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Archive for August, 2009

starting to pick up

August 31st, 2009 at 09:04 pm

Monday
Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $3.29 forks
Found money - $0.01 (chiropractor's office) + $0.01 (Goodwill parking lot) + $0.01 (underneath Safeway vending machine)

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.90 bagel (free coffee) + $2.90 large iced tea, apple
Found money - $0.02 (floor of Pete's coffee)

Made a nickel the hard way these last two days! Would have thought that the Goodwill parking lot was prime for change finding: very busy, cash business, kids, people shifting money from hand to pocket and leaving in a hurry. I found a penny, was expecting to find much more.

I went to Goodwill again to buy forks. Got 15 for $3. Last April, several co workers complained that the temp staff stole all the forks. I bought 8 forks at Goodwill after the temp staff left. Opened the work silverware drawer in the last few days: one fork. Look in the mirror, thieves. Quit blaming others.

BIL and DH's sister have firmly decided to visit the Oshkosh EAA next year in 2010. "If not now, then when?". I emailed them and invited them to stay at the farmette, and sister emailed them and invited them to the farmette. We'll see. Just a little warning: if you decide not to attend EAA for a day or two, sister will work you in the garden. We joked that we were in a re-education camp.

Sister's birthday yesterday. She got her b-day gift from us but she chided DH: if you are going to use popcorn as a packing material, don't use oil! Big Grin She and the neighbor at the farmette are getting tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes, and squash, squash, squash. She's beginning to be a regular at the Tuesday farmer's market and picked up another customer near the farmette, losing a non-payer in Milwaukee. I suspect that that's the benefit of the farmer's market - advertising to pick up weekly customers.

Yesterday I got my library visit in before the Seattle libraries furloughed for the week.

Kitty is settling in even more. Ate more dry food (at least she's cheap, sister said), and after she begged a little from my plate (I have SUCKER tattooed in cat on my forehead), played for a few minutes with the mouse on a stick, totally DESTROYED the little plastic bag containing catnip that I put on my dresser, explored the kitchen and the tops of the washer and dryer, tolerated a bit of brushing, wants to snuggle on the bad as soon as the lights are down. In other words, a full day, and not that shy. She does have an unusual habit - she is quite the tail swisher when you pet her and you think you better stop otherwise you'll get a claw in your hand...but she doesn't growl or attack. Tail swishing must mean general excitement. Think I will call her V.I.

they're the greenest people we know

August 29th, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $12 breakfast, coffee + $30 adoption fee
Found money - $0.10 (Safeway parking lot - underneath the vending machine)

At the breakfast place today, DH and I got a compliment. Our next table looked at the massive amount of food they couldn't finish and sighed...just about the same time we got our meals. I pulled out our Ziploc boxes and we merrily cut our portions in half. The waitress on duty said, "they do it all the time - they are the greenest people we know."

We are also in the midst of another recycling project. Because of the large crop of strays and abandoned pets, PAWS is swamped - PAWS Cat City ran a $30 special this month if you would adopt an adult cat. (includes chip, rabies shot, spay/neuter, etc) I wasn't ready at the beginning of the month even, but I feel ready now.

We adopted a very sweet, but very shy 2 yr cat this afternoon. She had been at PAWS for several months so the entire staff was excited about it ... and doubly excited that we were in the neighborhood so they could keep in touch. I have to reset my eyes - our new adoptee looks huge compared to Morgan. New adoptee is shy, so I'm hoping that that will translate into no desire for the outdoors. I enjoyed how PAWS classified her personality - they called her a "private investigator". Tentatively, I'm calling her V.I..

and I'm probably average for what I carry

August 28th, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Friday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $17 groceries (blueberries @ $3.88 for 2 lb)
Found money - $0

Thursday
Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $22 Overstock.com purse
Found money - $0

My knee felt much better and I was much more confident on it than I had been, so I was bossed around by the trainer this afternoon. Did no knee exercises specifically, but during the twists and turns it was obvious that everything is connected. Got weighed today and I am at 173, so eating carefully to make up for no heavy exercise worked okay.

