<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Archive: September, 2009
 

Archive for September, 2009

venus has returned

September 29th, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $7 salad fixings
Found money - $0.01 (gym floor) + $.26 (Safeway - another quarter by the Coinstar machine)

Fall has arrived in Seattle, today with a vengeance - cloudy, rainy, cold. After a day like today, as I walked to catch my bus tonight, I look to my little red fall beacon:


More good health news today - my cholesterol is a non-threatening 182. The big health issue is with V.I. - she hasn't been defecating in the litter box, and it turns out she has giardia. So our entertainment has been to catch her and give her her medicine to clear it. And wash our hands afterward. :P

DH sent me a highly entertaining sin link for a data geek like me. As you look, remember that Seattle is in the upper left corner. We hold our collective heads high!

8 the hard way

September 28th, 2009 at 08:30 pm

Monday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.02 (bus floor) + $0.04 (sidewalks) + $0.02 (Safeway floor)

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $20 groceries
Found money - $0.01 (sidewalk) + $0.01 (road)

Found eight cents the hard way - a few pennies here and there. Soon fall will come, the leaves making finding pennies extremely difficult, and the dark making finding silver difficult too.

Three months ago I learned a shocker: the bulk bin usually is not the best price for the staples. I tested it out yesterday afternoon with plain ol' brown rice. I wanted two pounds - $1.99/lb in the bin ($3.98), $2.49 for a 2 lb plastic bag on the shelf... and not an eye-level shelf either, the lowest one.

Such are the tricks of the grocery man.

action packed day

September 26th, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $4.20 breakfast + $56 greek groceries + $20 greek dinner

It seemed like a spendy day, but it really wasn't. Upon advice in the comments, we hit both the Free Museum Day and the Greek Festival.

We really went on an adventure today - we got to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma from home using our free museum pass, my bus pass, and DH's ORCA card. While it was cheap (about $3 without the passes and no driving, gas, parking), it took a bit more time to get there (2 hr versus 1 hr). A few pics...

Close up of the ceiling of the bridge one uses to get to the Museum of Glass - we are in Chiluly land.


Museum of Glass is a smallish building behind a huge honking cone.


Inside the huge honking cone is the "hot shop" where you can watch the glassblowers at work.


To tell you the truth, there was only 3-4 galleries of glass, so it took maybe an hour to go through it. We could take the bus back to Seattle, and we were dropped off within a block of a bus that I knew would take us to the Greek festival. This was the pricey part - I get the good olive oil in the metal gallon tin, feta, grape leaves - this year, I also got jar of hot pickled veg, a package of the least deadly sugar cookies (dozen baklava is just too dangerous), and a small pack of pistachio halva.

Then there's the eating. This pic sums up the Greek festival to me.

nutty day

September 25th, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Friday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $9 lunch + $20 copay
Found money - $0.16 (parking lot)

Thursday
Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $5.50 magazine
Found money - $0

It wasn't the full moon today, but it could've fooled me.

Act 1. It started when both of my employees called in that they weren't coming in, shifting the work to me, and today I had scheduled my physical this afternoon, so it wasn't that I could do their work all day. Luckily my boss was available and I could take off at 2pm and make my 3pm appointment (phew!).

Act 2. All this week I heard that the auditors were doing fine, they were satisfied, blah blah blah. At 11:30am one of the auditors comes by and asks me to explain 4 detailed transactions and how I calculated them. Did they look at my online calendar and say, "11:30? Perfect. Lets screw her over." It took me an hour to explain what I did and what that transaction represented (non-profit accounting 501, flipping between Excel and Access), culminating with an attempt to go into where I get the national data from. Link to get the original data bombs out. Grrr. She went away, and I bought a lunch and scarfed it down by 1pm.

Act 3. Same auditor returns at 1:30pm asking a different question on a different transaction. Auuugh! Luckily a couple of directors could answer some of the auditor's questions and she went away again.

At 1:59 pm, I slipped out while the getting was good. It turned out that I was a bit early for the physical.

