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End of month report

February 28th, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Oh like you care.

Hey Hey Hey It's Hesitance Day!

February 17th, 2014 at 09:08 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.

January Spending Notes

January 30th, 2014 at 07:00 pm

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).

I fell into the Overthinking Pit this week.

January 24th, 2014 at 05:49 pm

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

Deadbeat Kindle Reads, plus Budget Drawback

January 15th, 2014 at 08:58 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).

First No Spend Day of 2014

January 8th, 2014 at 08:00 pm

Yesterday was our first no-spend day of the year. Finetuned YNAB to include an expense made last year I didn't know about until today, when the charge showed up on the credit card. Electricity bill $26 more than I thought it'd be. With $120 in the account to last two days I feel slightly better, as long as the $98 fee for DS's extracurricular activity and the $40 GE stock purchase don't go through at the same time.
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2014 Resolutions

When Savings + $1800 = Principal of Debts HELOC and Car, pay off lowest debt.
Looking at November 2014 presently as payoff date. Assumptions include 3.7% rise in assets monthly, fifty cents more to car payment each month.
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I am using the shareware "Red Notebook" to journal progress which may not be of interest to you, such as the other challenges for 2014 aside from 52-week Saving Challenge that I found on Lifehacker.com. So far I like it, but I need a robust and sensible metadata framework to keep it uncluttered.
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That Money-Saving Mom's Budget book is brilliant. I thought, snobbishly, that Trent Hamm's book 365 Ways to Save would be ingenious, but no, that Money-Saving Mom's Budget (Crystal Paine I think is the author) is very useful. Lots of aha!s last night just from three pages, which is what I've come to demand now.

2014 A New Year, Possibilities and Aims

January 1st, 2014 at 08:51 pm

Happy New Year! Bonne Annee!

Hey Hey I installed YNAB, having found my Activation Key in my inbox! I set up YNAB so I could enjoy the flexibility of choosing among my accounts for application of my physical savings.

Resolutions As the Year Goes By

Allowing for fluidity of circumstances and thinking!
First up: reducing e-mail accounts to 20 messages maximum in each inbox!

Second: stay away from most newspaper comments, now that I know there are paid trolls to say the stupidest things. "I don't mind paying $12/month maintenance fee at my bank, because I get free coffee!" "That hard-working father's freedom and liberty were threatened by his two-month-old daughter so he should not be charged with shooting her with his 9mm gun!" Those of us who came to the truth of paid trolls too late know there are worse ones. The trolls exist to pump up the page hits and my blood pressure.

Get more eBooks from library, especially for online tutorials for eventual job work.

Meal plan with emphasis on what's in pantry inventory. Today we're having Hoppin' John with kale and sweet potatoes, and then work on yesterday's duck pasta leftovers.

In December I was embarrassed a few times by pulling out coins and wondering if I had at least $2.50 for coffee. It may be time to cut back. I wonder how pack-a-day smokers can handle their budget: I don't even have coffee out more than once a week unless it is special holiday time like now.

I weigh 167.5 lbs. Not terrible, but definitely could trim down 10-15 lbs.

That 365 Ways to Save is pretty bland. Only the health stuff I haven't already set to autopilot.
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Shopped with family at JCPenney: saved $199.20, because we brought a 15% coupon, spending $178 in total. I bought a red acrylic Joe Fresh sweater and a Betseyville turquoise rose-print large bag. I love the sixty-nine cent Anne Klein red purse but I can't fit the price book, emergency ADHD reading material for lines and buses, notebook, calculator, chequebooks, pens, et cetera.

Only tangential to budgeting

June 21st, 2013 at 10:26 pm

I had something immensely long to share, but figure only four of you read this, and only one of you would actually manage the whole thing, therefore I have given it another page. This week, with the return of some bad habits, I find myself incapable of making a decision when all of my options do not rescue me from malaise and discomfort.
Therefore I must identify and label my malaise and remove it momentarily so I can make decisions.

I restarted YNAB, and I'm not doing as badly as I thought. Except the gold and silver declines are an especial gutpunch today.

April update

April 2nd, 2013 at 06:05 pm

Paid $3895.43 in principal over this past quarter.

Started planning in earnest to sell home. Collected boxes and wrapping paper, contacted some plumbers, returning borrowed items to people.

House equity is, for the first time since 2008, at 65%.
Am confident now I can put $200K downpayment on next home. Credit union no longer allows bridge loans, so we will live in extended stay quarters for 2-3 months.

