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July Wrap Up

August 5, 2020

Net Worth and Money News

The major money news this month is that we started the process of a refinance! I looked at refinancing into a 15 or 20 year mortgage, but I couldn’t pull the trigger on a 15 year and the rate on the 20 year was not any better. So, we’re refinancing back into a 30-year mortgage at 2.75%, although I fully expect we can pay it off much sooner if we so choose. We did have to bring cash to the table – not to cover closing costs (it was “no cost” or covered by lender credits) but to get the mortgage to a specific threshold that resulted in lower rates. Our month payment is dropping by about $700/month, but we are sinking tens of thousands of cash in. We’ll coast with the lower payment and rebuild our cash, although we did have more cash on hand than we need to anyway. It is only a slight discount from our previous rate, but still too good to pass up.

Our net worth is fine, and hit a new high, which seems like such a disconnect with the world at large. I’m not sure what to think at this point. We are still so far from many goals, but we have more than I can properly comprehend.

COVID-19

July was our first month of the return to daycare, and it has made our COVID-19 life much less stressful on a day-to-day basis than before. My job has been intensely busy, so having access to child care has been a life saver. Our county numbers are not great, nor terrible. We are still basically not leaving the house except for walks and to bring LO to daycare, occasionally picking up takeout. On the other hand, having LO in daycare brings a different kind of stress, worry and uncertainty. It is a no-win situation, but we made a choice.

Local schools have announced distance learning only, which I understand and basically support – I don’t think they can reopen safely right now. The whole situation is frustrating, even though we aren’t yet in the school system. I’m not yet sure how I can help, but I’m trying to see if PTAs or other organizations are looking for monetary donations to… help? I’m not sure what I can do.

Spending

Again, I haven’t had time to examine my transactions. Food spending is still up, I’m sure. Travel spending is non-existent, but I didn’t budget much. Our daycare bill finally dropped to toddler rates (which is still very very expensive).

House Projects

Nothing major this month. Some landscaping cleanup. Next month is the new roof, which I’m excited about! It should help a lot with ventilation in our home, especially after we add a whole house attic fan. We don’t have air conditioning, and it is mostly fine. However, if we have too many hot days in a row, the house just doesn’t cool down in the evenings.

New windows are on hold, since we are using a bunch of cash to get our refinance going. We still might pursue them in about 6-12 months, otherwise we’ll do them in about 2 years (original plan).

Family

LO is getting to be such a big kid. She has had a few sputtering of sentences, and is generally a really good communicator. She also is starting to go through a major “dad” phase, sometimes pointing at me and saying “Mom. Go!” and asking me to leave the room. Rude! She’s very physical, likes running and climbing. She learned how to jump. She’s still sleeping well, and is in fact going down for naps and night time with much less fuss than before. We’re considering the transition to a toddler bed, but not ready to pull that trigger yet. She surprised me by counting to 5, but isn’t so interested in learning the ABC song. She knows many letters, but not all.

Activism

As I mentioned, this is an ongoing category, but probably light for July and August. All that I have is my monthly donations, combined with abject horror at the ongoing fascism in Portland (and everywhere).

Work

The culmination of over 5 years of work occurred this past month! Everything went smoothly. It isn’t the end, but it is the beginning of a markedly different new phase. The project had so many ups and downs, but I’m glad that I stuck it out.

My newer project has been on the back burner, but is entering its first milestone review this month. I haven’t done the work up to my standards, but I hope it is good enough.

June Wrap-up

July 6, 2020

My feelings aren’t all that different than last month, but it is becoming the the new normal. I will proceed with my monthly update. A few new categories have appeared.

Net Worth and Money News

Our net worth fully recovered last month, and our investible assets hit a new milestone. I’ve been toying with a refinance, but the only way to beat our current rate is to refinance into a 15 year mortgage. It is pretty tempting, but I just can’t pull the trigger.

COVID-19

Not sure what “Phase” we are in here. Masks are mandatory for adults in all situation s, except outside when you can maintain 6′ or 30′ (it is unclear which). Curbside retail is open. Daycare was reopened for all (not just essential workers) early/mid-June. Our daycare took a few weeks to transition from Emergency Care to regular care (at reduced capacity and some new protocols). We started July 1st. Cases are rising, so I have a little apprehension… but am greatly comforted by the fact that kids don’t seem to get it very frequently, nor are they generally vectors.