Received the purse at overstock.com. Some people are seduced by shoes, some by jewelry, some by jeans and skirts and belts... me, the purse. But this one fills a need. Vinyl, with a zipper at the top, useful because everything else I have is open or snapped at the top, I walk, and it rains in Seattle. As I was loading up my new purse, it occurred to me I carry expensive stuff routinely:

MP3 player - got it at $300
PDA - $150
Digital camera - $100
Spare prescription glasses - $200
Phone - $40

...depreciation, of course, so none of it will sell at those prices, but still, it gives me a jolt that I daily lug a pile that cost me $800. Bumping up against that 1K limit. Big Grin

cool, but

August 26th, 2009 at 08:58 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $7 fruit, yogurt
Found money - $0

I got caught not reconciling at my savings account ... Five days ago $48 was put into my savings account as "sweepstakes" savings. I know that Chase has a sweepstakes program, but I thought that was a pay your bill program, which would be checking. It seems a little odd - wouldn't it either be a round number or an amount that would match a bill? Mysterious.

At least its 48$ in and not 48$ out.

mail tales

August 25th, 2009 at 09:12 pm

Tuesday
Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $22 2 baseball tickets
Found money - $0

Monday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $20 chiropractor
Found money - $0.01 (Safeway floor)

Yesterday we got the sister's cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, carrots, hot banana peppers, string cheese. Apparently she packed it so tight (her strategy is to stuff the 10$ box) that the original box broke up - the postal service collected everything in a garbage bag, put it in a box, and taped the address from the old box.

Except for one destroyed, squishy cucumber, once everything got a quick rinse it was all right. Carrots (6 inchers - no doubt the ones we planted in June) got sliced lengthwise, laid out in a single layer, doused with a bit of olive oil and salt and roasted at 350F for 20 minutes.

The pickling cucumbers were a challenge - DH doesn't like pickles, and while I like them, I don't love them. I treated the pickling cukes like regular cukes - chopped them into 1/4 in pieces, added salt and let sit 1-2 hours to sweat them, then drain, combine with chopped red onion, chopped banana pepper, two cans of drained garbanzo beans, then dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, parsley.

Its sister's birthday next week, so DH helped me mail off her gift. We tried to pack it properly - no need to add to the USPS's troubles.

Speaking of mail - the one side benefit of the recession is far less mail. No credit offers, few catalogs, only or two neighborhood flyers. For a week or two early this month, it was old times with tons of glossy campaign mail. Now? Nothing yesterday, 2 pieces for DH. I still get most of my stock receipts by mail - while I'm green, I must be light green. I like the idea of not having to remember my password to get my monthly or quarterly info.

snoozy Sunday

August 23rd, 2009 at 09:59 pm

Sunday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $24 groceries, sister's birthday card
Found money - $0.01 (under the elliptical machine at the gym)

Saturday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $2.00 coffee
Found money - $0

My knee is still bothering me and it felt iffy to jog, so I did 45 minutes on the elliptical machine. And I got paid for it too by finding that penny underneath.

I'm down to $50 until the next paycheck next week - I broke down and transferred $200 from ING. With the chiropractor, mailing sister's birthday gift, and next weekend, I wasn't going to make it.

my turning point

August 21st, 2009 at 09:24 pm

Friday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.10 (sidewalk, 1st Ave)

Thursday
Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.01 (sidewalk, Greenwood Ave)

I can't say that I've had a St. Paul on the road to Damascus moment in being frugal. I was always a good saver, and had a reasonable amount of discipline even in college in the early 80's when I held myself to $10/week (this when a Saturday Harold's Chicken white half came to $2.75).

I graduated from college, worked for a year, applied to grad school, got into grad school, got my grad degree, moved and became a journeyman scientist, well for each leap I saved up about $2K for the move. It was always paycheck to paycheck but with 2K savings.

Where I really fell in my youth was in the money management arena. During my bad old days, my money management skill consisted entirely of: Look at ATM balance, I have $x in my checking account, therefore no spending. I hated it when the bank's monthly statement came in - I never looked at it. Too depressing. My spending was hit and miss - paycheck week I could be social, the next I had to be super frugal and was a pain to be around. Even up until my early 40s I felt like my money was managing me. Worse, when money manages you, you feel on edge in your job ... you have to keep that job no matter what because you have to keep the money coming in, no matter what.

