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Tax Reform?

November 16th, 2017 at 06:14 am

My thoughts on the tax reform? It appears the reform is going to hurt all families with more than 1 kid. If you had 2 kids before and took the standard deduction you had $12k standard deduction and $16k in personal exemptions for $28k. Now with the standard deduction raised to $24k but personal exemptions gone by the way side it appears to be less than the $28k the family with 2 kids had. Assuming a larger child tax credit is $600/per child for $1200 in tax credit.

It really depends on the bracket but if I had to guess most families will end up paying more in taxes with more than 2 children. The $600 tax credit won't offset the personal exemptions.

As far as the SALT I think they should keep it instead of the mortgage deduction to be fair. After all it's a double taxation. And honestly they should probably do away with the mortgage deduction period. But that's impossible with the lobby groups. I also have seen a lot of elderly people use the medical deduction and if you are in nursing home care the bills for that are astronomical and easily fufill the 10% income minimum to write off.

Something that does bother me is that estate tax going away. Seriously so $22 million tax free inheritance is not enough? And the middle class needs to give away inheritances above that tax free? And it's inherited at a step-up basis? Really those 5000 people who have enough to leave more than $22 million need the tax break?

I have to admit I'm pretty liberal. But I'm a bit stunned these tax cuts have come without really cutting the budget. That republicans are okay with increasing the deficit so much? I thought it was supposed to be cut taxes, shrink government and deficit? Seems resonable and responsible budgeting. But instead we're cutting taxes and still spending wildly?

I am curious what will pass. It'll be an interesting sell.

Christmas shopping has begun...no amazon!

October 17th, 2017 at 12:08 am

I started my christmas shopping. I bought the girls two lego advent calendars for $23 each from Walmart. I used google express and got 20% off for first order plus I also paid using my discover card for an extra 20% cash back up to $500 in spending. The max discount for the google express first order was $30 for a $150 order.

Things I ordered? I got the lego advent calendars, wipes, a new toaster oven (costco for $34.99), coffee beans, portable file box for girl scouts, and waterpik heads. Yes it was $150 on the nose.

Seriously the things I ordered were cheaper not on amazon. I don't get why people buy so much stuff from amazon when if you shop around and really look at the amazon prices it's a rip off. Plus walmart and costco both offer in store easy/free returns. Amazon you have to pay for shipping. People think it's free shipping but it's really not. They let you print a return tag but they take it out of what you paid if you look closely. It's happened to me a long time ago, so in general I never order ever from Amazon if there is a chance of a return. Besides recently it's come to my attention that the prices are so much cheaper elsewhere. But the 20% cashback from discover is what drove me to google express but I plan on using them probably entirely.

Do you most of your online shopping at amazon or elsewhere? Do you even bother to look at other websites?

Spending free fall

July 17th, 2017 at 01:52 am

Well since we bought the house our spending has been in free fall. Not unexpected nor unplanned. It just is something that happens. Everything we knew about but it's a bit insane to see the bills. We've never spent this way and I am going to guess most people on here haven't either. Otherwise they wouldn't be on savingadvice.

So we started with a playset for the kids. That was installed from costco for $1000. It was discounted when I ordered it memorial day weekend and set up within a week. They love it. They play on it daily. I wondered whether we should do it because they will age out of it. But then decided we might as well. We've been promising it for a long time.

Got the backyard cleaned up for $1200. I'm going to try and maintain it and have spring and fall cleanups but apparently the people before us never took care of the yard in 3 years. The fruit trees are overgrown and in poor shape both neighbors and the yard guys told me. We've even got a fire pit that we've used for s'mores 4x already. The yard is fantastic. We love it. We have 2 cherry, 3 apples, 1 pear, 1 apricot, blueberry bushes and raspberry bushes. Seriously I never imagined having this opportunity.

Patio Furniture just got on Friday was $500 from Amazon. DH put it together in 2 hours and it's amazing. The deck is lovely. I had my morning tea out there.

New TV above the fireplace $600 from costco. Our last TV purchase was in 2005 when we moved to our last house. It's interesting to see how much bigger and lighter and cheaper it is now. We also bought our much wanted king mattress for $1000 from purple. We love tempurpedic. When we bought our last mattress 10 years ago a king didn't fit up the stairs and it didn't come the way it comes now. Technology has changed a lot since 2005. Can't wait to try it but we haven't got a bedframe. That's next on the list to order.

Those were our big ticket items of spending thus far and we aren't done. We're renovating our basement and garage and I'll explain with photos what's going on later and price and decisions.

I'm not sure how long we are staying in this house but it really is lovely.

Other items on our list to order is a gas grill Weber summit series $2000, new couch, dining table, bedroom sets for us and the kids, and building the closets. The kids have our old queen size beds we had and it doesn't fit in the rooms. Until we moved here we decided to just make it work and they barely played in their rooms anyway. And until recently they slept in our room a lot. Well it's time to make rooms for them and let them have a say and maybe they'll feel more adult and "their" rooms. So far we've spent $4300 and another $2000 earmarked already plus the gas line for the grill I'm seeing numbers around $1500 installation.

This is not going to be a cheap summer. But this is down the street from me. The location is to die for. Both how we live and DH gained a minimum of 1 hour a day back on his commute more like 1.5 hours a day. His commute is now 30 minute both directions instead of 1 hour and 1.5 hours. He's really enjoying it.

More photos to come.

gofundme question

June 11th, 2017 at 03:53 pm

I see a lot of gofundme pages for people. I get it that people are not financially prepared for something to happen to them. It's always unexpected.

I've never donated but now a friend has been diagnosed with cancer. And is really pushing donations because they are out of work. Being self-employed they don't work they don't make income. I haven't donated yet.

Do most people donate? If so how much? I have dropped off food every 3-4 weeks for the past 5 months instead. I felt it more personal it has certainly cost me more than $100. Should I have just donated cash?

I guess I get uncomfortable donating to all these things. I don't mind donating to organizations and I do. I also don't mind people's fundraisers. But this more personal donating to someone feels strange.