My work still dictates that everyone who can work from home continues to do so until January 2021 (at least). There will be a phase of my project where I’ll need to go in for specific things, but we are not there. Our director has (at least 4 times now) cited that they are looking forward to offering a quiet space for those with dependent care challenges, and it enrages me each time. As if the problem has been the NOISE in my house…. not the fact that I have to be hands-on parenting for hours during the normal work day. It is a well meaning offer and may provide help to someone with a stay-at-home spouse or other in-home childcare. And, they can’t really solve my problem. I get why he brings this up since he can “solve” that. Still, it enrages me, and the fact that he keeps bringing it up makes him see out of touch (and he probably is out of touch honestly).

T and I are still staying home, and self-isolating. We made an exception and had two play dates with a family with a kid LOs age, who had been able to self-isolate to a similar level. These ceased now that we are in daycare since we are no longer a closed bubble.

I’m at a loss for what to think about COVID on a scale any broader than my own home. The US response has been horrible, but I’m tired of news stories reporting absolute cases instead of per capita cases and/or per capita trends. It is very confusing, although the per capita numbers do also depict our failure. Similarly, looking at entire states instead of counties is not very informative.

House Projects

Not a lot was done this month, aside from placement of more rocks for landscaping. There was a lot of planning done. We’ve booked the new roof (August?) and are also considering moving forward our timeline to replace our original windows to this year. The roof quotes came in at roughly $20k, $25k, and $30k all-in (new gutters, permits, etc.). Windows came in around $15-20k (includes several big sliders), plus some totally unreasonable estimate of “about $20k for the big slider and $5k per window”. Labor costs still seem as high as ever.

It maybe isn’t the best year to drop $45k on home projects, so we’ll see about the windows. The roof was something I was already willing to move forward on, despite the crazy politics / pandemic / dumpster fire. The windows were next on the list, and our last “high priority” major upgrade. (Exterior paint is on the horizon.) I don’t know. We could wait and see if there are furloughs, but I’m not sure that would affect our decision.

Spending

I’m going to skip a monthly breakout this month and provide rambles. We did not pay for daycare for June, but will for July. That is a total of 3 months of daycare reprieve, partially offset by the need for additional developmental toys.

Our overall charity budget has to increase, because I set up recurring monthly donation to support racial justice that matches my original charity budget. And I still care about other causes. Money is my easiest default, though I don’t think it is enough.

Food spending is still high, with limited effort to keep it down. Perhaps some attention can be paid now. I’m still paying a premium for grocery delivery, and probably will continue to do so. It is a big time saver.

Work

IT IS BUSY, and going to get worse. There are two overlapping crescendos of work, one peaking mid/late July and the other peaking early August. I’ve done my best to offload whatever I can, but it is still going to be a lot.

BUT IT IS EXCITING STUFF. The culmination of the job that I have been doing since 2015, and then a big milestone for my newer project.

Daycare opening any later than it did would have been a disaster, but probably more so for T, who would have had to act as primary parent while still maintaining some semblance of work.

We had yearly performance reviews. I have a new supervisor this year since they decided to “re-organize”. This actually just means that we have an org chart for the first time, rather than people just being hired (then reporting to) whoever happened to need them at that moment. I like this change. It is still basically flat, with one person in charge of all engineering then one layer of organization of the various engineer types below that. My new supervisor is both the engineering director, and also the lead of the small group I’m in. She is also the first woman supervisor I’ve had since retail days in high school! It was good. I also encouraged her to speak with my Colorado boss, who I’ve worked with much more extensively for much longer, and I knew he’d say positive things. I’m pretty sure there are no merit raises this year, but we did discuss my eventual promotion with no firm timeline. I didn’t push it very hard, given that I’ve been juggling work and childcare for the past three months.

