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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?

Starting to get excited

November 22nd, 2015 at 09:57 pm

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

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

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

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

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

Blue Apron

November 1st, 2015 at 08:25 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why you should save for retirement now...

October 30th, 2015 at 04:29 pm

I have a lot of friends who are putting off saving for retirement. Many put off retirement savings for a house. They are busy trying to squirrel away money for their first home. Then suddenly they get into the home and it's MUCH more expensive than they expected. They weren't used to saving for retirement. Then suddenly they are 30 or 32 and haven't saved a penny for retirement. Or they are saving for retirement but they want to focus on paying off the mortgage in 15 years. Or start saving for college.

Here's what happened for us. We started in our 20s. As soon as DH got a real job it was #1 priority. We determined before we bought a house that retirement savings maximum was a line item before we determined what we could afford. It just was something that we deemed necessary since we at the time only had $4k saved for me. DH didn't have any accounts being a foreigner and honestly until then I only had a Roth IRA but we were busy paying off car loans, student loans, and living as graduate students on income very close to the poverty line. So saving for retirement was a pipe dream for us. Something we knew we had to do and we felt we had to catch up.

Well we started saving and all money went to saving for retirement, building an EF, more student loans for an MBA, and the house just took a backseat. We made our payments and lived.

When we turned around we had saved over $550k for retirement in 10 years. Using a retirement calculator if we don't contribute a penny more and retire at 55, using a 7% return we'd have $1.8M for retirement. This nest egg will last us at a rate of $80k/year until age 82 not including a penny of Social Security. We currently spend including our rent $65k/year. This means our nest egg will last until 89 without social security and assuming we are still paying $2400/month in rent/mortgage. Our expenses are a lot lower if we are done with a house payment by 55 (not unreasonable). Right now we could easily live on $40k without a rent or mortgage and we've got enough cash to buy our current house without a mortgage. So our nest egg $550k would be $2.8M when we die if we lived off of $40k now and never saved another penny or used social security. Assuming we worked until 60 we'd start off with a nest egg of $2.6M and we'd die leaving behind $1.0M for our heirs.

So by saving from 26 to 36 we basically funded our retirement. If we choose not to save another penny I think with something from social security and a paid for home we'd have enough to retire early at 55 with and income more than we live on now. If we waited until 60 it'd be ridiculous.

So don't put saving for retirement on hold. I know how easy it is to justify that you have other savings like a home, car, etc. I think it's something you just have to get used and do it. Every penny we save now I know will be worth less than we had saved it 10 years ago. But doing this calculation, my plan is that we will continue saving the maximum 401k, Roth IRAs until we retire. And the goal is 100% income replacement and being financially independent by age 50. This is a stretch goal i think 55 is realistic.

What's middle class

October 29th, 2015 at 05:01 pm

I don't know what is middle class it appears to be what you live like. Most people aren't sure either. Great discussion on the forum.

I think the house we're in is absolutely middle class, it has 3 bd, 2.5 ba and is 1800 sq ft with a 2 car attached garage on 5000 sq ft lot. It's in a preplanned neighborhood. Lots of young families are moving in school district. People have either 1 or 2 cars. They both work or a stay at home parents. It appears completely middle of the road.

Is it more than we had 40 years ago? In some ways yes. We have internet, cable tv, cell phones, etc. But in other ways I think the middle class also has less.

What ways? It is a fact that less people today are covered by pensions than 40 years ago, even 20 years ago. Very few people have free medical insurance for life from their jobs after retirement. I think only the military has it. Constantly articles are written about people having only $100k in 401k. Here's the truth that when people like my mom in her 60s retired at 55 with a pension for life she didn't need a 401k. She had one but she didn't have much nor did most people older than her. The majority of baby boomers had pensions and social security. I am curious what will happen to people when the scales start to tip and people retire without pension?

Second health insurance premiums have gone up exponentially. People are still tied to employers but many employers are trying to switch employees to high deductible premium plans and use health savings accounts. This usually costs more for the employees. The real hit? That 40 years ago most employers picked up the entire premium payment, versus today when employees are often foot at least a portion of the premium if not most.

Third, college costs have skyrocketed. Even cheaper alternatives like community college and state schools are difficult to afford working and going to school. In the 80s people could still "work" and make enough to afford tuition. Is it realistic now? No. Now even the cheapest schools are out of reach for people working and going to school full time. The irony is that having a degree no is more important than ever!

I think in many ways the middle class lives more luxurious lives than before. We have a more amenities that people didn't have because of technology. But I also think that the middle class was more cared for in retirement and prior by companies, government jobs, versus today a lot more emphasis is placed on the worker.

What do you think defines the middle class?

Costco Insurance

October 23rd, 2015 at 05:13 pm

I hear a lot of people saying costco isn't worth it. I have to save if you have a membership to costco have you checked out and priced compared at least the home, auto, and umbrella against what you currently have? Before giving up your costco membership or deciding against buying a membership I would definitely call and price out their insurance if it's available in the state you're in. I'm curious others save money.

We've had 3 auto accidents (my DH all of them) and the customer service has been fantastic. We've had 3 home water damage claims and the service again has been phenomenal. I recently claimed a windshield chip and they repaired it without a complaint immediately. When doing the repairs on our cars they got on it asap. My BIL totalled his car and he got paid out way more than he expected. Besides the follow up, call back, just the customer service overall is amazing.

Anyway I'm a huge fan of costco and even if we didn't live super close I'd still be a member. Previously we weren't that close to costco but I kept my membership for insurance. Now that it's one of our two main shopping stops.

Also if it matters they treat their employees great. They pay them a living wage and treat them very nicely. My cousin worked for costco corporate and the benefits are great and they worked and let her transfer stores. In hawaii most people stay employed over 20 years. So you are into supporting companies that care Costco is one I'm happy to spend my dollars supporting. And their return policy is amazing.

Change in spending

October 16th, 2015 at 11:08 pm

It's weird. I find myself really looking at my pennies and wondering how much we'll be spending this month. I don't think we're on a budget but rather a strict diet. The less we spend the better. Like the less we eat the more we lose weight. I don't know how this will change us for the long term.

When we are back to earning an income will we go back to eating out more, traveling, etc? Will we just prioritize differently? Will we spend freely?

I didn't realize how much we spent freely before. We were conscious about not eating out too much and we don't window shop. But it's been many, many years since we've really watched grocery ads and bought only what was on sale.