Do people really do it?

two sides of the coin

March 16th, 2017 at 04:08 pm

I find it odd. I appear to have two different sets of friends. Both are great but ones are savers and others are spenders. The savers are two other families whose kids go to piano with our kids. They both have two DK same age as our two and all 6 kids are in 2 classes of 3. We were with them last year as well and will be with them next year too. The kids love each other.

Parents #1 quit his job last May because he didn't agree with management. They are doing great and paying for private school and have a huge safety net. The Dad is deciding what he wants to do with his life. They keep up with all activities and I know live modestly. You can tell with the cars they drive and they still travel and eat out and live comfortably. The mom has said they probably have another 1-2 years expenses.

Parents #2 the mom just quit her job over the treatment from management. She applied for her own job it turns out they have been trying to hire since January. Well she tells me that they have a year of savings comfortably without worrying. The Dad owns his own business and has been the primary caregiver of the kids while she went out and was the breadwinner. She's going to take some time and reflect on what she really wants to do. Her goal is to find a job after the summer.

I gotta say it's refreshing to hear from friends that they are secure without jobs and not worried about the future.

On the other hand since I'm doing taxes, I got a chance to look a 3 different friends tax returns for free. Just in case they missed something. They all made $160k-$200k and all have some credit card debt, minimal retirement savings, and just spending everything that comes in. Making that much and saving $5k/year for retirement seemed nuts. And not having an Emergency Fund or down payment for a home. I did suggest they try to divert 5% of income into a saving account. But they said it was impossible. Where would they get the money from?

Truth is that finances no matter what you make is a mindset. You can make a lot and spend it all. You can make a lot and save a lot. I think that part of it is being satisfied with what you make and spending it wisely. The first sets of parents I think live simply and are happy. The second sets are constantly buying things, eating out, and spending on everything. Does it make them happier? I'm not sure but I know if they lost their jobs they would not be calm and happy the way the first set of parents are. Able to walk away because the job sucks. I wonder if people realize that sometimes the savings gives you the freedom of not worrying. It's not just about the money.

Giving early or later?

October 18th, 2016 at 04:22 pm

I'm going to admit to suddenly for once being jealous. In a few different ways. My cousin just bought a house with down payment help from both sets of parents. Neither of them have a good job and yet they can buy $800k home without selling their $350k condo. She's an only and I've heard that he's from a "rich" family. Some envy that they get help.

But I have recently known a lot of people who get down payment help from their families. I know multiple people whose parents gave them the down payment of $50 or $100k or more. Some are even paying/funding college for their kids.

I guess my thought is how are these parents able to give their kids/grandkids money now? I know my parents and in-laws are secure. I don't expect any help nor will we get any. But it's likely they will leave us something eventually.

I guess I'm jealous because how do people know they have enough to give to their children before death? How do they know when they are only in the 60s and 70s and in "early" retirement to know they have enough? I ponder this because I'd like to think that maybe we'll save enough to help our kids.

It's a stretch goal that we are able to pay 100% for 4 years of college, some money for a wedding/house down payment, and a car out of college. In that order I'd like to gift our kids with a leg up. I've really thought about it but we'll be in our early 50s and potentially retiring when they go off and finish college. But how will I know that I have enough? How will I be able to part with so much cash so early in our "retirement" position? Of course if DH chooses to work past 50 then I'm assuming we have a large cash flow.

But how secure do I have to be? Do I think maybe whatever our parents leave behind will be used to be passed on? I think maybe we'll get something but I could be entirely wrong. Our parents have paid for homes and pensions. But I'm not sure much cash on hand, which is understandable why gifting us with anything is pretty much nil.

But how do we get there? How do you know? Have you been gifted a substantial amount of cash from your parents or grandparents? Was it before death? If so why before? How did they know they had enough? If you got it upon death did you expect it? Was it more or less than you expected?

What I've been up to?

September 27th, 2016 at 04:15 pm

Getting the kids back into school has been busy. I've been ironing out their schedules and it's pretty crazy. DH has been on the hamster wheel getting up to speed on a new job. It's always a big learning curve with a new job. As for me? Well I started taking the HR block tax prep course 2x week at night. It's until December so we're on a kid handoff at night at the park and ride so I can make my 6 pm class!

I'm trying this out as a way to see if I like tax prep and if I can possible land a seasonal tax prep job. I need something on my resume after 6 years out of the workforce to get back in. I figured this is better than nothing. I'm also hoping that perhaps this is a way to landing a part-time job in bookkeeping or accounts payable I see on craigslist.

I'm not looking to go back full time in my field. I think that 1.5 jobs for our family would be best. I've already gotten push back from DH for taking this job because he doesn't think it's worth my time. But I'm hoping to get back next fall into a part-time work routine when my youngest might go to kindergarten. That's not decided yet.

I also won month 5 of my dietbet! I lost my 10%. Now is the real struggle. I don't know if I can maintain it. I find it easier to lose but it's so hard to keep the weight off. I missed month 3 and month 4 from traveling so i couldn't weigh in. But I kept at it and made month 5. Now can I keep it off is the question?

And we're deep in the house hunt. That's the next post. It's so hard to find something we like and finding the time to house hunt. UGH.

I am also on the decluttering challenge of 465 items in September. It is getting rid of 1-30 items over the month daily increasing as the days go on. I am at I think 380s items. I am going to make it. I have an appointment at the consignment store to get rid of 30 items. And they usually tell me what else they won't take. And I sell 6 items there daily. Apparently I've sold over $100+ there in mostly clothes.

So now back to my regular programming...

Financial Infidelity

June 15th, 2016 at 03:20 am

Went out with another 4 moms on Saturday. LOVELY night first time in new place and wow it was fun. Settling in. But my reason for writing?

I was the only one out of 5 moms who is transparent with my DH. All the other four talked about stashing money and paying for things without telling their spouse. Two work and two stay at home and the two who stay at home said they wanted to work to stash their money and not tell their husbands what they spend on. The two that do work, keep their money as theirs and spend it as they wish.

