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Kindergarten Woes

November 10th, 2015 at 11:05 am

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

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

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

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

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

October Budget Roundup and other stuff

November 1st, 2015 at 11:50 am

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

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

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

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

College savings

October 30th, 2015 at 10:11 am

So we're on track for retirement and being financially independent. However I know my DH and I have taken care of ourselves at the expense of our children. We aren't going to be eating cat food and we are going to provide them with a good life and education k-12. We are going to give them a nice place to live, healthy food, and an education.

But what about college? That's the elephant in the room. I love reading CreditCardFree's posts about college. It is costing $17k/semester for her daughter to go to a state school. That means it is $136k without scholarships to go to the state school. OMG. And I understand it's out of state tuition but she explained the scholarship brings it in line with in state tuition which still isn't cheap!

But they are paying $7100 this semester because of a $10k scholarship and with the scholarship it works out to $75k for 4 years. Another reader Joe said he paid out of pocket after scholarships $9k for the semester which works out to $72k for 4 years. Jolie says they are paying $13k for the year or semester I can't tell. Either way it works out to $52k for 4 years or $104k for 4 years. Ms Frugalista said it cost $40k and probably $47k in total for each of her two kids now.

So I'm going to estimate right now in 2015 $70k is not an outrageous amount to be paying for college for 4 years. That works out to be around $17k/year. Assuming a very conservative 3% inflation rate I'll need $100k in 12 years. Granted I have an extra 4 years to pay this over and I have 15 years for my younger kid.

$100k for each kid as a ballpark number seems like a reasonable amount. I have 16 years for one and 19 years for the other because I will likely borrow and pay back based on grades. I want my kids to have skin in the game.

But we've only save $14k for DK1 and $9k for DK2 at a rate of $2k/year. According to a calculator if we save $2k/year for 16 years and get a rate of 6% return we will have $88k for DK1. So we may make it depending on the market. However if we save $300/month for 16 years at 6% we can have $130k. For our younger DK2 we have $9k and if we save $2k/year we'll have after 19 more years $96k @ 6% rate of return. However if we save $300/month for 19 years @ 5% we'll have $152k.

Can we find $300/month more for college? I think we can. After we buy a house and determine our living expense I'll show DH our potential college savings deficit and determine if we think $100k is enough for each child.

I've always said I'd like to provide 4 years at the state school and anything above we can't guarantee. Of course if they go somewhere really cheap I'd also love to give them the balance for graduate school!

Paul Ryan and Family Leave

October 25th, 2015 at 07:32 pm

I have to admit I like the fact Paul Ryan admits his hesitation for taking on the speaker of the house job is his family. That he reluctant to give up weekend family time. That he feels time is short. He gets it.

What I don't get is how he could vote against paid family leave for government workers and in general be against paid family leave for all workers if he values family? If his family is important to him, isn't our families important to us?

I am also impressed recently that Microsoft and Google have changed their paid maternity leave. I have met people who adored the paid 20 weeks of leave Microsoft had and now with the 1 year paid leave every woman I've talked to is EXCITED and feels empowered. The idea that a company understands picking between work and family is HARD.

And the truth is Paul Ryan is privileged. That he gets to tell the republican party his family is important and not lose his job. That he can afford to fly back and forth and see his family every weekend.

When I had my first I was back in 12 weeks to finish up work. I worked another 12 weeks before staying home permanently and because of it I was under tremendous pressure with childcare. I used temporary measures and family (my mom and MIL) came back and forth to help. I worked nights while my DH worked days because we knew it was temporary and I couldn't find a daycare for short term. But my 12 weeks were unpaid and I was GRATEFUL to even get that. I had met during my time off women who were going back after 6 or 8 weeks. More than a few quit rather than go back. One teacher went back after 4 weeks because she needed the money.

I didn't think it fair then and I don't think it's fair now. I would say about 20% of the women I met had paid leave and 80% had unpaid. But the 80% were just happy to have anything and those who were paid were thrilled even more.

Can we change our policy? You know the Canadian elections just occurred and they voted into a majority the liberal party. I am curious what will happen. As of right now women and men get up to 1 year paid maternity and paternity leave. They are able to split it between parents or just one. It makes for happier workers I can say because everyone I've met whose got it has been thrilled.

And interesting side aspect is that it allows often new college graduates a chance to get experience because they often get hired on a 1 year contract while a person is on "family leave." It's how my friend Mrs D got her first job out of college and parlayed that into a full time position. Then when she moved she landed another 1 year contract and again parlayed that into a full time position. I wonder if this would help new college graduates in the US if they were able to land 1 year contract positions for "experience"?

I now wonder will Paul Ryan push for paid family leave since he's expressed his desire for his own family time? Does he get it now? Has having children changed him? Does it make him more sympathetic?

Oh Happy Day!

August 7th, 2015 at 06:20 pm

A friend of mine was approved to adopt a little boy! Oh happy day! She already had a little girl same age as my oldest (hence we meet in class together) and now she is getting a little boy who turned 1 on my younger's birthday. HAHA.

It is truly an auspicious birthday and a blessed day. What a lovely birthday present for him and what a great day for her. Anyway today she was told she's going to pick him up on Tuesday.

OMG!!!! So exciting for her. She's a single mom now with two kids and had pretty much given up getting a second child. Blessed are they all!!! My thoughts and prayers are with them and what am amazing thing to happen.

Trip thoughts

August 3rd, 2015 at 03:08 pm

Lots has happened and I'm still really busy. Right now we are still on "vacation" but there is a lot to accomplish. I can't believe we did it. We traveled cross country with the kids and left everything we knew behind including a job and money. The house sold smoothly and we are in a new phase of life.

But I have to say our trip was amazing and spectacular. It was a once in a lifetime experience and something I don't know we'll ever have the opportunity to do again. I hope I can get these photos uploaded. This has been a struggle so I apologize for the non sequential order of photos.

I want to say we unfortunately missed glacier national park because of a forest fire. But we did other great things. I also have to say my perfect photo came at Bighorn National Forest (for everyone in Wyoming you live in BEAUTIFUL place). But I loved the Grand Tetons probably the most.

And once we crossed into Washington as we drove through the Rockies my DH said he felt he'd come home. He missed seeing his Rockies and felt happier. I can't explain the feeling of belonging. You can't tell me the Pacific NW has bad weather because I embrace it. It just fit us. I can't explain this feeling.