Physical was undergone with no issues - matter of fact, I thought my blood pressure was going to be high (auditors!) because the last time it was checked it was high. 130/88. Not perfect, but much better than I had feared. Also got the listen to the heart, the Pap, the cholesterol test, and a couple of shots - DPT and seasonal flu. The doctor seemed happy to see me.

I had an interesting moment when I stepped on the scale with the nurse - I joked that it would be a lot better than it would have been 4 years ago. (It was by 35 pounds). The nurse asked how I did it, I started with the food diary, and she said, "I could never do that."

I interpreted the comment the way I wanted to (ie. That's difficult and I'm impressed with your skills), but I have to wonder how I would have taken it if I had heard this comment from a health professional when I first started. Say what you want about a trainer, none of them would ever say never.

The blood drawer was a hoot. We cracked wise about our day, me about the auditors, and she about the oddballs she got that day. As I was leaving, I said my final shot, "thank you, you've been a great audience. We'll be here all week - don't forget to tip your waitress."

duck very soon

September 23rd, 2009 at 08:41 pm

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $3 office supplies + $9 groceries
Found money - $0.03 (sidewalk three different places) + $0.20 (under Coinstar machine)

The barter for the duck and the fish is beginning - in package units, to trade we have 10 ground beef, 4 soup bone, 2 t-bone, 1 back rib, 1 chuck, 2 sirloin, 1 flank, and multiple links of german sausage. We've reserved a few pieces for ourselves.

The Duvall friends, the other end of the muscovy duck trade, are going to be sending at least 8 of their ducks to "freezer camp" (euphemism theirs) starting this weekend. They're thinking about the chuck, sirloin, and t-bone, so I weigh my pieces, they weigh their cleaned duck carcasses, and we pound for pound trade.

Got the results of my mammogram back: normal.

Not much else - discovered that the Coinstar machine can be a rich source of change. Not surprising - easy to imagine a bit of change dropping out of the bin, and if you are doing this with the iPod on, you wouldn't hear the ching.

This weekend is the Greek festival, I saved to stock up on olive oil, feta, tarama, olives, and maybe a bit of wine. Saturday is also national free museum day, sponsored by the Smithsonian. Tough choice.

no need for the stock sale

September 22nd, 2009 at 08:16 pm

Tuesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.10 (sidewalk) + $0.03 (under table on Safeway floor)

Monday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $9 grocery
Found money - $.01 (bus floor)

Tax guy helped me decide whether to sell the stock for the tax loss. It turns out that since I haven't converted any Roths, my salary hasn't increased enough (that 2% only begins in October), the interest rate on savings and the cash I'm holding sucks, and I've pre-paid for 2 quarters of taxes already ... My stock sale will only generate 300$ of refund. "Sell it if its important for you to not hold it," he said, "but on the tax side, it might be more strategic if you sell it later. At least wait until Dec 29 if you do."

Then I asked whether I need to pre-pay taxes for the other two quarters. Nope, I have definitely pre-paid enough for this year. I might well get a bit of a refund during tax season 2010.

beef fest!

September 20th, 2009 at 05:32 pm

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.99 bagel, coffee + $.92 apple
Found money - $.01 (sidewalk) + $0.13 (bus stop) $0.02 (2 different parking lots)

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $8 Thai herbs and bamboo skewers
Found money - $0

Picked up our beef share yesterday afternoon at the drop site, a parking lot off of Lake City (sounds so illicit!). It was a bit more complicated than grab our bags and go - we had three other players, so it was sort the frozen cuts in the bed of a pickup truck, first divy up what cuts there are a lot of, then horse trade for the unique cuts, then weigh our shares just to get the ballpark. Our share was a couple of pounds shy of 40, so if I wanted to make a stink, I could, but we got a nice mix of stuff, and very tradeable for part 2.

The farmers, based out of Yakima, who were selling us the beef also came with a bit extra - we got a couple of pounds of extra summer sausage which is fresh and delicious, and a couple of pounds of peppers and tomatoes compliments of a couple of the neighboring farms.

