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September 27th, 2023 at 04:32 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 03:36 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 04:58 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 04:55 am

Success!

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 03:16 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 03:46 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 04:04 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 06:33 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 02:48 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:

+$795

 

Snowball to Savings/Investments:

-$0-

 

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'  

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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 02:42 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 07:57 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:

+$950

 

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 02:45 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 02:54 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 02:37 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 04:29 pm

MOVIES:

--------

$50  Art House Theater (small balance left?)

 

RESTAURANTS:

------------

$50 Cracker Barrel (small balance left)

$ 25 x 1 Jamba Juice (Gift)

 

RETAIL:

---------

$50 Kohls (Gift)

 

REGIFT:

---------

$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 02:38 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 04:35 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:

+$1,012

 

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 03:48 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.  

This & That

June 14th, 2023 at 03:13 pm

No idea where to begin...

I don't care much for these "3" years.  2013 was a completely absurd year.  2023 isn't *that* crazy yet.  But it's going to be an expensive year, that is for sure.  

I noticed that MH only drove 500 miles in May.  It was a quiet "not much planned" month, but we were fixing a lot of things on the home front.  I had a very flat tire and DL's car wouldn't start.  (Lucky that we didn't have to call AAA twice last month).  

I expected June to be busy, but the *busy* started end of May.  Two weeks ago?  MH got (free) tickets for a documentary and concert.  That was great and I'd tell you more about it if I had time.  That same week was DL(17)'s last high school concert.  That was the week that we had to deal with the kids' car not starting.  

In June, MH has a big movie night (it's been postponed a few times but I think the date is set now).  Had a big work event Friday. DL(17) just wrapped up high school Friday.  Woohoo!  Picking up MM(19) from college in another week (finals next week) and then our annual camping trip.  Most of that is compacted into this week.  Will have 'an empty' nest for 4.5 days.  But then will spend 1.5 days picking up MM(19) from the college.  We don't have time to make a more leisurely trip of it.  

Having 3 cars is exhausting.  Was just going through a pile of paperwork.  It was all car insurance and car repair bills, etc.   DMV renewals. The kids' car just needed a new starter.  But our mechanic was booked up and referred us to a much more expensive shop.  

That reminds me.  DL(17) had literally just paid the (new driver $$$$$$) auto insurance and DMV renewal.  This left him with about $1,100 cash.   I was telling him, "Cars are expensive."  Then the car repair came in at $1,000.  Closer to $1,100 because we just had them do the oil change while they had the car.  Because he's not 18 and he doesn't have much a job at this point, we will just pay for this car repair.  & of course, it's more complicated than that.  MM(19) is still using the car, etc.  

My first instinct was to give DL(17) our grocery savings this summer, while he is being paid in room and board.  But I mentioned this to MH (after the big car repair) and he wants DL to work off the car repair with the free meals.  Fair enough.  & we decided to bill MM(19) for the expensive oil change.  He has a free car to use otherwise.  Gives him a way to contribute towards use of the car, while giving DL(17) a small break on car expenses.

We haven't spent much on graduation.  DL is mostly *over it* and didn't go to too many events.  He only had 100 kids in his high school class, which is a lot of it.  I didn't anticipate how miserable that would make him.  (My own high school experience was the polar opposite.  More of a college experience, with 1,000 kids in my class).  

The one thing I am very happy with is that I got some great "Grad" photos from my Dad.  Like everything else, had to postpone a few times but finally got that settled. The pictures came out great.  

I did order some graduation announcements with the new pictures.  I just bought a handful, mostly for grandparents.

DL(17) did request a big dinner out on his graduation night.  We were off the hook because grandparents paid for that.  I think they chose to spend more on that but had given MM(19) a big pile of cash instead, for his pandemic graduation.  At the end of the day, I can tell you the dinner (and time with grandparents) meant more to DL than the pile of cash.  Even though I was expecting he might get more of a cash boost (and could have used it).  (Presuming he got graduation gifts that were comparable to MM's, which he did not).

Our garage door opener still is not working in the direct sunlight.  We thought we had fixed it (per advice of a repairman) but we didn't get around to it until end of summer last year.  It worked fine for many months and now it is being finicky again.  Now that we are back to more sunlight. Our only other option is to replace it.  So that is a bummer. I was relieved it actually worked for me yesterday.  I was running a little late (for an event) and I was sure that was going to slow me down.  But I ended up with luck on my side.  Most of the time I never notice it (because I generally leave earlier and come back later).  But I noticed it twice last week and told MH that I was already over it.  He seems to be a lot more patient about it.  We obviously aren't going to get around to this in the next few weeks, but might revisit in July.  

I'm expecting a lot of other big expenses this year, still.  Off the top of my head...  Still need to replace the tires on my car.  (I don't think this is related to my flat tire.  My tire hit something on the road.  I was already being on the more cautious side, planning to change out my tires this year.)  Expecting medical expenses.  The garage door opener.  I don't remember what else but I am sure there is more.  Will have to cash flow MM's first month of rent, but I have the rest of the year saved for.  

DL(17) had a last minute training thrown at him Saturday, so the poor kid had no time off between school and his summer job. But thankfully they gave him most of Sunday off.  That gave him a little more time.  Saturday he worked all day and spent the evening packing.  MH and I ran to the store on Sunday.  If nothing else, he needed sunblock and bug spray.  & we got him a flashlight.  

I might work on a round of decluttering.  I was looking for a rain jacket for DL(17) because the weather is so weird in general this year, and will be stormy in the mountains all week.  I did find one.  It was the rain jacket that MM(19) bought for his big river rafting trip some years ago.  I also found a few outgrown jackets on the coat rack.  Forgotten, because the kids mostly refused to wear them ever.  I also lucked out and found a pair of sheets in a closet, that DL can use at camp.  But there's some kids' sheets in there.  Will wash those and throw in the donate pile.  & lord knows I need to purge some clothes.  

