Home > Archive: March, 2008

Archive for March, 2008

Pick up the money already, putz

April 1st, 2008 at 04:44 am

Every so often the question comes up. Do you pick up change from the street?

And the pros and cons come up which boil down to this. Pro: the money's risk free; con: my time is precious, and by G*d, I'm not the type of person who picks up pennies from the street. In case you couldn't tell by the subject line, I'm a pro change picker upper. I know I won't convert a con change picker upper people but I do want to provide a little food for thought.

First of all, you have to be in the right position to even pick up change from the street. If you are already in the right position, you're already un-American. You can't be in a car. You have to be on a sidewalk or in a lobby, walking. You can't be on a cellphone. You shouldn't be pacing and staring off into middle distance, listening. You have to be on a sidewalk, & basically unproductive - not doing deals, not selling something, not ordering someone around. If you're just walking, so much for your time being precious; might just as well train your eye searching for little metal circles.

Second of all, do you pick up change in other aspects of your life? Change that collects in the bottom of the washer/dryer when it fell out of your pants? You pick that up. Change on the carpet of your car that you tossed in your hurry pulling out of the drive thru? You'll pick that up, sure, especially if there's a toll involved. Change that you sucked up in the vacuum bag? Nasty, but you'd rescue it. Change between the couch cushions? You'd pick that up. Matter of fact, isn't that the first place you look for pizza and laundry money?

Here's a news flash. Picking up change from any of those sources, some even nastier than the sidewalk, doesn't change your net worth one iota. Its money you already have that you've moved into your pants pocket from an alternate pocket. Sidewalk change is new money.

Lastly, there's the I-make x-dollars-per-second-its-not-worth-it argument. That only works if your pay is docked when you pick up change. Otherwise, if you find change at night or on the weekend, your pay that hour is $0. Picking up the coin means your pay is $0 plus coin. If you find the coin during lunch and you are making a salary, you pay that hour is $salary plus coin. Think of it as a tip for being alert.

I don't have any reason to convert a non-change picker upper into a change picker upper. Why make competition? Change that you pick up means change I won't. All I ask of you is this: if you see sidewalk money, point it out to me. I'll pick it up.

magazine trade

April 1st, 2008 at 03:40 am

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $7 lunch

The magazine I bought Saturday at the grocery store (yes, I still am addicted to one magazine) had 10 blurry pages in it. Not what I paid for. I knew I would walk past the grocery tonight, so I packed up the blurry magazine and the receipt. I showed the blurry pages, the receipt, and that all I wanted was a new magazine. Trade cheerfully accepted.

walked a huge amount today

March 31st, 2008 at 05:25 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $4 coffee, bagel, apple + $8 CD + $20 sushi lunch

I walked a huge amount today, and began to jog. I'm a terrible jogger, but dammit, since I bought warm running tights I'm going to see if I challenge myself a bit more. As if walking from 92nd to 35th and back ain't enough.

I did manage to jog about 5 blocks. I'm no runner, have no bounce in my shins, and got winded quick, but I'll see if next week I can do 10 blocks.

The worst part though was midway, because I landed in Fremont, where I bought and ate my apple, but then I flipped through the used CD store, walked through the Fremont Sunday market, found the Theo chocolate store (and they give tours of the factory, FYI). I managed to sniff and enjoy the store & amazingly, didn't sample any. However, tired and hungry, I succumbed to conveyor belt sushi, picking and enjoying the most expensive plates. Luckily the most expensive plates were $4 apiece.

It did mean that I felt that I had to walk back. And now I've go to think about my endpoint at the end of my walks - I don't want to turn them into rewards where I spend a lot of money. Big Grin

Checked my bank account online. Tomorrow is the last day of the month when we get paid, but the next paycheck was there already. Nice. I was expecting that the net $ of my check would drop due to the increased 403B withholding ... A pleasant surprise that I miscalculated - March 31 should be the last paycheck of 1st quarter 2008.

new categories

March 30th, 2008 at 07:20 am

A housekeeping item:

Because this blog's gotten a few more readers (200 daily!) and plowing through over 700 entries requires a bit of ...ahem ... commitment, I've added two more categories for your viewing pleasure.

