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It's Official

December 3rd, 2023 at 05:52 pm

Yes, the state wants to give us $11,000 for college this year.  MM(20)'s fall quarter refund finally showed up.  I wanted to pay his winter tuition that week, so the timing worked out perfectly.

I believe it now.  It's real.

Here's an update of MM's expected college costs, with the 5th year.  He did officially get his double major approved and so 5 years is the plan.  

MM's expected net college costs:

$42,000 Tuition/fees** (4 Years)

+$10,000 5th Year Tuition/Fees 

-10,000  Tax credits

-13,000  CA middle class grants

-  6,000  Scholarship


$23,000 Net cost

**I added in MM's $1K summer school class


Of course, nothing is easy.  *sigh*

The girlfriend is still very ill.  I just looked back at texts and it's been 6 weeks since MM(20) first took her to the hospital and she was hospitalized.  She's been in and out of the hospital this whole time and they don't know what is wrong with her.  This became more apparent during Thanksgiving week when MM(20) was home and he filled us in more on what was going on (and he was probably more in the loop; the girlfriend has moved back home in our city for the meantime).  I presumed she was on the upswing but I texted her about something or the other yesterday and she told me she was having a bad day and was being put on heart meds.  Very short term, I am sure that they are starting to wonder if she can feasibly go back to school in January.   Longer term, lord knows.  😟 


rob62521 & Lucky Robin

November 29th, 2023 at 04:07 am

Can you login now?

My login/SA problems are all fixed now.


Hulu & Netflix

November 12th, 2023 at 05:56 pm

We picked up Hulu as a cable replacement when we cut the cable cord in 2012.  

It was a nice alternative because at the time Hulu had current shows and we paid the premium for no commercials.  We were paying $8.55/month.

For the most part, money is no object when it comes to streaming services.  It's MH's thing.  It's the one thing he will want to spend money on (TV and movies).  But on the flip side of the coin, we have always been wary of signing up for contracts, we limit ongoing monthly costs of any kind, etc.

I probably just presumed if MH was paying for something, that he was using it.  But I mentioned to him that I noticed that Hulu just jumped up from $14.99/month to $17.99/month.  In the "If you're cool with it" vein...  It still beats cable.  But just wanted to be sure he was aware.

MH's response:  "Oh yeah, I got an email about that.  We should probably re-evaluate what we have and what we are using."  

The cost was enough to get his attention.  I told MH, "I don't think I am watching anything on Hulu."  We went through and there wasn't anything I personally would want to keep track of.  Most of the shows I had been more into, they wrapped up and had their series finale in the last year or so.

We quickly decided that we just weren't using Hulu and that the price was steep even if there was just one or two shows we would be into.  So MH 'paused' the subscription for 12 weeks.  That was the longest he could pause it.  Our overall plan is to maybe pause Hulu for 6 months and then pause Netflix for 6 months.  But if it was just me, I could probably do without Hulu.  

I put it on my calendar.  We will evaluate in another 12 weeks.  I expect we will just pause Hulu again.

Netflix, we pretty much always had.  It replaced Blockbuster at some point (we were mailed rentals, in the old days).  I never coded this as a 'cable' expense because it was an entertainment expense that MH had always paid for.  

I do watch a lot of stuff on Netflix and want to just keep it.  But I am totally fine with the 6 months on and 6 months off plan.  The shows will still be there.

MH bought a 1-year Peacock deal at some point.  I mentioned it to him when it renewed.  Wasn't sure if anyone was really using it, at the time.  I think it just fell off his radar.  But as we hashed it out this week, I decided I've actually been using Peacock a fair amount.  It only comes out to $5/month.  I think we should keep it.

I guess the only other streaming service we are paying for is Shudder.  It's $5.99/month.  I have been coding that to MH's allowance.  I didn't realize it was a monthly subscription thing.  I just moved it over to 'Cable TV', now that I realize.  He's pondering starting and stopping that too, periodically.

For reference, old cable was $100/month.

I guess technically we are only paying $10.99/month now.  For Shudder & Peacock.

Still have Netflix, but that literally had replaced our movie rental service.  In the old old days, we had both cable and movie rentals.  But if you want to split hairs, that's another $20/month.

So I look it up, for the apples to apples.  We used to pay $30/month for both Blockbuster and Netflix.  I don't remember why.  Maybe like current streaming days, they had different offerings?  Did we stream Netflix before we left cable?  

Okay, so old cable and video rentals was $130/month.

Today, all the streaming costs $30/month.  Which was how much it cost 12 years ago when we first cut cable.

Happy to say that it hasn't gotten all wild and out of control.  I doubt we've had any discussions about this in a very long time.  It looks like we just got lax about Hulu, and probably both presumed the other was using it.

Edited to add:  We've always paid for the premium Netflix so that the kids could log in, so that we could log in when we travel or when we visit our parents, so that everyone in my household can stream at the same time, etc.  If they get weird and stingy about that, we are happy to drop down our subscription to a cheaper offering.  So far, it hasn't been an issue.

Second edit:  MH corrected me and said we were paying more for Netflix? for the 4K streaming.  I am sure there was an element of using all over the place.  But the primary draw for choosing more expensive streaming was the video quality. 

Crazy Weeks

November 12th, 2023 at 03:50 pm

The last few weeks have been crazy.

Thankfully, there has been some good crazy!  It's a nice change.  A mix of good and bad.  It beats just constant bad news.

The worst news is that MM(20)'s girlfriend has been very ill and she dropped out for the rest of this quarter.  The quarters go so fast and missing 2-3 weeks was just too much for her to catch up.  I feel so bad for her parents. They've been going through this with her sister the last 2 years.  So when the GF ended up in the ER (out of network) I thought, "I guess they know the drill."  Been there and done that.  I expect this is also why she quickly decided to drop her classes.  It was an easier decision, being already familiar with the logistics. 

The really good news is that MH's movie funded!  Woohoo!

But I suppose this means I am just signing up for more CRAZY!  Lord knows what we have gotten ourselves into.

This is just the best and the worst news.  Other things off the top of my head...

There was a brush fire (arson) just blocks from MM(20)'s apartment.  This was a few days after the GF left, so that was a dramatic week. 

Everyone at work has been sick, and so I have been covering for everyone (per usual).  But I suppose this time it was all the departments and everyone was sick.  That was a little extra.  (It's been a bad sick year, in general.) My employees are *always* sick or out with some personal drama.  I still have no idea what it's like to have well employees that show up for work.  Stress apparently works well for me because I've never been healthier.  But I am vaccinated and I don't have small kids at home.  To be fair, I was much more sickly when I had younger kids.  (I work in a young office, most have young kids.) As I type this out, lord knows what DL(18) will be bringing home from the college.  

We had a large bank fraud at work.  Due to several factors, the bank refunded us six figures after 2 days.  Phew!  (It sounds most likely it was post office fraud.  Very similar to when one of my clients had a check washing fraud incident about 15 years ago.)  

On the plus side, I did have my 5-Year work anniversary dinner.  My employer and his wife took out both MH and I.  It was probably the best and most expensive meal I have ever had.  Giving me a taste for the finer things in life. 

Oct '23 Savings

November 6th, 2023 at 02:19 pm

Received $98 bank interest 

Received $208 I Bond interest 


Snowflakes to Investments:

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

--Redeemed $128 cash back on Citi card

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


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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


TOTAL: $186 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



Snowball to Savings/Investments:

+$1,300  MH Income


Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  450 to investments

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


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$2,000 Investment in MH movie project

-$   505 Medical Bills (DL ER)

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

-$   400  Tucson Airfare

-$   265  College Travel

-$   107  DL College Expenses


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$    952 Auto Insurance

-$      78  Pest Control


TOTAL: $813 Deposited to Cash & Investments


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


Hybrid Miles Driven:  762 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 1,534

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grocery Rewards

October 30th, 2023 at 02:26 pm

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

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

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


Sept '23 Savings

October 24th, 2023 at 01:48 pm

Received $111 bank interest 

Received $240 I Bond interest 


Snowflakes to Investments:

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

--Redeemed $138 cash back on Citi card

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


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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


TOTAL: $0 Snowflakes to Investments

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


401k Contributions/Match:



Snowball to Savings/Investments:

+$550  MH Income


Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  450 to investments

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


Pulled from mid-term savings:

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

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

-$   185  DL College Expenses (parking)


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$    450 Dentist (x3)


TOTAL: $1,520 Deposited to Cash & Investments


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


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

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 1,131

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

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


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

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

Thankfully, MH is back at work. 

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

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

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

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

It's Happening?!

October 23rd, 2023 at 02:49 pm

Just wanted to update that it looks like MH's movie will be funded!


I feel like this is just the first battle in a very long war.  

They reached 90% yesterday.  We have been willing to contribute the last $5K and talked about it a long time ago.  If $5K is the difference between grabbing hold of this opportunity and getting this movie made...  The difference between that and giving up.  It's a no brainer.  (Talking about less than 0.5% of our assets, going to a risky investment.)

We hit 90% on Saturday.  & then someone donated $1,000 later that same day?

For now, I think we are mostly in the "in shock" phase.  

There's another 10 days left on the crowd funding campaign.  Will see if we even have to contribute anything at all.  (MH has a few acquaintances who are very excited about the project and promising to contribute more than they already have.  Everyone is also telling MH that they will get a surge at the end.  Will see...)

If we squeak by without having to donate at this point, we will still probably talk about investing.  Outside of the crowd funding, which we both prefer.  Would not be subjected to all of the fees.  Plus could invest versus doing a straight gift.  Increasing our odds from 0% re: getting any of this money back.  The odds might be low, but we like the 'better than 0%' odds.

(We are reaching the minimum crowd funding goal.  The very bare minimum to get this done.  The movie will need more money.)

