Had good frugal shopping day today, except for the seltzer water, but we saved $4 buying the seltzer so okay.
Chicken thighs for ninety-nine cents a pound, whole chicken for eighty-eight cents a pound, bought nine tins of the cats' favourite food at 15% reduction, free sour cream, pork chops for $2.20 a pound.
I'm bothered by the price of beef being so high, but I can still eat eggs, seafood, pork and chicken.
Birthday is coming up, spring break for boy is this week: an expensive week. Trying to up the fun factor and down the spending. Soon I'll be venturing out for a long walk in the sun. Planned is a dinner on an island, we have a restaurant coupon and ferry discount coupon. This is to celebrate the 70% equity milestone. Another activity could be trying our hand at pie-making, or buying a neon jacket and getting the bicycle fixed and outfitted with an engine to go up hills. When I tell people I'd like to get a Raspberry Pi they say "that's a super idea! I might get one too!" and then they're surprised that I mean the Pi with cables and memory card and LED wires. Although a Raspberry Pie or Key Lime Pie or Mexican Chocolate Pie sounds great too. I'm more concerned with feeling fantastic than risking a positive correlation between money spent on me and any positive self-esteem I may have. So I'm staying off the forums for a "free or dead cheap ways to celebrate my birthday" question because I prefer to come up with answers without getting verbal abuse from strangers.
I did treat myself to Turkish coffee and orange flower water. Only twenty-three cents a cup for a 6 ounce trip to the secular Middle East! Beat that, Starbucks!
I may open up a DogeCoin wallet and start using GoogleWallet. And start playing with my finances so I can find ways to save more than 3% and put the savings toward debt reduction. Oh for the day I can obliterate one five-digit debt. Might be a four-digit debt before that happens.
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Had good frugal shopping day today, except for the seltzer water, but we saved $4 buying the seltzer so okay.
Most importantly thank you for the kind thoughts about my brother, and the cat. My brother's problem is fixable, the cat's, not so much. I haven't heard from him in a while so maybe he's calmed down and is busy getting his affairs in order.
My men took advantage of Ben & Jerry's "Free Cone Day" promotion on Tuesday. I bought Apple stock, finally, after weeks of saving up for the amount needed for commission and one full share. I probably need to do some spring cleaning on my Roth IRA, while I'm busy changing passwords on my accounts.
Oh yeah, equity in the house has pushed past 70%! It boggles me how I can be paying over $700 principal per month on a small house in a "thriving metropolitan area" and yet accrue equity oh so slowly. Eight years ago we were at 65% equity.
My birthday's coming up and I can't bring myself to buy myself a present because of the $1092.79 on the credit card. The only person who talks about my b-day is my son who tells me I should go up to B.C. and have a good time. Last time we did that, for his birthday, he complained and still complains about the 20 whole minutes we spent at one of the greatest independent record stores in North America, at his father's request. We didn't spend over $100 there, so I don't know what the big deal was.
Maybe renewing the Costco membership will be the birthday present. The sales flyers don't do anything for me: I'd rather have a dead cheap 10lb bag of quinoa than leather furniture, 54oz tubs of coconut oil rather than a bulk assortment of KIND or CLIF bars...
I may abandon the 52-week Savings Challenge. The oral surgery that led to the cat's dismal prognosis usurped my future savings and dispelled any grand 20th anniversary notions I may have had. For weeks 13 and 14 I moved the savings to the Roth IRA to take advantage of the AAPL purchase.
Incidentally, right now my total debt equals the mortgage amount we took out in September 2011. I feel that one debt is going to be eradicated within a year in one swoop, perhaps two or three.
This doesn't include what's extant on the credit card.
I calculated the interest on our mortgages: over twenty-four and a half years we'll have paid $152,599.06. Over fifteen years we've paid $134,299.22. Calculation of cumulative interest for original 30-year mortgage is $240,739.28. I'm keeping these numbers in mind so I don't feel terrible about extending some debt to maintain lower monthly payments.
