<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Archive: December, 2007
 

Archive for December, 2007

last day of the year rush

January 1st, 2008 at 04:47 am

Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $1.91 large coffee + $9 lunch

Today was the downside of working for a large non-profit. We were very busy today, the last day of the year, charging the credit cards of the procrastinators who want a tax substantiation for 2007. When I left for my hour of gym, a donor was actually waiting in the lobby, tapping his card on the bullet proof glass in the lobby. Sigh. I have to admit that today's a lot easier when it falls on a weekend.

It feels like the recession is coming, even here in supposedly "bullet proof" Seattle. Other years we would have 3-4 unchargable credit cards/ week; this year 18!

Net worth, second half 2007

January 1st, 2008 at 04:33 am

Net worth 2007

All of dad's inheritance has now been dispersed to sister and I. Grandmother's inheritance has not been dispersed yet. Again, these numbers have very little bearing on any frugalness from our part. The real estate value of the farmette (house, barn, sheds, solar panels, 7 acres) has not been included in any form in this net worth tally. Somehow its wiser not to put a value something as sentimental as the farmette. Besides, unless sister buys me out (not for many years), the value of the farmette is moot. Best to handle what I can control.

I've had to take out CDs at various banks. I'll have to see about CDARS, where one bank will farm out CDs to other banks, keeping within FDIC regulations.

Snapshot of net worth, last half of 2007

$135,941 IRA/403(B)
$15,829 stock (4 DRPs)
$26,453 EE bonds, I bonds, T bills
$139,959 CDs
$9,181 ING, PayPal savings
$1,325 immediate cash in checking/savings
----
$328,688 grand total

By comparison:
Dec 2007 ($328,688 total, $192,747 in taxable accounts)
June 2007 ($176,422 total, $48,205)
Dec 2006 ($132,062 total, $40,329)
June 2006 ($120,261 total, $65,148)
Dec 2005 ($67,778 total, $23,740)
June 2005 ($46,115 total, $11,293)
Dec 2004 ($38,338 total, $7,558)
June 2004 ($29,050 total, $4,533)

shopping spree part 2

December 31st, 2007 at 02:06 am

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 brunch + $50 wine + $30 groceries

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.38 coffee, bagel + $16 thrift store + $11 groceries

The shopping spree continues. New Years is the big day for liquor - all the wine shops are open, even on Sunday. DH got champagne with his own money - I went for 3 nice bottles of vino to go with our vast collection of 4 buck chuck. You have the nice wine first and then deploy the chuck for the second bottle. Not as if Robert Parker's coming to visit. Big Grin

I've been going to the gym on Sundays for the last few months to get that 3rd session a week in. I've been on a plateau for a whole year now, and while I'd much prefer not to be, at least I've only been gaining and losing about 3 pounds even during the holidays. Any how, I just didn't feel inspired by going to the gym today. Instead I caught a bus that would drop me off on 24th Ave NW and I walked back - about 3 miles.

Of course I did a little shopping at the thrift store and a grocery along the way. I picked up another pair of jeans which were new, fashionable, and fit. I would have preferred them to be $5, but you can't have everything.

The groceries were for a nice New Years Eve to hole up in. DH and I have no plans for going out - just staying in, drinking champagne, seeing a racy DVD, and figuring out my net worth for you all!

US debt reconsolidation?

December 30th, 2007 at 07:32 am

A funny from The Onion that might encourage a few of our newer bloggers. If you are reading this on a laptop, swallow what you are drinking before clicking:

http://tinyurl.com/2kq9z2

Wacky Pilaf

December 29th, 2007 at 06:19 am

You can make a pilaf out of any cooked grain, not just rice. I love through the bulk bins of grains in the grocery store and picking up some. It does mean that a couple of months later I often have a bit of this and a bit of that, not enough to make a side by itself. Instead of buying more at that moment I collect the bits and make a wacky pilaf. This is one of my favorites that I made for Christmas.

Wacky Pilaf

1 minced onion
1 chopped carrot
2 cups quinoa
1/2 cup kasha (buckwheat groat)
1/2 cup wild rice
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
salt, pepper

Soak the quinoa for about 15 minutes in twice the amount of water (2 cups quinoa means 4 cups water). Swish the grain in the water a bit. This is to remove the grain's bitter, soapy tasting coating.

Boil the wild rice in a small saucepan until slightly underdone, about 20 minutes. Drain. Wild rice should be al dente chewy, not mushy.

Boil the kasha in a small saucepan until done, about 2-3 minutes. Kasha cooks very quickly - when done, drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, drain again.

