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Archive for December, 2005

Net worth 2005

January 1st, 2006 at 06:02 am

Here I am, sipping champagne, watching High Noon on Dec 31, 2005. Courageous, throwing these numbers out here, but this is a real financial diary, so here goes.

IRA, 403(B)s......$44,918.46 (anything tax deferred, set aside for retirement)
Stocks................ $4,918.62 (4 dividend reinvestment accounts)
sav bonds...........$6,807.76 (I and 2 EE bonds from grandpa)
cash savings.....$11,949.82 (ING account)
immed cash.........$1,423.51 (brick & mortar bank checking and savings)
GROSS...............$69,138.17
cc card debt.........$1,360.06
NET WORTH.......$67,778.11

Dec 2005 ($67,778 total, $23,740 in a non-tax deferred account). By comparison:
June 2005 ($46,115 total, $11,293)
Dec 2004 ($38,338 total, $7,558)
June 2004 ($29,050 total, $4,533)

Overdraft!

December 31st, 2005 at 03:31 am

I love my KO drp, I love my KO drp, I Love my KO drp.

I just don't love the automatic transfer from checking at the end of the month. Usually transfer agent pulls from my checking account on the last business day, sometimes even as late as on the first of the month. This month, due to the holiday, they pulled a couple days before, on the 27th. Due to Christmas, my December finances dipped a bit low, which meant an overdraft of a grand total of 17$. Yikes! Got burned by the frugal burn.

As soon as I saw it, I moved 20$ from savings to checking. Not fast enough, apparently. I got dinged today to the tune of 27$, which showed before my paycheck did, dinging me again.

I just finished an email missive. Not quite innocent because the transactions are all there, just wrote straight out begging for them to waive the fee. "My intent was good, my timing was lousy," I wrote. We'll see whether they'll wave it. DH tells me that for a first-time louse like me they usually waive it. Smile

Learning to try and juggle frugality with good health. I think I can do both if I make sure to remember that my diet is not two lunches, but one good lunch, split in half and eaten four hours apart.

Where's mine?

December 30th, 2005 at 05:14 am

And the inheritance front opens up once again.

Got a call from sister, telling me that the sale of the first piece of property is a "done deal", but nothing regarding the particulars, only that she wanted to walk on the property one last time. DH slyly commented that she could, but it would be trespassing. I shot back that if sister had a gun and wore an orange vest and knew what season it was she probably still could. Smile

We also got another email from the husband of dad's twin sister, father of the cousin who found dad. He wished us both a happy new year, but asked "How is the farm sale coming along?" I saw him at the funeral. He seems like a nice enough older gentleman when you meet him; however he has an unerring ability to ladle on large dollops of guilt in his letters and emails. So this current email set me off a bit, asking about the farm sale. Peter Parker, c'est moi. My spidey sense tells me that if we actually tell him the next email will be the question, "where's mine?"

Mom and dad had many close calls and nearly lost the farm several times. I know that many members of the family had given money to them both and that allowed them to stay. In the cleanup that first week, we collected and saved several versions of a list of who gave what. Sister and I had talked about this and we are both agreed that with the proceeds that we will honor the list as a list of loans and pay them off. Even if sister wouldn't have agreed, I would and will write the checks myself.

However, this whole plan would be spoiled with the words..."you know, we gave your father X$, pay up." Smile It turns a pleasant surprise and an act of family generousity into a mere loan. I suppose we would have to pay points, too.

I asked sister about this and suggested that we be as vague as possible and stonewall. Real estate takes a long time to sell, we have at least three estates to settle, we are in the midst of settling with the creditors, we haven't had a chance to catch up with the executors, the executors timeline is fifteen months. All true to a point. The real truth, as DH said, is that its none of his business.

Sister agreed. Remind me to be vague and keep me strong about it, she said.

It looks like for 2006 it is us against the world.

Home stretch for 2005/goals for 2006

December 29th, 2005 at 04:46 am

For the last couple of years I've been calculating my net worth every six months (June 30 and December 31) for the last couple of years. Luckily its been going up. Smile I'm just waiting for Friday night when I can do my net worth calculation for the end of the year.