Our share all fit in the freezer on top of our refrigerator. I did clean out and eat a bit of the old stuff we had there already to prepare.

After the beef share was divided, all of us decided to have "beef-fest" at lawyer friend's house and make a beef or beef-inspired dish. We thawed out one package of tenderloin and made Thai beef salad. We used what we had for the salad fixings, so instead of a bed of lettuce, which is the "official" recipe, we made a bed of sliced tomatoes, added some thinly sliced red onion, added thai basil, mint, cilantro. DH sliced and skewered the tenderloin, grilled it on site, we laid the grilled skewers on the bed of tomatoes, and dressed the whole thing with lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, serrano pepper. Yum!

In the next couple of days, I'll inventory exactly what we got - cut, number of packages, pounds, so our duck deal can get off the ground. I think we will be aiming for a pound for pound deal.

At the beef fest last night, one of our dinner guests mentioned that she gets tuna and seafood every year, and is very willing to barter tuna for beef, also on a pound for pound deal. I'm becoming more and more like dad every year. He used to trade beef for pig and chicken etc, too.

closer to selling that stock

September 18th, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 ketchup
Found money - $0

My current money project is to sell a bit of bank stock to harvest a long-term capital loss that I can use to lower my taxes this upcoming season. Since it is a from a dividend reinvestment program, its not as simple as calling a broker and yelling "SELL!" Wink. I have:

1. warned my tax guy.
2. got into my shareholder account (connect w/ the transfer agent).
3. figured out the shares that I want to sell (FIFO- the ones first in to get a long term capital loss) and get my spreadsheet of shares in order.
4. wait until Sept dividend has been bought and in my account.
5. went to Yahoo Finance and got the split, spinoff, and share adjusted price of the stock.
6. multiply the adjusted price by number of shares to get cost basis
7. multiply the current price by number of shares to get estimated value.
8. subtract number 6 from number 7...I get around a $2400 loss for the 130 shares I want to sell.
9. made a phone appointment with the tax guy to get his opinion and see what he needs. (Tuesday)
10. send my spreadsheet to the tax guy.

What I have yet to do:
11. Contact the transfer agent to get the final protocol for how to sell. So far, I know I have use written means.
12. get whatever the tax guy needs.
13. Sell some stock.

The cost basis of the bank stock in question is in the low $30s, while the current price has hovered in the 7-8$ range. All my other Drp stock holdings are very, very much up.

where to put that 2% raise

September 17th, 2009 at 08:39 pm

Thursday
Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $4.50 coffee, breakfast sandwich + $16 groceries
Found money - $0.02 (crosswalk) + $0.01 (sidewalk)

Wednesday
Saving log - $6 tip box
Spending log - $9 fruit & veg
Found money - $0

Discovered a pleasant surprise at work - if your performance was above a certain level you will get a 2% raise starting in mid-October. It means to me 35$/payperiod. I can live fairly well with my paycheck right now, so its time to look at the increase in paycheck and increase my savings accordingly. And mutter a silent prayer of thanks. With so many losing their jobs, having a job is cake. Getting a raise is icing.

Now what to do with the extra savings? Put it in the bank, I guess. Wouldn't it be nice during these "extend and pretend" times to find out the super-secret list that the FDIC uses. I can't say that this list is the super secret list, just a reasonable guess of those banks closer to the edge. Keep your savings under the limits, in any case. Oh yes, credit unions are better, but some have problems too. I'm searching for that list, but somehow that is less gossiped about.

2 months of finding change

September 15th, 2009 at 09:52 pm

Tuesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $27 groceries
Found money - $0.01 (vending machine near Safeway)

Monday
Saving log - $6 tip box
Spending log - $0
Found money - $0.01 (bus floor)

Officially, its been two months plus two days of writing down how much money I find and where I find it.

