$12.99 interest income, whee.
Car: 8190.86: 3.4% difference
House: 89435.4: 0.84% difference
Heloc: 10226: 0.08034% difference
Spent $55.17 on books, budgeted for $20.
Spent $71.18 on clothes, budgeted for $40.
Spent $145.01 on Miscellaneous, budgeted $76.90
Spent $46.84 on interest, budgeted for $330.61 -- carried over to March.
Spent $158.52 on dining, budgeted for $210.
Spent $51.91 on entertainment, budgeted for $72.
Spent $15.46 on gifts, budgeted for $40.
Spent $484.32 on groceries, budgeted for $650.
Spent $47.95 on Auto (fuel and parking), budgeted $55
Cash growth from February 1: $1000.17
Taxable assets difference from February 1: $665.65
Total over budget: $2.52
March budgeted expenditures: $3623.03
On Sunday, March 1, I drove to the Safeway gas station, where we had two gas rewards, arriving there with a fuel range of 7 miles before the tank would be officially empty. Just so I could be under my fuel budget for February.
I reregistered for the Motley Fool website and...
not much is happening. Some boards for stocks I bought recently have been inactive for over six years. I read some Fool articles today, like "the six stocks we'd hold for ten years" and ran the ticker symbols through some valuation metrics, including insider buying, and I see more red than green for all those metrics on Finviz.com, and no 10+% distance between current price and target price. I posted my question about how high PE stocks should be evaluated in a frothy market and so far I've had as little response as I've had at the SavingAdvice forum.
$12.99 interest income, whee.
"Your tax refund is scheduled to be mailed by March 6, 2015. If you do not receive the refund by April 3, 2015, please contact us again. We are unable to take any action until then."
First and second mortgage balances sum to under $100,000.
I may re-register for the Motley Fool website. I had an account long ago but forgot my password and no longer have the email account I used for registering. I ask questions that are not in scope, I guess, for the Investing Forum here on SavingAdvice.com. Imagine anyone wanting to know how to evaluate stocks and time their purchases based on value and projected value!
Some of my brain is no longer accessible due to repeat head trauma, so I think wrong things like a stock price is determined on buyer and seller. So when stocks go up, that's due to higher demand, and less supply, and because sellers bid up the price. So when stock prices rise, it's due to transactions, more accurately, more buyers than sellers, more demand than supply. Someone must be bidding these stocks past fair value. Someone must be buying stock that appears overvalued and thinking that is not the case. How are they evaluating those purchases? How do they determine how much growth there is for a stock? I know people were buying $400K houses in Stockton, California in the mid 2000s, so I know there's a market for overvalued properties and assets. You will never convince me nobody on SavingAdvice.com ever bought anything overvalued without thinking the values were going to rise and coming up with a reason other than "buy now or be priced out forever." Heck, I've done it a few times with stocks. How do people know when or decide when they're going to buy something expensive? How do people determine condos in Manhattan or San Francisco or Vancouver or Hong Kong are a good deal? Or $400K houses in Stockton, California?
Visa and Monster have still gone up today, which suggests to me (remember, I am brain-damaged) that demand is still high. These companies' stock prices must come down sometime. Juniper Networks, Lucent, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, IBM all went down from high-flying PE multiples at some point. All I know is my fear that if I buy Visa now it'll tank 10% one week after I buy it, because I missed some timing signals. If I buy Monster now it'll tank 30% in a month because only after the buy transaction comes through will there be major announcements about how people with hypertension shouldn't touch it.
I'd had my eye on some stocks but they're overvalued to me. I keep thinking Starbucks, Amazon, Costco, VISA, Monster Beverage are overvalued, but lots of people don't feel that way. Look at the volumes from Friday February 27 2015: 4,311,727; 2,458,964 (58.6% of volume); 3,030,124; 1,982,831 (actually under average volume); 6,210,450 (6.3x normal volume for MNST). Even though I suspect Monster Beverages, and 5-Hour Performance Energy shots contributed to my brother's untimely demise, and the demise of young people, its ubiquity suggests lots of people have as great a death wish or the belief that as long as the beverage ingredients are listed and they include vitamins, no blood clots could ever show up in the lungs nor would cardiac arrest ever happen, because energy drinks are for active people. Every time I see Monster cans or tiny bottles of 5 Hour Performance at the drug store or supermarket I think of my grey-faced brother in his casket, the little altar of Asahi beer and Monster Beverage, his grieving widow, and his four-year-old boy. Everyone sees something different I suppose. Cancer deaths make sense to me, heart attacks from a half-century of smoking make sense to me, pulmonary thromboembolism deaths for non-smoking people who run, bicycle, do yoga, lift weights dropping dead at 44 do not make sense to me if energy drink consumption is not a risk factor. It must be my head trauma preventing me from making sense of this death, like it prevents me from figuring out the right time to buy high-PE stocks. Yeah, that's the ticket.
