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Archive for January, 2011

as I was saying ....

January 29th, 2011 at 04:43 am

Apologies I went down. DH was "improving" our wireless, which meant 3 days of tearing his hair out trying to both configure it with the security and get both of our laptops on it. In the meantime cursing the Fry's guy. So he multi-tasked.

Other than that, I'm working like a demon to get everything set up for when I'm away. I can't plan for the unexpected, but then again neither can anybody else. Less than two weeks before sister and I fly off to Vietnam. Now we are both obsessing a bit. She's freaking out about baggage weight. We have a couple of flights on the tour, and their restrictions are 44 lbs. I'll be a beast and underpack: less than 30 lbs. (10 lb kitty NOT included) Room for souvenirs! If the choice is a bathrobe or souvenirs, souvenirs win. I'm freaking out about plane flights. Hopefully sister won't need my credit card to board her flight to get to Seattle. Hopefully this will be fun. Hopefully we can sleep a little bit and won't go crazy being on a plane for 15 hours.

Actually, I'm not so worried about the last item. I chatted with a co worker with family in SE Asia, so has made the trip often. She asked me about the carrier. I'm flying Cathay Pacific... she told me that that is one of the nicest cushiest ones, even in coach class. So yay. And she commended me for the price I got for our flights.

Fiscally, I'm up to $130K on my 403B. Am at about 168 lbs. Grocery prices are again starting to become reasonable - the loss leaders look pretty good. I'm thinking that the Super Bowl is starting to become the big grocery eating fest like Thanksgiving is. And speaking of the Super Bowl: Go Pack.

she wants to come along

January 19th, 2011 at 05:31 am

I'll know why I'll be picking out black cat hairs from my pho in Hanoi.

Rule One

January 17th, 2011 at 03:12 am

Sister paid me back for her half; I deposited it and sent it to ING. No doubt I'll be sending her 5K back for my yearly farmette support...but that will be after we get back. And I'm now over $39 in finding dirty money since mid-July.

I've been developing the habit of downloading the weekend podcast of Marketplace Money. Its the personal finance arm of NPR's Marketplace. Both shows I've been glued to ever since the economy went down in September 2008. Anyway, the latest series on the podcast is that the producers have button-holed a person asking, "what's in your wallet?" ...and the person describes their wallet and pulls out and describes their contents.

I can tell you right now why many Americans have spending problems.

Sometimes first, but usually second on the list after the cash. The credit card. In your wallet.

Rule one for beginning frugality: take credit card out of wallet. Bring card only when you are on an errand where you absolutely need one, remove it in the daily use wallet.

I'm telling you, if you routinely carry the credit card, you routinely use the credit card. Having to fetch the card from home when you see something you must have is a built-in cooldown period.

Now it could be that in a few cases a person got caught running an errand and had the credit card. And it could be that for a very disciplined few - like Monkey Mama, for instance - carrying the card and putting every thing on it works.

But really, for the beginning frugalist, make it easy on yourself. Much easier to avoid using the card when the wallet and card are unlinked.

money laundering

January 12th, 2011 at 05:30 am

Perhaps you remember that I process pledges for a large non-profit in Seattle... Two words, last two letters in the second word are "ay".

Received a corporate gift pledge to process - 10K from Goldman Sachs. Compared to the amount of loot they've raided from the US, 10K is chump change.

I joked with the staffer who brought it down that we are now money launderers.

cost basis

January 11th, 2011 at 04:49 am

Yippee - one fun bit of 2011 fallout from the 2008 bailout is that now all of my Drp transfer agents have to calculate, going forward, the cost basis of my shares in my accounts. Yippee...I was interested in selling some stock for the taxes (decided not to) and had to figure the cost basis. It was not, I repeat not, fun. I'm very happy that my accounts have to do it on the fly, starting with the shares bought in January 2011, and the dividends reinvested beginning of January 2012.

