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Archive for December, 2008

crazy end of year

December 31st, 2008 at 10:21 pm

Saving log - $20 tip box
Spending log - $7 bread and chocolate

Went whole hog and paid myself $20 to put in the tip box.

Chalk up one more sign of the recession - our non-profit was crazy busy today with donors getting in their gifts by the end of the year. The last two years were quiet, not so this year. We're not sure whether its because the need is now so visible, or more, cynically, donors especially need the tax break. We even had a couple of walk-ins in the lobby. I just thank them for their gift and hand them a pledge form to fill out. The donor takes the bottom two carbons and we take and book from the original.

Again, nice to be loved, and the money is better than a poke in the eye.

The thing that really knocks the auditor and I for a loop is that everyone was very insistent that we book the gift to Dec 31, even though as long as the pledge form / receipt / check is filled out on Dec 31, is enough. Everyone is much jumpier than in usual years.

Net worth, second half 2008

December 31st, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Sensing that prosecco will eliminate any math ability, before I raise my glass in a toast:

Thank G&d 2008 is over!

I'm here to present my net worth snapshot, circa Dec 31, 2008. Stocks are down, IRA is down, but now its mostly Roth, so it is mostly tax-free instead of tax deferred. 403B is down, but since the meltdown I have put in about 4K into "cheap" mutual funds. Money that was in t-bills is now in ING savings. Cash is holding its own, but it can only do so much.

Down from June, but frankly, it could have been much, much worse. Shelby Davis famously said, "you make most of your money in a bear market, it just doesn't seem like it at the time." Maybe in 2010 - 2011 I'll review this entry and smile.

$112,127 IRA/403B
$200,000 Vanguard taxable
$15,927 stock
$12,140 I-bonds
$105,331 CDs
$51,003 ING, paypal, farmette savings
$1,620 immediate cash
$498,148 total

By comparison:
Dec 2008 ($498,148 total, $386,021 in taxable accounts)
June 2008 ($524,261 total, $387,481)
Dec 2007 ($328,688 total, $192,747)
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)

the long view (2009-10)

December 29th, 2008 at 10:04 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $0

Don't get too excited about the no spend day - yesterday I bought a couple of bottles of prosecco for New Year's Eve. ($30)

I've seen other bloggers post up their goals for 2009. A beginning of the year goal/resolution then see at the end of the year whether I achieved it doesn't particularly work well for me. And its a rare person who is inspired or motivated in January...

I do have two long term goals:

1. Be wiser in general with my money, which means adjust appropriately to the situation.

This year I realized in April that to pay less in tax, I should put more in the 403B and see if I can take the drop in the paycheck. My expectation was that interest would be high(er) and my stocks would go up. Didn't happen, but since stocks went down, the Roth conversion made sense.

I was pleased at how my original 60% bond and cash/40% stock held up. New 403B money is now allocated at 90% stock/ 10% bond. The new stuff added to the old stuff is working well, I've nearly caught up to my August high.

I do have to make money decisions a bit faster. I shouldn't have waited for t-bills to go to 0% before I finally moved them out. Oh well, better to make a good decision a bit slow than to compound rash decisions.

2. Buy a house in a couple of years.

I rent, but I am interested in buying on my terms. My general plan is to use 80K as a downpayment and get a 120K mortgage, which is about 2.5x my salary.

Yes, I know that there is no way (yet) that I will get a 200K house in North Seattle. I plan, unfortunately, on a severe recession in 2009 - 2010 to depress prices. I have the basic plan, the credit score, the location ... now its patience. In the meantime, I plan to be an observer at open houses, collect internet resources and become a total expert of the neighborhood. Watch and learn.

Buying a house might not ever happen, at $925/month rent for us is pretty sweet and a lot hinges on my success - keeping a job, the misery of others. Light years away, maybe, but its a star to sail to.

giving up lunches out

December 27th, 2008 at 11:00 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $12 breakfast

Haven't been to the gym or doing much exercising these last two weeks some walking, maybe a mile or so. Dodging cars trying to "gun it" with my knees as I walk is unappealing.

