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Archive for November, 2015

Question of manners?

November 28th, 2015 at 04:48 am

Okay I'm about to admit to something that bothers me that I'm never sure how to handle. I've never actually handled it unless it's been mailed.

It's how I never get a thank you note or acknowledgement of a gift. It's recently happened twice and I'm not sure whether or not the people got the gifts.

First we went to a birthday party at a pool that was a little crazy and I left the gifts in the general area it seemed to be collecting. This was in October and I'm wondering do I ask the friend "did Boy B get the gift?" Is it tacky? Is it rude? Am I hinting I want a thank you note?

Second we went to a housewarming party that same weekend and I brought a gift for their new baby and dessert. I know they ate the dessert and served it but the books in a bag with card I left. Did they get it? Did they open it? How do you ask? Again I don't expect a thank you but I just am a little annoyed there wasn't anything to acknowledge.

So how do other's manage this? Once I sent my nephew a DVD from Amazon for his birthday/Christmas and finally when I had the nerve to ask my SIL she was embarrassed because they sent a thank you note to someone else they thought it from. I have also questioned before my brother for his daughter and gotten "oh yeah we got it." So they just chose to not acknowledge receipt of the gift.

But nowadays I wonder even if thank you notes are passe (I do them and so do my kids always) how do people acknowledge they got your gift?

Get into the spirit

November 24th, 2015 at 09:22 pm

I don't know why more people aren't excited about the holidays. I am super excited and thrilled. We are going out to buy a Christmas tree and stand. We bought our first set of holiday lights and yes we could wait to buy them on sale after Christmas but I feel like this is it. There are so many wonderful things going on and it's a very fun time of year.

I have to say that all I've heard is people complaining however. They are tired of driving somewhere for Thanksgiving. They are tired of shopping, buying, and wrapping, gifts. They are tired and don't want to decorate.

My thoughts? If you don't want to go anywhere or do anything don't. We've spent years waiting for the chance to decorate our house and have a tree and start traditions. BUT it's not cheap and I can see how it can be tiring.

We're hosting my BIL and FIL for thanksgiving. We're smoking a turkey, sweet potatoes (2 different kinds), 2 different stuffings, cranberry sauce, hot potato salad, broccoli, apple pie, and duff. I made the stuffing today, the cranberry yesterday, the sweet potatoes tomorrow and potato salad and maybe the duff.

We're hosting my parents for Christmas then seeing DH's family for New Years. I'm pretty stoked with both events and I'm thinking rib roast with bone for Christmas. Not sure what my in-laws will make for new years.

I haven't started Christmas shopping, but I did buy few things online for the kids and DH as a surprise. I can see how it can get out of control.

But if people don't want to spend a lot of money I can honestly say it can be done. Until now we've spent almost nothing on Christmas, New Years, and Thanksgiving (we used to go to a friend's house). So keep it simple and eat a regular mean and don't stress out. I wish I could say that in real life to people who seem out of their mind busy and crazy and exhausted. It's not even Thanksgiving yet.

Happy Thanksgiving. What are you doing?

Starting to get excited

November 22nd, 2015 at 09:57 pm

It's weird this year. I feel like for the first time in my adult life we are getting into the feeling of the holidays. We delayed and are trying to order our holiday cards this weekend. We have it made but the website photobooks American isn't taking the groupon I bought. Ugh. So hopefully tomorrow we can have it ordered and we get it by the end of the 1st week of December. I worked on my holiday card mail merge and we should be good to go within a day to send out the cards. We are not religious but I'm very grateful for everything we have this year. And the opportunity to start our own traditions with the kids is amazing.

Today we bought Christmas lights and the turkey. We are getting started for Thanksgiving because we're hosting my in-laws and brother-in-law. My parents will be here for Christmas and then we'll spend New Years with the in-laws. For the first time we'll be in our home with a tree for the kids. I realized that I'm actually going to have to shop for gifts. Perhaps not expensive but the idea of wrapping and buying presents is very pleasant. We bought the kids a lego advent calendar and a mighty blocks advent calendar to start off the season.

