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Archive for July, 2006

Subdued stuff

August 1st, 2006 at 03:32 am

$3 in the tip box, and its payday.

Talked to the chiropractor receptionist, asking why my co-pay checks haven't been cashed. Turns out that the office accountant had been on vacation for 2 weeks. Boy, do I feel like a miserly goob! Smile

Chiropractor asked me how I spent the weekend. I told him that I spent it waiting by the phone for news.

Despite payday, we are all a little bit subdued. A lot of folks at our non-profit knew the people who were shot at the J Federation. Security at our offices is going to go up. We got paid a visit from the Seattle Police Department.

batting .500

July 29th, 2006 at 10:17 pm

Lawyer friend's partner is alright, but I found out that I knew another friend, initials CG, who worked there and had gotten shot in the knees. Time to circle the wagons, figure out what is needed for her and how to help.

Now for the more mundane:
- I put 7$ in the tip box.
- I managed to "play my cards right" and get a week's worth of breakfast coffee for $1 (usually runs $8.75).
- Payment made it to the transfer agent in time to buy comparatively cheap 3M stock next week.
- Signed up for another fitness challenge, along with the two friends from work. The personal trainer rates are cheaper during this time, and she was in a contest to sign up the most people. Since I put her over the top, she's giving me a free session. Might just as well make gym pay me if at all possible.

Fingers crossed, eek...

July 29th, 2006 at 03:59 am

Late this afternoon, there was a shooting at the workplace of lawyer-friend's partner. No names have been released.

I hope she's all right.

1 year on

July 28th, 2006 at 03:01 am

One year ago today I got the surprising, shocking word that my dad had died. He had died in his sleep on the farm with plans of breakfast with his nephew, our cousin.

I wish he could have spent his money and enjoyed himself. Perhaps he did, or perhaps lots of money didn't matter to him. We were so different. I wanted to leave the farm as soon as possible and I did, not even thinking about the fresh air, the quiet, green nature, the satisfaction that comes when you are the agent of physical change. He was a shy man, not into working with a lot of people, and enjoyed the city for an afternoon...no longer. He also made a decision and stuck with it - the will we found was dated 1968. He sure wasn't like grandpa; his will came with a couple of codicils and tweeks.

Anyhow, the situation is still that one piece of property was sold, along with the insides of the house and barn, along with the farm equipment, and mom's insurance and 401K has been divided up between us. We still have the second piece of property and the buildings.

Two thirds of the proceeds are in a money market fund. Sister and I each have gotten $45K. I've put the money in CDs and ING to give me a little time to earn interest and to pace myself, but right now it seems like the fixed income places are more compelling.

A gamble

July 26th, 2006 at 06:08 am

3M is one of my DRPs. Last night I decided to send that DRP $2000 of inheritance money. Between the mailing, the cashing of the check and the actual buying of the stock, it takes awhile between the decision and the implementation - about 2 weeks. This afternoon I was pleased, in a speculative sort of way, that 3M is at a three year low. My fingers are crossed that it drops a little bit more while my check is in the mail.

I'm also buying another 4 wk T-bill at $2000. This one looks like it is going to be at 5.007%. My 6 mo ING CD is getting shabby, and my brick-and-mortar bank CD is starting to look very, very shabby at 4.35%, but I only have 3 more months to go on that one.

Tomorrow I also buy $100 I-bond.

I guess that instead of shopping for stuff like a lot of Americans, I'm shopping for money. I'd love to buy a dollar's worth for 70 cents; lately it seems like I'm buying a dollar's worth for 90-95 cents.

No spend on coffee

July 25th, 2006 at 05:31 am

Put $3 in the tip box.

I used part of the 'literary latte' gift card. One of my gift cards had .25 on it, so it got used and out it went. I realized that I had another $3 gift certificate for coffee in addition to the Starbucks card. ($2.50 + $3) Play my cards right, and I'll have a nearly no-spend on coffee week. It works best, though, if I put the coffee savings in my tip box; then I just displace my coffee spending from money to the cards. Spending feels the same, but it really juices up the savings.

As it turned out, all I spent today was on the curry lunch special for $4.36.

Gazpacho days

July 24th, 2006 at 01:43 am

I made two pitchers of gazpacho this afternoon. Gazpacho seems to be the summer recipe for cleaning out the produce section of the refrigerator; minestrone the winter one.