Sounds nuts but quite a few relatives live in the area and have told me they love it. They miss Hawaii but at the same time it feels like home. And I know exactly what they are saying. I felt it. I stepped into a place where I belonged. And my DH just kept pointing out stuff he'd done as a child in the area. I think we're home for better or worse. This is it for us.

Badlands national park

Badlands National Park with Car

Bighorn National Forest

Bison herd Custer State Park

Bison by our car

Corn Palace Mitchell

Coeur d'Alene

Crazy Horse Memorial

Bighorn National Forest Lake we camped at. I cried when I saw this. I actually have a picture of the family standing there in awe. It was a perfect moment. I'll consider uploading maybe later.

Grand Tetons

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mount Rushmore

Mackinac Island (Cool no vehicles)

Fort Mackinac

Soo Locks


Picture Rocks Lakefront Amazing

Old Faithful

Crystal Cave

I'll summarize what our costs were when I figure it out. I will also discuss our situation for food and arriving.

Friends and Money

June 25th, 2015 at 04:11 am

Quick aside my friend asked for this weekend a donation to her children's college fund instead of gifts. Not a problem. But this friend is Ms A. The one whose terrible with money. So I didn't want to give her cash or a check, but am in a conundrum because I do want to contribute to their college fund. Okay what should be done? If it were a friend that I thought was pretty responsible with money I don't think I'd be so leery. But with Ms A, I wonder if she'll get the money and use it with the BEST intentions.

Ms S, the very well off friend, is dropping her kiddo today to play with my two in the evening for dinner while she has a "dinner" to go to. Tomorrow her sitter is going to drop her off in the afternoon at 1ish so I can take them to the Ms A kid's birthday party together while she works out. I still don't get how she doesn't understand that she's "priviledged"? That stay at home moms don't normally get to work out and have nannys pick up their kids from camp while they don't "work" and she complains about having no time. No time to do what? She has all morning to herself while her kid is in camp from 9-1 then the nanny is getting her, then I'm taking both kids to a birthday party from 3:30-7 (4:30-6:30) but driving time is at least 30-60 minutes. So what does she do every day since her nanny does all the pickups? And she wonders why we don't hang out much anymore?

I am just tired of being in Dodge. I can't wait to leave this lifestyle and city behind. I am ready for the open road. I hope my friends have a great future all of them. At least with social media I'll be able to watch their kids grow.

Depressing thoughts on marriage

June 1st, 2015 at 11:22 am

I had lunch today with a friend whose unhappily married. She hates her husband and honestly he's not a nice person.

She's got a lifestyle most people would envy. I certainly do. I think it's a great life, fun, exciting, and pretty good. BUT since I know some (probably not all) the gory details of her marriage it's hard to envy it.

I mean she has three lovely kids. She has help with them in the morning and evenings and they go to daycare/school full and part-time while she stays at home. She lives in a gorgeous house but it looks like a pristine museum. She vacations everywhere but usually with her husband's family.

So her life to anyone looking in seems perfect. Stay at home mom with tons of hired help. No financial worries and everything you could want.

But she's sad. Her husband is mean and belittles her. She hates him and wants to leave, but feels trapped both financially and the kids. I want to tell her to leave him but I don't think she should or can.

The kids are young and she needs the help and the financial support mostly. I mean if she left him her quality of life would likely go down. Am I terrible friend for suggesting to stick it out for awhile?

I don't know what to say. I think he is very mean and abusive to her. But at the same time, if she leaves he'll have the kids without her around. So there are both pros and cons to everything.

This is not just a financial decision honestly. He works a lot so she doesn't see him that much except nights and weekends. She has help with the kids going to school and bed time. She has a nice house, car, and stuff for kids. But he can be such a jackass.

I want to be a supportive friend and I do listen. But when she wonders about leaving him I haven't said she should. Or when she says she does I say great. BUT aren't we obligated to say she should leave such an asshole? I mean I've read the demeaning texts and emails he sends her. But what will happen?

I find it depressing that so many people stay married for purely financial reasons. And at the same time it seems like society likes it that way.

Teacher Gifts at the end of the Year

May 22nd, 2015 at 04:33 am

Okay so I'm again stuck with teacher gifts. I always try to buy gift cards and something thoughtful. This year I'm doing Bed Bath and Beyond for one whose getting married $50 since she's registered there I figure she'll appreciate it ($25 thank you and $25 wedding congratulations).

Two of the main teachers DK1 has had for 3 years of preschool I'm doing $25 to BBB and $25 to Home Goods. Then $25 for each of the other teachers to Home Goods. Strangely enough the two main teachers just bought homes this year, and two of the other teachers are moving into new apartments. So I decided to follow the trend and give them gift cards to places that they can decorate their homes.

Final teacher has way more money than me, is moving, and can afford anything. I figure a gift card to California Pizza Kitchen since she mentioned her kids love it.

But I'm stuck on thoughtful. I did orchids two years ago and last year I did potted cactus. Now what? What is a home gift people use that's not expensive around $10 ideas?

odds and ends

March 17th, 2015 at 07:02 am

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.

No clue about finances?

March 13th, 2015 at 07:40 am

I find it stunning that so many women have no clue about their family finances. I mean literally no clue. Now you'd think okay maybe because they are stay at home moms? Nope. Turns out that many of them are also working moms. It doesn't appear to matter. I find it incredible that so many women in a marriage have no idea what they have saved, make, or spend in a month. I'll tell you a few different stories recently which left me wondering WTF?

Dr H is a primary care doctor with three kids and her husband works as well. They are super busy and never have time to manage their money. They are pretty frugal and don't overspend and save a lot. BUT they could be saving more. Unfortunately neither Dr H and DH haven't a clue what they spend. They went to their financial advisor and said we were thinking about buying Amazon Prime to save on shipping. The FA said "you've been paying for 5 years for Amazon prime and had no idea you've been paying it?" DH said "I just pay our bills in full, we've never looked." Dr H tells me and a friend this story and says the FA told them they should probably try to see what they are spending their money on. Thankfully they make enough to not care, but it could be detrimental.

Friend Mrs. C is a full time school teacher. She has no idea what she makes or what they save. She says her husband takes care of everything and he tells her what she can spend on groceries. She says that she's sure he's taking care of their retirement but has no idea if she even has a Roth IRA or college accounts for the kids.

