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Archive for August, 2008

roth conversion thoughts

August 31st, 2008 at 06:50 pm

When I woke up this morning, I had a thought.

I've increased my 403B withholding up, near the limit of $15.5K. I did this to counter-balance the gains in my taxable accounts. (2007, I paid a bit of tax because of dividends, interest income, and capital gains).

Well, unless there is going to be a freak stock market rise, I'm not going to have a ton of gains for 2008. No gains to pay tax on and a big 403B increase in withholding means that I might be looking at a big refund.

Maybe I can treat this paper refund strategically. For 2005 and 2006, I put 5K in a traditional IRA. I'm thinking it might be better to convert these IRAs into Roths and balance the taxes on that against my refund.

Time to do a bit more research. I know I have to do this by the end of December.

its a living

August 29th, 2008 at 10:45 pm

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $7 lunch

Payday, and the pace of work is definitely gearing up. In case you missed it, I work booking and processing pledges for a large non-profit. The fall campaigns are gearing up, I'm seeing new faces and new projects are starting to pop up.

Today it seemed like it was meeting, meeting, meeting. Heard out a bit of venting from DJ friend about another co worker. I had a hour chat with several of the new temporary folks working the fall campaigns. I involved in an office collection for a gift certificate. We reviewed videoes of ourselves talking about our jobs (I will always look like a warthog. Big Grin), and I took a look at a new computer program that promises to be revolutionary...code word for being a pain in the ass. Big Grin

An hour here, an hour there, and the day was gone. Time to be more protective of my time to get what I have to get done. At least we have a paycheck right before a three day weekend.

hardly frugalicious

August 28th, 2008 at 08:53 pm

Wednesday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $7 lunch

Thursday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $8 lunch

Keep on, keepin' on. Haven't done anything particularly frugalicious. Like BA, I'm a casual coupon user. I was handed a lunch coupon last week as I was walking toward another lunch and I used it yesterday. The press pot coffee is still working like a champ, and it saves a few minutes off my schedule when I first get in, to boot.

This afternoon, I worked out at the gym w/o the trainer. (Not the first time, but the first permanent time). I was about 10 minutes late so I worked out for the extra 10 to make up for it. I used a 8 month old workout routine (an L) so I added 10 pounds of weight to the machine settings. Worked well.

The tough parts were
1.) taking a bit of time to figure out where the machines were moved to (new machines and remodeling). It helped to take a few minutes before the set to look at the card, visualize the exercise and the find the machines.

2.) figuring out what to do when someone is exercising in front of your machine. I worked around her, but cripes, twenty minutes doing one thing is not very efficient.

I gave DH a belated birthday gift. He wanted a 20 Gig MP3 player just like mine. DJ friend was willing to sell me his (which he wanted because it was just like mine) for $80. It truly is just like mine, except for a bitty scratch at the bottom, so we can tell them apart. The delights of the old yet again.

the delights of the old

August 26th, 2008 at 09:38 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $9 lunch + $1 apple + $6 for me and a co worker

I was walking to my bus when I stopped to look at a purse, and thought how great that purse was, how I would look with it slung over my shoulder, how I wanted it.

And I had my Paris handbag already slung over my shoulder! Nothing wrong with my handbag, its still clean, I got a lot of compliments on it, at black and white it goes with anything, it cost me just 30 euros (when the euro dollar exchange was only outlandish and not frighteningly outlandish). Best of all, I still have my memories of buying it, and happy memories of using it.

What is it about the mind that it wants and wants even though you already have and that having is more than adequate?

I'm still thinking about the fact that our cushmobile, MILs 17 yr old white buick, still gets 29 mpg, has working power windows, power seat adjustment, crush velour comfortable seats, carpeting looks great... only the cassette tape player is busted. MIL bought a new burgundy-red Caddy, same size, heads up display (which confuses her so she doesn't use), leather seats, does the math on how long you can last on a tank of gas. Sure, new, equally large, some features not so useful ... but only 15 mpg. And the car is at least 50K.

Tyranny of the new, maybe? Did the math and figured that folks would whisper if she drove around in a (then) 15 yr old car?

I don't see the progress here. Progress if you have nothing and get something; progress if you buy 30K of improvements and technology. Not progress buying into the brand - Buick vs. Caddy; not progress if the new costs more to operate than the old.

trainer finis

August 25th, 2008 at 08:57 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $9 lunch

Today my trainer and I worked together for the very last time at the gym acrosss the street from work. True to form, I was on an up cycle for my weight - at 187. Sigh.

I'm going to see if I can work out with a gym buddy. We don't have to work out together, I just need someone who would ask "where were you?" to counteract my natural "just one more thing". But for the gym buddy, I will to figure when I really want to go. Monday and Thursday, maybe with a Friday for an hour. I'm even toying with the idea of going every day for 1/2 hr.