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.
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. :-)
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.
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.
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.
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.
By pencil and paper. I used the laptop's calculator key for confirming sums and differences. Now that I can access my 1099s online and print them out I can get through this faster.
We have money coming back to us. Not enough to do anything crazy with. I could get the Money Market Account balance back to three times our income, pay 1% of our debt balances except for the mortgage, have a good dinner out, and buy some underpinnings for me. Perhaps put half of a phone from Ting aside. I'm really looking forward to having customer service interactions with people who understand English.
I printed out the return, some schedules and a form. I was going to use the credit union's discounted TurboTax application but I see that Linux is not supported. (Note to Tabs, yes I could use wine, I'm used to doing my taxes on wine... and potato chips.)
Linux doesn't want to recognize the Pushing Daisies DVD I got from the library either. The TurboTax online site wanted me to upgrade my Firefox 35.0.1 browser. So my options are Windows or pen-and-paper or invest some time in installing and using a browser extension that'll mimic a Windows user-agent setting.
How do you file your taxes? How do you make the tedium of form-filling bearable? Do you use TaxCut or TaxAct?
Magic number: Twelve!
Some of these are already in progress. Some of them are in the uh, wings, germination file?
Average 1% Debt Principal Repayment Monthly:
Total 96800 - Dec 31 2015
Average 1% Liquid Assets growth, monthly.
Average 1% Living and Storage Reclaimed through Decluttering, Monthly.
Lose 12% of body weight in one year without drugs or serious illness. It has occurred to me that I probably have to exercise nearly every day just to maintain weight. I wonder if it's possible to lose 1% of mass around the bust, waist and hips monthly.
I am playing with the idea of, IF the Seattle Seahawks win the National Football League's Super Bowl game on Sunday, surrendering 49 dollars for each point the team has over the New England Patriots NFL team to HELOC and car loan repayment. If the team loses, business as usual.
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.
I feel I want to post something, because it was payday yesterday. However, to keep this light and positive, it will be brief.
After daily doing the Temporal Tap and exercising, I am 1/2" thinner in the waist and thighs, and 1.5" reduced in the bust. I must not have taken an accurate first measurement up there as the last two measurements were also 1.5" less than initial recording. I am doing exercises in addition: leg raises, "air bicycles" and sit-ups, and walking when I have to. I haven't weighed myself, for fear that my weight in pounds is the same as my height in centimetres. I go by how I fit in my pants and the measuring tape recording of bust, waist and hips.
What's good in budget land: Only $42.73 in Dining for the month, and $493.22 for groceries (two adults, three cats, one teen boy) for the month. I expect to pay $30 more this week for Ziploc bags, milk, Woolite, et cetera. I paid $84 for car's $30K mileage maintenance. I have a low maintenance car, which makes the automotive expenditure closer to bearable. I made a mini Costco run for coffee and Worcestershire sauce.
I seriously considered buying a "meat package" from a butcher shop (17 - 35 lbs) but I wasn't keen on any of the varieties of bundles, and I'm in a bad headspace where I second guess everything and am pessimistic. I could ask my family to continue breathing in and out and they'd fall down dead from asphyxiation today just to spite me.
What's bad: $225 for entertainment/recreation for the males - $100 for after-school activity for boy (February through March); $79 for schlock cinema class for male (Jan - Feb); $13 for two males to walk around a huge baseball stadium with other baseball fans; $33.00 for two males to see some fantasy CGI-fest movie.
I'm throwing some prized, scant dollars at my debt reduction so I leave January at $110,000 owing (including mortgage).
...but I can't even sell firearms to gang members.
