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Midmonth narrative

March 15th, 2015 at 02:27 pm

I am "racing"/"recording" my debt elsewhere, but in keeping with the suspiciously drab narratives of "auto lending"/"auto insurance"/"email marketing" crap blogs festering here, I present my narrative to go with my numbers, as debt support group was too chaotic/crowded today, and Women in Red Racers updates are succinct.

Tax refund arrived.

I put most of it in the money market account. I can stop crashsaving now and start dividing nonemergency funds into investment (long term), debt repayment, and emergency funds/planned expenditures (medium term). I did take the family out to a sitdown, let them come with the menus, cloth napkins on the table type of meal, and even had a cocktail and dessert, because that is too infrequent. We used a coupon which probably covered one cocktail. $100 went into each of two Direct Purchase Plan stocks, both with Dividend Yields above 3%, General Electric and Procter & Gamble.

Cat vaccinations and utility payments are next. Both of these are less than I budgeted for, but my son's shoes and auto fuel and my breakfast out, today's expenses, are more than what I budgeted for. It's too easy to fritter away the refund. I'd like to get the scooter properly maintained, buy some Canadian dollars and some silver, buy the new phone. I used to be able to use Twitter and Gmail on our phone, now I can't. And yes, the 20th anniversary jaunt to western Vancouver Island is still being funded and planned.

Warble of the pinheaded Springtime Cuckoo

March 6th, 2015 at 11:28 am

So glad the market is correcting.

Made dumb mistake of issuing trailing stops on Google and Apple. Google went up $40 beyond my trailing stop price after I sold it. I had the stock for three years. Apple I still kept some of. How was I supposed to know where the bottom is? Wonder if this ever happens to professional/institutional investment managers.

Stock prices were buoyant last week. I couldn't see anything worth buying. Then I found my written-down screen and found Google, MasterCard, and Gilead Systems as worthy buys. I bought Google and MasterCard today because:
1. the prices fell;
2. their Standard & Poor "Intelligence Quotients" are 157 and 154, respectively;
3. they are both undervalued according to S&P;
4. they have wide economic moats according to Morningstar;
5. both the Value Line Investment Surveys grades for Earnings Predictability, Price Stability, and Growth Persistence sum to 260 out of a possible 300;
6. low short float ratios.

Waiting to see if Gilead will fall below $101. It has a high float ratio and the greatest growth potential and it is a weaker and more volatile company. I bought in September 2012 and took profits when it dipped below $105 earlier this year. I wanted Monster Beverage and Visa but they were too expensive and of the six companies I tested my screen on, those two were the most richly valued and least rated by Morningstar. Snafu introduced me to insider selling indicators, and I see that Gilead, Apple, and Monster have negative transaction percentages ranging from -23.83% to -38.36%. Google and Mastercard had the smallest percentage of insider selling.

Today is payday. I usually log on three times on payday morning and stare at the balances of my credit card, HELOC, and car loan. I did log on three times this morning, but paid off the credit card (hold the applause, please, I had enough $ before payday to pay it off and I don't carry finance charges on it) and left the HELOC and car loan alone. Anticipating cat vaccination boosters expense and registration expense for my wee one's spring athletics, I need a better system for finances, like putting money to savings first. I stash close to half the salary in the emergency fund for paydays from 16th to first of next month, and (half - $200) from the 2nd to the 14th of the next month. Now that the Money Market Account is over $10,000, I can expect the 0.025% monthly interest instead of 0.00417% monthly interest and put some $ to savings. I don't have much money left over, now that the spouse drives to work and gas prices have gone up eighty cents a gallon since this time last month.

Income tax refund still hasn't come. Refund allocation looking like: $355 for cat vaccinations, $100 for spring athletics, $45 for driver's license renewal, $333 for new phone and SIM card; $600 for 20th anniversary trip (probably the cost of a ferry, fuel, one night's hotel, phone card vouchers and meals), $150 for debt repayment, $150 for savings.

We ate at a drive-in last night. Excellent to see vintage sports cars in neighbouring stalls. We ate out because I was failing at mastering GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) within a short time frame for a project I badgered my kid about all this past week, offering help, asking for status daily, suggesting starting points like rough drafts, and yeah he and I cram it all in the last few hours. I'm not a happy camper when I'm hungry and failing at resizing images and pasting them into selections on canvases. Proof I am still not ready for work. Working women are always up to the challenge with energy and smiles galore!! "Oh let me support you gladly and competently oh struggling coworker for we are teammates! In for a penny, in for a pound!" He and I need to work on our time management. I was going to have cross-rib roast beef but didn't read until the day of planned prep about salting it 18-24 hours ahead of time. Today though, it's beef day. Even going to start Yorkshire pudding batter as soon as this posts.

A gratitude moment from Chico Marx

January 25th, 2015 at 10:57 am

Well itsa like this, boss: Pinky and me, we gotta organize da files for da tax time. Da room, it looka like da hurricane wid all da paper harumscarum only there's no harem because the clutter scarum away, heh heh. Pinky, he finda da Walgreen DRP papers, and he looka through them, and whaddayaknow [slaps hand for emphasis] da original purchis amount is dere, thirty-five dallas in May 2008. And da stock done double, more dan dat seven years later, seventy-five dallas. Atsa fine, boss.