I'm sure many people feel this way that we'd gotten to the point where I felt that since we were eating at home and cooking, I was "saving" money because we weren't eating out. So whatever I bought to prepare meats, seafood, vegetables, fruit, cheese no matter what the price it was less than eating out. And honestly it was. I mean the same pizza you eat out could be $5 a meal at home but $15 from Dominos. Or the one pound of shrimp for $8 would be $30 from a restaurant.

So I felt virtuous in not eating out but still spending freely at the grocery store. Now however I'm trying to curb our spending period. Not as much excess and I'm shopping ads and only buying what's on sale in the circular. I still won't menu plan but instead I look to create meals once again based on the cheapest things on the flyer.

How do you manage your grocery budget? Do you have any tips to save a lot of money? Our eating out budget has been reduced by about 75%. I'm not sure yet about our grocery but I wouldn't be surprised if it is about the same but feels tighter.

Financial musings

October 13th, 2015 at 06:02 pm

First we are doing better this month on groceries. We've spent $45 on alcohol so far and have enough beer to last the month, $57 on eating out/coffee shops, $242 on groceries and honestly we are good enough for the week. So I think we are on track to spend $150/week this month or around $600-750. I think spending around $150/week = $650/month which seems reasonable for a family of 4. Last month and even some of this month's costs are still us rebuilding our stockpile and necessities. Plus $650 for groceries and spending very little on eating out compared to previously I think is a huge savings. Last month spending around $1200 on groceries freaked me out a lot.

Second we are debating whether to do a Roth IRA this year. We have until April 15th to decide. We usually wait until January 30th anyway to see where our income lands. This year we may be able to do a roth IRA without doing a backdoor rollover Roth. We did manage to max out DH's 401k before he left his job. But it's $11k we'll be tying up instead of having in cash. My preference is once he's in his bootcamp in February we move the money if we think he's going to land a job asap. Or if I land a job sooner.

Third our utility bills are ridiculously cheaper. It's 20% of what we used to pay. A full month of electric and gas and we paid a combined $83 for the month! This is with a very inefficient furnace and refrigerator. I can't believe it. We did use 404 kwh of electric instead of our base usage of 900 kwh. In our last place our water heater was electric and we never changed it to natural gas because of the location it was impossible. Second we used 28 therms to heat the house where we are now and it $35. Insanity. We were on a budget billing for both electric and natural gas in our last place to help even out the winter costs and we were budgeting $250/month each. This is on top of our $250/month for HOA dues for water and insurance. $400 extra month for just utilities I had to admit really helps the budget. I can totally understand now how Mr Money Mustache talks about living frugally as a early retiree.

Anyway I had a great weekend and I'll post more later.

Fun Weekend and thoughts

October 13th, 2015 at 05:54 pm

My mom came in Wednesday night for the weekend and left early this morning. She thought the duration of the trip perfect. She had a great time seeing our new place, the kids, and visiting a new city. I think she liked it but could never move away from Hawaii. Oh well.

First thought was she brought all of us and early Christmas present in the form of water pik water flossers. I believe she one she got runs $59.99 online and she brought us each one so 4 total. YIKES. When we were visiting last my kids love it and she bought it to promote good dental health. I admit to loving it already but I wonder if it's a good idea to obsess over one's dental health? We still floss 1-2x a day and brush 2-3x a day. I have very soft teeth and grind my teeth so I very easily have issues. But since becoming and adult I've been extremely conscious oral care and I once worked in a dental lab doing research on chewing gum for cleaning teeth. The amount of money and fun I had was amazing. But also terrifyingly disgusting. Anyway a couple of years ago my crown became absessed and I had to have the tooth removed and an implant done. This was after 15+ years of the root canal. So I admit I am very worried about my teeth. But does anyone else use a water pik? Has it made a difference? I love it but I worry my mom just wasted her money. FWIW she has been using one for about 5 years now and swear by it along with flossing and brushing. Dental hygiene is not cheap.

Second I called Ameriprise and because we have renter's insurance instead of home insurance we no longer qualify for the mult-policy discount. Ugh. Of course our rental insurance is cheaper than our home insurance but not by much. Also since we officially moved in August and all our policies renewed we were double billed so I'm waiting on refunds and I called to follow up on our refunds today since it's been 8 weeks and apparently no refunds were processed.

Third I'm a bit worried about our rental. My DH and DK1 are having terrible allergies. We thought maybe it's seasonal and outdoor. But with the weather and lack of pollen and not being outside we suspect it's our rental house. We have carpet everywhere and we think it wasn't really cleaned. And even if it was cleaned the pet (likely cat) dander is what is causing their allergies. It also could be a mold problem. We're not sure how to test for either. And for now they both are taking daily doses of allergy medicine. Plus this morning DK1 woke up on picture day at school with swollen eyes. Uuggh. I guess we'll do the reshoot. I wish we had considered the carpeting before we moved in.

Finally where do most people do oil changes? The cheapest place like a jiffy lube?

End of Month Lookback

October 1st, 2015 at 03:56 am

Ugh....What can I say? I haven't looked at our investment accounts or retirement accounts until now. We'll we've lost about 10% in retirement down from 6/15/16 $575k to $520k. And we're not adding to it either this year anymore so it's a bit frustrating. Our taxable accounts are down $40k but part of that is from our investments going down $33k. $7k for a move, month long trip, deposits, and start up costs is not terrible. Of course our investments tanking is a sorry thing.

Unfortunately our burn rate needs to come down we're been spending way to much money on just getting set up again. How bad has it been? Well the utilities weren't bad this month we paid trash $52 until end of October, $59 for electric/gas, $99 to set up internet with comcast $50, downgraded our cell phones to $90/month from $130 and am waiting for the water bill. We spent $137 for the month on car gas.

So the food budget and pet budget are where we are bleeding money. We spent $203 on eating out, way too high I think. But I'm having trouble curbing my husband. He's not willing up a coffee from starbucks and wants it almost daily. Our groceries this month was $1122! OMG. Granted a lot of it was set up stuff like toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, shampoo, body wash, cleaning supplies, and basic kitchen stuff. We used up mostly everything and gave away stuff that would have been difficult to move. Also we had to buy a lot of stuff to start up the kitchen like a spice rack for $25 from costco. But honestly it was everything else that added up quickly. Canola, sesame, evoo, balsamic, red, cider, white vinegars, soy sauce, mirin, cooking wine, etc. A shopping trip to the ethnic markets we spent $100 on spices and other stuff. The cleaning supplies from costco was another $100. Moving is a lot more expensive out of town than probably people realize. I certainly didn't expect all these expenses.

