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Not back to school but books are hit

September 10th, 2015 at 08:47 am

The teachers are striking (and in some cases, unusually fetching har har).
Seriously, I am stumbling into "home schooling" which is little more than:

[*] lurking on teachers' websites, mostly from other school districts, and grabbing links to curriculum topics and exercises in PDF or .ODT or .DOCX form to copy onto the kid's USB drive;
[*] hounding him to read his calculator's manual and play with the features so he's comfortable when the school year starts for real;
[*] speaking to him in French, hoping it'll evolve into conversing with him;
[*] having him journal about and use ADHD coping strategies;
[*] getting books from the library relevant to curriculum topics;
[*] torrenting etextbooks;
[*] acquainting him with the power of apps like RedNotebook; cloud storage like OneDrive and GoogleDrive; mindmapping applications;
[*] screaming at him to get off the freaking game and YouTube websites and have one tab open to Khan Academy.
Today I'll buy him some workbooks and assemble some mechanical pencils so he can start Algebra, and borrow US History books from the library. We have James W. Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me (given to me by my m-i-l, a US teacher) of which the striking history teachers approve. It's more managing and babysitting. Pulling lesson plans every two hours out of my scatterbrain is nothing like teaching so I don't feel like I am scab labour. If anything I'm doing the teachers a big favour by reducing their workload (my kid has an Individual Education Plan and is on the "special" side, neurologically. He's developmentally lopsided at what seems to be a 60 degree angle: college-level reading and vocabulary and performance in oral examination, grade 3 sentence writing and information retention). I feel my contribution'll mean more to his teachers than Starbucks and Top Pot doughnuts contributions.

Magical Saturday

September 5th, 2015 at 02:32 pm

We, not the royal, martyred, sarcastic we but the family plural we, are cleaning. That is magic in itself. I couldn't find the $300 cheque made out to me until I opened a book called _Smart but Scattered_ and there it was, wedged between pages. You rest a spell and let that irony seep in. You see, when there's $300 to be found, I find also motivation to pick up every white piece of paper and determine if I need it or if it can go elsewhere. I also found $33 credit slip to one of my fave used bookstores. In a search for the cheque (I offered a "dessert place of your choice reward" to the finder) the spouse found instead a softcover overdue library book the tot could not bother to remove from an open sack a whole thirty inches away from his internet-obsessed carcass' six-hour parking spot for... twenty-five days. "No, I'm not an addict! Durrrrr. Oooh new gaming video on YouTube. "

We have already splurged on a Rug Doctor rental to clean a rug. A futon cover is in the wash, as we'd like to sell the futon and the coffee table and make a new, minimized household for ourselves.

I chose the old school fill in with pencil home account ledger instead of Mint.com, YNAB, GnuCash or KMyMoney. It won't keep track of my stocks and funds, but do I want to look at that stuff right now? My psyche is fragile.

I am down to below 152 lbs, just a little over 1.5 kg away from my goal weight.

August update

August 1st, 2015 at 06:43 pm

It is hot in BC. My friends are dealing with health issues. Everyone hates the government, but they hated the federal government since always, what's different here is the premier's obsession is Liquid Nitrogen Gas. I don't have my annual twinge-moan of "why don't I live here?" but have instead "I'm so happy I live where I do." I can't vote in either country, but boy is it fun to point to Donald Trump as Someone Else's Problem. People ask me if I've heard about Donald Sutherland's letter to the Globe and Mail. They gripe about the exchange rate.

My greatest friends right now: the US and Canadian border officers. I shuttle back and forth over the 49th parallel with the minor, and they're very casual about asking our relationship. I came back from an afternoon in Lynden, a pioneer town populated by Dutch heritage people, and very sweet people: someone apologized to us for stopping in the crosswalk as we walked (!). We were never in any danger, she was going far below the speed limit.

I'm not in town for the Greenwood Gumshoe, and I last up to three hours now before my auto accident injury complains to me, and I have garden watering duties in BC in the evening, so I am not helping baselle to another great year of winning prizes. Disappointed, because when we're all healthy and painfree, it's fun to walk around with the question sheet solving puzzles and interacting with the other gumshoers. If she wants to ask my spouse for help, he'll help.

I am off my ketogenic diet, but still am trying for low-carb and high-fat. I fit in my bathing suit with no unsightly bulges!

I have a new laptop: 477 GB for $240 US. So that's one savings goal accomplished. My sweetie already installed a network connection to our local wifi, bless him.

