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Archive for January, 2007

mixing bowl of germs

January 31st, 2007 at 07:53 pm

Saving log - 0$
Spending log - 0$ (no spend day!)

Had a no spend day, aka the workplace semi-annual retreat. The retreat was pretty much the typical HR mumbo-jumbo, where you promise vague and meaningless things for now and promise to do better next year, but at least we got a free breakfast and lunch out of it.

Unfortunately, I got quite a bit more out of it than that... The rooms were cold and what with collecting everybody together all at once, it was a mixing bowl of germs and I know I caught something. It happened very quickly - one minute I was fine, the next .... tired, stuffy, and achy.

That's what you get when the staff retreat happens in the middle of winter and not in April or July, our traditional time.

Now to call gym and work.

overcommitted

January 30th, 2007 at 09:18 pm

Saving log - -4$ (took money out of the tip box)
Spending log - $2 coffee, milk +$9 lunch

Man, that little soiree into Radio Shack cost me a bit. I had to move some money out of the savings account into checking, just to make sure that all my checks are covered. Ironic, because I had just got done depositing 25K. I timed all my money moves ($ going into other saving accounts) to happen at once at the beginning of this week so I only have myself to blame for getting into a box.

On top of that, I promised to take one of the auditors to my favorite lunch spot and I really couldn't back out in a graceful way. So it meant that today, the last day before payday, I did the unthinkable: I took money out of my tip box at work.

Overcommittment is bad for your net worth. TG its the end of the month and payday.

A little conversation with DJ co worker, after we debated the relative merits between Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme donuts...

DJ: so which is your favorite?
Me: after looking in the mirror, neither one. It had better be a celestial, cosmically mind-blowing donut for me to have one.

Taxes 2006

January 29th, 2007 at 10:14 pm

Saving log - $3
Spending log - $2 coffee, milk + $8 lunch

But the $8 rare beef pho lunch came with a walk, which is what I needed. Tonight all the electrons around me went on strike - two electric buses made a turn, twisted a bit - I wouldn't really call it a jack-knife - and stalled out, blocking all the other buses heading north on 3rd Ave. I thought I had missed my bus, instead I walked past it. Waiting there for a little while, I got antsy again, found that my MP3 player died (electrons again) and decided to walk all the way to Macy's and catch the easy bus home.

Just finished calculating and free-filing my taxes. It seemed easier last year, but the reason could be that I had a couple extra 1099s, and I there were a couple of IRA twists that I forgot about. This year I free-filed at the same site that I did last year, so I saved having to hunt around for a company that would do it. (I file in WA state, which has no income tax. Most of the free filing sites will let you file your Federal taxes for free as a loss leader, but want the ability to charge for your state taxes.)

I was very happy that I had my financials on my USB drive (w/ password). The last step had me looking at several lines of my last year's 1040 - the answers would be known only to me and would form an electronic signature. It was a lot easier to look for my .pdf form on the USB than it was in my paper files.

I'm getting back $289. Not bad - I try to shave it close, and with all the interest income I've gotten, I needed the traditional IRA to keep it super close. Next year I expect to pay because I've gone for the Roth IRA, which won't shelter any money.

geek-ette doings

January 28th, 2007 at 11:18 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - 92.44$ radio shack + $3.28 coffee, bagel, cream cheese + $5 purse

Walking over thirty blocks today - to 15th Ave NW and back home, all because I realized that there was a Value Village and a Radio Shack just two blocks further.

So in case you hadn't noticed, I'm a bit of a geek. I'm going to Paris in May, and what are my first thoughts? Electricity. Got a voltage converter, and a small travel AC adapter system where I can charge both my PDA, MP3 player, and digital camera from a wall, a car, or in the airplane. I'm going to use my MP3 player to play a couple of guided MP3 tours of Paris.

Value Village was a bit more fun. I just wanted to look, get my bearings, but I got suckered in by a funky, paisley purse that hung very nicely on the shoulder. It didn't have a price, so the manager let me have it for $5. At home, I found a purse to get rid of.

Not particularly frugal doings, but it means that plans are moving along smartly.

The HT Oaktree Market

January 27th, 2007 at 08:22 pm

Saving log - 0$
Spending log - Denny's breakfast (10$) + groceries (22.54$)

DH told me this week that the old Larry's Market that went under this summer has arisen, phoenix-like from the ashes. Its now the HT (Hop Thanh) Oaktree Market.