Activism

I’m still getting my footing here, but this is a new section. (July and August may be light due to work.) I sent $50 to BLM (national) and $50 to NAACP, recurring monthly. I bought a some books from an area Black owned book store – a copy for me and a copy to give away of 3 kids books and The New Jim Crow. I also watched 13th, although maybe that was last month? I also sent two books to a friend who was requesting diverse kids books for the non-profit she works for.

There were a handful of meetings/discussions organized by young (white) activists at my workplace, whic I participated in. I opted not to push for a leadership role on anything they’ve identified. The actions identified are better suited to other people, and my time is better used in other efforts. But, I did show up and speak up and support, and will continue to do so, and be ready to step in as needed.

Other life stuff

I didn’t talk much about LO yet! She is FANTASTIC. She’s a lot of fun, so many words. She’s started acting out her books. She seems interested in emotions – pointing out surprised faces in books, crying when Llama Llama cries then screeching “Mama! Back!” when we get to the next page. She loves books and loves playing peek-a-boo. It has been so fun to have so much extra time with her, even though it came with the stress of trying to meet job responsibilities.

(No) May Wrap Up

June 2, 2020

I feel confident my readers who are privileged enough to not face systemic racism have already sought out appropriate resources, such as 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice. If you don’t know where to start, choose something from this list, then choose another, and keep going.

I found this open letter to rich white friends thought provoking, and apt for the personal finance and FIRE community. I know I am guilty of hoarding. I know I didn’t do anything special to be so financially rewarded. As a start, I added a recurring monthly donation to NAACP Legal Defense Fund and to Black Lives Matter. I abhor costs that automatically recur monthly, but it seems like a more appropriate commitment than a one time donation. It is not a lot, but it is my step. I also caught up on donations with some one-time contributions to causes related to local poverty and food insecurity. I encourage anyone making financial commitments to share what you are doing. I find it inspiring, not bragging.

Tanja has some thoughtful things to say about our community, as usual.

I can’t write my financial wrap up for May. I have the information, but I don’t really care, and I assume you don’t either. We are doing just fine, and I hope you and your family are too.

April Wrap Up

May 10, 2020

Net Worth and Money News

Our net worth has recovered some, and we are just a hair below we were in December 2019. Most of this is market recovery, plus some normal savings

Spending:

I updated our spending! March was not much lower than previous months, perhaps even a bit higher. April was lower overall, but some major categories were higher.

Groceries have been more expensive than usual since we’ve been using Instacart. Not only is there a service fee, a delivery fee, and a need for a generous tip, but the grocery prices themselves are inflated from in store prices (this is store dependent). Alcohol spending is up, partially because it is truly up (local craft beer crowlers and wine from our favorite local wine shop) and partially because I generally don’t track alcohol separately unless we buy it separately. Restaurant spending is roughly flat. We are eating out (take out) less frequently, but we are generally spending more per a take out order, and tipping more generously.

The big savings was in childcare for April – they chose not to bill and aren’t seeking donations. I get the impression that this is not the norm for childcare across the country and many people are paying without sending in order to keep their daycare afloat. We continue to spend a modest amount on at home toys, but I’ve been hedging on larger purchass. It appears that local ordinances allow for in-home child care (?), so we may see if we can hire a babysitter / nanny to help out. I can’t keep working at reduced efficiency indefinitely. T could, in theory, take the summer off and then not take summer salary for research. But it would be financially much much better to hire someone to play with LO. We do worry about safety, and introducing an interaction with someone who may not be as strict as we are. We also worry about what happens when daycare does reopen. That opens our circle significantly. I hope we can figure out how to do this, but the lack of long term clarity also makes it hard to figure out what approach to take.

House Projects

There hasn’t been time for projects. T is hoping when teaching is done he’ll have a little time, but I’m requesting we delay any unnecessary major tasks until we have childcare again. We did hang up our sun shade to make our deck more useable in the suddenly warm/hot weather. Also, T continued his minor landscape clean-up and scheduled a few people to give roof quotes now that construction is allowed again.

Work

Work place policies have been generous, with added sick leave and an expectation that many caregivers might be working reduced hours. The only disconnect is that expectations haven’t relaxed a lot. No one cares if I’m a little late on an Internal arbitrary deadline, but in the end, the work has to be done. My leads/managers are nice people who are understanding of the situation, which is there is a toddler at home. At the same time, there are certain deadlines that cannot move, there are no available extra people to help, so… it is what it is.