Got something to let out, thankfully not my clothes

June 27th, 2015 at 12:51 pm

I've lost a few inches on a low carb, high fat diet, and I didn't even exercise. I was scared at first to check my weight, because the sizes I wear are those reported by those who report a weight I was at just before I gave birth, and the sizes I want to wear are reported by people my height who are around fifteen lbs or seven kilograms or just over a stone less than that. My gut is still bigger than I want it to be though. I'm thinking maybe I should exercise to cut it.

I just learned this week about ketogenic diets, just joined reddit this week and am learning lots.

The healthfulness of the diet I initially found questionable, especially after my messy, scary blood clinic episode. I have since added potassium chloride to my dining table, and put a few shakes of it into my drinking water, and supplement with magnesium. I do miss my toilet-bowl wonders, those daily affirmations I have a healthy colon, though. The body's grabbing its glucose from fat stores and not from ingested carbs, so I let less out than a government or St. Louis Cardinals online database.

I am having more coconut oil, a little more these days. Working up to five tablespoons a day.

For the vegans and high-fat diet fans, a recipe for cold brew coffee with vanilla coconut milk. Low-sugar people, well, maybe do without or reduce the coconut sugar.

It is summer: I feel I must change the landscape of my lawn to get the house ready for sale next year, but I have so little cash and am such a newbie I'm paralyzed by lack of ideas, knowledge and resources.
I may need some help/push in the right direction for where to begin.

A plus: the house now has greater than $300K equity.

The boy received his McDonalds stock funds. I wish the Direct Purchase Plan stocks we have performed better. Slow and steady may win the race but they have to rely on momentum zippers stalling or reversing.

A missed the period momentary panic

June 3rd, 2015 at 10:30 am

I missed the period key when making an online "micropayment" toward the Home Equity Line of Credit this morning. Instead of 4.32 I paid $432.00, or close to six months' principal automated payments.
I had a chance to cancel, but I didn't see the amount clearly (no glasses, little caffeine).

The benefits are that my HELOC is five months closer to being paid off; I have less interest and more principal to pay next billing; my equity, mortgage paid, and principal paid numbers are up. Instead of having an "Oregon zip code" balance outstanding on my house, I have a "Honolulu zip code" balance outstanding.

The HELOC interest rate and term are higher than my car loan's rate and term as well, so I've saved myself some interest, maybe $140.04, or seven months' interest on the car loan. I don't mind so much the automatic $100 withdrawal requirement imposed by my credit union. I know someone who, seven years after borrowing on her HELOC funded by a major bank, is still paying interest and no principal.

My May balances are my June penance

May 29th, 2015 at 02:32 pm

Spent far too much money on food and dining out this month, overspent on most categories. I think the food splurges are because I'm so satiated by the protein shakes I don't think much about what the other two will eat. Or I don't plan the menus and we buy ingredients at the last minute. Or I don't get receipts from someone who takes money out of the ATM and I just assume he's bought lunch for himself with the money while at work. The only categories I haven't overspent are auto, animals, clothing.

The groceries overspending is understandable: I splurged for a 28 lb. "meat package" at a butcher shop, used a coupon, and saved 22%. I won't need animal protein until school lets out.

I made some Homemade Foaming Soap just now, with lemon oil and vegetable glycerin.

Of interest only to snafu: I just learned my constitutional right to vote has been returned to me. I'm going to fill out the forms, get my ballot I hope in time for the election, and then exercise my subsequent right to complain if the results are not to my liking. Also, when canvassers in front of supermarkets ask me if I'm registered to vote I can say "yes!"

of probably no interest: I started reading (and watching) Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and I think it'd have been funnier if the war England was fighting in the book was the one in the New World. Strange's magic could be confounded by Ojibway or Oneida shamanism, Mr Norrell could grapple with the dilemma of restoring magic to respectability in England by helping the war effort, or saving the Library of Congress from burning by the British soldiers in 1814. I love Eddie Marsan in the BBC miniseries: he gives Norrell some emotional depth and expressions of pride & pain. In my head I imagined some cranky Ned Sparks intellectual.

Tech Money Pit: Bought a new printer

May 3rd, 2015 at 06:02 pm

So rough when the printer refuses to function on the weekend. Our Canon PIXMA coughed up a B200 error, which I'd seen before and corrected, but when we followed the same correction procedure, shutting off the printer, leaving it unplugged overnight, cleaning the printhead and drying it naturally, we had no joy, and customer support was off for the weekend. We suspect it was a damaged printhead and replacing it would be $100+ with tax and shipping. I'm sure Canon support'd just tell us to return it and get a discount for a new printer. Now that I read Amazon reviews for our dead printer I see that lamenting it is like when I attended a pet grief support for the loss of my 19-year-old cat. "It was 19! Did you think it'd live forever?" Two years is the lifespan of that printer. We did not know.

