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2018 tax reform bill

December 17th, 2017 at 11:58 pm

I'm not entirely sure we'll get a tax cut but whatever. It is what it is.

That being said I'm sort of being pushed to buy our new to us car now this month because I think I want to capture the sales tax break since we itemize. I'm not sure how everything will shake out next year.

Is it worth it? I'm still contemplating. The only good thing is that we've been thinking about it and meaning to do it for 2 months now but haven't pulled the trigger.

I will say that I think the tax bill will have negative repercussions for charitable donations. I think less people will give. But until everything is signed I think we'll still have to see.

Holiday gifts

December 11th, 2017 at 02:30 pm

So I'm not ready yet to tell my DK that santa isn't real. I'm sure my DK1 knows but I say if you don't believe in santa you get nothing.

This year we did the lego and chocolate advent calendars. We are doing a book again, pajamas, and a toy, and stocking stuffers. They get two toys 1 from DH and myself and 1 from santa. We provide the big toy because DH wants credit and the toy from santa this year is $10 bank. We usually aim for something nice around $20 then we get gifts from family and friends and we do the stockings.

It's really cut back on what we spend, not that we ever spent much. Until we moved 3 years we spent $0 on gifts because we were always traveling every holidays to see our families. So we just brought back enough gifts that we NEVER bought the DK a gift. We had enough and they were 5 and 3 before we got a tree.

So in 2015 we got out first tree and started gifts. I mean when we traveled usually to Hawaii my mom did stockings and gifts. I bought them gifts and my family but not the DK.

Now that we're hosting it we had to buy presents from us and Santa and I realize listening to other parent HOLY MOLY how much people spend on Christmas, Hannukah, etc. A LOT. They have a lot of big ticket items.

I think for our big gifts the kids want another hatchimal (peacat and griffin). Then these books they picked and $10 pajamas from Target.

But ugh I am hating wrapping and doing the stockings. Worse yet DH turned 40 yesterday (yeah!) but I got him nothing but an apple pie (he didn't want a cake) and a card. Seriously we looked at each and again we're struggling to want something to wrap up.

I know he's supposed to "get" me tiles to attach to my keys and phone so I can find them easily. But what else?

I wonder it comes with age. There is nothing we want for that we can't and won't buy when we want it. Because we don't want much there isn't much to buy. I was going to buy him a new hockey jersey but he said , why bother? Spend money on tickets to a game maybe.

I love the feeling of christmas and new years. I love having a tree decorated by kid ornaments. I love our lights and music and just relaxing. But boy this whole present thing is a PIA.

Any tips for buying for significant others?

Holiday Cards

December 9th, 2017 at 04:12 pm

Do you do holiday cards? Do you get them? I like getting holiday cards. I like seeing my friends kids get older and hearing about their lives, especially those who we don't live by anymore.

But it's not cheap to do it. This year on groupon I bought a groupon for holiday cards from staples for $42 for 200 cards. But then there is also the cost of stamps. So probably we're spending $100 in all. I get it now why people hate doing it and say it's expensive. But I still like it.

Do you do it? Do you like getting them?

Extra $5k x 2!

June 21st, 2017 at 08:30 am

My friend paid me back the $5k I loaned her for her lawyer retainer. I am so excited. I figured the money gone. But she took a dividend payment from her 401k and paid me off instead. Sweet. Yes I know she should have left it in her 401k, but truthfully I told her that it's okay to tap her 401k right now. That getting divorced is more important than retirement and the situation she's in it really is. I can't explain but it's gotten so bad that if she had to cash out her entire retirement savings I would still think it's a good idea. And as it stands she just might have to do that who knows.

But the second $5k? DH got a referral bonus at work for referring someone that got hired and has been working now for 6 months. YES! Sure we saw $3300 of $5000 but hey it's better than nothing. And we certainly can use the money with our move. I think it just paid for the movers and few extras.

Nice found money!

Free Fridge

June 18th, 2017 at 04:03 pm

Did I mention we are getting a free fridge in the garage of our new house? The sellers when we saw them and bought the lawn mower and seeder (awesome) asked if we wanted it. We said sure.

I guess it depends on if we use it. I guess we'll unplug it and sell it for $25 if we don't. I am worried that we'll buy too much food. I'm not sure how to use it.

I mean I can see leaving drinks and the freezer will be nice. In fact I was contemplating buying a 1/4 of a cow or and 1/8 of a cow to start.

Like I've mentioned my DH is anti-frozen anything but I really want to try managing food better. We don't do a lot of deals because he likes things fresh. But I hate shopping so much.

