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Archive for January, 2010

which history?

January 31st, 2010 at 08:04 pm

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $12 kaiten sushi lunch
Found money - $0.06 (road)

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $14 breakfast + $11 2 bread pans + $2 coffee, energy bar
Found money - $0.31 (sidewalks, road, bus stop, grocery store checkout floor)

Friday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $0!
Found money - $0.03 (escalator edge, parking meter, bus stop under seat)


$22.66: 576 pennies, 21 nickels, 96 dimes, 21 quarters, $1 bill

Did my 5 mile walk-some jog today, listening to my tunes. I performed a cleanse on my MP3 player last night, and put a new configuration of songs. My MP3 player is nearly 4 years old, and is showing its age in the battery life (about 3 hrs) and in the capacity (a mere 20 Gb). Still, I'm kinda loathe to replace it - I'll wait until the battery can only hold an hour charge.

Anyway, my walks with the soundtrack give me plenty of time to think. This afternoon I thought about our US financial situation and the saying "history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes". I guess I'm trying to figure out what history our times are rhyming with. The Great Depression is the obvious rhyme circa late 2008, but I think we skirted that shoal.

I feel like its Japan, circa 1990 - present. Japanese banks were too big to fail too, the banks tightened credit, their version of the Fed dropped the interest rates to 0% (and they are still there), some banks turned into "zombie banks", their gov spent on various stimulus programs to keep some semblance of the population working. But the rhyme doesn't fit completely either - the savings rate in Japan leading up to their issues was very very high compared to the US. The banks could hold out, so could most of their population that was still working could also. And they both have been, off and on, for the last 20 years. I don't hold out any hope that the US population would be able to live on their savings for even a year, not to mention 10 or 20 years. Something has to give.

all Thursdays, Great and Small

January 28th, 2010 at 08:50 pm

Thursday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $4 steak sauce
Found money - $0.23 (bus stop under bench, sidewalks, Safeway floor)

Wednesday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $0.05 apple
Found money - $0

Tuesday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $8 groceries
Found money - $0.01 (sidewalks)

Just when I thought that folks had stopped throwing money on the ground, I was proved pleasantly wrong today.

$22.26: 566 pennies, 19 nickels, 94 dimes, 21 quarters, $1 bill.

I'm at my busiest right now - data data data. I get paid tomorrow, and come Monday I will have worked at my current place for 10 years. Yikes! But definitely better than working 9 years and a few months.

With the stock market down, I'm still at six figures in my 403B, but barely. My addition stocks of SYY got bought in the past few days, and my new stock, OSK, also got bought. I'm 3 shares into war now.

I also mentioned to DH that by the end of February, V.I. will have been with us 6 months, or as long as Morgan was. I haven't mentioned V.I all that much - I just didn't want to jinx her. She is doing fine - coat is great, no inappropriate poohing, and now doesn't need the bribery of a greenie either. She is still a tad skittish, but now visits us as we settle down in bed. The quality that I most treasure about her is that she does not hanker to go outside. Oh, she'll follow you into the patio if you are puttering around back there, but as soon as you come in, she wants in. Its as if she learned that she'll never be a stray if she stays in the house.

winding down

January 25th, 2010 at 09:26 pm

Monday
Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.01 (road)

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $2 apple, bulk catnip
Found money - $0.02 (crosswalks)

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $14 brunch + $5 mocha, slice of banana bread + $12 groceries
Found money - $0.27 (sidewalk, road)

Ever since DH pointed it out to me, I've been noticing that there are no advertising placards on the inside of buses these days. Only stuff about Metro (our transit entity), how to prevent the flu, throwing money away if don't fill out your census form, maybe a couple of jobdango ads. Probably due to the recession; the pendulum has swung from this gem. I suppose I shouldn't complain.

Feels like less and less change to find out there. Over the holidays, everyone was spending money and careless about coins. Now? Mostly pennies, maybe a dinged up dime or two.

Everything is winding down, quiet and blah.

$22.02: 562 pennies, 19 nickels, 92 dimes, 21 quarters, $1 bill.

ringers for the heat contest

January 23rd, 2010 at 12:05 am

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $14 groceries
Found money - $0.11 (driveway, road)

I couldn't resist: blueberries @ $1.99/lb. Not local, not seasonal, cheap from Chile and probably put g%d knows how much CO2 in the air during its plane flight ... still a treat.