I threw out two heads of romaine and my pound of green beans. That depressed me tremendously, but for my gazpacho I did manage to salvage two half heads of romaine, a few leaves of raditchio (sic), a carrot, green onions, several radishes, and a whole lot of tomatoes, 1 bunch of parsely, 1 bunch of cilantro, grind everything up along with 1 can of chicken stock, 2 cans of tomato sauce (paste tastes metallic--blegh), salt, pepper, lemon juice, hot sauce, 5 garlic cloves, olive oil.

It'll be the all-liquid fiber diet this week.

Seattle this summer has a 'literary latte' deal. Read three books and you get a 4$ Starbucks card, and your name is entered into a drawing. I made it to the library tonight in time to submit my sheet and get the gift card.

Starbucks is not my favorite but it'll be useful for the end-of-the-month drill. I've noticed that the Starbucks card seems to be Seattle alternative currency. You can get one for a prize, as a reward, for recommmending someone for some such. If you look in any Seattleite's wallet, you'll find at least a couple. Too bad there's no easy way to manage the cards. I wish there was an easy way to figure out how much you have on a particular card.

Ah, the Crest

July 23rd, 2006 at 03:09 am

Day 2 of mid to upper 90s in Seattle. This time of year Seattle is sunny and dry. Not bone dry like Tucson is, but then again even Tucson this time of year isn't bone dry. Of course no one has AC around here -- why bother for only a week or so of hot weather? -- but it means that the entire city is cranky, out of sorts, and looking for frugal ways to beat the heat. Here are my rules:

#1 - Stay away from other people. This weekend is the Bite of Seattle. At least 100,000 sweaty people, each of whom is at least 98.6F congregating in front of 400F grills and paying at least $5 for the privilege...now doesn't that sound like cool, refreshing, inexpensive fun?

#2 - linger where you know there will be air conditioning. This morning, I was figuring out whether the 2 package for 3$ special on frozen mixed vegetables was a deal. Not really. The deal came from the delightful five minutes with my head in the freezer case.

#3 - catch a second-run movie. Ah, the Crest Cinemas. $3, all times. Air conditioning, darkness, cross ventilation, and a reason to linger. It's the main reason I rarely go to a movie in March and April. I've got to save up on movies to catch in July. FYI: Thank You for Smoking is very funny. Not as funny as Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, which for my money is the funniest movie this year.

Today I bought a little lunch at the grocery store and had a little battle with the cashier. It turned out that its pricing sticker was mixed up with something a lot more expensive, and conversely the expensive thing was priced cheaply. The thing that really got me was the tyranny of the sticker by the cashier. No looking at what I actually bought, or product knowledge - just the "that's how it rung up." Forget worrying about the embarassment E - its your money.

Put 6$ in the tip box yesterday. HR warned us yesterday about possible price rises in our medical insurance.

getting hot again

July 21st, 2006 at 04:43 am

We are having a heat alert in Seattle tomorrow, so I expect to have another not-so-good night of sleep. Last night our 19 yr old cat kept hurking up, so his food is being cut back a bit.

Today I spent stupid money. I left my bus pass in my yesterday's pants pocket, I had to beg to get on in the morning and pay $1.50 on the return trip home. Lunch out with lawyer friend, but at places charging only 6$. Compared to 10-11$ a month or two ago, we are making progress.

Last night I was going to change a bit of information on my Treasury Direct account. I was so clever a year ago answering the security questions. Too clever: I locked my account. I highly recommend their customer service - no hold, no hold music, just a nice guy who answered the phone on the second ring, asked me some security questions and unlocked my account in all of five minutes.

I've still been doing gym. I haven't been measured lately, so I think I will ask next week. My large gym shirt is comfortable (It'll be years before I become a medium), the upper ab bulge is disappearing and the shirt is not creeping up. Yippee! My trainer is now working with my two co workers, who are now gym buddies and come in nearly every day. I'm excited for them, too.

Spending log - $1.65 coffee + $6 lunch + $1.50 bus ride.
Saving log - $1 tip box, scheduled a $2000 transfer from ING to another 4 wk T-bill, moved $1000 into another DRP.

Lil PTO

July 20th, 2006 at 03:20 am

Scraped up 48$ from the tip box and put it into savings.

Ate the footlong sub over 2 days to save a little bit. Ordered up DH's gift from Think Geek , DH's birthday card, and sister's birthday card. So $1.65 (coffee)+ $5.72 (2 cards) + $29.00 (DH birthday gift).