Also, I'd much rather make this decision about how much we are willing to invest, in another couple of months.  After year-end gifts and bonuses shake out.  It would also be nice to know if the state of CA is really giving us $11,000 for college this year.  (Have received $0, to-date.)

I do believe that if they hit their crowdfunding goal, that they will be able to leave the campaign up indefinitely.  That will help as to reaching more than just the bare minimum.

DL(18) Money Update

October 22nd, 2023 at 02:30 pm

DL(18) is my far more balanced child. 

Of course, he wasn't spending anything at all re: summer camp job.  Was just the nature of the job.

But then he came back home and started college.  His first (college) credit card bill is a gnarly $400.  I need to go through it with him and figure out what charges are for books.  We want to cover college books and supplies (as long as he doesn't have a job and is just living at home).  Can revisit if circumstances change.  I think about $115 of this is books for school.

The rest:

$130 Car Gas

$ 85 Clothing

$ 35 Eating Out (Student Union)

$ 27 Haircut

I did end up buying him new running shoes, when his extreme cheapskate genetics had a moment.  🙄  

Spending this month:

$133 Car Gas (will probably be one more fill up this credit card cycle)

$ 28 Meals Out

He planned a brunch with his new college friends.  & last weekend he had some plans with his best high school friend.  They did some kind of movie marathon and went out for coffee (to help stay awake).  I know at other times he has been taking advantage of school amenities.  When we go over that $400 bill and how much I owe him, will get a better sense if he's just eating meals in the student union or how much of that is paying for other services.  I know he sometimes play pool between classes, stuff like that.

Reminds me, he got a free 'home cooked' meal at school one night and has done other free nights out.  Like MM(20), doesn't mean he is sitting at home the rest of the time, just because he is not spending money.

He's been at college for 2 months?  He just went to the college gym for the first time, last week.  I am glad he is taking advantage of that perk.  He loves going to the gym, in general.  (Briefly joined a gym in early 2020, and then that went to heck.  In the meantime, has just been making do at home.  He mostly uses weights and a pull up bar.  In addition to running and biking.  But he is crazy fit. The gym will be really nice for him.)

I am shocked how much he is spending on gas.  His commute is only 15 miles each way, but he's chosen to stick to the city streets and back roads.  I presume that he's taking a massive hit on his mpg, not just taking the freeway.

It sounds like he is spending $1,600 just on gas, for his 9 months of commuting.  Not counting summer driving or a work commute or anything beyond his college commute.  I had to double check and triple check because that sounds so absurd.  (My commute is 10 miles longer each way.  His fuel costs 7x what I am paying for electric fuel.)   Gas sticker shock.

The economics are very different re: the car-centric college choice.  

Edited to add:  I pinned DL(18) down.  He said he had a few food purchases (just shows up as 'The Store @UU') but that a $6 charge was for scan trons.  So I guess I owe him $121 (for college books and supplies).  I revised #s above.

More eating out the first weeks of school.  He's since switched to packing lunches.  Which is interesting because he mostly refused to pack lunch during high school years.  It's different I guess when your parents aren't paying for it.  But I expect that 'having a lot more time to plan ahead' is also a factor.   

MM(20) Money Update

October 22nd, 2023 at 02:10 am

MM(20)'s mega I Bond interest expires the end of November.  Will cash out and move to his high interest savings account.  It used to be 'mega interest', but is below average these days.  & the cap is $5K (on what used to be mega interest).  I just put it on my calendar to have him open a high yield cash account when he is home for Thanksgiving break.

This reminds me, I've seen that Chevy is starting to release Bolts that they bought back during the recall.  Put in new batteries and these cars have brand new 8-year warranties.  They've been flooding the market, similar to how it was when we bought the car (we bought when they were coming off lease and flooding the market.)  The pricing is similar, at $15,000.  The kicker is that today there is a $4,000 used EV tax credit.  This could be a $11,000 car purchase, plus tax on the larger sticker price.  It's a little early and I know that it's more than MM(20) wants to spend.  But I thought he might be enticed by the very inexpensive fuel (which would probably mostly be free.) 

I wouldn't buy one of these cars before 2024, and we'd maybe miss the boat.  Why 2024?  Because dealerships will be able to advance the tax credit.  So no more wondering if uncooperative dealerships are going to figure out their crap.  $4K off the top or we walk.  & also, the new rules will be much more lax.  Many instances where you can take the credit up front and not have to pay back if you are not eligible.  I'd have to do homework on that.  There is a 20-page IRS FAQ that I have not looked at in any great detail.  But I get the jist that all is this is going to be much easier and more favorable in 2024.  I still expect dealerships to be uncooperative and mostly clueless.  But the up front tax credit will be make or break the deal for the 20yo.  Who most definitely does not want to spend $15K on a car.

I brought it up, but MM(20) told me he doesn't want a car next school year.  That's news to me!  The only thing of note that has changed is that he has a bike this year.  He may be finding that is more than enough, for transportation. 

The other big financial update is that MM(20) has committed to a 5th college year.  He was a little wishy washy about his major and changed it a couple of times.  Finally decided he just wants to double major.  So that will take 5 years.  There's some non-academic reasons also for him wanting to take 5 years.

I can very much relate.  Very different reasons, but I also had several reasons I took 5 years to finish college.  So I asked MM(20) early this calendar year if he thought he would finish in 4 years.  I was surprised when he said yes.   At that time we told him we had both taken 5 years to finish college.  I am glad we had this discussion because I want him to do it right the first time.  I think he felt like he had to finish in 4 years.  & so he started considering this other major when he had more time (I think he'd need 4.5 years to switch?)  & then after getting two major changes approved, he just got approval to just double major in both of those majors.  

Of course, I think this would have been around when he would be deciding if he wanted to do a 5th year Masters program. (Another reason I didn't just presume he'd be done in 4 years). Some of this decision is that he doesn't want to do a Masters program at all.  I am surprised, but makes it an easier sell.  If he's really going to be done with all his schooling in 5 years, this is a pretty good deal.

The tuition part is easy.  He's got just about enough cash left in his gifted college fund to cover Years 4 & 5 (when he won't be eligible for grants any longer; no tax credit that 5th year).  This is exactly what the gifted college fund is for.  To give him more options. 

As to housing, I have no idea.  It's years away and so we will keep saving.  It could be that we expect him to contribute more during that 5th year.  I just don't know how that will shake out.  It also could likely be moot.  I have two years of rent saved up for DL(18) already.  It's how it's always been with my kids.  MM(20) was the one who always wanted to do 2 or 3 extra-curriculars while DL(18) wanted to do zero.  MM wanted to go on all the big trips while DL didn't want any part of that.  MM wants to go to school 300 miles away.  DL needs a slower transition into adulthood.  It might just be the ying/yang it always is.  I've always been able to afford all this for MM because his brother is uninterested.  & so it might just be how college shakes out too.  I've got rent money saved that DL(18) might not end up using.

In the meantime, I just keep saving for these college years.  

I Bond Update

October 21st, 2023 at 11:10 pm

It looks like most of our mega interest will expire the end of November.

We've accumulated $4,000 I Bond interest that will have to pay taxes on when we cash out.  I was thinking that maybe I'd cash out half this year (December) and half next year (January).  But that if taxes were already covered and no crazy tax cliffs, might be easier to just sell this year.  But then I realized it's moot because I forgot about 1 year holding period for latest bond purchase.  & the other one (mega interest) expires in January.  So max I'd only want to cash out half in 2023 anyway.

I presumed the "tax free if used for college" part was useless (for our personal situation) and never dove much deeper than that.  But I looked at the calculations today and yeah, that is not going to help us.  All I could come up was ~$350 college expenses this year (for tuition; not covered by grants or applied to federal tax credits).   Which would be the interest on my newest bond.  That apparently I can't cash out until 1/1/24.  But anyway, as I thought it might be, both the pricipal and the interest needs to be applied for college expenses.  It's too high of a bar to make this tax-free on any meaningful level.  If I sell half the bonds, then about 1.6% of the interest will be tax-free.  (Because 1.6% of the proceeds will go to college expenses).

The only reason I have even that much in college expenses is because MM(20) took a $1,000 summer course.

I presumed we'd get these state grant refunds (for MM's first 2 junior quarters) when coming up with these numbers.  Last I heard, we should get funds (for fall quarter) the end of next week?  Not holding my breath.  Still in "will believe it when I see it" mode and am in disbelief about the dollar amount.   Until then, for all I know it was just a typo.

I was bummed that I Bond rates dropped so low because it was nice when it was just a separate bucket I didn't have to keep track of.  But duh, I remembered I used to have all this money in cash at our brokerage.  The brokerage is paying 5%+ on cash right now.  Will just move the money back there.  I just forgot that is where I had it before.  No separate tracking to worry about, it will be in its own bucket.  

While all this money has been tied up in I Bonds, I've just been tapping our cash reserves for MM(20)'s rent.  Our cash reserves don't amount to much at this point.  I will be reimbursing myself $6,000 (from I Bonds) to cover 2023 rent (July through January) and a $500 mattress purchase.  It will be nice to use 'money saved a long time ago' to start paying for some of these expenses.  The balance of this one bond (principal + mega interest) will cover MM's rent the rest of this school year.  There will be some money left over.  Especially if that money continues to earn 5%+ interest.  I suppose the interest on this money (while it's 5%+) may cover utilities.  I may be able to squeak by and have all his 2023-2024 housing covered under this one bond.  This sounds like a miracle at this point, his housing was so up in the air just 6 months ago.  But the interest was piling up so fast, I did decide to use some of this money for the mattress. 

Edited to add:  I suppose there is the benefit of state tax-free income re: I Bonds.  Is not on my radar re: very low (progressive) tax rate.

