Home > Page: 2

my debt on the 0% CC

June 15th, 2022 at 09:10 pm

I have 2 0% credit cards right now, one I put on my A/C and the other I just put property taxes on.  I have until Feb and March 2023 to pay them off.  

Blue Amex 0% March 2023 $6041 - paid $2k today , $4041 balance

Wells Fargo 0% Feb 2023 $18,864 - paid $2k today, $16,864 balance

It's a lot more debt than I am hoping to carry.  I did use the DH's extra paycheck this month but basically it paid for our lawyer bills for setting up our will and trust.  That was $8800 paid for on a CC in full.  Everything else I've paid ahead basically.

Now how to pay off everything in 6 months?  I owe $20k in 6 months.  Ugh and yikes.  Our property assessed value went up 40% in 1 year from 2022 to 2023 so I'm a bit nervous about what that might do to our property taxes.  But I have $8k set aside for property taxes and auto insurance etc in August.  Guess I'll be posting on here to keep me honest.  I guess my goal will be paying off the $4k blue by august.


Las Vegas Trip and NW update

June 2nd, 2022 at 10:44 pm

We've lost $300k on retirement alone and $100k on our taxable accounts.  We were very aggressively invested in our retirement accounts.  Say La Vie.  We have a long time until we retire.

We went to Las Vegas for the weekend and it was a lot of fun.  We had a great time with the kids.  While people don't think Las Vegas is kid friendly we found it to be.  It was a lot of fun.  We also spent a ton of money but that's what we chose to do. I think Vegas can be done cheaper especially the eating out and activities.

Prepaids $1668 for 4 flights, $1214 for Hotel, $1021 for O show, $253 Blue Man Group, and $688 for Go City Las Vegas Card = $4845 before we landed had been spent.  So not exactly cheap for a trip, but we were ready for fun.  I rented a car the first day so we could go to dinner, fremont experience and pick up friends from the airport.  That was $15 parking, $18.34 car rental ($40 free expedia point i had been trying to use), $8.50 gas, and $4 parking.  One day car rental then we used uber/lyft, taxi the rest of the time. 

We paid $171.97 for the rest of the days for uber including a $25 tip to the airport when the driver stopped and allowed us to grab our luggage from the hotel, drove to front, then loaded it, and waited for us to get it from bellhop.  He made the same as driving in tip.  He didn't have to but it was super nice of him.  We also tipped $5 to the maids daily in cash and a few other cash, so i'm unsure where the $120 in cash I had went (likely tips).  

The kids bought a necklace and MM and $10 games for $59.40.  That was the extent of our shopping except for some sunscreen and lotion from CVS.  We did only handcarry after all.  We also spent $5 gambling.  

Our biggest expense was eating out for $1914.37 for 6 days family of four.  That averages out to be $319/day.  Yikes.  I know we skewed it with a few fancier meals $362 morimotos (for adult couple only), $260 for Wynn Buffet dinner, $249 at hotel for drinks at cabana/pool, hotel.  So $1043 really for most meals I would guess $173/day for family of four sounds more in line. 

But the buffet (which wasn't great for the price and I am not a huge fan of buffets to begin with) the kids loved it. They had been asking about going to a buffet and on the last night we had a reservation at one of two open dinner buffets and they had a GREAT time.  They ate well (not the value of their $40 dinner) but they did try at least 1 new thing and surprised themselves by eating so many different varieties of food they normally wouldn't eat.  It was a lot of fun and we spent the full 2 hours eating and relaxing.  That day was ridiculous because we rented a cabana by the pool all day 9 am - 5 pm then uber to and from the wynn and sat and ate dinner and that was it.  The DH and kids had a blast.  Buffets are not good value and are not good food.  But they are fun and they are easy with a large group.  So you suck it up and go. 

Maybe I'll post some pictures.  We did a lot of touristy things with the kids like marvel station, linq zipline/high roller, helicopter ride over strip, bus tour, illuminarium, ny nyn roller coaster, excalibur 4d movie.  So overall the kids had a great time.  But it was not a cheap weekend.  $7705 all in for the family of four for 6 days.  And that is gambling with $5.  Had we been into gambling (mostly my DH, I wanted to but he kept saying no), then it would have cost us more.  But I have to say I loved it.  I liked the heat, the nightlife, the energy.  I can see why everyone from hawaii loves it and it's the 9th island.  Totally my cup of tea.  My family had a great time.  I think it could turn into an annual trip to seea a show, eat some buffet (yuck), and hang out.

April YTD

May 1st, 2022 at 08:27 pm

Well retirement is down $140k and if it wasn't for our windfall I think we'd be substantially more. Probably in the ball park of $250k.  I have already had to talk to multiple friends and clients into staying invested and not being spooked.  And when asked I said I can see it dropping another 10-20%.

But what do you do?  Nothing. If it makes you nervous wrong asset allocation.  If you just leave it invested or invest more well then you know what type of person you are.  I am kicking myself for buying more amazon and google before their big drops. 

I invested all of our windfall.  A portion was put into a 10 month CD paying 1.1%.  That's to pay our taxes.  Then I dumped $150k into the 529s VOO this month.  Bad timing?  Probably and they will need it in 6 and 8 years.  But truthfully that's a long time to ride it out and I the only thing I could do is invest monthly.  But really just leaving it alone for the next 6 years.

Does it make sense to rebalance and put into more conservative investments?  Most people would but i am not.  Why?  Because here's the question someone asked me.  Will it matter what the balance is in 6 years?  Answer is NO.  I am paying for college no matter what so I might as well aggressively try to maximize our investment for college.  And what people don't realize is that you don't use all of it in 6 years, I will need it 6-9 years for one and 8-11 years.  So that's a long time to ride out the market.  Retirement is more iffy because we need to fill our buckets, but knows?

Traveling is expensive

April 22nd, 2022 at 09:18 am

So I don't understand how people who have a family of four talk about how cheap it is to travel.  Okay maybe if we only used points for every plane ticket.  But how do you get so many tickets to travel every year if you aren't a big spender and no longer have work travel to help gain points?  I don't get it at all.  

We are planning on a 5 day trip to Las Vegas.  Tickets for the family will be $1669 roundtrip for 4.  Hotel will be $1215.  So before we step foot there we are out of pocket $2884.  So people who go for a week to europe or anywhere I always wonder how? I mean the only answer I have is that they get free hotels and free airfare because I can't seem to figure out how else to stay under $3k for a family of 4 on airline tickets.

That being said we  bought tickets to O for $1021 for the 4 fof us.  I'm also considering the go las vegas card for $900 for the 4 of us and it includes the blue man group, hoover dam (No one wants to do this with me) and a bunch of other activities.

I also just bought tickets to hawaii for our summer trip.  $588 for DK1 and DH, but his was using chase sapphire preferred points of 47,040 points.  I used a coupon and some discount codes we had for $614.73 for me and DK2 using a companion fare and codes.  So far we ar in for $1202.73.  Of course our lodging is covered mostly and we may go stay in a different city in hawaii for a few days so we will have hotel and rental car.  And of course I spend a lot on eating out and paying when we go so there is that.  But again How do you go for a week and spend $3k or less for a family of four when hotels are solidely $250-300/night other than free flights and hotels?

I also used our miles to fly to Canada this summer, unfortunately it's only booked 1 way so far to go to DH's cousins wedding.  We I need to figure out how to transfer more miles to use miles to fly back.  Although on a budget airlines the airline tickets are pretty cheap so maybe that would be worth it.  I also paid for 50% of the airbnb which I need to figure out if we are staying only there.

What are you thinking for travel?

