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buying out our car lease

December 3rd, 2018 at 09:57 pm

Time flies. It's been 3 years already and it's time to buy out our car lease. It's been hard convincing DH but he's finally willing to compromise and has agreed to buying the car. I wanted to buy it 3 years ago but he refused. One of those moments where you just have to compromise.

I always think of imasaver who financed corvettes so they wouldn't buy them so quickly. I feel like the same thing. I leased a car to make DH feel better and pointed out there hasn't been enough improvement yet in cars to make it worth getting a newer model. Honestly by the time there is rapid improvement whose to say he even should be driving?

I realize that having a car is a control issue. And psychologically sometimes you gotta let things slide that are not the most financially fit decisions. If DH stops driving then it's likely we'll be a 1 car family. But until then I guess we just make the best of it.

But woah car loans are high now. We were offered 5% by chase to finance our car. So instead we plan on buying it cash this month.

cancelling amazon prime

November 28th, 2018 at 09:58 am

As I finished my holiday shopping and as I bought stuff in stores and other online merchants this year I confirmed we don't need amazon prime. I still bought some stuff from Amazon. But we certainly don't need the 2 day shipping. Nothing we ordered did we need rushed. And we no longer watch the TV shows for the kids downloaded on their kindles.

We do have kindles for them bought $50 last year. We do travel more. However now we have a DVD player in the minivan and we can download netflix shows. At $13.99/month Netflix is expensive but we don't pay for it (it's a gift from the girls uncle LOL). But for $170 a year we'd rather do that than Amazon prime anyway. We also use it daily to watch the kids shows instead of TV.

So what do we need amazon prime for? It's certainly not the cheapest. I bought Calico Critters Lakeside Lodge Gift set on Black friday from Walmart. From Amazon? $73.50. No thank you. The Dog crates? From Chewy for less than half the price. Dog food? Cheaper from Petco. Couple of items we did buy from Amazon I don't need asap so slow shipping so what's the difference between waiting from regular $25 shipping?

I admit to having a costco memebership for $120/year. Amazon prime is $119. But I get 6% back on cheaper gas than anywhere else and live 1.2 miles from a gas station and costco. I walk there on the weekends and meet my family for a cheap hot dog. So costco more than pays for itself. This year we spent $3000 on gas almost. That is $180 with 6%. That pays for the membership. Next year when we switch back to Ameriprise auto I'll save even more. That doesn't count the groceries we save on. Lactose free milk at $10/1.5 gallons is about $2 a set and we buy every week. So that's 2 * 52 weeks = $104 on just milk. I've given up on shopping for deals on toilet paper and paper towels because we only have a bartells nearby and no CVS. But truthfully shopping costco I know I get a pretty good deal

Last year I was on the fence at $99 to renew and my DH convinced me. I knew we didn't need it but he said one more year. This year he's on board we'd done and jettisoning Amazon prime.

Do you spend a lot on amazon? Our renewal is up in January.

Christmas shopping

November 26th, 2018 at 05:03 pm

So we did do some black friday and christmas shopping. I'm going to try and be better because I usually have no idea what I spend on christmas but it's typically I know under $500.

this year

Lego Advents - $30 x 2 = $60
Razor Scooter DK2 - $20
Calico Critters DK2 - $40 Treehouse + $40 Lodge
HooverBoard DK1 - $100
Bath Bombs Costco DK1 and 2 - $18 x 2 = 36
Shopkins Bus DK1 - $20
Kidizoo Watch DK 2 - $30
Total = $346

That's it for kids except for stocking stuffers.

They each spent $5 on gifts for each other. Very cute taking them shopping this weekend.

Parents and grandma $20 making blanket and $20 each for stuff so $120 total.

But for DH and I? There isn't anything we want or can't buy so I'm unsure. As I type this I realized I didn't buy his usual beer advent calendar I make for him. Gotta get to work. I think we might go away for the weekend as a family so that's $1000 on the weekend with hotels, gas, dog boarding, eating out.

What are you spending for Christmas?

insanely busy week

November 16th, 2018 at 05:07 pm

So my DH has been traveling this week for work. Things have been super busy. I went to the podiatrist on Tuesday and figured out that I had plantar fascitiis. I ended up buying new sneakers and inserts, and getting on a 6 day regime of steroids. I walked into a store and bought the Brooks GTS Adrenaline sneakers and with the SOLE inserts my feet feel amazing. Guess going to buy cheap sneakers was not the right choice.

Anyway Wednesday morning I awoke to finding out our new dog Winston was bleeding over the house. I spent over an hour trying to clean it all up and figure out where. I checked dew claws, checked his body, and it appeared to be his teeth. I put the kids on the bus and went to the walk in dog clinic. Took 2 hours to figure out that we needed to go to the ER for emergency blood tests. He was actually bleeding from his nose. I figured that out while waiting and he sneezed. I thought it was a cut in his mouth or bad teeth.

So they ran a full blood panel on him and found that he had an extremely low platelet count of 14000/mL versus the normal 175,000/mL. Everything else was fine. We also ran a full tick screen since he'd been at an acreage with a foster home and hadn't gotten tick treatment.

They wanted to do the x-rays, scoping, and urineanalysis which I did not do. It was $500 for the day. Finally by the end of the day I had heard back from the rescue and they said to go to the vet they used for discount rescue rate.