It will make figuring out my taxes, should I wish to sell my shares for some purpose, ever so much easier!

Tax season is coming up, but I'm really not feeling it. Nothing particularly exciting happened to me this year, and the interest rate is fairly poor, so I'm thinking that it will be straightforward enough for me to do my own taxes this year.

Oh. My. God. (not fiscal at all)

January 9th, 2011 at 04:49 am

Today was mostly a de-compress from the crazy busy last week, it was mostly running a set of small errands today - returning the last read to the library, getting my hair cut, loading up a smart card bus pass so sister can get to the airport and back on the light rail as easily as I can, hitting a used book store - saw a used CD that I'd like, getting a couple of travel sized toiletries and extra memory cards. Nothing individually horribly spendy, but taken together up in the $90 or so range.

Apologies to thrift-o-rama for the next paragraph.

As I was going along, I watched a bit of the Seahawk / Saint came. As well you might know, Seattle is the the first NFL team to make the playoffs with a losing season. The first I saw was 10-0 Saints, and I thought nothing more of it, just kept going. Traffic in Seattle was a bit quiet for a Saturday, but nothing special. Next to last stop, the game was 34-27 Seahawks. Walking to my last stop, everything was dead quiet. I've seen Super Bowl game traffic heavier. Last stop, 41-35 Seahawks. Heading home, I crossed our main drag in the neighborhood and heard the loud collective cheer from all the drunks at the sports bars. Still can't believe it.

packing and a Roth

January 5th, 2011 at 05:15 am

Moved $5000 into my 2011 Roth last night. Yep, don't waste any time, get that extra year to incubate tax free. If you can, one makes a bit more money if you contribute at the very front end (the first days that you can) rather than at the very back end (April 13).

Also began something else very early too - packing for Vietnam! I know 4 weeks out that its freakishly early, but I really much prefer that than running around the night before grabbing stuff in a hurry and then when you unpack you say "huh?", or worse you have to buy what you need, depressing when you know you didn't have to.

Anyway, I know I pack differently than most. What I do is begin to put items that I know I need to pack on the floor of the living room. I keep adding items to the pile, perhaps reference a list. Especially with clothes, I lay them out to make sure that every combination will work as a outfit. When the pile gets large enough so that I can't stand it, I get out the suitcase and carry on and begin to pack so the pile gets straightened up. At the very end, I pull out the camera and take a picture of the bags, so the bags will be the first file on memory card. I figure that if the checked bag doesn't make it, it will be a lot easier to show the airline what my bag looks like.

Net worth, December 2010

January 2nd, 2011 at 05:34 am

Apologies that I didn't send this out last night the last night of 2010. I've been battling the flu. (Better to battle it now than battle it on vacation.)

With the exception of one CD, I folded the paypal and the CDs and savings for the farmette all into ING. Out of all the incredibly crappy interest rates out there, ING is slightly less crappy. There was a drop entirely due to vacation - plane tickets and the tour package for sister and I took quite a bite out of savings.

The three IRAs (including the 403B), broke 200K. The 403 did well this year: about 8.5% increase - mostly in the beginning of the year and at the very end. As I mentioned a few blog posts ago, I increased my 403B contributions a hair for this year. Next year (2012), if I'm still working at my job, I turn 50 and plan on participating in "catchup" if I can stand it.

The next challenge is how to invest the taxable. I'm great at not leaping in, feet first, into investments especially since it was 2008; not so good at getting back into investing now that the stock market quietly bounced back. Timing issues? I haz them.


$205,818 IRA/403B
$202,334 Vanguard taxable
$31,134 stock
$12,986 I-bonds
$25,000 CDs
$95,917 ING savings
$2,157 immediate cash
---
$575,346 total

By comparison:
December 2010 ($575,346 total, $356,542 in taxable accounts)
June 2010 ($553,023 total, $369,589)
December 2009 ($551,300 total, $385,771)
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)