The Neighborhood. I live in North Seattle. If I blog about a few of the sights, here they are for E-Z access.

Essence of baselle. These are a few of my entries that I think show a little something extra - they can be funny, devious, informative, poignant, opinionated. If you like what you read in this category, please wade through the other 725+ entries. If you don't like them, well, they were my best shot and I've saved you some time. Big Grin

over $160 in extra spending

March 30th, 2008 at 02:19 am

Friday, March 28th
Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $8 lunch + $77 groceries

Saturday, March 29th
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $15 brunch + $84 GI Joes

Last night the local Safeway had their grand re-opening from their renovation. Armed with a 10% off coupon, I have to say I splurged. Lately we've been eating out of our freezer. Last night I bought a number of things that I don't ordinarily buy at Safeway - salmon and cod, stilton cheese - and items that I do buy - peanut butter, pot roast, produce, ham, box of salad. I could have done a bit better, but I went for the treats. I was careful and bought on sale with the coupon, so I saved $35 dollars. I didn't regret the purchases, but I did regret going overboard a bit when I had to lug four plastic bags home, by hand, up the hill.

This week I noticed that my gym shoes huff a bit when I walk - they are about 2.5 yrs old, and I've used 3-4x/week. They're still okay for kicking around in as long as it's not raining, but its definitely time for a new pair. I'm lucky that they lasted so long. So today I bought new gym shoes, a pair of running tights, and a new fanny pack. I've enjoyed the 60-70 block mega weekend walks these last couple of months so I treated myself with the tights and the fanny pack. I broke the shoes, the tights and the pack this afternoon. Breaking in shoes is problematic for me - its always my heels that take the worst of it.

Paid DH for my share of the rent. This month, rent's going up by $30/month. It hadn't gone up for 5 years - sign of the times.

social and weather reports

March 28th, 2008 at 04:10 am

Saving log - $4 tip box + $35 Drp + $40 Drp
Spending log - $5 coffees + $10 lunch

We nearly got snow last night. Snow in late March is apparently rare, but not unheard of. Sister, in Milwaukee, told me last week (one snowstorm ago) that this winter she's gotten nearly 96 inches - they're coming close to the 1880's record, 117 inches.

The rest was social butterfly day - DH had heard about drip coffees made with Clover machines, so we had Clover coffee together before work. Then lunch with lawyer friend. He came back with good news - his baby brother's leukemia is in remission.

watch your bank

March 26th, 2008 at 04:29 am

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $8 lunch + $.50 apple

(Yippie - finally a decent apple price - $1.19/lb.)

Speaking of the devil in "What a recession can teach you about money...". The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is watching your bank too, and they are making plans so that they don't get caught short.

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To better watch the FDIC. If your bank fails they're not shy about announcing it and who has bought your bank out.

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Check out the quality of your bank.
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tax coda 2007

March 25th, 2008 at 04:11 am

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $8 lunch

Delivered the CPA coupon that I got Friday night to DJ friend. If he uses it, he gets 20$ off and I get $20 back.

I sent my tax check out last week - the US cashed it Friday night. I just paid for about 1/1000 of a second of federal spending. Some people will wait until Apr 14 to pay, which is wise because they still get a little bit of interest, but I prefer to pay it and get on with the rest of my year. I just don't like playing chicken with my bills...guess wrong and you're late, or rather, these days you give the bank, credit card or business the ability to charge you the late fee.

Finished voting my proxy online; the next day all the paper materials showed up. Just as well, its a lot easier for me to calculate valuations from a paper annual report than it is online.

sound of snoring

March 24th, 2008 at 04:11 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.30 coffee, bagel + $13 groceries

No financial decisions or shallow financial philosophy today.

