DH got a 10% raise and now we’re really going to have some obnoxious money posts

What do we do with all this extra money?!?!

I think we’re going to really have to sit down and think about our money goals.  The alternative is to not do that and to just put all excess money away in taxable stocks until we actually need money and then see where we stand.

We’re again at this point where we can easily buy all our needs and all of the upper-middle-class wants we ever dreamed about as lower income kids, but we can’t you know, quit our jobs and buy a house in Northern California.  We’ve paid off our house and don’t want a bigger one (or a second one).  We’re maxing out our retirement and saving at a heavy clip for the childrens’ college.  We have a hefty cash emergency fund and an even heftier secondary fund in taxable stocks.  We have yard service.  We eat out once or twice a week.  We don’t really want a cleaning person because that’s not a priority and I find it really irritating to have to pre-clean or to have to deal with cleaning people in the house when I want to be relaxing.  (I understand that truly excellent cleaning people don’t require such things, but I wouldn’t know how to find a truly excellent cleaning person.)  I don’t mind doing our laundry or loading/unloading the dishwasher.  I just bought myself a whole bunch of Cat Sebastian Kindle books, but that really wasn’t a huge expense.  I’ve also started (as of DH’s re-employment) regularly giving to charitable and political causes when they ask, usually to the tune of $25/pop, on top of our regular previous giving (mostly to educational causes).  And we’ve stopped driving to visit DH’s family and fly instead.  But all of that was before this 10% raise.

But now there’s more that we could do.  Things I’ve never really thought about doing before and maybe they’re things we should do or maybe we should just keep stockpiling money because if we didn’t want them before, maybe we don’t need them now.  (And yes, many of these are things that lots of bloggers who regularly complain about money make priorities rather than paying off their debts, so maybe we’re not thinking big enough.)  And even with all this excess money, we can’t do all of these things, only a subset.  So it isn’t obvious that the answer should be yes to any or all of these.

We could go to Hawaii!  Or Europe!  Or the Caribbean.  (But… vacations take time away from work…)

We could send the kids to fancy away summer camps.  (But they’re still pretty young.)

We could spend the summer someplace that isn’t a bazillion degrees Fahrenheit.  (But moving is a pain, especially with cats.)

We could spend the summer (or part of the summer) someplace where only Spanish is spoken and let the kids get immersed in the language.  (See above, plus I wouldn’t be able to spend time with econ colleagues.)

We could fund a scholarship for someone low income to go to private school or college.

We could remodel the kitchen and bathrooms (though actually, we could remodel the kitchen even without this raise [update:  maybe not right away—see below update]).

We could landscape the lawn to make it less thirsty.  (But… Bermuda grass…)

We could replace the roof and put in solar tiles before the roof dies (but we’ll probably wait on this until the roof is older and solar technology has improved).

We could buy a super fancy electric car or a minivan.  (This is not going to happen.  Ditto having a third child…) [Update:  the Honda Clarity that we just discovered existed is affordable after the federal tax incentive…]

We could eat out a lot more each week, or order fancy food online, or get a subscription service that doesn’t require chopping.

We could buy empty land around town and keep it empty and make sure it never has obnoxious advertising for evil political candidates posted on it.

What is missing from this list because of the limits of my imagination?


84 Responses to “DH got a 10% raise and now we’re really going to have some obnoxious money posts”

  1. Omdg Says:

    I think…. of all those things a week in Hawaii sounds the most appealing. I went about 12 Year’s ago with my husband when he had a job interview and it was incredible. And I’m not a big fancy vacation person.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      An awful lot of bloggers seem to think that Hawaii specifically is worth staying in debt for. And people we know who live in Paradise-like places on the west coast go to Hawaii for vacation because I guess there isn’t anyplace nicer once you already live someplace with amazing weather, beaches, etc.

      • Leah Says:

        It’s not worth debt. But it is worth an awesome vacation! It is so amazing. We had an awesome time there on our honeymoon. We snorkled with manta rays — one of the top things I’ve ever done in my life. Tho if you hate the outdoors, it’s not a great vacation destination. Most of the top draws are things like snorkeling, hiking, swimming, sitting on the beach, and then going to luaus (pretty much all outdoors).

