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More Film Festivals

September 28th, 2022 at 02:19 pm

DL(17) made a solo music album and sold his first copy.  He made $10.

I got my life insurance renewal.  I thought it looked more than usual.  It was 3.5 times higher!  The joys of turning 45.   There's a preferred rate that is about half as much.  I just don't know the odds I will get that, with all my recent health issues.  Will see... 

Ugh, I just got my medical insurance renewal too.  Is a bigger increase (8%) than it has been in recent years, but should just be grateful it's not more.  I remember seeing some crazy estimates early pandemic (like 50% increases in cost, something along those lines).  Note:  Medical has been our biggest financial challenge and biggest expense for many years.

MH got rejected re: a SF film festival.  That was surprising because it was the first more local film festival he did not get into.  But I am somewhat relieved because the calendar was getting a little crazy.

Next up is a local film festival that is doing a hybrid thing.  MH made the in-person cut and is once again the headliner for the entire event.  !! 

Then Arizona.  I don't know if he knows the order yet.  It's a bigger theater so should be the most interesting one.  Presuming his time slot is well attended.  

After that, we are going to a film festival in Napa.  MH is not in it, but he met someone who is.  We are planning a very belated anniversary dinner.  Will make a date of it. 

MH just asked me if we *should* go out to lunch today, for our anniversary.  After 5 days? of eating out in a row (between work and college trip) and with a 5-Day trip coming up?  No thanks?!  I told him we will do a nice meal in Arizona and also in Napa.

Edited to add:  MH got into an Oregon festival.  October is apparently his month.  They first took a script submission (his most recent movie script) and then later told him they will also screen his film.  As of right now, we are going to wait until Arizona to decide.  The Oregon one is probably not worth it.  But it's also cheap and easy to get to, so is why we are still considering.  

MM(19) went dark.  He's got his new credit card (in his name only) so I don't know what kind of spending he has been doing.  Probably just groceries.  He sounds pretty slammed.  I sent an, "Is you alive?" text a few days ago that he did reply to.  But that's about it.  I suppose I will see dollar amounts when he pays off his card.  He clearly sounds too busy to be spending money.  He has an on campus job this quarter.  Maybe 8 hours per week.  Plus some extra set up re: job while trying to move in and coordinate with 4 new roommates.  & his girlfriend moved in a few weeks early for her job, so they had a big date planned.  Hadn't seen each other much since MH ended up with COVID.  (Her sister is immunocompromised, so she kept her distance).

MIL is coming to take DL(17) out to dinner while we are in Arizona.  Just check in on him and see if he needs anything.  Give him an extra treat.   While she is here, will pick up an extra load for MM(19).  Now that she has two grandkids at the one college, they are planning a visit (sooner than we can get there).  In the end, it's not going to be much and we probably could have fit it all last weekend.  The only bulky thing is a set of dishes that I doubt he will need?  MH had paper plates left over from filming his movie, so we sent those down until we could get dishes settled.  Will talk to him about it today. 

Edit to add:  Ended up speaking to MM(19).  He also wants his guitar but didn't end up needing a full dishes set.  So yeah, probably could have fit everything but the guitar, on the first trip.  I forgot about the guitar, which is clearly big and bulky.  He told me he spent $12 eating campus food that first week (he expects that to be average) and he only spent a few dollars at the grocery store.  ???  Will see...  Clearly girlfriend is feeding him a lot.  She likes to cook.  & bake; she made some pies.  So he is eating very well.  He is enjoying much better food (even if he just sticks to his kitchen/cooking, has nowhere to go but up) and having a private bedroom.  He is clearly very happy with things.  

MH wouldn't let me give any food away at work.  I think we have one serving left of burritos/rice (might be too old at this point).  He did not cook at all last week.  The fridge was pretty cleared out by Sunday.  Sunday I cooked up some salmon (on sale) and MH made potato soup so that we'd have some leftovers.  But he skipped cooking yesterday.  I don't know how much he is being more mindful (and less in denial) with MM gone.  But I expect there's some extra pressure with all the out-of-town plans.  He's thinking more carefully about it and more willing to just skip cooking.  I am sure I nagged him many times last school year to just skip a night.  So skipping 6 nights is pretty amazing, but we had a fridge full of way too much food and he was hell bent on eating it (versus giving it away).  


Zero Credit Score

September 24th, 2022 at 03:36 pm

My boss is applying for a new business credit card and is having issues.

Is through our bank, that we have a long relationship with.  They finally told him, "Yeah, we noticed a while ago you had a zero credit score but clearly you had good credit and it didn't affect things on our end."  Re: bank line of credit and personal guaranty (he also has a bajillion dollars).  "But it's going to be a little more work to get around the 'credit approval' robot."  

I was fascinated by this.  He told me they don't use credit cards (he's in his early 30s) and they paid off their house in 2019. (I knew this because I sent the payoff wire).  I thought good credit stayed on your report for 10 years (it does) *and* that it would take a lot longer for a paid off loan to impact your credit score.

Most especially because this is probably the #1 comment I get re: credit card rewards.  I don't keep old cards open.  Everyone freaks out about that but it's never been an issue.  I had a 780+ credit score at some point when we had only 1 year of open credit (around the time we did our last refi).  I just happened to jump to a new primary credit card around the time we refinanced.  & we never keep old cards open.  The results = *shrugs*  

So...  I was fascinated when my boss told me it was about 18 months? from a 800+ credit score to *zero*

I guess that's how it works when you have absolutely no open credit.

I don't know if this means anything to me personally.  In a perfect world I would love to stop using credit cards (on principle).  But they are just so convenient...  I don't know that we will ever drop credit cards.  So will probably always have some form of credit.  


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.

Applying for Credit Cards

September 8th, 2022 at 01:28 pm


MM(19) applied for a credit card today and received a $1,000 limit.  That is much more useful than his $500 limit.  He has an excellent credit score but income is the limiting factor.  So we just crossed our fingers and tried.  (I guess when he turns 21, we can count parental support, but we can't now if we aren't on the card?  Weird rules.  Something to keep in mind when he turns 21).  

My plan is to shut this other card down, once he gets that all squared away.  I got it solely for him to manage and use, but it is in my name.  

This is a step re: getting him more self sufficient.  I would have kicked him off my credit card when he turned 18, if it had been practical.  

While in credit card mode, I applied for a credit card for DL(17).

Both these cards will have a $200 up front bonus.  

MM(19) went for $200 bonus + 1.5% cash back on everything.  He was more interested in the bonus because he doesn't spend much.  I told him we could try but didn't know if he would be approved for some of these "excellent credit" credit cards, re: his short credit history.  Now we have our answer...

For DL(17) I opened a credit card in MH's name.  Just to spread it out.  Added DL as an authorized user.  They gave MH some ridiculous credit limit but we will get it reduced. 

I will let the kids try to get their own bonuses.  They each need to spend $500.  MM(19) is skeptical but will see how expensive groceries are.  DL(17) should have his first auto insurance bill soon (~$500).  I mostly got him this reward to help offset that. But I will charge something on each of their cards if they need help.  They have 3 months to spend $500 and to get their $200 bonus.


MM(19) is going to get his I Bonds purchased this week or next.  

I am just looking through his financial records.  He did get that cell phone refund and ended up paying a net $188 (with taxes) for his new phone.  He's very pleased with that upgrade.

He's done with his summer job.  He made just over $5,000.

Total cash = $10,700

Minus $500 he wants to keep in his 7% account.

& he needs to keep $100 minimum in his 3% account.

Minus whatever he doesn't want to tie up for a year.

I think he will at least move $5K over to I Bonds (is what he has had tied up in high yield savings account for some years).  & I think he'd be fine with $7K - $8K.  He doesn't have any car expenses during the school year and he will make ~$1,500 at his fall campus job.  

The decision is up to him.  Will see what he comes up with.

His job was only part time (allowing him to do some long travel weekends) and he has two full weeks off before he goes back to school.  All his friends went back to school some weeks ago.  So nothing too exciting planned.  Mostly packing and prepping for school.  Might take his brother on a hike/outing if the weather relents.


