115 thoughts on “Monthly financial schedule

  1. I don’t have a plan like this. That being said, the reopening has me thinking about spending priorities. As I mentioned the other day the pandemic has demonstrated how cost effective doing nothing is. So now with doing things back on the table, what things are worth it and what things aren’t?

  2. I, too, am looking forward to seeing family and friends. Others view travel vacations as being worth it–I’m on the fence. I like them ok, but what I’m really looking forward to is having people INSIDE my house again.

  3. And going out to eat. We didn’t go out to eat a lot–maybe once a week, but when I had to give it up, I found I missed it more than I thought I would. Especially brunch. Brunch at home is very meh.

  4. My kids had come to a point where their interests had changed. It’s tough to say goodbye to things they had taken lessons in for a while. The pandemic made it easier to cut the cord and save money. Linked to this, is less driving for me and less causal getting a coffee here or a bite to eat there. There are some big expense items coming up so we will be in save mode till we get through those. I don’t think we will be jetting to far away places anytime soon.

  5. My financial calendar:

    Sometime January-April: Look at end-of-year distributions/bonus and raises, decide what to do with money and whether to increase monthly transfer.

    Sometime late March: Sigh heavily, do Flex account reimbursements.

    Late November: make Flex account decisions for following year.

    Every couple of years: change online account/automatic payments as CCs expire.


    March: Do/file taxes

    Every 3-6 months: update Quicken, reconcile bank accounts.

    Periodically when PO’d at job or when bonus received: review/update Quicken, retirement planning spreadsheet; determine how much we could withdraw if he quit today.

  6. For people like me, set and forget in financial matters, even if one thing each month, is not in my universe. It would be like cleaning one room in the house per month.

  7. I don’t have a monthly schedule at all. I think this year, I’m going to have to make quarterly tax payments, so that will be a good time for a check-in on everything.

    I pay bills/reconcile the checking account a couple times per month. We track our spending and saving on an ongoing basis via a simple google sheet plus Mint.

    “So now with doing things back on the table, what things are worth it and what things aren’t?”

    I miss travel and live sporting/music/cultural events. Take out is vastly inferior in every way to dining in. I would love to sit in a bar once in awhile and sip a professionally-mixed drink or a draft beer. Those are areas where I will happily start spending money again.

    I don’t miss getting pedicures or massages. I don’t miss getting my hair colored. I don’t miss going to a gym in person. Those are things I will probably not go back to anytime soon.

  8. We update our budget roughly once a month. It has all of the assumptions built-in and then we add in one-offs like the garage project for this year (btw Rhode won the estimating contest on that one, with the highest bid!!!). We use 2% for all of our projections (the spreadsheet projects out 10 years for income producing assets). We also try to be conservative on the estimates for comp since those are so variable now.

    Most of the rest of the financial stuff is just as needed, except for taxes – I try to get the documents to our accountant as early as they come in but it is always a slow trickle.

  9. I know I mentioned SIL’s micro-wedding with family. So we didn’t have to make any hard choices because the original January date got cancelled. The rescheduled wedding is coming up. Of the 15 immediate family attendees, 10 are either vaxxed or recently recovered. (multiple educators/essential workers and 65+) And now it is March, so being partially outside & having some windows open will be easier. Current forecast for the day – 48 and sunny. Current positivity rate locally – under 3%. Actual temp on the original date? High of 17 with a foot of snow. Positivity rate = over 10%.

  10. “Especially brunch. Brunch at home is very meh.”

    Starting early in Covid DW & I have been having “brunch” every Saturday & Sunday and it’s continued. More because of the time we have our first meal vs the food we eat; we always have “breakfast” foods. I usually get up fairly early and will put away the dried dishes from the night before, set the table, take out some fruit, make coffee, read the paper, maybe do a quick errand or two vs waiting till later. DW will sleep (much) later and we’ll have breakfast together around 11, so “Brunch”. Yes, sometimes, I’ll get started on an outdoor project especially if I’m trying to beat the heat of mid-day and then we won’t eat till even later, but it’s still breakfast food.

    We don’t really have a financial budget or calendar like that. But,
    – Our home/car/umbrella insurances renew in April and I get the notices of the new policies and prices around now, which always reminds me to check with 1-2 other companies on their rates. Amica has never been beat.
    – I always do the taxes mid-late March (don’t usually have 1-2 K-1s till then)
    – We tend to do our charitable gifts between Christmas & New Years, so we adjust those lump sums then

    Worth spending $ on: travel (doesn’t have to be to see people); breakfast out every so often; dinners out with friends; live in-person theatre.

  11. “Take out is vastly inferior in every way to dining in. I would love to sit in a bar once in awhile and sip a professionally-mixed drink or a draft beer. Those are areas where I will happily start spending money again.”

    Hmm. I was just going to post that we’ve come to like a lot of the takeout and curbside options. There was one time where we were meeting my parents in this little town, and we ordered some really good takeout from a sandwich place (the owner/chef is a former sous chef at the Inn at Little Washington), and I brought a folding table, camp chairs, a bottle of wine, a cooler of Cokes and Spindrift, and a tray of brownies. And as much as I hate Covid, we all kind of enjoyed this more than they typical restaurant experience. Obviously, it’s a lot more cost effective, particularly with alcohol.