Amazing Weekend

October 10th, 2023 at 01:14 am

Fingers crossed, but I think I am out of the medical loop.  It's all been 'abundance of caution' that has never turned out to be anything.  But I had my first mammogram (ever) that was all clear the first round.  Phew!   I am shocked.  I was sure I'd have to go back this week.  Because I always do.

It was crazy for a while in 2018-2019 with all the medical appointments.  It has definitely been a step down from that.  But it's nice to take it down a step further and have the "all clear" re: everything medical.  I might have acheived this once in recent years but it did not last very long.  Fingers crossed.

This weekend was perfect and magical.  I really viewed it as more of a chore weekend, going into it.  Mostly driving down to the college to deliver a few things to MM(20).  

We drove 735 miles.  The first car charge was free, but apparently it was just a fluke.  We thought we were going to get free charging all weekend.  (Electrify America is often free on Holiday weekends.)

We spent $234 on the hotel and tickets.  I am guessing $400 with food and fuel and everything.  Probably not quite that much.  We didn't do any big meals.  But I am guessing $400-ish for the weekend.  Will tally it all up later. 

It was fleet week and we saw some jets doing a show.  Could see from the freeway on the drive down.  

I guess with DL(18) having a driver license and being more independent.  We are actually getting through some of these things we thought we would do while MM(20) was living on the central coast.

We went to this art installation.  Wasn't sure if it was going to be over hyped or what.  It was beautiful.  & we picked the perfect day to go.  The weather was absolutely perfect.   The sky was so dark (no moon) that the stars were amazing.  I saw a shooting star!

I thought it would be nice to get there before sunset.  This ended up being perfect.  It was gorgeous in the light too.  We walked the property during (a great) sunset and then we went inside to eat dinner.  Then we came out and walked more thoroughly through the lights.  We stopped a couple of times just to sit and enjoy, the view and the stars.

The next morning we headed to the beach.  There's still chatter of whales online, though clearly that all peaked the last time we were there.  (It was a day trip, I didn't know until we left, and we wouldn't have had time anyway).  So we tried, but no whales.  But we did see lots of dolphins.   

& we saw a very fast and good foil surfer.  I mean, I could watch the surfers all day.  But I barely noticed the surfers on this trip.  The dolphins stole the show.  & then MH and MM pointed out this foil surfer.  Just google it, it's the craziest thing.  It's hard to describe.  Even most the videos I found were "meh" compared to the guy we were watching.  He was just flying all over the place.  It took us a while to figure out what the heck we were even seeing. 

We took MM(20) with us to the beach and his girlfriend met us for lunch. 


MM(20) has some leadership position re: the rose float this year.  He was really eyeing these flowers at the restaurant.  I guess he has been trying to track them down.  So we learned a lot about that whole process.  I guess the school grows a lot of the flowers.  & I am sure they just have to buy some of what they need.  But this particular flower is the perfect shade for what they need and more difficult to find.  (Would take more than a season to grow).   & I guess that dyeing flowers is frowned upon.   The GF has these same flowers outside her on campus house, so they were in deep negotiations about how much MM could get away with "borrowing" flowers from her house.

Of course, the down side to this is I don't know when we will see MM(20) the rest of this year.  I actually gave him a camping mattress when we initially thought his bed would arrive some nights after he moved into his apartment.  It's only because of this that I know he has camping plans after New Years.  🙄  He mentioned it to me re: the camping mattress.  We will have to get him a round trip flight from LA for Christmas (he will only have a couple of days off).  & then I guess technically he should be free January 1st or 2nd?  But if he goes camping, we aren't going to see him much.

I really need to buckle down and make Pasadena plans.  I am very mellow about it because MM(20) stayed at the timeshare by Disneyland last year.  That was rather last minute.  I know we can find some lodging.  & I am sure we have missed the boat as to anything very convenient. But I am committing to figuring things out this weekend.  Ideally, we want to see all the floats before or after the parade.  I just don't want to deal with the peak crowd.  We briefly discussed and MM(20) insisted it's all free the night before, to see the floats up close.  I am not 100% sure if that's true, if he has access we won't have, etc.  But it's only $20 to go see all the floats afterwards.  (I just figured this out). I will be buying tickets soon, to have that insurance.   

Side note:  MM(20) will have free lodging near Pasadena.  Because he is staying and working until the parade, he will have free lodging.  Last year he left early and just went back to watch the parade.

Other than that, I am exhausted and would be happy to go *nowhere* the rest of this year.  But I have been really looking forward to the behind-the-scenes rose parade experience.  Financially, will probably be a 2024 expense.  Heck, even if I charge any of that in December, won't be paying for it until January.  Definitely a 2024 expense.  Except for these $20 tickets that I want to buy now.  


September 27th, 2023 at 03:32 am

Our 'last minute reasonable college move-in hotel' from last year was not so reasonable this year.  & we have stayed there a few times but I wasn't really excited about the hotel cost this September.  It would have worked in a pinch (far more reasonable than anything else).  But other than that...  Meh. 

MH keeps insisting this is a one-day trip and I keep insisting that we aren't 20 any more.  I gave in for this one time and I mostly regret it.  

All else being equal, would leave it at, "Well that sucked, but glad to save the money."  But as we were driving home I saw in the college parent group that the whales were putting on quite a show at the beach where we usually stay at our forever hotel.  Which is significant because we went on the most amazing whale watching (trip of a lifetime) some years ago and...  I wouldn't know because I puked the entire time on the boat.  So I am super bummed we didn't just spend that $200.  I could have watched whales.  From land! 

Probably not as relevant, but then later (during the week?) I saw that the ocean was glowing with bioluminescence.  I didn't even know that was a thing that far north.  I later saw that it is also a Bay Area thing.  Never heard of it when we lived there.  I presume it's a little extra spectacular right now, and probably more common down south.  But I don't know, this is what I presume based on pictures, social media chatter, and literally never hearing of this before.  

As to the biolumiescence, they call it the red tide.  Well that's going to the top of my bucket list.   The pictures are magical.

Anyway, the week before move-in was chaos.  MM(20) had disappeared the weekend prior, and then disappeared all day Monday.  We cornered him Monday night and figured things out (whatever he needed to buy).  It was more useful to ship things here and then move them in the car, but we were running out of time.  We scrambled and we got it done.  Move-in went as well as it could have.  At least we didn't hit any traffic.  

The short money summary:  MM spent about $450 on the bed tax, bike supplies (lock, helmet), a microwave, a wifi router, and some misc, items.  Used his $1K annual college gift, so has about $550 extra spending money for the rest of the year.  MH and I chipped in $500 for a mattress.  (If we didn't, he would have slept on the floor.)  It seemed most prudent just to order from a furniture store and have that delivered, but then the mattress arrived several days early.  As did several other things we shipped.  But we got it all figured out, and it was nice his bed was already there when he moved in.

While MH was on the phone with the mattress store for what felt like hours...  (While I bought up everything else).  MH found out he got into the Tucson film festival.  So he is going this weekend.  & had to scramble to figure all that out too.  The airfare was very reasonable (even though this ended up being very last minute) and so it was a no brainer.  But all the hotels were booked up that weekend (don't know what else is going on) and the hotel ended up being quite expensive.  We even tried to get a free timeshare stay but the place we stayed last time was booked up.  So this is going to be a  $1,000+ trip.  But this was by far the best film festival we went to and I still think it was worth it.  I am just relieved I didn't plan to go.  Would have been another $400 for me to fly.  

Then we started making plans to visit MM(20).  Time to find another reasonable hotel that we can book last minute.  Thinking maybe we could try something more "on the way" versus the "30 miles south" gem we found, that keeps raising their rates.  Back to the drawing board.  But I finally figured it out.  They have a very nice Motel 6 near the college.  It was $100+ cheaper than any other option, and it's in the college town (very convenient).   We are also going to an art installation while we are there.  Missed all the nature stuff so will go see the fake plastic stuff instead. All that came up to about $200 (hotel + excursion).  We got a $300 cash gift for our anniversary (and because MIL felt bad about the Tucson timeshare).  I wasn't necessarily planning to use that money for this trip, but it should cover most of our expenses.

Oh yeah, MM(20) left behind one piece of furniture (wouldn't fit with everything else) and forgot some minor things.   I don't even know if he will want the furniture re: small apartment.  But we just figured we'd do another trip and would be happy to go back on a less busy weekend.  I believe we abandoned this plan last year due to Tucson.  

It's nice to get to some of these things we thought we'd be able to do while MM(20) went to college in the area. 

I was thinking the other day that we succeeded this year re: vacation lifestyle.  It's my preference to do a lot of smaller trips and staycaytions, versus saving up big dollars for just one big trip.  My personality just wants to spread it out.  So I was pondering our success on this front in 2023 (after some years of failure on this front).  And duh...  DL(18) got his driver license.  So we can go and do whatever the heck we want.  That is the very obvious change that set things in motion.  We certainly took advantage of this freedom this year.  In the past, we probably just did more things with the kids.  & some of these awkward in-between (kid) years just coincided with a lot of other crap.

Note:  It's been a busy year and there's a lot I did not blog about.  We did some big concert weeks (that I never said much about) and things like that.

Edited to add:  Probably could have just done AirBnb in Tucson because it is a lower cost region.  MH realized too late.  (An Uber driver was telling him he had an inexpensive AirBnb.  Which was my "duh" moment.)  It's not top of mind because none of these vacation rentals have ever been reasonable in our state.  Making a note so that maybe this jogs my memory in the future.  

More Nesting

September 27th, 2023 at 02:36 am

Nesting tapered off, presumably with the hot summer weather.

I then moved on to office nesting.  