Our city had its highest temp ever on Tuesday.  116F degrees.  🥵

We are used to a dry heat but it was a little humid on Tuesday.  & made the temperatures feel more extreme.  

My work sent home all construction workers at noon, which I don't recall ever.  Not during a normal dry heat 110 couple of days, but this is more prolonged and extreme.  MH also got sent home and is being paid for his full shift this week.  He's maybe working 3 hours a day but getting paid for 5 hours.  Which is nice because they didn't have that much work for him anyway.  

High temps are supposed to last through Friday.

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.)  

2022 Credit Card Reward Tally

August 28th, 2022 at 01:57 pm

2022 TALLY:

$15 AmEx Reward (for charing insurance)

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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


August 27th, 2022 at 07:18 pm

MH finally got out of COVID jail.  He had been feeling completely fine for about a week but got his first negative on Wednesday.   Phew!  

The rest of us are fine.   I might have some time now to do anything else but cooking/dishes/domestics/kid stuff.  I have time for work again. Though MH was kind and ran to the grocery store the second his mom told him she tested positive.  We still have food for days.  I ran to the store over the weekend and was more than I expected.  Just refilling things that had run out.  But other than running out for sausages Tuesday, so that I could use up some leftover buns, I didn't buy any food for meals.  I appreciate not having to do a monster grocery run.  I presumed I'd go back to the store mid-week (to shop for meals) but just went to pick up fruit and a couple of things for recipes.  Black beans and cream.  I believe that was it.  Still have 2 more dinner that we can to make.  MH didn't plan that far ahead (14 days).  I've just been going through the "we always have ingredients on hand" recipes.  They were in the pile with "recipes MH bought ingredients for," so I just went with that. 

MH's employer will let him go back on Monday. 

MH also got into his first non-local film festival!  🥳🎈

I think pretty much we had given up.  Was just starting to discuss doing a long weekend trip in a couple of weeks (before MM went back to school).  Which seemed dead given the 2-week COVID delay.  It's moot now.

We are going to Arizona!  Hell froze over and it's during DL(17)'s school break, so we can both go and don't have to worry about getting him to/from school.  I am excited about it. 

We were kind of "You only live once," going into this, and mentally prepared for spending tons on travel this year.  But that was before all the rejection, MH missing two weeks of pay, literally just paying full sticker price for MM's college (financial aid is delayed), etc., etc.

But then I remembered we have a vacation fund (duh).  & MH was able to get a free timeshare.  I think we can pretty much stick to our small vacation budget with this trip and MM's college move-in.  

Other things going on...  I think DL(17) is over the driving learning curve.  I was nervous to do my first freeway drive with him. I've always had a standing Sunday driving invitation but he's never taken me up on it before.  In the end, he did very well.  No one was on the road, which is the whole point of the Sunday invitation.  That worked out well.  He's got a couple of more months (and probably 30 more hours he needs to log) for his license.

DL(17) has also decided that he wants to run a marathon.  I bought him very expensive shoes last weekend.  I guess this will torpedo our grocery bill.  If he starts eating at all like his brother did when he did track.  

MM(19) got his college move-in date confirmed.  I shouldn't have to change our hotel reservations.  Phew!  & the hotel prices weren't half as crazy as they were in June.

At some point I saw that CA grants were delayed until (at least) October.  I expect this is why MM's financial aid is all greyed out (is still pending).  I thankfully thought to look up due dates.  Was really thrown off by the early tuition due date without financial aid deferral.  Due 3-4 weeks earlier than we paid last year.  But saw it early enough I got money transfered and paid.  I don't know how most are managing with this surprise.  What a pain!  I've got a pile of cash just sitting there for the school year, so we will manage.  I expect we will just sort it out next quarter.  I don't want to pull from MM's college fund until I have any idea what his actual costs will be for the year.  

Can't remember if I got into this or not.  We didn't touch MM's college fund Year 1 because he had free tuition.  But MH and I had discussed more recently that we don't want to cash flow tuition *and* rent.  So...  Unless some very last minute scholarship pulls through...  Seems unlikely at this point.  Will start pulling from his college fund.  My best guess is that our actual tuition cost will be $5K this school year.   


Ortho Update

August 21st, 2022 at 01:47 pm

Older post that I didn't get around to posting before the whole COVID thing...

Ended up with GREAT NEWS a couple of weeks ago.

Thursday night there was a message on our answering machine re: early morning Ortho appointment for DL the next day.  Wanted a parent to come to discuss "Phase 2," yadda yadda yadda.  He has more my mouth and issues which was way too many years of braces, every contraption ever invented for ortho, plus jaw surgery.  & my jaw is probably better than it was but is still messed up.  I know DL(17) is a different person and maybe his problems weren't so severe, but they basically corrected most of the same problem with *18 months* of braces.  Just braces, no other contraptions.  Technology is amazing. 

They've been pretty positive in recent years that he's done and won't need surgery.  But...  This is just playing telephone and what he tells us.  So I was a little stressed about that phone message.

In the end, he was cleared re: no more braces and no surgery necessary.  Yay!  Also, no wisdom teeth concerns (yet).  

MM(19) has other issues and will need surgery.  I am just relieved it's not going to be surgery x2.   

We should probably set some money aside for that, or for DL's wisdom teeth.  I am making a note to ponder this re: end-of-year cash gifts.  This is my takeaway from the stress I felt re: potentially paying for more braces or getting another wisdom tooth surprise.

Edit:  This was just a text because MH went out of town after the appointment.  When he got home he told me the pictures of the changes in DL's mouth were just unreal.  He was really impressed. 

Frist COVID Exposure

August 17th, 2022 at 04:01 pm

The in-laws just got back from a big international trip.  MH went over to help them with things on Friday.  At some point (before they got back) he said that obviously they were bringing COVID back with them.  Probably should not have gone.  Hindsight 20/20.  In the end, MIL felt sick but didn't tell MH while he was there.  😠 She tested positive on Saturday.

I expect this is our first real exposure.  Meaning, spending any amount of time within 3 feet of someone COVID positive, without masks. 

MH went into more isolation mode Sunday night when he felt a tickle in his throat.  Thought he was likely being paranoid.  But he woke up with a sore throat.  Home test was negative but he got a PCR test that day and it quickly came back positive.  (It was obviously COVID, no matter what the tests said).

MH was supposed to go back to work on Monday.  He didn't get a chance to even go back for one day, so he won't get paid sick time.  (Technically would have had to been back at work for at least one day, to get sick pay.  Now he's just prolonging his summer break).  So that is also a bummer.

It's going to be an exhausting week, covering for MH.  I've managed by blowing off work a lot this week.  It's strangely quiet this week at work.  Like, quiter than it's ever been.  So, there's that.

I stopped to get gas yesterday.  My car won't remote start if it has less than 2 gallons of gas left.  Which I understand from the point of a gas car but drives me batty with my hybrid.  It's supposed to be 105F degrees all week and will be doing some extra driving.  After a summer of luxuriously cooling off my car before I get into it, I really didn't want to lose that luxury during the hottest week of the year.  So I went to the gas station and spent $10 (2 gallons).  I'm on a "gas once per year" schedule at this point.  That should be my only gas station stop for the year. (I generally burn off a wee bit of gas in summer and winter, when electric range doesn't cover 100% of my driving.  Reduced range in more extreme temps.  I don't think the heat reduces the range, but blasting the A/C does).

MM(19) was camping and hadn't been home since Friday morning.  He stayed with friends Sunday night.  He'd be wise to stay away, but last I heard he was coming home Monday night.  (He ended up coming home late and leaving early for work).  He works Tues - Thurs so probably won't be home much. 

MM(19) did help me with dinner last night and picked up his brother from his friend's house.  Phew!  Monday was all chores and errands. 