So I took him home rather than paying $600 to board him overnight in the "ICU". Then on Thursday we went to the vet and did the x-rays and urineanalysis and found nothing. A slightly enlarged spleen. So we started him on antibiotics and steroids. The plan is to monitor him and go back for another blood panel in 2-3 weeks. This was $300. They could not find out what sort of infection or inflammation that would cause this low platelet count.

The vet suggested it could be an abscess tooth. I had been planning on having his teeth cleaned actually today but we can't do it until his platelet level was above 50,000/mL. Why did I wait almost 3 weeks?

Because when we got him he and dual ear yeast infections and had to go get them cleaned and have both oral and topical medications to clean it up. Having not been treated for a LONG time. You could smell his ears when we got him. So the next step was the teeth treatment. This will be around $300. And we had spent $300 on initial vet visit and treatment.

If anyone asked I bought him pet health insurance from nationwide for $416 a year. It would have covered this if it were active which will go into effect 11/28/18. It took that long because of the yeast and teeth and initial checkup. So it takes awhile for the underwriting and "effective" date.

That being said today was the first day I managed to sneak back into the office. Along with my DK1 being sick on thursday and today and having to be dragged around me.

On top of normal kids stuff all week and homework and cooking, etc. Monday my DK1 gets her first round of braces. I'm wondering what that will cost me. They never called me to tell me. So far we've paid $2500 about 50% (insurance covered the rest) of the headgear from May. It's gone so well regarding her crossbite we are moving onto the next step sooner than expected because her teeth can't come in without more space. UGH.

I did however negotiate to not pay until January 2019 so I can run it through our new FSA for the year since we already maxed out in 2018.

Now onto thanksgiving.

Getting started now

November 9th, 2018 at 01:00 pm

I keep reading about these atrocious student loans. How people are trying to escape to the jungle. This guy was a philosophy major who owed only $20k Or a teacher who owed once in 2004 $35k but he couldn't pay so he stopped and the interest makes it now $100k+. I'm horrified.

But there are two parts. One a teacher couldn't make ends meet and pay off $35k? Even on a 30 year payment that's a $100/month. Assuming a 15 yeear payment that's a little over $200-300/month. I'm shocked that it was that difficult to pay.

I wonder if people are struggling to get started now because they have very high expectations upon starting out? That it's shocking they can't eat out, travel, etc. That perhaps the lifestyle they expected can't be had on an entry level job?

Or is it really that salaries are so low that owing even $100 is too much? Or is it that we now owe every month on EVERYTHING? That the teacher has the student loan, car payment, CC debt, medical bills just starting out?

I can see how nowadays where you are born and what your parents do makes such a big difference. That some people on this board are able (cheers) to fund college 100%. So their kids will walk out debt free. These same people likely talked to their kids so these same kids won't have CC debt or medical bills. Also these same kids might even be gifted a car so they are starting out with a car, no debt, and an education.

So you are starting from a position of power. I know that these same people on the board were like myself and when we started out we had some student loans, some car loans, maybe even medical and CC debt. But somehow we made it.

How did we manage? I see myself right now strategically thinking about setting my kids up for success. That I'm looking at their college funds of $28k and $22k (8 and 6). Plus we have earmarked this year potentially another $10k each for college. Along with around $5k in taxable accounts for them to just grow.

In all likelyhood our kids will not only have 100% free college, but will have a car, and possibly a home down payment help and maybe even a Roth IRA. So how far ahead of the curve will they be?

I just find it interesting.

Net Worth Calculations

November 1st, 2018 at 10:27 am

We are down around 7.5% from 9/1/18 which it peaked. We are down in mostly our retirement investment accounts. We aren't doing a darn thing. We are holding onto our cash, will invest in January Roth IRA and kids ESA the $12k and $4k. In december we will likely buy out DH's lease for $22k. Right now we are still hanging onto my car loan but that's something up for negotiation to just pay off. But it's at 2.24% and we're earning 1.9% on savings right now with potential for more.

I'm also considering buying the I bonds. Right now the fixed rate is 0.5% announced and that seems good. I'll talk to DH tonight.

We got a dog!

October 29th, 2018 at 01:46 pm

So 22 months later we got another dog. It took a long, long time but we got one! He is a black 1 year old standard poodle from a rescue group. His name is Winston. He cost a lot more than we expected and he is slightly bigger than we thought.

We went on Saturday 10/20 to an adoption event to see a 35 lb labradoodle. We weren't a 100% sure we'd adopt but were testing the waters again trying hard to find a dog by the end of November before we decided to buy one. Well by the time we got there another family (we were 10 minutes early to the opening) had already decided they wanted the labradoodle and we just decided to walk around.

My husband saw him and said he's cute and hypoallergenic. So we asked and they said he was a turn in and around 48 lbs. Our plan had been between 25-35 lbs with a maximum of 40 lbs. Well that went out the door.

But he's a super sweet dog. Extremely well trained. He's completely housebroken. He cost us $2365 with $65 going to a dog trainer and $2300 for him. Now it is $2200 tax deductible because it's a non-profit rescue group that uses the money to pay for vet care, fostering, crates, etc.

Yes he's probably more than we would have spent on buying a dog (well maybe because the schnoodles and cockapoos I was looking at for puppies were more like $2500-3000+). But I do feel a little better that it's not going to a breeder, it's tax deductible and I didn't get a dog, instead we gave one who had a home a home instead of a new dog.

Ah well things are buzzing along great. Can't wait.