Side note:  It's so funny different personalities.  A woman in our office was upgraded to her own office about a year ago?  She immediately threw a bajillion dollars on the company credit card and filled her office to the brim.  Just looking at her office stresses me out.  (Personally, she is in debt up to her eyeballs.  Probably more than anyone I have known.)  It's just fascinating to me how her entire being just screams spending money.  Not in a luxury kind of way but just in an excess kind of way.  There's been other instances where it has been extreme. 

She's very nice.  We just have polar opposite personalities, on this front.  

In contrast, I just crossed my 5-year anniversary and I had never bought a single thing for my office.  It's a little complicated.  My prior job was more of an art museum for the owners and I was mostly forbidden from peronalizing.  (So I had never accumulated any office belongings.)  There's that, and there's also, "Who the heck has the time to go shopping?"  Maybe especially my first year there.  But for the most part...  Who has time for that?

I ended up seeing an advertisement for a pretty sea scape canvas print.  I had some Kohls gift cards left from end of last year.  I usually ask for these gift cards to use to buy the kids shoes, stuff like that.  I decided I no longer have these kinds of expenses and I have these gift cards just sitting here.  So I bought myself the print.  Once I had it, I decided it would probably work better in my empty office.  I don't really have any where to put it, at home.  

Then that nesting mode kicked in, and I just got it done.  I have a couple of other larger prints arriving tomorrow.  & then I shopped around for some fake plants.


I am digging this one Etsy shop so much, I might take some inspiration from my "lots of stuff" coworker.  I could probably get some kind of plant stand and just bide my time and order things that strike a chord with me.  I can buy one plant stand (as opposed to ten plant stands).

It will be nice once I get all the pictures hung on the wall.  

For my 5-year anniversary, my employer is taking me out for an extravagant dinner.  

& yes, I could have gotten this all ordered for my office 5 years ago.  But I guess it will just be an extra 5-year treat.  I put everything on the company credit card and was delighted not to care about the cost.

Side note:  My employer is a bajillionaire that needs tax write-offs more than anything.  In a different situation I would still care about the cost.  (In most any other situation?)  

Sick Pay

September 14th, 2023 at 03:58 am

MH just told me that his sick pay was bumped up to 80 hours annually.   Which is pretty nice for a job that is only ~20 hours per week.

The timing is good because he wants to take two weeks off to work on this movie.  They always let him use his sick time for any time off because part-time employees don't have any vacation time.

He was just telling me they don't have any COVID policies at this point but I guess his location is being conservative.  & just instituting the sick pay (probably company wide) so that people can just stay home when they are sick.  Which applies to more than just COVID.  No one wants your germs.

I just wanted to jot this down because I know that I will never remember.  

LA Trip

September 9th, 2023 at 03:55 am


Not only did I have a peaceful week.  But was able to finally redo jinxed LA trip.  Third time was the charm.  Had planned this trip originally in 2019.  Was initially supposed to be Hearst Castle, Solvang, LA.  (We skipped Solvang this time, but we made it at some point.) 

If money were no object, the central CA coast is where I would live.  It has always been my favorite place.  It's more complicated than that.  Living close to family is more important, among other things.  I don't foresee ever moving to the central coast.  But maybe some extended (weeks long) vacations during early retirement, is probably how it would realistically translate.

Writing down before I forget: Ventura was beautiful.  Never noticed it before, but it was stunning when we drove though last week. 

This was the view from our hotel room.  It's our 'forever hotel' near the college.  The price was has quintupled on the weekends, in recent years.  But weeknights can still be reasonable.

This part of the trip was particularly magical.  The sky was so clear and the moonlight was so pretty.  As we were wrapping up packing the next morning, I looked outside and just happened to spot 2 dolphins swimming by!  

My niece is working at the college this summer.  She's pre-vet, and stayed there to take care of the animals.  After Hearst castle, we met up with her.  We got to meet the kittens she was fostering (OMG) and the baby goats she is taking care of.  

Not much to say about the rest of the trip.  I holed up in the LA hotel for 3 days while MH attended the film festival.  It was over in a blink.  I guess that's how time is any more.  But I did relax and enjoyed the peace.  

We were not able to charge at the hotel and I thought that would be more challenging.  But we ended up in so much LA traffic that it added a lot of range to the car.  (Braking generates electricity.)  Because of that, we drove about 60 miles (from last charger) and ended up with 20 more miles (range) than we started with.  Got the battery up to 85%?

I still thought we'd do a quick stop on the way out (once the battery drained enough; charging is much faster on an emptier battery).  But once we guaged the traffic (hit more on the way out of LA) and re-assessed once we got out of the madness, it was an easy 2-stop drive home.  I think last time our second stop had been much shorter.   That was probably the difference with being able to start out with a full charge. 

I think the trip will end up being about $1,750.  Most of that is hotels.  About $400 for food and $70 at chargers.  1,000 miles driven.  I am not used to paying for hotels.  So, ugh.  The trip feels quite extravagant in that regard.  But we better get used to it.  MIL has been flip flopping about her timeshare (that we just want to get rid of).  So it initially sounded like maybe we could use the rest of the year.  But last MH brought it up, he said they had gone back to getting rid of it ASAP.  Which is really all good and for the best.   I want to go back to LA for New Year's (rose parade) and so it's just going to be one of those years.  I think we spent our vacation budget on the last LA trip.  

I am earmarking future gift/bonus money to offset the whole 'loss of free timeshare' thing.  I am also not interested in traveling with my kids in the future.  (Those timeshares were the best for bigger family trips.)  Just winging it for now.  Will be able to plan better with the heads up in future years.  & I just expect a completely revamped budget at some point in the future.  But with two kids in college, it's not in our plans to actually increase our vacation budget.  It's all been far more extravagant than anything I envisioned during these college years.  I really thought we'd just be more homebodies, but there's just been so many opportunities and we have the cash to take advantage.  This is the only year I can realistically get to the rose parade (re: work schedule).  While MM(20) is building rose floats.  So it's at least a 3x LA year.  

Thankfully, MH went back to work Tuesday.  & he was actually busy.  (It usually starts out pretty slow, after summer break).  & the LA hotel was slow to show up on the credit card.  So I am probably going to kick that can down the road a month and let MH's income cover that.  It's all the same in the end (as MH would roll his eyes and tell me) but I personally like slowing the money drain.  I am looking at August and I've just got the new tires and $1,000 of vacation expenses to pay off in September.  Was able to kick off medical bills and the LA hotel to be paid for in October (charged in September).  & MH's October income might cover those extras.

Spending will slow, as everyone settles back to school and work. 

MM(20) College Stuff

September 6th, 2023 at 02:16 pm

I discussed with MM(20) and we are just going to send him a $1K monthly allowance for rent and groceries.  Just for simplicity, as we switch to monthly housing costs.  I was just paying quarterly (with tuition) when he lived in the dorms.  

MM(20) only spent ~$80/month on food last school year.  🙄  & he looks starved.  So I am leaning on him to spend more.  I don't know that he will spend more, but I am trying.  I will be sending him a flat $150/month for groceries. 

Why $150?  Because it makes it an even $1,000 per month, with rent.  & I presume that about doubling his grocery budget should be more than ample.

I saw a conversation in the parent group recently, about what to expect to pay for food (for kids living in apartments with kitchens).  $400 - $600 was pretty much all that anyone recommended.  😲  I just presumed that included eating out costs, but there were comments about how "this can be done if you meal plan" and stuff like that.  Still, clearly has to be some eating out costs.  MM(20) never eats out, and I expect that is most of why he keeps food costs down so low.  

There was even a comment how if you don't give your kids at least $500/month, it's not fair to roommates because obviously your kid would have to steal their roommates' food.

I often feel like I live on a different planet, and this is one of those moments.  The only relateable comment was someone who has a $250/budget for their kid who shops at Costco.  If I can get MM(20) to actually spend $150.  & I know a lot of it is that he gets a lot of free food from the girlfriend, and some free food from clubs and so one.  I expect $250/month would be a decent grocery budget for MM(20) if he didn't have the 'free food' factor. (They aren't eating ramen.  They are eating 4-course meals.  The girlfriend is quite a chef.)  Not only that, but they also take turns cooking for 2 (or more), which clearly helps to reduce their food costs.  

It will be interesting to see how this year goes.  With less roommates and me pushing him to spend more on groceries, he may spend a little more.  He doesn't have to share a kitchen and fridge with 4 other people.  That should allow for more cooking and leftovers.  More room for leftovers, if nothing else.

The question mark this year is utilities and other expenses.  Moving from an "absolutely everything is covered with rent" situation to a "nothing is covered with rent" situation.  But the utilities should be so minimal that I think I may just reimburse him twice during the school year.  & once I have a year of utility data, might just roll that into a flat monthly allowance for future years.

The school had even covered cleaning supplies, so that will be a new expense this year.   I don't know how much MM(20) will pay for laundry this year and how much he will just do laundry at the girlfriend's house.  (Laundry was always free in the dorms).  I am sure there's things we have not thought of.

I did give MM(20) his $1K college gift this year, to use towards furnishing his apartment.  Seemed the best use of this money for this school year.  In the end, he's found everything for free.  He even had a free bed/mattress at some point (that fell through).  & he found a free bike.  As of this moment, he still needs a mattress.  & he might need some kitchen stuff, depending on what the roommate brings.

MM(20) Tuition Update

September 6th, 2023 at 02:46 am

MM(20) had an estimated $4K state (middle class) grant per his college.  I mentioned in a prior post that $4K was my "pulled out of my butt" estimate and didn't know what to make of it.  His grant had been $2K his first year, then $3K.  Well, it sounds like the school basically used my estimate method.  Figured he might get another $1K this year. 