This is sort of a nice experiment without costing us money to buy a freezer. I think if it works out then maybe we could switch it out to a deep freezer and forgo the fridge part?

Anyone have an extra fridge? How much do you use it?

stuff cost you a lot

June 14th, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Stuff costs a lot. I mean buying yes costs money. Sure you can save money buying it used. Thrift store or garage sale shopping. But even if you buy everything used and cheaper it's still stuff. You need somewhere to store it. You need to move it. You need to organize it.

I saw this as we are about to move and everyone asks me how the packing is going and I say it's not. I say I am throwing things out and I'm trying to organize what I have so that I don't move it. They nod and look really confused.

I say that I think I need to purge more than pay movers to move unnecessary stuff. I've got friends seriously on both sides of the spectrum. Those who buy new and have tons of stuff. They tend to have big homes and lots of space.

The idea that we are moving to a smaller house that cost more seems well ridiculous and in some ways it is. But then we also have friends who buy second hand everything but also have tons of stuff. They are in their home and paying for a storage unit for 5 years because they can't fit everything into their house but they shop all garage sales, craigslist, thrift stores. I get it they probably don't spend as much but I really question that. I mean 5 years of a storage unit?

I don't say this but I'm thinking this in my head. Either way the things in your house costs a lot. I'm not perfect, not by a long shot. I have a lot of junk in my house that I am struggling to downsize and be motivated to get rid of it.

I write this because I am panicking that we are moving into a really small house compared to what we were hoping for and I know there isn't storage. So I am trying to come to terms that I may have to purge more upon moving.

But ever item I look at and ask "does it make me happy" I tell myself it's just stuff. Yes it cost money to buy. But it costs just as much to store. And my life can't be ruled by things.

I need to live comfortably and having less stuff to fit into the house we bought is a priority. The answer is not make more money and buy a bigger house. The answer is make your space work for what you can afford. Maybe if you can't fit your stuff then stop buying things is the answer.

Today's mini goal purge 1 box from the garage. Go through it and sort what I keep and I was discard.

Wedding gift question

June 13th, 2017 at 08:02 am

We can't unfortunately make it to my cousin's wedding. I'm not sure how much to give in "gift" value. Culturally my mom has always said you give the value of your meal if you go. This is pretty much true and usually it's cash. It also increases if family. However we aren't going.

I'm sad to not be going but with everything the way it is, we just couldn't have gone. It's a super busy time for us with moving that it wouldn't have made sense.

That being said I was thinking from their registry a $39.99 gift from bed bath and beyond with a 20% off coupon so still free shipping at $32.00. Then use a BBB gift card I bought on Giftcardgranny which I save 10% on so $22.50 for $25. And that will bring my spending to around $30? Is this ridiculously cheap? Do I seem cheap?

I know it's the thought that counts. If it were a friend I might have just sent a nice card. But I usually send gift cards to target when other relatives haven't registered.

I guess I don't want to look too cheap. But at the same time I wonder if I have to give $100-200 gift since we aren't going? UGH. I hate this social etiquette thing.

Online Shopping

May 29th, 2017 at 11:54 am

I can honestly say I laughed when I read this article about this women who spent $41,000 on Amazon

She realized that she bought 427 items in 2014 or more items than days in the year. She makes a lot of money (I think $170k/year) and works for google. But she talks about how easy it is to mindlessly spend online.

I agree 100%. I know MANY people who spend thousands of dollars a month online shopping. I am friends with tons of them. I hear things like I just spent $1000/month on Amazon. I buy everything on Amazon. When I ask what do you spend, it's shocking.

I've spent $79.74 all year on amazon on 4 items. I am spending another $89 on 2 book collections this weekend Roald Dahl 15 book $48.99 and Laura Ingalls Wilder $33.99 9 book set. We do go to the library weekly but I try to buy books that are classics for my kids. I am not sure where my books went but these we'll keep and we love going to the library otherwise.

I bought ada twist scientist 10.99, usually I don't buy these sort of new books, desk chair 44.99, face ski mask 9.99, and pencil sharpener 13.79. Yep 4 items. Before buying I tend to shop around even online.

But what's worse? How many people are mindless drones and they shop on amazon though the prices are not the best. I have a friend who has laundry detergent, soap, etc all delivered for the convenience. But I pointed out she's a member of costco and shops there anyway why not buy the stuff in bulk cheaper. Her answer is that it's easier to have it delivered instead of shopping sales at costco and waiting for deals. The true irony is she wonders why they can't afford to buy a house or save money?

