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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.

Meal planning

October 24th, 2021 at 08:21 pm

I hate to admit but I hate cooking.  I'm still getting the hang of cooking enough.  I mean my kids eat like adults so now I need to double meals more because I find I have to still cook daily (VERY annoying) versus once and eating for 2-3 days.  So my goal has always been to cook have enough leftovers for another meal.  Well now that's not happening and sure the costs suck but it sucks more to cook everyday.  We also NEVER have enough for a meal so we have to wait till the end of the week and do a leftover night so that there is enough food for everyone to eat a leftover and finish it! Lunches is scrounged because it's just me unless it's a weekend and we cook or get takeout

18 - leftovers
19 japanese curry
20 leftover japanese curry
21 lunch - leftovers, stuffed bell peppers
22 lunch - salad, family leftovers (eat from week)
23 lunch - hot dogs, dinner - roast pork from chinese market $46.27
24 lunch - leftovers, dinner - out with friends

I'm looking at hello fresh.  It looks like it would be cheaper than what we pay. But of course i can't tell.  I haven't ever done those meal plans and my friends say it costs $135 for 4 meals for 4 people.  But there are leftovers.  So the question is how much does a family of 4 doing hello fresh really spend?  Obviously there are going to be other costs so it's hard to estimate if these meal planning kits which have supposedly less waste are more economical than shopping. I don't know. 

Does anyone else do it?  How do you find it? Have you done a price comparison? Do you do it because it's easier and not more cost efficient.

Inflation is crazy

October 19th, 2021 at 09:38 pm

Inflation is crazy right now. You can just see it everywhere.  In my car mileage sheet the year started 1/7/21 with gas at $2.60/gallon. My recent fill up a week ago was $3.60/gallon.  38% increase in gas in 10 months. 

Eggs were $1.79 for an 18 count at target in July 2021 is not $2.49 for the same 18 count.  Sugar 4 lb white bag was $1.79 it's not $2.49.  Dark brown 2 lbs sugar was $1.59 it's $1.99.  Chicken breast and thighs boneless/skinless was $2/lb, but now I'm lucky to find $2.49/lb.  Stew meat was $5.49/lb and now it's $7.49/lb.   I also think the sizes of things like chips, cleaning stuff have all shrunk an oz or two not easily discernable but it's the same "price" but you get less.  

Definitely you get less eating out.  I mean 3 bowls of noodle cost us $55.  I think the same restaurant last year was maybe $45?  This is for takeout.  Then on Sunday I had a girl scout troop event of pizza, pumpking carving, etc outside.  And I ordered pizza with troop funds.  It was $153 for 4 pizzas delivered.  Yes it was not dominos/pizza hut and higher end.  BUT $40 a pizza?  Pizza is supposed to be a cheap meal for people.  We had 10 adults and 10 kids.  Let's say for our family of 4 we ordered one pizza for $40.  Okay I could have saved on tip $20 and delivery $5.  But it's pizza.  The pizza itself was like $33 plus tax.  A large pizza at dominos was $16.99 plus tax and delivery.  So I was looking at $100 at a cheaper pizza.  Yep dominos still would be $100 to feed a group?  Pizza is supposed to be cheap food to feed large groups.  Not expensive.

Last year I spent $1000 on groceries and we weren't eating out because of covid, and I felt we ate like kings.  Lobster, steak, high quality meats, veggies, etc.  I could buy what i wanted for the family for $1000 and it might include alcohol.  Now last month I spent $990 and I certainly was not buying as much meat, nor seafood, nor as much fresh veggies.  It's crazy.  

And certainly from last year I have noticed how expensive eating out has gotten.  I felt like before okay a meal out was $60-70 mostly ethnic food takeout.  But now it's more like $100 and that's takeout same restaurants and same meals but smaller portions and each dish is couple of bucks more.

Am I going nuts?  Is this going on everywhere?  Does anyone else feel this?  I swear it really started ramping up as the summer ended. I don't think I felt quite this way before.  And of course part of it might be that we are living on a new budget, but still I feel like 6 years ago when we lived on the same budget it wasn't so tight.  I shopped easily on $600/month groceries very similiarly to my last years $1000/month so there was some inflation and my 5 and 3 year old are now 9 and 11 and eating adult portions (sometimes more than us).  But  price per pound is substantially more.

