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This & That

December 2nd, 2018 at 08:14 am

Well, I am still completely and utterly exhausted.

Last week was actually amazingly quiet and nice. Until Sunday afternoon when our washer broke. In the middle of a wash. *sigh* So peace and quiet turned into "lugging sopping wet clothes to the laundromat and appliance shopping".

I suppose I should back up. Both our washer/dryer are long past their prime. We've been too cheap/lazy to deal with it. But there is no way in heck we are spending one penny on fixing the washer. Will replace both. We did attempt to fix (because would have been nice to finish our laundry load) but gave up. That just added to the time/frustration factor.

In almost any other situation, we would have had it repaired.

On the plus side, most the Black Friday deals lasted through Thursday of last week. I was so relieved to have some time to deal with that. We also supposedly have a weekend delivery, which I am very appreciative of, but not holding my breath about that. (That presumes everything goes well. HA!) But if they can actually pull it off, that is pretty awesome.

Other Randomness:

**My plan is to get my education done and my professional license renewed today. Phew!

I haven't done any work (for old/forever employer) whatsoever. I just didn't have any time this week. I had a sick kid, work was crazy, etc.

I guess my new goal for December is to work enough (extra/OT) to pay for new washer/dryer. That's just 9 hours per week, times 3. I still have lots of financial motivation on this front. Plus starting to feel some pressure re: work promised versus work done (zilch).

Honestly, this is all work I LOVE doing and can't believe I am paid to do. I would be more than happy to sit home and work. It's just finding the time/balance when life is totally crazy.

I am clearly not going to find any balance in my life during 2018. I give up! But I am still optimistic that next month will be better. I am making very slow progress...

**We've got a full plate of concerts and shows planned for next year. My hope would be to have this all pre-funded and then just not worry about spending any cash on this during the next year.

It's just everything we are most interested in has gone on sale this past week or so.

**Other Black Friday Spending

I forgot to mention that I picked up tax software for $18 on Black Friday.

My initial thought was that I would take advantage and use old/forever employer's software while I still had access. Would save me many hours. It takes me about 5 minutes to do my taxes on the professional software. BUT... "Useless employee" deleted my tax access in true "useless employee" fashion. She then realized her bad and sent me some new access code to my work e-mail that no longer exists. *sigh* I had planned to sort that out later. But when presented with $18 software that would do everything I need it to do (but in a very slow and painful fashion) I decided to just go with that. The solution for me may end up being more middle ground. But at the end of the day, I like the idea of moving on with my life. Probably best to let it go. Heck, don't know that I Want my personal information out there anyway. Not feeling lots of confidence in how things are being run, and lord knows who they sell the business to next. I think it's best on many fronts just to figure out a better long term tax prep plan for the future.

Oh, and the 15yo is definitely doing his own taxes. That is another perk of the cheapie software.

**New job is going really well.

This is what I posted recently:
I expect generous raises and bonuses with this employer and so expect the current state of things to be very temporary.

Re: taking a pay cut for a very 9-5 job, but expecting to gain some ground eventually.

Shortly after I posted that, I received confirmation that they are VERY generous with raises and bonuses. More than I expected.

I wasn't expecting much. They had done performance reviews for everyone and are expecting a pretty big ramp up of work in 2019. But I was hired in reaction to that and expected not to receive a raise with everyone else. I just happened to come across whatever bonuses/raises they were discussing. Yesterday my boss pulled me aside and told me they were doing bonuses mid-month. As the accountant, clearly I am in charge of executing all that, which is why I had access to the information to begin with. But since I had last come across it they had gotten around to discussing me and told me they weren't giving me a raise, as I expected, but they would plan to do a review/raise for me before next year is over. Just that I don't have to wait until the following January. Also, I am getting a $1,000 net bonus. Woohoo! (I presumed they would give me *something*. $1,000 was more than I was expecting, but I also think some of it is not wanting me to feel left out, especially since I am seeing everyone else's BIG bonuses).

