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Archive for March, 2016

When to Replace Household Objects

March 29th, 2016 at 04:26 pm

There was an item in Apartment Therapy today: 4 Signs it's Time to Replace your Blender. I have a really old blender; really old. It was my grandparents' blender, and my grandma passed away in 1981. My blender is so old it looks like a prop in Mad Men.

Anyway, I thought I'd read the reasons why I should replace my old blender, and you know what? I didn't meet any of the criteria. My old blender still works well, so I'm keeping it!

I just had to replace my apple slicer (which we use a lot!) because it totally fell apart, literally, while slicing an apple.

But the blender (and most of my other very-old kitchen stuff) is ok.

I'm a little embarrassed that I even clicked on the link; sometimes I'm in too much of a consumer mindset.

What do you think?

Trip to LA - Difficult and Expensive

March 27th, 2016 at 02:27 am

For the past several weeks I've been calling my mom several times a day because her shoulder has been hurting her (she has frozen shoulder and it's on the mend, but she's been sleeping in weird positions, and now other muscles hurt).

We had planned to come out for Spring Break to visit my parents. I figured I could help out with things (dishes, etc). And I did a ton of housework, even changed out a broken dimmer switch so they didn't have to call a handyman.

What I didn't count on was that my mother would be in a super terrible mood (I get it, she's in pain). And the day after we arrived my dad's brother died (he was old and had dementia and wasn't doing well, so it wasn't unexpected).

My mother had all of the shutters closed so it was like night-time in the middle of a sunny Southern California day. She didn't interact with F at all. She went for a walk and I said, "Oh! Can I go with you?" and she said "It won't be hard enough for you." And I said "I just want to go hang out with you..." and while I was getting F a glass of water before I went with my mom, I heard the door open and slam shut; she'd slipped out without me.

The first night we arrived, we went out for dinner, and my mom was so agitated, she nearly got into a fight with another driver. F said she would never drive with my mom again.

I did all of the dishes the entire time, but my mom said she'd do them. I said "Is it because you don't think I'll rinse them well enough?" and she said yes. So I told her I'd do the dishes and if she wanted she could watch to make sure I rinsed them really well, and she did, and that seemed to work.

I made all of the food, but we weren't eating early enough, and she wasn't happy.

It was difficult.

Oh - and did I mention expensive?

I wanted to make sure that F wasn't shut inside that dark, dark house, and my parents didn't heat their pool. We played some soccer outside, and went to the park, but in my (probably misguided) efforts to make this a real vacation for F, I took her to the zoo and paid for the carousel and a churro and all sorts of other stuff. And we got her some clothes (which she needed badly and were budgeted for) but also got cookies and a lemonade while we were out (partly to extend the amount of time we were out).

Also - airport parking and the dog boarding place. We do have the money set aside, but it feels sort of sad to spend that money on a vacation if it's not pleasant.

We did some fun things (including the Broad Museum in downtown LA - super cool! It's free except parking, and you should definitely go if you're there). But F still declared "I am never visiting them again." Grandma was super short with her, and not very nice, and just wanted to watch scary news programs in bed. I explained Grandma wasn't feeling well.

We went to a nearby park, and I asked my parents if they wanted to go and just sit on a bench or something. They said no, they just wanted to play games on their ipads at home. But about 10 minutes after we arrived at the park, my dad showed up, which was great! I got a really sweet photo of him and F, and we got to watch the ducks and turtles together.

When we left, my mom sort of air-hugged D, tapped F on the shoulders as a hug and then kind of push-hugged me (hugged me and pushed me away at the same time - weird). When I called her to say we were home, she said "we're missing you already!" Really? I guess it's possible that she was happy to have us there, and really unhappy about her shoulder.

I'm chalking it up to that. Thanks for letting me vent!

Now - on to April, and hopefully a better month financially!

Wednesday... Tiny Splurge

March 16th, 2016 at 08:42 pm

This is why I don't like to carry cash in my purse... I ended up going by the wonderful bakery, and I had $10 in my purse, and, well.... now I don't. I spent $6.50 on muffins for the family. Not such a big splurge, and I guess sometimes these things just happen.

I would like to note for the future that I NEED to carry at least a square of good dark chocolate in my lunch... that way I don't freak out and buy muffins.

Anyway, I am now in the parking lot of school (yes, I have the internet password - which is awesome because I can also get work emails done at school). I'm waiting for F to come out; I have her muffin all ready in the back seat.