I do have about 11 months or about 80 routines that my trainer wrote down. I've sorted them out by whether they are upper body (U), lower body (L), or a combo (U/L), and pick one out randomly. There are classes that you "just show up for" at about noon, which should spice things up.

I've spend a fair amount of money for over 2 years working at this ... time to really make it frugal and use all what I've collected.

Sunday hike

August 24th, 2008 at 09:09 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.50 bagel & coffee + $10.50 sushi lunch

Pigout during Friday's lunch potluck and Saturday's dinner potluck, so its time to get out there and work some of it off.

Bad news: rained all afternoon
Good news: rain cools everything down.

So I walked in the rain, stopping at dry spots under trees and eaves. It worked maybe for the first three miles, but then I got soaked.

Route was: Greenwood, Fremont, cross Fremont Bridge, 3/4 up Queen Anne Hill, Bigelow Ave, down to 5th Avenue. Ate a conveyor belt sushi lunch as a treat, then walked to my usual end point downtown at Dexter/Denny. About 6 mi in total with a mountain climb Smile 2/3 of the way.

I only went up Queen Anne hill about 3/4 of the way because my glasses also got soaked, & it was hard to see. Dangerous when you are trudging up a hill. I did notice that the hill was a bit easier after walking about 4 miles. The first time I went up it I thought it would be easier if I was fresh for it so I took the bus to it. Wrong. Easier if the leg muscles are good and warmed up.

Decided on the Queen Anne conveyor belt sushi lunch. Plate prices were $1, $1.50, $2, $3. The other place I go to the prices are $1.50, $2.25, $3, $4. Not that much on the face of it, but it means that for $15, you can either eat until you are practically sick at the first place, or you've got to control yourself at the second. $10 gave me a very good meal.

After I got home I took a warm bath and took a preventative aspirin in water. Tomorrow I will burn off my last trainer appointment and then it will be me.

fried green tomatoes

August 23rd, 2008 at 09:22 pm

Lots of August birthdays in my life:

Ordered sister's birthday gift for her birthday next Saturday and will pop her card in the mail on Sunday. I also ordered a little something for myself - a relatively dressy black trenchcoat/ windbreaker.

Potluck tonight for a lawyer friends' partner's birthday. I made fried green tomatoes because I still only have 1 red tomato. Early girl? I have boy-waiting-for -prom-date girl. But it is nice that I have all the ingredients for a potluck dish.

Fried green tomatoes

3-4 lg green tomatoes sliced 1/4 in or so
1.5 c flour
1/2 c cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt and pepper (I like more salt)
milk (made it using dried milk powder)

canola oil

Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, milk into a heavy batter.

Heat 1/2 of oil in cast iron pan. Dip tomato slices in batter, shake off excess, fry each side until golden brown - about 3 min per side. Drain on paper towels.

Best if warm, but I'm going to check if they microwave all right.

Harvey

August 22nd, 2008 at 08:34 pm

Saving log - $19 tip box
Spending log - (Thursday) $5 groceries + (Friday) $0

I strolled to the downtown WaMu to deposit my tip box this month ($49, a long way from FDIC limits), when I came upon this pair on the sidewalk.


Horse and rider followed me when I heard a "Harvey! Its you!" from the florist across the street.

I work in the basement floor; my office ceiling is directly under the 2nd Ave sidewalk, rather than directly under other offices (weird I know). Every couple of days during the afternoon I hear a "clop clop clop clop" right above me.

I'd like to think its Harvey.

Fiscally, my financial stock Drp is going to maintain its dividend, at least for this quarter. I'm putting $49 into savings from the tip box this month, and I've had a very low spend day and a no spend day right after each other.

CDs going up?

August 20th, 2008 at 09:57 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $9 lunch + $15 groceries

Noticed two good things tonight

1. More 10 for $10 deals on things I actually eat - fruit, salad, baby carrots.

2. CD rates in ING and my other brick and mortar bank are going up. Not talking about a lot of going up, more like .3 or .4% of a percent. Still, better it goes up than goes down.

Noticed one good thing (maybe) last night.

1. At the present rate of CPI-U inflation, my I-bonds should be bearing interest in 8% range this November. We'll see in October.
http://www.savings-bond-advisor.com/cpi-inflation-update/

more in the 403B

August 19th, 2008 at 07:14 pm

Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $9 lunch

Looks a little bare without the coffee entry!

Today was mostly fiscal clean up. I xeroxed the one piece of evidence that I had that proved that I had the KO stock in 1999. So I'm sending in the paperwork for the class action suit. All that effort and hassle for probably a .99 check.

Since my pay raise came in I looked at my stub. Increased pay, increased accrual of the 403B. All told its a $40 increase in accrual, so I calculate that I'll put in $15,320 into my 403B this year.

coffeeshop coffee out of the budget

August 18th, 2008 at 10:16 pm

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $13 lunch

One of the other innovations we tried out at the cabin was using two combo press pot commuter mugs, one I got for DH and the other DH spotted for $10 at Fred Meyer. Mine is clear plastic, instead of stainless steel. We weren't into firing up the wood stove and percolating coffee to bits - instead we heated up water, poured the water over the course ground coffee, gave the grounds a quick stir and added creamer, then pressed. It worked fantastically.