Seriously, I have a 1958 Elvis Presley EP I tried selling twice on Craigslist, worth at least $20. And a rainsuit, a fricking RAINSUIT with reflective striping, in a city where we still have 15 hours of darkness in January and a lot of rainy days and a lot of scooters, didn't go for $10.
I do include pictures. I am honest about the condition and I try a fair price: i.e., what other sellers are offering for similar items in similar condition.
Is Amazon Selling the way to go? I am reluctant to use eBay, as its PayPal subsidiary screwed me over for three weeks denying it has a problem with servers, and it does seem to freeze people's accounts for no good reason other than faulty algorithms.
Will Amazon find homes for my brother's 20+ year old textbooks and my silent movies on VHS?
Made two loaves of bread, just the traditional sort. They rose beautifully: I used a thermometer and put the water in with the sugar and yeast when the water was 114F. I used my stand mixer to beat the dough. I also preheat the oven each rise to close to 200F, then shut off immediately when the loaves come in. The only heels of the bread I enjoy eating: the warm, crunchy type.
I also made root beer syrup which turned out okay -- I had the roots but not the extracts so I just made teas from the burdock and sassafras and let them steep for 20 minutes. Tomorrow I'm going to try hibiscus ginger syrup.
I am feeling some fatigue from cooking. The best I could manage after the bread, and more pertinently cleaning up after the bread, was broiling one portion of salmon. I may break down and get frozen entrees next shopping trip.
I don't eat out so much because my family tends to come along, so the cost is tripled, and I don't know what ingredients will be in the food I eat, and tipping is expected.
When I do eat out it's to enjoy something I can't or won't make at home: fried chicken because I don't have a deep fat fryer, croissants because I don't have the refrigerator space for all that dough, an ethnic cuisine that'd cost me $$$ just for the ingredients which would take up pantry space and be thrown out because they're kept past expiry... or because I am fatigued by making dinner. My fatigue sets in after 3 weeks, I have found.
I haven't had breakfast out for a long while either: the idea of paying $6.95 for two eggs, two sausages or bacon strips, and hash browns which I never eat, is ludicrous: $0.50 for the eggs at home, $0.60 for the bacon. Maybe baked eggs in a ramekin, which I don't have, would be okay, or served with egg bread or brioche.
Ugh, now I am hungry...
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
• 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
• 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.
We have spent $22.47 on outside dining, seventeen days into the month. That is less than books, or movies, or postage. Groceries look like they'll be $700 for the month, including cat food and litter, as we're up to $354.28 for spending. Had a Nanaimo Bar at 50% off.
We have earned $5.86 this month in interest. The internet went up $8 a month. [Sarcastic comment about Comcast's neediness redacted.] I fueled the car with $15.00 for a 464-mile range.
Meal Planning for the Week
- Panko Chicken Thighs
- Creamed Chicken (w/Breasts): Canned Chicken
- Minestrone Stew
- Thai Coconut Chicken Curry: Chicken Breasts
- Red Lentil Stew (I keep writing that)
- Clear out the Freezer. I have fewer servings of some protein than I have people.
Frugal luxuries: Baker Street Tea with a 1930 film "The Benson Murder Case" starring William Powell. He started smiling about the same time Garbo spoke and for most of the decade after he did he was box office gold.
Chequing has $200 in it. Keeping fingers crossed I won't have to transfer cash from Money Market Account this week, hoping for $17/day average expenditure, mostly grocery items.
I woke up to no power this morning. I fretted I'd have to go outside, but remembered that I have matches and a gas range and instant coffee powder.
Having just replenished the pantry on Saturday, I am not participating in any pantry challenges this month. But I am using up some Japanese instant soups whose best before date was two weeks ago. They're darling, compact 4cm x 4cm packages of starch, seaweed, tofu, and miso packet. Scrape miso packet contents into a mug, crack open the starch package and let all confetti-like ingredients fall into the mug, then add boiling water and stir.
I paid $4.30 principal into the car loan. Although I did post my interest in paying off the car loan, my contrariness made me look at the larger, higher-interest loan, and I considered if I'd be really happy paying some of that principal to bring the balance owing under five digits. $4.30 is a piddling amount, but applied every two weeks will reduce my term by at least one month. $25 goes to a CD tomorrow, $100 goes to a HELOC payment. I could probably poke the spouse to go stop the $25 CD monthly addition for next month and beyond.
