Net Worth, Money & Life News: September 2015


Change from Jan 2015:  15.2% increase
0.5% decrease from last month


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Last we checked, I was dreading phone replacement. Dragged my feet, in fact, even though the phones were being outrageously non functional: turning off randomly, refusing to turn back on, “the camera is not connected” messages. Neither of us wanted phablets, which is where all the newer smartphones today are headed, and we definitely didn’t want the $1000+ bill that comes with two new phones. But it seemed like the best we could do was a certified used phone for about 20% less and any used electronics from an unknown seller always makes me nervous.

During our intense research period, PiC was gifted a new to him used phone, and that was a huge relief. I bought him a new case and charging cords, he did SIM card surgery, and he’s set! I deleted a bunch of apps and data from my phone and that’s helped a little bit so that I don’t have to rush out and replace it with something expensive. We were looking at the Samsung Galaxy 6 but it’s huge and so’s the price tag.

*keeps phone on life support*


Big credit card bills from the summer are still coming home to roost. I got semi-panicky about it solely  because I hate pulling from savings even if we have the money and it won’t cause hardship. It’s the principle!  I know one big one-time expense will absolutely require a transfer out of savings. Meanwhile, I’m calling cash in from all quarters back to the home joint account: Paypal balances from cashback sites, reimbursements, FSA claims.

We’re doing water time together and PiC was the only one properly equipped. That meant buying my first new swimsuits in ten years. I couldn’t remember what normal prices were but was reassured ~$150 wasn’t bad for five pieces. Last summer I finally threw out suits so old (circa 1998) the elastic had disintegrated. Here’s to the next decade in new swimsuits for water therapy!

LB swim diapers: $10.
LB swimsuit: $19
Swimsuits for me: $140 (3 tops, 2 bottoms)


Looking ahead to holiday travel: EUCH. (no, I’m not ready for a frugal Christmas yet!) We brought the projected costs way down for the extended family by changing the plans a bit but couldn’t save ourselves. We’re looking at an outrageous sum for transportation, mostly with the rental car, and there aren’t a lot of great ways to defray a rental. I’m good at earning hotel points and airline miles but if anyone has any secrets for car rentals, I’d be happy to hear them!

Can we opt out of gifting this year? sighs Scrooge-Revanche.


We’re currently banking 45% of my salary and about 40% of PiC’s salary. This goes toward long term savings, investments, paying down the mortgage, and saving for LB’s future spending needs. Part of that savings is anticipating hir childcare costs which will kick in at some point, so it’s really saving to spend or adjusting our cash flow expectations.

The saving for LB’s childcare was painless for the first several months as we didn’t do much but buy diapers and feed ourselves, but then we started feeling the squeeze as we started doing things and paying for larger annual expenses. It’ll go back to being relatively painless after we get past this lump, as we adjust our spending again and find other funding for travel (miles! points! miles!).


I used to love motorcycles until I got old and crochety. Now when they rumble, roar, and backfire by at all hours, day and night, I silently hope they get flat tires when they get home.

Maybe not always silently.


I like airports. But when it’s been too long between visits, I feel like a newly minted adult all over again when I make it out in one piece.

I had occasion to travel through LAX this month and the TSA agent was conversational and friendly. I was so thrown that I didn’t know what to do after he’d completed our transaction so stood transfixed, confused. After he failed to wave me through or bark at me for holding up the line, I shook myself and pushed myself to move on with sheer force of “wow how much more awkward do you want this to get?”


Had my first Mommy Day a la Save.Spend.Splurge. Bit of a misnomer since it was the day I shed my Mom mantle and spent 24 hours as a human not momming). It was a bit nerve wracking, not because of leaving LB with PiC, but because I wasn’t sure my body was ready to handle a solo jaunt. August and September were pretty crappy between my cold that lasted for what felt like forever which always triggers pain, and regular pain. With congestion in the mix, “a day out” sounded a lot like “painting a huge target on my back in a general invitation to karma to kick me”.

24 hours of respite were awesome. I had dinner with a friend, generally relaxed, and ate. And ate. And ate. Eating and sleeping were my only goals and that’s what we did. This needs to happen a little more often.


Seamus and LB seem to have stopped conspiring to kill me with their farts. YAY.