I think my family's noticed that I am really not buying takeout and going out to eat is minimal.  Now one takeout meal is $100 that going out once a week is costing us $400/month. Before $400/month was like 2x/week eating out.  

With gas, clothes, food, everything seemingly more expensive the budget just feels tight.  Have you even felt any inflation?

Should you overbid on a house?

October 14th, 2021 at 06:29 pm

That's an interesting question.  Should you overbid on a house?  Probably not.  Does it matter if you do? I think it depends on your reason behind it.   First off sometimes people list homes lower than they know it's worth to get a bidding war.  So prices are not normally that low.  Second the price of homes also change especially in the spring when you see the prices escalating which will carry through the rest of the year.

The house we bought we went 30% above list price to win.  We paid $2500 more with an escalation clause than the next highest bidder.  So in theory we "overpaid" but only by $2500 because there was someone else interested in buying the house for $2500 less than we paid.  

Why did we do it?  We had a reasonable budget for buying a home.  But the market in 2017 was very hot and we had lost out on a few homes that we had been lukewarm about.  Finally when we saw this home we decided we were all in.  Mostly because the location was prime and exactly what we wanted.  It was the smallest house we had seen and needed the most work.  But the location was ideal and prime compared to the other homes we had bid on so we wanted it. 

Because of our budget and our observation from looking for houses for almost a year, we noticed that most homes were going in bidding wars.  Most people were going 20-30% or more over list price.  So we decided the smartest thing to do was not go to our limit but step down our "needs" in a home and bid on lower homes we were more likely to win.  This was probably the biggest factor in getting a home.  Managing our Needs versus Wants.  I find a lot of people have somewhat unrealistic expectations for what they can afford.  The dream house is only affordable the further out they move often times.  Rather than living smaller they move farther.

We did the opposite.  We scaled back our expectation of home size and quality and bought something much smaller and needing work as opposed to moving further.  I'm not sure it was the right decision for everyone but it was for us.  A lot of that stemmed from we had never lived bigger so we just didn't jump into a huge home.  

Even now the 2040 sq ft home feels tight and small.  But it's the biggest place we've ever had with kids or ever and we have an attached garage to boot.  So while it's not a dream home it's pretty lovely and nicer than what we had or grew up with.  I had a carport and DH had detached garages.  Our homes growing up were 1970s tract home 1200 sq ft 3bd/2ba ranch homes pretty identical.  This is substantially nicer than what we both had.  

The cost of buying even overbidding was a wash.  In 2017 the going rent on our place was around $3500-4000/month that's what the neighbors got for their rental.  It's now closer to $4500/month.  Our PITI with a fixed rate is $4800/month but that's likely to go up with property taxes going up.  Currently we are at $4100/month but it's an ARM mortgage and lower PT.  Why was it a wash?  Well our principal in 2017 was $1587 and interest/property taxes escrow was $2998.  So it came out to about the same as renting our place if not a little cheaper.  So overbidding on our place was still the better deal than renting. 

The calculus now?  $1400/month interest plus $1000 Property Taxes = $2400/month to rent our place.  Our principal payment is $1717/month enforced savings.  Also our location is the most resistant to price decreases because of proximity to things and we bought the smallest home in the nicer neighborhood.  All these things were factored into our decision.

I had no idea we would be "renting" our house for what we used to pay in rent $2400/month in 2015-2017.  I guess my point is that housing is a hedge against inflation. It's a great way to fix your costs if you can see yourself staying put. It's if you overbuy or aren't sure if you are staying that it becomes a huge risk.

money flowing out

October 5th, 2021 at 08:06 pm

It's interesting to see all the money flowing out right now and being very aware of it happening.  Looking at my budget and thinking gee, I really need to watch my spending.

1. Brakes for Subaru - $700 the front and rear need the brake and rotors done.  It's 5 year old car and 46k miles.  Apparently it's due.  I had it checked at the dealership and a mechanic and both said it's due. 

2. Clarinet for DK2 $770.  If it's not one thing with kids it's another.  As they get older there is more money out the door.  I've considered renting but $30/month adds up and within 2 years that will be the cost of the instrument.  Inflation is rampant.  I bought DK1 flute for $580 3 years ago and i believe it will last until 8-9th grade.  In which case I will be getting her a much nicer not beginner flute.

3. Furnace $15k but I'm going to apply next week for a credit card at 0% financing.  But that means we are paying $1k/month for the next 15 months and not saving that money.

