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Archive for September, 2011

quarter was a bust

October 1st, 2011 at 03:08 am

With the stock market 12% off and with the never ending recession, and with a virtual certainty that if you have a checking account with a big bank you'll be (expletive deleted)... well, I need to share just one good thing that happened this quarter. Here it is, made it myself:


personal finance club

September 29th, 2011 at 03:25 am

Yesterday, at work, I listened into a web broadcast put on by the national HQ of our non-profit. It was about preparing for retirement. It wasn't bad - there were a couple of pieces of knowledge that were novel and useful to me - but there is a lot of the "it depends on your individual situation" and "see a financial planner" ... not to mention, the ever popular "keep an eye on your financial planner."

Weasel words, I think. If you have to know enough about financial planning/personal finance to keep an eye on your financial planner, wouldn't it be cheaper to be your own financial planner?

Anyway, I'm on a jag here. There are a couple of hobby clubs, book clubs, etc - I wonder if there is a place for a personal finance club at work.

Anybody out there start one or participate in one? If you have, how do you structure it, keeping things simple for the newbies and interesting for not-newbies?

divided up the beef

September 25th, 2011 at 01:47 am

We divvied up the cow amongst all parties this afternoon - all in the parking lot behind the Seattle Mennonite Church. A slightly new twist on last year's procedure: after we divvied up the cuts and packages that were mathematically easy to divide, we spread out the rest, drew lots for picking order and took turns picking a package - a bit like picking teammates or picking a Christmas package at the white elephant sale (no stealing though Smile).

That worked even better than the dickering, although I don't know if the number of times one picked in a round was equivalent to the proportion of your beef. In other words, the person who bought the whole quarter should get a pick/round versus the people who bought an eighth would get a pick every other round.

DH and I still should get about 5lb bratwurst and 5lb of kielbasa in the next couple of weeks.

I asked my current trainer and a friend of his to come down and buy from us because I wasn't sure that our share would fit in our freezer - last year we had to cook that week what couldn't fit in. The friend took one look at the piles of white packages and said, "that is more meat than I have ever seen."

There was one cute, but sneaky, little 3 yr old moving our packages into his dad's pile. Fingers crossed that we caught all the packages he moved. Smile

It only took us 30 minutes from when the farmer/rancher drove up to everybody leaving the parking lot.

Cost of our 1/8 share - $427.88. I had heard that the farmer's side job was no more, so I wrapped a $20 (for gas) and added it to an envelope, along with my check.

Oh yes, still keeping on with the paleo/primal eating plan. I'm now at 164.8. I lose two more pounds and my BMI will drop below the overweight range.

thar she goes (down)

September 23rd, 2011 at 03:05 am

The stock market that is. Time to monitor my stocks closely because if they pay dividends, and they keep paying dividends, buy 'em cheap.

One does have to ignore that my holdings (403B, etc) have dropped some, marshall the money I have to invest, and wait until my stocks drop below my target price.

Taking the analogy of "buy when there's blood in the streets", its like cleaning my gun while not dwelling on my own bleeding as I lie in wait in the sniper nest.

I have to remember that in March 2009, I bought great stuff - International Paper at $4/share, 3M at $45/share, Coke at $40/share. Most of my holdings pay enough of a dividend to buy an extra share/quarter.

Olive oil and mosaics

September 18th, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Early yesterday afternoon, DH and I visited the Greek Festival at St. Demitrious Church. Its gotten a bit more focused than in years' past - no $2 raffle tickets at the front and the deli is a bit smaller. Plus with following the paleo/primal eating diet suggested by my current trainer, I really had move along quickly to avoid the baklava and powdered sugar desserts. We went, looked around, and bought 2 multi quart cans of olive oil, and we were done. Hopefully the olive oil will last us the better part of the year. Although with this diet you can practically drink the stuff.

Speaking of that diet, I've been on it for a month and lost 6 pounds - I'm at 165. If I hit 163, my BMI will fall below the overweight threshold and into average. Woo hoo. The big surprise was the body fat reading - normally its been stubbornly holding at 35%. Yesterday the reading was 33%.

Afterward, I grouted my third mosaic project. I'm going to give it the Duvall friends for Christmas - which added an additional twist to grouting. Grouting always makes me nervous, but this turned out well.

(I was going to upload a pic of it, but the site is bombing out on me.)

fiscal errand

September 17th, 2011 at 04:08 am

Today I tried depositing what was in my tip box - my credit union - BECU - claimed that the entire credit union ATM network was down this afternoon. Ah well, I did have an additional fiscal task that a rep did so it wasn't a total bust.

I got a set of forms from the Toronto, Canadian branch of my transfer agent (fiscal entity that administers a particular company stock DRIP) - I had to show a "bank officer" my driver's license, so the rep could fill out the form and vouch for my identity. I had a slight worry that since the form said bank officer...that I had to go to a bank. I could go to Chase, as I still had my credit card with them, but since the payments are going to be on the credit union, well, tough. The credit union rep was willing to fill out the form and sign for me (after I whipped out my driver's license). From her part, she was not certain about the "reputable and internationally known institution". We will see. Along with the form I slipped in a printout stating that my credit union is the 4th largest in the US.