I went to the gym today though, and weighed myself, fearing the worst. But I'm at:


I have been bringing my lunch most workdays. We've been working about 4 hours per day because of the snow and ice, and if you are there for just a short amount of time, it hard to justify spending 25% of your workday to find a lunch place open and eat what they're serving.

The lunches that I've been bringing are not the portable sandwich variety, but of the bento box variety. I've been making lunches with a base of brown rice or rice pilaf, with turkey, ham, or pot roast laid over it. With that I put a dab of any two condiment-y things like yogurt, cranberry sauce, mango pickle, red pepper ajvar, hummus.

The money and the weight loss are nice, but its a bummer giving up one of things I most enjoyed (lunch somewhere else).

converting to a Roth

December 26th, 2008 at 11:20 pm

Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $0

In a more normal month, I would have taken what I collected in my tip box to the bank a few days ago. But a few days ago we would have been lucky to make it to work for a few hours. Today was a nearly normal work hour day, so I had a bit of time to make it to the bank.

I brought my lunch, so I didn't spend anything today. I'm in a good spot this month - near the end of the month and I still have over 300$ left.

I found out that converting my traditional IRAs to Roths in Vanguard is very easy - you basically "buy" the Roth from the proceeds of "selling" the traditional IRA. Vanguard then gives me a 1099-R, and I declare the proceeds of the traditional IRA as income. We make less than 100K, the 2005 and 2006 traditional IRA each dropped about 40% so I will be paying less tax on it, and I've put 15K in my 403B, so my income is so much lower compared to my withholding. The original expectation that I used to do that - I'll make more interest and capital gains in 2008 - ain't going to happen. Converting the traditional IRA to a Roth will be a tactical win-win-win for me.

non-Christmas Christmas show

December 25th, 2008 at 06:13 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $35 groceries

Merry (sloppy) Christmas to you all! Seattle is now in the midst of a thaw - making driving is even more treacherous than it was over ice. Then - ice that you can drive low and slow, and while it was slippery, at least it was hard. Now - ten inches of white snow-slush-mudlike consistency over a sea of cold gray water. You have to "gun" the car to keep it moving through the quicksand-y white slush, but gunning it means you're driving on the water underneath and hydroplaning between parked cars.

We were invited to Christmas dinner, but we nearly got stuck several times. Heck with it, we canceled. Make the full dinner ourselves, play with Morgan, and keep an eye on our flat roof carport.

This afternoon I re-visited one of my favorite non-Christmas Christmas shows, a Homicide: Life on the Street episode set on Christmas Eve. I love non-Christmas Christmas shows much more than the Christmas shows, if that makes any sense.

its a girl

December 23rd, 2008 at 06:32 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $32 kitten chow + $35 groceries

Freakin' icy again today, so I burned another PTO day at work. Our work hours have been around 11-3, the car deals with snow better than ice and slush, and then there is the 2-3 hr evening commute. I did the critical time tasks yesterday, I had the PTO time, and tomorrow's Christmas Eve.

But DH and I were productive: Morgan went to the neighborhood vet. She's a girl, no chip, 6-7 months old (the vet showed us her baby molars), no scar or tattoo indicating she was spayed, no feline leukemia, and at 5 pounds with a little fat on the lower underside, she was just a teeny bit overfed. Not obese, just back off the food a bit and don't worry about the shortchanging the kitten development. The vet opined that no kitty just eats what s/he needs then stops with an eternal buffet in the food bowl. He suggested a decent premium brand kitten food, but only 2 feedings at 1/8 c each. In other words, 2 tablespoons. The big bag of dry kitten/cat food is going to last awhile.

"She's a blank slate," the vet said.