I'd been stewing in frustration and hopelessness for weeks, but this past weekend had some epiphanies in store for me:
- renewed energy with the longer hours
- the UFYH tumblr tag (Unf*ck Your Habitat), easier and more motivating than FlyLady

I have overspent for both February and March. Oddly, I do not much care. Perhaps it is due to the market value rising, or that I expect some short-term fiscal pain between now and the sale of the house. I've budgeted $18000 for keeping up both mortgage and rent, replacing toilet and water heater, staging the house, moving and storage expenses.

Found 64 cents nearby on Friday. Whee!

Yo mama so poor she went into McDonald's...

February 6th, 2013 at 05:11 pm

...and put a milkshake on layaway. That's about how I feel.

$4.00 - That's how much leeway our monthly budget might allow us. Anything more than $4.00 growth in savings accounts, or $4.00 depletion of interest in debt accounts, is gravy. A Very Thin Gravy.
I feel I've gone so far down in saving $ (without spending $$$ for a trickle of a monthly payback) that a severe change is needed. I believe the car loan is responsible, combined with the expiration of the tax cut. Our debt burden is higher than recommended and that unsettles me. Outside Sacramento and the water heater, we have $650 less in savings than what we owe on the Home Equity Line of Credit and the car loan.

I am feeling bugged because we're now, what, one sixth into the month and we've blown 35% of our restaurant budget already.

I have to sell the house in six months or else refinance. I have not yet done our taxes, but I have a gloomy apprehension we will owe even more.

The upsides: we have ten years left to go on our mortgage, we're paying more than twice as much in principal as we do in interest, so lots of equity. Our area has been slower than other Seattle areas for house appreciation though: our equity, after $4400 principal payment, is now what it was six months ago. Still, this is the first year we have seen positive market value appreciation since 2008, so I'll take it. We are using under 25% of our home equity line of credit limit.

Yes, I am tracking our purchases and using coupons. I have a debt group meeting (not Debtors Anonymous, more post-MSN-MoneyCentral-Women in Red) and I'll bring up the subject that I need budget tweaking or more ways to save. If the sale of the house is a sure thing this spring/summer (88% certainty: where we move to depends on how the citizens of Seattle feel about renewing a school building expenditure levy), I need not bother saving for a "vacation" if I have the $$ on hand (or "on wrist" in this case) or for home repairs or home improvement if I'm just going to borrow from the HELOC. That's $155 a month relief right there.

I told one woman in our debt group how I was feeling about my budget and she offered to host a potluck one month in her apartment. I can't host in my house because one woman is allergic to cats, and the last time I hosted everyone was allergic to cats and my cat would NOT leave us alone once he woke up from his nap, screaming when I kept it out of our room, threatening to jump on the lap of the most allergic/fearful member if he and I did not change seats.

$25.00 goes to a CD in an automatic deposit monthly. The payments to the HELOC and the car are automated as well.

More ways to save money:

Try Planned Parenthood. Visit one of these clinics if you need a routine Pap test, a new birth-control prescription, or even a flu shot. Call your local office to find out what services it offers and its fees (which vary from state to state but are often less than a private doctor’s). Most locations accept insurance.

Buy more fruits and vegetables. Research from the American Dietetic Association shows that when families add more produce to their diets, their waistlines get smaller and their food budgets can shrink by 25 percent. This may happen soon, thanks to our current thin budget surplus and the drought of 2012. I see a tempeh experiment in our near future.

Your AAA membership gets you more than roadside assistance. It scores you discounts at retailers like Target.com, New York & Company, and more. Visit aaa.com for details.

Cash out. Some shops, especially independent ones, will offer you at least 10 percent off when you pay with cash (I have never seen this, personally).
Ask a manager or the owner before paying. I'm going to try this with the water heater.

Make free phone calls. Download a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) application onto your computer and dial up family and friends worldwide at no charge. Sign up at skype.com, lingo.com, or voip.com.

Boost your deductible. Increasing your policy’s deductible from $200 to $1,000 may save you as much as 25% on insurance costs annually.

The average person files a claim just once every 8 to 10 years, so you’re better off stashing the amount of your deductible in an interest-bearing savings account. I may raise our deductible from $500 to $1000.

Tax Cut Expiries are not our budget's good friends

January 25th, 2013 at 05:32 pm

I just saw what my husband brings home in net pay, and probably because my hormones are on high screaming alert right now, I am feeling defeated and lost.

