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Archive for August, 2013

Jenny I've Got Your Number 867-5309

September 1st, 2013 at 01:52 am

This is the funniest and real retail coupon savings hack I've read from Lifehacker. For those club savings offered by retail loyalty cards linked to a phone number, or even when corporate retail cashiers ask you for your phone number, give them the area code you're currently shopping in and eight six seven five three oh ni-yee-ine...

Another little hack, although I suspect this is limited to people in Buffalo, Detroit, Bellingham, and Escondido/San Juan Capistrano/San Diego, Corpus Christi...
ask the retail staff if they accept "the colourful currency." I've now had "the colourful currency" accepted south (a mile, 1.6 km) from where I live.

I've been thinking of what to do next month. So many ways I could improve myself: I may purge -- I could get a lot done. I have to design my kid's after-school schedule. Maybe one challenge a day, then build up. One thing he wants is Tim Horton International stock. He has some stock already in a no-brainer company, but this one I want him to study. I want him to learn how to find an annual report, and to read one. Then I'll teach him what ratios are worth looking at, and why. I'll show him some calculations to determine the future value of this stock, and appropriate buy points. This sounds heady, but when it comes to money my child is precociously sharp.

We're not moving north. My spouse is working on his resume for a FT job at the company for which he presently contracts (he used to be a FTE). He'd have to commute in every day. We'd either stay put, or move a mile north, or (gulp) southeast (12 mi SE: I have no basis for comparison with any other state of the union, and 90+% of them are southeast of us, so don't think I mean your habitat).

My credit union has cut our savings account interest rate down to 4%. I may toss some money into my son's account to get some of that six percent action.

Nightmare

August 29th, 2013 at 03:28 pm

Getting this down while it's still fresh:

Readers of this blog'll know I had a "time out" away from home, and that we've been "kinda" working on moving. In my dream we had gone as far as divided time between our house and an "efficiency apartment"-style hotel, our room in a cheery-but-bordering-on-ghastly yellow-orange-white combo. The day after I arrived from my time in the homeland I "woke up" (those dreams you wake up in, and you're not yet sure if you're dreaming or waking from a real dream) my spouse gave me coffee and a western noir paperback novel written by someone with a name like "Troy Deering" or "Travis Newman" or "Trevor Phelps", remaindered from Sparks (Nevada, not the band). I went to the bathroom where several flies hovered near the toilet.

My spouse also gave me the bill of room charges: $147000.

"How did this happen?" I sputtered. "How long have I been away? Why didn't you do anything?"
He shrugged. "Why is this my problem? It's not a big deal. It's only money."

My clue as to how this could have happened came at 10 pm that night, when a service employee came in with our complimentary Pop-Tart: only it looked more like a Kind Bar than a Pop-Tart. The service employee opened the mini-bar which had gigantic Canadian candy bars: Mr. Big, Coffee Crisp, Crunchie, Sweet Marie: those were $10 each.

Addendum In the same hotel room I was having a late night conversation with a pushy well-known stats nerd (name rhymes with "Tate Wilbur") where he was attempting to pressure me into a whole-night "friendliness session" (this is a family website, so beware of euphemisms). I tried telling him my spouse was due home at 1:45 am and I had a 1:08 am "friendliness session" booked already so an all-nighter was out of the question. Apparently I was wh*r*ng myself out to lonely nerds to make ends meet.
This addendum helped me to analyze my dream, believe it or not. The Signal and the Noise was the book I read before nodding off to sleep...

The punitive crawl of humility to stable finances (Part One)

August 23rd, 2013 at 04:50 pm

Soundtrack

The bummer of returning home is to see how much the finances resemble 1942 Guadalcanal or 1917 Vimy Ridge and having sole responsibility of cleaning that mess up.

Il buono
I paid my optometrist bill. Isn't it odd how some people are keenest to pay the creditors who've positioned themselves as given the customer a break? My bill wasn't overdue but as I don't know what balance is on the high-deductible health spending account, I postponed payment for a few salary payperiods. There was enough $$ in the HSA for my eye exam, yay. The optometry office staff treat me so well I feel abject and unworthy.

I sacrificed my vanity scooter plate to save $32 on my license tab renewal. I knew hubby would pout but I said "Virtual Private Network" to him.

The entrepreneurial tot got his 1995 Topps Larry Walker (MLB:Expos,Rockies,Cardinals) card signed, multiplying his card's worth by 5000%.

il brutto

I have forgotten when my spouse gets paid. When yesterday I dared peek at our chequing account balance it was around $1900. So I am guessing he gets paid next week. I left the spouse with $300 in the account on August 5, I know that much. He has the password to our credit union online access, but he's not ON IT like I am fifty weeks of the year.

Update: He was paid today
I deduce that he must have used the credit card for everything, looking at our CC balance.

I have a serious case of the wants after house-sitting a "monster" designer house in the burbs. Not the size of the house: too much to clean! Not the electronics: too many manuals to keep and read! But furniture: I could use a dinner table that doesn't rock, a better organization system in the kitchen and bedrooms. And here the 2014 IKEA catalogue tempts me.

il cattivo

Scooter insurance payment gets mailed today.

Most school supplies have been purchased. My boy is ramping up toward manhood (learning to cook, absorbing Facts of Life/Birds and Bees, acquiring first USB drive--RadioShack tried to interest me in a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes character drive, but I declined: dignity is crucial to the tween).