Okay I don't get this at all. This mentality is something my mom tells me all the time. "LAL you need to work so you can have your own money and spend it as you wish!" That way your DH won't tell you how to spend his money.

I say and I repeated this Saturday, why would I do that? I mean truthfully we don't have enough money (in my opinion) for me to go out and spend whatever I make on whatever I want. I don't have the luxury for us to live on DH's salary and waste mine "income" on whatever I want.

The truth is that even if I got back to work and I make say $2k/month I can't spend that on clothes, makeup, hair, etc. Honestly my DH and I would sit and look at our entire budget and work out where we should put that money. In all honesty if I go back to work the money I make is earmarked already for college savings for both DK. I can't go out and get highlights, waxes, facials, etc. We don't make enough even if I work.

My DH would be pissed and honestly rightfully so if his "income" is for us to live and save on and I blow my "income" on luxuries. My mom says that's what women who work deserve. My answer is that's fine if it's like her a 2nd marriage and you keep things separate.

But a 1st marriage? I mean I was shocked all the other moms thought it perfectly reasonable to do this. I found it shocking the SAHM are sneaking extra money on the side to do what they wish.

Truthfully I can get why people in the US get divorced. I think it's the financial infidelity. People in the US don't save enough and because we as a country like to spend money when you have two people married and NOT communicating or on the same page for spending I can see how problems arise quickly.

My DH and I aren't perfect. We do have our struggles with out budget and sometimes DH does give me "crap" about stuff I buy. I am the "spender" in our relationship. But i'm transparent about it.

I also think that he knows how practical and logical I am in general about money (i'd say I'm in the top 5% of people with financial savvy of the general population. If you are reading this you are too likely).

But I can't help but wonder how many other couples don't talk about money? And are financially unfaithful? How many hide and lie about money? Or have control issues?

I have no problem with separate accounts as long as it's transparent. But I wonder if couple divorce because they can't reconcile their habits? And then more importantly lie about it? The lying would drive me out of the relationship more than the spending or debt. I would be pissed if DH went around hiding money or charging up CC and then lied about it and it came out. I don't know if I could trust him again. Sometimes it's not the act but the lying.

Do you think most financial sound couples are transparent?

money scripts

May 19th, 2016 at 11:43 pm

I did the quiz Dido posted because I was curious.

Money Avoidance = 1.00

Your score on the money avoidance scale suggests that you do not exhibit significant money avoidance beliefs. In fact, research has shown that your score on this scale is similar to those who have been identified as wealthier, wiser, and more highly educated.

Money Worship = 2.57

Your money worship score suggests that you do not endorse significant levels of money worship beliefs.

Money Status = 1.00

Your score on the money status scale shows that you do not hold money status beliefs.

*Money Vigilance = 3.38

Your money vigilance score indicates that you endorse money vigilance beliefs.

I trimmed it down but basically I watch money but don't worship it. I think that's a pretty accurate portrayal of my financial beliefs.

Something I noticed as a I get older is that many people are torn about money status. They want the luxuries that they see and as they get older they are better able to afford it. I think it's okay as long as they can afford it. But I wonder if people's attitudes to money script changes as they age and can afford more? I think I'm a lot more liberal than before.

Craigslist mishap

May 13th, 2016 at 08:37 pm

So I sold my double bob revolution stroller on Craigslist. We aren't having a third and if we do I don't need a double stroller anymore. I had a lot of trepidation and just overall sadness. The idea of no more kids was hard but that's another post for another day.

So anyway I got a lot of interest but I just had to get rid of it asap. I listed it for $400 and got offers of $350-$400 but only one person could come ASAP to meet and get it. So I said yes for $375. I mean you know how craigslist can be. People sometimes are late, flake, etc. You meet in a public area and sometimes are stuck waiting. As it was my DH waited 30 minutes for the guy stuck in traffic.

I posted it with all defects and all extras listed and photographed. It was a 2012 manufactured date but I hadn't bought it until May 2013 and I had the receipt for it from REI.

But around 6 pm the guy calls and asks to return the stroller. His wife decided she didn't like it. It wasn't what she wanted and they wanted to meet up and get their money back. It had been an impulse purchase

After discussing it my DH and I felt bad but decided no returns. We didn't want to drive another 30 minutes and wait to get our money back then sell it to another person. Were we wrong? I did suggest giving back $350 and keeping $25 for our time and gas. But my DH was annoyed and said no way. He tried out the stroller, opened it up, looked at it, tested it, and saw all photos. He refused to waste more time and go meet the buyer again. But we called and explained the situation and the buyer said he appreciated the call since he wasn't expecting any response.

Has this ever happened to you on Craigslist? Have you ever returned anything?

the secret shame

April 26th, 2016 at 04:47 am

I read the article in the atlantic. It's here. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/05/my-secret-shame/476415/

It's really well written. Yes the author makes a ton of excuses. The author really couldn't afford his lifestyle ever. He was a writer who probably should have lived somewhere cheap. This article on vox discusses people moving because they don't make enough. http://www.vox.com/2016/4/25/11503040/midwest-savings-atlantic

He's one of those people. He's someone who probably would have had problems even if he had moved but perhaps it wouldn't have been so severe.

I can't imagine hitting up my parents for their life savings for my kids to go to college. I can't imagine later paying for a wedding when I couldn't afford to pay for college. I can't imagine hitting up my grown child for money to pay my heating bill in old age.

But it happens. I had lunch playdate on Sunday at my friend's Ms DB. Her family is the one that made $300k last year and saved nothing. Her husband makes $200k/year and they save nothing. She said the only saving grace is the fact they don't use CC and only buy what they can afford.

But she said they are trying for the first time to budget. She said she took out $400 cash for 2 weeks of grocery shopping. They have no idea where to start but they are trying to see where all their money goes. Seriously making $15k/month gross and not saving a penny. I'm curious where their money goes too. $3k goes to rent she said and assuming $4k taxes and $1k medical premiums. That's still $7k/month unaccounted for.