Spending is a little crazy right now.  Picked up some COVID tests at the store (we had none), picked up some prepared soup at the grocery store deli, picked up some OTC meds, etc.  Running the A/C 24/7, overnight and during peak time (when electricity costs triple). MH is holing up in his movie theater room and the projector just gets the room hot.  Probably extra so, while he won't open the door.  But even without that, no one wants to suffer through a hot evening while they don't feel well.  I suggested he leave the A/C on Monday peak time and I was surprised he readily agreed.  He agreed to that, but like hell he would turn down the temp a degree or two.  (Being too cheap for his own good).

I haven't talked to MH today.  He's had a sore throat and fever, but overall seems to be okay.

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. 

Road Trips & Film Festivals

August 6th, 2022 at 06:48 pm

MM(19) decided last minute to drive to Seattle.  I was a wee bit stressed about that.  It was originally going to be a 3-day trip.  ???  After leaning on him a bit that he needs to account for traffic, detours, getting lost, whatever, they eventually changed it to a 4.5 day trip.  Without any stops or traffic, it's about a 13 hour drive from our home.

I would have told you that we (MH and I) did the same trip when we were around 20/21.  Just looked it up and it was that age.  So I was just a year older than MM.   But...  That was a more leisurely summer trip.  Also, I had driven a bajillion miles on road trips before that big trip.  

We just wanted them to be more practical with their planning.  But with the longer road trip, they stopped at Crater Lake, went camping, etc.

Edited to add:  The trip was a success.  I'll stress less next time; he's a more experienced road tripper now.  

MH talked MM(19) into upgrading his cell phone.  The Pixel phones have some deal where you can trade up with a $300 credit (if you turn in your old phone).  So it's a $200 cash purchase for a significant upgrade.   I think the new phone is $450, but was closer to $500 with taxes.  Less $300 credit.  

I knew MM(19) would be spending more during summer months.  I wasn't expecting he'd be spending this much!  But it's nice to see that kid spend/enjoy his money.  In the past, he's been pretty extreme on the money hoarding front. 

MH called out a garage door repairman on Monday.  He didn't charge us anything.  We'd probably rather he spent more than 5 minutes, looked things over more carefully, and just taken the $250 to do the work that he felt was "too easy for us to bother paying him."  But on the flip side of the coin, a free fix isn't the worst thing.  I expect his diagnosis is right because I was so confused when MH said he was constantly having problems.  I never have problems with it.  But it's the sensors fading over time, probably.  MH is more likely to open the door in full sunlight.  Repair guy said the sensors struggle over time but we can just switch the wires (flip the sensors), and they will last another 10 years.  If it's happening at a certain time of day (when the sun hits it just right) it's more likely the cause.  I know it's not happening when I mostly go to/from work.  In the interim, MH had lubricated the door and it seems to be working fine.  He was waiting for MM(19) to get home.  MH feels comfortable re-wiring it, but thought MM(19) might enjoy it more or be more up for the task.

Will see...  The cost to replace the garage door opener is absurd, right now.  It's either a free fix or an expensive replacement.  (This wasn't on my radar at all, because is one of the few things we had already replaced in this house).

Things on the work front are good.  New employee came in a few hours for some training this past week.  She starts full-time on Monday.  I realized at some point that we have never have anyone fill this position full-time.  Our last admin assistant was hired on part-time (and it was always a part-time or very very part-time position, in the past.)  Our prior employee went "full-time" January 1, but then she constantly was taken time off for various personal dramas.   So though everything about this has been terrible...  It just hit me in the last day or two that we should be very well staffed.  Everything within our control.  It's the "out of our control" that has been very difficult and is what worries me.  😞  (If you missed it, the last employee quit because she needs brain surgery.  It continues to be mind boggingly absurd).  

I did price hotels for MM's move-in weekend and it wasn't too terrible.  Nothing like it was in June.  Of course, moving him in on a Sunday would be ideal, and we could stay a couple of nights (cheaply).  But he doesn't want to move in the day before classes start.  Fair enough.  We will move him in Friday or Saturday, and maybe stay a couple of nights.  It's moot.  There's no room for our stuff (for MH and I to pack bags) and someone needs to get DL(17) to school.  

Our plan was actually to do a couple of move-in drives.  It's either that or take two cars (once).  But I think we'd rather just take the electric car twice (the fuel costs pennies), and get a chance to see MM a couple of weeks after he moves in.

We had kept everything open for film festivals, but they are all starting to go remote or delay another year (COVID).  In addition to the long list of rejections.  So we were starting to think about planning a trip end of August.   Road trip, long weekend.  Maybe San Diego?

Oh yeah, and then MH was called back to work in a couple of weeks.  I think MH had a feeling, but I was really surprised.  He recalls being called in early, in the more distant past.  (He usually goes back after Labor Day).   He agreed to go back, but just gave them a heads up that he will want to take a couple of days off.  I guess this means we could go somewhere in September.  Just wanted it to be while MM(19) was still home and could get DL to/from school.  I am waiting to see if we can get a free timeshare stay.  I told MH the other day, it wasn't even the cost so much, but it's the decision fatigue.  Just tell me where to go.  If it's just one choice *and* it's free, then I am so there. 

MH just told me he "unofficially" got into another local film festival.  He knows one of the organizers and she just told him.   They seem hell bent in doing some of it in person, but who knows...  

DL(17) College Plans

August 6th, 2022 at 04:20 pm

I was just putting this at the end of another post but it was getting too long and I figured I'd break out into the college category. 

Just noting where we are at with things as DL starts his senior year of high school.  Wouldn't be surprised if this is where we land, but expect minds to change over the next year...

DL(17) is starting to get all that 'senior year college apps' pressure and is starting to ask more questions.  I told him not to worry about it, since he doesn't have to deal with all the red tape and timelines (for community college).  But as he was asking questions, I recommended doing some homework re: colleges that are more in-person (his preference), looking up colleges where he wants to live, etc.

I am sure he will change his mind 10 more times.  Which is fine.  He has the time to do so.  Before this week, he's just been thinking about if he wants to stay home his first year of college, or live with relatives in the Bay Area (and has gone back and forth in recent years).  He is finding that the colleges are more abundant and higher quality in the Bay Area.  Which is probably why we never presumed he'd live at home (re: community college).  I mean, this was 1000% re: engineer child.  He clearly would have gone to community college in the Bay Area, if he went the community college route. But DL(17) seems to be leaning the same way (Bay Area), as he evaluates options.

He does want to live with SIL, so I asked him what college was around there.  He found a college I don't remember at all.  It's in a bougie zip code and has a good business program.  I can see why he is drawn to it.

So I spent the week asking people if they knew anything about this college.  No one's heard of it, but I am just talking to local people at this point, and not getting anywhere. I talked to my Dad last night and he said, "Heck yeah, I know that college.  They have a GREAT music program!"  Seriously!?  It might be *the one*.  After a long summer of just throwing himself into his music, DL(17) seems a little more open to a music minor or at least taking some music classes.  & it would be a great way to meet like-minded people in a city where he doesn't know anyone (his age).  

Our "we like backup plans for our backup plans" personalities want DL(17) to apply for State.  The application is simple.  He doesn't seem interested right now, but a lot can change in a year.

It will be interesting to see what he comes up with re: college and career counseling at his school.  Is supposed to be very good, so might come up with new options.  Also, sometimes things sound better when it doesn't come from your parents. 

College costs, for point of reference:

Community College:  FREE

This is a newer (CA) thing that mostly no one has heard of.  I am looking up this specific college (it seems to depend on college) and they have free tuition/fees/books.  Catch is you have to be a local resident.  (& a full-time student, right out of high school).  I don't know how moving factors but it sounds pretty moot.  The $1,500 annual sticker price (tuition/fees/books) would be free regardless with college tax credits.  I can see the value for struggling families and people ineligible for the tax credit.  But I don't see that it makes any difference for us personally.  No matter how you slice it, community college should be free for DL(17).  (First $2K college costs are eligible for a Federal tax credit to offset).

The 'free community college deal' does cover more than just tuition/books.  It does have that going for it.  It's just not enough to lose any sleep over if they won't count him as a resident.  

State College: $3K

Sticker price is $8K per year.  Minus Federal tax credit and middle class (CA) grant, we are looking at net $3K per year. 