    DW and I have a standing Friday lunch date where, since it’s gotten too cold for outdoors, we’ll have food in the car and maybe drive to somewhere scenic. We’ve got our own car, our own music. It’s not bad.

    Maybe I’ve lost a lot of the desire for the restaurant format. Here’s your table, sit down, here are your menus, someone will come get your drink order, sit here while it’s prepared…

    But I still like the food.

    I can make an old fashioned as good as any bartender, and I’ve had them in some expensive places. Paying $10 for that plus 10% tax plus 20% tip gets a little old.

    On Saturday night, for the five of us, I got a curbside order of a Carrabba’s “family dinner” of chicken picatta, garlic mashed potatoes, a loaf of bread with the oil, and salad and dressing for $50, iirc.

    I don’t know…it’s hard to say that I’m clamoring to get back into the restaurant to pay twice as much to eat the same food at their tables.

  12. I pay all the bills around the first or second of the month. That is about it

  13. I REALLY MISS going out to eat. No dishes! Someone else making me a cocktail! Sushi!!! That will be on the list ASAV.

    Also we realized if we can travel next year, there will only be five years left to travel with all the kids, so we are planning on going to Europe with them for starters.

  14. We didn’t do a ton of dine-in pre-pandemic, but I am looking forwards to being able to do it because I want to visit DS1 in Manhattan and get food. It is too cold to sit outside although I see lots of people trying.
    I am very much looking forwards to going to the gym, so I can use the bike machines and treadmill when it is pouring rain out, as well as the weight machines.

  15. Milo, I’m looking forward to going back to restaurants because I’ll be paying *less*! We have been using takeout as a way to support the restaurant workers, so we’ve been leaving 20-25% tips, buying a bottle of wine, and all the other stuff — so we’re paying more now but still have dishes and cleanup duty! I very much look forward to a time when I can go back to tipping 20% because they’re making money again and have someone else manage everything and treat us like rock stars. ;-) Going to my favorite place for my birthday dinner was a real reminder of how much I miss that kind of “normal.”

    Right now, though, I am missing everything. I am missing the freedom to hop on a plane somewhere for DS’s spring break, or go visit relatives outside my bubble. I am missing being able to run to the mall to see if that new Athleta top will look good on me. I am seriously missing going to the gym like a normal person, without having to spend 15 minutes cleaning everything at the end of class and then hustling out before the next people come in. I am missing RennFest and all those things that we used to do. And I am definitely, definitely missing the ability to plan fun summer vacations wherever the heck I feel like it. Basically, I am missing the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever the heck I feel like it, just because.

    But today’s not a good day to ask me what I’m missing, because the stupid %!&$!@$%$ dizziness has come back, and I wasted an entire weekend in my recliner doing absolutely nothing that I wanted to do. So my cabin fever from the pandemic has been augmented by a vision into my life as Future Me, where physical constraints will likely keep me from doing all those grand plans anyway. So I’m rather pout-and-sulky today, and all my comments should be taken with a grain of salt.

  16. I don’t do anything like this at all. I pay the bills weekly and reconcile all the accounts. Beyond that, periodically we’ll do some big picture planning when the mood hits us.

  17. Maybe because both of us really like to cook and we’re pretty good at it, a lot of take-out does not float our boat. We don’t do Chinese/Thai/Indian very well (perhaps a couple of Indian dishes are just as good when we make them). Pizza is much better left to the highly trained professionals. Otherwise, we make the food ourselves. If we were into it, I’d get CFA or Popeyes chicken sandwiches every so often, but (1) we don’t really eat lunches (2) not what we really want for dinner (3) not yet a thing for us.

    But there are a few restaurants we like, especially if the weather supports eating outside (even before covid).

  18. L, we got takeout sushi Saturday night — DD made an unexpected appearance, having decided to take a long weekend here, and we let her pick — and it was delicious! There’s this place in Ellicott City that has really good sushi, and they make this vegetarian roll with like tempura asparagus, some sort of daikon with a mild pickle, avocado, and mango, and I absolutely LOVE it! It was really a treat.

  19. We have discovered a few restaurants that deliver food we actually like during the pandemic. What I started to hate about the dining in experience pre pandemic is how rushed you felt at the average restaurant. It was either a rush or a long wait to get the check. The pace was never quite right.

  20. I have been going to my gym 2-3x/wk since late August and have been glad to do so. With the 50% capacity limit there’s never a wait for the machines (except on Monday 5-7pm prime time for everything and Tuesday prime time for treadmills, but I usually don’t do cardio there, just resistance, so I avoid Mondays). I called one young guy out a couple of months ago for not cleaning the machine he just finished with; otherwise my observation is people are really good about wiping stuff down.

  21. We pay quarterly taxes, so that helps keeps us focused on certain financial tasks that might fall by the wayside. We usually do charitable donations in February and June, since those are months that for whatever reason are lower spend months. We eyeball our overall financial picture at the end of every month. And, my pay is structured so that I’m paid only 8 times/year, and so when that $$ comes in we review where to put it, since we don’t live off of any of my income.

    To Rhett’s question on what is worth it. Like Milo, I really haven’t missed eating out. There are a couple specific restaurants that I’m looking forward to going to again, but DH and I have both been fully vaccinated since January and we’ve only eaten dinner out once. And then commented that paying tax and tip on a $10 glass of warm wine really did not spark joy.