I suggested mint.com but since they don't use credit cards she said it wouldn't work. They just use debit cards. Her husband when she brought it up said "we don't have CC debt so we're fine." But they can't find a way to save.

I suggested to her that they just maybe deposit $5k into a "Spending"account and use a debit card and that's it. Maybe they don't have to track every penny since I doubt her husband will. But maybe just set preset "saving" levels and with their income it won't matter.

But here's the truth of what I observed going to their house for the first time. And I really this she's a nice person and will make a good friend.

She's got 4 kids 8, 6, 4, and 2. The 8 and 6 year old each have flat screen tvs in their rooms. They both have ipads and kindles, and the 8 year old an xbox in his room. They have 2 big screen tvs in the two family room areas. There were toys everywhere and the house was very fun and cool. But I'm going to guess that their spending on the kids and stuff is more than 2x what I spend on my kids even though I have 2 kids to her 4. I don't think they proportionally spend double, more likely if i had to guess 4x as much.

I admit to being indulgent with our spending. We could very well cut many, many luxuries and have a very lean budget. But I know where my luxuries are and I'm okay with it. I make a conscious decision for each of my dollars giving it a "name."

I think that's why no matter what you earn you have to save. That even when you can outearn stupid you can still fall into the trap of living a lot higher off the hog if you don't. I didn't tell her but with a similar incomes our "burn rate" previously and now is about 1/3 what they are "burning" through every month. But I wouldn't expect her or her family to do that. She admitted it's shameful they can't seem to save.

I think that going into extreme savings mode would be to depriving. I think for them probably saving 15% is would a struggle and something they have to work up towards. I think starting out with maybe 5% and every 2-3 months increasing it would help easy the pain. And maybe for the rest of their lives they never go above 15%. It would still be better than nothing.

I know that she's trying to change. I maybe naive, but I'm crossing my fingers that they are able to turn things around. At least they aren't in debt.

In a funny turn of events DH has a call with a recruiter tomorrow. I am not sure it's a match. At least he is getting interest already and it's boosting his confidence. I have faith he'll do great. This week is hiring day so we shall see. Cross your fingers. We're about to find out if we gambled wisely or poorly. (as I type this I hear in my head the end scene of Indiana Jones and the last crusade)

debit versus credit versus cash

April 11th, 2016 at 04:57 pm

Interesting thread about how to spend money and use your debit card. I know many who follow Dave Ramsey say "use a debit card." I think even Dave Ramsey has said it's okay.

But I have to disagree. I'm a credit card user without an issue. But I think a debit is too easy to abuse. I think if you have a problem with spending the only way to curb it is cash. If you have trouble with credit cards it's just as easy to spend on a debit card. The bank will keep letting you spend and you'll rack up overdraft fees.

I also think that it's super easy to spend without following spending by swiping a card. But if you had cash and tracked every penny it's harder. Also if you are married or partnered up and sharing an account it's easy for both parties to overspend.

I find we need a CC to track our spending since we don't use cash. Also because we both spend independently it prevents overdraft. But this has worked for 15+ years and we aren't big spenders and haven't ever paid interest. So I'm not concerned.

But for people getting out of debt? I wonder if cash doesn't make it easier?

can we get rid of reality stars?

March 8th, 2016 at 10:59 pm

I don't watch much cable, I do watch television but only streaming. I've never watched any reality tv show. I sometimes catch the voice auditions but nothing else. I do admit to reading star, US weekly, in touch in line grocery shopping or target. That is really my secret shame (I love reading the trashy mags I don't know why).

But seriously I have to look up most reality tv stars and see what they were on and who they are. I never watched Keeping up with the Kardashians, but I have to ask "who watches that crap?" Why are they still on and around? All I ever see on msn or cnn or any news sites is Kanye West and Kim Kardashian story. And the stories about them are TERRIBLE.

They are terrible people no matter how much money they make and what they are worth. Prior to this lastest twitter spat, I thought, "they must be doing this for rating and money." Now I really think they have no idea what sort of horrible people they are and completely delusional. Worse yet is how our society worships them and allows them to be constantly covered. I cringed reading Kanye West was $53 million in debt and wondered how the hell did that happen? And then Kim K posts nude selfies and thinks it's great and wants adulation? I just wonder why people will get tired of them, I am praying soon.

When will we get rid of reality shows and these horrible people who become "reality tv stars?" Do you watch any of these shows?

star wars and mild winter

February 1st, 2016 at 05:18 pm

Yesterday we finally saw the new star wars the force awakens. A friend watched the kids and it was awesome to get out alone even if it was a movie. My DH loved how it felt like the original star wars and made the prequels look terrible. It was okay I thought. But neither of us are huge star wars fans, we're star trek fans and we both while looking forward to this summer's star trek movie, think it looks like fast and the furious 8 instead of star trek. We love the tv series and think it works better as a tv series. The new movies are good for being reboots but it lacks the substance of the tv shows and old movies. But star wars? Well it was good for a sequel.

I've come to the realization that where we live is awesome. LOL. I'll have seen my mom and family every two months since June. If we see her or them in April, we're going in 2 weeks in February for a week, then we'll have seen them every other month for a year. This makes the move even more delicious and ever to savor this feeling. Besides the gorgeous weather in "winter" it's 50 and sunny. I haven't even needed a winter coat or gloves or hat.

My DH starts his bootcamp in a week. He's super excited and ready to embark on a new career. I'm ready as well to have time solo and research the area more for us to potentially buy a home and really settle in. I'm ready to think about potential jobs as well. 2016 is turning into a fabulous year.

Now if only I could do a no spend month.

Black Friday shopping

December 2nd, 2015 at 06:50 am

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

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

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

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

Annoying fees and free shipping

November 9th, 2015 at 05:14 pm

Okay so I got our first water bill and on it was a $25 miscellaneous fee. The fee was for setting up our water bill. Ridiculous. So I pay for water and I pay to set up an account? Just add this to the list of moving expenses.