For whatever reason, MM still had his shower shoes with him at college.   (He's just sharing a bathroom with one person this year.)  I was hoping I could dig those out of his room.  But I can bring those up to DL(17) in a week.  & I ordered him a laundry bag that probably won't be here in time.  MH just thought of it Saturday.  (I hadn't given it any thought before Saturday, this packing and prepping.  But the stakes are pretty low because we will be back there again, soon.)  I told DL(17) to just use a trash bag for his bedding.  Will switch it out when we get the laundry bag.   

Edited to add:  We dropped off DL(17) at his summer job.  With all the extra rain and snow this year, the view was breathtaking.  But the mud was pretty bad.  I hosed off the car the second we got home.  Will probably be going through this again a few times (lots of mud), before it warms up and things dry up.  For reference, it was 30 degrees cooler at camp (in the mountains).  DL(17) is spending the summer near Tahoe.  He gets the better paradise but also is significantly more roughing it, than his brother is in his So Cal paradise.  First impressions were good (for DL).  Will see how he feels after a few nights sharing a small dorm/cabin with 11 people.  🤞🏼

I'd say that's a small glimpse of my life lately.

Work Updates

May 22nd, 2023 at 02:28 pm

We went to a local college arboretum last weekend.  The pictures don't do it justice but I've never seen such vibrant poppies anywhere else. 

As to everything else, I wouldn't know where to begin.  I touched on some of it in my monthly wrap up.

Work is a spiraling vortex of insanity. 

My employee is leaving me.  😭😭😭

This is forseeable because she has wanted to move out of state and have babies, probably the entire time she has worked at this job.  (I brought her over from my last job).  But after all the talks about giving as much heads up as possible...  Basically got a one-week notice because she gave notice on my week off.  But her husband wanted to give *zero* notice, and so here we are.  & overall, just sad, because I have worked with her for 10 years and she is an amazing human.  😭  She is moving out of state.

Of course, most of my burnout is just the "everything out of my control is completely absurd" factor.  But because this was foreseeable I hired our last two admin assistants with this in mind.  It's paying off for me right now.   We promoted an employee to fill her position.  So patting myself on the back a bit.  Phew!  It's adding to the chaos though, because we are training two positions now.  But is probably the only reason I am not totally freaking out.  

The "planning ahead" is helping my sanity, but what a week!  On Monday we tried to offer the open admin assistant position to a candidate and ended up rescinding the offer.  (It got weird, and I think we dodged a bullet).  If that's not enough drama for one day, my boss ended up firing someone.  I think it will be a good change for the long term, but it's just very chaotic right now.   

May has been very quiet on the home front.  June will be busy, in contrast.  Picking up MM(19) from college, annual camp trip, etc.  DL(17) high school graduation.  

DL(17) got a job.  The job market is rough and he has been looking for a year.  I am not even sure if MM(19) will be able to get an internship this summer.  As a freshman?  Easy peasy.  But now everyone is pulling back hiring.  & for reference, I just put up an entry level job ad and got 200 applications in a few days.  I told DL(17) I wouldn't hold my breath about it being easier when he turns 18.

So DL(17) was feeling desperate and he applied at the summer camp we go to every year.  They were the only employer to ever call him back.  & he got the job!  It sounds like it was close though.  They went from severely understaffed to, "I am not sure there's enough room in the boys' dorm for one more person."  

I don't know if he will make it all summer.  I don't expect him to be mentally healthy enough to live in a dorm all summer.  (He's moody enough at home, and is very noise sensitive.  This is with 3 bedrooms entirely to himself; sharing 2600 square feet with two other people).  But we can help, with the EV.  It's $4 fuel for the 200 miles roundtrip.  If we have to rescue him on his breaks, will support him as much as we can.   & while I am skeptical, I am proud of him for giving it a try.  

I was just focusing on his mental health and the tight living quarters.  I expect he'd also be homesick.  It's going to be rough.

DL will mostly be paid in room and board, which is not the most useful.   That, and $2,400.  The rough math is that it probably works out to $6 per hour.  (I am not sure how many hours he will be expected to work.)  Of course, if we have any food savings, I will give that money to him.  The $2,400 will cover his car expenses for a year and will give him some spending money.  It's sufficient for his needs.

I haven't been sweating it because when he applied for jobs in person no one wanted to deal with work permits.  (He won't need a work permit after high school, even though he will be 17 for a while). & It should be easier when he turns 18 this summer.  I figured worst case, he could get a campus job in the fall.  I think that will be more his speed, working something like 10 hours a week year round.  

MM(19) Credit Score

May 21st, 2023 at 01:56 pm

Take 'one size fits all' financial advice with a grain of salt.

Probably the #1 question I get about credit card churning is "Doesn't that destroy your credit score?" ~ that we close the cards when we are done using them.

It does absolutely nothing to our credit score.  It appears that 90%+ of our credit score is just always having paid on time.  & utilization otherwise seems to be the only thing that has any bearing on our credit score.  If I apply for 3 new credit cards tomorrow (new inquiries) and close most of my old cards tomorrow, my score might(?) drop from 840 to 830?  This doesn't mean anything.  & honestly, I've never even noticed a 10 point drop.  But admittedly, I am not staring at my credit score or worrying about it.  (I watch my credit score, but I don't look at it every single day).

Also, it doesn't matter if your score is 750 or 850.  You get the same exact results either way.  750+ is basically a perfect credit score.  Life is exhausting enough as is.  No need to spin your wheels on things that don't matter. 