In the meantime, MM(20) was out of town for the long weekend.  I cornered him when I got home from work and had him log in to check his grant.  The dollar amount went up by $4,000 this year.  What the heck!?

I had read somewhere over the summer that "the dollar amount depends on the specific school."  But I was second guessing this when DL(18) wound up with the $4K amount.  I just presumed both the kids would get the same $4K amount.  I was stunned when MM's grant came in at $7K!  

MM's expected net college costs:

$42,000 Tuition/fees**

-10,000  tax credits

-13,000  CA middle class grants

-  6,000  Scholarship 


$13,000 Net cost

**I added in MM's $1K summer school class, so brings the grand total tuition to $42,000.  

The one thing that is really unclear is if MM(20) will get any further middle class grants.  The state is treating MM(20) like a senior because he started with so many AP/IB credits.  For planning purposes, I presume this is all the financial aid he will get. 

I suppose you never know how things will sort out with future scholarships and everything.  Lord knows I was surprised this year. 

At the end of the day, this grant is an extra $3,000 in MM(20)'s pocket.  I was paying his tuition from his gifted college fund.  With this news, he should end his junior year with $20K cash (gifted college fund), same as he has now.  I think technically will be pulling out ~$800 for tuition this junior year, but he will be able to make that back (in 12 months) with higher interest rates on cash account.  If there's anything left after college, this money is for him.

Edite to add:  Have been told that the college will sort out grants end of October.  Hopefully before we pay the next quarter.  It will be hard to believe until the college deducts it from MM's tuition.

DL(18) Tuition

September 3rd, 2023 at 03:04 pm

Enjoying a nice bout of cooler weather.  & the clouds/sunsets that come with the cooler weather.

I got some more firm college numbers for DL(18).  Woohoo!

I've been following actual CSU college numbers (over the decades) and planning for $30K (sticker price) degrees for my kids. 

Actual cost = $30,400 at DL's specific college.  It looks like it will be closer to $32K with parking permits (over 4 years).  I am considering that as part of tuition/fees, since the parking is kind of necessary to be able to commute to the college. 

Up until this afternoon, that's all the info I had.  $32,000 degree minus $10,000 college tax credits = $22K max I expect to pay for this degree.  

It sounded likely the kids would have similar state middle class grants, but I was second guessing because I recently read it depend on the college.  & for all I know, DL(18) didn't get the paperwork in.  I don't know!  I had this number in April? when MM applied to college, but I didn't know if I'd get this number (for DL) until after I paid for DL's first year of college.  Or like 9 months later.  🙄 

But I saw the topic come up in the college parent group (MM's college) today and it looked people had real numbers.  What!?  

DL(18) got a $4K grant!   (I was able to log into his state grant account).  I am so relieved that everything went through. 

The best part is these grants are increasing every year.  Was more like $2K MM's first year.  Then $3K.  Then $4K.  

DL's expected net college costs:

$32,000 Tuition/fees

-10,000  tax credits

-16,000  CA middle class grants


$6,000 Net cost

Probably minus some increased middle class grants in the future, which could easily net out this cost to $0.  

Of course, it's not quite so simple.  The tax credit thing gets complicated.  If middle class grants increase any further, then the tax credits will decrease.  & I mean, we won't even get the full $2,500 tax credit this first year.  But I feel pretty confident saying that DL will probably pay no more than $5K for his degree (if he can finish in 4 years).  

It sounds like most likely I won't get any refunds from DL's school until next year.  His tuition (full sticker price) and parking permit will be $4,000 for the spring semester.  Due end of December maybe?  Early January?  But the school will owe me this $4,000 (grant) refund, so that should be a wash.  Because of this, I've checked off DL's freshman year as done and paid for.  In my sidebar.  The $4K cash already paid should be all I need to come up with for the next 11 months.  Phew!  Feeling relieved because the money drain was pretty crazy in August/September.  Paid college x2, medical bills, last minute vacation and so on.  

The planner in me is very happy.  We plan to just cash flow DL's college expenses (with income).  I didn't think it would amount to much more than $1,500 per year.  But it's nice to have firm numbers and a more firm plan.

DL(18) is just living at home, so no other college expenses to figure out.  I mean, he's got a bigger commute now, but he is covering those expenses.

Movie Stuff

August 26th, 2023 at 05:33 pm

MH is working on a very low budget horror film.  

I have to back up and say that I don't think we saw a low budget movie short (at the festivals) made for less than $50K.  For a 10 minute movie.   For a full length movie with a lot of effects, this movie needs a $50K minimum budget.  This is extremely low budget in the grand scheme of things.  The stretch goal is a $90K budget.  Which would mean bigger actors and more effects.

MH met the producer online.  This project is the producer's baby.  He has already had success with a low budget horror film.   What's extra interesting is that the guy lives in Ohio, near my sister.  So it makes it easy to participate more with the "kill two birds with one stone" aspect.  The movie will be filmed there. Heck, MH has never been to Ohio the ~20 years that my sister has lived there. 

This is the first project that MH has ever been offered any pay for.  I am not holding my breath on that.  He's also doing very little on this project.

Right now they are doing the crowdfunding.  The producer has experience on this front and is doing very well.   They raised $25K in a week, and maybe this thing might actually happen.

In the meantime, the producer hadn't told MH that he had entered the script into a LA festival.  It got in, so we are planning to go to LA.  This could have been a very frugal trip for just MH.  But I am tagging along.  We added some days at our forever hotel (by the college).  I was surprised how short the drive was from college to LA (last time) and it was a somewhat relaxing 3-day weekend.  With a stop to visit MM(20).  This is a much more luxurious trip where we will stop by the beach for 2 nights and then hop on over to LA for 3 days.

MH is worried that I will be bored.  I don't actually think that I will be bored.  (Will have the roku for all my TV shows, library books on my Kindle, the gym and the pool.  I am good.)  But...  I told him even if I am bored, is exactly what I need.  I look forward to the three days of peace and literally nothing on my plate.  Not holding my breath (there is always some emergency) but I am trying.  I told MH, "Being bored would drive me crazy, but I think it's what I need right now."  He's not looking forward to all the schmoozing, but that will also be good for him.  

We are also going to Hearst Castle.  Trying.  (I am so not optimistic that trips I have tried to plan many times, that have been canceled many times, that they will happen.)  That was one trip we did cancel twice already.  & then we figured we'd get there while MM(20) was going to school in the area.  But we never have.  So now we are just doing a completely separate trip.

{I don't even know if we are helping MM move in this school year.  But if we do, it will just be a quick weekend thing.  Logistically.  MH goes back to work when we get back from LA.}

I had a question about the writer strike (in my last post)?  Yes, the professionals are striking.  This is a small independent film.  It's a hobby project.  Making any profit sounds about as likely as winning the lottery.  

Edited to add:  Apparently SAG is giving their actors exemptions for Indie films.  One of the actors for this movie is SAG.  But I expect that most working on this film do not belong to any unions.  

July '23 Savings

August 19th, 2023 at 01:48 pm

Received $122 bank interest 

Received $240 I Bond interest 


Snowflakes to Investments:

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

--Redeemed $75 cash back on Citi card

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


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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


TOTAL: $120 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



Snowball to Savings/Investments:



Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  450 to investments

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


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$165  Garage Door Repair


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$130 Graduation & Birthday

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

-$100 DL supplies for summer at camp

-$  78 Pest Control

-$  70 Concerts


TOTAL: $3,584 Deposited to Cash & Investments


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


Hybrid Miles Driven:  

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weird Murphy

August 19th, 2023 at 01:42 pm

We've been going through a round of 'weird Murphy'.  Just dumb little stuff.  Which I appreciate, versus the big expensive stuff.  But man, what a pain.

The door handles are breaking off of the kids' car.  Someone on SA has a 2-year newer car (same model) and had mentioned.  I vaguely recalled some weird repair and looked it up when the first door handle broke.  Yes, it was the door handle.  Not just one, but all 4!  I told this to MM and MH but they just weren't taking me seriously.  MH was telling me how that's ridiculous and we were only going to replace the one door handle.  When...  MM(20) texts us that another door handle broke.  🙄

Oh yeah, that was how we found out that our forever mechanic closed down their shop.  😭😭  Writing was on the wall re: my last post.   It's just such a bummer.  I am not as confident about this car lasting many more years, without a trusted/conservative/low cost mechanic.  I have some homework to do.  

So we paid a bajillion dollars to another shop to replace one door handle (driver door) and MH just basically super glued the other door handle.  When he got the quote, he said, "No thanks."  He was actually just telling me this had worked very well on his chair.  & then the chair broke (again) later the same day.  But it had held up for some years and MH just wants to limp the chair along.  So he was able to kill two birds with one stone.  

{Note:  The kids split the car door handle cost with us; we just split it 3 ways.}

Then DL(18) was cleaning out his room and noticed that his window had cracked.  What the heck!?  We don't know if it's been like that for 10+ years.  It's a decorative half moon window.  I will pick my (home builder) boss's brain later.  Hoping he tells me that happens all the time and why they don't use those windows.  & I mean, just hoping it's not something too unusual.  

I also got my Inivisalign rubberbands.   They glue the metal hooks on your teeth, for that part.  The two bottom hooks snapped off right away.  So I went to the ortho like 3 times last week.  It's not like I had any work to do or anything.  By itself, it's probably somewhat expected.  But it was just in the middle of all this crazy Murphy. 

Edit to add:  Just lost another metal hook.  These rubber bands are going to drive me crazy.  (As they replace them, they have taken more care and used a stronger glue.  So far it's just the originals popping off.  Fingers crossed.)

