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Good Experience at the Tire Place

April 28th, 2020 at 01:59 am

I waited kind of a long time to get my snow tires off... but I finally made an appointment for this morning at a place I've been going to since I moved here 27 years ago.

They know me, and so I didn't feel uncomfortable asking if I could drive my car onto the thingy (what is that thingy called?) instead of having someone in my car. He said sure!

It was actually sort of fun, and they guided me onto it. Then I drove it back off. I waited outside while they did the work and even got some work done (brought my laptop).

I gave them my credit card, and they didn't make me sign. The credit card was the only thing I touched, but I used a paper towel. The total was $82.

So all in all a painless experience.

Then I went home and worked. I've been really productive, but for some reason today was kind of a low energy day. I did manage to do a load of laundry and work out our meal plan (fingers crossed the store has what we need for dinner).

Canceled our Summer Trip

April 26th, 2020 at 11:19 pm

We were supposed to be leaving on May 29th for Europe; even if things open up we all decided that we did not want to be on a plane, or traveling, or far from home. So we canceled our summer trip, and I'm super sad.

The good news is that we are not out any money.

- Plane tickets - United put the miles back in my mom's account (she gave us the miles) and also is crediting our credit card for taxes/fees. This was a straight cancel, not rebook or delay. I am super thankful to United, and we will fly with them again hopefully next summer.

- AirBnb - We had paid half, and while we don't get the money back, it is on account with AirBnb to use any time before December 2021.

- Travel Insurance - Travelguard said we can apply our insurance from this trip to a future trip, so next trip is paid for.

The only thing that hasn't been returned are the theater tickets. We were going to see Wicked for my daughter's 15th birthday (she is super sad, I am trying to work something out for her birthday) and they haven't canceled those shows yet. Pretty sure they will, and they said that if so they will refund our money. Again, hopefully next year.

Have you canceled summer trips?

Big Update - It's been a while!

April 23rd, 2020 at 10:40 pm

It has been a REALLY long time since I posted anything. Here is what's up:

- In toilet paper tracking news: we are using one roll every 10 days in one bathroom and one roll every 20 days in the other. I am sad that my weird habit is so relevant these days.

- We had a trip planned for March; I was sick, and went to the doctor, so our travel insurance paid for the cancellations. Still waiting for reimbursement.

- We have a trip planned in late May. We'll see what happens; we won't go (no way!!), but if the EU extends their travel ban just two more weeks (currently it's to May 15) then insurance will reimburse this too. We would be flying into the Netherlands. The sad thing is we were going to visit Ds family in the UK, too, and that is on hold for the near future. He talks to his parents daily via Skype.

- I am teaching my group fitness class on Zoom. I am not being paid, but I asked my members to contribute something to the gym owner because we'd all like the gym to be there for us when this is all over. It is a small gym, not a chain. I still have to buy the choreography and insurance, but it only amounts to about $25 per month. I was putting the remainder in my daughter's college fund.

- We received $136 for the airbag settlement fund and a $90 refund from the PT I went to, so I will put this into Fs college fund instead.

- My bank temporarily raised the limit for online deposits for my business so I can remotely deposit my checks. People are still giving me checks, and that means I have to pop into my office to get them. That's ok though since I only share the office with one other person (and I miss him a lot!). He's not often there. I pop in every Wednesday.

- Wednesday is when I pick up my CSA box from our local farmer's market. We decided to sign up because it supports farmers and we knew it was a way to ensure we had some good veggies on hand. This week's box had green garlic, daikon sprouts, Spinach, kale, a cucumber, dried apples, frozen blackberries and super cool looking purple carrots.

- Tuition for my daughter went up, but my husband got a raise, so we're ok.

I think that's about it! I hope you're all doing well!!

My work budget needs tweaking

December 23rd, 2019 at 04:15 pm

Before we settle in for a quiet night of Secrets of the Zoo at Christmas (in which, apparently, there are a ton of baby animals - therefore something we all want to see), I thought I'd write just a little bit.

2019 is coming to a close, and I am a little worried about 2020. My work has changed (fewer new projects, more HOA work, therefore less money). I am ready to budget more carefully at work.

This is separate from our home budget, but it's still a budget I have to manage. I'll be doing the 2020 budget in the next week.

D just had his performance review at work, and he is getting a raise! So a little pressure off the home budget. Still I am going to work my hardest to make sure I still make the same contribution to the family finances.

Still using the YNAB philosophy that "every dollar has a job" (but not using YNAB itself). My extra money from teaching exercise classes is being used for F's college fund. (It takes about $63/month for insurance, exercise releases and equipment).