Today Morgan got her battery of shots: rabies, distemper, leukemia. DH bought the shots, I'll buy the spaying and chipping...which we'll do in January.

does your newspaper do this?

December 23rd, 2008 at 05:37 pm

I opened up one of the sections of the Seattle PI (Post Intelligencer) and found a sheet of printed gift wrap:

Close up of the pattern:

And I had a box to wrap so I used it. Does anybody else's newspaper provide this frugal service?

In another newspaper, I read about shoplifting going up (expected during a recession), but inside the article came an astounding (to me) statistic: 1 in 11 Americans use the five-finger discount.

spent 48 cents today

December 22nd, 2008 at 08:39 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $.48 coffee

Again, we had abbreviated hours (11a - 3p) because of the snow. DH drove me today, and to pay him back - because he kept me from waiting about 2 hours in the snow - I bought him whatever coffee he wanted. He used up the last of my gift card plus 48 cents.

I wasn't quite sure whether the office potluck was on. Friday (I didn't make it to work on Friday, so the story is second hand) the gang who was there decided to try to have it today. Today, though, again maybe a quarter of the invitees showed up. I brought spinach dip that I bought over the weekend. Special commendation to the co worker who brought a cake!

Got caught up with the items that I had to do this week, along with a couple of other things. Right now with the 4 hour days its just keep head above water.

DJ friend drove me home, so I avoided the 2-3 hour in the dark bus wait. As a payment, he wanted to see Morgan. Done.

compositions in white and black

December 21st, 2008 at 09:01 pm

(The White) Our patio this afternoon, with another 6 inches on the way...

(The Black) And little Morgan enjoying her feather toy...

She made it out from under the bed this morning. The catnip and lavender helped.


December 20th, 2008 at 03:59 pm

Well we've brought the kitty to our home, and while she behaved herself during the car trip, she's deep in the hideout stage. She's probably thinking, "its a bad dream. If I get some sleep and just relax, I'll be back at the old place." We are keeping track of where she is, I've put some food and water down, got out the scratch post, got out the kitty feather toys. No pictures until she appears.

I call her a she, but I thought better of just flipping a scared kitty and checking for gender bits, so its unconfirmed. The finders told us they didn't see or feel anything obvious, and she is about 2/3 - 3/4 grown, old enough for the obvious to develop.

She looks so much like a cat DH once had, Merlyn, that we went with the Arthurian theme and are going to call her Morgan le Fay. And right now being invisible and hidden, the Italian (and scientific) version, Fata Morgana, fits her too.

advanced transit tips

December 18th, 2008 at 09:49 pm

For your own snowy commute:

1. Buses have the usual issues with starting and stopping on hills. Of course you do not want to wait at a bus stop on the middle of the hill, but...
2. If you have the chance to pick your stop, from say, different places downtown (evening commute), the best stops are:
3. stops close to where the bus begins or ends. Buses lose time as they plow through the snow. If the bus is coming directly from the bus barn or from where it rests, its probably close to on-time. Because its at the beginning of its route you have an excellent chance of getting a seat.
4. stops where the bus transit time is measured. Lets say you are looking at a schedule and it says bus "comes from intersection x". Intersection x is better than where you are (unless you are at intersection x Big Grin) because it is usually is comprised of two arterials, multiple buses use the stop, its usually flat, and buses try to be on time for it. In snow that's an impossibility, but there it is.
5. better likelihood that a place nearby exists where you can get a hot cup of cocoa. You just don't want to be out there by yourself for hours.

And a tip for walking: if you do have to walk in the ice and snow, if you are walking on an east-west street, walk on the north side sidewalk. The north side sidewalk is going to be less icy because the sun, traveling along its southern course, is going to warm that side of the street and soften & melt the ice more quickly.

whatta day

December 18th, 2008 at 08:26 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $12 dim sum

Last night we did get the snow finally. As I was sitting at the bus stop, someone commented that they were happy to see someone else wearing "chains". (she had on hers.) The driver took it low and slow; at 2nd and Columbia, our last stop before heading down to the viaduct, he took one look at the two jackknifed buses that tried and thought better of it.