As you all are aware Mrs A is the financial train wreck of a stay at home mom. Has no idea what they make or spend and figures if they made more they'd be fine. Her husband is having his wages garnished by the IRS because he hasn't paid taxes in 7 years and filed in as many. They are being audited.

Another friend Mrs K also works part-time is being audited because her husband handles all the money and she too has no idea what it's being spent on.

I have many, many more friends both working full and part-time, and non working moms, NONE of which have any clue how they are spending their money. They have no idea what their mortgage is, but they know what daycare costs. They have no idea if they have a retirement account or how much they are saving.

I found it incredible that all these well educated women have completely handed over control of the finances to their partners/spouses. They have no clue if these people are being at all responsible. They have no idea what they have saved for retirement if anything. They just assume whatever financial decisions are being made are the right ones.

Granted the two under audit have realized that something is not right, but still. Does it take getting audited for someone to get concerned? And when I said perhaps they should take over the finances the response was "it's too much work and it was a mistake."

Really? I know that people of both genders here on SA are more concerned and aware of finances than the general population. But I can't wrap my head around women just having no idea about their finances period. And literally they aren't even worried or concerned that they could be eating cat food when they get older or are in debt, or not paying taxes.

My DH and I are both aware of our finances. He's not as detail oriented, but he knows the gist and well aware of our spending habits and our savings plan. He knows roughly what we spend and doesn't care for those details. We make joint decisions and I'm well aware of ALL accounts and track them. I know it's a bit obsessive, but why don't more people care?

So many Joneses

February 13th, 2015 at 07:16 am

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 01:26 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 11:33 am

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?

Our wills

January 15th, 2015 at 11:05 am

Okay we have life insurance, disability insurance, and have somewhat ironed out what we want to do with our kids. BUT we are again stuck.

We've never written a will. Go ahead smack me hard across the head. We have two kids soon to be 5 and 2 and nothing down. I deserve a hard smack right now.

But I can only justify in saying that we've struggled to find the right guardian and settled on my mom finally. Mostly because while she is older now than before, we are in a better place financially to allow her to hire/outsource whatever help she needs with the kids. Before I was worried about my parents finances and affording my kids. Now we are set to pay for everything 100% and my mom has organized better her finances as well.

But now again we're stuck with naming a trustee or executor. We had orginally named my DH's best friend. My mom is terrible with money, my in-laws are too cheap, and my BIL is awful too. So the guy who has been like a godfather to my oldest was who we trusted. But in the past year he's gotten married, pregnant, and bought a house and made a lot of bad financial decisions.

So we've pulled back from naming him executor/trustee. And once again we're stuck. What are we going to do? Our insecurities are making delaying us from making the right decision and we need to do something. I can honestly admit that my goal for the year is to have a will/trust done and set up for my kids.

Advice SA?

Kid's Birthday Parties

October 30th, 2014 at 06:39 am

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?

Miserly People

October 6th, 2014 at 09:42 am

So how do you know someone is cheap versus frugal? Well I'm going to tell you a story. You're probably going LAL why are you friends with this person? And my answer will be I'm trying to shed her but it's slow going.

So Drusilla (nickname) is dropping her two children off at another friend's house (the Commandant). Drusilla sees Tabasco (commandant's kid) and Skipper (mine) and "says why are they here? I thought the commandant was taking them away," so her two kids (Gus and Jack) could be watched by Commandant's teenage kid Big E. She brought one $5 Cheese pizza and said to Big E "don't feed Tabasco and Skipper, I want the leftovers."

Um okay can you say rude? Hello? No pizza for the babysitter? And you can't spare a piece for my kid and Commandant's kid? We've feed your kids before. It's one of those moments where I realized the cheap Drusilla reigned again.

Also when I said I was buying Drusilla's kid an outfit for the second birthday I was told not to she wanted cash. So I put the screws to her and said it was to match my DK #2. And I wanted to see since she was consigning all the other clothes the Commandant gave her from Tabasco! OMG. How could she sell the clothes that were given to her? I know this because she has NO matching outfits for her kiddo which I know she should have since I have it for Skipper and saved it.

May the shedding begin.

Edited: I said I would like to buy a gift and the mother said "give me money." Not great thank you so much, and turned around and returned it. NO, it was a blatant ask. Second, I found out after our mutual friend was asked last year when she gave a gift to return it and instead give Drusilla money. She returned the gift and didn't give anything. The commandant was a bit miffed at being told please take your gift with the gift receipt back and give cash instead.

Second, Drusilla asked Big E (babysitter and Commandant's older child) to not eat the pizza and pack up leftover. Perhaps I'm wrong but since when do people NOT feed the babysitter? Fine don't feel other people's kids. But the babysitter?

Third, there is no way it's okay to consign people's clothes they give you? But perhaps it is.

$50 Jacket

October 2nd, 2014 at 11:03 am

Okay remember the $50 lunch bag? Well I now have a conversation about the $50 North Face Fleece. A friend (Mrs A) says to me I got a great deal on the fleece my daughter is wearing from Macy's. I got it for $50! My eyes bugged out and I said "$50?" I said "I didn't spend $50 on my columbia fleece I've had for over 5 years and your kid will outgrow it in 1 season." Mrs A "but for things they are going to use I believe in buying quality."

Now before you think I'm being a bit harsh Mrs A is BROKE. Big fat BROKE. I am not kidding. I mean IRS is garnishing her bank accounts. She talks about using a weekly paycheck to pay for this credit card and that car payment so it doesn't bounce. Thankfully she rents her apartment from her mom so she can't always afford $1500/month rent and complains about it for a 4 bedroom apartment. Going rate is between $4-5k where we live!

And in case you wondered I loaned her money $20 because she had no money in her checking account to get her kids into the indoor playspace (3 kids). I felt bad they drove there and she realized she had no money.

But she shops for high end clothes, she only buys food at Whole Foods, and she drives a $75k diesel SUV Mercedes (it's the large one). I have pointed out in the past that she needs to talk to the lawyer about the garnishments, her answer is well "D my husband said he'd take care of it."