Spent a mostly nice quiet day at home; I just went out to have my Sunday coffee and bagel, read the Sunday paper, picked up some blue cheese, almonds, a box of salad. Came back, did my laundry, cleaned a bit of the house and made a non-traditional Easter meal of homemade beef stew which should last me for a few days.

Need a career change?

March 23rd, 2008 at 01:31 am

Laugh all you want, gaming's probably recession proof.

And spring has sprung in the Fred Meyer parking lot...

Attn: Troll

March 22nd, 2008 at 03:53 am

Savings log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $12 lunch

Very quiet day at work - several people were out sick or on PTO. Not only that, it was restful - the phone didn't ring once today. I attribute it to both: the non-pious concentrating on "March madness", and the pious concentrating on Good Friday.

DJ friend was looking for someone to do his taxes, his normal guy got sick. I gave him a recommendation for the place I used two weeks ago. However, I tossed my coupons. (I saved them for a few days, trying to figure out who I could give them to but in the end my hatred of crap lying around the house won out). I stopped by the CPA on the way home and the office gave me new ones, so perhaps I get $20 off.

My subject line doesn't refer to anyone here, or anyone I interact with online. DJ friend is wrestling with a guy from another Internet radio station stealing the content of his radio stream. For a monthly fee, DJ friend had a lawyer write the guy. The guy has no name (not a surprise) but calls himself troll. So the letter is addressed Attn: Troll, and the salutation is Dear Troll. Its a serious letter, but the "Attn: Troll" made me smile.

currency CD

March 20th, 2008 at 02:46 am

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $8 lunch

Put in this month's collection from the tip box into savings - $46 worth.

Looking into getting a currency CD from, because the interest rates look and because I'm assuming that the dollar will get weaker before its gets stronger. Anyone else out there looking into owning one?

anarchist with a black pen

March 18th, 2008 at 03:49 am

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $12 lunch

Don't know whether all my blog contest entries are pearls of wisdom, but I've made it easier for the reader to find out - I've moved them all to a Category called "Contest Entries".

Its stock proxy season. If you own stocks in your name, you get a little something in the mail to vote on - Board of Directors, stock options/compensation, ratifying the accounting firm, etc. Lately I've been seeing themes - shareholders are proposing votes on compensation and on making boards more independent. I usually provide for the loyal minority - I vote against any compensation plan and for any shareholder proposal unless its terrible (and they can be). Despite the fact that I know my 40-90 shares is just a drop in the bucket of shareholder opinion, voting like a wild communist (how dare the CEO get any compensation - haha!) gives me great satisfaction. You asked me what I thought, why are you cranky at me when I tell you?

What a recession can teach you about money

March 16th, 2008 at 07:07 am

The last official recession was in ‘01 or so, blink and you missed it, but there have been more severe ones – ’91-’92, the ’83 one, and the ’81 one, not to mention the ’79 one and Whip Inflation Now one during the 70s. Of course when I was a teenager in the 70s, the whole decade was a recession – my parents wouldn’t buy me anything. As a public service here are a few pointers for all you recession newbies.

Cash is king. Have some saved. By cash, I mean the paper stuff or its variant, a government savings bond or t-bill. And some of your own – unemployment only goes so far. Even if you hold gold (admirable), you still need cash – at $1,000/ounce your grocer isn’t able make change. Have a HELOC or credit card, which two years ago was touted by financial writers as being your safety net? Ha ha. Not if the line or your card is being shut down because your lender is undergoing a credit crisis. Cash: accept no substitutes.

If your culture is a shopping culture, you’re going to be in a world of hurt. Especially if you’ve missed pointer one. The malls will sport plenty of sales at first as businesses try to burn off their old inventory, but everyone will be buying cautiously, including inventory buyers – they buy fewer items for the store during a recession to take a “wait and see” attitude. Advertising gets more pointed - not many commercials in the aspirational or the arty style. No “buy this and be cool”, its “buy this or we go under”. Be especially careful who you buy things from. Frauds and scams are rampant during a recession.

