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Archive for April, 2008

dilated all day

April 29th, 2008 at 08:34 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.25 coffee, bagel + $700 glasses, eye exam + $8 lunch.

Eyes, that is.

I'm 46 today. I had two birthday errands: glasses in the morning, and gym in the afternoon.

Glasses - the original plan was to check but assume that the old prescription would hold and I could simply get a second pair of frames and lenses. It turned out that my prescription had changed sufficiently so that I really couldn't use my old prescription for my second, but I could get new lenses for current frames, making up the second pair. The last test was to dilate the pupils of my eyes so the optometrist could check most of the back my retina to identify detachment, degeneration, the optic nerve, etc. Two sets of eyedrops - the anesthetic drops to prevent the sting and the dilator. Everything checked out well - no glaucoma, no degeneration, no oddities on the retina. Just more floaters in one eye than in the other. What is ... nah, don't tell me, I don't really want to know what causes the floaters. :P

The two pair of lenses and one pair of frames were quite expensive, as you can see above. I was a bit more nearsighted, I needed progressive lenses (my current pair is the first one I had) but my astigmatism improved slightly. It makes for a complicated prescription. I just have to think that its to make an heir and a spare, that I do this every 25 months, and I have savings for it.

Then it was to make it through my plans half blind (only 6-10 ft was okay) and avoid the sun at all costs for at least 4 hours. Just another reason why it paid to be a bus devotee. I could sit in the dark, rotating section of the articulated bus. Seattle helped out too. It was sunny when I left the optometrist - within an hour it grew cloudy and rainy. Thanks, Seattle, I owe you one.

Gym was fine, except for the fact that I was doing stuff while my eyes were dilated. We kept it simple.

kicking around town and on the water

April 28th, 2008 at 09:00 pm

Pulled the trigger on two of my decisions from the last entry. Started the new drip (IP) by filling out the application, and I added $500 to my bank Drip.

I have no idea when my stimulus check is going to hit my account - I filed electronically, but I paid by check. I'll either be 2 weeks from now or 5 weeks from now.

Found out that sister gave her notice to her job last Friday. Her last day is the 9th. Her plan is to take six months off and work on the farmette.

Still on my vacation and kicked around town again today. Went to the Tully's downtown to catch up with three people from tinfoil-hat set Big Grin. They've always been there kvetching, watching CNN and CNBC, waiting for the recession. Actually, except for the fact that I don't own gold or silver, I apparently fit right in. During the conversation, I found out that only one of us had a car, two of us rented, and none of us changed our food buying habits. So we are all carless cranks throwing our money away on rent.

Kicked around West Seattle, then came back to downtown Seattle and did the $6.70 mini-vacation - I took the ferry to Bremerton and back. I managed to get back before it got too windy and before the storm clouds in the west hit Seattle.

current decisions

April 26th, 2008 at 11:08 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3 coffee, turnover + $7 lunch + $45 groceries

Screenwriter friend is starting to make an independent movie based one of his scripts. Today I helped him out with auditions. I really didn't do much - I provided a friendly face and was an additional presence while people tried out for various roles. It made for an interesting Saturday.

Right now I've a cluster of "small" financial decisions to make.

I, like retire@50, have also bumped up my I-bond purchase for this month. I'm purchasing $400 in I-bonds, for a total of $10K. I figure it will complete my holdings for a little while. Because the t-bill auctions have garnered such a poor interest rate (.8-1.5%), I figure that the May I-bonds will have a very poor fixed interest rate, giving me an excuse not to buy any for a little while, meaning I have $100/month to invest somewhere else.

I will have my round lot of KO in June. After June, I will stop buying KO for a little while and let that ride. I might pick that up again if KO drops back down below $50. Here I have $50/month to invest somewhere else.

One of my CDs is maturing at the end of May. Bummer - its at 5.2%. I won't get such a lovely interest rate for a little while. I plan on rolling it over, but for a 6 month term. It will be a bad interest rate, but it makes no sense to lock it in for longer than 6 months. The interest the CD earned is going to ING.