It's very feasible I could get a 10% or 20% bonus next year, so I am very happy with the state of things. I need a $10,000 salary bump to track to where I was at with old/forever job, for 9-5 hours. If I can get a 6% raise and a 6% bonus, then I will be there. Both seem very feasible at this point. I'd say that my new job is 10 times easier and 10 times less responsibility, so I am very happy with things.

This $1,000 bonus even is HUGE to me. The only reason it would not be is the context of the pay cut. But I've never worked anywhere that did bonuses.

**Other than that, my finances feel like complete chaos in the moment.

Just paid the property taxes for the year, all our insurance comes due this month, just bought up a bunch of concerts tickets and a new washer/dryer, etc. But also having lots of money inflows. It just feels like money is flying every which way. I will have time later this month to feel more organized about it and to get a better handle of things. (I know we are spending less than our income, but it still feels very chaotic).

Old Employer Updates

December 2nd, 2018 at 06:49 am

I was doing a post and it was getting really long, so am separating out the "old work" part.

MM(15) did not get his paycheck timely from my old/forever employer. I think payday was a Friday and he went in Monday (Thanksgiving week) to work because he had the week off of school. His paycheck was not there, but I didn't think too much about it. The rumor (whatever they told MH?) was that they had run out of checks. I didn't think too much about that either.

The latest is that old/forever employer took back the business and told "fake employer" to go to hell, basically. I have *no idea* where they are in the legal process of that and infinite monies owed to them, but "fake employer" is not fighting them on giving them back the business. They never really did anything to begin with, so there isn't much to it. They had taken over payroll, and that's about it. They have officially given that back.

Anyway, I didn't think too much about checks having to be ordered with this sudden turn of events. & I mean, I just would totally understand if that slipped through the cracks in the chaos.

Then maybe Tuesday or Wednesday "awesome admin" (who has gone back full-time, temporarily, and is the only reason MM is working there) called me. {MM is there to help her out and to work for her. If she's gone, then he's gone}. Anyway, she called me with an earful. I guess in the end they still had checks (I should have realized because I had been paid already the first of the month) and "awesome admin" knew they had to order more, but old/forever employer disagreed. He is sick and has no idea. I guess it was just a whole thing. Plus they hired some new employees, so how is that for a first impression!? (Probably the least of their problems, as far as first impression. Ugh). Plus, okay, so you don't have checks, so figure it out. There is just no one there capable of "figuring it out." I mean, I am sure "Awesome admin" could figure it out, but she is the lowest person on the totem pole, and employer is probably embarrassed and just unwilling to deal with it.

Anyway, MM had the week off and they really needed the help. I know 100% they will pay him. I told him in no other situation would he ever show back up at work again, but that *I* would guarantee his paycheck. & Wednesday, when he still didn't have his check, I pulled him aside and told him, "And that's it. You don't need to go back until you get paid". You know, just willing to make an exception for the holiday week everyone wanted to take advantage of, but beyond that, whatevs. Figure out your crap!

Yeah, I don't know how long "awesome admin" is going to last, at this rate. What a MESS! I mean, this is just like 0.01% of the business, right? Having checks to pay bills? I don't even want to know what else is going on over there.

Before I quit, old/forever employer's wife pulled me aside with the "great news" they were "hoping to" take back the firm. I was pretty blunt with her. & how does that help me? Back to square one. They still have to sell. Let's just say it didn't appeal to me at all. I told her that I support my family and needed a better long-term plan.

Then... When everyone was going back to help (because old/forever employer was AMAZING, and we are all willing to help in any reasonable way), MH was concerned about it. He just sees everyone is going back and is worried I will to. HA! I told him I couldn't imagine anything less appealing.

So, fast forwarding to last week when my teenager wasn't paid for like 8 days and "awesome admin" is telling me what a nightmare it is over there. I said to MH, "Yeah, because no one could see that coming." Things may be worse without "fake employer", which is hard to imagine in some regards, but not surprising given the situation. Old/forever employer has much better intentions, but you need more than good intentions.