    I have very, very, very much missed having people over for dinner and looking forward to that starting up again.

    I’ve missed travel, but we’re being slow to add it back it. Partially because the kids aren’t vaccinated, and partially because I just don’t want to be a tourist with a mask on. I hate wearing a mask (although I do it willingly, of course). I think we’re willing to wait another year before getting on a plane.

  22. I update our “budget” (really, cashflow summary) once a month to make sure there haven’t been any surprises and to make sure we’re putting enough into our savings. I’m not good at year to year comparisons so working on setting that up this year. TurboTax showed me year on year comparison of this year to last year, and that was interesting to see. (Taxes – Owe a bunch in federal, getting some back in State, overall owe. Sigh. We’ve adjusted DH’s W4 to try again to correct this for next year.)

    Fred – I made charitable contributions throughout the year last year, instead of waiting until December, and discovered I was a bit more generous than the previous year.

  23. We had takeout sushi on Saturday too, to celebrate DS2’s birthday (2 weeks late of course)

    I am also looking forwards to going to the library. I am NOT looking forward to commuting to work!

  24. Our take out has exceeded our expectations because the restaurants have stepped up the quality of offerings and packaging. We picked up some food from one of our favorite restaurants in Manhattan yesterday. We were in the city for the vaccine, and it was easy to just pick up food for later in the day. DD was so excited when we had dinner because it was one of her favorite places.

    We do many of the things on this list, but it isn’t on an exact date except for the mid year and year end financial reviews.

  25. We don’t regularly eat at restaurants because I find the food we can cook at home to be cheaper, better and healthier. However, I am dreaming of being able to sit at a cafe again. It makes me sad every time I pass them with all the wicker chairs and tiny circle tables stacked inside. We also had takeout sushi recently and that’s been the only takeaway we’ve gotten since the restaurants closed in November.

    I’m looking forward to having friends over or traveling to visit friends and family. Travel for the sake of travel will probably be on the back burner for a few years.

  26. I am not too enthralled with takeh out either. I’d prefer to make my own meals. Takeout seems less fresh and I hate waiting longer. My sister, on the other hand, loathes dishes so prefers to pick up food. I may stick with curbside groceries — I save on waste and cost (no impulse items) vs shopping instore. I’m eating healthier, too. I love not having a commute and wearing comfy clothes.

  27. “However, I am dreaming of being able to sit at a cafe again.”

    This. I loved to do this. Sadly, one of my favorite neighborhood cafes closed. The owners left a post-it note on the door thanking the community for their patronage over the last 14 years. I teared up. The owner often worked the counter and was such a joyous person. She was so personable.

  28. We continued to eat out indoors at a selected few local high ceilinged restaurants. Two are for “good” meals, two more for sports bar food, good but not fancy. We felt it safer to leave the house during the team of three cleaners twice a month. I found no satisfaction from take out food other than pizza. I can just make Egg dishes or salad with shrimp or tuna. sat we had cauliflower with cheese sauce and a big salad. Yummmm. Post vacc we will eat with friends or family, not just each other.

    The big future plan is to attend the Bridge Nationals circa Dec 1 in Austin. I prepaid (insured, supposedly refundable, too) for a legal short term rental appt. i will buy the non stop tix this month (not refundable, but no penalties and full future credit). Even if I lose 100 percent of the outlay, unlikely, it is worth it to have something to look forward to. Main issue will be coverage for the new cat who has never been left without humans in the house for more than an hour or two.

  29. Rhett, it was raining so we were able to use more of the features. We only asked to dive the 3 because DH has no interest in the SUV to replace the Acura.

    I liked the car, and I un dersatnd why you/Finn like their cars. One interesting fact is that I wanted to discuss the car with one of my friends that already have one to understand more abotu the charging situation round here. I realized that 100% of my local friends that drive a Tesla are men. I texted some of their wives and girlfriends and they told me that they never drive the Tesla. I think it is a decent value compared to the other cars that I am thinking about for myself – such as the BMW 540, Audi A6. It is cheaper to lease for the quality that I was looking for inside of the car. It obviously provides the quiet that I was looking for and the interior is nice – even in the 3.The music, technology and other features are superior to anything that I could get from Volvo, Audi, BMW or Lexus at this price point. To get this technology, I would be at the top of the lien in BMW or Audi.

    Two things are holding me back. The first is repairs or accidents. My cars have been hit in parking lots and by garbage trucks. Stuff happens and the sales person kept insisting that I would call their Roadside service to come pick me up. That is BS. If I am 100s of miles from home, I know it is not the same as just calling AAA. Also, the charging is an issue for us in a power outage. I spoke to my friend’s husband about last August and he had to keep going to different mall parking lots around here to charge. He told me it was actually a major hassle when he lost power in another storm in March because all of the malls were closed due to Covid. So, I hope this pandemic is a once a lifetime thing, but it just shows that extreme climate issues coupled with a pandemic did create a stressful situation for this guy because he didn’t have lot of options to charge his car. He also doesn’t have a generator. When I spoke to the sales people about this, they tried to sell me solar panels.

