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Archive for December, 2015

car scenario and happy holidays

December 21st, 2015 at 04:25 pm

Okay instead of leasing a car what about buying a new car every 4 years, but keeping it 8 years? Would that make more financial sense? DH gets a new car every 4 years and I keep it another 4 years till he buys another car and hands me down the old car? We could both have subaru outbacks and we'll just be cycling through them every 4-8 years? Would that make financial sense? Yes a constant car payment but only for 1 car and it wouldn't I think break the budget. We will just be driving the same car. And if the technology hasn't improve in 4 years we hang on another year?

I was super excited after thanksgiving and then exhausted from making around 20 dozen cookies. Now that it's done I'm excited again for the holidays! I don't like the business of it but I love the season. I love the lights, the music, the joy and the feeling that another year is winding down. I know others hate getting older but I feel it's another year, another success. I'm older, alive, and have a wonderful life. I love getting older mentally (not physically). After seeing so many friends lose their parents and some friends getting ill I really do appreciate my health and family's health and well being and another year together.

My wish for 2016 is that it's as exciting and happy as 2015. I know for a fact if you had asked me in 2014 Christmas I would have said I was excited because I thought I would be moving in 2016. Now it's turned out we moved in 2015 and who knew life would be so good.

Hacker Fare and $50 savings

December 12th, 2015 at 09:29 pm

I love getting deals on airline tickets. For a little effort you can maximize your savings. A friend of mine values tickets at 2 cents/mile to redeem or earn. Well Hawaii is always a trip to buy your ticket unless it's a holiday. The miles are usually outrageous and it's not worth using more than 25k miles on a ticket. Why?

Well I just got a roundtrip ticket from the West Coast for $379 each into Honolulu. We still probably have to pay more for an inter-island flight but that is a great price. Of course it was a hacker fare, ie we're going on one airline and coming back on another. And I have a huge headache after dealing with Hawaiian Airlines.

First off I bought tickets yesterday but you have 24 hours to cancel a reservation free so I always check and rebook until the last possible second. Yesterday I bought 3 roundtrip tickets each for $506 = $1518 total for me and two kids. Today I just spent $1107 round trip for the 3 of us! I saved us $411 or the price of an entire ticket. It's unlikely I'll get a better deal so I'm ready to rest on my laurels.

How'd I get a deal? Well we're going each for $210 one way for me and the kids. Then coming home we are paying $159 one way for each of us. The ticket coming home was $210 so the true cost of the airfare roundtrip is $420. However we had a $50 credit each on our tickets bringing the one way price to $159.

The headache? Using the $50 voucher each. Booking each return ticket individually is fine if you are an adult. But the website makes it impossible to book as a travel alone minor. UGGGH. I was on hold dealing with websuport and being transferred from department to department. It was so frustrating.

But in the end I saved $150 in vouchers and the ticket prices dropped from $506 to $420 so I saved $86/per person which is why I spent time working on our flights.

Hawaii here we come. Now if we got the cheapest mileage ticket at 25k each which equals 1.68 cent/mile. That's not bad, but typically for hawaii I will pay something ridiculous like 80k miles round trip for $1600 ticket so it's above 2 cents/mile which makes the mileage worth using.

I'm not an expert but a friend of mine is. He games the system and has done mileage runs for maximizing miles and getting platinum upgrades. So he usually evaluates my deal and tells me to buy or use miles. He said for the average person getting 2 cents/mile payout on your miles is phenomenal, while 1 cent/mile is average. Anything less it's worth holding the miles for emergencies.

I can't wait to go home with the kid. I also postponed buying our tickets to see if DH would get into his bootcamp which he did. That means he'll be too busy to miss us and we can afford the trip on our budget.

Buying Cheap stuff and car repairs

December 9th, 2015 at 05:04 pm

I forgot to mention I bought the cookie scoop from Amazon and loved/hated it. I loved the size and ease but it broke on the first batch. So I called and returned it. I explained that I had thought it would be more durable and the reviews were 4 stars. I bought the 3 pack cookie scoop for $14 I think. After returning it I bought the 1 oxo cookie scoop for $12.95 instead (small) and love it. It worked fantastically. I usually look for deals and I usually honestly don't buy the most expensive thing. But I did have the large oxo cookie scoop and my DH said why did you buy cheap? Buy something that will last and you won't curse at. Sigh. I learned my lesson well. For the most part I will admit our cookware and utensil I tend to wait and hem and haw about spending it but love, love, love and use, use, use our stuff. I love my calphalon pots and pans and roasting dishes. I bought pyrex and corningware and use it all the time. I use my kitchenaid mixer quite a bit as well. And the Le Crueset dutch oven I wonder why I didn't buy it sooner. Most of my cookware is now over 10 years old and still is in great shape. I tell anyone getting married buy the good stuff it seriously lasts and you use it everyday or more than once a day.

