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baby carrots and beets

April 28th, 2009 at 03:23 am

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $2 cottage cheese

I got home tonight - my mail contained a $1.96 check from Ameriprise, closing my account. All of gramma's trust money is in my accounts. Consolidation at last. One less set of passwords to remember.

The container garden is smartly moving along. I see little baby carrot seedlings in my orange pot. (Purple ones, hopefully not hairy). Yesterday I looked in a different pot that DH planted and I saw baby beet seedlings.

Talked to sister about vacation plans. DH and I (along with Morgan) are planning a road trip to Wisconsin to visit the farmette. June 1 - June 15. Apparently many of the hotel chains along the way are pet friendly. No doubt it will be a busman's holiday - I'm sure that we will be put to work planting a few things in the 7 acres.

even more stimulus

March 8th, 2009 at 02:51 am

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee

Saving log - $40 DRP1 + $100 DRP2
Spending log - $12 brunch + $60 clothes from Ross + $11 ground coffee for work

Got a call from the enrolled agent (2008 tax guy) this afternoon. He asked, and I provided him with my 2007 tax return and paperwork, which also had a different Schedule K-1 on it. He is pretty certain that the 2007 tax guy didn't do it right, that I unfortunately underpaid, and that I should amend the 2007 return, and pay the penalties wherein. 2008 tax guy also suspects that since the 2007 Schedule K-1 came from the sales of real estate, I should have filed non-resident Wisconsin state taxes also.

I told him that to me its all about being able to sleep at night, and that I wasn't willing to wait to get caught (or not get caught). So its even more stimulus. I'm blue, of course, but at least I have the money to pay it.

My concern is for sister, who I am very certain blew off her own Schedule K-1, and no doubt faces a similar issue, perhaps even a worse one, because I at least gave 2007 tax guy the 2007 Schedule K-1. Although I am responsible that the filing is correct, it is a slightly different problem - I didn't blow it off.

When 2008 tax guy gets done calculating, I'll have to ask him to give me some simple explanations of what the Schedule K-1 is, and what happened, and advice on how sister should proceed.

finding stuff

January 7th, 2009 at 06:00 am

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $10 lunch + $8 groceries

I stopped in my tracks as I walked to the bus. 15 pennies were strewn about. I picked them all up. Actually, there was one Canadian penny, so 14 pennies. Then this evening, someone dropped a mechanical pencil on the sidewalk. Picked that up, too.

Hunting good. OOoogh.

Had lunch with lawyer friend, lawyer friend's partner, and screenwriter friend. Lawyer friend's father died several days before Christmas, so he was very subdued. I was tempted to do for him what he had done for me but it turns out, ironically enough, that his dad died without a will. Or rather, the father revoked his will. Odd to me, I guess. I mean its one thing if you never made one, but to make one, spend the bucks to set it up, then revoke it and spend more bucks, then not make a new one ... well, you're already in for it.

dodged a bullet

October 11th, 2008 at 02:45 am

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $9 lunch

I opened up my Ameriprise quarterly report this evening. This was the account that grandma's inheritance was put into. In April I moved the money into Vanguard. More precisely, I cleaned out all but $1.96. Hence the quarterly report.

It turns out that the Ameriprise cash sweep account was administered by The Reserve, one of whose funds "broke the buck" by 3 cents in mid-September. (In other words, a 3% loss, unheard of in an MMA). The Ameriprise newsletter says they will be using 33M of their own money (?! - I suspect its OPM) to "mitigate losses".

Well, I'm pretty sure that my 6 cents will be mitigated, but I don't think my sister moved her money anywhere, so I suspect that her mitigation will be less of a no-brainer.

I feel a little like the combat soldier who, when taking off his helmet, finds that little circle of daylight near the top.

In other news, my electric bill is only $47 (for two months). We've used less juice than the August - October before.

KO is now less than $42/share, so I will write a check out for that DRP. Will also be disciplined and add $40 to MMM. $50 already went to IP.