August & September are crazy expensive for us.  I just paid all the tuition (x2).  Middle class grants are sorting out late again, and so I am just pre paying the full sticker price and will see how things sort out later.  MM(20) at least has a grant estimate, which happens to match my estimate.  Mine was a "pulled out of my butt" number, basically.  Just rounded to the next $1,000.  Which was conservative compared to last year increase, but know they are continuing to increase these funds.  & that's the number that MM(20) got as an estimate.  I have no idea how useful that number is.  & I don't have anything for DL(18).  I had initially presumed he gets the same dollar amount, but have since learned that it depends on the school.  So it's just a big question mark at this point.  A question mark that might sort out in another 6 months.  (In the meantime, don't know if his tuition is $1K or $5K annually.  Either way is very reasonable, but I look forward to having real numbers to plan around.)

In other news, MH has a big movie project that he is working on.  That has to be a separate post later.  But because of this project we are going to LA next week.  So that is adding to some of the September expense.  Medical bills, travel expenses, etc., etc.  Thankfully MH should be back at work and will have some paychecks by then.

June '23 Savings

July 30th, 2023 at 06:57 pm

Received $120 bank interest 

Received $262 I Bond interest 


Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $34 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $71 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $9 cash back on dining out/gas card (used for groceries this month)


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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

+ $38 investment dividends


TOTAL: $157 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



Snowball to Savings/Investments:

+$1,200 MH Income


Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  450 to investments

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


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$1,650  Back Fence Replacement

-$   300  Kids' Car Repairs (amount over annual budget)

-$   185  MH Purchase


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  800 Kids' Car Repairs

-$    80 Computer Backup Fee (annual)


TOTAL: $2,622 Deposited to Cash & Investments



Hybrid Miles Driven:  820

Fuel Costs: $22 Electricity + $30 (Gas)

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

MH drove my car to pick up DL(18) when he had the ER emergency (90 miles away).  It wasn't that much of an emergency, but at the time we thought he might make it back to Urgent Care before closing, if he didn't have to stop. 

I briefly considered this an EV failure.  But then decided that's dumb.  The only reason MH's car wasn't charged up is because I charge my hybrid on most weeknights.  If we had only EVs, it should be pretty simple to keep (at least one) fully charged for an emergency.  

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 1,938

Fuel Costs: $31 (home)  & $44 (Out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

We did 150 miles of free charging this month.  Charged once at the in-laws' house.

High miles = 4 round trips to Tahoe (DL's job) and one college pick up (600 miles round trip).  & then I gave MM(20) $30 for gas when he drove DL back to work once.  Oh, and one of those trips was our own camping trip.  The rest were more practical getting DL to/from work.  (We only used public chargers for the college trip.  We stopped to charge once each way, while eating a meal.)

I expect more of the same for rest of summer.  Less crazy driving this month (July) but MH is planning to go to the college town to help MM(20) move some things at some point this summer.  & we are planning one or two LA trips.  August will be crazy on the miles front. 

Note:  I just looked up electric bill re: increased summer pricing.  We pay a lot more for electricity during summer months but our rates are only up 2% over last summer.


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

I Bond interest is down because done with the ~10% rate.   Will get ~7% for the rest of the year.

I totally forgot to mention in my last monthly update.  I am saving ~$1,200 taxes with the ortho expenses this year.  To front load that money and to help cash flow the ortho expenses, I changed my withholding the rest of the year.  I lowered my tax withholding by $200/month and am parking that $200 into investments.  I expect this to just be a short term boost.

June was a little less "death by a thousand cuts".  I've already mentioned that the kids' car needed a new starter.  Our forever mechanic was too booked up and referred us to a much more expensive mechanic.  In addition, they found some leaks and things, which gives me the impression that they aren't as conservative as our mechanic.  (100%, nothing is leaking from the car onto the ground).  Who knows.  As I told MH when we dropped off the car, "When you have a problem and have to have your car towed, it's not one of those times you get warm and fuzzy feelings about a mechanic."  But I've learned over the years that we like to hire more conservative people for various things (if it ain't broke, why fix it).  Considering the high price and the fact that our forever mechanic didn't mention these things (they had our car twice in recent months)...  I will add it to my list to find another car gas mechanic too.  & it's just going to be hit and miss, in the meantime.  Sometimes forever mechanic can fit us in and fix the car the same day (by far my first choice, even if we have to wait a few days).  But sometimes they are just too booked up.  

It is what it is.  I am not too put out about it.  Thank goodness we've had people like our forever dentists and forever mechanics (one in each city) during our teens, 20s, 30s.  At this point in our life with a seven figure net worth and kids almost out of the nest...  It's not a huge deal to pay a little more for some of these things.  I certainly could have not afforded this new mechanic myself, through most of my teens and 20s.  With our older cars that generally needed more work.  But today it's kind of moot.  Was looking for an EV mechanic anyway.  So will just add it to my list to find a gas mechanic too.  It just might take a while to find the mix of quality and affordability that we are used to.

We made out pretty well with the fence replacement.  We got a quote end of 2017.  I believe it was in the range of $1,400.  None of our neighbors were cooperating and MH did not want us to pay the whole thing.  *sigh*  Then everything got crazy and lumber prices skyrocketed, etc.  I have been working with a fence company this whole time (my boss owns the company) but they are weird.  It's complicated.   Several things changed this year and I felt it was worth getting a quote from them. 

So I was discussing with my boss and I think he gave me a rough quote of $2,100.   Which was on the lower end (of average prices), but was for a licensed/insured contractor.  Definitely a good deal.  In the end, the quote they gave me was $1,650.  It sounds like my boss told them to give me an even bigger discount, after we had talked.  The fence is great and beautiful.  

& I mean, our fence was falling down all over the place back in 2017.  I am tired of my fence looking like crap, just because everyone else is in over their head with their giant mortgages.  It was far past time.  I don't know why but MH was *over it* this time.  He was maybe regretting turning his nose up at $1,400 and then watching lumber prices skyrocket.  Or he realizes that our neighbors are never going to help us.  

I had wanted to pay for the fence in May, but they forgot to bill me.  I waited a few weeks before I brought it up.  As their accountant, I was hoping they would figure it out on their own, but they did not.  So I guess that is also skewing my June numbers downwards.  But I am not used to actually getting interest on savings accounts, so I suppose that worked out pretty well for me.  I made a few extra dollars of interest, and had more time to replenish savings before I wrote that check.

I usually type up these posts the first of the month and then wait to see how MH's income and credit card rewards shake out.  & car miles.  So this all feels like a bajillion years ago at this point.  I am just moving slowly.   

Interesting Podcast

July 22nd, 2023 at 01:45 pm

DL(18) hasn't spent any money since June 8th (last week of high school).  He did have one weekend day off where he did a hike and picnic with his co workers (food provided by employer).  & then for his birthday weekend he got taken out by friends.  & he went on a bike ride.  No reason to spend any money.   I suppose this is an extra savings boost, with the 'away from home' job.  It was forseeable, but it's interesting to see that he literally spent $0.  

The new internet bill was higher than I was expecting (only $4? lower than our old bill?).  There was a 'doesn't make much sense' $10 charge that I asked MH about.  He said he didn't know, but he called and got that removed.  Should be saving closer to $14/month.  Took a promo rate for 10x faster speed.  About 10 minutes after he called, the internet went out.  Ugh!  I have no idea if it was related or not.  It sounds like it likely was, but MH is the IT guy and he thought it was just a coincidence.  He reset the router and all was well.  

MM(20) has become more interested in meat substitutes.   Which are apparently much more affordable in his college town.  We had discussed it, how some meals probably worked a little better with the fake meat, etc.  But I didn't realize MH had bought some beyond beef.  He made lasagna for dinner and I was confused when MH was making a big deal about there being bacon in the salad.  While serving such a meaty dish.  Okay?  (I don't think MM particularly cares.  His goal is to eat less meat.  Not to go completely vegetarian).  But then it made sense when they told me the lasagna had 'Beyond Beef.'  Aw man!  I wish they hadn't of told me.  I really would have liked to have tried it without any bias.  Overall, the first taste was, "Yeah that's strong and I think I would have noticed."  But after that, I did not notice at all.  MH had the same experience.  It has some flavor to it, which most people seem to like.  I think I would have preferred more bland and just absorbing the lasagna favors.  But like I said, didn't notice after the first bite.  No big deal.  MM(20) told us that the Impossible meat was more identical to beef.

The Beyond Beef was far more affordable, at $9 per pound.  Versus $6 or $7 for ground beef.  MM(20) told us that he only pays $6 for a pound in his college town.  & it might just depend on the store.  I later saw something like 12 oz Impossible meat for $6 at Target.   I expect MH will be buying fake meat from Target, in the future.

It will be interesting to try in some dishes and see how it turns out.   I expect the fake meat will work better in some dishes than it will in others.  I give a big thumbs up to lasagna.  

I've been enjoying Ramit's 'I will Teach You to be Rich' podcast.

I think for the most part he is coming from the opposite place of Money Mustache (who I also really enjoy).   The common ground is that Americans spend way too much on cars, houses, and (high interest) debt.  

The first few episodes I listened to were all, "I make $300K+ but I am scared to spend money."  I can't say I related to these on any level, but they were interesting to listen to.  & I expect this is why Ramit is not a fan of the whole 'early retirement' thing.  

The episodes have since gotten more interesting.  I think the most fascinating one was a more upper middle class (raised) woman who married a man who grew up lower class.  He didn't see the point in saving for college.  She wrote this off as "crazy".   It's always been obvious that people have very strong opinions on the college topic.  But I never really stopped to think *why* that is.  Ramit delved into class differences and it makes a lot of sense.