I've literally had an average one year of 'open credit' and a 800+ credit score at the same time.  When we last refied our mortgage.  *shrugs*

Note:  Good credit stays on your credit report for 10 years.  This is the *how* you can have all new credit and still have a very strong credit score.

The equation obviously changes if you are just starting out, trying to build up a low score, etc.  

Well, you would think.  This is the point of this post.  

I opened a new card for DL(17) a bit ago.  MM(19) was able to get his own credit card and I have way too many credit cards.  So I closed the card that I had opened for MM(19) to use during his high school years.  I think *5* credit cards is more than enough to keep track of, and I just no longer had any use for this card.

I was cautious and did wait until MM(19) was able to get his own credit card with a decent credit limit. 

MM's credit score has been 770-780 since he applied for his own credit card when he turned 18.  Before that I had added him as an authorized user on my Target card and on the card I got soley for him to use. 

This ended up being genius because I never keep cards open long term.  Just keep them open if I am still using them.  I put him on the Target card for convenience, but it just also happens to be the oldest credit card that I have.  10+ years!  Also, the card I got specifically for MM(19) wasn't showing up on his credit report when he turned 18.  But the Target card was.  When I realized, I added DL(17) to the Target card too, to give him a credit boost.

When MM turned 19 he applied for a new credit card.  I believe they only gave him a $1,000 credit limit and I didn't find that to be too practical.  But between the $500 limit credit card & the $1,000 limit credit card...  I told him if he charged anything large like auto insurance, to just pay off immediately.  That utilization can hit your credit score pretty hard if you aren't careful.

Interestingly, I was trying to refresh my memory and his credit card is showing a $3,500 limit, on his credit report.  !!  If that's correct...  Phew!  I've been waiting for this "credit card companies are insane" to kick in so that it's more useful for him.  He can now charge up anything and everything without fretting about the utilization.  It's just much more convenient and useful.  But this is insane.  That they are giving a kid with $5,000 annual income a $3,500 credit limit.   ???  It took a little bit of time, but I guess we found the point where it gets insane.

I will have to ask him if he had noticed the credit increase, or confirm with him if that is correct.

So, where was I?  MM(19) started with a 770-780 credit score.  After he got his own credit cards and had a workable credit limit, I shut down the card I had gotten for him to use during high school year.  I did not anticipate him using credit in the near future.

And...  His credit score dropped from 780 to 770.  & then the next month it went back up to 777.

There you have it.  I was surprised and irritated by the caution I took waiting to close this account that no one was using.  🙄  Even for the very young credit, the card closing didn't amount to a hill of beans.

Full disclosure:  MM has 100% on time payment history, 5% credit usage, 3 credit card accounts, 5 year average credit age and 1 inquiry.  (He has 2 credit cards + is still the authorized user on my Target card).

The only advice he is being given is to change his mix of credit.   It's the only thing he can do to improve his score at this point (per credit karma).  Adding an installment loan. I really don't see the point of doing 8%+ student loans (plus 1% up front fee).  It's moot because wouldn't touch these scammy loan servicers with a 10 foot pole.  Before interest rates rose significantly, I more considered these loans on the level of payday loans.  Who knew they could get any less appealing, but the high interest rates aren't helping.  & for a car loan, he's probably going to need a co-signor because of his income.  Meh.  I'd rather loan him money at very low interest rates if he does need a loan.  But I don't anticipate him *needing* to borrow any money.   

Like us, he will probably add an installment loan when he gets a mortgage.  

Edited to add:  I confirmed with MM(19) that his credit limit (on the one card) is now $3,500.  He hadn't noticed.

Second edit:  Re-reading this post, one point to add to clarity.  MM applied for his own student card when he turned 18.  & then when he was 19 and had a job, I had him apply for a regular Chase rewards credit card.  So that is why he has two cards.  The student card still only has a $500 limit and is far less useful.   He can probably just convert it to a regular rewards card (with our CU) at some point when he has more income.

April '23 Savings

May 15th, 2023 at 02:13 pm

Received $124 bank interest

Received $304 I Bond interest

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $43 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $142 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $11 cash back on dining out/gas card 

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

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

 

TOTAL: $204 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$935

 

Snowball to Savings/Investments:

+$1,300 MH Income

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  250 to investments

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

-$   697 Medical Expenses

-$   230 Furniture 

-$   200 Household Purchases 

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$2,935 Ortho Deposit

-$   911 Income Tax Due for 2022

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  500 Life Insurance

-$  450 Hybrid Insurance

-$  440 EV Insurance

-$  300 LA Weekend (show tickets)

-$   248 DMV Renewal (EV)

-$   150 Dentist (MM)

 

TOTAL: -$1,444 Net pulled from Cash 

 

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

Hybrid Miles Driven:  543

Fuel Costs: $15 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

Was a lower miles month because I had some time off work.

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 2,111

Fuel Costs: $22 (home) & $60 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

Most charging (both cars) was done at home or at free chargers.  (Except for LA trip).

We did 120 miles of free charging this month.  We got 40 free miles at the San Francisco museum and MH got 80 free miles at his parents' house (40 miles x 2 visits).

It was 3 separate Bay Area trips this month, plus a Bay Area stop on our way down to LA.  Thus, the 2,000+ miles on the EV.

The biggie was our LA trip.  Off the top of my head, that ended up being 950 miles.  We spent $60 electric fuel on that trip.  We got a free overnight charge at the in-laws house Day 1 and a free hotel charge on the last night (in LA).  It was ~$20 to charge overnight at the mid point hotel.  Not cheap, but very convenient (about the same cost as gas).  We saved about $60 with not having to buy gas. Overall, for the LA trip we just stopped when we ate or took pit stops.  It was no less convenient than a gas car in that regard, but probably more thought and planning.   

