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January Reset

January 19th, 2020 at 03:00 pm

Knock on wood, but the year is going well so far. More peace and quiet than I remember in *forever*.

I can't tell you what I am doing with this latest reset. Crossing my fingers that the tornado around me loses some steam? I'm trying to be more assertive with work hours? But... this only works when everyone isn't out with some emergency or other.

{I can't imagine what else I could possibly do within my realm of control. Which is why I am just at the point of crossing my fingers}.

MH has the month off, so I expect this is contributing to the peace.

I did "fire" one of my side clients. The feeling is mutual and it is all good. This leaves me with one remaining client. I am more than ready to move on and will be rid of them soon. But the workload is just about an hour a month, so I can give it a little more time. 12/31 is my hard deadline, not wanting to drag any more red tape into 2021.

Of course, *the* most exciting thing is that I am enjoying my first tax season off in 20 years. πŸŽˆπŸŽ‰πŸŽˆ I always worked several jobs in my teen/college years. Post college I have always had a busy/OT season. So... I have started semi-semi-retirement? Was a step down that I wasn't particularly planning or expecting.

A couple of weekends ago MH went to the Bay Area to help his parents with some things. I was not up to it whatsoever.

Last weekend we hosted a game night. In the spirit of trying to get out of "reactive" mode (just reacting to everything that is going on), this was our attempt to do something more proactive. When talking about it, we were pretty set on just setting a time every month with "no excuses". So when it turned out that MH already had a commitment on our first game night, I told him not to worry about it. & then I remembered why I never invite any adults anywhere, because they have to plan 90 days in advance or whatever. πŸ™„ Then MM(16) wasn't feeling well. But DL(14) pulled it through. He's definitely the most social and has always had a big group of friends. The played a lively game of Diplomacy. (I really didn't think anyone would play that with him. But the art school kids seem to embrace some of this stuff from a more theatrical standpoint). All I did was cook and clean all day Saturday (so behind on the house, and MH wasn't here to even run to the grocery store for me). But it was most definitely worth it. I enjoyed taking all that "work" energy of decades past (usually working Saturdays) and channeling it into my family and friends.

This weekend has been more of the same. I had an opportunity to do some unique charity work, so that was my big commitment this weekend. It was exhausting, but very rewarding. We also hosted all of our parents Friday night; DL(14) had another band concert. I am enjoying having the time for different things.

MH and I are going to Napa on another weekend. It sounds absolutely divine. It's such a short drive and we usually keep it very low key. Will probably do one nice dinner out and a hike. But MH's birthday is this month and I usually take off a weekend for that. So that will be more in the realm of our normal. I suppose it will be nice not having to cram and worry if I can really manage a Saturday off.

I do have a mountain of bad news, but it's sad to say that it doesn't feel like much because the pace has slowed considerably. Phew! I even made some comment a couple of days ago that 2020 was off to a much better start and MH looked at me like I was crazy. Fair enough, but these things are relative. His Grandma is very sick and we are worried about her. My Dad is going in for a biopsy next month. Etc., etc.

Edited to add: Things took a turn, back to emergency mode. We are rushing off to the Bay Area today because MH is so concerned about his Grandma. I am horrified by the idea of bothering her or bringing more germs, but it's what he needs to do so I will support him. (The kids and I will let her rest). I am still very grateful we had two weeks of calm and peace, before diving into the latest emergency. I think she will probably be fine. Her attitude has always been, "My arm is falling off? It's just a flesh wound." After hearing from "always completely hysterical in a medical situation" MIL we did skype GMIL and we both felt immensely better. She is clearly fine and shrugging it off. But we are being cautious because she is a 95yo with pneumonia.

This & That

November 4th, 2019 at 01:56 pm

Trying this again. Hoping for a slightly calmer month? Absolutely not holding my breath.

I spent most of September trying to make headway on the household/chore front, digging out of a very big hole. October I got caught up on my professional education. Phew! I was more motivated on the work/professional front, so am circling back to household chores. Plus, I suppose this one reason I despise housework. You just get to do it all over again.

My initial plan was to have a very light load in November/December, and is why I hit things so hard the last 2 months. Will see... "Very light" was clearly way too optimistic, but relatively it will be nice not to have 1,000 things To-Do + 1,000 things I am behind on. I am getting more caught up on the "life" front, in general.

