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2022 Credit Card Rewards Tally

December 2nd, 2022 at 04:56 pm

2022 TALLY (Preliminary):

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

$ 30 Citi Reward (for charging hotel)

$ 15 AmEx Reward (for charging insurance)



Ongoing rewards:

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

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

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

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

Grand Total = $1,659

I just want to add that historical figures below do also include bank bonuses. They just don't generally work very well for us so I do not utilize as much.  (We did -0- bank bonuses in 2022).

Year 2011 = $4,164

Year 2012 = $2,782

Year 2013 = $2,623

Year 2014 = $3,128

Year 2015 = $2,585

Year 2016 = $1,906

Year 2017 = $3,578

Year 2018 = $2,096

Year 2019 = $2,266

Year 2020 = $2,107

Year 2021 = $2,377

Year 2022 = $1,659

Total 12 Years = $31,271 ***Mostly Tax-Free Income***

Note: I have been tracking since 2011 because that's when the rewards got CRAZY. We have always utilized cash back on credit cards. It's just been extra rewarding during the past decade.

***CAVEAT - I absolutely do not recommend utilizing credit card rewards in this manner, unless you are in full control of your credit card spending. We treat our credit cards like debit cards; only charging if we have the cash on hand already. We've never paid a cent of fees or interest.***


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

Honorable Mention to I Bond interest. ~$1,200 interest this year and will be more next year.  I won't include it because it's not a "bonus".  It's basically the equivalent to bank interest.  But it was such a boost this year, and might be some of the reason I did not pursue more rewards.  

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

MM(19) did do a $200 credit card bonus this year.  But he didn't need me to co-sign his credit card.  I was not involved in that, so won't add that to the tally.  I did get DL(17) a credit card and a bonus (and helped him with the spending to get the bonus.)  Same as we did for MM, it was nice to have a $200 chunk to apply to his first big car insurance bill. 

There was also a couple of obvious small rewards that I just had to click a button and/or switch credit cards to redeem.  (I didn't seek them out, but I got an email or saw mentioned online.)

Given the low energy I put towards looking for credit card bonuses recently, it's no surprise that this will be our lowest year (since tracking). 

Gift Card Balances Dec 22

December 2nd, 2022 at 02:52 pm



$50 Hotel Coupon




$50  Regal

$50  Art House Theater




$50 Cracker Barrel (small balance left)

$ 25 x 1 Jamba Juice (Gift)




$50 Amazon (Gift)

$50 Kohls (Gift)




$25  Starbucks


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

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

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

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

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

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


November 25th, 2022 at 05:14 pm

Pre-Thanksgiving was Drama Drama Drama.   But the day ended up very nice and peaceful.

Long story short, hell froze over and MH agreed not to do Thanksgiving with his family.  Of course his mom can't let it go, so it was a lot of drama the days prior.  (I don't think he's ever missed a Thanksgiving.  They have no concept that I have a family too, that MH has his own family, etc.)  I think the worst of it was Wednesday, when I was blissfully out of town.  If I was home, MH would have been venting to me all day.

**Edited to remove my own venting.**

I wish we could have given the Holiday to my parents, but they just aren't up to it at this point.  So we decided to have a peaceful day at home.  Is what all of us wanted more than anything at that point.  But we had sent off MM(19) to his girlfriend's Holiday and they ended up inviting us.  We felt obligated to go.  Most particularly because they had for months planned a summer BBQ that we had to cancel last minute when MH had COVID.  & it turns out that they usually have a bigger Thanksgiving with family but had stayed home due to medical reasons.  So they really appreciated having more mouths to feed.

The girlfriend and the Dad are both really good cooks.  We ate very well.  They seem to be a very relaxed bunch and we really enjoyed meeting them.

I tried a new/simple cookie recipe that was amazing:

I am looking forward to the peaceful long weekend.  Nothing planned today, though we have some appetizers to eat through (that we had bought for the in law Thanksgiving.)  