Keeping up with the Jones summer camp

April 20th, 2022 at 08:48 pm

So I am not a keeping up with the Jones person or else I wouldn't live where I live and drive what I drive.  I alsotruggle with spending money on stuff I deem unworthy (it is an individual thing and I am not a spendthrift, nor frugal but I try to be cognizant of my spending). 

That being said I got an email that "your DK2 has been taken off the wait-list for the sleepaway camp, please register by April 23rd, 2022 to hold your spot."  The camp is a 1 week sleepaway camp and it's expensive. It's $1500 for the week not to mention getting there and back (although I may not have to do it since friends are going...)

That being said I don't put the kids in much camp because I am home and usually not working.  We enjoy hanging out and travel a lot.  Plan this year is hawaii for 2 weeks, Canada for 2 weeks (family wedding) and potentially a road trip up and down the west coast with friends?  So we are busy. I signed my kiddos up for 1 week of girl scout camp because that's the one thing we do.  I also signed up for a half day paddleboarding camp.

But back to the sleepaway camp I didn't sign up for initially because it's expensive.  Realize only one of my kids is going so it's not like other friends whose spending $3000 - $4500 sending 2-3 kids so we are not parent vacationing solo. I still have my older one who won't go (autism).  So I was like I could spend $3k on our vacation.

I don't know if this is something worth doing or completely ridiculous.

March 2-22 Wrap up

April 5th, 2022 at 07:27 pm

The market has rebounded nicely in these past few weeks  We are down 10% in retirement and 20% in our taxable.  But then again we also got our unexpected stock sale so we made some money.  Here is what we did with it.


35.74% to 529

5.71% to spending

9.52% to I bonds

48.05% to taxable savings

the 5.71% spending I just threw into our emergency fund.  I am going to use to it spend a little extra. I also will probably cut back on savings for the year since we basically saved 95% of our windfall and 66% of income for the year.  I'm thinking I do want to spend the 5% i earmarked and not just save it. 

Things I bought already tickets to hamilton, Jack white, red hot chili pepper concerts this summer/fall.  Tickets to Las Vegas for a weekend trip.  Tickets to Hawaii for summer.  I also would like to do a few more weekend trips probably SF and maybe an october trip to Disneyland.  Some of this we would have paid for and the rest will be covered by this spending.  That plus not saving more than $16k more this year for Roth IRA and ESA contributions. 

I'll still be doing $2k/year to each kid for college until age 18 just because but I don't think I need to be doing more than that anymore.  Our kids will have college 100% paid for now and extra for a house downpayment, wedding, or car.   The taxable accounts I started will be for something else.  We have 6 figures in each 529+ESA and they are 12 and 9 plus another $50k in taxables for them.  But I will no longer stress out about affording the future. 

Everything else is for us.  I know we aren't obligated to help our kids with college. I know that we are not obligated to gift them with a hand out after college.  But I've always aspired to be able to pay 100% for college and be able to provide a house downpayment, car, and maybe even wedding.  I always wished to have been so fortunate and a little envious of people whose parents were able to help them.  I understand DH and I families were not in the situation to help us and now if anything we are about to start paying for my grandmother financially.  But since we are in such a fortunate position I am thankful for everything and going to take advantage of it.

what a day...

April 3rd, 2022 at 12:58 am

So today we put down our beloved family friend.  He was not yet 6 years old, but he had had chronic medical conditions since we adopted him. He came to us in the fall of 2017 after we bought our house.  He was a little over a a year old and seemed fine.  We adopted him at a resecue event and fell in love.  He was a great dog.  Super smart and well behaved and just overall good.  Honestly the best dog we've ever had.  

About a month later the medical problems began.  It started with rushing him to the ER when blood was dripping out of his nose.  They told us he had immune mediated thrombocytopenia.  After that it was constant vet visits, no vaccines, titrating different medications to stabilize his health.  Eventually after a year we removed his spleen in massive surgery.  He had also these open wounds from the predisone he was one that we were unable to lower the dose.  Anyway last year he tore partially his back acl but there was nothing to do because he wouldn't heal from surgery.  The orthopedic surgeon even said it would be cruel so we just meandered along.  As the vet said he's had 9 lives.

It has been a very tough journey but good at the same time.  I definitely can say this time I know we'll get another dog.  Last time it was really hard,  This time it is hard but different.  This time I can say we miss having a dog. Last time I wasn't sure if we were going to recover enough to have another.  We had had that particular guy from 2005 to November 2016 and we had lost his partner in 2010 after having him from 2002.  So we had those two guys long before kids and I don't know why it was so hard to imagine having another dog after them.   

But this time I think our experience was so lovely that I can definitely see us adopting another dog.  See you at the rainbow bridge.

2021 Tax Wrap Up

March 25th, 2022 at 04:17 pm

I have just finished our tax return for 2021.  Mostly it was waiting to see if there were any corrections for the 1099.  There wasn't but there has been in the past and usually it's Ameritrade and I wait until March 15th.  Anyway we filed and we owe $237.  Nice.  That the closest to $0 we have ever been. It's pretty nuts to be so close.  I also had to file the kiddos with their 1099B since I tax loss harvested in 2020 and then harvested some gains in 2021. 

I find it intersting how all over the place we've always been. You'd think we'd be more predictable since I do taxes for a living.  But there is always something so this is awesome that we are so close.  I would prefer to be plus or minus $500 every year.  But we've seemed to either a lot like four figures or get back four figures and I'm not usually happy either way.

How did your taxes turn out?

Cars and me

March 24th, 2022 at 05:38 pm

Sigh, so I took in the 2015 Sienna minivan for a repair to the sliding door.  Covered by recall and it wasn't opening.  A clip thing was broken or missing.  Well anyway I come back and they say great free.  But we recommend you do the water pump, 90k service, and drive belt for $1700. I say thanks I'll have to consider it and will make an appointment later.  The guy says if your car starts to overheat stop driving.  I will probably call a friends mechanic and see if I can get a better deal.  

No i'm not replacing the minivan it's great. I plan on keeping it forever.  I'd rather buy 2 more cars and keep the minivan until it breathes it's last breath.  Which in my world will be another 15 years.  But that aside, I realize that DH and seriously not car people and maybe it's because we just aren't great drivers and we get super unlucky with our cars.

So then on the legacy which just got repaired over the bumper, sensor and light, I emailed the adjuster and was told it went to adjucation and we'll see what happens.  Maybe I get my deductible maybe I don't.  It'll be another few months. Okay but then my DH came home and told me that the car was hit again.  Sigh.  No idea but on driver door bottom.  I am sitting staring at it thinking do I really need to get it repaired?  Do we make a claim?  Or just pay out of pocket?

Then I get in one morning and the subaru windshield is cracked. I don't recall a rock hitting it but we've had a ton of rock claims.  Like I said cars and us aren't exactly great friends.  FWIW we typically pay $1000/6 month for insurance on 2 cars and 2 drivers. This is on me since I've had two speeding tickets within a year.  3/2020 I got a ticket for 36 miles an hour in a 30 mph zone.  And second ticket i got was 77 mph on freeway of 70 mph limit in 8/2020.  So I deserve my stupid tax.  DH also got a few tickets of 26  and 28 mph in 20 mph zone (camera tickets so not moving violations you just pay stupidity).  

This could also be why we are just blah and meh about cars they seem like headaches for us.  I do think it would be nice to get a newer EV but then I think nope. It's too much and I might like it too much. Better off sticking with boring and safe.

headache of merrill lynch

March 17th, 2022 at 05:16 pm

See if you understand this headache merrill lynch is giving me.  They issued me a 1099R for money i did not take out in 2021 from a Roth IRA because i moved it to chase.  Then they cashed it out in February 2022 because I called and it was a headache to move the $65.  Well I got the 1099 and argued with them and now they are trying to give me another 1099 for 2022 for the same money.  

