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Good Riddance to 2018!

January 5th, 2019 at 07:35 am

Good Riddance to 2018! Woohoo!

I wish I could say 2019 was going better. I suppose it is in many ways. I feel like my work life turned to a sea of calm a few days ago. Just the complete polar opposite of this one long year of "putting out fires". I took 10 days off from Job #2 (end of year). At Job #1 we finally "caught up" (last Friday). The employee (on leave) that I have been covering for (the entire time) should be coming back next week. So the mood at my primary job has shifted about 180.

Back to, "I wish I could say 2019 is going better..." *sigh* I had an emergency dental appointment yesterday (because life is apparently still non-stop emergencies). I also saw "twin" at lunch Thursday. While discussing everyone that had passed away during the last week or so, my mom called to tell me someone passed away. So, that is how 2019 is going.

Last weekend was actually pretty peaceful though and I finally got caught up on some stuff around the house. Phew! Literally, for the first time in about 11 months, I feel "caught up".

MH drew the short stick and went to the DMV Monday. Probably for the best because he also had to renew his license. In the end, the DMV was closed last weekend (I was going to go transfer the car title because MH was crazy sick), but he had Monday off so was the only time either of us could go. I then mailed the application for carpool stickers this week. & after all that, we still have to go back in about 10 days so MM can get his learner's permit. I think that is enough DMV for one month.

It was nice to have a little bit of a breather, but my January is shaping up to be pretty crazy. I am wrapping up 2018 for 3 clients I have on my own, and then I am shifting them all to "twin" and her new firm. That's about all I will have time for. MM(15) did some work for my old/forever employer this week and so I stopped by to talk to "workaholic" yesterday. Told him I honestly didn't think I'd be able to help them at all this month. I will see where they are at the last few days of the month. They are losing clients left and right, and have two new employees, so hopefully it equalizes a bit. I also started to temper workaholic's expectations about the rest of tax season. I don't know if he is listening because he thinks we should want to live in the office like he does. I am probably going to cram pretty hard the next two weekends and hope to mostly be done. Some of this is self inflicted because we are going away for a weekend. I just wasn't thinking what a hit that would be as to "job #2" hours. So it will be crazy, but I am continuing to lessen my workload.

I don't think I will realistically be able to hit the "reset" button until February 1.

I will do a separate post about 2018 wins and losses. It will just be a gloss over and I don't expect to have any time to do anything in depth until next month. Which I may or may not ever get to.

Credit Card Reward Tally 2018

January 2nd, 2019 at 05:48 am

2018 TALLY:

$561 Travel Rewards (Capital One Venture, Moi)

Other Rewards:
$150 Citi Price Rewind
$ 10 Hulu Credits (American Express)

Ongoing rewards (through 11/30):

+$315 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/3% fuel)

+$88 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)

+$149 Visa Rewards (3% cash back fuel/restaurants)

+$823 Citi 2% card (2% back everywhere - health insurance/medical is the big expenses that we charge, is more than our mortgage payments)

Grand Total = $2,096

I just want to add that historical figures below do also include bank bonuses. They just don't generally work very well for us so I do not utilize as much. (We did -0- bank bonuses in 2017/2018).

Year 2011 = $4,164
Year 2012 = $2,782
Year 2013 = $2,623
Year 2014 = $3,128
Year 2015 = $2,585
Year 2016 = $1,906
Year 2017 = $3,578
Year 2018 = $2,096

Total 7 Years = $22,862
***Mostly Tax-Free Income***

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

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

2019 Goals

December 30th, 2018 at 06:49 am

I decided to put up my 2019 goals on sidebar. Which are pretty much the same as 2018, except that my $12,000 salary decrease means that we will have to fund IRAs from other monies.

Our health insurance went up $50/month and I may have some more expenses with the third car, BUT I already lowered our expectations about funding IRAs, so just didn't want to cut back on any of our other savings. So I probably committed to saving at least $50/month I don't have, but I suppose I am presuming I will eventually get a raise to cover it.