This weekend will be college stuff.  Have some financial stuff to go through with MM(19).  & DL(17) is going to be applying to one college.

We toured the local State college a few weeks ago and were all very pleasantly surprised.  It's a really nice campus.  I think we've always been kind of "meh" on the local colleges, being from the Bay Area.  & I mean, they didn't have any accounting programs when we moved here.  I abandoned my Graduate degree with the move.  Lord knows we didn't see the point of studying engineering here (with all the Bay Area schools to compare).  So I booked the tour and MH and DL(17) were kind of, "Why are we here?"  Because I like back up plans for my back up plans, and wanted DL(17) to know what his options are.  We all ended up really liking the campus.  So he may just stay at home his first year of college.

I keep trying to get him to tour my alma mater (which has an amazing accounting program) but DL(17) is really resisting.  He is prickly and I honestly think he would just hate it (it's in the middle of downtown).  But he wants to study accounting and I think he needs to at least set foot there and guage how he feels about it.  If he viscerally hates it, I am totally fine with that.  But it would be nice to know for sure.  (He absolutely could not stand MM's college campus.  If he didn't have such a negative visceral reaction, I'd suggest he just goes to community college down there and room with his brother.  I suppose it is another community college he could look into, but I think the distance is a bit much for him.)

We were out of town Wednesday because we went on a tour of the community college he is interested in.  In the Bay Area.  It was also a beautiful campus.  Both these campuses are woodsy, and he likes that.  

DL(17) has been overly fixated on college costs.  I told him to let it go.  The $8K state college is only $2K after Federal tax credits and State middle class grants.  I told him the difference was negligible (versus community college) and that is why I personally didn't bother with community college.  I can't speak for MH but I expect it was the same for him.  I told him this at the beginning of the State college tour and I think he went into it with a more open mind.  It might cost $2K more per year but we can afford it and that $2K buys a lot of amenities.  Also, I've said before, if he starts out at State he is more likely to stay there.  So bigger picture I really think it's the most bargain option for his degree.  He's more likely to just start out at home (no extra room/board) *and* he is more likely to just finish his 4-year degree at the very affordable college.  Once he has that momentum going.  

The Prior Few Weeks

November 13th, 2022 at 12:42 am

We ended up canceling our Oregon trip last minute.  Too much ice/snow for our comfort level.  Of course, we were already on the fence about this trip so that was a lot of it.  The pros/cons shifted quickly to...  "Meh"

In the "it never hurts to ask" vein, they fully refunded our very last minute cancelation for the first hotel night.  (I am not entirely sure if MH asked, or if they were just nice and offered.  I told him to at least ask for a credit for a future stay.  Re: the fine print, we were out ~$100 because did not give enough notice.)  The second hotel we canceled within an hour of the cutoff time for full refund.  So I'd say that we were out $0.

But...  MH insisted on getting gas ahead of time (which made me uncomfortable) and so now I am stuck with a full tank of gas.  $37 for the small gas tank.  I will leave it be because we are still waiting to hear back from some Oregon and LA festivals.  Or it's just enough to drive to the Bay Area (and to leave the 2 gallons I need to last me 12 months).  So will burn through it one way or another.  It literally feels like burning money; gas is so expensive here.

Edit:  MH just got into another Oregon festival but not sure if we will be able to make it during winter.  The date is TBD.

DL(17) passed his driver test!  Woohoo!  I can't believe he actually did it in 6 months (I expected he would take his sweet time).   Poor kid, though.  I think he drove in the rain *once* during his 6 month permit, and even that was probably a miracle.  So there was rain in the forecast, it is what it is.  But I kept checking the forecast and eventually the window closed to rain just at the time of his test.  It ended up raining more on the drive to the DMV, which is good and at least gave him some time to get more comfortable with how to use the wipers, etc.   It pretty much stopped raining when his test was done.  