Of course I have a lot of stuff I would love to replace like a small crockpot that I use A LOT. But 15 years in except for size it works like a champ. I have a 5 qt and would like a 7 or 8 qt. I make soups, curries, chicken, pork, tomato sauce, apple sauce, etc in it all the time. Of course my coffee pot which DH is still mulling over.

Plus we got another opinion on the car and the repairs were still $1800. Along with the suggestion that the alternator looks older and might go within 6 months. Ugh. We're still deciding what to do. Thoughts?

Is your career your life?

December 8th, 2015 at 07:49 pm

DH is starting to gain traction on his career choice. He's getting started on his bootcamp in Febraury and is excited. He was called for an interview from Linkedin in his old career and he refused. It would have been a promotion doing what he did but he said he mentally turned a corner and that's what he did. Now is his chance to do something different.

As for me I'm still wavering on what I want to do with my life. But the depressing part? My mom. Last night she tells me I need to get a career and accomplish something with my life. That staying at home raising kids not enough. That she's embarrassed to say I stay at home and do "nothing" when people/friends ask. I need to use my degrees and become "someone" and make something of myself. What am I contributing to this world? Being a housewife isn't enough even if I can do it financially.

I don't know what to write. I am not sure I am that person who wants to have an accomplished career. My DH made a comment the other night "our resumes read like type A personalities, but we're not type A people." That statement is probably why we are together. Neither of us could be with people who have similar degrees from the schools we went to. Instead we're pretty content right now sitting at home doing nothing together but raise our children and hang out. I feel embarrassed right now and I know my DH does too (now) that we aren't ambitious enough.

I guess that's part of the hesitation. Do I go back and get a certificate to jump into something similar to my degree and get a full time job? Or is it acceptable to find a part-time job in retail and work just the hours the kids are in school? Perhaps the problem is that both of us want our life to focus on our life and making money/career is secondary. We work to earn money to live so our jobs aren't important. He wants his job to be fulfilling so when he's looking at job he's adamant he won't take one for the money. Rather he's interested in finding something he wants to do. I support this because I've always said we can make any amount of money work and my DH agrees.

But should we have more ambition? I mean if we lived elsewhere we could retire with more than Mr Money Mustache did. We aren't ready to do that. But in 5 years if DH is unhappy and we continue on our previous saving trajectory % and we have enough is it wrong to leave the career and do nothing again?

Do people love their careers? Or their spouses love their careers? Do you work to accomplish or contribute? Do you work to not be bored? Or is it about the money? Did paying off your debts change why you work?

update the car and coffeemaker

December 8th, 2015 at 07:40 pm

So the problem isn't with the struts with the car it's with the joints attaching to the car. Also the mechanic suggested that alternator will be going soon. The current estimate for the work without the alternator is $2000. Not sure what the alternator will cost in the future. The car is worth between $5000-$5500 if we do private party sale versus trade in. Trade in value is approximately $4800. We are taking it to another mechanic for a second estimate tomorrow. We aren't sure what to do about the car. Sink money in? The mechanic hedged to use about fixing it, I think because he suggested the alternator would be going within 6 months he predicted and I am assuming that he doesn't think doing the repairs then that repair in 6 months worth it. I guess that's very honest since we'd be using him to do both repairs. He didn't say so but I wonder if he's also thinking that we may have more repairs crop up?

What are our options? Buy a beater? Buy another used car? Try to make do with one? Buy/lease a new car. My DH isn't keen on being a one car family. I don't know what the best choice is. Sink in $2k and potentially I know more I'm going to guess $500 in 6 months or more? Should we? Only to dump it in 6-12 months? I hate cars. I wish life were simple and we could snap our fingers and the perfect car for the perfect price would appear.

For sake of comparison the car DH needs the subaru legacy with eyesight. Only available on the premium or limited models. It appears to be around $250/month leased with $2k down. This will probably be our perpetual car until he chooses to no longer drive. Unless someone else comes out with better technology. It has driver assisted driving, rear sensors, automatic steering, etc. My BIL bought the same car and loves it. He too is leasing for the same reason. Uggh.