Also if you order stuff online and want free shipping and free returns check out shop runner. A friend invited me so I had it free for a year. Otherwise it's $79. But if you have an american express credit card it's a free service offered in partnership. It's a great deal for ordering things you aren't sure about and having a free return.

Meal plan for the week we made smoked pulled pork yesterday. Today I made baked potato soup. Pulled pork in tacos for dinner. And later this week we'll make an indian chicken curry and I think maybe fish tacos.

Planning ahead and expenses

November 9th, 2015 at 06:19 am

We have been really good about our spending in this past month. Ridiculously good. Our spending with 2 kids is on Mr Money Mustache level. We spent about $2000 on everything outside our mortgage last month. We also spent $1000 on the dog but I don't consider that "us" spending. We got our grocery budget more in line and eating out too. A lot of money was spent on getting set up again and in October as well but we had a better handle on it and really the bulk was done in September.

But there a few expenditures this week which I found interesting. I bought myself 3 new silicon spatulas from amazon for $5.49, 8 piece pyrex baking for $15, and cake tray for $5.99. For some reason I lost in the move, or perhaps we threw out our old bakeware because it was in poor condition.

But I've noticed as we are cooking more a few things are not quite up to snuff. I find myself yearning to buy the cookie scoop and I always tell myself at Christmas I need to buy it because I hate doing cookies with spoons. But at the same time I know right now I shouldn't be spending money. I also would like to buy the stackable cookie racks. UGGH.

How do you budget replacement of items you either have but are old or never bought but want? In the past I'll admit I'd have bought it without blinking an eye. But right now we're very budget conscious and so I'm reluctant to spend money on anything.

The things I did buy I really need and the best home "investment" I ever did was buy in 2005 (year we got married) my calphalon cook set. OMG I think it was $550 for the set and I got the roasting pan, griddle, extra pan, etc and spent over $1k. But I have used it daily. I have used the pots and pans so much in 10 years that whatever I paid for it, it's returned to me in spades.

Before I bought it I remember my aunt pulled me aside and said "don't cheap out, but the best quality you can get for pots and pans because you'll use them forever. And you'll use them daily." Of course the one thing I didn't buy then was really good knife set something I'm still lusting for.

I think I might cave on the cookie scoop and maybe the racks too. But I'll resist everything else unless it happens to break or i can't find it. I also wanted to get a french press but that's again on the wish list.

What is your favorite kitchen tool/appliance you have? What is the most expensive appliance or tool and do you regret buying it? Or do you love, love, love it and would recommend it? I swear by my pots and pans and when people ask I say I still have mine and they are phenomenal.

The month spending so far and fraud

October 22nd, 2015 at 05:11 pm

So our spending is getting more in line this month so far. We've spent $141 on gas. Probably another fill up for us both so we will be at $200 for the month. We've spent $45 on alcohol out of $50 budgeted. We've spent only $329 on groceries which seems low but we have another week. I am hoping to spend around $500, but we've been eating from the pantry and freezer a lot. Plus we've spent $103 on eating out so far this month. We still have to spend $28 on spooky spaghetti night fundraiser for the school next Thursday. We paid our electric and heat bill for $84.

I also used my discover cash back and got $120 in Land's end gift cards with 20% extra cash back. I have to admit I bought these canvas tote bags I've been lusting after for years. I always eyed the LL Bean bags with canvas tote with zipper in different sizes. But I thought spending $30-40 a bag too much. Well they had 30% off deal and my mom last time she visited expressed her desire for a new bag. I used the gift cards and bought her a black bag monogrammed, just like the one she has. And I bought myself three different sizes. I will definitely keep the medium size tote but I'm unsure if I want the large or x-large size. Has anyone seen these totes? I have multiple friends and have lusted after it for a long time but couldn't justify it. But I decided since I got the cash back plus the bonus cash back I'd take advantage. It cost me $5 OOP plus $100 cash back for the $125 worth of gift cards.

Ugh I also had to call discover and get another new credit card. What is going on? This is yet the third time, once in July, once in August there have been fraudulent charges from online orders. UGGH.

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?

Henna Hair Dye

October 7th, 2015 at 08:56 pm

I got a box of Henna Hair dye from my neighbor to try out on my hair. It worked out great. I have to figure out how to post pictures again. Anyway while it's not cheap, $7/box it is really awesome. My hair does not feel dry or brittle. The color is amazing and I love the way my hair feels.

I used to dye and highlight my hair using groupon or just paying a long time ago. But it got to be pricey. I've tried box dyes but I think it looks to fake on my hair. Unfortunately with my dark hair the whites really stand out. But now it's more naturally colored and I love the red color.

Tips she gave me use lemon juice and you have to mix the henna overnight. Then let it sit at least 4-5 hours or longer on your hair. It is amazing. She does it every couple of months. She also told me to watch the videos. Anyway I thought I'd share for those who are interested.

http://www.hennasooq.com/fresh-jamila-henna-powder-2015/

Waiting game for dog

September 2nd, 2015 at 09:23 pm

So the dog injured the ligament in his knee of his back leg. Prognosis? Surgery is the only way to fix it. However it's not advised because it's a rough surgery for a dog his age. One option is a lesser surgery with fishing line however again his age and condition suggest he could die on the table.

Second we are waiting for the results of his biopsy and histopathology of his skin tag. It's likely that he has lymphoma. If that is the case, because of his age and condition surgery is extremely risky. We should find out the results either Friday or next week.

Right now we are in limbo. We are pretty sure that we won't do surgery. And we won't do chemotherapy but we will do some treatment. What this means who knows. Is cost an issue? Yes and no. The surgery could be $2k-3500. Chemotherapy probably around there. But more important is the quality of his life, ie recovering from surgery and spending 6-8 weeks crated might not be ideal. Also we are unsure we would want to risk surgery and him on the table. So there are many factors at play.

Yesterday alone cost us $600 for the services rendered. I find myself struggling more with the idea that we're out of options than worrying about the financials. I can see how people easily run up pet bills. I've never tallied our chemotherapy and end of life bills on our last bichon. I know it was over $7k at that time. We did get almost 8 more months with 6 of them good with him. And we were prepared when he passed instead of his initial collapse.