      • Omdg Says:

        Also eating sushi! I had the best fish of my life there. Also swimming in the ocean, surf class, going for walks. I dunno, my body just felt GOOD when I stepped off the plane. It was really gorgeous.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        You’re selling it!

        But is it really that much nicer than closer (and cheaper) places on the west coast/baja? (Disclaimer: Neither of us has been to baja.) It must be or people from say, San Diego, would never bother going there, right?

      • Leah Says:

        I’ve never been to Baja or San Diego. But I have been all over the world, and I will say that Hawai’i is one of my favorite places.

      • Cloud Says:

        Hawaii is nice! It is a great vacation, with lots to do and beautiful beaches to sit on (or sit on a desk above, sipping a mai tai) when you’re tired of doing things. I personally prefer the Cook Islands, but that’s part personal attachment (we got married there, we have friends there, we have had a lot of fun there…) and part less traffic. It is a much longer flight, though! I’d like to travel around more of Polynesia and pick a proper favorite… :)

        More seriously: Congrats to DH on the raise! We’re spending a chunk of the extra money we’re getting from me returning to being a regular employee on travel, but we really, really love to travel, and I realize that is not for everyone. I think my second thought for spending some extra money would be to fix something that’s annoying me about my house. Right now, that would probably mean fixing up our backyard. We have no shade on our patio (we took down what we had in the addition of the office and haven’t put something else up) and I’d love to terrace our small slope. That might have to wait another year for us… we chose to book a trip to spend Christmas with my husband’s family in New Zealand and that is a super expensive time of year to visit New Zealand.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        A lot of my colleagues seem to be going on work junkets to Australia and/or New Zealand over the summer. I need to get in on some of that action.

        For my Christmas present, DH was supposed to figure out how to get that water filter installed. Other home improvement things are on hold until that’s complete. (My birthday is coming up and I think I’m going to ask him to take care of my dry cleaning…) I think that’s on hold until the taxes are done and his old car has been sold.

      • Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

        Hawaii has flying cockroaches and enormous centipedes. Thus it is very much not on my list.
        I’m not very good at “vacation.” My ideal travel spot allows for medieval manuscript study in the morning followed by hiking and/or ruins (preferably Roman or medieval) in the afternoon. Edinburgh is great, and so is Paris.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I need another history project…

      • omdg Says:

        In my opinion, yes. I’ve been to Mexico (Cancun and the Yucatan peninsula), and Barbados, and Hawaii was so so so much better.

  2. delagar Says:

    It’s a wonderful problem! Have fun solving it!

  3. independentclause Says:

    More books, of course! And maybe add a library onto the house. Or get a pool.

  4. bogart Says:

    Assuming I have the set of Grumpy preferences correctly sorted by Grumpy, you could buy #2 a horse, and pay its upkeep. That seems to me the obvious solution ;). Or you could just save your money in case contemporary/upcoming events make emigrating seem a good idea.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Hahaha, good point. But #2 doesn’t have time to exercise her horse! (#2 has also recommended just sending her the excess and letting her figure out how to spend it, but I vetoed that. Although she did just get the latest Gunnerkrigg Court from me as a delayed Christmas present.)

      • bogart Says:

        Ah, right. Well, you can of course hire a horse-exerciser…

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        #2: it’s a lot!
        Food, boarding, vet visits, farrier, tack…
        unless you keep the horse by you, in which case it’s still expensive but cheaper
        #1: but there’s no room in your apartment
        #2: no there isn’t

  5. tararuns Says:

    We’re in a somewhat similar situation in that I have a short term (~3 year) position that pays substantially more than my regular position, house is paid off, kids’ schooling is paid off, and retirement savings are well in hand. In the current climate, we’ve figured out how much extra that amounts to in our pockets after taxes and have upped our annual donations to causes we care about (and that currently seem to be in greater need than ever…) by that amount. So far that’s given us more satisfaction than any of the other options we could come up with. (Well, we have also shelled out for a few pieces of art that we fell in love with, but not really in the “major purchase” price range.)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I definitely get warm glow from donating. It is such a luxury to be able to give money. I still wish that I could give it as taxes rather than to nonprofits. I wish I could trust the government more. :(