Our workplace is talking about converting vacation and sick leave into PTO (paid time off). I tend to accrue beaucoup amounts of sick leave and I'm not terribly interested in starting a family, so it'll be an okay deal for me. The COO had mentioned that there were about 30 people who he felt might be abusing sick leave. I didn't think it was that many, but then again I work for a living. Smile

Yard sale and second wedding

July 17th, 2006 at 06:29 am

Bought a new-ish cordless phone at a yard sale for 5$.

One of our cordless phones is busted, useful only for getting the voicemails. The other cordless phone is a bit better, but it is now very touchy - you have to set it in the cradle just so, otherwise it won't recharge. At one point three months ago, for practical purposes we had no phone service for a few hours. I had to email in sick that day.

We'd get a new phone at Best Buy, Circuit City or Fry's Electronics but as soon as DH gets into one of those places, him and his money goes bye bye, so the yard sale find was a true find for us.

I found the owner's manual on the Internet. FYI, that aspect of the Internet really makes yard sale finds extra valuable. I remember when you paid a premium for stuff if the manual came with. Now (devil horn alert) you can bargain someone down because of no manual, then go and find it on the Internet.

The second wedding was tonight. It was a small, lovely ceremony. There was a wedding toast/advice free-for-all. Mine was to remember that getting married is one thing but being married is an even bigger task.

What to do, what to do?

July 16th, 2006 at 01:10 am

I wrote a check and an OCP slip out for 35$ to a DRP and I put it in my purse along with the latest Netflix return. My first stop was the grocery store. In addition to groceries, there is a blue mailbox in the parking lot. After parking, and about a third of the way to the mailbox, I reached into my purse and just found the Netflix envelope. No DRP envelope. Back tracked, but no envelope. Okay, maybe it means that I forgot to put it in my purse. Mailed the Netflix DVD, ran my errands, got back home, looked around, dug behind the couch...

No DRP envelope. Found the cover envelope that everything came in, so I wasn't imagining things.

I want to think that a good samaritan found it and mailed it, or tossed it, or even would stick it back into my mailbox. I fear the opposite - that someone opened the envelope, steals the check and my account, or worse, sells the shares I have. I mean we aren't talking thousands, just hundreds, but ick.

What to do?

The story of MIL

July 15th, 2006 at 05:44 am

Gosh, how to not sound snarky but man! DH just got yanked around every which way. The original plan was that MIL (at 82) would be in Seattle for a day or two passing by as part of a tour of Victoria and Vancouver. Two relatives from Spokane came, one bearing flu. MIL caught the flu, and from that came a round robin of phone calls.

First MIL was not going to rejoin the group, then she got a doctor's clearance after a couple of days, then she was (and had DH make the plans), then she didn't feel up to it again. Which meant that MIL would have DH book ferries and taxis, then cancel them again, and then have to call other well meaning parties conveying the latest, conflicting story. What a waste!

There's pride and there's decisiveness. Even the idiot frugal DIL knows that. Smile Finally even MIL realized that it was crazy to go on.

And to the tour guide trying to guilt me out by saying that she sat with MIL in the hospital at 3am: congrats, lady, for doing your job. It ain't all oohing at the Space Needle.

Curry lunch, payday, and $3 in the tip box. Waiting by the phone for the next strange installment.

Did what I said I would do

July 14th, 2006 at 04:12 am

Again - spent the $1.75 for the coffee and $3 for the tip jar and ate the sandwich from the work refrigerator; but best of all, for an after-lunch walk I went to Elliott Bay Book, perused the used section and found The Millionaire Next Door for $7. In the wedding gift pile it went. Of course, I had to check for condition, see that there was no notes in the margins, or at least see if the notes weren't of the "this sucks!" level. So I reread my favorite parts. Smile

Of course, I'm still not a PAW (prodigious accumulator of wealth). Even with the saving and the current advances on the inheritance, I'm still about $50K from being an AAW (average accumulator of wealth). But I know I'm not a UAW (under accumulator of wealth). And I'll get to the million dollar stage eventually.

I bought my first T-bill today. A 4-week bond is 4.89%

Tomorrow will be the curry lunch and its payday.

Nearly no spend day

July 13th, 2006 at 03:17 am

All I spent today was for a $1.75 coffee, and I put 3$ in my tip box. We had a free lunch if we were willing to listen to the CEO talk about the usual.