Probably because when I make a suggestion like shopping at costco and watching deals the answer is it's not worth their time. And pointing out that online shopping can easily lead to overspending. The answer is that it doesn't it saves money because it's cheaper.

I would have to guess that the truth is overspending is overspending whether you do it online or in stores. I actually think it's easier online because you are so disconnected from the feeling of spending that you click and buy it charged to a debit or credit card.

The woman in the article talks about it. I have to admit I try to not online shop because I think I spend more online. I think I lose track of my spending. But maybe I'm in the minority if so many people do it.

Do you shop online a lot? Does it save you money? Or do you spend more? Are you sure it's cheaper?

I just spent an hour pricing out boxes from amazon versus uhaul. Yes I have to go to uhaul but most packing supplies are cheaper at uhaul except tape, and they have an better return policy. Of course I have to go to uhaul but it's worth it.

penny wise, pound foolish

May 21st, 2017 at 08:44 am

So we're moving out of our place. I negotiated moving out 2 weeks early and not losing our deposit. Saving us $1200. Our plan is to have it cleaned July 1st. Then move in a mix of us and movers July 2nd-5th. Then be out by the 5th and let our property manager clean and the new tenants in by the 15th. 10 days should be enough to have it cleaned and repaired. The property manager agreed and I agreed to show the house as needed.

Now I had friends who were interested in the place. They are a family of 5 with a parent staying with them so 6 people. They live 5 minutes from me in a townhouse complex where they rent a 2 bed/1 bath townhouse with 1 car garage for $2275/month. Their lease is up end of May. They can resign for $2275 (it was $2200) or they can pay month to month for $2775. The lease breakage is 3 months or $6825 if they break their lease. I told the mom (my friend) she's better off going month to month because the $500 works out cheaper than signing a lease. They are house hunting and the realtor told them they are likely to be able to buy in November/December when there is less people looking.

However I don't think they are in a position to buy since they were approved for less than the mom hoped. She initially thought they'd get approved for $600k. But the bank told them $450k. This puts a big damper on their house hunt. She said they don't have more than $30-35k to put down and she needed help selling her jewlery to get more. I told her don't sell her jewelry. But that will bring in $10k for closing costs she thinks. I have no idea how selling jewelry works except I feel like you don't get much.

They have a house from where they moved that they could sell and it would help with the downpayment. Currently it's rented out. I told her that would really help them with the downpayment and minimize risk in buying. She said they have to think about it. They want to try to be "rich" by being landlords.

Anyway I told my property manager about them and gave them his contact info. They offered him $2275 a month to rent. I slapped my head. Seriously? Less than I'm paying they thought was a good idea? It was ridiculous and he said he didn't get back to them. They asked me to inquire if he had gotten the email and that's when he told me what they offered. I told him just tell them no. It wasn't feasible.

Oh well. Since he has 8 offers now for showings on Tuesday 4-6 pm I guess we'll be fine. It's for $2500/month and I am guessing that it'll be taken on Tuesday. So we are set to save money.

As for my friends? They lost out on renting a bigger house for $125/month more. Maybe $125/month is a lot but at the same time they would have had space for 6 people better than in a 2 bedroom townhouse. It's cheaper than a 3 bedroom townhouse in their complex which was $2500/month. Sometimes people are penny wise, pound foolish. In trying to score a deal and be cheap they lost out I think on a better house and a better flexible rental agreement. I sent them a copy of mine so they could read it for lease breakage. Oh well. Say La Vie.

we're set

May 16th, 2017 at 09:49 pm

So the appraisal came through and we are set for closing on June 9th. We actually were already done with our mortgage and cleared to close sans appraisal. I'm very excited and happy. It's a relief. We know we are set to close and no longer waiting on an appraisal and worrying what happens during negotiations with the sellers.

That being said now my DH is ready to talk moving. We have decided we're buying the king size bed we've desired for years. Until we moved two years ago we didn't have a choice since it wouldn't fit up the stairs to our bedroom.

We also have to decide what to do about the kid's beds. They both have queen size beds, one we got for free and the other is our old bed from when we got a memory foam. I think we should do twin beds but let one keep a queen? We don't have a guest bedroom.

That's the other thing. We have to decide how to manage the renovations we are planning. We need to replace the windows, ceiling, and paneling on the 1st floor but the question is do we do an extension/bump out or do we just reconfigure the space we have? We have 700 sq ft but it's poorly laid out. We could probably create a bedroom downstairs if we got rid of the laundry room.