Maximizing the 403B

September 17th, 2011 at 03:45 am

We had a benefit talk at an all staff meeting yesterday. There's a possibility that the 403B contributions will get sweetened up. Which led to a co worker telling me that he "maximized his contributions". After a little more questioning, I had to gently let him know that he merely put in enough to maximize the company match. 8% is usually A LOT less than 16.5K.

Somehow I think that the personal finance writing is pretty damn sloppy on that point. Maximize the match suddenly is heard as maximize the 401K/403B and that's a big hairy difference.

1.25 million

September 14th, 2011 at 02:36 am

Made you read, eh!

I'm still tracking the amount of change I find "around". Even more interestingly, I compare the amount I find monthly with the amount that I would have invest monthly that throw out the same amount of interest.

This month I found $9.73. (I know!) Turns out it would take $1,250,642.67 in a 4 wk T-bill to generate that amount in interest. It could be worse, I guess - a couple of months in 2009 T-bill returns were 0 ... or it would take an infinite amount.

Bad times a comin'.

picking up the pace

September 13th, 2011 at 04:30 am

Everybody at work is now back from vacation, and the temporary fundraising staff is here with us on our floor - the pace at work is picking up.

Right now I'm working on the audit - my boss is pulling transactions that the auditors are interested in tracking and I'm making sure that my facts are straight on them. Today, though, I looked at the list the auditors gave, traced the details ... something is wrong, wrong, wrong. With the auditor's sheet. Strangely enough, it cheers me up when the auditors screw up. Only people, I guess.

I am feeling a bit grumpy at some of my co workers, though. One especially who works in a different department. I formatted a sheet with leading zeroes and she whined at me to do it again. Drives me insane about it (and other things) - it takes all of fifteen seconds for anybody with reasonable Excel skills to fix it. These days in the recession, we are on the second leg down - you show idiocy, a "not my job" attitude, or weakness it's over. It just is.

On the food front, the farmer is nearly ready to deliver - tentatively we can gather everybody around on the 24th. Free museum day appears to be canceled.

Free museum day on the 24th

September 10th, 2011 at 06:00 am

For the last couple of years, DH and I participated in Free Museum day, inspired in part by the birthday of The Smithsonian. A couple of years ago, we went to the Museum of Glass - quite pricey generally at $20. Last year we went to the Seattle Museum of History and Industry. This year on the 24th, who knows? It might be Museum of Flight or SAM or Wing Luke.

The rules are pretty straightforward - check out the link, find a museum, print out a ticket for two at the museum, and show up with the ticket.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/

Halloween already?!!!!!

September 9th, 2011 at 02:53 am

Ugh. I don't know why I have my undies in a bunch about this this year, but man its ANNOYING to see Halloween candy and cupcake displays already. And Goodwill and Fred Meyer have the costume displays up.

Halloween is definitely turning into retail alt-Christmas. Yikes!

The cowpool 2011

September 4th, 2011 at 02:12 am

Apologies that it's been so long since I've written. Its been quiet, I've been paid, and we are in the midst of a three day weekend. What could be sweeter?

We (about 15-16 of us) in the beef consortium are about to get our beef. This second year, the cow was named Gosling. She is going to be a big one, with a package weight (I call it that - its the total of all the white packages we will get) of 480 lbs! Ginger, last year's cow, was a glorious 402 lbs. I was the designated call-ee - the butcher asked one of us to make a call and confirm the cuts that we wanted. I didn't want too much too fancy, but I did want the cuts to be an inch thick. Last year Ginger was 3/4 inch thick. The thinness made making rare steak a challenge.

Last year we developed a pretty straightforward distribution system. The farmer drove up into the parking lot where we were all to meet. We asked the consortium beforehand to bring coolers and food scales if they had one. We collected four large boxes and broke them down into pads, each representing a quarter. (I and my cow-partner comprised our quarter).

We set the cardboard pads down on the concrete. We sorted the cuts out by package so had a good idea of what there was a lot of and what there was only one or two of. We took the packages we had the most of (hamburger) and dealt them out, then dealt the next most, and all the way down to what we had packages of four of.

Cow-partner and I had to split what we were dealt between the two of us. I asked DH what he most wanted and what he thought would be nice to have. I think we got it. This year though, the cow-partners are a couple of very close friends of ours - DH might find it easier to give up some cuts betting that we'll eat at a dinner party.

The fun began with the 1-2 package cuts. That's when the food scales came in handy. We cleared the pads again (people put their dealt cuts into their coolers and bags). We called out the cuts - the cooks amongst us called out what you could do with the cut. Whomever was most enthused about the cut, the dealer put it on their pad. We kept those cuts on the pad until those cuts were dealt, so that if we could see if someone was shorted. We also traded between the pads on a pound for pound basis.

So I admit that this technique works best if all parties have a sense of adventure, and while excited about meat aren't total booby-heads if they don't get every cut. I throw it out there as a public service - buying a whole cow is suddenly fashionable, but no one talks about how to divy one up.