have been going to my whole life, that they had chargers!  I am guessing in the future we will get whatever free charging we can get on the college campus and can just top off at the hotel.  This time we just lucked out.  We had a couple of errands we wanted to run and those were all right next to the fast charger.  So the next day we went over there and ran errands and added 140 miles to the car.  Took about an hour, but we just charged while we were busy running into a few stores.  This charger was walking distance to the hotel and to our favorite restaurants so this will be an easy lunch stop in the future.  

The thing about the hotel charger was that it is expensive.  Electrify America chargers are roughly 1/2 the cost of gas (for our car).  The hotel slow charger was about the cost of gas.  Electricity at home is roughly 1/3 the cost of gas, for reference.  I think the charging at home and the charging at the hotel kind of offset and overall still kept our fuel costs very low.

After we got back to the hotel we just plugged in and charged (to top it off) while we lounged by the pool.  We could have just been even more lazy and left it plugged in overnight.  But at that point we just needed 60 miles.  It took about 2.5 hours to top off.  The slow chargers are nice for somewhere you will be all night (or day) anyway.

On the way home we stopped mid-way again (same place) and stopped for 45 minutes for about 130 miles.

Had 50 miles left when we got home.  It will take some time to just get used to the drive/car.  It depends so much on the terrain, how much A/C you use, etc. that we honestly weren't sure if we had enough to get home and if we may have to stop again.  But we decided we were ready to go and could always stop 5 minutes for a top off if we needed to.  *shrugs*  Of course, we expected really heavy traffic.  It wasn't so bad, but there was enough stop-and-go for us to have 50 miles left when we got home.  Without the stop-and-go I think we'd have enough left, but maybe just 20 or 30 miles.  Braking regenerates energy.

I personally find the electric car more convenient than gas for around town and for our frequent Bay Area trips (we now need less fuel stops for that trip, and is a trip we make 1-2 times per month). Before, we'd have to make sure we had a full tank before we left or stopped on the way.  We always refueled on the way home so that we had gas left for the work week.  Now we just have to make one small stop, and even that is probably just being on the safe side.  If we ever hit any traffic on that drive, stopping to fuel is not necessary.

600 mile road trip = *shrugs*  It 1000% depends on your personality.  I said to my friend, "You have to stop and eat anyway" and she looked at me like I was crazy.  Okay, sure, most our friends rather leave at 6pm on a Friday to get to LA at midnight.  That is so not us.  We always stop and picnic at the rest stops, and take our time.  As they put in more free chargers at the rest stops, that is 1000% what we will do, but what we did before anyway.  Finding out our hotel had a charger though, certainly made life easier.   & this trip we were very much just wanting to rest and recharge our batteries.  We didn't really drive anywhere else.  In the future, we may want to travel a little farther and explore.  So being able to just plug in when we get to the hotel and not think about it (just wake up the next day with a full charge), that will definitely be nice.

I am still curious about a longer road trip, but not sure when we will ever get to that.  It will be an experiment when we do.

For whatever reason, Electrify America is putting their chargers at all the outlet malls.  We stopped at so many outlet malls!  I found them to be a nice place to stop because of all the restaurants and bathrooms. 

So that is a general sum up of a longer trip.  One that will be made frequently in our future, with MM attending college over there.

There was about 5 weeks in between trips.  During this time DL(15) started going back to school full-time, in person.  MH got his wish, with just driving the car around town and seeing how far he could get.  I mean, we had a few freeway trips thrown in.  If just driving to/from school/work, MH and the kids, I expect the car will probably go 350+ miles with all the regen (from braking).  

In this case, MH drove 300 miles during these 6 weeks and did not need to recharge in between bigger road trips.

That said, he did find a free charger at a movie theater.  I think it's mostly moot because at the time our nearby theater was closed.  It has since reopened.  But he is going to some other movie with free charging today (we have a gift card).  He will get about 75 miles free charge.  It may be 30 miles roundtrip diving to get there.

