May 25, 2017

Just a little (link) love: drunk and Thor’s hammer edition


When we find our new home, we’re moving to a place to live, not to show off.

We were originally on track to pay off our first home in about 14 years. This is me getting ambitious about working the numbers, can we pay the second one off in 10? Maybe. We’ll still take a 30 year loan but there’s no way I’m settling down to take 30 years to pay it off.

Exactly how quickly we’ll do that, though, is something I’m still mulling over constantly. No answer is quite right yet. Need2Save did a great roundup on the two sides of the mortgage payoff loan here, and left me still feeling conflicted about what I want to set as my top priority.

THIS IS THE CUTEST: First Annual ‘Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

I like this discussion of how we define financial freedom for ourselves. I’m working on our version of financial freedom which, now, means the ability to make major life changes without serious negative consequences.

This NYTimes article on relying on “daughter care” made me cross.

I love LMM and I also love his mother’s work: “Maternal health and mental healthcare are essential for mom AND baby.”

Elon Musk’s SpaceX fined for underpaying workers. Elon Musk is how wealthy? Pretty wealthy. But his company can’t comply with standard CA labor laws, instead designing shifts that deny workers their breaks?

Way to go MalwareTech

We don’t live in FEAR of earthquakes but now that we’re taking on an even bigger financial stake in property in CA where we’re due for the Big One in the next 20-30 years, I’m definitely all about emergency planning. Because natural disasters happen with regularity.

Are you worthy?

Swagbucks: Memorial Day Sale

If you’re shopping this weekend, check Swagbucks first. They’ve got increased cash back (in Swagbucks, of course) through Monday, May 29th, 2017.

You might be able to combine this with their promotion on discounted gift cards at MyGiftCards if you get e-gift cards instead of physical gift cards.

Their 7% cashback on Gap egift cards, for example, plus the cashback for shopping through Ebates (6%) or Mr. Rebates (3%), combined with a sale can turn out a pretty stellar deal.

A similar combination earlier this year means that I paid $60 for a full stash of Christmas gifts for the kids.

Additional bonus: if you’ve signed up through my links at some point this month (or do it now), you’ll get a $2 (200 SB) bonus added to your account when you spend $25 or more through Swagbucks Shop before June 1.

Here’s a handy tutorial if you’d like to join Swagbucks and earn. I track my earnings here.

May 24, 2017

Chase is throwing money at us

and I’m more than happy to accept. I’m rubbing my hands in at least a little bit of glee.

After interviewing a few lenders, I’d chosen to go with Chase’s mortgage lending because we were in touch with a very hands-on and responsive banker. I had dreaded the process, of course, and of course it was three metric tons of paperwork, but this was by far the best lender I’ve ever worked with. Not intended to be an advertisement, by the way, I was just pleasantly surprised.

Armed with my PF money hunting spear, I hunted for all the promotions I could find once we were reasonably settled on a mortgage, and lo, Chase Bank has been willing to provide! I have turned up some riches!

It’s not more than a drop in the bucket compared to what we’ll be paying but this isn’t chump change.

With a $25 deposit, I opened a Premier Plus checking account and then PiC opened both Total Checking and Savings accounts. We’ll keep all three accounts open for six months, then take home $650 in bonuses! But I didn’t stop there, oh no. Then I’ll set up the automated payments for another $595 which makes a grand total of $1245.

All the fun details are below if you want to join in some of the money-grubbin’ fun. 😉

I’ll keep looking for more money to shore up our accounts before the hemorrhage begins!

These bonuses will be taxable, so I’ll set aside a portion of it just like I do with any other freelance income. I should note that I don’t LOVE Chase as a bank so I’ll be closing these accounts after 6 months and going back to my old stand-by bank. This is just enough money in bonuses to be worth taking the time.

The promotions

Chase Premier Plus $300 Bonus

  • Open a new Chase Premier Plus Checking.
  • Deposit $25 or more at account opening.
  • Set direct deposit to your Premier Plus Checking within 60 days of account opening.
  • Chase will deposit the bonus in your new account within 10 business days.

Fine Print

  • Keep your account open for 6 months, or they’ll take back the bonus!
  • The $25 Monthly Service Fee is waived when you keep an average beginning day balance of $15,000 or more in any combination of this account and linked qualifying Chase checking, savings and other balances.