I called and said how can it be legal to give me a 1099R for the same money two years in a row? They said they could make a 60 day rollover but then they were told that it wasn't possible.  When I pointed out it was incorrect they kept trying to fix everything but the right way of sending me a 1099R corrected. 

I gave up today and called them and told them stop already.  Send me a corrected 1099R period.  No more lies, no more "fixing" a problem to cause more problems. I am filing a form 4852 and that's it.  I'm done.   Sometimes these companies do things to cover their own behind instead of the right thing.

Electric car or not?

March 11th, 2022 at 06:00 am

Well we have a 2016 Subaru Legacy and a 2015 Toyota Sienna and they are both great cars in great shape and fairly new.  The legacy has 51k miles and the Sienna has 85k miles.  So they have I think a lot of life in them. If we did the 10 year rule we have another 3 years left on the Sienna and 4 years on the legacy.  I've always thought that we would replace both cars in about 2-3 years and keep the Sienna but replace the legacy with another sedan and then get a SUV but keep the Sienna.  Mostly because it'll be getting very worthless at 10 years and it's very useful to haul stuff and people around in a pinch.  But I'd like to also think we could afford to have a third car and still buy me something newish if not new. 

In the past we had considered buying a used BMW i3 or Nissan Leaf because they were cheap.  They would replace the Subaru Legacy but we just didn't want to spend the money.  We've owned our cars since 2019 for the subaru and 9/2020 for Sienna.  We are coming up on 2 years without car payments again (we previously went from 2003-2010 without a car payment then got into a cycle of car payments till 2020.

But back to the topic at hand.  On the Legacy we drove 367 gallons of gas last year.  At the current price of $4.39/gallon that is $1611.37/year in gas.  We drove 340 gallons of gas on the Sienna.  $1492.60.  So it's more likely we'd replace the Legacy sedan because there isn't a viable option to replace the Sienna.  The Tesla X isn't really as big, much nicer but there are other nice SUV more comparable for practical purposes.

$1611/year in gas minus electric costs plus maintenance of the car is what we would be saving.  You can't count tires, but more like oil changes 2x/year at $100 = $200 and once every 3 years $900 for 30k mile service.  So $500/year or I could estimate say $900/ year so $2500/year is what we could be saving having an electric car.  

A long range Tesla model 3 is $51k plus taxes and fee so $55k/$2500 year = 22 years to break even.  But living what if gas costs $6/gallon?  Then $2202/year in gas for our subaru legacy plus $800/year maintenance = $3k.  That would still be 18 years to break even.

Even with the tax credits it's not financially advantagous for us to buy an electric car.  One day it might make sense, like our cars need replacement or they get into an acccident.  But otherwise?  Have you actually looked at what it would cost to get one?  And what you would really save

Dental Insurance Update

March 3rd, 2022 at 10:00 pm

So My dental bill as you know was like $4k. I paid $500 on a credit card because as I was walking out they said you need to pay $500.  I was like well shouldn't we wait for the bill?  They said no.   They said they would refund me if I overpaid but it would take months to sort it out so they wanted a deposit.  I have no idea if this normal but what choice do I really have right?

So now I saw that for one of the days (I went 2 days for the root canal) my responsibility is $86.05.  I'm not sure what the other portion is but I'm wondering will I see my money?  Do I call and say I saw that half of the bill settled?  Do I keep waiting until I see the other half of the bill settled?  Why is the later day settled but not the first day?  

EOB is

Billed $1532

Negotiated $671.51

Paid $774.44

responsibility $86.05

Um okay.  So now what?

As a side note my younger child got braces and I paid $3k this time OOP because she only needs the top braces 1st round.  My older child had upper, lower, and frontal headgear (not normal) and I paid $6k.  I don't know if this is the norm but seriously no I shopped around to 3 people and all were the same price.  Even better is the lack of orthodontia coverage.

Anyway I kept the headgear just in case that tiny piece of equipment was $1500 alone.  They told me to keep it and maybe I could reuse it or my DK might need it.  What can you do?

Last year our insurance paid out $25239 for March to December.  Our portion?  $1081.95.  Not bad.  Our premium for the March to December was $2581.40 for medical and $244.90 for dental.  I don't know what the megacorp paid for the first two months except they paid $5041 DD box 12.  So I don't recall what we paid.

Tomorrow an update on my car insurance and accident.  

so what are you spending?

March 1st, 2022 at 09:17 pm

Things are going well for us financially and we are looking ahead to the future and the kids.  In a way that matters looking ahead at the future is easy.  It's easy to say wow we are good.  I'm not worried and relaxed and breathe. 

But taking time to smell the roses is harder.  It's the here and now.  Right now looking at ourselves and saying are we really enjoying our money?  Are we really enjoying our time?  That's two really hard questions.

This past year, and it's literally been 1 year, has been a lesson in budgeting I haven't struggled with since 2015-2016 when we went without income and took a sabbatical.  Since then things really relaxed again and we didn't budget.  We didn't really budget from 2010-2015 after we had kids but lived on a "pot" of money.  And all this time we have been really comfortable.  We didn't really want for anything, and honestly we still don't.

But a couple things have changed in this past year and last weekend when we were away DH made a comment to me "I don't want to worry about money period. I want to spend to enjoy the time we have when we have because I think we now have too much money and not enough time."  I fully agree, so much so that I want him to quit working asap.  I want him to realize the kids are growing too fast and all these snippets of time is sliding by.

So we are sort of having a windfall and I might as post it here since I did it on the forum that it's around $320k after taxes.  It's not an inheritance we earned this.  My inclination is to save it all.  But I know my DH doesn't want to. He wants to see a tangible spending of this money for something we want but don't need and aren't being "responsible".  But I am really struggling with that perspective.

I want to save 50% to kids college/brokerage. I struggle with putting it all into 529 because we already have around $40-50k per kid right now and more years to save.  But at the same time the opportunity to dump$75k into each 529 seems tempting.  Then i'd like to save $20k to ibonds this year and next year.  That leaves us with $80k.  Do we spend it?  Do we save it?

I don't know.  And if so how much can we allow ourselves to spend?  I feel our lifestyle is very nice and I would like to not budget but other than that I dont' know I'm ready to get nicer stuff than I have. 

How to help your kids buy a house

February 22nd, 2022 at 05:57 pm

So I guess I live in a HCOLA, doesn't feel like but sure.  I certainly have always lived in expensive areas and my mindset has always been well you buy small, flip, and trade up.  I certainly never expected to be in a position to help my kids buy a house. I have always been worried about our own retirement and retiring early has always been the plan.  So the idea of forking over say $30-50k hasn't been on my radar.  Neither has been forking over $25k for a wedding or $25k for a car.

But circumstances change and opportunities change.  Now things are bit a different and perhaps we can.  My kids will certainly now be getting substantial help from my mom for a house or investment account. I know that she plans on leaving them her house.  She's 70 and hawaii real estate is valuable.  

But recently a friend told me in confience she helped her son buy a house.  He bought a $1.2M house and she owns 25% = $300k.  She put down $300k and her name is on the deed as owner for 25%.  Her parents did this for her and her brothers.  They did this and when her brother got divorced they had to sell the house and settle our with her father (her mother had passed by this time) his share of ownership.  

She said "no marriage is forever and she learned that watching her parents."  $300k is a lot of money to gift your child and have them lose in a divorce.  Instead she decided to be a part-owner in a house to help her son and daughter in law afford it and then if she and her husband die it'll be part of her son's inheritance.  She also has a daugther and would offer the same deal even if her daughter buys while single.