Its quite an experience in there. The interior's been remodeled only a little bit, so right now there are still a lot of Larry's bits, some of the signs, the cafe, the kiosks, the sushi stand, the bakery and the wine section hardly look touched at all. And there is a section called "Sales" where I swear the Larry's leftovers landed to be resold.

But it looks like a great Asian grocery store. Picked up a couple of utensils where once the produce was, now its asian cookware and bulk cleaning supplies. Got the fresh seafood - crab, lobster, tilapia. The meat prices look spectacularly low - chicken drumsticks for .69/lb, beef ribs for $1.19 - and if you have a recipe that calls for duck gizzards or pig uteri, well, here's your place.

Freezer section's a treasure trove - I also picked up edamane for .99/lb, checked out the long bean (at $2.19/lb, too rich for my blood), and got a couple of types of asian pears for .89/lb. And for laughs, I got a small bottle of sake for $4.29.

Since I bought over $20 worth of stuff, I got to choose a little thank you gift.

Loved it - it looks a bit like a cross between Uwajimaya, Costco, with some Larry's memories thrown in. The prices seem to run about .20 - $1 cheaper than Uwajimaya, and the parking's a lot easier.

Next door is the Oaktree Cinema - so it looks like we will be smuggling in asian snacks to the movies now. Big Grin

One horsefly swatted

January 26th, 2007 at 10:38 pm

Saving log - 4$ tip box (starting anew!)
Spending log - 2$ coffee, milk + 13$ lunch chirashi

I must have semi-overdid it in the gym "classes" this week, everything's stiff - legs, stomach, arms right at the side of my armpit. Didn't even think I had muscles there. But my upper arms don't jiggle. Managed to drink water and eat salad for dinner, but I got caught with an afternoon cookie. The cookie was worth it.

Needed the relatively expensive chirashi (strewn sushi). Its brain food and I needed my brains today. I managed to finish the first draft of a very complicated company match calculation (company shall remain nameless, but not link-less, I'll be mean that way). Sometimes doing these things is like having a proctologist do a root canal - not only are are you screwed in an unexpected way, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

But I'm happy that its done, and now I can concentrate on catching up.

Like Ima Saver, I'm finding that my big check is taking soooooo long to get posted. A piece of it was supposed to post on Friday and it still hasn't. What gives? I mean its a big check, but cripes its coming from another bank, and not a tiny one at that! I found a partial explanation on the bankrate.com site.

Got the TIAA-CREF 1099 form that had all zeroes on it. I moved the 403B money into an IRA so it was sheltered on both sides. Cost more to mail it than I'll be using it.

Goodwill

January 25th, 2007 at 08:26 pm

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - 2$ coffee, milk + $5 lunch

Collected my tip box squeezings and put them in the bank. $48. All told, since I've started slipping change and bucks into the tip box at work when I remembered, then sticking it in the bank once per month, I've saved about $1338 in two years. Its small, but the action is painless and its $1338 that I wouldn't have had.

My afternoon exercise bus passes right by a large North Seattle Goodwill, I've been in a couple of times. Every so often I talk to someone about the Goodwill - us frugal types somehow know each other... call it fru-dar - and I've discovered two things about my neighborhood Goodwill:

1.) Best general sales and the lowest markups are on Monday. Go on Monday if you want to buy big bags of stuff.

2.) The new electronics come out on Thursday, right before the weekend.

hump day

January 24th, 2007 at 10:49 pm

Saving log - 2$ tip box
Spending log - 2$ coffee, milk + $13 lunch

Well, its busy again at work, major horsefly swarm, all the complicated projects coming at once, everybody wanting to talk to me to "understand" some of pledges that we process. If I did them right, I have to shake my head and hit the DND button. Time to me to do and to get 'r done - your wanting to understand is only slowing me down.

I did manage to have lunch with lawyer friend and gang. Lawyer friend is depressed and is on the outs with his bosses, screenwriter friend is definitely being outsourced and demoted in title (but with two bonuses after 5 months - take the money and run, my friend), finnish friend found a new love, and I'm going to Paris.

Well, it is a couple of days from being the most depressing day of the year - which was last Monday. Its supposed to be the most depressing because its Monday, the credit card bills are due from the holidays, short days, and you've bombed out on your resolutions. They forgot about Wednesday being "hump day", when everyone takes it out on you!

second property doings

January 23rd, 2007 at 09:34 pm

Savings log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee, milk + $4.50 curry

Got an email from sister today. We should plan a bit about what to do with the second property.