4. Increased property tax bill.  The assessed value of our home went up $200k in 1 year.  Yay for that but boo because it means a much larger tax bill. I also suspect that it'll keep on going up rapidly for the next few years.

I'm so glad we paid off our cars last year and our only bill is our refinanced mortgage.  It does ease my mind so I'm a bit worried about the 0% credit card.  

What happens when you aren't paid?

September 30th, 2021 at 05:50 am

When you aren't paid what happens?  Thankfully for our EF nothing.  I logged in and moved the paycheck amount from our sink fund into our checking account to cover our mortgage and bills.  Days like today I am pretty grateful I took the lowest common option and did the refinance from 30 year fixed to 7 year arm.  As ridiculous as it sounds the extra $720/month still went to savings but it just feels like if we had to we could cover the $3100 easier tha $3800.  

But this non-payment is probably standard for a startup.  Yes they have money but it's outsourced and there was a problem proabbly because it was a 3 paycheck month.  I suspect this sort of snafu will happen when you outsource the work.  Just like how we are navigating our new helath insurance which isn't as comprehensive as DH's last job but better in many ways because it's a better network (blue cross blue shield versus aetna).  Aetna was the worse because no one took it.   

Because of this I think that we are definitely looking at spreading out the cost of the new furnace. I think that outlaying $15k in one go doesn't make sense since we may have to cover this type of mistake again.   If people wonder this is what an Emergency Fund is for.  To not stress out about covering your expenses.  I do think Dave Ramsey is correct in being gazelle intense about debt.  But I disagree about $1000 baby EF.  That wouldn't cover half of our mortgage payment. If it were me I'd probably have an EF of at least half a month of expenses plus my mortgage payment.  Otherwise I don't know what I would do if we had only $1000 cash.

My progress budgeting

September 24th, 2021 at 07:57 pm

So I've always struggled budgeting.  Even before with less money I've alway reversed budgeted.  Figured out what was important and what needed to be saved and then spent the rest.

This time I'm sort of doing it but also sort of tracking my spending.  I've been reasonable successful at tracking eating out and groceries which are the budget busters.  It's easy to track airline tickets, hotel stays, or big ticket one off spending.  It's even easy to track monthly kid activity.  But I've found that miscellaneous spending, eating out, groceries seem to get away very easily from me.   Plus before our income seemed to be a bit of a mystery with bonuses and stuff.

Now we are on a strict income only with taxes and medical and it's the same amount every time.  We are netting $5800/pay period which is biweekly.  This needs to lower around $5400/pay period.  That means 2 extra paychecks a year.  But it's easier to budget $11600/month than it is to spread it out. The biweekly paychecks I was thinking should probably go to savings so we automatically save $11600/year getting us close.  This year we've saved close to 40% of our income but it was an odd year for income.

$3150 Mortgage
$720 Robinhood (extra mortgage)
$3600 Spending
$1000 property taxes
$1000 sink funds/savings/travel
$1500 Roth/ESA

We've been pretty good at sticking to this.  The only small problem controlling the sink funds/traveling.  I'm not sure we'll be perfect but we are trying.  I've been trying to maximize not paying cash for anything travel related and using all our miles and points. 

We also decided to spend $15k on the A/C furnace.  We decided even if we stay 2 more years the people who buy it from us might think a house worth $1m+ should have a new a/c furnace.  I'm going to try to get it on a 0% CC for the next 15 months with a 2% cash back credit card.  Then we'll make monthly payments instead of using all of our sink funds right now.  

the market and my Adjustable Rate Mortgage

September 23rd, 2021 at 05:53 pm

So in June we refinanced from a 2.875% 30 year fixed rate mortgage to a 2% 7/1 adjustable rate mortgage.  Previously in September we had a 3% 7/1 adjustable rate mortgage that we were given a free fix rate when we were about to refinance.

So how's it been going?  Well we were paying in May $2035 in interest and $1808 Principal.  Now we are paying $1405 in interest and $1717 in principal.  We are saving $720/month in payments most of it interest.  I have saved it for 4 months and October 1st I'll transfer another $720 to our index fund VIOO.  VIOO is a small cap index fund. I thought something broad but risky.