Switch auto/home/umbrella insurance

September 25th, 2018 at 03:03 pm

Totally my fault because of scraping of my car this June 2018. It ended up costing $7000 to repair so I submitted a claim to my insurance company. It was an at fault accident even without anyone else involved. But my renewal rate was $1800 for 6 months. YIKES. So I shopped around and switched from progressive to Safeco. We managed to renew for $2225 for 12 months, seems to me like a great deal. Our home policy was $1000 for 12 months and $247 for Umbrella insurance for the year. I'm tempted to make this the last year for umbrella insurance. I don't think we need it anymore since we don't rent, don't live with others, and are more secure. But I guess it's sort of like term life insurance though you don't need it it's nice to have.

That being said in May 2019 I'll switch again back to Ameriprise. I just really like their customer service and I haven't really found the same qualify of service at any of the other insurance companies we've had. Last year we had commerce and they were awful. Progressive was better but still not great. I'm not sure how safeco will be but I'm on them for 9 months.

Ameriprise through costco is the cheapest I've found and the best customer service. We previously had them for 10 years and they are phenomenal. They are very responsive, very helpful, and super great at paying out claims. If anyone has not shopped through costco and checked out ameriprise I certainly would give them a shot.

vacation planning

September 6th, 2018 at 12:00 pm

I consider myself somewhat savvy with vacation planning. I typically can find good deals on flights, hotels, and just stuff in general for trips. But we've decided to go to WDW next August 2019 and I'm overwhelemed. I'm even stupid to be honest.

So I might as well write here the step wise intensive planning I'm doing. Somehow even international travel seems easier than WDW.

I'm starting with knowing I want to go the last week of August. It's still a month too early for plane tickets which will obviously influence our hotel. But right now the thought is Friday to Sunday of labor day. We may fly into ft lauderdale and then drive to disney to see friends.

I found a website that sells off the DVC timeshares that seem reasonable. 5 days at animal kingdom is $900. But it was suggested we stay at the 4 main resorts by magic kingdom. I'm not sure what to do. It's around 5 days for $1500.

So the next few weeks while waiting for my airline ticket is to figure out where we want to stay. I am realizing that going to WDW it's not the flights or hotels it's the cost of the tickets. Wow is it expensive to go to disney.

I think this will be our 1 in a lifetime trip. I'm doubtful we'll want go back. We're more likely to travel elsewhere but we want to do WDW before the kids get too old to enjoy the magic. While we might go back when they are older my older one wanted slightly better rides than the younger one this last trip.

Ugh I suspect this will be a very expensive trip comparatively. I just did 2.5 weeks in asia for probably less than 10 days will cost us at Disney. The flights while pricey compared to last year were still reasonable. Last year we went for $2800 for 4 people, this year we paid $3600 for 4 of us. Our hotels were around $150/night on average we spent around $2000 in total. Then another $1500 on tickets for activities including disney and universal and bus tours, entry fees. Then eating out probably another $2000. We did it less than $10000.

I see Disney being $2000 hotels, $2000 flights, and then tickets alone being around $1500 not including buying that line cuts. I'm forgetting rental cars and food. I'm not sure even what to budget for that since it'll likely be park food.

That being said the disneyland hong kong buffet was the nicest buffet I've ever been to. Way better than normal buffets plus it was cute for the kids. Pricey? Way more than anywhere else we ate in hong kong but we sat and relaxed for 2 hours. And since it was at the end of our trip we needed the destressor. We stay at the hotel and literally just walked upstairs and relaxed before and after the meal and then left the next day. PERFECT.

We'll see how this all plays out.

busy summer and London Trip and lots of spending

September 4th, 2018 at 12:35 pm

I've been busy all summer with the kids. We literally just go back on Sunday from Hawaii and school started today. I am a bit breathless seeing that it's the start of 3rd and 1st grade. I can't believe time is flying. I thought the years would go slower but it's not. I feel like screaming stop already I don't want them to grow up. Where is the time going? I swear I blinked and we had just moved and my DK1 was holding up her 2015 1st day of kindergarden sign. No no no. I can't imagine sending them off to college (I teared up a lot reading about Texaxhusker and CCF sending theirs off).

Anyway though we spent most of August traveling 2.5 weeks in Asia and 1 week in Hawaii. We also decided to do a week in October in London. I can't wait. I couldn't figure out a reasonable plan for adding Dublin in with my DH since he's working both places so we are doing London for a week. Now we need ideas for what to do. It was $1500 for tickets for the 3 of us and our hotel is covered staying with DH.

We also bought 5 day snowboarding tickets this year with a trip planned in March. I also plan on signing the kids up for lessons.

Also on the agenda booking our Feb Hawaii Trip and deciding next summers trips. I think we're doing Disneyworld last week of August. And my parents and in-laws have to pick what they want to do for a week each. I'd like to do a week in Singapore but I'm unsure right now. My dad turns 88 in october so I think we might do a weekend when they visit at Christmas.

college costs

July 31st, 2018 at 12:34 pm

The US is becoming a place where it's impossible to move up and down the spectrum of wealth. Studies who it's becoming harder and harder and that if you don't have help from your parents it's not a place you can make yourself a success no matter what.

As my kids age I hear more and more concern from other parents about college costs. Many have kids who are older and their youngest is 8. They say they are still paying on their loans or just finishing but now they are going to try and pay for their kids.

This is insanity. I'm not sure How people think if they are still paying for their college they can afford to pay for their child's?

One friend in particular her daughter is starting college this fall and she has two more 6 and 8. She just got a job to pay $1-2k/month college fees/books, etc. Her daughter will live at home and go to university. I asked her if she has any retirement savings and the answer was no. I said perhaps she should consider it because she's 43. She said but if I don't then how will she go to school? What about the younger ones?