Only da room it still looka like de hurricane boss, and atsa no good boss. Gonna feed Pinky that 5 hr Performance Energy gunk, make him clean up plenty good. So we no screw up so bad, not alla time. Sometimes we shoot da stocks lika I shoot da keys on the pianna boss. And sometimes we shoot da stocks like... well maybe weno shoota da stocks maybe da stocks shoota us sumtimes.

By Request - Recipes for Red Lentils

January 19th, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Because it's Meatless Monday. I meant to write Red Lentil Soup as an entree planned for this week in my last post, but my favourite "frugal cooking" site, Budget Bytes, has a recipe for Vegan Red Lentil Stew, so I'm including that here as well.

Beth writes "vegetable broth" but I understand broth to mean the use of bones, which vegetables don't have, so I'm using stock. By all means use "vegetable broth" if you actually find such a labelled item in your supermarket or if that's what you make at home.

Vegan Red Lentil Stew, recipe by Beth Moncel of BudgetBytes.com

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Serves 6

• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 medium yellow onion
• 2 cloves garlic
• 3 oz. tomato paste
• 1 cup dry red lentils
• ½ lb carrots
• 1 medium potato
• 6 cups vegetable stock**
• 1 Tbsp cumin
• 1 tsp smoked paprika
• ¾ tsp salt
• 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large pot with olive oil over medium heat until soft and transparent (about 5 minutes). Add the tomato paste and continue to stir and cook for about 3-4 minutes more. The tomato paste will caramelize during this time, which will make it sweeter and cause it to look slightly darker.

2. While the ingredients in the first step are cooking, peel and dice the potato and carrots. Rinse the lentils. Once the tomato paste has caramelized, add the carrots, potato, and lentils to the pot.

3. Also add 6 cups of vegetable stock, cumin, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. Give everything a good stir to make sure it’s mixed well. Place a lid on top, turn the heat up to high, and bring the soup to a boil. As soon as it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to its lowest level and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes.

4. After it has simmered for 30 minutes give the pot a stir and add the salt, starting with ½ teaspoon. Add more if desired. Serve hot!
Red Lentil Soup with East Indian Spices, by Cynthia Lair, Feeding the Whole Family. This recipe is online, but I've included correct attribution, whereas the blog hosting this recipe does not. This is not vegan as it has butter or ghee.

Prep Time: 1 hour
Serves 4

• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ghee or butter
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1-2 tbsp minced garlic
• 1 tsp turmeric
• 1 tsp cumin powder
• 1/8 tsp cayenne
• 1 cup chopped tomatoes
• 1 cup dried red lentils
• 4 cups water or vegetable or chicken stock
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp each cumin and mustard seeds
• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee in a 4-quart pot. Saute onion and garlic in ghee until brown. Add spices and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until they break down. Wash and drain lentils. Add lentils and water to pot. Let simmer 45 minutes, stirring often. Stir in salt.

2. Heat the remaining 1 tsp. ghee in a small skillet and fry cumin and mustard seeds until they pop. Stir fried seeds and cilantro into finished soup.

out with the old, in with the new

December 31st, 2014 at 11:00 am

Sold some ITRN and MTR, bought CI, TRV, RPS and PRF today. Sold ONVI yesterday. Some of my losers I hang on to, because they're best in a bear market and they're not individual stocks. I used four stock evaluation tools for all my purchases (S & P, FinViz, Value Line, TD Ameritrade) and three for my sells (FinViz, Value Line, S & P).

Attempting a fruit trifle: the orange-scented sponge cake is a success; getting whip cream, vanilla bean, kiwis and blueberries'll be a cinch, but making crème anglaise -- heaps of egg yolks! Do supermarkets sell cartons of yolks only, like they sell cartons of egg whites?

Invest for Revenge? eBay

May 9th, 2014 at 02:27 pm

eBay (NASD:EBAY)'s subsidiary PayPal screwed me over in late March. My donation to PortableApps.com through PayPal set off an account "flag" request for verification. I input my information very slowly and carefully and accurately, but it was rejected and PayPal demanded I send sensitive personal identification like my SSN, verification of my mailing address. I thought "no, not when it's THEIR fault."

But companies will rarely apologize or change THEIR mistake. Because that would be responsive, and who cares about customer retention when one can spend more money attracting people who haven't yet had a negative PayPal experience?

I looked in PayPal's forums for ways to get around this baseless limiting of my account: there were none. I changed my address, I unlinked my joint account, I withdrew my balance from PayPal. PayPal sent automated multiple e-mails to the tune of "c'mon, you can send us your sensitive info. All you have to do is send us your sensitive info!" And yet on the PayPal forums one can read "I sent my info nine times, to a different person each time, and my account limitations are still there six months later" and "my PayPal account was hacked."

After five weeks of this asinine activity from PayPal, I received an e-mail: "We fixed our verification process." No apologies for any inconvenience. I don't know that I'd want to continue business with a company that flags my completely legal activity of online donations to tax-id organizations on some double-secret algorithm, or because of faulty business rules or bad programming. I am not convinced the benefits outweigh the risks.