**MM(15) did eventually get paid. Was just delayed a bit longer with the holiday weekend.

Thankfully, my experience was the polar opposite. I did side work for about 4 clients, plus some very highly-paid work for old/forever employer. Everyone was so grateful for the help that they all paid me immediately. I think old/forever employer paid me before I even got around to invoicing them.

I am trying to wean off my old clients and get them transferred over to new accountants. I never did and still don't want the work. I was open to the opportunity when I had no idea what my work situation might be, but it will be *awesome* to get all this work out of my hair.

Work for old/forever employer (side work) is the "best of both worlds" at this point, and I am fine with that longer term. But I've said I am not holding my breath. If it all goes to hell tomorrow, I am totally fine with walking away. I feel pretty removed from the situation. They are desperate and have agreed to my crazy one-sided terms.

Electric Driving Updates

December 1st, 2018 at 06:04 am

Last Saturday we were able to get some free charging. MH sat at the free charger while waiting for MM(15) at his volunteer shift. It covers one-way on the 21-mile drive.

We also went to the Symphony last weekend. We had planned to get "free charging" in the garage, but went a little early for dinner and there was free parking everywhere. We chose to save $4-ish and take the free parking instead. Our city (downtown area) has free parking night and weekends for the month of December? But I didn't expect it to be so completely abandoned on a Saturday night. Of course, maybe just lord knows where everyone parked, because the restaurant that we went to was jam packed.

In the middle of the month, winter started to arrive, and did a number on the car battery. I had been forewarned (belong to some online group) but ignored all the "Cold + car battery" stuff, figuring we don't have COLD here. Unfortunately below 50F degrees, you lose a lot of range. I don't know if there is much difference between that and like 0F degrees, because seems plenty of people are happy with their Volts in cold and snowy regions.

In the end, this happened around mid-month and I haven't noticed any changes to our costs, but December will be much colder and I will have a whole month of "cold weather" data to report. Most days I have been able to eke out my commute on the electricity. If I am using gas, it might be 1/10 of a gallon per day. (I think it got a little warmer, because I have not used gas all week).

This will be a morning problem. We have freezes overnight, but during the day it won't drop below 50F, generally. It probably helps to park in the sun and keep the battery on the warmer side. During summer, will do the opposite. I had always been more concerned about our hot summer weather. The heat is supposed to be worse as far as long-term battery degradation. Not much I can do about that, but will definitely be sure to park in the shade during summer.

The garage seems to be keeping the car about 30F degrees warmer than the outside, so maybe that helps with the cold and battery range.

In other news, GM is discontinuing the Volt as of next year. In the online group everyone was saying prices would drop at that point. I don't see why it would make such a big difference, but in the end, I guess this is driving people to not want to keep their cars. I don't *get* it, but whatever. We have talked seriously about buying a second Volt in about a year, before all this. Honestly, I don't expect prices to change much between now and then. But if they do, we will certainly take advantage.

{I think probably they mean more new prices, while I am only looking at used prices}.

It is sad. Americans love their gas guzzlers so much. I haven't seen any other cars quite like this. I was never thrilled with going all-in on electricity. Yes, it's cheap now, but you never know how that might change. I guess for the long run it might be we keep a gas car and an electric car? But I really like this whole "bets of both worlds" thing and haven't seen anything else quite like it.

I guess I should back up and say one reason we are considering buying the second Volt is we are going to run this one into the ground crazy fast, at this rate. Would rather spread over two cars that we can keep for 15 years each. (This car won't last 15 years if we do 90% of our driving on the one car). & MH has a new-ish car, so it would be more of a lateral(ish) trade. We just left it that we need to give it a year before we put all our eggs in one basket. Which is something we would probably never do otherwise, but the car is that amazing. & this also hinges on me getting like a really nice bonus next Christmas. I said it's lateral(ish) because we still would need to cough up some decent cash.

