Home > Archive: September, 2007

Archive for September, 2007

grandma died

September 28th, 2007 at 03:04 am

Saving log - $5
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk + $9 lunch

Sister called at work late this afternoon. Grandma died last night. She was 96.

I'll be off for a few days, heading back to Wisconsin. The viewing and the wake are on Monday. I'll be visiting sister, she'll be giving me a tour of the farmette. I plan on taking pictures.

See you in a few days.

One of my buses changed

September 27th, 2007 at 02:23 am

Good news - a couple of months into my blog I wrote about the closure of the bus tunnel and how it affected my commute. The bus tunnel is back. Yippee!

However, some things will remain the same. No cars or 3rd Ave between 6-9 am and 3-6pm. Seattle got very used to the proceeds coming from those 101$ tickets. Not that I complaining - beforehand the cars on 3rd would just go crazy - turning into pedestrians, etc.

And some things are very, very different again. A few buses transferred to 3rd Ave. One of the buses that I can take to work now lets me off right in from of my gym, right across the street from work. Before, I'd have to take another 3 minute walk cutting through the interior of my favorite building, the Exchange Building. I'll miss that. I'll also miss the 20 calories or so that I burned off daily.

tiring being trained on the obvious

September 27th, 2007 at 02:03 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.65 coffee + $10 lunch

Three co workers and I traveled to get supervisory training. There were two highlights:

1. The dude who didn't set his cell phone to vibrate. He got a call. His ringtone was "Back in Black" by ACDC. Nice.

2. If you are going to fire someone, do it in the middle of the week, so they won't spend the weekend buying bullets. Big Grin (Actually it was presented as contacting the lawyer, but I thought this quip was funnier.)

Actually it wasn't horrible. It was just... obvious. I guess that's what happens when you teach empathy to people who might not be naturally empathic. But in a nutshell:

Do unto others as they would have them do unto you.
Pass on as much information as possible and do it face to face.
The obvious might not be so obvious. (I guess this includes the training too.)
Follow your HR policies.

And yet afterwards, I got a headache (rare for me) and I wanted a nap.

at least he was funny

September 25th, 2007 at 02:53 am

A homeless man's sign, as spotted from the bus:

Father killed in Ninja attack.
Need money for karate lessons.

My assistant for the pledge processing season came on board today. Bought him lunch.

meditation on fees

September 24th, 2007 at 04:41 am

Needed a haircut, a couple of grocery items, and I had to write a check to copay the chiropractor, so I broke down and transferred $100 from the brick and mortar bank savings account - a little buffer against an overdraft fee.

Got a letter from Capital One. They're going to shift my billing cycle backward a few days back to the 16th. No matter, I now don't have any recurring charges on it anyway. I moved the newspaper subscription to the new, WaMu credit card. Sweet justice. I would have had to write a .35 check, but I bought a spare set of bedsheets from The bill turned into a semi-respectable 50.34$, which I'll pay next week when the paycheck comes in.

Last week I talked with lawyer friend about 403Bs. It turns out that we made similar money moves with our 403B, but for different reasons. I trimmed my stock portfolio a bit and went for cash and bonds because I wanted a bit of safety. 90% stocks is pretty aggressive even during the best of times. I believe that a recession is on its way and I want a bit of ballast for awhile.

Lawyer friend nearly took all of his stocks and put them in the cash money market fund for a different reason. His favorite fund in the 403B, an international one, was eliminated in favor of a different one, which he hated, because of the fee structure. Yeah, so what about that 1.5% fee, lawyer friend ranted, my favorite posted great returns!

My thoughts drifted a bit, and I'm a bit ashamed that I didn't have the heart to explain it to him. Fees are important, and can be in some cases and conditions even more important because fees are inexorable. That fund manager will charge that fee whether that fund has a good year or not. The fee is fine if you're making in the rare instance a 15-20% return (although it means you are making 13.5-18-5% return), not so fine if you are only making 7-8% because you are barely keeping up with inflation, and it just becomes worse and worse - most actively managed accounts don't do as well as an index fund, and you pay for that privilege. Imagine if you lost 20% of your 403B, which often happened right after the bust. You'd still be charged that fee with the excuse that "imagine if we weren't your manager - your returns would be even worse!" Big Grin

Fees are so important that there is a story about them. An investor met with a stockbroker to perhaps give him his business. The stockbroker gave him the grand tour, showed the investor how properous the firm was, tried to impress the investor even to the point of going to the slip and showing off the stockbrokers' boats. The investor wondered, "where are the investors' boats?" Fees, of course.