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

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

Whew!  That felt like a "death by a thousand cuts" month.  I am surprised we ended up that much in the black.  But, just a lot of bills were due.  & starting to pile up the medical bills for 2023.

Edit:  Okay, so I started this post before the credit card was stressing me out.  Decided to just pay off the ortho bill.  Could have paid it in May.  Was ~$1,500 in the black before that.  Revised statement:  I am surprised I am not more in the red after paying all those bills. 

I bond interest was bumped up with new $10K purchase early this year.  (When new rates were announced, I decided not to buy any more I Bonds at this time.)  I still have 2 months of mega interest before most my bonds drop back down to 7%.  

The big news is that I decided to do invisalign.  I had wanted to do a separate post about it but not sure I will ever get to it.  Even after 5 years of braces & major jaw surgery, I still appear to be the worst case of the household.  For the most part I presumed I wouldn't be eligible for invisalign and thought braces would be cheaper.  In the end, I am eligible and it cost the same either way.  But I would have paid more for invisalign.  I felt very, "Shut up and take my money!" as they really explained it to me.  I just got the invisaligns this week and so far it is 10 times easier than braces.  

For the most part, I know logically I should get this done while we live in this neighborhood.  My kids' ortho is *amazing*.  But so much trauma around my last round of ortho, that I didn't think I'd be able to do it.  But I am very intuitive and it's just time.  I expected the whole thing to be very terrible, even if it is "time".  & then everything about the whole process has been so easy.  I am grateful for the 30 years of technological advance. 

I decided to use my 2022 ROTH IRA funds to pay for the ortho.  Investing in myself and future in another way, for this year.  Off the top of my head, this leaves our 2022 retirement contribution rate at 14%.  I can live with that.   I initially thought I'd divert $3K from retirement and cash flow the rest.  But with the $6K price tag (the most I expected it to be) I decided to just pull from "retirement" funds.

The furniture and household stuff is just residual from my "nesting mode" in March.  

May is going to be much worse.  I have a lot of big cash expenses this month, will pay off the rest of the invisalign, etc.  Trying to get things taken care of, but everything we fix seems to just bring up more problems.  That just seems to be the wavelength we are on.   

Done Saving for MM College?

April 25th, 2023 at 12:34 am

MM(19) sorted out his housing, as I expected he probably would.  He was just being a little too *chill* for my liking.  While I worked on the backup plans for the backup plans.  But he had a few irons in the fire and I was giving it some time before I dove in too deep.  So it ended up taking very little time or mental energy on my part.

He found this rental the day after the RA position news.  But then he hit a red tape brick wall with the management company.  It took about 10 days but they finally let him apply.  (In the interim, I had given up on this option.)  He let me know Friday night that he had signed the lease.  

It was the Goldilocks option, as to price.  Not the most ideal situation overall.  But certainly could be worse.  Was otherwise considering a $500/month "job on campus" living option (that was problematic on multiple fronts) and a $1,500/month room.  Ended up in the middle.  He won't need a car, and it has a kitchen.  So these are all pluses.  I found a rental last week and then later realized it didn't even have a kitchen.  So I started wondering if that might be a sacrifice (which could end up being costly re: food costs).  But being able to not have a car is probably the biggest savings factor.   

Would prefer to just live on campus another year, but they have very few spots for juniors/seniors.  I mean like 500 spots for 10,000 students?  Something like that.  & they maybe also reserve some housing for transfer students.  

Wait.  Does this mean we are done saving for MM(19)'s college!?  With this rent locked in and knowing it will be so much easier the following year (with an earlier start)?

My first instinct is that I want to keep saving for the "crap happens" factor.  The obvious that comes to mind is if we do get stuck with this (whole) lease for any long period of time.  If the roommate backs out for any reason.  Stuff like that.  In addition to all the other infinite ways that crap can happen.

When this day did come, I thought I may take a breather before circling to finish off DL(17)'s college costs.  But now that I am here...  I will just keep saving, for whatever kid might need it.  I just want to be *done* so that we can move on to other things. I think DL(17)'s college costs are well covered.  But he is also my wildcard.  More likely to take longer, to drastically change plans later (finish school out of state), to drop out.  I don't know.  

So my first instinct is to just keep saving for whoever needs it. 

Then I remembered that MM(19) has a whole other round of ortho, plus surgery.  Should probably keep saving for that.  It's not college, but it's one last thing before he is self sufficient.  It kind of gets wrapped up in this ball of final costs (mostly college) before we are done financially supporting him.

I will ponder all this more as I formulate 2024 goals in December.  If it wasn't for the whole ortho factor, I'd probably just start a "for whoever needs it" college top off fund.   But I expect I will probably be leaning towards some more MM(19) savings first.

Not ready to call it yet, but getting very close!

Staycation

April 23rd, 2023 at 04:45 pm

I had a week off work with absolutely nothing planned.  My expectations were pretty low (that it would be peaceful).  It ended up being a mix of some peaceful days and some challenging days.  & a bomb was dropped on me re: work.  Ugh.  Another post for another day.

I did make it to my other happy place (above).  This was a neighborhood in San Francisco, where my friend lived during our college years.  Another little slice of paradise. 

I hadn't even realized until my week off, but...  MH could take some time off with me!  What a difference it makes, to not have to wait until 4:00 until the kids are chauffered.  It was a "the kid has a driver license" benefit I hadn't realized.  So we did do one day in San Francisco.  We went to an art museum, ate at a fancy restaurant with a beach view (enjoyed watching the kite surfers) and went for a sunset hike. 