Yet eBay is on both Jim Jubak's "best 50 stocks in the world" and "stocks for an 12-18 month horizon", Standard and Poor's "NetAdvantage" online database gives eBay an Investment IQ of 141, which is higher than my IQ, it's undervalued, and Value Line projects its annual return range (3-5 years) from a 7% low to a 14% high.

I kinda wanna buy some stock in eBay, chancing on a high 7%+ return, and using that to buy cryptocurrency.

What are your "investing for revenge" choices?

Menu Plan

January 20th, 2014 at 05:29 pm

Today: "Three Sisters Stew". I hope this isn't my day to be Failed by Veganism. I accidentally saved $6 today because I went to a vegan sweet shop "open every day" to learn they were on vacation for a week! The first and only other time I went, they were closed for another reason.

Tuesday: Coconut Chicken Curry

Wednesday: Leftovers, or Sweet-and-Sour Lentils

Thursday: Ground Beef w/Pasta (Campbell's Soup recipe)

Friday: Veal al Limone

Saturday: Fried Swordfish, or something with Swordfish

Sunday: Probably some Lentil-Beef Skillet thing from More-With-Less cookbook.
I am going to buy some stock, I think. I talked it over with the men. [Paulette: "I want to do this, and I want to do it with your money." Spouse: "Sure, I trust you not to go crazy." Kid: "Let's look at the fundamentals and growth potential here. I see it has a dividend; that is good. Yes, I am aware of this company and its products. I approve."] So tomorrow I'll go to the discount brokerage firm with a cheque, calculating 2% padding for commission and price fluctuation, and light a candle for abundance or something. I'm taking half of the price of one share from my child's savings account and the rest from the money market account: one share goes into the child's account, the other into my Roth.

This Will Be Our Year - Declutter Challenge

January 9th, 2014 at 02:01 pm

I love these challenges that inspire me to quantify my year. The 52 week Declutter challenge will be a cinch as I have already discarded nineteen items of clutter today, if discarding includes shredding. I have organized my writing centre, my postage/mail centre, and recorded bills coming due and CDs scheduled to mature shortly.

For me the key is to undertake one challenge each day, and to incorporate each challenge in my Red Notebook Journal Template.
All Hail Discardia!

I miscalculated my stock purchase by $50 (that's a paddlin'), leaving $35 in our chequing account this morning. This oversight has since been rectified.

Our new homeowner's insurance policy arrived, and it is $51 less than it was last year, so there are some savings to be had there, or one mocha per month. Sadly as our insurance is paid by escrow we will not see any reduction in monthly mortgage payment until July 2014.

YouTube goodie for you: This Will Be Our Year - The Zombies, Odyssey & Oracle

Goodbye September

September 30th, 2013 at 07:47 pm

What was good:
I saved 11% of the takehome pay. The child found a $10-off supermarket coupon and we used it. I earned 8 gas rewards (80 cents a gallon off our next fill-up).
Assets up 1.4% from last month
Debt down 0.8%
Free tasting of Ethiopia coffee @ Starbucks.

What was not good about September
Gold price falling.
Stocks dropping.
Supermarket closing.

The savings surplus is really just deferred spending. I'd like to begin allocating $ to debt and investment. I could pay off one of the debts in full but I am too chicken to do that right now.

Today I mailed a check purchase of Walgreen (WAG) stock. Each quarter I download Value Line sheets and check Standard & Poor's Stock Reports. If the Investment "Intelligence Quotient" for one of my companies' stock is higher than my own IQ, and if the projected annual return is 300% of my highest debt APR, along with a Price to Sales Ratio under 2, or at least the lowest Price to Sales Ratio of the stocks I own, I will buy it. Hence, Walgreen. It helps that Walgreen is expected to have more customers as more Americans receive access to healthcare.

I will make an initial purchase of company stock if the company has a Direct Purchase Plan and outperforms my existing holdings.

The heavy windstorm impacted us thusly: brief flicker @ 8:19 pm Sunday.

Triple paycheque month is officially November, but as the mortgage is next due November 1 I may make October the month no mortgage actually is paid. The extra $ no doubt will go to the lovely, sweet, mellow and indulgent Sagittarians in my life, and to holiday gifts.

Adapting to Change

September 26th, 2013 at 02:59 pm

More of my stock accounts are heading to ComputerShare. I am not happy with the new security policy of 14 day wait for account identity verification. I am happy that I thought to enter my son's UTMA account into ComputerShare last year. This year, he wants THI but I may surprise him with KO (Coke). Sure wish there were more kid-oriented or Canadian S&P 5-star rated companies on ComputerShare.

DH may apply for a FT perm pos at his former lead's current employer. All I know is that it's a healthcare IT gig.

In an unusual move I took our phone with us out to lunch and it rang! My spouse answered it: it was a third number the previously mentioned political action committee used to phone me, and the third call they made to me today. (Again, debt collectors do not call three times a day.) He told them we had no money for them. Here's hoping this ends their calls.