Don’t be afraid to be frugal – this is your moment. “Saving” is fashionable in a recession. Spending isn’t. You’re not spending money and your friends aren’t either. I put savings in quotes because “saving” is not really saving, it’s spending less. Not that spending less is bad, but it’s not saving. Saving is when you take some of the paper stuff skating out of your wallet and belting goalies, to put it in the penalty box, otherwise known as a savings account. Don’t be afraid to do that too.

Watch your bank. Bank deposits are insured by the FDIC for 100K, credit union deposits are insured by the NCUA for 100K. In any recession, the weakest businesses fail. If your financial institution fails, it usually gets bought by another or by the FDIC to prevent a “run”. In a recession, it never hurts to have your emergency cash in a couple of places, including a small amount in the Bank of Seely (money at home in the mattress), and to check bank ratings often. I bank with WaMu. Believe me, I’m watching that one.

There’s more to life than money. During boom times it seems that the only important relationships are the ones where money changes hands. During a recession people relationships become more important than money relationships. The finest qualities in people are the cheapest – friendship, generosity (when appropriate), creativity, humility, optimism. Of those, show humility the most. Not wise to let a desperate brother-in-law know about your savings; best to be sympathetic and share only your fiscal troubles.

You’ll find out what your friends are made of. Normally hang out with Joneses’ and the shopping culture and run into tough times? Good luck with them during a recession. It’s a rare spendthrift who can be generous – if he is just keeping up appearances during the boom, how will he do during the bust?

You’ll find out what your friends think of you. A business has one asset that it will hold onto upon the pain of bankruptcy – its good name. Its ability to borrow is directly dependent on its fiscal reputation. So it is with people. In a recession, the reaction frugal friends will give you should you ask for a loan will tell you what they think of your fiscal skills. Would they think: an opportunity to help, or money down a rathole?

Recessions create frugal people. Recessions – the proverbial “rainy day” – are a wake up call. They remind us that the economy runs in cycles, sometimes up, sometimes down. Not everyone takes the wake up call to heart during a recession, but the sharper ones do to be better prepared for the next one. Take the history of a frugal person and you will find many learned their fiscal ways because they or a close relative experienced that rainy day firsthand.

Recessions are nothing to be afraid of for the prepared. Are you prepared?

IKEA overload

March 16th, 2008 at 05:40 am

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 coffee, breakfast + $36 IKEA

Our kitchen sink tends to be a disaster area with DH leaving his Melitta coffee drip filter in the sink, with various scrub pads and brushes along side the back of the faucet, and the paper towel roll just around.

A couple of weeks ago in the paper I saw a little picture of a hanging kitchen sink organizer with drainage shelves and a paper towel roll. Perfect. Who sells it? IKEA. Sigh.

I have nothing against IKEA stuff but I hate shopping there. I suppose I could have gone with the catalog - but I do like to see, feel, compare measurements. And both DH and were looking for a fresh air trip.

The IKEA Renton superstore just looks too darn busy for me. You park and you're led along and through the various showrooms with blue and yellow arrows and there are five of every line with names full of a-ring letters and o-slashes, not to mention stacks and stacks of neatly arranged stuff broken down into its various components with variants. Tidy, logical, too much detail that needs too much concentration, alien letters: if there's department store shopping on the planet Vulcan, it would look like IKEA.

We managed to get the components of the organization system, along with along with a couple of other items, so we were successful. DH even installed it this afternoon. In the end, I had the IKEA hangover - tired and with a headache.

and rant week continues ...

March 15th, 2008 at 03:59 am

Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $9 lunch

And rant week continues. Coffee in the bathroom, wide loads on the bus, finding out offically from the IRS that I'll get my fiscal package stimulated. I'd better check the calendar ... yeah, "its" a bit late, so I'm the throes. Big Grin Actually its not a bad rant, its karmically kinda funny when you think about it.

It all started after lunch at my hideout in the Pike Place Market. I bought a large apple in one of the high market produce stalls, a strategy to keep me from hitting the candy bars during afternoon snack time. The apple came to .95. I gave the seller a buck and told him to keep the change. "Sure wish it was 5 bucks," he said, a little wistfully.