Mind you, we are still paying for December's holiday shopping and this year's tire replacement (ouch), our insurance has been paid up until late July, our bimonthly bills have been accounted for and cheques have been mailed, we're paying one of the most expensive heating bills of the year (praise be it is under $120), and our first car payment is coming up (ouch). But it seems to me we have to move/sell our house in six months or else I get a job or we refinance again, this time for a longer term, and for me the refinance means giving up and paying more interest for longer.

An untrained mind can accomplish nothing.

I plan to track our expenses for next month, to see if I can identify where our spending problems are (I am suspecting food). Then I could list what I am doing, and ask what I could do better or differently. The biggest challenge will be to be gentle with myself. To help meet that challenge I will note, probably in pages so only the truly desirous will know, if my net worth is going up or down.

Today I paid $781.50 to the car loan. If we refinance the car loan, and I am working to get the title changed to show the credit union's position as lien holder, It means maybe fifteen fewer dollars in debt repayment per month. The mortgage principal monthly payment increases by $2.19 a month; the HELOC principal monthly payment increases by $1.30 a month if I work at it.

Should I jolly myself by noting that at least my home equity is rising, for the first time in four years? Is it folly to think that $2185 paid sales tax on the car is going to make a difference in our 1040 return? I know proper withholding and the spouse's 401(k) and Health Savings Account contributions will ensure we don't endure another horrific $2000 tax bill like last year.

Has anyone made a huge, immediate payoff on a low-interest loan and felt much better despite the resulting decrease in savings? Paying off debt at 12.99% or even 6.9% seems like a no-brainer: here our choices are a DEPRECIATING asset at 2.74% APR that takes $284.25 a month out, or a HELOC at 3.0%, or saving for moving expenses.

We do have enough equity to move. We see the effortless payment in full of our car loan and our HELOC with the post-commission, post-tax proceeds of the house sale, and at least 50% downpayment on our next home. And we do not have zero savings. If we had to pay for the car in full in February, we could. If we had to pay the balance owing on the HELOC immediately, we could. But it's one or the other, not both.

Really hoping to see at least a $50 decrease in conscious expenditures per month with regular YNAB tracking. Maybe more links to entrees made with tomato sauce (we have over a dozen cans now) and grains (bulgur, wheat berries, lentils, groats and rice dominate our pantry) would be helpful.

I am not going to London in August with my friend. It is unfair to my family to put us in further debt momentarily of something that has no benefit to them. Sacramento is still okay because its expenses will be one-tenth of what I would spend in the United Kingdom, it would be a family trip of brief duration, and there's at least the tantalizing prospect of passing the test and interview.

I used to fall for Safeway's "Gas Rewards" program but now that we fill our car up maybe once a month, the gas rewards accumulate faster than we can use them, unless we pay for 2 - 3 gallons once a week, and the gas rewards expire too.

YNAB update for February

March 1st, 2012 at 05:59 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Costco Spree and other delights

February 20th, 2012 at 08:58 pm

My little one griped through his cart commander duty, having to veer and make sharp turns past the pod people on their phones. I tried to find clear aisles whenever possible. Coffee went back down under $6/lb! Manufacturer's rebate on diced tomatoes! Chicken thighs @ 99 cents a pound!

Costco Damage: $184.18 for thirteen items, most of them pantry things - peanut butter, cereal, canned tomato sauce, above-paragraph items, pens, quinoa, apple juice, sugar, pasta x 2. And Q-Tips.

Don't believe we yet made the $55/membership fee back in savings. I do imagine we saved at least $26. I don't feel we save heaps at Costco, because we spend heaps, but thanks to the price book and our fortitude in waiting until we have at least one dozen items to buy, we do save.

Then I misgauged the size of our Dr. Bronner Baby Mild empty bottle, went to refill it at $5.29/lb. $11.44 for over-filling the 32-ounce bottle. As Holden Caulfield would say, "Hee, I'm a madman."
Treated boy and myself to "Galaxy Blackout" chocolate cake thingies. $1.43 left in my purse.

