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Summer Doings

June 23rd, 2017 at 06:53 am

For the first 10 days of summer break, we have absolutely nothing planned. It's a sweet relief after a long/trying school year.

Actually, most of our summer looks like this. We aren't big on filling up our schedule, but the kids' summers are so short and sometimes it fills up very quickly, regardless. So, we are ALL happy to have a very slow summer planned. We will break up the peace and quiet with our annual camping trip and then birthday festivities for the kids.

In addition to just soaking in the peace and quiet, we've also blown all our "fun" money on our trip abroad. So doesn't leave much else. Extra motivation to keep it low key. We have plenty of frugal/FUN things to do, and so I feel very *shrugs* about this part. For example, going to the pool or the beach.

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MH and MM went to a free movie yesterday. We've been having a heat wave and usually they make you line up outside (for free advanced screenings). But in the end, they let them line up inside yesterday. Phew! (MH had gone to another movie on Monday and he had waited outside in the heat. It was another theater).

{The movie they saw last night was "Baby Driver". MH said it was really good and he is telling everyone because the general reaction is that the name of the movie sounds stupid, and no one's heard of it. Even among his movie friends}.

MH did make it into one free movie screening (a few weeks ago) that was really meant for college students. I didn't go because I didn't think we'd get in, and didn't want to waste my time. In the end, the movie was really good and he got tickets for a more normal (all ages) screening next week. So we are all going to see that movie.

Yeah, pretty much MH sees *every* movie before it even comes out. You see why I am not concerned about our lack of "fun money". Wink

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Over the weekend I decided to order some shoes and swim suits.

It's mostly impossible to find shoes that fit my feet, but I found a pair that feel like sneakers and double as casual or work shoes. I bought like 3 pairs of that shoe. So I have probably been good for a while. (That was a few years ago, and I bought a couple of extra pairs that I have yet to wear).

{I was amused when someone at work complimented me this week on my shoes. I've worn them every day for YEARS. I just chuckled to myself how people don't notice these things. Realizing this, goes a long way to saving space and money}.

I am just trying to replace a flat shoe that I have, and I see the same shoe but can't find them in a wide size now. *sigh* I decided that I don't remember ever shopping flats at Zappos so I gave it a try. (Several days later, I've returned them all. A couple fit but just weren't right. One was close and I might try double wide on that brand).

For whatever reason, this reminded me that I really want to replace my swimsuit too. I don't remember when I bought it, but I know I had it 2010 when I went to Hawaii. It's fine, but starting to fray a bit. (I've tried to buy another swimsuit at some point, but have yet to find something).

Anyway, I checked Bealls of Florida and they had some suits on sale in the $10 range. Like really nice swimsuits. So I just bought up a bunch. Something will have to work. & I bought a couple of more expensive ones also. (I only plan to keep one).

So... I told MH that I had just spent $400. He didn't bat an eye. He says, "Yeah, how much are you going to return?"

Well I already returned $260 in shoes; the entire freaking order. He knows me too well. Big Grin

Edited to add: I am reviewing the June spending today. Apparently I haven't bought anything for myself since the beginning of February. Replacing worn out shoes and swimsuits, I'd probably put under "clothing" versus "personal spending". But regardless, I have spent $0 on clothing this year AND $0 for personal spending (before these purchases).

OT Update

April 24th, 2017 at 06:09 am

**Work has been totally crazy and will be for a while. On the plus side, I did get my annual OT payout.

I do have $3,000 to throw at the mortgage, which is my minimum annual OT goal.

**I did also pay off the TV with my OT check.

My husband was so aggravated with the store he bought the TV from. He had negotiated at several stores, trying to see how much wiggle room he could get on price. & settled on one store that we buy most our electronics from. Since he was haggling, they told him to just buy it on an installment plan. Not the right thing to say to my husband. He was PISSED. He told me about that later. He said, "Who on earth buys a TV on credit?!" Um, just about everyone?? He just has no clue. He's a "debt = hair on fire emergency" type, so he was just completely dumbfounded by the suggestion, and aggravated that they were trying to sell him a payment plan to "save money." Rolleyes

{In case I wasn't clear, their whole sales pitch was, "Who cares how much it cost? Just throw it on credit!" We chose to *care* and to negotiate the price down.}

Even though I am well aware that most people put this kind of stuff on credit, I suppose it often doesn't register. I wondered aloud in a recent blog post why people would pay full retail price for these type things. When wondering that, I Was presuming everyone pays cash. It's not always front of mind how "weird" we are. I guess it makes a little more sense if I step back and realize that most these sales are made on credit.

Spring Break & A Splurge

April 13th, 2017 at 10:21 pm

No spring break for me. I am looking forward to April 15th, as to lessening my work load a wee bit. But it's going to be pretty busy for another 2 months or so. *sigh* It's probably optimistic to think that I will get a breather at all.