The latest company to vex me is Paypal. I wanted to donate to Rare Ideas LLC for its Portable Apps Bundle as requested. I was prompted, when donating through PayPal, for the last four digits my SSN and date of birth, which I supplied, but PayPal demanded more than what I'm willing to give an online "payment transfer agent" that can't process or recognize my date of birth and SSN. So I emptied my account and am looking at DogeCoin, LiteCoin, BitCoin and GoogleWallet, among others. If you need to know specifics I'd had the account for over seven years, never had more than $25, and had a total of four transactions over those seven years, none of them with "sanctioned" or "forbidden" countries, all of them donations or shareware payments under $10 USD, no guns no porn no knives no plutonium etc. So none of this IRS declaration or maximums being reached, or withdrawal monthly limits hit problems that sour many other relationships with PayPal.
Still sour about cat expenses.
Eating down the pantry and freezer, so to speak. Fridge looks bare except for condiments and Bob's Red Mill grain bags (Flaxseed, Cornmeal). Tried some Lentils with Salmon: tasty with thyme, leeks and red vinegar. Groceries for the month of March cost $512.38
GEICO Insurance put a 8.5"x11" glossy double-sided insert in my Berkshire Hathaway annual report on how I could "score big savings" on my car insurance. Only after a "No" response do I see the tiny print on how some discounts are not available in all states. There is a maximum of discounts applicable to policies. How vexatious.
What a waste of advertising.
Worse, the "speshulist" I spoke with couldn't give me an average annual premium for my vehicle's age, make and model for someone in my city. Later found all that on the internet. I'm paying $388 less than average, but that feels like a lot.
Anyone want to be a co-conspirator for an April Fool's Day prank on the Saving Advice forums "is ---- a scam" board? If you think the MLM thread that won't die is ridiculous, maybe consider dreaming up a MLM scheme and pretending we're all millionaire founding partners. After all, most of them are lying, and it's for one day...
I've entered contests for the first time since I was a tweener reading "16" Magazine. Friday's a deadline for many of them.
This week: Games Magazine Crypto Twist contest. Movie quotes and cryptograms, how could I resist? Grand prize: $100
PBS Masterpiece: Four days in London. My friend and I are trying to get to London as cheaply as possible. I might spring for travel to Toronto, then London England, but that's as pricey as I get.
Newegg.com: Every prize, grand to fifth, would be useful in my House of Nerds.
Valpak Clean Up Cash Sweepstakes. $500 for one stamp, not too shabby.
Commented on VerityMom.com, didn't get the $5 Starbucks gift card I was looking for.
I've found eight sweepstakes websites, varying in value and promise. Some require FB "likes" and those I won't go for.
Making this short and sweet. Use "sweepstakes ends February 28, 2014" very soon.
Hockey Night in Canada commentator, former Boston Bruins coach, and Canadian legend Don Cherry turns 80 on Wednesday, February 5. He'll be dealing with Russian security and perogies then so I posted his guest blog entry early.
SO ME AND THE BOYS WERE having a few pops, eh? And we're thinkin' "We're gonna get some medal this year, how about that?" and gettin' all excited and everythink like dat. Gotta show some love for our boys and girls out in Sochi, ya know? And then I read this Sochi Challenge thing and boy oh boy, I gotta tell ya it's a beaut! $5 for gold, $3 for silver, and those loonies for bronze, eh? Gotta like that.
So smarten up and stay away from the cheap beer and lottery kiosks, kids! Put that money in your RRSP, or GIC, or BTO, or Nickelback or Deadmau5, I dunno.
Lemme tell you 'bout Sochi. Now, I got some dame yappin' in my ear about how Canada women are gonna take gold again, I say, hey sister, it's not a sure thing dere, and besides, those Rooskies don't take to our athletes smokin' cigars and havin' a few pops onna ice, like they do in your greenie-scenie hippieland Vancouver!! Ya know we got good Canadian kids out there, sweatin', workin' real hard, flattenin' those namby-pamby finesse Euro players, but we got some unknown quantities refereein'. We keep playin' the Yankee Doody Dandles, and eventually, eventually they get to where they're almost as good as us except when most of our dames are onna rag, throwin' in that extra period (ha! Good one!) and then well, it's a line brawl, show's over, and get'em next time. So, maybe some evenness there, ya know?