Fern, I found some real ringers for your heat contest. Crazy, stubborn, super-cheap, anti-freeze for blood, all of the above?

Oh yes, after the third friday of 2010, we now have a second Washington state bank shut down. So much for moving your money to a local bank ... if it eventually creeps back to bigger and bigger bank.

403B, in 2010

January 21st, 2010 at 08:56 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $0
Found money - $0.24 (bus stop, sidewalks, gutter, elevator floor)

At the all staff meeting this morning HR presented the benefits survey - who likes what and how much. HR was a bit surprised that the 403B was less popular than the dental plan. And a couple of people commented that they needed "more choices".

I rarely see eye to eye with HR. I'm not that surprised that the 403B slipped in popularity - I don't remember when I took the survey, but if your scared spitless about opening the envelope because you figured you lost a bundle, and you're frightened the match would disappear, you'd be inclined to think the 403B was less of a benefit.

However, I really don't know about the more choices. I get the feeling that if we had all the choice in the world it would hardly matter.

What I really see is a bunch of people signing up for 403B, saving money diligently, but with no knowledge, no advice, no training on what you can do on the website, no discussion of how to create and manage a portfolio, and no tips. I show my co workers a thing or two of what I learned, and they are amazed. All the choice in the world won't replace a spot of financial planning.

small money

January 20th, 2010 at 08:46 pm

Wednesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $10 lunch
Found money - $0.02 (carpet, sidewalk)

Tuesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - free coffee + $0
Found money - $0.06 (bus stop, park sidewalk)

Monday
Saving log - $300 to SYY drp
Spending log - $4 latte, pastry + $1 paper + $12 shopping at the Pike Market + $6 lunch
Found money - $0.29 (sidewalks, parking meters)

Busy days now for me at work, but I did manage to get the money I've slipped into in my tip box for the month into the bank: $40 in bills, plus a $1 dividend check. I was joshing with the teller about the $1 check - he has seen much smaller ones.

I've been noting my weekly totals of found money for the last few weeks: $1.48, $1.33, $3.19 (that was the day of the 89 penny deluge), $1.08, $1.17, 0.55 ... Yesterday, as I was perusing my collection of tax documents, I glanced at what 200K in grandma money in a Vanguard money market fund made in interest this December: $1.27.

safe, effective, vaguely stupid

January 17th, 2010 at 08:16 pm

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee + $.60 apple + $.35 pack of gum (see below)
Found money - $0.44 (edge of bridge, sidewalks)

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 brunch + $2 cookie + $10 dinner
Found money - $0.16 (sidewalks, parking lot)

This is a story about a coin rescue gone too far. It worked out, but boy I looked odd ... even for me. If you are hesitant to pick up coins in public view, this is not a technique for you!

My tale begins as I walked across the Fremont Bridge. Now I've walked across the pedestrian walkway on this bridge for months and most times I've noticed three coins on a moss-covered concrete pad two feet below the walkway at the south lip of the bridge.

Of course, since I could not touch them (there's a three foot railing and wire mesh between railing and walkway), I could not count them. Over the months, off and on, I thought about how I could nab them. Today I thought it was their day to be rescued, so I walked onward and considered my plan.

The basic thought was a long stick with some thing sticky on it. About a block away I searched for some sticks and found a couple suitable - about six feet, relatively straight, firm, but not really large so as not to attract horrid amounts of attention - and set those aside. For the sticky, I thought of gum. I can get some gum. I kept walking and found a little grocery store, bought the 5-pack of gum for 35 cents, chewed a piece.

As I walked back, the first hurdle became apparent. I hate gum. The first couple of chews was all right, but over-chewing and popping? Gaack. It just activates the gag reflex in me.

Still, I persevered and chewed some more. I had the silver wrapper that would make for a smooth pad on the end of the stick and I knew that the gum would stick to it (who knew if gum would stick to the end of a wet stick?). Also along the way, I picked up a plastic tie. So when I got back to the stick, I had everything.

I halved the gum wrapper paper side out, wrapped the meaty end of the stick with the paper, tied it down, plunked the gum on top. The whole thing looked like a demented pool cue. Demented pool cue in hand, I walked back to the bridge. I hung away from the crowd - this is something that will embarrass even me.