We had bought a more premium museum membership in 2020, to help out the museum during the pandemic.  & figured we'd maybe get more use out of that during these college years (expecting to be more frugal/pinched).  The premium membership has reciprocal membership with other museums.  This was the first time we had used our local museum membership for free admittance to another museum.  But I don't expect much the rest of this year.  We have too many plans already for this year.

I expect the whole "kid driver license" thing is why we have had so many weekend trips already this year.  It's just easier to say yes to things.  I hadn't really thought about it before, but clearly we are enjoying the extra freedom.

1,660 FREE Miles

April 18th, 2023 at 03:01 pm

I had fallen behind on keeping track of fuel costs in Quicken.  So I finally went back and got that (2022) all cleaned up.  Which wasn't a big chore because I have done a good job keeping track in my blog.  But I wanted to re-calculate monthly numbers in terms of how the electric bill sorted out every month.  Like my monthly blog estimates, it's all just a rough estimate.  But I keep track of car fuel costs versus home electricity costs.

I realized that I don't think I've ever added up all the free miles we get in a year.  But I expect that 2022 was particularly unusual.  I found a free charger by the animal shelter (had a few free 100 mile charges) and then we were surprised with free fuel *twice* when driving MM(19) to or from college.  That was 1,000 miles of free charge.  The rest were free charges here and there.

Grand Total = 1,660 free miles in 2022

That really was without trying very hard.  We just stumbled upon 1,000 of those free miles.

For point of reference, I have numbers from 2017 (our last gas car year) versus 2022:

2017 

$870 minivan gas ~ 3,000 miles

$1,341 gas sipper gas ~ 14,000 miles

$2,211 Total Fuel Costs 2017

 

2022 

$297 Hybrid fuel ~ 8,176 miles

$346 EV fuel ~ 12,200 miles

$503 Other Fuel Costs (Rental gas & kids' car gas)

$1,146 Total Fuel Costs 2022

 

$1,065 fuel savings 2017 versus 2022.  I'll take it!

Of course, with rising gas prices and other factors, our overall savings is much more substantial than this. 

2022 was a weird year in that I paid that $156 fuel for the gas rental car.  & we also paid for gas on the kids' car for at least 8 months of the year.  (We just didn't pay for the gas when MM was home during summer months, and after DL got his license at the end of the year).  That's $500 in fuel costs that I do not expect to pay in 2023.  Or $1,500 savings in a more average year.

& of course, we replaced our 14yo minivan with the hybrid, when I doubled my commute.  Rough math is that my commute is 9,000 miles per year and would have cost $1,800 gas in the minivan.  With the EV, I mostly only drive the hybrid for my commute.  (Any extra driving would probably be on gas, so I take the EV as much as possible in those instances, keeping our household driving mostly electric.) & of course, I only drove the hybrid 8,000 miles in 2022 because it was in the shop for the last 6 weeks of the year.  Anyway, this is an additional $1,000 per year gas savings.

Taxes: Note to Self

April 17th, 2023 at 03:01 pm

I was so pleasantly surprised how low overall our taxes were last year (with MH working full year, with my raise and bonus, etc.) that I never noticed that we had graduated out of the 12% tax rate.  😵  Which also means...  No more 0% tax on investments.

Which means...  I need some time wrap my brain around that and actually think about taxes when it comes to investments.  We've been spoiled for so long.

I went back and looked more closely because I thought maybe it was just the investments (I sold a lot of investments last year).  In the end, taxable income was $89K and that only included about $3K of investment income.    The rest is pretty simple.  Mostly just salaries and the standard deduction.  (Though we will obviously have a lot more bank interest in 2023.) With our (more than 3%) raises this year, we are clearly in a new tax bracket.  22%.

It's going to get nasty with the I Bonds.  Tax-free if used for "college tuition".  Not going to be tax-free re: our very low tuition costs.  So that's one more tax thing I will have to think about and plan around.  I had wanted to use the I Bond money for college rent.  But it might make the most sense to just consider the I Bonds our emergency fund, so that we can then tap more accessible cash (without any tax consequences).

I will also have to reconsider utilizing my work 401K.  If we are really close re: hitting the next tax bracket and losing 0%-tax investment space.  It might be worth throwing a few thousand dollars into a 401K if it gets us back to tax-free investments.  Will just have to see how the year shakes out.

Another note to self:  

First ~$13K of earned income is tax-free for the kids.  Have been having them claim exempt.  In the end, MM(19) made $6,000 in 2022.  What I didn't think about was that only $5,200 of CA wages are exempt (single standard deduction).  MM(19) ended up owing $3 to California.  I suppose he can continue to claim exempt for Federal.  (Can do so if prior year and current year are both $0 tax years).  But technically is no longer able to claim exempt (California) because he paid $3 tax for 2022.  Will have to keep an eye on that.  DL(17) is more likely to just work something like 15 hours per week year round, so he will probably start piling up the dough pretty quickly.  Will have to have him submit a separate California W4. 

I appreciated that we realized this without a big tax bill to pay! 

Taxes Almost Done, and Other Challenges

April 16th, 2023 at 02:54 pm

Waiting, waiting, waiting...  Feels like absolutely anything and everything is delayed.  RA decisions were delayed, because of course.  All of these film festivals keep delaying...  & then I was thinking that I hope financial aid isn't delayed for several months again, this year.   Last year MM's internship took forever to sort out.  I am stressed about college housing (the longer we delay the harder it will be) and it would be nice to have any clue what financial aid situation is before...  January?  The rest is just annoying.  But it's a *lot* of annoying.  MH was literally just telling me some film thing was delayed 2 months.  He's waiting to hear for the last? film festival, but they've already delayed several times.  I don't know why all these organizations keep pushing back 1-2 weeks, and then doing that like 10 times.  They are driving me crazy!  