I found a better method of satisfaction. And no, no baseball bats were used.

I went to Consumer Reports 'Library Subscriber' site, looked at the home printers tested and rated, checked Office Depot website to learn it is having a Small Business sale with lots of printers on sale, and then visited our nearest Office Depot store.

Four of our shortlist models were available for poking, analyzing, price comparing. When we learned we could save an additional $50 for bringing our Pixma in for recycling, we decided saving $150.00 on an Epson WP-4630 retailing offsale for $299.99 was the way to go. But before that it was a tough decision among the Epson, the HP 8620 OfficeJet Pro, an Epson Expression 820, and a Brother MFC-J6720DW (I hope I got that right) Printer ink cartridges cost $101.00 (gaaah!) but they'll last a long while.

The Epson printer came with a CD for installing interface and drivers, but it works for Windows only.

My ginger bug is fizzing and smelling yeasty-sweet! Soon I can begin using it for homemade ginger ale! I wish I'd thought to ask the universe for a kombucha scoby. Maybe next week.

Half-interesting end of month post

March 31st, 2015 at 03:55 pm

It's already April 1 in Japan, Australia, and everywhere east of Sweden.

Despite putting $200 in stocks this month, I am behind the beginning of March for that category. Overall assets gained $403.18 from beginning of March. Cash assets increased by $1869.79. Debt went down by $1138.07.

Money Market Account up $453.53. I have a hidden cache of reserve funds for mortgage and car payments (monthly), car insurance (semiannual) and motorcycle (annual), so tomorrow, on the West Coast's 1 April, my Money Market Account will look like it's up by $1502.51.

As an aside, I would really like it if agencies and entities, entreating people to enter dates like "02-02-2015", would use a clarifying example such as either "02-24-2015" (obviously mm/dd/yyyy) or "mm/dd/yyyy". "02-02-2015" does not help people like me distinguish between dd/mm/yyyy and mm/dd/yyyy styles of entry.

My Car Loan principal balance, tomorrow, will be less than half of the original loan. It'll be the halfway point of the end of the loan, if I don't pay it all off beforehand, and I do plan to pay it all off beforehand. This $282.21 monthly expense is messing our tight budget over, especially when DH's employer wants him to pay for gas and coffee and lunch. Having him work at home was so much cheaper.

My mortgage interest paid since September 2011 will be half of the total amortized interest over the twelve-year term. The total interest I pay from April 2015 to September 2023 will equal the amount of interest I paid from September 2011 to March 2015. Isn't that crusty?

GnuCash 2.6.6 was released March 30. Minutes after I asked on Twitter how to configure reports for printing, I read documentation on how to configure budget reports for printing. That is how I roll, along with the tumbleweeds.

Oh yes, sending an echo of gratitude to the SA blog commentator who shared the Roast Chicken with Lemon Halves and Rosemary Crammed Under the Skin and Up the Cavity recipe. I prepared it again on Sunday and we love how tender the chicken meat is.

Out of budget bounds by $358 and the month's not done yet.

March 27th, 2015 at 03:33 pm

Budget:

Good
thirteen cents under for Animals.
thirty-three cents under for clothes.
fifty-eight cents under for Hobbies.
eighty-one cents under for Gifts.
$117 under for Entertainment. Attributed to free movie tickets my son either won or earned, YouTube, and heaps of DVD box set library holds coming to us.
$30 under for Supplies.

Money market account finally back above $10000, so we now earn the penultimate weakest interest rate. Progress.

Bad
$28 over for dining, which I upped already for the dinner out earlier in the month.
forty-five cents over for phone service.
$15 over for gifts: postage for overseas correspondence and domestic stamps, before learning we still have over a dozen domestic staps.
$163.42 over for auto. Did not budget for license renewal and car tabs renewal, together summing to $191.75 when they took me by surprise.

Indifferent
Mortgage payment processed a few days ahead of schedule. Fine. Good to know I can wait in excess of five weeks, and three pay periods, before paying mortgage for May. That will redirect $1000 to our Islands Getaway.

$279.49 over for interest (mortgage)
$288.11 over for taxes (real estate)
$201.60 invested in stocks that have since depreciated in value.

My budget for April will be different. It won't have $1356.82 going toward real estate tax, mortgage interest, house insurance, and principal payment.

I have eighty dollars remaining in the food budget until March 31. I average $17/day for groceries for three people, and our frozen animal protein takes up most of our freezer space so I anticipate half of the eighty dollars going to dairy, grains and vegetables.

I have paid over thirty dollars in excess principal to reduce monthly interest on our HELOC and car loans.