My first big break was getting a PDA for Christmas. I found a free checkbook program and began putting in my checks, ATM trips, paycheck. Then I put in my savings. I put in my credit card balances, then I put in my 403B balances. I found, to my surprise, that even though I owed 15K in credit card and student loan debt, my net worth was positive.

My second big break came when I finally paid off my student loan. I was lucky (not skillful, particularly) that I took out loans only during my undergrad years; I grit my teeth and lived on the meager stipend during my grad years. Still, I realized that in 1984 I had $15K in student loan debt, 0K in credit card debt. In 2002, the tables were reversed. I had $0K in student loan debt, $15K credit card debt. I used the satisfaction that I got out of paying the student loans to inspire me to pay off the credit card debt, which I did in May 2005, a few months before I started this blog.

My third big break came a bit before the other two, strangely enough. DH gave me a share of Coke (KO) and started my first Dividend Reinvestment Program (Drp). My granddad used to invest in penny stocks in the 70s and had a lot of fun ... this before index funds, 401Ks, IRAs, or even Drps. All there seemed to be after passbook savings accounts were stocks, bought in 100-share round lots. Anyway, as I got a grip on the credit cards, I began to put in $50 every month or so into KO stock. I treated it a bit like a letter to a long distance friend. You get the mail, open it, and respond. I used to mail the check back within a week of getting the receipt of the last payment.

So really I had a lot of little money management revelations. For the longest time, it was paying off credit card $300-400/ month, putting in some $266 in the 403B every month, putting in $50 into KO, adding savings at the top of the month, tip box in the middle of the month, living within my means the rest of the month, and noting the transactions into the PDA. I didn't care about being splashy - I went for relentless. I decided to learn by doing with investing, never paying more than $100/ pop, but doing it over and over again.

Working small, gradual, and relentless meant I learned enough to handle two inheritances - as I describe in my blog. I really shudder to think about how I would have handled the inheritances when the money was managing me.

I've said it several times, and will probably say it several more - don't wait for the "big money" to learn how to handle money, the "small money" has a lot to teach you.

the way it used to be

August 19th, 2009 at 09:03 pm

I rarely post more than once per day, but I was quite taken by this post. Warning, it is a bit involved, and holds special meaning to those 40 and above. I know I sound like an old codger when I say "the way it used to be." Please, you young'uns, don't roll your eyes! Big Grin

The Addiction to Fake Wealth

Even frugality was simpler then.

getting the irony before it goes away

August 19th, 2009 at 08:47 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $4 smoothie/juice + $8 salad, grapes

2 ironies about our soon-to-be-ex mayor:

1. named Nickels (is that why I can't find any on the sidewalk?)
2. a former Chicagoan, he got tripped up in exactly the same way as several Chicago mayors did: lack of snow removal.

RICE

August 18th, 2009 at 08:19 pm

Tuesday
Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.73 coffee
Found money - $0.01 (sidewalk, corner of 1st/Cherry) + $0.01 (next to wastebasket on 1st)

Monday
Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.73 coffee
Found money - $0

My knee swelled a little bit. I can walk on it, its just stiff, but I'm taking it easy - no long walks, no stairs, no jogging, aspirin, and (R)est, (I)ce, (C)ompression, and (E)levation. The chiropractor gave it some gentle stretches and twists yesterday and it moved a lot better. Today, better, but I'm thinking that the workout Friday is going to be iffy. Better to lose a week than lose several weeks.

Yesterday I did make it to the bank to deposit the tip box earnings for the month.

Buying the beef set me back - after my monthly commitments, I only have $90 from my current paycheck to last me until the end of the month. I probably will have to grit my teeth sometime next week and take a bit of money out of savings. I'll hold out as long as is convenient, then break down. Bartering for a duck is a go, though, and that will feel good - I suspect my Duvall friends could use the bucks and the customers.

walking/cleaning out freezer weekend

August 16th, 2009 at 07:30 pm

Saturday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, pastry + $23 groceries
Found money - $0

Sunday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $.77 apple
Found money - $0

Another change finding drought. Ah well.

Yesterday was a walking day. All the routes that I thought of I thought, "meh", so it was time for adventure. My route was walking from work in south downtown Seattle (didn't work, just deposited CLEAN gym clothes), through the Pike Market, along Stewart St, Eastlake, then took the Lakeside overpass into Capital Hill, up Broadway, up 10th Street, turned right at Roanoke Park, and walked along south Lake Union (Delmar, Lynn, 19th) along the Montlake cut, nearly 5 miles.