I really don't care if DL(17) goes to State or community college.  Both options are well within our means, and clearly very inexpensive.  So we will encourage him to consider both of these options.  

Bigger picture, it's probably more wise to just go to State.  Odds are he'd just stay at State, if he started there.  $12,000 for the 4-year degree.  I'd push more for State, if it was just about finances.  But I think community college might be a better fit for him.  

He's not going to consider anything "expensive" or where he'd have to dorm.  Makes it much simpler.  These are just his personal deal breakers, but he might share some of our genetics.  😉  

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. 

MM Update

July 17th, 2022 at 01:21 pm

MM(19) update...

I dropped MM(19) off at work a few weeks ago and then I didn't see him again for a while.  They drove him out to a job site (close to home) and he got a ride home after that.  So much for our carpool.  He is mostly commuting to the job site.  They had told him he would mostly be in the office, but I now think they meant the construction office.  Which works out pretty well because it is such a short commute.  He's paying less for gas than originally expected.  Even without the free EV carpool.

He had a house sitting gig for a while too, paid for in food.   Which is why I didn't see him for a while.

MM(19) is a couple of thousand dollars richer.  He is getting paid every week ($500).

I had totally forgotten about college gift money from in-laws, because they skipped the last time.  It just completely fell off my radar.  So that was a nice surprise with the kids' birthdays.  I can't think of a better use of new college money than to fund his spending money next year.  So he has an extra $1,000 cash now too, with that.

Last year MM spent $500.  This was everything during the school year that wasn't tuition/room/board/medical.  Off the top of my head, his spending would have included school books/supplies, transportation, club dues, haircuts, clothing, dining out, entertainment, gifts, toiletries, ATM withdrawals, etc.  I did spend about $250 on bigger purchases for him, when his very liquid funds were getting low.  So I think $750 was a fair annual number ($500 + $250) and he will be very comfortable with the $1,000 next school year.  ($111 per month).

Summer will be different.  Way more expensive.  If nothing else, car expenses.  & he needs the car to get anywhere.  Our house is not the same "all inclusive resort" vibe than he's gotten used to at college.  Even if he just wants to go on a hike, he's going to have to spend some gas to get there.  

I did put his next 6 months of auto insurance on his credit card and sent him off to get an oil change before he started his work commute.  He also needed work boots.  He shopped carefully and did coupons/sales for these expenses.

In the end, he was down to $545 more liquid cash left.   He received one or two paychecks before he paid $407 credit card bill.  It was cutting it pretty close, new paychecks aside.  His job fell through last summer and we didn't expect that he'd still have this $500 tied up in the 7% interest account (he technically aged out of the 7% rate).  & he has $5,500 tied up in mega high yield savings accounts, that he can of course tap if he needs to.  It was just his preference not to touch that.  He squeaked by.  

That reminds me, I talked to MM(18) about I Bonds and he is excited about that.  If we cash out his 3.5% account ($5,000) he can probably come up with $10K by end of summer.  & of course, he doesn't have to tie up a full $10K in I bonds.  I think we will both want to scale it back a little bit, after things got so tight this year.  But he has the luxury to wait and make sure his fall job is working out, before he locks in the 9.62% I Bond rate. 

Most likely use of his savings?  Buying a car.  I don't know how certain it is, but he's starting to talk about wanting a car his last two years of college.  & logistically, the kids are going to need their own cars (2) next summer.  For this reason, I Bonds are a better choice than funding his ROTH IRA.  (& of course, we will float him if he locks in I Bonds in September and wants to buy a car in June.  I Bond minimum holding period is 12 months.  We will help him out so that he can get the mega interest).

MM(19) had his birthday this last week too.  We had a small party for him.  He wanted to invite his friends over.  We bought him a bakery cake.  It ended up being something like $4 after coupons and rebates.  That was an unexpected surprise.  I am kind of surprised he didn't just want home cooked food for his party (after 9 months of awful college food).  But maybe MH didn't give him that option.  I don't know.  We did order out for his party.  He is hard to shop for and never wants anything, but MH bought him some gadget.  I bought him some drink coasters that I thought might be nice for his apartment next year.  His girlfriend bought him some kitchen gifts.  Stuff like towels, pot holder, a spoon and a spatula?  With the hand-me-down kitchen stuff we have (plates, silverware, pots, pans, etc.) I don't know that he will need much else.  I haven't had the mental energy to figure any of that out *and* he's probably not going to coordinate with his roommates beforehand.  So we may just wing it with what we have and what he eventually figures out that he needs.

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. 

Back from Camp

June 28th, 2022 at 02:49 am

Life has been a whirlwind the past couple of weeks.  We don't have anything planned for the rest of summer.  The stars just aligned to craziness last week.  It was all the things.

Celebrated my parents' 50th Anniversary.  Did our annual family camp trip.  Those were the biggies.

Camp.  It's a miracle it stands and we felt very blessed.  Even if there was a lot of challenges (from the fire).  One smart thing they did was request that campers volunteer, to make up for staffing shortages.  DL(16) volunteered and had a blast.  & made $165 tax-free for 8 hours of work (in the form of a discount; we transferred the money to his bank account).  It takes a certain personality and he would never want to live there all summer.  But...  He got some taste of the behind the scenes.  For him, camp is the highlight of the year, and getting to "work" was just icing on the cake.

We saw a bear at Lake Tahoe.  That was exciting.  

Oh yeah.  The cabins smelled smokey and all of our belongings smelled like ash trays when we got home.  We felt so blessed to be able to go to camp this year, but it definitely had its challenges.  They are still working to replace burned sewer lines, etc.  We saw melted light bulbs off the patio.  I really can't wrap my brain around it.  Light bulbs melt (at 3000 degrees) but all the structures (and most of the trees) still stand. The fire fighters are miracle workers.

MM(18) starts his summer job tomorrow.  This is the job that is randomly in the same parking lot as my work.  So he will get to save a bajillion dollars in gas.  Both him and his girlfriend have major adjacent jobs this summer, both Tues - Thurs.  Is just how it worked out.  Anyway, we are carpooling tomorrow.   


Purging & Upgrading

June 16th, 2022 at 12:31 am

I have no idea how, but MM(18) had about $420 college dining dollars left over.  I just bought the smallest plan (he will have an apartment/kichen next year).  So that he can roll over the dollars.  Paid $250 for $275 campus dining dollars.  That gives him $695 when he goes back to school.   Or about $75/month.

I think we will be able to carve out the rest of his food spending from our grocery budget.  Ideally, we can squeak by with $225/month for groceries ($225 + $75 = $300/month).  Who knows.  Is just what we will try to start with.  I don't know if he will have access to a car.  If he does, that will help with grocery costs. 

Insurance is due on the kids' car.  I just charged it to MM(18)'s credit card.   Between the "away from home" student discount and his good driving record, it dropped about $150 (6 months) from last year.  I figure (that MM) paying $230 is reasonable for basically one year.  & he should have some paychecks before the balance is due.   (I paid the prior renewal because he wasn't home or using the car).  

I noticed that his "good student" discount was missing, so inquired about that today.  I might not have noticed otherwise (with the rate being so low this time), but they asked me for his grades several times after I sent it in.  So I wanted to make sure it was applied, and it was not.  I've since heard back to send in his grades for further discount.  

With the unexepected found time this last weekend (MH found a ride home from college), I redirected that time to long put off chores.  The biggie was getting through some purging.  Made some progress, but have a ways to go.  Was extra motivated with a new furniture purchase, which I will try to share (a picture) below. 

Edit:  Made further progress today.  Just one big/bulky item left, that I probably most wanted to get rid of.  But I haven't listed it for free yet.  So there is still hope.  I just hope it goes quickly when I list it for free. 

I did pull $100 from cash to reimburse MM's friend for gas.  (I had no idea how much big vehicle plus trailer gas is).  But I started with that and MM told us later that's about what they spent on gas on the way home.  Probably would have been more but I saw the vehicle was a hybrid when they dropped him off.   That helped...  

