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Archive for March, 2012

little things

March 28th, 2012 at 01:46 pm

1. I started juicing, now that I am reading a book by Dr. Sandra Cabot. This week I used spinach in the drinks, for protein and to offset the acid from lemon, grapefruit and orange. The drinks aren't horrible. The great thing about juicing is that a lot of carrots get used, and therefore I buy in bulk, and that brings the cost per pound of carrots down to 70 to 80 cents.

2. Gas is now officially over $4.019/gallon where I live.

3. I believe my neighbour's dog is senile, as she is old and was whining outside at 2:35 am. We suggested to the neighbor that he bring his dog to a vet for a checkup, as she was outside and whining when it was cold and wet, and older animals are likely to be uncomfortable in those weather conditions, as they have thin skin, sensitive bones, and possible cognition decline. But why take care of your elderly best friend when you can irritate your neighbours to the point where they have to move if they want to claim their property rights of a quiet night?

4. This one is for baselle: Robin Gibb undergoes surgery - my friend and I were at Gainsbourg last night when she pointed to my price book cover and said, "I predict he will be the next to go." "I'm goin' nowhere, somebody help me." Stayin' Alive

5. Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, who is charged with murdering 16 Afghans, had mortgage finance problems. His house was briefly on the market days before the murder of the Afghan civilians. This is why I am afraid to confront my underwater-mortgage neighbours about their suffering animals. It's said that Staff Sergeant Bales had Post-Trauma Stress Disorder, and I believe that, as my cousin was a staff sergeant from the same company, and was diagnosed with PTSD before he was shipped to Afghanistan. I am told that my cousin killed civilians as well, but I cannot verify that. “I don’t see how you can do this,” he said, “and not be damaged.”

6. My Jeopardy! tryout sucked. I got maybe 44 out of 50 questions.

Money going to sprucing up house 2 put up for sale

March 25th, 2012 at 04:10 pm

Then I'll go buy a car.

Windows painting, steps and rail painting, moss cleanup, garden cleanup, tree cleanup, new plants put in, interior painting. Hoping it'll be under $5K.

Naturally, after looking at our first house--an informal inspection down the road, told the empty house's neighbour what we were doing and asked her questions about the block--we came across a neighbor on our house who listened to us vent about our troubles: lots of people in adjacent properties buying dogs and not bothering to train them so they all bark whenever, making it impossible for us to enjoy peace and quiet in our home.

I don't want to live where ignorance, recalcitrance, hostility and malice trump consideration and goodwill. I'm willing to sell and buy my way out of that. I can then buy a car with cash, and pay off the HELOC.

Treasury Direct is no longer selling paper I Bonds, except with income tax refunds, which we will probably never see as I much prefer owing.

Learning Excel for Fun and Profit

March 21st, 2012 at 05:41 pm

I use lots of Excel for my Schadenfreude list, but the problem with autodidact learning is lack of structured curriculum. I have been using Excel Formulas and Functions for Dummies, working on my first, second and third mortgages -- not concurrent! do not fret! -- and found:
if I kept my first mortgage, I would be paying $388.50 in principal a week from now, with 16.78 years left.
if I kept my second mortgage I would be paying $653.37 in principal a week from now, with 11.44 years left.
I'm paying only $24.23 more than $653.37 in principal, but $141.19 less in interest. With the first mortgage $792.87 would have been paid in interest. I would still be using the Itemized Deductions Schedule on my 1040.

I have overspent for this payperiod, and yet oversaved as well. On the Payday it all works out: surplus is allocated to money market account, and VISA card.

Now that My HELOC Balance is $300 away from what it was in June 2011 before I borrowed for the roof, I am slowing my contributions to $163+/month, and putting 5% of our income toward noise-cancelling ear buds and home improvement/maintenance.

Who's Weak This Week: Zsa Zsa is trending but not for reasons the Dirtnap for Dollars crew would salivate at; Robin Gibb will likely live to see the centennial of the Titanic's sinking (he composed a requiem and is making public appearances). I have been spoiled this year by a score each month: numerically that rate is impossible to sustain. I passed up Andy Williams for Larry Hagman, strictly based on age, and here's Andy in a wheelchair, and Larry doing television. I like Andy Williams too, I had such a crush on him when up until I was five. He voice-dubbed Lauren Bacall! How cool is that? You know what would be cool? If he sang a recording of his own eulogy, and Lauren Bacall addressed the mourners, lipsynching the eulogy. Or vice versa, only I hope Ms. Bacall stays with us a long time.

A tip for those who want to play in 2013: Morley Safer, Steven Adler, William "Refrigerator" Perry, and Tony Iommi.