The bank Drip stock that I own has bucked the trend and increased its dividend by a penny/share/quarter. I read that as a sign of strength and plan on adding to my position of the stock, using savings. Not too much - $500 or so.

I'm going to start a new Drip with the $600 stimulus check. Not saving, but not spending either. I have the paperwork; all that's necessary is to fill out the form my transfer agent provided. Since I'm so used to paying $50/month for a drip, in a sense I'm trading KO for something else.

a couple of tourist days

April 25th, 2008 at 06:47 pm

Friday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.25 coffee, bagel + $1.70 coffee (McAmericano - hah hah) + $25 duck ride ticket + $11 lunch + $20 2 CDs

Thursday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.80 coffee + $13 lunch + $11 crockpot cookbook + $30 graphic novel

Made my gym appointment yesterday (181.8 lbs!! yay), but also played tourist at the little shops inside and underneath the Pike Market. Ate lunch at my hideout in the market, and afterward in one of the shops, found a crockpot cookbook that had a couple of good ideas and contained a number of pork recipes (DH loves pork and brings some home all the time). Also, you probably don't know this, but I do follow one particular comic/ graphic novel "world". A new novel came out and I was glad to see it. There was a very bad movie made of that comic world - it seemed to clear out the poseurs, I guess.

Today I rode the Duck ride - amphibious craft will take tourists throughout downtown Seattle, then will splash into Lake Union, chug around Lake Union for 45 minutes or so, then come up onto the road, drive around Fremont a bit and head for base. At least twice a week every week of my workday, as a pedestrian I passed a Duck picking its way through Pioneer Square. After nine years, curiosity got the better of me. Big Grin

The only vaguely frightening part - the driver (Captain Hoohaw) needed both hands to get his wig on. Hope he was steering with his knees.


Coming on the left and over you on the water...


Then, after the Duck ride, 3 block walk and a little shopping at a CD store - both new and used. The checkout person saved me 50% - she was interested in buying one of the CDs that I had so she knew that there were a couple of used copies.

So far, it has been a bit more spendy than usual to play the tourist rather than the working slob ... on the other hand, no hotel rates, no gas consumed, no terribly pricey restaurants.

like new

April 23rd, 2008 at 09:32 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.25 coffee, bagel + $3.50 wrap

First day of at-home, in-situ vacation. I don't know about you, but as long as I don't have to look at a spreadsheet at work, its a vacation. Besides, one of the cardinal rules of frugality is, "enjoy what you have". I live in a city that people actually travel to see, so instead of traveling somewhere else for a week, enjoy some of the things here.

But not quite today. I got caught up on some chores and errands. The one that was the most successful was going to Greenwood Optical. I feared my glasses were scratched beyond repair - it had been 2 years after all - but it turned out that only the anti-reflective (AR) coating was scratched. Remove that, and the lenses underneath were fine. I can see! Very well!

The optician was interested in putting the AR back on, but that would take a week and I had no second pair. I made an appointment next week to get my eyes checked and get another pair of glasses. Its not cheap, but it would be very prudent to have a spare.

I remembered that I really had to be talked into getting that AR coating the first time. I thought of it as like rust proofing a new car. Now its a sweet deal to reincarnate my glasses.

The AR stripping was free. (We treat our customers right, they said.) The AR reinstallation will be $79. Insurance will pay for part of the second pair of glasses.

I walked around Green Lake, bought a sandwich with a coupon for lunch, then came home, read blogs, and cleaned the living room.

round lot musings

April 22nd, 2008 at 08:11 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $8 lunch

One of the little known concerns of dollar cost averaging and the dividend reinvestment program is figuring out when to stop.

In a matter of months I will have at least 100 shares of KO, in other words, the "round lot". It used to be that you couldn't buy stocks from a broker in ones and twos; you had to buy a round lot of 100 shares at a time. It made the math a lot easier. Spreadsheet programs really made the drip feasible. Big Grin

I've been musing about whether to quit at 100 shares, quit for awhile because the price is just a tad rich (darn lucky that KO was in the 40$ doldrums for several years), continue until the dividend re-investment itself will buy the shares, or never stop.