Tonight: soccer practice. We're back at the old racetrack. On Monday I ran 2.3 miles (that's two laps). I might just do one lap tonight... Free exercise!

Dinner tonight - it's supposed to be French Dinner... this is a family favorite and consists of yummy cheese, crackers, olives and a big green salad with lots of veggies. It's called French Dinner because that is what we basically ate every night when we were in France. Yum!

Tomorrow: I need to start thinking about packing, but I also have to work (and I have a jobsite meeting and a proposal due, so no slacking). Next week is spring break and we're going to visit my parents in CA. We leave Sunday (after the Saturday soccer game) and return Friday (before the next Saturday soccer game).

Visiting my parents, believe it or not, is a wonderful vacation for us (we all like living the LA life for a few days and my parents are great) and super frugal! Tickets from here are not very expensive, and my parents like to take us out to eat! But we have the kitchen, too, and my parents have a pool.

The first night we're going to see my cousin and his wife and two kids (who are a little younger than F).

We're also going to try to see the Broad Museum. Have any of you been to it? Not the best chance we'll get in, but we'll try...

And some hikes, trip to the beach, lots of Asian food!

It's Been a While!

March 11th, 2016 at 03:47 am

I have been so busy with work (that's a good thing) that I haven't really been able to post.

We are not buying much, but it's D's birthday this Sunday, so we'll be eating out. He also got a new pair of shoes and new suitcase for his bday...

Here is the current excitement in our house:
F's Select Soccer team is now a Gold Team! They won their promotion game and are now the only team (boys, girls, any age) from our soccer club playing Gold in the "big city" league!! They are so excited! The games will be hard, but it'll be good for them... they spent the autumn winning almost every one of their games and mercy ruling most of them, so they needed a bigger challenge.

All of this sort of dissolves when we go to birth year instead of grade level (soccer parents know what I'm talking about) at the end of the spring. Our team is cut in half - seven 2005 girls and six 2004 girls.

We have to drive about an hour to get to the games each weekend, and we have to pay $5 each time per car (for field upkeep). I went to the bank and got $40 in fives, and they're in my glove box (budget category: F's sports).

We also paid for camp... F will be doing 4 weeks of camp this summer (2 weeks of soccer camp and 2 weeks of circus camp). We save money all year so that the camp category is full when we have to pay for camp. The rest of the time we'll spend at the pool or at home or playing with friends.

We also got the summer pool membership already. This year we saved some money by getting a double rather than family membership; D only went a few times last summer. We always get a 10 punch guest pass, so D will use that guest pass if he wants to come. Just like camp, I budget monthly for the pool membership, so there was enough money in there for that.

I guess summer is all taken care of... weird to think it's only a few months away!

Are you thinking about/budgeting for summer plans? What does your summer look like?

Medical Spending but also some Snowflakes

March 2nd, 2016 at 08:08 pm

This has been quite the month for medical spending...
- D's new glasses (varifocals - so more expensive than regular, but he needed them) and eye exam - about $400 total
- F's trip to urgent care (bronchitis) - just happy that she's well now! - $75 plus about $10 for meds
- I just had to go to the ENT and instead of a simple office visit they did a very minor procedure (scar tissue from past sinus infections) - $274

Ugh.

I met with an accountant last year because I wanted to set up and HRA or HSA or something, but the admin costs for just one person was out of control. He told me just to take a distribution for healthcare expenses since I can distribute money to myself from my S-Corp. I budgeted a monthly amount, and with what we'd budgeted from our own budget and the distribution, I got the medical costs down to 0 for February! The $274 is still on there for March, but I think we can figure that out with underspend categories.

Here is the good news: snowflakes coming in!
- I got $100 from the gym
- Was able to transfer $323 from the Irish house
- Got a cash from credit card rewards of $133
- Tax return - $190

All of that goes toward the mortgage.

We were able to fully pay for our trip to Phoenix, too... it was a strange trip (both wonderful and terrible). The terrible was that F got bronchitis, and that trip to urgent care really upset her. But it was also wonderful.

F got to meet her hero, idol, role model - Meghan Klingenberg (best left back in the WORLD) - and spend the whole day with her. It was a soccer camp for girls, and Kling was with the kids the entire time. She personally taught F a skill, she even gave her a nickname! F is still so excited! (She was showing us "the dance Kling taught me" the other night - wow!) I was excited! She is super nice and funny - the perfect role model!