Had a birthday this month. Older now. Feels ok? I’m pretty sure I stopped feeling any particular age about 7 years ago. Anyone else?

Since PiC insisted on doing something, we had a nice dinner. LB is doing really well at these outings. Ze didn’t get a high chair so hung out on our laps and next to us and had a good time doing it. Ze would climb up and peer over the back of the seat occasionally, chirping but generally just being a pleasant little human which was like a birthday gift. Not that ze is prone to meltdowns. Even a stranger came up to our table to tell us ze was wonderful. But I’m always prepared to have to pay and leave if ze does turn into a beastly beast. So that was a nice outing.

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Just a little (link) love: Wee Corgi edition



Wealth, culturally speaking. I also see a lot of these attitudes about money and defining wealth is driven by fear.

September was life insurance month but my take on it may not be the popular opinion.

How we cleared a bunch of stuff before LB’s arrival: Craigslist!

Consignment shopping: buying used seems like a great way to keep your costs down, unless you can’t resist buying a whole lot. Anyone else out there do this? I only shopped consignment a few times because of my funny size.

Pay off a mortgage in 3.5 years? I managed this with a car loan a decade ago but I don’t think I could swing it for our mortgage.


Holy shit Ta-Nehisi Coates writing the Black Panther – that will be awesome.

We were Dilberted by Volkswagen.


“Scientific” racism is coming back? Guys, did we learn nothing from the Third Reich?

This Peeple app sounds like an awful thing and I hope it dies a quick death. “Peeple is indicative of a sort of technology that values “the information content of the web over individuals;” it’s so obsessed with the perceived magic of crowd-sourced data that it fails to see the harms to ordinary people.”

A heartwrenching account of anti Semitism and microaggressions.

Men Going Their Own Way: I’m torn between “what enormous babies” and “go on and keep on going.”  The fact that the very idea that women might be treated as equal citizens to men makes them flip out and decide they have to cut women out of their lives? Oh you mean it’s not ok to treat women as second class citizens? Well gee golly gosh, that sounds awful, doesn’t it! Treating people with respect, equally? SO TERRIBLE.

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Having it all: careers, our kids, Bon Chon Chicken

I made pantry dinner twice last week. A couple other nights saw us reheating leftovers, and then we had take out.

Our lives, post-baby, still revolve around dinner and what to have, and who’ll make it happen.

Things that have to happen before we can settle down and adult for the night: walk the dog(s), feed the dog(s), feed the Inchworm, play with the Inchworm, bathe the Inchworm, feed the Inchworm again, put the Inchworm to bed.

This is after a 12-14 hour day of working and Inchworm-related activities, so, at some point, it doesn’t really matter how we make dinner happen, just that it does happen. Sometimes I’m inspired and have enough short breaks to whip it up delightful oven miracles. Sometimes PiC gets home to an explosion of toys, an Angry Inchworm, épuisé wife, and that means he should magic something out of the pantry or the crisper.

We both work, and we both have to eat, and our schedules are topsy turvy most days. I’m pretty Type A and live by my calendar but these days I’m relaxed enough to count myself happy if we both get our work done in a reasonable time and we both get nourished.

Right in this instant, I’ve only ever been more tired a couple times in my life but I’ve never been this sure that this is the best life right now. I have my baby family, we’re both working and building our careers, and we both have to compromise to make it work.

I think it’s our healthy relationship barometer. When things aren’t going well, dinner is later and sketchier and more often eaten separately and standing up. When we’ve got our bits and pieces in the right bins, we have a bit of a warm potato pass off. I might have started a side or an entree cooking, leaving the finishing touches to PiC while I wrangle the kidlet, or I might have a one pot meal finishing up when he walks in the door so he gets to walk the kids. Other nights I have exactly two brain cells still keeping each other warm in the frosty cavern of a mind and he’ll arrive with a basket of Korean fried chicken to go with the cold rice I’d made lots of the day before.

Every day there’s a compromise. He takes the early morning shift (and weekends) so I can sleep. I sleep an extra hour or two so that I can take the all day shift. We split the evening duties because we’ve both worked long days and some things are easier with four hands and a knee.

In other words: symbiosis.

Frankly the only one who’s losing out on this equation at the moment is Seamus who is nursing hurt feelings over my pushing back my dining chair and accidentally running him over a little. I’m sorry!