My payoff car loan date looks like January 2016 right now. I'm sure you empathize with the antsiness of wanting a huge debt eradicated. I'm not going to moan, no, I'm going to make a list of frugal luxuries. Bubble baths, deep conditioning treatments, classical music on Swiss radio, pens and inks and papers. Maybe some of you have at times felt robbed off too much, perceived too wide the distance between where you are and what you want, and feel the divide ever expanding. Maybe your winter rain or snow has been with you for so long your bones feel wet. And maybe too many things are beyond your control. That is when the frugal luxuries list is helpful. Smell of toasting walnuts? Herbal fruit tea in a warm blanket? Juiced vegetables? Rereading of Wodehouse or Hiassen or Fforde or Adams or whatever floats your boat? Homemade sweet potato or yam chips with chipotle mayo? Steaming your face over a bowl of very hot water? A salt or sugar scrub with five minutes massaging the feet?
I used some barley from a glass jar to make a stew with leftover roast beef and some stewed tomatoes. I didn't want to go outside to buy a can of diced tomatoes. For a desperation dinner it was terrific on a wet wintry day. Plus I have leftovers.
About juicing: I have an old but reliable juicer. The filter collects fibres and piths from ginger, fruits. I read DoctorYourself.com's tip about soaking the filter in bleach, and gave it a try. Well, in five hours black residue coated the filter, and ebonized the bleach. With a toothbrush I could scrape the residue off the filter, then put the filter in the dishwasher. I feel like Heloise with a hint now.
I'm in shock at my $313 water/sewer/yard bill. I will check the outdoor hoses for drips: I can't hear any drips or see any leaks inside the house. Normally it's $250 for yard, water and sewer for two months. We have not had freezing weather that would make the pipes burst.
DH needed to go out and for me to go with him on Sunday so we went to Value Village to go buy clothes for the boy and for him. I didn't have a wardrobe plan of what to buy so I merely admired but did not buy the Coach and Chanel purses and totes attractively priced for under $100. In retrospect I perhaps should have used the 30% off coupon in the Chinook Book for their purchases. My little one still has smaller feet than I do, yet he takes a size 16 in pants. He is shopping in the men's section now, although for small sizes. He is still eight inches shorter than me.
I have not bothered to weigh myself, but am programming via temporal tap my body to reduce its set weight to 140 lbs. I know I am at least 168 lbs. and am still fitting into US size 12 clothes. It looks like if I drop to 150 lbs I will get into a size 10, and size 8 at 140 lbs, according to "My Body Gallery: What Real Women Look Like."
Negatively worded phrases "It's not my fate to be fat" for example are repeated as the finger tips tap around the left ear; positively charged phrases like "I'm looking fine when I weigh 139" are "tapped in" the same way over the right ear. It's important to find and use personal phrases your body's inclined to use as truth. For example, someone on the metric system probably wouldn't want to use 139 as a number. The messages don't have to be weight-based, even. If you have salt cravings like I do, you may find tapping messages helpful for preventing a 15-oz Chex Mix feeding frenzy. Or you might program your mind and body to return your wardrobe to two sizes smaller than present. More on the temporal tap here (PDF). What I don't like is that one has to do it five times a day for about a month to see benefit from it. It's like using St. John's Wort for depression, or starting from absolute couch potato when undertaking a new exercise routine. A challenge for the easily sidetracked and impatient like me.
Debt payoff is still the dominant goal for us financially. Until February 1 I'll see if I can raise our assets by $102.60. I'll likely end up cheating by adding $4543 worth of stock and house value increase as $4440.40 of planned and unplanned expenses fly away from us. I'll be gleaning what I can from your blogs.
We sort of have a new cat. Okay, we are feeding someone else's cat. In the summer, after our white cat died, our brown one would venture out and not always come back when called in the evening. We tried shaking the treat bag, and a large ginger neuter came up: "Hey you have treats!" Now the large ginger tabby waits for us to return home, or scratches at the door, to get at our cats' food. Our resident animals are too old and puny to resist other than a perfunctory hiss when they're up to it. He doesn't stay in the house long. He is a happy nomad and not Otto von Bismarck.
Giving GnuCash another go. This time it is easier, as long as I don't jolly myself into thinking I can save and import my TD Ameritrade balances and transactions. I haven't used any of the Loan Wizards either, as they give me months upon months of automated payments all with the wrong amounts. I'm cheating by pretending I owe more than I actually do. My genuine totals owing are in the sidebar.