That made me think okay that's what I'm doing.  If we are fortunate enough to have that sort of money then I will likley help my children buy homes buy becoming a part-owner.  As per our prior post I'm not sure I'm comfortable giving them $300k to buy a house. I think I might need to be an "owner".

Have you ever heard of this?  Do you think it's a good idea?

can money ruin kids?

February 22nd, 2022 at 02:13 am

Something my DH and I are going back and forth with.  Can money ruin kids?  Will giving our children money or gifting them say free college, potentially a car, house down payment, or even a trust fund? 

I get that if you have tons of money that it's okay.  You can afford it.  You can afford to do something without impacting your own future.  That perhaps you are doing it to avoid future taxes.  But should you? I asked that question because I hate the idea also of paying taxes.

But at the same time I worried does giving our kids so much mean that we might ruin them?  Will they not learn the value of money?  Will they assume that everything in life is easy?  Will they expect everything in life asap because they never have to work for it?  

Or do we have to force them to have skin in the game?  Do we withhold everything and make them succeed on their own?  Is it really necessary? 

Has it been necessary for DH and I?  We were super fortunate in everything.  Everything has just broken our way.  Yes we are super fortunate and lucky but we did also make our luck by taking calculated risks.  But because we made some of our good fortune, we're honestly living the american dream. 

We've turned a corner and now the starting point for our kids is just so much higher than what we had or expected.  And because of it their starting line is so much further ahead.  They are where so many people we know started.  It's hard to explain but the help parents give children to start make such a big difference. 

Imagine never having student loans, car loans, or saving for a house.  Imagine not paying for vacations or saving for college for your own kids, or even saving for retirement.  Imagine knowing that you can choose the career you want and live where you want because you aren't worried about money.  

But knowing all of that does it ruin you?  Does it prevent you from working as hard or being as ambitious, frugal, or savvy?  DH and I had a date night last week and struggled with these questions.

We've hit a point where we might be able to do this for our kiddos.  But should we is the question I raised?  Right now truthfully I know my kids are going to be ridiculously well prepared.  Even I give them nothing my mom has continually mentioned disinheriting me and giving it straight to my kids.  So I know I probably am not getting her "house" but she's going to give the kids $200k each at a minimum.  I'm not sure that's enough to ruin them but that's not everything either.  But if DH and I give them more?  Will it be ruinous?

wow teeth are expensive

February 13th, 2022 at 12:20 am

So I was in terrible pain this week from Sunday. I thought it was TMJ.  I thought my jaw was aching or teething from grinding. I thought my nightguard wasn't helping.  But I also thought well I have my semi-annual cleaning on Wednesday so there wasn't a point in going in early. 

Wrong.  Omg i was taking meds like crazy it was so painful.  Yes I had called the dental office and because of what I told them and what I thought, they said okay come in wednesday morning for your appointment.  KWIM? 

Well I was dying. I couldn't open my mouth.  I called actually thursday afternoon and was like cleaning was not happening but I needed to see the dentist. I couldn't open my mouth for a cleaning and I was worried the TMJ was really bad.  They said come in and let's see what we could do. I was planning on getting botox for my jaw.  This is a real thing. You get botox every so often and it kills your jaw so if you grind it's not so painful.  I am still planning on getting it but apparently it wasn't the problem.

Nope I had a really bad tooth infection and I needed a root canal stat.  So stat that the dentist numbed me up and sent me on my way to the endodontist.  Of course this is me "is the endodontist in network?"  Dentist " I don't know and could ask but do you really care?"  LAL "uh your right." I had popped a codeine and darvocet the night before and was high as a kite and needing such strong pain meds and coudn't open my mouth who was I to really argue when I managed to get an appointment in a couple hours to help relieve the pain?

So off I went and never thought I'd write how wonderful a root canal felt.  But it seriously felt amazing. It was a raging infection. So bad they couldn't close it ip.  I am on antibiotics and letting it drain and heal till Monday since it was so sensitive that when the endodontist tried to close it was screaming. I was also in so much pain from the infection it was really hard to numb me up.  He just couldn't do it without knocking me out basically.  So there was some downside.

Besides the fact I found out it was $2100 for my root canal.  Ask me what I'm going to pay?  I don't know but right now I have a hard time caring now that I'm feeling so much better.  I probably will regret it later but for now I'm sitting happily in one piece able to eat something.  I will say this is something that is so annoying with the american medical and dental system.  You never know what you are going to pay.  Nothing is clear cut or makes sense!

wow teeth are expensive

February 13th, 2022 at 12:20 am

So I was in terrible pain this week from Sunday. I thought it was TMJ.  I thought my jaw was aching or teething from grinding. I thought my nightguard wasn't helping.  But I also thought well I have my semi-annual cleaning on Wednesday so there wasn't a point in going in early. 

Wrong.  Omg i was taking meds like crazy it was so painful.  Yes I had called the dental office and because of what I told them and what I thought, they said okay come in wednesday morning for your appointment.  KWIM? 

Well I was dying. I couldn't open my mouth.  I called actually thursday afternoon and was like cleaning was not happening but I needed to see the dentist. I couldn't open my mouth for a cleaning and I was worried the TMJ was really bad.  They said come in and let's see what we could do. I was planning on getting botox for my jaw.  This is a real thing. You get botox every so often and it kills your jaw so if you grind it's not so painful.  I am still planning on getting it but apparently it wasn't the problem.

Nope I had a really bad tooth infection and I needed a root canal stat.  So stat that the dentist numbed me up and sent me on my way to the endodontist.  Of course this is me "is the endodontist in network?"  Dentist " I don't know and could ask but do you really care?"  LAL "uh your right." I had popped a codeine and darvocet the night before and was high as a kite and needing such strong pain meds and coudn't open my mouth who was I to really argue when I managed to get an appointment in a couple hours to help relieve the pain?

So off I went and never thought I'd write how wonderful a root canal felt.  But it seriously felt amazing. It was a raging infection. So bad they couldn't close it ip.  I am on antibiotics and letting it drain and heal till Monday since it was so sensitive that when the endodontist tried to close it was screaming. I was also in so much pain from the infection it was really hard to numb me up.  He just couldn't do it without knocking me out basically.  So there was some downside.

Besides the fact I found out it was $2100 for my root canal.  Ask me what I'm going to pay?  I don't know but right now I have a hard time caring now that I'm feeling so much better.  I probably will regret it later but for now I'm sitting happily in one piece able to eat something.  I will say this is something that is so annoying with the american medical and dental system.  You never know what you are going to pay.  Nothing is clear cut or makes sense!

new cell phones

February 11th, 2022 at 05:51 pm

We are not cell phone people.  Not by a long shot.  I can say that because this is probably the most expensive cell my DH or myself has ever had.  What do and did we have and what we paid.

So currently we were paying $120/month plus taxes and fees = $138/month for 4 cell phone lines and 2 tablet lines.  It is a super old unlimited calling, texting, data plan.  The tablet lines were free add ons. I still used the free table until this year from 2015 so 6 solid years of use and I finally upgraded Black Friday a samsung 4g A7 lite tablet for $199.   That was my "christmas" present to myself.  DH dropped his but upgraded his tablet about 2 years ago.  I love to use mine traveling and reading on it more than my phone.  DH barely uses his so free works.

I was sick and tired of trying to use google voice for my new business phone line. I was struggling getting 2 step verification working which doesn't usually work with google voice.  So i decided I would "splurge" and get another cell phone line for work.  It would be exclusive use and i could turn it off or leave it if I got annoyed.  

So I went into t-mobile and asked to add a line.  They said it would be $20 a month. I said of course.  This was a better deal than mint mobile/cricket/google fi/ting. 

Ting was $25/month for 5 gb cost more and get less. Or $35/onth unlimited.  

