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Archive for February, 2014

End of month report

February 28th, 2014 at 02:32 pm

Oh like you care.

Paulette Finds Out About Contests

February 26th, 2014 at 07:22 pm

I've entered contests for the first time since I was a tweener reading "16" Magazine. Friday's a deadline for many of them.

This week: Games Magazine Crypto Twist contest. Movie quotes and cryptograms, how could I resist? Grand prize: $100

PBS Masterpiece: Four days in London. My friend and I are trying to get to London as cheaply as possible. I might spring for travel to Toronto, then London England, but that's as pricey as I get.

Newegg.com: Every prize, grand to fifth, would be useful in my House of Nerds.

Valpak Clean Up Cash Sweepstakes. $500 for one stamp, not too shabby.

Commented on VerityMom.com, didn't get the $5 Starbucks gift card I was looking for.

I've found eight sweepstakes websites, varying in value and promise. Some require FB "likes" and those I won't go for.

Making this short and sweet. Use "sweepstakes ends February 28, 2014" very soon.

Challenges and updates

February 25th, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Week 8 52-week Saving Challenge: $21. Now that Sochi Saving Challenge is done with I can save amounts greater than $20 per week.

Don Cherry Quietly Reflects on Sochi
I CALLED IT, DIDN'T I? EXTRA PERIOD IN WOMEN'S GOLD GAME, MEN BRINGING HOME GOLD, DEFEATING EURO PLAYERS! ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR UNCLE DON! OFF BY ONLY $3 IN YANKEE DOODY DANDLE DOUGH! LET'S GO!

So with my Sochi money I'm buying exercise gear: stretchy pants and perhaps a monthly pass to a swimming pool or community centre gym.

A not quite bold move: put $4 to HELOC balance, $12 to Car Loan for first pay period of Debt Acceleration. The only people who don't dislike five-digit debt balances are the people who've recently slid down from six-figure debt balances. This should save me a solid three cents in interest.

The woman who neglects her neurotic, large loud dogs (hint: one of them is an attention-hungry breed that requires exercise) is moving. YAY YAY YAY!

Son is noticing rise in precious metals. He's very good at reporting expenditures that I may otherwise have missed. Now that silver is rising he wants some.

What to do with tax refund? My options:
Put $1155 into Money Market Account to sextuple the interest I'm getting currently, then liquidate a CD to put toward debt;

Put $1135 - $1200 in any combination toward the HELOC and Car Loan. No move will give me the instant high of dropping down to four figures; refinancing the car isn't going to bring the monthly amount down.

Remainder will go to us, to be used for Boy Achievement Adventures, Emerging from Man Cave Adventures, and Geek Girl Undertakings.

Hey Hey Hey It's Hesitance Day!

February 17th, 2014 at 01:08 pm

Taxes are done, filed. I passed on the Amazon giftcard because I was afraid I'd err and end up putting all my refund in the giftcard. Ditto on the I-Bonds. Lost internet four times this weekend and was afraid of anything getting lost, or resubmitted.

Return monies potentially allocated thusly:
* one Raspberry Pi
* x% of outstanding HELOC paid, where range(x) is 4-6%
* x% of outstanding car debt paid, where range(x) is 5-7%

It would feel delicious to see those balances down to four-digit figures before the end of the year


*Rest of $$ for family

More importantly, I am at the magic point where we have 3 months living expenses in our liquid assets. My plan now is to put 1/5 of the surplus aside for investing, where anticipated gains > 6.5%, and 3/5 toward debt repayment, and the remaining 1/5 to the assets for inflation creep or Savings Challenge. The plan for this executes 21 February 2014, when the credit cards are balance-free.

Menu planning:
Franks Paprikash
Fried Tidbits of Swordfish or Other Fish
Baked Fillet of Sole with Tomato, Oregano and Hot Pepper
Eat whatever day
Beanie Weenies
Chicken Tarragon Spaghettini
Veal al Limone
Coconut Lamb Curry

We will have eaten down most of the freezer meat by payday. I have the money for our next great meatmarket venture in the Money Market Account. Only with extreme planning can I get our monthly grocery spending below $600. I use coupons, price book and check for meat markdowns.

Week 7: 52-Week Saving Challenge

February 15th, 2014 at 09:32 am

Eh, not very frugal. We had coffee and Valentine special doughnuts out, ate lunch out, had custard out (the three of us), and spouse bought brandy for the steak con pepe. But I budgeted for all this. DH bought a Weird Tales paperback. Me, I had the opportunity of browsing for a Sparks CD which I didn't feel like buying, so I'm kinda giftless. But I had coffee served to me in bed, and I get enough love, affection and obedience throughout the year. My gastrointestinal tract acted up after lunch so I abandoned my plans to go downtown.