Never stopping is the least appealing. I'd like to stop because I'd like to start another drip; actively investing in 3-4 drips is about the edge of my budget and attention. (I follow about 10 others passively, no problem there!) 100 shares is nice and round, however it never be exactly 100 shares - everything is calculated to 4 decimal points. It will be awhile before the dividend reinvestment dollars coming in quarterly will fully pay for what I put in every month. About 8 years at present prices.

No right answer here, just musing. I'm actually excited about knowing that I'll have 100 shares of something.

unluckily lucky

April 20th, 2008 at 09:03 pm

I walked from downtown to the southern-most neighborhood of North Seattle - its the midway point between downtown and home. Last Saturday, taking Aurora and the Aurora Bridge took 1 hr 20 minutes. Today I walked Dexter and the far friendlier Fremont Bridge, and that leg also took 1 hr 20 minutes. The walk was equally boring, but with less traffic it was quieter and much less fume-y.

One of the reasons why I walk so much is that I have "perfect" bus timing. I think, "it would be great I could catch the bus at intersection x", only to find that 50 yds ahead of intersection x and against the light the bus I wanted to catch is now pulling away. Happened twice today with two different bus routes 5 blocks from each other. And the buses run every 30 minutes on Sunday.

If it weren't for bad bus luck, I'd have no luck at all. Until I looked at the corner of the bus shelter after the second missed bus and found this:

the spirit of whatever

April 19th, 2008 at 07:19 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.60 coffee, doughnut + $6 garage sale + $14 brunch + $15 grocery

Well, we had it all weather-wise at the Greenwood Garage Sale. No takers on my invite from this blog, however in the spirit of karmic whatever my housemate from my grad school days walked by, training for the Susan G Komen walk. Hadn't seen her in 15 years! We caught up a bit, at least as much as one could in 5 minutes.

Apologies if I missed you if you showed late. I came about 15 minutes early, then waited the academic wait of about 10 minutes after 9 ... but deals await and there is no rest for the wicked!

Across the street from the pick up point, they were setting up for my first stop of the day.


A little flea market/plant sale/bake sale in the lower parking lot of the Phinney Neighborhood Center.


We had snow, we had rain, we had cold. Mad props to any life form having sex outside in this weather. Not even drunk University of Alaska college students would think of it! Big Grin


Since hunting for cheap deals in bad weather seemed so very Scottish, the bagpiper at the church rummage sale at 70th and Greenwood fit right in. Slim pickings at the rummage sale.


For 6$ I bought: 1 small hammered metal dish, 1 bundt pan, 1 scent diffuser, 1 barbeque fork with a thermometer attached for DH, 1 deck of "Wall Street's Most Wanted" playing cards (Broken Arrow, I'm thinking of you here). DH wanted to try bundt pan meatloaf, I don't bake, hence no bundt pan until now. I bought some aromatherapy scents in Paris. At the time, I thought, "why buy the scent diffuser and waste the space in my luggage when I can get one in Seattle?" I priced simple ones in the $15-$20 range. This one's battery powered with a little pump. $2.

Not bad for a couple hours work. I met one of my coworkers shopping. We both agreed that we were hard core, but it was too cold to keep at for more than a couple of hours.

remind me - what month is this?

April 18th, 2008 at 07:10 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $8 lunch

Thunder and lightning, and now snow which is starting to stick. January, or April? April, I know, because at least its still light out.

It might snow tomorrow morning, but I am undaunted. Coffee in hand, I will be at 67th and Greenwood at 9 am tomorrow if anyone dares to join me.

dinner and a show

April 17th, 2008 at 10:14 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $3 yogurt + $6 teriyaki dinner

Put my tip box squeezings for this month into savings - $45. I've been eating the footlong sub over two days, so I didn't spend money on lunch.

