<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Archive: July, 2016
 

Archive for July, 2016

40 credit cards

July 25th, 2016 at 09:06 am

Over the years I've accumulated probably at least 40 cards. I am one of those people who never cancelled cards. As long as there wasn't an annual fee if we opened and tried it I left it opened. So this weekend I don't know why my DH started looking at our paperwork. When we moved we literally threw stuff into boxes because we didn't get to it. I had debit cards expiring in 2005 from Washington Mutual. 4 of those cards and papers I found in our box of paper. I also had debit cards from chase that expired in 2008. So this obviously a long term problem. We haven't had either accounts since 2005.

We got to the decluttering easy stuff like clothes, kid toys, etc. But older harder stuff we are still working on. I mean we still have boxes of unopened stuff to look through in the garage. But the reality is that we have a ton of cards that I have no idea when I opened them or what is going on.

So yesterday I started organizing some of the cards and calling to see if there were closed. I had over 40 cards and had I think over 20 that were closed so I started to shred them and the paperwork. I still have a few more to work on but now it's a small stack that fits in a box.

I can't close any that we don't use and are open still because we want to buy a house in the next year and I don't want to hurt our credit scores. I need to pull our credit reports soon to check and make sure everything is okay. My credit dropped from 835 last July to 804 this July. It says because I have too high credit loan balances to credit limit. This is from discover and not an actual score. But I'm worried of course. My DH is 816 but it says the same level of credit used to credit limit is problem. Ugh.

Some of this is because Uncle J passed. We're trying to be motivated to get more organized. We shredded and got rid of 200 pieces of paper. I'm up to 958 things I've gotten rid of this year. Perhaps I am on track to get rid of 2016. But seriously I know we have a ton of paperwork still.

lawyers can earn a lot

July 23rd, 2016 at 05:05 pm

Wow I was reading a blog about someone's journey to biglaw and I had no idea that lawyers make so much money. I mean I knew they did I just didn't have a clue it was a public payscale.

1st year (class of 2015) – $180,000 ($160,000 + $20,000)
2nd year (class of 2014) – $190,000 ($170,000 + $20,000)
3rd year (class of 2013) – $210,000 ($185,000 +$25,000)
4th year (class of 2012) – $235,000 ($210,000 +$25,000)
5th year (class of 2011) – $260,000 ($230,000 + $30,000)
6th year (class of 2010) – $280,000 ($250,000 + $30,000)
7th year (class of 2009) – $300,000 ($265,000 + $35,000)
8th year (class of 2008) – $315,000 ($280,000 + $35,000)

8 years after you graduate you are making $300k. If you started at 25 making $180k and then by age 33 you are making over $300k. Seems crazy like a lot of money. No wonder so many friends I knew said lawyers make a lot.

Had you any clue they made this much? I know this is for biglaw and smaller firms pay less. But from reading the blog they don't make that much less necessarily.

I wouldn't do it unless I like it. But it certainly is food for thought about telling my kids if they want to go into law, they could easily be like Mr Money Mustache and retire very, very early.

A rough couple of months

July 22nd, 2016 at 10:26 pm

Death comes in threes. So it's been a rough couple of months. A lot tonight has been feeling some regret. DH and I moved to be closer to our families. We always felt that being so far away we couldn't visit. So we moved. It really has made a difference.

Anyway DH's grandmother passed away in early June, she was 94. His dad and uncle went and spent the month back home. We had discussed going this past year when DH wasn't working but we thought it was too expensive because of the lack of income. And now we have regrets. I told DH to go but he was feeling stress over the job hunt and in the midst of landing his job.

Anyway my uncle also passed at the end of June. My dad really wanted to go but with the time difference and how fast they did the funeral he didn't make it. Instead my parents will do the 100 day celebration after death. Fortunately my parents had gone to visit him in March. Our thoughts were to go to both places next summer we had been planning this trip from last year.

We thought it would make more sense after DH got a job and settled in and we knew our finances. We'd have time and money. Turns out we'll have money and not enough time. It's going to cost us likely $15k-20k next summer. $2k tickets, another $2k hotels, and everything else.