Maybe only a quarter to a third of our office made it in. Today was our all-staff meeting, but the breakfast delivery guy made it by accident. We set up about third of the food in a conference room. The food was very appreciated, and its appearance was lucky today - a lot of local places weren't open - and will be lucky tomorrow when a lot of places again won't be open.

The dim sum place was open and they were happy to see us. Normally people were swinging from the rafters, but today they filled up sedately. Lawyer friend and lawyer friend's partner were hosting but they couldn't make it, they couldn't get up Beacon Hill.

Our offices closed an hour early. However, there were a number of reports that Metro was cutting service to a number of peripheral lines to concentrate on the core ones, so I left even earlier. I didn't feel up to waiting for a bus that might not come in the dark. I caught a bus in the light but had to walk home in the dark. It reminded me of college, when we thought nothing of walking miles in the dark in -50F weather for fried chicken and how much fun we had going there. It didn't hurt to imagine that I burned more calories getting the chicken than the chicken had.


December 17th, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Had a nightmare that I was super late to my gym appointment...no wait, that was real. My bus spidey-sense worked as it usually does during weekends and holidays - 30 seconds too late.

I was 45 minutes late, so I was an official no show. However the trainer did weigh me for the 15 minutes of my time and we now have confirmation - I'm at 183.

Latest project - DH and I are in the process of getting another kitty. I half expected that eventually another cat would appear, but after 2 years, I guess that we aren't cat magnetic. We put the word out to our network that we were interested. DJ friend has a friend who has several cats and a adolescent stray showed at their door. We got a picture - all black with a brown sheen undercoat, good coat, cared for. They've put up posters for several weeks. No owners have shown. We are going to visit with a carrier. If kitten is agreeable, we bring him/her home. I'm ready for another pet relationship.

its nice to be loved

December 16th, 2008 at 08:55 pm

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - no spend day

Tomorrow is my day off. Just in time for the snow.

shockingly good stock news

December 15th, 2008 at 08:52 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $7 groceries for work - (1/2 & 1/2 for french press coffee, turkey breast for lunch)

One of my DRP (dividend reinvestment) stocks, a utility called Wisconsin Energy Corp (WEC) actually raised its dividend a couple of days ago. And not just a girlie 1 cent per share, but 7 cents a share to over 33 cents per share or about a 25% increase. Wonder what they know that scared investors don't... Whatever it is, stop showing it! I want your price to drop so I can keep buying more.

In other news, I went to the gym, weighed myself - I'm at 182.8 and worked out a bit. I tell you now because I know that when the trainer weighs me on Friday, I'm going to be 187.


December 14th, 2008 at 11:29 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.50 coffee, bagel + $11 ground coffee + $22 groceries

The cold front hit Saturday night here in Seattle. I don't think we even hit freezing today. Only walked about two miles maybe today, to 70th Street and Greenwood then back. If the sidewalks were walked on it wasn't too bad, but as soon as you hit a shady untraveled patch, it was killer. This is my third winter I've pulled out my Yaktrax.

Seattle's a funny place when it comes to winter. With so many transplanted mid-westerners (like me), you think we'd take the reins and sand our walks. Nope. Much more fun to complain like the natives and wait for the ice to melt. Which it won't for at least 3-4 days.

Got home fairly early so I made my lunch and snack for tomorrow. I expect that it will be quiet at work tomorrow - the fundraising temp staff's last day was Friday.

search for a breakfast spot continues

December 13th, 2008 at 06:52 pm

Saving log - $40 Drp
Spending log - $13 breakfast + $110 DH Christmas gifts

R.I.P Crown Hill Bistro, nee Library Cafe. We went and found a U-Haul sprawled along the parking strip, and talked to the owner. Done in by the recession, drop off of business and two mistakes in the Entertainment coupon book. (They were in as the Library Cafe, and they shouldn't have been in at all.). Entertainment coupons can really kill a business - we need our spendthrifts.