She's super lucky her parents are loaded and can bail her out (ie living for basically free and expecting an inheritance, yes she's said as much). But still she's spiraling financially out of control and another friend said you can go to jail if they are garnishing your wages. I have no idea if that's true but said friend watches Real Housewives of NJ and said that Theresa Guidace is going to jail for tax stuff. I mean who screws with the IRS?

I don't know but it's like waiting for an accident to happen. And I may never see my money again (consider it a donation) but I figure it's the nature of the beast. She's a nice person and I do feel sad when I see her.

In a weird note I realized my food budget is way off. I used to say $400/month which according to my old tracking in excel it was around $400/month. Now it's between $500-600/month which I suspected because I spend around $125-$150/week. I can't believe how expensive food is getting or my kids are eating more. Granted two kids drinking organic milk a gallon a week each is running me around $50-60/month alone! But Geez.

$50 lunch bag

August 26th, 2014 at 05:19 am

Yeah okay I can't believe I get to hear these conversations. So I'm sitting at playground and we're eating lunch and one friend says to another "I love that lunch bag, I've been looking for those." I say "it's cute".

They start discussing it, it's the stainless steel lunch bag on sale from pottery barn for $47. My friend says they are on sale I should buy one. I choke on my food and say um it's a little pricey.

Now I bought my sandwich kits from Costco 3 for $14. And I got thermos on sale for $8.99. I send my kids with a lot of hot foods but still it was a nice kit.

I don't get it. I know I live in a very upper middle class area. I know these people make good money. But still I find a lot of these things they are willing to spend their money on unfathomable. A lunch bag for $50? I just bought a new backpack and lunch bag with free extra lunch bag for $12 from toys r us. It's frozen and my kiddo loves it.

I'm not sure how much my DH and I would have to earn to for me to comfortable spending that sort of money without blinking. Calling $47 lunchbox on sale a good deal.

I probably need to be independently wealthy like some of the people I know. Those who already have $3-5M to be really comfortable spending like that. But otherwise I don't think so. I'll write more about this later. Because I have more interesting stories about money at the "1% working people, not the 1% independently wealthy."

ugh teens!

August 26th, 2014 at 04:49 am

So I mentioned in a comment I think my friendship with the borrower of the DVDs is rocky (SD) it really is.

So Sunday night the teen I'm helping (E) is babysitting for SD. It's the night before the first day of school. E's mom SW hired her babysitter to drive to the house and drop E at school at 7:15 am this week. I'm doing pick ups and stuff.

On Sunday I took her grocery shopping because she asked and I was going anyway. I find out that SD is taking her to her mom's house 30 minutes away (45 from my house) to babysit until at least 11 pm. I say NO WAY. I say I am calling your mom. The instructions I had been left from SW was SD was going to drop her son off at SW's house for E to watch from 6-10 pm.

SD decides since SW is away she'll do what she wants and pick up E. SW had no idea it would be so late or leaving. But SD sends E a text saying "your mom said it was okay." I call SW and she tells me "I never said yes, I was going to chat with E and you and see". Well SD oversteps and does it deliberately because she's trying to take advantage of the situation (my perspective, but more on that later).

SW says 11 pm is way to late, she said 10 pm. She didn't say yes to going to babysit on a school night they were going to talk.

I get into it with SD over the phone whom I call because she's texting E to be home earlier by 4:45 pm so she can babysit longer. I call SD and say no to babysitting at her mom's house, no to babysitting that late, and I cannot guarantee I'll have her home by 4:45 when I just picked her up at 3:15 pm for grocery shopping since I was told 5:15 pm.

Now SD says "it's none of your business, I arranged it," and we argue about her clearing it with SW and that SD told E she cleared it with her mom until I called and checked. SW says she didn't and SD says she did.

I've had enough and I tell SW, "this is it. You leave me in charge but aren't willing to relinquish control? Then I can't help you. You need to let go." SW is very controlling and right now she's dealing with a lot with her mom's death and not herself.

At least with the teen in school I don't have to deal with these babysitting issues. I already had to step in and tell her to call me when trapped at another friend's house babysitting. Supposed to be home at 5 pm, mom never showed up. E got a call from stepdad where are you? She got dropped at 6:30 pm, fortunately her friend sleeping over was running late.

I feel as though people are taking advantage of E because her mom isn't around. I'm starting to realize that there are people out there who act nice but are very selfish, self-absorbed, narcisstic people who only care about themselves and their comfort. Why else would SD want to take E to babysit?

FWIW, SD dropped her son at 5:45 pm 1 hour after she wanted to, and picked him up at 10:45 pm, 45 minutes after the "curfew". Hmmm and she wondered why I didn't want E going to babysit? What time would she have been home?

School Lunches Are not Cheap!

August 23rd, 2014 at 06:28 am

It is omg $3.50 a day for a school lunch. Geez. That is $17.50/week! Eek. Talking with friends whose kids are starting kindergarden both thought it was cheap. But were tempted by the price because it's less than what they spend daily to pack lunch.

I freaked out that they think they spend $5/day to pack lunch for their kid. But then I pointed out what they are packing is that expensive because NO WAY IN HELL is a public school going to give kids what they are giving their kids. I'm going to guess to make the school lunch it would cost $1. They were horrified, but I'm pretty sure I could do it.

First off milk is not organic horizon boxes, probably regular milk. Second they aren't doing Annie's organic cheddar bunnies, probably no snack to save money. Third the fruit given is probably not organic be it apple, grapes, etc. Fourth, the meat in sandwiches or entrees is definitely NOT applewood farms organic deli meat or any sort of organic chicken/beef/pork. Fifth the bread is definitely not whole grain, no HFCS wheat versus plain white bread. Finally for sure they aren't giving their kid yogurt smoothies at $1.25 each everyday!

So of course lunches for kids are $5 a day when you spend $1.25 yogurt, $1 milk box, $1 cheddar bunnies. But seriously I pointed out you can't compare what you pack with what you are buying. To be paying $3.50 for what they give you is a lot! I think it can be done for $1, but no it is cheaper than what you pack.

But if you pack $5 100% organic lunches now, how can you reconcile paying $3.50 for non-organic lunches? I don't get people.

I pack lunch to save money and because what I pack I am certain is healthier and more fresh than what my kids would be served. I know I do it for less than $3.5 and with some organics like milk and fruit. People nowadays have no idea how to cook, no idea how to grocery shop, and probably never read labels.