Hope that we are able to curb our budget next month.

Budgeting struggle

September 19th, 2015 at 09:34 pm

I find it impressive and amazing people can follow a budget. I struggle with organizing receipts and honestly I hate breaking them down. I hate trying to group cleaning supplies, home furnishings, clothing, etc. I mean I can do very simple stuff like groceries and eating out and gas for the car. I also can do stuff like insurance or cable or water or electric.

But tracking all the spending? I'm not sure where to put categories and receipts sometimes. I only check my restaurant receipts against the charges to make sure the tip is put on correctly. And I keep receipts of things I might return or are high value with the item.

But how do you really track it? Is it better weekly? Or month? How do you budget stockpiling groceries or cleaning supplies?

What really worked for us and I'm still getting into the rhythm is picking a number and seeing where our budget will land. I'll pick a number and see if we can stay within and if need be I'll tighten it.

Rent $2400, Electric $200, Water $100, Internet $60, Cell Phone $95, Trash $30, Gas $200, Groceries $500, Eating out $200, Misc $100. Then see if we hit these targets and adjust.

But tips for budgeting will be appreciated.

Not working and how it's going

September 19th, 2015 at 04:06 am

It's interesting living a lifestyle eschewed by Mr Money Mustache. We're not "retired" but taking a break from working. We don't have enough to retire fully and live the lifestyle we want. We probably are close especially if we moved further out from where we are and lived very frugally. But the truth is my DH isn't willing to compromise and wants to work so we will continue on the hamster wheel. We just took a short break from "work" in the traditional sense.

It's been a month but a busy month for my DH and I. Since we moved cross country most of the month was spent unpacking, organizing, and just getting settled. For the most part we are close to being done and really getting settled into a routine.

I've noticed a couple of things. We curbed the eating out which is good since it's pricey. I miss it a little but we're trying to limit it to 1-2x a week. So far it's been 1x a week. Our cooking is getting back to where it used to be pre-kids. We have more time to put effort. Also we grocery shop more and look for sales and shop the circular because we're on a tighter budget. This month so far our grocery budget has been an excessive $700 but a lot of it has to do with buying stuff like spices, condiments, flour, sugar, canola oil, olive oil, etc. Things you need to start up your kitchen. Basic goods that all add up. It really was the first 2 weeks of moving in when we bought a ton of extra groceries and we don't have a stockpile either yet going. However we're also running lean and sort of buying enough for a week worth of cooking.

However we fill gas a lot less. So far this month we've spent $77 and haven't filled since the beginning of the month. We don't have cable just internet. The deal happened to be $50/month for 100 mbps and adding cable was an extra $20. Where we were cable was an extra $5/month because the "bundle" of local channels plus hbo was $84 versus $79 for just internet.

This lifestyle is pretty relaxing. I'm not sure if either of us could last long term but knowing we have 4 months of DH not "working" I think will go by quick. He went to a info session of his bootcamp and was told he has to get up to speed on Linear Algebra and Multivariable Calculus. So he's taking online classes to make sure he can ace it. So these 4 months should go by fast. He was also reassured that they had a 100% placement rate after the camp.

Guess it'll be interesting watching our savings dwindle and seeing what happens. We're starting off with $80k cash, $100k invested, and $350k for a house DP. I hope we don't tap any more than the $80k or at least that's our goal.

Utilities - lower cost of living

September 15th, 2015 at 03:00 am

The lower cost of living is SWEET. I am loving the small benefits. Yes housing is at least 25% cheaper, probably closer to 30-40% to be honest when everything is said and done. It's hard to compare because the houses are newer and need less work so where we lived a $800k home was a "fixer" that is about the same size or bigger, but needing new furnace, roof, insulation, lead paint, windows, electrical etc. I mean that this year 2 of my friends bought homes they couldn't move into without getting the electrical upgraded from Nob 2. That was $15k OOP before they moved in, besides it was a safety hazard. Both people also had to tear out bathrooms that had leaks and were rotting and are working on those projects. So though I think house are at least 25% cheaper I think it's much more.

But I can definitely see a difference in utilities however with our first electric bills. Here it is 9.5 cent/kwh, we last paid 24.8 cents/kwh where we lived. Ridiculous. If we used the same amount 921 kwh we should have paid $87.49. Instead we paid $228.40. So around 1/3 the price we paid.

Our natural gas in our new location $1.03/therm used. In our last place we were paying $1.16/therm used and this was summertime. The price in Dec/January was $1.40/therm. Being the frugal folk we only used 307 therms in the winter. So our bill was $430. Our connected neighbors who heated to 70 instead of our 60 was $1200.

Another direct comparison was our property taxes. The property tax rate of our town was $12.12/$1000 of assessed value. Here the assessed tax rate is $10.73/$1000 of assessed value. This is 12% saving on property taxes and that's direct comparison of assessed value.

I'm waiting on our water bill but previously our water bill was $18 per CCF for combined water and sewer. I'm interested in the rate we will be paying. Of course we are also paying $30/month trash service.

Add this all up with a saving of state incomes and lower food costs and I think we could potentially be looking at a lower cost of living around a solid 20%. So a 20% paycut should be fine. The question is where we will land income wise?

I also know that where we moved is not a LCOLA. It's actually pretty expensive for the US comparatively. Perhaps others will chime in about their cost of living. Do you watch what you pay? Do you know what you pay? I know when we moved from CA to the East Coast we had comparable COL. But this is the first time we've ever lived somewhere cheaper for us both. It's pretty sweet.

Switching phone companies

September 15th, 2015 at 02:38 am

We switched from Verizon to T Mobile. T Mobile is having a deal for 10 gb a line with unlimited talk and text $120 for up to 4 lines. We had three lines and a spare sim card given to us. So we decided to switch.

My BIL broke his phone and was happy to buy a new one. My DH and I ported over our old verizon phones and activated them on T mobile. T mobile also paid our early termination fees off the contract.

We were paying $190/month between three people for 3 smart phones and 10 gb of data shared. Now we are looking at $120 for 3 lines with 10 gb each. Of course my DH is interested in a new phone but me personally I'll be focusing on the cheapest smart phones since I seem to be a magnet for breaking/losing of phones. So there is NO point for me to have anything fancier than my most recent moto E for $70. Not a bad deal.