So the search for a Seattle breakfast spot continues anew. After the Denny's, then this, DH and I decidedly feel jinxed. Anybody have a Seattle spot you hate and you want gone? Let us know.

This morning we went to a new spot, Rooster's Breakfast Club. There was a bit of on-street parking, and that was great. The place was the right kind of jumping - a consistent 3/4 full, so no lines but no desperation. Food was very good and very ample - I split the meal in half. Service was speedy and professional. I could adopt this place. Smile But ...

Along the side of the building was one of those gigantic posters put up by the City of Seattle - environmental review of a construction project. The building that the new breakfast spot was housed in will be torn down for something nefarious. But right now its only the environmental review.

In other words, the breakfast place jinx continues. However, unless the sign went up yesterday, the particulars of this jinx has already happened before we showed for our meal. Is it wrong of me, now that the recession hit my Saturday morning, to hope against hope of a recession serious enough that the RE developer goes bust? Can we equate the economic niche of a breakfast place to an environmental niche?

N.B.: As of 1/3/09, there is a petition going around.

sickie day

December 12th, 2008 at 07:00 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $5.77 box lunch

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $14 lunch

Yesterday I went into work even though I probably shouldn't have. There were a couple of meetings that I had to attend. One was a casual meeting with the COO and two other supervisors - we meet to keep the COO up on the department doings while our boss is on leave. We talked a bit about how our new internal staffers were doing with some of the work we were giving them. Everybody is working out well on both sides - we have the extra work right now, and during these recessionary days nobody at work wants to be sitting on their hands.

The other meeting I felt I had to make was a visit from the Merrill Lynch administrator of our the 403B plan. He talked a bit about the two new funds replacing two under-performing funds in January (my bond fund is one of them), and he answered the question pleasantly when I asked him, "How's Bank of America treating you?" Apparently Merrill Lynch will be a subsidiary of BofA, not totally chewed up and digested.

I suppose I could have missed both of these meetings, but it meant that I had enough witnesses - I had no qualms about calling in sick today.

But I bundled up and did make the gym meeting with the new trainer. (We meet once a week on Fridays.) Something about losing $60 as a no-show made me brave it. He took one look at me, weighed me (184.8 lbs) we worked on the food plan for an hour, then he made a little green tick at the end indicating that this meeting will probably be a freebie. All because I showed up. I usually can't wheedle into freebies most places, but gym is apparently one the few places that I can.

And at the very end of the day, I got a bit of money from the neighborhood WaMu and asked the teller whether he was going away. Apparently the layoffs were in corporate and in back office - the WaMu branches are to be untouched, except maybe to have "Chase" all over them. I was happy to hear that and he was happy to hear that the neighbors were concerned.

(not) procrastinating

December 10th, 2008 at 09:19 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $19 groceries

Found an interesting article about procrastination, or more precisely, why we procrastinate on some issues but not others. The key is concrete-ness. Make an issue concrete and you do it, keep it abstract and you procrastinate.

Could it be that while I read and am entertained by the fiscal exploits of all of my blog friends, the act of blogging itself makes my thoughts concrete and keeps me from procrastinating? Write about it and you should do it or at least you have to write about it the next day why you didn't.

finished recession kit

December 9th, 2008 at 09:10 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $10 lunch + $12 office party

Got caught up with lawyer friend at lunch and went to the office party (drinks and snacks) held two block from work, so there was a bit of spending. Tomorrow I'll bring the lunch and gym to even out the spending. I can now make $40 last the whole week.

Pulled the trigger on accumulating the devil money in the 403B. And yes, I definitely noticed the 0% 4 wk T-bill. I've learned my lesson - the money's getting pulled back into ING. To depress me a bit, I looked through my records on what my t-bills used to earn, $60, $70, $80/ month, quite a bit better than ING. Oh yes, I found two pennies today, so I immediately paid myself a better rate.