I still haven't used or returned the coffeemaker. Partly because I can't decide and partly because I haven't had time to do the return with other things.

Do kids understand money?

December 4th, 2015 at 11:53 pm

Reading a post about net worth on the forums made me think about time versus money. What my DH and I are doing right now is probably costing us a lot of money. How much? Well at least $45k in salary this year and another $100k next year. Then add in the fact we're going to likely burn through $75k in expenses from not working for 10 months plus tuition for DH's program. And we're out $220k without counting the lost opportunity cost of us not saving some and investing it.

Our kids are 5 and 3. So right now my DH is getting the opportunity to enjoy them in a way many parents can't. I'm fortunate to have enjoyed them immensely until now. He's getting to experience volunteering in class, doing field trips, etc.

I'm not sure our kids understand the sacrifice we are making right now. Or that our lifestyle changed moving cross country. We've actually mentioned to our older DK1 that we no longer have an income. That we are watching our pennies and we can't buy everything under the sun.

But the truth is that we lived very much like we did before. The only change is that we didn't shop as many sales/coupons for groceries. We ate out maybe 2x/week instead of 1x/week. We ate at more expensive places instead of places with deals. But otherwise we never shopped a lot, still give the girls extracurriculars, still go out and do experiences we did before like the zoo/aquarium/etc. We've curbed our weekend roadtrips, if we were working we'd likely have gone on 1-2 weekend trip.

But I honestly don't think our kids think our life is any different. They do understand we have a much nicer, bigger SFH with a garage that is warmer. But that's due to the fact we just moved somewhere cheaper that we could afford a home. Even if we were working we'd still have rented the same place.

I wonder if our kids will understand the huge financial risk we took when they were young? Or understand ever the financial repercussions we've done by quitting and moving? I don't know, but I hope they think we did something amazing to change our lives.

But I do know my Dk1 understands those less fortunate. And we are continuing to volunteer at shelters helping to host birthday parties for children who don't have homes. She understand that there are so many others who have so much less. And at this time of year we should be grateful for having so much.

I'm still excited for the season and while there isn't a shelter party we're going to help make goody bags instead this month. I hope that when they look back on holidays they remember these sort of things. I always remember and give my children money for the red salvation army buckets because more than once my grandfather told me he and his family were on the receiving end of the Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets. He always gave me money to put in as does my mom till this day. If not for their generosity I don't know where I'd be.

Next step complete and update

December 4th, 2015 at 11:32 pm

So I said I would mention what has been going on. The dog is in chemotherapy and doing so-so. He's had quite a few treatments and not quite in remission. It is quite expensive. But he's in pretty good overall health. I think this will be our last holidays with him. It's hard to imagine life without a dog.

DH got into his boot camp program officially this week, it starts in February so it appears everything we'd planned is on track. We've hit all our goals for moving and spending and now the job appears to be on the horizon. If DH lands a job during the 12 week boot camp about 75% do within the 12 weeks and 98% do within 6 months of the bootcamp. So we'll see how it goes. But right now every target has been hit. I guess we'll see if we are people who know how to plan and hit goals or if we are gamblers.

We are looking into different options for buying a house as well. We are considering not doing a traditional mortgage but instead leveraging our assets and seeing if might secure a loan that. Friends of ours have done it and gotten a rate between 1-2%. Instead of paying 3-4% we could be looking at half the interest rate. This is something we are starting to research now though we don't have any plans to buy until the summer at the earliest. I've also been researching homes and areas more in depth. This is a slow process, I think I'll be using a redfin agent to get 1% cash back on the process. I've been trying to favorite homes so I can see if the market is still hot or cooling off.

Tips or ideas on real estate? We might also choose to rent another year if we can't find anything we like.

Black Friday shopping

December 2nd, 2015 at 06:50 am

e made a lot of purchases on black friday. Some planned and some unplanned. Something planned for months but still pricey was a new desktop computer. This is our third desktop computer in 15 years together. So I guess around every 7 year we replace our desktop computer. Previously my DH used to build our computers with parts as he had more time to look for deals. This time he did some online research and determined he'd buy a lenovo desktop which would provide a solid buy for a good price. He's said this since around June and told me he'd be looking for a deal around black friday. After we moved the computer for some reason has been overheating/shutting down and crashing. We knew it's been on it's last legs but he's been nursing it along. We got a lenovo desktop from Best Buy for $399. We also got a 24 inch monitor for DH from newegg. This was our big "planned" spending which makes me blanch over the spending but knowing that we've been planning it for almost 6 months makes it bearable.