    The second thing that is I didn’t love driving it. It checks all of my boxes about the type of car that I like to drive. I know that I might get used to it, but I didn’t like turning a corner or coming to a stop at a traffic light. I am so used to taking my foot off the gas that the car kept stopping too soon. I am sure that I would get used to using the gas more to accelerate while going through a turn, but it just didn’t feel comfortable yesterday. Also, I had to do a three point turn to get back into the garage to return the car. It was not easy because of the location of the gear shift on the wheel. I had to keep looking at the screen to know if I was in reverse and that didn’t feel safe. I learned to drive on an old Ford Granada so it reminded me of driving my grandpa’s Oldsmobile.

    Bottom line – it checks almost all of my boxes at a fair price. If we do end up buying a third car for DD, then this Tesla could work since I will be able to drive her Subaru as a backup. Also, the price thing is so easy with the no haggle etc.

  30. On takeout/delivery. Most food doesn’t travel well, IMHO. So with takeout, I’m eating inferior food, and I still have to go get it AND I have to clean up. MEH. At that point, I’d usually rather throw some of that orange chicken from Costco into the oven – it’s less effort and better-tasting. And delivery? That’s just trash, especially from the 3rd party delivery services. It’s always cold, late and almost always wrong. Not worth it. We’ve gotten take out here & there when we really had a taste for something or when we really didn’t want to cook, but it’s usually not worth the effort or expense to me. We were never big takeout people before though. I like the part of going to a restaurant where I don’t have to lift a finger.

  31. “I am also looking forwards to going to the library. ”

    @MM – Is your library still closed or have you just not being going? Ours reopened this summer. Capacity limit, masks required, any programs/books clubs are online & the meeting rooms are closed. But we go through and pick up/return books frequently.

  32. Lauren,

    I spoke to my friend’s husband about last August and he had to keep going to different mall parking lots around here to charge.

    I assume he had to go into the city for work? It’s has 330 miles of range and you’re retired. Would you really be doing a lot of driving after a storm? Also, if there is no electricity the gas pumps don’t work either.

  33. We had take out sushi on Saturday. Other than pizza, that’s about all we do for takeout. We met my BIL and SIL for brunch yesterday. It was a little chilly but I dressed for weather and the restaurant had heat lamps. It was very comfortable. Most of restaurant patrons chose to dine inside but it was crowded and I didn’t think it was safe. Outside was fine, and the tables on either side of us were never occupied the entire time we were there. It was so good to be out again.

    I’m looking forward to traveling, visiting friends and going to in person gym classes.

  34. I realized that 100% of my local friends that drive a Tesla are men.

    On your test drive how many times did you slam the “gas” to the floor to test the acceleration?

  35. Our library has been open; you can’t sit down and peruse stuff/use the computers and you have to ask a librarian to look something up in the online catalog, but you can freely wander the stacks.

  36. Oh, and I pay bills once a month. The check register is in excel, and since I write very few checks it’s almost always reconciled. I keep a detailed spreadsheet/model with our investments and retirement accounts and I play around with that occasionally.

  37. Our library was open but had different slots for different patron categories. When the caseloads soared in November, they closed back down. But I wasn’t going even when it was open

  38. My bills are all on autopay. Saves so much time and hassle. The only bills that are not on autopay are taxes and kids’ college tuition.

  39. Our library is closed, but I can reserve a book and get in via appointment. Car pick up only. I’m so happy to be able to check out books!

  40. I like takeout. It depends on the food – Chinese/Thai, Indian, Mexican, Italian work well because they don’t lose anything if you have to reheat the food, IMO. And clean up is easy – just put the plates and silverware in the dishwasher. We didn’t do it much in the beforetimes because I don’t like spending the money.

  41. Our library is closed except for browsing online and requesting a hold. I was borrowing ebooks until last month, but then I decided to borrow some other titles that weren’t available as an ebook. I can’t email or text them when I pick up…they require you to call a landline and give a pick up time. The books were left in the lobby and I had a small window to retrieve the books. I am not sure why they aren’t allowing us to browse since I don’t see how this is much different than going to a store.

    Rhett, I didn’t try that with the accelerator. As for 330 miles, I have lived through two outages that lasted a week to ten days. Since this happened two times in ten years, I would not think of this as a once in a lifetime situation. It probably doesn’t matter since we have other cars, but it is something that did concern me. Power outage isn’t the reason hat i might not get the car. I think using the screen 100 percent of the time is annoying. I would prefer if they had some buttons too because I think it is safer and faster.

  42. This weekend we were up in a touristy area. The streets were busy, people milling about everywhere. Typically we fuss about what time to get dinner reservations, or if that isn’t an option, wait for a seat, where service is mediocre at best. This time we picked up sandwiches from the best sandwich place on earth, and then picked up a Happy Meal, and ate in the McD’s parking lot. Not an exciting location, but everyone was happy with their choice of food. For dinner, we picked up pizza and ate it back at the rental house. The kids preferred it, as they sat around the coffee table watching a movie during dinner. Unless I’m dining at a place for ambience (dockside), I see us getting more takeout when we are on vacation.

  43. I’m surprised at cold food, wrong orders. Delivery has been excellent. We have ordered from different restaurants via DoorDash mostly. All have been delivered in time and hot. We didn’t order much at all at the start of the pandemic but we found that so many restaurants on DoorDash sounded good, we gave them a try. Pretty satisfied with the experience.