Just to review 'cuz its been awhile, dad's farm was comprised of two pieces of property (both about 80 acres) that didn't touch each other, and were about two miles apart (this ain't Texas!). The first piece of property was sold about a year ago. The second piece of property has the house, barn, buildings, etc, and about 1/3 of it is a wetland - too low to be farmable. Right now the Wisconsin DNR is interested in buying most of the property, leaving us with 7 acres and the buildings.

However no offer has been made, and we don't really know when they would come on as a buyer. And about 45-50 acres is farmable. It means that January is a very good time to come up with plans for the year...at least its a better time than April, which is when the US Bank executors were thinking about it. City boys, eh?

Sister wrote to me the possiblity of renting it out - one farmer is interested in it, which means that he would till it and grow crops on it and pay us one time for the use of it during the year. Sister isn't thrilled about him either ... he's not Nut, he's more like Peanut. This issue with Peanut is that he's a pig - uses tons of fertilizer, herbicides, had plenty of equipment that leaks fuel oil, etc. Sister's thought is to contact the farmer who was tilling dad's second property. I don't know whether he would be interested in it, especially if it would be for just one year.

The timing is the issue for me. If I knew for a fact that WiDNR would buy the property this coming fall, then it wouldn't really matter; we could leave it fallow and be done with it. If its going to be a couple of years, well someone should use it.

Tough being a member of the landed gentry. Big Grin

not so easy this time

January 22nd, 2007 at 09:34 pm

Saving log - see below
Spending log - $1.36 coffee, 11$ lunch

Well I deposited the 3rd distribution of the estate today (its not really an advance any more). It seems to be more difficult to put it in. The difficulty isn't with me particularly, it seems like the bank is getting tighter. I know you all should have such problems! Big Grin

I put the 25K into my checking account, dangerous to many, but not really to me - I know what I want to do with it.

It went into the bank just fine, but due to the size of the check, the bank is putting a 5 business day hold on the first 5K, a 10 business day hold on the rest. That didn't seem to happen last year. So the money has to wait in the bank until early February.

My plan is to put 20K into my taxable Vanguard account, but that will be delayed too, because I sold 4K worth to put into my Roth IRA. A noble goal, but I now can't do anything for 60 days, until early March. I could keep that 20K in ING, but perhaps I should put it in another 4 week T-bill, if the interest rate is a shade higher.

Of the other 5K, I plan on putting 1.5K into gym class/ personal training, and the last 3.5K into ING with the expectation that I'll be using the money for the Paris trip.

It seems so odd to be writing about such a large sum of money when it seems many here are struggling. Let me know if I am offensive.

Leather furniture upkeep

January 21st, 2007 at 08:44 pm

What I did today, staying at home.

. Wiped down the leather furniture with leather cleaner. The cleaner smells like Elmer's Glue. Yech!
. Watched football.
. Reformatted the old 20 gig hard drive so now I can use it as a backup.
. Vacuumed
. Laundry
. Made turkey curry out of frozen turkey breast, onion, sweet potato, carrot, frozen peas and frozen green beans. Did a fine job of clearing out a bit of freezer space. I never have 400 lbs of food like flash did, but even clearing some of a small amount is a great feeling - feels like you are clever, somehow.

Thirty seconds after AFC game, we got an invite from the Duvall, WA friends. Big Colts fans, and we love dissing the ads. Haven't said this since 1985... so, um...Go. Bears.

new park fun

January 20th, 2007 at 08:46 pm

Saving log - $35 Drp
Spending log - $10 breakfast + $2.50 hot cider

This is a big, disgusting story in Seattle. Nothing more dangerous than used car salesman when they find a mark, which happened to be a frugal, but mentally unstable man. Worse for the used car salesman, this only matches their reputation.

Got 3 1099 forms and the 25K check in the mail, the third advance. I think I am close, but I think I do my taxes in early February, instead of now.

DH and I had some very frugal fun - Seattle opened the new Olympic Sculpture Park today. Completely free, except for the hot cider. ($2.50) It was a lot of fun, walking in the open air, tromping through nine acres. Its a lot better, prettier use of land than what was on the land ten years ago - it was a fuel storage site operated by Unocal. There were far too many crowds and lines for my taste, though. I think it'll be much more fun and entertaining in a couple of months, when it will just be a few people tromping around. The only other weird thing was there was graffiti on some of the sculptures already! We got animals here.