I sat there unable to answer. Because the truth of the matter is that what is the answer? She probably should save for retirement, but if she doesn't help her daughter how will her daughter manage the school loans? What then?

now what?

July 4th, 2018 at 10:35 pm

Now what? Well now I have to figure out what to do with DK2 since she's no longer going to private school. Sigh. Guess it's lucky I'm not working this summer and we can hang out. I admit I sort of like it. I miss my kiddos and they are growing up so fast.

I feel like I blinked and my DK1 is HUGE. So tall up to my shoulder and her feet are already a size 3. She's so tall and getting bigger. I'm not ready.

So even if we ended up in a bad place school wise it's a good place otherwise. I miss my kiddos. I love my DK2 who still climbs into bed and snuggles with us and sleeps with us.

My DH wants me to sign her up for education stuff and is worried they'll fall behind. I am not one to do much educational stuff. I could never home school though I'd love to. My kids fight against doing homework and I hate being the bad guy. I prefer to just let it go and enjoy them. Yeah not the best action but I hate butting heads.

But i might sign her up for a biking camp. I'm not the best either at teaching my kids stuff. I tried to teach Dk1 biking but I'm afraid of her falling and crying, she's afraid so we're a bad combination. Did I tell you I would never watch when they were babies the heel sticks and other torture. I am such a wimp when it comes to needles and other stuff to my kids. I have to close my eyes or stand outside the door while my DH does it.

Anyway we've got a nice 2.5 week trip planned to asia again. And honestly I'm considering taking the kids to hawaii. My grandmother is in the hospital again with shingles. I was going to skip our summer hawaii trip but i feel like maybe we should go.

Summer Camps

June 14th, 2018 at 12:41 pm

So this summer we are staying put for 5 weeks of the summer. So I signed up DK for 1 week of Girl Scout Camp at $125/week each. Then DK has school year round we had to pay for because of the 12 month contract we signed. So she's done.

DK1 though I signed up for 1 week of tennis camp 9-12 pm for $104/week. 2 weeks of camp through the parks and rec for $210/week. Finally a tech coding camp from 10 am - 1 pm for $285/week. Not too bad I think. We are traveling to Asia again for 3 weeks, Canada a week, SF a week, and a week off then back to school. I was considering Hawaii before school but it'd be back to back traveling.

Here's a fun accomplishment. DK1 made the swim team and decided to do it instead of more swim lessons this summer! I told her that she could quit swim lessons the day she could make the team. She tried out last weekend and made it. But by that point I had signed her up all summer for swim lessons and the only way out without losing money was to join the swim team. So I gave her a choice. Swim team $222 for the summer or lessons. She chose the swim team.

My DK 2 is still in process of swim lessons and she has 3 more sessions at $76/session group lesson and 8 private lessons for $280 for 8 lessons. I'm hoping this is her last year of lessons. I am thinking maybe 1 more school year of lessons for DK2 and we are done spending money on swim lesson and the time. Swim lessons are the worse lessons because it's so time intensive. For a 30 minute lesson either group or private it's more like 1.5 hours because you have to shower after, get dressed before and after, etc. UGH. I will be thrilled that they are can swimming with friends and I won't be so worried.

Reverse Mortgages

June 8th, 2018 at 11:55 am

So I did my friend Mrs N taxes and peeked at her mom's financials. Mostly because she hasn't been filing and I just wanted to confirm it was okay to not file. Nana was fine not filing.

But in the process of looking over all her documents I told her that she now owed $65k on her condo. She freaked out and said what, why, how?

Well in 2010 she owed $14k on her condo but she was tired of paying the monthly note. She was convinced by her ex-SIL to get a reverse mortgage in the amount of $47k. Her note was paid off and she got $23k in cash, and $8k in fees. She was told that she could live in the house till the end of her life and then Mrs N would have to sell it and pay it off. All true but I guess it wasn't explained that like a Credit Card the $47k would continue to accrue interest and fees every month and the amount owed would balloon.

It also could occur that she would reach the maximum limit to be borrowed from the reverse mortgage, in her case $150k and then be forced to refinance or sell the condo. She sat there stunned. For 8 years she actually believed she could live in her house rent/payment free and never be kicked out. It was soul crushing to see the realization kick in.

I suggested that she consolidate the reverse mortgage and get a regular mortgage now before rates keep on going up. Mrs N just got her divorced finalized yesterday so they have a rough idea of budgeting and finances.

Had I realized they were paying $1k/year in fees and $3k/year in interest on the reverse mortgage I would have suggested a year ago they consolidate while rates were lower.

She also owes an assessment on her condo but she has no idea how much. And a car loan of $10k just started in January 2018 at 5%. That being said if they consolidate all their debt, I'm including Mrs N, to the tune of $120k the payments will be around $600/month. Arrgh because they should have refinanced last year and been saving the money. And the rates are so much higher now about 1%.

I don't know what to say because I don't know if Reverse mortgages are good. I feel like maybe people should sell the house and live in it. But they get the appreciation of staying put and paying interest and fees. I guess it's a risk.

social strata for our kids

May 31st, 2018 at 11:37 am

Did you read the article recently about class and how movement between classes in the US is almost NIL? It doesn't matter what religion, race, and politics. The biggest factor is where your parents are socially and the elasticity of their position. The higher up you are, the more you can help your children and prevent them from falling down the socio economic ladder. The lower down you are the harder it is for them to climb the ladder.