Cricket was $30/month for 5 gb for 1 line or 5 lines for $25/month a line = $125/month but no tablets and no 6th line (more on this later).  Not a bad deal but also doesn't work internationally.  Our plan allows free international roaming and 2 tablet lines and 6th line.  So far this was the best switch.  But 

Tello was $19/month for 4 gb. It also maxes out on 4 lines.  We need minimum 5 lines.  But sure let's go with 4 lines.  So $80/month for 4 gb.  Perspective is unlimited is $39/month. I know we don't need it but we also get it for an apples to apples comparison.

Google fi was $30/month for unlimited up to 6 lines.  So $180.month might be best deal. Mint was $35/month for unlimited plan.  Best deal was probably bewteen cricket, google fi, or maybe ting.  

So I walked into Tmobile and thought I'd get a line and I did.  But they offered us BOGO for $20/month including all taxes and fees for 2 cell phone lines. I thought okay for $20/month I get my business line and a free line for future use of my DK2.  So now we would be paying $138 for 5 lines and 2 tablets and I pay $20/month for a business line exclusive use and I do.

But getting a 2 new lines meant we could get 2 new phones on deal.  Since DH had a pixel 3 and I had a free phone from May of last year (DK1 had a new phone) I had a samsung a12.  So I decided DH's phone has been dying fast the battery so I told him pick one.  He picked the google pixel 6 pro for $899 but we paid $400.  I paid $99 for pixel 6 regular price $599.  $99 for a phone I have to say that is way better than anything I've had before.  I used it for my personal phone and instead am using the A12 for my business phone.  Yes it's a bit cumbersome keeping a personal and business phone but I sort of like the freedom of turning it off.

But overall I think we aren't doing badly.  Yes we have to pay monthly for our two new phones as "credit" and I paid the balance $399 and $99 in full this month.  But $160/month for 6 lines and 2 tablets is not a bad deal.  Free international roaming and unlimited data/text/messaging plus free hotspotting.  

We also get good service with T-mobile where we live.  So it's a plus.  The people at the store say that our plan is ridiculously good because it's super old and we are grandfathered in.  I don't know if that's true or not.  But I wonder at what point do we kick off my BIL and 2 kids? Or is this a permanent thing?

markets crashing

February 4th, 2022 at 06:35 pm

So we are down $300k for the year so far.  Easy come easy go.  $150k retirement and $150k taxable.  Okay then.  That is life.

That being said we had a pretty good spending money.  $1335 on our return expenses from hawaii.  $274 on eating out, $520 on groceries.  I find that no matter what I do, I've really been trying to use our pantry up, I can't get our grocery bill lower. I also found that we are eating less meat but the veggies and fruits are just so expensive.  I buy 2 lbs of cauliflower fresh is ~$4-5 and that's only dinner.  Then add in more fruits and veggies through the day and it's a lot.  Last night we had half a package of broccoli from costco honestly I should be making more veggies for the kids.  We tend to eat a lot of veggies.  For dinner 2 heads of cauliflower/broccoli, or 6 zucchini and squash, 2-3 pounds of brussel sprouts each dinner. Then cutting up bell peppers and cucumbers for snacks and I adore mushrooms in so many meals as a side (I tend to buy it and just lightly saute it).  Also we typically have a fresh salad and our meal.  And our meats while smaller now proportion wise is more expensive which explains why steak for us $50 from costco for regular and not even prime.

Also I give each kid a whole fruit for school snack but thanksfully they have the (pretty unhealthy) but free school meals.  I know it's not just me because all the moms are talking about how much they spend when the go to the grocery store. It used to be $200-300/week is turning more like $300-400 or more a week.  Most of them don't cook as exapansively so they buy the same things over and over (their words).  So they can just see the prices escalating because they buy a lot of the same meats, veggies, and fruit in the exact same quantities. I tend to buy what I feel  like making.  

Part of it is that I also think there are less sales and deals to stock up on non-perishables or cleaning supplies or anything.  So things are bit sketchy.

Well either way DH supposedly got a raise, unsure when or how much but heck we'll take anything. I also don't know if he's paying more for health insurance.

Our bills typically are

$3200 mortgage (2% arm)
$1000 property taxes
$350 insurance (life, home, auto)
$500 kids extracurriculars
$200 electric
$140 cell phones
$160 water
$100 gas
=$5650 month fixed and then we have discretionary (groceries, eating out, and everything else) plus savings.

Discreationary should be around $2000/month but we are struggling to stay there.

That being said I have my furnance and other charges to be paid by Marhc 2023. Started at
12/1 $13025.77
2/1 $15373.45

Hoping to make some serious headway these next few months.

How low can it go?

January 21st, 2022 at 07:01 pm

I just dumped my $2k into each child's ESA and $6k into our Roth IRA.  So $16k gone to investments.  Anyway I'm thinking of buying more QQQ. I buy etfs mostly and VOO and QQQ are big ones for me.  

I'm not sure if I should wait and see how much lower it can go or not. I don't monthly DCA I just dump usually Jan/Feb of every year the contributions that I spend the year accumulating.  This year I hope to accumulate it as well.

DH got a raise supposedly but I'm not sure how much and I'm not sure when we'll see it so let's just say it'll happen eventually.  Since I don't know how much the only thing I know is it was supposedly approved.

Unfortunately we also owe on our taxes this year.  Not as bad as prior years I think $1500.  Could be worse.  It's hard to say because of 1099 we are missing I have no idea what we will have in capital gains or distributions.  I can't believe 2021 is gone.

omicron the gift that keeps on giving

January 20th, 2022 at 12:38 am

The cases of omicron covid have obviously been rapidly spreading.  There is no more contact tracing.  And so many people are over it. They don't care.  They may have it but they don't care if they test or spread it around. It's an interesting dichotomy now.

People who are vaccinated just think whatever.  Sure let's go out and transmit it.  I don't want to change my life.  But what happened to the common good?  When you were sick before were you running around trying to spread the cold?  I swear all people are getting very rude.  I almost feel like people are more angry than before.  It's a weird thing.  

And people who are vaccinated are terrified as well.  Obviously because it's hard to avoid. I have to wonder people who don't care if they are spreading it, why won't you just stay at home?  Why won't you test and admit you have covid?  What's the problem?  It's not different than having had the flu.  So stay home and chill.

But instead it feels more like people are annoyed at covid.  Annoyed at each other.  Vaccinated people blame unvaccinated. And now they feel like they can behave the same.  I wonder what happened to realizing that sometimes what's best for society is best for everyone?  Like not spreading germs.

2021 wrap up

January 7th, 2022 at 08:26 pm

2021 was an interesting year for us in so many ways.  Financially we did well even with a paycut.  Our net worth went up about $500k.  We paid off 2% of our mortgage or about $15k.  We refinanced to a 7 year arm at 2% in June.  We currently pay ~$1400/month to rent our house and ~$1800 in principal.  We saved about 45% of our income even after the paycut.  

DH and I both started our own companies and not working for the man.  I'm self-employed and working solo.  We'll see how this year goes as my first year really doing it.  My DH started a company with others and is working like crazy as a founder.  It was a large risk but it appears to have paid off he's still working but it's going well.

We were fortunate to lose no one to covid this year.  Although my uncle passed away from old age my family did well overall for 2021 and that is amazing.  I'm hoping that 2022 is just as fortunate and everyone stays in good helath.  My DK1 was diagnosed with autism and it was a bittersweet moment.  Good because everything I thought and suspected was confirmed.  But at the same time it hard to hear and worry about the future had me stressed out for a month. I cried (obviously I blogged) a lot for a month.

But overall it was a good year.  I'm hoping 2022 will be equally well.  Happy New Year!  15 years (i missed my anniversary and so much has changed).  At that time we had a net worth of probably around $80k.  Wow. 

spending this year so far...budget blown in some ways...