Of course my BIL just bought a note 6 and my DH will likely want something nicer soon enough. But personally this no contract and buy a phone you like I think is the best plan. I've been dying to move to cricket or pay as you go and it never made sense when I inputted how much data and minutes we've used. But this new T mobile deal is pretty sweet.

If only my parents also on T mobile would have joined our plan then 5 people for $130 would have been a steal. And no my mom refused because of control issues.

new neighborhood

September 11th, 2015 at 04:30 pm

The neighborhood we live in is great. People seem less rushed and less stressed. The houses are very middle class and if I had to guess most people are solidly middle class.

But what struck me is a lot of the phrases I'm hearing. Before we lived in a very upper income, affluent area for the country. Average house price was $1M, condos were around $500k+, so you can imagine that the average salary I think was $100k. Where we lived that was scraping by.

Now the area we've moved to the houses are running around $400-500k and it's considered one of the more affluent areas of the city we live in. Honestly expensive compared to many other suburbs. Most people here are 1 or 2 working professionals like where we lived, and I'd guess the average income is also $80-100k.

But I've heard from a lot of people that they are on a tight budget, living paycheck to paycheck, and stretching it. I don't get it.

I know where we moved from people made a lot of money, but I also know there were MANY two income professional couples trying to keep up with the Joneses. But here people don't seem to be driving Audi, Lexus, BMW, Benz. They aren't sending their kids to tons of activities that cost exorbitant amounts or hiring nannies to pick up the kids and chauffer them.

But they are talking about leasing a new Rav4, not affording activities for kids, and being paycheck to paycheck. I am surprised. I thought that they are living so much more modestly they would be saving more. But it seems that no matter what the house price, income, or area, many people aren't saving and struggling.

I thought it was mostly those who tried to keep up with the Joneses at the highest levels of income that were in trouble. Now I think that at all income levels people are trying to keep up with the "joneses" of their level.

FWIW we fit in better in the neighborhood carwise and stuff. We don't seem so frugal. But I wonder if knowing we can afford more might not encourage us to spend more?

The dog

September 1st, 2015 at 04:39 pm

So our dog hasn't been well for a couple of months. He's had a leg/joint issue and we've suspected a lymph node issue. It's confirmed today when we sent him in for teeth cleaning and the dr suggested a lymph node biopsy. He's old at least 14 potentially more. We've had him since 2006 and it's a little depressing. Since we've lost our last guy in 2010 we've only had one dog.

I'm honestly a bit nervous. If this is it I'm not ready to get another dog. But with two kids I'm not sure how willing to wait they would be for us to grieve. The first time was hard enough but we had one dog left and our lives had just changed with a new baby. So the dog of our youth (20s) was ready to say goodbye.

I don't know how I feel that we've moved again to possibly say goodbye to another family member. I know that we've changed our lives again but we got this house a lot in part for him. And I don't know if I can picture life without a dog.

Cross your fingers. But either way I know based on his age we are just counting time. We realized it as this winter and he had a lot of trouble in the snow.

Old Habits are Hard to Break

July 9th, 2015 at 04:48 am

I realized that old habits are hard to break. I find that even now traveling with our kids and getting older I'm reluctant to spend more on our hotels. I do spend more because I need a bigger room, but the the level of hotels aren't so much more expensive than when DH and I traveled solo.

The level of hotel I've come to realize is substantially lower than most of our friends. Most tell me then never spend less than $100 or $125+. They look for hotels with pools and location and name. I will admit based on our income we likely should be spending more on hotels. Our next hotel stay is $60 for America's Best Value Inn.

But at the same time where we stay makes it more palatable for us to drop extra cash on experiences. Recently because the hotels we were staying at were less than $100 we made up for it by doing a Niagara Falls boat tour, Whirlpool Aero Car Ride, and renting bikes at Mackinac Island. The bike rental was $100 for 3 hours.

But at the same time if we spent more I think I might really examine what "experiences" we want to do when we are traveling instead of just doing them.

Do you find you've changed the way you travel as you've gotten older? Or stayed the same?

I wonder if I'll ever feel comfortable just booking a hotel without considering costs? And yes I will admit to spending more but it was Manhattan and it can't be helped there. Our most recent NYC trip we spent $200/night in the financial district and it was a king size bed for all four of us.

I write this because my DH mentioned perhaaps we should consider upgrading and staying somewhere nicer. FWIW with one exception everywhere we've stayed has exceeded expectations.

my realtor, the rich, and Tim Ferriss

April 25th, 2015 at 01:21 am

Just some odd and end stuff. My realtor pulled up in her blue porsche sports car. And my painter says "are you sure it's a good idea to hire a realtor who drives a nice car?" I say she literally two weeks ago sold my friends house for $886k for a 2 bd condo listed at $799k (same town as me) without a home inspection or mortgage contingency the first weekend. And that's the 5th deal she's done for my friend including selling two of her previous homes, one multi family rental, and buying her current property. And each time she's got full asking price, twice before it hit MLS and sometimes without home inspection contingencies. So I think she's a smart realtor. And I'm hoping she'll want to work hard enough to get the biggest commission so she can buy her next porsche. Perhaps I'm crazy but in realtors I don't mine fancy cars.

So my friend Ms S comes over to see my place and give an honest evaluation. Her quotes to me are "You should have hired the painter to do the whole house. Then you wouldn't be stressing out about getting the place listed. You should have hired a stager they would have brought in furniture, your stuff doesn't match. You should have hired an organizer and hired a babysitter so you could have been faster in purging you place." All true point. But the real truth Ms S doesn't get and will NEVER understand is that "with what money?" Her response "you have to spend money to make money."

The truth is that when you are rich you buy what you want without care. Really, really rich, ie you never worked a day in your life and you never need to because you have a trust fund big enough to support you rich. A trust fund that can pay for private school for your kids at the tune of $50k/year and you not blink an eye. Big enough that when you have your kid you set aside $250k from your trust fund for her college fund. Big enough that you can buy a home cash at 25, be a single mom going to graduate school making $25k/year, and still pay for private school for said child and drive a new leased car every couple of years. That's really, really rich. Ms S is and can be very nice.

But her one fault is she doesn't truly understand how the poor lives. She likes to think she does because she volunteers doing birthday parties at shelters once a month. So she "sees" how they live and takes her kids there. But when I suggested she teach her teenager daughter about being "middle class" by putting her on a budget she said why? I'm sending her to habitat for humanity for teenagers this summer for 2 weeks to learn how to rough it and see how the poor lives.