I admit that I’m not the type of person who can routinely work long hours 7 days a week, at least not anymore. I can do it for shorter periods, but not sustained. I can’t sprint for the length of a marathon. I have no real solution here, but it is frustrating. We started out the shelter-in-place reserving weekends from work, but that quickly became untenable. I worked “all weekend” (during my non-childcare shifts) for a few weekends now, and I’m fighting burnout. Even with this, I’m falling behind on my projects. Not to mention household stuff.

Other life stuff

LO has started having 2x weekly brief Zoom sessions with her daycare teachers. It is nice for her to at least see her old friends and her teachers.

Other than that, not much else is going on. We are hanging in there, and feel lucky that we are in a relatively fortunate position financially. We’re also truly grateful to spend so much extra time with LO.

Pandemic Diary, Week 5

April 27, 2020

This is from about 2 weeks ago. I’m not committing to capturing weekly notes, but I do want a record for myself of life in these weird times. I might post more, but not on any particular schedule.

Day 28 (Monday): (I’m counting from March 16th, since that is when the shelter in place was ordered.) I was on parenting duty most of the morning, had a somewhat low key work call, then was back on parenting through lunch until just before nap. My 1 pm call snuck up on me. It is supposed to be a recurring working meeting that I lead, but I’m not very ready to lead today. It is only with 3 others, so I decide to hold it anyway and check in, since we hadn’t meet in several weeks. We go over status of several items, and walk away with a near term plan, and I move the meeting to be later in the day for future weeks so I don’t have to rush from nap time to a meeting I’m leading. LO sleeps until 4 pm! We do the family walk early, then I work until we break for dinner. I’m still feeling like I’m failing at work, so I do a little more working after LO is in bed.

Day 29 (Tuesday): After coffee and feeding LO, I walk the dog by myself. While he’s doing his business, a coyote starts approaching all casual like, not scared at all. The coyote is still pretty far away down the street, but we high tail it out of there and get home! After an 8-9 am meeting, I am in charge of LO until nap time at 1 pm. It is finally nice out, so we put sunscreen on and go out on the deck. We do bubbles, play with stacking boxes, and sit in the deck chairs and drink water (her) and coffee (me). When we go inside, she has a tantrum about it, pointing at the door and crying. I take her out the front door instead, and we do a stroller walk… which also ends in a tantrum when we arrive home, plus more crying and pointing at the deck. The kid likes to be outside, but I don’t want her to get too much sun.

We play in her room quietly until lunch (leftover chicken tortilla soup, some fruit, some toast). We read/play a bit more after lunch, then it is finally nap time. I make myself lunch and prep for my afternoon meetings. By the time my meetings are over, I’m tired. I still have 45 minutes of work time left in my “shift”, so I stick with it. At 5, we take LO back outside to play with her new water table, which is a big hit. However, a huge tantrum ensues when we have to go in for dinner. It takes a really long time, but eventually T gets her to calm down, and we have dinner. The extended tantrum delayed the whole evening, so it is nearly bedtime. After she goes to bed I answer a few emails – but am too tired to do any serious work requiring brainpower. .

Day 30 (Wednesday): Wednesday is my day to get a lot of work stuff done while T watches LO for most of the day – hooray! I wake up feeling crushed by anxiety, but get started on my day in hopes that making some headway will help my brain. It works pretty well. One meeting is cancelled (yay!) so I power through some more work during that time block. I take a break from 12 – 1 to feed LO lunch and grab some lunch myself. She goes down for her nap easily and the house is quiet for a bit. I continue with my afternoon work, then we all go on a walk, play, eat dinner, do bath time, then LO goes to bed. Due to the sheer amount of time I have blocked off for work on Wednesdays, it feels almost like a “normal” pre-pandemic day.