  44. There is constant stuff to do that is bill and document management. Doesn’t seem to have seasonality to me. And that doesn’t even include my volunteer org treasurer duties. This week I have to.

    1. Call VZW to maintain my 8 percent loyalty discount , now that I don’t have a corporate one.
    2. Take DH to AAA/RMV to get a Real ID. Download the form at home first.
    3. After that, diwn load his passport renewal form, and send in for a new passport. We will still be going to Canada at least.
    4. Help DD with an 83b election for start up stock.
    5. Deal with end of teaser rate on a loan secured by my brokerage accounts, and determine repayment plan.

    Next week is my taxes, cancel Apple TV renewal, cancel reservation to Quebec, buy Austin tix. And all the insurance/refund/ add on decisions.

  45. Well, this post motivated me to scan or save to pdf all the tax documents I have so far. So thank you! Still don’t have the K1, of course, which is kind of the centerpiece.

  46. Yes, there’s always stuff like that from Meme’s list that needs to get done. Sometimes I procrastinate or ignore, and some of it doesn’t matter in the end. But I do have an urgent ttd (things to do) list every month. However, I’m constantly trying to get myself more organized. There’s always more to do.

  47. Lauren,

    You did know the car you were driving was one of the fastest cars in the world, right?

    Like this fast:

    Or this fast:

  48. Lauren,

    You can certainly do whatever you want and have whatever criteria you want. 90% of this is just me talking myself into getting one :-)

  49. Rhett, are you locked into a lease on another car? If no, you should get the car that you want for yourself. My one year covid anniversary philosophy is – go for it if it makes you happy and you can afford.

  50. We have a monthly budget meeting – particularly in expensive months. That’s when we talk about priorities and how we want the next few months to go.

    L – what was my guess? I vaguely remember this… I also cheated…. you released your plans before I guessed. I had more info! :)

    This year will be expensive – finish paying off 2020 big expenses, our addition, furnishing our addition (and dealing with 5 month lead times for somethings!!!!), and anything off our bucket list. So we’ll kinda play it by ear. We have to figure out our tax refund and see how much can be financed by that.

  51. Rhett, are you locked into a lease on another car?

    Even worse! Mine’s is in totally perfect shape has been paid for for almost 10 years.

  52. DW ordered delivery last week. I think the place uses Door Dash, I’m not sure. Anyway, the delivery person just left the food out on the front steps without ringing the bell or anything. I guess he assumed the app notification would be sufficient. Crap like that is why I pick up the food myself (plus I’d rather all my money go to the restaurant and not 30% to Door dash).

  53. We haven’t used delivery at all during the pandemic. The reason to leave the house and drive somewhere to pick up food was seen by the kids as a feature, not a bug.

  54. Rhett, if you’re still traveling a lot, any thought to renting a Tesla? I think Enterprise rents them. Maybe one week when your job site is close to your hotel.

    You might get some interesting experience with trying to charge the rental Tesla that you can share with us.

  55. “I realized that 100% of my local friends that drive a Tesla are men.”


    Ours is DW’s car, and for many of the people we know who own Teslas, it’s the wife’s car. There are a couple single guys we know that also own Teslas, so it’s not all women who are the primary drivers.

  56. “I am so used to taking my foot off the gas that the car kept stopping too soon.”

    Yes, that takes some getting used to.

    OTOH, it doesn’t take very long. There’s a couple modes for that, one where the braking is more pronounced when you take your foot off the gas. IMO, that’s an advantage in emergencies that require hard, immediate braking, because in the time it takes to move your foot from one pedal to the other, the car already slows significantly.

    And of course, regenerative braking is good for the environment, reducing energy consumption as well as reducing particulate pollution. It also helps reduce maintenance costs by reducing brake wear.

  57. “they tried to sell me solar panels.”

    You should consider them!! Especially since a generator isn’t an option for you. My research also said the Tesla PowerWall is one of the better values for home energy storage.

    If the grid goes down, we’ll still be able to charge our car using electricity from our solar panels, not to mention also run our fridge, turn on lights, charge our devices, etc.

  58. “I think using the screen 100 percent of the time is annoying. I would prefer if they had some buttons too because I think it is safer and faster.”

    Yes, I agree. I like knobs and switches that I can reach for and adjust without having to look away from the road.

    But OTOH I think that helps with reliability, because you don’t have all those knobs and switches, and the wiring to them, that could fail. It also helps keep costs down.

    I think in the future, the reliance on the screen will be reduced by increased use of voice commands. Tesla has already increased the functionality since we bought ours. And one of the benefits of Tesla and their pushing of software upgrades is that even years after you buy your car, you can still have it improved, and more voice control is one area that could easily be done.

    There are also controls on the steering wheel that can do some of the controls, but they’re not marked and not necessarily intuitive, so you need to learn them.

    The touch screen also works very well if your front passenger is a compatible co-pilot. E.g., you can use voice commands that your co-pilot executes.

  59. OT, the only seasonal financial task that I’ve consistently had is, of course, taxes. In conjunction with doing taxes, I’ll sometimes do other stuff like catch up on downloading statements, or take a snapshot assessment of our financial status. Sometimes I’ll learn something doing taxes that leads me to make changes in our finances, e.g., move investments, or change allocations for retirement contributions.

