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Archive for December, 2013

Year end splurge

December 31st, 2013 at 02:34 am

I am so excited to be at the magic cusp of $100,000 principal paid and $100,000 mortgage left to go on the house that I took advantage of some Christmas money and Amazon.com deals to buy Fracas eau de cologne, Nutrigold fish oil and Doctor's Best alpha lipoic acid. I saved $90 on the total order and spent just over $89 total for those three items prior to tax.

I'd been thinking about how to make this $1378 savings challenge and the first thing that came to me was shaving $$ from the vitamins I purchase. I'm not advertising brands necessarily here; I read a news article about a study that purports that supplements don't do anything. The article of course did not specify if the supplement brand was something you'd find at a supermarket or chain drug store, or if it were a higher-quality brand found online or at health food and nutritional supply stores. I know Vitamin D3 supplementation has helped me and other people; magnesium made my feet stop getting cold and cramping, and let me sleep better; alpha lipoic acid helped my blood sugar. But why spend $14 in a store when I can spend $8?

By the by, baselle herself won her own Dead Pool this year. Go congratulate her!

Trying the 52-Week Savings Challenge for 2014

December 28th, 2013 at 07:57 pm

Tell me, 52WSC vets, the two best tips you learned while doing this last year, the two best tips you saw from other people, and the two best tips you took with you into the challenge.
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I ran across the street, not in an intersection, while the arterial was quiet. My men followed me, coins falling from the pocket of the littlest one. When we collected on the other side, the small one cried at the loss of what he claims to be eighty-five cents. I braved the street during traffic lulls to rescue fifty cents. Twelve is a little old to be crying about lost change, unless you're a born Saving Advice columnist.

To prep for this challenge, I'm trying something newer than Ms. Taylor-Hough, Ms. Vicki Robin and Ms. Dacyczyn: The Money $aving Mom's Budget by Crystal Paine, and 365 Ways to Live Cheap!, by Trent Hamm, whom you may know of TheSimpleDollar.com.

$100000 principal paid, plus Holiday on Ice!

December 25th, 2013 at 01:12 am

Went ice skating today. Have not done this in over thirty years and it shows. I'm used to a bigger rink and there were so many young children with walkers that I didn't trust myself to pick up speed. It's a Christmas miracle there were no collisions. Some of us set blade to ice for the first time ever, and although we wore out fast, we all want to do this again.

Beautiful blue sky, we could see the peninsula and the water: another Christmas miracle there. Bought ingredients for Osso Buco: it's just us this year, but I still want something special if not gluttonous, so Osso Buco it is, plus blood oranges for juicing and Quebec/Vermont maple syrup for pancakes.

The supermarket was busy, the parking lot packed, but everyone was in good spirits -- Christmas miracle number three. A woman who staffed the till at a local retail shop recognized us. She noticed me after she muttered a four-letter-word in the spices aisle, and had looked over to see if my son had heard her. Good times!
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I pulled the trigger so to speak and threw some extra principal to our home equity line of credit. Officially now we have $100000 paid toward the house and unofficially I am 102 months and a bit ahead of schedule.
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Merry Christmas Festivus End-of-Year Gaiety. I hope my blog can let registered users comment okay.

Part Two 2013 Assessment

December 21st, 2013 at 12:25 am

Ever ask yourself if you can do better with your household finances? Ever follow up that question with how? Are you blessed with a mind that determinedly does NOT complicate a solution?

For me, two out of three ain't bad.

My credit union reduced its deposit interest rates (boo! hiss!). My reaction to this is that my $$ need better apportioning among: debt, emergency funds, planned expenditures, and investments. I do not expect 2014 to be as splendiferous to my house value and common stock value slopes.

My Money Market Fund is $2500 shorter than it needs to be for its interest rate to bump from 0.05 to 0.10%.
My CDs earn .35%

My math task will be to determine what three options have the best chance to save me more interest and increase my net worth.