We had frugal fun Hearts Day story time! I cut up one sheet of paper into twelve rectangles, and the three of us each wrote four character names, fictional and nonfictional, one on each rectangle. The rectangles were then folded and put in a jar, which would be shaken. Two people would pull out one rectangle each, and the names on those rectangles would be in a Valentine story.

Pairings: Doctor Orpheus (from "Venture Bros.") & Lydia Pinkham; Groucho Marx & Jim Nabors, and last match was Ron MacLean from Hockey Night in Canada's "Coach's Corner", and now currently CBC Sochi 2014 correspondent, with Tina Belcher (from "Bob's Burgers").

$13 deposited for Week 7, only because it is grocery savings.

Today I will brave doing my taxes, but not using Mozilla Firefox. It'll cost me $39.99 to eFile the return, which is what's kept me from using tax software, but this year I have fathomed:
1. If I save at least that much using tax software from my imagined burden, the software fulfills its use;
2. If I owe that much, a $39.99 extra ding isn't going to be too terribly worse, especially when I already have a software line item in my budget;
3. If I kept to pencil, paper and calculator, I'd never have learned about the TurboTax sweepstakes. I (and you) can still ENTER the sweepstakes through the mail with pencil, stamped envelope and a 3" x 5" index card.

Sochi Challenge: $38 so far. Which should be good for TJ Maxx or Ross or secondhand exercise wear.

TAXES ARE DONE.
For those who read/participated in the poll the answer is D, for Delusional, Dimwitted, Delicate, Dumb and DRAMA DIVA!

They are not yet filed because I want the Mister to come look. Thank goodness he is a docile, supportive, loving male.

Today's Special

February 11th, 2014 at 04:03 pm

We went to a different supermarket today because one location is three blocks away from a superb butcher shop, and I figured if we didn't get a good deal on food at the supermarket we would go to the butcher's.
Most items we bought at the different supermarket were below what our regular supermarket charges. I saw some fellow "school parents" shopping there too, always a good sign. Got NY Strip steak for $5/lb; veal scallops for $7.33; I might start shopping at the other supermarket's location closer to us more frequently and start scheduling moments to view its online ads. Our regular supermarket offers gas rewards, but going three miles away for shopping we saved, even with the $1 we spent on gas there and back, close to 20% what we'd spend at the regular supermarket, and saved 1300% more than we would have earned in gas rewards.

Today my spouse received an offer in the mail to move the car loan to my credit union. My credit union, so 1.5 stars out of 5 that I keep accounts only for the privilege to throw my bling in its safe (I rate the credit union two because it has its own parking lot, is the closest establishment where I can get a safety deposit box, and the staff attitude is pretty good), offered 3.04% for seventy-two months. Yeeeeah right. First, we have under 75% LTV, not 81% LTV as the credit union guesstimated; a "green" and "new" car; and I'm not ever going to happily consider extending a car loan to seven years past its purchase. All three factors should earn us a 1.79% APR according to the credit union's website if we want a car loan paid off in four years. Mailed offers are the scratched-out-of-the-rectum crud.

As for yesterday's forum post, I can only say that I had close to an anxiety attack, and I am still antsy but the idea of spending under $10 to reward myself on something calming like wild orange oil, or an Income Tax Cocktail, ameliorates the horror of either doing pencil & paper, or using TurboTax. I dealt with this attack by using my home made orange vinegar with baking soda for some bathroom floor grunge cleaning, and at the end of the day dabbing lavender oil drops on my feet and on my pillow.

I should offer a prediction poll.
Paulette will _______________ the IRS
a) owe more than a thousand dollars to
b) owe $750 - $1000 dollars to
c) owe less than b to and feel ashamed for moaning about
d) get money back from and feel ashamed for moaning about

I will tell you I have owed every year for the past six. I seem to remember paying over $800 last year.

Sochi Savings Challenge now $31

TAXES ARE DONE. The ANSWER is D! For DOPE! DELUSIONAL! DIMWITTED! DELICATE!

Chère diarrhée

February 9th, 2014 at 01:57 pm

OR, how to become a TROTSkyite on lemon water



Link of the day: How to halve grocery expenditures

It snowed here. I am staying in with my recipes, internet, teas, and my wacky library loan DVDs. With the exception of rotation of lentil (French, red) variations paired with brown rice, when followed closely this menu plan will use up all significant protein sources except eggs.

This week's featured cookbook is Arsy Vartanian's Paleo Slow Cooker. I returned Hazan's book to the SPL but my spouse so enjoyed eating the dishes her book helped me make that we now have at least a temporary eBook version.