December 8th, 2021 at 05:56 am

So actually I shouldn't say that.  Actually our spending hasn't been all that terrible.  There have been bad months here and there.  And overall we aren't blowing the budget out of the water.  A bit higher than perhaps it should be.  And a lot more than I would expect but honestly we are right where we need to be just about.  We have spent on average $7000/month on stuff outside our mortgage and property taxes.  With all that it's around $11k/month.  We are bordering on our $120k/year spend that I had guessed and estimated.  

Not terrible considering I didn't feel too deprived.  We traveled a lot considering it was covid.  We spent an entire month away and not grocery shopping.  We didn't track spending to the penny for the first 2 months of 2021.  Yet once we became conscientious we got a firm handling on groceries, eating out, and spending in general.  Had we had a handle on our spending these past few years we probably could have saved even more.  But i'm pretty sure we didn't spend as wildly as one would think, mostly it was just a bit more on traveling and eating out.  For us we had always pretty much only lived on base salary never bonus or stock.   Interestingly DH is getting a raise which we didn't expect and I'm guessing the money will go into savings.

But what happened?  Well I hate, hate, hate one thing and I have never tracked or added up before this one category.  Our spending on our pets.  So far this year we have spent $8703 on our dog this year.  This is tons of vet visit in Jan/Feb we spent $3650 on the his medical bills alone.  And in 2019 I know we spent like $8000 on his spleen removal surgery.  This is top of medications and vet visits month.  His average bill is like $700/month between prescriptions and vet visits, blood tests, etc. 

FWIW the orthopedic surgeon in January (turns out he had a torn ACL due to his weakening joints and ligaments from his condition) said he couldn't do surgery.  He also said he didn't expect him to live past 8 years and he's already almost 5.  It's amazing he's alive this long.  

Our last two dogs were not this expensive until the last 1-2 years of life and both had chemo.  One lasted about 11 months but had a week in the hospital in the beginning when we found the tumor.  The other lasted almost 24 months and during that time has tooth removal surgery and chemo and also a torn acl (no surgery though).  So we were pretty used to spending a lot money on our pets. 

I am not sure if this is because we keep getting dogs from rescue groups/shelters instead of buying a dog.  I wonder if next time we should buy a dog from a  breeder.  But then I feel so guilty spending that much but they seem to be healthier.  But do I really want to pay someone $4500 for a dog?  I mean yes i pay that to a vet, but at least we adopted a dog someone else didn't want.  Kinda like reduce, reuse, recycle.  

Anyway since I was tracking spending this year pretty carefully again I had a slight heart attack at the sight of my vet bills.  

Rent where you can buy?

November 24th, 2021 at 05:12 am

It's pretty obvious that it's usually cheaper to rent to buy. Also with the way things have been going it's become very apparent that rents haven't gone up at the same rate as homes.  It's also true that renting typically has always been cheaper than buying.  So if you wanted to say live closer you could usually rent a place cheaper than it would cost you to buy.  This is probably even more true if you have been renting say for 10 years.  The amount paid might definitely be lower than owning in this market.

So my friend who rents in our neighborhood has rented here for about 15 years.  She's gotten a great deal on a rental since she's lived there so long.  But now owning in our neighborhood and surrounding areas have gotten beyond their reach.  Because they've waited so long it's gone up way faster than rent.  And their income hasn't gone up by the same percentage. If you had to ask I would say that prices have 3x but their rental hasn't gone up by that much nor has their income.

So the question should they keep staying here?  She said that she's starting to realize how they don't fit into the neighborhood anymore.  The lifestyle that most people affording living here is substantially more than average.  I agree it's not normal, it's not like most of the US. It's a very priviledged, affluent area.  It's not how most people live. 

What brought this on?  The fact I mentioned that a bunch of our friends are on vacation for the week of Thanksgiving. They've pulled their kids out of the week and they are vacationing somewhere.  Some are going somewhere warm, others are visiting family.   She said most average people need the income of working the full week and I agree that's normal life. 

But at the same time it's part of affording the area.  That if you can afford to buy $1m home you probably have the type of job that affords you the privilege of taking a week off and vacation.  I didn't know what to say because we visit hawaii 2-3x/year.  But our trips to hawaii are cheaper than most since I know when to buy my tickets. I know how to work the system.  We also don't pay usually for hotels/rental cars and eating out isn't as pricey as someone going for  the equivalent amount of time. 

Our expense is paying for airfare but like this Christmas the kiddos and I are using miles and DH is traveling for $549 roundtrip at christmas which is an outrageous deal.  So total for family of 4?  $549.  Not what people usually pay for hawaii at Christmas for a family of four.   This summer?  I think we did miles again and DH came for $400 roundtrip which is again a great deal because of covid.   Hotel?  I think we paid $1000 for a couple days on another island and I did spend a lot on eating out the month with my parents so $1500.  But a month in hawaii for $3000 for a family of 4?  Again not possible for most people.  But would I come to hawaii if I weren't seeing my family?  No I would not. So it's not exactly a fair comparison.  I also watch airfares constantly and have updates can tell you when the price hits $149 or $199 one day per person. Sometimes I buy and sometimes I use miles.

But that being said, typically DH and I can afford our neighborhood.  Yes we live somewhat modestly but for the most part we probably make now what most people make in our neighborhood.  Before we were making a lot more than most of the people we live near.  Now we are average.  So I feel normal.  

But I get what my friend is saying.  They are barely affording their rental and no way can they afford to buy.  But their kids are in 6th and 1st grade and they are becoming more established.  But it's also becoming evident that they can't "keep up with the Joneses" which you don't want to do but it's hard to not notice.  To realize that you don't go to Mexico, Hawaii, Europe or Caribbean for vacation.  That every holiday you don't travel for a week and think nothing of it.  That you can't and don't drive high end cars.  That thrift shopping isn't the norm.  

So how do you deal with it?  I didn't know what to say.  I wouldn't live somewhere I couldn't afford. I would look at moving to be honest where I think I fit in and we are the average income if not higher than average.  Where we could own our house and still afford everything like everyone else.  Meaning the 1 week vacation we take a year is similar to others.  That the car we drive is similar.  

I know that we don't seem like our neighbors (the minivan and legacy) stick out like a sore thumb.  But it's by choice not because we couldn't if we didn't want to.  So I think that makes a huge difference.  Affording a nicer lifestyle but choosing not too I don't feel the comparison or jealousy.  But I think when you know there is a difference it's harder to overcome. To know that you are comparing your lifestyle with their. I can't help but think that it would be easier to live somewhere that you can afford everything everyone else can.  

So should someone rent where they can afford to buy?  Or is it okay to rent where you know you can never buy?

When your goal changes

November 16th, 2021 at 06:57 pm

So I have always said we'll save enough to pay for 4 years of college at a public in state university.  That has always been our goal.  It was a SMART specific, measurable, achievable, reasonable within timeframe goal.  I hypothesized $30k/year or around $120k per kid.  Potentially $40k/year so $160k.  We have 7 and 9 years left.  My DK1 has $104k and my DK 2 has $90k right now set aside for their college costs.  I think we are definitely on track with saving another $2k/year for the next 7 and 9 years.  5% returns gets us to $163k for my DK1 and $162k for my DK2 when they start college which is right on the high end of target.

But the equation recently has changed.  I realized (ephiphany) that I can't be so inflexible.  I do not want to forced my DK1 into a situation where she would be unhappy or set up to fail. Instead now I am looking at the situation retrospectively and thinking okay whatever she chooses we can manage.  We have a foundation to afford any college and I believe she'll go because she's smart and curious. I also think that perhaps a big public university is not a place she will thrive but she might need a smaller, more private setting.  I realize that we will not qualify for financial aid.  She might get a merit scholarship but I won't bank on that because who knows how she'll navigate high school.