  6. jjiraffe Says:

    Very awesome problem to have. Kids activities are where my mind goes for extra money. Coding/robotics camps, chess, horseback riding, drama, science camps, etc. There is this really interesting program here based on a Soviet idea where brilliant people are brought in to a kids camp and the kids solve problems using their ideas. I’m blanking on the name of it…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      During the school year we feel pretty tapped out with kids activities already (Monday and Sunday are only evenings without one), but there’s a lot of room for the summers! If only places would start posting their stuff… (Right now I’d settle for places posting their spring break camps!)

      • Leah Says:

        as someone who plans summer camps . . . larger places can get their stuff together. But it is so hard for us to work in advance because we’re such a shoestring operation and we all have full time school year jobs. I know our camps aren’t your target, but I still feel like apologizing a little! :-)

  7. Susan Says:

    We’re in kind of the same place (and spouse got a 10% raise last week too). We have tried to spend more, but we ultimately are still the same people who work hard on a daily basis and scrounge around the kitchen for dinner because going out to eat is too much more than 1-2x/week. We have the same struggle with vacation: it requires taking time off, which is harder than the money. I just remodeled our powder room myself (tile, new sink, paint, and fixtures) because I like to putter and have projects. We just end up throwing spare bucks in taxable. We also figure that spouse’s job will not last forever (tech!), so we don’t want to really up our spending.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Woo, congratulations spouse!

      DH is in the same situation, though he did just go to a big meeting with all the other defense contractors who are working on their latest contract and he was the second youngest person in the room! (The youngest was his junior programmer.) So there’s hope. That hope being– keep networking with people who start their own small companies who work for the DOD, I guess.

  8. Leah Says:

    New ideas:
    – get your kids involved with hockey (so $$$) — this is actually a bit of a joke but is worthwhile if your kids are remotely sporty
    – think about boarding school? Might be worth it for educational opportunities but not worth it if you like spending time with your kids
    – buy some land somewhere else specifically for conservation purposes
    – pay Trader Joe’s to open a store in your town (okay, more money than you have!)
    – be a shadow investor in a cool local business you want to support (I would so do this — we have a BBQ place in town that is awesome but in an awful location, and they can’t afford to relocate. I wish someone in town with means would shadow invest and buy them a downtown location — they’d do so much more business!)

    but, really, if I were you, I’d replace both your cars so that any car worries are off your plate (or replace DH’s car and then save to replace yours, or replace DH’s battery even if it’s not “cost-effective” if you still like the car).

    Then, I’d save up money and replace your kitchen. It’s enough of a pain, and you’ve mentioned it often enough. Hire a good designer. That will cost more, but the person should be able to come up with good ideas for redoing everything.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Great ideas!

      I don’t think we do hockey in the South– It’s all soccer and football here.

      I don’t know why TJ’s doesn’t open a store here. They don’t do franchising otherwise I’m fairly sure we’d have one already. There’s hope– one of my friends just got a TJ’s and a WF in her similarly situated town (couple hours from a city, lots of college students) in a different part of the country.

      (Spoiler: DH bought a new car. More info on that in a couple/few weeks.)

      • Leah Says:

        We very occasionally get hockey players from Florida, Arizona, etc, so I think there is the occasional (and expensive!) hockey team down south.

        I wouldn’t actually encourage your kids to do sports. Being active is good tho. I think you likely already give your kids plenty of enrichment. Keep an eye out for fun summer camps as they get older, like coding/robotics/engineering/ language (things that seem up their alley). Have you heard of Concordia Language Villages? I don’t know much about them, but I think they’re immersion camp experiences. Or you could go to Latin America, live in a town, and all take Spanish classes. I’m saving for that eventually because the Spanish immersion school is a 20 minute drive away, and my husband and I aren’t keen on driving.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        My rich cousins used to go to Concordia for French summer camp (I, otoh, went to YMCA away camp for a week and various university daycamps). I’m still embarrassed about the time my teenage self explained to a gentleman on an airplane that my cousin was a voyeur when I meant voyager.