    Having to plan for and pay tuition has become a larger seasonal task as tuition has gone up, and especially when DS started college.

  60. “Pizza is much better left to the highly trained professionals. “

    Or LfB?

    I think having a good pizza oven makes a big difference.

  61. “On takeout/delivery. Most food doesn’t travel well, IMHO. So with takeout, I’m eating inferior food, and I still have to go get it AND I have to clean up. MEH.”

    IME, takeout works better if you order family/catering style, where different dishes are separated into different containers. OTOH, that means using more dishes and utensils at home, so more cleanup. But as DD points out, that’s not a big deal if you just use the dishwasher.

  62. Rhode – it’s 2 stories with 2 cars on the upper level, 1 big one on the lower level, plus storage above the upper level, barn/carriage house style.

  63. Finn, thank you for that information about your experience with the Tesla. I am seriously considering this car so it is helpful to hear about your experience.

  64. “it’s 2 stories with 2 cars on the upper level”

    I think Mitt Romney had something like this that became a line of attack in 2012.

  65. At least Mitt wasn’t wearing a tan suit.

    My point being that lines of political attack cover a lot of absurd territory, and as long as L doesn’t run for president, her garage will be fine.

  66. A guy I worked with, who didn’t have Mitt’s money or even L’s money, had a dumpy little house in Aurora (next door to Denver and a step or 10 down economically/socially), but he had a six-bay garage. The guy he bought it from had fixed cars for a living even though the area wasn’t zoned for commercial use. Every. Single. Man. who came over to Michael’s house would stand in the six-bay garage and drool. Up til then I had had no idea that it was such a common male dream to have a garage bigger than the house. So if DH dies and I want a new husband, I’ll just sell my house and buy a garage with a small house attached. I’ll be fighting off suitors with a machete.

  67. Even before the pandemic, we did a lot more takeout than in-restaurant dining. It is cheaper because we don’t have to pay inflated beverage costs, and comfier because we don’t have to dress up, and more pleasant because if I run out of soda in my glass or need extra mustard, I don’t have to spend the next few minutes trying to figure out where the heck the waitperson is and then get his/her attention.
    I don’t like the switch to online ordering though. It is more error prone, and if I call in the order and talk to a human, I can get more customization and also a time estimate right away. Some of the online ordering sites don’t work well, and more than once I have had an order not go through correctly, and then end up having to cancel the charge with my credit card company. Trying to track down a lost order a few weeks ago, I learned something interesting – many small places like pizzerias don’t get the online orders directly. Instead,they do them through a third party company, and the order information is FAXED to the pizzeria. They have to keep checking the fax machine. Small places seem better set up for phone orders.

  68. Oh, I would love a six-car garage, too. I wasn’t suggesting L’s was scandalous. I think Mitt’s had an elevator or turntable or something, or both.

    With a six-car garage, I’d keep something like this in one of the bays:

    just to have something to easily trailer to explore different rivers and inlets.

    and then something that can tow it. and then maybe two waverunners on a double trailer. and that’s half the garage right there.

  69. “Even worse! Mine’s is in totally perfect shape has been paid for for almost 10 years.”

    ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! You mean to tell me that you, of all people, are puttering around in a 10-yr-old hoopty? Who are you and what have you done with Rhett?

    Seriously: buy the car. Yes, you could use the money on an all-out vacation and have an amazing week or two. But if there’s one thing my last two cars have taught me, it’s that if you really love a particular car, driving it makes you a little bit happy every single day.

    I have a clover-leaf exit near my house with a long deceleration lane and then an exit ramp that circles back under the highway. Whenever traffic is clear, I put the car into sport plus, accelerate toward the exit, hit the brakes and downshift at the last second, then drive the ramp nice and tight and really open it up right as I head into the underpass. And then I immediately shut it down, because there’s a light there, and the cops love to hang out about 1/4 mile down the road. But the blip of the engine as I downshift, and the roar as it echoes under the overpass (particularly with the top down!), brings me alive just a little bit more. I have never once done that without leaving a gigantic shit-eating grin on my face. I’m smiling just thinking about it.

  70. Rocky, you get that 6-car garage and *I’ll* marry you. We are seriously short a bay or two. DH is going to need another hobby when he finally does retire, because there’s only so much furniture one can fit into a house, and we both love old cars. So I could totally see us picking up like a 1940s Chevy pickup, or an old Packard or something, and then him just tinkering with it all the time. But with only two garage bays, that means his car would have to live outside, which is sad.

    In my Powerball fantasy, I buy the houses that back up to us, keep them looking like houses so they fit in on the street, but convert them in the back to a gigantic garage for all my toys. ;-) One of which would be that Ferrari that Rhett posted above, because OMG that’s gorgeous.

  71. The SIL who used to have the job where she had to deal with Michael Eisner has a 6 car garage. The house is something like 6000 square feet. It is just the two of them so it seems very empty.

  72. On the topic of libraries – the libraries here allow browsing, but the librarians make sure you keep moving along. The other week I was there with DD1. As she was browsing, I picked up my reserved book and leaned against a wall reading (they’ve removed all chairs). A nice librarian came over and told me I can’t read inside and to move it along. When I told her I was waiting for DD1 she seemed annoyed and told me that I can’t be standing around.