But my DH has never wanted to quit earlier than the kids finishing college. To him he's seen that as the accomplishment of launching our kids.  For me? I thought he should be ready to quit by 50 if not sooner.  But as we've grown he's become more adament and I'm resigned that he won't be mentally able to retire or downshift until the kids are done.  I think moreso now understanding my older child and worrying about her future, he'll resist any sort of retirement until he feels she's secure.  

That being said I realize looking at things we might need to pay for a small private college.  Cost?  $60k/year?  Astronomically more than we ever planned.  I had hoped on gifting a wedding or house down payment and car.  Again in the cards but it means either we save and live more prudently or we work longer.  Also she might take longer than 4 years if she switches schools because it's the wrong fit.  I believe she's going to pick something that plays to her strengths and I believe that she will be able to accomplish any major she picks.  She's quite smart.  But I want her happy and I don't want her to also overload on courses so that could also determine if she needs longer to stay  than 4 years.

But what do to? I don't know. I need to look at a few more simulations of our portfolio, DH working, and decide.  Right now we are on cruise FIRE not saving much more than the minimum and on track to retire in about 13 years when the kids are done 2034.  But this new variable of doubling to tripling our college costs is quite difficult to prep this late in the game.

I'm embarrassed about myself

November 14th, 2021 at 07:21 am

 I'm writing this because something happened to me tonight and it really bothered me tonight and I didn't speak up. I realize I did the WRONG thing by not speaking up to offensive people.

I was sitting in a kitchen with a group of people, couple of neighbors and other moms/dads at a birthday party my DK2 attended. I realize that most of them might have been drunk and I did not drink anything. But I feel like people are being very honest when drinking and to be truthful I didn't much like any of the moms at that moment.

They were talking about a girl walking around the neighborhood calling her the "walk-around girl." That I could understand. This girl in 6th grade who walks around the neighborhood solo. That is fine a description when you don't know someone's name.  The name wasn't the problem.  It's how it was said, described, and the connotation.   It's the fact she was laughing that the girl was constantly smiling and occasionally it seemed flared/danced, or had a tic that caused her to behave a bit unusually while walking. I was curious about who the girl is because I wanted to speak up and say do you realize you are making fun of a child? And I didn't.

I feel sick to my stomach. The idea of this mom saying these things was offensive and I don't know her well but I knew I was wrong not speaking up to put that mom in her place. I should have and I probably would have ruined the mood of the party. Maybe I could have turned the mirror on them to reflect on their attitudes and mindset.

Is this because of my DK1? Yes and no. I would have felt offended even before because I have always been sensitive to knowing my DK1 was different. So I would never say someone else is different or make fun or comment because I always have worried about being judged.  Judged at how my DK1 behaved in public with some really bad meltdowns.  Judged at being a bad parent unable to "control" my kid.  Made fun of for my child that wore clothes that barely matched and marched to her own tune of just ignore all social conventions.  That "walk-around" girl could have been my child.  So no way would I ever say that.  I type this with tears in my eyes because I know this.

But yes I probably would not have been as offended before my diagnosis.  But it bothered me probably more than it should because of the sensitive place I'm in right now.  That now I can see even more clearly the kids who are "odd" and realize there are many other parents of kids who look "normal" who are struggling.  Who feel what I feel about being judged for my seemingly neurotypical child not acting "normal" but looking perfect.  That i'm a bad parent or neurotic for "giving" in to something that I know she struggles with like riding the bus.

I was wrong. I was wrong to sit there and listen. I was wrong to not speak up. But the question now is do I tell my neighbor that I was offended? I was going to tell her because our kids play together about my DK1 diagnosis and ask for an understanding in case when our children play something is said or misinterpreted. That's how another mom I know  said she does for her daughter. She will mention it to the other parent so they can can help smooth over rough edges for her daughter. But now I don't know. Would my neighbor even realize the offensiveness? Would they even care?

What happened to be kind? It's okay to be racially sensitive, gender sensitive? But mental illness or something like autism/add/adhd differences if not seen are ignored and allowed to be made fun of?   That being slightly different but looking normal is glossed over?

Should I say something?

weird thing

November 10th, 2021 at 11:51 pm

I got an economic impact payment of $1400 for my DK2.  It was weird. I filed a tax return for her because I wanted to carryforward losses I took for her in 2020. I want to capture some gains this year as well and pay minimal taxes for her.  So last March I sold VTI and bought VOO and QQQ.  I now have about 60% gains so I'm thinking of harvesting the VOO and buying SPY and then using the losses from last year to reset my basis.

These are just some tiny things.  But i'm wondering if I'm cashing the check makes sense? I wonder if I will have to return it.  We don't qualify for it.  Uggh.

Have you seen the inflation at stores?

November 9th, 2021 at 06:00 pm

I know that our biggest budget item and most noteworthy is groceries.  Eating out somewhat.  Travel sure we probably spend $ more.  But Travel is easy to track with airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, attractions, dog boarding, etc.  But the day to day spend is the one that's easier to cut and hard to keep track of.  But this year well I've been doing reasonably well I think. 

I have an excel spreadsheet tracking everything and breaking down categories and pulling to an annual statement.   Jan/Feb I spent an average of $1037 and $1056 respectively on groceries. Then when I got serious about our new budget I spent $313-820 from March to August.  Our eating out was $362 Jan and $45 Feb.  But March to August it was $112 to $1553 (month of august away).  

But these last two months our grocery bills are averaging $950 and $919.  The eating out bill has been $412 and $664.  Everything I feel these last two months has become astronomical.  I really noticed coming back from Hawaii end of August that groceries went up like on average 20%.  I also noticed how expensive 1 meal out for a family of four is running more like $100.  

So far this month we are at $160 groceries and $129 eating out.  I am hoping to stay under $600 for groceries and $400 for eating out.  

How my daughter with autism was different

November 8th, 2021 at 06:51 pm

So my kiddo was different from an early age.  But there are lot of other things going on that meant there was always an excuse for everything.  Everything that seemed off or was different was explained away.  It sounds ridiculous but it really was.  I was the only mom of a girl in a special needs playgroup of boys with autism.  As I write this I feel like I can finally say to every mom who talked down to me there "hey now that I'm one of you, do you respect me??  Now that I have the same diagnosis as you, you can stop telling me we don't belong.  We are taking a spot from a kid who needs it?"  I really struggled a lot when she was younger because when you are the only mom of a girl in a group of boys, often times you are bit avoided and shunned, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.  But a big part is that often times her interests were different and she was different.  She was as different from boys presenting with autism as she was from neutotypical girls.

I knew she was different when she could never join in with kids to play.  She would stand there and quietly watch from the sidelines, or playing by herself.  She would sometimes come to me and ask to leave and I would say can we try?  Can we try to fit in?  I always called her my square peg trying to fit into a round hole.  I didn't get it at all, except we both tried to fit in.

She had physical problems which is why she couldn't speak clearly and we needed speech therapy from age 1.  Same problems that plagued her younger sister.  We also did OT because she had poor fine motor and sensory issues with sounds and severe anxiety. This was often the diagnosis, you have a super sensitive child with severe anxiety.  Since my mom has OCD and severe anxiety I went along with it I mean when you meet my family it's pretty obvious.