It may be mostly moot in the short run (with our neighborhood theater opened up) but I guess as the free movie screenings open back up, that is where he will get use out of these free chargers.  I think MH would be in heaven.  Free car charging and FREE movies!?  What else could you ask for?  😁  The free movie screenings are all over the place.

Edited to add:  Just a reminder that every EV is *so* different.  This is one of the slower ones to charge, for reference.   I wouldn't judge current EV technology based on our car choice.  We have more time than money; our primary motivation switching to EV was to save money.  This car was the sweet spot for our personal situation.  I was just reading about all the new cars coming out that will charge roughly 200 miles in 20 minutes. 



January 22nd, 2021 at 02:10 pm

I just received an email that they are stopping the free car charging program we have been using.

Shouldn't be a surprise, but wasn't particularly on my radar.  Their Plan A was to actually turn it off like the week we bought our electric car.  !!  But with COVID, they extended discount and free rates.  In the end, sounds like they extended for 5 months.

This means that all the chargers on our Tahoe route are no longer free like we have gotten used to.   Bay Area chargers will no longer be discounted like we have gotten used to.  

How this changes things:

When we do these road trips, we will stop just long enough to get enough charge to get home.  We won't stop at all if we don't need to.

I expect this is a change we were heading towards regardless.  We did a Bay Area run a couple of months ago where we just stopped long enough to get home.   & I suppose is technically what we did last weekend too.

When we cross that bridge we will work through the math.  I don't remember what the cost was off the top of my head.  Maybe slightly cheaper than gas?  But if we pay roughly 1/3-1/4 the cost of gas when we charge at home, and we only need to charge up 30-ish miles to get home, then clearly we still come out ahead. 

I was also thinking this might change the playing field for a longer road trip, which we have yet to test out.  In the end, it doesn't matter because these charges were just between Monterey and Tahoe.  Any longer road trip would take us well beyond this range.  Though...  There was a fair amount of free charging opportunities for the one So Cal school that MM is considering along the coast.  I just don't know yet if that will matter at all.

I do think we hit a good sweet spot.  I know these perks are phasing out because more and more people are driving electric.  The plus side is I think we hit a better sweet spot as to number of chargers.  In fact, they just installed a fast charger right by my parents' home.  That is super convenient for us.   I expect that today we can drive wherever we want to, without worrying about infrastructure.  This is more true today than it was just 6 months ago.  & it keeps getting better. 

Edited to add:  MH pointed out we no longer have to limit ourselves to a small handful of (free) chargers, which I guess will make our life easier.  The chargers we used were never in use and were in convenient spots, so it will be interesting to see if things change.   If a few key chargers on our route are the ones we have already tried and will stick to.  We were already planning to use the not-free new charger right by my parents', so convenience was going to win out anyway.  It will be interesting to see if our preferences otherwise change.

Electric Car, Less Repairs

November 7th, 2020 at 04:00 pm

Consumer Reports put out a couple of articles recently about the lower repair costs in electric vehicles.

This was one of the articles:

**I have no idea how to do links in this new blog format**

The general conclusion is that EV cars cost half as much to maintain, versus gas vehicles.

"“It has long been well known that EVs are cheaper to maintain than their gasoline-powered counterparts,” says Chris Harto, CR’s senior analyst for transportation and energy. “But this is the first time we’ve had enough hard data from actual EV owners to prove the point.” 

I did see a couple of these articles that discussed this in terms of electric cars also being more expensive (purchase price).  I find that part to be completely N/A on the used market.  Quite the opposite.  YMMV depending on where you live.  As someone who has never bought a new car, I guess is why I don't care or hasn't come up in my blog.  One of the reasons we had been considering an electric car so seriously was because it was so inexpensive on the used market (we had seriously considered a barely used Nissan Leaf for $5,000 at some point; that was at a dealership).  These were conversations we had when our means were much smaller.  It was the small means that led us to very seriously talk about going electric.  It was the car purchase price AND the savings on fuel.  

That does remind me though, I have seen some people picking up brand new Bolts in the $20k range (I belong to a Bolt online group).  So I guess there is also that if you are a "new car only" car buyer.  Costco had some $3,000 discount on top of some $8,000 manufacturer discount, something like that. 