Costs and updates:

**I need to do some homework on the carpool stickers. Still have not had one reason to use them in the two + months we have had the car. I had heard a rumor if I renewed after this year that I could get 4-years of carpool stickers (for solo driver). I can't find anything about that and don't know if that is just a presumption. I don't want to lose out altogether. It would be three years if I apply now. I just have some homework to do. You never know when you might end up in a traffic jam or have a job change, etc., so I just want to maximize carpool benefits. Being prepared, as I like to do.

**The other thing I can't find *anywhere* is what on earth our car registration fees are supposed to be. ??? We paid something like $40 when we bought the car, and when they sent us the title it said "$40 paid" on the registration and/or title. I thought surely that wasn't right and expected to get a bill at some point.

I think it would be a fair assumption that the electric cars get a crazy break on this front, but I just can't find anything verifying this. On the online group I am in, everyone says they are still paying $300 or $400 or whatever to register and renew newer/expensive cars (same model; same state). So, I am confused. Am curious what the renewal will be next year.

**Fuel costs for December:

Electricity is still at about $1 per day, or $30 for the month.

We also drove out of town three times during December, so used a fair amount of gas.

Gas fuel spending was $26. I received a $10 work reimbursement (for driving 20 miles). This puts my net gas costs at $15 for the month, or about the same as last month.

When it got cold, my first thought was that my "reimbursements to self" for quick charger and car premium might take a little longer than I planned. But looking back at October, I think in the end it will be about the same. I saved about $225 in fuel costs?

When I get final electricity costs for November, I will share the details.

December and January are our coldest months, so will see how we fare during those months.

Long Weekend

November 24th, 2018 at 08:49 am

Thursday we drove down to spend Thanksgiving with our families. Usually we host (potluck ~ we don't do the cooking), but in recent years it's been dwindling down to "every other year". Lord knows I bowed out a long time ago, for this year.

We were most thankful for fresh air. We had a big storm and it cleared out all the smoke. Which I know just created more problems overall, but it was so nice to breathe fresh air.

Yesterday I Was just zonked. I wasn't thinking too much about the smoke, but I think that could be some of it. Some combination of oxygen overload and maybe getting some of the smoke out of my system. I mostly slept.

I told MH I'd watch three movies this weekend. We should be done with 20 out of 100. (We are watching the Top 100 movies, AFI, along with the podcast Unspooled).

Weekend goals:

Saturday - clean house and get house in order. Fingers crossed!! (Every time I have tried this year, something seems to get in the way). If I could just cross off a few bigger chores, and feel like I am making progress on this front...

Sunday - baking?

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For Black Friday, I submitted a Citi Price Rewind for the cell phone MH recently bought. It was on sale for $150 less. I will get the price match, if Citi will match Black Friday prices. Will see...

{This makes the price far less ridiculous, though will be stuck with the higher sales tax}.

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

Other than that, we've been spending ridiculous sums of money on concerts. Everything we were interested in went on sale last week.

Also, Sketchfest tickets went on sale. I believe we entirely skipped it last year. Just nothing grabbed us and we were kind of burned out on the spending/travel.

For this year, pretty much everything we were interested in was during MH's birthday weekend. That never happens! Usually it's a lot more spread out and it's figuring how much time we really want to spend traveling to San Francisco. In this case, we got tickets to everything we were interested in, and already got a free timeshare stay right by the theater (where all the shows are at). So MH will have a very fun birthday weekend. These tickets are generally quite inexpensive, especially when it's just the two of us. Will just pay with Christmas money, and the room is free, so it will be a frugal weekend. We will plan to eat very well, but he will probably get some birthday cash to cover the dining out.

Obligatory Holiday Post

November 24th, 2018 at 05:55 am

Here is my Christmas post from 2014:

[url]http://monkeymama.savingadvice.com/2014/11/30/christmas...

My job is crazy insane busy during the Christmas season, and so this has been a very big factor in our attitude about Christmas. I don't have the time and the energy and so mostly sit out the season.