After this we'll have $150 to get us through four days. Yesterday was a no-spend day for me and boy, but DH had a haircut "The Spaulding Special" (think tennis ball) for $15 + tip. I want to buy a book for a long-distance friend who's losing her geriatric cat to kidney disease (I lost a 19.5 year-old Burmese to kidney failure so my heart is aching for her and for me still) -- she lives, well, she really lives closer to London, England than she does to me, and we're on the same continent. How's that for remote? She can't afford treatment for her cat because she's on a credit/debt repayment plan and can't use her cards. Despite the looming tax bill I can show her a little love -- a coffee table picture book of Jean Harlow's Hollywood days, perfect for the woman I first met at Highland & Hollywood, where the "Intolerance" ancient Babylonia set re-creation is.

Poverty Chow Week:
bean casserole plus leftover chicken curry, roast beef, chicken w/capers.
Tuesday: pancakes.
Wednesday: fish (oysters? mussels?)
Thursday: chicken paprikash

ides of february

February 15th, 2012 at 05:52 pm

hate long posts getting timed out. Why do I not habitually write in a barebones editor then paste in here?

1. Doing taxes today! Two months to come up with the surprise the IRS demands from me is reasonable.

2. Learned I was overly aggressive thinking I could pay back $7400 to my accounts in one year! That's $20/day, practically. I'm $4600 of the way there with 113 days to go. Jean Chatzky's $10/day paydown seems doable and reasonable.

3. HELOC interest greater this month than last, because I repaid $440 from Dec to Jan, and $280 from Jan to Feb.

4. Valentine Feast kinda frugal: in-house veal in lemon, with steamed carrots and asparagus, and to drink grenadine sodas. Truffles for treats.

5. The Boy, who last week was hot-to-trot to earn a whopping 0.1% on his account, mislaid his money this week and didn't open an account after all. Oh the special developmental challenges of tweens.

6. I calculated I am earning 25% the amount of the interest I am paying on the mortgage and home equity line of credit, on my accounts outside of stocks, bonds and precious metals. Long-term loans of 3%-3.75% doesn't look bad, except it's 7.5-9.2x what I'm earning.

Update: Looks like I owe about $1787 this year. I am displeased. I know, I know: "at least you have the money to pay it!"

YNAB update, plus when you can't cut back any more, add more

January 30th, 2012 at 06:07 pm

I speak of simple pleasures. Coco Chanel said that a hot bath is good for a rotten mood, and I agree. Yesterday, having had very little sleep, I threw some dead sea salts, ylang-ylang and jasmine essential oils in the bath, and once soaking made some price book entries from my Trader Joe's escapade -- yes I could use some advice as to how to properly enjoy cheap yet luxurious pleasures -- am I to read Balzac or Flaubert or Baudelaire and pop Trader Joe's cocoa truffles in my mouth while hydrating with mixed pear juice + sparkling water? Then I could deal with the "this just in!" reports from Junior about the NHL All-Star Game and other interruptions.

I try for $100/day maximum spending, including bills. I maxed out today with gas and groceries, and will max out the next four days with bills.

YNAB end-of-month top four updates:
Food
Groceries: $480 (excellent!), Restaurants: $220 (three people, I ate out every week, but only at one place with cloth napkins or Script-typeface menus or pâté with toast points. My family ate out too. Groceries spending will rise next month: my seven-week supply of meat will run out, and eventually we will try to get our $55 membership use out of Costco.

Mortgage: $1353.71. Includes a teeny prepayment.

Car Insurance: $266.80.

Phone & Internet: $229.18. This WILL go down next month by $105 next month: we both paid the same bill unbeknownst to each other, and we no longer have a landline.

This month, while eating out, I learned of grenadine soda. A tablespoon or two of grenadine, and soda water, with a bit of lime juice. This I have been attempting to recreate at home, using what must be a decade-old bottle of grenadine syrup. We also used up the decade-old box of kosher salt. My bilingual box of salt I brought with me when I immigrated is still here and nowhere near empty.

snowbound pt 2: still have power

January 19th, 2012 at 06:24 pm

Lots of people don't. School is closed, so lots of writing practice scheduled for boy. Woke up to ice pellets striking the windows. Nice feeling to be able to turn on the lights, though I did bring the battery-powered lantern into the bedroom last night.

Regretting not making Costco trip earlier in the month: ran out of flour, brown sugar, best-tasting coffee, apple juice, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes. What good is a price book when you are limited to carrying your groceries on foot from two local supermarkets?

Update: We are now without a landline. It wasn't good value to get repeat phone calls from spoofed numbers saying "this is your final notice" for reducing credit card rates. Also somehow landline voice messaging costs $13+/month and that's more than half of what I pay for Voicemail, unlimited texts and internet with Virgin Mobile.

