Monthly Update

September 2020 Update

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September 2020 Update

It’s crazy to think that almost exactly one year ago we’d just arrived in Spain for our 81-day family trip. Remember, back when travel to foreign places used to be a thing?

This September has been a little bit different, mostly uneventful. Having our oldest at college has been a little different. She’s staying healthy (so far!) even though there are a few cases of COVID in her dorms. She doesn’t seem to be holding back socially, which is a little worrisome. We talk to her just about every day and the number of times she’s said “Dad/Mom, thanks for teaching me about …” has been both surprising and gratifying, especially about personal finance topics.

Update: Dentist COVID-19 Charge

Remember those extra, COVID-related PPE charges for my kids’ dental cleaning appointments? It turns out that my wife was also charged for it during her July cleaning. I originally thought I’d just eat the charges, but I then decided to call the insurance and see what they could do. Sometimes they can push back on providers for D1999/Unspecified charges.

No dice. I did find out during my chat with the insurance rep that between August 1, 2020 and October 31, 2020, in-network dentists can’t charge this expense. My wife’s dentist is in-network so she was just a couple weeks too soon. I had my cleaning last week so we’ll see what happens. Stay tuned! (Riveting, isn’t it?)

Tello, Red Pocket

I experimented with our cell phone coverage this month. My legacy t-Mobile pay-per-minute plan was almost exhausted and after my daughter opened her account, I decided to give Tello a try. $10 for the Sprint SIM and $5 for the first month. I used my daughter’s referral code to get $10 Tello Dollars that I can use for service for a couple months. I went with the $5/month, 500mb/month, data-only plan. My use of Google Voice for all of my phone calls means I don’t really need any minutes. So far it’s been great.

After getting tipped off to Red Pocket by FrugalProfessor, I helped my wife, who was on the same pay-per-use plan, set up on Red Pocket’s $5/month plan. We’ll see how it compares. She’s using Verizon/CDMA so it’ll be interesting to see if she gets better signal than I do on Tello’s Sprint/CDMAS. We decided to port her number, which was fairly painless, only requiring her contact info and port-out PIN for Red Pocket to port it. The port is still in process, so I’m crossing my fingers. However, if she doesn’t keep the number, oh well. Not a biggie since she also uses Google Voice, and that number isn’t changing.

Also this month, I set up child #3 with a Google Voice number this month. All of my kids that use Google Voice have chosen New England numbers, even though we’ve never lived there. They think it’s funny, but a helpful side-effect is that spam calls that come from “local” numbers are easily identified as being spam.

Solution Found: Dishwasher Overflow

A couple of years ago, we bought a dishwasher through Costco’s concierge service. Doing this doubled the typical one-year warranty to two, and putting it on the Costco Citi card added an additional two years of warranty, for a total of four years of warranty.

But even with those long warranties, the dishwasher has been a pain. Within the first two years it started leaking small puddles of water from the door, like some over-excited puppy. The appliance guy couldn’t figure out the leak, even after multiple trips. He ended up replacing the control board, which was covered by warranty. It stopped leaking.

This spring it started acting up, again.This time, the dishwasher would run for about ½ hour, then throw a flood error code and start expelling water continuously, requiring a shutoff at the circuit breaker. We were in the extended, Citi warranty window, which meant we had to pay the $200 appliance repair bill and request Citi for reimbursement. Different appliance repair shop, but same inability to diagnose the problem. He suggested that we were using soap that produced too many suds. He vacuumed out the leak pan in the bottom and went on his way. Because there was no part replaced, CitiCard denied the warranty claim. Bummer.

Well, the problem persisted, manifesting about every other week. However, this month I think I finally figured it out: the in-sink disposal. Food build-up in the sink drain was preventing water from draining fast enough from the sink. When the dishwasher expelled water into the sink, it had to push against all of the backed up water, preventing it from draining properly. Enough of a clog meant the dishwasher couldn’t drain enough by the time it filled and would overflow.

Solution: don’t let food build-up in the sink and run the disposal before running the dishes.

Lessons learned? Appliance guys often have no idea and just make stuff up. And the CitiCard extended warranty is next to useless.

Other Items

These are also updates that only deserve a sentence, if that:

  • Sold more options on DumpsterFire Inc that expired worthless. Sweet premium!
  • Switched my DNS registrar from DreamHost to NameCheap for better pricing. Mostly painless process with zero downtime.
  • I’m finalizing plans for a fort/play-house/climbing structure that I hope to start building this fall and possibly completing the in spring. Look for future pictures!
  • We bought a Pixelbook Go for my wife to use daily. Little on the expensive side but it’s got snappy enough performance. Zoom on Chromebook’s leave a lot to be desired.
  • We’ve been playing The Crew a lot as a family. Cooperative, trick taking card game. Seems arbitrarily difficult. 3/5 stars.
  • Spot the Troll. I got 7 of 8. How about you?

Hope your September ends well.

Hasta luego!

6 thoughts on “September 2020 Update

  1. I hope redpocket works out okay. Prior to swtiching to Xfinity mobile (which is an obvious no-brainer if you have a compatible phone), we liked it.

    Have you looked at Google Domains for DNS? I pay $12/year with privacy included. I’ve been pretty happy.

    The pixelbook looks sweet. What’s the point of 64gb of storage on a chromebook? Since everything is on the cloud, I don’t really understand the point of all of that storage. I guess it’s to install apps?

    One of these days we ought to compare notes on board games. We’re big fanatics as well.

    1. I’ll checkout Google domains. I have a couple other domains at Namecheap and the renewal is $13. It was only $8.58 to transfer to Namecheap, though.

      Not sure on the 64gb. I agree, everything is in the cloud so it’s mostly apps that take space.

      We also love our board games. Some of our favorite games include Race for the Galaxy and Dominion.

  2. Is the $20.00 PPE fee to put PPE on the kids or to offset the cost of what the dental hygienist has to wear? Just wondering. I went several months back and the hygienist was certainly gowned up more than usual, but I didn’t get hit with a fee. They didn’t really do anything different with me other than a mask before the cleaning.


    1. It was PPE for the dentist and hygienist. We got the bill from the pediatric dentist this week and it looks like they discounted the charges from $20 down to $8 or $9 dollars. At least that’s what I think it is. There’s a credit for each child labeled “Professional Courtesy”. ?

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