Is school lunches cheap where you are? Do you buy or pack? FWIW my DH 95% of the time packs a lunch as do it. It's being frugal and being lazy to go out.

Update but not financial...what to do?

August 21st, 2014 at 04:38 am

So I have a friend (S) who went out of town with her younger child and left behind her 15 year old daughter (E) at home because school starts on Monday with her husband. He's her stepfather, but works a lot so her MIL is coming on Sunday to do pick ups and drop offs.

I was asked by E to drop her and her friend M off at the movies for a double date with boys tonight on Sunday. Her mom left Wednesday morning (yesterday). Her mom said yes and M had been staying over from Wednesday to Friday. I said fine.

But here's what's bothering me. E is going on this double date with boys she doesn't know. M went to camp for two weeks and met I guess one of these guys and he's bringing a friend and so M is bringing E.

But I had to pressure her into giving me the boys names. She didn't know. She doesn't know their phone numbers or parents contact info. And when I asked my friend S, she was flippant and didn't care. She literally told me "when I'm gone, you're the parent." Well if I were the parent E wouldn't be going period! But S said yes, so what can I say?

Also last night I asked S did you call M's mother and ask her if it's okay? Did you call M mother and confirm she knew you were out of town and only your husband was home? She said no she hadn't had the time. Also S said she hadn't the time before she left to find out more from E about this "date". While she wasn't thrilled what to do.

Okay I get that she's in a public place movie theater/open air mall with upscale restaurants. I'm dropping at 3 pm but they still aren't sure about the movie. I'm supposed to pick up at 8 pm. I'm still pressuring her about the time and name of the movie and where they are eating.

I don't know what to do because my own instinct is "HELL the F NO!" I never met these kids, I don't know who they are, and what is going on. This is not like she's going out with boys/girls I've know since kindergarden and I know their parents.

Yes I am going to eat dinner at the place and stalk them. I don't think I can do otherwise. My DH said if it were out kids I'd be a flat out no. We'd have to meet the kids first.

As to why S left? She had to go deal with stuff regarding her mother's death so she didn't leave willy-nilly on vacation. And I get that she's not been herself, and probably why she seems distracted, scattered, flustered. But this is not something I thought I'd be jumping into. And honestly parenting someone else's kid isn't easy. If anything it's harder because you treat them with kid gloves.

So anyone who reads this with a teen, help me please.

Was graduate school worth it?

June 16th, 2014 at 05:58 am

So I left STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) when I had my kids. At least the academic side. I'm not sure I want to go back to what I did for a private company. Both my perspective has changed and what I did is changing.

Science phds in many fields often take years (I can attest). Overall it's a cushy job and one that is often easy to fall into the trap.

You get paid $33k/year. Yes that's it. When my DH started in 2000 it was $18k/year. I started in 2003 at $22k/year. So it's gone up but it's not exactly a living wage. However you get student health insurance, aren't required to pay tuition, and while you work long hours there is a lot of job flexibility. Realize I also lived in very HCOLA and went to top institutions. According to the NIH, the average graduate student stipend is $22k. So people living elsewhere pay less. Also being in STEM means a stipend, those in liberal arts and humanities well they go into debt.

But in my experience after you finish your long slog you go into post-doctoral training. The NIH again says the starting salary is $42k. When I stopped in 2010 where I was it was $35k. Now how do you suppose they get around paying less? Well the post-doctoral funding is not through the NIH but other funding entities and thus professors are able to pay less than the NIH recommended going rate. But $42k? And it goes up to $55k after 7 years. You are probably thinking not bad. Not way. Truth is most post-docs don't get that sort of raises after 7 years. And while they are covered by medical insurance, they often lack access to a 401k. That means they aren't saving for retirement.

So you are 30 when you finish your phd, start a post-doc and if you are lucky done in another 7 years and 37 with no retirement or any savings unless you were super frugal. Which many are. But you are still far behind your peers who was working since 22 and saving. My DH and I were super frugal savers and bought a condo as I mentioned during graduate school. But we were the outliers I believe and not the norm.

So what happens after post-doc? In theory you get a position as a professor somewhere. But nowadays it doesn't happen. Why? Well NIH and other entities are cutting funding. Getting a position is easier now than getting a grant. But getting a position is next to impossible. The joke is someone needs to die for a position to open, which in many cases is true. Because schools have to budget not just money but space for a new professor.

Do I know people who are still post-docs? Sadly yes MANY. Many have been "post-docs" on 7+ years. They work full time, very hard, very long hours and make honestly very little.

I have a mom friend whose career track was similar to mine. She does her post-doc with two kids and I ask her if it's worth it. She has been a post-doc since 2007. She said she hopes so one day. She still dreams of a position. It doesn't matter that she pays to work (daycare costs more than she makes). I can see the financial part of the equation being negligent long term, daycare is a short term expense. What I don't get when do you give up the dream? When do you accept that you won't get a professorship position you desire? 10 years? When you hit 50? I also know 50 year old post-docs who have been there for 15 years and call it their "career" to work for someone else but still dream.

I don't know what the answer is. DH's best friend is another STEM post-doc since 2007. He is at a crossroads. Does he give up? Or does he keep trying? He really is in turmoil because at 37 he's recently married (cheap wedding post), hoping to start a family, wants to buy a house and car, and is finally getting serious about saving for retirement. But what if a job pops up and they have to move? What if he doesn't get a position? When should he give up? He talks about it with us, since we're all in the same field. My DH said give up now. Me? I'm not so sure.

Personally I left the post-doc on the table for myself. Never did one and probably never will. I don't want to work and pay someone else to watch my kids when they are small. And if I wanted to go back, I still wouldn't do one because I don't want to work the long hours anymore. Even without kids I think I would have done something else because even before I finished I knew I personally didn't have what it took to be a professor. I wasn't successful enough (ie published enough). And going to do a post-doc isn't going to change that.

So I'm taking my time now to look at other options. Was it a mistake? Yes, but the mistake I made was way back in undergraduate not considering then what I wanted to do long term. Graduate school wasn't the mistake.

What would I have done? Probably become an actuary or accountant. And now? I am looking into becoming an enrolled agent or accountant/bookkeeper. This way I can work but not full time and enjoy number crunching.