How are you today?
Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow - Saffron Sect cover
What's good about where I am now:
I can think of my financial situation and still sleep well, other than my cat overheating me by resting on my neck. It gets cold at night, he won't burrow, won't use a pet bed, won't snuggle against the other cat, the electric heating pad shuts itself off after a while as a safety precaution, so it's my neck and chest.
I had the discussion, walking the spouse through the withholding. It turns out that we have one exemption too many, plus $75, and about $8000 in our Health Savings Account, so again a four-digit tax refund is anticipated. I may've convinced him he could put $50 toward his 401(k) per payperiod with little damage, but definitely convinced him to alter the withholding.
Starting Point: Bust - 43"; Waist - 35"; Hips - 43"
I am still proportional, except for the adiposal gut. Some prominent doctor claims women with 35" waists are at risk of getting cancer. I assume he must mean all women regardless of height percentile and proportionality.
I have lots of teas to get me through the grey soggy day. I have recipes for broths and juices. I don't have a fancy-schmancy Vitamix, but a good ol' juicer.
I have everything I need to start an exercise regimen for free: time, exercises, mat, weights.
I have everything I need to start learning mySQL, Python, XML, maybe start hadoop.
I have a $15 Amazon.com gift certificate, and a credit good for one .mp3 download.
Our pantry looked scant, as did our refrigerator, so we went to Safeway, and shopped enough to merit a 40-cent per gallon gas reward. There must be some big National Football League game on: lots of people wearing team jerseys, and a giant NFL refreshment display.
Trying one cookbook per library visit: This month it is Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1. It is not at all a budget-buster. Lots of these recipes remind me of when my mother was learning French cuisine. I tried bistokes a la Russe, which are just ground beef patties with creamy nutmeg sauce on top. Lots of these recipes are also in my budget 1967 James Beard How to Eat Better for Less Money. Looking forward to those ragouts and cassoulets and soupes.
That punch-in-the-stomach moment when you learn that your paycheck income is reduced, and you don't have enough $$ to pay in full one loan so you can have a comfortable surplus. 2.6% reduction from 2014's paycheck. What about COLA? What about our rising property tax and vehicle taxes? Maybe we'll end up with an income tax refund again. I'd rather have the taxes withholding and some other things settled than struggle 51 weeks of the year.
I really need to have a talk with my spouse. I can see some necessary changes:
1. My kid will have to adopt the schedules and routines I've been nagging him about because I will have to get at least a part-time job.
2. We may have to restructure a loan, or pay one loan off in full by liquidating what's left of our cash.
3. The spouse may have to play with contributing to some retirement to get smaller tax amounts deducted from the paycheck.
To save money we'd have to spend money, and that paradox eats at me. I'm very sore at my brother. I suppose I should be thankful he died before my kid's passport was approved and that the two nations where my kid holds citizenship take their sweet time processing "emergency passports" where it's no use trying to take him with me. I'd have 3x the expenses to pay back...
Looks like a family meeting and several brainstorming sessions are in order... After the semiannual insurance is paid, though. What's not on the table, liquidating any assets whose annual return exceeds the annual interest rates charged to us for our liabilities.
Yesterday I had the sick feeling I'm horribly behind financially. That must be a progression from "everybody dies young in my family so why bother saving." The feeling squirmed in as I listened to a woman talk of her spouse's retirement, her planned purchase of a second vehicle, college savings. I have a second vehicle but I wouldn't take it out when it's 2 degrees Celsius. Looking at GnuCash and my budget, I see maybe $150 leftover per month. I'll feel much better when I can eliminate one debt. Someone I know is planning to pay off her car loan this year, although she is considering borrowing from her 401(k). I may just sell some CDs if I feel like joining her in her car loan freedom.
Something I'd like to save up for is a delayed 20th anniversary vacation. I didn't get one last year. We were supposed to go to Hawaii this Christmas, and that didn't happen either. When the net worth improves by $2000 I'll start making reservations at places in the Gulf Islands and on Vancouver Island. Fortunately I don't have to go far to have an "exotic island getaway." My dad was married to his second wife for 22 years; my mother didn't make 20 years with any of her three husbands, and neither did my brother. I did surprise the woman in the first paragraph that I had been married for that long: I hope it's because I don't look like someone who's been married for twenty years.
