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Archive for December, 2009

Net worth, Dec 2009

December 31st, 2009 at 09:10 pm

The workplace 403B (subset of the IRA/403B) has been growing especially fast - its within 700$ of 6 digits. The taxable money has stabilized a bit. The plan is to bulk up the 403B as much as possible, using the cash when necessary. The idea is that the fastest growing money is in tax-free and tax-deferred buckets.

My Drp stock portfolio was up 12% as compared to last year. Several of the stock increased their dividend slightly - it always helps when you get paid to hold something. My bank stock is still doing poorly, but less poorly than before. I still might sell it to help with taxes, but I was dissuaded from doing so because I had enough tax help.

Still could not pull the trigger to put Gramma's money in the stock market. March would have been the best time, but they don't ring a bell at the bottom.

About 10% up from last year at this time.


$165,529 IRA/403B
$202,308 Vanguard taxable
$24,931 stock
$12,561 I-bonds
$117,067 CDs
$27,161 ING, paypal, farmette savings
$1,743 immediate cash
---
$551,300 total

By comparison:
December 2009 ($551,300 total, $385,771 in taxable accounts)
June 2009 ($512,054 total, $379,475)
Dec 2008 ($498,148 total, $386,021)
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 most frugal skill

December 29th, 2009 at 09:50 pm

Some say its cooking...
Some say its gardening...
Some even say its a talent for organization...

If you ask me, I think its this. Underrated, and you might even say, well duh...
Well, duh...

broke the streak

December 29th, 2009 at 09:40 pm

Tuesday
Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.03 (sidewalks)

Monday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $12 lunch
Found money - $0

Well, the 38th day in a row finding found money was not to be. I found nothing yesterday, but got back on the horse and found three pennies today.

Abandoned most of the frugal principals yesterday. I was going to decline a lunch screenwriter friend and lawyer friend's partner, but I sniffed the lunch that I had in the work fridge - it turned, and I thought, "a bought lunch with friends would be money well spent."

Work is picking up - I expect that it will be hopping by Thursday the 31st. This year is shaping up to be a strange one: more antsiness about making sure that the credit card is charged by the 31st than in previous years. Also, we are seeing a rise in bad credit cards again, as in 2007.

DH joined our death bet.

post Christmas doings

December 27th, 2009 at 07:13 pm

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.97 bagel (free coffee off the punch card + $1 apple
Found money - $0.22 (sidewalk, Safeway checkout, top of escalator)

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $14 brunch, coffee + $4 vegetables
Found money - $0.33 (road, sidewalk, under parked car)

Christmas
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel
Found money - $0.02 (sidewalk)

Yes, if you can believe it, I even found coins on Christmas day. $15.23, and counting. I reviewed my Excel spreadsheet of when, how much, where I found change and it turns out that I have found some sort of change every day between 11/21/09 and now - 37 days straight. I feel like the Joe DiMaggio of found money. Wonder what the record is?

DH and I had rib-eye steaks, gingered carrots, and garlic mashed potatoes for Christmas dinner. Saturday we were invited to dinner, movie, then back for dessert and digestif. We saw Sherlock Holmes, which played to me like the steampunk version of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. (liked steampunk, liked LSTSB). The conversation was varied - I've been finding that I'm suddenly the to-go person for help in losing weight. If only people knew that it really takes a total awareness and a total lifestyle change. Nothing magic, hell I'm having issues - I'm up several pounds to 174.

Not much fiscal is going on - I'm waiting for the end of the year when the last paycheck, the net worth calculation, and the 2010 Roth gets started at the end of the year.

Merry Christmas

December 24th, 2009 at 06:41 pm

Thursday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.64 coffee + $8 stamp sheet + $6 lunch + $20 groceries
Found money - $0.27 (sidewalks, Safeway floor)

Wednesday
Saving log - $12 tip box
Spending log - $0!
Found money - $0.13 (sidewalks, Safeway floor)

Merry Christmas on Christmas Eve! It has been rockin' and rollin' at the neighborhood Safeway - lots of spending, lots of change rolling around on the floor. In the last two days I've found 3 dimes on the Safeway floor. Not a lot of Jingle Bells on the radio this year - I've been hearing We Need a Little Christmas over and over this year. Fits the mood general mood: Cheer up, dammit, think of the children Wink!

