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Archive for February, 2015

tiny steps, long paths, new cookbook

February 22nd, 2015 at 07:05 pm

I am considering a savings/debt allocation system that will allow me both some financial cushion and accelerated debt payoff. I have a spreadsheet that estimates our auto loan could be paid in full between November 2015 and April 2016. Life without that payment would be easier, plus I suspect that when we move, and apply for another mortgage elsewhere, the end of the car loan will factor in our favour. When we increase our cash reserves by $300 monthly, $75 is divided into accelerated payments for the car and the home equity line of credit. I'd like to have $120,000 in principal paid off on the house by the end of 2015, hence the payment to the home equity line of credit.

Have I mentioned we've paid over $40000 in mortgage?

Zillow predicts a 1.7% increase in our property value for the year, but I doubt the growth rate will be that low. Not just wishful thinking: a school is currently under construction 1.5 blocks away. We live in a cheap neighbourhood overcrowded with students. Although we live in a cheap neighbourhood, crime's relatively low -- I've never heard gunfire nor seen crime tape in the 16 years I've been here, this part of the city is great for school kids. I'd like to see if I can sell the house for 10% beyond what Zillow says its value currently is. Who wants a new school? Who wants to live on a property with a big lawn and walk only 1.5 blocks to the new school? Families with children.

I bought a sports bra yesterday, a sign I am serious about fitness. I started a crunch, sit-up and squat challenge four days ago, and began drinking apple cider vinegar. Next on my list will be adding intestinal gut flora to aid with digestion. Also I'm doing an eight-minute daily energy routine and even yoga a few days a week in my house. I'd like to try fermenting and pickling produce. I love kombucha tea but am not convinced of its health benefits. I'm sticking with yoghurt and berries for now. Gradual small changes. I want to stay with what works: I'm encroaching upon a size 14, my thighs still touch (are they supposed to?) and clothing choices are limited past size 12 in the US I have noticed. Ultimate goal is to reduce to between size 10 and 12, lose four-five inches each in hip and waist.

I also bought America's Test Kitchen's colossal instant classic The New Family Cookbook, and I used a coupon. I hardly ever buy things for myself. I sometimes think I have too many cookbooks: I certainly don't use some very often, such as the ones before 1985 or the ones for "ooh la la" entertaining. I saw this compendium of over 1100 recipes and thought: yeah! We tried Honey-Lime Glazed Salmon and that was excellent.

LENT = Let's Experiment with New Thinking

February 18th, 2015 at 04:48 pm

I haven't been paying much attention to my retirement investments. Genes being what they are in my family (mother dead at 58, father dead at 64, brother dead at 44) I don't expect to live long. But once the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke through 18000 I gathered enough nerve to see how moribund my assets have been for six - eight years (no, they're not all in cash nor in high-PE trendy stocks, but some of them are contrarian and have been at a nadir for at least five years) and I took action, assigning trailing stops now that I know how they work. When I have a certain amount in cash I'm buying QQQ and VWO and perhaps more value-weighted index ETFs, and keeping 10% of assets in cash.

My Lent is full of cleanup, the kind that I hope to give me good orderly direction and energy. I'd make some comment about assigned actions outside my comfort zone, but right now everything that is not sleeping or reading or drinking hot liquids with lemon is outside my comfort zone. The hardest obstacle for me to overcome is to not get hung up on outcome.

I am giving up Vancouver Canucks NHL 2014-15 playoff games for Lent. :-)

A snowflake!

February 11th, 2015 at 07:21 pm

We are members of a class action suit against a corporation. The corporation (Sprint Nextel at the time) either lost or settled, and our state B&O tax which the corporation billed us for has been refunded to us: eighteen dollars. I plan to put half of it toward debt, and half of it toward a nice Valentine's Day dessert, like a triple berry pie from Trader Joe's, or booze toward making homemade truffles or chocolate mousse.

I am feeling mighty like a dullard mailing in my return. End of March is when I should expect my refund. Perhaps I will count the dodged filing fee as another snowflake.

Budget last month differences:
four dollars under for clothes
fifty-nine cents under for books
$116.05 under for dining
$76.65 over for entertainment
$101.39 under for groceries -- I include things like cat food, bathroom cleaner, sponges, wipes, dishwasher tablets in groceries because line items are a pain when some supermarkets receipts don't categorize.
$55.62 over for miscellaneous
$15 under for telephone

I found that last month's budget I also miscalculated expenditures, counting the aggregate loan payments plus interest and property tax. Once I sliced the loan payments to principal only, with interest, insurance and property tax as individual line items my budgeted expenditures fell by $700.

Selling DS's McDonald's shares: probably putting them in education account.

I told my men it'd be nice to have dessert for Valentine's Day. We don't do anything extravagant. For the past few years we'd been treating ourselves to truffles, and buying either steak or veal for a fancy dinner in.