I can see that I have a strong mix of middle class and lower class beliefs, with my mixed upbringing.   & I mean, my mom grew up middle class but her parents were deeply impacted by growing up in the Depression.  Which is probably the only reason she could relate to my impoverished Dad on a financial level.  Of course, the college topic is interesting because I have always felt completely *shrugs* about it.  Certainly wasn't raised in a 'college is the most important' middle class type household.  But I just feel very non-commital either way.  If we didn't have the money, our kids don't need our help.  They would be fine.  If we have the money, I don't see the big deal about helping them.  The clear melding of the two classes.  (I now have some perspective why my blase feelings about it all are usually met with *horror* by the middle class.)  <---- A lot of that horror also clearly comes with the idea that college has to cost a bajillion dollars and that community college is generally beneath them, etc., etc.   All that middle class college baggage.  While my kids would have been third generation with a clear road map to figure out for themselves (if that's the road we took).   Community college, working through college, etc.  (Impossible/usurious loans are not part of that road map.)

I find the podcast fascinating.  Digging into all these deeper psychological money issues.  Other episodes I have listened to were couples who were spending beyond their means and admitted to Ramit that they just don't want to change.  After grilling them for an hour, it's what it all came down to.  They know intellectually it's not sustainable but just don't have any real motivation to do anything about it.  The last episode I listened to was a woman who just floated through life and never made any financial goals or has never taken any responsibility for anything.  (For my very goal oriented brain...  Does not compute!)  Some of these are painful to listen to.  I enjoy the ones where there is some breakthrough.  Some Aha! moment.

DL(17) Updates

July 8th, 2023 at 01:54 pm

Today is my last day with minor children.  🤯

This is bringing up a lot of chores that I need to tend to.

Lord knows if DL(17) will ever get paid.  I don't know how much the city and state are exempt from some labor laws, and how much they are just flat out ignoring labor laws.  Ugh.  (MM worked for the state when he worked for the college.  DL is currently working for the city).  

I have been helping DL(17) work through a lot of (city) red tape.  

Oh yeah, and the poor kid had a rough week.   He's mostly been sick.  If we realized he'd be down for so many days we would have picked him up.  But it's moot at this point.  He's wrapping up his last breakfast shift of the week and then will be able to come home for 48 hours.  I hope that helps for getting him rested and well. 

MH asked me yesterday, "Wait, do we have any birthday presents for him?"  Meh.  We've never been big on presents.  (To the point I never would have thought about it.)  MH is more big on presents, so something for him to figure out.  But he later told me, "We are buying him a college laptop.  That's his present."  Fair enough.  MIL already mailed him a gift, I think he has some graduation cash from my SIL (came in the mail), and MM(19) left him a gift of some sort.  Probably something homemade.  I am surprised he even bothered.  & of course, will treat him to some good food while he is home.  MH made some fresh salsa and bought some treats for him.  & confirmed dinner plans with DL.  Food is probably my love language.  Not one much for material gifts, but DL will be fed very well.

MH already made salsa.  I will probably make some cinnamon bread.  I had been double batching it, but I might only have enough buttermilk left for one batch.  With MM(19) gone, the one batch might last more than 5 seconds.  Will find out.

MM(19) Updates

July 8th, 2023 at 01:37 pm

MM(19) got out of jury duty.  Didn't have to go in, and was freed Wednesday afternoon.  He bought train tickets the second he got the news, and headed to LA.  The prior weekend he went re: school club and had most expenses paid for.  Last weekend he visited the girlfriend, who has a job down there.  The train was pretty fast and it was cheaper than gas.  I gave him $40 for food.  Because the GF watched our cat while we were out of town, and refuses to take money.  So I told him to try to make her take the cash.  & if she won't, then to take her out to eat.  Or buy her groceries or whatever. 

I just noticed that MH's larger mega savings account bumped up to 4%.  It used to be 3.5% or something like that, when everyone else was paying 1%.  But they had been slower to adjust re: recent interest rates.  I moved my money out personally (it had dropped down to 2%), but I thought it might be worth MM(19) waiting it out.  That surely they would adjust.  I see now that they went up to 4% on April 1.  That works out well for MM(19).  He only has $2,000 in there right now, but he can put any summer earnings in this account.

I also noticed that MM(19) is done with 9.62% rate on I Bonds.  Will bump down to ~7% for the next 6 months.

MM(19) ends the school year with $937 more than he started with.

+$445 interest (10 months)

+$202 credit card rewards 

+$1,115 TA job (one quarter)

-$825 Misc. Spending**

Net = +$937 

**I don't have any details re: his spending.  It works out to spending ~$82.50 per month during the school year.  Off the top of my head, this would be contributing gas to GF and gas re: multiple trips to LA during the year (school club), meals out (mostly when on the road), toiletries, haircuts, and any personal spending, books and school supplies, etc.  Net of credit card rewards on his newer credit card (that I have no access to).

Not included above, I sent MM $800 for groceries.  That works out to $80 per month.  Which is ridiculous, compared to the $300/month he eats at home (in less expensive region).  🙄  

I know he gets a lot of meals from the GF.  If I thought literally he was only eating $80/month food, I'd be more concerned.  But I am guessing he gets at least $100/month of food from his girlfriend.  

We will have to have some discussions and figure out next year.  Paying rent quarterly to the school (with tuition), I have just been reimbursing MM(19) grocery expenses once per month.  But with the off-campus housing, I'd like to just send him a monthly allowance to cover room and board.  (Because will also be paying rent every month.  Just want to do one monthly reimbursement).  I think $150/month might be more appropriate for groceries, but want to make sure he is spending a little more and eating enough.  So we need to talk about that.

Bigger picture, MM(19) has $11,700.  & that's just more liquid cash.  He also has college funds and ROTH IRA.  Last we talked about it, he's thinking of buying a car next summer.  But he's been very wishy washy on this front.  He seems hell bent on going very cheap with the car.  Unfortunately, I don't think the 20yo kids' car has given him a realistic view on car expenses.  It didn't need a repair for the first 4 years (when he was paying for all of the expenses).  Dude, if your grandparents *and* your parents are happy to pay for your college.  Take the money and buy a nicer car that will last you a very long time.  We did too good of a job setting our kids' car expectations, but I didn't know they'd just be handed everything (car + college degree).  I think MM(19) could easily buy a $10,000 car that will last him a very long time (if he waits until he is 21 to buy a car).   

Well, I got sidetracked re: kid stuff.  I just wanted to see how the school year shook out for MM(19).  Before, I really had no idea how much spending money he would want/need re: college, and was tracking just to get an idea about things.  At this point, I have much less access to his finances and he's clearly got enough money to cover expenses.   The next chapter will be figuring out how to handle the monthly expenses next school year.  I should probably just transfer him rent money for July.  His first month rent must be due next week.  Off campus, he's stuck with a 12-month lease.  

I am checking where we are at with things.  I have $11,200 I Bonds set aside for MM's junior year rent.  In my mind it was $10K (original investment) and I only had 11 months of rent covered.  But I am going through the math and I think I have 12 months rent covered + about $85/month to cover utilities.   With the interest earned on these I Bonds. This is my big chore for next week.  I need to sort out insurance with the rental company and make sure MM(19) gets his first month's rent paid.  Utilities won't start to sort out for another few months.  

Of course, I am still getting ~7% on these bonds, so I won't be cashing any I Bonds out soon.  I will just cash flow rent and reimburse myself when the interest rate drops down (December).  I'll be draining our cash down in the meantime.  But mostly this is money we want to use to fund our IRAs (when the year is over).  So it works out pretty well.  I'll have a $6,000 chunk to cash out in December and will just move over to IRAs.  In 2024, I can just pay the rent with I Bond money every month.  

Even though the I Bond money is tied up for another 6 months, I am pretty happy with where we are at re: MM's college funds.    I am just presuming that he will get the usual $1K college gift from in-laws (this month) and will be able to use that money to furnish his apartment.  He's not going to need much and will mostly buy used.  I think we can stretch that money out to furnish his apartment and also get him a very used bike.  (No point spending any money on a nicer bike that will just get stolen).

Well, I started this post a bit ago.   I leaned on MM(19) to call the leasing office.  He needed to talk to a human because I don't think anyone plans to move in until September.  Found out he needed a cashier's check for the first month rent.  He just happens to be in the college town this weekend, so it worked out.  He had time to go to the CU and will drop off the check this weekend.

MM will be traveling to the college town two weekend in a row.  But the leasing office is closed weekends, so I don't know when he will ever get the key to his apartment.  He seems very "meh" about crashing in completely empty apartment.  Would rather just crash with friends in their nice furnished houses.  

(Yes, this was after two weekends in a row in LA.  He is alternating work trips with vacation trips.  I think next weekend is just a big birthday weekend.  I think he's staying at someone's fancy pants parent's house on the coast).

I put it on my calendar that I will need to start sending him rent money before the 1st of the month.  July was easy with the partial month, but I guess technically will need to send him a second bigger check this month, before August 1.

Gift Card Balances June 2023

July 1st, 2023 at 03:29 pm



$50  Art House Theater (small balance left?)




$50 Cracker Barrel (small balance left)

$ 25 x 1 Jamba Juice (Gift)




$50 Kohls (Gift)




$25  Starbucks


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

MH and I had a peaceful night (kids gone) and went out for a nice dinner.  Got through our restaurant gift card from Christmas. 

I ended up using the Amazon gift card from Christmas.  Looking back, I ended up just using it for some household purchases.

I am glad I revisited the list.  I completely forgot I had jamba juice gift cards.  I usually keep for a treat during summer months.  & it's really hot right now, so that sounds like a nice treat for next week.  I'd never personally pay $6 or whatever for a smoothie.  But I've been asking for the gift cards for Christmas/birthday, because it is a nice treat.  There's a jamba juice by my work and it's not too terrible if I go early enough in the day.  (I suppose that's the other thing. I don't want to pay $6 *or* deal with the crowds). 