Sadly we are actually down and losing 1.4% on VIOO.  But until we sell, refi, or pay off the house I'm curious if I can get ahead by keeping on investing the difference in payments.  Trust me I've been tempted to not save it but I'm curious.  We've been on a pretty "tight" budget and sticking to it has been hard.  But moving the $720 on the first of every month seems to be working.   Let's see how a year goes.  It's a dollar cost averaging strategy into a risky sector index fund.  But it's a low cost and broad sector index at the same time.

Travel is coming back

September 22nd, 2021 at 08:34 pm

Well at least for us.  I booked a ton of reservations.  It's interesting that I decided that 2022 is it.   Started with Christmas 2021.  We are going back to Hawaii. I booked using a combination of miles and points.  Then I booked our tickets in February 2022 to Mexico.  Using the travel companion fare on Alaska it was $1500 for the 4 of us on the only direct flight.  We also paid for today our friend's timeshare for $1800 for the week.  It's a very fancy resort and for $1800 we got a 2 bedroom suite.  That is huge considering that $250/night is not unreasonable nowadays especially for a 2 bedroom suite which technically can fit another family.  If we wanted to save money we could easily invite another family for $800 for the week.

Finally I booked a flight to Canada for DH's cousin's wedding.  I finally snatched up and used our united airlines miles.  So we booked 4 tickets for $12 each and 26k miles.  Considering we've been sitting on our miles for years and never earning or using them.  I'm glad to be over and done.  1 less account to worry about.   We basically now always fly hawaiian or Alaska mostly because we want to fly direct.  Flying direct is a premium always.  This is also why using our unused miles is so nice.  We get to use miles we don't earn anymore and we get the only direct flight considering alaska didn't have any direct flights!

I am so excited right now.  Last hold up is DH's passport.  He sent it off for renewal this month and they said 18 weeks.  That puts him at January.  But I think we should be fine by then.  

Can you feel the energy?  I think life is getting back to normal.

College is what you make of it

September 16th, 2021 at 01:21 am

My cousin's daughter is in her 2nd year at college.  She is going for free at a cal state college and living at home.  She had a 2 year tuition free scholarship.  Amazing.  So she's going to have 2 years of university for free and then transfer to a different UC or Cal-State and finish up.  So amazing.   She plans on being an elementary school teacher which as people know is not the best paying job but an essential one.  Since it's not high paying it's pretty amazing she's able to do it with minimal output.  This will mean she'll be further ahead when she gets out!

On the flip side I have a client paying for UC Davis $70k year out of state tuition.  I'm not sure what his kid is doing in their 2nd year as well. He has another child about to go and he's again estimating $70k, so he'll be shelling out $140k in tuition and living expenses a year.  

You can see how on both sides of the coin college can be as cheap or expensive as you choose to make it.  What will I do? I don't know.  But I'd like to believe that I'm being flexible.  I am on track to have 4 years saved at an in state college tuition/living expenses.  I am on track for about 2 years at a private/out of state school.  And I've saved both in ESA, 529, and taxable so there is a ton of flexibility on what the girls might choose to do.  I will admit seeing the $70k price tag gave me a bit of sticker shock and fear over what it might cost me.  If my kids went that route $300k seems a bit insurmountable.  We don't have the time now with 11 and 9 to save that much nor will we get there with what we saved.

Sink fund?

September 10th, 2021 at 08:33 pm

So I'm leaning more and more to a new furnace and AC.  Our furnace is 19 years old.  It will cost us around $13k all in (another estimate) with 15% costco cash back rebate.  Includes permits and electrical work all done and disposal.

I know it would be smarter to at least use the AC from the other person and pay only $6k.  But I'm not sure that's what I really should do.  We can sell it with a new AC and new furnace.  But the money.  Do we have it? Yes.  Do I want to spend it?  No. I sort in many ways want to put it on a credit card and pay 0% for the next year.  Unfortunately they aren't offering that right now.  

I have $11,500 in sink funds right now.  We've managed to cash flow everything.  The question is do we use that up?  Do we go with the $6k option?

sometimes i just wanna vent..

September 9th, 2021 at 12:52 am

Nothing financial.  Nothing about finances but just write a vent.  Please read with a grain of salt that this is just me complaining. I've lead my DK1 girl scout troop for 4 years now. I have lead it solo for the past 3 years.  Even the 1st year I lead it (2nd grade brownie) I did everything and the co-lead showed up.  Since then we've done a rotation of parents signing up to stay and help but never lead.  Okay I was with the program but it's exhausting. I have always had 12 girls until this past year and covid. I started September 2020 with 8 girls and the parents were great.  But it was mostly virtual until around May 2021.  I had 3 girls drop/move away.  So I was left with 5 pretty dedicated girls. I had 2 that I lead to a Bronze award (yay! cheers!) and the other 3 contributed intermittently.