I love map my run, even though I rarely run. Jog maybe, walk mostly. I like my urban hikes. If nothing else, these walks force me to think on my feet. I note the bus routes and where I am, and am learning a lot of new-to-me-arterials. I'm debating whether to keep this to North Seattle only, or use the new light rail to explore some of south Seattle.

Today I did jog my 3 miles and did it in 45 min 9 sec, so very close to the 44 min goal my trainer re-set for me. At the very, very end though I did feel a sharp pain in my knee, so discretion being the better part of valor, I took it slow and took the bus back.

I looked in the freezer - with our influx of beef (and maybe duck) in the next few weeks - it was time to use the freezer food. I bought the last cheap cherries of the season, picked up several peaches for .99/lb, picked a couple of pints of blackberries hiding underneath our cherry tree, and we had a couple of plums to get rid off. The cherry, peach, plum, blackberry is the perfect cooked fruit combination - along with that tube of biscuits hiding in the freezer - it meant cobbler.

Sister called and asked us how our cucumber situation was. We are getting cucumber and carrots. The tomatoes that we planted at the farmette in June are beginning to come on. Turns out that there is a Tuesday Farmer's market 6 mi from the farmette with no participation fee for the growers, so sister tried it out. She sold $40 at the market but better yet, she picked up a weekly customer so close to the farmette that sister doesn't have to deliver, customer can come out. And the customer promises to tell her friends.

when you might be bbq

August 14th, 2009 at 11:22 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $278 beef + $26 dinner, drinks
Found money - $0

Delivered the beef money to our organizer, and it turns out she lives in the neighborhood, but on the opposite end (She: SW edge, me: NE)

But she does live close to the site that a neighborhood arsonist hit last night. Said arsonist has hit several times in the last two months, using the usual - crap that the homeowner/renter left lying around. The latest fire was started in a backyard garbage can.

Policemen are handing out flyers, but the only one I've seen is the one shown in the neighborhood blog, Phinneywood. I asked DH to check around our yard and lock up our storage shed. I had a spare gym lock and key. Not Fort Knox, but at least it makes us not the patsy of the block.

Not exactly a personal finance topic. But staying safe and unburnt saves money in its own special way.

buying beef

August 13th, 2009 at 09:14 pm

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $1.73 coffee + $.77 apple
Found money - $0.01 (Safeway parking lot)

I'm going in with 3 other couples to buy beef. We checked the freezer space (mostly empty), and we are in for forty pounds - the largest share - its coming to be about $278. Fully organic, grass fed, grass finished, crunchy granola approved. Big Grin I get paid tomorrow, so I will be cutting the check before I do anything else. Now the question is how to have the butcher cut it. The battle is for whether we want NY strip or T-bone. Everybody else wants the strip, but since we are the big share and we want the T-bone, T-bone it shall be. He who has the gold, gets to dictate. Smile

But we are mostly in agreement to get mostly roasts and chucks even with less tender cuts. I'm a pot roast kind of gal. If I have a choice between more pot roast and ground beef ... pot roast it shall be.

I'm planning to barter some beef with our Duvall friends, who are raising poultry. They have a bumper crop of muscovy ducks which are just as rich and red meaty as the beef. We have the turf, aiming for the surf, but we will hit a few air pockets along the way.

a new fangled penny even

August 12th, 2009 at 09:00 pm

Tuesday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0

Wednesday
Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.01 (road on 1st/Yesler)

The penny I found was even one of those new fangled Lincoln/Lincoln penny. One side was the Lincoln profile, in the other, he's sitting on a rail reading a book. I found the penny on the road, so rail splitter Lincoln had a scar on his head and dings along his legs.

Philosophically, do I have a double headed coin, or does Lincoln sitting on his bum count as a tail? Smile

the wallet that growls

August 10th, 2009 at 08:21 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $9 lunch + $9 groceries
Found money - $0.01 (sidewalk 1st/Cherry) + $0.01 (next to tree along sidewalk on Greenwood)

My current change drought has ended with a couple of pennies. I think its because I primed the pump - a quarter fell out of my purse at the chiropractor, so someone else will get my luck.