This time I'm not sure.

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.

I hate verizon

July 31st, 2014 at 04:00 am

I hate verizon. We have verizon FIOS for internet and cable. I have cable because it costs us $5 more to have cable than not.

But my cable remote broke and I called verizon and was told it would cost me $15 or $20 depending on the model to replace it. I said "are you effing kidding me?" The guy said nope, company policy. I said "I am paying for cable and you don't want me to have a working remote? Seriously? The remote for cable isn't included?" Guy says "company policy. I'll put it in customer service, but apparently everyone complains about this asinine charge!"

So perhaps now I can convince my DH to let me switch. I haven't been allowed to switch cable or internet companies because he prefers FIOS internet. I am not on a contract because he won't sign one. He doesn't like me switching every year for a "deal" because he doesn't like them drilling holes in our walls to put the cable wires through. So we've had FIOS at a ridiculous price because I can't switch.

I pay for internet $79.99/month and bundled with cable $84.99. Yes I can't get them cheaper because I won't sign a contract. Hopefully this issue with the remote, I'll just cancel and start up. No contract, no problem. Return box and router and off we go. Now if I can convince my DH to live without internet for like a week or two even better.

Perhaps then I can get Verizon to give me a deal so I don't have to drill more holes. I still despise them. But I have yet to meet someone who likes their cable company. I laugh when I watch the video of the granny going postal in comcast and smashing everything with a wrench. That's exactly how I feel.

Stupid tax

July 28th, 2014 at 12:15 pm

So everyone does stupid things but you just have to accept it right? I did a very stupid thing and I have to suck it up. Ugh.

So this weekend my cell phone got stolen. We share a verizon family plan so I'm locked into a contract for another 18 months. So I'm using my DH's old Samsung Galaxy Nexus. I don't care, actually I honestly didn't want to upgrade in the first place. But my DH feels guilty so I just get whatever phone he wants in duplicate.

How'd it get stolen? I wasn't paying enough attention while we were eating in a very busy food court and left it on the table and when I looked for it, it was gone. Sigh. Totally my fault and responsibility.

Before anyone asks why a contract I actually priced out ting and was told by their generator we were in that 5% of people who it didn't make sense to get Ting. I downloaded all my bills. Same with the other carriers. Apparently having a family plan and using it a lot (we don't do a home phone and my BIL doesn't either), and we text and use a lot of minutes. But for now I'm okay. But I do feel frustrated at my own stupidity. And this is probably why I hate having a new phone. I know I can be irresponsible. And why my DH always buys me technology that sometimes I feel bad having. Ugh.

Now I have to figure out besides using the old phone what I can do to make up for it.

The plan part IV

July 7th, 2014 at 12:38 am

Another reader pulled out the negative comments on the MMM post and many did say get on the same page. But at the same time more than few also said happiness needs to be felt by everyone.

So I decided to address a few things. I know that I will be happier living by family and friends. I know that I will be happier not sitting on a plane 12+ hours. I am not unhappy with the kids but I know I can be happier.

Second, the 3rd kid we are still wrestling with it. I showed him the post and he had to admit we can afford the third child and he needs to stop using finances as a defense. He isn't sure anymore. He was sure last year and I wasn't ready. He doesn't want another now, we've hit the sweet spot, and I am ready. It will be a conversation we keep having. We haven't done anything drastic so I figure we're in limbo. I don't know when we'll know if we are done, but that's something I can concede without feeling unhappy. IF he's really done then we're done. I've always said "a no outweighs the yes". But at the same time we haven't done the permanent change to prevent kids. So I think we're on the fence. Perhaps I'm wrong, but he's always agreed we'd do the snip when we were done. And we haven't done it or planned on it. I would really like a 3rd child but if he doesn't have it in him, it's okay. And perhaps he may change his mind in another 12 months but I'll be the no again. We had always been ambivalent on the number of kids we'd have. We said we'll see how it goes and when it felt right we'd stop.

Third, when I did the case study we had talked about moving but hadn't examined what it would take to move without jobs. That case study was a wake up call about whether we even could retire early. That was never in our "agenda" we just assumed we'd work until at least 55. Now the reality is it's possible and we both think so.

And if we had an update on the case study? The most interesting aspect I think is that my DH didn't get his promotion in March. He is pretty unhappy with his job and wonders if it's meant to be. He doesn't know if he'll get a promotion in March 2015, and feels he deserves one. If we weren't in the process of moving, but decided we'd stay he'd right now be looking to jump ship to another company.

He likes what he does. However he feels it took him 5 years for his first promotion and that was a very long time. It's now been 4 years and due to the length of the first promotion, he's definitely on the "high" end of where he should be. On the pay scale of his pay grade two more years and he'd be "maxed" out on his scale which makes him unhappy. This we calculated about 2 weeks ago.

I haven't influenced these comments, yes I'm not thrilled, but I certainly didn't say his job was bad. He's disappointed with his career trajectory and wonders if he needs to switch. And that more than many other things has given him a huge push to agree we should move.

So the question rose why stay where we live if he isn't happy in his job? What is holding us here? Nothing. Would he be happy if he had a promotion? Yes. But it didn't happen. If it doesn't happen next year, I think that's his reasoning behind moving next June 2015. I believe he'll be so disappointed that it'll be hard to endure working at his job.

Also in the past 4 years he's had reorganization 4 times and this time he doesn't like his direct supervisor. He doesn't feel they have the same vision. He certainly didn't feel that way in 2012 with a different boss. He was happier. Now he's not. They had another reorg, and he wasn't reassigned and not thrilled with the fact he expected to be.

So like everything in life, things change like the wind. He loves what he does. But he's not exactly thrilled with the situation he's in now. He used to love it more, and perhaps he could again. But if we were in a different circumstance he wouldn't be staying with his company.