Goals & Decisions for 2006.
1. Pay off the personal trainer credit card debt. This will happen by March or April.
2. Take a hard look in January and February at what I'm spending my money on. This December - like them all - I felt like I had overspent my promotion, that I was loosening up.
3. Decide just how much emergency money I should have in my ING account, then invest the rest. (If I have to, kill off the last of the credit card debt.)
4. Keep increasing my net worth. So far, I've been able to do it by about $10,000 every eight months, but this is in part due to a rising stock market.
5. Get most of my financial information - images of contracts and files - on a USB drive. Said USB drive must have a security system on it.
6. Write a will.

Speaking of the personal trainer, I got weighed and measured today. In a word, 1/2 a loaf. I didn't lose any total weight, but I did firm up 1/2 inch in the bust, waist and hips, nearly an 1 inch in the upper arm. Christmas strikes again! Smile

Just a little reminder

December 27th, 2005 at 06:45 am

of why we are all here: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/253544_grayingpoverty27....

As a woman, I feel for her. As a woman, I know that our biggest financial tool is our brains and our self-awareness.

Christmas dinner: Marinated a duck with soy sauce and oolong tea, then stuffed it with a chopped orange and a chopped onion, and roasted it. Yummy, but you really couldn't taste the tea.

Merry Christmas

December 25th, 2005 at 02:17 am

Tonight we are having defrosted beef stew with bread. Christmas Day - well we found a good deal on duck, and DH bought a bottle of un-frugal champagne. Sister sent us a lot of cheese, spices, and a summer sausage shaped like a beer bottle with a Pabst Blue Ribbon label on it. It made us both laugh very, very much!

Merry Christmas and remember that the parents of Jesus were the most frugal couple imaginable, yet they persevered.

Feels like a Friday

December 23rd, 2005 at 03:52 am

That's what it felt like today. All of the bigwigs are gone on Christmas break, at home or in sunnier places thinking of ways to torment the rest of us. Smile I saw an admin playing computer games. I have to say that reading a book is a classier way to pass the time. You look better.

Down in our department, we are hard at work processing money and pledges so our non-profit might live. We have quite a backlog, and now its a matter of keeping people cheerful as the piles keep expanding. Oh well, piles growing is better than piles non-existant. We work tomorrow, but Monday we have the day off, and next Monday we have the day off also. Otherwise, we are expecting a little business as big donors that want a tax break for 2005 get their gifts in under the wire.

About the only frugal thing I'm doing is using up that Starbucks card, and eating cheap lunches. My favorite curry place is closed for the holidays. With 8 days left before the next paycheck, I'm down to $185.00. I'm going to see how long I can hold out before dipping into savings. Feel the frugal burn!

December on the dairy farm

December 21st, 2005 at 04:44 am

Saving log: 3$ tip box, 1.22$/day ING, 450$ into savings.
Spending log: 1.65$ coffee, 26$ to the gym, so far about 350$ in Christmas gifts and shipping.

Man, for the frugal December really sucks.

Sister called at work. She's working the night shift, so she had a little time and got me up to speed. Apparently it appeared that someone was stealing propane from the farm, but it turned out that someone was stealing the copper pipes that led to the propane. (Stealing, or thinking that they bought it during the auction?) They grabbed the copper, sniffed, got scared and ran. We were lucky that no one lit a match nearby. Turns out the bank and the executor carry insurance coverage for something like this.

Dad's farm bordered a corporate farm, which turns out to have one the largest holdings of cows in the state; the owner of that place is the first interested buyer. Sister isn't too thrilled and for once, I have to agree. There also might be an additional interested buyer in the property with the barn and house, a friend of a friend.

Plan B

December 18th, 2005 at 08:39 am

Well, I still couldn't find the dried mushroom guy at the Pike Market, so it was plan B for the gift for SIL and her husband. When they last visited we went on a wine tour, which they enjoyed, so I found a wood wine box covered with chinese characters that holds two bottles. Its illegal to ship wine most places and since I'm not interested in figuring out whether Wyoming (where they live) is one of them, I've packed the empty slots with gourmet cheese and chocolate bars, and finished it with a X-mas card and a note. That's the other semi-frugal trick of mine: an interesting storage box filled with something else. $27 for the wine box, $18 for the cheese, $10 for the chocolate.