I said shouldn't you teach her how the middle class lives? That an average family of 4 lives on maybe $800/month groceries (according to FDA) but she spends 3x that plus eats out most meals??? That most people can't afford only organic food? Her response was "oh E understands that. I don't just give her money. She babysits." So when you are that rich that you send your kid to "poverty" but haven't even taught them middle class budgeting it's hard to understand your friends counting their pennies.

So Tim Ferriss wrote the book the four hour work week. My DH tells me he's the reason why he's quitting his job. It resonated with him the idea that you can make more money you can't get back time. So he's taking the risk now to quit and do something else with the opportunity to have more time.

I figure Tim Ferriss is a lot like Mr Money Mustache but not frugal. He lives the life of luxury and isn't ashamed to admit it with lots of consumerish. But at the same time he's preaching working smarter and valuing your time.

Selling my junk

April 14th, 2015 at 11:51 am

Well I've been selling off the house left and right. Truthfully if I had time and the weather would cooperate I could probably sell a lot of stuff at a garage sale. But as it is, I haven't the time and the weather hasn't cooperated so I'm going to donate. It's definitely not worth taking things to storage to take them out again to sell. Some stuff it is worth it so I will move to storage.

Anything worth selling has already been sold. So how much have I sold? According to my spreadsheet $905.

The bulk of which were two items my maclaren double stroller for $160, I bought it new in 2013 for $169. Yes I looked up the receipt on Amazon. Great I rented it for traveling for $10.

And a Dining Table Set we bought in 2005 to sell our condo in San Diego. We bought the entire set for $99, I sold it for $160 this weekend.

I made another $90 at consignment stores selling stuff and I'm doing another consignment store run today. So from that we made $410.

Rest were odds and ends I sold like a rocking chair and ottoman for $70. Got it free from a neighbor who moved away. A cosleeper I bought for $40 I sold for $50. And a lot of other kid stuff.

I've still got a lot listed including a huge lot of thomas trains I'm trying to sell for $450. Yes it's a lot to be asking but it's a lot of trains and a huge lot of tracks. After we list I'll probably break it down into 2 lots and sell for $250 each. I think it might work better.

What I haven't sold is a Versagate baby gate for $75 NIB + 2 extensions, worth $150 according to amazon. A bookcase for $25, $10 Ikea Coffee Table, Shoe Rack $10, and wooden high chair $25, area rug $30. I'm thinking they will sell eventually but the rest I'll trash.

But on the other plus side everything I'm donating is a tax write off so we'll have quite a bit written off.

How do you decide what to sell and what to donate?

The Open Road

March 22nd, 2015 at 11:52 am

Right now life is moving faster than I ever thought possible. My DH is unhappy at work and dying to get off the hamster wheel. What can I say? The sadistic VP says things like "those people laid off are lucky...at my previous company we'd fire one person a month and not pay sevenrance. That'd keep people in line. I mean they really deserve to be fired given a gift." Yes telling people commentary like that when it was called a layoff of "realignment of company values" is lovely. This guy is a real "gem". But it's okay since he'll have his comeuppance when he's fired in 5 years, since VP get that long to prove themselves. The previous VP didn't get fired he "resigned" after being called back during a vacation and the board "talked" to him and he decided to spend more time with his family. Not true he was fired, but given a very nice golden parachute. So assholes abound.

If it matters the department culture has shifted a lot and I've known since last May when this VP started my DH has been getting more unhappy. And a lot of negative things have been going on. So this was just the push he needed.

Anyway since we are becoming more serious about moving in July after we sell our house (cross fingers and knock on wood). He mentions he wants to rent an RV and drive cross country. He says it's his dream and something he'll probably never be able to do again. I'm wondering should we do this? He's salivating at the idea of me, the kids, the dog in the RV.

We've researched it because previously we discussed vacationing for a week in an RV to Eastern Canada (hello prince edward island). It's not cheap like $250/day plus gas and incidentals. I'm guessing the trip for 10 days cross country at least $5k.

But at the same time it's an opportunity of a lifetime. I RV one summer for 2 weeks with my best friend's family to Yellowstone and it was so amazing and cool and fun. We did so many great things and my memories are phenomenal. It was an opportunity I am so glad I got to experience. Granted I spent a month in Las Vegas total with her mom and her. I can't believe looking back how much my mom trusted her parents and sent me away for a month! I was 14 though and she was already my best friend for 9 years and we lived at each others houses.

I'm wondering what about driving in our subaru cross country and towing a uhaul hitch? We'd have to have a hitch put on our subaru for $1k, and rent a trailer for $600, then hotels. I wonder would that be cheaper? We could camp or stay at hotels?

What are people's thoughts? I'm willing to listen about the experience of RV.

odds and ends

March 17th, 2015 at 02:02 pm

So we had two late/overdraft fees last month. Because February is 28 days my DH set up auto deposit into our checking for the 28th of the month and it didn't hit until the 3rd. So some of bills I auto pay on the 1st would have cleared if the cash got deposited on time. We were over by $65 anyway and BofA protected us by transferring some from our savings float. Still they charged us $10 and I was annoyed with my DH for not setting up deposits on the 1st of the month.

But I called and they waived the fees since we don't do it very often. They were actually very nice about it. I wonder if we should deposit more into the checking instead of cutting it so close. Usually there is a $500 buffer but the deposit being late ate that up.

We are exploring our options right now and I have a call out to the realtor who sold us our house. We really liked and trusted her and she's very experienced and lived in our neighborhood. She did us a big favor helping us get our place and guiding us what neighborhoods.

So now do we just hire her back and go with her recommendations? Or do we contact other realtors say 2 others and get an idea what our place is worth? Have them do comps and show us what they can offer?

Last time we also with the realtor who sold us our place. But she was my friend's mom and we knew she had our best interest at heart. At the same time, when we were selling she told us to call 2 other realtors and ask for comps and we did and she came in "dead on" with the other two estimates and we sold for $1k above what she priced at in the 1st weekend in a bidding war. So I believe she was good and secure in knowing we trusted her.

This realtor we know was suggested by the relocation company. But she seems like our old realtor someone whose been in the business over 20 years, lives where she sell, etc. She didn't get in during the boom and has lasted.

But should we talk to others? What's the etiquette?

Further I contacted from craigslist some apartments to discuss potential month to month rentals and how to handle that. There are a few places both cheaper and more expensive than what we are spending that based on location we could be happy with.