    It isn’t any different than shopping in a store, or waiting for the dentist, but I think these restrictions are a way to prevent the homeless from coming in. At my local library there used to be an old station wagon that was in the parking lot every single day, all day long. It was evident the person that owns that wagon is living out of that car. I haven’t seen that car since the beginning of the pandemic.

  73. In Denver the libraries are aware that they are part of the system for dealing with the homeless. In non-pandemic times, it’s expected that the homeless guys will spend all day there. You can’t sleep, though. One time I dozed off in a carrel reading something boring and the security guard woke me up. The main library downtown now has a couple of social workers there all day to provide emergency services and just general help to the homeless.

  74. Rhett – that’s been showing up on my Facebook and YouTube feeds. It’s incredible. And the engine no longer pivots to steer, just the lower unit.

  75. L – that’s right… you’re not building a garage… you’re building a house for cars and things. Seriously, your garage will have more square footage than my house! :)

    RMS – I’d love a garage. My lot could house a 1.5 car garage without issue, and a nice mudroom. But we opted for living space instead. :) I think I could make use of 6 bays – one for each car (3), one for stuff, one for a workshop, and one for a boat. :) Ok that last bay will have to be tall…. :)

    My neighbor asked me for first right of refusal to buy our house. He wants to rent my house out for income and take part of the yard and build a bigger garage for his toys. My poor yard!!! All that space we use for baseball games gone! Good thing we aren’t moving any time soon.

  76. In fairness, I almost purchased his house when it was on the market. My dad would have paid the mortgage as his rent (which would have been cheaper than his rent). But we didn’t have the cash for the down payment, and then I would have had to evict his wife…. so all is well… instead we get nice neighbors who feed us well and share their wine. And they tolerate my hooligans.

  77. I thought this was interesting:

    NYT Target’s strong fourth quarter caps a year of staggering growth.

    Target’s sales continued to climb in the fourth quarter, surpassing analysts estimates, as the retailer capitalized on the shift in consumer shopping habits to buying online and picking up their purchases in stores.

    The company said on Tuesday that its sales in the fourth quarter increased nearly 21 percent, higher than the 17 percent that Wall Street expected.

    The strong fourth quarter, buoyed in part by stimulus spending by consumers, caps a year of staggering growth at Target. Target reported that its sales growth for 2020 of more than $15 billion “was greater than the company’s total sales growth over the prior 11 years.”

    After years of investment in its online ordering and in-store pickup services, the company has emerged as a top winner during the pandemic, gaining billions in market share from less adept retailers.

    Amid such strong results in 2020, the company was also being hailed for its decision to raise its starting wage to $15 an hour last year.

    “Target tops a record year with a phenomenal fourth quarter,” Molly Kinder, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote on Twitter. “After — but not despite — raising its starting wage to $15/hour.”

    The company did not provide guidance for the coming year. Analysts noted that it would be difficult for Target to top its growth in 2020 as other retailers are likely to see their businesses bounce back in the next few months.

    — Michael Corkery

  78. Rhode,
    Don’t give him ROFR for free. People pay for those things!! And they’re not evergreen, those rights have expirations. Then you can sell him another if you’d like.

  79. Sunshine – oh hell no! When/if we get to that point we’ll discuss. My house will be worth a lot more then (appreciation plus the ~200 sq foot addition). I’m not about to lose money for an easy sale. :) At the rate I’m going, I’m not leaving for a while, like a decade or more.

  80. Rhode – btw, I am SOOO excited for you to get that addition. From everything you’ve said, you’re putting it into space that will improve everyday life. It’s sometimes the little things that can be an irritant or a joy. You are going to so appreciate the changes it brings!

  81. “And the engine no longer pivots to steer, just the lower unit.”

    What will they think of next?? Move the engine onboard?

  82. When we were last house shopping, DW had a bunch of things she wanted, but my main requirement was a 3 car garage, so I could buy a cabinet model table saw.

    Our house was particularly well suited for that because the laundry room is on the other side of the wall, so there was 220V in that wall for the dryer. I just tapped that circuit for a 220V outlet for the saw, which is now used primarily to charge our car.

  83. “ What will they think of next?? Move the engine onboard?”

    No. The advantages of outboards are the lower cost and higher reliability due to mass production and interchangeability, and then the ease of access for when they do need to be serviced (or even replaced).

    Moving it onboard would forfeit all that.

    But the lower unit pivoting for steering is more like a pod drive (also very popular lately in larger boats, and commercial and military ships) and not a traditional straight shaft inboard (which requires a rudder).

  84. The advantages of outboards are the lower cost and higher reliability due to mass production and interchangeability,

    The old Volvo Penta or Mercury inboards of yore weren’t custom built from custom parts were they?

  85. Those are mostly stern drives, not inboards. No, not custom built, but I’m pretty sure they’ve never been built in the same numbers as modern outboards that get hung on the backs of boats all over the world.

    But yeah, there’s also just a lot of reliability improvements in general, across the board.

  86. Milo, it just struck me as an evolutionary step toward stern drive, especially as motors get bigger and turning the whole motor becomes less practical.

  87. You know what shocks me, especially when I’m watching my Haulover Inlet videos before bed? (They are soooo relaxing.)How these boats with outboards can be in some pretty serious waves — including following seas — and apparently never aspirate seawater.