I've planned on a dozen cookies each for the teachers, probably white chocolate cranberry cookies. So I've got 6 dozen cookies to make plus another 3 dozen for the school cookie drive.

As for the menu for thanksgiving I'm making cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, spinach artichoke dip, green beans, sweet potatoes, and potato salad.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Hope everyone travels safe and enjoys their families I can't wait.

riding the bus

November 20th, 2015 at 11:36 pm

So this morning we had and incident with the same boy (S) on the bus. He hit my DK1 on the face and said "i don't want you to sit next to me. Get away." Unfortunately DK1 has been avoiding S but we got to the bus stop late and there wasn't any seats for kindergarteners except up front. Yes I saw this happen through the window.

I drove after the bus and stopped DK1 (she wasn't crying but upset) and she told the bus driver what happened. The bus driver said he would be sure to separate the kids from now on and he would also make sure the seats reserved for kindergarteners would be cleared instead of 1st or 2nd graders trying to crowd the front rows. We also told the school principal about the incident. I followed up with a call to the transportation department and how lovely there are cameras on the bus and it was on video. The transportation department said they would be following up with mom of S and the school said they would as well.

My DH went to school to work on the art board today as well. When he saw the boy S, S began stammering and saying "DK1 deserved it. She's been mean to me." My DH ignored him and instead came home and talked to DK1. DK1 said she's been avoiding him and not been talking to him period. She doesn't like him. I believe her and so does my DH considering this is the same child who lied about drawing on DK1 face and told untruths about DK1.

Thankfully we are switching in 10 days to another classroom. So we only have to endure morning bus ride with this neighbor boy and no more afternoon bus rides. I hate to be so petty but I am so glad my DK1 chose to move to full day kindergarten so she won't have to see this child again. Perhaps if we stay and they stay in the area we will see each other but if not then it's just neighbors passing in the day.

You know this wasn't supposed to happen till they were older. I expected this in 4th or 5th grade but not this young.

Full day kindergarten

November 17th, 2015 at 06:39 pm

So we got a call that DK1 whose currently in half day kindergarten got offered a spot in full day kindergarten. The cost is $370/month. A great deal honestly. But the negative is that DK1 would have to switch classrooms. When we moved we were hoping to get into full day kindergarten. Because we thought it was more educational. Yes and no. The curriculum is similar but more time is spent on each subject. 1 hour versus 30 minutes on writing, reading, math, art, social studies, etc. So why the hesitation?

I think because it's December and I worry with all the change she'll be sad. I don't think she's made super close friends yet, but she has made friends. Talking with DK1 she's very interested in going full day because sitting with mom and dad for lunch gets boring. Sitting at home doing homework daily with us (workbooks, piano, math) is tedious. If I had to guess I think she gets more attention and is learning more at home with us than at school. But because of all personalities involved DK1 isn't keen on us teaching her. We do a lot of nature and science teaching as well as workbooks and online coursework. We've done IXL, abc mouse, khan academy, and she takes russian math. Along with piano, swim lessons, gymnastics we know she's getting a nice supplemental education. But I can see how it could be fun to stay at school. But i wonder if she'll be happy having a new classroom?

We have until tomorrow to decide. I am leaning towards full day but perhaps it's too much of a change. Did your kids go to school full or half day kindergarten and why?

it's been a long week

November 13th, 2015 at 11:24 pm

It's been a long week. Remind me again why I don't homeschool or private school my kids?

Yes again we saw our neighbor and the boy S. No apology and his mom stopped me after the bus and said "well S said he was just kidding and joking. He didn't mean to spread rumors and thought it was funny." He also reacted poorly to DK1 saying something bossy "you aren't doing it right" so he reacted and she realized that he hadn't told the truth about the situation. "He reacted poorly but kids will be kids." "it's not his fault other children are provoking the situation."