Money that was going to taxable investments before, is now going to 401k. From a net worth standpoint, it's all well and good, but I am not thrilled because I feel like I need a bajillion dollars cash (teen drivers x2, braces x2, home repairs, etc., all in the very near future). "College savings" is accordingly on the back burner again, but I am okay with earmarking ROTH money (for college) during years we contribute 20%+ to retirement. Otherwise, it wouldn't make any sense to be so retirement heavy, at the expense of the rest of our finances, but everything is so "hell if I know," I'd rather err with piling up ROTHs.

I do also expect some side income in 2019, but will just be hoarding up cash to fund IRAs and to pay for big planned expenses.

2018 Goals

December 29th, 2018 at 06:42 am

I am just cutting and pasting so that I can update my sidebar for 2019 goals. I expect a $20,000 decrease in salary/wages/OT, and so 2019 numbers will be more muted. Though honestly, by the time you factor taxes/401k (allows me to contribute 9% to retirement while keeping our cash flow the same), and extra/side business income, I expect 2019 to probably be about the same (cash flow) as 2018 (which was a very flush year for us). The one big change is that we will be very retirement heavy, as a result, which I mentioned below.

2018 Goals


[/]$11,000 to IRAs 2018 (MAX)
...($6,090 @ 10/31/18)
...We save $900/month
UPDATE: I diligently saved $900/month until I decided to quit my job in August.
For 2019, I have to abandon funding IRAs from *my* income.
I took a $11,000 pay cut, so this is the obvious solution. We will max out our IRAs regardless; will fund with other income or assets.

On the flip side, I am contributing 9% to a new 401k (my contribution + employer contribution). My contribution is a complete wash with reduced income taxes. So I am able to contribute 9% to retirement without coming up with more money. This is very reminiscent of our early one-income years when I had 10% work retirement contribution and we just funded IRAs with other monies. In both cases, we were contributing 20%+ of our gross income to retirement and didn't have much left for other savings/investment vehicles.

We will be "retirement heavy" until I get a raise and/or MH returns to work full-time.


[ ]$5,000 to savings
...($0 @ 12/31/18)
...$300/month, plus interest.
...Topping off with snowballs
UPDATE: Savings was up about $8,000. I funneled everything into cash this year in prep for job transition. But I ended up putting all this money towards a car purchase. The net result is -0- change to savings.

[ ]$9,000 to investments
...($1,500 @ 12/31/18)
...$250/month, plus snowflakes
...Will also invest tax savings ($2,000) when contribute to Traditional IRAs
...Will top off goal with snowballs
UPDATE: Due to job instability and substantial decrease in income, have only contributed 'snowflakes' to investments this year. Goal for 2019 will be to fund retirement instead. This is due to a combo of less income and more retirement space to utilize.

[ ]$3,000 to mortgage
...($0 @ 12/31/18)
...$3k per year to pay off in 20 years (from last refi); also ensures that we pay more principal than interest
...Funded with overtime
UPDATE: Will probably abandon this goal for 2018 and future. I am no longer working OT (new job) and was never paid for the OT I worked in 2018.

Goal savings rate = 30% of gross

**Actual savings rate = lord if I know. I am just so happy that I have been able to cash flow the insanity this year. Mostly, we funded IRAs and threw our snowflakes into investments. We did also throw about $1,000 into MH's 401k. Savings rate was probably around 15%.**

In addition, we save 100% of MH's (net) income ~ most goes to 401k/taxes.

**We only did the minimum for match this year because I expected employment upheaval. This is just a very small part-time/seasonal income, and was probably -$0- after you factor taxes, 401k contribution, and covering my unpaid time off work.**

Three Car Family

December 25th, 2018 at 06:00 am

& just like that, we are a 3-car family.

Where in the heck did the time go??? How on earth is that wee little baby old enough to learn how to drive!?

I will back up. The in-laws told us 2+ years ago they wanted to give their old car to MM(15) for Christmas. He turns 15.5 next month and will be getting his learner's permit. Our ideal world would have been buying a very used car from a friend or a relative, someone we knew who took good care of their cars.