But of course this is something we have to consider carefully so we don't do something stupid and overspend or not do something that doesn't cost much more to improve the house.

This is stressful. Plus we are nervous about movers and planning since the sellers are living in the house supposedly until June 30th. But what if they aren't out? Or if they move sooner? These are all questions swirling about.

Now that we know we are closing I feel like I next will contact the school and register the kids. I also need to determine if we are doing private school as well for the DK2. I think she's a bit young for kindergarten and was considering private school so she'll have extra help for the 1st year and more attention. So much to do and so little time.

Coveting what others have

April 27th, 2017 at 09:18 pm

I wanted to write about sometimes wanting what others have. I covet it too. I admit it. I'm only human. I feel bad that other bloggers feel bad about wanting what others have. Who doesn't? I feel we'd all have to be saints if we didn't.

I'm okay with most things. I hate cleaning so a big house isn't my thing. I am not a clothes horse or into fashion so that's not a big deal. We eat out enough and love cooking so I don't feel that either. But I admit I covet other people's cars. It's only happened more recently.

I've been lusting after other people's minivans or 3rd row suv. I think about how nice it would be to have a car with the extra space. I debate internally is it worth it. I know it's not practical. I know it doesn't make sense, but I still want it.

It's also possibly something I'll do even if it doesn't make sense. However I realize that I'm only human. I'm not perfect and most people as humans can't be satisfied with everything. I also think it's not a bad thing to want something. But maybe it is.

I think we just need a bit of perspective. That it's okay to want things others have. But realize that there are trade offs and are we willing to do it? it's not wrong to have the big house or fancy car. Maybe the trade off is never eating out or traveling. Maybe the trade off is not saving as much.

But whatever it is, it's okay. We aren't meant to always lived deprived. It's okay to not always be frugal and stretch every dollar. I repeat that to myself. It's okay. If we save 20% it's not the end of the world to not be saving 40%. At least we're saving something.

I may end up "gifting" myself a minivan or suv eventually. Even though I don't run my ridiculously reliable subaru into the ground. After all I've been coveting it for quite awhile.

Can't break frugality

March 30th, 2017 at 08:31 am

I thought I'd post a funny conversation between my DH and myself as we drove to see an open house.

DH - I really love this new coffee from starbucks. We should start buying it.

LAL - Um okay it's expensive. (it was a gift from a friend a bag of beans blonde).

DH - How expensive can it be? We can afford it.

LAL - Okay I'll make a note next time we get low and buy a bag.

Driving a bit further...

DH - Okay so much is the bag?

LAL - $15 for the bag.

DH - WTF. No I don't need it. A 1 lb bag cost $15? I thought maybe $7-8. Forget it costco is good.

LAL - It's fine we can afford the indulgence. You're right it's $15 in the grand scheme of things.

DH - NO way. I didn't get my money by spending foolishly. Costco is good.

LAL - well costco beans are made by starbucks.

DH - the reject beans. Maybe in 10 years.

LAL - in 10 years the bag will be $20 and you'll freak out again.

DH - well i'm not made of money you know.

Kids are sitting in the back listening for a teachable moment. DK1 "if we can't afford coffee how are we buying a house?"

LAL "we're choosing to buy a house and we can buy the coffee. But dad doesn't want to spend extra on the coffee right now. He may change his mind in the future."

DK1 "okay like me choosing to save my money to spend on a toy I really want?"

LAL "exactly."

So being raised by frugal parents (both of us) it's hard to break the mindset. I am going to guess we're raising our kids that way too.

Just a very funny conversation. I haven't decided yet to buy my DH the bag of starbucks coffee. Right now we have so many bags of Kona Coffee and couple of starbucks gifts that I'm probably okay for the rest of the year at the rate he drinks.

Black Friday and Holiday Shopping Savings!!!

December 5th, 2016 at 09:20 am

On Black Friday I saved $100. Literally. There was a sale at Costco on the electronic keyboard I had bought last month with a $100 coupon. So I took my receipt and I bought it again and returned it. It was $449 plus tax when I bought it and $349 plus tax when I bought it on Black Friday. Yes $100 in about 30 minutes of time to buy and return it.

I also bought socks and underwear from walmart and holiday pajamas for the kids for 30% off from target. I love buying these sort of clothes on black friday. Overall spending probably less than $100.

