<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Archive: September, 2006
 

Archive for September, 2006

easy come, easy go

September 19th, 2006 at 10:07 am

Bills paid:
$615 for childcare deposit.
$547 for CC#1
$107 for CC#2
$40.20 for dentist
$24 for natural gas bill
$64 (late) for telephone bill
$138 for water/sewer bill (bimonthly)
$55 for electricity bill (bimonthly)

Bank of Moloch has indicated it may start altering the closing date on the card. I believe that Bank of Moloch and other credit card issuers don't want for us to use their cards. Maybe HELOCs and cheques and debit cards.

FlexCar fees, rates and charges to go up.
Natural gas rates to rise. So now I have to consider: what energy efficient moves can I make that are CHEAPER than paying for the extra energy? Caulking, yes. The energy efficient windows will lower heating costs by 15%, BUT will the windows ever pay for themselves in our lifetime?

The problem with sudden bursts of money is that ideas for spending/saving/investing percolate afterward. IRAs were initially the main focus, then the payments for my son's social communication playgroup will be due, because insurance won't carry them.
Vehicles and trips versus padding the emergency fund and maximizing my Roth IRA contribution and contributing to my son's education fund. Looking at the finances of the school district, I'm considering private school.

Ides of September

September 15th, 2006 at 10:55 am

Ah, the spouse has revealed to me he reads this. Expect sanitized Erma Bombeckisms now. Soon my son will be reading these too.

Net worth statement is up 1% from last month. Retirement accounts balance are tantalizingly $3000 lower than the mortgage loan balance. The "Car loans" entry is clear. The spike in retirement account balances is almost solely responsible for the increase.

The gotchas: we'll likelily be billed for my kid's social communication therapy (Bleah) because insurance won't cover it. It's not a rehabilitation treatment from a difficult birth and complicated pregnancy: I suspect what he has is genetic.

A wee gotcha: we're shoppin' at BOEING SURPLUS. Tomorrow is the last day for specials on: credenzas, computer tables, chairs with wheels and office tables. Plus a 20% discount for Boeing employees. Using my FlexCar membership to "rent" a pickup truck. Time to remeasure the office's area space.

Next saving trick: yet another computer for the spouse to work on his MCSE. Estimating $850 for that.

Stock bonus still hasn't come. Dammit, and I need new clothes too -- new trenchcoat or raincoat, new blouses, new pants, new tights, earrings...

Link of the Day: From SmartMoney.com, The best time to buy

I sometimes feel I miss out on coupon fun. Our family doesn't go for much processed food nor fast food anymore. We run to supermarkets for quickie "oh I didn't realize we ran out of..." trips. We don't see coupons for stuff we like -- garlic bread, flour, whipping cream, fresh herbs. I wish I had some evidence and proof that none of the chemicals, additives, preservatives and flavourings in the processed food contributed to diabetes or cancer, and were equally as healthful as the fresh stuff we buy. Then I'd be couponing too.

My starbucks coffee is free so I don't pay attention to the tsktskers who go on about the "latte factor." I have one or two espresso drinks a week, but I also get access to NYT crosswords, so there's some subsidy.

I am reading the simple life -- thoughts on simplicity, frugality, and living well. It's edited by Larry Roth, the same man who wrote the Political Frugality book. Check out this paragraph.

While I was happy I had gotten my start twenty years earlier, I began calculating the price increases I had absorbed. My salary had increased five times, but my housing costs had increased more than eleven times, and a new car was six times what I paid for one in 1971. It occurred to me that Americans could not continue to survive their expenses outrunning their means for much longer.

I totally relate to this. We are not so careful about costs of eating out -- I splurged on saltimbocca, because it'd been at least six months since I had veal -- but I don't colour my hair as much as I used to, we don't have cable, we don't have mobile phones, we don't have two cars. Our stylist has figured out that my spouse has been "cheating on him" going for the $10 haircuts.

I paid off the scoot!

September 14th, 2006 at 11:34 am

Current Balance: $0.00
Last payment amount: $2049.11
Last payment date: 09/13/2006

Happy Days Are Here Again -- Requires RealAudio-compatible plug-in.

To answer fern's question: Insurance for me is $271. Gas for 7200 miles is $420.00

The funny thing is that I saved a few hundred dollars by borrowing @ 2.9% -- had I waited later I would not have had the promotional discount, and my 2005 dollars would have to rise by 3.2% for 2006 dollars.

debtfreeme, I answered your questions in a private message. Thanks for your support and interest.


Yamaha Majesty YP400S. 395cc displacement.
Typical Mileage: 60mpg.
Highway Mileage: 65mpg.
Maximum Speed: 95 mph.
----------------

Childcare deposit: $615 (0% interest -- goal to pay off by November 1, 2006)

Credit card: $649 (6.9% interest -- goal to pay off by October 10, 2006)

Mortgage: $157500.48 (5% interest -- goal to pay off by April 15, 2014)

Warning: Seattle Housing Bubble Rant

September 12th, 2006 at 11:53 am

first rule: do not talk about Seattle Housing Bubble

According to Northwest Multiple Listing Service's August report, the average single family house price in King County is over $700,000 and the median price is almost $430,000.