But, the kids have spring break. MM(13) is on the east coast right now. He will be back today and has two full weeks off of school. Other than this super big trip, he's just going to have to chill out at home.

DL(11) is spending the week with grandparents. With him, it just depends on the day. I wouldn't have been surprised if he refused to go or if he came home early. But he was super excited about being gone all week and spending time with extended family. Is nothing I would have ever guessed in a million years. But, I guess he really enjoyed his last couple of spring breaks (alone with grandparents). & he was in a super good mood the day he left. So, phew!

MH also has a couple of days off of work. I am sure he has been sulking at home a bit because I am so busy.

In the end we did go to a free advanced movie screening. MH goes on average about once a week, but I've never gone without the kids. I have just gone to a couple of animated/family movies on the weekends. You have to get there so early that it's not really ideal on a weeknight, and means leaving the kids several hours. In addition, they don't want you using your phones at all (though I'd want to be reachable if the kids needed anything). So it's just complicated.

Anyway, when I went to the other two screenings it was a very cool experience. Just a really cool crowd. I thought maybe it was the kind of adults who wanted to see kids movies so didn't think too much about it. Just that it was a really fun crowd. But Tuesday night we saw Gifted (which is way better than I expected it would be - I had low expectations). & it was the same kind of crowd. I don't know what it is, but they attract a happy crowd. So it was a really fun night.

Last night, MH made a nice dinner for just the two of us.

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MH did also buy a new TV while the kids were gone. I'd say the stars aligned, with a sale. Actually, we were talking about it and then it went on sale even further after we decided mostly against it. So I changed my mind. I am hopeful that this ends the revolving door of TVs. It's frustrating because my hubby has exhaustively researched every HDTV we have owned, but they have all been pieces of crap. This one is a high-end TV at the same price point (prices are endlessly dropping) and is a different kind of display, so we are hopeful about it. I suppose I was pushing for it because of the price. I don't want to spend more on something we aren't happy with. I can live with this one if it ends up in the "another piece of crap" pile.

They were clearing out last year's models. It amazes me that people would pay 2-3 times as much for something because they couldn't wait 12 months for the price to drop. ??? & I mean, paying full price would have been absurd. There's a couple of electronics purchases I recall my husband doing in the past where he was sure the sales price was a typo. The prices were so unbelievably low. I share because this is how you have your cake and eat it too.

2017 is shaping up to be a year of "taking advantage of opportunities," on the spending front.

2016 Spending & 2017 Vacation Plans

January 1st, 2017 at 06:45 am

In the end, it looks like we spent within $90 of what we spent in 2015, for total household spending. I mentioned in my last post that we are VERY consistent.

{Edited to add: Um... The kids owe me like $60 for Christmas gifts that they bought. MH was settling up with them yesterday. Once I settle up with them, I think our spending will be within $30 of the prior year. That is just CRAZY!}

Here are top 5 expenses and bottom 5 expenses for last 2 years:


NOTE: Edited to Top 6, to capture big expenses. All other expenses were $2,000 or below.

I highlighted the vacation spending because we aren't big vacation spenders and these are very one-off type expenses. Our annual budget is only $2,000 for vacation, and is more in the realm of what I foresee spending the next several years.

On the mortgage, we made an extra payment (or two?) versus last year. We should be under the $7,000 mark on mortgage interest in the future. This is one of those expenses that is snowballing downward very rapidly.

Auto expenses include repairs/maintenance, insurance, registration, fuel. (We pay cash for cars; no car payments). You might presume that our auto expenses were down because we now have a newer vehicle. But our repair spending in 2016 was $0 on our 2005 minivan. In contrast, the 2013 vehicle needed a new battery and new tires. (We replaced the crappy/cheap stock tires, and the battery died prematurely).

{I do have details on the autos, and I also track expenses per vehicle. For 2016: $1944 fuel, $1800 insurance, $278 registration, $803 repairs/maintenance}.

Medical expenses are insane, but our insurance has covered almost seven figures in medical procedures for my husband (before age 40). So, at least I know we get our money's worth, and it's very important for us to have high quality insurance. I am sure given different circumstances we would have just gone "cheap". It's been our biggest expense for several years, so is nothing new. It's been our biggest challenge with *one income* living, but we live so far below our means that we have been able to deal with it. But I know it's so glaring that I should address.

**I have not included income taxes because is not a big expense for us.**

The interesting thing about our lowest expenses is that it tends to be our more luxury spending. I am sure I have said it a million times before, but will say it again. We don't do without. We just are careful and rein in costs, and shop around. & prioritize what is the most important. So most of our "luxury" type spending ends up towards the bottom.

The only reason we paid any childcare in 2015 is that our carpools were flakey and they'd forget to pick up our kids (and their own kids too). *sigh* Our attitude for 2016 was to just take care of it ourselves. I am sure this is reflected in additional driving (A LOT), but gas has generally been cheaper this year.