Did you go into what you majored in college? Do you like it? Was it what you expected?

the rising cost of health care

June 14th, 2014 at 01:30 pm

Do you know how much your health insurance premiums have risen over the years? I was just looking at old pay stubs and I can't believe how much they have gone up. As a couple from 2005-2010 we had seen some large increase 25% in 1 year. I am floored. Because the overall dollar amount isn't large I haven't paid as much attention as I should have. But looking now I'm in shock.

As a couple
2005 $46 per pay period (26)= $1196
2006 $46 = $1196
2007 $32 = $832, they switched providers
2008 $40 = $1040, 25% increase
2009 $42 = $1096 , 5% increase

However in 2010 we had our first child and moved to the family plan in medical health insurance.

2010 $46 Couple (moved to family) $82 = $2132, 9% increase as a couple, so I assume 9% family.
2011 $84 = $2184, 2.5% increase
2012 $96 = $2496, 14.2% increase
2013 $101 = $2626, 5.2% increase
2014 $119 = $3094, 17.8% increase

Wow we've seen some serious increases. Apparently the insurance company raises it one year A LOT and then not by much the next year. In the grand scheme of things $3100 in premiums for our family is not a lot. But we still have to pay $20/visit copays. When everything is said and done we spend around $5k with premium and copays.

Is it worth it? Yes because employer sponsored programs are much better than what you can buy as an individual. But still when I see a 17.8% increase I cringe knowing that our 3% merit raise is really not going as far.

I went online to shop for a family of four with $2k individual/$4k family deductibles; Maximum annual OOP $6350 individual/$12,700 family, with $50 co-pay after deductible is $596.71/month! Ouch. Okay so I guess we'd better keep working or at least wait and see how health insurance works out. I mean we could easily have a higher deductible but it doesn't appear to be an option where we live.

Mr Money Mustache pays for a family of 3 $240/month HDHP. BUT where he lives is substantially cheaper. It really does vary because in the comment section of his post many commentors are unable to get their premiums for individual policies that low. So YMMV in buying your own. I can't believe that ours would be nearly 2x what his is monthly.

Our dental costs $20.90 a pay period = $543.4/year. The question is would it be cheaper for us to self insure? Not really with cleanings for a family of 4 (well 3) 2x a year at $100-150/pop we are looking at a minimum of $600 OOP at a minimum. And this year like last I still am having an implant crown put on. Which by the way the insurance company doesn't want to pay to put on! Arrgh.

Our vision is $6.54 a pay period = $170/year which used to be easily reached with me getting contacts every year (got a year for free with insurance). But I'm not sure now it's still worth it with a check up being $49 elsewhere. But for $170 maybe it's worth the peace of mind.

I am still just floored at how fast health insurance appears to be going up. Way above raises and cost of living inflation. And it's still a lot cheaper than buying our own.

Good and Bad

June 12th, 2014 at 09:15 pm

Well my day yesterday started off eventfully. My younger kiddo rolled off the bed and cut her face. She needed stitches. She's fine thankfully but boy it was a lot of blood and screaming. This is my accident prone kid. Oh well.

So my issue? The american health care system. We called the pediatrician and went in at 830 to see the nurse practitioner. She says you need stitches go to the ER. I ask why not do it in the office? Or do you refer out to a different dr. Nope the ER. So we go to the ER for sutures. SERIOUSLY? She said the dr don't have the right equipment and don't do it enough to be comfortable doing sutures. Okay then. We go there at 8:45.

I thought I keep reading about all these people who use the ER as care facilities driving up the cost of healthcare. I am now one of these people and I WENT to my supposed "gate keeper" pediatrician and got sent to the ER! Okay how can they say the prices of health insurance is out of control because people don't use primary care dr when the primary care dr don't know what else to do? Besides the fact I was annoyed I could have gone straight to the ER, but I "thought" I was doing the right thing.

And besides the fact that we were there waiting for sutures and didn't leave the ER until 2 pm! 5 hours! really? It wasn't busy we were like the only people in there but we had to wait for staff to come on? The inefficiency left me incensed. But my kiddo is fine and I am not sure if I should have taken her to a plastic surgeon or surgeon office where it could have been done in the office and faster. Arrgh.

On a positive note I made $150 on a focus group about taxes. Granted my money went straight to our ER copay. And I didn't learn anything. If anything I learned that people really don't save money.

There was a real guy standing up in front of the class showing us his financials. Here they are married with 1 child.

Income $112k
Paid Federal Taxes $10,700
SS $6900
Medicare $1624
State $4750
401k $4480 (4%)
Health Insurance Premium $6k (HDHP)
HSA $2k
Mortgage/Property Taxes $16k

Federal Taxes owed - $7700, refund $3k

Not a big deal, but seriously this guy is living on $6200/month and he can't save more? I don't think he was saving for a Roth IRA. I sat there wondering why wouldn't the guy be saving more? Isn't he worried? Where is the rest of his $4400/month going to after he pays his mortgage?

It's easier to trim a dollar in the budget than to try and save more. But it was very eye opening about how people are trying to save for retirement in this country.

Are kids expensive?

June 10th, 2014 at 07:16 pm

Yes. They certainly aren't cheap. Whether you work or stay at home there is a lot of lost opportunity cost in having children. Staying at home you've lost those years of income. Working? Well daycare might cost more than you make (yes I have friends working to keep skills up, not because they make more than daycare).

But otherwise? Yes. You are on a family medical plan instead of perhaps two individual plans covered by your employer. There are A LOT more dr visits because kids catch everything and parents catch everything from their kids. Kids are gross and disgusting.

Let's not forget college.

Can kids be done on the cheap? Sure, they can be relatively inexpensive. I breastfeed and used cloth diapers sometimes. Those are savings when they are babies.

But overall you are feeding, clothing, and needing more space as a family. Yes kids can share a room, but if you didn't have kids, would you even have a two bedroom place? I mean that most seriously since DH and I lived happily in 1 bd/studios with less than 500 sq ft and our dog.

I mean without kids we could live super small and super cheap. But kids do increase your cost of living. Without kids we would probably not live outside the city so we'd need 1 less car or no car. We could bike but with kids it's hard to bike to the grocery store or any errands, especially when they are young and always with you. We'd live in a tiny apartment. We would buy less food. And honestly we'd probably be able to retire by 40!