$12,547.34 Heloc 12/15/2012 $411.38
$11,499.80 Heloc 12/15/2013 $363.19

Interest difference:

$109,034.67 Mortgage 12/1/2012 $4,232.48
$100,535.68 Mortgage 12/15/2013 $3,602.97

Interest difference:

$7,568.48 Money Market Account 6/28/2013
$8,800.35 Money Market Account 12/20/2013

0.35 % CDs
0.05 % Money Market Fund
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Price of GE Dec 21, 2012: 20.88
Price of GE Dec 20, 2013: 27.36
Price of PG Dec 21, 2012: 68.74
Price of PG Dec 20, 2013: 81.84
Price of WAG Dec21, 2012 37.21
Price of WAG Dec20, 2013 59.04

House Value December 2012: $310000
House Value December 2013: $372500
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If you've read this far, and you can handle some whimsy and are of a certain vintage or nationality (you can be American and enjoy this, Americans recorded this, but my experience has been more Canadians than Americans roll their eyes at the opening chords; Americans, stay with the medley for your US-patented content, cued at 2:17), please enjoy Seattle band The Squirrels (no relation to the Chipmunks). No video track, so safe to enjoy.

Miscellanea-Logorrhea Post

December 20th, 2013 at 11:11 pm

I have thoughts swarming and distracting me. In no particular order:

I mailed a parcel (no insurance) to the United Arab Emirates. Flying parcels over there is expensive. I had this idea that because my brother works at an institute of higher learning, somebody would sign for the parcel. It arrived at the building I addressed, but as my brother was away from his office teaching, it went away with the courier. I don't have a tracking # for it. It's the cost and effort that counts, right?

I am using whey protein shakes but I find I get hot flashes, despite use of coconut oil and coconut milk. Not that hot flashes in freezing temperatures aren't welcome, they just don't last long. I must do some research about cortisol, branched chain amino acids, female hormones and serotonin. Sleep is brief now because the cat, a South East Asian variety lacking a thick coat and fat, sleeps on us or beneath the covers, making rolling over burdensome. There are other cats, but he's on the wrong end of the pecking order (they hate him) for all of them to cuddle up with each other, and he won't go near my gentle, sensitive, kind child (no sarcasm here. Unfamiliar cats find my child more approachable. I genuinely don't understand the aversion).

I learned efficiency isn't luxury. I hate everything being cluttered but it's not like I get any help at home. At least no past-due statement calamities have happened. Such a bother determining what to toss and where; where to track down those folders and statements meant to go into those folders.

I am dreading dealing with ComputerShare to get replacement userid and password info. The credentials were lost to the hard disk drive. I know this is nothing compared to the Library of Alexandria's destruction, but chee!

My small comfort about this Target breach is that our credit cards and debit cards have already been replaced due to other breaches, after I started exclusively using the RedCard and cash at Target. Therefore only my Target shopping data may be compromised. Will Target close the account and issue a new one without my needing to request one?

It has snowed here. I have no real snowboots, only rainboots and fashion boots. I don't like wearing rainboots: my socks end up sliding down past my ankles or if they're already mid-ankle, past the heel. Do I have to wear garters?

Thank you for keeping your blogs lively, honest and true, and not blighting my eyes with passive, third-person toneless palaver about insurance or car loans or loan consolidation. Thank you to the eagle eyes who report those blogs so they are "smote into gobettes" by the vigilant site administrators.

I have something else, very budget related, but it's for a separate post. Stay tuned.

Part One 2013 Assessment

December 17th, 2013 at 08:41 pm

I've met my 7% principal debt payment goal for this year, time to ratchet the % up to 8% for 2014. I want to refinance our car note down to 1.74% or whatever the prevailing rate is for new. Hoping for 48 month term instead of 60. If not I shall invest the difference.

Winter for me means a monthly gas bill over $110. That's what ours came to for the past month. Not interested in reducing it. I feel, with blankets, newer windows, throws, insulation, and a programmable thermostat, we've done enough. That triple digit just shocks me. Fortunately the bill shrinks by the March statement.

A whole lot of things I want to do differently. Make my blog content more useful and find the useful contents on other blogs would be great. Save enough to buy a new mattress or refinish the wood floors.