Maybe start buying foreign currency so I can save a little bit. Maybe convince the spouse to put some aside, if there's a match by employer. I did put $100 into my kid's college account but can't think of what equity to purchase with it. Maybe an ETF with a few more hundred dollars.
I have started exercising, however gently and sporadically. It's the building of a habit that matters, right? I did sit-ups today, started "bouncing" and shoulder shrugs, from Chinese Healing Exercises while watching movies, restarted tracing my meridians. Everyday I had been walking at least a mile, until today, so now I'm bouncing, trying for 1000. I think adrenal exhaustion might be a large part of my expanded waistline. Seeing connections between my eyesight and adrenals and blood pressure and caffeine and adipose. I suppose if I didn't have any hope of a happy golden age there's always the combo of energy drinks and alcohol to speed up the blood clots to take me out. Honestly, I don't know why someone would have that combo at all, let alone regularly enough when one's been hospitalized for blood pressure like 240/120mmHg and has sky-high creatine phosphokinase levels from muscle tissue damage stemming from surgeries on TWO shoulders, but if you ever thought "yeah, my four-year-old doesn't need me and I don't need to see him/hr grow up" or tune out people like your doctor who advises you to cut out the energy drinks because you know everything, I suppose Monster or 5HrPerformance plus a beer can make up for years of bad financial planning. Just make sure you do more than tell your sister you're PLANNING to make a will, and go make a will.
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?
I had a day of some accomplishments: washed the range hood filters, our bedsheets, bought clothes, retrieved my wallet. Ipod still missing. Not too worried because I paid nothing for it. It is probably in our house somewhere.
Saw Baselle on Saturday: she is radiant and fine. My child will participate in her Fantasy Celebrity Cemetery game and he made some good picks, some stellar unique ones, some cagey ones too. One person Baselle has on her list is someone I had on my first version, but discarded. I hope I don't have remorse over that, but I probably will. This year nearly everyone had good lists, and I just lucked out because I followed Baselle's 2013 winning strategy of finding someone in their forties.
For 2015 I want to be more creative and active. I am now mostly on Linux on one laptop, and I now have a Raspberry Pi. Raspberry Pis are the thrifty way for young people to learn computing, but I decided I didn't have to be twelve or under to make use of the Pi. I've played with software for designing sound, and dipped my baby toe into the Python programming shell (called IDLE, get it? Python? har! Those funny Brits!). I also installed Apache server and now I have a web page. All of this I did last night. I have now a SDF.org account for practising mySQL and using old-school UNIX commands. I think if I reduce my exposure social media (hashtag abuse rots the mind) and go on a news-information diet I'll be okay. News is 88% corporations and governments' dictated garbage, typos, and celeb blather anyway these days, am I right?
I want to be cleaner next year too. My eyes are terrible now and I can only feel the schmutz, not see it. I have some recipes for scented cleaning concoctions, so I'll be able to smell the clean as well.
I want every day to have some minor accomplishment at least, or average out the year in daily accomplishments. I will work on templates for my RedNotebook software so I have a framework: "What needs to be changed?" "What was good?" "What steps did you take toward ....?" "What are you going to read?"
I want to be more mindful. I wouldn't say I'm manic, but too often I see more books and CDs and DVDs from the library I want to borrow, and sometimes I misplace them if I'm out, especially on a bus. Then I have to pay for their replacement. update: case in point, I was going to play a CD from the library, then found a CD from the library I thought I returned (I returned only the case). I better read Philippa Perry's How to Stay Sane but that presumes I am sane. My spouse tells me I am sane in a crazy world.
I want to overcome my social anxiety and awkwardness. I have to be okay with rejection though, as well as other people's social anxieties and awkwardness, but I don't know how to be okay with rejection; that is, positioning the rejection as the other person's problem and not a confirmation that I'm unfit for society.
Financially, 2014 showed growth over 2013. Except for the house. Despite all these cranes working on erecting multifamily residences, and a 1 bedroom apartment in the city goes for more than our 3-bedroom mortgage in the city, Zillow values our house at $5000 less than this time last year, so I have 3% growth in equity from the $10000 I've paid down in principal. I live in an area with good transportation and most amenities are within walking distance. Gold and silver are down from 12 months ago as well. Stock accounts went up, except for General Electric. Bonds are up a little over 2%, money market account is up slightly. Debt you can look at in the sidebar, unless you're using adblock software. 8% principal paid on HELOC; 9.18% principal paid on mortgage; 22% principal paid on car loan. Car loan annual principal paid percentage is the only number that didn't increase from last year.