Grocery workers in our region voted in favour of a strike. Weighing my options: Costco (beat the rush), local small Mediterranean food market, Target, farmers' markets, local farm produce market. For fish I can go to Fisherman's Terminal, blessing of living by the sea. Yeah, this isn't going to bother me much except for the lines and crowds at my identified alternates.

Free Museum Pass Day sponsored by the Smithsonian is in two days. I printed out a pass for the EMP Museum yesterday.

In Dead Pool news, I missed my chances to watch "Love Story" and "Honey I Shrank the Kids" yesterday. I saw one musical segment of "Mame" and learned today Jane Connell, who played Agnes Gooch in "Mame," died. I saw "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" yesterday and learned today Marta Heflin died that day as well. You better hope I didn't read any of your blogs yesterday...

Now for a financial post

January 12th, 2013 at 11:38 am

1. So glad to be reminded I can include the sales tax of our "spaceship" (looks inside and out like something Flash Gordon and Dr. Zarkov would pilot) in our 2012 1040 return. Now to look for that Purchase Order and collect files for the tax return. Also, this is the year I will use TurboTax.

2. Insurance for the house went up $5 this year. The good news, our credit score knocked off $193 from the premium.

3. Recorded Year-To-Year stock prices for the individual stock purchase plans I have, and gold and silver prices. I watch but don't take seriously the prognostications for gold and silver: they are too blatantly created by people who run silver and gold web sites, and they are so often wrong. Past three years: "Gold's going to pass $2000 an ounce this summer!" No, maybe in Australian dollars, but not in Canadian nor American...

$20 Challenge - Saved $5 from my $54.54 shopping bill today. I made a menu plan for the week, lost half of my shopping list, and yielded only to the impulse purchase of $2.50/lb butter.

All you do to me is talk stock: Making chicken stock. The kitties sure enjoy cooked chicken.

Menu Plan
Either baked salmon or broiled Sake to Mayonnaisu (salmon with mayo tinged with rice vinegar)

Monday: Roasted Root Vegetables (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall), with Beef Stew (Canadian Living)

Tuesday: Vegetable Soup with Leeks (recipe from Cancer Lifeline cookbook), or Vegetable Medley with Leeks (Nourishing Traditions)

Wednesday: Chicken, Baked w/Tarragon and Mustard (Nourishing Traditions), "Committee Salad" (recipe from Best of Best of Bridge, for you Canadian(s) out there)

Thursday: Chicken leftovers, with Potatoes Anna, Basic Salad

Friday: Shepherd's Pie OR Macaroni-Beef-Vegetable Casserole (Vancouver-area spiral-bound cookbook), Mixed Vegetables

Saturday: Soup, either Bean or Tofu Miso.

Dirtnap for Dollars The same # of people who chose Zsa Zsa Gabor last year are choosing Hugo Chavez this year, which tells me he either died very late in 2012 (no health updates, did you notice?) or he will be Ariel Sharon's bed buddy for all of 2013.

I am taking baby steps toward my goals. Still identifying several in fact. I do want to be more DIY this year. I have read that used coffee grounds can be used for a body scrub so I would like to try some.

Earlier a blogger commented I tend to reward myself for financial rewards with food, and perceived it as a problem. I qualify that it is a problem when I think "oh I reduced my $136K debt by $100, time for a croissant and coffee at such-and-such place." So I am extending the interval of reward to $1000 of debt paid off as a dessert-and-coffee reward, and $1000 of debt paid off from one loan as a dinner reward, eating out twice every three months instead of once every three weeks for a mortgage; once every four months for the car loan. Because I do love food, but eating out is not always good for me, and even when I eat foods that are terrific for me, when it's at a restaurant here the bill is not good for my pocketbook.

I am exactly the age my eldest aunt was when she died from breast cancer. My mother developed breast cancer when she was four years older than I am now. This is why I go on about Vitamin D3, and try to include green leafy vegetables and salmon as regular parts of my weekly diet. I may even try some exercise. Cancer is so complicated: Linda McCartney found out that soy doesn't prevent cancer; a nearby woman who did triathlons learned running doesn't stop it either. I'm hoping nutrition and curbing intake of toxins will be my magic bullets: I am switching to using Naturtint on my hair, which will save me big money, and limiting use of my store-bought perfumes: I have three, and they are a big "gazingus pin" as Joseph Dominguez of Your Money or Your Life would term it.

So what am I thankful for today? The Internet and all this new information about nutrition and vitamins and how to control the hormones to prevent cancer!

Save here, spend there, reap anywhere

September 18th, 2012 at 02:49 pm

I made chicken stock last night: not the big 36-hour production Sally Fallon does, but the quickie 90-minute version neighbour Cynthia Lair makes. Another use for those jars is to freeze and store the stock. I like the stock for quinoa and rice. I kept the chicken shreds for lunches.

We also visited the university surplus store at lunch and sprung for some desk chairs. I was using one of those folding chairs used for public meetings for typing little mental mastications (bet you thought 'urb' would be there instead if 'ic') like this. Another wooden folding chair seems chewed at one of the joints, so getting a slightly stained foam cushion high-backed triple-levered office chair for $15 seems like a real bargain. DH took a red one with armrests for $25. They were released into general sale on Monday, the store opens only on Tuesdays: office chairs go fast at the surplus store, as ours were the fifth and sixth chair to be sold within a half-hour.