October Driving

November 7th, 2020 at 02:49 pm

October Miles Driven:

Teenager Gas car: ??

Hybrid Electric car: 626

All-Electric car: 712

Total fuel costs September: $33

Note: Back to lower winter electric rates.

**Note: We received 90 FREE electric miles last month.**


For reference, fuel cost in October 2019 was $110.    Savings of $77.

Fuel costs October 2017 (two gas vehicles): $196.  Savings of $163.                         

(Note: This was also when my commute was half as many miles)

Driving was mostly my commute, about 900 miles.  I did split the cars somewhat 50/50, but if MH had a 5-mile drive or wanted to get groceries, I left the electric car for him on those days.  Was not exactly 50/50, though mostly have been driving my car (hybrid) on Mondays/Tuesdays and the all-electric on Thursdays/Fridays.  Not only is this to keep both cars running and moving, but...  More to the point, we piled the miles on the hybrid during the past 2 years (30K miles in two years).  I do want to pile more miles on the all-electric and even it out a bit.  50/50 is just how it seems to be working out, for now.

These are all electric miles.   I came up with a rough estimate of fuel costs based on overnight electricity usage. 

I expect MH is frustrated with me because he is getting insane fuel efficiency on all the around town trips (taking kids to school to pick up this or that, getting groceries, etc.).  He wants to see how far one charge will go with his more normal driving.  The problem is that I expect it will go about 300-400 miles, and... it's going to take like a year to get to that...  

It's not all me and my commute messing up his test run.  He is working on a film project and did a couple of 100 mile drives (hence the higher miles on his car last month).  He did also take DL(15) to Tahoe when he had some days off of school (which is where he got a free charge).

November is probably going to be a similar miles month.  It's pretty quiet and not much going on.  But...  I am taking a week off work and imagine that we will be doing some smaller road trips.  

I didn't look at MM's car.  I just didn't get around to it yet.  I recall he did some "virtual" 5K with friends (that he drove to) and met up with his friends on Halloween.  He may have driven 10-20 miles.  


September Driving

November 7th, 2020 at 01:29 pm

September Miles Driven:

Teenager Gas car: 5

Hybrid Electric car: 214

All-Electric car: 1,556

Total fuel costs September: $43.52

Note: This was our last month of higher summer electric rates.

**Note: We received 470 FREE electric miles last month.**

I would have guessed 10 miles on the kids' car. It was a whole whopping 5 miles. That was probably just one trip to the orthodontist. We had mostly been putting miles on the hybrid, so I drove the newer car to work some, in addition to a lot of test runs and some staycation drives. It probably works out to 650 miles commute and 700 miles bigger trips. With the two Bay Area trips and the two Tahoe trips, that makes sense. I don't foresee much driving (October), aside from my commute. I will probably drive somewhat 50/50. I want to put more miles on the newer car, to make up for all the miles we piled on the hybrid the last two years. But... I don't want to drive it all the time. There are some things I like better in my car.

Pretty much I am the only one driving anywhere (more than a couple of miles here and there) so I guess it's up to me. It will probably mostly sort out 50/50. Once the pandemic is over and/or we can equalize the miles on the cars, I can see favoring my car. We abandoned his/her cars when we had kids. I can see maybe settling a bit more into his/hers with our current cars. It's easier because they are both similar and same year, so no one's going to feel "stuck with an older car" or anything like that. & they are both so similar in size and fuel costs and everything. But... Will see how we feel about that after the pandemic. For now, I have two cars to choose from. We will be fighting over the all-electric car on weekday evenings and weekends (post pandemic). Probably whoever is driving farther gets the all-electric.

We had been switching sides in the garage, to refuel the electric car during the weekend. But we quickly figured out this is unnecessary. The cord will reach over the nearest car to the other car. This will save some hassle. I charge my car when I get home every night (I plug it in and set it to charge overnight). So we just have to remember to charge the other car Saturday or Sunday night. Long term, that should be more than sufficient. Maybe extra charging if we plan a bigger trip. I think when things normalize, I will also be better able to track real fuel costs. For now, I am just doing rough estimates based on overnight electricity costs.