I bought the kids a couple of gifts as well. This year they got Lego Advent and chocolate advent calendars. DK1 got a vtech smartwatch from Target which was on Buy one get one 50% so I got it for $35 regular from $55. I am mailing other to friend. She also got a Gemma shopkins doll for $20, and my little pony from TRU for $17. And I still have to look for $1 stocking stuffers. DK2 got shopkins $11 from TRU, equestria doll $5 from walmart, and troll twins $30 (going to get using my target gift cards).

DH got bose wireless headphones for $350. And now to the teacher gifts $120 - 6 teachers @ $20/pop all to Target. Thank you for the 10% target gift cards yesterday.

I have a few more items to get for people but overall I think my shopping is done. If only I had magic elves come and wrap and send my gifts.

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.

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.

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.

Lifestyle choices

June 29th, 2016 at 08:04 am

We're in the midst of another road trip so we've been chatting a lot in the car. I'll post pictures if I can figure out how of cool stuff we see.

We're doing our due diligence and starting to focus on areas we'd like to live permanently. Right now DH works around 20 miles from work he'd like to cut it down to 10 miles. I'm all for him having a shorter commute that's in line with our values and lifestyle choices.

But he brought up potentially moving out of the suburbs and moving into the city. He would be within 3-5 miles of work, bikable/fast transit, one car family, convenience/urban and fun. Trade offs are smaller home, not a big deal, postage yard (big deal to me), lack of privacy, and not great schools potentially. So he suggests maybe private school instead for the kids? Something we've never really considered both being products of public schools.

So now I'm torn. Do we shorten his commute considerably and change our lifestyle drastically? Is it in line to be really close to work, 1 car, no yard, I don't mind a small house but hate having neighbors right there, and private school? Is this a lifestyle I want or does he? We're really struggling because this would be permanent.

I know it'd be cost efficient probably to buy a house in the city for less money potentially in a bad school district and do private school. We'd save on time and costs. But I'm really not sure I'd enjoy it.

I have been a huge proponent of living where you love. That people in HCOLA who shouldnt' live there or LCOLA not making much should live where they love. And now we're at that same point.

DH could love the commute and he likes walking to places. But at the same time we aren't sure about living so close to neighbors and doing private school. What happens if he loses his job? While other jobs are in the area and he'll likely find one in the same area we'll be on the hook for private school tuition no matter what. But many people pay for private school even in good school districts for different reasons. Would we consider private school anyway in the suburbs? We have neighbors and friends doing private school now.

I think I'm feeling more pressure because before we always felt we had flexibility and time to make a mistake and correct it. But now the kids are getting older and more settled and I don't want to keep on moving. This is just difficult because it really is a lifestyle decision.

More talking to commence. FWIW we've been looking at houses in the city and they are fine. The parks are cute and walkability is amazing.

Do you like where you live? Do you wish you lived in the city or suburbs or more rural? And do you do private school and why did you choose it?

financial planning for 2016

June 27th, 2016 at 11:47 pm

So a fun financial benefit with DH's job is that he gets free food. No more brown bagging it. He's actually a little sad. He's always brown bagged lunch since I've meet him and it's something we've done as part of our lifestyle. Now it'll be weird to not plan leftovers as lunches. Someone at the company a single guy told DH he saved $700/month eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the company's dime. I would estimate he'll save $20/month. I am curious if we'll see a difference in our grocery bill. I'm sure we'll start eating out again.

But on a serious note we've decided already to max out the 401k for the rest of the year. Typically companies allow you to contribute up to 50% of your salary so we decide to rachet it up to 50% of his salary and hit the maximum as fast as possible.

We are also planning on maxing out the 10% ESPP contribution as a general saving plan. With the 15% discount on stock purchase we tend to use the ESPP as a long term savings vehicle we hold in case of emergencies. We tend to sell it after 2 years of purchase because according to tax laws it becomes long term gains but the 15% discount is taxed as ordinary income.

Because of this I think we might be short monthly with the extreme 401k contribution. We decided that we'll use our savings to make up the difference. It'll smooth out next year with a normal income and I think we still might be able to manage since we live pretty frugally.

We also decided to tap our cash savings and contribute to our Roth IRAs $11k and Coverdell ESA $4k as soon as DH starts working. Typically we'd funnel it from our paychecks but this time with the market on sale it makes sense to contribute asap. Plus I am pretty sure we won't qualify for a Roth IRA after this year.