Ten States with the Worst Mortgage Debt

March 19th, 2012 at 07:36 pm

1. California
2. Hawaii
3. Maryland
4. New Jersey
5. Washington
6. Massachusetts
7. Virginia
8. Connecticut
9. Colorado
10. Nevada

To Nevada's credit, the average credit card balance outstanding is among the lowest in the nation.

My state sucks, of course as it has the 16th highest unemployment rate in the country and a high poverty rate of 12.5%. Credit card debt per person in Washngton: $6,825 (17th highest).

Link

weekly wrap-up

March 17th, 2012 at 10:57 am

We visited an India-Pakistan store nearby, for the first time. Scarily old products (best before 2008) on shelves, but netted what I was looking for: amla hair oil. Strengthens the hair, gives it shine, and purportedly hides grey. Good source of Vitamin C as it is from gooseberry. Strangely they had no ground cumin in bulk.

This week neither my spouse nor I went out for coffee. Including drip. This is a first. I attribute it to his day off yesterday and my bout of cystitis.

Our interest from CDs and accounts was calculated and added. Not much, but more than what we would have budgeted for coffee this week.

Some Comcast guy offered my spouse some upgrade, but was wretched and rude about it. He claimed that for $9 extra a month the speed would double before verifying what speed we had, and we'd have access to 80 television channels (no interest to us). Comcast doesn't offer any individualized plan of optimal benefit for the consumer. I put my hand on spouse's shoulder and said "Comcast is a small company. There's only so much it can do." The sales guy riposted, "Everything should be free, huh?" Which makes no sense. I wasn't asking for free stuff and didn't complain about our current bill.

It's rare that anyone comes to us with "hey we have a way to save you money" that actually results in a lower monthly cost and better quality. BECU gets five star reviews from me because they did not balk at switching our mortgage plan from 15-year plus application fee to 12-year with no application fee once the latter mortgage product had rolled out. They didn't say "Everything should be free, huh?"

Thinking of moving

March 15th, 2012 at 01:21 pm

I am equally happy living in both urban and suburban environments, hubby is mostly urban except without the patois and bling. I compared a desirable city north of us to where we live now:
North City
+ better public school test results
+ can be in Vancouver within 90 minutes
+ cost of living a little lower: housing and utilities are less
+ closer to my friends
+ better bookstores
+ lower violent crime rates
+ marginally lower property tax rate
+ higher comfort index
+ less-expensive houses
+ culture
+ sunnier

- mass transit barely used
- walkscores are lower, unless I want to be within ten blocks of the interstate (cancer risk). Definitely getting a Leaf, Volt or Prius if we move up.
- higher property crime rates
- cul-de-sacs galore: accident potential
- groceries costs are higher
- smaller library system
- snows more
- more politically diverse: most every local election goes the way we want it to in our current city
- rains more

I don't want so much land as I want a house that's within walking/bicycling distance to some good schools and I don't have to take the car freaking everywhere. We could move to a condo or townhouse in our current city but the schools would still suck. It would help also to have little noise from barking dogs, so maybe no suburban stuff.

Maybe I'll investigate the school district and see how its curriculum is different from "if we just corporatize everything or let the Gates and Broad Foundations run our schools everything will be great!!" Seattle.

My $90 day

March 14th, 2012 at 01:57 pm

10.719 gallons refuel @ $3.909/gallon, cheapest within three miles of my home. I even beat the closest gas station to my house, one of the cheapest in Seattle (which means I went outside Seattle for fuel). $41.84

$39.64 - organic milk (brought wrong coupons), tea tree oil (for cleaning mildewy/smelly fabrics and other), MarketSpice tea (it's wet wet cold wet today), Spike seasoning in bulk, Ginger Peach tea in bulk, chicken breasts @ price-book level, red wine vinegar, five other items I can't think of, sirloin tip roast @ close to price-book level, organic carrots @ price-book level, eggs @ below price-book level, walnuts @ price-book level.

$8.79 -- favourite expenditure: PIE slices at $3.14/slice! with San Pellegrino water: I have cystitis, UTI or a kidney stone, so I bought the water to lower the internal pressure I was feeling. Left a tip 'coz I ain't no drip.

I did a second, clean pass through our taxes and saw that we owed $14.40 more than originally estimated. Crossing my fingers we don't get a tax penalty.