Yeah, MM(19) had his permit from January through July, so he had a lot more weather practice.  & night practice too. The fog will probably roll in any day now and that will be a fun experience.  Things that DL(17) just gets to figure out on his own. 

Last Saturday DL(17) drove to the Bay Area, through San Francisco.  He wanted to a while ago and I was fine with it, but was just the first weekend we didn't have something going on.  We took my bff out to lunch.  She had been helping DL(17) out with a school project.  I asked if we could meet near a charger.  Apparently she also has a Bolt (I didn't know) and we met by an EVgo charger.  It ended up being $0.30 for ~100 mile charge.  ???  I still had an old credit I lost track of.   I was annoyed because the charger had a 1 hour limit.  I needed an extra 2-3 minutes to be confident I could make it home.  In the end we stopped for about 3 minutes at a charger, on the way home, so spent ~$2 on outside chargers.  I expect this stop was completely unnecessary. 

Last weekend I added DL(17) to our AAA account and also paid for the annual renewal.  I was at least smart enough to add that to his credit card.  It looks like he is ~$70 short of $200 reward on $500 spend.  I will have to keep thinking about it, if I have any smaller purchases (online).   

Edit:  I ended up charging MM's auto insurance bill.  It was ~$200.  DL(17) has already received the $200 reward to offset.  I expect we will get another ~$200 bill any day now.  Now that we have added DL(17) as a new driver.   I expect to be paying closer to $400 every 6 months (or what MM had been paying as a new driver).  MM(17) had whittled it down to $200 with his good driving and some years of experience.  He does have a 'college student away from home' discount but that has been very negligible on top of all the other discounts.  A lot of why the insurance is so low is because we only put ~1,000 miles per year on that car.  

It is on my list to fill up his gas tank one more time.  We did a week or two ago, but wanted to basically start him off with a full tank.  The old gas car is his now.  & along with that, all of the expenses.  I already told MM(19) that he is officially carless now.  (He will borrow whatever car is available, when he is home.)   

We took the car to the mechanic the day before DL's test.  I expected it needed brake work, and wanted to make sure the brakes were okay for the test, and for DL(17) afterwards.  Ended up spending ~$900.  New brakes, new battery, and new headlights.  I think the headlight went out while they had it, because we were on the way to pick it up when they noticed and changed them out.  MH was relieved because he recalled his dad telling him they were a real PITA to change out in that car.  (& also could have had to postpone his test, if he had a non-functioning headlight during rain.  Phew!)

& the weekend before, they had picked up new wiper blades for the car. 

Anyway, I've kept the $1,500/year car repair placeholder in our budget (from when we had two much older cars), while still having one very old car.  But the old car is driven so little, it's never needed any work before.  So we had four ~$0 repair years (on all of our cars).  It's no surprise that eventually the old gas car would need some work.  Big picture, we've made out pretty well.  (The car was a free hand-me-down.)

MH and I went out to celebrate DL passing his test!  (DL was exhausted and not hungry).  I am excited about not having to drive DL to school on Wednesdays any more.  I can't even fathom the time and freedom this opens up for MH, if I am so excited about getting 40 minutes of my week back.  We definitely wanted to celebrate.  The next film festival will be so much easier, not trying to coordinate who will pick up DL(17) from school, etc.  The ability to make any travel plans, ever.  Or the ability of MH to work full-time, etc.  It is a big change for us.

This morning I tried to take care of some bills and noticed that both our property taxes and flood insurance went down a little bit.  How random is that!?  I had to share the success of something getting less expensive.  I googled a bit and didn't see any explanation for reduced flood premiums.  With the property taxes, we have a lot of bonds and some of those we are graduating out of (after 20 years) and some have been refinanced, etc.  

We spoke to MM(19) once in the past 2? weeks.  He is focusing on one club/project this year, which is a joint project with a school in LA.  So he is driving down to LA most weekends.  He went a handful of times last year, but now it's every weekend.  Because he has more time to commit and he has made it his priority.  That will be a lot of spending on his part, with the fuel (shared) and buying food on the road. 