So 5 cents down

I walked along back to work and in the middle of a block found 2 pennies on the sidewalk. I walked to the corner and saw a homeless guy with a cardboard sign. Hey, the only change I had was the 2 pennies, so I gave them to him. At least I tried. He gave them back and started to rant at me! Yeah, I know, 2 "crummy" pennies and I while I do joke about coin rescue..I mean really, I thought you needed money, bud! You didn't even have to pick them up.

So 2 cents up

Tonight I managed to pull out my cloth bag in the Safeway in time to replace a plastic one for a bag credit.

3 cents up, and karmically even.

the crap we carry

March 14th, 2008 at 04:00 am

Saving log - $12 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $7 lunch + $9 groceries

Put 12 in the tip box because I hadn't in awhile. One of the other things that shook out with the 403B decision is that I have almost 190 hrs of paid time off (PTO). Time to get out of my workaholic self and schedule a week.

Found 11 cents on the sidewalk by the gas station ... always good hunting grounds.

Day didn't turn out half bad, even though I forgot my bus pass and both the morning bus and the afternoon bus were more full than I've remembered ... even with the fare increase. $3.50/ gallon gas and pouring rain tends to fill up a bus fast.

When a bus is stuffed to the gills you really notice the crap everyone lugs around. Ever really use all the stuff you lug around? After I got my degree and was packing up for my postdoc, I pulled papers out of my bag - the one I lugged around daily for 5-6 years. There were scientific papers that I might have read once, but then lugged around in my bag for years. What a waste.

People carry stuff to put on appearances. Look how busy I am. Look how prepared I am. You're pushing paper, emails, computer files. A cellphone, a wallet, an iPod, a PDA/blackberry thingee, keys, your lunch maybe. Need a huge backpack or tote bag for that, whapping everyone in the aisle seats as you go? I know that with my little neoprene purse I look somehow less productive, less busy. I'll still have my shoulders.

pulled the trigger

March 13th, 2008 at 04:06 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $8 lunch + $17 groceries

Went to my 403B administrator in HR to get the form to change my 403B withholding.

"You're early," she said.
"But its for a change of April 1," I said...

Usually HR canvasses for changes the week before, I guess. I tried to explain why I was changing it and that it will look weird, but she would have none of it...she didn't want to know. Smile Filled out the form, so I pulled the trigger. It puts my take home pay at what I was at 4 years ago; it'll be something to get used to.

And I have to remember to back it down for next year.

Picked up some plums and apples for $1.48/lb/each, received grapefruit from Harry & David. We are awash in fruit.

new commitments

March 12th, 2008 at 03:45 am

Saving log - $0 tip box + $35 Drp 1 + $40 Drp 2
Spending log - $1.55 coffee (16 oz size), $6 lunch

Put money into two of my Drp stocks. They aren't going gangbusters, but its nice to be able to put a little something in when stocks are cheaper.

I finished figuring out what I want to now put into my 403B. 2007 I had to pay tax with a penalty, and I want to avoid that. I figure the most strategic way to avoid it is to increase my 403B to the max.

The maximum that we can put in is $15K; from my latest paycheck (end of February) I've already put in $1170, I can change quarterly so I will have put in $1755 by the end of March (quarter 1), so I have $13,245 to put in for 9 months. That works out to be around $1470/month, or $735/pay period. I used the paycheck calculator, first putting in what I was doing already to see if the numbers were about right. They were within $5, so I increased the percentages by 5%, then 2.5% until I got a 403B withholding close to but under $735. 37.5%. I drop my paycheck by 300$ and that's per paycheck - $600/month. I can do it, but it will take some getting used to.

The other commitment was to the trainer. I've had a heart to heart. I've basically been 185 (sometimes as high as 190, or as low as 183) for over a year. Is the plateau an issue? What kind of new goals should we go after?

I thought about this over the weekend, and I came to some conclusions:

1. The weight plateau doesn't bother me - unless I stepped on a scale, you wouldn't guess that I'm 185, and these days, maintaining and not increasing weight even during the holidays is an achievement.