True confession: I struggle with my budget because my family and I never plan weekly meetings, never chart in the open our budget, and frankly I don't know how to markedly increase cash flow without spending more money or stealing outright (which I will not do, surveillance is everywhere and my conscience, although selective, is cruel and unrelenting) or disposing of household members. Our budget parameters are strict as they are. I don't know where to look online for meaningful savings. I mostly see "deals" for consumer or processed food items I don't buy.

Hodgepodge Equinox

March 21st, 2015 at 02:26 pm

I nearly forgot my password. Eight attempts, then attending to some other tab on my browser I notice the caps lock is on. I toggle caps lock off, type by finger memory on the qwerty keys rather than the number pad keys, and I am in!

The etymology of the word equinox is not related to horses. Discuss.

The meaning of the word discuss is somewhat related to the word discus in that there is tossing around going on. Discuss.

- 10 Smart Ways to Save $ on Clothes http://lifehacker.com/top-10-smart-ways-to-save-money-on-clothes-1692775219 Yes, I was surprised that "buy sweatshop-made clothes with midrange or budget-class department store or chain fashion stores for 16-25 y.o. females tags from a thrift or consignment store" was not one of the smart ways to save money on clothes.

- Negotiate Your Bills with the Silent Treatment http://twocents.lifehacker.com/effectively-negotiate-your-bills-with-the-silent-treatm-1691608228 Has this worked for you? If yes, how?

I received a Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offer. Does anyone have experience with this card? According to one review on NerdWallet
this doesn't have foreign transaction fees.



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.

February budget report

March 3rd, 2015 at 09:36 am

$12.99 interest income, whee.

Principal Reductions
Car: 8190.86: 3.4% difference
House: 89435.4: 0.84% difference
Heloc: 10226: 0.08034% difference

Bad
Spent $55.17 on books, budgeted for $20.
Spent $71.18 on clothes, budgeted for $40.
Spent $145.01 on Miscellaneous, budgeted $76.90

Indifferent
Spent $46.84 on interest, budgeted for $330.61 -- carried over to March.

Good
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.

A snowflake!

February 11th, 2015 at 11:21 am

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.

At last, payday

January 24th, 2015 at 05:19 pm

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).

For the next week

January 18th, 2015 at 02:56 pm

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
- Salmon
- 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'll get there, but where is there?

January 4th, 2015 at 04:58 pm

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.




yay eighth anniversary of blog tomorrow

June 1st, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I have loosened up on the stinginess from this first quarter. I have signed up DS for school district music camp. The city animal shelter has dinged me $27 for not renewing my pet license on time.

We saw baselle on Memorial Day, as we walked past her bus stop.

I chicken out of paying extra to the HELOC and car loan every time I log on to my credit union account. In their 1935 short "Thicker Than Water," Mr. Laurel suggests to Mr. Hardy that the whole savings account be emptied to pay off the furniture, after Squinty-Eyed Mr. Finlayson, their greatest comic foil, comes by demanding the dough for delayed payment.
Mr. Hardy thinks emptying the account is a grand idea, Mrs. Hardy does not, but gives no reason. Mr. Hardy is emancipated, no 4'9" woman with a frying pan and a mean swing is going to tell HIM what to do, so he empties out the joint savings account. He walks into an auction, sits by a woman who wins her bid on a grandfather clock. She has no money! She has to run home and get it but won't Ollie be a gentleman and cover her for a little while? Ollie does.
The grandfather clock is demolished owing to stupidity, because this is a Laurel & Hardy short. Mrs. Hardy goes to the bank, learns that her spouse empties it out. Angrier than a wet hen, Mrs. Hardy is.
Her domestic violence against her spouse sends him to the hospital, presumably for a subdural hematoma (that frying pan made a massive gong noise) yet a blood transfusion is required (dunno, lots of these shorts are heavy on gags and light on scenario continuity).

Okay, I can see kinda why emptying one account to pay off a loan, leaving today's $200 for the month, is a bad idea. But I'm still hesitant to pay anything more than $20 biweekly toward the debts. The "What Ifs" for my son's teeth, cat's eventual euthanasia, furniture, budgeting for car repairs (warranty expired April 2014), and home maintenance loom large in my scenario. I'm not worried about domestic violence. If domestic violence hasn't happened in twenty years it'll be an sign of dementia that'll bring it on if at all.

End of Month Summation

April 30th, 2014 at 12:23 pm

No surprise, kitty's surgery took our monthly expenditure 10.2% beyond the takehome pay.
Equity is way up, about 1.7% over thirty days.