Day 31 (Thursday): I’m surprised to read something online indicating that we may be eligible for a partial stimulus. I can’t find our tax papers to check, but T confirms a deposit was made into his account. After finding our tax papers, I see that our AGI was lower in 2019 compared to 2018 due to a small amount of unpaid maternity leave, so filing our 2019 taxes early gave us extra money! Wooo! We have again benefited from the ablilty to save a ton of money pretax, lowering our AGI, making us eligible for the stimulus.

I’m on morning duty with LO, nearly until nap time. The Water Wow book is a hit for a while, then we head out on a walk, more playtime, then lunch. T takes over caring for LO just before nap, while I jump into a few calls, then a bit of spreadsheet work. We go on our family walk and decide to get takeout Thai from a local restaurant. It is my first time leaving the house (aside from walks), as T has handled errands so far. I leave a generous tip, and the food is delicious. We get through dinner and bedtime, and I take care of some more work to try to prep for my meeting the next morning.

Day 32 (Friday): I have an 8 am meeting with some Colorado coworkers, with whom I’ve long interacted with mostly via Zoom. I now feel the communication playing field is level since we are ALL on Zoom now.

At 9:30, LO has her first Zoom call! Her daycare teachers randomly set up a zoom session for the class. About 5 other families join, along with her 3 main teachers. She’s a little overwhelmed/shy, but enjoys the songs, the book, and seeing her friends. We are surprised when she exclaims the name of one of her friends when he pops up on the screen. I do not think she could say his name 5 weeks ago when she last saw him! She’s talking so much more.

I have an 11 am meeting, then take over feeding LO and putting her down for her nap. She naps well while we both work. I’m feeling super burnt out by the week and hoping to get enough done to avoid working the weekend. LO is not in a great mood after her nap, getting upset easily. We feed her dinner, and put her down for bed just a few minutes earlier than usual since she seems very tired.

Summary:

After several weeks, it is starting to feel almost normal to be at home. My work has clarified that we don’t have to take official leave, as long as we are still working each day – even if our hours are reduced. This is great, but there are basically no major tasks that I am able to remove from my plate. I’m strongly avoiding taking on anything new and avoiding meetings that I don’t need to be in. My leads are flexible with deadlines where they can be, but with no end in sight, pushing deadlines only works to a point. We think the local shelter-in-place allows us to hire in home babysitting help, so we’re going to look into that in the future.

March Wrap Up

April 5, 2020

Net Worth and Money News

We are now back to about a July 2019 net worth, with another 8.5% drop. Since we expect steady income for at least the next 6 months (likely longer), we’ve made no changes to our financial plans. We have fair amount of money in cash savings, per usual. Still investing, still maxing out retirement accounts, still plugging along.

Spending Bullets (excluding childcare, mortgage, property taxes and car/home insurance):

I no longer have had time to update my spending on a monthly basis, but do expect to catch up with it at some point.

House Projects

We are just trying to keep on top of the normal things, with no ongoing projects. T did some landscaping clean up work, as usual. I have some hope that life will be normal enough to get a new roof this summer, but we’ll see how things develop. It could wait another year if it must.

Work

Oh, you know, same as so many other working parents who now have kids underfoot. I’m juggling. It is… going. It is not going great, but we are hanging in there.

Here is a snapshot of our weekday schedule. Orange are my meetings, blue are T’s and green is conflicting meetings (fewer than you’d think!). I deleted the meeting titles for privacy reasons (and also, you wouldn’t care). Yellow bars are my work blocks, and T is blue. It helps us to be organized so we can schedule one-off meetings without checking in. Of course, things come up and we deviate as needed, but this has helped us divide up the time relatively fairly.

If the need to stay at home goes on too long, there are some serious implications for my newer project, but the specific outcome is totally unpredictable.

Other life stuff

My family and friends are all still healthy. My mom is a nurse and is still working, so I worry about her. My dad is not working, but financially is OK. My older sister is in IT at an essential business, and still is going in a couple times each week for the parts of her job that can’t be done remotely. Her husband is working remotely for now. My grandpa is staying home. My little sister has always stayed home. I’m not sure the status of her husband. T’s family is mostly all able to be at home too, although his dad’s business is suffering.

It seems California’s early efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 may have been helpful, but it is too early to say much.