Then just a day ago DH's uncle passed away. DH just came back from visiting his parents with the kids on Wednesday and his dad called us to say Uncle J died. He was happy they had managed to spend June together and travel. They flew back on July 5th together so he enjoyed the time together.

We were supposed to see him in June but he had gone back for his mom's funeral. So we had been emailing and had made arrangement to see him and stay in August when we went back. Now instead DH's dad is flying down probably this week to take care of all the arrangement. Uncle J has no kids and currently wasn't married. He was married 3x. We enjoyed seeing him and he loved seeing us and the kids. He was supposed to have come at Thanksgiving but instead went home so he said maybe September/October. Actually he had plans to come this summer before everything happened. We typically saw Uncle J once a year on our annual trip. He was 67.

I guess it's melancholy. That we've made these plans and feel like we've missed a window. We weren't able to before because the flights were so long and we weren't sure we wanted to with the kids being so small. Then we moved without a job and didn't feel right spending so much on a trip. The same thing happened when we got married. The year we got married DH's 2 grandfather's passed away right before they could come to our wedding.

FWIW we decided next summer we are taking one trip to Asia to see family. We're going to see DH's grandma and extended family and my Dad's family. This will likely be perhaps the only trip before people pass away. It's funny we moved to be closer to our families and now we have seen them a LOT more. And now we even had an opportunity to see the extended family as we'd hoped and it's to late.

And our dog this week relapsed with cancer. He's on his last few months i guess. It's hard to accept and harder still to know that we don't have much time. We can't board him anymore which is another reason traveling this year has been limited to driving. We just can't fly or leave him anywhere. So that was another stupid reason why we didn't want to travel this year.

Ugh it's been a difficult summer.

HCOLA versus LCOLA

July 20th, 2016 at 11:44 am

People always ask why do people live in HCOLA versus LCOLA? Does the salary support the difference in cost of living? Absolutely not. The HCOLA usually salaries aren't commensurate with the higher cost of living. I can say that with absolute certainty. Until now I've only lived in expensive cities so I've never experienced anything else. I grew up in HCOLA and started a family in a HCOLA. But now we are able to buy a home.

So people think it's only about the home prices. But there are so many factors involved. Small things you don't think about. Right now we pay for a SFH electric/gas bill a high of $150/month, currently it's $80/month. I was previously paying $250/month for electric alone monthly plus my heating bill was $250/month balanced and during the winter we spent around $600+/month. We pay $125/month for water now and our portion previously was around $200/month. The food bills I think are around the same.

We pay $190/month now and used to pay for the same days $390/month. So double and even if I priced out full time it's around 2x the cost. It even translates to babysitters charging $10/hr here versus $20-25/hr where we were. Private schools are also much cheaper. Average private school costs around $12-15k versus $30k where we were.

All these small things contribute besides the cost of homes to the cost of living. When we were looking at places to live, I admit I only looked at the cost of homes. But the truth is that there is so much more to it.

Should people move from a HCOLA to LCOLA? It depends. If you want to yes. But on the same token should people move from a LCOLA to a HCOLA? It depends.

I can say that people who stay in HCOLA without high incomes do so for other reasons. There are other reasons like staying put to be close to family. Because they prefer the lifestyle. And sometimes because it's the fear of the unknown. The same things go for people who live in a LCOLA and are tempted to move to a HCOLA.

After meeting friends who moved from LCOLA to HCOLA I will say that it's harder to do that than go the opposite way. There are a lot more sacrifices. It's eye opening to see how much more things can cost outside of housing which everyone see immediately. I mean a friend moved from a place where her house cost $300k and is bigger than her rental that costs her $3k.

Do you ever think about moving?

Tentative Budget

July 20th, 2016 at 11:02 am

Right now with the knowledge I have from company documents and potential gross income I have drawn up a potential budget. Right now I have us saving 30% of our income excluding bonuses. Right now I hope we are able to save our bonuses after taxes. Right now I plan on us saving the maximum 401k, roth ira, college ESA, and ESPP. With all of that we will be at 30% savings. This is of course with us approximating taxes.