My first tack was to slip the stick through a hole in the mesh and press down on one of the coins. It worked, kinda, but as I pulled out the stick, the coin slipped. I tried it again, and same thing.

Third tack was to hope that the stick was long enough to go over the railing. It was long enough, barely. I had more control, but the gum at the end wasn't sticky enough. I chewed another piece quickly and stuck the second wad on top of the first.

That did it. I extracted one coin (dime), then the next (nickel), then the nastiest one, which I thought was a nickel, but it turned out to be a corroded quarter. After the rescue, I broke the stick and threw it away.

Luckily I only got looks as I rescued coins - to the MacGvyer goes the spoils - but even I have to admit that I went a little overboard.

$21.00: 535 pennies, 19 nickels, 85 dimes, 21 quarters, $1 bill.

the math of beef

January 15th, 2010 at 09:27 pm

Friday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.02 (sidewalk, floor of Ross)

Thursday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.11 (11 pennies in one spot on the sidewalk)

The beef deal is starting to come clearer. More people are interested - we might have enough interest to buy a full cow (400+ lbs) versus a quarter share, which is what we got last time.

The mechanics are this:
1. By Feb- March $400 up front to buy the full cow "share" from the rancher. In a sense, this is the down payment - we are now considered serious buyers. We can pick out "our" cow and personify it if we'd like. (Tactically, bad idea. Always name a cow Dinner.)

2. Come July - August, cow is butchered and we ourselves are on the hook for the rest at $3.85/lb hanging weight. The beef raisers have their USDA cert butchers and storage area, so they can handle the cutting and finished product. A cow runs, on average, 600 lbs hanging weight (no head, hooves, innards) which turns into about 400 lbs of steak and pot roast. So really, it turns into about $5.77/ lb, or to round up, $6/lb.

Not cheap, but organic, grass fed, local supplier, unlikely to be full of mad-cow prions, not pumped full of hormones or ammonia and not a canner/cutter.

My part of this whole business is to provide the math, numbers, and structure to this whole situation. I suggested, and I hope this will happen, that the many parties interested in beef pay in part for the $400 deposit. $400/400 lbs = $1/lb. Interested in 20 lbs of beef? $20 deposit. I'd be very interested in it being non-refundable, just to concentrate the mind. I also suggested that folks keep in mind that they would be on the hook for the other $5/lb come July. So save those pennies - I've bought 3 lbs of beef from sidewalk change. Wink I presented this to a couple of the parties on my end who are interested. Very popular because it is now kind of concrete, so I'm pretty sure that I can, with my own friends, buy 100lbs worth of cow. We'll see when it comes time to collect.

The final issue that I see is based on the final hanging weight. Cows are never exactly 600 lbs - the range the rancher gave us was 575 - 625 lbs, which translates into 390 - 410 lbs finished ... on average. Would it be easier to think of it as straight pounds or as a percent? In other words - your 20lbs of beef could be considered 5% of the cow. Hence, if the cow is a little shy of 400 lbs, you are going to be a little shy of 20lbs. Bigger cow - slightly bigger share.

six month point for tracking found money

January 13th, 2010 at 09:39 pm

Wednesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $6 salad
Found money - $0.05 (road, sidewalk)

Tuesday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.41 (sidewalks, bus floor, Safeway floor)

Well, I'm at the official six month point for tracking found money. Still not finding many bills, but I've found 4 quarters 4 separate places within 6 days, which puts a smile on my face. I've been finding about 75% of money outside in the elements, 25% inside.

This month has been spectacular - $7.28. One would have to have $6500 in an ING account to match it. Thank heavens that Seattle is so very careless.

I'm at a total of $20.27 - 512 pennies, 17 nickels, 83 dimes, 20 quarters, $1 bill. And yep, while I find a lot of pennies, I find a lot of silver too. Picking up a penny means you are more likely to pick up something bigger.

I asked DH whether I have to declare it with the IRS. He promptly told me that he was taught to field the question this way:

"I'm sorry ma'am, let me transfer you to tax law."