Next month is a triple paycheque month. I hope I can save the extra paycheque for things like 20th anniversary celebration, new mattress, debt paydown. I would, in fact, like to put some of it toward an investment to help us save even MORE money. Maybe neon jackets and saddlebags for bicycling, revive the garden now that I can go into my own backyard again; screen windows so no flies get in. Maybe $ for a written license test for the scooter. The credit card payoff is the highest priority. Hate carrying a balance. Hauling crap to the waste terminal.

Eating out took a lot of our budget too: my birthday, celebrating 70% equity in the house, a two-day sports competition fifty miles north, with four mouths to feed both days. I did pack some spring water and protein bars. Fuel cost doubled as a result. On the other hand, my grocery bill is 20% less than average.

I'm reading a splendid book on being thrifty: Be Thrifty: How to Live Better With Less compiled by Pia Catton and Califia Suntree. Its do-it-yourself articles are by a panoply of experts, with illustrations and clear instructions for acquiring the "skills" touted in online articles. Especially useful for the first-time homeowner. Plus lots of recipes. I'm hoping to save enough using these tricks and making other adjustments to pay for a new mattress. Also looking forward to making my own mayonnaise. I've been reading Elizabeth David, and even sixty years ago there were people like me who had no idea what fresh homemade mayonnaise tastes like.

In dead pool news I have an eighteen-point score in the pool with no profit.

Whale Aisle Beef Hooked

March 24th, 2014 at 09:55 am

Blindsided by WhiteCat's tooth malady. Could be abscess, could be infection, $52 for an observation yielding no real answers, looking at $300 for dental X-rays, more money for antibiotics, before even any blood panel & surgery. None of this was budgeted.

Thinking of how to pay for this. The cats went in for vaccination to a real vet this time, pricier than the mobile vet clinic that visited a supermarket (vacated our area) we used, so there's $413 to pay first for their shots.

I am still obsessing about reducing the debt, to have it re-amortized or consolidated. Every time I pick up a surprise invoice, or learn of an upcoming county-wide vote to raise motorized vehicle registration fees I fret. I fret because we cannot, will not cut back more than a dollar from my monthly budget. We scrimp on heat, car fuel, food, clothing, restaurants, household goods and entertainment. I use coupons and a price book. I make many concoctions and recipes from scratch, plus I check the priced-to-sell-today bins at supermarkets for meats and fish.

I'm not asking for budget help because I'll only stymie those who think the only budget savers are cancelling phone plans (we don't have one), ditching the landline (done), ending gym memberships and magazine subscriptions (none) and saying goodbye to cable television (haven't had it since January 1999). Pitching the obvious ideas from the lamebrain mass media articles will be fruitless.

My options so far:
1. Liquidate my 52-week savings challenge.
2. Use emergency fund.
3. Carry balance on credit card.

Options for either the car or HELOC. Metals & stocks are sliding like mud in Oso/Arlington.
1. Do nothing.
2. Stick to slow debt-reduction plan ($31.79/month snowball).
3. Learn how to use goal-seek and what-if scenarios in Excel to determine what combination of prepayment & consolidation is optimal.

End of month report

February 28th, 2014 at 02:32 pm

Oh like you care.

Challenges and updates

February 25th, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Week 8 52-week Saving Challenge: $21. Now that Sochi Saving Challenge is done with I can save amounts greater than $20 per week.

Don Cherry Quietly Reflects on Sochi
I CALLED IT, DIDN'T I? EXTRA PERIOD IN WOMEN'S GOLD GAME, MEN BRINGING HOME GOLD, DEFEATING EURO PLAYERS! ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR UNCLE DON! OFF BY ONLY $3 IN YANKEE DOODY DANDLE DOUGH! LET'S GO!

So with my Sochi money I'm buying exercise gear: stretchy pants and perhaps a monthly pass to a swimming pool or community centre gym.

A not quite bold move: put $4 to HELOC balance, $12 to Car Loan for first pay period of Debt Acceleration. The only people who don't dislike five-digit debt balances are the people who've recently slid down from six-figure debt balances. This should save me a solid three cents in interest.

The woman who neglects her neurotic, large loud dogs (hint: one of them is an attention-hungry breed that requires exercise) is moving. YAY YAY YAY!

Son is noticing rise in precious metals. He's very good at reporting expenditures that I may otherwise have missed. Now that silver is rising he wants some.

What to do with tax refund? My options:
Put $1155 into Money Market Account to sextuple the interest I'm getting currently, then liquidate a CD to put toward debt;

Put $1135 - $1200 in any combination toward the HELOC and Car Loan. No move will give me the instant high of dropping down to four figures; refinancing the car isn't going to bring the monthly amount down.

Remainder will go to us, to be used for Boy Achievement Adventures, Emerging from Man Cave Adventures, and Geek Girl Undertakings.