Now what to get my mil....

I haven't really figured out my fiscal goals for 2006. Paying off the credit card from the personal trainer is number one; keeping up my pace of increasing my net worth by $10,000 every 8 months is good, but it depends on investments that always increase in value. Some will; stocks won't. Holding and managing the inheritance is a good goal - if I get it in 2006.

Money out the door

December 17th, 2005 at 06:53 am

Paid the credit card bill - 1/4 or so of the personal trainer - 500$
Paid the electric bill - 121$
Paid for $50 worth of KO stock & reinvested a $17.50 dividend, giving me 1.5 shares.

Realized as I was standing at the bus stop to go downtown that I forgot my gym clothes. I was going to walk back, but it would make me too late for work to be comfortable, and I need spare gym clothes to rotate through the laundry. So at lunch I went to Ross and bought gym clothes - $27.18

And then the ever present 2 little lunches - $9.00

Put 3$ in the tip box
Will move 450$ into savings, to buy an I-bond on Dec 27.

paycheck mystery solved

December 16th, 2005 at 05:13 am

Payday today on the 15th.

Got a cryptic email from the VP of HR, with a cc with the COO. The takehome message was that I had apparently been underpaid slightly since February and that I should have gotten bonus and retro pay. The 600$ bump was real. Whew, I guess. It works out to about 25$ more a paycheck, about 40$ gross, and about 4.00$/day, or about .50/hr. Would have been nice if they had told me two weeks ago, but these things happen. Smile

Crappy day otherwise. Its a rare payday that's crappy, but today the highlight was the check and it all went down hill from there. A couple of key people were out. Apocalyptic horsefly swarm at work, stupid questions and the fax machine didn't work. I didn't get to do what I wanted done until the end of the day.

Hazards of the season

December 15th, 2005 at 04:26 am

Christmas getting and giving front - sister got the fish and had some salmon already. She was also amazed at the size of the halibut steaks. I got a 150$ check as a gift from MIL, which I put into savings. I'm still at a loss as to what to give her. We got a fruit of the month box from SIL and her husband. Pears this month. Dried mushrooms would be a pretty good gift for them. Now if I can only find the market guy who sold them. No dice finding him yesterday at the market.

Conceptually, it would had been no spend day. We had our office holiday aka the Winter Event. It was held at the Triple Door. I ordered a small glass of red wine, which I shouldn't have, not because I'm gonna wear the lampshade over my head, but because it was a buy-your-own bar and I forgot to ask how much it was. 12$. eek! At least it wasn't a mixed drink. The office event was fun, FYI. I just should have remembered to pack my own bottle and glass then deploy them when the time was right. It would have been easy - it was plenty dark and nightclubby inside. The only downside is I would suddenly get a whole new reputation around the office.

I now have an official Vanguard IRA. The money left ING and went to Vanguard, all within four days, for only 10$. Of course a glass of wine doesn't come with it.

On the inheritance front, it seems that we now have a couple of buyers for the main property - the piece that has the barn, sheds, house. Sister has gotten a secretary's desk to our aunt, and the last of the furniture bits to various family members.

Spending log - 1.65$ coffee+ 12$ wine + 7$ groceries
Saving log - 150$ (thanks MIL!)

Tip troll

December 13th, 2005 at 05:16 am

Got another piece of tax-vital paper today from one of my DRPs. Looked at a lot of pledges today, and I finished by actually going to the gym *By Myself* for a little cardio bike pedaling. I lasted at least 1 minute more than Friday.

Got a card from the paper deliverer this morning, or rather, I got a card with a self addressed, stamped envelope. Tip troll, if you ask me. I never know how to respond to these things, especially since he has an unerring ability to never, ever hit the driveway. I'm thinking of writing "5$ now if you hit the driveway, another 5$ if you keep it up". Smile But then the turnover will kill ya. I'd have to train each person as they screw up.

The fish flingers

December 12th, 2005 at 03:43 am

Went Christmas shopping today at the Pike Market. I got sister 2 halibut steaks and a 5 lb filleted wild salmon. Nothing like food for the holidays - it gets consumed, it doesn't clutter the mantel, and doesn't need to be cleaned or dusted. The only problem is the shipping - yikes, 40$ - more than the fish itself. The fish spot I use is Jack's Fish Spot in the sanitary market, not City Fish or the stall that throws the fish for the benefit of the tourists.