Haircuts went up substantially because MM(13) is suddenly interested in a short hairstyle.

Vet care - we learned that our vet is cheap when it comes to shots.

I did notice that our telephone expenses (not listed) more than doubled. It was one of the more noticeable changes, since everything else was so consistent. We just didn't get as many Ting referrals (discounts) in 2016. So we paid $300 for landline + cell phone service for 2015. We paid closer to $700 in 2016. This included adding cell service for DL(11) the last couple of months. Both years we just paid for my parents during the last 6 months of the year. We are going to add MM(13) to cell plan this summer. So, should be an additional $144 per year, for the long run, with the two new lines. (It's only $6/month to add a line to Ting). I don't expect the kids will use much data/texting. They've had smart phones for years, so they are used to seeking out free wifi. I think we will probably just cover this bill for my parents. We used to split 50/50, but now it's going to be more 66/33. & we seem to use more data which is why we just tell my parents not to reimburse us for the second half of the year. Maybe I should just ask them to cover their $144 per year for the additional lines. As long as their usage remains low, we will just cover the rest. I think this sounds like a good compromise, since I don't know that we need to be subsidizing my parents' phone bills. But maybe $144 is a good compromise where we don't have to try to divide the bill as it gets more complicated. That's just their obvious "share" of the bill. You pay per line and then it's a flat amount for all the data, text and minutes that you use for that month (as a group). Even the first line is just $6/month.

I expect our total expenses to be about the same for the next couple of years. We have some home maintenance ($$$$) to tend to. Starting to talk braces for both kids. So stuff like that will probably replace our recent vacation spending. These are things we also want to take care of while our income is high and before our kids start college.

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While discussing vacation spending, I want to jot down some notes on that.

2017 Vacation Plans:

I really want to do a National Park vacation. It will have to be without the kids. Aiming for fall. I am thinking more frugal road trip. I don't even know if we'd spend $500 on something like this. So it's like my "Dream vacation" for the moment, but is nothing that is a big financial drain. Grand Canyon is at the top of the list.

MH has plans to go to Florida for his Grandpa's 90th birthday. It's in the fall; the kids and I won't be able to go. So it just works out. (I do not want to go, so it really works out!) That will be with his family, so I expect our only expense will be airfare, which should not be much.

My dad was making plans to river raft down the grand canyon with my son. He told me on Thanksgiving that he would cover the costs and would expect us to pay for airfare. I think that's fine and reasonable. (Though our vacation spending has been insane, I have just been trying to go with the flow, not knowing how this trip would shake out. Time like this, with Grandparents, is just too priceless). As our parents get more financially comfortable, they invite us on trips less often that they expect *us* to pay for. (They also give us more cash, which we set aside for these type things. Is why I often say that "the Grandparents are paying for it," whether they realize or not). Since it was domestic, I just went with it. In the end the trip sounds quite expensive (more than I would have thought), but I believe that my dad will follow through on paying for it. Anyway, we weren't sure if it might be too late to reserve for summer and I mentioned that MM(13) will get out of school the following year on May 31st. No more of this crazy "short summer" stuff, for him. So my dad told me yesterday that the more he thought about it the more appealing it sounded June 1 versus mid-July. It would be just so crazy hot in July. I think it's probably best all around to push that off. MM has his big school DC trip this spring. So this will space out his big trips a bit. Heck, maybe I will try to tag along if they wait another year. I just couldn't even think about it with my broken foot. That gives me time to save up too. (If this seems feasible, I suppose that MH and I would consider visiting Yellowstone instead, in 2017. We will start making decisions this summer).

2016 Stats

May 15th, 2016 at 06:46 am

I wanted to do a reality check on our spending for this year. I just had to spend a minute or two running reports in Quicken to gleam the following.

2016 Stats through April 30th:

--Spending is $15,580 for 1/3 of the year.

This is $3,132 less spending than same time frame last year.

Major difference is that we paid $3k for Japan trip in spring 2015.

I'd say we are pretty consistent. The Japan trip was clearly a one-off.

One thing I was concerned about is if we were justifying more spending with dh working. I'd say the answer is no.

In fact...

--Gross Income is up a mere $326. Versus the same time period last year.

Factoring taxes, I'd say our net income is lower.

Is dh working for the money? Clearly no.

{I made less OT money and didn't chase as many credit card type rewards}.

Other Stats:

--Net Worth is up $20,000, from January 1.

--If we paid off our mortgage today we'd have $125,000 left in savings/investments.

I think we have crossed the line to feasible. This would leave our Traditional IRAs and kids' college money (gifted) intact.

Is not something we will consider until we can do so without raiding our ROTHS. But, we are getting there... It's starting to snowball down the hill. We went from $0 to $125k in just 3 years, and that should just continue to accelerate.