YNAB four weeks later: $437.27 increase in assets, $493.82 decrease in liabilities. Net worth is $6818.54 (excludes stocks, retirement funds, personal property, precious metals and house equity).

coffee without honey and cream = 41 cents/cup
saving at least a dollar by not visiting a coffee shop.
turkish coffee = 53 cents/cup
saving $1.22 by not visiting a coffee shop


Three Weeks into YNAB, plus downward equity

January 16th, 2012 at 04:37 pm

Assets up $380.75, liabilities down $445.28.
Does not include gold and silver, bonds, CDs, retirement, or illiquid assets.

Inspired by monkeymama's foreclosure post, I checked my street: one block up, our block, one block down. We didn't have many foreclosures--just one Notice of Trustee Sale from 2003 on our block, and a dead woman's house that didn't sell fast one block over, but I think that's because people with 0% down found new construction more alluring than these "Welcome Home GIs" mid-century houses. That's not to say our neighborhood didn't suffer, it just didn't zoom up in price. Summer 2008 saw the most inflated values, I believe, as people were priced out in better areas.

The top two properties for equity (both above 48%) in my Schadenfreude tracker are on my street. They didn't do cashout refinances. When I calculate the total amortized principal+interest from current mortgages, and divide that by their current Zillow values, the results are both under 1. All properties but two (those are four bedroom houses on our street that Zillow last year recalculated their values to be roughly $92000 per bedroom) have lower equity from May 2010, despite some having 20-year and 10-year mortgages.

By the end of the year, I think I can get my HELOC balance to equal 10% of my mortgage balance. It's a tidy goal to work towards. Probably more realistic than the hoped-for return to 60% equity.

2012 predictions and me

January 13th, 2012 at 07:58 pm

Etta James released from hospital last week
Robin Gibb seeking natural treatment. Seven rounds of chemo!
Penny Marshall smoking and eating Italian food.

Psychics predict ends to Abe Vigoda, Muhammad Ali, Pope Benedict XVI, Lindsay Lohan, and Dick Clark. This is not wishful thinking: I have only one of those people on my list.

Also, gold and silver will rise. I'm hoping they'll rise enough to handle the also-predicted summer spike in food commodities and oil prices. I predict summer gas prices west of the Rockies to reach $4.50 US/gallon by August.

If you look at the sidebar, there's a new debt reduction milestone. My car fund is not increasing, as I have made debt reduction my top priority this quarter. Hubby and I paid the same bill without each other's knowledge. He did it on the credit card, I used EFT.

For fun: go to Google.com and input "do a barrel roll." Safe for all ages.

End of Year Collections

December 30th, 2011 at 09:13 pm

Link du Jour: Otis Redding and Carla Thomas - New Year's Resolution

Last payday of 2011. I crash-saved $400 over the past two weeks. That doesn't sound like much, but I also finally brought the VISA card down to a flat zero balance.

Today we bought a framed illustration of SCTV's Dr. Tongue and Bruno (John Candy and Eugene Levy) for $10. It is not in 3-D. This is a $90 markdown from what we saw at Cafe Racer. I wrote to the artist and said I liked it and he sold it to my husband.

Also bought, finally, replacement motorcycle helmet, at about $80 less than I expected to. Yay for girl rider discounts!!

I logged into paypal, and saw that PayPal threatened to close my account within 30 days if I did not accept all-electronic communications. Deadbeats. Through PayPal I will pay for YNAB.

I also put some $$ into each of the savings and chequing account in my other credit union, because I can never remember how they debit me for annual safe deposit box rentals. It occurs to me I could give myself an "allowance" weekly and deposit $ to these accounts for investing, or secret gift money.

Silver was down 22% for the year in 2011. Gold was up.

Today I used my price book for shopping! I forgot one item but I was in a rush so my spouse could use the car.



I am unhappy about the home value and my equity taking a dive over twelve months despite the new roof but it happened to seven properties on my schadenfreude sheet. Californians who remember 2008 are nodding. Sometimes I think of paying enough down on my HELOC to get my equity past 60% but that would mean losing the APR on my money market account, and jeopardizing my ability to pay in cash for my car. I imagine some people my age have worse scenarios. I've paid just 6% of my mortgage in four months (good!) and have paid 38% down of the sale price for the house for 13 years (ugh).

Starting a Price Book

December 27th, 2011 at 06:21 pm

SavingAdvice.com forum post on price book.

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

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

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

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

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

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