So people who talk about kids don't cost much have got to be kidding. Kids are substantially more than just diapers, formula, college, food, clothes. There are so many sneaky costs. Do I believe it costs $250k? Probably, I mean just rent alone where we are it's probably doubled from moving up apartment size. And yes I know people raise kids on very little money. But if you asked those same people how much kids costs? It's still probably the same proportion of their income as those who make 2x as much.

But the kids are worth it every penny, too bad they don't cost pennies.

Different Choices

June 9th, 2014 at 06:56 am

My neighbors both work and have 1 child, 3 months older than my 4 year old. They play great together and she's a lovely girl. I enjoy watching her and she's a truly great kid. My neighbors are nice people. They both have MBAs and are a couple of years older than my DH and I. We live connected by a wall and my 4 year went to school and once said "the little girl living behind the wall, I play with her all the time," to the teachers. When I explained we all had a good laugh.

So you can imagine this family probably makes double what my DH makes. At least that's what my DH and I believe. So $400k/year? Probably but at the minimum $300k.

So what happened is I volunteered to keep their daughter 2 full days next week while they work because they don't have childcare. Their private montessori school is out and they can't find a camp to send her to. The other three days they are going to use backup care agency and have a nanny they don't know come to their house. I feel terrible whenever I see that happen because I know the nanny just sits there with their daughter in the house. And she's pretty bored. So yes I always offer during school vacations or days off to take their kiddo with mine. I've been doing this for years. I can't do everyday of the week because of other obligations but I do try my best.

The same problem will occur at the end of the summer when the week before school they were "waitlisted" for the camp they are in the rest of the summer because they didn't register early enough. They registered in January. I'm not sure I'm ready to take her on 5 full days, so I suggested half day camp for the week with my older kiddo and I'll keep her the rest of the day. I have to find a camp I can afford however.

Right now I've signed my kid up for one camp @ $90/week for half days, and I feel super guilty spending that much. I know they could take vacation but they are taking 2 weeks in July when their parents come to visit and have used another week during spring break and more during Christmas. So they do take vacation to care for their daughter, but this is a lot.

But what stunned me? The price of her camp. Okay her montessori school is ridiculous enough at $35k/year. But the camp? Well try $1200/week. Yes a week! Seriously what they are shelling out in camp is about what my family lives on with our extremely expensive mortgage a month!

To be fair they make double what we make. But even doubling our spending to $10k/month when half of it goes to camp? They shop entirely at whole foods and probably never price compare. I know they dress themselves and their daughter in great name brands and they get boxes daily delivered from online shopping. They never shop in real stores. So even while I assume they are saving a lot, they also spend a lot. Their monthly overhead has got to be high.

But on this forum we always talk about spending and money. So I discussed with my DH if I went back to work and we had all this extra disposable income. Every penny would be disposable obviously since we can survive on his now minus childcare. Yes I may pay right now for childcare but that is a transient expense. So would our lifestyle change? I would hope not.

But the real question is would I be able to spend that freely if I made that much? If we were making $30k/month gross and were saving $5k, taxes $10k, and had $15k to spend would I? I think I would be saving every extra penny and would shorten our time toward financial independence.

I realized no I wouldn't. I can honestly say I can see the exhaustion on my neighbors faces. I can see how they can barely play with their daughter. Their actual comment "we are trying to cut back her tv watching." They never go out on the weekends except to eat. They'll send her to the playground with us but they don't join us. The fact that they are struggling to be able to cover watching her because they are already using all their vacation days. Every day they are on the hamster wheel. So perhaps my DH and I are giving up FI and early retirement, but we're also enjoying our life now. We'll get there eventually but it'll be slower.

What would happen if they were on 1 income? Or two part-time incomes? Right now they give their daughter the best of everything. She'll probably go to college of her choice paid, paid wedding, house DP, etc.

I wonder if perhaps it's the catch-22 of the "upper middle class" dual income lifestyle? The people making enough that they feel they should afford everything but can't. And somehow manage to spend an enormous amount on just "bare bones budget" because their choices force them into needing so much money? The cars, the big mortgage, the private schools, etc?

Recently I've definitely made peace with our lifestyle. In the sense before I wondered if I wasn't "achieving" enough. I am not contributing to society by working. I am not using my degree. I am not producing as a fully functioning adult "should" be. I feel inadequate compared to the many high power dual income couples I meet and know. Where I chat with the nannies rather than moms since I know them better.

But this year I've made peace with it. I've made peace with my decision to stay at home. That I do not need to work to validate myself. That even if I chose to work, money doesn't rule my life. So whatever I chose to do I know our lifestyle will be okay. If my DH loses a job we are not going to crash and burn and never retire.

Rather we could possibly "retire" now. Now I feel secure that I do not need $3M at a minimum to retire. I think $1.5M is adequate if not less. And I don't feel pressured that we have to work until retirement or else we'd be shunned for being lazy.

Money can bring great happiness. But rather being content with what you have is more important.

So I look across the wall and realize that if I went back to work we could be my neighbors. It's possible we'd be financially independent in 2 years. We could possibly save $200k/year or more. But it's also possibly we'd up our consumption just because we'd have to. We'd need more convenience because we have less time. I hope they enjoy their daughter as much as I do. I will say I do have envy sometimes at the thought they could be FI today possibly (not sure about their finances, I think they have a lot in the bank because they make a lot) while we still need to work another 5-10 years to get to where they are.

Have you ever contemplated your money or your life? Did you make a choice to scale back or retire early? Or take a different job or move to slow down? Why?

Third kid followup and married to a mustachian

June 5th, 2014 at 01:28 pm

Decided to summarize answers. I want a third kid now because I worry about getting older, birth defects, the usual nine yards. My DH is worried not about the short term finances and of course the normal long term financial hit college, weddings, cars, anything and everything.

So why am I short changing them as they get older? It's starting over, and our lifestyle has to go back to baby lifestyle versus older kids you can go biking, hiking, kayaking, camping, traveling, etc with. I admit we've just about hit the sweet spot with both kids and adding a third now would rock boat, but we're in the rhythm of babyhood. What if we wait and we don't want to go back? What if we wait and can't go back? What if we wait and realize that our life feels complete in 2 years that it doesn't feel now? I don't know.

But truthfully what really worries my DH? Finances in the mid-term. Short term we'd be fine, i'm home we make more than enough to survive and honestly if we didn't save as much he can chill. He is a little stressed out because he feels we don't save enough, but that's a completely different argument. Long term he is worried we won't make enough to afford college, weddings, retirement, etc for 3 kids versus 2. I think it'll work out.