DH and I went to a one-woman show at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) tonight, so I ate a small frozen yogurt while I waited and we had a teriyaki dinner. The dinner was enough for two, so it was eating half and putting half in the box for dinner tomorrow night.

The show was wonderful - about food and nutrition. If you can imagine Anna Devere Smith doing a multiple perspective show about food, you have the gist of it. Our tickets got us into a raffle for a CSA share or $100 worth of organic meat. Lost on both counts ... not surprising. But there was a guy who was selling broccoli, chard, and pea starts. Actually he couldn't sell them outside of MOHAI, so he gave them away. We got four starts of chard and four of broccoli.

ouch.

April 15th, 2008 at 08:01 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $13 lunch + $7 groceries

I got the first paycheck after my new 403B withholding. In case you missed it, I hiked up my 403B withholding to bulk up my non-taxable accounts, force me to spend my taxable accounts, and basically put me in a better tax position for next year.

Better tax position, baselle, better tax position. Keep repeating that while I blink at my direct deposit deposit in my online bank account. It was a 400$ drop. Per paycheck. That makes me queasy.

This is going to be very, very different.

Collected up my coupons and bought $14 worth of groceries that we use for $7.

reminder - Greenwood Garage Sale

April 14th, 2008 at 07:50 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $13 lunch

Just a little reminder that the Greenwood Garage Sale is this Saturday, April 19.

http://baselle.savingadvice.com/2008/04/05/join-me-the-green...

If you wish to join me at 9 am, but are a little shy, let me know by email at


That way I know about how many maps to snag. I'll be at the meeting site, rain or shine (remember the prices go down when it rains!)

walking experiment

April 12th, 2008 at 07:55 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $13 brunch + $4 coffee, water, apple

Well, I was curious, so I checked it out. Yes, I can walk from 4th and Pike back to my house in Greenwood. Talk about an extreme commute. Whew!

It was such a nice day. Too nice actually for this project - it hit the upper 70s, so walking got quite warm. The best walking weather for me is low 50s. Then you get just warm enough to be pleasant, and you want to keep moving to keep warm.

Anyway, if you are familiar with Seattle, its long and lean and if you are going north you have to pick your bridge. For this experiment I went direct - walking along Aurora Ave, picking the Aurora bridge. It took a soulless hour twenty minutes to go from downtown to Fremont; then I rested a bit, got myself a water and an apple in Fremont; then another rest at the Phinney Neighborhood Center; then home. Including the breaks, it took 3 hrs and 5 minutes.

Next time, I've got to think about hitting the Fremont bridge. Crossing that one on foot is far less scary for someone with a fear of falling.

I'm proud of myself. In a true emergency, even something like a repeat of WTO, getting home in 3 hrs by my own steam has got to be better than waiting 3 hrs for a bus.

10 blocks from home, I photographed a joke at the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company.

chopstick compliment

April 11th, 2008 at 08:41 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $8 lunch

I ate a little bento box lunch at the food court of Uwajimaya. I sat down, as I picked at my food with my chopsticks the middle aged woman next to me promptly said, "What is that? You handle chopsticks like a Korean!" (She was Korean.)

Her daughter, sitting across from me smiled and said, "don't mind her, she's always amazed when she sees a Westerner handle chopsticks well."

I laughed. "I first learned to use chopsticks to keep me from eating so fast. It didn't work, I just learned how to eat fast with chopsticks." Then I told them how I impressed my french MIL in Paris by deboning a fish using chopsticks.

We talked a bit more. Mother lives in Tacoma, daughter lives in Lynnwood, so Uwajimaya in south downtown Seattle is midway. There's a Korean spa just south of the Alderwood Mall that will let you in for free on your birthday. (gotta file that one away - its my birthday in two weeks.). And I told them about the kimchi bar on 155th and Aurora - cabbage, radish, squid, anchovy, dandelion green, etc, all arranged in a bulk food/salad bar setting complete with sneeze guard.