We are also calculating our taxes and potentially refiling 2015 taxes. We have DH's 401k from his old job and we are considering rolling it to his Roth IRA. We could move it to a Rollover IRA and recharacterize a certain amount up to the 25% tax bracket married ($150k). We might not have the chance again. DH quitting mid year and getting a job mid year means that we stretched out our tax basis over 2 years.

But we're not sure about the Rollover IRA. If we do the rollover IRA, DH told me that we couldn't do the backdoor Roth IRA in the future. He said if we did then we couldn't move the money from a non-deductible IRA to a Roth because it'd be pulled from a Rollover and non deductible IRA. So we have a lot to consider.

We have a lot to do in the next month organizing our finances. We also get real insurance and dental insurance and vision. DH hasn't gone since last august so he's been waiting.

I'm so excited. The budget nerd in me is screaming and waiting to get started. I can't wait! I can house hunt and run numbers and spreadsheets and projections. I write this because I am so weird and only people here would understand.

I met a MM fan

April 22nd, 2016 at 09:16 am

I met someone who said they read the Mr Money Mustache blog. I nearly laughed but I couldn't say we're die hard followers before it was a word and that we were a case study. I said we're mustachian followers and have long been so.

I just found it so cool that I met someone in real life who might actually like the same things. I've always been a little odd in real life always looking for deals and watching our spending. It's a habit many on here share. It's not what you make, it's what you spend.

And people on here think nothing of watching every penny and making it shriek. The idea of spending freely is a hard thing to do once you get into the mindset.

But this new friend said their takeway from MM blog was that it was too rigid. They didn't want to retire early or save. Rather they decided that streamlining their life and simplifying their spending seemed like a good idea. That they would try to pay off debts and live more debt free, but it probably wouldn't change their retirement age.

I said that we love MM because he preaches freedom. That even if you are working, having a big savings gives you the freedom to say FU to any job or career. To move on and do what you want.

I think that even if people aren't into saving 75% of their income (we're not hard-core in that sense), MM can make sense even for the average person. Don't spend too much and save a little just in case you want to say FU one day to whatever you're doing.

Have you meet any other frugalites in real life?

Cable Conundrum

April 9th, 2016 at 03:08 pm

So we have internet for $65 a month with the only cable/internet company we have. Can you say monopoly? And we use so many GB of data averaging 200 GB we can't just use cell phones.

So right now we have amazon prime to watch and use an antenna to watch regular shows. But my kids are asking about disney jr and nick jr. They would love to watch shows. We allow 1-2 shows a day, usually one in morning and one in the afternoon before dinner. Otherwise the TV isn't on. DH and I barely have time to watch tv so we usually turn on TV maybe 1 show a night if that. DH does like to watch sports and with the antenna he's got trouble catching all channels. We have the best flat antenna out there for "cord cutters".

Anyway a friend suggested SlingTV for watching disney jr but it's $25/month. $20 for slingtv and $5 for kids package. But I can't help but wonder if it wouldn't be cheaper for us to just get a regular cable box for $25/month then we'd have local channels and stuff like TBS, USA, Disney/Nick jr etc for the same price?

We wouldn't have to worry about streaming? The question right now isn't should we spend the $25/month, because I think we're coming around to indulging the kids a little. Cost less than buying the stupid shows on amazon. But what's the most cost efficient way? My friends who are getting slingtv do it out of principal because it cost them the same as regular cable but they hate the cable company and won't give them a penny more than internet. Because I said $25/month is as much as adding cable and they said they had run the numbers and it's about the same honestly.

Thoughts? Experiences?

Grocery Spending and Deep Freezer

March 24th, 2016 at 04:53 pm

Something interesting I found about our in general spending habits. We do often times spend money daily. But we really don't shop and buy stuff other than groceries. We do have many days of running out to the store for a sale or fresh fruit or veggies. I've found that it's almost every other day. But at the same time since we've moved and had no income we've really curbed eating out. Before I would say we ate out 3-4x/week. Usually one night during the week, Saturday lunch/dinner and Sunday Lunch or Friday dinner. So our eating out was running $200-300/month if not more and not counting special occasions.

Now looking at our spending, yes we do spend between $650-750/month on groceries. But our eating out is less than $100/month. This month we've eaten out $10 so far and haven't any plans to eat out the rest of the month though it might happen. Plus our grocery bill is weirdly under $500 to date and we are trying to clear the freezer and pantry so I predict we'll be under $600 for with 7 days to go. We've already bought the rib roast for Sunday which will a few days of leftovers.