I believe that MH and I both gave up a Free 100 miles. or 200 miles total. I realized my last free charge was going to expire, but the air quality was too questionable to be worth the free $2. It probably sounds ridiculous to take the time/effort to go sit and recharge for 45 minutes. But... After sitting so many hours and waiting for kids in recent years, I kind of miss the forced silence. To me, it sounds nice. Just being stuck somewhere, without anything productive to do and no one vying for my time. Plus, we've only had the electric car for a month. In my mind, 100 miles costs at least $10 (gas price). I think that is more to the point. MH did end up going out of town one day, but he took DL(15) up to Tahoe and there is all free chargers on that route, so he didn't bother to go out of his way to use up his extra free charge.

I was thinking that I hadn't put any gas in the hybrid since March? That was what I was recalling and I realized I probably needed to burn off some/all of the gas. Gas will go bad over time. But I put a pin on it while the air quality has been so bad here. (Logical or not, I just figured I didn't want to suck more ash or whatever into the engine). In the end, the car made the decision for me. We did experience "maintenance mode" when looking at Volts, before we purchased. So... I knew not to freak out. But when I left work one day it went into 'maintenance mode' and started burning off gas. What I had not realized is that you can still drive while it does that. (The car salesman smartly said, "Let's just wait," because you aren't going to get the feel of driving an electric car while it is doing some all out maintenance to the engine. But it had left me with the impression that you had to wait it out). So... It was a learning experience because I didn't realize it would start after driving the car. It would have really freaked me out if I had no idea what it was doing. In the end, I chose to burn off an extra 10 miles of gas because I was going to run some errands after work, and figured might as well. I didn't have enough electric miles to hit all my errands, and it's better to burn gas on the freeway (better mpg). Clearly I have a lot of gas to dump. It feels like throwing it down the drain, but it is what it is. When the pandemic started, our inclination was to hoard up gas (filled the hybrid), just for any worst case scenario.

In the end, I started thinking that I was pretty sure we drove to the Bay Area in July. So I looked it up and we did last put gas in the tank in July. The gas is not quite as old as I thought. It still feels like pouring money down the drain, but will probably plan one out-of-town trip with the hybrid and will run through the gas (before year-end). I am probably just going to put a gallon or something in it, of new gas, after that. Will see how long it lasts. The car needs some gas to function properly. But during the pandemic and with kids home and MH unemployed, I expect one gallon will last a very long time. When things normalize, will have more reason to run through the gas. In that case I might try 3 or 4 gallons and see how long it takes to get through. It's going to be weird. I can easily see us becoming a 100% electric-fuel household, even when things normalize. We do often have stuff going on after work, but if we just take the electric car for those trips, then that was pretty much the only reason we were using gas around town. Will have to use gas once in a while, but I already feel so, "Ugh," about it. It's just wasteful and expensive at this point. I've seen a lot of hybrid owners say they haven't bought gas in months or years. I am just experiencing this side of it for the first time.

I expect it will probably make more sense to keep a little more fuel in the tank and to just burn it off within 6 months or something. It's probably more practical to throw gas down the drain every 6 months (potentially) versus leaving very little gas in the car and having to go to the gas station more often. I honestly don't remember the last time I went to a gas station. Kind of the whole point is to not go to the gas station unless going out of town. So going from, "I don't remember when I last got gas" to "maintaining just one gallon of gas" sounds like an extraordinary hassle. But I think I need to try it in the interim. The other thing we can do is add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank to prolong the gas. I have some homework to do on that front. It's something we should probably consider also for MM(17)'s car. Until DL(15) gets his permit and starts practicing driving...

Peace & Calm

September 27th, 2020 at 01:56 pm

Hell froze over and I got a week of peace and calm.

There's probably a million things I could/should have done. But... Treated the week as a long overdue staycation and didn't do much of anything productive. I felt like I was figuratively gulping in the fresh air but I guess it was also quite literal. I had to pinch myself that our staycation destinations all had clean air on the days we planned. Was trying to keep it flexible, but locked in reservations one day and it still worked out. (The air quality has been very patchy).