Neighbour gave us Italian prunes. I am tempted to try a prune spice cake and offer him a few slices.

Off-topic - What I am reading now

August 30th, 2012 at 09:58 am


I am four pages away from finishing Mapp and Lucia by EF Benson. The BBC produced and aired a TV adaptation of this in the 1980s, starring Geraldine McEwan and Prunella Scales. I could see Ms. Scales as Miss Mapp easily. I am so in love with this book that the males have taken notice. I will be sad to see this book transferred to the 'read' pile, but thankfully EF Benson wrote a series.

I finished Zeroville by Steve Erickson. Published in 2007, it won a number of "Best Book of the Year" accreditations. It is about the Hollywood film industry back in the late 1960s, when the classic studio system gave way to more maverick-style films, just before the marketing-driven blockbuster special effects era. Zeroville is easily the second best novel I have read this year. I did finish Anna Karenina, thanks to a big roadtrip, but I did not love it as much as Zeroville.

Some nonfiction I have is Howard Gardner's The Disciplined Mind (my mother-in-law gave it to me, she is a teacher), and from my library which is on extended furlough I have Proficient Motorcycling second edition, Qigong for Women, some declutter your life in a week book, Statistics for Dummies. Fiction: Alexandria by Vancouverite Nick Bantock, East of Eden, Welcome to the Monkeyhouse, Charles Ray Willeford's The Shark-Infested Custard, The Late George Apley by John P. Marquand. From the Little Free Library (posted minishelves of neighbours' books for lending) I have a Stieg Larsson paperback, the Dragon Tattoo novel. I am reading Vladimir Nabokov's Notes on Russian Literature lecture, so I can have trenchant insights when my book club discusses Anna Karenina. I saw the 1948 English film starring Ralph Richardson and Vivien Leigh: remarkably, in the novel Ms. Karenina was at first likable, but Ms. Leigh's character is not; Aleksei Andreyevitch is a stiff drip in the novel, but Ralph Richardson makes him noble and worthy of sympathy. The at least equally weighted plot of Levin and Kitty, and the other storylines of socioeconomic innovation and Stepan & Darya's deteriorating condition are ignored. Postwar I doubt the English had time for eight-hour epics, so that is probably why only one storyline was presented in the film.
Received statements confirming stock purchases earlier this month.

Kasha Varnishkes, stocks, day before payday

August 23rd, 2012 at 07:10 pm

I was asked in a comment for my last post for a Kasha Varnishkes recipe. This one is from The Joy of Cooking.

"The trick to making tender but firm kasha is to coat it with egg and stir it over high heat until toasted and the grains are separate." In the summer you can turn this dish into a pasta salad using whatever fresh vegetables can be found and toss with a vinaigrette. I have found that kasha tastes super with some sprinkle of Tabasco or hot pepper sauce.

Brown in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat:
2 to 3 tbsps chicken fat or vegetable oil
2 large onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups sliced mushrooms (button, shiitake, portobello or combination), optional
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Remove to a large bowl. Cook in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but firm:
6 ounces bowtie pasta
Drain the noodles and toss with the onion mixture.
Beat in a small bowl ONE LARGE EGG.
Add 1 cup whole kasha (roasted buckwheat groats)
Stir until the grains are well coated. Wipe out the skillet and heat it over high heat. Transfer the kasha mixture to the skillet and cook, stirring, until the grains are toasted and separate, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add:
2 cups hot chicken stock.
Stir, cover, and simmer until the stock is absorbed and the kasha is tender but not mushy, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the noodle mixture. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Garnish with 2 TABLESPOONS CHOPPED FRESH PARSLEY. Serve immediately.
I have $12.80 ($173.80 -($25 traffic fine + $136.80 dental bill for DS's triple tooth extraction)) remaining in the joint chequing account. I still have $300 in billings to pay, but those statements arrived this week. We did pay for stamps, a donut, mocha and croissant, potatoes and celery with cash on hand.
I have learned that Oyako Donburi (Chicken and Egg on Rice) by itself is not a satisfying dish: my son and I woke up in the middle of the night with our stomachs begging. It was pretty tasty though, and I would happily make it again, although with more rice.
This Saturday I have a stock talk breakfast date. My friend goes for the big dividends, and I go for blue chips, mostly, with dividends, low price/sales ratio and/or low price/earnings growth ratio, with low projections of 14% annual growth if no or low dividend, and low projection of 7% annual growth if both dividend is in excess of 3.5% and I already own the stock. Ranked: WAG (Walgreen), SLB (Schlumberger), JNJ, GE, TGT and GG (GoldCorp).

This week in housekeeping

August 12th, 2012 at 07:04 pm

The whole family did pantry, freezer and refrigerator inventories so I could figure out what foodstuffs we need to eat before they spoil. We will "chow down the grains" which is fine because after eleven days of mostly roadtrip food we are ready to eat fresh vegetables and fruits.