Well, I've been joking with people this year - I'm saying the non-PC "Merry Christmas" and I invite you to hear whatever holiday is appropriate. And when I hear a Happy Chanukah or a Blessed Kwanzaa, I respond in kind. We are, after all, in the same business: wishing our fellow human beings all the best, cheering ourselves (bucking ourselves up?) for the start of winter.

I had Christmas Eve off today, so I spent an hour at the gym (found a penny there), then I ran a couple of errands: stamps, and I obtained an ORCA card for transit trips. ORCA stands for One Regional Card for All - a super duper card that you can load money on, it keeps track of your transfers, and its good for nearly any transit system in the Seattle area. The card is free currently ($5 in February), but you load it with your own money. My current pass is good for unlimited rides until July 2010. I suspect that we will still get fresh passes in July, but you never know - it could be that we get a work version of the ORCA.

I got an ORCA card for myself because there is one interesting feature/fault of the cards - in keeping track of your transfers, it lists where/when you used your card. Quite a bit had been written in the local papers about the privacy issues. ORCA cards from employers can possibly mean that your employer can use it to establish where you've been - Saturdays, playing hooky, committing a crime, etc. I got a spare ORCA in case I need to use one for personal use, and if nothing else, if I get visitors, one more to load up and let the guests use. (and then I can find where they went! Smile)

remastering airport trips and tunes

December 22nd, 2009 at 08:25 pm

Tuesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $11 last Christmas gift
Found money - $0.13 (road, sidewalk, bottom of puddle)

Monday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $0
Found money - $0.04 (under bus seat, sidewalk)

Did a frugal reconnaissance mission this last Sunday afternoon: I rode the light rail all the way to SeaTac. (I have a bus pass that includes the light rail) The ride took about 40 minutes in relative comfort, it ended up one escalator ride and about 200 feet from the spiral parking lot. Everything was reasonably well marked and delinated - the sidewalk was covered from the elements (a bit breezy), continued along the outer edge of the spiral parking lot, skirted past the elevators of the parking lot, hooked up to the mezzanine - up 1/2 flight to the United Air counter, down 1/2 flight to baggage. It was a little 1/4 mi walk on concrete w/no people mover belts, so I'd pack light and be prepared, but frankly its a two minute walk further than the far edge of the spiral parking lot. Definitely something to keep in mind if I coming in.

I also walked back and checked out where to go away from SeaTac - turns out that the light rail station is over Tukwila International Blvd where the hotels are - one covered crosswalk away.

The potluck and white elephant sale happened at work yesterday. It was great because most everyone brought their potluck "A" game. My pumpkin ginger raisin turnovers v.2 disappeared entirely. Interesting gift was unwrapped at the white elephant sale: vinyl records! Had to steal that as a Christmas gift for DJ friend. DJ friend and I flipped through the records - Bee Gees, Diana Ross, Chuck Magione, CCR. DJ friend is in the process of picking up re-mastering skills as the first step to using the records for remixing, so he's planning on re-mastering the vinyl for practice. Wonder who gave away the vinyl?

60th dime

December 20th, 2009 at 12:20 am

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 coffee, lunch + $74 kitty food, litter, Christmas toys + $50 last Christmas gift + $20 groceries, baking items
Found money - $0.39 (driveway in front of auto shop, Safeway carpet, Whole Foods floor, bus stop)

Friday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.27 (bus stop, coffeeshop carpet, gym floor)

Have been extremely lucky in my found money hunting - 2 quarters in 2 days. I also found my 60th dime. Total so far: $14.16: 326 pennies, 13 nickels, 60 dimes, 13 quarters, $1 bill. I don't think I have too many secrets to give away - the more I walk, the more I notice. I especially look for sharp, perfect circles - the coins I've been finding are not really bright and shiny and at night they don't flash like a piece of foil would. And December is shaping up to be a great month for change. My hypothesis for that is more people shopping, more people using cash, and more coins passing from pocket to pocket. We'll see what January brings.

Speaking of shopping, I finally got the Christmas shopping done. $360, including the shipping. Now its a potluck dish for Monday - the operations departments do a holiday potluck lunch above and beyond the official one last Thursday. I speak for myself that I am very happy its over. Has anyone noticed that this Christmas seems a bit... well, subdued compared to year's past? I like it. This year the lights are pretty, but not full out eye-popping and in your face, and I've either gotten very good about ignoring the Christmas music or there isn't as much as in other years.