MM told me he was only $2 away from his $500 spend.  To get that $200 credit card reward.  He had also purchased concert tickets (for when he's in Santa Barbara staying with his girlfriend's family) and a one-way train ticket.  I appreciate how he just took the lead and got that taken care of.  I mean, he could have asked his cousin if he could get a ride, but he is going to LA for the weekend before Thanksgiving and just presumed everyone else would be gone when he got back.   So he bought himself a train ticket.  In addition, mostly just groceries, and he also used that credit card at the dentist, both of which I reimbursed him for already.  I will reimburse him for the train ticket.  Plan A was that his girlfriend was going to Santa Barabra for the (Thanksgiving) break.  But I guess that changed and she is able to give him a ride back to school.  To clarify the one-way ticket.  I had to ask him why he only bought a one-way ticket.  I guess plans keep changing.  For winter break, he will be in LA for a couple of weeks. It might make more sense to figure out how to get him home from LA.  It might be most cost effective to fly.

I am feeling a little overwhelmed.  I suppose it was a crazy week and I have also put a lot of my time to all these film festivals.  & then was out all day with DL(17) last weekend.  Now I have a quiet weekend at home and just feel overwhelmed by my to do list.  I expect some of it is also the time I am committing to my communications class.  It's not a big time commitment, but time is time.  I've mostly been doing the class on work time, but then I just feel behind at work too.  But the class is *amazing*.  I am so glad because I was reluctant to give up precious time.  I made the right choice.  I will be done in 4 weeks.

Our weather pretty much went straight from summer to winter.  Brrrrrr... 

Oct '22 Savings

November 12th, 2022 at 03:16 pm

Received $75 bank interest for the month of October.

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


Snowflakes to Investments:

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

--Redeemed $98 cash back on Citi card

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


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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


TOTAL: $133 Snowflakes to Investments


Snowball to Savings:

+$1,250 MH Income

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


401k Contributions/Match:



Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  900 New Tires (EV)

-$  450 Car Insurance (hybrid)

-$  645 Travel - College Move-In

-$  535 Travel - Arizona

-$ 150 Dentist (MM)

-$   50 Password Software


TOTAL: $2,178 Deposited to Cash and Investments


Hybrid Miles Driven October:  785

Fuel Costs: $21 Electricity + $37 Gas

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)


Electric (EV) Miles Driven October: 1,370

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

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Interest rates on our savings accounts continue to go up.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gift Card Balances Oct 2022

October 23rd, 2022 at 04:56 pm



$50 Hotel Coupon




$50  Regal

$50  Art House Theater




$50 Cracker Barrel (small balance left)

$25 Chili's

$ 25 x 1 Jamba Juice (Gifts)




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

$25  Kohls Gift Card (DL Christmas Gift)




$25  Starbucks


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

We just got through a restaurant gift card from 2017!  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


College Updates

October 18th, 2022 at 03:27 am

We did a $80 grocery run when we dropped off MM(19) at college.  After the first 30 days, his credit card cycle closed with $70 in grocery costs.  Will see how it shakes out during the next few months.  But I would be happy to keep it at $200/month or lower.  This sounds like it might work out.   

CA state funding came through and I have a better idea of real tuition costs this year.  First, the state is raising middle class funding over the next few years.  I've heard our $2K grant would probably go up to $3K this year.  It ended up being $3,400.  Woohoo!  & might be more next year?

Even better, the CA money is now showing up for all 4 years.  Initially he had so many credits they labeled him as a sophomore last year and only was showing 3 years of grants.  I am sure that was probably right.  Some majors can get out in 2-3 years if you start with a lot of credits.  But that's just not going to be the case for his engineering degree.  So I don't know what to think, but now it's showing up for all 4 years.  So that's +$3K I really was not expecting.

We've whittled the cost of MM(19)'s degree (tuition) down to $14,500. 