Sunday: Veal Stew with Sage and White Wine (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
http://gourmay.net/recipes/meat-recipes/veal-stew-with-sage-and-white-wine/

Bok Choy and Tofu Noodle Bowl

Short Ribs in Tomato Fennel Sauce (Vartanian, Paleo Slow Cooker)

Sweet and Sour Lentils, Gourmet Succotash w/homemade chicken stock (Nourishing Traditions, Fallon)

Prosciutto and Cream Sauce over Fettuccine (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

Steak!

Chicken Paprikash

Fried Tidbits of Swordfish or Other Fish (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

Quick Coconut Lamb Curry


Baked Fillet of Sole With Tomato, Oregano And Hot Pepper (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

Veal Scalloppine al Limone

Week 6: 52-Week Savings Challenge, plus Day 1 Sochi

February 8th, 2014 at 03:38 pm

I've noticed a binge-purge groceries habit. NSDs throughout the working week, and then one day of $85-$100 outflow. This week I had two no-spend days. I had some good savings: eight dollars off a 24 oz canister of grated Parmesan cheese; four dollars off a pound of natural ground lamb; coupon for five dollars off a grocery purchase.

A few of my friends and family have birthdays, so I bought and mailed cards to them. Some are out of the country. February and November seem to be my busiest months for this.

$38 deposited.

Sochi Challenge
$9 so far on the first day: Gold, Silver AND Bronze. Going to use the Sochi Challenge savings on exercise wear.



These challenges are working my noggin down to a nub.
====================================================
Today as a Valentine's Present of sorts my husband treated himself to a new watch. $76.99. Also we treated ourselves to a brunch with one free mocha before debt group.

I opened up with how I needed to think more long-term and set some investing dollars aside as well as pay down debt. We are all "under the crunch" with our car loans, and the others agreed that maybe we should expand our scope to include novel and little-known savings ploys. We are all using the "Asian market" method for fruits and vegetables, for example.

Reserved

February 7th, 2014 at 10:58 am

Enh, my triple-checked predictions for the next two weeks' spending sees us with $26, yes, $26, remaining from one two-week paycheque.

I deposited $38 for Week 6's challenge. More of that in an upcoming post.

I'm considering not eating out FOR DINNER on Valentine's Day. We've been doing fine abstaining from eating in crowded restaurants with steak au poivre, potatoes Anna prepared at home. I may attempt profiteroles. Someone's given my husband a red Cabernet Sauvignon from a local winery, so there's $7-$8 savings for 52-Week Savings Challenge Week 7. Not eating out will save us $75 minus the cost of steak and potatoes ($20), so $55. But my romantic one is taking next Friday off, so we have to think of some cheap, close-to-free ways of enjoying time together. I can think of some bistros or wine bars that offer Chinook Book discounts. I could let him have some funds to get a refurbished watch as a Valentine's Day present.

The car loan, 45 months to go, wasn't so bad before the clarinet rental, and hikes in property tax, utilities, phone tax, insurance (car, not home). Sometimes I think of bold ways to deal with the car loan. The bold options I still play with:

Sell some precious metals.
Throw the car loan into the HELOC.
Refinance for yet another 12-year loan (it's fee free) rolling the HELOC in there. This is the stupidest move because it assumes we still want to live here, but aren't many bold moves stupid?

The milquetoast option I do, because I'm timid and lazy:
shave a wee bit from what's left over to debt. And I'm touched enough in the head to not want to do that because my debt total right now is $122,222.00. See how pretty those twos are? They look like Zs, and I sure could use some Zs.

I do immediately reject solutions that require paying more interest in the long run. That doesn't mean they don't sneak back in.

I feel like I am sitting on my hands and bouncing in my seat waiting for the magic graph coordinates of liquid assets equaling debts plus emergency fund. That won't come until May, with the triple paycheque month and our heating bill cut in half.

Here's a question, for anyone with GEICO car insurance: do you enjoy a "credit score" discount? We have such a discount on our home insurance, but not for car...

HNIC's Don Cherry Guest Writes

February 3rd, 2014 at 10:42 am

Hockey Night in Canada commentator, former Boston Bruins coach, and Canadian legend Don Cherry turns 80 on Wednesday, February 5. He'll be dealing with Russian security and perogies then so I posted his guest blog entry early.

SO ME AND THE BOYS WERE having a few pops, eh? And we're thinkin' "We're gonna get some medal this year, how about that?" and gettin' all excited and everythink like dat. Gotta show some love for our boys and girls out in Sochi, ya know? And then I read this Sochi Challenge thing and boy oh boy, I gotta tell ya it's a beaut! $5 for gold, $3 for silver, and those loonies for bronze, eh? Gotta like that.



So smarten up and stay away from the cheap beer and lottery kiosks, kids! Put that money in your RRSP, or GIC, or BTO, or Nickelback or Deadmau5, I dunno.

