Frugal Girl turned nine months old and had another round of vaccinations.
She received her final Hep B vaccination, along with a flu booster shot. She also had a toe prick for lead/iron levels. Everything seems to be on course and she is now 28.5″ tall (70% the nurse didn’t stretch her out so I think the measurement is a bit under), 19 pounds even (88%), and has a big head measuring 18″ (88%). She is up to 6 teeth and has a couple of new ones ready to come in on the bottom. The separation, stranger/danger phase has come home to roost and there is a clear pecking order of who she prefers. Here is a hint, Dada is not at the top.
In other news, we opened up Frugal Girl’s first savings account. Thank you to everyone who has gifted money to the little saver. We are that much closer to a dowry! 😛
Also she will likely be getting her first passport as soon as those lazy parents get their act together.
2018 is here and so is a blast of subfreezing arctic air.
With so many new low record temperatures set in the past few days, it is no surprise that pipes are freezing.
Burst Dishwasher Water Inlet Valve
One such victim of the cold weather was my Whirlpool WDT790SAYW2 Gold Series dishwasher. After a particularly frigid night my wife went to unload the dishwasher and discovered that it had not run over night as intended. I figured that the waste line had frozen again despite my previous attempts (see here) at insulating the wall. We opened the cabinets to let warm air circulate and removed the bottom access panel of the dishwasher.
Later in the morning as I was washing some dishes in the sink I heard water start to run below the dishwasher. I quickly turned the water supply line off, and it was a good thing that I was there. The ice had melted and the culprit was quickly discovered when I pulled the dishwasher out from under the cabinetry. The water inlet valve had burst.
Removing the part is simple.
Turn off the electrical breakers feeding the dishwasher
Turn off the water supply line
Unthread the water supply line
Unscrew the single mounting screw holding the part in place.
Disconnect the electrical harness connected to the solenoid.
Use pliers to loosen the clamp on the black outlet hose and remove the hose.
Part # W10316814
There is an inlet filter screen that you should check if your dishwasher is not getting sufficient water. The filter might be clogged.
Installation is the reverse and takes about 5 minutes. The part is about $25 and requires needle nose pliers and a flat head screwdriver.
This part seems to be compatible with certain Kitchenaid dishwashers as well because Whirlpool and Kitchenaid belong to the same umbrella of companies.
I also checked in on the vacant apartment that I manage and discovered that it had some frozen pipes.
The first thing to do is open up the cabinets to let air circulate.
In this case, the cold water pipe was frozen, but the hot water pipe was still open. I cranked the apartment thermostat up from 62 to 75.
Turning on the still working hot water pipe also helps warm up the blockage. After about an hour, the ice had melted and the water was flowing again. No permanent damage was done.
The other frozen pipe was located in the crawlspace. I am a firm believer in fixing the underlying problem, so I crawled down there to take a look at what was going on.
While most of the crawlspace was warm, the perimeter had some issues. Above you can see the frozen pipe on the left. You can also see ice forming on the framing around an AC coolant line that exits to the outside.
Using a can of spray foam, I did my best to plug the hole.
I suspect when the temperatures rise later this week the demand for plumbers is going to skyrocket as pipes thaw out and problems become more apparent. The real damage of a frozen pipe is the thousands of gallons that can spill out and flood a house. If you can catch it early while it is still frozen, you can save yourself a lot of headache.
One of the most significant tax changes enacted recently and also one that received very little media attention was the turbo charging of 529 College Savings Accounts.
If you weren’t using one before, you definitely need to start now if you have kids!
In the Olden Days
529 plans allowed parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc… to invest money in stocks, bonds, or money markets and then pull that money out to pay for college expenses without paying taxes on the investment gains. If that weren’t sweet enough of a deal, most states won’t charge their income tax rate on any contributions. Essentially, you win on both the front end and back end. You get a tax break on the state level by putting money in and shielding it from state taxation AND you get a win on the backside by pulling money out and not getting a tax bill from Uncle Federal Sam on the 100-300% appreciation that you’ve likely made ($100 invested for 18 years compounded @ 6% yearly growth would be worth $285.43).
Now, you can pull the money out of a 529 to pay for K-12 private school tuition. This is YUUGEE. As an example, let’s consider a family of four living in the great state of Illinois.
Illinois income tax rate is a flat 4.95%. For this hypothetical, let’s pretend that private school tuition is $6,500 year per pupil. That would be 2 kids x 13 x $6,500 = $169,000 in tuition payments.
But if the parents were savvy, they would use a 529 plan to shield money from state taxes. They could be risk averse and simply choose a stable money market fund that won’t sway with the broader stock market, in which case they’d simply contribute money every year and withdraw it as needed to save 4.95% on tuition. $8,365 saved!
Obviously, the higher the state’s income tax the more beneficial this becomes. There is a cap of $10,000 a year of withdrawals for K-12 expenses so it cannot be over abused.
It would probably be a good idea to open two 529 accounts per child. One for K-12 expenses and another for post secondary education expenses.
More Reading… http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/coming-soon-big-changes-to-529-plans
If you have kids, you probably have a mountain of candy from trick or treating and Halloween parties. You could eat it all right now, or maybe you did last night, but that would be a tad gluttonous and bad for your health. So after you’ve picked out a few pieces, what do you do with the rest of it?
1. Dentist Buyback
This was the first year that I had heard of it, and it is genius! Simply find a participating dentist or company in your area that is offering a buyback. The idea is that the dentist buys candy from the kids to get some of that sugar off the street and the kid benefits by getting some sweet cash instead!
Frugal Boy brought in a pound and a half of candy and the dentist gave him $5 AND a fidget spinner. Honestly, they could have just given him the fidget spinner and he would have been tickled pink.
2. Take it to Work
I’m not a huge fan of this common practice but it is very effective in getting sugar out of your house. The reason why I’m not a fan of it is that you’re promoting bad health habits amongst your coworkers, ya know, the people you share health insurance with.
3. Freeze It
If you want to be really frugal, throw it in the freezer and dig it out next year to hand out to trick or treaters. If that idea is to scuzzy for you, then consider reusing it personally for easter egg hunts in the Spring.
4. Make Gingerbread Houses
The stores have been promoting Christmas since the beginning of October anyway, so why not get a head start on making gingerbread houses. You’ll have something pretty (or sentimental if little kids are participating) and you can simply toss the whole affair when you are tired of looking at it.
5. Chuck It
It is okay to throw out junk food. I give you my frugal permission to not feel bad about it. If you really want, you can make your own ‘buyback’ program to sell it to your kids and have them bring their candy to you and you supply the cash to them. Next year try to buy less and maybe call trick or treating over a bit earlier. You don’t really need to hit every house in the neighborhood. I try to limit how many houses we visit and usually stick to ones of people that we know. Even keeping the list short, we still end up with a surplus of candy, so use a combination of the above methods to keep the sugar intake to a minimal. We still have Thanksgiving and Christmas to get through so your body will thank you in the Spring if you practice some self restraint now.
Leave a comment with your favorite ways of using that mountain of Halloween candy.