Something I never thought I'd contemplate is whether private school is an option or homeschooling. We are very big supporters of public school. We are very big supporters of public education and yet I am starting to question if it's worth buying a home in a "good" school district? Or should we focus instead on a location with a nice house and focus our money on private school? Or maybe even consider homeschooling?

Bullying already

November 13th, 2015 at 02:52 am

So I can't let it go for so many reasons. The earlier incident with Student S drawing on my daughter face. I managed to finally get ahold of student S mom (Miss A) since she left me a voicemail.

What did she say? Well "kids will be kids". Oh really? So Student S lied about the situation and said he didn't draw on my child's face. He drew on her arm because she drew on. This was not true and Miss A told me she believed her son. She was stumped that the story was different from what my daughter and teacher's story was.

Second, I told her that I investigated the accusation that my child was going around kissing other children. I called and asked the other parent and the teacher and other children's parents. The only child saying that happened was Student S. Funny how this came out only after the drawing on the face. I didn't call him a liar but I said perhaps she'd like to question his story again.

She said he didn't tell her the story but he was telling other children this gossip. I told her she needs to ask her son to stop telling the story. I did discuss this with the teacher, but I am still annoyed.

I don't know if I should bring up this boy is spreading rumors about my child. I can't believe we have to live next door to this family. Ugh. Thank god we are renting. This is a sign that we need more space from having neighbors.

Starting to clean up

November 12th, 2015 at 03:05 am

So today I listed finally a thomas the train set we have that is worth a lot of money. We were unable to sell it before we moved. It has over 100 trains, 100 pieces of track, and a bunch of parts. I listed it multiple area on craiglist. I am hoping that it sells in 1 lot and I won't have to sell it piecemeal. Which I've been told by friends will make the most money but the most time as well. I took it to a consignment store which told me the same thing.

I also listed our old vacuum cleaner. We had all the old bags and filters. It's not in terrible shape and the spare accessories alone are worth at least $40. I asked $40, I'm hoping to get anything.

Next goal tomorrow is to donate the large pile/boxes of stuff we have gathered after our move. We haven't found a place yet to take it nor have we figured out who comes by to pick up donations. But that's on tomorrows agenda.

I also am testing out a crock recipe for sloppy joes.

Kindergarten Woes

November 10th, 2015 at 07:05 pm

So my kindergartener came home yesterday from school a bit upset. I got an email from the teacher she and the boy sitting next to her got into a fight. He drew on her paper first and she retaliated by drawing on his paper. I know I laughed because it is the age. But then he drew on her face and she started crying. She was then set to the nurses office to clean up an calm down. The teacher sent me and email and said they had been sent to time out and had misbehaved and were both not allowed to finish the art project with pens but pencils as punishment.

I asked my DK1 what happened and she explained the story. The story I wrote above I emailed the teacher and it was confirmed. We explained to DK1 that it was wrong to retaliate by writing on someone else's paper and the correct thing to have done was to tell the teacher. We did say we were glad DK1 didn't retaliate and draw on the other child and escalate the fight. She wrote and apology note to the teacher today for fighting.

But DK1 refused to apologize to the other child. My DH and I are torn. Do we make her apologize? Allow her to not apologize and let her avoid the other child? I feel a terrible parent because I felt like laughing over something that has happened between my own two kids. So I get it. And between the two kids I make them apologize.

But now what? Besides the point DK1 has to get over it, we made her go to school today when she didn't want to and see the kid. Why? Because the kid is a neighbor that rides the bus too. FWIW he didn't go to school today.

It's starting already. Navigating the social aspects of school.

Annoying fees and free shipping

November 9th, 2015 at 05:14 pm

Okay so I got our first water bill and on it was a $25 miscellaneous fee. The fee was for setting up our water bill. Ridiculous. So I pay for water and I pay to set up an account? Just add this to the list of moving expenses.