So far, I've found $2.55, found as 50 pennies, 3 nickels, 9 dimes, 4 quarters. I'm hoping for a bill someday! Smile The penny amounts are not too surprising - when most people say that they won't pick up change they mean a penny. I'm not sure what I'm surprised at more - that I found so few nickels or so many dimes. Dimes more maybe - they are more worthy to pick up. Or is it that a dime is hard to see?

I've been finding change in the usual places - parking lots, road, sidewalk, by wastebaskets, phone booths, buses, under benches and vending machines, close to cars. Disneysteve's rule of looking for more change happens often enough so that you should definitely look ... as long as you're bent over. I was a bit surprised that I can spot change from the bus as long as its stopped. Certainly it adds a bit of flavor to the scenery.

It works out to about 4 cents/ day. There were 29 days where I found no change; there was 1 day where I found 46 cents. In other words, at least in Seattle, you're not going to find enough change to fund anything grandiose. (who are these people who find thousands in change?) What I've been doing with my change is funding goodwill amongst the tip jars in town. Coin rescue at its finest.

1 yr later - the ghost ships of Malaysia

September 13th, 2009 at 11:02 pm

This was the most interesting article I've seen in months. Talk that the recession is over sounds like whistling in the wind. The shelves will certainly look light this Christmas.

Greenwood yard sale 2009

September 13th, 2009 at 07:15 pm

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $26 vitamins, bath salts, apple
Found money - $0

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $12 coffee, breakfast + $16 various yard sale finds in the neighborhood
Found money - $.10 carpet of breakfast place + $.01 crosswalk

It was this year version of the Greenwood Yard Sale - it used to be held in April, but ever since last year when it hailed the day of the yard sale, the neighborhood re-set the time to September.

I don't whether it was due to the recession or that it was such a nice day that a lot more people participated (what? not going to the new Bravern mall), but the pickings were very good. I got a map from the Senior Center just up the street and began. I was specifically looking for a dutch oven for my sister, but I got:
2 bars of homemade soap (senior center) - $1
4 homemade brownies (senior center bake sale) - $1
1 metal bowl - $2
1 encyclopedia of container gardening - $1
4 burly patio chairs, 2 cushions - $7 (one had a strap out)
1 fold out patio table - $4

I could have gotten a foam cheesehead, a dehydrator, 2 bread machines, boodles of TVs (ha ha), a couple of flat screen monitors, a Bell & Howard film projector (got a flashback to second grade on that one).

We are in the process of getting rid of our ancient, flimsy patio chairs. Here's are two of the yard sale chairs. Stripping and repainting a patio table is in my future somehow.


In addition, we are going to give sister the smaller of one of our dutch ovens - we have two cast iron ones, each burly enough to make the NYT no knead bread recipe. I got the dutch oven that we're planning to give her from in a thrift store in Tucson for $10... made a lot of great meals in it.

spotting change & bagging jump ropes

September 11th, 2009 at 08:22 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $4.50 coffee, chocolate croissant + $1.75 iced coffee
Found money - $0.10 (under a bench)

Sad, in a sense. I spotted the dime under the bench from the bus, so I got off the bus at the next block and walked over to pick it up. Kind of funny that I can even spot change from the bus - but the bus has to be stopped.

Today I participated in a day of service - I was part of a project helping a non-profit by stuffing a jump rope (in a plastic bag) into another plastic bag and sealing the bag with a label. Repeat 4500 times. The 15 of us made for efficient work - we got done in about 5 hrs. The jump ropes will be given to every kindergarten kid enrolled in the Seattle school district. So if we didn't get the label on perfectly, well, no 5 year old would notice. The non-profit in question is working on lessening childhood obesity.

cost basis

September 10th, 2009 at 09:42 pm

Saving log - $3 tip boc
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.01 (55 bus stop) + $0.10 (hall carpet at work)

Well, I got my username and password reset from the transfer agent, but my true goal is to sell some stock at a loss for tax purposes. For that, two more hurdles remain:

1. Figuring out the cost basis of the stock that I want to sell. Since this company spun off another company, its like a stock split, and the cost basis is not what I bought it at - its a bit less. A quick look around tells me that I can get a great cost basis for lots of $$$s, or an iffy one for cheap.