LO is amazing, and spending extra time with her is amazing/exhausting. She hasn’t gotten too stir crazy yet. It should warm up soon and we can spend more time outside. I also haven’t gone TOO stir crazy, but the confinement and staying home is definitely noticeable. We’re trying to stay positive, though. The spirit of community in the neighborhood has been lovely to see, and I know we’ll all get through this.

Pandemic Week 2

March 28, 2020

We are still safe and fine.

It truly has been a joy to spend extra time with LO, especially just as her vocabulary and personality is exploding. It can be tiring, but it is also wonderful to have so much extra time with her. To prepare for the quarantine, I selected a few new toys for LO, and we’ve been doling them out. Some neighbors gifted us a used IKEA play kitchen their kids had outgrown, which has been a hit. I purchased a water table with an expiring store credit, but it hasn’t been nice enough to break it out yet.

I’m a person who does better with some predictability, so I put together a schedule for weekdays. LO is too young to entertain herself, so T and I divided up childcare responsibilities during the hours of 8 am – 5 pm, taking care to deconflict our meetings and other commitments. Assuming LO naps 1.5hrs/day, we each get ~26 hours of work during this time block. Adding in evening / weekend work I can hit my target of 32 hours. I plan to use paid leave to cover the rest, although it is unclear if that is necessary since I am salaried exempt. My deadlines aren’t moving, so I’m stressed about that, but 40 hours is not going to happen, at least not if we are in this for the long haul. We take from 5pm to 7:30 pm as family time, which is also when we get basic daily chores done (cook dinner, dishes, dog walking, baths). It’s been working OK. We are a little flexible with the schedule, but it is a great starting point.

People have started actually turning the video feature on during some of our work meetings in order to try to enhance connection and maintain some culture. There seem to be varying levels of understanding about having a small child at home and trying to work. I know I’m not the only one, so it is surprising how the issue still seems to be somewhat unspoken/hidden so far – at least on one of my projects.

We were able to get grocery delivery, including whole milk for LO. I have mixed feelings about relying on delivery services and the workers – but ultimately it seemed like the best choice at the time. Many items are still sold out or low stock, but we have what we need. Instacart workers are planning a strike, and I support that choice. Companies need to pay the workers better, even if they just pass the costs onto the end customer.

Our net worth is plummeting, just like everyone else’s net worth. We’re buying into the market through our monthly paycheck retirement contributions. We are still millionaires. That would be a sad benchmark to dip below, even if meaningless, so I am sort of aware of it.

Daycare charged us for the 2.5 weeks closure during March, then suspended tuition for April until they reopen. At first I was relieved, but am also having second thoughts. Staff are working from home on a limited basis (professional development) and using a special extra paid leave – but the extra leave is limited to about 3 weeks. Due to their association with one of our employers, we know they won’t go out of business. So far, staff are being paid… But I’m not sure how long they can pay staff. Anyway, we’ll see how long the closure lasts, and if this policy holds. I also can’t really see paying for 6+ months of childcare I can’t use, but maybe it would be the right thing to do. I really don’t know.

The news is infuriating, watching the government propose actions to help corporations while leaving little for individuals. Maybe they landed somewhere sensible – I haven’t looked into the details of what was passed. The one-time cash payments for many are good, but the enhancements to unemployment seem more critical. There are no perfect solutions, but there has to be something more sensible than off-the-rails capitalism and little protection for the average worker.

I seriously wonder if America will come through this. No matter what actions are taken, this pandemic will result in both severe economic costs and lives lost. It will be easy pit sides against one another: one saying the economic cost of countermeasures was too great, and the other saying the loss of life was too great due to government inaction. We can expect bad actors to take this as a convenient opportunity to further manipulate public emotion to destabilize our country. We need to stay aware of this.

Now that it has been nearly two weeks, I’m getting a little cabin fever, despite our multiple walks daily. I’m sure I’ll be fine, but it is definitely different.

February Wrap Up

March 24, 2020

This post was hanging out in my drafts since March 4th and I’m just now getting around to publishing. I don’t have time to analyze my spending, so I’m just going to publish without that data for the month, and won’t update my sentiments about COVID to be current with the times.