Lawyer friend would have none of it - he invited me to the little curry spot. Tempting because if I got the special, it would be $4.36, but on the other hand, free is $0.

Last Tuesday I bought the footlong, cut into four pieces for 2 days - tomorrow will be the other half. Friday can then be the any-vegetable-curry for $4.36. I might be able to get away with what's in my wallet for the rest of the week. Nice.

But the very nicest twist today is that I got free organic produce at the Pike Market, using a Wednesday-only-$5-off coupon. Not very exciting - Yukon Gold potatoes and purple scallions, but I have another coupon, so I'll be back next week.

Found 3 pennies yesterday. 2 were out in the street, all mangled. It disproves my theory a bit about where to collect change. It could be that plenty of people saw them, but no one dared stand there in the middle of the street picking up a penny. Call me a daredevil.

Wedding gift

July 12th, 2006 at 03:58 am

Well the last wedding's gift was fun (the gift certificate to Hardwick's), but the guy who drew them wasn't working there anymore and the certificate took a couple of days to set up...and...and...and...

We got the hint. Gift certificates are now not Hardwick's thing.

The second couple are good friends of ours and the husband-to-be is my coworker. I thought I'd try something a little more pointed. So I went for the personal finance books and financial knowledge. I wanted to find The Millionaire Next Door, and I still might, used, but I went with: The Richest Man in Babylon, Stock Investing for Dummies, and Your Money and Your Man. Might just as well catch them right after that honeymoon glow.

Something new

July 10th, 2006 at 01:36 am

Stepping into my routine nicely - found a good deal on pork ribs ($1.37/lb). A jar of sauerkraut that I had already, and my crockpot equals dinner. It is a little heavy for today - 80, but the temperature is going to drop tomorrow. All I did this afternoon was revert back to my childhood and watch the DVD of the original The Wild Wild West, disc 1, season 1. Thanks Netflix.

Yesterday, we discovered a bit of geographic coincidence in Seattle. There are produce stands on the corners of 65th and 15th NE and 65th and 15th NW. Mirror images of each other, and each has been in there place for years. Mentioned it to the owner of the NW stand and he told us that both addresses are 6501 15th (NE/NW). I feel a Rod Serling moment coming on.

But the something new I'm trying is to buy $2000 of 4 week Treasury bills using my ING account. I won't know what the interest rate until Tuesday, but last week's was at 4.75%. After the T-bill matures (4 weeks), I going to rollover that 2K for another 4 weeks, and so on, and so on. Heh, heh. I must be inspired by the ghosts of Jim West and Artemis Gordon*.

(*Secret Service is part of Treasury Dept.)

Frugality just a tad too far

July 8th, 2006 at 03:47 am

I read this while I ate my Friday curry special. Nearly put me off my food. Kudos for the anarchists not being black hooded and smashing up stores, but I think it takes group frugality just a tad too far. And actually, group frugality and those rules just make that shared house seem like a joyless experience. Guys, the revolution has to be attractive, because to the average American, living well is the best revenge.

Put another 3$ in the tip box. Did the gym and the chiropractor. I'm getting my routine going and it feels good.

Word from sister: Sister and I are still waiting for the WiDNR final proposal. I have to remember that this is a government entity. Its not like they can just hop on an opportunity in a matter of days.

Coin rescue

July 8th, 2006 at 03:24 am

Expense check from work came $1,223.88. It includes the Nashville junket and the bowling awards. There apparently were no problems with either. YAY! It goes directly to the credit card, which along with what I would put in normally per month ($500), means that I will be only about $200 away from clearing it, even with the trainer. I felt the expense check burning a hole in my wallet, so I ran a special errand to deposit it in my bank.

On my way back, I picked up two pennies on the sidewalk right next to my bank. A guy on the street gave me the fish-eye for stopping to pick up the change.

"I run a coin rescue," I said.

Hey, if you saw an cute little kitty (forgive me kashi), you stop to rescue it, right? And that would cost money. Why not rescue a poor penny, which will increase your net worth by a few hundredths of a percent? Liberate the poor pennies from the chilly sidewalk and get them where they belong - straight into the tip jars and leave a penny trays of the world.

The blahs

July 7th, 2006 at 03:07 am

I haven't been saving money these past few days - wedding gifts (100$), birthday gifts (30$), birthday lunches (30$), Costco membership ($45). Tomorrow is the chiropractor copay - one visit this week. ($20)

Today was the second time this year I used a foreign ATM - $2 transaction fee. Sigh.