Drain the soaked, raw quinoa. Its a small grain, you will need a fine mesh colander.

Saute the onion and carrot in the butter or olive oil over medium heat until carrot is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the wet quinoa to the onion and carrot, stir to mix, cover pan with lid, then turn down the heat to low and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Stir after 5 minutes to prevent sticking.

Add kasha and wild rice to the pan, stir to coat. If necessary, add a bit more oil. Quinoa is done when it turns translucent. Salt and pepper to taste, serve warm.

This pilaf microwaves very well. 1 minute and its perfect.

day off shopping spree

December 29th, 2007 at 05:41 am

Thursday
Saving log - $9 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $8 lunch

Friday
Saving log - $300 ING
Spending log - $1.50 bagel (free coffee!) + $230 spending

Since I worked on Christmas Eve and on Boxing Day, I took today off, and I plan to take a few more days off in January. Boy I needed it - I was losing my nouns when I talked to people and I felt like I was ready to kill someone, two signs that I was burning out. Oh yes, and the faint smell of burning toast Big Grin ...

After a little bagel breakfast, free coffee from the punch card, and a nice, easy forty five minutes with the paper at the neighborhood coffee shop, I was ready for the day of clothes shopping, lunch, CD and more clothes shopping. I did pretty well, buying things I would use and use often: 1 pair cords, 1 pair jeans, 3 tops, 1 track jacket, 6 pairs of underwear, 3 CDs, a digital TV antenna (for the new Christmas TV), and a conveyor belt sushi lunch.

It was fun, in the budget, restful, and guilt free all around. I could see how someone would feel very good about buying stuff. Its too bad that the pleasures of saving money are far more cerebral - seeing higher numbers in various accounts from one day to the next is just not as brightly sensual.

Transferred $300 from checking into ING savings.

thing I noticed

December 27th, 2007 at 04:28 am

Piling on from observations written by mom-from-missouri and Dollars for Dough Nuts.

Ever notice that we are called "consumers" rather than "citizens"? Fairly soon we will all be "borrowers" or perhaps "sheep".

boxing day

December 27th, 2007 at 04:24 am

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $10 lunch

This week has been very quiet. Just to recap, I've worked on Monday, Christmas Eve, and today, Boxing Day, but I am taking Friday off just for a break.

If only a commute could be as nice as it was on Christmas Eve. DH drove me - it took 15 minutes - while coming back I was one of three people on the bus, a bus which lately has been stuffed to the gills until it hits Ballard.

Christmas was pleasant and low key. DH and I had a similar pattern - we each gave the other electronics for the house. We upgraded the TV and CD/radio/MP3 player in our little "starter" duplex. We then went to a potluck dinner Christmas.

Boxing Day was only a little bit more lively, but still pleasant. The last survivor of the temporary campaign staff is leaving at the end of this week, so we took him out to lunch. I got caught up, went to gym class, and answered the phone only once today. A miracle.

merry christmas eve

December 25th, 2007 at 03:38 am

I haven't been posting many pictures lately. The auditor next door at work was in the midst of decorating her tree. I loved the top. Have a King Kong Christmas!

got it back

December 23rd, 2007 at 12:29 am

...my debit card that is. I went back to the WaMu connected the debit eating card ATM to get some dollars and rescue my card. The teller was sympathetic - matter of fact he said my card was one of twenty!

Behind and between the tellers lay a 4 column 5 row grid of debit cards in various colors on a counter. The teller plucked mine out 3rd or 4th from the grid, gave me the card and gave me the money.

I told the tellers that it looked like the card could have been fished out of the slot given enough time and effort, so I jammed it in further, thinking that at least no one else could use it.

The tellers laughed - it didn't really work. The WaMu closed at 6 pm yesterday, and I was there at 6:30 pm. I'm certain that there were not 19 people jamming cards into the ATM before I came.

I've come to the conclusion that we all must be financial sheep when you think about it. When I put the card into the ATM last night, it felt funny...the ATM usually grabs the card and pulls it in. No grabbing last night. So what did I and 19 other people do? Yep, force it in! Common sense be dammed; I guess we all need the "out of order" sign. No wonder why skimmers work - if we need money and an ATM is available, we get into a zone and stick our card into it, no matter how "off" it appears.

Still, I'm relieved. Live to get money next week.

ATM 1 : debit card 0

December 22nd, 2007 at 04:30 am

Saving log - $5
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $5 lunch

Grrrr. My WaMu ATM closest to my house ate my debit card. For awhile it looked just close enough in the slot so that I thought I could fish it out. I tried a pencil, my keys, my PDA stylus, other plastic cards (carefully) and combinations of each. Nothing.