I'm guessing then that the average household income is $233,000 or that people bring home a monthly net income of $10208. The median income should be $143,000. But the AmLife.US Economic Distribution Table (scroll to view) shows 2004 incomes to be well in the five-figure set.

Yeah yeah it's gauche of me to bring this up, you're flinching as you read this, but it makes me frickin' weep -- all this time spent learning about how to evaluate stock fundamentals, what bonds are and how they work, how to live within my means, but never how to make sure my salary rises 15% every year to keep up with utilities and housing prices. I guess half of King County is pretty comfortable, financially, so they won't mind if the "impossible" happens and there's a 25-30% drop in real estate prices over the next six years. Some people are estimating steeper drops, like 50-70%.

Is anyone from these cities: Sacramento, Los Angeles, Irvine/Santa Ana/Anaheim, Miami, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Boston, San Diego, San Francisco reading this? Please share the state of your locality's housing market.

It could be my lousy math skills that confound me. Twelve - fifteen years ago I was reading personal finance primers that counsel against buying a house priced beyond 2.5 times one's household income. Mortgage interest rates then ranged from 6.65% to 7.49% (source). Rates so far this year are indeed lower, 6.30% to 6.77% (source). Maybe the personal finance primers nowadays are advising to go no further than six times one's household income owing to this INCREDIBLE DROP IN MORTGAGE INTEREST RATES.

Here's the deal: historically houses have appreciated at the rate of inflation plus 0.4%. Either we're in a big housing bubble, because house prices zoomed up from 2003 onward, like 15% year over year appreciation, which I once believed could only be done by high-flying tech stocks (but not sustainably over five years), or the silent and deadly hyperinflation era is here and no one is talking about it.

Somehow people are getting the $$ for these pricey houses. After all, price is determined by supply and demand. Many $$$ chasing few houses leads prices to escalate. But wait! Why are homebuilder stocks like Beazer, Toll Brothers, and Hovnanian trading at or below book value? They should be raking it in like ExxonMobil!

Let's see, inflation adjusted wages for the state of Washington dropped 8.1% from 2001-2005.

Seattle is sixth in the nation in Option adjustable rate mortgages, plus a recession is looming. Economists are predicting October 2006, although some, following retail industry data, say it's already here.

Yes, I'm sure that we will be spared. [b]

the interim between debts

September 11th, 2006 at 12:31 pm

I read today that my natural gas utility will raise its delivery and usage rates by 10% October 1. I am now seriously considering a solar-powered hot water heater. To you people south of the 40th parallel, I say do not scoff. My grey-skies PNW environment is actually a good area for solar energy. Germany is closer to the Arctic Circle, and it's one of the world leaders in use of solar energy.

The photovoltaic panels, it is reasoned, will not return our investment until 2046 -- our electrical use is pretty cheap, about $40/month on average. Whereas, if natural gas costs rise at 10% per year, we'll have payback for the heater within five years. The minimum HELOC charge would be $15.06 -- pretty affordable.

Actually I am jumping the gun about the subject title. I will be free and clear of that scooter debt in two weeks. I do recognize I have some abnormal queasiness about debt, what I post in concern about my peers is of course a projection of my own fiscal anxieties, but like many other people I can rationalize with the best of them.

Debt is personally acceptable if:
the interest rate paid on the debt is lower than the savings rate or the rate of increase on a necessity (utilities, for example).

it's cheaper than paying full price for an item.

it's incurred for an appreciating asset.

September Update

September 5th, 2006 at 09:39 am

1. Unexpected ouch: forgot that the deposit for the new preschool was $910, not $100 that I paid 6/22. Put down $205 on 9/1, and paid the $910 that was due.
It'll still be cheaper than the other daycare, but by $50 overall thanks to the steep deposit.

2. I e-mailed someone who has a Post Carbon online group, he said the #1 thing I should do to prepare for peak oil is get out of debt. Ugh. Is borrowing for solar panels and big rain cisterns and filtration systems acceptable? If I could with certainty project the rising utility costs at 13% year over year I would say borrowing is certainly worthwhile. If one could reap a Return on Investment within five years for home improvements, borrowing at a competitive interest rate could be beneficial.

3. I was a bad girl and researched some DRiPs. I found some fairly recent directories in the Business Reference section of a Regional Library, so that pleased me. Some I may consider further research on for the family:
JNJ, COF, HDI, BUD, WTR, TGT, MDT, BNI, UNP, CHD, HCN.

4. I decluttered my papers: shoving the business/record types in one folder, and the recipes in another. Then I commenced with some merry shredding.

5. I am freaked/wistful that my son will attend Kindergarten next year. Where does the time go? I hope he fares well in his new environment.