With the approximate budget I've drawn up we have $3500/month to save/spend on food, groceries, fun, etc. It's close to what we spend now so we should be okay.

But my budget assumes that we are still paying the same in rent/mortgage. What happens when we buy a house and pay more? I am worrying about our budget. I have to admit that renting another year is a relief. It gives us time to stabilize a budget.

I'm starting to understand now what renting buys freedom. It's buying me peace of mind. However I get why people buy before moving into an area. It's so stressful though to go through a new job, budget, and moving.

How to find a job?

July 18th, 2016 at 11:35 pm

I have been reflecting a lot on going back to work. But the problem I'm running into is what do I want to do? Not just what do I want to do but how to get there? I mean it's so hard to find your passion. But more than that how to even get back into the job market after so long out.

For me it's been 6 years. What does a person do? I've been toying around with trying to set up and internship. But the question is will that help land me a job? But before finding a job how do I find the right one?

I can see that my DH struggled a long time with his career change. He's so excited with his new career and he's passionate again. The two months he was job hunting I saw the high and the lows and the doubts. The doubt that he had made the right decision. That he would be able to find a job. He wondered if giving up something he knew he could do. He actually still has imposter syndrome. He wonders if he can do it. If they'll realize he's fake.

That's exactly how I feel. I don't really want to do what I did. If I do something new then do I need to get more training? How do I test out the new career track? How did you change careers? Was it worth it?

Not liking the candidates

July 18th, 2016 at 09:08 am

I was told in a conversation that by not voting for Hillary Clinton I was voting for Donald Trump. What? Why couldn't I vote for Hillary? And how can I turn my back on the Democratic Party? I nearly lost it. I very politely said I will vote but I'm going to write in Bernie Sanders or I'm going to vote for any independent.

Apparently I'm crazy to think that the democratic party basically gave the nomination to Hillary Clinton. Apparently that being a Bernie Sanders fan means I'm a democrat instead of an independent. And I'm a female suppressor.

No to all of these things. I think I'm actually more a liberal counterpart to a Donald Trump supporter. I mean in the sense that I get anyone supporting the Donald because they hate the establishment. I am not fond of the democrat establishment and I don't want to vote for Hillary.

I could care less if she's a women. She's dishonest and thinks she's above the law. And I was told how is she any different from GW, Colin Powell, etc who had private servers? It wasn't illegal when she started doing it, but it became illegal. Um okay yes but she continued doing it and I believe it's because she thinks she's above the law. Apparently everyone who runs for president thinks they are above the law. I don't think so the only other one I feel like who thinks that way was Nixon and we saw how that ended up.

Yes both liberal and conservative people are beholden to special interests. But why can't a person who supported bernie not support hillary? I don't like donald and what he stands for at all. I am not in support of his comments or platform or him. But I don't want to vote for a woman I despise and think is lying every step of the way. And I see nothing wrong with saying I'm probably less of a democrat than I've ever been and turning more independent as I get older. I hold more liberal views than what the "democratic" party holds. But I have a ton of friends who were republicans but now would call themselves liberaterians. Because republicans are not the party of smaller government anymore, but rather the government of spend more money on their agenda. So how can either party wonder why people are fleeing them?

Do you think both liberals and conservatives aren't in sync with the big party elites?

my neighbors are jerks

July 16th, 2016 at 07:09 pm

Did I mention what's been going on? Remember the incidents earlier in the year about the bullying? The hitting and drawing on my DK1? The luck we had about switching classes. Anyway before the end of the year I turned in a request that they are not in class together. Nor my DK1 is any class with any neighbors.

So a reason we also looked at moving out of our rental was the neighbor situation. Anyway recently we got a note from saying "you suck DK1." We also were left weird rock piles on the door. Until the note we said nothing and then my DH went next door and explained to the parents the situation. We did not show this to DK1, we asked if DK did it and she said no.