Anniversary is tomorrow so we went to Peaks Frozen Custard so my spouse could have a double-scoop freebie. Then to Whole Foods, where all the fish is a dollar more a pound than my price book advises. I did find some deals: bulk-packaging chicken thighs for Japanese cooking, chard and kale bunches discounted by a dollar, and Garden of Life Raw Meal powder canisters at 40% off. I wonder if I could lose weight with those meal replacements. We are not eating out for the anniversary: we celebrated enough with custard, margaritas and pie slices. We will see "Safety Not Guaranteed", a homegrown indie movie that looks fun and clever.

Have a better idea how to time my bill-paying so nothing falls into arrears. Filled out MCDirect Purchase Plan application for DS, thought to pay into GE and WAG. Johnson Controls (JCI) looks really good now too.

Fierce Tug of Avoidance, plus Mentoring Young Investor

August 10th, 2012 at 09:09 am

Good news first: We showed our embittered DS that his Berkshire Hathaway stock holding DID contain Burlington Northern (not sure it still does though), so he is feeling a little better. He has identified McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) as his next stock purchase. Lucky for us, custodial accounts require only a $100 minimum. I will put some money into Target (TGT) as well into his college account and into my Roth. Other stocks on his horizon: Pepsico, Coca-Cola.

Bad news: I avoided looking at our accounts for a full week after our return. I doubt I can pay all my bills right now without bringing my money market account below its minimum balance, unless I unload some CDs or some precious metals. I will divide $2500 between what I owe the painter and what I owe on the cards. My goal is to pay the painter in full by August 24 which is well within a 30-day period, and half of the credit card bill by August 27. Was most of what we charged worth it? I guess yes, to be hospitable to my brother, who turned out to be whiny, obstinate and pretty ungrateful for the $2400 we saved him (he threatened to go because only one of us thanked him and his wife for cleaning the kitchen, and I waved good morning instead of spitting out my coconut oil and saying hello. Also complained that he had no car even though he refused to drive, complained we had no television even though hulu.com was available at high speed on the laptops they brought and he knew on past visits we do not have cable). If God exists, it is patting me on the head.

I do not betray secrets, but I see that a friend has been putting money into her investment accounts while she is paying off debt, and I may do that too. She does heavy dividends, which is attractive if the debt balance APR is in the low single digits. Stocks that look good to me are ArcelorMittal (MT), Questcor Pharm (QCOR), Teva Pharm (TEVA) - I think I have this already but will accumulate, and Freeport McMoran (FCX).

Screening for Stocks with Nested Conditional Statements in Excel

June 20th, 2012 at 02:07 pm

I should have read Amazon.com reviews of Peter D. Schiff's "The Real Crash" audiobook prior to attempting to listen to it. Out of the 2 of 5 discs I bothered to listen to, I got one independent clause of value, and that was a reiteration of the value I saw in _Crash Proof_.

That was to look for dividend-yielding global companies. I logged onto ValueLine and customized a screen for Foreign Stocks with Dividends higher than 3%.
I gathered short ratio and short float, target price, Price/sales ratio, current price from FinViz.com; Buy Price recommendations from Morningstar; IQ ratings from Standard and Poor. Tgt/Price is my custom formula for target price - current price, divided by the current price, or "upside potential, baby."

My conditional statement looks like this:
IF(AND(price<buy_at,Dividend>2.5,PriceSales<MEDIAN(PriceSales)),"buy", IF(AND(Return_on_Equity>15,IQ>90,tgt_price>0.3), "buy"))
leaving me currently with ArcelorMittal ADR (MT) and Total ADR (TOT).

YNAB update for February

March 1st, 2012 at 09:59 am

Overspent by $309.60. Despite that it was a good month. I blame almsgiving, Costco, and my prescriptions.

Net Worth (Liquid Assets) rose by $2669 from January.
As of today, March 1, it dropped $1356.04, but that's just the negative income and expenses. I have to figure out how to input for March the paycheques for the 9th and 23rd.
Liabilities decreased by $286.59.

Mortgage cheque came through today. Chequing balance at $462.00.

Bought a $500 CD with a monthly Add-To feature.
Asked spouse to put a pitiful amount of $ toward a 401(k) so we can get a little more $ to spend, and oddly another $25 per pay period for tax withholding.

Now I will cut down on my debt repayment scheme, from $400 a month to $175 a month.
Use-It-Up attempts:

10-grain muffins from Bob's Red Mill with some milk past its sell-by date. My family will not eat Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain cereal hot, but they'll happily munch on muffins made with them. Maybe men are more complicated than I thought.

Very old frozen cod, single serving: chopped into four pieces, put in foil with sliced potatoes, diced tomato, olive oil, white wine and thyme.

Oatsie Doatsie drop no-bake cookies, made with quick oats, cocoa, sugar, salt, vanilla.
I spent $40 to refill the automobile yesterday, but I did not fill it up. I weep. The bright spot is that we lasted thirteen days on $37.48, including the 76 miles DH made on BBB. As my schadenfreude list does not have me visiting any faraway libraries this month, I can save at least $5.00.