Net Worth and Money News

Like pretty much everyone else, my net worth fell this month. It was only about a 4% drop (at the time I did my spreadsheet). I also like to look at it in months. We are back to the same net worth we had about 2.5 months ago in early/midDecember, which doesn’t seem so terrible.

We did our taxes! Well, so far just our federal taxes.  I did them first in TurboTax (without paying) to get a sense for what my refund should be. I didn’t want to pay TurboTax for a number of reasons (not just the $140 they wanted), so I tried FreeTaxUSA. I couldn’t get FreeTaxUSA to accept a backdoor Roth IRA for both T and I, though the first one seemed to be handled properly. Since I couldn’t get that done correctly, I did not file with them, but I took the PDF the software generated, and used that to help me use Free Fillable Forms from directly from the IRS.I basically copied the FreeTaxUSA output, then added two Form 8606 to capture the backdoor Roths. It was painful to enter everything three times, but I didn’t pay anything, I was able to e-file. We are getting a fat return in the first week of March! I have to remember to print everything out, because apparently the IRS will purge data in the system in October.

Spending Bullets (excluding childcare, mortgage, property taxes and car/home insurance):

  • This section isn’t done for this month. Maybe I’ll update retroactively someday.

House Projects

I was out of town a bit, leaving T with less time than usual to work on house stuff. The gutters got cleaned and some minor landscaping efforts began, but nothing big happened this month.

Work

This month had my first overnight work trip away from LO – actually two of them! They were both extremely valuable from a work perspective for two totally different areas of my career – but it was tough being away. LO got sick during my second trip, so that was especially hard on T since we usually share the load when the kid is sick and take turns staying home.

In part due to the travel, I’m way behind where I want to be at work on my new project. We have a milestone this months, and a Big Deal milestone this summer, and a pile of work to get done before either of those things.

Other life stuff

LO continues to add words, and it is so much fun to watch her vocabulary develop. Some of her current frequent words: Moon, eye, trees, outside, ear, all done, more, car. She still loves the word “teeth” and is thrilled to start the teeth brushing process each night… yet it always devolves into tears after the toothpaste has been consumed, then again sometimes if we take her toothbrush. We have been able to get her to give it to us more often lately.

Coronavirus concerns in the US have started to boil over, and I’m appropriately concerned. Or maybe too concerned or maybe too unconcerned – it is really unclear what the appropriate level of concern is. It appears to be already out there in my community, hiding under the surface with many people having mild symptoms, and it is going to grow over the coming weeks. We won’t really know until more people are tested, and they aren’t testing people with mild symptoms and no travel history to impacted areas. Anyway, we have toilet paper, coffee, tylenol, and a bit of extra food to get us through, and doing our best to practice proper hygiene. (Have you ever tried to get a 1.5 year old to not touch their face?)

Lock down update

March 19, 2020

How are you all doing???

Like many families, we are now staying home except for essentials, and working from home while caring for our kid. This is a county requirement, but was already our plan.

We are doing OK. Our incomes are secure in the near term (probably through the year). In the longer term, this could affect my job/income, but I’m not sure yet. T should be OK. This is huge, and I’m grateful. The market is obviously nuts, but I’m calm about it. Everyone is healthy. Well, LO and T had minor colds that appear to be lifting. And, no new germs are likely to be acquired!

Daycare is closed. We are super lucky that both of us can work from home and pull off juggling childcare and meetings between the two of us with some working after bedtime and on weekends. I haven’t figured out a long term schedule. I’m likely going to use one day per week of paid leave. Eventually, we’ll need to hire someone (if/when that is allowable) or find some other solution. We can’t do this indefinitely. We pay for care because we don’t want to live like this (and because LO has so much fun and learning there).

Officially, daycare is closed for 3 weeks, but I am starting to wrap my mind around the likelihood of it being significantly longer. They sent out something to the effect of “though our contract states that closures don’t affect billing, this is extraordinary we’ll have to figure this out.” I’ve heard some thoughtful friends share that people who aren’t losing income should continue to pay as many service bills as they can (activities, housekeepers, etc.). I agree, to a point. I’m moderately fine with paying for a closure on the order of 2 – 4 weeks, but I’m uncomfortable with paying for months and months when no care can be provided. (I am sure they won’t expect that.) The monthly cost is too huge, the missing service is too important to live without. But, I want the staff to be paid. So, we’ll see what happens.