After step 1, I'm calling my tax advisor for his opinion. Basically, we are going to figure whether I can sell enough so I won't have to prepay any more tax.

2. No sell form on the transfer agent's site. I've have to call them and get the scoop.

how much for that vulture in the window?

September 9th, 2009 at 08:48 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $0 (free coffee)
Found money - $0.01 (elevator of Group Health) + $0.03 (gutter along 1st Ave)

In the window of the now defunct Murphy's Mix...


Got my first mammogram today - yes at 47 I'm a bit late Frown, and found a penny on the elevator floor. (So rare as a consumer that I left the medical complex with more money than when I entered) The rest of the money I found next to the parked cars along 1st.

I'm working on getting the cost basis for a stock I'm planning of selling to improve my tax position. That's the real hitch of getting everything online and with the extra hurdles in security it means that you have to go into your accounts often or else you miss a trick and getting in when you really need to is a PITA. Anyhow, I'm in the process of getting a security code so I can go back and re-set up my accounts. Blegh.

The meat delivery is now firmly on Sept 19, with a meat grill fest afterward. Somebody asked about dessert - I'm pretty sure that I can find a caramel chocolate cheesecake and call it a "cow pie".

back at work

September 8th, 2009 at 10:54 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.73 coffee
Found money - $0.07 (coffeeshop counter next to the non-fat)

Tried out the new trainer - I think it will be a good fit. Knee was okay on the ball squats - we are not pushing it quite yet. I've been jogging off and on for a few blocks yesterday and today and it felt pretty good. I got several new homework assignments from the new trainer. Smile I'm going to go through my appointments to clear the decks by Nov 1, when we expect a lot of work to hit.

For laughs, I texted my sister and got one back. Lotsa fun for a nickel.

Found the seven cents, but I put in the coffee person's tip jar. - I'm buying goodwill. I'm counting it as found, just spent right away.

The fundraising temp staff are here on their first day, so the energy level at work has doubled.

saving and cool

September 7th, 2009 at 07:49 pm

Monday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $20 groceries, lunch + $6 2 movie tickets
Found money - $0

Sunday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $7.50 lunch, Financial Times
Found money - $0.01 (sidewalk on Greenwood Ave) + $0.10 (bus stop) + $0.35 (Fred Meyer parking lot)

Yesterday was quite a good change finding day, if I do say do myself. Since mid-July, I've found and picked up $2.10 worth of change and a substantial amount of change came from the Fred Meyer parking lot - I know I'm a zombie when I leave there. Big Grin

Labor Day (today), DH and I kicked it and took it easy - nothing too adventurous. Seattle decided to go for the off and on rain anyway.

We finally hit the movie theater in ... how long, to see Star Trek at the Crest for $3/ticket. I remembered that it had been reviewed well in May, and I thoroughly enjoyed months and months later. Yeah, I know, a little late.

It got me to thinking, though. In my youth, sigh, I would have seen that movie within a week or two of it coming out ...even nerds had their standards. Worse, I probably would have teased you if you hadn't. Now? I just smile and wait for the next week of summer and another movie that you had better see if you want to be with it. Just becomes part of a treadmill of stuff you had better buy (and store!), along with things you need to buy a ticket for.

Saving and being with-it don't play well. It doesn't seem to matter the circle you run in. Nerds like me - the gadgets, the computer, the sci-fi movie. Fashionistas - well, everything in the mall, which has seasons and for the with-it, has to replaced every year. Foodies? Heirlooms, organics, and local food seem to be the craze right now, which sucks - when they become less of a fad, their price will drop. Pick a sport, any sport, and there's serious with-it spending involved. Being green and sustainable? Surprise - there a ton of green stuff you apparently need to buy, despite the fact that the greenest purchase is no purchase at all but use up what you already have. I have to admire the ad-man here - being able to deflect the conversation to buy from not-buy.

