Home > Archive: September, 2013

Archive for September, 2013

Goodbye September

October 1st, 2013 at 02:47 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freebie and the (Coffee) Bean!

September 27th, 2013 at 06:38 pm

That's right, caffeine achievers! Sunday September 29 is National Free Coffee Day! And even Tim Hortons is participating!

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Consumerist has the scoop from a Parade article.

I copied and pasted seven offers for your java delectation:

Caribou Coffee: Enjoy a complimentary small coffee of the day at participating Caribou Coffee stores. You'll need to download and print a special National Coffee Day coupon from Facebook, and bring it with you, or show it on your mobile device when placing your order.

Dunkin' Donuts: You'll need the Dunkin' Donuts mobile app to get your free small hot or iced coffee on National Coffee Day. (The app is free for Apple and Android devices.) Once you've downloaded the app, look for this freebie coupon under "offers." Also, on Saturday, September 28, and Sunday, September 29, Dunkin' has discounted coffee that you take home and brew. A one-pound bag of Dunkin' Donuts packaged coffee is just $5.99 (limit 2 per customer); regular price is $8.99. And a box of K-Cups goes for $7.99 per carton (limit 2 per customer); normally, K-Cups cost $11.99 per carton.

International Delight Creamer: You can score a free bottle of International Delight Creamer by visiting the brand's Facebook page, and entering its contest to win a case of Pumpkin Pie Spice creamer. Everyone who enters is emailed a coupon for a free bottle, redeemable at the supermarket.

Krispy Kreme: Choose between a freebie or a dollar deal at Krispy Kreme. You can start your coffee consumption with a free 12-ounce cup of hot coffee at participating Krispy Kreme U.S. and Canada locations. Then you can move on to one of the shop's specialty coffee drinks, such as the Pumpkin Spice Latte, which can be had for only $1 (12-ounce size only).

Peet's Coffee & Tea: Stop in at a Peet's Coffee & Tea location, order any baked item or a bowl of Simply Oatmeal, and you'll receive a free small maple latte. Note: this offer is good from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. only, with this coupon, and is not redeemable at Peet's airport, supermarket, or transit locations.

Starbucks: To celebrate the launch of Ethiopia, a new coffee blend at Starbucks, participating locations will offer free coffee tastings of this new blend. Also, anyone who purchases a one-pound bag that day will receive a complimentary Ethiopian-inspired commemorative ceramic cup, while supplies last.

Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop: Say "Happy National Coffee Day" when you place your coffee order at Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop, and you'll get a free coffee with the purchase of another coffee.

Adapting to Change

September 26th, 2013 at 09:59 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

did I get a freebie from credit card issuer?

September 25th, 2013 at 01:24 am

On August 15 I used CC#2 for a fuel purchase instead of CC#1 because the spouse and I were racking up all kinds of expenses between the two of us. CC#2 was scheduled to be decommissioned as the account had been compromised. CC #2.2 was sent to us and authorized before the August trip. I have not used CC #2.2.

39 days have passed and I have not received a statement from the credit card issuer for either CC#2 or CC#2.2. I have telephoned the 24-Hour Customer Service line for both accounts to learn I have no outstanding balances.

I have a cold. I was going to post about that yesterday and autumn arriving but I wasn't thinking in my mother tongue (English) and took the fact I wasn't mentally composing anything in English as a sign of delirium. French language has a terrific phrase for it: "attraper un bon rhume" (catch a good cold, only good is used as strong here, not beneficial).

A better day

September 21st, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Someone left ten cents credit in the photocopier, so I paid a nickel for my Saturday New York Times crossword.

Although the ginger root was horribly overpriced at my local supermarket (no gas used), someone in front of me left forty-two cents in the change pocket. Whee!

And although I did not save lots of cash at Safeway, I did get seven gas rewards for $60 expenditure.

I like Linux Mint and want to play with it more, but can't rationalize another PC purchase. If I'm going to spend over a hundred dollars on something it'd be an interview outfit.

Dinner for the week ahead:
Beef/Broccoli stir-fry
Roast Beef w/Yorkshire Pudding
Chicken Breasts someway that makes them moist and mustardy
Fish (Probably salmon, or maybe mussels)
Spaghetti con Tonno (that's tuna, mio caro)
Marinated Roast Beef
Spaghetti Carbonara

The Powerball Lotto Winner Fantasy post

September 18th, 2013 at 04:47 pm

If I had * million dollars:

The move to north of the border is one action all the family agrees on. They don't really know/care where, as long as it's in a safe, walkable neighbourhood of a city. I care, but they trust me to know where to land.