DH appears to be doing pretty well at work. Its such a relief that he is working even if he didn't answer my question.

weekend wagashi

January 11th, 2010 at 09:42 pm

Monday
Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $8 lunch
Found money - $0.20 (sidewalks)

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $20 (japanese plate, box of wagashi) + $3 bottle of bubble bath
Found money - $0.34 (sidewalk, road, floor)

Little bit of fun over the weekend. There is a Japanese confectionary shop that is only open to the general public on the 10th of every month - 1-6pm. Usually the 10th fell on a day when I was working or otherwise occupied. Yesterday was the 10th, so for curiosity's sake I checked it out and split a box with DH. (3 pieces, so not diet busting) Delicious by itself, although I was supposed to have it with the green tea during the tea ceremony held in the center room. A Japanese potter was selling her creations outside on the porch, so I bought a shallow bowl.

2 days away from 6 months of noting where I find change. I'm at $19.81: 501 pennies, 17 nickels, 82 dimes, 19 quarters, $1 bill. Hard to believe that I might make $40/yr in "dirty money".

After that, I'm the process of figuring out from my sister how much to send for farmette maintenance, and I've printed out my W-2 from work.

slice of life at Ross

January 9th, 2010 at 07:26 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $14 breakfast + $42 stuff at Ross (gift card)
Found money - $0.39 (road, sidewalk, escalator railing - again!)

I was shopping at Ross Dress for Less - using a Christmas gift card. First off, I'm:

a size 12!

or at least I am by that pseudo house of fashion. We'll see how 12vy I am, but this pair of size 12 pants fit me perfectly - no "if I lost a couple of pounds" fit.

As I was getting dressed in the dressing room, I heard from the next dressing room over small children voices and the familiar clink of coins falling on floor. Add dressing rooms to the list of places to find change. I found a penny on the floor of an empty room - however it was glued to the floor!

Still, being a size 12 was exciting enough for me and got me through the exceeding long checkout line carrying pants, top, set of stainless steel mixing bowls. And I was waiting in the long line, moving along, I noticed one final thing that made me wonder. A 20-something woman 2 people ahead of me had an unopened 12 oz bottle of beer in her right front pocket. (Bottle cap said Rogue - a well known high-end Oregon beer brand).

It took me aback. Why was she carrying it? Leftovers from a party last night? Way to keep the edge off as she waited?- it was a screwtop, after all. She had a normal size purse and nothing in her left - no place to hold the other five. She moved all right - no stagger - and seemed normal enough.

I mentally thanked her, though. Musing about that beer bottle made the time pass by.

After getting out of Ross, I soo wanted to get a cookie. Then I remembered that I was now a size 12 and had standards to uphold.

IRS, war, the death bet

January 8th, 2010 at 08:24 pm

Friday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.01 (escalator railing)

Thursday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $8 salad, trail mix
Found money - $0.27 (bus stop, crosswalk, sidewalk)

A penny on the railing of the escalator, for pity's sake! I was lucky to be alert at the right moment, all to find coins in the oddest places. Total of other people's money found thus far: $18.88: 493 pennies, 16 nickels, 79 dimes, 17 quarters, $1 bill.

Ever since DH has been working for the IRS, our snail mail looks forbidding; a lot of pieces addressed to DH from the IRS. They are nearly all new hire decision bits... apparently DH's paycheck comes from the Dept of Agriculture (?!). Write your own public servant joke here:________________________________.

Pulled the trigger and I am now beginning a new stock Drp (actually since the dividend has been suspended, its a Direct Stock purchase account). Its is OSK. I've officially diversified into war.

The organizer of the death bet is about to publish everybody's list. We have 9 entrants. We talked about this at lawyer friend's lunch. The bad karma and the creepiness aspect was brought up, I argued for the death bet. The fact that the onus is on you to alert the organizers should one of your list perish means that you do exactly what most celebs want you to do: be alert to their every move, career change, etc. And it is so rare to have a bit of black humor "fun".

403B at six figures

January 6th, 2010 at 09:16 pm

Wednesday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $8 lunch
Found money - $0.02 (sidewalk, Safeway floor)

Tuesday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $9 cat toy
Found money - $0.10 (gym counter)

Yesterday I broke an exciting barrier. My current workplace 403B (non-profit version of the 401K) broke six figures. Its still fragile, ready to be knocked down to five figures at the slightest dip in the stock market, but its a cause to celebrate tonight.

Also confirmed in my Vanguard that my 2010 Roth has been set up.