The parents said they don't talk that way. They didn't let them out of the sight. The truth is I caught them this week leaving notes again at the door. I am not sure what to do now. By caught I mean I opened the door and the kids were standing in front of our house and ran.

So now what to do? Make situation worse and confront them? Or just realize my neighbors are assholes and that there is nothing to be said or done before they realize their kids are being jerks because they are allowing it? Is it wrong to feel like we should move? I hate feeling trapped in the house and constantly on the kids so nothing happens?

my experience now with realtors so far...

July 15th, 2016 at 03:24 pm

Okay we're house hunting now. Not aggressively but slowly. We're using redfin, but we might change to a regular realtor. I haven't been impressed with the redfin agents but maybe it's because we are using a discount service. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the fact that I am able to see homes without pressure. I love the fact that the realtor showing me the home is being paid per house and not there to pressure me into buying. I love the fact it's based on them just being free to tour me on the house.

So what am I having an issue with? Well I've changed agents once with the redfin agent who is supposed to write the offer. Why? The first agent never wrote back to me or contacted me. The market is hot so I suppose he was too busy. Valid point since we weren't in a rush to buy and not interested in a bidding war or closing a deal fast. I actually got an email from him saying that I needed to be faster and put in offers in a bidding war style. He also wrote me an email that I needed to let go of having an inspection or mortgage contingency. He and I obviously did not mesh.

This second realtor has followed up on my tours and asked questions about my preferences. However this realtor as well has made commentary that I need to get in on this bidding war situation. I need to be ready to move.

I'm not ready. I feel like a kid being peer pressured into buying a home I don't want. Hence why I am keeping these realtors at an arms length. I know what I can afford. I know what I am looking for. I know that I am not interested in offering on a house in a bidding war period. We aren't desperate and we don't have to move. We have the financial situation to buy but we aren't going to rush in and buy without contingencies. We aren't doing it and any house we buy will allow us our contingencies or it's not the house for us.

I know this because I know myself and DH. This is a lot of money. This is a big investment and a hefty chunk of change. I am not going to buy a house after visiting it once. I am also not going to buy a place to settle and regret it. If I am buying a place then I better really like it.

My strategy is to see homes that have been sitting a month. This is not uncommon in the price range we are looking at. It also is not uncommon that people in this range are "overpriced" and I've seen many sales below asking simply because they are asking too much. I've watch price per sq foot. I've been watching the market for a year and tracking data on a spreadsheet.

I really am annoyed with these realtors. When I see something I like they'll know. They'll know because I'll drag my DH to see it and we'll see it at least 2x before making an offer. They'll know because I'll tell them instead of them asking me. They'll know because I won't be submitting an offer on an offer review date. I mean I flat out told them I'm not going in on a bidding war. But this second realtor isn't listening.

A friend recently bought a house for $680k and regrets it. It was listed for $675k, they offered $5k over asking and it had been on the market for 24 days! This is in a super hot market where the average days on market is 14. So they obviously listened to a realtor and put in an offer over list price. They say they regret buying a 30 year old house and wish they had bought a newer house. Personally I thought they nuts. I'd have gone in and offered $625k and seen where what they came back with. My DH said it's because they were first time home owners who only saw themselves making another 10% next year. Now they have doubts it'll appreciate that much in 1 year and are worrying if they bought at a peak.

Personally I think the market won't go down. But I think that perhaps appreciation will slow down or stay flat until incomes catch up. I also think for these homes to go up another 10% is a lot to pay $750k for what they bought seems too pricey, but I could be shocked into being wrong. Maybe it'll go up 10% more in 1 year. It will go up I believe, just not perhaps at the rate previously seen. Where it went up about 40% this year alone.

So how do you prevent this from happening? I think staying strong to your plan. Buy the house you want for the price you want. Don't let yourself get emotionally attached to any house. Don't let yourself get caught up on making money on the house. I'm struggling because I want to move and settle. But I don't want to make a financial mistake because I'm feeling impulsive.