The cashbox came today, so it was time to arrange the recession kit. I want them to open it right away - no need to wait until GD v.2.0.
From the top, with Christmas card taped inside:

And from the coin tray and a peek at the till:

devil money

December 8th, 2008 at 09:10 pm

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $0

I managed to work out during lunch, or more precisely, before lunch and I brought my own lunch - a ham sandwich - and used a gift card for the coffee, so no money was spent on my part. Nice to make up for the heavy-duty weekend spending. I will be spending tomorrow though.

Sister emailed me. In addition to the flooring, which I totally support, she also wants to replace the windows at the farmette. I support her far less on that project. There are some bad windows, sure, but replace those and wait for next year. The window guys I think are starting to apply some pressure on her. They are interested in a 2 yr contract. I can see that that would help them out more than it would us. It means that we are locked into a price, and if the price of the service rises, great. But what if the price falls? Best to do what absolutely needs to be done and wait until next year. 10K on the farmette is my spending limit for 2009.

The 2008 tax season is here. I got my first 1099 of the season, and at work we got the change-your-403B-withholding email. We can save up to $16,500 for the year in the 403B. This last year, as part of getting into a better tax situation, I hiked up the 403B withholding to the limit, and found that I got used to the much smaller check. Not to mention that this year its the golden opportunity to buy into equity-based mutual funds. I will continue for 2009.

As far as the title of my post - dividing $16,000 into 24 pay periods gave me an answer that made me smile.

cash box

December 7th, 2008 at 07:36 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $10 brunch + $20 Christmas gift

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3 bagel, coffee + $1 apple + $20 cash box

I was very stiff and sore from gym and the trainer on Friday - so I went Christmas shopping Saturday instead. Ordered sister's Christmas fish(es) for Tuesday delivery - the fishmonger still had trout.

The recession kit is coming together. I forgot that my giftees now have a black lab (met him last summer), and chocolate is not for dogs, so I included a couple of doggie gifts along with the chocolate bars. I also picked up a $1.99 bag of chocolate coins.

Today I walked the 7 miles and began "interval" training. I asked him a couple of days ago what he considered cardio, and he told he whatever it took to maintain your heart rate at 110 or so for 8 minutes, and spike to 130 or so for 2 minutes. Rinse and repeat for 3-4 times. Both juggling a stopwatch (my PDA has a stopwatch program) and trying to take my pulse would be a PITA, so I came with a stripped down version: walk briskly for 5 blocks, jog for 2. I could do it six times going down to the Fremont Bridge, only three times coming back up because I go up a hill back home.

As I walked, I hit all the hardware/craft/general goods/ office supply store that I could to serve as the container of the chocolate. I saw ideas, but nothing that matched what I wanted to do. Then it hit me: cash box. Ho ho, there's a theme I can work with. Its steel, it locks, it contains things, the coins and dog treats can go into the coin slot tray, I can tape the Christmas card/recession kit note to the top, and the flat chocolate bars can be put underneath the till like dollar bills. If I feel really funky, I can get currency strips to bind the chocolate bars. And frankly, every family needs a cash box - just try holding a yard sale without one. Decided not to waste any more time. I found a cash box online for quick delivery - 20$ total.

recession kit

December 5th, 2008 at 09:25 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $8 lunch + $6 groceries

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee + $70 groceries

Spendy day today after several days of cheapness. The $70 of groceries was really the beginnings of a theme Christmas gift, plus a turkey ham for me.

Most of our Christmas shopping is family. My sister loves the salmon and whatever other fishy/shellfishy thing that looks good. (One year I gave them 8 months of Harry and David... meh, they said. We get good fruit here, too. But you can't buy salmon in Milwaukee) A few weeks ago the fishmonger had trout for sale. Fingers crossed that that's still around next week.