Anyway, by that time lawyer friend concluded, "I wish we had more choices." It turns out that lawyer friend's partner could choose up to 650 funds. Hear, hear. At least for me - I figure I could handle it. Big Grin

end of the month coming up

September 23rd, 2007 at 01:05 am

Payday next Friday - and none too soon.

I wrote a 400$ check for one of my DRPs. It was one in my stock portfolio trading at the low end of its price range. I'm confident that its not a "value trap" so I'm buying on the dip.

It does mean that as we are heading toward the last turn of the month I'm in a rare position - I'm feeling the frugal burn and counting my pennies with the possibility that I'm going to have to transfer some money from brick and mortar savings.

Because of the frugal burn, its a bit of a bummer that the Greek Festival is this weekend. DH and I did the wine tasting - the wines were a lot better than in years past, but still a bit pricey. I weakened and bought Greek olive oil, grape leaves, feta, sheep cheese, capers, taramasalata, sea salt, cracked green olives, and variety pack of Greek cookies. $70.50, and I put it on the credit card. Blegh. On the plus side, we get 70.50$ worth of pleasure out of what we bought.

I also encouraged DH to take the bus out to the festival. Even at $2.50 for the trip that's a lot nicer to do than to drive then drive around for very limited parking. And we are maintaining our habit that we bring our cloth bags. We'll figure it out yet.

drove publically today

September 22nd, 2007 at 12:54 am

Saving log - 0$ tip box
(deposited 47$ yesterday from the tip box to the bank)
Spending log - $6 parking

Our little department was involved in a county-wide volunteer "Day of Caring" today, but we needed a ride to the place that we were to volunteer.

I publically drove our little group. It sounds strange, but I commute every day by bus, I don't really own a car (I consider the cushmobile DH's car), I hate driving standard transmissions that DH loves, I bum rides off of co workers, I consider driving the ruin of my finances and the cause of my weight gain. All reasons that for most of my life I drive maybe once a year. In other words, even after 7 years of working, no one at work has ever seen me drive. The cushmobile - a white Buick - is an automatic transmission, seats five very comfortably, so it made sense to carpool and for me to do it.

It was fun. The volunteering project was a landscaping job - good hard work and we had just enough people. Everybody was busy doing something, we got the project done at about 3 pm, and we had a lot to show for it.

Everyone considered me a boring driver - the conversation kept at a steady stream, no "eeek watch it!", no honking, and probably no stories or whispers behind my back. Big Grin

The only issue was a frugal one - I paid 6$ for parking - my only spending for today. I know that DH would frown deeply. (Spend money on lot parking? Take away my cojones right now. Big Grin) I'll save the parking receipt - I might just as well ask if I can get reimbursed for it. And if I get reimbursed for it, maybe I can get my cojones back.

that was quick

September 20th, 2007 at 04:02 am

Noticed that ING dropped their rate to 4.3% the day after the Fed dropped the prime leading rate. It will probably even go a bit lower in the next few days. Here's to having a long-ish term CD.

friend avoidance

September 20th, 2007 at 03:42 am

Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk + $7.60 lunch

Crazy day, with work coming from all sides. Last night I lost 25$ at poker with the lawyer friend hosting, but I forced lawyer friend's partner out of the game, so I won a bounty of $5.

Then this morning I received a lunch invitation from lawyer friend. I know he reads this blog sometimes, but here goes. I had to use one of my other frugal skills - friend avoidance. I dearly love (friend love, get your mind out of the gutter) lawyer friend, but $25 dollars today, $15 dollars tomorrow. Well, I am plenty busy these days.... Big Grin

plan B

September 18th, 2007 at 05:17 am

Saving log - $.50 tip box
Spending log -$1.84 coffee, milk + $4.50 curry

I was going to save the full $5 today, but it turned out, accidentally, that I went nearly fiscal commando again. I had $6 and change in my wallet, starting out. Plan A was to get the coffee and milk with the $1 and the change, put the $5 in the tip box, hit the ATM, pick up a couple of items, then have lunch at my "hideout".

The problem occurred when I hit the ATM - debit card gone. (This evening, I found it yesterday's jacket pocket.) All I had was my credit card, driver's license, and a certain amount of bull-headedness. Since the hideout didn't take plastic, if I really wanted it I would have to go to my bank branch and get a cash advance.

That was just an ugly, sad, weak-willed possibility, and how could I write that I did that here? Big Grin

It was plan B. Plan B was walk back to the office, fish the $5 back out of the tip box, go to the curry place, and order the special no matter what it was. That's what I did.