I'll keep readers updated. Right now nothing I've seen has been the right house. The location, layout, yard, etc has all been wrong. There was one house but it's been on the market for 6 months since January severely overpriced. We're not ready to move and they obviously are hoping for the moon.

Do you have any more tips on how to find a house? What should we compromise on?

The good, the bad, the ugly

July 15th, 2016 at 11:44 am

Lots of news of all sorts. Good news is I saved another $20 on our trip to hawaii by checking prices. The one way ticket dropped to $199 and I called the airlines and got $20 on each of 3 tickets credited back to me. Sometimes it pays to price check.

Second I took my car in for a an oil change and found that I might need new calipers $900 repair. However I took it to the dealership instead for a free 40 point check and they recommended instead just replacing the rotors for $370. They also said they would price match any other deal ad and would replace for just the cost of parts the burnt out lightbulbs. I found a local dealer with a deal for brakes for $199 so I'll get the work done potentially for $250 instead of $900.

The bad news? Well my auto insurance went up to $1400 for 6 months for 2 cars and 2 drivers. I was paying $700 so the price doubled. We are bad drivers. DH has two accidents and I had my first ever accident in January. As you know he's had many accidents, but until I had one we were forgiven for 1 of his accidents. Ugh, now I may shop around for better deals. I might also raise the deductible from $500 to $1000. Of course they said one of his accidents comes off in Janaury so we'd be back to $700 for 6 months. Yes sometimes I think about my DH not driving but he won't give it up. And I realize me typing that as the most recent person to have an accident is ironic. But right now we have to many other things to deal like starting a new job and figuring out a commute, where to live, and budget/taxes to resolve the issue.

The ugly? Well we were supposed to see a friend who was visiting her family nearby and meet her new baby and other kids. But her dad unexpectedly passed away a few days before she flew in. It was awful since he lived alone and she hadn't heard from him so her aunt called and said she hadn't heard from him in a week so they drove out and found him passed away. It was awful because she supposed to have come around the holidays but she didn't because her job asked her to come back early from maternity leave and she felt obligated to do so. Her dad hadn't had the chance to meet her 3rd child yet. We connected over the phone and she expressed regret over not just coming and screwing the job. Ugh.

Sometimes it's so hard to know the right decision. And it's worse yet to know that money drives most of our decisions but how can we know if it's the right decision? I guess this is why we work and save. So we can make the best decision we feel without the pressure of finances. I just am going to promise myself we are going to try to become Financially independent as soon as possible.

golden handcuffs and renting

July 6th, 2016 at 08:08 am

This weekend we hung out with my BIL staying at his apartment. He's 36 and never bought his own place. Partially because he's not had a down payment and partially because he's never been sure he wanted to stay put. Truth is his first 2 years working there were layoffs at his company and he wasn't sure if he would stay. He feels secure now but not happy.

So buying a place for a job he isn't in love with doesn't make sense. We've told him if he's unhappy and thinks he'll find a new job or career don't buy. But at the same time he feels he's flushing money down the toilet. And he feels he can't leave his job, he's got some security through a large salary. He's in the middle of being handcuffed to his salary. Honestly if he buys a condo I think he'll be even more handcuffed.

And yes he has been renting his apartment for 4 years and rent keeps escalating. It was $1600, then $1750, then $1900, and now it's $2100/month for a 1 bedroom. But buying means he's committed to the area he doesn't love. It means he needs a big EF in case he loses his job and if he gets a new job and it's not easily commutable he has to sell and move.

SA thread was discussing whether you hate your job. I think if you do you should figure out how to change it or your career. Sometimes it's just the job and sometimes it's the career. And it's hard to leave the job if it's so lucrative for your family/self. It's hard if it's convenient. But you can make a plan and change I think.

What do you think about being handcuffed to a job?

Economize where you can?

July 6th, 2016 at 08:02 am

When we travel we tend to spend more. To be expected right? We just can't afford to be quite so frugal because of circumstances. But this trip there were things that made me laugh and blink because we paid a premium for but still saved us money.