So we talking with friends who have a deep freezer because they hunt. DH and I meet quite a few people now who hunt and I grew up eating a lot of hunted meat (smoked) and fresh fish. I miss it but DH doesn't hunt and we've not really had the opportunity to fish. But now we're in a place where it might be possible. We also live in a house with a garage. So buying a deep freezer after we buy a house is something we're discussing.

Even if we don't hunt (i'm interested in Elk), I just got elk burgers from friends and deer tenderloin from other friends, I was thinking maybe we could go an buy a quarter cow. It might be cheaper and something worth finally investing in.

What are people's thoughts about deep freezers? Do you have one and what do you use it for? Do you hunt?

Dieting the struggle

March 7th, 2016 at 11:28 pm

So what is the struggle with dieting? Well the truth is it's hard to waste food. Before this "change" in lifestyle I would usually eat my kids leftovers. But then now I have to throw it away. I can keep some stuff, but today we went out to eat Froyo during "happy hour" and you get a cup for $2. So I got a cup for each kid and neither child finished. Since we were out I previously might have finished the leftovers but now I have to avoid all leftovers.

Some food when at home I can save. But otherwise it's not so easy. I find it difficult now because I'm eating very planned calories. So even at home it's hard. It's so easy to justify finishing off the leftovers instead of wasting them. But now I just can't.

Perhaps one day but something people never tell you is how not "wasting" food and being "frugal" can cause you to gain instead of losing weight.

The Diet Bet

March 5th, 2016 at 09:43 am

I forgot to mention that I'm doing the diet bet. I needed a kick in the butt to get back on track with eating right and exercise. UGH. I started on monday. Personally I've always struggled with eating right over exercising. I actually find it relaxing to carve out time to exercise. Even with kids I used to pay $80/month and go to the YMCA daily to work out with free childcare.

Right now I'm doing insanity at home but I don't find it as motivating as doing classes for a hour at the gym. I also find it harder to work out with the kids around though I do get up at 6 am before everyone and work out. I sort of like the routine of a gym and class so I'm thinking about joining a gym again. My DH is pushing yes because actually I'm one of those people who even use it on the weekend. I find I need the destressor.

Now to win this diet bet however I can't just workout and lose 10 lbs. I have to lose the weight and keep it off. I have all my baby weight I never loss from baby #1 (whose 6 now OMG!) I didn't gain with baby #2 but those 25 lbs well they are still around. Time to get serious about losing weight.

I started on Monday. Anyone else doing diet bet? Do you continually do kickstarter or do you move onto the transformer? Anyone win a maintainer?

Also I'm considering the 24hr fitness pass from costco for $649 for 24 months. Unfortunately it's a super sport club next to me so I have to buy the $649. If we lived elsewhere it would be $399 for 2 years and a much better price. But at $27/month I am thinking I might buy it because it works out to 1 class a week for $9 which is what people pay to work out at Barre, hot yoga, or pilates. But the childcare is $24.99/month 1 child and $19.99/month 2 kids. That would bring up the cost for 1 child to around $50/month or $6 a drop off. I'm debating whether it's worth the investment. What do you think?

Happy Valentine's Day

February 14th, 2016 at 07:59 pm

Happy Valentine's Day! We had a great steak dinner at home and are prepping to leave for vacation. We leave tomorrow morning and I'm almost packed.

Couple of thoughts I read that Kanye West is $53 million in personal debt. Is that even possible? I mean isn't he married to someone extremely wealthy and they make a fortune selling themselves on reality tv? Am I mistaken that I think I read they made $30 million last year alone? How can he be in debt? I mean yes they live lavishly but I thought they pretty much get everything free to "try" and sell for the merchant and they are constantly selling products? I wonder how that all ends? Bankruptcy?

RIP Justice Scalia. I hate to say it but it's a little ridiculous that the Republican party wants to wait a year to fill his position on the supreme court. They need to suck it up and accept the fact that he passed and let the nomination go through unless the person is completely horrible. If Obama is smart he'll nominate someone quickly that is already a judge that had a fast and smooth vetting previously. I wonder if he'd dare put another woman on the court? I know the front runner is the Indian judge but I wouldn't mind another woman.

Cutting the Cable

February 6th, 2016 at 09:07 am

We cut the haven't had cable in 3 years. We've always paid a premium for internet because of it. In the sense that we've paid mostly for internet (fios previously and comcast now) sometimes without any extras usually running before $69 and then $79/month. Now it turned into $59.99 but it's internet and local channels.

So I've been thinking a lot about how over the last few years have we saved money? I mean people talk about all the time cutting cable and saving money. But when you pay for all the extras are you really saving money?