        We are considering spending a couple weeks in the city closest to us so DC2 can go to a Spanish immersion daycamp there if we can’t find something here (weekends at home, school week in the city?). The public schools do have a single 2 week 2 hour program that unfortunately conflicts with Disney World, but the woman who teaches it is also DC2’s dual-language aide, so we might ask her if she does language tutoring or knows of any opportunities that would help DC2 if we decide to skip 1st.

        DC1 has been fortunate to be able to do all sorts of cool summer daycamps– there’s a makerspace here that puts them on for a very reasonable price. The uni also does a residential summer camp that I’ve signed hir up for this year. We were on the fence about a really cool sounding math camp in I think Oregon through math circle, but zie is still only 11, so we’re going to see how residential in our town goes before committing to residential in another state. (Plus there will probably be a similar local daycamp that will cost ~$100 given that there was one last year and over winter break.) I wish we were a Duke TIP campus.

        If we were to do residential school, I think we’d go with public boarding school which also isn’t that expensive. (Assuming the kids got in.)

        (We have a song we sing to the tune of the “all you hungry children got to eat it up” song.. Monday nothing, Tuesday science club/mathcounts, Wednesday violin, Thursday piano, Friday swimming, Saturday math circle, Sunday nothing, all you busy children, gotta do your stuff.)

  9. Leah Says:

    maybe an Ask the Grumpies question? How do you pick preschool? Our best options are the Catholic school ($6,300 tuition, and that includes lunch and the before/after care, but Catholic school), public school ($6,300 tuition and does NOT include those things, so we’d pay an extra $2k for lunch and care), or staying at our current daycare/preschool that our daughter seems to be aging out of (~$5,500ish, includes full day, breakfast, lunch, all snacks and no random vacation days). The other two preschools have random vacation days. We’d have to send in snack about once a month at the Catholic school, but at least they have snacks.

    We are just so torn and are not sure what’s the most important and whether it’s worth it to pay $2k more for public school. That’s a lot of money for us.

  10. becca Says:

    Based on what *I* would do with extra money…
    1) hire a local college student who speaks Spanish to come and be a mother’s/father’s helper type babysitter and teach your kids to speak Spanish
    2) as an exercise in budgeting, have DC1 plan a vacation trip to a Spanish speaking part of the world
    3) Center for Talent Development camp for DC1? (or equivalent)
    4) solar panels are becoming much more cost effective- Mr Money Mustache just posted about them. Do you by chance have an oversized garage in the sun?
    5) consider making a list of little renovations that will improve quality of life- there were a bunch of examples in a recent post’s comment.

    Related to wishing you could trust the government more- many communities seem to have foundations or educational foundations to fund worthy goals in the community. In Kzoo, they were behind the Promise scholarship, in my current town they do more ordinary things like cover the cost of STEM assembly activities (though we have some pretty awesome parents to lead this). Does your community have such a foundation? If not and you just want good bang for your buck, consider an unrestricted donation to your local community colleges.

  11. Troy Says:

    Combining 3 ideas – the principle of least regret, “Buy experiences, not stuff,” and that saving time yields more satisfaction per dollar than stuff (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/27/science/study-happy-save-money-time.html), a few things bubble up:

    1. Get the kids exposure to another part of the world and language. How about combining the idea of a vacation with a few weeks or more in a non-English-speaking country? While Hawaii is a vacation, everyone knows what to expect – it barely checks the “buy experiences” box. OTOH, a few weeks – or if you can pull it off, a month or two – in a foreign country could be life-changing.

    Is it possible to spend a few weeks in an econ department in a uni in Spain, while the kids do (hopefully fun!) immersion stuff or even just roam the city with a local guide (or DH as much as work allows)? 3+ weeks in Seville or Madrid (or wherever will have you…) and a week on a beach? Obvious downside, Spain is very hot in the summer, though it’s dry and mostly in the late afternoon — work, sleep, Spanish lesson time.