But the mid term? This is the real kicker. In 6/2016 we agreed we are making a huge change in our life. We are selling our house that winter and leaving where we live. We are moving to the west coast without jobs if need be. We are going to live off of our savings, which will not be enough to retire. We will not have health insurance. We will have to buy some. We will not have unemployment or anything coming in. Our net worth will be dropping because we are going to be going NEGATIVE. We will only have outgo, no income.

Now things between now and 6/2016 can change. DH or I could get a job. He could get laid off and we get severance and unemployment. But we cannot predict those things.

So DH reason for not having a kid now is he doesn't want to add a mouth to feed, diaper, insure when we have no income in 2 years. If we were staying put we'd be discussing when to have another kid. If we had a job opportunity and were moving with guaranteed income, we'd talk more about our 3rd. But right now he said he feels as though we need to make sure we can provide for the 2 we have before we add a third. Having a third would also mean less time at night for job searching as he'd have to take on more of the childcare after we have 3rd.

My DH also said he still doesn't see himself retiring but he wants to be secure in the knowledge that if he were unemployed that it wouldn't matter. That we could live "retire" and not worry. Hence why he thinks we should be saving more and spending less. The fast we get to the point where we have enough to live, then the faster he'll feel secure.

Finally about cost of living and our jobs. I think BOS-NYC-DC, LA/SD/OC, SF and Honolulu are HCOLA in the US. These places taxes are high, condos start at $400k for a 1 bd, homes more in the range of $750k+ for small crappy homes. Then there is a second tier of costs like Seattle, Portland, Philly, Denver, NJ, Chicago, CT/VT/NH/RI, VA/MD, rest of CA. These places are cheaper I think condos start at $250k, homes $400k, and taxes are still higher than normal. But the homes are nicer even at the higher end the higher end of the HCOLA. Overall the cost of living I'd say is 20%-30% lower cost of living according to calculators and just looking at real estate in general. But ideally I think we should look at moving to Seattle or Portland.

That being said we're not quite able to buy a home cash. We're getting close but not quite. And even with a paid for home, my DH is hesitant because he thinks we are going to take a severe paycut. I don't believe the paycut is as severe as he thinks. He also believes it'll be very, very difficult to land a job. I'm sure it won't be easy but I don't know the job markets of those areas.

Perhaps I'm wrong and he's right but he feels that most people in business make $50k. With an MBA $80k, where we live. He thinks if we move he'll be lucky to land a job making $75k. I showed him the numbers according to what we pay now we're going from paying $45k in taxes federal and state, to if we make $100k or less nothing in federal taxes with 2 kids. So off the top assuming we make half of what we make now half of the difference goes away to taxes. Yes we save the other half but still.

Making less = need to save less. But he's still worried we should be saving the same proportion. His argument that our house because living in a HCOLA we'd buy a $1M home versus $500k if it goes up 10% you make more on the more expensive house. True, but you have to struggle making payments! And often in HCOLA people are paying 30-50% of their net on housing.

I find it interesting that my DH was always mustachian before it became a word. Apparently though he never intends on retiring he always planned and hoped to be financially independent before it was popular. Me? I had no idea we even had a chance. But perhaps this move will derail us. I don't know.

But until then we'll keep chatting about jobs, third kid, etc.

Should we have a 3rd kid?

June 4th, 2014 at 07:59 am

I want a third kid, my DH is not sure. He isn't sure we can afford it financially. He isn't sure we have the time or energy to support a third child. He isn't sure about our family dynamic. I'll admit I always planned to get pregnant this summer and have a third kid in 2015, I turned 35 recently.

But we're planning on moving and giving up our income in 2016. So my DH is worried about another mouth to feed and no income. I don't believe we'll be without an income, nor do we need much income to live I believe. But my DH is hesitant to add another child. He's worried that having another kid now will delay his job search. That he won't have the time to do it. caring for 2 kids and adding a third. He's probably not wrong.

But I am struggling with not having a third period. No we haven't done anything permanent. We agreed to the snip after we're done but that's not even been brought up. Nor have we gotten rid of any baby gear or clothes. If anything we've both been saving and storing clothes, shoes, gear. We both had assumed we'd have a third. But now what?

Do I just put aside all my baby things? Realize that the sacrifice of moving will be the third child? Will I regret it? Can I still do it in another 3 years when my kids might be 5 and 7? I'll be 38 at that time. Could I get pregnant at that age easily? Am I missing my window? Will I regret the sacrifice?

I mean we did have a heartfelt talk the other night and the truth hurts to write that my DH said if we weren't going to move we'd be talking of having kiddo number 3. I am just struggling right now with this decision.

I wonder if I shouldn't have had my kids earlier? That is probably my one regret.

my love hate relationship with craigslist

June 2nd, 2014 at 06:06 am

So where I live Craigslist can be a hit or a miss. Sometimes you can find a great deal, and other times you are wondering what are people smoking in asking so much for USED crap.

This weekend I bought a tagalong bike trailer for $40. It the cheapest I found but when we looked at it, it was a 2008 model and heavy. But we did it to determine that my 4 year old was terrified of riding like that. Well good thing we didn't spend money on a new one. A new tagalong can be had for $96 on Amazon, and I still don't feel I got a great deal buying used honestly.

So I resold it that evening for $40 and considered myself lucky to get rid of it. And not have to try to storage it. We're pretty big bikers and used to bike all the time before kids. We have a trailer but with two kids it's tight.

So a friend suggested trying out her Weehoo. This thing prices out at $379 new on amazon. I looked at craigslist and found only 1 for sale in my area. I was annoyed because they were asking $300! No way, I wanted to pay that. Hello! Also the ad said "price firm". But I'm going to trial out my friends and if she likes it I'll try to find it used for $200 or I'll buy it new for $320 from REI with 20% off coupon.

I guess I like craigslist when I get a "deal" for used. But where I live I feel like people aren't aware that used items should be sold at a discount. Many people ask for new or almost new prices you can buy from places like "amazon, allbeebaby, etc".

But at the same time good deals can occasionally be had by people who are looking to dump stuff (myself included).

Do you like craigslist where you live? I hope my kiddo likes the weehoo and I can land one for $200.

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