I picked up a snow route booklet on the bus to store for work. Today the new light rail now goes all the way to SeaTac airport. Since my Flex pass works on light rail, I might just check that out for informative purposes - looking forward to the $2.50 ride, avoiding taxis at $50 or even the airporter at $30.

death bet - skip if alarmed

December 17th, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Thursday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $20 buy-in to the death bet + $20 shipping sister's Christmas gift
Found money - $0.24 (parking meters, sidewalk, bus floor)

Wednesday
Saving log - $2 tip box (replaced the 20$, BTW) + $50 Drp
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $110 Christmas gifts
Found money - $0.08 (sidewalk, parking lot, under Coinstar machine)

Nearly finished with Christmas shopping - two more small gifts and I'm done. We had the work holiday lunch and the half day afterward; the lunch itself was very low key, nothing too fancy, no alcohol, only a moderate amount of rah rah. I won a little something in the drawing - a free Sunday brunch for 2, including 2 mimosas.

Coin rescue is proceeding apace: $13.50, 320 pennies, 13 nickels, 59 dimes, 11 quarters, and 1$ bill. Several other co workers confided that they look for change too. Just what I need, more competition. Smile One even told me that she plants a quarter in different places just to see how long it takes for someone to pick it up. Most places, the quarter disappears quickly, within hours. She tried planting a quarter at Westlake Mall a couple of years ago and it took a couple of days for that quarter to disappear. That opens up a whole new area of economic experimentation I hadn't considered. I could imagine the halflife of a quarter on the sidewalk as a recession indicator.

The death bet caused quite a stir, so I asked the organizer about it as I bought in. Turns out he got the idea from a friend of his at Amazon.com, where the employees have held one for years and years. Our organizer wanted in on it, but figured, well, why not just start another one? Our organizer's friend at Amazon held, for this year's death bet, these: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon. Yowsa! Full house. Big Grin Anyway, I'm putting my list in the comments. Its a reasonable mix of ill and ill will.

that's the recessionary spirit!

December 15th, 2009 at 08:17 pm

Tuesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $22 groceries
Found money - $0.14 (gym table, parking meter, sidewalk)

Two recessionary items of note:

I haven't been looking in on 4 wk T-bills for a few weeks. Tuesday is when the T-bill auctions occur; sale occurs on Thursday. The interest rate of this week's 4 wk T-bill auction, and last week's: $0. Not just pennies of interest after the 4 weeks are over. You will make absolutely no money. I've made 15 cents these last two days - pretty good compared to that!

I finally did find a pretty good way to research the health of one's credit union here. You can look at your bank, also - check out the sidebar at the site.

Others are sharing a funny, dark mood this holiday season - I've joined a friendly death bet at work. Not us - you pick 10 celebrities that you think might cash in their chips in 2010, you pay in $20, and you monitor for 2010. If you have somebody on your list, you get assigned points based on how old they were - 100. In other words, Lindsay Lohan would be worth far more than, say, nearly anybody else.

there are rules to this

December 14th, 2009 at 08:25 pm

Monday
Saving log - $-20 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $18 holiday lunch w/friends
Found money - $0.01 (floor)

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $4 groceries
Found money - $0.35 (bus stop, bus, sidewalk)

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $15 brunch + $45 gifts + $15 dinner w/friends
Found money - $0.11 (floor, carpet)

Very spendy weekend and surprise holiday get-togethers crashed against the day before payday, so I had to use the tip box in a way that I rarely want to - to pay myself should I run a little short. Its not a biggie, I remind myself. I get paid tomorrow, with the credit card pay check (I pay the credit card at the middle of the month, rent at the beginning of the month). Credit card bill has been low, so it will be easy to pay off the card and replace the tip box.

With the penny today, I've found $13.04, expressed as 299 pennies, 12 nickels, 57 dimes, 11 quarters, and a $1 bill. Screenwriter friend asked me if there were rules. Sure, I said - found money.

I have to touch the money. I don't have to put it in my pocket - so if someone had dropped the dollar bill and I saw it, I can pick it up and give to them and still count it.