    2. At least look and/or ask on a site like Yelp, Nextdoor, or Angie’s List for a fantastic house cleaner. If you turn up empty, then “I wouldn’t know how to find a truly excellent cleaning person” is in fact true, but perhaps someone has already been endorsed by enough legit reviewers to be worth trying (twice – the first time will require some training). At least try the techniques you do know.

    Two tips: ask “How do you and your team share and retain knowledge across visits?” If they don’t have a notetaking system for retaining knowledge across visits (do X, don’t do Y, etc), there’s probably a better competitor who does. Even with the same team on most visits, this makes the difference between great, consistent cleaning and something else. The best cleaners have customer-facing portals where you and they can share instructions about what you do and don’t want. They’ll also have a standardized intake form, standard cleaning levels, and the like. It will probably be a company, not an individual.

    Second, that this person/company is likely to be more expensive than you expect, because consistency requires some overhead (office team, Web portal, etc), staff that’s fluent in English and receives on-the-books compensation, and because a person/company who executes your instructions consistently can basically set their own rate – they’re not offering cleaning, they’re offering the cleaning you’d do yourself. While paying more doesn’t ensure quality, a really good person/company is probably in the top quartile of prices.

    – Eat out as often as you want, but try to check the “experience” box while doing so. Go to a new place or food style – have the kids had dim sum? Korean? etc. Maybe they don’t like it and you visit Chipotle afterwards, and that’s fine, but every one of those will stand out more than the 20th visit to the local Thai place.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Since we’ve had to rent our house out twice for various leaves, we’ve definitely done our due diligence re: house cleaning. The people we know in other cities who have amazing house-cleaners who don’t make you pre-clean pretty much only hire undocumented folks, which is something I should steer clear of in case that comes up in a hearing for political appointees (not that I want to be a political appointee, but I might change my mind in a decade or three). The (documented) woman that some of my colleagues uses doesn’t actually do a great job. The most popular service in town is the most expensive and does require pre-cleaning. I think we’ve got a post somewhere in the archives with me complaining about all of this. We are much happier not having people clean than having people clean. https://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/thoughts-on-professional-cleaners/

      I should probably make it clear that we live in a small town, not a big city. So our eating out options are limited and we’ve tried pretty much every place in town except a few of the bars that get bad reviews. The last time the kids had dim sum was in San Francisco. Korean we have about once a month when I’m craving bibimbop because we do have a good place in town. I don’t think the kids have been to Chipotle because we have much better Tex-Mex options (I’ve been because there’s one on campus). The thai place in town isn’t as good as PeiWei, so we usually only get Thai when we go to into the city.

      • Troy Says:

        Funny – after 5 years, I thought I was a regular reader (and via RSS, so I’ve read every single post in that time), but even that one predates me :-)

        Now that I think about it… with the number of things you’ve covered in posts, I’m not sure any commenter could bring up a new idea or even a new angle to consider. That’s not a bad thing, though :-)

  12. Linda Says:

    I can highly recommend taking a vacation with Lindblad to the Galapagos: https://www.expeditions.com/destinations/south-america/galapagos/the-experience/ It would also give the kids a chance to use their Spanish. If I had the money, I’d take another vacation with them to Alaska or Cuba.

    I love the idea about establishing a scholarship!

  13. Leigh Says:

    Congrats to DH on the awesome raise! I hope that means that his company is doing more okay now?

    I don’t have many more suggestions of things to do. We mostly shovel money to Vanguard, though we haven’t paid off the mortgage yet. That’s mostly because we are quite happy with it being ~1/3 of our combined net worth and don’t want it to go higher than that. We do have a house cleaner, though we are finding a new one because this one has been really chaotic. We mostly grocery shop at the store nearest us even though it is the most expensive. We try to do weekend getaways just the two of us every quarter or so, just to a nice place within 1-3 hours driving. We have a monthly coffee subscription service that brings us coffee from around the world, which is pretty cool. We have season tickets to a local theatre. My husband has two bikes that combined are worth almost as much as my car…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      DH has been loving Tearunners. He did like the coffee subscription he used to have before it got bought out by blue bottle, but right now he’s not drinking enough coffee to support that (and he didn’t like their decaf options).