Of course pretty much everyone reading this here at a place called savingadvice already is giving both themselves and their children a one up. Within your own socio economic position it's likely since you are looking at improving your financial situation or already have, the change to the family tree means that you are making things better for your kids. You are telling them early about things like debt, college, saving, investing wisely, etc.

All factors that contribute to your child's success. So compared to your peers your kid is getting a headstart on things that could drag them down financially. But instead they have parents who may not help as much financially or are able to help more financially because they have their house in order.

As I was reading this article I found myself nodding. That we are going to help our kids as much as possible. They have advantages now from our income but also we are probably going to help them in the future as well.

This came about because so many of us on this board are striving to help our kids with college. It's been written that college and student loan debts are massive (and it really is). But those of us on here I feel are doing better than our peers in helping our children through it financially because we know better and have our own house in order.

I mean we have friends we camped with who recently set aside $50k per kid for college. Our kids are the same age. But DH and I have been putting a little every year aside and we have about half as much. Right now we are considering a lump sum investment into a 529 but if we do then we'll still come out ahead having had saved less over these past 5 and 8 years. Plus the lump sum can be smaller since we'll still be saving our $2k/year.

So the little things like smart saving and wise budgeting this site encourages has helped.

Just musing how changing the family tree a little can show great result.s

school auction and no homemade food

May 29th, 2018 at 11:24 am

I read Laura's post about her feet and it make me feel a lot better. Because as I sit here writing this yesterday at a very nice neighbors house for a memorial day bbq I realized DH and I were the only parents not attending the school auction.

Part of it is being cheap. Part of it is it's not a scene I particular care for. Part of it is I don't really want to waste a date night on an auction. I'd rather have a sitter and go out with DH for a fancy dinner somewhere just us.

I guess I'll mention it was just my birthday over the weekend and we were camping. DH even forgot the cake (cheesecake) I love and he usually goes and gets with the kids to sing to me. We're probably doing cheesecake tonight.

Anyway I felt a little cheap because I was like we aren't going to the auction as everyone stared at us. I don't know what I would buy either? I am not big on wasting money. So yes I'll donate whatever they tell me to the PTSA. And today I volunteered at art docent and I have a meeting for a PTSA committee I'm on. But I have to give more? Participate more?

I already went to the BBQ without makeup and a bit underdressed since we had just gotten back from camping. My nails weren't done, nor my hair or makeup. I just wanted to meet more neighbors and let my kiddo play with the girls she spends every morning with when I drop her there to walk to the bus stop with their au pair and I drop my other kid at school and work. I also did not make a side dish I bought a fruit tarte from the store (I felt incredible shame when I realized everyone else had made stuff!)

Ugh. So my lack of parenting perfection was on evident display. Anyway Laura feel better about your feet. I felt the same way about my clothes, food, and lack of wanting to participate in the school auction. And I am still embarrassed.

Dog Adoption Lament

May 21st, 2018 at 10:50 am

So most of you know we've been without a dog now almost 18 months. This is pretty much the longest DH and I have been without a dog but life's been busy. And we've been on wait lists for about a year with rescue groups. But we haven't been proactively looking either other than putting our names on lists.

But on a more serious note. I want to write about how weird this experience has been. This is the first time we've tried to adopt a dog post-kids. Our kids are now 8 and 5. We've finally also moved into a house with a yard. So we seem like an ideal family now right?

WRONG. Now we have kids and a lot of rescue groups or petfinder don't want to talk to me anymore. Apparently when we were young and dumb DH and I were great candidates. Now with 2 "small" children we aren't. We're next exactly new to this rodeo but they aren't thrilled without "candidate" package.

So right now I'm mulling buying a dog. I cringe as I write this because that makes me choke a bit on how expensive it is. Plus truthfully I feel really guilty based on how many dogs need homes. But now what? We need a dog that is hypo allergenic. But other than that age isn't a big deal and type isn't either. A good disposition. We can work with them.

I'm unsure where to go from here. Do we really buy a puppy?

Have you calculated your commute?

May 8th, 2018 at 10:33 am

Have you ever calculated the cost of commuting? I say that because now we have a direct cost. My DH commutes on average 30 minutes one way instead of 1 hour plus. And an hour is generous because usually coming home before it was 75-90 minutes. But assuming he saves now 1 hour an day total in commute he's saving 5* 48 weeks = 240 hours a year. What is an hour worth?

That's the question. If it's worth $25/hr then it's $6000/year of $500/month he's saving. So we could "shave" off $500/month on our mortgage payment moving closer. If we calculated the hour is worth $50/hr then it's $12,000/year and $1k/month. That makes moving closer a lot more beneficial.

Personally I think moving closer worth $50/hour. Assume we go out to eat more, pay more in gas, pay more in child care, etc I think we can easily save $12k/year moving closer. But some people live next door to their parents so they commute far. If i had that sort of deal I'd do it too.

Have you ever calculated what your commute cost you? Was it worth it to move farther? Why?

Blue Apron?

May 7th, 2018 at 10:35 am

So I saw for $24.99 a meal package from Blue Apron at Costco. I was super curious. I didn't pull the trigger but I was tempted. I mean I'd like to learn how to cook a different/new meal. But $24 for a meal seems pricey. Of course Blue Apron is a genuis. I mean seriously it wasn't on my radar at all. I usually don't spend money on online shopping and I don't browse for stuff.

But that being said I decided I would read the website this week and maybe give it a whirl using one of the online 1st time user discount.