So I did what I thought was a radical step - I jammed it in further. I figured that:

I didn't want anyone else to be able to somehow dig out my card and use it.

I wanted to break it so that other people literally couldn't use the machine.

That the broken machine would generate enough complaints so somebody would come down and at least put an "out of order" sign.

My plan is to go down tomorrow morning and either get cash, or better, cash and my rescued card. I figure that I'll have to get a new one. Grrr!

Things I wished I would have been told about at 25

December 21st, 2007 at 05:02 am

Things I wished I would have been told about at 25: A One Act

(I was told to be creative, so now you pay!)

Cast of Characters

Me at 25: baselle in grad school
Me at 45: baselle now

Scene: A favorite coffeehouse near the campus of the University of Washington, a Sunday twenty years ago.

Me at 45 (pointing at an empty chair): Mind if I sit down?
Me at 25 (looking up from a newspaper): Sure.
Me at 45: New York Times, eh? What’s new?
Me at 25: Not much. I get the paper for the crossword. But I get it at the student rate subscription, so it’s cheaper than the Seattle paper.
Me at 45: That is a deal! So do you pretend that you’re buying the Seattle paper?
Me at 25: My budget only works at the student rate.
Me at 45: So save the difference and stick it in the bank.
Me at 25: Nope, besides that’s only about 35 cents per day.
Me at 45: Or about 120$ a year.
Me at 25: Which I’ll need. I need every penny. If only –
Me at 45: If only what?
Me at 25: (sigh) If only I wasn’t trying to survive on 550$/month.
Me at 45: For how long?
Me at 25: So far, about a year.
Me at 45: Atta girl. I’m impressed. Now that’s a skill - surviving on $6000 a year. It’s painful and ugly, but it gives you flexibility. Don’t lose it.
Me at 25: No fun, though. I have to ignore everything except the necessities. No TV, no nothing.
Me at 45: But no TV helps you ignore what other people do and spend. If you ignore everyone else, you can concentrate on what you do and spend. People spend with peers, but they save all by themselves. Funny that.
Me at 25: So what do you make?
Me at 45: $44,000, savings, an inheritance.
Me at 25: Inheritance? Are we related?
Me at 45: (lying) Not that I know of.
Me at 25: Still. Wow. Easy street for you.
Me at 45: (sigh) Not all it’s cracked up to be. You can always buy more. No matter how much you have, you can always buy more. The trick is not to earn more, or buy less even, but to want less. (picks up a section of the newspaper, flips through the ads) Geez, never gonna see prices like that anymore.
Me at 25: You’re making fun of me.
Me at 45: Not at all. But I do have one piece of advice for you. As soon as someone says “only” along with a dollar amount…
Me at 25: Run?
Me at 45: Think carefully. “Only” repeats monthly for many, many years. Coffee’s on me – thank you for the chat.

cold, dank, dark, nearly no spend world

December 20th, 2007 at 04:32 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee

With the potluck, a nearly no spend day. Back to the cheaper, not-too-bad, needs-a- bit-of-milk coffee. DJ friend told me that within a year that the place I buy the coffee at and all the other businesses around are going away - the building is going to be renovated into a hotel with a large swanky expensive restaurant. Progress marches on, but I'm getting to be the age where its not as much fun.

Another item that's not as much fun is the weather - Seattle has turned into Venus again, all murky and cloudy and dank. Last year it rained mostly in November, but this year all the bad weather's hitting during the shortest days of the year. Seattle really wants to clean house, I guess... to get rid of the poseurs who showed up in the summer. Suspecting that, though, doesn't help me expel myself from a nice warm bed and into a cold, dank, dark world this week.

Put this month's $46 from the tip box into savings. Since September 2004, I've put $1775 into savings through my tip box. Life in the slow satisfying saver lane.

3$ cup of coffee

December 19th, 2007 at 04:39 am

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $3 coffee + $5 lunch

I know, I know...the three dollar coffee looks weird, like I went off the frugal wagon. Co worker told me about this place where they brew the coffee in this special way through this special machine. So it was a 3$ cup of "drip" coffee. Should I even admit that I bought it here?

The coffee was very, very good. I don't know if its worth it for everyday drinking, but for a treat and just to experience a real good coffee it was worth it today. It had a strong, nice smell and a smooth complex taste, yet very drinkable even black without cream or milk; it even had sweetness at the end. Cold detracted only a little bit. And at no time did it or the shop or the beans smell like cigarette butts ala most Starbucks. IMO, a frappacino is a malted, not a coffee.

