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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.

snowflaking success!

January 14th, 2018 at 02:49 pm

So my new floor mats? Well I have found $65 in snowflakes so far. $45 bonus at work on prepaid CC which I'll use to pay another bill. And a $20 rebate from Black friday pillows. I am debating counting coupons I use.

I also am very excited we finished Roth IRAs for 2017, 2018 and kids ESA for 2017, 2018. Very solid beginning.

Next time I am going to move the Kids ESA to the same place we have our Roth IRAs even without a bonus that I've been waiting for. Because it's a pain to have accounts all over the place. I use TD Ameritrade and they are good.

Third I am opening a savings account at our local credit union for the kids. They pay 6% for kdis accounts up to $500 and DH hates the idea of more accounts, but we just became members because they offered me 2.24% on our 4 year car loan $24k. So i figure we already have an account why not?

Besides the kids will have fun seeing a real bank book and real bank to deposit money. All the rest of their money we have online somewhere. I think they are both doing pretty well. DK1 has $28k for college and Dk2 has $18k. They also have about $2k in savings. Not too shabby. I have been talking to DK about earning money and investing.

As soon as they start babysitting I'm going to have them start to save into a Roth IRA. Right now I told my DKs anything more than $5 gift they should save 50%. Then 50% to spend

Staying Invested

January 12th, 2018 at 11:04 am

I'm curious who on this site is not investing. Or cashing in their chips now to take some of the risk off the table. I've been thinking a lot about it. We're dumping quite a bit into the market right now and I do worry it's high. This is a big topic if you can imagine in a tax office. We're all discussing whether we think the market has another year of gains. So it's on my mind.

Well I decided the other day that we're staying invested. We are sticking with the plan. I am going to put more in and hold it. I'm not going to sit in cash or buy more bonds. I will put rebalance being the beginning of the year, but I'm not going to hold back or change our aggressive stance.

What made me decide this? PS wrote that. Well as I perused our previous net worth and years of record keeping. I know we kept investing in 2007/2008 when we had less than we saved. But then it paid off gangbusters afterwards.

So now yes we have a more invested. And yes we are 10 years older. But talking with DH, he's in it for 10-15 more years. He's not planning on retiring until 15 years when our youngest should be done with college. If they lay him off that's a different story but as of right now it's in our heads he's going to work 15 more years.

That being said I think with a 15-20 year time frame of investing we risk it now. We stay in an aggressive investment strategy of 85% stocks/10% bonds and 5% cash. I don't think we cash in and take some of the returns off the table because we could miss out on more gains. My thoughts are until we are 5 years out we keep on investing aggressively. At 5 years out we switch more to preservation. And perhaps because at 5 years we can make a year to year decision to retire if the market is down maybe work 1 more year.

Do you think you'll keep on investing? Or is it better to take gains off the table?

good news in 2018

January 11th, 2018 at 12:51 pm

2018 has been good so far. Today I deposited 2017 and 2018 IRA contributions for DH and I. $5500 each for each year for $22k in contributions to our Roth IRAs.

Second it's weird but we ended 2017 a bit short of $800k and now it's powered through. We are at $810k, I think the company match came through for DH's 401k at the beginning of the year for last. And now we just contributed $22k. I wonder if I should rethink our stretch goal?

I also wrote down all our investments and I'm going to clean things up this next month.

E-File Cabinet Organization

January 10th, 2018 at 10:57 pm

So we have an electronic file cabinet. We scan in everything, keep electronic copies of all statements, all tax documents, important receipts, etc. It makes very organized every month statement of investments, checking/savings/CC, loans, etc.

But it does take quite a bit of while. I have been working 1.5 hours tonight and I'm still not done. I'm doing monthly statements pretty much for every account we have for 2017.

I already have our 1099 for Chase for our checking/mortgage documents because of this. But loading each pdf can take awhile. Then saving it and cleaning it up. Further scanning in bills that are not electronic like our water bill takes time. Also invoices or receipts for our remodel takes awhile as well.

I used to try and keep up 1x/month. Usually in the 1st week I download all credit card bills and statements and sit and make payments as well on the 1st. This usually takes 1-2 hours. I also log each payment and copy the confirmation code into an excel spreadsheet. But today I am doing all statements for investments mostly I've missed in 2017.

Then after I'm done my DH comes along and backups our electronic file cabinet, that's what we really call it, onto an external hard drive along with our photos from our phones. He also do a cloud backup as well. So we have a few different copies of everything. Included our file cabinet is scans/photos of birth certificates, passports, visa, all important documents.

I will admit has become quite time consuming. Sometimes I wonder if I should just kick it off. But it really helps us keep all bill paid on time.

What do you do

2017 earnings for me

January 6th, 2018 at 09:48 am

I made around $3200 working for the year. I'm happy. It's not a lot but it's a lot of snowflakes. Considering I did the bulk of it when my kids were in school and I paid $0 for childcare it's gravy.