I then bugged DL(16), for like the 10th time, to give me some of his cash.  To the point I counted his piggy bank cash one day and he had $200!  (Just using him as my ATM machine, transferring the sum to his savings account).  I probably got a little more pushy after MM(18) took so much cash.  DL(16) tossed a lot of $1 bills at me and I said, "DL!  You have $200 in there!"  I guess he took out "half" the (physical space of) money but didn't realize.  So he tried again and gave me $170.  That was better.  Saved me a trip to the ATM.

I told DL(16) that his bank balance was $2,700, after transfering all that birthday/Christmas/whatever money he had piling up in his room.

Later DL asked me if it was too soon to go back to the thrift shop.  I said it is never too soon. 😉  (That's the whole point, can go every weekend if he wants).  To which he replied very reponsibly, "I need to get a job first."  Which is fine, but looking at his $2,700 bank balance, I might encourage him to go if he wants.  Or at the least, I will step back and let him pay (if he goes back before he gets a job).   

We seem to be going through a round of murphy.  

MH just replaced the bulb in his projector (home movie theater).  He asked me when we bought the projector.  2014.  So it has been 8 years.  Doing the math, it sounds about right as to bulb life.  For a very heavily used projector.

Fingers crossed.  Not 100% sure that was the problem (the free fix), but he's watching a movie and testing it out right now.  (The projector came with a replacement bulb).  

Then I noticed that our dryer was not turning off on its own.  It's liveable in the short run, but not ideal.  MH called our appliance repair guy last night and he warned us it might be $350.  Ugh!  MM's gut feeling was that it was important to fix *and* not worth being so wasteful as to buy a new dryer.  It's only 3 years old.  We were both very much on the same page. 

Happy to report that's all it was (could have been worse, which we were also warned).  I couldn't even remember the last time we reparied an appliance.  So between that and the newness of the machine...  Grand total ended up being $340.  The part was expensive and he found another small problem.

I did look it up and it had been a very long time.  We had paid him $60 to fix a dishwasher leak in early 2015.  So it has been over 7 years.   $185 to repair our washer in 2013.  I believe this guy had also come out in the past and charged us -$0-.  So though the $340 is very ouch...   Big picture, I am okay with it.   

In other randomness, I finally replaced a super cheapie ($15?) table that I recall my mom buying me when I moved out at 18.  (It was very cheap/wobbly and I have been wanting to replace forever).  I had picked out a replacement in 2015? but never pulled the trigger.  I think it was 2015 or 2016,  I just saw it come up in my photo memories.  Apparently spring is when I think about replacing the table.  Anyway, I finally did it!  The new table arrived, MH put it together right away, and this is what spurred some of my purging.  I like it better in person and the space is huge.  Is where I always hid all my donations, and it still works for that.

There's still a lot of hand-me-down furniture in our house and things we have never bought new.  But...  I think that was the only thing left over that just wasn't nice or functional.

& MH is wise.  As I consulted with him and was ready to pull the trigger, he said, "Do we even need a table?"  He's right.  But I just had it so in my craw at that point.  I wanted to scratch the itch!  I decided maybe he was right but that MM(18) would need some furniture soon.  Maybe for his apartment junior year.  (Maybe I could scratch the itch and then ponder letting it go).  But...  Now that it's here.  Screw that.  MH and I both really like it. 

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.

End of School Year

June 11th, 2022 at 12:13 am

DL(16) has had more interest in clothes/style in recent years.  He's been completely fine with Ross/Marshalls.  But when he bought a sweater online for $50, I told him he really needed to go thrift shopping.  Shortly after that, the topic just randomly came up at work and my co-worker told me the name of some shops that are good for teens/boys. 

We ended up going last weekend.  Half the places were closed on Sunday.  But he really liked the first place.  Afterwards, my co-worker told me there was also a really good Goodwill in the area.  I looked it up later and it was about a block from this other thrift shop.  She was holding out on me!  The pictures of this Goodwill were amazing.  (Mixed feelings about that, because I really don't need any more crap.  But I wanted to write down because can be useful for gifts and/or apartment shopping for MM).

DL(16) also wanted a haircut.  I just paid for everything because he has not secured a job yet.   

DL(16) humored me and went through his clothing when we got home.  He had a small purge pile.  We had a charity come by today and take 3 bags.  Phew!  Got past the pandemic backlog.  I'd have maybe kept more of the clothes for MM(18) to go through, but I just wanted to be done with it.  I did hold back a few items that I think were MM(18)'s at one point or that I thought he could use (and I checked with him if he wanted them).

{I thought I had one missed bag from the pandemic, but it was two.  & I added a third bag with some purging last month.}

Both kids are done with school today.  Wrapping up their last finals.

I ended up canceling the $400 hotel.  MH made a comment that we seem to very often cancel hotels in this region.  I don't even know if he remembered the vacation plans we had canceled twice (2019 & 2020).  I think I've canceled more hotels than I've kept reservations for, at this point.

But it's all good.  Boring.  But good.  MM(18) was able to arrange transportation home (for him and all his stuff).  It helps to be a minimalist.  

I am bummed to cancel our very brief beach vacation, but happy to have 12-ish (driving) hours of my life back this weekend.  

How in the heck is MM(18) done with his first year of college!?  It was over in a blink.  

This & That

May 30th, 2022 at 12:20 am

MH made it into a San Francisco film festival!  & he was the headliner!  It was such a hodge podge of genres, that it's not fair to say that it was the "best" movie, but was definitely the most entertaining.  The downside of being last is that most the crowd had left (the event was long).  But it was received very well and it will be neat to see it in a fuller theater some day.  Fingers crossed.  The acceptances and rejections are rolling in slowly. 

MH also randomly received a 10% raise Friday.   Retroactive, so his check will be bigger than expected.  Of course, he usually gets a raise in the fall.  I presume it's just a little early this year.  (He will get one or two paychecks at the new rate, but then will be off work for the summer).

MM(18) accepted a summer job offer in his field of study.  It sounds like this company is doing some work at his school and can translate into some work during the school year.  But the summer job is part time and then he has secured the TA job for the fall.  It was dependent on his class schedule but it sounds like he got it worked out.  He made out pretty well with the part time high paying summer job (will have both $$$ and time).  It's at home, so he won't have any expenses.  Heck, this company is randomly in the same parking lot as my job, so we will be able to mostly carpool.  

DL(16) is starting to apply for jobs.  He just thinks he is going to be bored out of his mind this summer.  He's ready for his own money and some more independence.  (He still has a couple weeks left of school).

In other randomness, unfortunately the last set of dishes we bought have not held up well at all.  They crack/chip and then get too hot in the microwave.  The set before that were just too plain and I didn't care for them.  I have those set aside for the kids and MM(18) will be using them next school year.  (It's also nice to have extra dishes for entertaining).  

It took a while for us to agree on anything, but I ended up liking the new set of dishes even better in person.   Phew!  We spent less money this time around.  Will see if these hold up for more than 10 years.  

I did also order a couple of school branded gifts for my niece (she's going to the same college as MM).  I just ordered online for MM(18) to pick up.  Will have to remember to get from him when he gets home.  Wanted to pick up a couple of small things but didn't want to pay for shipping.  I will also send her $100 this week.  Is what I recalled, but I looked it up and confirmed that is how much money SIL gave MM(18) for his graduation.  

There's been several virsuses going around and has hit our house hard.  It figures.  I was just getting medical issues resolved and then ended up sick.  This one knocked me down hard.  Was sicker than I've been in a few years.  & even that was not too terrible, but I have been tired for weeks afterward.  Even yesterday, I laid down and crashed for 3 hours. 

We haven't personally been dealing with price increases.  But...  The hotels by MM(18)'s college?  Holy cow!  People have money to burn.  It's just absurd all of a sudden.  The hotel we have often gotten the nicest room for $200-$250 per night?  It's now $700 (for the most basic rooms) some nights!   I had a staycation a couple of weeks ago but the one fun/splurgey thing we had planned was to visit MM(18).  Maybe would have also stayed by the beach if it wasn't a bajillion dollars.  We probably booked the most expensive hotel we had ever booked, to stay nowhere near the beach.  Everything was just ridiculous.