But I tightened up a bit on lunch today, while lunch tomorrow is a potluck. The three dollar coffee averages out.

lucky bus, unlucky IMAX

December 17th, 2007 at 02:37 am

Friday
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $8 lunch

Saturday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $13 brunch + $231 Christmas gifts + $40 dinner with friends

Sunday - $0 tip box
Spending log - $16 Walgreens

Finished Saturday with the Christmas shopping - whew. This weekend I saw a lot of shoppers and the stores were busy.

Once you buy more than one package, the hard part comes when you have to lug the loot on the bus. I thought I had just missed the bus, but luck smiled on me - the bus I had missed must had been extremely late because another my-bus showed up a minute later. It was especially lucky not only because I caught that one, but since the extremely late bus forged ahead it picked up all the other riders before my bus came. It meant lots of empty seats that stayed empty and no bashing of others with the boxes as I tromped down the aisle to get off.

We were also supposed to see I Am Legend with DJ friend and his DW at the IMAX. The IMAX projector broke Friday night, so it was just like the airlines - we rebooked. And we got several free passes for our trouble.

a decided lack of entertainment here

December 14th, 2007 at 05:17 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee

Nearly no spend day because we had our Winter Event - aka the afternoon office holiday party. A lunch in a nice venue in downtown Seattle, with a drawing for prizes, and a couple of speakers. It was all right, but not nearly as entertaining as ones when they had the no host bar. Now there was frugal entertainment! I don't remember the precise year when we stopped having the ability to buy a drink. A guess that's a good sign that I don't have an adult beverage problem. Big Grin

I won 2 tickets to a John Denver (esque) concert at the Seattle Rep that I must use by Dec 24. I put the esque in parantheses for a reason, John Denver's been dead for awhile. Or maybe, just maybe, if I have that adult beverage that could appear to change.

Paycheck tomorrow. $50 goes to another DRP account. The interest that I've been earning on T-bills has been dropping like a rock - over the summer its been 5%, now its about 3%.

I keep getting Ameriprise materials, so I know that an account in my name had been created and bits of grandmas trust is moving into it, but nothing final. They say that trusts resolve more quickly for heirs, but in my experience the probate process was much more absorbing and a bit more transparent. I know that's a bit weird to say, but with all the decisions that sister and I had to make it seemed that probate knit us together a bit more. I'm sure sister would disagree - she had to do most of the heavy lifting. Trusts just seem mysterious. If its that much a done deal, just cut us two checks and be done with it.

a secret decoder ring

December 12th, 2007 at 05:06 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $15 lunch

I've put some of my money in electronic savings bonds and recurring 4 wk T-bills so I have a Treasury Direct.gov account. I got an email two weeks ago from TD explaining that I will get a card and a letter of explanation about a new layer of security.

Tonight I got the Treasury Direct card and letter. The card is laminated, and is a grid - numbers running down, letters going across. The layer of security is this. I type in my account number and three letter/digit pairs appear - I'm to type what's in the intersection in the grid.

Interesting. Reminds me of Ralphie in A Christmas Story http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085334/ when he bought and finally got one of the secret decoder rings. After a lot of work decoding the secret message at the end of the radio serial, it was: DRINK OVALTINE.

Thinking about WaMu today - who isn't in Seattle? It's my brick and mortar bank downtown. I don't have a lot in there - I direct deposit my paycheck in a checking account, have credit card with them and have a little bit in a savings account. My tip box savings goes into the savings account. Mostly I treat that WaMu savings account as a little antechamber - I've linked my ING, Paypal, & Treasury Direct accounts to savings. All told, if I have more than $2000 combined in both accounts, I know its time to move some bucks away from WaMu to somewhere else.

Not too frightened, less than .5% of my money's in WaMu, but a shaky WaMu is a financial shot across the bow. Tonight I logged in - WaMu is offering over 5% on a 6 month CD. Yikes. How the he!! can they earn that? T-bills are running around 3%.

One order of kool-aid, hold the cyanide.

here fishy, fishy

December 11th, 2007 at 05:13 am

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $9 lunch +$172 sister Christmas gift

Went to the fishmonger today to buy and ship sister's Christmas gift. Bought two large steelhead salmon fresh off the boat along with a cooked crab, then had the salmon filleted. Most of the cost is coming from the shipping - since its fresh fish, it has to get from Seattle to Milwaukee the next day.

I bought two fish and got them large enough so she couldn't just cook and eat it all at once. Big Grin I figured that she would give one of the fish to a couple in the area - dad's friends, who took care of dad, the house, and the grounds a bit. Now this couple have been helping sister out - since they live nearby they keep an eye on the farmette and have been good friends of sister. So its a sneaky political tactic - I'm sending two gifts in one.