I've been thinking a lot about it. I could probably go back and land a full time job of $50k starting. But I'm not sure that's the path I'm meant to go down. I like being busy. I love having adult interactions. But at the same time I like have the freedom to call in if the kids are sick. I like not bringing work home. I also like being with them.

But let's say I start now making $50k. And work another 10 years and make $80k by the end of 10 years. Not an unreasonable goal I believe. But out of the $50k the biggest savings would be the $18.5k 401k savings I manage to work at a full time job with one. So we'd save an extra $185k in 10 years. But then the rest of my income let's assume 60% ($30k would go straight to taxes). I'm in the 34% bracket or higher so $15k would go straight to federal taxes. Then assuming SS and Medicare I'm looking at another 8% gone. So working full time I will make around $10k/year to spend on after school care since I'll be working full time. That $10k will be gone with 2 kids and after school costs $500/month during the year plus the summer costs? I won't be making $18.5k savings probably closer to $15k/year.

I believe I can make around that much working part-time where I. I can make $15/hr easily and if I make $20-25/hr part-time why not? I'm thinking still of doing the CFP and going out on my own. Writing off expenses would work better.

Anyway I think having more time this year to work out the numbers of my earnings I think it still makes more sense to work part-time and flexible for less money.

new recipe goal

January 5th, 2018 at 12:12 pm

I was thinking of keeping it easy. I want to make 1 new recipe a month. I'm not the best cook and I make a lot of the same meals. My family eats very boring food.

Plus I'm trying to lose weight so I'm trying to eat more veggies. The kids eat a lot of the same veggies and aren't super adventerous with vegetables. I've felt like it's a losing battle because at least they eat broccoli, carrots, celery, cauliflower, chinese broccoli/bok choy, bell peppers, edamame. But they aren't interested in asparagus, artichoke, snap peas, kale, spinach, etc. They also eat very boring apples/berries/watermelon, etc fruits. Sometimes they will eat a banana or pear but they aren't super into new foods.

I know it's more diverse than most of our friends but I feel like we eat a lot of the same meals. So I am going to stretch the kids and my cooking skills this year and make 1 new dish a year.

This week I am making ham bone soup. I have chicken noodle soup on for tonight after rotisserie chicken these past two nights. Tomorrow the plan is short ribs and then ham bone soup and then ham/broccoli quiche. Also clam chowder is on the agenda for dinner next week.

My other plan is to make beef broccoli at home in a slow cooker (new recipe) and twice cook pork. I've made them but I want to make something less labor intensive and I want to try slow cooking it or something. I also want to try a beef taco bake because we eat tacos about 1x every 2-3 weeks. Or switch it to fajitas?

Is there any easy meals you make that is ethnic? I do a slow cooker curry but my kids eat the same 3 curries I can make Japanese, Chicken tikka Masala, and panang. I would like to expand my repertoire.

I might make also for the first time sloppy joes something I loved growing up.

$350 car accessory -snowflake

January 3rd, 2018 at 08:39 pm

So I want weathertech floor mats for my new minivan. Very extravagent. They already put it in the trunk. But I want the rest The question is how do I buy it? Yes I can afford to buy it. But I want to not just pay for it.

I'm thinking I might try to make it a challenge and see how I can snowflake my way to it. Maybe coupon clipping? Maybe ebates? Pinecone surveys? What else could I do?

I don't want to use my paycheck. Or maybe giving myself the cost of a meal out if we skip eating out? I'm actually trying to not eat out because I want to lose weight.

Do I count borrowing books from the library? Or anything free I can snag? Or selling stuff at the consignment? What can I do to make this happen? Skipping a starbucks?

What do you consider snowflakes? My ticket savings to hawaii? Or our trip at the end of the month?

cars got me thinking

January 3rd, 2018 at 11:47 am

After we bought the cars I got to thinking about how I've changed my mindset about cars quite a bit. I have always been a buy new and keep car till it dies sort of person. But recently I've started to change. I'm wondering if it's okay to not keep a car until it dies. I am starting to think that it's worth being okay buying a car that you can afford at that moment in time for a purpose. And when that purpose is done it's okay to sell the car?

Cars are depreciating assets. So in the ideal world people would only buy used cars and keep them till they die. But that still raises the question, how used a car do you need to buy to be uber frugal? To maximize the frugality of cars, which are SUPER expensive does it have to be 10 years old and you drive it for 3-5 more years? What if it's only 1 year old and you drive it 10 mores years? Why couldn't you keep it longer?

I guess it's a sliding scale. Right? That to each person the valuation of car is what they put on it. Some would argue any used car is a deal. While myself included might argue perhaps it's gotta be at least 5-6 year old to be worth? But I did save a bit buying a 2-3 year old used car.

