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).
Archive for January, 2014
1. Bought AAPL. Feeling fortunate that my cheques cleared AFTER the 9.5% price drop.
We haven't yet gone to Costco this year, haven't yet renewed our membership. We're waiting to build up our grocery budget reserves, and to be out of five staples before we go. Coffee is one of those items, and it's apparently pretty cheap to get through Amazon. Amazon Prime Membership is $79 a year versus $65 a year for Costco, no pushing a cart past people, no ten minute wait at checkout, no hassle trying to find a parking spot a mere 200 yards from the store... Costco isn't that far from our house, a mere fifteen minute drive.
OF COURSE the day I think of getting Amazon Prime the company thinks of upping the annual cost from $79 to $99 or even $119. I'm compiling a list of things I usually get at Costco, or even at Vitamin places or department stores, their average or latest prices, how often I buy them, and how much they cost on Amazon. If I end up saving $150 despite Amazon Prime, I'll jump. But if I were dozens of miles from a Costco, this'd be a no-brainer.
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.
This week's honoured cookbook, on loan from the library, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.
Monday: Veal al Limone (this time for sure!), Cauliflower w/Garlic, Oil & Chili Pepper (p.172) - all (Essentials, Hazan)
Tuesday: Either Huevos Rancheros or Egg Foo Yung (More With Less, Longacre)
Wednesday: Gourmet Succotash w/homemade chicken stock
(Nourishing Traditions, Fallon)
Thursday: Spinach Soup (Essentials, Hazan)
w/Fried Tidbits of Swordfish
Friday: Rib Eye Steak
Saturday: Peas, Peppers, Prosciutto and Cream (Essentials, Hazan)
Here's my new, personal trick for climbing out of the Overthinking Pit. Start with $26.50, the average of 52 weeks of saving, and subtract splurges, add saves. This week deposit is $25, because:
- free Starbucks 12 oz drip;
- as mentioned in an earlier post, some tricks pulled at the self-checkout;
- splurge of decaf, cappuccino, and breakfast treat for child.
- freebies: tea, mending ($17)
- sale on frozen vegetables ($2.07)
We had Chinese food takeout yesterday, because I ended up exhausted and took to bed very early. Then I dreamt vividly of missing a 1931 thriller at our jewelbox arthouse film theatre, making do with the day's presentation of a 2008 German film, which was pre-empted by my child's choice of a NHL game where the Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers were playing, my kid yammering on about the action as we watched. My dreamlife has been interrupted by a tot's monomania. We have now called it quits on my child's NHL/Sochi 2014 prattle, and I sing "Mickey Mouse" by Sparks or "I Don't Want to Set the World On Fire" to drown him out when he starts up on it.
This was such a bizarre dream and realistic up until the hockey game that I had to share. My kid thought it was the greatest dream ever. I think Ridley Scott's "Chanel No. 5" commercials are the greatest televised dreams ever.
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.
It's not evident from my post, but Fukuppy is the brand mascot for Fukushima.
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: "Three Sisters Stew". I hope this isn't my day to be Failed by Veganism. I accidentally saved $6 today because I went to a vegan sweet shop "open every day" to learn they were on vacation for a week! The first and only other time I went, they were closed for another reason.
Tuesday: Coconut Chicken Curry
Wednesday: Leftovers, or Sweet-and-Sour Lentils
Friday: Veal al Limone
Saturday: Fried Swordfish, or something with Swordfish
Sunday: Probably some Lentil-Beef Skillet thing from More-With-Less cookbook.
I am going to buy some stock, I think. I talked it over with the men. [Paulette: "I want to do this, and I want to do it with your money." Spouse: "Sure, I trust you not to go crazy." Kid: "Let's look at the fundamentals and growth potential here. I see it has a dividend; that is good. Yes, I am aware of this company and its products. I approve."] So tomorrow I'll go to the discount brokerage firm with a cheque, calculating 2% padding for commission and price fluctuation, and light a candle for abundance or something. I'm taking half of the price of one share from my child's savings account and the rest from the money market account: one share goes into the child's account, the other into my Roth.
Last post had me mentioning a few items we have for sale. The software is selling very fast, despite it being old. I may have to sell our Elvis Presley 1959 EP on eBay. I tried selling it for $15 a few years ago on Craigslist (sells for $25 on eBay!) and no bites. Seattle doesn't have the King fans the way inland or river cities do, I guess.
Baselle mentioned back in August 2013 winning a Greenwood Gumshoe local merchant certificate pack. She split the booty with me 5/4, and I used my third certificate offered by an Alterations Seamstress on some mending and repairs. I'll be taking a jacket in tomorrow, with some buttons to replace on another jacket. $15 to add to savings.
$15 from certificate
$5.45 from deeply discounted pajamas
$7.55 from Tom's of Maine toothpaste deal
$24 from $50 sale of software
Don't read this if you were caught in North America's polar vortex: my heating bill came to $107 for Dec/Jan. No, I do not live in Wagga Wagga.
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.
Today onMoney 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.
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.
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).
Sad but true, the chicken did not thaw overnight. So, I thought to use the udon noodles Imooto-san (little sister) left in my kitchen. Sadly, the noodle package is exclusively Nihongo (Japanese language) so off I went to the Internet, where I found this comforting breakkie/dinnergoodie, so nice on a cold rainy day. I didn't have watercress, so didn't use it.
Saturday: Miso Soup with Udon, Egg and Caramelized Bacon (the cats give paws up to Caramelized Bacon). A good way to use up leftovers.
Sunday: Oven-Baked Chicken
Chicken did not thaw overnight
Monday: Leftover Chicken, "Three Sisters" Stew (beans, parsnip, carrot)
Tuesday: Roast Beef w/Yorkshire Pudding
Wednesday: Roast Beef Leftovers, maybe Roast Beef au Diable
Thursday: Curried Lentils & Cauliflower
Friday: Veal & Something for Boy
Veal al Limone I think for me; Boy is happy making his own ramen these days.
Saturday: Sweet'n'Sour Lentils
from More-with-Less cookbook
Eggs go superfast here.