Also if you order stuff online and want free shipping and free returns check out shop runner. A friend invited me so I had it free for a year. Otherwise it's $79. But if you have an american express credit card it's a free service offered in partnership. It's a great deal for ordering things you aren't sure about and having a free return.

Meal plan for the week we made smoked pulled pork yesterday. Today I made baked potato soup. Pulled pork in tacos for dinner. And later this week we'll make an indian chicken curry and I think maybe fish tacos.

Planning ahead and expenses

November 9th, 2015 at 06:19 am

We have been really good about our spending in this past month. Ridiculously good. Our spending with 2 kids is on Mr Money Mustache level. We spent about $2000 on everything outside our mortgage last month. We also spent $1000 on the dog but I don't consider that "us" spending. We got our grocery budget more in line and eating out too. A lot of money was spent on getting set up again and in October as well but we had a better handle on it and really the bulk was done in September.

But there a few expenditures this week which I found interesting. I bought myself 3 new silicon spatulas from amazon for $5.49, 8 piece pyrex baking for $15, and cake tray for $5.99. For some reason I lost in the move, or perhaps we threw out our old bakeware because it was in poor condition.

But I've noticed as we are cooking more a few things are not quite up to snuff. I find myself yearning to buy the cookie scoop and I always tell myself at Christmas I need to buy it because I hate doing cookies with spoons. But at the same time I know right now I shouldn't be spending money. I also would like to buy the stackable cookie racks. UGGH.

How do you budget replacement of items you either have but are old or never bought but want? In the past I'll admit I'd have bought it without blinking an eye. But right now we're very budget conscious and so I'm reluctant to spend money on anything.

The things I did buy I really need and the best home "investment" I ever did was buy in 2005 (year we got married) my calphalon cook set. OMG I think it was $550 for the set and I got the roasting pan, griddle, extra pan, etc and spent over $1k. But I have used it daily. I have used the pots and pans so much in 10 years that whatever I paid for it, it's returned to me in spades.

Before I bought it I remember my aunt pulled me aside and said "don't cheap out, but the best quality you can get for pots and pans because you'll use them forever. And you'll use them daily." Of course the one thing I didn't buy then was really good knife set something I'm still lusting for.

I think I might cave on the cookie scoop and maybe the racks too. But I'll resist everything else unless it happens to break or i can't find it. I also wanted to get a french press but that's again on the wish list.

What is your favorite kitchen tool/appliance you have? What is the most expensive appliance or tool and do you regret buying it? Or do you love, love, love it and would recommend it? I swear by my pots and pans and when people ask I say I still have mine and they are phenomenal.

why the 12% Return on Investment is high

November 6th, 2015 at 06:36 pm

I posted about Couple A and Couple B choosing to invest their money differently. Couple A chose to pay off the home, Couple B chose to invest in a 401k. By assuming a rate of return on investment of 6%, the difference after 30 years was $691,281.00.

Not extravagant but is a pretty penny. But making a different assumption and follow Dave Ramsey and using a 12% ROI well you get a very different scenario.

Couple A - saving $15k/year for 30 years, then saving and extra $18k/year for 15 more years
6% ROI 12% ROI
15 years retirement $358,462.00 $589,327.00
20 years retirement $566,801.00 $1,139,029.00
5 years taxable $107,773.00 $124,611.00
25 years retirement $845,365.00 $2,107,775.00
10 years taxable $251,998.00 $344,216.00
30 years retirement $1,218,146.00 $3,815,046.00
15 years taxable $445,002.00 $731,236.00

Total Savings $1,663,148.00 $4,546,282.00

So using the 12% ROI couple A would have about 3x the savings after 30 years and the number honestly seems really high.