      Are they different kinds of bikes? Or is one a backup?

      • Leigh Says:

        Yes, one is for commuting and one is more for racing. He goes on very long bike rides for fun.

        After I posted that, I realized we’ve had some other splurges in the last few years. We hired a designer to help us remodel the furniture and layout in our living room, which has been amazing. I still can’t believe we spent $5000 on a couch, but we love it! We also went on a very nice three week trip to Italy.

        The biggest luxury though really is that we haven’t made any lifestyle sacrifices to afford me not working through my health issue at the moment.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        #2 makes me want to go to Italy. Just for the eating!

        Best of luck with the health issue.

      • Leigh Says:

        would recommend! The eating was so very delightful!!!

  14. SP Says:

    I like your obnoxious (/aspirational!) money posts. Congrats to DH, yay! How about a Grumpy rumblings blog giveaway to your fantastic readers! :)

    But seriously, you have a lot of great options here. With a 10% raise, we’d just keep on trucking along on our mortgage & savings & house projects. It is harder than one would think to translate money directly into happiness!

  15. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    Congrats on the raise! I love trying to decide what to do with excess money. I love excess money.

    My soul thirsts for a week in Hawaii. Not that I ever stayed in debt for it, I flew there on a voucher and loaned lodgings when I went there the first time.

    It’s amazing. The FOOD. I dream of all the mouthwateringly fragrant and perfectly cooked dishes at Side Street Inn in Honolulu, and malasadas from pretty much any place, shrimp plates on the north side of the beach, seafood (sometimes $$, sometimes not), sighhhhh. Poke, I could eat their poke all day everyday.

    I go to San Diego every year and adore it but I always long for a taste of Hawaii when it’s been a while. Plus we have some wonderful friends there.

    It’s the only place that I know I unreservedly want to go this year. Everything else gets caught in the “I want to travel but I want to not leave the house or deal with any of that stuff” conflict.

    I would exercise #2’s horse! Uh, that is, if my bones allow it. I miss riding ever so much.

  16. chacha1 Says:

    If it were me I’d lean toward giving money away,* top choice would be that thing about buying land to keep it away from developers. Specifically, I’d follow LandWatch and find out when parcels are going up for sale, buy them, and give them to the Nature Conservancy. (If a parcel can’t be managed within their own programs, they find a way to give it to someone else who will use it responsibly.) Conservation + tax breaks + satisfaction of thwarting the developers.

    2nd choice, I’d buy vacant land and give it to my city with steel cables attached to the effect of “must be used for public park, community garden, or nature preserve.” Or buy lots with derelict structures, especially if adjacent to waterways, and get rid of the structures, remediate the land, THEN give to the city. You can burn a lot of money this way. (More tax breaks.) :-) Or, still within the “fix town” category, buy nice old houses in disrepair and find a building program to fix them up for resale. i.e. flipping, but with good intentions vs. pure profit motive. There are vocational schools looking for project houses.

    3rd choice, I’d find out how much money my fire department, library, and legal aid program need, and give it to them. Fire departments in small towns are often staffed largely by volunteers and funded largely by grants. I did not know this till we bought land in the foothills. It’s not a great way to provide fire safety, but in small non-rich towns people rarely vote the bonds or taxes to provide permanent funding.

    *But first, I’ll be honest – I’d renovate the kitchen. :-)

  17. CG Says:

    What a nice problem to have! And Hawaii…oh. We just went there for the second time over the holiday break. The first time was on our honeymoon and I wanted to move there. This time was no different. The diversity both in terms of people and landscape (and food) is unparalleled, I think. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has amazing hiking and scenery. It is not like other beachy/tropical destinations I have visited, but much better. So, highly recommended!

    But…if you decide not to go there with your extra money, I would vote for spending it in a quality of life improvement–what could you spend money on to remove an annoyance or make something easier or better?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We went to London… Ontario for our honeymoon. I didn’t really feel an overwhelming desire to move there. :)

      I feel like my in-laws weren’t that impressed with Hawaii, but I also think they did a standard package trip that didn’t involve things like volcano national parks.