Hit the Safeway this evening. Last night I saw a very good price for tomato sauce - 10 for $6. Can of chopped tomato were at an okay (for these days) price - 10 for $10. Bags of pasta again 10 for $10. Odwalla bars for 10 for $10.

The strategy here was that I had a 10$ off coupon for $50 or more purchase. Tough to try to keep at $50 (which would make it a 20% off coupon). We ended at $55. Next time we set the Odwalla bars for last. When it gets to $50, no more.

surprise freebee lunch

April 10th, 2008 at 10:16 pm

Wednesday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $7 groceries

Thursday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee

Last two days were cheap - Wednesday I had the other 1/2 of the sandwich I bought Tuesday. Today, I was bought lunch by screenwriter friend, who I bought lunch for on Monday. A nearly no-spend day was a very nice surprise.

Lawyer friend came back - his brother is now out of ICU, in the regular hospital. His leukemia is still in remission.

I finished putzing with one of my fiscal projects this week. The bank that was my transfer agent for one of my drp stocks got bought out by other bank, so it meant that I had to create a new electronic profile from that bank. Finally did it, got in, and even set up a monthly automatic withdrawl. I can now watch this account like a hawk just like all my other ones. And its one less stamp.

Now to move the Ameriprise money (from grandma's trust) to Vanquard. Get it all in one spot.

tuesday musings

April 8th, 2008 at 08:19 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $6 lunch (foot long sub for 2 days).

There is one downside to having a day off on Monday: Tuesday becomes Monday. On my Monday, everyone else's Tuesday, I worked through:

1. missing pledges that the fundraising staff assumed were with us. Ha ha, we received them in the mail all right, but we sent them back to the fundraising staff to sort and batch. Where did we find the pledges? - in the fundraiser's safe.

Guys, its a safe, not a wastebasket with a lock! If they make safes with a clear, bulletproof plastic panel...well, they could sure use that.

2. I returned sister's call at work. Turns out that she did her own taxes, and she's wondering why she's not paying nearly as much as I am. Where does the Schedule K-1 fit into it? For me, the Schedule K-1 fit into actual professional help. Big Grin !

Oh yes, sister mentioned that she might have quit her job. She got tired of her $13/hr job, she got yelled at one too many times, she said she had a headache felt sick and was going home. Sister's partner thought that sister should take off six months, work on the farmette, then go back and find another job.

"Well, if you did quit, you did it at the right time," I said. "It will look like it happened because of the recession, and not because of anything you did."

I can relate, I'm actually a bit surprised she lasted this long. I've had similar emotions - a fair amount of cash so quickly has its own pull. You hear all the pettiness at work, you look at your bank account, note the fact that it will last a good ten years even with careless spending, and you think - well, what for?

Dad, mom, grandma and grandpa put up with a lot of what for to build up what they gave to us. Seems like I should put up with just a little more "what for". Smile My bank account still feels like its not completely mine. My own safe is full, locked, and also needs a clear plastic panel.

day off musing

April 7th, 2008 at 07:29 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.64 coffee, bagel + $10 lunch + $12 office supply store + $1 chocolate

Today was a day off. Extra nice when you are off and the rest of the world has to work. Big Grin Used the get-one-free punch on my coffee card, went to the chiropractor, then had lunch with lawyer friend's partner and screenwriter friend. Lawyer friend's brother is doing much, much better - he's heading out of ICU and into a regular hospital bed.

Mostly putzed around and did a little shopping. As I headed home it occurred to me that with the long walks that I've been taking in the last 2 months means that if something awful happened - natural disaster, attack, etc - I know I can walk home. It might take 2.5 - 3 hrs, an energy bar, and the bridges would have to be passable, but I could do it. Physical fitness equals reliance equals emergency preparedness.

Join me @ the Greenwood Garage Sale

April 5th, 2008 at 11:13 pm

Thrifty Ray brought up a good point about a month ago that we havenít had any face to face events amongst the bloggers and readers on Saving Advice. Iíd like to rectify that by inviting anyone who is reading this blog, especially in the Seattle area, to join me at the Greenwood Garage Sale on Saturday, April 19th.