This week my goal today is to try and list a few items for sale and donate at least 1 box. I am determined if we are selling I am going to minimize the amount we are going to move. We can't hold onto baby stuff anymore. Perhaps we'll have a third child, that is not off the table, but shelved until after we move. I am a little sad because I feel my kids are getting older and so am I, but at the same time I know that a move isn't easy with 2 and we certainly couldn't take this risk with 3 kids. So perhaps it'll still happen.

Is a movie middle class?

February 27th, 2015 at 07:21 pm

So remember my story about my crazy, broke friend Mrs A? She's the one who lives in her mom's apartment, doesn't pay rent, has three kids, drives a mercedes, shops only at whole food, and complains about how expensive everything is. Well Mrs A posted on Facebook that she spent $170 on going to the movies with her family over the weekend and said it was so unfair. She wrote it's unfair that going to the movies is an elitist event and since when did it happen that taking a family of 5 is so expensive?

I didn't respond because I personally don't think the movie has to be so expensive an event. It isn't cheap but it's not the most expensive thing you can do.

So I saw her a couple of days later and asked her how did it break down to being so damn expensive. She said it was two adults, their babysitter (13), two kids 4 and 5 and the 1 year old. Their tickets cost $70 alone. They went to a deluxe theater and saw Sponge Bob in 3D. Then another $100 for food and snacks since they went at 6 pm.

Okay I have to say anyway you cut it I guess the problem is they didn't even try to minimize costs by going to a matinee or buying discount movie tickets at $8/each at Costco. Then for five people it would have been $40 plus 3D fee. Save them at least $3-5/each person. Then if they had gone at a different time instead of dinner perhaps they wouldn't have needed snacks. And why not bring in their own snacks or juice box at least?

Do you take your family to the movies? Is it middle class? I think Mrs A personally went above and beyond what any middle class family would have spent. And perhaps the movies isn't a "middle" class activity anymore.

I asked myself would I spend $30 for an activity for me and family? I don't think so. But I have spent close to that going to the Monteray aquarium or CA academy of sciences. But both times that was the entrance fee and we brought our own lunches to save. So I tried to minimize the expense and maximize the experience.

But the movies? I'd like to think I'd buy one big popcorn for $10 and tell my kids that's it share it. And the movie tickets and my own juice boxes.

But of course perhaps it's wrong to bring my own juice box but I bring in my own water bottle even now. Whereas before I never bought popcorn, since we go so infrequently I pony up for popcorn.

What do others with kids and without kids do?

So many Joneses

February 13th, 2015 at 03:16 pm

I am horrified by how many people are trying to keep up with the Joneses. I don't pry into people's lives and I certainly don't ask questions about income or finances but this week has been sad and eye opening.

Right now the weather sucks. So my DK2 is in an early intervention group for speech. Kiddo is delayed probably due to hearing impairment. The group has probably 8-9 kids and we "drop off" our toddlers for 1.5 hours to interact and speak with each other and teachers. During this time we often sit and chit chat in a room while we wait since we can't leave the building. You get to know these people, this is my 3rd week. So this week with the bad weather people were discussing parking, driving, and cars. One woman just bought a brand new 2015 lexus IS350. But she said it's leased and great in the snow. While guy next to me said he and his wife had just leased 2014 Honda Accords and CR-V. I said I own a subaru. The conversation continues and both people are talking about not being able to save for college or any money. I bite my tongue from saying "well probably leasing these fancy cars are the reason." But what can you say right?

The next day I am having a playdate with a friend (Ms A) who I've always known has money problems. They make more than enough money but can't seem to pay any bills and spends money like it's water. Ms A has three kids, lives pretty much rent free with her mom, and her husband makes $60k/year cash. Her mom owns a multifamily building and they live in a big unit and should be paying $1500 (way under market value, should be closer to $4500/month) but often don't pay her mom. Ms A husband doesn't file taxes and mostly works for cash as a mechanic/construction/snow plow. She says to me on Wednesday "if only we made $120k or double what we make now and all our financial problems would go away. I know we'd be able to move out and afford everything." I again had to bite my tongue from saying there is no way doubling your income would help. She only shops at Whole Foods, buys organic food only, uses babysitters to go to yoga, pays the minimum on her CC, gets laser hair removal, and drives a mercedes. She makes bad financial decisions and I've seen it when she pulls out three different cards and says "charge 1 kid on each card to go to a museum or playspace." Making more money is not going to help her.

I like to believe the glass is half full and from reading SA and other sites I think there are people saving money. I'd like to think most people are fiscally responsible. Then a week like this happens and it's depressing. It's depressing knowing that people driving these new fancy cars Lexus, Benz, etc can't really afford it like I assume they can.

The two parents in the toddler group I hope the best, and perhaps they have a great reason for leasing their cars. But since they can't seem to save I don't think so.

As for my friend? Ms A is a lost cause and perhaps when she grows up and her mother kicks her out then she'll suddenly realize more money = more happiness and the ability to save. You should be able to save no matter what the income.

On a good note DH got an average review at work and a raise. I think 3%. Best in his department considering most are on probation. It should make him happy but instead it makes him depressed.

Snow days

February 9th, 2015 at 09:26 pm

Apparently we are in for another 24" of snow. I've had enough. Yet another snow day. I'm crying out "uncle" and still it comes. And all we can look forward to is more snow Thursday. Of course that's the good news.

My bad news? DH didn't get jobs he interviewed for so now we are stuck. How stuck? I don't know. But we are moving forward with a few plans.

We are at a crux. Quit and move? Get an internship and transition quickly into a new field? Or take courses and transition slowly. DH is taking courses to transition. There are so many balls in the air I'm not sure what to try catching.

Financially we are just trudging along. Our FU fund is pleasantly plump and perhaps that's best. My DH had a moment of weakness after finding out he didn't get the job and said "I hate the idea of staying at my job another year. I can't stand it." Perfect storm? Perhaps.

I hate where we live and despise it. DH hates the new management trying to get all of them to quit or fired. 40% of his department have been told they're getting bad reviews and being put on probation. He's in the "okay" average bunch. But it's depressing and he's unhappy with the new management.

I don't know what to say or do. I asked if he wants to just quit and take courses and transition. He says he needs time to think. But the overall misery at work I think is making him depressed.

So do we chuck it all now? Do we muster on and try to transition to a new career? Do we just throw caution to the wind? I don't know. I swear it feels like a roller coaster and one where I have no idea where the end is, I'm just hanging on hoping I can stay on.