Talking with DH he said look at the big picture. $25 for a meal is MUCH cheaper than eating out. It serves 4 so $6/portion is less than you pay eating out. True.

But it's not for people who know how to cook. It's cheaper to buy the ingredients yourself and do it. But maybe for a new dish it's worth it. Before investing in the spices it's worth trying to see how easy or complicated and if you'll like it. And I can see how for people who don't cook it's way better and cheaper than eating out.

Anyone do blue apron? I'll review it after I try it. Because I will try it.

credit card arbitage

April 24th, 2018 at 10:08 am

I'm interested in starting to use credit cards to get rewards and miles for traveling. I am reading a bit. But truthfully right now I'm still really busy with catching up after tax season, finishing setting up in the house after the remodel. I am actually proud to say we have been trying to be more thoughtful about putting stuff away and asking if it makes us happy and if not we are donating or selling it. (thank you to everyone in FB organized friends I have been both inspired and motivated reading stuff you purge).

That being said I really would love to have a lot of miles to travel with. So what cards do people love and use? Right now we don't really use travel cards but it's more laziness and we hadn't wanted to bring our credit down with too many inquiries.

But we have a house and car now so I'm thinking it might be okay. I have to wonder though I've found it difficult to use miles so flexibly as people who do these credit card arbitage. I've a friend whose always done it but he travels last minute on a whim. Literally he'll book a ticket the night before knowing they open seats and is willing to take the risk. Also he has a job where if he doesn't show up it's not a big deal. He can work from "home" and remotely if need be.

But it's not as easy for us. Until now we've never had jobs so flexible.

But how do people really use miles to travel so much? How does it align so easily with school vacations and breaks? I find that I end up paying a lot of the times because of our more rigid dates.

personal capital

March 28th, 2018 at 09:48 pm

I just linked tonight all our data on personal capital website. It was an interesting and enlightening snapshot of our assets and investment allocation. I did it myself earlier this year. Gave me fits figuring everything out efficiently because I worked with what my DH had done and with his 401k.

First up, we have enough in our investments to pay off our mortgage. Not enough in taxable but more than enough to pay it off if we cashed in our retirement accounts. Hadn't every really looked but interesting. Only thing taxable is the 401k and looking at it, I think we'd still have enough after taxes. Very nice.

Second, they checked my target asset allocation and I pretty much hit it dead on. I'm interestingly at a higher 90% stocks and 10% bonds mix. Higher than I thought. I thought I was at 85% and 15%. I wanted to be more at 80% stock/20% bonds. But I guess it's okay.

I just readjusted DH's 401k from VINIX to a mix of a small cap, mid cap, international growth and more bonds. I think we are holding cash that it makes sense to perhaps put a bit more into bonds even with the cash. Actually looking at it more carefully this portfolio does not include our cash position so with it included we are at my 80% stocks/bonds 10%/10% cash so maybe I shouldn't have adjusted the 401k. But I feel like this year bonds might go big and the stock market is due a correction.

A really impressive point is my management fees were evaluated at 0.07%. Yes that's awesome I think. Something I am considering is building a stock dividend portfolio. Investing in our taxable account maybe 5 stocks that pay heavy dividends.

I am also 52.2% US stocks and 23.74% international stocks. I guess things are looking good overall. This is a very nifty tool.

I also am considering buying RE as a diversification play. This is something I want to put 25k into or as much as $50k into a rental. We are talking about partnering with friends, which we'll see.

Finally the retirement projections. Well it says I have a 96% chance of retiring at age 53 with $7600/month. Substantially more than the $4k/month I was projecting. I'd like to hit that instead in 10 years but we have save more than I'm projecting which is entirely doable because I'm projecting only saving $40k/year, right now we're doing more but I want to be conservative.

We are also projecting unfortunately to be $30k short for each kid's college fund by 18. I'm thinking we might be closer to $15k. Why? Because I think it's assuming we won't have the projected $81608 by the time they start which is true. But we still have another 4 years to "save" the $2k/year we are doing and that takes care of $8k. And seeing the number in black and white being a projected $30k short each, means that if I for the next 10 years saved an extra $2k/year we wouldn't be short for either. I'm thinking maybe this year we do a one time $10k contribution to each kid for college and call it a day? I think we might have that the cards.

Anyway try using personal capital. It's an amazing website. https://www.talkable.com/x/cbBCMQ

checks

March 17th, 2018 at 07:17 am

Wow okay so I wrote over 50 checks last year. Crazy. I thought checks were a thing of the past turns out not. Check bill pay does not seem to work for me. I tried 3 times to have them mail a check to the guy who came and cleaned our gutters. I also am told to send a check to the school for activities. They don't seem fond of having an electronic check sent. Nor does the music teacher. Pretty much any kid activities wants a check cut unless they take credit cards.

I only realized this as I am looking over our annual spend and figuring out our taxes. I am pretty sure pre-kids we pretty much never wrote a check.

Oh well. I guess this explains why we run through checks a lot faster than I thought. When I told DH his eyes opened wide. Of course he pays no bills and hasn't cut a check in years. So he was floored. I can now see how many moms walk around with a check and comment "i am constantly cutting checks for every activity." More kids = more activities = more checks. Yes even if it's one activity it's still one check.

do i need an ef?

March 15th, 2018 at 05:46 pm

Years ago we ran so lean that every penny had to be accounted for so we didn't overdraw on anything. Our credit cards functioned as float but we basically ran it as a check register. No extra pennies anywhere. We squeezed dollars till they screamed.