For more information about this little soiree:
http://www.phinneycenter.org/events/garagesale.shtml

Usually over 100 families participate. In addition to the yard sales, the Phinney Neighborhood Association holds a flea market, the Greenwood Fire Dept holds a tour of their digs, and a number of kid entrepreneurs sell cookies and lemonade. Itís a 30 block square area so there will be some walking, but the #5 bus runs every 20-30 minutes.

Weíll meet at 9 am on the 19th at the little park by the Phinney Neighborhood Association on 67th and Phinney Avenue, North Seattle. The meeting site looks like this:

which is right next to the Phinney Neighborhood Association:

And coffee's 30 ft away. How's that for convenience!


I will provide paper maps of the event.

Wear comfortable shoes, bring along a bag, a bit of money if you are in a shopping mood, and/or a digital camera. Since this is a frugal event, bring a lunch if you like. There are a couple of grocery stores in the neighborhood.

If you are interested in joining me, please reply in the comments. Hope to put some faces to usernames!

finally reasonable produce prices

April 5th, 2008 at 07:43 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $15 brunch, coffee + $10 produce.

Finally, reasonable produce prices. Boy, you know you've been hit by inflation when you're happy that prices/lb went under .99.

We got apples for .99/lb, bananas for .59/lb, onions for .33/lb, red potatoes for .49/lb, tomatoes for .99/lb (not fantastically ripe, but what can you do?), oranges for .59/lb.

elevator penthouse

April 4th, 2008 at 07:36 pm

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $9 lunch + $2 tea

The nasty fire alarm sounded off at around 1 pm and it was real.

While a couple of fire trucks rolled in, our whole office tromped over to the meeting point. Ten minutes later, one of the floor wardens gave us the news. There was a small fire on the roof of the building inside the elevator penthouse.

"Elevator penthouse?" I said. "No wonder why the elevator doesn't always work. Would you if you had a penthouse to come home to?"

It was a small fire. We could go back to work after about 45 minutes, so to pass the time, I had a chamomile tea. I couldn't smell any leftover smoke in my office right away, but I could catch whiffs every so often.

willpower!

April 2nd, 2008 at 07:51 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $11 lunch

Found a very interesting article on willpower in the paper today.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/02/opinion/02aamodt.html?_r=1...

The high points:

Willpower appears to wax and wane depending on your other activities.

People appear to have a willpower 'budget'. Showing self control in one area of your life (eg controlling eating) can limit your willpower in other areas.

Willpower can be strengthened with use and challenge.

Learning about 'money management' (not really defined in the article) can help strengthen willpower.

I wonder if we, the Saving Advice community of bloggers, help strengthen willpower or are we a distraction to willpower? Does it matter if you are a blogger, sometime blogger, reader, or lurker?

subdued lunch

April 1st, 2008 at 08:32 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $8 lunch

Lawyer friend's brother has taken a turn for the worse - sepsis, lawyer friend thinks. He's 3000 miles away so he's getting info third hand.

Lawyer friend is heading back to the east coast this evening. He told us he's going to stay there until his brother gets out of the hospital. Our workplace has catastrophic leave, but even if we didn't, it wouldn't matter - he'd go anyway, rules be damned.

Lawyer friend's partner is hanging on, but is a bit of mess - many loose ends in partner's life - job, remodeling the house in Hoquiam, planning a family trip that is now up in the air, supporting lawyer friend - lawyer friend leaving leaves a lot of loose ends.

Our lunch to send lawyer friend off & back to the east coast was subdued, with so many emotions underneath. He's trying to figure how to feel. I didn't have any good advice for him - I thought that maybe just feeling everything was the best. It was certainly better than pretending to feel nothing. Feel nothing in front of the TSA guy in the security line.

At the end, I dropped off his library book. One less chore for him.