I know we are because we aren't paying for extras. But I was just running some numbers on paper and it appears that it really is quite expensive to be a cord cutter. How so?

Well we pay for Amazon prime because both kids have kindles that we use mostly for travel. You can download tv shows or movies and it's free with prime. Plus the free 2 day shipping is a huge bonus. So for $99/year we do it = $8.25/month.

Netflix is another $8.99/month. It's also going to be raised another $1 to $9.99/month. Then Hulu costs $7.99/month commercials to $11.99/month. Then for sling tv it's another $20/month. Also Sling offers kid channels for an extra $5/month. I mean if you are going ala carte and adding all these things or even Netflix and Sling TV you are looking at $34/month! Do Netflix and Amazon Prime and you are looking at $17/month minimally.

I'm not sure do most cord cutters only do Amazon Prime? Or only netflix? We do Amazon Prime but I find myself so annoyed that I have to watch so many TV shows on a computer screen or hook up my laptop to watch stuff like suits or law and order or big bang theory. I have a really old TV so no I don't have a smart tv or ability to put apps on the tv.

But if I were to pay for more streaming like sling, netflix, or hulu then at that point it'd be a no brainer personally to just pay for cable. I'm getting into cable prices. Right now I think it outrageous that we pay so much for internet, but the cable companies have cord cutters between a rock and a hard place. Plus I have to add our internet drops a lot and isn't always reliable. We had to argue with Comcast to install cables before we moved in. Prior tenants used satellite for a and paid a ludicrious $100/month for internet. Uggh.

Anyway I chatted with DH and we agreed as long as we're renting and locked in with comcast (hate them) we'll pay a premium for internet. If we happen to move maybe we'll have more options and different choices.

Do you have cable? Why or why? What do you pay?

Eating out way of life

February 2nd, 2016 at 04:46 pm

My bad habit is easily going out to eat. It's a vice I'm sure I share with many others around the world. Something I enjoy and find convenient. But is it a way of life even for people in debt? Is it something that people just do even if they can't afford?

Next week my DH starts his program and we were joking today about lunches, dinners, and eating out. Since we've meet he's pretty much always brown bagged it. I can honestly say probably 95% of the time both of us have always packed a lunch. When we've gone out to eat for lunch it's usually a planned meal with friends or some weird like a smashed glass container in lunch bag or accidental forgotten lunch bag (both things happened to my DH). So I can honestly say for 15 years and as he's made more money he hasn't changed his spending habits. What was necessity at 23 at 35 wasn't at all required.

Also for the most part until we had kids we enjoyed cooking dinner together at night and would turn on the TV and cook leisurely. We sometimes would sit in front of the tv and prep meals and just enjoy wine or beer. It was very pleasurable to eat out at hole in the wall places or nicer restaurants. But then we had kids and our meals became less cool (fancy meals from cookbooks) and more boring and standard and efficient.

So I ask if he's planning on packing a lunch and if so what. He said absolutely he's planning on brown bagging it, but he mentioned that on the group board for the program everyone discussing their favorite delivery programs and restaurants they want to order from. I suggest perhaps he may have to eat out to network dinners or lunches. He said he'll see.

But both of us are curious about the dynamics next week. This is a 13 week intensive program you can't hold down a job and do. Either the other 19 people are on sabbatical from work or not working. It's like that most have partners that are working and supporting them, but I imagine going down to one income and spending $16k on a course, then suddenly eating out lunch and dinner every day would still strain most budgets. Or maybe it was just a way of life.

I can easily imagine it costing us $35/week for lunches and $60/week for lunches. In 13 weeks that will cost us around $1300 which in the grand scheme of no income and $16k tuition a drop in the bucket. But as we are living off savings and it's half a month's rent. I wonder though will most be frugal and try to pack a lunch?

My DH said so I'm assuming $7/lunch how much is it for him to bring a lunch? I said $1 maybe. Am I wrong to throw together a sandwich? Or leftovers?

Have you calculated what lunches or packed dinners cost? I know if we spend say $800/month for groceries and my kids milk cost me $80/month at $175/week for groceries. A meal assuming 21 meals for 3 people (2 adults and 2 kids = 1 adult) = $2.77 a meal not discounting snacks or fruits. So by brown bagging it my DH is saving at least $5/meal if not more.

Do you think people who eating out every meal is a way of live have ever calculated it? Is it worth it?

car scenario and happy holidays

December 21st, 2015 at 08:25 am

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 01:29 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 09:04 am

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?

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