Couple B saving $29k/year for 30 years with a 6% and 12% ROI
6% ROI 12% ROI
15 years retirement $693,181.00 $1,206,991.00
20 years retirement $1,095,510.00 $2,390,051.00
25 years retirement $1,633,918.00 $4,073,891.00
30 years retirement $2,354,429.00 $7,373,694.00

Couple B also has around 3x as much savings after 30 years. And a ridiculous amount. But then maybe I'm too pessimistic and after 30 years of saving my DH and I should have $7.3M at around age 55. I find that incredible to believe however. That we are going to be that rich. I personally think our number might be closer to $2.3M hence why I use 6% ROI.

What do most people project?

Pay down mortgage or invest?

November 6th, 2015 at 06:26 pm

Does it makes sense to pay down your mortgage or invest? For the most part it depends. Depends on your risk tolerance. Depends on your age. Depends on if you bought too much house. But honestly the numbers support investing first, especially in tax deferred (401k) or tax free (Roth IRA) accounts before you pay a penny in overage to your mortgage. The big reason being you can't go back and put the money from your mortgage being paid off into past years contributions.

What do the numbers say? I use round numbers because it's easier. Assume a couple with a stay at home mom, 2 kids, and an income of $100k and are 35 years old. Assuming Couple A contributes 15% to their retirement and the rest of their money to their mortgage. Couple B maximizes the retirement savings to 401k+Roth IRA and nothing to their home. They have a mortgage for $300k on a home worth $360k.

What ends up happening?

Couple A
$15k retirement/year, pays home in 15 years because they have an extra $10,500/year for mortgage paydown. They then divert $1551/month into retirement/taxable savings for the next 5, 10, 15 years.

Couple B
Saves $29k/year and pays less in federal income taxes. But they don't pay down the mortgage because all their extra money goes to retirements savings.

Couple A - using a 6% Return on Investment (ROI)
15 years retirement $358,462.00
20 years retirement $566,801.00
5 years tax/retirement $107,773.00
25 years retirement $845,365.00
10 years tax/retirement $251,998.00
30 years retirement $1,218,146.00
15 years tax/retirement $445,002.00
Total savings = $1,663,148.00, No Debt

Couple B - using 6% ROI as well
15 years retirement $693,181.00
20 years retirement $1,095,510.00
25 years retirement $1,633,918.00
30 years retirement $2,354,429.00, No Debt

Couple B has $691,281.00 more than Couple A after 30 years and a paid for home as well.

Couple B has been paying less federal taxes because they are using the 401k to lower their taxes. Because of this they actually after getting close a 40% bonus savings rate. How? Well they are saving $29k/year versus $15k/year for Couple A, but Couple A overall only had $10,500 extra to direct to the mortgage for extra savings. So almost a 40% bonus just from less taxable income.

But after 15 years Couple A is debt free. True, but Couple B likely are decent savers having put savings on auto-pilot. And whose to say either couple won't cash out their homes and downsize? In which case Couple B could in theory be debt free as well. But likely not.

Career Change

November 2nd, 2015 at 05:23 pm

So my DH is making a career change and I hope to get back to work and do one as well. So my DH is getting nervous not because he's worried about the job prospects, actually he picked the HOTTEST field in the US to switch into. What field? Data Science. But he's curious as to what will he be paid. Three different websites say Data Scientist are the highest paid career track now [url=http://www.kdnuggets.com/2014/04/elusive-data-scientists-driving-high-salaries.html][/article 1], [url=http://www.wired.com/insights/2015/03/data-scientists-earning-salaries/][/ or 2].

But realistically he's very curious what is he going to make. One articles says it's averaging $118k which is less than what he made, we're actually budgeting $100k. But the other articles says north of $200k for master's level, foreign born male. Well he's foreign born with a science phd and mba and male in the west coast. So it'll be interesting to see.

What makes us the most nervous? We're wondering what's the possibility of getting a job outside of silicon valley? More expensive than NYC now SF has surpassed the cost of living of Manhattan. And even with two income we doubt we'd have a good quality of life. So we're hoping for something more.