So all signs point to exiting where we live. Right now I am about to contact another realtor because we had a realtor contact us about selling our place. They want us to come up with a number and I don't want to "lowball or be unrealistic" about what I could get. This would be hard selling and renting, but at the same time we'd be locking in equity and gaining flexibility.

And I think we need to stockpile cash like MM said. I don't know how long until we find jobs if we are unemployed when we move. That makes me nervous.

Wants and Needs

June 21st, 2014 at 01:34 am

So I want a new vacuum cleaner. I do not need one, but my standup vacuum cleaner is 12 years old and probably should be replaced because it smells when it vacuums. I have a Eureka Boss Smart Vac. However I don't use it as much as my lightweight 9 year old dirt devil corded handheld. It's basically a dustbuster with a handle. I bought it in 2005 on a black friday doorbuster from walmart for $8. It's semi broken with the suction piece unable to stay in unless it's being used. However it's still usable, hence why I use it.

Anyway I probably sweep or vacuum everyday 2-3x/day. There is so much dirt/sand in the winter from the dog, and sand/dust from the kids in the summer I can't stand it. I obsess about it and can feel it even in the winter through socks.

So last black friday I told my DH I wanted a light handheld. He said sure go get what you want, but I couldn't bring myself to spend $200-300 on a dyson. But yesterday after dinner at a friend's house I used her Dyson DC59 animal which is $399 on Amazon. I would love that but it's just too much for me to spend. I looked and the lower/older model is $219 reconditioned factory or $259 new.

I am definitely lusting after this vacuum cleaner. The problem is how to afford it? What can I sacrifice or how can I make extra money? Now it'd be easy to use the focus group money I'll be making shortly, $100 on Monday and $125 next month. But I think that's too easy. Maybe I should have a goal that if I can sell stuff on craigslist or a consignment store, I can buy the new vacuum. That would be a lesson in getting rid of stuff to get something new as well as delayed gratification.

How do you deal with wants versus needs?

Making bad financial decisions

June 4th, 2014 at 02:25 pm

I have a friend in a very difficult situation. She and her husband are going to divorce eventually. They have three kids and I can't say I blame her. Long term cheating is the reason (4 years), but she's trying to get her life in order to leave.

I suggested that she really organize herself and finances before saying she wants a divorce. But it's hard obviously she's a stay at home mom, and she needs to get her license reinstated to work. She used to be a mental health counselor. I think she's a good person but seriously she's terrible with finances and I don't know if she can ever get herself righted.

She spends money like it's water. She only shops at whole foods and throws away food left and right. She said yesterday "I need to stop buying precut fruits and make an effort to cook dinner." I suggested buying frozen dinners and start from there to get into the habit of cooking, then learn after getting used to cooking.

But the real trouble? Both she and her husband make a ton of bad financial decisions and have no idea how much money they make or have.

Bad decisions
1. Bought a new to her Mercedes Diesel SUV 7 seater. Got a loan because she said they needed credit.
2. Spends on a credit card and just makes payments to have room to spend more.
3. Doesn't file taxes so her husbands paychecks are garnished by IRS for no payment.

Because she wants to leave I suggested to her that perhaps she start by collecting all paperwork to figure out how much money they make. And to file taxes. I even offered to help. I told her go around her house and collect any remotely financial paperwork.

But then she does things like get plastic surgery, go on week long yoga retreats to Belize; while saying she can't afford preschool for her kids. That paying $5k/year, what I pay for mine is too much. I couldn't help myself but I said one week in Belize cost more than $5k. She said it did. So right there was preschool tuition.

I don't know if she'll be able to get her act together. I don't know how to advise her to get on a budget or even to know what they make. Her husband gives her a cash allowance. She asks him for money when she needs it. Sometimes it's there and sometimes it's not.

She really has no idea about her financial house. I'm not even sure where she should start. Her husband works construction half the year. Then has his own business as a mechanic and plows snow in the winter. He has a shop but she has no idea how much he makes.

If she wants to leave him she needs to get her finances in order. But it will be a long process. I hope she can get herself pulled together.

Tips or ideas for someone really bad with money? I do worry about her and really have suggested that I help her with mint or just sorting paperwork. But the truth is that she says she'll get to gathering paperwork but never does.

what parents teach us about money

May 27th, 2014 at 11:53 am

This happened yesterday in the shoe store and I found it interesting in the perspective of money and kids.

I have some very rich friends. Very rich, we are talking the 1% or probably closer to the 0.5% easily. Very nice people and pretty normal in many ways.

But at the same time there are some stark differences. Now I will admit we are closing in to the 1% in income, but certainly not in assets. I openly acknowledge we live a very "nice" lifestyle and definitely upper middle class. And a lot of our income goes to savings so I do try to stretch every dollar we make. Every dollar not spent, means less we need to save.

But anyway as you know I went to stride rite and landed great deals on shoes. I bought 9 pairs of sneakers for $60. That works out to $6.66 a sneakers for stride rite!!! Cheaper than even thrift stores at least where I live. But I never buy shoes used because it's not good for developing feet to have used wear patterns. Even hand me downs between kids I sell if I think they are too used.

So as I was there on Monday getting more shoes (I bought 4 pairs Saturday), then "5" on Sunday. Anyway I ran into a friend who is "VERY RICH" and there because I told her about the sale. She was very excited to be buying shoes because her daughter needed them but to get on a deal was great.

I pointed out the cheapest options (ie what I bought) but she said her daughter wouldn't wear them. She said daughter is very picky, and will never buy the same shoe two years in a row. Also she's very particular about color and style. So the newest models.

She asked me how I get my kids to wear what I want, ie the cheapest, ugliest shoes in the store. She runs into the problem with clothes. Her kid won't wear stripes, no leggings with buttons, nothing but pink and purple, no zippers, etc. And always buys "high" end boutique clothes so she doesn't match other kids.

My answer? I told her that I tell my kids I'm not made out of money. They can pick their clothes out of the choices I give her (both our girls are 4) but that's it. I have X amount of $$$ and she's got freedom to pick from the clothes I offer up at the store or home, but at the end of the day we have to buy what we can afford. If she doesn't wear it and it's a gift, it's consigned.

