Dualing Duel Income Differences

#1:  We have no post for tomorrow

#2:  Do you have some money things to ask me, or say?  Or talk about?  Something something… I like money?

#1:  What’s it like having two incomes now [that your DH has been re-employed for a while]?

#2:  Not any different. Nothing’s really changed?

#1: No? It’s really no different having your DH working vs. not? Why is that? For me there’s a huge difference!

#2: I mean…. he handles most of the bills. Our level of spending hasn’t changed. We’re not really doing anything different in our daily lives.

#1: You don’t have fewer money worries? Or is it that he had enough of a buffer that it was ok?

#2: I mean… some, I guess it’s slightly less worrisome? I didn’t have a whole lot before. We have a big buffer.

#1: Maybe it’s like when I go on leave… like, it’s planned for and expected and stuff. Whereas DH being unemployed is more worrisome because we don’t know if he’s going to be able to find employment again without us all moving.  I guess your DH has better market prospects?

#2: We have enough buffer to not really change anything, I guess.

#1: Is it different when you’re the one unemployed?

#2: If DH stops doing this job, he’ll just get another one. My job is less essential to the financial functioning of this household, but still important. We could afford for both of us to be out of work for a short while, but that would blow the buffer. I mean, we live in an expensive place. But we also have a bunch of money, so….?

#1: We live in an inexpensive place, and we can live on my salary… but for some reason it’s more stressful.  We have to keep an eye on the spending… we can’t just say yes to things, whereas when he’s working we have enough extra we don’t need to sweat the small or medium-sized stuff.  Maybe it’s the kids–they’re more expensive than cats, and needy. Like, they need stuff.

#2: Yes, I think if I had kids that I was worried about their present and future needs… that would be a LOT of stress. If I had kids I would feel stressed ALL the time.

#1: … that’s not even counting when the after school activity teacher tells you that the Hershey’s kisses your DC2 is tantrumming about not getting are only for mommies who participated in their stupid unannounced parent participation day that you would totally have not had DC2 participate in if you’d known it would be happening when DH was out of town… I digress.

#1:  Or maybe it’s just that you’re naturally frugal now and the same naturally frugal when your DH is unemployed and there isn’t a big level jump given how expensive it is to live where you live– you still have to be moderately careful.

#2:  More like naturally medium.  Not very frugal.

#1:  You don’t have enough space to be truly unfrugal.  Unless your DH has a Tesla I don’t know about.

#2:  Nope.  Also I don’t like clothes shopping, and I like to stay at home.

If you’re partnered, how does your life change when one of you is out of work?  What do you think is going on? 

Here’s Mrs. POP talking about her feelings with a FIREd spouse.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 9 Comments »

Ask the grumpies: How do I find a good bank?

Susan asks:

We’ll be leaving BofA. What recommendations do you have?

I’ve been googling and what is defined as “ethical” seems confusing (mostly synonymous with green?). I think we need: direct deposit, online/picture deposit, billpay, and ATMs, though we don’t use cash much. We’ll need to link to Vanguard. So, pretty simple, and online only is going to be fine I think, it’s been years since I’ve been to the B&M. We keep ~$10k in checking. We have a Capital One account already (from when it was ING).

I don’t know that I have good recommendations, and #2 and I have very different feelings about credit unions. (I think it’s a good idea to have both a local CU and a national bank, she is very against CU for reasons.) I will say I’m enjoying the interest on our capital one online-only account (that we opened because of a special extra cash offer), but I think people generally prefer Ally.

In terms of ethics, I have no idea, though obviously Bank of America and Wells Fargo have many strikes against them on that front.

There’s some online people who have looked at the question of ethics, as you note, but I’m not sure how trustworthy the sites are.  Here’s the ethical consumer for UK banks and here’s nerdwallet with US banks.

Mr. Millionaire says:

I love Ally (not sponsored). The only drawback is that if I want to deposit cash (side hustle), I have to buy a money order and mail it in.

gasstationwithout pumps says:

When my son and I were both looking for interest-bearing accounts, we ended up with Alliant Credit Union. For us, it is online only, except that we can use any credit-union ATM for deposits and withdrawals. The interest rate is a bit better than Ally or Capital One. It’s early days yet, but the only problem I’ve had was depositing the check for closing out the Wells Fargo account—it exceeded the maximum for ATM transactions, and I had to do a 2-step transfer (first in-person at my local credit union, then electronically from there). It is a good idea to retain one local brick-and-mortar institution in your portfolio.

Maybe the readers will have more suggestions?

One reason not to consolidate bank accounts

Bank of America freezing accounts of customers suspected of not being US citizens.