As for me I'm torn. The field I'm looking to jump back into is project management. Another hot and growing field though not as well paid and more "Consulting" positions. The only thing I wrestle with is that it's full time and it's rare to find a part-time project management position. There is a 1 year certificate program near where we are for $5k that would tailor perfect with my background and give me an in for an entry level position. The starting salary would likely be around $50-60k if I had to guess with quick upside into the $100k-$120k price point. I do like the idea of going back to my old field but under different circumstances. I'm not sure I want to work full time however since my DH's job we're unsure what the work/life balance would be like.

Or my other option I look at is working at Costco or a Bank part-time. It'll be hopefully more flexible, at least less hours, and there is potential to move up and go full time when the kids are older. But I'd be starting in something completely different if they'll hire me.

Restarting our careers in our 30s is a tough prospect. Perhaps we should have more carefully planned our 20s better. Sigh. I never thought this would happen when I was picking a major in college or graduate school. I was a fool.

As for my kids I'm going to tell them to become a data scientist if they have any aptitude for it. I suspect both will have some aptitude for the math and science but we'll see. As long as they are happy. After all they have parents who are doing what makes us happy rather than money. If I had what made money I'd have been a dentist.

Have you guided your kids to certain careers? Or explained the career tracks?

Blue Apron

November 1st, 2015 at 08:25 pm

Has anyone tried it? It's a company that sends you all the ingredients for a set number of meals and directions to teach you how to cook.

I know my neighbors have and they greatly enjoyed it. However it's not cheap in the grand scheme of things. It definitely broaden their horizons for cooking and eating. It also increased their cooking abilities. But they didn't necessarily start making those same dishes after they got it.

It is $59/week for 3 meals for 2 people or $9.99/serving. Or $69.99 for 2 meals for a family of 4 or $8.74/serving. The question is that this seems high compared to what you can make yourself.

But you are able to learn how to cook different dishes. It seems like a cost efficient way to test out new recipes without investing in buying lots of groceries. It also is a cheaper way to eat than eating out all the time and probably healthier.

Perhaps one day we'll try it but for now I think we'll have to pass as we're trying to stick to a much tighter grocery budget right now.

I forgot to add my meal plan for the week. Tonight Baked Ziti with leftovers for tomorrow. I also have extra sauce I am making for spaghetti next week. I am also roasting a butternut squash for a side for the next few days. Plus I have a kabocha pumpkin and sweet potatoes to cook for sides for a few days. Along with a bag of spinach and kale. I bought ground beef on friday and other meals for the week are teriyaki meatballs and an indian potato beef curry. I have to buy some potatoes so on the agenda is baked potato soup.

October Budget Roundup and other stuff

November 1st, 2015 at 07:50 pm

So October we came in under budget. On the CC we spent $3255 to be paid November 1st, though its not due until November 22nd. That included about $1000 in vet bills for the dog's chemotherapy. So we were way below budget for us as a family but in our "budget" now we are trying hard to run lean because of unexpected dog costs.

We spent $203 on gas fuel, $74 on alcohol (we bought some rum and vodka restocking), $608 on groceries, and $199 on restaurants/eating out. The eating out included $50 I spent on groupons for future restaurant visits. All in all, I think we got a pretty good handle on food now. The $608 included all my groceries for the week except some milk and maybe some veggies. Of course November is probably going to be expensive with Thanksgiving and potentially my in-laws visiting.

An interesting thing we use a lot of data at home. We don't have cable but have high speed data for $50/month. So we used 11 GB in August (5 days), 130 GB for September, and 173 GB in October. It was suggested on the forum that we could cut internet and use only the cell phones. At those usage rate we'd blow over the normal cell phone limits. Guess we're stuck with paying for internet for a long time.

I'm still pondering college and retirement and overall savings goals.