Foreign coins count at face value. I call it found money, not found US money. Heck, with the dollar relatively weak - the Canadian dollar exchange rate is 92 cents on the dollar, while the euro is $1.40 or so on the dollar - if anything, I could be shorting myself. I'll re-think if I find a Zimbabwean trillion dollar bill.

I don't go after money in fountains or pools. I don't want to get my hand wet; I'm not that pathetic; and frankly I already look kind of silly when I pull out my penlight to look under tables and the bus seat.

Safety first. There could well be plenty of coins in the middle of the road. I'm not going to be the one to get run over to go after them.

The only other fiscal thing today was that I'm finishing up Predictably Irrational - on behavioral economics. I'm fascinated on how we are blind to the cult of Free! and how choices are presented to us (think menus, online subscriptions, comparative advertising). I'm also thinking of getting and reading The Great Depression: A Diary . After all has been said and done, and add another 60 - 70 years, I wonder if any of our blogs will be called up, edited, and read as a slice of our times? I'm guessing that Seattle is not in a depression yet - far too many people are losing far too many coins.

giving and receiving

December 11th, 2009 at 09:15 pm

Friday
Saving log - $4 tip box + $50 drp
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $1.60 2 apples
Found money - $0.02 (bus stop, parking meter)

Thursday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $0
Found money - $0.03 (bus step, gas station pavement, parking lot)

Wednesday
Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $13 groceries
Found money - $0.02 (floor of grocery store checkout, parking meter)

gifts on two fronts:

1. Christmas - got the Christmas gift from sister of mustard, coffee, hot sauce. Not mixed up, of course. We especially treasure that jar of horseradish mustard; my sinuses won't stand a chance. Also got two very cool looking stainless steel coffee mugs decorated in a kind of Mayan glyph design. All ready for 2012!

Waiting for the spiral stakes to arrive for me to send to sister. I've sent several small gifts along with the dutch oven...heck, the dutch oven is a fine gift on its own...so if its late, its late. No biggie.

Moving on the other gifts for DH's family. They will not be as creative as in past years. Several parts of the family tend toward the food gifts, which I frankly like. Less stuff to kick around. (Body fat doesn't count. Big Grin)

MIL will be an issue. She's mentioned no food, her tastes are kind of tricky, and I don't feel that I know her well enough for a fun basket of smallish stuff with a theme. No sense of humor, so no Festivus pole Big Grin; and I don't feel like I can handle the fallout if I'm truly mean.

And its not as if I'm a goob in this department. Giving gifts can be pretty easy for me - I bought an apple today for a co worker as a surprise to her, and the apple was (magically) just the way she liked it - crisp, sweet/sour, and cold. I can promote thoughtfulness, good will and holiday spirit just like that & all for a grand total of $0.80.

I think I'm overthinking this gift thing.

2. Tax season. Got one of my 1099-DIV this evening. Tax season is opening with a bang!

In other news -

DJ friend is working and mastering the Internet radio station's second compilation CD. He's becoming a music impressario on the sly - the CDs he is producing are becoming even more important calling cards than the radio station ... Interesting to me because I thought the CD was dying.

Still is cold! I ran an errand during lunch, then walked back to work in the frigid weather. I walked past a woman walking in flip flops. Not only is it so 2006, it risks a wicked case of frostbite.

still freezing, man

December 8th, 2009 at 09:28 pm

Tuesday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $10 groceries + $70 Christmas gifts
Found money - $0.01 (counter)

Monday
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $5 coffee, yogurt parfait + $10 lunch & snack
Found money - $0.10 (bus floor underneath my seat)

It is still cold - I'm in the Montana coat, called that because its what I wear in Montana in December. The one advantage I had when I weighed 210 is that I was never really cold; I was always insulated.

Bought (actually ordered from my Pampered Chef contact and paid her back) a set of 4 spirals with a stake at the bottom, and one bigger spiral again with the stake at the bottom. The idea is to plant the spiral in the ground with the stake, then set your drink in the spiral. The big spiral is to set in the bottle of whatever. I also got a set of pretty outdoor glasses.

The reason I decided on this gift for sister is that I saw pictures of some of her parties at the farmette. She had an amazing Tom Sawyer-like ability to get her friends in Milwaukee to come out and help shell beans or shell popcorn, or dig up potatoes. I figured that she can get a group together in a circle outside easily. Those stakes will be full of drinks.