2. What does bother me is my waist. Legs, arms, chest, back, butt, even upper waist have become more defined and I'm happy with their progress. My lower and mid waist are stubbornly resistant. Don't get me wrong - the ab muscles underneath have gotten a lot stronger - they just are still cloaked by the fat on top.

3. Weight training is great and I enjoy it - but right now its the same moves with increasing weights. Not too much to learn after you get the form down and you figured out what muscles get targeted. I suggested that I'd like to learn some pilates and yoga moves and with that my trainer brightened up. We did a couple of them today - the v sit keeping the chest up and moving the arms up and down. Pumping arms up and down gives you something to do while you are holding that darn v mid back is very stiff.

Conclusion is that we are going to work on an inches goal, specifically for the waist. Not that you can spot lose, but something's bound to happen. Big Grin

eew moment

March 10th, 2008 at 01:03 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.39 coffee, bagel + $1.50 decaf coffee

Thank you to all who voted in last month's blog contest. I placed third for a cool $10. Much appreciated!

Walked all the way down to the Fremont Bridge for 60 block walk, then went through the Fremont Sunday Market - didn't hoof it all the way back, though, just part of the way to wait for my bus, then hit the library.

Had myself an "eew moment". I got a little decaf at the Peet's in front of the Fremont Bridge, and I bought it because I wanted to use the restroom. So I set my coffee down, put a couple of items from my purse to mark the table, then waited in front of the bathroom door.

The eew moment occurred when 20 year old girl left the bathroom. She was still carrying her coffee! It meant she brought the coffee into the bathroom, did number whatever probably while still drinking it, then had to juggle the coffee while she washed her hands ... or did she even bother? Double eew on that possibility.

Am I weird for thinking that's disgusting? Has coffee become that precious that you're willing to compromise your hygiene rather than risk it getting stolen? I mean she got a coffee drink from a coffee shop...anybody who made it to the bathroom also has a coffee, why would they want yours? There was also a nice little shelf across from the door where you could put your coffee on. Of course you could get your coffee dumped by the staff, but I've put a pen on top of the cup to prevent that possibility. Somehow that signifies "I'm here and I'm not done" Smile

Reminds of using the restroom at the old Larry's Grocery. Set the shopping basket down on the floor by the door before taking your rest! I was nervous about having it stolen, too, but since I hadn't bought it - who cares?

Every day I'm sounding more and more like my mom....

I owe, I owe ... off to the tax man I go

March 8th, 2008 at 05:36 am

Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $9 lunch + $175 tax prep

Got back from the CPA tonight. Now for the downside of saving, not spending, and squirreling inheritance money away instead of whooping it up:

I owe Federal taxes, the first time in about 20 years. Over $1300, and it includes a slight penalty - $38 - for not prepaying quite enough. Both the CPA and I were sanguine about it... its about 1.5 months of ING interest or 13 minutes of CPA time.

I owe because I put taxable money into vehicles that made interest, and moved money into a Roth IRA instead of a traditional one. Unless I do something though, I will run up against the "problem" of making lots of taxable interest every year. Well, it might not be so bad this year with the stock market losses and low interest rates.

This weekend, I'm going to go through scenarios with a couple of paycheck estimators. I'm going to try and hike up the % of my paycheck that goes to 403B. Right now its at 15%...but I can put up to $15000 in a 403B every year. If I try that, it does two things - 1. shelters more of my money in a non-taxable account and 2. makes me spend some of my taxable interest.

Its either that or file my old cheap self.

On the bright side - the Schedule K form was filed, but changed nothing in the tax calculation.

the marker

March 7th, 2008 at 05:53 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $7 lunch + $14 groceries + $50 cash

For the new readers out there: saving log and spending log are quick snapshots of what I spent or saved that day. Nothing much more.

Since my Paypal interest rate is not any higher than my ING account, I consolidated by moving the Paypal money into ING.