But the things got easier for awhile and then we had kids and went down to one income and it was tight again for awhile. Then we decided time to get serious again and we started saving hardcore looking back we were at 50% savings again. We had made a plan in Christmas 12/2012 for 6/2016 that we were going to save 1 year of living expenses and move without jobs. We bumped it up to 6/2015 and we saved more than expected.

Anyway we lived on our savings (ie spent it the horror!!!), then knew we wanted to buy a house so we kept a lot of cash on hand for 2 years from 6/2015 to 6/2017 and then even after. We paid 100% cash out of pocket for our $75k renovations this year. No debt. We also bought a car and put down $8k.

But it appears we are unsure what to do about our saving again. We are back to having a "normal" EF of about 8 months cash. The problem is my DH I think feels insecure now and talks about having 1 year sitting in cash. I think not a good idea.

Second, I think that maybe we should start running lean again and have 1 month cash on hand and the rest we invest in something.

I'm struggling because I do think the stock market is high and I'm not sure I want to invest more in stocks right now. Second I'm really becoming interested in investing in real estate as a diversification in our overall portfolio. Not something we fall into but a real investment and bought solely with cash flow in mind.

But the the housing market seems red hot right now and I'm not sure it's the right time to plunk down cash. I mentioned the duplex a co-worker is selling that I've considered. It wasn't enough of a return to generate making it worth investing right now.

But if we are serious about getting into RE i think we need the cash to put as a down payment so investing it in stocks doesn't seem wise either. Nor does running with a lean EF. We probably should have a fully funded rental EF.

For people who invest in RE what's the wisest decision? For people not invested in RE is it because of the entry barrier in cost? Too much time? Too much risk?

I have been pondering this for awhile actually. What we should do regarding our Emergency Fund and whether to invest it for now or to wait and perhaps buy a property.

rethinking college costs

February 6th, 2018 at 11:26 am

So I've been rethinking college costs as I investigate into 529 more. I think I'm going to pass on it for now.

I really have been considering putting more than our $2k/year away for the DK. But since FASFA considers children's accounts more heavily than parents it might make more sense to keep the money in our accounts and use it for that purpose than to ear mark it now.

I see a lot of parents paying out of pocket for college. I know the timing usually works since you are usually making more by the time your kids are 18 than when they are 2. But I wonder if this is the tack to take? I guess there is so much uncertainty about what college will costs. How hard it will be to get in and go? How do you really plan?

That being said we did fund 2017 and 2018 ESA with $2k/year. So my DK 8 in 2nd grade has about $27k and my Dk 5 in kindergarten has $19k. I think it's something. They both lost a lot this week since they are both in VTI only. But at least we are taking the risk.

Assuming college will be $100k if we can manage to save $50k by 18 for both I think $50k over 4 years will be $12k and we could afford to cash flow that.

ceding control of investments

February 5th, 2018 at 12:08 am

Reading TexasHusker's post made me reflect a little. From the start my DH and I had conflicting investment strategies. He believed he could beat the market, I never thought so. So when we met and before we married we had pretty much nothing. We were struggling to stay out of debt and pay our bills. When he got his first job we finally were married (got a green card), and started saving and investing. We each had a Roth IRA and his 401k. We put the 401k into investments chosen by his company and I picked them. Then we agreed to invest our Roth IRA ourselves. We could each choose to invest risky or not. He decided to buy individual stocks. I chose to invest in boring ETFs. I did better than him.

That being said. In around 2010 with the birth of our first child I cede control of my Roth IRA to DH because I fell into deep post-partum depression/anxiety. I was on medications for about 18 months until I was again pregnant. Then I was off for a few months but mid-way again I needed the medications. Please don't say I didn't need it, I did and yes I saw someone and I can describe now as this anxiety of wanting to throw myself off the roof or constant anxiety and fear of being crazy. I wasn't myself until I finished breastfeeding my DK2 at a little over a year so end of 2013. My hormones made me crazy. I suffered a miscarriage as well between DK1 and DK2 hence their 30 months apart instead of 24 months as I planned.

So I handled basically our budget, living expenses, and oversight of taxes. But I relinquished all investment control during this time and I couldn't tell you what we were doing. I could see it from our tax statements but I had no energy to care.

But we lost a ton of money in our Roth IRAs during this time though the market was good. DH was trading oil commodities. Lesson learned. Turned out this lesson made him realize he couldn't beat the market.

So he began investing in index funds and he changed his mentality after losing the money. That also allowed him later to get on board with hands off investing into index/etfs. Tomorrow I'll finally dig into our finances during that time.

day 5

January 18th, 2018 at 10:52 pm

Good day eating I guess. It's boring.

Day 5
1/2 oatmeal
salad with 4 oz of chicken alfredo - lunch
1 cup split pea/ham soup
butternut squash roasted for dinner
blueberries and strawberries 1 cup for snack

Day 4
1/2 oatmeal
salad for lunch
fried rice 1/2 cup measured
2 dumplings = 2 oz weighed
roasted butternut squash
1 cup watermelon
1/2 strawberries

I saw a friend post on facebook they bought this food plate from amazon for $20.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071GT5XZW/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_m9wyAb8E30HMT?th=1

It sorts your food and portion controls. My DH said if you use it for 1 year and lose weight it's worth every penny. I am going to think on it until after hawaii. Then I'll come back and if i'm losing weight i'm thinking I'll buy it.