I ended up changing the reservation a couple of times and wasn't interested in pre-paying a $350 hotel room.   (Crap happens). We lucked out because the last one I booked we could cancel up until check-in the day of.  We made it about 80% down to the college and DL(16) even came with us.  But DL had a bit of a mental breakdown and we turned around.  He had a fever by the time we got home.  Some parts mental and some parts physical.  I at least had the presence of mine to cancel the hotel, with a few minutes to spare.  

We had already decided to not book a hotel at all when we pick up MM(18) after finals.   Even mid week prices (if we could swing mid week) were already crazy.  It's kind of moot because he has a late Friday final and so we can't pick him up until Saturday.  Move out and graduation.  Ugh.  Of course it's the one quarter he can't get out by Wednesday or Thursday.

In the end, I did see someone praising hotel prices about 30 miles south (along the coast).  I am okay with one crazy expensive hotel.  (It's probably going to be $350, but at least it won't be more than that).  I just didn't want to do more than once this school year.  So I am starting to think we may just book a hotel that Friday, because we canceled the last one.  I thought at least we could get out super early Saturday, but I guess the first graduation is 8:30 am.  So much for "beating the crowd".  But I suppose we might beat some of the move out crowd.  Well, after spending many hours scouring hotels, I have to start all over again.  Hoping that MH and I at least get a more leisurely drive out of it and maybe a nice dinner out and some nice views.  I may give up.  At least we can stay with our parents to break up the drive a little bit. 

Edited to add:  I guess it was a good money week.  Spoke to MM(18) and he told us that we have a $175 refund in the mail from his college.  Woohoo!  The one State middle class grant we received, they gave us an extra $175 (when it all sorted out).  MM(18)'s freshman year is already paid for, so sounds like I will get a check any day.  

I did also book a hotel (before we found the extra $175).  I did find a beachfront hotel with a car charger and was about the best/cheapest thing I could find.  They only had one room left and I snagged it.  But I didn't have to scour the internet for hours because mostly everything is ridiculously expensive and sold out.  (I looked a little longer after I snagged this first room but quickly gave up).  Ended up being about $400 but even the Motel 6 at college town was $350-$400.  I am so glad I got a tip to check this one town because it wasn't coming up when I was looking +/- 30 miles before.  It's 35 miles out of the way but it's beachfront (highly rated) and we can afford it.  We will have a nice coastal drive down Highway 1 Saturday morning when we pick up MM(18).  

Other going ons...

Strangely, we had a no spend week.  I was just surprised there was nothing on any of the credit cards.  The exception was groceries.  3 stops at the grocery store, which isn't too unusual.  But now that I think about it, MH asked me to pick up orange juice when he was sick and then MH ran to the store in the middle of cooking dinner because we were missing something.

Today I balanced out June.  I've paid all the small credit cards ($40 Target, $100 dining out card, and $18 I put on MM's credit card for my niece's gifts) and will pay off the bigger balances after pay day.  I suppose we've got 3 more days this month but nothing is pending, I allocated $100 for groceries (any overage can be paid next month) and the credit card cycles have closed anyway.  Will probably bump anything else to figure out in July.  I was pleased everything balanced because we spent a lot of money this month.  Still not used to the extra breathing room.  But also still in general err on the side of over-saving, which is why I have nothing left for the next 3 days.  

I do have a return to take care of today, so I guess that buys me a little wiggle room if something pops up.  We have no plans, MH is recovering from this virus, and I just have chores to do this weekend.  I don't foresee any spending.  We've been on the road the last four weekends and so it's nice to have a peaceful weekend at home.

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. 


April 30th, 2022 at 02:58 pm


I believe we had our first charity pickup since the pandemic started.  I might have put out one bag last year at some point?  I don't remember for sure but I think I did have a charity write off.  Since then, there was one scheduled pick up but they never showed.

They just randomly scheduled for my work-from-home day.  So I optimistically set my *4* bags out.  When I looked outside around noon the bags were gone.  I am so happy!  At least two of those bags were filled when cleaning out MM(18)'s room last summer.  There's still a few things to figure out but the bulk of the stuff has been cleared from his room.

Well, now I don't have to figure out where on earth to take any of this stuff.  I would have no idea, we've always had so many charity pick ups in our neighborhood.

{Edited to add:  I found another donation bag while cleaning up the house this week.  I think it was the one missed bag, I had left it downstairs and then it got buried under junk.  I will pull it out so that I don't forget about it.}

I went by the grocery store to pick up some flowers yesterday but they were cleared out.  I don't know if it was the post Easter clear out or if they are short a florist or what.  ???  Anything that remained (not much) was pretty sad.  But I finally spotted these flowers, which were gorgeous.  $5.  I am easy to please.

I feel like I am coming out of the fog.  It's hard to separate out the mental/physical stuff because it seems to be all intertwined.  But I am feeling really good physically and will have some lab work done next week.  It will be interesting to see the results.   Without the lab work, I can say I feel more "normal" than I have in years.

This was started as a small post I never had time to finish.  So I am going to just end up with two mismash posts (if I ever get to the other bigger post I am in the middle of).

A couple of other things that are very fresh in my mind...

DL(16) had his jazz band concert last night and it was *amazing*.  This is the art school, so their performances are always incredible.  Lots of talent.  They usually do one mega long concert for everyone but separated out the jazz and percussion for last night.  This would have been like a 5 hour concert otherwise, I am gathering.  I guess it's nice they let the jazz bands shine versus doing just a couple of songs each.  Next week they have all the orchestras and everything and will be more a slog listening to all the beginners.  

That was kind of, "What just happened?" They were just next level last night.  

My in-laws came to see the concert and brought the news that my niece chose MM(18)'s college.  !!!!!  Yes!

It's just so random.  I don't think this school was initially a top choice for either of them, but they were both swayed.  So it feels so random in the end.  But I think MM(18) was probably a factor in helping to sway my niece.  Well, I am excited!  The possibility of shared car rides and housing (in the future) is nice, but probably more likely we will be more helping out my niece than the other way around.  Just by virtue of being one year ahead.  

Man, these college trip visits are going to get expensive.  !!  More mouths to feed.  Will obviously have to save her from the terrible dorm food, when we visit.  It's all good.

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.

More Busy...

April 10th, 2022 at 12:04 am

Hell froze over and MH finished his movie!  We had a small premier party this week (for cast and crew).  After brainstorming and shooting down a lot of ideas, it ended up all coming together.   & I mean, I was willing to spend $1,000 on this party (particularly since we never did a wrap party).  Needing the space, a movie screen, catering, etc.  Most of the movie theaters were much cheaper, but just not a great venue to watch a short film.  Not a great place to cater or mingle.  In the end, the editor really wanted to show off on a bigger screen and so offered her place of work.  It was *perfect*.  We were quoted $235 for the space + projector.   We were only charged $200.  & we spent about $100 on food (including a custom cake).  So the grand total ended up being $300.  & I am sure I will absorb other party food costs in our monthly budget, but we spent $300 that was clearly just party spending.   

Next is submitting to film festivals and seeing if anything comes of that.  Now for the fun part!

If MH does get into any festivals, I plan to apply for travel reward credit card(s).

MM(18) came home for spring break.  I mentioned earlier, it was a chore week.  Dentist, ortho, taxes, etc.  He had a job interview that went really well (summer engineering job) but I don't think he has heard back from them yet.  It sounded like they would likely hire him but they are doing local State college recruiting this week.  Juniors/seniors will get higher priority (fair enough).   Now that his resume is done, he will probably attend his school's job fair this month and see if he can find anything else local.  If he doesn't get a formal offer by then. 

Before this job opportunity just fell in his lap, didn't really expect that he would be able to find anything local.  But now he's kind of intrigued and will see what else there is.  His girlfriend has a couple of job prospects here and one of them is remote.  So I guess that's also another interesting twist we hadn't thought about (remote opportunities).  The plan is absolutely to find a summer SF or LA job in future summers, but just wasn't the plan for this summer and didn't expect to find much close to home.  