Lemme tell you 'bout Sochi. Now, I got some dame yappin' in my ear about how Canada women are gonna take gold again, I say, hey sister, it's not a sure thing dere, and besides, those Rooskies don't take to our athletes smokin' cigars and havin' a few pops onna ice, like they do in your greenie-scenie hippieland Vancouver!! Ya know we got good Canadian kids out there, sweatin', workin' real hard, flattenin' those namby-pamby finesse Euro players, but we got some unknown quantities refereein'. We keep playin' the Yankee Doody Dandles, and eventually, eventually they get to where they're almost as good as us except when most of our dames are onna rag, throwin' in that extra period (ha! Good one!) and then well, it's a line brawl, show's over, and get'em next time. So, maybe some evenness there, ya know?

And what da heck are the Japanese doin' playin our game?! Do we send our women out there as sumo wrestlers, play their go-checkers and stuff like that?

This one Canadian woman I know, good girl from Ottawa, she went over there, all 1.78 metres of her and scared the Japanese half to death! I have it on good authority that the Canadian and the Japanese women's teams aren't playing hockey against each other. Good thing too. Can't have the game interrupted every three minutes with some medic team resuscitatin' a player when the Canadian women come after 'em on the ice! God forbid this be in Detroit, where some Red Wings fan throws an octopus on the ice and a Japanese defenseperson skates over to collect it for a snack!

But the guys. I gotta tell you we got the greatest guys in the universe. THE GREATEST. It's up only to the unknown quantities refereein', makin' some wacky calls, and the home advantage for Datsyuk, Malkin and Ovi, they're gonna be doin' some grandstandin'. Don't be like that, kids. Smarten up! Use up all that extra rink space! The Rooskies ain't gonna be standin' around dreamin' about beet-flavoured ice cream while Lemieux and Gretzky flash by them, they've learned somethin' since then, eh? And they don't have that BreezeGlove guy in net freakin' out and calling us "uncaged gorillas."

So this Sochi medal savings prediction, I got $97, which is what now, $108 US? No? Other way around? Add 32, divide by 9 multiply by 5 ah fuggedit. Geez. $88 US. or $108 Cdn if you use US dollars for your savings challenge.

Anyway, I probably will regret interrupting this savings blog, I'm feelin' queasy already, but I did it anyway and I'm gonna treat myself to a good Canadian beer. THUMBS UP! LET'S GO!

Meal Planning

February 2nd, 2014 at 11:26 am

Sure, it doesn't look healthy, unless you believe animal fats and protein are key to surviving winters (I do, stews are a hug from the inside). I admit the pasta representation is heavy here, but I'm using up what I have. And I have two vegetarian dishes.

Sunday: Macaroni-Beef Casserole

Sweet and Sour Lentils, Gourmet Succotash w/homemade chicken stock (Nourishing Traditions, Fallon)

Pappardelle with Peppers and Sausage - (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
http://www.classicpasta.com/pappardelle_peppers_sausage.htm

Roast Chicken

Veal Stew with Sage and White Wine (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
http://gourmay.net/recipes/meat-recipes/veal-stew-with-sage-and-white-wine/

Chicken Pot Pie? Chicken Noodle Soup? Something with Chicken Leftovers

Prosciutto and Cream Sauce over Fettuccine (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
http://www.katecooksthebooks.com/off-topic-fetuccine-with-prosciutto-and-cream-sauce/

Fried Tidbits of Swordfish or Other Fish (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)


Tomato-free Spaghetti Sauce with Spaghetti
http://thenourishingcook.com/no-tomato-spaghetti-sauce/

Pork Sausages with Black-Eyed Peas and Tomatoes (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

Baked Fillet of Sole With Tomato, Oregano And Hot Pepper (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/4170/baked-fillet-of-sole-with-tomato-oregano-and-hot-pepper.html

Bok Choy and Tofu Noodle Bowl
http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Bok-Choy-and-Tofu-Noodle-Bowl-MyRecipes-238368?columns=2&position=4%2F8

Baked Salmon with Mayonnaise and Rice Vinegar

Week 5: 52-Week Savings Challenge

February 1st, 2014 at 03:38 pm

Total Deposited: $11

Why? Two free coffees and some extra small powdered donuts. Today DH took $60 to go on rare public market jaunt, visiting famous Italian delicatessen for some upcoming Marcella Hazan recipes, while I had optometrist appointment. He brought back $13. We have $90 in our chequing account, perhaps until Friday.

Earlier this week I estimated a $33 deposit for Week 5. I miscalculated the cash balance in my Roth and am $20 short of making my purchase. Phooey.

Rien plus, mes amis