Our attitude is also compounded by the in-laws' Christmas gift extravaganza. It's like, the kids got 100 toys from Grandma, so no one else gets absolutely any joy giving them gifts. Even my parents just don't get them anything. I share just to point out that all of the above is more for the adults than the kids. My kids know that their paternal grandparents are a little crazy and excessive but that everyone else we know is the complete opposite. I think it's obvious to them that their experience with Grandma is not the norm. They have never once asked me why no one else gets them any presents - aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. It's never occurred to them that they should be getting presents from everyone. They just think Grandma really really likes Christmas!

I read through those articles again and it reminded me of the final rules of Christmas simplicity in our house. We don't travel and we don't cook. My spouse has a problem with taking the kids anywhere on Christmas day because he hated that when he was a kid - he wanted to stay home and to play with his toys. So, Christmas day is always at home. I am more than fine with that because is I am lucky to get Christmas day off and certainly can't swing more time off than that.


I'd say not much has changed. I have a new job situation (so might have a wee bit more time over the holidays). But... I don't expect that I would do anything more but collapse this year (from exhaustion). I am not making any new traditions, that is for sure. I will be able to spend a little more time with my family.

My kids are completely disinterested in the consumer treadmill. As teenagers they don't want *anything* for the Holidays. It's funny how often people tell me, "But you have to buy MORE when they are teenagers because they want so much stuff." I don't think parents realize how much kids absorb from their own parents' attitudes and actions. If nothing else, the kids have never seen us make shopping a pastime. So they just never got the memo.

Thus, we don't save up any money for the Holidays or plan to do any spending.

Now that I think about it, next month is going to be pretty busy because I am working two jobs. (Even though I am taking Christmas week off at job #2). So I think this year I am not going to do anything differently. But next year I could see putting a little more time and energy to baking and volunteering. That is what I would want to do with more time and breathing room around the Holidays.

Getting Somewhere...

November 19th, 2018 at 06:47 am

Cramming 3+ months of work into 2 weeks (10/31 deadlines for old employer) - DONE!

20 hours of professional continuing education - DONE!

{I still have four hours left to do, but I am done with the more time-consuming self-study portion. & I get a reprieve for 2 weeks}.

Organizing/Filing Old/Forever employer work files - DONE!

This last task has been driving me *crazy* all year. I was bringing home files that I needed/wanted to keep, but in dribs and drabs. Because I knew I would most likely quit, but just didn't feel any rush on that front. It's just strewn about the house. Anyway, in the end it took a whole *2 hours*. But I don't know when I would have ever found that 2 hours otherwise. Yeesh! Anyway, it was some combo of that, job search papers, and current work files for second job (work for old employer). But I got fairly organized yesterday. & before that I was semi-organized on the current work I was doing and all the job search stuff. So it wasn't too bad. I just needed to find the time and commit to get this out of my hair.

For reference, I think everything I brought home takes up about 2% of my file cabinet space. Is not a lot. Plus a few books. It was the feeling so "scattered" that was really driving me crazy!

Anyway, it feels *so good* to cross these last two tasks off my list. Feeling like I am actually getting somewhere.

I was able to multi-task while doing the self study, thankfully. (I wasn't too sure and didn't want to waste my time and fail the test). So I did about 4 hours of electronic and paper file cleanup during class #1. I did about 3 hours of billable work during class #2.

I otherwise have not done any work for old employer this month. I didn't get to much else on my to-do list and have a few errands today. (Some of that was due to a friend in crisis. This year won't let up!) & am definitely taking this long weekend off from any paying work. But the work will still be there... Honestly, it's much more favorable for me to do December work and bill in January anyway. I expect our household income to drop about $20k next year (W-2 income) and I can actually keep some of this extra money I am making, if I can push the income off to next year. Taxes are just eating away anything extra that I make this year.

I have just been going crazy with the feeling of getting further and further and further behind. I am *hoping* that I am turning the corner. I plan to work my butt off the next three days, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. So happy to be done with all of this *Cramming*. Now it's just getting caught up on the stuff I set aside so I could cram.

This & That

November 16th, 2018 at 06:14 am

Still in super busy mode. & still completely exhausted on the emotional front (always someone in the hospital or having a crisis).