When you have multiple accounts, you have access to multiple streams of money.  If the US government infiltrates one and steals your stuff, chances are that they won’t get everyplace at the same time.  There will be some warning.  So if something of yours gets seized, you’ll be able to live off of one of your other accounts while finding a lawyer (or, if we continue going the pre-WWII Germany route, getting your ducks in order to flee the country).  If, say, Bank of America is your only account, then you’re going to run up a lot of credit card debt (or worse) while waiting for things to be sorted out.  If you can get them sorted out.

Now, of course, it doesn’t have to be fascism that causes inaccessibility to one of your accounts.  Sometimes your account will get compromised by theft or there will be some kind of clerical error that freezes an account.  When DH’s debit card got spoofed and our Wells Fargo account was temporarily frozen, I was grateful to have access to a checkbook from a credit union account with money in it to pay the monthly bills.

How would you access money if your main account got frozen?

 

Premium ice cream has spoiled me for non-premium ice cream

I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Our local grocery store has been sending us special just for us coupons in the mail, and each time it sends us coupons for various ice creams.  It knows our eating habits well.

Most recently, in addition to the standard pints of fancy boutique ice cream and Haagan-Daaz and Ben and Jerrys, we got a coupon for a half gallon of Bryers.

Back in college Bryers was the best, fanciest ice cream I could afford (mostly vanilla with minimal ingredients– is their vanilla still good?).  A huge step up from the big gallon tubs of generic ice cream my father would bring home when I was a kid.  Since DH and I got real jobs, we generally only get pints of premium stuff (or make our own!).

DH used the Bryers coupon to get a half gallon of Rocky Road.

Readers, it was meh.  Too sweet.  Not rich or creamy enough.  Nothing like the Haagan-Daaz we get.  I had a little and then it sat in the freezer until the children were reminded about it enough times for it to disappear.  DH did not partake other than a spoonful or two.

And I realized– I can not appreciate this thing I used to like because I regularly eat a better version.  Just like I can’t truly appreciate the chocolate of my youth because I’ve had too much high quality single source dark chocolate.  Even my favorite reeses peanut butter cups aren’t as good as the TJ’s knock-offs.

These premium items come in smaller packages too.  So I eat less than I did when we regularly bought the lower quality product because there is less.  Pints instead of half gallons.  Little tubs instead of big bags.

Am I getting more pleasure?  Am I getting less?  Is this healthier?  Is it worse on the family pocket-book?  It is hard to say.

Are there things that access to better products has destroyed for you?  How do you feel about that?

Artists to support with money

We need art to keep us sane in this crazy world.  Donating to worthy causes is all very good, but if you want to consume some media, here are some suggestions.

 

Do you wish you could read more widely with low effort?  Great news!  I found out that if you subscribe to Open Letter publications, they’ll just send you their books in the mail.  The price is really surprisingly low, and all the books are translated from around the world.  They didn’t pay me to say this.

Patreon finds:  I need diverse games; award-winning author and podcaster Mur Lafferty; sure-to-be-award-winning writer Rivers Solomon; necessary words from The Bookavid; I’ve also read K. Tempest Bradford; I have enjoyed writing by Liz Bourke.  Amazing writer Nisi Shawl will also send you tea blends!  McMansion Hell makes us laugh.

I think LaGuardia Cross’s videos are hilarious and occasionally poignant.  Subscribe to his channel so he can keep getting endorsement contracts and stuff.  (Ok, this one isn’t spending money.)

I like podcasts from the maximumfun.org family of pods.  Some suggestions:

I recommend (again) buying things by Sarah Gailey.  If you aren’t convinced, try reading this story; that oughta do it.  And if you want to cry, you can read the sequel.

Get a t-shirt from the Call Your Girlfriend podcast.

Buy comics from Lions Forge (diversity and all-ages).

The Worldbuilders shop is a place to buy cool bookish things (like this rad bookmark). You can buy lots of foreign-language translations of fantasy novels (Hungarian!  Catalan!  Canadian French!  Polish!  Brazilian Portuguese!), jewelry, stickers, a sword, mugs, etc. Proceeds are given to charities such as Heifer International and First Book.

 

What kinds of art should people toss their dollars at, Grumpeteers? 

Trees fall down

One of our big oaks got some kind of borer beetle and had to come down.  Then two weeks later during a big storm, our last ornamental pear tree fell over (fortunately it did not take either our deck or our fence with it, though it did grab some of the wisteria off our fence on its way down).