That's it for my family. DH doesn't have a big list either - his sister (and BIL), and his mom. Let's divide and conquer, I said. I'll buy for his sister and BIL, and he can buy for MIL. Done, he said.

I'm going for a theme here. Big fad in Seattle is chocolate - fair trade, dark, vegan, single sourced - in other words, treating chocolate like coffee, where it comes from a country or an estate. There's even a chocolate factory in North Seattle that gives tours. So I went to the Greenwood market and ran the table of large chocolate bars. Some were of countries, some were of flavors. 1 was even 100% dark chocolate.

Now to find a nice container, or maybe a military grungy one (like it was buried in the backyard), just for laughs. (Both his sister and the BIL have a sense of humor) When they open the box, I have a nice sign over the chocolate:
"In case of recession, break seal."

twelve catalogs

December 3rd, 2008 at 10:37 pm

Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $5 office party

Third day of brown bagging french press coffee. Except for adding money to the tip box and paying my share for the department soiree in late December (different and in addition to the all-office party), I would have spend no money today either.

Tomorrow I field trip and eat lunch with lawyer friend's partner and screenwriter friend. Lawyer friend is in DC. His brother is ill and his father is waning. He might be away tending to family for awhile.

Tonight I got back to my third pile of catalogs. I've gotten twelve this week. I'm sure for a serious shopper twelve catalogs is a light read, but for me, it seems like a lot of temptation. I've pored through them and especially noticed the gadgety ones are selling the same things.

please let it not be mine

December 2nd, 2008 at 08:36 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $7.47 groceries (the checker exclaimed that my bill was a plane)

Had another nearly no spend day - with the brown bagging, and the home brew coffee I only spent at the grocery store this evening. Breakfast bars and a head of raw garlic. I felt like I staved off a couple of colds last month by a raw clove of garlic chopped in a salad.

Over lunch today, I caught the PC World's 11 Lamest blogs. Well, I blog, and thankfully this is not one of them. However number 6 has a very familiar format.

I also picked up this useful article. The next time someone asks me about how to be frugal, that they have to be frugal, and yet somehow can't be frugal, well, I can be torn between two responses:
1. Well, that's quite a problem, but you are smart and you can figure it out!
2. Wow, you are screwed! Where's my coffee cup?

Oh, and I found two pennies today. I'm moving another $4K back to ING. It would have earned 13 cents as a T-bill.

backdating prognostication

December 1st, 2008 at 09:07 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $0

The gym and brown bag/leftover lunch strategy worked very well. Not planning on going to the gym tomorrow, but I am planning on bringing my lunch again and finishing off several containers of leftovers. I do still have plenty of white turkey breast for turkey salad and turkey soup.

2 funds of my 403B are going to be swapped out for two other funds. There's my tinkering and then there are other people's tinkering. I am still considering moving some of my taxable cash in Vanguard to a Vanguard index fund - however I don't want to do it now because the distributions are on Dec 15 or so. I would be taxed on the distribution if I own it, even if I own it for a day.

Strangely enough, I am getting used to the freakish gyrations of the stock market. 680 points? Yawn. Now it feels if the market only goes up or down by twenty or thirty points one thinks, "why bother running the darn thing?"

All this backdating prognostication is getting to me. Yes, the recession started December 2007. Yes, I remember December 2007...everyone was saying, "no its not a recession, don't even think its a recession, and to say so means you'll trigger a recession." Decided to declare the bad news late, so maybe we'll be out of it by the time we call it? Well, I've got news for you ... this is going to be a nice long recession, we won't get out of it until 2010 at the very earliest. Ha! What do you think about that?

Sister is helping the local economy of Wisconsin out, though. She's going to get the flooring done at the farmette. Yay! The floors are the one thing that badly need repair. I suggested we hold off a bit for some of the contracting jobs until the recession really bit. If the contractor is a bit hungry, they should give you a better deal. At least if you are the only meal in town, they won't blow your project off.