We had a difficult time spending any of our vacation funds. I did some rough math and an old average of $100/month for car gas will now give us 8,000 miles of driving. We enjoyed this incredible freedom. If I want to drive to the beach every single weekend, cost of fuel is no longer a limiting factor.

On Tuesday we took advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and had Muir Woods (redwood forest) mostly to ourselves. It was *amazing*. We didn't see another soul once we left the main trail, and had a picnic spot all to ourselves for lunch.

I had been starving for some beach time and so we hit the beach afterwards.

We did end up stopping for a refuel on the way home. We drove 254 miles, stopped and added about 55 miles of charge, and still had 65 miles left when we got home. Third completely different drive, still getting that 260-mile range on one charge.

We learned two things worth sharing:

We played it a lot more loose this trip, just stopping for some fuel on the way home. It's a charger we would use a lot on drives from the Bay Area, so it was nice to check out this one (different location, different route home). All we did was run an errand and grab a couple of grocery items while we were there. I'd say we spent about 15 minutes in the store and then spent a minute or two discussing if we had enough to get home, deciding yes and unplugging. We ended up charging for 17 miles and gaining about 55 miles. & honestly, we didn't even have to charge 1/2 that long to get home. Felt more like a gas car trip. In the short run, we have infinite free charges and will probably be stopping more, but long term when it's not free, it's just going to be much shorter stops. We had spent so much time in the car, it was nice to stop and take a break.

{As a side note, MH wanted me to mention our car had one of the slowest charge times. I had no idea, but that's good to know. Like I said before, every single car model is different. If faster charging is really important, almost any other electric car will be faster}.

We did some windy steep hill driving and that is also worth mentioning. When I mentioned the manufacturer recommended maintenance, there was no mention of brakes. This is not an oversight. The car does have traditional brakes, but those are mostly there for sudden stopping and more emergency type braking. Most of the time, you don't use the brakes on the car. The regenerative braking system slows the car down through the engine (more like a low gear on a gas car). This braking regenerates energy and adds more range back to the battery. So... Not only did we get to zip up the hill with ease. But... We did not have to use the brakes at all to come back down. It was *amazing*.

{Again, I don't get the sense this is universal for all electric cars. So just another reminder that every car is different}.

The next day we went to the family cabin, midway between our home and Tahoe. It's a trip that MH had already done with DL(15). We just enjoyed the peace and quiet. We went on a hike where we didn't see a single other person.

I personally would have stopped for a free charge but MH was feeling "meh" about that. I have no idea why. He usually leans toward the cheap side of things, so it was very unlike him. He was kind of saying, "We don't need a charge, and these chargers won't always be free." So wanted to live life without worrying about fuel, for this trip.

The chargers are so under-utilized east of our city that they have left all of those free. It's the more utilized ones that they started charging more for around the time we bought the car. So there is a completely free charger at the freeway exit we use to get to the cabin.

View from hike near cabin, no other people that day:

Total driving 2 days: 400 miles.
Total fuel costs 2 days: $5

Thursday was our anniversary and we had a low-key day at home. We ordered in a nice dinner.

Because the kids had school, we left Saturday for one more trip/hike, this time with kids. The road to Tahoe was closed. If not, I think we would have gone all the way and tested it out. But our plan was to go visit Camp, which was mostly closed for this season. It's probably about 10 miles away from Tahoe.

We got our camp fix, and there is a nice isolated hike.

Our timing could not have been more perfect. We saw a couple of people hiking back down as we hiked up, but that was about it. We had the top of the mountain completely to ourselves. I would have stayed longer, but MH seemed to be more in a rush. For the best, because we saw at least 20 people coming back up as we hiked down. It was clearly a popular lunch spot. We had debated packing lunch for the third time that week, but decided "meh" with the longer drive and earlier start. But we didn't start too early and had missed the early morning crowd too.

{We hadn't expected it to be crowded because we've never seen too many cars there when we camp during summer. Even though the parking is very limited. Was one reason we left that hike for the weekend. We saw more people than cars, not sure where all these people were coming from}.