As it stands I think I've lost 3 lbs. But I feel like that's my normal flux and I also feel like I gain and lose the same 20 lbs all the time.

My mom comes next week and we tend to eat out so that will be interesting.

Fire Success Rate

January 17th, 2018 at 10:52 pm

So I calculated that maxing out our 401k and IRAs for the next 15 years will give us a 100% success rate of retiring for 45 years with a $90k/year income. This is with $0 SS income coming in.

2032 retirement gives us a 2% chance of failure. 2031 retirement gives us a 14% chance of failure. So if we continue down our path the earliest I think we could retire is 2031.

However if increase our savings to $40k/year, saving $10k/year outside for 13 years the failure rate is 2% in 2031. And in the year 2030 it's 12% failure, and in 2029 it's 18% failure.

Also adding back SS does nothing to the success rate. Because we're assuming a lower SS and taken at age 62 even if we retire at age 55.

I think it would be easier to lower the number we need to retire not $90k/year. If we lowered it to say $60k/year we can retire in 2028 or 10 years with 1% failure rate saving $30k/year and 50 years of retirement. That would take us to 100 years old. About what I guessed off the cuff.

I have always said DH and I are about 5 years away from FI. According to Fire Calculator we are. If we save $100k/year for the next 5 years and spend $60k/year, we would have a failure rate of 1% of living on $60k/year for 50 years to age 95.

But the reality is while I know we spend around $60k/year and live well, we need more because we aren't done with say college. Plus I'd rather know that everything above and beyond is gravy rather than cutting it so close.

Have you ever calculated?

day 3

January 17th, 2018 at 03:02 pm

Another good day with eating. Same old same old.

Oatmeal 1/2c
Salad for lunch with 3 oz of smoked salmon
salad for dinner with 4 oz of quiche
1 cup watermelon
1 cup strawberries
Broccoli, bell pepper, and asparagus

So far today day 4
1/2 C oatmeal
salad with 2 tbsp dressing
1 cup watermelon
1 cup strawberries

The breakfast and lunch is super easy but I was hungry last night interestingly. I hadn't been in awhile. I am busy at work so I have to hurry and eat at 2 before getting kids.

day 2

January 15th, 2018 at 08:30 pm

It is day 2. Yesterday was not a great day but today was better. Last night I weighed out my chicken alfredo 4 oz. Tonight I weighed out my 4 oz of Broccoli, ham, cheddar quiche I made.

Dido made me look back at what I cook make? Do I eat bad? Here and there. But overall not terribly. I made chicken teriyaki, tacos, chicken salad, etc last week. We did eat out one night but that was it for the last week.

The real problem? I know what it truly is. I overeat. I eat portions way out of control. I know the right size is a fist, but I probably eat 2 portions.

Usually until now I never weigh my food. Meat is definitely not a deck of cards, nor is it even close to 3-4 oz. Instead it'll be 8-12 oz of steak at home. It'll be that much of salmon I'll bake.

I also do not eat half a cup of rice or pasta. I probably eat 1-1.5 cups if I'm being honest. I don't snack really but then I will eat what is an improper portion size of carbs and protein.

I found it hard even doing weight watchers and nutrisystem. The portions were hard. I really need to get used to eating less. I mean seriously do people eat 4 oz of meat? Or starch? Probably not or we might not have a weight problem.

I'll have a soda once a week. I drink a lot of water and tea. But a glass of wine? Sure 1-2x/week. And I know it's not a 4 oz pour either. It's a generous 8 oz pour at home. So I'm not just having 1 serving it's more and it's I believe 200 calories for 4 oz.

So I know where my problem lies. Not necessarily what I'm eating or cooking. But honestly not eating everything I make. I also have admitted this I find it HARD to waste food. So I eat my kids leftovers on top of what I eat.

Sometimes I leave it there and finish it later in the evening. Tonight I scraped the plates and threw it away. No more.

This morning I had 1/2 oatmeal (usual), salad for lunch with a bell pepper, 4 oz of quiche I made. That's it. No leftovers from kids.

I am also aiming to drink more water. Baby steps. NO more eating kids leftovers. And I'm going to be honest and conscious about my portions. I am also going to try and avoid all alcohol to prevent the extra calories.

turning into a health blog not spending

January 14th, 2018 at 07:43 pm

So 6 months ago I had "high" cholesterol. I have been trying to avoid red meat and fried foods. It hasn't worked. I haven't also lost the weight. So I have a two fold problem.

I am still in the high zone at 205 cholesterol. I'm worried. I need to get serious about this diet and losing weight. Perhaps it won't change my cholesterol alone losing weight. I probably need to change more of my eating habits. But it's a place to start.

I have to be accountable so I might as well start here. I am going to post everything that goes into my mouth. My small goals are to lose 10 lbs in the next 6 months and get my cholesterol under 200.

If in 6 months I'm successful I'm going to get myself a treadmill. I haven't found a gym that works for our new house. But I will try to use the insanity tapes I once used and walking.

I'm also debating weighing in everyday. I do want to lose weight. I'm going to try myfitnesspal. I am not joining any weight watchers or anything special. I just have to commit to doing this.

I am going to do it.

Today I had half a donut for breakfast, samples at costco for lunch with a hot dog with a diet soda, and a salad/veggies with 4 oz of chicken alfredo I made. Yes I decided this after lunch today but still I have to make good choices.

And I can't do a crash diet like before lose 20 lbs and then gain it all back when I go back to being "real". Diets haven't worked. I've tried them all.


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