Public or private school? Don't know.

Donate enough for the barista/cook who survived a mass shooting at my fave coffeehouse to pay for his surgeries and a year's worth of counselling therapy.

Get scooter properly maintained, or a new one, or maybe just use bicycles when we move somewhere flat.

Overseas trips to destinations south of 37N and north of 35S in the winter (except New Zealand, would happily dip below 35S for Kiwi land), but not to those places where I have to cover my head and neck because of my already covered mommy parts.
Overseas trips to destinations between 55N and 42N during summer months.

1st class international flights or premium economy flights. Stalk my fave composer in a southwest London borough until I get him to talk to me by asking him for directions. Then when he gives them to me, leave him in peace.

Redo will.

Roadtrip to southern Oregon. Rail trip to Los Angeles. Rail trip to Toronto.

Start a business. Start three. Learn to program and troubleshoot properly. Learn to invest other people's money.

Are Terms & Conditions changes ever due to credit card usage?

September 17th, 2013 at 01:27 am

Transaction Fees for your most common credit card transactions aren't changing, but fees for the following less frequently used transactions are increasing
* ATM Cash Advances
* Over the Counter (OTC) Cash Advances
* Wire Transfer Purchases
* Cash Equivalents
* Same-Day Online Cash Advances

The fee for these transactions will be 5% of the transaction amount or a minimum of $10 when the transaction amount is less than $200.

Why? I don't use any of those. I used my card eight times over the past five years and always paid in full by the statement's payment deadline. Is it because I bought a car? My credit union credit card hasn't (yet) given notice it'll change its terms and conditions, but this national bank did.

The only thing I can think of that I did wrong was get a credit card with this issuer sixteen years ago. Did anyone else get this message too?

The card issuer keeps changing its terms and conditions, and minimizing any rewards, to penalize me for using the credit card. I wonder why.

Lowered Expectations

September 15th, 2013 at 07:51 pm

Although we used half as much water as last year our water bill came out to be about the same. This tells me the recycling and yard waste got pricey.
I'm on track to exceed paying 7% of my total debt by December 31. That is a lowered expectation as none of my debts have amortization periods longer than 12 years.

What isn't a lowered expectation is the reward I dangle for the boy if he manages to score in the top 10% of kids in his grade for end-of-course state standardized test performance. This year he gets a treat of his choice as he actually did that in one tested subject. So a little budget blowout.

I originally offered him tickets to a NHL game at the city closest to us but found that the cost of tickets before service charges and Harmonized Sales Tax is $115-$160/person. This doesn't include food, souvenirs, currency conversion premiums, parking, gas or overnight stay (closest hockey city is in another country). Plus the tickets sell out fast. I dunno why Pittsburgh, a city with half the population, can afford two of the priciest NHL players in the league (Evgeny Malkin and Sidney Crosby) and have half the ticket costs of Vancouver, yet have Stanley Cup rings, and in Vancouver one defenseman took a salary cut (earning 12% of what Malkin or Crosby earns) to extend his contract with the franchise. The Vancouver Canucks hockey club has 400+ consecutive sellouts in an arena with over 18000 capacity, so you can't tell me there's no interest in hockey up here.

My kid said he'd be fine going to the other country and having treats at a 1940s-style soda fountain/ice cream parlour , with rickeys, malts, egg creams up there (they even dress like soda jerks with the paper wedge hats and smile when you call them soda jerk). We do not have Farrell's or

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Brooklyn Farmacy or
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Serendipity 3 or Crown Candy or
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The Fountain on Locust or anything fun like that. Our favourite custard place within 3 miles of us is closing at the end of the month.

The political action company left me alone, two days after my previous posting. Wonder if they read it.

I vowed to put my found money toward debt repayment: I've managed 27 cents. I am no
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baselle. The supermarket where my son and I scavenge the self-check stations has now put multiple bright yellow stickers on each station reminding shoppers to pick up their change. Probably because of us. There are some university students renting a house down the street who almost always spill money on the sidewalk. My kid found a $10 Canadian bill in downtown Vancouver so he's a prodigy. I take him with me for grocery shopping because his superpower is finding money or cheap deals and coupons or good lotto bets.