She also never present with ADD or ADHD.  We would spend hours reading in the library and our daily routine was going to every library read/sing along. She knew every book, song, and word.  I mean the general day was reading for about 3-4 hours.  She memorized every fact of dinosaurs and animals.  She was obssessed with giraffes like other little girls loved princesses.  But I was never into princesses so I didn't think anything of it.  She wore only leopard or animal print clothes.  She got over certain types of fabric and clothes going over her head and zippers.  She ate everything I put in front of her.  So we muddled along with lots of social pragmatics playgrounds, speech, OT.  This continued for years.  The psychologist said the speech and OT might have taught her to self mimic and pretend so well she could cover and hide her problems for years.  Especially since she was gifted and it didn't have any real impact academically but clinicall significant was the difference bewteen most of her scores and her social score.  She is 2 standard deviations between academic and social.  She basically failed all social communications.

I accepted their diagnosis of anxiety because it made sense.  Yes she had no friends.  Yes she didn't ever have a BFF.  She couldn't seem to get over her shyness and make friends.  She never played with others in a public setting, but my mom was a terrible germaphobe and my DH wasn't exactly into it so I brushed it off.  She was the type of child who needed "playdates" with the same children to get comfortable.  Okay fine no biggie.  

Then she outgrew her fears of movie theaters, dark rooms, loud noises, etc.  We could watch tv again, she was afraid of stories that we "dark" with villans.  She enjoys watching shows like cirque du soliel, the circus, plays, music events, etc.  It took until about age 6 for this to pass. But I didn't care. We had a second child who wasn't ready, it was hard to do things anyway.  

Also when I had the second child I was in post-partum depression for a year and I struggled anyway.  And I was glad I had a super easy child that was potty trained and quiet.  She didn't like going to preschool which is how she ended up in the social pragmatics group.  But they told us that it was because i was a stay at home mom and made her clingy with her anxiety.  They said it was good for her and montessori where she would have been allowed to never talk and do her own thing I could see was the worse possible environment. So we went to a normal preschool where there was a routine and structure for 4 hours a day 2-3x a week.

But then elementary came and we seemed to be "fine".  We were outgrowing the fears, we could finally go to bed before midnight.  We seemed to be "normal".  Then covid happened. I could tell she wasn't talking during online schooling but there was nothing to be done. I couldn't be a ventriloquist.  It was an awful year at home.  But at the same time she finally made a couple of real friends.  She got it.  The constant proximity and space meant that she had a chance to develop something deeper socially. 

But now at 11 almost 12 and in 6th grade?  My daugher still doesn't speak at school to kids or teachers.  She is pretty much selectively mute.  She always looks sad and unhappy and depressed.  She is not part of the girl drama.  Emotionally the psychologist said she is 12-24 months behind which I can see.  She's outgrown OT and speech.  And now we just need help moving forward.

I'm trying to figure out what she wants.  I have people saying let her be.  I have others saying "work" on being normal. I'm not sure what she wants.  The let her be folks say maybe she doens't want human interaction or social connections.  That people with autism do not.  But then there are those who say they do.  I'm not sure what the answer is. 

I like to think that I think she does want a connection. She lights up at the thought of inviting her friends over for a sleepover or being invited.  She does smile with them and laugh.  That yes the support of being at home and being there and having other children over more seems better received.  

But trying to explain this to other moms is hard.  Explaining to others who say "she seems normal and fine" is hard.  Explaining why we aren't surprised is harder still.  The fact she can fake it so well makes me worried about what's behind the mask.

my long journey with my aspie girl

November 6th, 2021 at 01:06 am

I guess this is more a reflective post and not at all about finance but somewhere to write my thoughts and perhaps put it out there for other mom's of girls looking for answers.  This week my DK1 was diagnosed with autism at 11 years old nearly 12 years old. I remember I wrote on this blog how excited I was to be pregnant, and secretly thrilled to be having a girl (I really wanted one).  I remember my husband just hoping for a healthy baby and we were blessed to have a healthy baby girl. Amazing.  Spectacular. I probably spent the first year taking a picture a day to commemerate her life. 

Life with my girl wasn't easy. In fact it was super hard for a variety of reasons physically, mentally, and emotionally.  She was so hard but I never felt like I could complain or say how hard it was when so many other parents had it harder.  I heard about others being diagnosed with a physical disability or autism early.  Instead I had many services of early intervention and I knew something was wrong. She never slept and had so many sensory issues. 

I always felt something was different and observing from the time she was about 3 I could tell she was different.  But every evaluation, therapist, counselor told me she was fine.  She had sensory issues but lots of kids have that.  She was smart, talkative, intuitive, seemingly mature.  She was stubborn and difficult but that would "serve" her well in the future and was her personality.  She withdrawn nature was called shy.  Her introvertedness was personality. Yes she was in social pragmatics group from age 3 for her shyness.  But she never failed her evaluations.  They kept telling us that she was fine.  That she was just shy and quiet and needed some social skills.  Multiple evaluators said this. 

But what changed?  I noticed since they she never fit into a group easily.  She was less socially skilled than boys her own age.  She was less adept at being part of a group and never really played with other children.  She also lacked a lot of emtion.  She was very logical, smart, stubborn, strong-willed, and difficult.  She masked a lot of problems by being quiet, but it just seemed off. While she can make eye contact she struggles holding it.  She struggles having a conversation even with me.  A lot of answers are one word answers and she struggles to vocalize what she feels or thinks.  She has a hard time making decisions.

So why the problems?  All the benchmarks and studies and hallmark evidence are based on boys with autism.  Girls present differently.  Yet are judged on the same scale instead of their peers.  If it had been peer based we would have been flagged much earlier.  She obviously and very evidently behind her male peers let alone her female ones.  Yet even I as a parent knew something was wrong and worried.  But I let all the "professionals" tell me it was fine.  Tell me that we didn't need our IEP anymore.  That she was just quiet, shy, and introverted.  Nevermind that my mother's intuition worried me.

The mantra I've had has been I only want her to be happy. I really have felt tis way. I didn't care about her education and I was right.  She's gifted.  It compensated for a lot of things.  Turns out that her speech therapy and occupational therapy also might have helped masked the problem by teaching her to "mimic" appropriate behavior and responses.

On the autism scale she's not severe.  Instead she just has complete lack of social skills and social communication. Her verbal communication score was "very high" 95%.  Her verbal skills and matrix math skills were all 95%.  It's obvious when you ask her and force her to explain things.  But to hold a conversation?  Impossible.  Even now in school she struggles about talking to a teacher or other students.  This year she tested and did 8th grade math and english but according to the teachers hasn't talked to any students.  She placed at the 80% of 8th grade math as an entering 6th grader.  Her IQ score was 130.  But she hasn't spoken in school yet when she has to write and tested she was "very high" 95% again.  She also apparently has no friends.

She also looks so normal. She is physically perfect.  No ticks. no repetitive behavior, nothing out of the norm.  She is cute, nice hair, skin, teeth, great clothes.  Since we are "upper" middle class it shows in a way that being poor showed when I was younger.

Covid was hard and good at the same time.  It allowed her to develop a best friend. Something she's never had.  She's never had a close friend.  But this girl lived across the street and her parents both worked full time so she came over everyday.  It took about 2-3 months for her to finally break through my DK and start really talking but then she did and they became I think friends.  That BFF has been a godsend and amazing.  She totally gets my kiddo.  Her emotionally EQ is off the charts.  To understand that my kiddo can't talk to others she tells to others and explains.  She joked with my Kiddo and got her to smile for her school photo.  

But now the journey is different. It took us a long time to get here.  The struggle was and is real.  I guess I needed to vent and write about being a mom to a girl with "autism".  That I am a mom with an aspie girl and it was hard to get here.  The journey forward is just as challenging but in a different way.  Perhaps this is where I write it.  Perhaps on a blog. But now i'm just curious to see if others have found the same challenges for having a girl with autism.

<< Newer EntriesOlder Entries >>