Tired of hearing it...

February 4th, 2015 at 07:33 pm

Seriously winter sucks. I can't believe how much snow there is. I have ice dams hanging off my house. I also have 2 inches of ice on my stairs, life is not good right now. But seriously I am finding that my friends are splintering into two groups. Those with money and those with less.

The group with money often don't even realize their lifestyle is not the norm. For instance recently they are SAHM who on a snow day hire a babysitter and go to the spa. I was told "we deserve it, spent all day cooped up inside. It was tiring yesterday and we are used our "me" time," since the kids normally go to preschool in the mornings. I was invited but said sorry too expensive a day. My DH hears this story and the invite and said "what part of staying at home with your kids is hiring sitters and going to the spa?" I hear that a lot recently from a group of moms, "we deserve time away from the kids. You should send them full time and get time to yourself. How unaffordable can it be?" I'm seeing a pattern.

Of course on the flip side you see those moms who either stay at home and say they can't do anything. Or who are working and say they have no money because everything goes to childcare. I hear complaints from these friends about how hard it is to do anything. And I find it interesting that mom's who stay at home but with a very tight budget are offended by the suggestion to work. And those who work are horrified at the idea that if didn't work they'd have to live on half or reduced income.

The pattern I'm seeing is that very few people are actually satisfied with what they have or make. Very people understand or realize that the grass is not always greener on the other side or that some people are satisfied with less money.

I mean the people who have money rolling in have no idea how to people live on so little money. You just can't when you are used a certain lifestyle. And those who have less can't fathom spending that much and desire more but aren't willing to make a sacrifice of working more. While dual income families are jealous of those not working but never stop to examine how much less often times the single income families are living on.

I rarely make financial comments to friends because I doubt they would listen. But I really want to shake them all and say be satisfied and realized people make difference choices for different reasons. That if you choose to work then realize you make more than the family who has one breadwinner.

But when will people learn? What would happen if more people were satisfied with what they have?

Odds and Ends

November 24th, 2014 at 04:26 pm

This month's cleanse has been enlightening. I'll probably keep on the low car and high veggie diet for a while to keep losing weight. But it has been interesting how eating vegetables and fresh fruit can be expensive as eating meat and carbs. Our bill will likely be as expensive more with the slight modifications in diet. What I found interesting is that we barely ate out as well thus far (it should be going up) my BIL is town for thanksgiving. We usually go out to eat and will be hosting him and his girlfriend. So I'm guessing we are breaking the budget.

But on a serious note, I can see why people on a limited budget eat less healthy food. It's cheaper to eat a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup than a full veggie meal. Or a bag of goldfish for $1.99 is cheaper than 4 apples or 4 yogurts.

We are going on vacation in a few weeks for a few weeks. Leaving in two weekends till after the new year. We are trying to decide between vrbo in San Diego. One is in Pacific Beach (PB) and other in Ocean Beach (OB). I prefer the PB location and it's great a block from garnet and on the beach. I found it through VRBO, but the guy only advertises on there. You have to mail a check and sign a lease, but you can't book through VRBO. This is the first time its happened to me. I usually book through the vrbo website so I'm nervous and why I'm considering booking the OB site though we don't love the location. I will say the PB rental did offer me to pay through paypal by check.

What have people's experiences been? Should I be worried? My DH prefers booking through vrbo he thinks it gives us an extra layer or protection. Does it?

Also we've gotten a good deal on the mininvan we're renting. We're staying with my in-laws at the VRBO so we need a minivan. And a one way rental of a small car from SD to LA so we can leave for Hawaii. I can't wait to get away from the start of winter and see family (even my in-laws). The only thing left is organizing gifts for family and teachers.

I bought 4 cookie skillets from costco for $18.99 and will give 1 skilled to each teacher with a $20 starbucks gift card. I bought two sets and figure it's a nice christmas gift. I may add in a dry cookie mix I make as well or a book. Last year was cookies and banana bread with SB gift card. The year before was hot chocolate homemade in containers and SB gift card. End of the year gifts were target gift cards and plants. If anyone has creative gifts I'll take it.

I wrote a few weeks ago I was floundering and I still am in some ways. I applied for a couple more positions and my DH has a phone interview with a small company on the west coast. But he's had so many it's hard to get excited. However reading that post, I realized I have to keep moving forward and counting down the months. If we move without jobs it'll be important we purge and minimize.

Plus my DH and I have been talking more. The third child is still on the table perhaps later than I would wish but it is. We've done nothing permanent and we have all our baby stuff. I don't feel complete but I do desire to move and having a third would change our timeline.

On a depressing thought my Dad is 84 has said that he is not coming to visit me again. The trip is too long. So this June my oldest finishes preschool and wanted my parents to see her little ceremony and visit. It'll be warm since it's June so my mom is coming. My Dad said no. So it really is coming now or never. My in-laws have also said they don't want to see us in the winter anymore where we live. It's too far a trip and they feeling the transfers as well.

But with 2014 wrapping up I am trying to think positively. I am trying to be in a good frame of mind. I am definitely purging, losing weight, and just focusing on moving.

Balancing now for later...

November 22nd, 2014 at 03:17 am

Nika brought up a great point about enjoying your money now and later. That it's hard to find the balance between spending and saving. It really is. It's so very easy to get miserly and not spend money. At the same time it's also easy to go off on a spending spree and justify all your spending because you make $X.

So how do you balance spending now versus saving for later?

My thought, it depends on what your priorities are. Do you want to retire early? Do you want to have time with your kids now by staying at home? Or perhaps time later by retiring early? Can you never imagine retiring early because you want a certain lifestyle? Or do you feel obligated if you have kids to pay for college so retirement is out of the question?

There are so many choices and no one right answer. All of the choices above are valid. The choice you make is the one that will lead your financial decisions.

About a year ago when I submitted our financials to MMM blog for a reader case study, I realized that without knowing it we were mustachians. I also realized and confirmed that my DH and I bought wanted the financial security of being "financially independent" from working. He's still unsure about "retiring early" but my DH is completely on board with having money to say FU to anyone, anytime. To know that if we didn't have an income we'd still make it as a family. How did this realization affect us?

We have never lived up to our income and never been big spenders. But that realization that really living on a budget, curbing our spending, and watching every dollar meant we might be closer to "FIRE = financial independence early retirement" than we ever imagined. We had $462k in retirement, we now have in 9 months $519k. We had $163k taxable and $54k cash, now we have $167k and $58k cash and our liabilities has gone down to $3800 car payment gone in 6 more months. Also according to zillow (very underestimated) our house went from $609k to $647k, I am guessing more like $750k to be honest.