Frugality begins with the making and implementation of plan B, even though its not what I wanted that day. Plan A will have to wait.

Bridge Motel

September 17th, 2007 at 03:53 am

The Bridge Motel, a 12-room motel that I pass by on the bus nearly every day, is now defunct. Artists took it over Saturday night for one night. Next week it gets torn down for something else. Its a small shame - it was at its best a cheap salesman stop right at the Aurora Bridge (hence the name) - but we need our semi-seedy places. What and where would writers write about otherwise? Big Grin Besides, without care even the most upscale places turn seedy.

At the front - in color

Enter Other Side - and we did

The art crowd

The front office

Room of salt with "buried treasure" - greeting cards and found paper objects

Spiral of found, crushed cans (makes a fascinating background on the laptop)

A Twilight Zone, 2001-esque moment in the window of one of the rooms.

Entertainment was free ... well, I spent 3$ on a plastic glass of red wine. Actually, I spent only $2.99 - I found a penny on the stairs. I saw a ton of pennies on the roof when I stuck my head out of an upper window. Didn't try for those. Big Grin

the fugitive (long and funny)

September 15th, 2007 at 10:44 pm

It was a bizarre day at work yesterday. We interviewed for my temporary helper. The first interview went with only a minor, non-bizarre hitch, but the second one... well, you hear about it maybe as a joke or urban legend. What happened was this:

The HR person on our panel confided in us that she wondered if she would make it - interviewee wanted to come in at 11 am, rather than 10:45. One of our panel had to leave at 11:30, so to get at least the 45 minutes, HR was insistent - 10:45.

At 10:45, the person was waiting for us. We ushered her into the room, and while we were all standing, introduced ourselves. Interviewee, a woman, introduced herself - and solved the mystery about how we were to pronounce her first name - then said that she had to use the restroom. Fine, the HR person (a woman) escorted her to the restroom, maybe 30 ft from the interview room.

Back in the interview, while we were waiting for the interviewee, we chatted a bit about this and that, listening. DJ friend, who was on the panel, told us about the little whooshing sound people make as they walk on the carpet between the cubicles.

Minutes pass. I make a joke that the interviewee will be interviewing at 11:00 am. But we thought - well, zippers, snaps, putting yourself together, the fact that women have number 3 to deal with, etc. A few minutes after that, the other woman on the panel and I went to the bathroom to check.

Bathroom empty; interviewee gone.

Other woman and I make a cursory pass along the cubicles in case she got lost. I went and chatted with the front door receptionist. She described the interviewee, saw her go in, didn't see her go out.

Oh boy. The four of us on the panel each took a floor to make sure she wasn't hurt, hiding, lost, committing a crime, etc. I took the second floor and chatted with a coworker little about our "runner". Other than the fun fact learning that visitors to Bill Gates' mansion are given a name tag with a GPS unit in it... well, we saw or heard nothing odd or amiss in a bathroom, stairwell, cubicle, office, store room.

Interviewee went poof. The HR person scratched her head. No shows, yes; but she never had anyone bail out at the interview stage before. Someone thought that maybe she thought that she could count us as one of the three contacts/week needed to collect unemployment, but that would mean the definition of contact really stiffened up in the past 15 years.

One thing's for certain - she had a transporter and we didn't.

R.I.P li'l thrift store

September 15th, 2007 at 03:12 am

I bought a batch of things from this thrift store in early August when I heard that they were closing. I never went back but not because I didn't want to. I just knew that if I went back it would touch off a lot of spending triggers - cheap stuff that I would sort of use, stuff that I would "rescue". Time to let go. And I did.

great money quote

September 14th, 2007 at 04:41 am

"Those that understand interest, get it. Those that don't, pay it."

Any other faves out there?

not much

September 14th, 2007 at 04:31 am

Saving log - $8 tip box
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk

Got taken out to lunch on Wednesday, so I put what I would have spent in the box.

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk +$20 lunch

Spendy, kinda. I was interviewing several folks for temp position beginning at 9 am, which meant that I had to show up by 8:30am. DH offered to drive me, so I let him. Since I rarely do that and its out of his way, I gave him a $20 for coffee, gas, and its insurance that he'll offer again. Just my luck though that the 9 am slot had to reschedule. It always happens that when I rush I needn't have.

And then there was lunch. A new place, tasty enough, but the service was slow, and I paid for the decor. Not going on the short list.

Payday is tomorrow and I'm in very good shape for the end of the paycheck. I'm not depressed, but lately everything's flat, even. Nothing near term to get excited about.