Getting my folders ready for the tax advisor tomorrow night. I still have to find my SS card and my last year's form. If nothing else, I have files for both on my flash drive.

Lawyer friend's youngest brother was diagnosed with a serious form of leukemia; he's heading out tomorrow for the east coast.

Tomorrow is the last day for my temp guy. He can speak Mandarin Chinese; his new job depends on his ability to translate and he was tested on it. He squinted at a character and said, "Badger?". The company was very happy; no one else figured that character out.

Tonight I was milling around my bus stop at my usual time. Intermediate transit lesson for today is: Identify your markers. Markers are people who share your regular schedule and who you ride with. See them milling around the stop and be consoled that you didn't miss the bus. If you get sick of watching the road for your bus, watch their movements instead. If they're heading for the edge of the sidewalk, so should you. Its considered a nice touch if you yourself have a memorable flair and you're regular; you too can become a shining beacon marker for someone else.

two cents is the theme

March 5th, 2008 at 04:33 am

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $4.50 curry

At lunch today, the owner of the curry shop asked me if I wanted anything else.
"No," I said.
The guy next to me in line said, "You're supposed to ask for the cash register when he says that." Then he smiled. So much for his two cents!

Found two pennies on the street one after the other this aft. As I bent to pick up the second one, I thought, wouldn't it be funny if one of my friends was playing a practical joke on me. C'mon, it would be easy to lead me anywhere... just put a penny down every ten feet or so.

I looked at one of my DRP stocks (MMM), and found out that they had raised their dividend by 2 cents per share. The stock's now 50 cents/ share/ quarter. I'm getting about $2 more in dividends than what I expected.

in the zeitgeist

March 4th, 2008 at 04:54 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee (got the next largest size today) + $13 lunch + $7 groceries

Through out the day today I felt bombarded with headlines - how to save $2500, what you can do to save, how Oprah saves, get out of debt, how to invest during the coming recession. As I stood in line at the grocery store and read the magazine covers every one had the message "hunker down the recession's coming" all over them.

Hunkering down is a comforting position for me, but being contrarian has worked even better for me in the past. I think its planning time for how to invest for better times to come. What companies are going to survive and thrive in the years to come? If I wanted to buy a house in say, 2010 or 2011, what would I want and how much would I be willing to pay?

When the whole world is zigging, time to plan for the zag.

seduction at Fry's

March 3rd, 2008 at 01:12 am

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $3.28 bagel & coffee + $15 groceries

This weekend was gym laundry weekend, which meant a Sunday trip to the office to stow my clean gym clothes in my office. Long explanation for a Sunday tip box entry.

Saturday DH and I went Fry's Computer to pick up a digital camera tripod. Of course, I got a lot, lot more - $164 worth. Because after a year and a half, my headphones were starting to cause an ache against my ears - headphone cup would press against ear which would press against the frame of my glasses - I decided to try earbuds one last time. $99 worth. They feel great, have great sound, and come with a lanyard to keep the weight off the wires and cause them to pop out of my ears. Again, the cheap man (me) spends the most. By buying a few cheap earbuds and earclips, I spent 30$ needless dollars two years ago. DH, though, wants my headphones so he'll probably use them up.

I also have a weakness for purses and bags and picked this beauty up for $22.

Its made of 70% neoprene and zips up completely - perfect for Seattle weather. Also, if I stuff it enough and zip it up, I have a stretchy Russian kettlebell that I can whap a purse snatcher with. Smile

The rest of the purchases were the tripod - night pictures! - and a GPS case. I don't have a GPS unit, but MP3 player fits into it very well, and I then can use the large cell phone case that I'm using as an MP3 case for my digital camera. A good frugal trick is to remember that most digital objects are similar sizes. Just because a tag says that its a large cell phone case doesn't mean that you have to use it for a cell phone. If the digital thingamajig fits, you can get at it, and the zippers and pockets are useful to you, who cares!

The last picture is for a laugh... if you know Latin, that is. You probably don't want to translate either one for the kiddies.