I am recommitting to saving, saving, saving (we had an expensive couple of months) in January, with the exception of the new boiler we need (ugh).

My work budget needs to be slashed drastically, so we'll see how that goes. I am buying supplies today so that they're in this year's budget. I ran into the guy in the suite next door to see if he wanted to share internet but he's old and it just confused him that this could be an option.

Other work stuff: I have been slowly cleaning out the storage room. I have a great feed scanner, and I am scanning the contents of old file boxes so that I can toss the paperwork. I spoke to my insurance agent and he said 10 years is the statute of repose, but I want to keep electronic copies anyway. And I am archiving HOA documents, but need to scan those first, too. The HOA's have their own storage facilities, but they're not really convenient if I need to look something up (and for some reason I always do!).

My office also tends to become a dumping ground for things I don't want to store at home, so I'm working with those things, and selling a few things on Craigslist and ebay.

And the old samples are going to art teachers who can hopefully use them!

Hope you are also doing well, and wrapping up (ha, ha!) 2019! Happy holidays!!!

Trying to be Frugal

December 3rd, 2019 at 09:29 pm

I am trying so hard to be frugal, but it's hard right now. Some wins, some losses.

Here are some thoughts on spending and saving:

1. It's hard because we are going to Iceland in March and we need some clothing items (including thermals!). Actually they are probably things we should have gotten a long time ago (we live in a cold climate). I am trying to buy sale, sale, sale items where possible and have taken advantage of holiday sales. I put together a list in September and have been gradually finding things. It's like a weird scavenger hunt! Have not been able to find what I need in thrift stores.

2. When something doesn't work, I send it back! Amazon is great about refunds.

3. I actually got a compliment from the checker at the grocery store the other day on the quantity of groceries I got for my money. He said I was a good shopper!

4. I am slightly splurging on gifts for teachers (movie vouchers) because I want them to have something they can use.

5. My husband got a gift tag at work for a child; the girl (same age as our daughter) wanted a portable speaker which is cool because we got one for F, too, before he picked up the tag! So we'd already done our research. They were on sale at Target today. Got 5% off with my Target card. We can get her an itunes card, too, since we saved (no need to skimp on this one in my opinion!). Wondering about putting in a cute little cuddly toy, too... 15 year olds are still little girls, right?

6. My nephew is just 4 1/2 months old. So instead of a big gift, I am knitting him a little ball with scrap yarn. F still has the ball my friend knitted for her when she was little - squishy and easy to grab.

7. Going to the Twinkle Light parade this weekend (free, but we have to stand in the cold - but hey we have our new thermals!)

8. I got paid by the gym today - yay! $163! This money goes to F's college fund.

9. My lunch today was leftovers from last night: posole, two cuties and a couple of squares of chocolate.

Hope you are having a great day, too, and enjoying the holiday season!

November and Future Trip

November 19th, 2019 at 03:19 am

Hi! I feel really bad that I haven't written anything in a while. I've been saving money and spending money, still sticking with my budget.

I have developed a spreadsheet that works really well. It's based on YNAB, but I ended up divorcing YNAB for two reasons (that you couldn't carry over a negative balance and that it was expensive!). I still have buckets and every dollar has a job.

The thing I am saving for now is: college. It's not that far off (F is in 9th). So I'm putting all of our extra in there, plus $230/month from our budget.

We also have a big vacation planned for March: we are going to Ireland (to see family and friends) but stopping in Iceland for 5 days on the way back. The tickets were $1714 total for all three of us out of Denver and I had purchase eraser rewards, so in the end $1264. We have to drive to Denver. The 5 day layover in Iceland is free! I am spending a little extra because we have to buy some clothes (long underwear! Sorel-like boots) where there are gaps in our wardrobes.

So the key buy of the week were Aleader boots - they are cute, super warm and mine were $50. They look like Sorels; I can't wait to try these out this winter here in New Mexico - it's supposed to snow this Thursday, actually.

Other savings:
- I got at $10 credit for Amazon from Whole Foods
- I got a $25 gift certificate from Swagbucks
- I got a $13 Big Fat Check from Rakuten
- I bought Hannukah candles online for $4 as opposed to getting them from Whole Foods which is the only place that carries them here ($11!!!!!)
- I am knitting a cute little ball for my baby nephew for Christmas rather than buying more plastic stuff
- I am still making money teaching at a gym (and I've added running to my exercise routine - doing a 5k and also a shorter run each week; there is a nice track near our house at a local elementary school).

End of Spring Break - wahhhh!