And I'm not kidding when I say that I am freakishly lucky also with ... fortune cookies. Everyone else gets the weird one or the klinker that you need the "in bed" for, not me. Today's fortune: "Prosperity is in your future."


May 3rd, 2008 at 04:40 am

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $12 lunch + $15 groceries

We had the third annual late April birthday lunch today, with two other co workers who had birthdays on the 27th, 29th (moi), and the 30th. We keep inviting the co worker that has the 28th birthday, but she always has to run an errand or something. Wink.

The three of us were standing outside the office, debating about where to eat. I said, "okay, I have something that will help us decide," and I pulled out a two for one coupon. "Well that works for us," they said. Temper of the times - no one's embarrassed that they're deciding on a place by a coupon.

Tonight was the last night to use the coupons to celebrate the remodeling of the Safeway. I'm a little sheepish using their card and coupons, because I still think they jack their prices up to make the card a better looking deal. But I used the coupons tactically - only the food I normally buy, only items that can keep well, relatively healthy food, and a real deal versus a fake deal. For instance, I had a coupon for butter - but even with the coupon, the price wasn't good enough. I have enough butter in the freezer to last until November when the butter deals occur.

The other fiscal, non-coupon project that I'm doing is to move the money I inherited from grandma's trust in Ameriprise into my Vanguard account. Today the money showed in Vanguard, but didn't show as having left Ameriprise. Ah, the excitement of double booking. Big Grin

tuesday musings

April 9th, 2008 at 03:19 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $6 lunch (foot long sub for 2 days).

There is one downside to having a day off on Monday: Tuesday becomes Monday. On my Monday, everyone else's Tuesday, I worked through:

1. missing pledges that the fundraising staff assumed were with us. Ha ha, we received them in the mail all right, but we sent them back to the fundraising staff to sort and batch. Where did we find the pledges? - in the fundraiser's safe.

Guys, its a safe, not a wastebasket with a lock! If they make safes with a clear, bulletproof plastic panel...well, they could sure use that.

2. I returned sister's call at work. Turns out that she did her own taxes, and she's wondering why she's not paying nearly as much as I am. Where does the Schedule K-1 fit into it? For me, the Schedule K-1 fit into actual professional help. Big Grin !

Oh yes, sister mentioned that she might have quit her job. She got tired of her $13/hr job, she got yelled at one too many times, she said she had a headache felt sick and was going home. Sister's partner thought that sister should take off six months, work on the farmette, then go back and find another job.

"Well, if you did quit, you did it at the right time," I said. "It will look like it happened because of the recession, and not because of anything you did."

I can relate, I'm actually a bit surprised she lasted this long. I've had similar emotions - a fair amount of cash so quickly has its own pull. You hear all the pettiness at work, you look at your bank account, note the fact that it will last a good ten years even with careless spending, and you think - well, what for?

Dad, mom, grandma and grandpa put up with a lot of what for to build up what they gave to us. Seems like I should put up with just a little more "what for". Smile My bank account still feels like its not completely mine. My own safe is full, locked, and also needs a clear plastic panel.

10 things I learned from probate

February 17th, 2008 at 04:27 am

I first started my blog to journal my experiences with inheritance and probate (defined here as the process by which the will is discharged) after my dadís death in July 2005. It seems as good a time as any to use this as a nice little summary of the whole shebang and of my blog in general, especially in 2005 and 2006. Enjoy the walk down memory lane!

1. Someone died because of it. Sounds like a smart-ass thing to say, but itís true. Someone who youíd much prefer to be alive has died, youíre grieving, and now you have to make decisions and sort out many relationships that now will never change. Yeah, like that will be easy! Be thankful for thing 3.

2. Have an updated will. Sister found the will in a file cabinet in the attic after a few hours of searching. We were grateful that dad had one. However, it was 40 years old! Sister and I were mentioned at the end, basically saying at the end of a long list: if everyone else dies, they get it. Well everybody else did die because a lot happens in 40 years. We also knew that we didnít do always what dad would have wanted, but for that we needed an updated will. The Ouija board just didnít cut it.