And what da heck are the Japanese doin' playin our game?! Do we send our women out there as sumo wrestlers, play their go-checkers and stuff like that?
This one Canadian woman I know, good girl from Ottawa, she went over there, all 1.78 metres of her and scared the Japanese half to death! I have it on good authority that the Canadian and the Japanese women's teams aren't playing hockey against each other. Good thing too. Can't have the game interrupted every three minutes with some medic team resuscitatin' a player when the Canadian women come after 'em on the ice! God forbid this be in Detroit, where some Red Wings fan throws an octopus on the ice and a Japanese defenseperson skates over to collect it for a snack!
But the guys. I gotta tell you we got the greatest guys in the universe. THE GREATEST. It's up only to the unknown quantities refereein', makin' some wacky calls, and the home advantage for Datsyuk, Malkin and Ovi, they're gonna be doin' some grandstandin'. Don't be like that, kids. Smarten up! Use up all that extra rink space! The Rooskies ain't gonna be standin' around dreamin' about beet-flavoured ice cream while Lemieux and Gretzky flash by them, they've learned somethin' since then, eh? And they don't have that BreezeGlove guy in net freakin' out and calling us "uncaged gorillas."
So this Sochi medal savings prediction, I got $97, which is what now, $108 US? No? Other way around? Add 32, divide by 9 multiply by 5 ah fuggedit. Geez. $88 US. or $108 Cdn if you use US dollars for your savings challenge.
Anyway, I probably will regret interrupting this savings blog, I'm feelin' queasy already, but I did it anyway and I'm gonna treat myself to a good Canadian beer. THUMBS UP! LET'S GO!
Sure, it doesn't look healthy, unless you believe animal fats and protein are key to surviving winters (I do, stews are a hug from the inside). I admit the pasta representation is heavy here, but I'm using up what I have. And I have two vegetarian dishes.
Sunday: Macaroni-Beef Casserole
Sweet and Sour Lentils, Gourmet Succotash w/homemade chicken stock (Nourishing Traditions, Fallon)
Pappardelle with Peppers and Sausage - (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
Veal Stew with Sage and White Wine (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
Chicken Pot Pie? Chicken Noodle Soup? Something with Chicken Leftovers
Prosciutto and Cream Sauce over Fettuccine (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
Fried Tidbits of Swordfish or Other Fish (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
Tomato-free Spaghetti Sauce with Spaghetti
Pork Sausages with Black-Eyed Peas and Tomatoes (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
Baked Fillet of Sole With Tomato, Oregano And Hot Pepper (Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
Bok Choy and Tofu Noodle Bowl
Baked Salmon with Mayonnaise and Rice Vinegar
Link - Ten Items You Should Always Stock Up On
We haven't yet gone to Costco this year, haven't yet renewed our membership. We're waiting to build up our grocery budget reserves, and to be out of five staples before we go. Coffee is one of those items, and it's apparently pretty cheap to get through Amazon. Amazon Prime Membership is $79 a year versus $65 a year for Costco, no pushing a cart past people, no ten minute wait at checkout, no hassle trying to find a parking spot a mere 200 yards from the store... Costco isn't that far from our house, a mere fifteen minute drive.
OF COURSE the day I think of getting Amazon Prime the company thinks of upping the annual cost from $79 to $99 or even $119. I'm compiling a list of things I usually get at Costco, or even at Vitamin places or department stores, their average or latest prices, how often I buy them, and how much they cost on Amazon. If I end up saving $150 despite Amazon Prime, I'll jump. But if I were dozens of miles from a Costco, this'd be a no-brainer.
This week's honoured cookbook, on loan from the library, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.