The last big nasty chore on my list is to go to the DMV this week. Ugh! Maybe I will feel much better after that.

Yesterday we made butternut squash soup. Yum!

MH and MM(16) went to the movies to see JoJo Rabbit. They said it was great. It's $7 per ticket for first showings at the arthouse cinema. So they spent $14 there.

I mostly alternated between napping, major house chores, and crossing seemingly infinite little things off my list.

In other news, I asked for a 16% raise and got an okay, *shrugs*. 😁 I am so relieved that we are on the same page. It's not official/final or anything like that so I will hold off on a bigger post about it when I have more details. But I have never in my life (before) gone 13 months without a raise. Though my employer clearly compensates very generously... They skipped mid-year-bonuses, never gave me the mid-year raise we discussed last year, etc. I was starting to get really frustrated wondering if I was crazy or what. But I had my performance review and it was stellar. I had absolutely never discussed my prior salary before, so it was clearly now or never. I expected far more negotiation and just led with my prior salary. (Certainly not expecting that, as this is a much easier position, and I also have some other new compensation besides salary). My "head honcho" boss didn't skip a beat and said, "We will take care of you." & I know he takes care of his employees, so that was all I needed to hear. I feel like I am mostly out of limbo and relieved that we are all on the same page.

I am sure I could have pushed farther for a more immediate raise, but I am clearly much more concerned about the long-term than the short-term. They are also very generous with bonuses (something I have never even had before) so I get the sense that I probably created some first world problems for myself. If I potentially just turned 2019 from a "lower income year" into the "highest income year" (with all the side work I did this year to make up lost income). Will have some financial/tax planning to do when this sorts out. It will sort out this month.

Quick Update

September 15th, 2016 at 01:52 pm

September has definitely not been my month. It's just been one bad thing after another. I wouldn't even know where to begin.

Regardless of everything else, it's been very high stress because Drama Llama(11) is having a really rough time. There is definitely an element of mental health issues and I suspect these are just the first steps down a very long road.

For now, every thing about our "fairly easy" child is very difficult. I've never had to micromanage his homework before. (I mean, like we never help him at all or pay any attention to that because he is very responsible). He's never had problem sleeping in his own bed before. We've never had any problems leaving him for a date or whatever. Honestly, it's very deja vu to the baby years. Just tons of work and really no idea what we are doing. But figuring it as we go along. Very "one day at a time".

Given family history, none of this is a surprise. I just have no frame of reference of getting help so young, because in the past was so taboo and/or most in my family are too stubborn to get any help. (e.g. My mom got help in her 40s). I think some of it is that he isn't a stubborn type (thank goodness!) and some of it is we've always talked very openly about these things with our kids. We wouldn't want them to hold in feelings of wanting to harm themselves. He is very open to any help that we can get him.

For now, just surviving.

Triple Dip & This & That

September 29th, 2013 at 01:36 pm

**Dh got his *triple drip* credit card and the points are already showing up for us. Wahoo! Citi - because Citi really really wants him.

I charged $1,000 to our health insurer a few days ago (which included maybe $100 for next month) and I just logged in to check the charge. The statement had closed and the points were there. Dh has to call and redeem for a check to our mortgage company. I read you can just deposit these checks to your bank - and our primary checking account is also with our mortgage holder. Nothing to lose with just trying to deposit it.

**Closed some old credit union accounts - got all our money moved around.

**Dh finally returned his old (broken) phone to Sprint. I figured he might get something. He got $10.

Reminds me, no 4G yet. Dh called to complain again (our credits ran out) and they acted like he had to call back next month. I just sent him the bill that showed that we paid full price for *last* month. So he knows when he calls back to ask for at least 2 months of credit. {I think they saw the other $10 credit and that might have confused them}. The short story is they have been telling us for 18 months that we will get 4G "any second." In the meantime, we barely get even like 1/10 their advertised speeds. It's horrid. They gave us "40% off" the last 4 months and basically said they will do that until we get 4G. But that we would have to check back after 4 months. I have been snowflaking those credits to the mortgage, and will continue to do so when the credits materialize again.