Stocks to look into next year: CI, DLTR, ONNN, SU, TRV, VIAB.
"I'm coming to your city. I'll call. Let's get together."
No call. No meeting.
Cards I sent out from BC: eleven.
Cards received from BC: two.
Package sent from BC to NL November 27. Told twelve business days (Mo - Fr) delivery.
Package still not in NL as of December 23.
Illustrious mail-order supremo bookstore (not global e-tailer, not the first one you think of) offers free shipping on orders fulfilled before Dec 15. I check my spouse's wishlist on the global e-tailer, then check for copies available at mail order bookstore (2, according to website. Website also claims inventory updated HOURLY) on December 12 so I put in an order that very day. December 16 I check supremo bookstore tracking, gift not available. I call to ask "what goes on" they say the retail area sold one copy, another can't be found. They have newer editions in a warehouse on the southern part of the state, twice the price, won't arrive at Christmas. So I had to use the global e-tailer, the one that's a poor citizen and doesn't pay taxes, the one that treats its warehouse staff like convicts, and the global e-tailer ensured my orders arrived before Christmas. Honest, I do try to support "indie" and "local", but lying to me about availability of items and not alerting me when there's a problem with my shipment does not help!!
Honestly, I am going nuts thinking what I did wrong. Was it the expressions of gratitude? Was it the effort of getting a book autographed by its author up to another country in time for Christmas? If I told the universe to spread its cheeks and mudslide on me it must be in some non-verbal, unconscious way.
The most thoughtful people I've encountered this season are my former sister-in-law who doesn't even celebrate Christmas, and my mom's cousin who knows my pain as he lost two sisters at once much too young. In short, the people with whom I share a great and untimely loss. Even the cemetery where I delivered my brother's bones to be interred sent a card. A Catholic business entity is more thoughtful than my so-called Catholic relatives.
Here's how I'm whiling the holy days: Buster Keaton 3-film set; Umberto Eco paperback; Dorothy Sayers paperback; Making Space by Thich Nhat Hanh; Middlemarch, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Gravity's Rainbow, film "Le Corbeau" and DVD of "The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle". Plus cleaning, cooking, exercising, writing, plotting, walking, whatever it takes to reduce reduce reduce and get clear clear clear.
Update: All it took to snap me out of this funk were -- a two-car collision at the nearest stoplight intersection. I don't have a neck brace, don't have to wait for an ambulance, won't be spending Thursday dozy from painkillers, won't have holiday travel cancelled with perhaps no deposit returned. Plus, my spouse cooed with delight at the Monks CD I brought home. Protopunk on a dark night is reviving! Plus an intuitive three-card Tarot spread: The Magician - (Reversed) Five Swords - Ace of Swords. Kind of a "get clear, wake up, smell reality" thing. I have electricity, people to hug, food to eat, and apparently lots and lots of media for escapism. Not so bad.
Note: these work best in North American countries with a shameful GINI index. I have not tested this in Cuba or Nauru or Kazakhstan.
1. Have a terrible credit score.
2. Have outstanding warrants in as many states (or provinces?) as you can visit.
3. Live in such a way where you never have more than $132 in your chequing (checking) account.
4. Have a plethora of illicit and prosecute-able content on any computer you are worried about someone hacking. (Ask me about my Deep Web scores -- then again, don't.)
5. Be Black or Hispanic.
6. Leech your terrible internet from your neighbor's unprotected Wi-Fi. OR! Name your internet "FBI Surveillance Van" or "fbi furgoneta de vigilancia" if you're going the Hispanic route something similar.
7. Keep all important documents, including banking files, resumes, etc. on your Windows desktop so that hackers can quickly verify that your life is worthless.
Do as many of these as you can, and your PC/gateway to the world for shutins will be protected better than anything Symantec or Norton can come up with.
