Hello and welcome to the last recap for 2016! This is Lucy reporting out and stealing the spotlight from JW for my monthly round-up post. True, I may not be the voice of this blog, but do know I am always here behind the scenes… editing posts, reading comments, you name it. I started these recaps a couple of months ago. Check out the past posts here (September, October, November). December was an interesting month, but a great one! Let’s dive in…
First and foremost December was a 3 paycheck month for both of us. You have to love those months! That’s two months in a row we’ve had above normal take home pay (in November I received my quarterly bonus). This is great to help pad the checking account (temporarily, until money is moved around of course) and to help stash some cash in our IRAs come January. I’ve also been crunching the numbers to see how my Q4 bonus will come out and it’s looking good (to be paid in February)!
Speaking of quarters… one quarterly cost we have that we paid this month was our HOA (home owner association) fee. We pay $137 per quarter which is no chump change. We realized this and knew what the fee was prior to purchasing our house of course. When we think about all the services it covers we remind ourselves that it’s well worth it. We take full advantage of the pool in the summer (our son has become a fish!), visit the community playground almost every weekend, play tennis occasionally and even enjoyed meeting Santa at the club house in early December.
Speaking of Santa… our son was not a fan. He watched other kids sit on Santa’s lap just fine, but then he watched his little buddy take a turn and a complete freak out ensued. Let’s just say that wasn’t helping his confidence. When it was our son’s turn he would only stand about an arm’s length away from the guy in red. We decided to enlist the buddy system and tried the two boys at the same time. In the end we got a funny (and still cute) picture of both of them holding hands, an arm’s length away. Let me just point out how low key and stress-free meeting Santa is at our own private club house. We didn’t have to fight crowds or stand in lines at the mall. And the pics are free! Although not totally free (we consider this event included in our HOA), still so reasonable!
Flights, Flights and More (Gold) Flights
December was a month of travel for me. I had been kind of dreading this month for a while knowing that I was going to be on a plane basically every week. I may travel often for work, but I’m no road warrior. First up was a work trip to the west coast. It was a longer trip than I normally take for work (4 days) which meant JW had more to cover at home on top of his own work. Thank goodness for the tag team effort and good timing because I had just put in my time with our son when JW was putting in extra hours at work (check out his thoughts on work/life balance). The following week sent me overnight for just one night and that’s more like it. Finally we flew “home” for the holidays.
JW already reviewed our basic plans for holiday travel so I won’t go into detail there. What I am excited to say was our flight for Christmas put me over the threshold and I finally achieved Gold Status with American Airlines! Ha! I probably shouldn’t be as excited as I am, but I can’t deny it. In my mind here are the true benefits of this status: priority boarding (good when you have a roller bag that I want to make sure and get in the overhead space), free checked bag (so-so benefit since JW and I both have mastered the packing light mentality… we almost never check bags) and auto-requested upgrades on all flights under 500 miles (which I’ll probably never get because I know there’s always a long list of upgrade requests on the board at the gate). Let me also point out that I get this status for one year… but it falls right at the time I will be cutting back on travel big time. My Dr. told me no more traveling after February 5th, then I’ll have a baby and won’t be traveling much at all. Nonetheless, I’m putting this one in the “ways to save money” category.
I shared my complete parent fail when I sent my son to school with no shoes back in September. Now let me share a win I had when it came to lost clothing at daycare. I noticed one day shortly before Thanksgiving that my son was missing a nice zip up hoodie jacket. I asked JW about it, checked his cubby, asked his teacher, but no one knew where it was. I escalated it and spoke with the Director of the daycare. I continued to get the same response from her, “We’re looking for it.” Then I noticed that he was missing another jacket! How could two jackets simply disappear??
After a couple of weeks and continuing to check in on the progress I asked her what the next step was and changed to a slightly more aggressive demeanor. I’m not a fan of confrontation, but when it comes to a situation like this I needed to buck up. This time her response was different… still no sign of the jacket, but she valued our business so much that they were willing to replace the jackets. Seeing that both were given to our son as gifts I could not provide a location to purchase again. Instead I asked the Director if we could remove the total amount (which I estimated at about $100) from his bi-weekly tuition. She agreed! Although we’re now missing two nice zip up jackets and will soon need to be on the lookout for a new one, we saved $100 on our daycare bill. Better than being out the money and jackets, I’ll chalk that up to a parent win!
How did your end of 2016 shape up? Did you travel for the holidays like us or stay put and host family/friends? Anyone else out there get as giddy as me to achieve Gold Status?