Edit:  MM and his girlfriend are each cooking a meal once a week, and then leftovers are carrying them through.  It sounds like girlfriend may be doing even more cooking/baking (she loves to cook) and I think I will try to buy her a grocery gift card for Christmas.  She just refuses money (any time we have offered her reimbursements for gas, food, anything).  So I am trying to figure out how to put some money back in her pocket. 

& I mean, that's just the big food effort.  MM(19) loves baked potatoes (cheap/easy) and told us he was buying some frozen meals.  If he went straight from home to college/apartment, I would not expect that at all.  But I guess he can tolerate some of the frozen meals when the alternative is (terrible/expensive) campus food.  It's all relative.

Sep '22 Savings

October 15th, 2022 at 04:25 pm

Received $70 bank interest for the month of September.

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


Snowflakes to Investments:

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

--Redeemed $84 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $12 on dining out/gas card 


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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

+ $65 Dividends


TOTAL: $217 Snowflakes to Investments


Snowball to Savings:

+$930 MH Income

-$150 Grocery Budget Overage

-$230 Misc Over-Spending 

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

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

-$100 AP Test Fee


401k Contributions/Match:



Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  486 Airfare

-$  286 Annual Vet Visit

-$  220 Running Shoes for DL

-$    78 Pest Control


TOTAL: $2,997 Deposited to Cash and Investments


Hybrid Miles Driven September:  760

Fuel Costs: $25 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)


Electric (EV) Miles Driven September: 1,300

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

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)


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

Note:  Home charging rates are higher during summer months.

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

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

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


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

August spending was...  Blech!  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quiet Day

October 10th, 2022 at 12:32 am

MH took DL(17) to a concert last night. 

MH and I are going back and forth on Napa plans.  Was planning to do a big dinner there.  But when talking about it Friday, MH told me he was making gnocchi for dinner and butternut squash soup for dinner this weekend.  & he already made some salsa.  I told him at some point that nevermind, didn't see the point of eating out.  Next month is going to be crazy expensive (including this month's charges) and we are eating *very well* at home.  Napa is generally over-rated and over-priced.

That's pretty much where we were at, but then yesterday we discussed we should just eat there, otherwise we need to eat dinner at 4:00.  I suppose we can flip a coin later.  I am starting to think we should just pack a picnic.  This might be the middle ground that we need.

We are being just as wishy washy about the Oregon trip.  But MH was just told by someone else that the Oregon film festival was one of the best they have been to.  Ugh!  (I find this doubtful, given the logistics.)  We are talking maybe $300 for gas and hotels.  I think we will probably just go/drive.  

Oh yeah, but my coworker will be there at the same time for a wedding and told me it was the time for peak foliage/fall colors.  So I guess there's that.  Lord knows we won't have time to stop anywhere.  But we can enjoy the view along the way.

Not even going to bother to try with the electric car.  Maybe we should.  Apparently the EA chargers are all still free.  That would be quite a score, getting a free 1,100 miles.  We don't want our first big electric road trip to be on such a time crunch.  I am sure it's doable, we just don't want to bother with it. 

Edit to add:  We went to Napa and ended up eating out ($$$$).  The food was very good.  We went to a film festival; watched a documentary.  Oh yeah, MH had bought tickets but then they ended up being free.  So that was a nice surprise.  (The film maker gave us 2 tickets and MH was able to request a refund).

I had noticed that MH did a mid-week $100 grocery run.  I asked if he was going shopping today.  He said he had bought through the next week.  I suppose that we will talk to MM(19) today and get an idea about how much he is spending.  He should have 3 weeks of grocery spending behind him.  Will need to figure out how to reimburse him.  & will get an idea how much he is spending.  

I am taking a communications class at work.  I am sure it's the kind of thing that sounds terrible re: the corporate world.  But it's a very chill thing in my 5-person office.  100% optional, and can do on company time.  My boss is an excellent teacher/trainer and so that is also a lot of it.   I expect this is the only class that will interest me; he wants to start doing one or two a year.  But I don't know, will see how it goes.  I could totally see him doing a personal finance class for employees.  I don't know what else he has in mind.  