That being said with such a low number and hoping I could finally have help yesterday I met with another troop out at a playground for pizza to see if we couldn't run meeting in parallel or merge.  The other troop had 3 girls and 1 new girl.  We had previously been combined but due to high interest split.  

Well the girls got along great.  But the other troop leader and new "co-leader", I was happy at the thought of not leading anymore weren't really interested.  We discussed when we would meet and the answer was "whenever we feel like it."  Where we would meet?  Outdoors and then when the weather turns who knows.  It's too far in advance than tomorrow.  I said have we settled on how many times or how long or are we always masked and space?  The other mom said to me "i don't know about anything more than today."  It's too much planning.  She said it's not about earning badges, learning things, activities.  They just wanted time to socialize and get together and hang out.  A clear case of this was her thought that she had earned a bronze award badge for doing paint collecting, but hadn't bothered to read the requirements or process to do it.

I went home disappointed.  Fortunately I got a text saying we were way too different in expectations of running a troop.  When I had heard of her activities I thought that it's because she's low key. Instead a lot of activities were just watching movies at home, eating pizza, playing, no camping, no learning, no contributing to society. I get it, it's a social activity and the main purpose is to make friends.  But I sort of wanted something more.  An expectation of doing more.  

My husband gave me a hard time when I got home.  Yes I'm a little controlling.  But he also said truthfully there's a reason why people drop it?  And this totally fits the troop leaders personality.  Why didn't I see this?  I don't know but I am thinking maybe it'll be totally easy and manageable with the girls getting older and 5 girls who seem to really like it?  It's a big difference than babysitting those who don't want to do it.

A/C update

August 31st, 2021 at 10:55 pm

The HVAC guy from our neighbor gave us a couple options.

1.  $3k - install neighbor's 10 year old furnace, 5 year old a/c

2. $6k - install new furnace, 5 year old a/c

3. $15k - install new furnace and new a/c

DH and I are at a crossroads.  Our furnace is more thn 20+ year old.  We are on borrowed time.  We are planning on doing a/c and furnace, but unsure what to do.

Next week I get one more quote and then we probably need to make a decision.

thinking about a/c

July 13th, 2021 at 07:02 pm

DH and I were discussing what it would cost and whether we should put in a/c in our place.  We moved in 2017 and didn't do it when we did a major remodel of our house.  We had a furnace and I had a few HVAC guys come and talk to us.  They said our furnance was old and would have to be replaced within 5 years.  It was 20+ years at that time.  They said if it were them they would wait and do it later because we were spending a lot and why not just wait until it started to give problems then do everything at once.  Made sense right? 

I mean we had just poured in $50k in our place in cash, then we had $10k for the driveway coming up after we finished the renovations, and we ended around $60k for the renovations then we waited a year for the stuff to settle and poured the driveway.  During this time we totally forgot about the A/C.  Then last year covid happened and we built the shed that was around $20k.  So we've now sunk like $90k into our house. 

I will say every penny of the renovations I have enjoyed. I am so glad we did it as soon as we moved in and lived upstairs while we did downstairs and garage.  Even if we don't see a return on investment we enjoyed it that the $ for $ value of the renovations are worth it.

The question now is whether the new furnance with A/C is worth it?  I mean I don't know how long we'll be here so we probably won't get as much pleasure out of it as if we had done it back in 2017.  But at the same time we did save the $10-15k it'll cost us then for now.  On the con side we have less money now than we did then due to our circumstances.  The pro side is our house has appreciated a ridiculous amount in 4 years and we made back our renovations and more by a lot.  

So will this renovation pay off? I have a call into costco to get pricing on what it will actually cost us to do this replacement.

how to get a new car - it's easy

July 11th, 2021 at 01:31 am

Interesting thing happened today. I drove up and used my prepaid Toyota Sienna oil change packet.  It is synthetic and they had a deal of $300 for 5 oil changes at the dealership.  Cost about the same as going to a jiffy lube. Oil changes are expensive now!