    BTW, there was a sailboat design a generation ago, maybe late 70s, fuel crisis and Carter Malaise and all, that let you put on outboard in maybe a 30’ sailboat. I think it had a “hole” designed through the boat, open to the air, so it positioned the prop nearly where an inboard would otherwise be. And this would protect it from following seas.

  88. Milo,

    Hum…doing some reading I’ve come to the conclusion it’s largely a question of style.

    With option two how would anyone know you had $320k worth of engine?

    And to think each one of those engines is $77k. The big Tesla is only $69k.

  89. I believe the outboard option is cheaper than option 2 on a per hp basis. It’s also cheaper and easier to maintain. There are a lot more certified Mercury and Yamaha mechanics than there are diesel mechanics, and they charge a lot less. And there’s less work to do just to get to the problem. And the parts are more readily available.

  90. You can squeeze roughly 1,500 hours out of an inboard before necessary maintenance. Outboards, on the other hand, last about 750 hours on average. So, the inboard option means less maintenance (nearly half) even though they cost more initially.

    And inboards last longer. Or is that article based on what the guy learned 30 years ago?

  91. That’s why when you watch the Haulover videos, you can very quickly become desensitized to the fact that just the median boat passing through, a garden variety center console, is about $800k. And they don’t even get a second look.

    That’s not like $800k on a second home. That’s $800k on an asset that will be worth $80k in 20 years, at best.

  92. “ Or is that article based on what the guy learned 30 years ago?”


    If you actually use them, and do the annual maintenance, 5,000 to 10,000 hours, easily for a modern four-stroke outboard.

    The worst thing you can do is not use them.

    We were in Folly Beach a few years ago, bunch of grandparents and cousins, and chartered a couple of those boat rides through the salt marshes. This one young woman is driving the boat I’m on, powered by a 150 Yamaha, and obviously it gets used all the time. It had 10,000 hours on it, and she’s saying it never seems to cause any trouble. At that moment, she shouts “oh look, dolphins!” and takes the throttle from about 4,000 RPM forward cruising straight into reverse because she wanted to stop as quickly as possible and treated it like a hand brake. It made this sound that I never would want to hear because she switched directions so fast, but it went right into reverse and was fine.

    So they’re obviously not babying it. And that’s just sitting in saltwater.

  93. and takes the throttle from about 4,000 RPM forward cruising straight into reverse

  94. Rhett – the EOT is nothing but a signaling device. Then the best they can do in engineering is to close the steam to the forward pistons, and divert it the other way. But it’s always a fluid process.

    Slamming an outboard in reverse is engaging mechanical teeth when they’re moving 4,000 rpm in the wrong direction.

  95. Then the best they can do in engineering is to close the steam to the forward pistons, and divert it the other way. But it’s always a fluid process.

    They have a reversing linkage.

    3. The reversing engine (Brown’s engine) would now be used to move the linkage over from the ahead eccentric to astern eccentric (in the Stephenson linkage).

  96. OK, that is interesting. I knew it was an age of pistons, not turbines. I didn’t know how they executed that. It’s pretty incredible the stuff they came up with in that age.

    In any case, it looks like it has to be completely stopped before shifting into reverse.

  97. It’s pretty incredible the stuff they came up with in that age.

    That’s what people will say about 4 cyl turbo cars with 8 speed automatic transmissions vs. a direct drive electric motor. It’s so complicated it’s amazing it worked at all.

  98. I didn’t mean that it was too complicated. I think it’s brilliantly simple. Move this one little lever over this way, and suddenly the exact same piston is turning an output in the opposite direction.

    Now…the amount of coal that ship consumed…OMG, it’s mind boggling. Of course, the amount of diesel fuel our cruise ships eat…

  99. “then the ease of access for when they do need to be serviced (or even replaced).”

    Is there a thriving market for reconditioned/rebuilt outboards?

    I’m thinking that a big advantage of outboards is when your motor needs service, you can just pop it off and ship it to a service center somewhere. The obvious next step in the model is to have a ready replacement so there’s very little downtime for the boat, which would matter to those in commercial use, e.g., chartered fishing boats.

    This geographically de-links the service providers from the boat owners. Someone in SD could have their motors serviced in Wisconsin.

  100. Hmm, I don’t know. My guess is no. To pick apart your idea…they’re still pretty heavy, right? A 250 hp engine is still a 250 hp engine.

    And our economy doesn’t even see fit to fix refrigerators and clothes washing machines, when all they might need is a new condenser or electric drive system, respectively.

    Maybe there’s a business opportunity here for you, or maybe it’s just cheaper overall to recycle the engine block and mechanical linkages, throw away the plastic, and buy a new one.

    Don’t engines generally go bad when cylinder heads are corroded and no longer holding pressure, or they’re cracked or something? That’s probably beyond reconditioning.

  101. Now…the amount of coal that ship consumed…OMG, it’s mind boggling.

    Even the process of coaling was a nightmare. It was basically a manual process. Guys literally shoveled it in by hand.

  102. “Don’t engines generally go bad when cylinder heads are corroded and no longer holding pressure, or they’re cracked or something? That’s probably beyond reconditioning.”

    That would be rebuilding. For cars, there is a market for rebuilt engines.

    “Maybe there’s a business opportunity here for you”

    No, not for me, but perhaps someone else.

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