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We acheived a low-spend month on the discretionary spending this month. I can't believe it's already the 29th!! It's been very "tax season" like. Working working working, earning, earning, earning - certainly no time to spend any money.

I was just peeking and we spent $136 on gas this month, and $500 on groceries. & we are done for this month. $500 is right on budget, but included a huge food stock up for our road trip (next month). So, I am pleased with that. Going under this month (stocking up ahead) buys us a little more wiggle room for next month. & November will be another easy month to scale back. Short month, and I will be working tons. We usually budget $300 for gas, but that is usually a worse case month and the only place we really have any room for misc. spending. Still, we probably usually spend around $200. Obviously the carpool is working out well and helping. We are probably driving more than last year (for school) but not a lot.

That said, everything else has completely gone to heck. Still is. It never ends this year. So I can't really boast a true "low-spend" month. Just relieved we were cheap enough to buy us some wiggle room.

We also splurged this week on a night out. It was our 13 year wedding anniversary, and we had a great night out!! A new restaurant in our neighborhood was *divine* and overall pretty reasonable, but we ended up spending way more on daycare than planned. So, a $70 night out. Which I don't think either of us would have particularly planned. But, we got saved by the bell. Grandma sent us a $70 check for our anniversary. Very nice!! Big Grin So I am definitely glad we splurged. That date always seem to be charmed for us.

We'd have probably just gone out to lunch, but we had a free hour of childcare, and if we didn't use the place we would lose our registration. Which I was fine with, but dh really wanted to go out and figured it wouldn't hurt to keep our registration there. (Though we mostly have not used the drop-in place for 2 years). We both weren't thinking - only one of the kids had a free hour - and dh had also told them they could eat there (which cost more). So, ugh. Turned into an expensive night!

Oh, but the kids need all sorts of dental work. The extra tooth that LM has and we were told is "no problem" for the last 5 or so years? *This week* an extra permanent tooth showed up on his x-rays. Oy vey!! (I don't know how rare or common that is - but they never told us that was a possibility - seems rare talking to others who had extra baby teeth. They just so confidently told us all along not to worry about it). BM also has some problems. Lots of tooth pulling, and just crossing my fingers that is all. *sigh*

Anyway, so how is that for mixed money news? It's all good and bad and seems to even out in the middle.

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I didn't finish or publish this post yesterday so have more to add:

**I got a Free $10 coupon from Kohls ($10 minimum purchase) after griping I haven't gotten one in *forever.* Yay!!

**Will not be able to redeem any rewards to ROTH this month because have not been using that card at all. Our credit union is giving us 2% back for another month (& rather support the credit union and use a visa).

But, earned $40 in the CU visa (gets redeemed in January) We usually barely use the card and the rewards don't usually amount to a ton - so the "once a year redemption" is usually not a big deal. At least they ran this promotion at the end of the year...

I was able to redeem $25 on our American Express (added it to next mortgage payment).

**If I add $165-ish to our next mortgage payment, we will dip below $190k. The mortgage has been of extreme low priority because this year has been so crazy expensive (home repairs mostly). BUT, I think I can scrounge up $165 for that psychological milestone.

More Purging

September 24th, 2013 at 04:03 am

**They switched our recycle pickup back to "every other week". Trash pickup is every week. We barely ever have anything in our trash can, and every other week is fine for the recycles. But, everyone keeps going on and on and on about hor horrible this schedule is and they have to throw away so much recyleables. OR that there is not enough room for their trash and recycle any more.

We have four in our household (plus a pet) and we paid for the smallest bins. You got me! IT just makes me wonder what on earth people are buying and how wasteful they are being. ??? {Of course everyone is dirt broke, but have not embraced the idea of less consumption}.

**I noticed a kids' toy in the purge pile and asked dh if I had missed it last time. (Everything else is to be sold, or was already donated). He told me that he just had pulled it from one of the kids' rooms. I looked up the most recent charity pickup bag I had, and it was for today, so I set it out. It was a fairly large toy. Dh also mentioned he had a box of books, and this charity takes books. So, phew! (He had taken them probably more than once on "used book sales" rounds - just the crap that no one wants). I wouldn't be surprised if they toss some of these books, but will let them make that decision. Some of them should be useful for the charity.