DH also bought me a Kindle Fire for $35. We'll see how I like the OS compared to the android devices I normally use. He found an open box $5 case at best buy as well. For the kids we decided on $100 budget each ($50 from us and $50 from Santa) for Christmas. We bought DK1 a Razor scooter for $18 and Beadola for $10, Tricycle for $15 and Hello Kitty bus for $20 for DK2 from Santa. We're giving them PJ $10 each, ornaments $5, shopkins $3 and I'm stuck on other stuff. I wonder is it weird if I give them an electric toothbrush $5 each and lip gloss $5 (tsum tsum) for gifts? I am also thinking some lush bath balm $5 each and maybe air freshener night lights from bath and body works.

I find myself looking at cooler stuff the kids sort of "need" but not stuff I would usually buy like an electric tooth brush and super fancy lip gloss (it's minnie mouse). I also bought playdough but I need the tool set.

My parents are gifting the kids with calico critter doll houses $29 and $39 each. I'm still stuck on trying to figure out cool toys they'll enjoy for the long term. I also bought tonight a board game from Scholastic and a workbook. So I've gotten something they need (PJs), something they read, and something they want? I'm not sure since it keeps changes everytime we got to the store!

the car, cards, and coffeemaker conundrum

December 1st, 2015 at 05:16 pm

So my DH's car probably needs to have new struts and shocks done. It is a 2006 Hyundai Sonota we bought used in 2012. It's been a great commuter car and it has not quite 80k miles. We bought it with 55k miles on it and single owner from a dealership for $10k out the door. When we moved cross country we considered selling it but because we were unsure what situation we might find ourselves in for work/commute we decided to keep the car. We decided that the devil we knew with our car was better than selling the car, and figuring out we needed a second car and rushing to buy another used car which we might not be as sure about. Also we weren't interested in spending another $10k and felt we might not get as reliable a car for say the $5k we could have gotten for it. As it turns out where we rented we got a house in a nice area for a good price because we have the second car. The issue now is do we repair the car and sink money into it when the plan is to dump it in 6 months? Or do we run it into the ground for 6 months and worry about dumping it later? Ugh cars are always like this at the end. The worry of dumping good money after bad.

The plan has always been when my DH gets a job he gets a new car. It will be a leased Subaru Legacy with safety features. Dues to circumstances this is the one of two cars he can drive. And it will be leased also due to circumstances that we will be leasing permanently his cars in the future. We need the safety features constantly updated and when and if the self driving car ever becomes available we will likely be one of the first people to try and lease one.

The card conundrum is that I do holiday cards. I love them and have done them for over a decade. My DH and I did them before kids. We always sent out photo cards and love to get them in return. We're up to around 100 people/cards. I cut my list by saying that people who didn't send me a card will not receive my card this year. Sticking to a list of 100 is a bit tough because I do cards to teachers with their gifts as well and having a large family. Previously I had about 10 of my mom's friends whom I had to send to because she asked and I had extra cards. Very few perhaps 2 ever sent back a card. Well this year I cut them because I needed the extra cards for our own friends. My mom got upset over the fact I cut people. Am I obligated to send cards to these people when they don't send me cards? Am I obligated to send them a gift if they give my mom a gift for my kids?

Finally I'll write about my black friday shopping in another post but I will say I bought a brand new programmable Black and Decker 12 cup coffeemaker for $9.72 from Walmart on Black Friday. The conundrum? I don't know if I should keep it. We have a coffee maker I bought on black friday 2000 also from walmart for probably $5. It survived the move and still works. For the most part we haven't used this particular coffee maker except for guests. DH used to only take 1 single serve senseo to go in his mug to work then drink coffee for free at work. He also only used the single serve on the weekend. I am not a coffee drinker so making a pot used to be a waste. However now that DH's home instead of single serve I'll make 2-4 cups for him to have throughout the day because it's cheaper. So the coffee maker is finally being used. He mentioned he'd like a programmable coffee maker and I grabbed this one on deal. But the truth is we don't really need it. When DH goes back to work he won't be using it as much. If it does give up the ghost maybe we'll be a much nicer fancier model? I'm just torn. Thoughts?