March 25th, 2019 at 12:19 am

It's almost the end of Spring Break - we stayed at home during the break, and didn't do a lot, but we did relax. And we went to see our new professional soccer team (New Mexico United) play in Albuquerque (they play home games at our baseball stadium)... we saved money by bringing our own dinner, and we saw a ton of friends down there!

We ended up not going anywhere because D had to go back to the UK to see his parents, so that used up the vacation budget.

But we have a trip planned for early June - F and I will go to LA for my sister-in-law's baby shower (which I am hosting at my mom's house). Along with this, a day at Disneyland! Yes! Disney is soooo expensive, but we save by doing just one (very long) day, bringing our lunch and snacks and only eating out at dinner (we are going to have dinner at the Blue Bayou because F loves that).

So, it's back to work, back to school tomorrow...

The meal plan for the week is:
- Elote pasta
- Tuna melts and salad
- Tostadas
- Roast chicken with asparagus and rice (leftover chicken will be used for a meal next week)
- Stew from the freezer with garlic bread
- Crustless quiche

Lunches (with each one: fruit, chips, veggies and dip/hummus, a square of chocolate)
- big salad
- turkey/lettuce and boursin wrap
- avocado wrap
- burrito
- corn/green chile/cheese tamales

- hash browns with courgettes
- oatmeal
- eggs with stirfried leeks
- toast with peanut butter
- pancakes

Thinking about Banking Differently

March 19th, 2019 at 04:16 pm

So it's Spring Break!! D had to go to the UK to see his parents, but there wasn't enough for all three of us to go, and F has soccer and track anyway, so she and I are having a staycation.

Try explaining that to my clients, though! I've had to do at least some work every day. Thankfully, I can do some work while F is at practice. And she is also working on a musical about the suffrage movement (no, not for school; yes, she is a super focused person), so I try to do work while she's doing that.

I still haven't finished our taxes (I probably have one more hour to finish up - grrrrr).

And I am trying to figure out a workable banking system for us. My local bank is being bought by another bank, and I am seeing some really annoying changes. I have a business online account with Barclays and personal accounts with Capital One 360. I am thinking of opening an account with HBSC because they have an opening bonus, sweep money into there to earn some interest, and then using it to move money back and forth from our personal account so we earn some interest on the money we don't need right away. Specific categories we let build up are: household repairs/projects, vacations/rewards, camp. I could sweep in a lot of money, and return it to our account as necessary so that the bricks-and-mortar bank will act only as a check-writing bank. Have any of you done this?

Spring Break

February 17th, 2019 at 09:22 pm

So, Spring Break this year - a two week break, and we are staying put.

D is going to the UK to be with and help his parents ($713.53 flight plus rental car but no hotel or food because he'll stay with family). F and I are not going for several reasons:
- why spend an extra $1400 to go over there to only stay 1 week (when we go, we maximize our time there)
- F has soccer and track (practices, meets, games)

So we will give him a list of things to bring back (Nairn's rosemary and sea salt flatbreads and Tesco GF chocolate wafers which are like kit kat for F), and then plan a fun couple of weeks.

On the agenda:
- a chocolate tour and tasting at a local chocolate factory that was a gift (so no charge to us)
- trip to Albuquerque to get lunch, hopefully find an 8th grade graduation dress
- online scavenger hunt (also already paid for Christmas present)
-a splurgy lunch out (not somewhere expensive, it's just that we are normally pack lunch people)

The weather will probably continue to be cold for a while, so that eliminates a lot of outdoor activities, but if we get some nice weather, we can go on some hikes. Or just play board games at home.

My daughter is such a great kid - she says she doesn't care about going places and that all she wants is to go see her new cousin in August in San Francisco (and see Hamilton!). Her friends will be going all over, though - one skiing in Pagosa, one to Belize, etc. What are you doing to make Spring Break special?

Raise v. Expense Increases

February 15th, 2019 at 06:06 pm

My husband got a raise this year- yes! Not a huge raise, but we are super happy! The result is $98.90 per month net.

Now for the increases in expenses for 2019:
- 83.33 more to the IRAs which gets us to our limit
- 58.67 increase in F's tuition
- food cost increases - our old food budget is not cutting it anymore - probably need to add about $75 more a month to be safe but $50 more would be ok

So budget needs to change by about $192 and we have $98.90... need to find another $93.

One way to do this is to take money out of other categories:
- 20 from karate (since she does so many sports that there isn't time for a lot of privates and the testing will slow down, too)
- 10 from camp (since F doesn't really like camp anymore and will do one or two at most - one karate and one soccer)
- maybe some money from the tuition savings (we try to save a little extra each month) to offset the tuition increase

Another option is a small distribution every so often from my business, but I hate doing that.

What categories do you use to offset budget increases?