Of course, the "up the mountain" 100 mile drive wasn't doing much for our electric range. I believe it was estimating we only had 90 miles left on the car once we got to our destination. We weren't worried about it at all knowing that it would use very little of that energy to go back down.

The stories are true: We had more range when we got home than we did at the top of the mountain. So... 90 miles downhill generated more energy that it used. It's hard to believe it until you see it for yourself.

We did stop for lunch and a free charge. The lunch took longer than the charge. We had two convenient options: a charger right by camp or the charger by the cabin.

We drove 190 miles. Stopped for a free charge that added 100 miles to the battery. Still had 200 miles left when we got home. Although we had consistently been getting a 260-mile range in different weather and terrain, this works out to a 290-range on one charge (if you ignore the extra charge and 100 miles). Which means... even though the uphill used a lot of energy, the downhill still put us +30 miles ahead with the roundtrip.

Obviously, stopping to charge was completely unnecessary.

MH ended up getting an extra free charge. It was the first time he got a survey/free charge offer. I have already redeemed two and got an accidental extra credit, so make that *3* free charges. When showing him how to access the free charge, I noticed my last free charge expires next week (on October 6th?). I asked MH not to plug in the car when we got home. There's enough range for me to drive to work all week and then we can refuel at a free public fast charger next weekend. MH does have some planned day trips with DL(15) during his time off (fall break in another week), but if they go into the mountains where the chargers are always free, I expect that we won't get through all of these extra *free charge* offers.

Oh yeah, our fuel costs for our 190 mile drive yesterday: $2.06

Our higher summer electric rates end October 1. For spring and fall, just means even cheaper driving.

Some Car Spending?

September 19th, 2020 at 02:15 pm

I don't remember why or the context, but the topic came up at work: Cleaning off your windshield at a gas station.

I made a mental note. If we no longer go to gas stations... I suppose I should buy a squeegee.

One reason we wanted to replace our gas car was that we were just piling on *all* our miles on the hybrid car. Wanted to spread out our driving a bit and want to be able to keep both cars for decades if that is what we choose to do. Wasn't going to happen at the rate we were driving the hybrid. We put on 32k miles in 2 years, which is a *lot* for us. My plan is to pile up some miles on the newer car. When the pandemic is over, we can spread it out a little more. Even if I still mostly use the hybrid for my commute, I can still take the all-electric to work in the summer/winter months when MH is off of work.

I drove both cars this week so I have some real numbers.

The bigger battery (all-electric) is more efficient and using less energy for my drive.

HYBRID Commute
Cost with summer electricity rate: $1.36
Cost with rest-of-the year electricity rate: $1.10

Cost with summer electricity rate: $1.13
Cost with rest-of-the year electricity rate: $0.92

I suppose it works out nicely that I can probably just drive the all-electric on my commute during summer months (months that MH has off of work).

More Car Savings

September 16th, 2020 at 02:18 pm

I will probably do another post, but I don't wanna. Life continues to be absurd.

Rather just talk about the car, it's nice to have a distraction.

I do think it's worth sharing perception versus reality. I should probably continue to share these things as they happen.

The other day I was wondering if car expenses would fall off our "Top 5" annual expenses. I looked back at 2017/2018 as better comparison years because we only had 2 cars and they were both gas cars.

Holy Cow... This is how the numbers are shaking out:
2017 - $6,299 (fuel/insurance/maintenance/tags)
2018 - $7,025
2020 - $3,000 (estimate for all of 2020)

We are saving roughly **$3,000 per year** switching to all-electric driving.

But... "It's 2020. You haven't driven much?" You say? Well, I *doubled* my commute end of 2018 and I still have my commute (which is the most of our household driving). & it will cost a whole whopping $200 per year to fuel the new car (if even that, am erring on the aggressive side). I expect same/better for 2021 ($3,000 total car expenses for the year).

That's cutting our expenses in half while driving significantly more. 🤯

I honestly have no idea what our #5 household expense will become. I glanced at it and wasn't coming up with anything else big. Utilities and Misc., which are broken out into a lot of smaller sub-categories. Will figure it out at the end of the year.