#7 I do for physical security. Keep a sour "honeypot" wallet with only a 5000 Korean Won note and print copies of "Archie Fan Club" membership cards when asked to surrender my wallet. However, as I rarely bring my cheap phone with me anywhere, wear a watch so I can answer someone's request for the time, and look like a homeless person reading a used paperback or a library book while riding transit, I haven't tested #7 yet in real life, but it's gotta be better than walking alone in high-density neighborhoods at 2:30 AM after visiting an outdoors ATM, head down intently gazing at one's tablet or texting away on an iPhone or Galaxy, then complain to the police you've been robbed, which is what people in my city do.
Oh gee, what a sensitive laptop I have. Sold some but not all of my brother's books for $33 in store credit. We are a family of readers so this should be useful.
Serious question: what does "being good to oneself" mean? Yoga stretches, vegetable juices, massages, aromatherapy baths? What activities corral the mind when the mind is everywhere yet nowhere at the same time?
update: Just saw that the pantry is down to 2 cans each of tomatoes, tomato paste and tomato sauce. :-P And this weekend we did not do much grocery shopping as I did not plan for meals or did not find sufficiently low prices for staples or did not feel like driving to the market for farm produce after a "zippy" (20% shorter time, excluding border stops) trip to White Rock and back for gift exchanges. So I must figure out a cheap, healthy meal plan for the next two weeks.
My finances still have not fully healed, but then neither have I. I want to replenish the cash reserves to twelve times a mortgage payment, and I'm $200 short. I've been using coupons, BOGO promotions and sales where I can.
Last year at this time I owed $12253.69 on the car and am down to $9018.54. Over 25% principal paid, down from five figures to four. When you owe like I do, a digit drop down is a milestone. The biggest milestone so far was getting from six-digits to five-digits for mortgages.
The HELOC I have paid $1105.80 this year, with an additional $73.90 to come December 15. I could round this up to $1200 principal for the year, 10% reduction of principal.
The good news is my debt sums and liquid taxable sums have reached a difference from each other where I could resume paying down the principal on the loans.
My three stocks Robbie (bank stock: hahaha!), Blue Chip and Earnie (they are DRPs, no personality whatsoever) have appreciated by 11% over the past year, including dividend reinvestments.
I don't count on having many Xmas presents under the tree this year, but with new hiking boots and pillows, and lots of NHL reading material for the bicultural tot, most of us are satisfied, if not lonely. We have too much stuff as it is, so memberships and events tickets are going into stockings. I am three weeks away from taking first place in a 2014 dead pool, so that helps a little, and from winning a Dead Pool side bet (gift certificate from an eminent global e-tailer). Will I be doing the Dead Pool again? Probably. 700% return on my investment is not bad.
I did earn $100 through a focus group, yay for me, but in addition to the $137 I spent on pillows this week, the spouse spent an equivalent amount on waterproof hiking boots. Given our winter weather this is understandable.
When I perused a Consumer Reports Buyers Guide for Electronics, I was disappointed to see that the smartphones offer at best middling telephony performance. When I want to buy a phone it's because I want better reception and performance for voice "across the universe", not so much data (altho data is very convenient!) and not apps upon apps. I know this is because I am old.
I mailed three packages across two oceans yesterday. The US Postal Service needs to add staff on Saturdays: only one person worked at the counter. I did fill out the customs forms before I entered the office with my packages. Astounded to learn it'd cost $33 US to fly my softcover book to Newfoundland (that is in Canada), so I'm driving to the Lower Mainland next week to take care of Xmas cards and this present, plus to deliver an autographed copy of Ken Jennings' _Maphead_ (my family and I spot him here and there, usually in libraries and bookstores - he lives six miles from us) to a BC friend. Sure, I'll probably spend $15 US in gas, but I'll have some tins of nice After Eights, Carnation's hot chocolate powdered mixes of Rolo, Coffee Crisp and After Eights, Murchie's teas and coffees, Shreddies cereals...
I just now found our new Bank of America credit cards. I didn't shred them because they are Signature Cards with chip technology, which are helpful and gradually becoming required by Canadian merchants.
I learned recently that if your pillows don't spring back to their proper shape after you fold them over, they're of no more use. I wonder now what I can do with old pillows.
I bought two pillows at 50% off from JCPenney today. They are the second and third pillows I've bought this year. It seems I am always buying pillows, but maybe their purchases are conspicuous because I feel I am getting ripped off, or because we have six or seven usually and the life span for a pillow is three to five years. The beauty is that I have free shipping for the pillows.
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