Hey Hey Hey It's Hesitance Day!

February 17th, 2014 at 01:08 pm

Taxes are done, filed. I passed on the Amazon giftcard because I was afraid I'd err and end up putting all my refund in the giftcard. Ditto on the I-Bonds. Lost internet four times this weekend and was afraid of anything getting lost, or resubmitted.

Return monies potentially allocated thusly:
* one Raspberry Pi
* x% of outstanding HELOC paid, where range(x) is 4-6%
* x% of outstanding car debt paid, where range(x) is 5-7%

It would feel delicious to see those balances down to four-digit figures before the end of the year


*Rest of $$ for family

More importantly, I am at the magic point where we have 3 months living expenses in our liquid assets. My plan now is to put 1/5 of the surplus aside for investing, where anticipated gains > 6.5%, and 3/5 toward debt repayment, and the remaining 1/5 to the assets for inflation creep or Savings Challenge. The plan for this executes 21 February 2014, when the credit cards are balance-free.

Menu planning:
Franks Paprikash
Fried Tidbits of Swordfish or Other Fish
Baked Fillet of Sole with Tomato, Oregano and Hot Pepper
Eat whatever day
Beanie Weenies
Chicken Tarragon Spaghettini
Veal al Limone
Coconut Lamb Curry

We will have eaten down most of the freezer meat by payday. I have the money for our next great meatmarket venture in the Money Market Account. Only with extreme planning can I get our monthly grocery spending below $600. I use coupons, price book and check for meat markdowns.

Reserved

February 7th, 2014 at 10:58 am

Enh, my triple-checked predictions for the next two weeks' spending sees us with $26, yes, $26, remaining from one two-week paycheque.

I deposited $38 for Week 6's challenge. More of that in an upcoming post.

I'm considering not eating out FOR DINNER on Valentine's Day. We've been doing fine abstaining from eating in crowded restaurants with steak au poivre, potatoes Anna prepared at home. I may attempt profiteroles. Someone's given my husband a red Cabernet Sauvignon from a local winery, so there's $7-$8 savings for 52-Week Savings Challenge Week 7. Not eating out will save us $75 minus the cost of steak and potatoes ($20), so $55. But my romantic one is taking next Friday off, so we have to think of some cheap, close-to-free ways of enjoying time together. I can think of some bistros or wine bars that offer Chinook Book discounts. I could let him have some funds to get a refurbished watch as a Valentine's Day present.

The car loan, 45 months to go, wasn't so bad before the clarinet rental, and hikes in property tax, utilities, phone tax, insurance (car, not home). Sometimes I think of bold ways to deal with the car loan. The bold options I still play with:

Sell some precious metals.
Throw the car loan into the HELOC.
Refinance for yet another 12-year loan (it's fee free) rolling the HELOC in there. This is the stupidest move because it assumes we still want to live here, but aren't many bold moves stupid?

The milquetoast option I do, because I'm timid and lazy:
shave a wee bit from what's left over to debt. And I'm touched enough in the head to not want to do that because my debt total right now is $122,222.00. See how pretty those twos are? They look like Zs, and I sure could use some Zs.

I do immediately reject solutions that require paying more interest in the long run. That doesn't mean they don't sneak back in.

I feel like I am sitting on my hands and bouncing in my seat waiting for the magic graph coordinates of liquid assets equaling debts plus emergency fund. That won't come until May, with the triple paycheque month and our heating bill cut in half.

Here's a question, for anyone with GEICO car insurance: do you enjoy a "credit score" discount? We have such a discount on our home insurance, but not for car...

January Spending Notes

January 30th, 2014 at 11:00 am

1. Bought AAPL. Feeling fortunate that my cheques cleared AFTER the 9.5% price drop.

2. Total Spending: $5180.86. Income is about $1000 less than that. I am including the investing dollars as spending, however. Otherwise, I'd be even.

3. Overbudget: Charitable, Cats (food, flea medication, litter, vaccinations), Investing.

4. Underbudget: Entertainment, Fuel, Groceries, Restaurant, Household Goods. Food is currently 17% underbudget, which is severe, as I haven't purchased much meat and am making more of an effort to cook with legumes.

5. $215 surplus so far, I have two days to go and a self-imposed spending limit of $25/day, so really $165 budget surplus, excluding the Roth and Coverdell contributions. How to divide the $165: use $33 for 52-week savings challenge, $132 carries through to next month. Maybe I'll try seeing how living on $19/day for groceries feels.

My asset totals will be down from the beginning of the year: annual winter house value slump; market slough; investing; insurance.