Chase Total Checking $200 bonus and Chase Savings $150 bonus

  • Open a new Chase Total Checking Account
  • Deposit $25 or more at account opening.
  • Set direct deposit to your Total Checking within 60 days of account opening.
  • Chase will deposit the bonus in your new account within 10 business days.
  • Open a new Chase Total Savings Account
  • Deposit $10,000 or more in new money within 10 business days, and maintain a $10,000 balance for 90 days

Fine Print

  • Keep your account open for 6 months, or they’ll take back the bonus!
  • The Checking $25 Monthly Service Fee is waived when you do at least one of the following each statement period: Option #1: Have monthly direct deposits totaling $500 or more made to this account; OR, Option #2: Keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more in your checking account; OR, Option #3: Keep an average beginning day balance of $5,000 or more in any combination of this account and linked qualifying Chase checking, savings and other balances. Otherwise a $12 Monthly Service Fee will apply.
  • Chase Savings has no Monthly Service Fee when you do at least one of the following each statement period: Option #1: Keep a minimum daily balance of $300 or more in your savings account; OR, Option #2: Have at least one repeating automatic transfer of $25 or more from your Chase personal checking account (available only through Chase OnlineSM Banking); OR, Option #3: Have a linked Chase Premier Plus CheckingSM, Chase Premier Platinum CheckingSM, or Chase Private Client CheckingSM account. Otherwise a $5 Monthly Service Fee will apply. A $5 Savings Withdrawal Limit Fee will apply for each withdrawal or transfer out of this account over six per monthly statement period.

Chase mortgage $595 bonus

  • Have an existing or open a new Chase personal checking account
  • Enroll in Chase’s automatic mortgage payment service. The mortgage payment will be automatically deducted from the Chase personal checking account. Payments must go directly from a Chase personal checking account to the Chase mortgage and not be managed by third parties
  • Enroll the new mortgage in paperless statements. All promotion requirements must be met within 60 days of closing.

Fine Print

  • Customers get $595 cash back after closing a purchase mortgage with Chase.
  • This offer is only available for new, residential first mortgage purchase loans submitted directly to Chase.
  • Customers must enroll in the $595 Cash Back promotion online within 60 days of closing with the E-coupon code provided in the Welcome brochure.
  • Applications received after March 26, 2017 are eligible for the $595 Cash Back promotion.
  • Property address must be included with the application.

Chase mortgage + Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers!

Thanks for the reminder, Mrs. BITA!

This one is on hold for us because our mortgage application was started before the promotion was live, but our banker opened an investigation to see if they could still give us the 100,000 points. We should find out this week. Cross your fingers!

:: Have you found any worthwhile promotions lately? 

May 22, 2017

Life talk: Always see Option C

At work and at home, I’ve been working a method of getting a desirable outcome. I present JB with choices, any of which that I would be ok with, which gives zir some options but not unlimited choices.

This works perfectly for organizing work group events when everyone has an opinion – I narrow down 50 choices to my top 3 that are the best cost, easy to work with, and catered to the most diverse tastes. Any of the 3 would be fine and the group gets to weigh in on the selection in a sensible manner. Win win!

Ten years of wins. Naturally, when I try it on my child, the results … well. You’ll see.

In practice…

Me: you may hold the leash in the middle, or you may hold my hand.
JB: *thinks for a long minute* Up, please.

Me: Do you want oranges or pears?
JB:  Stah-berries plz!

PiC: You can either walk with me or you can hold mama’s hand.
JB: Hold Gigi (Seamus) hand!

It turns out that JuggerBaby is the absolute champ at refusing to be limited, or manipulated, in zir choices.

The wonderful thing about teaching a sometimes-savage small child to be a civilized human being is what we learn in return.

You don’t have to take one of the two obvious options. Think about what you really want.

It’s fine if you want one of the options on offer but many of us don’t realize there’s more than what you can see.

I definitely didn’t want to be a stay at home mom if we had kids. I also didn’t love the idea of being a working mom the way my mom had been: doing everything for everyone except myself, plus working 15 hour days. It took such a toll on her, and I wanted my parents to be in my life more than I wanted anything they could buy me.

For years, I knew the happy medium had to be out there, though I didn’t know what it looked like. I assumed that I would be the working mom and PiC would be the stay at home dad. He was willing to entertain the notion, but we stayed in CA, and even moved to the most expensive possible region so going down to one income while I was still supporting my own family wasn’t possible.

Based entirely on faith, I kept working at having more than two options, trying to foster the right circumstances for C to come along when I needed it.

As it happens, it did!

I earned enough seniority, autonomy, and respect to get some serious flexibility. That’s what the gold ring was: flexibility to make the right decisions for our family based on what we need, and not just what the boss demands.

Our option C kept changing, and that was good

My work situation is flexible enough that I don’t have to go to the office five days a week and spend 13 hours a day there like I used to. I can preserve that commuting energy for taking care of my family, taking time out for myself to write here, or check on friends and make sure that life doesn’t just pass us by. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for the choices it gave us:

We had JuggerBaby and the nanny search failed miserably, so I transitioned into a working from home mom for a year.

Then we had childcare but we still juggled a combination schedule because we wanted to save money.

Saving that money meant that we could more comfortably afford full time childcare when that time came. Full time childcare in these here parts is heartbreakingly expensive if you can’t find a spot in one of the cheaper in-home situations, and assuming they’re good.

Thank goodness that even though I had no idea what going off the usual path would look like, I prepared for the possibility and stayed open to it.

:: Do you take the road less traveled in your life? What choices did you make that were out of the norm? What traditional choices work best for you? 


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