59th Street Bridge Song: Feeling Snarky

September 10th, 2013 at 06:29 pm

I can think of two Savings Advice forum topics that won't die. I become the Incredible Snark when I read updates on the active one. I haven't posted there because: I don't want to contribute to the topic's lifespan; people have contributed cogently and respectfully thoughts that I would be prone to express in a way such that would at least get me a warning from an SA forums monitor; I've hit my limit on alienating SA people.

A local political action firm has been calling me six-seven times a week since August 22. Debt collectors don't call that often. Both debt collectors and local political action firms use restricted phone numbers and don't leave messages. I know it's not a debt collector because we are current on all our bills and I've chased away those looking for people who've used this phone number on their credit apps by citing the Fair Debt Collection Protection Act in mail and by phone.

The correct protocol is to answer and say "remove me from your list." I know this. Last year I was bullied by a caller from this political action committee (there is only one that contacts me) into agreeing to send money, even though I said how long I'd been out of work and the money left at the end of the month was little. The canvasser said they had quite a few members who used food banks. She didn't say how many had children.


Given a choice between expensive medications to slow my eventual blindness and the political action firm contribution, I'd take the meds; between a week at the already-stretched food bank with my family to preserve $$ for the PAC and buying fresh farm food, I'd buy the fresh food; between outfitting my child for a three-day eco-learning required school activity in the Olympic National Forest and giving to the PAC the PAC loses out. The political action firm isn't working for my benefit if they're making money off the indigent and unemployed. If "remove my data from your list" doesn't work, I'll give them a list of the vagrants living under viaducts and a list of freeway offramp panhandlers as "contribution prospects." At least the vagrants and panhandlers without children.

I don't answer the phone because I want their time wasted. The more elusive and inaccessible I am, the more they'll perceive me as a highly valued tantalizing treasure. Then I can answer and say, "The Man From Del Monte he say... 'oooh sod off.'"

Badaba DA da DA da, feelin' snarky...

Going Down is My Going Forward: Year-To-Year Surmisings

September 2nd, 2013 at 08:24 pm

The only progress I seem to be making is decreasing my debt.

My assets value (stocks, CDs, bonds, precious metals) have increased in the past twelve months by 0.5%. Mostly because one CD gets $25 added to it monthly, and the bonds always go up.

I have six-figure debt, so reducing it by 9.7% annually is not terrible, but that and the big uptick in home market value appreciation are making me look good. I don't have cash flow, I have cash drip.

What we spent money on:
$31.07 - fill up car gas tank for 464 miles. We finally input our gas costs, so the Pious computer can display how much we spend from point A to point B. Five kilometres = 25 cents.

$47.94 - one of our supermarkets is closing. The savings aren't all terrific: some amazingly bloated prices, like $6.32/lb for frozen berries (get real); 30% off $11 bottles of Rao's pasta sauces. No thanks to that! We did save on bagged cereals, the baking soda, and wines; I'll come back for stewed and diced canned tomatoes. I'm sad about the market closing: it was part of a northwest Washington state chain, and now no supermarkets in our county, the most populous one in the state, exist.

$20.75 - Value Village thrift store: kid needs some rugged shirts for Peninsula trip in November; DH selected some gaudy Hawaiian shirts. Filler paper.

$24.55 - apparently lost book. What I remember is taking it to a library (probably the wrong system). And my child's overdues. The overdues will come from his account.

$31.93 - acid reducer BOGO. two packs jerky, two jars preserves, olive oil and super glue.

Maybe I won't have to buy anything this week other than next year's local "green" coupon book, if even that. I'd like to pay some of the credit card balance, and stash some $ into the tot's savings account.

I cannot refinance our vehicle loan, even though the rates have dropped a half-percent from what they were earlier this year, because we've had our loan only seven months. I don't feel like extending our mortgage another two years for a mere fifty-dollar per month saving. We're saving $44 more than last year because we no longer rent an instrument and a router.

The good stuff:
Paid more than 18% of our mortgage in two years! Spotted a quarter on the floor of the closing supermarket.
Received a free automated car wash courtesy of my auto dealership.
Made personal edition of LUSH's well-loved "Ocean Salt" scrub with ripe avocado, coconut milk, Dead Sea Salts, witch hazel and lemon juice. Shoulda used lime... saved $$.