I actually found another couple of out-dated toys and added them to the pile. So it was a nice and unexpected purge.

**I found a few activity books and forgotten reading books in one of the kids' rooms. I am sure there are infinitely more laying around. I put them all in a pile for our road trip. We will have to go through and narrow them down.

I have also printed out some activities. For example, a US Map with an image of every state license plate. Seems to be up-to-date, so will be interesting and educational for the kids to keep an eye out for license plates. I printed out some plexers (because they love those) and am going to make my own silly "I Spy" list - I found some funny ideas and just wanted to make my own. It probably won't be very fancy looking, but it will entertain.

Lord knows dh has the electronics covered. Will have podcasts and books on tape and video games and yadda yadda, also. I think we will be good.

As to not be a complete fuddy duddy, I ordered a couple of treats for the kids. Amazon. I will admit probably could have done without, but I was looking up "frugal" travel ideas and got sucked in on some purchases. Probably not the kind of frugal I was expecting. But, whatever. One thing I bought was window markers, which the kids didn't seem that excited about - maybe that will entertain ME. I need something to. I can't drive the whole way. (I usually like to mostly drive, but I think this will be a bit much - for like 10 days of driving). Another interesting suggestion I saw was pipe cleaners. Not messy at all, but the kids can make things with them. I LOVED that idea. & while on Amazon I saw a $7 game that looked perfect. Not that we don't have enough games, but something new and different to mix it up a bit.

**I am just trying to spend an hour or two every weekend working on the planning stages for this trip. Then it doesn't feel overwhelming or like a lot of work, but I feel like we probably got everything fairly well organized. Dh was going to pick up snacks and food for the car. I am in charge of water and drinks. (Since he doesn't do soda or juice - figured I'd better pick that stuff up if I want the rest of us to be happy).

Today I picked up the kids after work, so I took them to Walgreens to pick up some gallon water hugs (could use the man power). I have two jugs from when the water pipe broke in our house and we bought 3 more today. I am thinking more for emergency purposes. Honestly, we should probably always keep a jug in the car.

**Oh, and while decluttering a bit, dh threw some boxes in the van. We have a recycle dumpster at work, which comes in handy at times. The house is looking much nicer. I really only de-cluttered cabinets and so on - but the thing is so much stuff has been laying around the house waiting to be purged. & now it is all gone! Aaaaaahhhhhh...

**Dh tried a tip he heard a while back - tried to renew my vehicle registration at AAA, to receive new registration immediately. I did not want to renew before our trip, because didn't want anything important in the mail while we are gone. So he told me he could just get it for me. He could not execute this transaction since they only took cash or checks. He will go back next week. It is "on the way" for him on Mondays.

This will be my 12th check to write this year. Oy vey!!! I am trying to go checkless, and am mostly succeeding. It's all the unusual stuff that gets me.

Some Interesting Articles

September 19th, 2013 at 01:27 pm

I came across a few random interesting articles the last couple of days.

How the Traditional β€œRules” of Frugal Living Often Vastly Undervalue Time

Text is http://www.thesimpledollar.com/how-the-traditional-rules-of-frugal-living-often-vastly-undervalue-time/ and Link is
http://www.thesimpledollar.com/how-the-traditional-rules-of-...

This article I did not like at all, but was worth sharing. To me, this is the *perception* of frugality. I have always found it ironic that being frugal buys us infinitely more time. So, my real experience is generally very opposite of the perception.

The main example in this article is car buying. & mentions that buying a clunker means buying a $2,000 car every 30,000 miles. & then goes on what a PITA it is to buy a car. Seriously!?!

Reality: I've owned some clunkers and we have only bought used cars, but we on average keep our cars far longer than any non-frugal type. I did pay $1,000 once for a car I drove for 7 years. You could argue I got lucky, but we paid just under $8,000 for dh's car (almost new), are 12 years in, and will easily keep for 20 years. If it is not totaled, we will keep it for 20 years.

I've watched everyone I know who snidely told me, "I buy new so it lasts longer" replace their cars once or twice in that time. Plus, they can never actually afford to keep their cars in good repair. So, in the end, not only are we buying less cars, but they seem to be more reliable and in better working order. I think almost everyone I know had no A/C in their car during a brutal summer with a very small kid or baby. Honestly, I would be concerned about the physical safety of that situation. But, you know, I am the cheap one! Rolleyes

So, yeah, I just happened to randomly come across this article and had to comment.

