<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Archive: October, 2014
 

Archive for October, 2014

Halving a Debt Time, Glad You Are Here

October 15th, 2014 at 07:55 am

For some people in the Atlantic Provinces, the month is half-over. My HELOC is, after an eleven-dollar adjustment, at half; my mortgage is a little more than half of my original 1999 loan of $184450, which in turn is half of what Zillow says my house is valued. Car Loan, not halved yet, but I've paid more than half of the car's retail price.

I did halve my credit card balance, by paying all of the October Statement. I booked the Japan return flight on that, and went to Nordstrom Rack (I can do a smart thing on occasion) for funeral clothes. Funny thing is that I had the presence of mind to call my credit union to ask for permitted charges from Japan merchants, but I never used my credit card there. I brought Yen but the Yen I purchased at face value were collectors' items (think Susan B Anthony dollars or silver certificates, or King George VI-era minted coinage) and no Japanese national was going to let me spend it! The women shouted "Sugoi!" (super, amazing) when I brought the bills out of my wallet. I also had an American national for a host who has a USD account so we did some arbitrage. I came home with: Hong Kong Dollars, Japanese Yen, United Arab Emirates Dirhams, American Dollars, and Canadian Dollars. I was not much loved at espresso shops, rooting about and finding every coin except those with white Presidents on them. My son had to buy me coffee with his birthday money (embarrassment).

I wrote earlier about smartphones. I probably could have used one in Japan: I didn't have constant access like what I'm used to in the US, and that caught up with my family when I returned to North America. My husband had the good sense to pack my laptop and drive it to BC (while our kid was at school! how great is it to drive to another country and back during your child's school hours!) the day after I arrived in Canada so I could communicate better and not be at the mercy of the hotel's desktop PC.

I'm fed up now with Virgin Mobile, and don't like that 7-11's SpeakOut Canada doesn't accept US credit cards (I have to show up at a Canadian 7-11 to buy minutes). We'll be investigating smartphones and a T-Mobile plan. Thanks to everybody who contributed useful information and explained their reasoning for going with the plans they have.

At one point yesterday we had $11.20 in our chequing (checking) account. Good thing the "House Master" as my sister-in-law puts it (we all know in real life our cat is the House Master, right?) gets paid in two days, and that we have turkey leftovers and wild sockeye salmon at $5.00/pound.

Thanksgiving, Getting On With Life

October 13th, 2014 at 07:19 am

One silver lining about my little brother's passing is that my friends our-his age who have similar health problems (hypertension, blood pressure) are now super-inspired to treat and defeat them!

Me, I've lost some 1.5" (4 cm) around the waist, without doing much exercising, mostly from stress and four tiny dietary changes: homemade sweet potato chips instead of Lay's (a few to me is a 9.5 oz bag), no sugar or milk in coffee, 1 serving of bread only 2x/week, and filling 2/3 of my dinner plate with vegetables. Oh yeah and stressing so much the adrenalin eats up the fat. But it feels really good to fit comfortably in my smallest jeans without jackknifing on the bed to pull up the zipper, or feeling the raw pinch marks around the waist.

Roasting real turkey pieces this year, to approximate the homey sensation of an in-use oven for hours. Thanksgiving is always just the three of us in October: the spouse's birthday is always in the fourth week of November so we go north and eat at a diner and let him buy CDs instead of hanging out here. It is fun to be an immigrant without parents: I make my own traditions!

Dinner menu: turkey, beets, potatoes, succotash if I can get away with it else kale and carrots.

So if you're having a Thanksgiving dinner today, let's toast to better days and better health.

Fast Funerary, Financial Five

October 9th, 2014 at 08:45 am

1. Today was my first day braving the online banking since my 23 September departure. Ten minutes ago I paid the mortgage, the first time I have been late. Normally, five days before the end of the month, I schedule payment on either the first of the next month when it is due, or the last day of the current month. For obvious reasons I did not do this.

2. My brother died intestate, it appears, as nobody came up to me in e-mail or at the funeral, or the vigil, and said "hey I was a signatory to the will, and I'm telling you this because you've been named executrix." I am back home now, and if a will had been found, I would still be in Japan, and I dunno, probably bill collectors would be hassling my family by now. I don't usually recommend dying intestate, but that may be preferable to keeping an executrix without an income of her own overseas for at least seven weeks in a country where she doesn't know the language nor the customs.

3. If one has a digital or soft copy of a will, keep it on an external USB HDD or a flash/thumb drive. My brother's e-life is now in a laptop damaged from transit from Abu Dhabi to Osaka. I don't know what priority his widow has made data salvage: some sensitive news about their relationship was broken to me by his confidants, not by his widow, so she might be as willing to view his communications as I am willing to look at my credit card statement. If the data is salvaged, and there is a will on there, I'm gonna be p****d.

4. I paid for interment of "my half" of my brother's bones. Plus a few days in Vancouver in a downtown hotel for Canada-side estate duties; my brother died without a will, but he did send me a "if anything should happen to me" e-mail six months ago, with instructions, including his stated intention of procuring life insurance for his family, making a will, and appointing me executrix.

5. I abruptly left the home 23 September 2014, but I did print out all my internet account userids and passwords from our database and left them at my husband's workdesk before departure. Not as a "if anything should happen" precaution, but as a "I expect you to take care of things while I'm gone" message. Guess what: not everything was taken care of while I was gone.

Oh yeah, for those of you who might care and have oodles of altruistic facebook contacts - here's a GoFundMe link to my bro's funeral expenses fund. This goes to his widow and child, not to me. My expenses are my responsibility.