Oh yes, keep the will and other paper assets organized, together, and in a safe place. Sister and I sorted important papers from dreck for a week, sister even longer, and we moved them from a one padlock- secured farmhouse to sisterís house. The lawyer winced a bit when he heard that because you arenít supposed to move anything, but letís face it, all it would have taken is a meth addict with a match so we did what we had to do.

3. It takes a long time. Sister and I finally got through it in June 2007, after one extension, for a total of 23 months or nearly two years. In a sense, we were grateful, both because of thing 1, thing 7, thing 9 and because we had plenty of complicated decisions to make. If you spent your inheritance ahead of time through your credit card, beware.

4. You will say to yourself: WTF? Often. Toothless old guys telling us that dad was sitting on fabulous riches Ė ďthat land is zoned commercialĒ, supposed adults driving farm equipment away for ďsafekeepingĒ, property lines 10 feet from where they were supposed to be, finding grandpaís tax returns from 1970 to his death in 1999, sister having a completely different childhood in the same house than I did, finding out that the estate had insurance for vandalism.

5. The executorís job is that of a switchboard - to collect assets, taxes and debts, then to discharge all in the most efficient way possible. Really donít have any good story about this point. Just that if the executor is a family member and is part of the emotional mix that no good can come of it. It was the one advantage of the 40 year old will Ė all of the family members picked to be executors were unable to do it.

6. Debts first, then assets. One of the first things that the executor did was put in a call for creditors on the estate in the local newspaper. The deadline depends on the state; in ours (Wisconsin) the deceasedís creditors have 90 days to come out of the woodwork. 91 days, tough. Creditors are paid from the estateís assets, whatís left is what you inherit. Your children or your inheritors donít inherit debt, with one exception: co-signers. If you need another reason why co-signing a loan is awful, here it is.

7. Probate might be resolving more than one estate or relationship. We also resolved momís insurance assets, gave items to dadís sisters, found residual savings bonds that grandpa gave to us, paid off Nut (a hired hand of dadís from the 1980s) some back wages that he claimed he had, and I got closer to my sister. Frankly, Iím glad there was only the two of us.

8. Both emotion and analysis have their place. Sister was close to the action, and far more emotional. I was 3000 miles away and had to be dispassionate and analytical. Or was that really the case? When it came to all the assets, I would have sold them to the highest bidder because I attached negative emotions to them, while sister saw the usefulness in picking and choosing the buyer and keeping at least the old homestead. We could keep the homestead, pay for it, and improve it, so why not? In the end, I was glad that her analysis and emotion ruled the day.

9. Stuff is harder to deal with than money. Old farm equipment, furniture, dishes, vinyl records, books, clippings from the newspaper, farm cats, and clothing from the 60s: all went for pennies on the dollar. And while real estate is where the value of the estate was, it was the hardest of all to deal with. Are you sure that you want to collect that much stuff? Who are you storing it for? When you think about it, we are all renters, marking our place on this earth. Enjoy what is yours now and enjoy it completely: you canít take it with you.

10. Itís now your asset. Thatís what I think the whole point of probate is. Because it takes forever, it gives you time to chase away the emotion and the ghosts, and gives you the ability to get comfortable with whatever you are inheriting. At the end, you want it to end.

2008 front of year routine

January 3rd, 2008 at 01:46 am

Saving log - $30 monthly interest in small accounts
Spending log - $3 bagel, coffee + $14 drugstore + $11 groceries

Stayed at home to greet the plumber. Plumbing got fixed at about 3pm, but I just was not feeling it to go into work for an hour. So I bought some groceries - we had no fresh vegetables in the house, so I picked up the cheap three: carrots, celery, onions.