I don't know that we would have thought at all about getting him a car before he turned 16, but I guess it works out because we have two new-ish cars and aren't really thrilled with the idea of him learning to drive on our cars. This is maybe extra so after having much older cars most of our lives.

So, the in-laws starting telling us this about 2 years ago. We were skeptical. We were just kind of, "Will see if you still have your car in 2 years." You know, anything can happen. I believe they had recently replaced their other car because it had been totaled in an accident, when they first brought it up.

It came up again in the last 2-3 months, and I guess MH and I were more ready to start making concrete plans. We made very clear that we were able and willing to buy the car from them, and did not expect them to just hand it to us (or to our child). They insist, but we just wanted to make sure we made it very clear that they don't have to give us a car. The other thing is they have *4* grandchildren, and I think they were jumping the gun significantly and probably hadn't thought it through too much (particularly when they brought it up years ago). So we wanted to make sure at this point they had thought it through. MIL keeps telling me that her daughter and her kids are "too good" for her old car and don't want it. I don't know if it's actually been discussed or if this is a presumption. But, whatever. I say, "whatever" because I can't control that. As long as they think they have discussed it, whatever. Last we brought it up, she told us the car was for BOTH of our kids. I think it just works out about as well as it can. It gives MM(15) two years to save up for a car, maybe 6+ years if he doesn't need a car for college. My kids are exactly two years apart, so should give them both a car to drive their last two years of high school.

I think MM(15) was somewhat aware, because some adults have slipped up in front of him. & I know I change the subject any time we get on this topic. He knows we are planners and he knows it's weird we have not discussed this at all. Beyond, "You should be saving up for a car."

He was definitely not expecting a car *right now*, and so I think it worked out pretty well as to surprising him. MIL/FIL put a bow on the car and hid it in their garage. After doing Christmas stuff at SIL's house Sunday, we drove over there and they opened up the garage door. He is very surprised and happy.

We drove the car home, Sunday night. I will need to get insurance on it. We were paying around $500 per year for our 2005 minivan, and this should only be cheaper. Is higher miles and is a small sedan, so should be cheaper to insure.

The year has been so chaotic and in-laws have never had any details when I asked in the past. I thought it was maybe a 2003 or a 2005? (Just subconsciously remembering that they bought it when the kids were born?) I guess in the end it is a 2004 and has 188,000 miles.

The car is worth about $2,500. Is probably about just exactly what we would be buying our kids anyway (private party) except we'd probably be looking for a $2,500 car with 130k or 150k miles. For a free car that we just want to last for 4 years, it should be more than ample.

I am guessing we will be paying $250-ish for liability insurance on the car for the next 6 months, and then we will get MM insured on the car when he turns 16 this summer.

When he turns 16 he will probably bear all of the costs of the car. I've already been quoted $1,000 per year for a teen male driver (roughly). I was happily surprised because I know that is less money than I paid as a teen driver. Will see what the real numbers end up being. But everyone makes it sound so scary and awful, especially with a teen boy. I did discuss numbers with my insurance agent at some point, because I did realize a year or two ago that probably most people are more price sensitive than we are and maybe it won't be quite so bad as I was imagining. We do not plan to let him drive our cars, which is where it can get really expensive. Apparently we don't have to insure him to learn on our cars though, which is nice. Practically, he will have to be practicing in our cars once in a while.

Because the car was gifted by a family member, we also don't have to pay any kind of transfer tax on the car. I suppose if we have to pay any license or registration fees though, we will cover them, this first year. We just think it's important for our kids to learn about all the costs of owning a car. If they end up with some large car repair because the car has almost 200k miles, we will cross that bridge when we come to it. I could see helping with any major repairs.

Merry Christmas to us, because that's a can we can kick down the road. Phew! I don't think saving the $2,500 is particularly life altering, but I just feel like we'd be taking a lot more risk on the private party market, otherwise. I feel extraordinarily blessed to have found a (well cared for) hand-me-down. I know we are probably saving a lot more than $2,500, given the circumstances.