Mental note:  Need to stock up on smoothie ingredients at home, now that the weather is warming up.  

Chaos & a Baby Turkey

June 28th, 2023 at 01:38 pm

I have been thinking the last few weeks that I haven't seen any turkeys lately.  I presume that everything is thrown off by the weird weather.  Last year there were three teenager turkeys hanging out during hot summer months.  But it hasn't been hot yet, and maybe they are waiting for things to warm up.  Then this week, there was a baby hanging out by my window at work.  I don't know if it's good or bad.  I've not seen the babies this close before.  They usually keep a longer distance.

I feel like a yo yo.

MH was supposed to be done with work on Friday, but then they asked him to stay another week (last minute).  (He has summers off).

MM(19) has jury duty.  He's supposed to check back this afternoon.  So he has no idea how his schedule will be every day.  He'd like to take a train to LA tomorrow, if he gets out of jury duty.  So I may or may not be dropping him off at the station before dawn tomorrow.

DL(17) had a rough first week at his job.  He lasted 3 nights but then got sent home.  His ear piercing from 5 months ago, randomly became infected.  & in addition to that, his knee was really bothering him.  I expected the knee thing was a "moving from sedentary 9-5 school jobs" to moving to "being on your feet 10+ hours a day" thing.  & he is very in shape, and he's young, but that's still a big adjustment.  & maybe the altitude doesn't help.  He's fine now.  But it was just a lot of drama.  MH drove 200 miles roundtrip to pick him up on a Wendesday night.  Took him to the ER Thursday, and then drove the 200 miles again Thursday night to take him back.  Phew!  I wasn't sure if he would go back.  They basically had to just yank his earring out through the back of his ear, which was terrible.  But everyone has been telling him they have had the same thing happen.  & then I think he was having an allergic reaction to the antiobiotics (or at least was being overly sensitive to that).  So we told him to just stop using that, and he's been totally fine since.  In the grand scheme of things, not a big deal.  But it's rough when your kid is 100 miles away *and* in the middle of nowhere.  & keeps texting you constantly how you don't know if your knee will hold up, or your ear is getting re-infected, etc., etc.

DL(17) technically had Friday off but we didn't have the capacity to drive him back Friday.

So that was Wednesday and Thursday night.  Saturday we drove 600 miles round trip, picking up MM(19).  Thankfully, that trip was smooth as possibly could be.  My expectations were low because the earliest we could reasonably get there was noon.  But we ended up getting in and out between the morning and afternoon crowds.  We barely saw another soul on campus.  ???  No idea how we managed that.   We just picked up MM(19)'s stuff.  He got a ride back with his girlfriend. 

We all got home late Saturday night and then turned around and headed to camp the next morning.  DL(17) was doing great while we were there.  His shifts are 7am to 8pm?  With a few hours of breaks in between meals, he's probably working 10 hours most days.  Sometimes longer.  He is severely underpaid.  I remembered when we were there that he will get tips, but didn't expect them to amount to much (after being split by 30? people).  But he came home with $40 the first week.  He was told that our group was very generous and not to expect so much in the future.  It won't be much, but it is something.

I think this was a good decision for him.  At least, until he turns 18.  He will be able to make a bajillion dollars in tips, in addition to $16+ per hour, when he comes back with the kitchen experience and no longer has to deal with work permits and high school red tape.  He will have the work experience, in addition to it probably being a lot easier to find a job when he is 18.  Even at this job, they are willing to let him help more in the kitchen when he turns 18 in a couple of weeks.  I was very skeptical, but it seems to be working out for him.  

When we were there, DL(17) insisted he would *never* need to come home.  Then Friday he texted MH asking him to pick him up.  He had most of Saturday and all of Sunday off.  Like I said, I feel like a yo yo.  Who knows if he will come home this weekend, for his one night off.  Every other weekend he gets the longer break.  

Of course, when MM(19) got home, he told us all his plans and how he would not be home any weekends this summer?  I guess his schedule has filled quickly.  Including a very last minute LA trip.  So we got home from camp Wednesday and he took off Thursday for a road trip.  He ended up having car trouble on the trip back (not his car) and so got delayed by a day.  They at least allowed enough time that he had all Sunday to figure it out.  You know, in case he had to show up for jury duty Monday.  

MM(19) had agreed to drive DL(17) back to work on Monday morning.  That didn't seem likely, so MH was gearing up to take DL back Sunday night.

Thankfully, MM(19) made it back.  MH had picked up DL on Saturday, so it was nice to have some help with the drive.  On the flip side, MM driving = $$$$$$$$$$.  I did some quick math and I thought I owed him $40 for gas.  But for whatever reason I was thinking gas was $1 more per gallon (maybe it was, the last time I bought gas).  I redid the math and we decided $30 was probably fair.  That's still 8x what we are paying for electric fuel.  (In addition to a lot more wear and tear on the gas car brakes, with the mountain driving).  The help was nice during some crazy weeks, but longer term I can't afford to send a gas car on these trips.  For this time, I am due a (rare) work mileage reimbursement.  I don't remember how much it is, but I think it will be at least $30.  So that will at least be a wash.

*If* jury duty works out for MM(19), if he gets excused today.  He wants to go to LA for a few days.  So we can try again for this "quiet few days at home" (without kids) but won't be holding my breath. 

MM(19) does want to find a summer job, but I don't think he is being realistic.  He got back later than most college students (on the semester system).  Plus delaying 2 weeks for vacations and out-of-town obligations, jury duty, etc.  I doubt anyone will hire him for just week days.  Will see if he can come up with anything.  On the flip side, he doesn't really need the money, and so he's being pretty *shrugs* about our skepticism.  Kind of whatever, if he doesn't find a job.  The job market is pretty tight right now (it was tight before summer) and other parents are saying no one will hire college students who go to school out of town, if they are honest about their situation.  On the flip side, DL(17) will be hitting the job market again (end of august) when everyone goes back to school.  So I think his odds are better.

May '23 Savings

June 24th, 2023 at 03:35 pm

Received $111 bank interest 

Received $308 I Bond interest 


Snowflakes to Investments:

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

--Redeemed $150 cash back on Citi card

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


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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


TOTAL: $196 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



Snowball to Savings/Investments:

+$1,550 MH Income


Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  450 to investments

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


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$2,935 Ortho Final Payment

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

-$   310  New Phone for DL(17)

-$   425  Ethernet wiring for Gigabit fiber

-$     60  Medical Expenses


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  760 LA Trip

-$  115 Staycation

-$  605 Concerts

-$    85 Gifts 

-$    78 Pest Control

-$    76 College Orientation

-$    60 Flat Tire 


TOTAL: -$282 Net Pulled from Cash/Investments


Pulled from Gifted College Funds:

-$1,000 For Summer Class


Hybrid Miles Driven:  892

Fuel Costs: $30 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)


Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 473

Fuel Costs: $11 (home) 

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

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

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

Ouch!  Our summer electric rates went up significantly.  


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strange Weather & Film Event

June 14th, 2023 at 02:48 pm

What a week!  

Sunday we dropped off DL(17) at his camp job.  It's been 3 nights?  He's hanging in, for now.   

Looking at the rain forecast, I remembered just one more thing about 2013.  That was the year we were entirely rained out at camp!  It didn't stop raining the entire time.  Ugh.  I just looked at the forecast and it's all rainbows and sunshine.  Will see...  It was raining when we dropped DL(17) off and this week was initially forecasted to be more cold and stormy.  Was just thinking about it because the weather is so unusual.  & then I thought, "Was 2013 that crazy year?"  Yes, my blog confirmed it.  The weather has been so unusual this year, and triggered that memory. 

Those sunsets though!  We have the most spectacular winter sunsets, but I don't have any big memory of summer sunsets (which may just be past my bedtime).  We went for a walk Monday and it was the most spectacular sunset.  MH and I just stopped and watched in awe.  I said, "Where is everybody!?"  We eventually came across a motorcyclist who pulled over just to watch.  I did not take any pictures that day.  Then last night we were in another city and they sky was stunning again.  Picture above.

Last night was MH's movie event.  O.M.G.  It was so good!  So the deal was that some organization he belongs to runs this contest.  The first part is a script contest.  They pick one winning script (MH won) and then the second party of the contest is filming the script and making a short film.  How many ways can you interpret one script?  MH was pretty "meh" about it because the script was so vague/short/dumb.  He's just kind of whatever, he followed instructions better than everyone else.  & I mean, the movie he did end up filming a couple of years ago, he did whip out that script in probably just a few hours.  This was a much more difficult assignment, that took a lot of thought.  It's just the words, that have to be used in order.  But the lines can be divided any way among the actors.

In the end, there were 8 interpretations and a some of them appeared to have six figure budgets.  What the heck!?  (I am so curious how much people spent on these things.  I know MH can knock out a movie like that for $2K if it's all volunteers.  But everything else MH is working on is generally $50K minimum budget for a movie short.)  There was an artsy film (for lack of a better description), a film noir version, a dark robbery/murder/suicide, a crow invasion, a light circus-y version, A diamond heist, a comedy sitcom version, and the winner was the Sherlock Holmes version.  They were all so good!!   They had several prizes.   The whole thing sounded fun, but far exceeded our expectations.  I mean seriously, imagine what these actors and film makers can do with scripts that aren't just complete nonsense.  So much talent.

Well, that's enough fun for one week.  I really need to dive into work these next two days (tax deadlines) and then we have the chore of picking up MM(19) from college.  Would be less of a chore if we could do earlier in the week.  But we will be there during peak move-out & graduation time.  I do not look forward to it.  & after that, it will just be digging out of this mess at work.  

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