While I was waiting for the plumber to come, I got a number of financial and gym tasks done: I set up my 2008 Roth ($5K is the maximum this year), I checked out my online Ameriprise account (grandma's trust is in Ameriprise, they've made an account in my name to move it from her to me), transferred $5K into the farmette account, and I put gym routines as little date journals into my PDA. Throughout the year, my trainer wrote out the exercises of the routines that we did on a small pad of paper. This pad of paper is nearly full. When we transfer to a new pad of paper I know the old one will disappear.

Yesterday, sister was online so we did some IMing. She sent the Excel spreadsheet that I made for her in October. I should have remembered to get it while I there, but I didn't so I taught sister how to send attachments.

I suggested she go through her checkbook and bank statements coming from the joint account for the farmette and IM me the transactions so I can update. Turns out we were $350 in the black for 2007 after taxes, electrical upgrade, solar panels, propane, new front door, redoing the milkhouse and foundation. Whew!

But not so whew - at least for sister - is that she hadn't done any of her paperwork to get grandma's trust transferred to her. Still in a serious, serious snit with the cousin, thinking somehow that he's stolen something or is hiding something. Its so bizarre to me why she's stamping her feet. Frankly, she's hurting herself - I've looked at the trust that has been transferred over into my account. Its a little more than what the cousin estimated it would be.

As it is, I now have to at least ask a CPA for advice on my tax situation for 2007. My ship has come in, but my moorage for it is not nearly adequate. Big Grin

a decided lack of entertainment here

December 14th, 2007 at 05:17 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee

Nearly no spend day because we had our Winter Event - aka the afternoon office holiday party. A lunch in a nice venue in downtown Seattle, with a drawing for prizes, and a couple of speakers. It was all right, but not nearly as entertaining as ones when they had the no host bar. Now there was frugal entertainment! I don't remember the precise year when we stopped having the ability to buy a drink. A guess that's a good sign that I don't have an adult beverage problem. Big Grin

I won 2 tickets to a John Denver (esque) concert at the Seattle Rep that I must use by Dec 24. I put the esque in parantheses for a reason, John Denver's been dead for awhile. Or maybe, just maybe, if I have that adult beverage that could appear to change.

Paycheck tomorrow. $50 goes to another DRP account. The interest that I've been earning on T-bills has been dropping like a rock - over the summer its been 5%, now its about 3%.

I keep getting Ameriprise materials, so I know that an account in my name had been created and bits of grandmas trust is moving into it, but nothing final. They say that trusts resolve more quickly for heirs, but in my experience the probate process was much more absorbing and a bit more transparent. I know that's a bit weird to say, but with all the decisions that sister and I had to make it seemed that probate knit us together a bit more. I'm sure sister would disagree - she had to do most of the heavy lifting. Trusts just seem mysterious. If its that much a done deal, just cut us two checks and be done with it.

IMing for fun and profit

December 9th, 2007 at 01:08 am

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

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $13 brunch + $60 groceries

About three weeks ago, sister sent me an IM invite from It meant that I had to get a email, but free is free, so I got one. I only hope sister doesn't think I will ever use it...I've forgotten my username on it already. Maybe I'll stick my spam offers there or something.

I did set up instant messaging at start up for the faint possibility that sister will be awake at the same time I am. Sister lives 2 hrs ahead of me and has early hours, so possibility was faint.

Yesterday sister was up in the middle of the night and took a chance. We IMed for about 2 hours. Wow, its way cheaper than a phone call and we got caught up. So I learned:

--Sister hasn't sent in her forms yet to the trustee. (I thought I was the slacker)
--Wisconsin got about 8 inches of snow.
--Sister has to figure out who she can get to shovel out the farmette driveway today.
--Both sister and her partner are working hurt. Sister with the knee and partner with the lower back.
--We both got caught short on Thanksgiving and had to buy the 20 lb turkey because that was the smallest available.
--We both handle about 2 or 3 threads at once. Neither one of us wait for question response, question response. We both question question question, response, response, response. I wonder if this is normal for IM? Big Grin

I wonder if she has a blog and doesn't tell me because she said things about me behind my back. I haven't told my sister about this blog. I don't think its a bad, but I figure it would be very inhibitory.