We did do our first big road trip in the EV, to LA.  950 miles roundtrip.  This trip was easy peasy.  It was only 160 miles from our hotel (near college town) to LA hotel.  Which made our first *big* drive very *shrugs*.  We've done the 600 mile college roundtrip several times already.  We took our time on the way down and spent 3 days.  Every morning we were able to start with a full charge (hotel chargers). 500 miles down the 101.  We took I-5 back (Sunday) which was more direct (only 400 miles).  But there are far less EA and EVGo charging options on the I-5.  Still, we didn't look for any other chargers and it worked out.  (No extra stops required.  We were able to charge to 100% at our hotel for free, for the big drive home.  We just stopped to charge while we ate and took one charge/pit stop.) Out of curiosity, I just looked up other chargers.  As I expected, there's some gas station chargers along the route.  & we missed a free rest stop charger.  It's another post for another day.  

The trip went as smooth as possible.  Phew!  I really appreciate it.  Because life has been a whirlwind of crazy lately.  And also, the last couple of LA trips I had planned were canceled.  So I feel like it was a miracle we even made it.  Even moreso that it was such a peaceful trip.  But we did have one snafu.  MH's car fob battery died without any warning.  I did not bother to bring my keys, but he did have both our car keys.  So we just switched out the batteries.  Problem solved.  Phew!  

& the drive was absolutely spectacular.  After all the storms, everything is so green and vibrant.  & the beginning of the superblooms, etc.  

The picture above is from a beach near MM's college.  It is one of my happy places.  I had been there several times before, but we hiked in a different direction towards the wildflowers this time.  The landscape was otherwordly at many of these beaches.

Work is...  Ugh!  I don't even know where to begin with that.  This week should have been the hump.  Done with all the tax deadlines and should be quiet the rest of the year.  But I can't get any peace and so I couldn't even get a relaxing weekend before the next very large obstacle.  Another post for another day.  I am more irritated about the timing than anything.  The whole situation is forseeable and overall I feel more prepared now than I ever would have in the past.  So I can appreciate that.  Lord knows *why* the bomb couldn't have just been dropped on my *after* my quiet week off.  Or... why couldn't it just wait another month?  Give me one quiet month before it all goes to heck!? 

{I am taking this week off work.  Because it's the first week I could reasonably do so, ideally without coming back to a mess.}

In other news, MM(19) did not get the RA position.  Decisions came out late, as I mentioned.  It's terrible, as I imagined it would be.  When we visited MM(19) last Friday it sounded like he had a few housing options.  But none of those have panned out.  On the flip side, I had to figure this out alone during my college years (no adults helping me) and so I know it will work out.  I have backup plans for the backup plans.  I mean, I didn't go to school in a college town.  That part is particularly challenging.  But I know worst case, he has to buy a car and will find something further off campus.  (Is not ideal for his school situation, but is what I did and the rent is significantly cheaper this way.)  The RA applicant (parents) have been getting advice from other parents that it will work out, it just won't be ideal.  I *feel* this very much right now, after a week of apartment hunting.  I suppose our other advantage is having money to throw at the problem.  This is just the most out of my comfort zone and wheelhouse, of everything going on right now.  

And...  It's down to the wire with taxes.  I am breaking this out into two posts and will do my more financial post next.  & will get into why I did our taxes so late this year.  But then there's everyone else's taxes.  GMIL's taxes are complicated and terrible.  Because of her scammy brokerage situation.  So I have to wait a long time to make sure I have everything (her 1000 pages of investment 1099s), and then we went to LA last weekend.  & I've been putting out fires every night this week.  So here we are.  I procrastinated most of yesterday but it wasn't as terrible as I remember.  Maybe even finished in a few hours.  Phew!  Have to help her get her taxes paid, but at least her taxes are filed.

& then doing the in-laws' taxes.  This is new this year.  Thankfully, their taxes are easy peasy.  I appreciate that, especially because they have the same scammy broker situation.  But apparently most of that is in IRAs.  Phew!  I am doing their taxes because FIL can no longer handle (dementia).  I really thought I'd put them on extension and never in a million years expected I'd have everything.  But I seem to have everything, by some miracle.  (I think the first time FIL handed me the tax file, it had absolutely no paperwork for 2022 taxes.  & I've been too busy to look at it since whenever he actually gave me the 2022 file.)  It was a lot more work for the first time set up, but these will be easy peasy taxes in the future.

I am waiting to hear back from the in-laws before I finalize.  So unfortunately all this tax stuff is bleeding into my vacation time.  But I can appreciate that 99% of the work is done. 

Edited to add:  Taxes done.  Yay!  I was just feeling cranky about spending Saturday and half of Sunday wrapping up everyone else's taxes.  But I under-estimated how good it would feel to get that done and have literally nothing on my plate for a half day.  Everything else is on "ignore".  I am enjoying vacation mode.

 

March '23 Savings

April 15th, 2023 at 03:06 pm

Received $116 bank interest 

Received $246 I Bond interest 

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

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

--Redeemed $68 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $3 cash back on dining out/gas card 

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $6 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $126 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$955

 

Snowball to Savings/Investments:

+$1,500 MH Income

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  250 to investments

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

-$   315 Misc. Big Purchases

-$2,300  College Tuition 

-$1,000  Tree Trimming 

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  524 Car Maintenance (Hybrid)

-$  330 Dentist (x2)

-$  275 San Francisco Weekend

-$   263 DMV Renewal (Hybrid)

-$    78 Pest Control

-$    42 Backup Battery (VOIP)

 

TOTAL: $566 Deposited to Cash and Investments

 

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

Hybrid Miles Driven:  812

Fuel Costs: $20 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 716

Fuel Costs: $10 (home) + $2 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

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

We did 85 miles of free charging this month.