Also, I ashamedly wander off the track, but apparently a daily account of activities and expenditures helps a lot with working toward goals.

questions and personal matter chatter

February 6th, 2015 at 09:37 pm

Question:
I save $250 a month on one income in a Money Market Account that earns very little interest when its balance is below $10000. Right now it's at $9100. In four months its balance will be over $10100. In four months my car loan will be $7470. With $1730 coming back in one month (maybe).
I've made no secret of my antsiness to pay this loan off. It's only because I am aware of my impatience and my insecurity that'd result from exhausting my Money Market Account that I haven't taken the risk of paying half of the remainder loan and drawing from the Home Equity Line of Credit to remove the $282.21 monthly withdrawal from the car loan. Has anyone taken a similar risk and emerged okay?

Payday is today. I paid over half of the current credit card balance, put $10 toward the car loan. I can handle diminishing interest on my liabilities, but I can't handle diminishing rewarding experiences.

Question #2: I mailed our tax return on January 31. On February 3 we received our HSA statement of Distributions for the 2014 tax year. Do I need to make and mail in an amended return?

Question #3: When does the world even out or get better?
While I'm excruciatingly behind in my evolution into an always-mindful, always-correctly-perceiving, never-let-down-or-disappointed human being I am supposed to be by now, I have some questions.

Question #4:
Does it seem to you, if you are in an area that has building societies, caisses populaires, credit unions or reasonable facsimiles, that finding one with average satisfactory reviews is difficult? Some years ago one of my credit unions changed directorship, and many amenities disappeared: the biometric identifier for the safety deposit vault, a coin counter, advance notice that a safety deposit rental annual fee was due all went away. I see from Yelp.com that many people who've observed and undergone changes the merger of two credit unions has introduced, and were subject to bank-level fee schedules, have given the "merged" credit union downgrades (e.g. three stars to one). When I search for suitable replacement credit unions, they too have poor grades for convenience and surly staff.

I want a credit union with a safety deposit box, and secure unmediated-by-humans access to my rented box. I used to have one. I can't have one anymore, and I do not know the reasons why. There are four credit unions within a mile from my house, so I do not believe proximity is an issue.

----I'm okay with your stopping reading at this point-----

Personal Matter Chatter: What I learned about myself is that I don't like paying for an hour's parking and waiting in the rain for someone to show when she sends email forty-seven minutes after our arrival claiming to have left ten minutes after we arrived. I could have managed this rejection/slight better if I'd gone by myself instead of my family rearranging their schedules to come along. I would not have paid for parking: I'd have taken a bus, and perhaps would not have encountered stoplight delays as heavy traffic and cross-traffic making incomplete right turns block our progress. I would have gone home and had a frozen dinner. I could not have dinner at home as my spouse had an evening course at the community college. You may wonder how late we were, we were two minutes behind the estimated bus arrival, and thirteen minutes AHEAD of the time she claims to have left. The outside area is easily scouted within thirty seconds, it is 1200 square feet, and there's a cafe she could have gone into with wifi to let us know (I brought my phone). There is no doubt about where we were to meet. I do have doubt about her claimed departure time but I did not challenge this. She apologized and I am feeling too let down, overspent, and rejected to respond. I self-medicated with a KitKat bar.

I had not eaten dinner out for over a month and was looking forward to dining somewhere where I wouldn't have to look up at an overhead menu. We did dine somewhere with menus, and real glasses for water, and table service, and in my sulky mindlessness I've left my umbrella there. It is raining too much for me to get it today.

I feel by and large my expectations are unmet. I have been told, on here, my expectations are too high. I could adjust my behaviour and expectations if I had been told they are lopsided (i.e. "you just don't give enough", "you don't accept enough"), but a good deal of my introversion and hermiting comes from not knowing how to cope when the Golden Rule of "Do unto others" malfunctions, how to identify other people's triggers and anxieties and avoid them before awkwardness or tantrums begin, how to replace or improve upon what I've lost. I'm supposed to shrug off and be okay with no-shows--I succeed at doing so when explained schedule conflicts and emergencies are at cause--but it takes me a long time when I have only the discrepancies between their report and my observation.



I am going to experiment with "I'm perceiving, whether this is true or not, that you have some residual edginess today. What do I need to do for you not to take out your discomfiting feelings on me?" when I encounter surliness. I'm already experimenting with open, toothy grins when someone interacts with me so I don't take out my discomfiting feelings from a prior disappointment or let down on them.

The Differences of January and February

February 1st, 2015 at 09:20 pm

One of my goals this year is to Average 1% Debt Principal Repayment Monthly:

Car: 8481: 3% difference
House: 90193: 0.8% difference
Heloc: 10312: 0.0785% difference
Average: 1.0102544% difference

This is squeaky-ekey but those of us counting down our debt know that more principal is paid with every passing month, and as the balances dwindle the difference in percentage will be larger.

Another goal is to average 1% Liquid Assets growth, monthly.

Diff b. Precious Metals/Stocks from last month: $763.214 or 5% growth

Diff b. Cash Last month: $745.05 or 4.72% growth

Difference between Money Market Account January and February: $703.81 in favour of February.