I have checked books out of the library on bicycling safely in traffic and looked through the Chinook Book for Bike Store coupons.
In stock hilarity news, I learned that if one goes to Standard and Poor's NetAdvantage website, and attempts to input "PEP" for Company Ticker and "Pepsico" for Company Name, one gets "Polish Energy Partners" traded on the Warsaw Exchange. Google, Value Line, FinViz and Yahoo! show financials for PepsiCo when PEP is entered as a search term.

I missed America Saves Week

February 29th, 2012 at 10:12 am

Oh well. I didn't read much mention of it here.

$20 Challenge: Saved $230 (yes!) on Microsoft Office 2010 Professional. I am acquiring this program through legal means and will have an official license, if you must know. I get it on Tuesday. I sent my payment on Monday.

$20 Challenge 2: Saved $6 at the cinema yesterday. If a friend went with me she would have saved eight dollars. I got a free popcorn and with presentation of my membership card I got $3 off my admission. The film: Alfred Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes."

My mortgage cheque still has not been processed. I mailed it eight days ago and it is processed in six most times. I'll wait until March 2, and if it hasn't been processed I will put in an electronic payment.

Debt stats: Average credit card debt per household with credit card debt: $15,956, up slightly from two years ago. The majority of US households do not have credit card debt.

Total U.S. revolving debt (98 percent of which is made up of credit card debt): $801 billion, as of December 2011. This is down significantly from $866 billion, two years ago.

Eighty percent of lower income assets is in home equity. The easiest way for low income people to build assets is to pay off their mortgages. If they live where I do, they can expect a further decline of 6.9% in house value this year. I find the times where no investment yields a positive return frustrating.

Gold dove: might pick up a half-ounce today.
Bought $55 of General Electric. Considering Du Pont and Du Nemours, PepsiCo, more GoldCorp, General Electric and Procter & Gamble. What I do is triangulate among my present holdings, Jubak's Picks, and Value Line for Appreciation Potential.

no longer snowbound

January 21st, 2012 at 09:35 am

For my first outing since snowflakes started on Tuesday, I went to Starbucks with my spouse yesterday to go get coffees and then to the post office to mail some bill payments. I wore my mink hat and coat: nobody blinked. We all probably felt like we had been teleported to Juneau. I don't like the money tsunami flooding out of our chequing account at January's end, yet it's a relief to know that some money still remains, and not all of the payments due are monthly or even bimonthly. I only wish more of the payments could be scheduled for after January 27. It'll be a flood going out and a flood coming in.

With the rise of gold and silver prices, I am now past $15000 for our car fund. This is a milestone. I am caught up with my HELOC, next week we get pay stuff.

Wondering if I should buy some Walgreen Co stock. Standard & Poor's Reports plus Value Line say yes. My list of replacement items suggests otherwise. I could buy two shares of WAG, and have some $ left over for DonorsChoose.org. On the forums someone said he'd bought TC and FCX, and the fundamentals and buy prices on those appeal to me: I like 17%+ Return on Equity, some dividends, low price/sales ratios, and natural resources. Now that you know my strategy you also know how not to invest.

Our refinanced mortgage has seen us leapfrog past other recent refi'ers I am tracking. We haven't even made our six months payment yet and already we have paid 6.27% of the mortgage, and by our first year we will have paid over 10%. It took us eight years to get to 33% payoff with our prior mortgage, and now if we don't sell the house we'll be at 33% before 2015 comes around.

Mystery Home Science Theatre: Case of the Bloated Food Budget

January 5th, 2012 at 10:51 am

I live on the coast of the largest body of water on the planet, 110 minutes drive from the second vastest country on the planet. Gas prices, home values, taxes for me are more expensive than for someone in Gary, Indiana or Tulsa, Oklahoma. So my food budget is bigger too. If you gasp at $600/month eating-in groceries for a family of three, you are either a farmer or vegetarian or you can get a 4-bedroom mansion in your neighborhood for $175000. For $175000 one gets a two-bedroom condo in a 40-year-old multi-strata building in my neighborhood, and I live in one of the uh, more affordable areas in my city.

I have been fixated with $750 budgeted for food away and at home and now recognize this fixation is futile and wrong. If someone lived in Boston or Manhattan or San Francisco thought "I should be able to spend no more than $1000/month on a 2200 sq. ft. living area not situated anywhere near a toxic waste site. What am I doing wrong?" I would gently mention that costs of living vary by area.

Since adopting the YNAB software budgeting system, I must accept that there is no normal month for categories, and food is one of the most volatile. It probably has a beta rating of 2.4 in my household. December is when we splurge on stocking stuffers and little feasts and that is not normal. December 31 is not normal for us either: we spent $60, the three of us, eating out.

Ive also just recently started to keep a price book, have not abandoned meat on our diet, and although Ive cut down on my coffees out, or swapped two cappuccinos for three drips, in January it feels really good to have something hot down the throat while making those no-gas-day errands.
My son takes lunch to school.
I make soup but maybe not enough.
My husband eats at home most of the time he works.
We do whole and organic foods and shop at farmers markets, though.
I like seafood and know its health benefits but even being by the fricking ocean doesnt stop mussels from being $4/lb and clams at $5/lb or halibut at $22/lb. What do we have? Salmon at $5/lb., sole at $7/lb, tilapia or snapper at $4.50/lb. And its not just me buying coffees, or chess meeting snacks, or hot chocolates.