Speaking of tragedy, the kids have school off Friday because of the smoke in our region. Smoke from the fires. That's a first. The air quality is just horrible here and we feel very trapped indoors.

I actually had an impromptu day off on Monday. Hallelujah! That was a long overdue day off, and so appreciated. We were having major IT issues at my job. With no computers, there was nothing we could do. So we moved up a meeting and then my new employer took us out to brunch. After that, we gave up and went home. I was over the moon.

MM(15) has been doing work for my old employer, and that is working out really well. I expect that he will make around $500 this month. I won't hold my breath about extra work past this year, but it looks pretty likely we will both be needed through tax season.

I was able to kill three birds with one stone, during the past two weekends. I took MM into my old office. I had two webinars planned and so just said MM could work until 3:00 or whatever (I couldn't leave until my classes were done). I parked myself and watched my classes while he worked. I was also able to do a little work for my old employer. Some multi-tasking.

I otherwise did not do any second job/OT during the past 15 days or so. Took a breather! Absolutely no deadlines until January, so nothing is really pressing at this point.

My goals are ambitious for this next week. I need to complete 8 more hours of education, for my professional license. It's actually 12 hours, but I have one last class scheduled in December. The other 8 hours are self-study and will be a little more work on my part. I am hoping the first 4 hours goes well and I feel up to just knocking it out (the second 4 hours) this weekend. I want to be DONE!

I am not planning to go back into the old office at all because MM(15) has so many days off this month and is just working weekdays for the rest of the month. (I just drop him off on my way/to from my job). We can re-evaluate in December.

Anyway, I want to knock out all my education AND I really should be doing some work for old employer. I am okay with piling on the work these next several days because my plan is to take the long 4-day weekend entirely off next week. Phew!

I'd like to maybe take next Thursday/Friday off and then spend the weekend tackling the house. Still so behind because I never had time to deal with anything.

I was feeling so frustrated last weekend. & is a lot of why I Was so happy to get an unexpected day off on Monday. My luck has been going the other way this entire year. I was in complete disbelief that I got a break! Anyway, so I guess that helped me to catch my breath and to hang on.

I am feeling frustrated probably because November is the slowest time of the year at my old job. Since my professional license is relevant to that job, I'd generally be doing all this on work time, and otherwise am practically on vacation all month. I worked 9-5, but might take 3-5 days off every November to do classes from home. Time off for the holidays. & the rest of the time the office is so dead and quiet and not much going on. Plenty of work to do, but was just so calm and peaceful. After a very long and exhausting year, some part of me is upset that my "17 years of QUIET NOVEMBER" is gone. It's just such a pattern that I am used to. But I know it will even out in the next month or two, or three or four. The trade-off will be "no crazy tax season."

I did get around to updating my sidebar. I still want to do some work/financial updates (might have some time in December?) but that is the cliff notes version. We have more retirement space to utilize, which significantly reduces our taxes. So we will be very "Retirement heavy" with retirement contributions in 2019. Or very similar to the early years of this blog. I honestly have no idea where we will be as far as my "10 year financial independence goal" and is something I need to look at. At this point in our lives our assets are working pretty hard for us and my pat cut might not impact that goal; if we rely more on asset appreciation than savings from income. But one reason I haven't bothered to even figure it out is the second job/extra income. & even if that evaporates, MH is planning to increase his income in the next year. So is something I want to work through eventually, but seems moot with all the extra cash I am making right now.

Edited to add: Last I checked, our net worth was up $80,000 for the year. Which means we have exceeded this goal for 2018, already. Will see where things land 12/31, but seem to be on a good track for this year.

I don't think my new job is financially ideal (right now) with this whole teen drivers/braces x2/college x2 thing right around the corner. BUT, I expect generous raises and bonuses with this employer and so expect the current state of things to be very temporary. & I think this job is absolutely ideal if MH does find more substantial or full-time work. Which is more the long-term plan. Even if MH went from $10k to $20k income, I think we would both be a lot happier with the shift in responsibilities (and that would put us where we were at before, income-wise). New job is working out really well and is another blog post I Want to get to eventually.