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Archive for August, 2008

Off to Mom's / San Diego Plan

August 17th, 2008 at 04:25 pm

Off to Mom's: I'm heading off to spend a couple weeks at my mom's ... all of my siblings will be there at least briefly (the 3 sisters all live in different parts of the country). Of course my darling brother (who lives with my mom) will be there the whole time, and I am looking forward to spending time with him as well as with Mom. I will be doing my utmost to NOT talk about personal finance while I am there, since my mom & I definitely do not see eye to eye. (I have refrained from blogging about mom's finances because it would probably turn in to a long and ugly bitch-fest.) What I do plan on doing is filling in some of the information on her "Letter of Instructions." I have printed out a blank copy and packed it in my suitcase. I agreed to be the executor of her estate when she passes, and I asked her to fill out the LofI for me. She said she would but it has been several years and she has yet to do it. I feel woefully unprepared to deal with her estate, and for the sake of my brother (who is developmentally disabled) and for the sake of my own sanity when that time comes, I feel I must get some information from her (including the mere basics such as the name of the attorney who drew up her will). I am telling myself to tread lightly ... I will be saying the Serenity Prayer frequently, I'm sure.

San Diego Plans: DH & I have worked out a temporary plan. He will head off to San Diego shortly after Thanksgiving and spend about 4-5 days househunting. He will narrow the choices down to 10 or so, and I will go out for a day or two to see those 10 houses together with him. If all goes according to plan, we will put an offer in on one of those houses (tho we will also decide on 2nd and 3rd choices as backups in case the negotiations on the 1st choice falls through). We have heard from several agents, both here and in Cali, that the buying process on a short sale is quite lengthy ... as long as 16 weeks. We don't know that we will be buying a short sale house, but given the market conditions in that area right now, odds are pretty high that we will, so we are allowing plenty of time for a lengthy negotiation and closing in the spring. In the meantime, we are doing lots of "window shopping" on the internet.

Austin Sightseeing: I have checked "Cavern Tour" off of my list of things to do before I leave Austin. It was very cool. Will try to write about it later, but now I must go finish packing.


Put Out On The Streets (not me, a neighbor)

August 15th, 2008 at 05:00 pm

Today when I was returning to my apartment I noticed what I thought was moving activity at an apartment. Later when I walked back that way to pick up the mail, I realized it was 4 apartment complex employees doing the "moving," nothing was packed, everything was just being piled up outside, and there was a car marked Constable with a uniformed officer keeping watch.

Ouch.

Someone is going to come home to find they have been put out on the streets along with their HUGE piles of stuff. I'd be willing to bet that if that unfortunate resident could go back in time, they would buy less of that stuff and instead put money in to their Emergency Fund.

So ... How's YOUR emergency fund? If it's not good, what are you doing to bulk it up?

Before I Leave Austin ...

August 12th, 2008 at 10:07 pm

I had a very long list of places I wanted to visit here in Austin (and nearby cities), but thinking that I would have a lot of time I have only visited a few so far. Today I pared down my list to a manageable size and it's now posted there on the left.

This will involve spending some money, but I know that in all likelihood I will never be back here again ... not because I don't like it ... in fact, I highly recommend Austin as a great place to live ... just because I can't foresee any circumstances that would bring me back here. So, I want to leave with no regrets about the things I did not do.

Since househunting is no longer on the agenda (today I purged a drawer full of house flyers, etc), I also agreed to take on an additional project with the volunteer organization I've gotten involved with. (They know I'll be moving, but wanted me to do it anyway.)

On the Road Again?

August 12th, 2008 at 06:25 am

The big news here is that we may be moving again. DH is just not digging Austin enough to make this our forever home.

When DH first brought this up I felt a bit whiplashed (still feel that way in fact). But I understand why he's not happy here. We will probably be moving back West in the spring, but not back to Seattle. We're thinking California (because of the weather). There goes the low cost of living!!! Oh well, at least we will have had 1-1/2 years of living cheap.

A couple years ago CA would not have been an option becaue of the high real estate prices, but thanks to the recent housing price declines it now looks like living in Cali may now be doable.

Happy Birthday Louis!

August 4th, 2008 at 02:23 pm

NPR mentioned that today is the anniversary of the late Louis Armstrong's birth, so in his honor I am playing some of his CDs today.

I love jazz. I'm far from being an expert, but I do love the way it makes me feel. I tend to favor the classics ... Miles, Monk, Coltrane, etc.

To the extreme fan or the obsessive collector, my collection of CDs might seem like small potatoes, but I think it is great. I don't know if I've yet to spend $1,000 on CDs, but I'll bet it's close to that. I've been buying jazz CDs for almost 20 years. The pace of my acquisitions has slowed down considerably (the more I've collected, the less I "need"). The last CD I got was "Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall" which is not only a fabulous record but also of historical significance ... it was rediscovered in some files at the Library of Congress and released in 2005. Guess what the only thing I wanted for Christmas in 2005 was?

I buy my CDs new. I look for discounts, but I don't wait for them to hit the clearance bin.

I love to read books, but I get 99% of my books at the library. I like to watch movies, but I own only 7 (3 are the LOTR movies); I rent from Netflix, at the lowest subscription level. I like moderate exercise, and I get that from walking my dog (or once in a blue moon popping in a yoga DVD). I don't indulge all of my hobbies and interests in a way that costs a lot of money. But I have spent a fair amount on jazz CDs, and if another history-making release comes out or I discover a new artist I love, I will continue to buy ... with no apologies.

I can afford them, and they are well worth the cost for the amount of joy they bring me.

Especially for the younger folks (many of whom have joined the boards recently) I would like to stress that a frugal life does NOT equal a joyless life. The key is figuring out what it is that really brings you joy, and spending your money accordingly ... once you have determined that you can afford it, of course. Smile

For each person, the joy will come from different sources. For Ima Saver, it's dinner out many nights with her husband and Corvettes. For disneysteve, it's the annual pilgrimage to Disney World with his family. For Broken Arrow (err...BA Lite) it's a karaoke box and a guitar. For one person it may be designer clothes. For another it may be gourmet foods or higher-end wines. Someone else may love to go to live concerts or plays. And so on and so on ...

What does NOT work in the long term (unless maybe you are in the super-high-income category) is saying to yourself: "Well, they go to Disney every year and drive a Corvette and wear designer clothes and have instruments and lots of CDs and eat gourmet food and drink expensive wine and go to the theater... so I want ALL of that too!" That's just about being driven by jealousy or competitiveness (aka "keeping up with the Jonses"). It will make you broke and it might not even bring you any joy.

I hope everyone reading this will be filled with joy AND have a secure financial future! I'm off to listen to some more Louis. Peace.