Cherry not included

March 10th, 2012 at 09:42 pm

Because so little, aside from a nice coffee out this morning, and a nice bath after a few hours of intensive bathroom and kitchen cleaning, is going well in my life right now, please enjoy

Doin' The Banana Split - Safe for kids, practically encouraged.

now have under $130K mortgage remaining

March 7th, 2012 at 06:11 pm

Must remember to treat myself for these $10K milestones. Not a "treat" for myself, but I am licensing and microchipping my bad brown boy kitty. I may start colouring my hair again, now that grey hair is coming in. My first one was plucked by my hairstylist. I gave her a book of dirty comics as a thank you gift. Next $10K milestone scheduled for March 1 2013.

Signs I've been saving money

March 5th, 2012 at 10:03 am

The balances seem abstract to me, except the tax bill, that's as concrete as a two-ton weight. When the proprietor of our espresso hangout says he's noticed our absences, staring at the tip jar, we can see how the $$ we contributed to his fund made a difference.

I'm not bothered so much now by the tax bill: I earned that much over the year in interest, dividends, and other investing. Although I am requesting DH change his tax withholding, it seems to me I am a more responsible steward of monies eventually turned over to the government than the government is of monies returned to me. The initial shock of surprise and unplanned expenses ebbs when I understand I have the $ to pay for them. Maybe the refinance changed our tax deductions for us: we pay under $4300 in mortgage interest, pay under $3400 in real estate taxes, the $600 tax for the roof just don't add up to itemized expenses. Last year we paid $5100+ in mortgage interest, and probably $6100+ the year before that. Amazing how fast the $100 savings is redirected to school donations, higher food and gas prices. We shopped and got $68 worth of groceries, but I've forgotten most of what we bought. I remember the produce, and dairy products and Nanaimo bar, we got some bagged cereal as well. Oh yeah, the wines. The wines cost at least a third of the bill. Meanwhile if I use up four vegetables our crispers are halfway to empty.

I wasn't happy with last month's food bill, but I did shop at Costco and buy a bulk order of meat, that's $300.

What's great when the insides are not so great: organic udon in chicken broth flavoured with salt, sugar, soy sauce, and sprinkled with five spice powder and kelp. Ohhhh.

In Dirtnap for Dollars news two of my picks are selling their houses; one has defaulted on her house loan. Try to imagine being in the tabloid news 50 years ago for wearing furs, getting jewels from randy royals, and big divorce settlements, and then defaulting on a house loan when you're five years away from pushing 100.

My Office Professional 2010 arrived today. I hope my 2008-era Dell laptop can handle it.
Extending my spring cleaning to include my PC and my insides. Starting with yogurt smoothies and indoor exercises.

Watching gold and silver slide like cliffside Malibu houses during an Act of God. If I see it below $1690 USD I'll buy a half ounce or one ounce.

YNAB update for February

March 1st, 2012 at 09:59 am

Overspent by $309.60. Despite that it was a good month. I blame almsgiving, Costco, and my prescriptions.

Net Worth (Liquid Assets) rose by $2669 from January.
As of today, March 1, it dropped $1356.04, but that's just the negative income and expenses. I have to figure out how to input for March the paycheques for the 9th and 23rd.
Liabilities decreased by $286.59.

Mortgage cheque came through today. Chequing balance at $462.00.

Bought a $500 CD with a monthly Add-To feature.
Asked spouse to put a pitiful amount of $ toward a 401(k) so we can get a little more $ to spend, and oddly another $25 per pay period for tax withholding.

Now I will cut down on my debt repayment scheme, from $400 a month to $175 a month.
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Use-It-Up attempts:

10-grain muffins from Bob's Red Mill with some milk past its sell-by date. My family will not eat Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain cereal hot, but they'll happily munch on muffins made with them. Maybe men are more complicated than I thought.

Very old frozen cod, single serving: chopped into four pieces, put in foil with sliced potatoes, diced tomato, olive oil, white wine and thyme.

Oatsie Doatsie drop no-bake cookies, made with quick oats, cocoa, sugar, salt, vanilla.
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I spent $40 to refill the automobile yesterday, but I did not fill it up. I weep. The bright spot is that we lasted thirteen days on $37.48, including the 76 miles DH made on BBB. As my schadenfreude list does not have me visiting any faraway libraries this month, I can save at least $5.00.

I have checked books out of the library on bicycling safely in traffic and looked through the Chinook Book for Bike Store coupons.
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In stock hilarity news, I learned that if one goes to Standard and Poor's NetAdvantage website, and attempts to input "PEP" for Company Ticker and "Pepsico" for Company Name, one gets "Polish Energy Partners" traded on the Warsaw Exchange. Google, Value Line, FinViz and Yahoo! show financials for PepsiCo when PEP is entered as a search term.