MH's friend just thinks we are giant idiots. I know is what most are thinking. I suppose I don't care, I am used to it. We are used to making unpopular decisions that just make our life better/easier.

This guy has the same gas car as MH (40mpg freeway). He is just, "NO WAY were you spending $1,000 per year on car gas!" 🤣 Seriously, how hard is it to spend $83/month on gas? With our gas prices? This guy is single and childless. He clearly has no concept of how much MH drives kids around. (Also, all those short trips were knocking the mpg down closer to 25 mpg). FWIW, we drove the gas car 8,000 miles last year. That was probably a less than average year, as we both preferred to drive the hybrid if at all possible. But it was the only car available for MH/kids' commute, and is also the car that MH took to LA. I am sure there were many other times we needed two cars or both had to be somewhere.

In other news, MH/DL did their father/son trip last weekend. After being told several times by friends/relatives with electric cars, that the car basically uses no fuel to drive back down to the valley from Tahoe... I was wondering how much fuel it would take to get up the hill though. In the end, they only went about half way, stopping at the family cabin. MH could have gotten a free charge but he hadn't used up enough electric fuel to bother. Mental note: Don't fully charge the car before that trip. He also wanted to leave room on the battery in case it did generate more charge than it used. In the end, did get some crazy #s coming down the hill but was probably only a 25% - 50% improvement (round trip) over a more average drive. The downhill did use very little fuel. The uphill used a lot of fuel. But the downhill more than made up for the uphill. Once you netted it out though, it wasn't anything terribly exciting. Especially once you factor the cost of electricity and figure you might have saved a quarter. 😁

What is interesting is that the weather was mild and the terrain was entirely different than any other driving we have done. MH drove 150 miles and had 110 miles left when he got home. So... It sounds like 260 miles is the true range. If we have gotten that twice on two entirely different trips. Entirely different terrain, weather, etc. Electric cars are weird like that. The quoted range (manufacturer) is 238 miles. Our long trip average is 260 miles. Our shorter trip average will be far above that (more range). Though the range is more relevant/important on longer trips so I understand erring on the side of driving faster/longer to come up with the range. I am sure we could come up with 238 (the "official" range) if we sped and blasted the heat.

That reminds me, MH had to make a couple of trips to take kids to school. Both times was coming up with -0- miles used. Clearly there is *some* fuel being used on these shorter trips, but too small to register on just a couple of trips. Miles driven: 10 miles total, divided by two trips. (Reminder: braking regenerates energy. It is possible that trip generates as much energy as it is using). It seems moot. At this rate, MH's employer will close up shop and kids won't be back at school until they are both licensed drivers. The electric car is made for those infinite 6-mile roundtrips that MH was making. I just don't know if those trips will still be made. We are obviously happy with freeway and long range performance: silent drives that cost pennies. It just would have been interesting to see what kind of a range we could have gotten with MH's average driving, pre-pandemic.

In other news, we sold the gas car. Another post for another day. The day before we sold it, a neighbor's tree fell and missed MM(17)'s car by inches. Also, we had a fire too close to home and black ash was raining from the sky covering the outside cars (was more significant than the general infinite rain of grey ash we have been experiencing). I feel great relief to have less "stuff" to manage. Would have felt great relief regardless, but it wasn't a good week for the outside cars.

Longer Distance EV Test Run

September 7th, 2020 at 02:18 pm

We did our first longer distance test run.


I suppose one big electric car adjustment is not knowing how much range you are actually going to get. It depends on a few different factors.

Things that helped us along: Some minor stop-and-go traffic along the way, and also some city driving when we drove between relatives' homes.

The thing going most against us: One of the hottest days of the year. A - this directs more energy to cooling off the battery. B - A/C is an energy suck. Best we could tell, blasting the AC was taking 7 miles off of the range. Not a lot, but adds up more on a bigger battery with longer range.

{Holy cow that AC is amazing though. A+}.

The end result:
We could have probably made the entire trip, even with hot conditions and a few stops, without a stop to re-charge.