Monday: Veal al Limone (this time for sure!), Cauliflower w/Garlic, Oil & Chili Pepper (p.172) - all (Essentials, Hazan)
Tuesday: Either Huevos Rancheros or Egg Foo Yung (More With Less, Longacre)
Wednesday: Gourmet Succotash w/homemade chicken stock
(Nourishing Traditions, Fallon)
Thursday: Spinach Soup (Essentials, Hazan)
w/Fried Tidbits of Swordfish
Friday: Rib Eye Steak
Saturday: Peas, Peppers, Prosciutto and Cream (Essentials, Hazan)
Ever ask yourself if you can do better with your household finances? Ever follow up that question with how? Are you blessed with a mind that determinedly does NOT complicate a solution?
For me, two out of three ain't bad.
My credit union reduced its deposit interest rates (boo! hiss!). My reaction to this is that my $$ need better apportioning among: debt, emergency funds, planned expenditures, and investments. I do not expect 2014 to be as splendiferous to my house value and common stock value slopes.
My Money Market Fund is $2500 shorter than it needs to be for its interest rate to bump from 0.05 to 0.10%.
My CDs earn .35%
My math task will be to determine what three options have the best chance to save me more interest and increase my net worth.
$12,547.34 Heloc 12/15/2012 $411.38
$11,499.80 Heloc 12/15/2013 $363.19
$109,034.67 Mortgage 12/1/2012 $4,232.48
$100,535.68 Mortgage 12/15/2013 $3,602.97
$7,568.48 Money Market Account 6/28/2013
$8,800.35 Money Market Account 12/20/2013
0.35 % CDs
0.05 % Money Market Fund
Price of GE Dec 21, 2012: 20.88
Price of GE Dec 20, 2013: 27.36
Price of PG Dec 21, 2012: 68.74
Price of PG Dec 20, 2013: 81.84
Price of WAG Dec21, 2012 37.21
Price of WAG Dec20, 2013 59.04
House Value December 2012: $310000
House Value December 2013: $372500
If you've read this far, and you can handle some whimsy and are of a certain vintage or nationality (you can be American and enjoy this, Americans recorded this, but my experience has been more Canadians than Americans roll their eyes at the opening chords; Americans, stay with the medley for your US-patented content, cued at 2:17), please enjoy Seattle band The Squirrels (no relation to the Chipmunks). No video track, so safe to enjoy.
I've met my 7% principal debt payment goal for this year, time to ratchet the % up to 8% for 2014. I want to refinance our car note down to 1.74% or whatever the prevailing rate is for new. Hoping for 48 month term instead of 60. If not I shall invest the difference.
Winter for me means a monthly gas bill over $110. That's what ours came to for the past month. Not interested in reducing it. I feel, with blankets, newer windows, throws, insulation, and a programmable thermostat, we've done enough. That triple digit just shocks me. Fortunately the bill shrinks by the March statement.
A whole lot of things I want to do differently. Make my blog content more useful and find the useful contents on other blogs would be great. Save enough to buy a new mattress or refinish the wood floors.
Things I did well this year:
* correctly diagnosed executive functioning problem
* reduced car fuel costs by over 40%
* met my goals for debt
* identified my energy leaks
* found and am using effective weight loss and stress reduction routines
* learned to shop at Asian markets for cheap vegetables and fruits
Having a great time saving money on the gas bill making stews, soups and ragouts, but some recipes I underestimate the time and effort for preparation (washing, peeling, chopping vegetables, trimming meat into fatfree cubes). A slow cooker is an ADHD person's dream. About three hours into cooking the food's aroma intensifies. Plus, it is a joy to go to a meats purveyor where the jolly souls educate me and give me good deals ("You want stroganoff? Forget this round steak business, we have ends from tenderloin and strip steak, sell 'em same price as round steak."), cut to any size I want. And their shanks for osso buco are bigger than those found at the supermarket.
It may snow. Just north of Thrifty Ray there is snow. I have a supply of logs, coffee, Kahlua and some hefty reading in case we are snowed in: Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End as I have the Frumious Bandersnatch, er, Benedict Cumberbatch film on hold; a short posthumous book by Canadian David Rakoff; a Kate Atkinson Novel; Agatha Christie's Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and Nick Harkaway's Angelmaker. And Brian Eno's ambient CDs so we don't kill each other.