For instance I bought DH a pack of instant starbucks coffee and gasped to find out it was $12.95 for the box of 10. OMG. But then logically it was like well it's cheaper than a $2 cup of coffee that would only last 6 days instead of 10. Or paying full price for a small pack of cheese sticks because we'd finish the 12 pack instead of the family size. Or the luncheon meat/cheese/bread not on sale but buying the cheapest because we had no flexibility of store or time. Instead it's still a sandwich instead of eating out. Or full price for a 12 pack of soda instead of waiting until it was on sale. Or buying boxes of milk so we don't waste it and it's easily portable. Anyway I realized yes we shopped and spent probably $200 on groceries for the weekend but when one meal out for 6 cost $100 it's really not a bad deal.

Have you had those moments? Where you have to in your head justify how expensive some stuff is, but when you put it into perspective it makes sense?

Travel Savings Tips

July 1st, 2016 at 08:06 am

So a lot of my friends wonder how we travel so much. How do we afford it. Besides the fact that it's a big priority the truth is I usually score huge deals.

As usually we're doing our summer trip to hawaii. This time I scored roundtrip deals for $320/per person. Incredible, especially considering I'm flying out of one city and back into another. How'd it happen? Well I had $150 credit each for me and the two kids so our $219 one way ticket cost us $69/each. And our return ticket was $249. And that's means we're going to hawaii for $960 for 3 people for 10 days. We don't usually pay for a hotel or rental car. We tend to eat at home quite a bit and pack lunches for the zoo and beach. So my entire trip to hawaii will likely be under $1500 for 10 days for 3 people. I'm not "vacationing" like most with a hotel, car, and eating out.

February was the same thing when we went to Hawaii. I spent $209 one way and used miles coming back from hawaii. That meant we likely spent if I had to guess under $1000 for 10 days in hawaii. For those not in the same situation a lot of savings can be had. How? I always tell people the cheapest tickets to Hawaii no matter where you are is April and October. If you watch the deals they'll hit and from the east coast of the US you can go for around $600 round trip during those season. You need to fly usually on a Tuesday through Thursday.

I'd also not necessarily package a car or hotel with the flights because sometimes it's cheaper to do a "hacker" fare and cobble together as I did 2 one way tickets. A lot of times it's cheaper to check out one way tickets and buy them on different airlines or use miles on the very expensive day of travel. I have a friend whose into mileage runs and tells me to value dollars at 2 cents per mile. Truth is I can usually beat that because I've mostly saved it for Hawaii at Christmas the most expensive time to travel.

That being said I also bought DH and kids ticket to see his parents in Canada yesterday. Roundtrip the tickets were $260 per person. I paid a slight premium because he could have gone for $210 but the hours were terrible and DH refused to get in at midnight and leave at 6 am. Instead I bought tickets arriving at 12 pm and leaving at 7 pm. FWIW usually we buy the cheapest but it's the first time the kids will be without me and I decided to cut him some slack. Plus to get the $210 I would have been again using a hacker fare of alaska airlines going for $83 and coming back on air canada for $126. It pays to do some permutations of traveling by air. Searching by roundtrip usually allows the airlines to price your tickets on their highest fare. Even the $260 had come up as $279 when I checked on round trip tickets versus booking 2 one ways on the same airline.

Right now we're on a roadtrip. We spent 3 days on the road before arriving at my BIL. We did eat out but we minimized it by eating buying subway one day eating at a taco stand for dinner another night total $9. Also we arrived and knew we had two days of musuems planned so we bought groceries for the 5 days and enough food to make sandwiches for 2 days. We also tried to fill up everyday a costco a huge benefit of being a member is costco always has the cheapest gas and very cheap food if you are driving.

Anyway I'm off to enjoy my vacation. Any other tips? I just wanted to post because as I was booking tickets I realized it sounds like we spend a ton on vacations every year. But if not for the flights to canada, and if I were going we'd be driving. We really are pretty good to go to hawaii twice in 1 year for under $2000 for three people. Then to include canada for under $2800 sounds very reasonable. Most people who fly places are spending easily double or triple that.