Literally, we stopped for a free 100-mile charge and the car estimated we had 100 miles left when we got home. How is that for cutting it close? IT sounds extremely feasible to make the roundtrip without any stops. The battery might go 20 miles further in fall and spring (more mild weather). It will be interesting to see on future test runs.

Of course, in a gas car I know you can run it to empty and still drive another 20-30 miles. I don't know what the deal is on an electric car. Probably same, but it's not ideal to run the battery to empty. I don't expect we will ever cut it close.

Considering that we literally always get gas on the way to/from the Bay Area, I can tell this will not be any different (logistics) from driving a gas car. We either fill up gas when we plan for a longer trip, or we fill up on cheaper gas on the way home (most likely). The electric car is going to be the same. We might need to stop for 10 minutes to top off a few extra miles to make sure we can get home. *shrugs*

Considering we often make this kind of trip multiple times a month... We are very pleased with the outcome.

When we bought our hybrid car we were considering that the "around town" car and had no intention whatsoever to make it the "road trip" car. Then we drove it to the Bay Area the first time and the gas mpg was 50. We had no idea that the car could do that! So then that became our "drive everywhere" car. Because of that, I am not surprised at all that the all-electric is easily going to become our "drive everywhere" car. Like the hybrid, the official quoted range is less than it really is.

MH did fill up 100 free miles (free charger test run) middle of the week. The only other driving he had done was to drive 5 miles home from that charger. I plugged the newer car in when I left for work on Friday.

Saturday morning we left with a full charge. This is how the numbers worked out, and I will compare to our other vehicles.

Miles Driven: 261.2
{After paying close attention to our hybrid driving and costs, I would have guessed that 250 miles is pretty average for us when visiting our Bay Are relatives. This was a very average drive}.

Electricity Used: 58.5 kWh
Free Charge: Less: 23.25 kWh
Net Electricity paid for: 35.25 kWh
x.1059 (summer electricity rates @ home)

That is $3.73 in fuel costs to drive 260 miles.


{I guess technically it was cheaper than that because we got two free charges! But that will probably not be typical}.

It's official. The only time I ever get gas in my hybrid car is when we drive out of town. After this trip? I am removing gas fuel from our budget. It will be -$0-. Car gas will no longer have any place in our monthly budget.

Anyway, here are the comparisons:
260 mile trip Fuel Costs
All-Electric: $3.73
Hybrid: $13.90
Gas Car: $19.50

That said... We failed on our trip and spent more money.

We chose the most ideal place to stop. It was 50% or 75% off. (Free charging *all the time* ended last week, but it's still discounted and sometimes free).

We had decided to stop and eat dinner. Not that we would always do that, but it's a test run and it was just MH and I. Plus, we usually eat with our parents. We just aren't going to do that during a pandemic. So you can somewhat put this in the pandemic category.

We were still in the Bay Area and all the restaurants over there ended up being $$$$.

Downside: Spent a lot on food. $25. If there had been a Taco Bell or something, we would have been perfectly happy with that.

Because the charge was deeply discounted, we decided to stop 45-minutes for the max amount of free charge. It was a billion degrees and not much shade.

Upside: Sat and ate in completely comfortable car with A/C. It doesn't idle like a traditional car. I am well aware after 2 years with the hybrid. It is a great pandemic car, if you are sitting around in your car waiting a lot. You can turn on the car and be comfortable, without bothering anyone else or spewing exhaust.

Overall, we were happy with the stop. It was a very large shopping center and I expect in the future we would just get out and go for a walk. Maybe pick up a snack or something. Don't need to eat an entire meal every time we need fuel. & like I mentioned before, a 10-minute re-fuel would have got us home comfortably.

I believe that this charger was going to be 50%-off during the time frame that we arrived. Just as we were about to charge, a survey popped up on my phone. In exchange for answering a few questions I got a free charge. That was unexpected! MH was jealous that he did not get a survey when he charged.

Then there was a glitch and they credited me twice, so it looks like I have another free charge? I don't know. Not holding my breath on that one. But if it's still there next time I drive out of town...