After a couple of very long weeks, I should have a breather today.  Phew!  

Butternut squash is in the crockpot and it smells divine.  


October 5th, 2022 at 04:02 pm

It's a miracle, but I didn't have to back out of or cancel the trip!  So many last minute canceled trips in recent years.  So I am mostly in disbelief that we pulled it off.

The trip was very pleasant.  We loved Tucson.  Apparently, sunny (no clouds) and 90F degrees (forecasted) every day means some random rain and thunder just about every day.  That was a pleasant surprise.  Here in California, sunny and no clouds means sunny and no clouds.  😁  

This was the film festival to go to.  It took place in a large movie theater, which was very promising and seemed less hokey than most of the other (very small) Festivals that we have attended.  In the end, MH's 11am time slot (Sunday) was not well attended.  Nothing really was well attended (more than 10-15 people).  But the venue was so nice and the movies were higher quality than most of the festivals we have gone to so far.  The people running it are very ambitious (want to get very big) and were *so* nice.  So though the turnout was not large, the size was kind of workable as far as getting to know everyone.  MH made a lot of connections and got more out of this than any of the other festivals.  For example, the Oregon festival coming up, they network *before* they show the movies (not as useful).  It goes very late and it's in a drive-in.  Doesn't sound like much opportunity to chat afterwards.  At first MH admitted that clearly that one is not worth it.  But...  Then he made so many connections here, including several people telling him that this other festival has a really good reputation.  One of them who won a bunch of awards in Tucson couldn't get into that festival, etc.  So MH changed his tune in the end.  I think he's still undecided and we will probably just drive (to save ~$800).  Airline tickets keep getting more and more expensive.

& later, MH told me he wanted to go back to this festival next year.  So do I!  I had so much fun.

So that was a very unexpected outcome.  It could have just been really hokey, no one showing up, etc.  If that was the case, we would have just enjoyed the area.

The in-laws' timeshare properties can be hit and miss sometimes, but this one was really nice.  We had a little casita, right next to the National Park.  When we first walked in I told MH it was a mansion.  The place was just huge.  It was a one bedroom apartment.  Just, very big.  We didn't spend much time there, but would have been nice to just sit on the shaded patio and enjoy the view.

The other striking thing was the low cost of everything.  I guess we generally don't travel to lower cost places.  In recent years, it's been London, LA, Hawaii, DC.  So it was refreshing going somewhere so inexpensive.  Gas was probably about 1/3 of what we estimated.  The gas car we got came up with a surprising 40mpg average for our 530 miles of driving.  (We flew into Phoenix and drove the 2 hours to Tucson).  With gas costing half as much, we spent about $50 of the $150 I had imagined we'd spend.  & I knew gas would probably be cheaper there, but didn't realize how much cheaper.  In contrast, gas hit $7/gallon here at home.  We paid half that much in Arizona.

Side note:  If I lived in Arizona, we'd probably eat out all the time and we'd drive a gas car.  Location matters.  

Oh yeah, and one last thing.  I was really irritated re: super cheapie airfare, at first.  When I tried to get our seats at check-in (24 hours before flight).  I've just heard so many horror stories in recent years.  & the last few times we flew there was no room for our baggage, etc.  So I was really pleasantly surprised.  We flew American Airlines on one of their newer planes.  I refused to pay extra money to pick some random middle seat, when we couldn't sit next to each other anyway.  In the end, they did do a good job putting us close together (which cost no extra).  & the newer plane had ample overhead storage space for basically everyone to carry on a bag.  The seats and leg room was more than I remember (I haven't flown domestic in 6+ years).  So I quickly changed my tune.  Oh yeah, and after all that, the person next to me never showed up (full flight) so we got to sit together on the way in.  & I got an aisle seat on the way back.  Didn't get to sit next to MH on the way back, but he was just one row ahead and it was a short flight.  Probably best flight experience I've had, in a long time.  That was unexpected.