We did one Bay Area trip.  40 free miles of charging (in-laws' new charger) and $2 charging at a fast charger.  That would have been unnecessary but we left for a test drive and to show the in-laws some things with their new car and didn't want to leave the garage door open.  We have a plastic cord passthrough that we put under our garage door when we charge outside and so I have since bought a couple of more.  Will plan to keep one in MH's car and will give one to the in-laws. 

I suppose we gave the in-laws ~100 miles of charge when they drove up here for St Patty's Day.  I will just consider that a gift.  It's not our driving.  But I will have to ponder how I want to account for that, because I don't want it to skew our electric utility (financial tracking). I'll probably carve out that 100 miles (x kWh rate) as a gift.  Or longer term maybe it will just even out.  

We did also go to a show downtown and got 45 free miles.

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

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

The big expense was trimming several trees in our yard.  Mostly we have one bigger tree and then there is our neighbor's monster tree.  Long overdue to trim that back.  We paid very little last time.  Person I found this round was more expensive, but I think they did a *lot* more work.  I think last time was more "get that tree off my tree" while this guy trimmed everything back to the fence line, including the entire height of neighbor monster tree.  It should last a little bit longer.  

I am in nesting mode.  Does this happen when your kids turn 18?  I couldn't tell you why.  Maybe some combo of having some breather and also feeling flush financially.  Maybe also emerging from a long winter.  It's just a little deja vu to the pregnancy nesting.

We did our last free timeshare stay in February?  Who knows...  MIL has been wishy washy about everything financial, and that is now extending to their timeshares.  At first they told us we could not use for our LA trip this month because they had canceled everything.  But now they want to extend a year.  We were so happy they were wrapping up this timeshare mess (do not want to inherit) and so are not thrilled that they are prolonging.  MH has been very clear about his feelings, but they insist they aren't keeping it for us.  (Lord knows what the actual truth is.)  It's moot for April LA trip because we already made plans.  If not for all this, we would have stayed at the usual free place and done some extra driving.  But we had already wrapped our minds around staying closer to our destination and paying for the hotel.  & because we don't want to encourage them and had very little notice, I expect we will go over our vacation budget this year.  Just mentioning because just one more thing on the $$$$ side.  (We don't have any big plans, but it all adds up a lot faster when you have to pay for every hotel stay.)  

I did not sweep any of MH's income to investments this month.  Hear me out.  My goal is (was) to sweep everything above $1K per month (MH income) into investments.  When I received MH's last check of the month I was preparing to sweep $500 into investments.  Cash is at $7,000 (projected 4/30, after big expenses.  This does not include emergency funds or funds earmarked for college). It was stressing me out more at the beginning of the year (after big mortgage paydown) when cutting it close.  But having $7,000 left after some major expenses...  Things are progressing nicely and I am happy to resume bulking up investments. 

But...  I am pondering a big expense and getting a quote in April.  Will see how that shakes out before I start committing bigger dollars to long-term investments.   Happy to say that investments are increasing rapidly, regardless.  It took me one year to invest $2K (with snowflakes).  It's going much faster with the $250/month we are contributing from my paycheck, plus snowflakes.

2023 is going to be an expensive year.  

This & That

March 22nd, 2023 at 03:59 pm

March is determined to be absurd.  In January I refused to believe that January set the tone for 2023.  That we were going to have another *crazy* year (after the last several crazy years).  But I give up at this point.

My newest employee has been out sick 3 times already this year (once for a whole week) and had her third emergency this week.  This work jinx clearly remains (this is everyone who works for me).  My other employee was hospitalized last weekend.  It's just how it always is.  We just had a few months of peace before newest employee's life went to heck.   I am very burned out, between busy year end stuff and all this constant covering for employees.

My kids are exhausting.  I thought it was supposed to be easier with adult (or almost adult) kids.  😁  MM(19) got jury duty so I helped him to get that postponed.  I had to do a double take because I was sure when I saw the envelope that it was MH or I.  & of course, still no idea MM's housing situation.  Might be scrambling next week to figure it out.  This is the big crazy stressful thing and I will be happy to move past this.  The rest of his college years should be pretty easy once we find him a place to live.  DL(17) has never been my *easy* child, but I do appreciate how much simpler it will be with him going to college close to home.  

We had postponed St Patty's Day dinner to this weekend, when MM is home for spring break.  DL(17) just informed us that the marathon he was planning to do is this weekend.  !!  So MH was supposed to talk to his parents about that.  Hopefully we can just bring them the corned beef and they can host.  The marathon is in their city.  It's the first I heard of it.  But...  I am used to MM(19) being the easy child and taking care of stuff.  Time is flying, the school year is almost over.  This is what DL(17) is doing for his senior project.  Now that he mentions it, yeah, it had to be coming up fast.  It just wasn't on my radar.

Plus we just have a bajillion other things going on.

Last weekend I did move some money out of our mega high interest bank.  It's been at 3% - 3.5% during lower interest years but is no longer competitive.  I expect they will eventually bump up rates but I don't care enough to wait around or keep the account open indefinitely.  For now I moved most of the money back to Ally (4.0%) and will happily close the other bank account if they don't bump up rates in the next few months.  Will give it a little time, but would mostly be happy to have less banks to keep track of.