I know a lot of frugal people, and even a lot of *extreme frugal* types, and none of them are buying a car every 30,000 miles. That is just dumb. This is maybe what you do when you have no other choice. If you are frugal, you are saving your pennies to buy a better car next time. {The vast majority of frugal types that I know buy one car - used or new - every 15 or 20 years. We bough old clunkers when we were 16, and then saved up to buy replacement cars that lasted much longer. The "clunker" concept is for when just starting out. It is not a long-term car plan. Likewise, the point is to buy a reliable car that just maybe isn't very pretty. Not sure we have ever owned a true clunker. Just some older and less pretty cars - very reliable though!}.

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Subsidizing Spouses

Text is http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/16/subsidizing-spouses/?_r=0 and Link is
http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/16/subsidizing-spo...

I just came across this economics blogger and found her articles very interesting.

"Our public policies contradict one another, stigmatizing unmarried parents who lack paid employment as lazy bums (and enforcing stiff paid work requirements) but subsidizing married persons who specialize in family care, especially if they are married to high earners."

Read her articles and the comments, and just a lot to think about. I am glad I stumbled across this writer.

I think this is also another case of perception versus reality - when it comes to the part of the article that I quoted. Lord knows many people have never had anything nice to say about the idea of either someone like my mom or my husband staying home with the kids. But, at the end of the day, there are significant benefits to this type arrangement. & we are well aware of the benefits that we are reaping. Lord knows perceptions never seem to have anything to do with the reality, in this case.

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Why So Many People Fail at Becoming Debt Free

Text is http://www.frugalrules.com/people-fail-becoming-debt-free/ and Link is
http://www.frugalrules.com/people-fail-becoming-debt-free/

Anyone concerned about becoming debt-free should read this article.

" Lack of Vision

This is likely one of the most important parts of a successful journey to living debt free. Whereas a good understanding of your debt will motivate you through fear, a good vision of your life without debt will motivate you through excitement."


Maybe some of the rest of this article are more obvious things to ponder. But, this last point is really key.

& this kind of goes back to the first article. It's kind of hard to have the vision if you equate being debt-free with pain and sacrifice. I think you've got to be really focused on the up-side. Otherwise, why would you even bother??

Fiscal Doings

October 8th, 2012 at 02:04 pm

**I redeemed a $50 credit card reward to my ROTH.

**I received a $7.80 settlement from ATT. I expected it to be more. But I am pleased with the extra money.

I found the $7.80 here, probably about 4-5 months ago:

Text is http://www.mymoneyblog.com/database-for-searching-class-action-settlements.html and Link is
http://www.mymoneyblog.com/database-for-searching-class-acti...

I will have to go through it again - see if there is anything new.

**Today I will get my 10/1 paycheck. I will pay off the Chase reward card, fund the ROTH, and savings is a wash - I have about $3k for savings, but need $3k for vacation, dental, and medical bills.

**I did really well with the time change and fast pace of vacation. BUT, it all hit my like a ton of bricks yesterday. I pretty much slept *all day.* I feel asleep for 3-4 hours mid-day and all I kept dreaming was how tired and thirsty I was. Yeesh. Guess I was a little dehydrated. Slept another 9 hours last night, so feel back on schedule.

**There was some 100-degree heat while we were on vacation, but I suppose the nights were at least cool enough to offset that. It was actually comfortable when we got home. I worried when my folks came up to deliver a spare key and told me the house was only 78 degrees. I thought later that maybe someone had left the A/C on - that is just what it is automatically set to. So I fretted about that a bit, and was surprised that the A/C was *off* when we came home. Phew.

Anyway, we were running the AC heavy and hard right until we left (extremely unusual for this time of year) and so I am relieved to see more normal temps in the forecast. October is usually an easy no-heat/-no-air month. So, will hope for that. If we were home last week, we night have used some October A/C.

**I also just read that gas was at a record high. I *think* our cars are mostly gassed up and we don't have a big driving trip for two more weekends. Guess I won't be driving home for lunch much this month.