February expectations: Home Maintenance expenditure, no "catch-up" repayment of credit card; night out at a GOOD restaurant (table service, cloth napkins, wine list).

Minutiae

January 28th, 2014 at 04:30 pm

Minutiae, btw, is a DYNAMITE Scrabble Brand Crossword game word, especially if you have five vowels on your rack.

I just realized that this month is the first month in perhaps five or eight I have had more than a day of a zero balance on my credit card. I usually (97.5% of the time) pay my statement in full, but have some sort of balance. My big expenditures of semiannual car insurance and utilities eclipsed the post-holiday credit card payoff activity.

Also, it just occurred that the Canadian dollar is below ninety American cents, so the toll bridge charges, even with the obnoxious "invoice processing fees" no British Columbians warned me about, will be less than expected. Yay!

This year, when something unusually terrific happens like meeting fun people, or receiving a compliment, or succeeding at something, or enjoying a new activity, I write it down with the date on a slip of paper and put it in a jar. So when maybe I am feeling like I am wasting time on this planet in this body, I go to the jar and read things. Today I entered a slip of getting to speak my second language with both a native speaker and someone struggling to learn the language. Seattle's notorious for freezingly polite and very withdrawn people, it's hard to make friends here if one isn't gregarious, so this was a brilliant moment for shy, withdrawn me, happening upon this couple. We did not speak entirely in the second language, we were all aware someone in our group wasn't multilingual, but sprinkling a phrase here and there was so glorious and exhilarating. I don't mean to give the impression that communicating in my first language all the time here is a drag, it definitely is not and is a superb convenience, but the serendipity of starting a surprising conversation with strangers in an unlikely area in a language one is rusty in... oh, so sweet, so miraculous, so rare.

I fell into the Overthinking Pit this week.

January 24th, 2014 at 09:49 am

Finances are complicated. I am posting only facts. Perceptions may differ. My goal is to shift to a growth mindset from a fixed mindset, and the shift is not instantaneous, nor smooth. Think of a spastic, ADD person learning to drive on a stickshift 1980 Mercury Capri: that's me approximating my path to "where everyone else seems to be."

I attempt to eat down the pantry but can't resist seafood sales and deep discount whole bean coffees. My "eat down the pantry challenge/buy on sales" activity is averaging $20/day.

We thought, errrrr, hoped, that jaunting across BC's tolled Port Mann Bridge with out of the country plates in August 2013 would give us a free pass. We thought wrong. $21.20 due in February.

Son's PC has issues. Our options: replace the motherboard at $150; buy a Raspberry Pi and share the PC w/boy (I don't really want Steam installed though).

I've spent some days wondering how I can manage this week's savings challenge. I saved myself fifty cents "miscoding" items into the self-checkout kiosk. Saved a dollar "forgetting" to pay for parking at a meter. Did I deny myself a treat thinking "I can't afford it/don't need it" this week? Yes. Does that count, or is it negated 3x by the "Ugh I got out of bed w/o breakkie or coffee because boy's alarm didn't sound so now I need an espresso when I drop him off"? That kind of overthinking.

I feel like this:


My worst financial weeks, mentally and emotionally, are in late July and late January, when the tsunami of car insurance and bimonthly utilities crashes into my pocketbook. (Ha! See what I did there? Fukusima? Tsunami? Fukuppy?) It doesn't feel like saving when I know hundreds more than a biweekly paycheque are due all in one short week. I SEE that the insurance premium accumulated in the Money Market Account, and the MMA balance grew every month. It STINGS when that money leaves, no matter how rational a purpose.

I'm still positive on my monthly budget for January though, despite overspending on clothes, charity and transportation.
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It's not evident from my post, but Fukuppy is the brand mascot for Fukushima.

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I put $800 instead of $1200 or $1500 toward stocks. Turns out I had a wee bit of cash in each account, and today's slide was precipitous. Even my child knew of today's market dip: apparently he looks up his stock holdings on someone else's iPad on the school bus.
More levelheaded today, but making tomorrow's 52-week savings challenge deposit an arbitrary figure

Today's Spending

January 16th, 2014 at 07:24 pm

First off, I was gobsmacked to save an additional $5 off clearance-priced microfleece pajamas today. More like $5.45, for the tax saved too. I did spend on nonessential items, like dinner between our son's possible new school tour (more on that in a future post, because it's budget-impacting) and my husband's "film" appreciation group, and some donuts with coffee while we jointly worked on a Thursday themed NY Times crossword.

Plus, we are selling items! The clarinet mentioned in the previous post, MS Office Ultimate 2007, and MS Visual Studio. I'll use half of the proceeds from Office either for the Tax Prep Software (oh how I miss the days of the synthpop, Sprite, and potato chips with calculator and sharp pencils and scratch pad!!) or to bless on a community radio donation and feed my child's transit card, or something else.