MM(19) is coming home for spring break next week.  It's basically a repeat of his last spring break.  Taxes, dental cleaning, internship interviews, etc.  A real chore week.   He's got some money piling up not earning anything and so I will recommend that he open up an Ally account.  Or maybe he would just be happy to put some cash at Fidelity.  Will give him some options to consider.  He still has some Ally account (with a $0 balance, that I asked them to close some years ago).  It's been a nightmare to get some of his minor accounts moved over (Fidelity was very difficult, but it's done.)  So is some of why I want to tend to this while he is on break.  In case Ally makes it difficult.  

MM(19) has $3,000+ that should be earning some interest.

I had a comment about interest on my last post.  I bought more I Bonds earlier this year, so interest should continue to bump up.  & waiting another month to see what 12-month I Bond interest is compared to other options.  I have another $20,000 I can dump into I Bonds.  

I had a good declutter streak last weekend.  Listed some odds and ends on Craigslist and they were gone within 24 hours.  Also have a charity coming by for a pickup.  I missed the last pickup.  I have accumulated two bags of stuff.  All of the above had been set aside at some point.  I just hadn't gotten around to the last step of disposal.  

MH shipped some books to some family that was struggling and that misses the ability to buy books.  $37 to ship a pile of books he got for free.  Some part of me is, "Meh, that's what the library is for."  Lord knows no one ever bought me any books.  Which is probably why I am more than happy to just utilize the library and not clutter up my home. (Is just how I am used to reading books.) But with all the free scholastic books we got when our kids were little, I also don't mind paying it forward.  I mean, ask me again how often this happens.  (I expect MH had a little sticker shock at the post office.) In the meantime, I am happy to have that pile of books gone.  I took some to work for my coworkers to sift through and MH shipped the rest.  (MH had gotten all the books for free because they were "damaged."  90% of them had no visible damage, or nothing anyone would care about.)

Feb '23 Savings

March 18th, 2023 at 02:24 pm

Received $127 bank interest for the month of February.

Received $246 I Bond interest for the month of February.

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $35 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $108 cash back on Citi card

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

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $9 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $162 Snowflakes to Investments

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$1,250 MH Income

-$  945 Replaced Tires

-$  400 Over Spending

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$940

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  250 to investments

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

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

+$  222 Insurance Rebate 

-$1,380 Various Insurance

-$  410 Vacation Expenses (beach weekend/college drop-off)

-$  160 Dentist 

-$    80 Misc.

 

TOTAL: $2,322 Deposited to Cash and Investments

 

Pulled from Gifted College Funds

-$4,300 

 

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Hybrid Miles Driven:  699

Fuel Costs: $14 Electricity + $8 (Gas)

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

We drove my car to San Francisco.  We decided to use up the gas that MH had put in the gas tank for the Oregon trip.  (We ended up with two Oregon trips canceled due to weather).  But the tank got so low, we did put a couple of gallons in when we got home.  I like to keep 3 gallons in the tank.  This should last me an entire year. 

In March I forgot to charge once and it's been crazy cold, so we put some more gas in the tank (will see in March update).  It was probably more the cold.  (I took the EV to work when I realized I had forgotten to charge.  Not worth going to a gas station *and* wasting an extra $5 on my commute.) 

Week of 3/13:  The cold is backing off.  Instead of needing to burn through a few miles of gas to get home, I am now getting home with 10 miles electric range left.  I feel like the car is over estimating at this point.  But 70F degrees and sun is more optimal for the battery.  

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 1,146

Fuel Costs: $14 (home) + $5 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

Most charging (both cars) was done at home.

MH went to the Bay Area to help his parents look at cars and visited his grandmother.  He did a lot of driving around and spent $5 at a fast charger.   Went to the Bay Area another weekend to work on a movie.  He did not need to stop and charge on that shorter trip.

With warmer temps, switching back to EV tires (both contributing to longer electric range), and the in-laws having a charger at their house now.  We may be done with the bulk of our "out and about" charging.  

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

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

My first impression of January spending (paid for in February)?  Ugh!  But I am letting it go.  We were clearly feeling flush with cash and did dome splurging (after the Holidays).  To the point I was about to subtract from January savings.  But I had already transferred MH's January paychecks into savings.  So I will just leave it be and will save less in February.  & I mean, MH received a $100 check for his birthday and we did a $100+ dinner out.  Then I put the birthday check into savings.  Duh.  (The overall theme is that I was too quick with dumping every extra penny into savings.)

Sometimes I scratch my head when things are really out of balance.  But it's very clear and obvious this month.  When I add up all the extras, it adds up to $400.  MH spent $145.  At this point he's probably contributed more than we received for crowdfunding.  He's still feeling generous on that front (paying it forward).  I spent $60 on gifts for MH's birthday.  We haven't exchanged gifts in ~20 years, but I didn't think the kids were getting him anything and it felt appropriate to buy him a gift.  Gifting is something we may resume (on some level) with adult kids and both of us working.  It probably won't be all the time, but it will be more than "never".  Misc. $186.  Stuff like a school donation, replaced toothbrush heads, toll refill, annual backup expense, etc.  A lot of this is more what I'd usually put to short-term expenses, but we ran through short-term early on last year.  I am a little reluctant to pile up the misc. in months while MH is working.  Would rather save short-term space for one-income summer months. But I am also reluctant to bump up the ST savings because I expect some expenses to fall off soon.   

That pretty much sums up over-spending.  We used our "breathing room" to do a little extra dining out.  Everything else is accounted for above or is a fixed monthly bill.  Or I guess I should say that the rest is within fixed monthly budget (things like groceries).

The college fund note is in regard to kids' money.  But that money is in our name and I include it in our net worth.  So it will continue to be a drain on our own assets, as we draw down those funds for college expenses.  


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