And lately I've been eating more, due to the wedding reception and the family visit. I've been buying two lunches rather than the one lunch split in half.

I've got to stop all of it, or at least say no once in awhile. No news from sister on the second property - except that she's made a garden in dad's garden which is putting out beets and zucchini, and soon tomatoes and cucumbers.

The good news - I've put $8 in the tip box in the last three days, and I found a dime in the grocery store parking lot this evening.

Barley salad and a CD escalator

July 4th, 2006 at 04:00 am

Don't laugh, I made a batch from a recipe that I got from the New York Times food section. I finished my first batch during dinner tonight - I'm taking another batch to the potluck tomorrow...And pearl barley is .49/lb right now.

Scottish tabouli (heh, heh, heh)

1 cup pearl barley
2 cup whole kernel corn (I used frozen - we're not in corn season yet)
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
4 radichio "rocket" leaves (recipe called for arugula, so I winged it) - shredded and chopped
2 tsp dried parsley

olive oil
lemon juice
salt
pepper

Soak barley for a couple of hours, or overnight. Boil until tender. Drain & cool - this is cold or a room temp salad.
Cook corn according to package directions. Also drain & cool the corn.
Chop your tomato, shred your rocket.

Make a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper - think tabouli, and also take into account that the barley really sucks up the dressing.

Fluff up the barley, add the cold corn, dress with dressing. Add the parsely, toss, add the tomato, toss, add the rocket, toss. Taste, and correct for seasoning (barley seems to take a lot of salt). Serve at room temperature.

After reading a bit more on the thread "Why ING?" I decided to start a 6 mo CD "escalator" in my ING account. Right now the interest is 5.00%. I expect that the interest rate will go up a bit in the next few months, so I plan to buy 6 6-month CD for 2K around the first of the month. 6 months later, when the first CD matures, I see what's what. All the interest goes into my emergency fund.

It's a little bit different than the ladder, when you construct it so that your CDs mature at once.

the DH family outing

July 3rd, 2006 at 12:14 am

Last entry was more Friday, this is more Saturday. The wedding was for the brother-in-law's son, so it meant that DH's family was in town.

Saturday we went to the Experience Music Project (EMP), or rather, we went to an exhibit inside EMP - some of Paul Allen's collection of art. For 8$, we ducked into a two room alcove and could come face to face with one each of a Cezanne, Picasso, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Turner, Seurat, 2 Monets, 2 Manets, etc. It was fantastic - the exhibit was quiet and the guards let stay as long as you wanted and you could get as close as you wanted - you put your face into the painting and look at brush strokes as long as you didn't touch it. Almost as satisfying as owning it! Much better than the usual at an art museum - practically being tasered along a rope line seven feet from the paintings.

Its just so jarring, though, when the exit door dumps you out into the gift shop. You saw the exhibit, now buy the crap. Smile

Paul Allen and Bill Gates (2 founders of Microsoft) are a funny duo of philanthropy in my mind. Gates's giving strikes me as how you wish you could give if you had the bucks (a bit chilly and precise); Allen's giving is how you figure that you would actually give (your hobbies writ large and make a few more bucks off of it).

And a few hours afterward, a Brazilian restaurant where the waiters serve you all the meat you can eat cut from skewers. Saturday was another bad eating day. Sigh.

Halfway through 2006

July 2nd, 2006 at 11:41 pm

Might just as well do the net worth calculation.

$ 6,747.81 - stocks
$56,147.34 - IRA and 403(B)
$ 8,297.96 - bonds
$30,334.50 - 6 mo CD in brick/mortar bank
$19,385.48 - ING, checking, bank savings
-$ 652.00 - credit card*

$120,261.09 - grand total

*I signed up for more personal training on June 30.

I learned from my trainer that gym time is a bit like the car lot. The trainers in the gym have a quota; if you sign up at the end of the month you'll probably get a better deal.

It turns out that I will get a freebie from my trainer. I only got two new members, but by coincidence the managing CEO was working the table at our site. Seeing that I was an ad ... He got the idea to scour his records, find other downtown worksites that have a lot of clients, then schedule a gym "roadshow" at those offices.

Turns out that I'll need that extra training. The wedding on Friday night was beautiful with great weather, but the reception was a blowout - a couple of glasses of red wine and my judgment turned poor for the buffet. Smile