I may go the envelope route with cash. I don't have the "freeze or cut up your cards" relationship with credit, but this year, with increased utilities and local taxes, I find our car loan "itchy" and if I think about what percentage of our takehome pay goes to car insurance, gas, oil changes, plate tabs, and payment my teeth grind. None of the women in our debt group likes our loans, all of us bought within ten months of each other. My strategy for paying off while maintaining an emergency fund AND reaching savings goals is being developed. A tactic may involve chaos magick.
But back to the envelopes. I may ask paper crafters if they have spare envelopes, and print out a template for each everyday expense budget category. Then what I could do at the end of each week is see what's leftover from each, and collect from them into a deposit envelope for the 52-week saving challenge.


Deadbeat Kindle Reads, plus Budget Drawback

January 15th, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Today on Money Saving Mom I lucked into a time-limited offer of free licenses for Kindle eBooks. Titles I downloaded include Frugal Living: Powerful How To Advice on Living Frugal..., Dirt Cheap Organic, Paleo for Beginners and The Ketogenic Diet. I don't have a Kindle but downloading Amazon's Kindle-for-PC application was completely free, without adware, and fast.

I also visited my favourite drug store for amazing deals ($3.30 savings per toothpaste tube) on Tom's of Maine toothpaste. Adding $7.60 (two tubes) to the 52-week Saving Challenge.

I slipped a bit: we got the fundraiser Guest Bartender date wrong last night so we consoled ourselves with dessert takeout from the supermarket. Sugar doesn't do me any favours, but with 1200mg alpha lipoic acid daily intake I can handle an eclair or half a Pop-Tart without waking all sweaty in the dark. So I had an eclair. I did wake a few times with weird, weird dreams ("oh look! a human corpse. Someone should clean that up."). I walked it off today.
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I froze some orange peels earlier in the year. Today I took some out for thawing: half are in a jar of vinegar for cooking use; I will scatter orange peels around my food plate because we have a lazy, greedy cat who lurks on a dining chair ALL DAY, and gets belligerent when we eat. The peels will repel her. If I can manage some vodka, I could extract oil from the remaining peels to use in the bath. When I can manage the cash to buy a microplane grater, I have additional uses for them. Orange peels are good to use as kindling or to throw in a fire. Here are more ways of using orange peels around the home.
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Update for Sadness: My son's complained a few times about the $40 clarinet we bought him in August. We brought it to a local instrument shop for possible repair, but were advised that abandoning it and renting would be the better way to go. My child has a concert next week. We are back to renting, but it's $8/month cheaper than where we last rented. We agreed on some pad protectors (my child paid for those) and a cleaning case (the woman wasn't up for haggling with the $22.13 cash I had with me).

Payday Frolics

January 10th, 2014 at 05:46 pm

Deadbeat Follies

Turned in one empty 12 oz bag of Starbucks Coffee for a free 12 oz drip, and hubby used his gift card from work for Starbucks for a break time. We bought flour, vanilla and cane sugar.

Estimating we'll spend close to $600 on groceries, having spent $199 over the past eleven days. I was tempted to spend more $$, but that would entail getting into the car and driving, so I opted to walk to our nearest supermarket for only bread and milk. I find that walking with reusable bags to Target and our supermarket is a great way to restrict food spending to what we can carry.

This week's 52-Week Saving Challenge Deposit will be ten dollars ($4.98+4.25+0.80, rounded down). Paltry sum, but I know what expenditures lie ahead. At least it's a double-digit sum, and at least the rusty cogitation wheels are creaking with a smidgen of industrial creativity grease.

For decluttering recipes, Susan Pinsky, author of Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD, suggests trying a recipe within a week of receipt. All of the recipes from the backs of food products, printouts from Epicurious, Yummly, about.com, et cetera, are to go into an accordion folder. I tried putting my photocopied recipes in a binder with tabs but the binder was too small. Pinsky recommends tossing cookbooks too but I am not ready for that. Ninety percent of my cookbooks are from the old country. Who tosses out a perfectly usable copy of The New Basics or The Joy of Cooking or The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook?

Link du Jour - How to Live Like a Royal Person, by Thor Harris. Expletive-rich, so not violating any sort of copyright by reposting the whole thing here. Chances are excellent you've used most of Thor's list anyhow.
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Water/sewer/yard waste/recycling bill now $231, because rates have gone up AGAIN. I can't even be all **HULK SMASH** about the rate hike because we're paying $90 less per bill than the typical house, and we ARE the typical house.


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