I told my friend Mrs R, "I say we can't afford it. We can afford this and you can get this. You can wear this because that's it." She said how does she get it?

I said the "choice" is there is none. I give my kids choices because we can afford enough for choices. But I realize that if we had less money there are less choices. And even if we make more money I don't think I'll change.

I just can't fathom paying $16 for Hanna Anderson shorts for a 4 year old. Sure great quality, but seriously how long are they going to wear them? One season? Buy 4 target shorts for $20 and call it a day. At this age they wear clothes hard and for a shorter amount of time. People are going to say but it last longer. Really? Long enough that your growing kid can wear it for years?

I freak at the idea of paying $50 let alone $140 for a pair of shoes. Mrs R buys her kid uggs every winter and this season they were $140. I got knock offs from $20 from Walmart. At the end of winter her kids foot didn't fit and mine were worn. I bought winter boots kamiks for $10 from the outlet and she got whatever color was leftover. Mrs R bought new ones the color her kid wanted for $50.

Another example my kid gets to pick a snowsuit for $30 from Costco. It works fine and I'll use it for a hand me down for kiddo number 2. Mrs R buys North Face Jacket and fleece for her kid. We're talking $100 fleece and $200 jacket. I've got a lot of friends who do this. Seriously? Target and Costco. I mean one season! The kids don't stay the same size for more than one winter. At least I'd like to meet a kid who does.

But heck I will admit to getting some nice outerwear for my second kid from friends Smile Mrs R then has her older kid need shorts and she said her husband asked how much should they give their teenager. He suggested $20? She said that won't buy one shorts. It would if you shopped at Target. But A&F, AE, mall stores, etc all cost way more than that for one pair. Perhaps I'm in for it when my kids get older and want name brands, but I doubt it. Again I'll be on the "it's not in our budget wagon."

But Mrs R is shocked I'm so strict with my kids. That I would be so religious as to say we can't afford it and you don't have a choice. She knows we make a decent living and to be to frugal is a little odd. I don't think I'm being mean, I think I'm teaching them that we only have so much money and we are using it wisely. So they don't have name brands and even their swim suits and "carters" clothes come from costco. But I spend less than $50/month on clothes all year for my kids including shoes and seasonal wear because of deals and costco.

Growing up my mom gave me a annual clothing budget and said this is it, make it last. So I had to shop sales and see how to stretch my dollars. I had what I had and that was it.

I think I'm teaching them not how to be cheap, but how to maximize income. I get we can afford "more", but honestly do kids really need name brand? And I buy stride rite because I think good shoes are important. And my kids feet are ridiculously wide. But even then I try to wait for deals and buy when they are on sale. I keep the receipt in boxes until we use them just in case they grow and skip a size. But otherwise? Target, Costco, Walmart, Marshalls, Kohls are my places for clothes. And even then I'll wait until serious discounts.

What are you teaching your kids? At least where I live everyone is a little fashionista, even boys. I can't imagine knowing what I know about prices of clothes how so many parents can spend so much on kids clothes. It's more than I even spend on myself.

questioning a high cost of living...

May 23rd, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Is it worth it to live in a HCOLA? Does the income you can potentially earn outstrip the costs? Maybe.
But the truth is that there are more expenses than just a large mortgage although I'll get to that later.

I hadn't realized all the extra expenses but the small stuff all adds up. Our heating expense are $3k/year, $2500/year electricity, $4800/year for gas for cars. Small differences in price could give us financial freedom somewhere else. Saving on heating and electric bills or even gas could be diverted to paying for an individual health insurance plan.

But what really made me start looking at our financials and future plans was we decided to look at houses. We've been in our townhouse for 9 years now. Bought at the peak in 2005 and we've been happy. As I explained in an earlier post we never expected to stay here past 1 kid. Turns out we're still here with two.

But the truth is we started looking at homes this year. We decided why not make the jump, we've been prudent, paid down our home and increased income. Truthfully we can't afford it. Insane you say? I agree.

We looked at our monthly budget and decided okay we'll increase our payments a little, loosen the purse strings, and cash in some home equity. We bought our current townhouse for $575k and can sell it for $729k low end. With what we owe I estimate we'd have comfortably $300k in equity to put down on our next place or 20% and bank the rest.

Well we started our budget search at $750k. After looking around we realized no way in hell were we going to be able to buy a house. We upped it to $800k and started to finally see homes sort of. We looked a house 0.5 miles from us 3 bd/3ba 1500 sq ft on a 3400 sq ft lot listed at $749k went in a bidding war the first weekend with 10 offers, 3 over $800k and settling at $830k. Um no thank you bidding war.

Well that meant our budget needed to head to $900k to get into the market at an "entry" level home that might need work. So we stepped back.

Trust me as you read you're probably screaming move the f$*% out LAL! You're insane. But my DH I think wanted to cry because he loves his career, he wants to continue at it, but the reality of us living here is a tough pill to swallow. Yes DH loves his job, but even if I go back to work we'd be one job loss away from losing the house if we took on a huge mortgage. And honestly we'd be working for what? To make more money to spend it on housing and living expenses. I pointed out we are constantly chasing a lifestyle that people in lower COL already have. It was time to reevaluate the true financials.

Honestly I wasn't comfortable spending so much and getting so little. I didn't like the idea of DH or potentially me being a clown car commuter where he drove at least 1 hour or at "least" an hour on public transit. What's the point of having a family you don't see? Why should he get up and leave the houose at 7 before the kids do to come home by 6 and maybe see them 1 hour??? Why live so far way to afford a home? Then we'd be better off staying put. But do we want to raise our kids in a townhouse forever? Do we want to yard or indoor playspace?

These questions are what ultimately lead us to the hard decision that we need to move. That we need to reevaluate and restock our life. We need to consider working smarter. We've amassed a pretty sizable pot of money, perhaps it's time to maximize what we can do with it.

The next step? Early retirement...but not quite what you think.