To tell you the truth, I absolutely hate the fish flingers. Posers. Real fishermen take enormous risks to catch fish, including the noble salmon, who is giving its life and often its sex life so you could have a meal. And you're throwing it around for laughs. Why not pitch a dead bald eagle around for laughs? I haven't even gotten to the sanitary/ culinary aspects. Pitching salmon around bruises the flesh and if they miss? The fish lands on the fish gut smeared concrete. Well ick.

City Fish isn't so bad. They're pretty normal, so no flinging. But most of the seafood they sell is an augmented catch from other parts of the Pacific and who knows if its fresh.

Because its yikes with the shipping, I've decided that many of DH's family in Montana and Wyoming is getting dried mushrooms - chanterelles, morels, trumpets. It's light but also screams Northwest and should go fantastic with beef.

Vanguard site

December 11th, 2005 at 03:12 am

I opened up a 2005 traditional IRA with Vanguard this afternoon, using money from the ING account. It was pretty straightforward to do from the website www.vanguard.com. The site itself is pretty clean with a lot of good information.

Did a little grocery shopping and bought a $15.00 bag of groceries for a food drive the grocery was running for Northwest Harvest. Except for tomato ketchup and spaghetti sauce, not a trace of vegetable in it. Frown Not a great respite from junk food.

Cheapest gas in Seattle was down to $2.09. For us out here in the far left corner: wow. With the sun shining and blue sky deep, DH and I took a little Saturday drive through the arboretium. We ended up near the University, so I showed DH my bubble tea place.

Saving log - $4000 to the IRA for the tax break
Spending log - $1.80 coffee + 35$ grocery (15$ to Northwest Harvest) + 3$ bubble tea

Thoughts in no particular order

December 10th, 2005 at 06:54 am

Just like many other journals: after this week, I'd like to hole up this weekend.

Seattle is bright and sunny lately, but it gets bright late and dark early. The Hitchcock birds are gone - to where? - from the bare trees at my bus stop.

Neither DH nor I have great ideas on when to use the hotel room I've won. No Saturdays, No Christmas, No Valentines' Day. And we don't have great ideas for Christmas presents for his family. Sister is going to get a fish. Maybe we'll just give everyone a fish and be done with it.

I worked out today. I told the trainer that I was stressed, so he gave me a lot of upper body work. The hardest part of the diet that I'm on is to wake up early and eat breakfast, although when I do I'm a lot less likely to mindlessly snack at the end of the day. It took me a little while to figure out that the diet is decreases the starch and increases the protein and fat as the day goes on. Seeing a pattern like that makes it a lot more interesting to follow.

Of course, since this is supposed to be a financial diary, I'd be remiss to not write that I got my Vanguard mailings on how to start my traditional IRA. A little fun Friday night bedtime reading. It used to be that Friday nights were for romantic thoughts, but not this weekend.

Lot of money on my desk

December 8th, 2005 at 05:04 am

I had about 1.5 M worth of pledges to check, stamp and send to our auditors. Eeeps! Time to lock the door, batten down the hatches, cancel a couple of meetings and get it done. Since I avoided the meetings, it really wouldn't do to be caught at the gym either (the gym is across the street from work), so I canceled today's workout. We are in the thick of it.

But lunch to me is sacred and I wanted to get some fresh air. I was also curious, with the re-routes in Seattle, whether a couple of buses that used to go in the tunnel would take me where I wanted to go in the International District. I hopped on, and satisfied my curiousity. Nope. Not really close. By the time I could get off, I was at least a mile away from where I hoped to be. So I had gym by other means.

Spending log - 1.65$ coffee + 7.00$ lunch and mini-lunch
Saving log - $0

The Burnrite Coal Briquette Company

December 7th, 2005 at 06:00 am

The latest little thing from sister is a stock certificate she found in the attic bought, apparently, by a great-great uncle in 1919. She was wondering if the company got bought out and whether it was worth a little something. The company is The Burnrite Coal Briquette Co.

A quick google search gave me some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that the company went bankrupt before 1927. The good news is that the company was part of a Supreme Court decision in 1927. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vo...
If its fairly pretty, it might make a nice framed collectable.