Last Saturday, V.I.'s favorite toy got eaten by the vacuum cleaner, so I got her a new one. Its a cat dancer, with a fresh toy mouse. Within 3 minutes, new mouse got de-tailed.

2010: the mundane and the carnivorous

January 4th, 2010 at 08:59 pm

Monday
Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $9 yogurt/trail mix for desserts
Found money - $0.45 (sidewalk, under bus seat, parking meter, Safeway floor, vending machine)

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $0.75 apple
Found money - $0.10 (sidewalks, road)

Well its 2010. Anybody else get a creepy feeling as a 2010 date popped into the news, work databases and what not? Like I should be on Saturn while perusing the calendar. Of course it should be 2010! And I'm posting from a cold, rainy, dark, dreary, boggy, foggy place...maybe I'm on Saturn. It sure feels like it. The Saturnians around here are practically throwing dimes and pennies on the streets today.

Was successful at all the small stuff today - fixed a database just using compact and repair; checked Vanguard to make sure that the 2010 Roth is going to be funded sometime this week; more 2010 tax 1099s arrived in the mail today.

Bigger wheels are turning - there is enough interest on many, many fronts for a beef fest year 2. Only this time instead of buying 100 lbs (1/4 cow), its 400 lbs (full cow). We are still eating the 40 lbs - just finished the beef ribs (fantastic) - so unless the purchase can go in the summer or fall, I don't think I'm in for the full 40 lbs. But I suspect that I inspired, by my buying and storing 40 lbs of beef in my top freezer, others to think that they can also buy and use 40 lbs. For certain, it will be a lot easier to deal with 10 households who want to buy a lot than 20 households who want to buy some. Big Grin We'll see what the timing issues are, how many other people we can get in on the deal.

no more cool points to lose

January 2nd, 2010 at 09:30 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 breakfast + $20 lunch meat, crackers, breakfast bars
Found money - $0.71 (road, sidewalk, parking meter, Safeway floor)

Adding on loss of coolness from Changing it Up...Big Grin I'm now at negative cool, frankly.

I did my walk today, revisiting some of the places where I've found a lot of change in the last several days - found 1) another dime in the crosswalk near I found the three dimes 2 days before and 2) found 20 more pennies in the road where I found the 86 pennies on the sidewalk yesterday.

And I've sadly figured out a new method that makes me slightly wicked as I hunt for change. Before I buy something at Safeway, I stroll along the checkout lines. I look like I'm trying to assess which line will clear the fastest; in reality I'm looking at the floor along the back of the cashiers for dropped change.

Yesterday, I did stop to pick up a dime, and asked the 60-something lady standing a foot away if she dropped it. She did, and I handed it to her. Such is the fine line between helpfulness and jerk.

After all that, finding that quarter today next to the parking meter on the sidewalk feels almost normal.

$17.93: 478 pennies, 15 nickels, 74 dimes, 16 quarters, $1 bill.

just call me Miss Moneypenny

January 1st, 2010 at 05:18 pm

Friday
Saving log - $1 dividend check
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $6 sandwich, decaf coffee
Found money - $1.26 (road, sidewalks, floor)

Thursday
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $19 New Year's snacks
Found money - $0.49 (bus stop, parking meter, counter, Safeway floor by cashier, sidewalk corner)

Wednesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $11 lunch + $50 champagne (we celebrated DH's new job with a good bottle on New Year's)
Found money - $.15 (gym carpet, sidewalks)

From the high end of the last post, to the very lowly today...

It had been raining off and on yesterday and some today - sometimes it rained hard enough for long enough, giving Seattle that gray, dirty, bedraggled look. It wouldn't surprise me if suddenly an ad announced:

A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies! A chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

Last night I found 3 dimes on a corner; at around noon, I found 86 pennies strewn for 2 blocks along 85th. I still have my distractor hypothesis - can it be that icky rain has been a factor? You lose your pocket money but you don't care about stopping to find it and pick it up because you just want to be out of the rain....

Anyway, current total is $17.22: 457 pennies, 14 nickels, 72 dimes, 15 quarters, $1 bill. Lot of pennies - you might tease me and call me Miss Moneypenny, but in picking them up means I'm alert and ready to pick up other coins. Feels like fishing ... you walk along, alert to the possibility, and when a coin appears, you are ready to strike.