Are we there yet? Projections say no. But I do think that we are definitely closing in fast on a FI number but more importantly we are much more focused on becoming FI to decide what we really want to do.

Sighing at people

November 21st, 2014 at 01:56 am

So my no sugar, meat, dairy = vegan diet is still one. One more week and it's been eye opening. I've lost a little over 10 lbs. We'll see how this eating change goes long term. I am thinking about doing 100 days of real food next. I have to say it's been great for the eating out budget but bad for the grocery budget I believe I'm over our $500/month allotment and it's still another 10 days and a house guest. But our eating out budget is under $50 and I usually budget $300.

Why am I sighing at people? Well first I was in line at whole foods buying a Kabocha Pumpkin (required for diet). Only thing I bought and I was standing in line behind a woman who spent $270. Well it took three credit cards and breaking it down to afford it. Seriously? Why are you shopping at whole paycheck if you can't afford to pay for it?

I was in a discussion about finances (well I nodded) with a couple of friends since one of them just bought a new car. One friend said to the other "I try to pay a little more than the minimum on my CC, and one of my four weekly paychecks goes to my car loan." Okay my eyes nearly fell out considering the woman drives the supersize Mercedes SUV that seats 7 diesel. She said her husband picked it because he loves diesel engines. Seriously 25% of your income a month is for your car? The other woman said it hurt to have a car payment of $1k/month. I was stunned with another sigh.

Finally DH's best friends came over on Sunday for dinner and talked about buying a house he'd just seen over the weekend. His wife lives cross country and is planning on moving in February at 32+ weeks pregnant. He's in a mad rush to buy so he said "how bad would it be to make an offer on a house she hadn't seen?" My answer "if it were my DH, he should next talk to a divorce lawyer because making our biggest financial decision without me would piss me off." He said "but we could lose out on a great house. Another sigh.

But the follow up, two days later he said he'd made a mistake and decided he couldn't buy in that town because the school district was worse than he thought. So rushing to buy a house would have lead to a terrible decision.

Another friend who complained to me about my "staying at home raising kids," said she couldn't afford to do it on her husband's income. At least not the lifestyle they want. They just bought a $10k miele fridge and have $100k worth of cars in their driveway (Acura MDX and Honda Pilot). So it's not like they are hurting financially. Nor would one income be small. It'd just be more modest. I would guess $200k versus $400k. I bit my tongue and didn't say well many people stay at home on less. I can't talk because we make equivalent to their one income. But I know there are many people who make less and stay at home with nice lives.

Finally my BIL is coming with his ex girl friend to our place for thanksgiving. Not his current gf. Good thing I "clarified" so I don't out him. Besides the fact that he got into a car accident a couple days ago and totalled his car and is now saying he wants to buy a BMW. My DH is trying to convince him that he should at least buy it used.

These are the unreal stories around me. There are others but perhaps I should save some for another day.

Kid's Birthday Parties

October 30th, 2014 at 01:39 pm

Uggh, I am trying to plan my winter baby's 5th birthday party. I never thought it would be so expensive and so much trouble. I wish I had a large home to invite people over and just have a lunch or afternoon snack. Last year I would guess I spent around $450 on the party when all was said and done.

So we have 30 kids total including 2 of my own. Yes we have 28 friends we see on a very regular basis (ie weekly). The bulk of which we've known for years. My options thus far. The two jumping places I'd do an afternoon 2-4 pm party and just snacks, cake, and juice again.

1. Jump 1 (same as last year) = $349 for 25 kids + $10/kid = $400
2. Jump 2 = $325 for 24 Kids + $12/kid = $400,
3. Bowling 1 = $8.50 per child = $225 but we need to do pizza and drinks (required by bowling alley), and based on times I'd be feeding adults and kids. So I would guess @ $10 cheese pizza and $7.50 Pitchers I'd be looking at 10 pizzas and 10 pitchers?
4. Bowling 2= $250 for bowling and cake but I think I'm capped @ 20 kids which is the real problem. I can't find kids to cut.
5. $245 Ice Skating + $25 Room Renta + $75 Skate rentals = $345 plus food, and since they are turning 5 I wonder how many would be into it? My DK has been taking skating lessons and skates solo but most haven't taken lessons and I would guess most parents can't ice skate.
6. Children's Museum - $475 for package but unsure if it's firmly capped at 25 kids.

Okay help me out with ideas. There is no way I am fitting 30 kids into my townhouse. There is no way it can be held outdoors in January. For my younger child I do a park and lunch but that's just not an option here.

What should I do?

Financial mish mash

October 25th, 2014 at 02:38 am

I am a pretty boring investor. We just buy and hold. We don't actively invest, and I rarely look at the accounts and total them up because it'd probably give me white hairs if I did. Anyway though I guess I'll give some interesting updates.

In January we had $439k in retirement savings, as of today we have $500,444. However when I checked in mid-September (19th) we had $515,884. So it's going up but also come down.

Taxable accounts we started with $195k and are at $228k. Good savings, but more importantly it's not up as high because we've paid off a lot of debt. Starting debt was $27,800 in January 2014. Of which $11,800 was car loans 0.9%, $8k was 0% Credit Cards, and $8k in student loans at 1.9%. So as of today we owe $4900 on one car and $2330 on one 0% CC. We've paid off $20,500 of debt. It was just getting to us so we decided to start minimizing payments even though it didn't make financial sense. Accordingly our NW went up from $839k to $959k. I am hoping the year ends with our retirement solidly above $500k, taxable above $230k, and debt below $5k.

This month I also decided to start a spread sheet on tracking in depth my groceries and eating out. What I found is that I spent a lot more on eating out this month which caused my cooking budget to be super low. Our groceries currently with a week to go is at $282.05. Our eating out $282.28, which I usually don't break $300 (usually closer to $200) and our groceries have been running around $600 a month. And we are eating out at least 1 more meal for sure if not 2 this next week. Yikes!

I guess it's just that we ate out with friends more than usual. We ate out 7 times with friends so far this month and are planning on meeting up on Tuesday again. Socializing is tough on the pocket book.

I can't complain about this year. I think I may keep a running tally of my groceries and eating out which is easier in excel than mint. I also now stand in self-checkout lines at costco and bjs and track what is home stuff and what is groceries.


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