I am now reading the flyers to stock up on good deals offered by any of the three major supermarkets and two discount chains I frequent. Probably it is too early to call this food-cost experiment a bust.
January 1:
personal holdings
Precious Metals: $10800
HELOC: $14771
Liquid: $17500
Stock: $1800

Stockwatch - some I have, some have great expectations.
TGT: 51.25
MCD: 100.33
DIS: 37.51
FCX: 36.81
WAG: 33.09
PG: 66.71
What I'm reading now: Burr, by Gore Vidal. The Disappearing Spoon, by Sam Kean.

Starting a Price Book

December 27th, 2011 at 10:21 am

SavingAdvice.com forum post on price book.

I didn't think to take one of the little notebooks I gave to the school teaching staff last month, so I bought a recycled-paper small one to fit in a purse. The price book idea I read in The Complete Tightwad Gazette, but OrganizedHome.com also has a downloadable template.

YNAB v3.6.0.5, perhaps considered "faddish" by some, so far has kept me mindful. My Money Market Account (MMA) is $600 larger than it would have been if I weren't keeping track. We're not completely denying ourselves either: I bought nibbles for our board game sessions. I'll be shelling out $$ on NYE. My attention deficit disorder had me drafting and redrafting some asset allocation/spending plan schemes. With YNAB I can keep better track of my savings goals and where our money is going.

I also don't include my gold and silver amounts in YNAB because of their daily fluctuations, so I look more broke than I am.

Today I give blood.
My Price Book so far has entries for items we commonly buy from Costco, or find ourselves walking to yonder national chain every week to get.

Thinking I might not do a Target (TGT) Direct Purchase Plan, but rather put some cash in one of my stock accounts: the initial purchase fee in the DPP is equal to the commission the investment service applies, and I've had a number of free trades, so averaging the commission cost is lower.

The spouse of one of my alt.obituaries Dead Pool picks died: no points.

taking YNAB tutorial right now online

December 21st, 2011 at 06:15 pm

Somewhere between being baby-la-la and "oh I never thought of money that way". Comfortable with YNAB's philosophical approach and Rules.

Keep forgetting I have stock. My stock balances are very low though: I haven't added to them this year in favour of an investment yielding 22% instead. I bought one share of P&G. I have enough stock to liquidate if I needed to pay tax for the new vehicle.

Paid mortgage through the mail this month.

Can it be? A No-Spend Day!

December 20th, 2011 at 04:38 pm

Yes. But tomorrow won't be one: I'm buying turkey sausage for bean soup, ground veal and ground pork for tourtire. My scheme for the next eleven days is to spend under $100/day, and put what I didn't spend into the VISA card, then the HELOC, then into silver, money market account, Procter & Gamble Direct Purchase Plan (DPP), and Walgreen DPP. Target by Value Line and Standard & Poor's judgements is worth buying as a Direct Purchase Plan BUT! The initial purchase charge is equivalent to my TD Ameritrade account charge; and when I signed up to receive the Direct Purchase Plan by mail, the Bank of New York/Mellon website's form did NOT accept my name, although when I used the Contact Us form to complain, my name didn't hold up any processing script.

I have been blessed with heaps of bean sprouts so am making chow mein, chop suey, egg foo yung before they get slimy beyond use. The More-With-Less cookbook is helping me out.

I dropped off three cans of tuna, one box of macaroni (it was Barilla, the good stuff), and one package of whole wheat spaghetti at the local food bank.

Has anyone used the YNAB software program with success? Has it paid for itself? I have a trial program but only a seven-day trial key.

My Dead Pool 2012 lists are ready.

Maybe 2012 is when I restart stock buying.

December 7th, 2011 at 05:27 pm

I think maybe the button was taken! Let's hope!

I am deluged with coupons, and I am so tempted to buy as "an inflation hedge." Local drugstore chain, Target...

One thing I haven't done recently is add to my Direct Purchase Plan stocks. Thinking of also Canadian National Railway (CNI), which I had my eye on and is doing nicely. My father once worked for Canadian National: I have early misty memories of going to the train depot.

CNI's up to 78.07, and Value Line noted when it was not yet at 76 to wait for a pullback. But I'll keep it on my watch, with 3-5 year returns ranging from 6% to 15%.

WAG dropped 11% this year, but Value Line's 3-5 year returns projected are 18% - 22%. DY: 2.66%.

GE year to date's drop is -10.88%, 3-5 year returns projected are 20 - 35%. DY: 3.77%. Morningstar says it's a buy.

PG year to date's drop is... hey there's no drop! 2% increase, with 3-5 year returns projected 12 - 17%. DY: 3.28%.

Kinda glad I went with gold and silver this year.

Also, my friend needs to come up with three stiffs in three weeks to win the 2011 dead pool between the two of us. No 96-year-old famous male with pneumonia was safe from me.