    • chacha1 Says:

      We did a week on the Big Island for our honeymoon. It was right after 9/11 so a lot of people had cancelled their trips, lots of vacancies. We stayed only two nights in the private rental we’d booked, then hit the road and nearly circumnavigated the island, staying in a different place every night. Hilo was beautiful. (Botanical garden.) Volcanoes NP was beautiful. (And we drove out at night to see the active lava flow.) Punalu’u was beautiful. (And we saw a sea turtle haul out to dig a nest.) Kona was beautiful. (Coffee plantation! Mini submarine reef tour!) Hawaii (big island) is one of very few places on earth you can go from a tropical zone to an alpine zone in a day. In the off-season, I heartily recommend.

  18. Solitary Diner Says:

    What an awesome problem to have! I am actually starting to approach this problem, as I am less than 6 months away from having my debt paid off, and my savings are growing at a nice rate (ignoring the recent “correction” or “bull” or whatever you want to call it).

    I want to vacation with Dame Eleanor Hull. Her vacation idea sounds awesome. But I would also agree with everyone who voted for Hawaii. It is beautiful and relaxing and pretty much worth how expensive it is.

  19. First Gen American Says:

    In relation to preparedness, I am a sucker for dystopian fiction. I just read one second after (living after an EMP attack) and I realized How unprepared I am for an extended power outage and given Korea’s recent threat to use one, it is now plausible that this can happen in our lifetime.So now I am thinking maybe we can start doing stuff like putting in a basic well, installing some solar power, getting some freeze dried food, etc. it’s strange that I have always been prepared for a financial emergency but not a major disaster. I guess it felt too paranoid to think that way before this administration. Plus, some of these things do have a payback time. My water bill is high for my area for example and the water table is high so it should be cheaper to install.

    I love your summer enrichment/cultural immersion idea. Would love to be able to do that someday.

    • First Gen American Says:

      I hadn’t read all the comments before posting but I just booked Hawaii myself. Mostly because I had 50% off the hotel and my MIL always wanted to go and she is 75 so will not be able to do big trips for much longer. It was still expensive to book and I was wondering if it was worth it but the many comments seem to be easing my worries a bit.

      For cleaning person. It took many years to find someone I liked. Word of mouth is the best way to find someone. Just keep asking neighbors and colleagues especially Anal neatnick ones. Eventually you will find someone. It does improve quality of life. It was a must have for my spouse but am glad we have one now. People will either say the person they use is okay (pass) or they love them. You want the latter and it does take a while to find them in a small town. I make sure my person can come when they want and can swap days whenever needed and that helps with loyalty and price. I also don’t like services with multiple staff because some do a better jobs than others. I’ve had the best luck with a single lady that works alone. She gets to know your house well and does it the same every time. I also don’t like extra strangers in my house if it can be avoided.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      DH has been bulking up our emergency stores so we can last I forget, 5 days? without external food/water/electricity. We opted not to buy a generator because we didn’t want to store gasoline. Trump has made preppers of many of us!

  20. rose Says:

    I had lots of bad initial ideas for you. Your commentators had lots of good thoughts. I am certain you already have looked at the tax implications and the fact the actual income increase to your bank accounts will be … less than 10%. (I used to have to explain this to Computer Sci Ph.D.’s at my job.)
    I think you are very wise about money and needs versus wants and opportunities that are specifically good for your children. Are there other children or elders in your family that you might need/want to silently stockpile savings for against their future educational needs or old age support. Silently because there is no guarantee of much you may end up needing for yourselves or your children in the event of the unexpected. Also, people need to grow their own safety nets, as much as they can, rather than relying on others to save them. Fabulous problem to have, you worked hard to have it and I am happy for you!

  21. Anne M Says:

    Get an environmental design firm to work on your whole outdoors, not just the lawn. They should be able to get you low-water-needed plantings/grass, or perhaps herbs that could to be placed in a flower bed (still thirsty, but you get fresh herbs). If you have a lot of extra lawn, a scenic brick pathway back to a gazebo could be fun (and possibly a place to put solar panels).
    Rent a car and driver to take your family to The Big City now and then, so that you don’t have to worry about traffic or finding a parking place.

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