Actually he’s having a bit of a rough time overall: he doesn’t get our undivided attention, LB likes him too much and therefore he comes in for a share of slobbery kiss attempts he’s not much into, and he’d like to play more. But all of these things would be, minus the slobber, wishful thinking even without LB because we have to be really careful of his skin.

It’s not doggy heaven but he gets fed enough and regularly, he has three beds and more warm places to rest his grizzled muzzle than he can use, he’s well loved, gets walks three times a day and sometimes we run into his fellow doggy the Titan and they have a mighty clash-romp.

Other compromises: I still do all our tax planning and financial stuff. I love it, and I’m a control freak. He does our auto maintenance: repairs, routine checks and gassing up. I do most of the laundry, he’s got the dishes and most of the sweeping and vacuuming.  Travel planning: me. Grocery shopping: him.  Electronics, purchasing and fixing: me. Clothing, picking out sporting goods, fun gear: him.

Nothing’s perfect, we have our little tiffs when one or the other is flat out of patience and exhausted but they’re rare. We’re getting better at saying: I’m so tired, can you do X for me please.

Like when he ran his first road race since LB came along. He does 99% of the morning duties. This time, he mentioned that he really needed a good sleep before he went out running, so at 5 am when ze was burbling away, I dragged myself up to take care of hir for a couple hours. He was immensely grateful and made sure I had some time to rest to make up for it later. We don’t keep score, per se, we’ve just been practicing listening a lot more.

Compromise! It’s our secret sauce.

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Internet shopping saves lives

Mrs. Crackin’ the Whip and I are in agreement. Shopping for certain things – bras, underwear, swimsuits and jeans – are a special kind of hell. In my case, shopping for anything I have to wear is hell.

My preferred shopping MO is pretty direct: Need a thing? Buy that thing, on sale, with a coupon. Leave.

And that’s when I was young and foolish, brimming full of can-do enthusiasm. These days, I’m not willing to waste even a single drop of energy, much less the full tank needed to go to the store. Oh how I wish I were like a gas tank that could be refilled with a swipe of the credit card. Fill up on Number Me, please, and a spare jug to go!

A normal day is full of getting up, working, taking care of Inchworm, working, more  Inchworm, eating, cleaning, and oh yes, working. Who has juice left for the full expedition that is shopping? Not I, said the perpetually-exhausted-even-before-a-kid-working-mom.

Going out means getting dressed, packing up (with the kiddo) in that narrow time we have between naps, driving to a store, navigating the parking, getting ourselves into the store, picking out non-hideous things and then trying it on. Getting dressed wipes me out, then you want my precious brain cells to think about whether something fits? NOPE. Ain’t happening.

As much as being an entirely minimalist live off the land type sounds appealing in theory (kinda) (except I still want running water and indoor plumbing and The West Wing and a washer/dryer), that’s not even remotely likely so the Internet and the online shopping it makes possible is the best answer this millennium has coughed up in the fight against chronic pain and fatigue.

As a chronic slippery slope personality, I make it work for my budget, not against it:

  • I am ruthless about returning anything that’s not perfect. “Just ok” is not good enough. There’s no room and no budget for mediocrity!
  • I only buy where and when I can get free shipping and free returns
  • Free shipping/returns do not influence my “this is reasonable price point”
  • Never click Purchase immediately after filling my cart. Since it’s online, I don’t feel the pressure of Buy it or Get Out Of The Darn Store NOW. There is artificial pressure: “sale ends soon!” or “limited to items in stock!” but there’s always another sale and I never need anything so badly that it has to be THAT ONE RIGHT NOW. Uh, except for the one time.
  • CASHBACK (Mr. Rebates), CASHBACK (ebates), CASHBACK (credit card rewards).

Secondhand (hi, Craigslist!) is amazing for almost everything but not for clothes since my size has only recently been more normal and even that’s rarely ever in-store so the only reason to leave the house to shop is the free food samples at Costco or Trader Joe’s. Just as well. I have a theory that the more I’m exposed to the crappier side of human nature between work and shopping malls, the more likely it is I’ll explode, messily, and without warning.

Honestly, my online shopping habit is saving lives here. You’re welcome.

What’s your poison? Can you shop at thrift stores and is it as amazing as I imagine it to be? (Vintage! Designer! Well constructed! All for $5.99!)

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