I picked up two very dirty, exhausted & hungry boys at outdoor adventure camp today. They had a blast. They've been going for three years now, and describe it as the highlight of their summer.
We've had a mostly frugal few weeks. Here are the frugal highlights:
- Didn't buy groceries last week. The kids were out of town, and we were pretty well stocked. That saves about $125-150.
- Earned a $1000 bonus for being in the top interviewers at my company. A dubious honor, as interviewing is a giant time commitment, but what can you do? I'm on a very fast growing team.
- Called Alaska Airlines to complain about the numerous flight changes for our upcoming holiday trips. For our Hawaii flight, we now have to fly out of an entirely different airport, and the return flight is awful. Got $500 in credit vouchers for future flights, and upgraded to first class on the return for the inconvenience. We will have a super expensive Uber (probably double what we were expecting to pay) given the further out airport, but it's still a big win.
- Ate out four times with Michael while the boys were out of town. (No need to pay a sitter!) And, made reasonable choices. Brought wine 2x, skipped alcohol once, made drinks at home one night, ordered happy hour, etc. It was about the same as our grocery bill would have been, so I'll call that a win.
And, on to the decisions. . . so, I've been thinking a lot about my goals, values & how I want to spend my time as I pass the next few years. We've also been trying to plot out our next steps. A lot will happen in the upcoming year - our lease expires, which really forces our hand with the housing issue. Our tenant's lease expires, so ditto. Our eldest starts middle school. And, here I am, still in a job that requires 8+ weeks of international travel a year, lots of evening & weekend work, too many holidays to count, and all of the stress I could imagine. It pays well, of course. Otherwise, no one would do it. :-) But, it's a job that I want to leave, but feel trapped to continue due to the cost of housing here.
We've been actively saving A LOT of money for a down payment on a house in our area. As I've vented many times, it's a minimum of a $2.5M starting price point for the market. Switching areas requires the boys to switch schools. And, the lowest we can get is probably $1.9M for a 1500, 2/3 bedroom in need of work. So, it feels hard to sign off on the boys switching schools without at least revisiting our decision to stay in California. With the boys out of town, we've had lots of time for adult conversations (yay!) & ran some numbers.
If we took our down payment savings (and, this includes the savings we will be doing from now until school is out in June), we could actually pay off our vacation house and our second mortgage. That, combined with the reduction in our monthly housing expenses (not including a house here, just our rent), would cut our monthly budget by more than $5K. Which, would free me up to be able to take a more flexible job & not be bound to such a crazy demanding life for all of us.
Of course, there are obvious downsides to consider.
-Moving the kids. They both talk about moving back all the time, but their friends have moved on, they'd have to re-establish new relationships, they clearly remember things differently than they were, and I think they'd have a hard time with the weather. But, my parents & family are all within a couple of hours drive.
-The weather. The vitamin D has actually helped with my lupus & my health has been well in check. Plus, of course, it's hard to be active when it rains a lot.
-Michael's job. He loves it, and he couldn't do it remotely. But, there is a branch of our company in Seattle. But, he'd have to switch roles & teams. And, there's no guarantees. He may not be able to find anything & would have to find a new company, which would require him to forfeit quite a bit of stock.
You'll likely see me start to more seriously explore all of these options & potential decisions as it gets closer!