So I bought decent coffee, 1/2 and 1/2 for the work reefer and brought the press pot to work. Tried it out for the first time this morning and it worked like a champ. I figure that if the decent coffee lasts about 15 business days, that my cost per cup will be about 66 cents/day, a bit more if I factor in the 1/2 and 1/2.

Noticed a near record number of yard sales being advertised last weekend on one pole. Four in one view, 1 behind. What was the yard sale plus characture drawing like (top ad)?

Vacation fiscal observations

August 17th, 2008 at 11:12 pm

There is fun to be had in noting some of the finances from the Montana vacation:

We drove 12 hrs from Seattle to Bozeman. Both DH and I have pretty good bladders - only a couple of "rest" stops. Special note: Near Exit 2 on I-90, the rest stop dependably serves coffee and cookies for "free" but they advertise a small donation. I missed giving the donation heading to Bozeman, so I put a $5 when we came back. After all, it takes a certain something to volunteer to serve travelers coffee and cookies.

DH had noticed that the gas mileage had been pretty crappy for the white 92 Buick Cushmobile in Seattle (about 15 mpg). He got it tuned up and we checked during the trip - 29 mpg! Speed limits varied between 65 - 75 mph; we kept our speed 3-5 mph over. Not the speed demon, but not the pokiest. Noticed that no one was doing the 100mph bit (the speed limit for Montana at one time was "cautious and prudent"). About $150 on gas.

We got about a week's worth of groceries for $75. Grocery prices seemed to run $1 - .50 cheaper for most things, and there's no sales tax on food. Restaurants, however, are just as expensive in Bozeman as in Seattle. Propane prices (electricity, the stove, and the refrigerator ran on propane) were about 50% higher than gasoline prices. $40 for propane.)

MIL took us out for a couple of restaurant meals, and we made a Costco run (she LOVES Costco). I know she wants to "help", but I don't like being too gifted, and its a control issue for both of us. When she volunteered at the MOR and asked us to run some errands with her car, we filled her gas tank just to pay her back a little bit. The Cushmobile was formerly hers; her "new" car gets only 15 mpg!

And what is it about Costco that just makes me sleepy and make poor spending decisions? They must put something in the air or in the samples. Ten minutes in, and I wanted to drool over the cart and load things in mechanically.

scenes of visionary enchantment (long)

August 16th, 2008 at 09:16 pm

The title taken from a Lewis and Clark entry. Every time I go to the cabin and people ask where it is, I get it wrong. We were 60 mi east of Butte, 50 mi west of Bozeman, in the Deerlodge-Beaverhead National Forest, in the Tobacco Root Mountains, near South Willow Creek, about 10 mi or so away from Pony, Montana. We also spent a little bit of time in Bozeman, Montana.

The Tobacco Root Mountains


The cabin in the woods. The idea from the Forest Service perspective is to have it melt away. Our project was to pull down a fence that DH's dad built and the Forest Service wanted it down. The X's out front are the cross posts with the nails that should head to the dump.


The back deck of the cabin in the woods. That lighter colored wood cube on the right is the shower.


A creek runs through it, but there is quite a cliff before you get to it.


Action shot of DH with the chainsaw.


This is not a happy picture. The forest is mostly spruce and lodgepole pine. All the red trees are dying from spruce beetle. Next year they will be gray and they will turn into vertical fuel for the next forest fire. Only two good weeks of killing frost at -40F can reliably kill the beetle. (N.B: I'll have to rethink that -40F comment - it was told to me in a casual conversation. See comments for more)


The stereotype of Montana. Works for me.


The better half of a Montana couple (a man and his dog), and at the Pony Bar, he's likely to have his own pint.


We got a little citified, too. This is Big Al standing guard at the Museum of the Rockies (MOR) in Bozeman. If you have a dino-mad child, MOR is the place to go.

I'm back (again)

August 16th, 2008 at 01:36 am

I need the (again) because I used the title once already. I'm back from Montana, with a few focused pics (merch is so picky. Big Grin) I'll see if I can wrangle DH's pic of me with the chainsaw, massacring a fence.

It was cool and refreshing (70s), quite a change from what DH and I drove into in Seattle (90s).

see ya!

August 1st, 2008 at 10:20 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $30 bananas, ground coffee, chocolate, trail mix.

I'm off to the Beaverhead National Forest for two weeks.

But I did make one last weird observation while DH got a pair of hiking boots, socks, and a water bottle: $45 flip flops.

Wha???

They weren't gold plated flip flops. And this store had several pairs of regular shoes w/uppers and laces for under $45.

No wonder why kids today assume flip flops are work attire - they cost the same as a work shoe.

Time to leave the store.