I don't know where this is in the buono/brutto/cattivo Venn Diagram, but very little changed in our fridge during our absence. Condiment-heavy fridge shelf, vegetable crispers untouched. I did not see any pizza boxes or empty beer bottles/cans. I do see that most of our frozen meat stash has gone. I have to do another inventory, but I can safely state that a Costco trip for bath tissue and paper towels is due.
That's what I'll do: play "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" on my mp3 player while I shop at Costco.

-----------------------------
Lagniappe: Most common questions/comments I received in British Columbia
"So how's that marijuana legalization working out?"
"Now you know why we shop for dairy in Washington!"
(seriously, how can veal be so affordable but milk be so pricy up there?)

Welcome is a beautiful word in any language

August 20th, 2013 at 06:12 pm

And I love hearing "Welcome back" from Americans. (I never get "Welcome back" from Canadians, ever.)

staying beyond initial exit date

August 17th, 2013 at 03:44 pm

No, I'm not defecting (I never lost citizenship so repatriating is not the right word). But now I find that my library books are going to incur dues, I'm spending more money than allotted, I still have license and medical bills to pay when I get back... hope the hubby isn't having pizza and beer every night! I'm so penurious at home too!

Shockingly, despite all our fun and friends and adventure, I'm ready to return home, if the dream I had this am is any indication: my mom was ignoring me and having fun with her friends going off somewhere, and in a fit of pique I gave her the finger, said a sentiment associated with giving someone the finger, and added "I'm going back to Seattle!" I'm only here because the family whose house I'm squatting in extended their vacation.

Anathemic: "It's only money!" I love so much reconnecting with my friends and family at their leisure, seeing more of the area than I did when I didn't have a car or made one-day trips. The kid is rarely bored, having access to sports channels on cable television, his Don Cherry Rock'em Sock'em DVDs and other Canadian amusements. I'm sure I will regret at leisure the spending, but my spouse will thank me for bringing the tot up with me, the tot will thank me for an extended stay at his "homeland."

Is the simple life for me bcuz I'm a simpleton?

August 8th, 2013 at 05:10 am

I used to be a technical editor. I am house-sitting. So far I've made subpar coffee with a coffeemaker when I'm used to a French press; had to go online to find why the dishwasher couldn't unlock to accept my touch-button command, and now find I cannot even play a DVD in the player supposedly connected to the 42" flatscreen LG monitor. I gave up and am watching through the computer. My life is a freaking Jacques Tati/Mr. Bean movie.

Everything I touch that is to be plugged in either doesn't function or requires an instruction manual.

I did manage to pair the phone with the Toyota Pious, so I can talk and make calls through the car. Waiting for some wag to say "Michael, this is KITT. Take the TransCanada Highway east until you are truly beyond Hope."

Hard to budget to the penny for a vacation

August 5th, 2013 at 03:39 pm

I sold some gold to finance gas, admissions, parking, and treats for twelve days. Then I learned there wouldn't be much left in the fridge where I was staying, so I must buy groceries. Today's a civic holiday.

Also DH is visiting us for a weekend, so tickets for bus fare, plus anniversary dinner. I'm telling myself it's the #1 city in Canada we're visiting, thus the expenses will be justified.

Speaking of former stomping grounds, went on an eyeball bender with baselle, and a 5K gumshoe through a Seattle neighborhood. We had good weather, eagle eyes with "limited" mental filters, and enough blood sugar to last us three hours. We finished up yesterday, just the two of us, to limit the chaos and take best advantage of her close-reading aptitude.

another month another grand of debt chopped

August 1st, 2013 at 05:02 pm

I've paid 6.6% of my total debt in seven months. I like seeing zeros in my mortgage balance, it's like smelling mint or lemon in a bathroom or kitchen: the illusion of accomplishment or in this case reduction.
Sometimes if I feel rich I will round down the payments to the nearest dollar.

Invested in a Motorola Surfboard cable modem now. DH said they were $80 at Fry's (his equivalent of the ball playplace one'd find at a McDonald's or IKEA), but I looked at RadioShack (they do have pretty good deals): alas, no pricing available as online supply was sold out. Thanks to the website's "find in stores" feature, I found one place within five miles of my zip code. I was accosted immediately by an obvious trainee -- we didn't find it on the shelf, he tried to interest me in a pricy modem-router combo. I stuck to my request, even sounding autistically persistent ("Gotta Watch Wapner! Yeah, definitely"), after minutes he retreated and emerged with my product. I looked it over and told him there was no price, I couldn't get the price online and I'd buy it only if it were under $90. Indeed RadioShack had the same price as Fry's so if you are ditching your rental modem, go to either place.

"See? All that work earned you a SALE. Aren't you proud?" The store manager was amused. He looked at the modem. "Replacing Comcast modem?" "Yes." "Gonna save $7/month rental? HIGH-FIVE!!" Yes, we high-fived, the RadioShack store manager and I. That was sweet: when we bought our $22K car, we got only handshakes from the dealership owner and the salesperson. Obviously the store manager was more emotionally invested in our purchase than was his trainee.

My bills, extending my financial freakout period to two months: $299.30 for optometrist exam, $223 annual insurance (expected), and $134 license plate tabs for scooter: yes, tabs more expensive than a year's worth of scooter fuel.