About the crab...well, I had a chat with sister when I was there in October. Last year I gave fruit of the month, figuring they were sick of fish. No, no, no they were not sick of fish. The fruit was good, they said, but cripes they can get good fruit anywhere. Salmon and seafood - in Milwaukee that's pricey. What about crab, I asked. Sure, put one on top! Big Grin

Best of all, I know the fish hadn't been flung around. You all know my opinions on that score - why bore you this year about it.

IMing for fun and profit

December 9th, 2007 at 01:08 am

Friday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $8 lunch

Saturday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $13 brunch + $60 groceries

About three weeks ago, sister sent me an IM invite from yahoo.com. It meant that I had to get a yahoo.com email, but free is free, so I got one. I only hope sister doesn't think I will ever use it...I've forgotten my username on it already. Maybe I'll stick my spam offers there or something.

I did set up instant messaging at start up for the faint possibility that sister will be awake at the same time I am. Sister lives 2 hrs ahead of me and has early hours, so possibility was faint.

Yesterday sister was up in the middle of the night and took a chance. We IMed for about 2 hours. Wow, its way cheaper than a phone call and we got caught up. So I learned:

--Sister hasn't sent in her forms yet to the trustee. (I thought I was the slacker)
--Wisconsin got about 8 inches of snow.
--Sister has to figure out who she can get to shovel out the farmette driveway today.
--Both sister and her partner are working hurt. Sister with the knee and partner with the lower back.
--We both got caught short on Thanksgiving and had to buy the 20 lb turkey because that was the smallest available.
--We both handle about 2 or 3 threads at once. Neither one of us wait for question response, question response. We both question question question, response, response, response. I wonder if this is normal for IM? Big Grin

I wonder if she has a blog and doesn't tell me because she said things about me behind my back. I haven't told my sister about this blog. I don't think its a bad, but I figure it would be very inhibitory.

30 days

December 7th, 2007 at 04:17 am

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $15 chirashi lunch

I'm on disc 2 of an F/X series called 30 Days. 30 Days is made by Morgan Sperlock, who famously tried to live on McDonalds for 30 days in Super Size Me. Different people lived a different lifestyle for 30 days. For the purposes of this journal, the two interesting 30 day experiments were of 1) Sperlock and his fiancee trying to live on minimum wage for 30 days in Columbus OH and 2) a couple trying to live "off the grid" for 30 days. Both couples managed it, with some insights, but 30 days is not that long a time. Smile They are both punks compared to lrjohnson, living for ONE YEAR on CA minimum wage. I miss her...is she coming back?

Managed to lose 1% of body fat last week. How did that happen?

Work is crazy, of course, but now a tad strange. One of the higher ups (defined as anyone higher up than me) is having issues that I find hard to describe. The closest I can come up with is mental confusion. Not emotional issues, and not dangerous, but ...odd.

blub blub

December 5th, 2007 at 04:03 am

Monday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $2.39 coffee, milk + $8 lunch

Tuesday
Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $7.50 lunch

Nope. While I'm in North Seattle, I did not get flooded out. I'm on a ridge, but about 20 blocks from the flood plain near Northgate. Sure has been wet rain, not a mist - a quick jog for a couple of blocks gets your legs soaked.

The rain's made a hash of the work schedule. Temp guy had to take off work to go rescue his stuff from his apartment. Day care places have flooded out, so I've had to be flexible and allow for a child or two. We work in the basement, ordinarily okay except for this fall we've had a lot of leaks - water coming in from leaks between the sidewalk and the curb on 2nd Avenue.

DJ friend is back on the mend, but his finances got wiped out from the week he'd been out. I had been looking for a Christmas gift for him - instead the stars aligned to give him a much better gift. I had been paying my copays to the chiropractor, but during the physical therapy billing phase the copay turned into a credit. My original plan was to ask for a refund of the chiropractor at the end of the year. Instead I asked to put half of my refund into DJ friend's account, good for a month of back popping at the student rate.

Trust administrator is asking for "one more form" for grandma's estate. This time I'm the foot dragger - it looks like the trustees are setting up new accounts in my name. Sigh. Just give me the inheritance in my name.

winter mix

December 2nd, 2007 at 04:31 am

Well its the winter mix, aka french toast weather! DH and I called it that when we lived in North Carolina, because as soon as the weather reports turned faux apocalyptic (1 day of bad weather), every grocery store sold out of milk, eggs, and bread - like everyone gets a one day hankering for french toast.