Reflecting back on our cars we've now had I've come to the realization that we can just make the best choice at the time we make the decicion.

My first car was a 99 toyota corolla bought for $11k including taxes/fees we sold in 2012 because my DH really wanted a car with latch and airbags. It had 150k miles and still running super strong and if my DH didn't want newer safety features I'm sure it'd still be running! We sold it for $3500. We bought a 2006 Hyundai Sonata in 2012 for $11000 taxes and fees.

He had 2000 ford focus bought new for $13k including taxes and fees we sold in 2010 because it broke down. We sold it for $2500. We bought a new subaru outback base model for $23000 including all taxes and fees.

In 2015 we sold the Hyundai Sonata for $6500 and leased a 2015 Subaru Legacy for $28k. DH wanted the car so we did it. What will happen I'm unsure.

Now in 2017 we ended it buy buying a used 2015 Sienna Minivan for $31k. We aren't selling the Subaru Outback 2010 instead we're giving it to my mom and i'll call it $7k value.

Looking back the best value of depreciation was the new Toyota Corolla for $576/year. Then the Ford Focus $1050/year deprecation, then the Sonata $1500/year. I'm not sure what our current 2 cars will end up but I've decided that you can't always make the best decision with cars.

You have to make the best decision with the information at hand. That means what sort of car do you need or want? Can you afford it? Do you think i'll serve it's purpose?

Have you reflected on all the cars you've owned? How would you judge your purchases? Wise? Unwise? Okay? Did it make you happy and serve a purpose?

Bought a minivan and 2017!

December 31st, 2017 at 10:03 am

We bought a 2015 Toyota Sienna AWD Limited minivan. I love, love, love it. I can't say how nice it is to have the space and ease of a bigger car. The car was $28k plus taxes and fees and we borrowed $24k for 4 years at 2.24%.

We are giving my mom the 2010 Subaru Outback. I do feel guilty about getting rid of a car so new, but the minivan I think will be good for 7 years. The plan is to evaluate it when it is 10 years and decide what we need at that time. My mom is getting rid of a 21 year old 1996 Toyota Avalon. And she could buy a new car but refuses so my used car is perfect. Sigh. Trust me I was trying to get her to buy a new car.

2017 wrap up. Our retirement accounts were ridiculous. We started at $626k and contributed $29k. We ended up with $790k today and approximate 21% return for the year.

We started the year with $435k taxable accounts and ended the year with $294k and $250k home equity we put down. Up $109k for the year. Guessing not as much saved as we should have but we did pay a lot of expenses this year.

Overall our NW went up $263k. Our kids have $22k and $14k in college. Plans to discuss this month pay off the car, how much for driveway/drain repairs this summer, roth IRA $11k, $20k taxes, and how much we plan on front loading the kids college.

I think we should earmark $10k per kid this year and see how the year goes. Then with the continual $2k/year per kid we could do another $10k in Jan 2019. I think this should cover 4 years of college?

whew - not at fault

December 20th, 2017 at 10:47 pm

Recall the accident last month? I know I wasn't at fault but it really stressed me out a lot. I guess because we had used our insurance and paid for the deductible $500 and the overage on the rental car $250. It wasn't the money but the worry that I'd have another black mark on my record. I mean 2 years ago in January 2016 I had a car accident my fault. And DH is finally getting his record of accidents clean so we might have a reasonable car insurance.

We paid $897 for 2 drivers, 2 cars for 6 months. So we're at $1800/year for 2 30-something year old drivers. We're paying like we're teenagers. In March 2017 we were priced at $2100/year. Recall the debacle of getting kicked off Ameriprise Costco for non-payment because we didn't get our mail?

Well looking back we were at $1275 for 6 months in 8/2016 or $2550/year. You can see why I was stressing out about liability and if I had made a good decision going through insurance. Before the accident we were looking at $774 for 6 months in 2/2016.

So now I'm a little more relaxed. However I will say that Commerce insurance, the company I have through AAA is terrible and useless. It took me hours of prodding them and calling Nationawide directly to determine liability (they were the other person's insurance). Also Commerce didn't respond back to the repair shop, and they didn't fax over authorization for 3 days claiming it was due to the appraisor. Turns out because it was an authorized shop I didn't need an appraisor. Ugh.

Anyway come March 2018 I plan on shopping around not just for cost but because I don't find Commerce/AAA very helpful. My AAA insurance agent never returns my calls.

AAA started a home owners insurance in June, but didn't cancel my renters insurance and kept charging me until I argued with them in September. I was then worried they hadn't started a home owners insurance. In Spetember 2017 because they didn't cancel my renters insurance they mailed my auto insurance renewal to my old address!!!!! Only because I called to inquire did they realize their mistake and did I renew my auto policy.

I guess you can say I'm done with them. But for now I'll just wait. At least I have insurance.


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