Anyway, I just wanted to do a quick estimate of the cost of the trip and see where we are at.  I can already see we went over our 2022 vacation budget, and have some expenses pending.  But it came out to about what I expected.  We had $1,130 left of our vacation budget.

Spending in Tucson...

$486 Flights

$429 Car Rental

$50 Airport Parking

$78 Film Festival

$275 Food

$50 Gas

$60 Museums

$70 National Parks (was only $25 but MH bought a very expensive hat, and I forgot lip balm)

We decided to retire the Florida ball caps we picked up at WalMart or Walgreens?  10+ years ago and figured we'd just buy hats there.  I found one for $5 at Wal Mart but MH ended up picking up a $40 hat at the National Park.  He wanted something nicer and wanted to support the National Park.  (He also burns very easily and wanted to cover his ears/neck and get a more wide brimmed hat.  I don't burn, in contrast.)

In addition to the above, we spent $50 on groceries (including sunblock, which was probably smart because was cheaper there anyway.)  & we spent $25 clothing.  The hat was cheap but I picked up some other clothing while I was there.  Will absorb these purchases in our regular monthly budget.

Total 'vacation' spending  = $1,500

So our overage is $370 and we are now considering an Oregon trip.  But this is very 'you only live once' and I thought we might spend many thousands this year (if MH had gotten into more festivals).  I am very fine with it.  We have ~$1,000 coming to us from the State.  Can pull from MH's income in the meantime, and his parents always gives us large amounts of money at the end of the year.  It's well covered.  I'd prefer to use the State inflation relief money, to cover extra travel this year, but not sure we will get it before 2023.

I wanted to see roughly where we are at. 

I leave you with some pictures.

Near Saguaro East National Park ~ we did a cave tour here, but the view was amazing

Saguaro West National Park

Saguaro East National Park (cactus + moon)

Saguaro East National Park


More Film Festivals

September 28th, 2022 at 03:19 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 04:36 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 03:20 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 03:39 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 02:28 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 04:30 am

Received $67 bank interest for the month of August.

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


Snowflakes to Investments:

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

--Redeemed $70 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $8 on dining out/gas card 


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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


TOTAL: $141 Snowflakes to Investments


Snowball to Savings:

+$0 MH Income


401k Contributions/Match:



Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$472 Kids' Birthdays

-$300 New VR Quest

-$230 Senior Pictures

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


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  300 Dentist (MH & DL)

-$    60 Quicken (personal finance/accounting software)


Pulled from 'College Savings'

-$7,700 Tuition + Rent


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


Hybrid Miles Driven August:  860

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

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

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


Electric (EV) Miles Driven August: 996

Fuel Costs: $21 (home) 

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)


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

Note:  Home charging rates are higher during summer months.

We did 105 miles of free charging this month. 

EV = free 105 miles @ animal shelter 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2022 Credit Card Reward Tally

August 28th, 2022 at 02:57 pm

2022 TALLY:

$15 AmEx Reward (for charing insurance)

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



**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 08:18 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 02:47 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 05:01 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 01:46 am

Received $50 bank interest for the month of July.

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


Snowflakes to Investments:

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

--Redeemed $70 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $7 on dining out/gas card


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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


TOTAL: $129 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



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 07:48 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 05:20 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 06:50 pm

Received $38 bank interest for the month of June.

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


Snowflakes to Investments:

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

--Redeemed $69 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $7 on dining out/gas card


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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

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


TOTAL: $132 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



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 02:21 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 01:18 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 03:49 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 01:31 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 04:36 pm

Received $26 bank interest for the month of May.

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


Snowflakes to Investments:

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

--Redeemed $76 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $6 on dining out/gas card


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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


TOTAL: $124 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



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 01:13 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.  

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