We are also concerned about LOs development. Stay at home parents usually take the kids out on play dates, library time, etc. We can’t do that. In the short term, no big deal. In the long run, it will be hard if she misses out on the social and developmental aspects of childcare. I realize she is not very old, but what should I be teaching her? I’m sort of glad she isn’t older, because she would have higher learning requirements. She also hopefully will not remember this tough period.

We are mostly introverts, so the isolation hasn’t been so bad. (It’s only been 4 days.) We’ve been taking several walks a day, which is typical due to our dog. We wave and occasionally chat with our neighbors from a distance on the street. The neighborhood e-mail list is cheery and full of generous offers of help.

We are considering how to support local businesses and people whose incomes have already been reduced. Our charity strategy may be revisited to target more local needs and less social justice effort. It isn’t a great thing.

I hope you are all staying safe and isolating or practicing extreme social distancing. I hope you and your loved ones are healthy, and can weather the upheaval that is being thrown at us.

Belated January Wrap Up

February 19, 2020

Net Worth and Money News

Our net worth ticked up again, hooray! It rose about 1.8%. I’m front loading my retirement again, and switched T’s as a percentage of his income. That will ensure that a bunch of savings come out when he gets summer salary.

I discovered we’d been grandfathered in to Capital One 360s old savings account, and the rate had plummeted. I moved everything over to an account getting more interest.

I hope to do taxes next month, and my goal is to do it without TurboTax. In past years, we waited until too close to the deadline and got frustrated enough to just pay for TurboTax. It isn’t even really about the money, it is about not wanting to support the tax prep software industry. Our taxes are not totally trivial, but they are something two educated people willing to put in a bit of time can handle.

Spending Bullets (excluding childcare, mortgage, property taxes and car/home insurance):

  • Monthly spend (excluding some major categories): $2046, which seems very low for us!  
  • Highest single transaction that hasn’t been featured in a previous month: $217.05 at IKEA for toy storage, a lamp, and a few other miscellaneous items.
  • Most annoying expense: $140 for a “dig proof” dog bed. We had an incident with a Roomba freaking out the home alone dog, and he started freaking out in his crate and digging up his bedding. He got over his neurosis, but we did end up with a new bed.
  • Expense that brought the most joy or utility:  $14.19 for a poke a dot book that LO is OBSESSED with.
  • Donations (for accountability): None this month, will have to roll over into next month.

House Projects

I feel like January was mostly just a struggle to keep our house in order. I can’t remember any improvements, but I’m sure T did some maintenance tasks here and there.

Work

I’ve been at this job 5 years. It has had ups and downs, but in general, it is a really good fit.

I regularly feel out of my depth, including right now on this new project. We have the most amazing project manager, who not only is extremely effective at his job of project managing, but also could do probably 30% (or more!) of the jobs on the team, many of them better than the person actually assigned to the job. This includes my job. I mean, obviously he can’t do ALL THE JOBS at the same time, and the idea is that he may some day retire and the rest of us will have to rise to attempt to fill his shoes. . . But it is a little disheartening to know that he could just do everything I’m doing, and he could do it faster and better. It is also good, because he knows what I should be doing and can help if I’m stuck. I think this type of manager is not the norm, and I am lucky to get to work with him. But that also makes it hard/impossible to impress him!

Other life stuff

My dad is temporarily in the area again working for a few months, and mostly driving me and T crazy. He stayed with us for about 2 weeks, then stayed with my uncle for a bit, and just now found his own temporary place. Now that he has his own space, I hope we can enjoy the luxury of getting to spend time together on a more regular basis. My house is just too small for hosting long term guests, unless perhaps they were an extremely conscientious and quiet guests (he’s not).

LO is doing so well, and is so much fun! She has started talking a bit. She has started climbing on everything (eek!). She is a happy little kid, and we are so lucky to have her. The one nap schedule is working out fantastically for our family, although she occasionally takes 2 naps if we have car time.