Things I did well this year:
* correctly diagnosed executive functioning problem
* reduced car fuel costs by over 40%
* met my goals for debt
* identified my energy leaks
* found and am using effective weight loss and stress reduction routines
* learned to shop at Asian markets for cheap vegetables and fruits

Colxn of HaZ CraZ thots

December 13th, 2013 at 05:43 pm

If everyone who created SavingAdvice.com user accounts for the sole purpose of trawling the forums for W*k* *p N*w suckers or defending its value/payout structure started their own M*lt*-L*v*l M*rk*t*ng company, they'd be richer than they are now.

Why the asterisks? You know that search terms are what brought them here, right? You think they're bright enough to search with asterisks? I don't.
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Buendia, Life After Life was a terrific read. I had to put it down during the 1940 Blitz attacks, how Europeans then emerged from WWII devastation without post-trauma stress is beyond me, and because a bomb shelling killed Al Bowlly, my fave singer from that era, but I picked it up again and read. I perceive the headaches and heart strain as accumulated stresses of those other lives, and think Dr. Kellet must have gone through the same phenomenon, and possibly other characters.
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I am slightly insane. Every four months I think of consolidating my debt, and now that I've been to MortgageProfessor.com, I see now that doing nothing is the cheapest plan. The MortgageProfessor doesn't allow me to calculate for a 12-year refinance though.
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Mental note for 2014: Invest in data brokerage companies, 3-D printing companies.
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Judging from a certain person's Dead Pool winner list (and current lead), I would say that SavingAdvice.com bloggers have a talent for getting more bang for their buck
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More on slow-cooking: here's how to make over 30 meals in four hours -- frozen meal packs for slow cookers
link
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I am a few dozen dollars away from reaching the $100000 principal paid milestone. Should I meet this milestone before the end of 2013, or should I combine it with my Mortgage Principal "Digit Drop" for an extra shot of New Year Joy?
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I met Ken Jennings. I have not been called for Jeopardy!, but if I had been, I couldn't tell anyone except people who would wonder why they are sleeping alone. He wished me luck. The great thing about triviahounds is that they are at no loss for conversation starters. We couldn't talk for long as he was tasked to sign and promote some of his favourite books at a bookstore, so there were awkward moments of looking to see if people were lining up. I will say that he and I have similar tastes in fiction, plus he is the only person on the planet so far with whom I have discussed Chip Kidd.

Slow Cooker Frolics

December 7th, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Having a great time saving money on the gas bill making stews, soups and ragouts, but some recipes I underestimate the time and effort for preparation (washing, peeling, chopping vegetables, trimming meat into fatfree cubes). A slow cooker is an ADHD person's dream. About three hours into cooking the food's aroma intensifies. Plus, it is a joy to go to a meats purveyor where the jolly souls educate me and give me good deals ("You want stroganoff? Forget this round steak business, we have ends from tenderloin and strip steak, sell 'em same price as round steak."), cut to any size I want. And their shanks for osso buco are bigger than those found at the supermarket.

It may snow. Just north of Thrifty Ray there is snow. I have a supply of logs, coffee, Kahlua and some hefty reading in case we are snowed in: Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End as I have the Frumious Bandersnatch, er, Benedict Cumberbatch film on hold; a short posthumous book by Canadian David Rakoff; a Kate Atkinson Novel; Agatha Christie's Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and Nick Harkaway's Angelmaker. And Brian Eno's ambient CDs so we don't kill each other.

Message to Manchild

December 6th, 2013 at 08:41 pm

I am not giving you that Nintendo 3DS for Christmas. Sure I spent $$ on stuff for boy but two of those softcover gifts were signed to him personally by international luminaries, two I used coupons for, one I had to import but he yammers on the subject matter 60% of the time so I think it'll be money well-spent, and the one electronics game I bought was for $18.99. We know electronics obsolescence by our collection of obscure diskettes, and we know the longevity of books by the musty dusty ones we have downstairs.

I can't buy a $200 gift for you knowing that there are students at our kid's school who are freezing, and that lots of struggling families nationwide are on food stamps.

I think I'd like pajamas, warm sturdy socks, or maybe a family-use subscription to a VPN so we can keep the computer entertainment going.