Not much on the financial front. I did read about a stooper, a person who gleans money finding the winning tickets from the mass of tickets scattered on the floor of the betting parlor. Before really going after found money, I wouldn't have believed anybody did this, or that it would pay. Now? Its like recycling luck. Someone tossed away a semi-winning ticket, and he recycled it.

freezing, man

December 6th, 2009 at 08:09 pm

Sunday
Saving log
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $3 apple, tea
Found money - $0.41 (tree planting, road, floor)

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 lunch + $60 various
Found money - $0.03 (carpet, bus stop, near pay phone)

I have gotten very, very good at finding money. It feels like it has been popping up everywhere. I especially have been noticing coins in the square of ground where the sidewalk trees have been planted (tipping the tree for his service, perhaps?), and on the floor near an edge or corner. One of the easiest rules to find change is: If you drop change in a spot, other people have dropped some there too.

I started logging what I find in mid-July. As of today, I've found $12.39:
284 pennies, 12 nickels, 52 dimes, 11 quarters and 1$ bill.

Today I walked to Fremont and back - 6 miles. It was freezing, and while I wore gloves, I had to dip inside business to warm up.

I've had a spendy Saturday - I finally got new cross trainers - the shoes I've been walking and jogging I've walked and jogged in for over 3 years. Yes, I know I've been bad. I just hate breaking in shoes. I also picked up a new clock for the bathroom. Our old one's feathered hands fell off and the clock face busted. I'm odd, I guess, to need a clock for the bathroom. I've noticed that most of my friends don't seem to have one - not as if I need a schedule to do bodily functions, I just need a visual cue to let me know if on time in the morning.

This week is the big shopping one for me - we have several out of state gifts to get and no brilliant ideas. I find that to be cheap I need the brilliant idea or theme, otherwise I spend more than I wish.

Friday vignettes

December 4th, 2009 at 08:21 pm

Friday
Saving - $2 tip box
Spending - $1.75 coffee + $10 charging station
Found - $0.11 (bus steps)

Thursday
Saving - $4 tip box
Spending - $1.75 coffee
Found - $0.47 (work carpet, in front of Chase Bank downtown, sidewalk, road, Safeway floor)

A few little vignettes on a Friday...

As I sat at my desk @ 10 am, eating a couple of leftover microwaved chicken wings w/hot sauce at my desk, I heard: "Breakfast of champions, eh?"

Got an unsolicited compliment. As I was doing an exercise another trainer pointed to me and said, "Like her. See how she's ..." And I lost the 1/2 pound I gained from Thanksgiving, despite finishing the last two cookies I baked the night before.

It was fun finding that nickel in front of Chase Bank. It felt as if I could say, "Jamie Dimon, you sucker!" Lately I've been really finding the change everywhere whenever I turn around. I wonder if its because everyone is using more cash, hence getting more change.

I hadn't noticed how deep this recession has gotten until I cut through the Wells Fargo Building on 3rd & Marion. As I rode the outdoor escalator heading toward 2nd Avenue, I got off at what would be the mezzanine and plaza. Great location - thousands of office workers could walk by. Back in the early 2000's there were at least 6 businesses in that space. Now? One: the soup place. No amount of fake-o gallery space can hide that.

I still have 200K of grandma money in a Vanguard money market fund waiting for stocks to drop. What did I make in interest on it last month? $7.

nothing much, just everything

December 2nd, 2009 at 07:59 pm

Wednesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $60 Christmas gifts
Found money - $0.05 (sidewalk, road, parking meter, in front of bus fare box)

Tuesday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.01 (sidewalk)

Monday
Saving log - $6 tip box + $35 Drp
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $15 groceries
Found money - $0.06 (sidewalk, 4 cents in front of store)

Not a lot happened to me these past few days: I found out I gained 1 lb during Thanksgiving, so I dodged a bullet; I used up the last of the pumpkin raisin ginger filling to make pumpkin thumbprint cookies thereby giving me many more bullets to dodge Big Grin; am working hard at the pledges coming in; starting with the Christmas shopping. Steady as she goes with my finances.

The big news is with DH. He started work Monday. Temp job, semi-seasonal, but pays a reasonable hourly wage (mid-teens) with a strong possibility that its permanent.