So we paid $335.58 to get the oak taken down and the stump ground, along with trimming back our crepe myrtle so it would stop hitting our roof and grinding another stump from a tree the previous owners had removed (the stump had been bothering DH for lo these 12 years, who knew?).

Then a few weeks later we paid another ~$200 to get the pear tree taken out of our backyard and its remaining stump and roots ground.

Next month we’re planning on buying another oak to replace the beetled oak (apparently the beetles are only a problem when the trees are distressed, so that won’t be a problem with the new oak) and a cherry tree for the back.  DH also wants to buy a few more experimental fruit trees for the remaining places in our lawn.  (Every year he buys a few and one will take root and flourish even if it never fruits again and the other two will die.  I think he’s going to keep doing this until he runs out of spots.)  This year he’s gonna get a crabapple, which I love.  We’ll see if it survives and fruits.  Cost:  ~$300 all told, including mulch.  (It’s way more expensive if we get the tree company to do it, but DH has found a nursery he likes, and we’ve had better luck with keeping cheap younger trees alive than expensive older.)

*Activism Update*

Speaking of things on your lawn being removed… All of the democratic signs in my neighborhood for a specific race were stolen Saturday night.  If that happens to you, be sure to file a police report.  The police can’t do anything based on rumors.  They are more likely to investigate if they see a pattern.  And an entire HOA losing its signs is a pattern.  We went to Target and got materials to make our own sign.  Then we bought 30 signs at the Dem HQ when they opened and gave them to people whose signs had been stolen.  And a few for local candidates while we were at it.  Make some good come from evil.

This weekend we also did postcards from postcards to voters:  https://postcardstovoters.org/

and letters from votefwd.org

And I’ve been hooked up with a post-card service that only sends stuff in my state.

Do you have trees?  Have you ever had problems with them?

Replacing more light fixtures

A few years ago, we had an energy audit and replaced all our bucket light fixtures with cooler, more efficient ones that would allow us to insulate the holes they created in the ceiling.  (The electrician DH tried to hire basically told him that was the best option and to do it all himself instead of paying the electrician, so he did.)

This year one of the fluorescent ballasts in the kitchen sort of broke (it could still be used, but even with a brand new bulb, it took a long time to turn on and then still flickered and after some observation DH suspected it might be dangerous).  The fluorescents in a couple of the other rooms, including my closet, weren’t in that great shape anyway (nothing like a strobe effect to trigger migraines…), and DH wanted to move to LEDs, especially since the fluorescent hum was driving him crazy.  Although LEDs fit in the sockets it wasn’t clear that just swapping them in was safe given the various electric ratings.

Given our track record of the electrician coming out only to tell DH how to do small jobs himself, we decided it was time to get rid of all of our fluorescent lighting (make it a big job!).

Here’s what that consisted of, according to the electrician’s quote:

CHANGE LAMPS IN 3 GARAGE FIXTURES TO LINE VOLTAGE LED
REMOVE WRAP IN UTILITY ROOM AND REPLACE WITH DISC LIGHT
REMOVE WRAP IN 4 CLOSETS AND REPLACE WITH DISC LIGHT
REMOVE WRAP IN PANTRY AND REPLACE WITH DISC LIGHT
REPLACE LAMPS IN TWO KITCHEN FIXTURES WITH LINE VOLTAGE LED LAMPS

The quote for all of this was $925.  That’s a lot!  But it’s also 11 light fixtures.  (Some of the big rectangular fluorescent lights were actually two ballasts next to each other.)

According to DH, two of them worked for three hours, installing 5 fixtures’ worth of line-fed tubular LEDs, removing 6 fixtures and replacing with disk lights.

$12 per tubular LED Keystone KT-LED15T8-48GC-850-DX2
$30 per disk light SunSet 15W LED by Luminance

5*2*12 = $120 for the tubulars.
6*30 = $180 for the disks.

So $300 in parts, let’s round up to $350 for incidentals (ex. wires, putty for the holes left by the fluorescent ballasts, extra screws. etc.).

The quote was for $925. So $575 in labor.
$575 / 2 / 3 = $95.8/ person hour.  Which is a little high but is within a reasonable range of going rates for the area.  And it helps assuage a little of the guilt I had for us calling the electrician out twice before only to have him give DH good advice and detailed instructions for what to do in exchange for no money.

Overall we are really happy with the results.  One exception was that the light in my closet wasn’t bright enough and left eerie shadows.  Fortunately that was an easy $30 disc light swap that we could do ourselves.  Though now we have an extra light in case one of the other ones breaks sometime before the 22 year expected life of the new LEDs…

What kind of lighting do you have in your place?