Allowance Raise

December 20th, 2018 at 05:36 am

In our family, the point of the 'allowance" is so that you learn how to manage money and make money decisions (at a very basic level) long before you get your first job and start making significantly more dollars. This is just until kids make their own money. My husband seems reluctant to turn off for our oldest son, but there is no doubt that it is time. He made $700 in the 6 months since he turned 15. & that's really barely lifting a finger. I expect that he will be making a ton more money when he turns 16 and can drive himself to any jobs.

As to learning how to manage money and make his own money decisions...

**Mission Accomplished**

The kids' allowance is $2/week. Because we started when they were *5*. I of course expected to bump that up over the years.

MM(15) takes after his father and is an extreme money hoarder. I really expected to at least bump up when he started high school. But he's not very social (he is laser focused on sports and academics). It will be interesting to see how that changes when he gets a car. But for now, he's not much for hanging out, and I get the feeling when he has a car he'd rather be working. Will see.

Though his brother (13) is more balanced and an entirely different personality, he is frugal enough I was starting to think that he would also be happy with the $2 indefinitely. But I failed to account for the high school bump. He is super social, in contrast.

So... He asked for an allowance raise this weekend. Some part of me was, "Oh crap," because I did just take a large pay cut and I know his friends have insane allowances. But beyond that, I Was so proud he asked, and was kind of like, "What took you so long?" I asked what he was thinking about, and he asked for $3. I thought, "Phew!" and I think that is beyond reasonable. What is funny is that MH was shooting me the funniest looks because he is clearly not on the same page. Whatever. Not everyone wants to save every penny they ever make. Yeesh. When we discussed having $1 per week of blow money to hang out with his friends, this is when my MH really looked pained and uncomfortable. I am just, "He needs to learn to live in the real world." In the end, I guess DL was more in negotiating mode and he was kind of like, "Really? $3 is so much more money than I would ever need!" So everyone (but MH) seems pretty happy. I bumped up MM(15) to $3 just to be "fair".

MM is getting a car this weekend and turns 16 this summer, so we will probably re-evaluate his allowance shortly. When I bought my first car it was 100% on me, but I didn't have a sibling that I was expected to drive around or help my parents with. So if we need him to spend $20/ month on gas or whatever, might bump up his allowance and then let him manage all that. Him having a car will help us out so much, we still have a lot to sort through. His grandparents are just being crazy eager beavers and can't wait to give him their old car for Christmas. I think it's fine and good that he has an old car to learn on but haven't had any time or energy to figure out the logistics. It will be a bridge we cross when we get to it.

Anyway, after this whole allowance conversation, DL went on to tell me (as he has many times before) that he has a couple of friends with 10 times the allowance who are horrible with money, and so are their parents. I asked him if he thought they were bad with money because they have *So much* allowance. His answer: Yes! I think he is just observing how other people relate to money and their values, etc. & how maybe it's not so great to have a seemingly infinite allowance if your parents are struggling so much that you are talking about it with your friends. (I don't remember the details, if it's like they were working extra to pay off debts, in bankruptcy or what not. 10 years ago, they'd be losing their house, it was so ubiquitous to be in foreclosure). I think the kids probably try to tease my kids that they have a $3 allowance, but they just aren't having it. They know their bank accounts are fatter and that they live in a financially secure household.

I think it's more complicated than just the size of the allowance. Because lord knows I could give both my kids a 1,000% raise today, and neither of them would spend it.

This conversation gave way to sensible car and college choices. (My sons have NO IDEA they are being gifted a car to use through their high school years).

Who are these people? I don't know that I Would have thought of or discussed "sensible car or college choices" much before age 25. Given the reaction my husband was having to the allowance raise, it makes me wonder if maybe he did sound like this when he was 13/15 and is some of where the kids get it from.

South of the Border Wraps

December 18th, 2018 at 07:29 pm

MH dug out an old recipe a couple of weeks ago and it was *so good*. Better than I remembered.

Text is https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/south-of-the-border-wraps/ and Link is

Just some beans and veggies, with some cheese and butter. & I can imagine infinite ways to customize to one's taste and/or what is on hand.

MM(15) and I made for dinner tonight. I wanted to share while I Was thinking about it.