It seems like I spend more of my time hiding out from not buying. "Great movie," I say when the topic comes up. A little white lie, I know. "Someday I'll buy the house," I say warily. Could be 2010, 2011, 20 never. I think sometimes that learning how to hide out from/ignore peer spending (not as obvious as keeping up with the Joneses) is the biggest skill I learned in my 30s. If only I hadn't teased others about being so cheap in my 20s! There was no with-it spending that I did in the 80s that I even remember, not to mention change my life.

fun, spendy day

September 5th, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $12 coffee, breakfast + $41 cat toys, collar, treats + $17 id, camera case

Sometimes you just have to have a spendy day. At least it was fun stuff. We used another PAWS coupon for some cat spending - the cat pillow was appreciated, the new collar, not so much. V.I. must have had an attachment to her old collar even though there was a cat claw embedded in it. Hers? I don't think we will ever know.

I also made a stop at Office Depot and solved a problem that has been nagging me since the long walk/jogs on the weekends. Its inconvenient, but necessary, to carry the remnants of my wallet as I jog - need at the very least, my bus pass, driver's license, a bit of money, key, and if I buy an apple or have a bit of tea at the end, I need a place to put the change. My running pants have one rudimentary pocket. I've been jogging in my jacket with the pockets to get one, but it does get mighty warm during. Smile I originally thought about a wrist wallet ($15), but never pulled the trigger. Today I just went with a very simple ID pocket on a cloth lanyard ($4) and see if that works.

I leave you with a non-financial picture.

The harbinger

like we were banking with rocks and leaves before

September 4th, 2009 at 08:51 pm

Or wampun and gold dust. After all, we are a highly primitive culture out here in Seattle...


Oh yes, that shape in the lower left is a fish upon closer look, not the shadow of a Ben Bernanke helicopter.

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $14 groceries (got gift certificate for a free coffee)
Found money - $0

food, exercise, cat

September 3rd, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Thursday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $40 dinner for 2

Wednesday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $3 peanuts
Found money - $0

Been a rough three days of eating. Tuesday I helped polish off a lot of angel food cake along with a lot of homemade blueberry plum whiskey compote.

Recipe is straightforward - 1 lb blueberries, 1 lb pitted ripe plums with skins on, 1 c sugar, cook about 15 minutes, add 2 tbsp whiskey, cook 5 min more, cool, store in refrigerator. It forms a sauce, thinner than a jam, although with a bit of pectin it should make for a smashing jam.

Wednesday I went to the baseball game and got logy with a beer, garlic fries, and a bag of peanuts. At least I could only finish 2/3 of the bag and I had to shell the peanuts besides. And tonight we had dinner, appetizers, and drinks with friends. DH bought the beers and fries at the stadium; I bought our dinners tonight.

I also got a bit of a shocker yesterday morning - my gym trainer quit, so it is time to finish off the rest of my time with another. I'm sad, of course, he was a great trainer, but my MO has been that I lose the most amount of weight within the first three months of training. Makes sense if your body gets used to specific exercise - and every trainer has their own favorites that they will try on you. In other words, from the tactical losing weight/gain muscle thing, this is the best thing that could have happened. So if you buy trainer time, three months and then done.

I get twinges in my knee when I climb stairs, and tried one legged squats - that knee felt very challenged.

V.I. is settling in still more - we only had her for five days and her coat has improved by leaps and bounds. She wasn't terrible to pet when we got her, but her coat was rough and dandered. Now, very soft and glossy even at the base of the tail. I don't think improved food would work that fast. I think its because her stress levels have gone down - being the only cat in a quiet environment, she has the time and the desire to clean herself properly.

V.I.

September 1st, 2009 at 08:05 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $5 groceries
Found money - $0.01 (crosswalk on 1st)

Here she is on our couch, very much a grande dame...

And yes, we are black cat people. I tried steering DH away from the black cats, to no awail.