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August Wrap-Up

September 12, 2020

Net Worth and Money News

Our balance sheet underwent some major changes this month!

Our cash position dropped significantly, as we closed on the refinance and also paid for our new roof. Our home equity increased, and our retirement accounts also grew. Our net worth was up about 2% for another all time high. We’re up about 16% for the year, although the numbers were calculated before the recent market correction.

COVID-19

August was stable as far as COVID-19 impacts go. We’re still using (reduced classroom size) daycare and working from home. Local case numbers are reducing and in a range that doesn’t make me panic.

This month had the added tragedy of wildfires in the area. No specific fire threatened us, but we were on a “red flag alert” several days. The air quality was frequently terrible, which caused daycare to unexpectedly close. The policy makes sense, as the normal “bad air” protocol is to go inside with all windows closed. The normal COVID-19 protocol is to spend lots of time outside, and keep windows open and air flowing as much as possible. It was just a bit of a surprise. Wildfire season came sooner than we all anticipated.

Now, I’m regularly keeping my eye on city, county and university COVID-19 numbers (plus my family’s hometowns and then Germany as a control case of “what could have been” if we had competent leadership). Then I check out Purple Air and BAAQMD air stats multiple times a day to see if daycare is likely to close. Then check on wildfire progress to see if they are contained or if any new ones have popped up. Then check out the weather to see what kind of records the latest heat wave is breaking. Then maybe some political stats to see what might happen in November. (There is one outcome that is much much much better than the other, but I don’t see either outcome resulting in a smooth next year.) This just feels… apocalyptic. Dystopian.

Spending

I’m mostly caught up on tracking this, but nothing exciting to report. I mean, aside from the big house stuff already mentioned! I purchased a second home air purifier, since I was tired of porting the little one I had from room to room. It has come in handy with the wildfire smoke.

I had a goal this year to spend less money on Amazon, and I’ve succeed for normal household purchases by mostly switching to Target. I’ve failed because I’ve started using Amazon for groceries (Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods). The prices are generally much better than Instacart and I’ve had a lot fewer issues with the orders. I’m not happy with this, but I don’t see myself doing my own grocery shopping again any time soon. This is mostly due to time rather than the virus – I’d rather pay for delivery tips than spend time shopping. That said, one of my big problems with Amazon is/was their lack of quality control / counterfeit control on products (and reviews), so I guess I’ve removed that annoyance from my life. Using Target for similar items, I just collect those little one-off items in my cart until I’ve got enough for free shipping, then place an order.

House Projects

New roof! New whole house attic fan installed! The roof was done blazingly fast due to the weird weather threatening possible rain. The new roof is much better ventilated, and the heat waves gave us an opportunity to test out the fan a few times. It works great, except for the fact that it is useless when the air quality is too poor to open the windows.

We are thinking about how to improve home efficiency, both for heating and cooling. We’re not ready to pull the trigger on any cooling system (aside from our portable evaporative cooler). Windows are the likely next step, followed by additional insulation in the flooring. T did the bedrooms last year (great for overnight warmth), but the main living area is not done. Additional wall insulation in the main living area would help in the summers, but won’t happen this year. Ultimately, a heat pump and solar might be the way to go, but that is long term.

Activism

As predicted, this was light for August, but I need to make a plan going forward. My monthly donations continued, so at least there is something.

Work

My new project ran into some hiccups, but they may largely work out OK for me. It does add some uncertainty if the project will continue beyond early spring, but I’m surprisingly calm about all of this.

My long term project has been going really really well. We just entered another new phase, and I’m in a leadership role for this phase, which is kind of cool. My role on this will wrap up in April, after 6 long years. I’m excited for what is next. It isn’t totally clear what that will be, but there are a variety of projects, and some infrastructure around dealing with short gaps in projects.

Family

This month LO started saying a lot of adjectives, narrating what is happening: “Running!” “Walking!” “Kicking!” (NO, LO, please don’t kick mommy!) She also has added a few questions to her repertoire: “Is it?” when she is in search of a toy or book. “Happened?” when something isn’t as she left it. Very much mimicking the questions we ask her.  She has a solid concept of what “two” is, and if she has one of something, she’ll often ask for another by saying “two!” She can (inconsistently) count items up to five. She likes doing shadows in her room with the flashlight. She loves doing art at school. She likes music and doing hand actions with songs. We also just transitioned her from a crib to a toddler bed, and that is going better than expected!

So, our little family is still doing OK. My parents and siblings are also doing OK, as is my extended family. I’m getting sad wondering about when we will be able to see them, and how we could make it happen. I just don’t know.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2020 6:07 pm

    Our air is still absolutely terrible right now, has yours gotten any better this weekend? I’m researching an air purifier to buy too, we didn’t have one before but I can’t take much more of these terrible air headaches.

    Our refi is going incredibly slowly but we chose the near slowest lender because they had the best rate and closing costs. I had hoped for the trifecta but as long as we’re done by the end of October, I’ll suck it up and practice my patient breathing.

    We did the same as you, transferring as many of our purchases from Amazon to Target as possible. There are only a few things that we just can’t get elsewhere so we’re still getting those but our spending there has been reduced dramatically and I’m glad we made the effort.

    I’m glad work isn’t stressing you and LO is a delight. I do wish we’d managed to squeeze in a visit before all this started!

    • September 12, 2020 7:47 pm

      Still terrible! But we are below 200 today, so at least slightly less terrible than yesterday. Not in a useful way, though, still indoors with air purifiers going.

      What rate did you get? Slowly is fine – it will be worth it.

      We almost squeezed it in… someday we’ll be able to meet up again!

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