MM(18)'s overall plans are to find a summer internship and to knock out one class at the community college this summer.   

I briefly mentioned that MM(18) had a girlfriend.  The girl he really liked went off to college in another state.  So when he came home winter break, dating his high school friend, MH and I were both kind of, "Love the one you are with."  Didn't think too much about it at the time.  But they are absolutely adorable.  Saw a lot of them together during spring break, now realizing this is actually serious.   & MH's family is starting to meet her and gush over her.  🙄  Was there last weekend and just heard how cute she is and that she can cook!  Like it's 1950.  Um, she is one smart cookie too.  But yeah, everyone loves her.  

I doubt MM(18) would have come up for Easter, but now everyone wants his girlfriend to come to Easter!  It's only half way (between here and college) and so it's not a bad drive for them.  So that is an unexpected turn of events.  Heck, I am surprised she can make the time.  (She is working, in addition to an intense field of study, many clubs, etc.). 

{While it's mostly impossible to have a car as a freshman, girlfriend's sister has had some unfortunate medical stuff randomly come up and got a medical exemption.  So they have a car and MM(18) now has easy transportation for breaks and Easter weekend.}

If MM(18) didn't go to school in paradise, we'd probably leave it that we wouldn't drive down again until we pick him (and all his stuff) up in June.  But I would like to go down in May some time for a mini spring break.  So we might get to see MM(18) a couple of more times before school is out.

Reminds me, my niece is there with MM(18) today.  She applied to a bajillion colleges and today I heard that she has narrowed it down to two!  MM's college is still in the running but apparently her second choice?  Will see how she feels after this weekend.  They are having a big open house for the accepted students.  It would be so nice if they both ended up at the same college, but doesn't sound the most promising at this point.  I am looking at the calendar, I guess she has three more weeks to decide.   

Well, my big plans for the weekend are to do everyone's taxes.  DL(16) still needs to get his taxes done.  (He's my difficult child, so will just have to make him get this done at some point). Then GMIL and my parents.  I dodged a bullet.  Sounds like my in-laws were going to need help with their taxes but figured it out.  Completely foreseeable but just nothing I had really thought about.  I should mentally add them to my future list.  FIL usually does their taxes but he is slowing down.  

I guess MH is feeling pretty free with his movie being done.  I had told him I would go to the movies with him and to a concert tonight.  He started talking about the movie this morning and I am just, "Not today."  But now I feel obligated to do that tomorrow.  

This is just adding to the "busy" feelings.

I should be over the hump at work.  Knock on wood!   Getting past all the year-end stuff (lots of tax returns, etc.).  I'd probably take the first week off in May, but my boss had already claimed that week off.  So I went for mid-May.  Just to have a break and try to get caught up on stuff around the house.  Counting down the days...

Oh yeah, and fingers crossed...  DL(16) is working on his driver's permit.  Hoping that he can get it this month.  Just one more thing, but MH is handling all of that.  Still, it adds a bit of extra excitement to the mix.  


Busy Busy

March 13th, 2022 at 06:31 pm

Work is very busy right now.  

We are hosting St Patty's day dinner so things are busy at home.  MH handles all things food but I am trying to get the house in order.  I got out of my funk last weekend and got our taxes done and also started on getting the house cleaned up.  Phew!  Will spend this weekend doing the rest of the house prep.  I've probably said before but my "clean when guests come over" cleaning style hasn't worked particularly well in recent years.  Not enough guests coming over.   

MH received a $100 bonus from work, for being vaccinated.  They announced this a long time ago but I just confirmed it was in his check this past week.  The red tape took some time. 

MH also just figured out he can borrow video games from the library.  Nice!   He picked one up yesterday and it's due in 3 weeks.  

I was nice and filled up MM(18)'s car with gas.  I figured might as well before gas prices got worse.  Just had a mostly empty gas tank sitting there.  MM(18) is covering his ride home for spring break and it will be expensive reimbursing his friends for gas.  I could see him not bothering to come home but he has a job interview and several appointments (dentist/ortho, etc.).  & he will need to get his taxes done.  It's going to be quite the chore week.  

DL(16) joined/formed a band.  He only picked up guitar a few months ago but it comes very easy to him.  He's been wanting to join a band for a while so this is exciting for him.  These are kids from his art school, so they are mostly interested in writing their own music.  It sounds like more of a punk band but DL is trying to move them to more his style, whatever that is.  Loud and electric, either way.  

This is another post for another day, but DL(16) is starting to express interest in an accounting degree.   🙄  I mean, that's easy because is something that I know.  Before I would have told you *no idea*.  Maybe economics or political science.  No idea where those good schools are because everyone in my family studied math, accounting or engineering.  Or teaching.  That's about it.  We have some strong genetic tendencies. 

I roll my eyes because MH and DL are the two most creative people I have ever met (but also probably admittedly two of the most practical/responsible people I have ever met).  DL is just his mini me.   I have always been horrified how MH's family treated MH (did not value at all the arts or his creativity).  *sigh*  I had so many hopes for DL(16) with our full support.  Spending *7* years in an art school that values creativity and has college and career counseling to that end.  All that, and DL is just going to get a business degree like his father!?

I was legit horrified the first time he said this to me.  (I can't imagine him actually being happy with that career route, and I am horrified how we have failed to find any middle ground for him!)  But fair enough, there's a lot of accountants in my family and maybe he has some of those genes.  I am warming up to it.

& obviously he has a lot of time to change his mind.  Will see...  But mostly it sounds like they both took entirely different routes to the same end.  

On the college front, it's probably going to be community college.  He's always liked the idea of free college.  But as he gets closer, the more I tell him all the red tape he can skip/delay just going to community college...  He's all in.  & even this, will see...

I had this light bulb moment this past week that we are ready to buy I Bonds.  It's always been a "later" thing when we have more money.  Most likely after college and mortgage pay off.  Though as I type this out, it probably would be pretty smart to put most of our "emergency funds" in I Bonds.  (This is money we are personally never going to touch unless of a more catastrophic type emergency like job loss).  I guess something else to keep in mind.  

I am feeling a little "duh" about it because the annual max is $10K per person and we have $20K earmarked for MM's college expenses.  It was invested and is now languishing in our investment account earning probably 0.01% interest.  We just happen to have the max amount?  & why didn't I figure this out before?

At this point anything's better than sitting in investment cash account earning nothing.  I think this is perfect money to use to dip our toes into I Bonds.  It was also something we were discussing re: windfall money last year.  I understand there are educational benefits (tax free interest) but this is for MM(18) who likely won't have any tuition payments to get the tax benefit for.  

It sounds like a lot of red tape to get set up, so it's going to be a while.  Maybe in May I will have the mental energy for that, and some of why I wanted to write it down.  I also have $20K loosely set aside for DL's college, so might do another $20K next year.  (It's invested but admittedly should be moved to something more conservative soon). After that, might circle back to our emergency funds.

One last thing while I am thinking about it.  I was surprised when my friend told me her sister bought some land and a mobile home.  About $400K?  I was surprised because most her family had moved to Texas and was enjoying the lower cost of living.  Her sister works remotely (did so long before the pandemic).  Sister is early 20s.  It was shocking that she decided to stay here.

So I ask her the other day, "Did your sister move in?"  She told me no, they wouldn't let her.  What does that mean!?  Turns out the mortgage payment was 100% of her net monthly income.  She was approved for up to $625K loan on $80K income?  ???  The mortgage was $3,500 per month (for the $400K loan).  Her siblings were able to talk some sense into her and she backed out of the purchase.  It helped that there were other issues with permits and foundation.  I said, "Wow, that sounds like bubble territory."  I haven't been paying too much attention because interest rates are low and the vibe is so different than the last housing bubble here.  It may just be earlier in the cycle, before everyone completely loses their heads.  But this is all sorts of red flags crazy.  Which I guess is exactly what happens when prices are absurd and everyone get desperate.  

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!?).  