Anyway I drive up and the guy comes to my window and say they'll be with me.  How do I like my car?  I say it's great I have no complaints.  Just got back from a roadtrip and planned it this way.  He says your car is very desirable.  AWD minivan. I say great.  He says they just redesigned the toyota and it's a hybrid. You would have saved a lot of money on the road trip. I say probably true. I'll get to that post tomorrow.  I say that's amazing.  He says would you like to trade in your vehicle?   I can get you in for only $200 a month or maybe even less.

I'm sitting there in shock. I'm like not really.  I can't have payments right now.  But he's like we can work with it.   I tell him but here's the deal I don't think you can.  I want the highest model with all the bells and whistles and leather and DVD player and hybrid.  He says you can afford it more than you know.  All of them come with hybrid batteries.  Nice the mpg is 36/38 city and freeway driving.  But a new car?  Another payment?  No thanks.

But it was crazy to see how smart the dealership was.  Asking about my car and telling me how much I liked it and how great the new car was.  I could easily see how it would be to want the new car.  I will admit for a second I was tempted.  But then I remembered. I just refinanced to afford saving easier. I have a paid for car for almost 1 year of no payments.  Wouldn't it be nice to never have payments again?

Spending, saving and more

July 1st, 2021 at 04:58 pm

Where do I start?  Well I guess our retirement is on track at $1.5M we breached the number, up $280k from the start of the year.  We completed our refi to $845k @ 2% for 7 years.  I saved June and July difference of $720 into Robinhood and have $1443.  I'm investing it into VIOO (small cap index).  It'll be an interesting experiment if I can significantly invest in VIOO and help offset the potential increase in rate.  Of couse that's using the assumption I keep the house that long or don't refi again.  We did with our numbers hit our FI before DH's 45 birthday so that's good.  And no we aren't going to do it though.  And interesting tidbit is we have saved since the beginning of 2021 $79476 and if we count last year's savings of $16k for Roth/ESA in january then we are at $95473 for the year. My end of year goal is $100k (so $6k or $22k).  That $22k seems like  a large stretch.  $78k is about 29% of our gross saved.   

Spending in June was pretty good.  $669.45 groceries, $435.92 eating out, $438.91 dog, $519.73 (current trip gas and alcohol), $245.93 Gas (went camping and clamming), $400.63 Utilities plus other categories $3668.  Not a terrible month.  I was budgeting aroudn $3600 so we are on track. 

I moved $9k to our brokerage today wiping out our sink fund.  So we have $8k property taxes and no sink funds.  Things I see in August are our auto insurance and kids activties we need to pay.  I would guess around $3k.  But we have $4k in our checking just sitting so I'm debating moving the next two paychecks $1000 each to sink or brokerage.  

I have to admit once things go to our brokerage they don't ever come out.  So it's basically gone like our retirement.  I think that's why I struggle with moving money to our brokerage accounts from our cash savings.


An update - it's been a busy 2 weeks of june

June 15th, 2021 at 06:50 pm

Where should I start?  Guess with the most interesting.  DH's company turned down the buyout.  They didn't want to go back and work for a Megacorp.  I was surprised but at the same time someone pointed out they left their soul-sucking jobs to do something they believe in. They made enough money already that making more money didn't seem the point.  I can't believe it.  I'm glad because my DH is happy and still moving forward.

Spending for May

Groceries $454
Eating out $473
Alcohol $242.50
Dog $831.59
Travel $1802 (paid for August VRBO)
Utilities $752
Kids Camps/activities $1502
Business LAL $2491

It was a very spendy month. So good thing we refinanced our mortgage last week June 10th. No payment until August 2021.  We are doing pretty well though with our spending otherwise.

EF $40k
Property Taxes $8k (done for 6 months ready for 11/1 Payment and insurance in August)
Sink $5000 (haven't had to touch yet)
Roth $2000 (already saved $10k this year moved it)
Robinhood $700 (my difference in refinance and old mortgage June $700 saved!)

I believe we managed to save $2k from last month and float all the extra charges without touching our sink funds which is what was part of the budget.  My goal is to pay our insurance without really touching the sink funds or property taxes in August (home $1200, auto $1000, umbrella $300) and then also still continue to save $700 7/1 and 8/1 and 9/1. I invested the $700 in small cap ETF Vanguard IWOO

Our networth was up in May by $3886/month.  The markets were down.  But we are up for the year $293469.  Also I did not move the needle on the value of our house.  It appraised by the bank lower for sure than what we could get and a lot higher than what we paid.  



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