As I walked Saturday, I missed a fascinating picture. I was downtown about a block south of Macy's - a patch of dive-y area. I idly watched a little cutely dressed up chihuahua step lively, tugging on a leash. I noticed that the doggie had on what I first thought was a faded greenish ruffle. Nope. Said chihuahua was sporting a ruffle made from one and five dollar bills.

It made me laugh.

Now the question: Why? Was doggie a walking wallet? Found art? Was someone commenting about the American economy? NAFTA? (Hey, look - its cheaper to make a dog collar ruff out of dollar bills than it is to buy one.)

change drought

August 9th, 2009 at 08:23 pm

No finding change on the street since Wednesday - a 5 day drought. Frown So much for publishing my tricks of the trade.

Took DH out for a special dinner - one of the highest end restaurants in Seattle. All told, it was $280. But it was worth it - the drinks, the food, the service and the view were magical. I've never been there, and DH was there 33 years ago. And if you think of it as 28 lunches not bought, I've saved for it already. Just not every weekend.

Down one pound and am at 174. Walked yesterday and jogged today. 47 min, but considering that I didn't jog for the last two weeks due to the heat, well, it could be worse.

Mailed my ballot in, mailed my stock proxy in (one of my stocks is planning on merging with another. Instead of 15 shares of x, after the merger I will get 20 shares of y). I also mailed in another $300 into SYY.

nothing, zip, nada

August 6th, 2009 at 08:34 pm

Wednesday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $12 groceries + $50 birthday gift
Found money - $0

Thursday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $19 birthday gift
Found money - $0

With the exception of birthday gift for DH and birthday gift for sister at the end of the month, absolutely nothing fiscal has happened.

pull, never ever push

August 4th, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.64 coffee + $3 tomatoes, peaches + $1.80 coffee
Found money - $0.27 (road, 2 ft from traffic island) + $0.01 (floor of Safeway)

I learned a very important fact today.

Not that coffee costs 16 cents less in my neighborhood than it does downtown; and not that I can spot 2 pennies and a quarter on the road from my bus seat, stop at the next stop and walk to the change and pick it up. (I'm committed to coin rescue...or perhaps I should just be committed.)

Nope, I learned these days that the bigger brick & mortar banks (like JP Morgan Chased) will charge you a $3 fee for the privilege of moving money to an internet-based bank like ING. The reason why I read it and did not experience it first hand was that I, by shear luck, hit upon the right way to transfer. Always, always, always get ING to pull out the money from the brick & mortar bank. Never tell the brick & mortar bank to push it out. $3 ain't that much - or its 9 weeks of change hunting. Smile

I also learned that my secret downtown Post Office office is in danger of being shut down. The list. In Seattle, you can wait in line for a couple hours at the gigantic feedlot at 3rd and Union site, or you can go to the little, intimate, general store PO in the Old Federal Building. Which would you pick? Time to let the secret out and mail my Drp payment from there and sign the list.

up in the game

August 3rd, 2009 at 08:29 pm

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel +$1 peach
Found money - $0.01 (corner curb 3rd/Pike) + $0.01 (bus stop) + $0.02 (bus floor)

Pennies from heaven today, so I got a dollar's worth of change.

Monday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $0
Found money - $0.01 (sidewalk in front of coffeehouse)

Well, I've been relatively lucky in finding change - it only took me 19 days to find a bucks' worth, that with 4 days of no luck. I rarely find quarters at all, not to mention finding two. Its like getting paid to jog, walk, and touch my toes.

This current stock market rally is freaking me out a bit. My net worth is now above what it was June 2008, before the Great Fiscal Implosion.

2 summer deadlines

August 1st, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $91 groceries
Found money - $0.01 (parking lot behind a concrete brake)

We now all vote by mail - we got the ballots 2 days ago and the voter's pamphlet today. We have to get the ballots mailed by Aug 18. The 20 cent plastic bag tax is on it - apparently the plastic bags that you put produce in does not count, just the ones at the front. Mr. goodspaceguy is running for mayor, which provided most of the reading entertainment from the voter's guide.

Walked the 7 miles downtown today, picking several blackberries along the way. They are nice and glossy black, but still a tad too sour. Give them another few days. I still don't understand why anyone in Seattle would actually buy blackberries, when there is such good hunting all around.