Spending log - $1.65 coffee + $6.00 lunch
Savings log - $6.00 tip box

Classic IRA

December 5th, 2005 at 07:44 am

Thank you retire@50!

Took a look at the official IRS publication for IRAs http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p590.pdf. I made under $40,000 this year, including dividends and interest which right now isn't that much. I'm at the high end (it appears that $45,000 is the cutoff), but the traditional IRA is what I'm looking for. Since I can do it - I'm going to the limit at $4,000.

I asked Vanguard to mail me some info. I have a little time and I want to pull it from my ING account, which is going to the de facto antechamber for the family gifts and the inheritance. It'll be the first project that my inheritance money is going to. I decided that the big lump of money will go to Vanguard unless they mishandle the little IRA, so it will be a test for them too.

Speaking of ING, I figured out how to make a sub account so now I have the family gifts and the kiss my a** fund separated. Its important to me - otherwise its the family kiss my a** gift fund. That was 10 years ago. Smile Thanks to mymoneyblog, I found out what the routing number of ING is. I'm not really interested in pulling 4000$ back into my checking account.

Another snoozy Saturday

December 4th, 2005 at 07:29 am

Not much today, thankfully. Trips to a couple of grocery stores to pick up milk, 8-grain hot cereal, brown rice, and bubble bath. I could have gotten away with going to one grocery but the holiday food samples were fantastic at the other, so I had a frugal lunch of samples.

Found the equation that tells me how to best invest in my DRPs - put it in my spreadsheet. When I want to deploy my lump sum into my DRPs I can figure it out.

But I should explore starting an IRA, to save money on my taxes. I've either done the 403B or been too poor for an IRA other years, not to mention that I thought that if you have one you can't do the other. I have too much dividend earnings, I think, to file 1040EZ this year while next year when dad's estate lands in my lap my taxes will be even higher. No matter where I invest 250K the interest, dividends, and capital gains is going to be high. (4% of 250K = 10K, and 33% of that would be 3.3K). Balancing that out every year with a 5K IRA contribution is only prudent. Roth or classic?

Grandpa this time

December 3rd, 2005 at 04:57 am

On the inheritance front:

Sister has found some insurance policies from grandpa and grandma in some of the other papers we collected. Not very much, but a little bit. Sister emailed me asking for advice, and she suspects that these were held by mom for some purpose. Grandpa died in 1999; I suspect that mom was biding her time, waiting for grandma to join him so she could collect. That's the problem with waiting; it could be you who runs out of time. The Greeks weren't kidding themselves when they thought the 3 Fates were vicious old ladies that held your life by a thread.

About all I could say is that they were still part of grandma's estate, and that sister should ask grandma's financial advisor - our cousin. It could very well be that since grandma is dispersing assets that sister should hold them and not do anything with them (more assets to disperse and take care of), but that's really grandma's decision, not sister's.

Sister also sent two boxes. The first box was the usual fun Christmas stuff: candles and jam and mustards and greenie dental treats for my cat, who loves them. The second box was a bit more thought provoking. Clothes. Mom and dad clothes. The dad clothes were a bit larger than my size but the mom clothes were my size. Dad was 67 when he died; mom was 61. Thank you, sister, but when their clothes fit me it's really time for me to lose the weight.

Spending log - $1.65 coffee + $7.00 lunch
Saving log - $2.00 tip box + $40.00 DRP

ING float

December 2nd, 2005 at 06:05 am

Lawyer friend bought my lunch and blew my diet. We had a nice normal talk and said nothing about any inheritance issues. For a going away party of the payroll coordinator I ate fruit and skipped the cake. It was very nearly a no-spend day.

Sister got ahold of the insurance company and lo and behold the claim form was for the $2000+ check that we received last week. Weird to me that the form came after the check.

Stomach muscles are sore from the baby ab crunches I did yesterday. Nice to know I have abs. They will never be a six pack; I think if I get them down to a 1 liter size from the 2 liter size I'll be doing well. Smile

Moved the 600$ extra from the paycheck to ING and started asking around. If I have to give it back, I can still catch the float.

Spending log - $1.65 coffee
Savings log - $3.00 tip box