That Was Unexpected

March 2nd, 2022 at 03:12 pm

I received a 5% raise this year, in addition to an extra week of vacation (putting my vacation time back to what I was used to at my last job).  I was more than happy with all of the above.  Certainly better than the usual 3% COLA raise.

After 20 years of January 1 raises (across multiple jobs), I certainly didn't expect a pay bump again until January.

But my boss was being silly and for whatever reason was looking at things and felt like he should have bumped me up to the next big round number.  (He felt bad about this).  ❓  So I got a $2K raise!  Woohoo!  Retroactive to January 1.

How's that for random!?

This is turning in to a "have my cake and eat it too" year.   I made the very unusual decision to lower our savings amounts and to increase our spending this year.  Increasing spending is not something we do, nor is decreasing savings.  I guess both were weird, but we lost a big tax credit this year, so I wasn't able to even add $100/month to our spending budget without decreasing savings goals.  

I'll be able to bump up savings by $100/month (with raise) and will start reflecting that in my March numbers.

This & That

March 1st, 2022 at 02:29 pm

The theme has changed:  Life is chaotic and difficult, but finances are... okay?

I hadn't commented lately and probably just wan't very conscious of how terrible things have been.  Because relatively, things have gone done a few notches and were a little easier.  Phew!  But I took a 4-day weekend last weekend and had some time to slow down and reflect.  2021 was terrible and 2022 isn't off to a great start. 

So I figured I'd copy and paste one of the other bajillion times I wrote how terrible things were going.  But all those other times it was, "Everything sucks but finances are great!!"  This time around, finances are fine/good.  Maybe both sides of the coin have been taken down a notch or two.  

Taking time to slow down and reflect was good.  I actually just retreated into my cocoon last Saturday.  Wouldn't be surprised if I ended up in bed for 3 days, but I felt so much better the next day.  Phew!  My takeaway is to completely give up on this "Reset" I have been trying for since 2018.  I am in survival mode.  It's just one foot in front of the other.  

So that's a bigger picture update.

It's not all bad.  Like I said, things have gone down a notch or two.  February ended up being productive on many fronts. 

We finally did it!  We replaced our 22yo mattress.  We went shopping a few years ago and just couldn't decide on anything.  Felt like such a big/scary purchase.  This time around we were able to be more decisive.  Anything is better than what we have, at this point.  (Maybe just weren't quite there yet, last time.  The old mattress felt like a cloud for the first 15+ years so I have dreaded trying to find something that could compare).  We doubled our budget this time because we just wanted to get it done.  & I mean, we just pulled a number out of the air that morning.  It was a starting point, we have the cash for whatever. 

We ended up buying a higher end mattress that had been returned.  60% off and was so obviously "the one".   

I personally just wanted to figure it out, make the purchase.  Didn't have any high expectations on delivery timelines with the state of the world these days.  But I guess that was also a nice perk of buying a returned mattress.  We had it delivered and set up a few hours after the purchase.  So life can move on...

February was also successful re: adding breathing room to our monthly budget.  It does work better when you have a full month of new raise (versus just 1/2 month). 

We have $125 monthly breathing room that we are just leaving more for eating out and going out.  A line item that we've never allocated this much money to, before. 

February ended up being $108; the breathing room was divine.   

**We tried a sushi place by our home that was *so good*.  (Went there for lunch when MH was not working).  It's right next to our favorite restaurant.  Which I expect is one reason we had never eaten there.  It's apparently been there forever.  *This* is what I want to get out of the breathing room, finding these places that are right under our nose.

**Mid-February we went to the art museum (free with membership) and had lunch at a bar in the old downtown by the river.  The food was "meh".  This is a reminder of why I dislike spending money on eating out.  But having the breathing room, being more relaxed about it, and this not being our 'only splurge for the month' helped.  It's going to be hit and miss; this breathing room is about the journey.

**Went to a foreign film (free with gift card)

**Went to a play

In the end, got completely unexpected good money news this week already.  So maybe I was too quick to label finances as just "okay".  Next post...


MM(18) Money Update

February 13th, 2022 at 03:42 pm

Getting through "started but not published" posts.  This is the last one.  I did a DL(16) money update about a month ago, but here is the MM(18) update.

MM(18) had a one-month job lined up that would net about $3,500.  This was last August.  It fell through but was probably for the best.  He likely would have quit with the fires and terrible outside working conditions.  He was able to make $1,500 doing temp work in my office.  An employee went on a long international vacation and he had been helping us out the prior two years.  He was the obvious go-to for a summer temp.

No one in our families had "gone away" to college, particularly for freshman year.  So we agreed that MM(18) should not work while he gets his bearings.  It was just a lot, even if he is very adaptable and I am sure he probably would have been fine. 

In the end, we have decided that working is penny wise and pound foolish.  Probably not in the ways that would be presumed.  MM(18) would have no problem working and getting all As.  But I heard it was feasible for freshman to get very high paying summer internships.  I wasn't going to hold my breath on that one.  But it's quickly becoming obvious this is true and the *why* of this is true.  MM(18) is spending his ample free time joining clubs.  He is building an electric car from scratch and also working on the engineering side of an art installation.  Those are his two major projects.   Not only is he getting very practical experience, but he's networking.  The first few weeks of college he had already met several juniors/seniors who are moving on from their internships, and attended networking events with big name companies.  So it seems pretty pointless to work during the school year for very few dollars, when he can make $15,000 over the summer (without balancing work/school).  

Current Job Situation:  ??????  Weird re: Pandemic

I copy and pasted what I wrote about DL(16).  Just because he *can* get an internship this summer, doesn't mean much.  MM(18) told us a while ago that he didn't expect he would want to get an internship this summer.  & I mean, he was presuming they would mostly be in LA or SF.  In addition to being more difficult to get as a freshman.  We are fine with that.  I honestly don't think he will ever move home again, and so it will be nice to have him home this last summer.  

This is just a completely random/new development, but MM got a lead on an internship here and has a job interview during spring break.  It's extra random because this company is right next door to mine (shares the same parking lot).  Talk about a small world. 

Anyway, with the job falling through last summer and the pandemic and everything, I expected things to be pretty tight for MM(18).  It's been made extra complicated because he's aged out of his 7%-interest account.  That was another $500 I thought he'd have access to this school year.  But though he's clearly aged out (it says so on his statements, that the interest rate is only something like 0.02%) they are still giving him 7%!  So of course he doesn't want to touch that $500 as long as he is getting mega interest.

In the end he only spent $200 his first school quarter, and the vast majority of that was finals week when he finished like on Monday and waited all week for a ride.  He gained a girlfriend and she had her car.  So they went out shopping and went out on a date (he paid for an expensive meal).  If not for that, he probably would have spent a whole whopping $100 for the quarter.

He is enjoying the all-inclusive lifestyle (and lives in paradise).  There is no lack of things to do.  He's been back for 6 weeks and the only thing he bought was books for the second quarter.  I am just checking his bank balances.  He has about $800 left.  So he roughly started the school year with $1,000 and is left with $800 to get through the next 4 months.  I think he will survive.  During school, he's just too busy to spend money.  & I am glad he splurged and enjoyed a bit when he did have some down time.  During winter break he was recovering from wisdom tooth surgery, and his high school friends seemed mostly interested in hanging at each other's houses (I expect due to several reasons.  If nothing else, never got in any habit of "going out" during the pandemic, in addition to maybe being enticed by parents who wanted more time with their kids.  MM was offered a lot of free meals).  Whatever the reasons, he didn't spend any money when he was home.  

MM(18) also has $5,500 in super high yield savings accounts.  I just know he doesn't want to touch any of that if he doesn't have to.

So the summer job thing is a big question mark at this point but he has some possibilities.

MIL usually gives the kids $1,000 per year for their college savings.  Because we are paying for tuition/room/board, I think I am probably going to give MM(18) this $1,000 to cover spending money his sophomore year.  Just some, "if you don't get a job this summer" insurance.  It seems the best use of this money at this point.   We already have funds set aside to cover his last 3 years of college (presuming worst case of no scholarships).  I'd rather utilize this $1K as "not having to work" money. 

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