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Archive for January, 2011

This 'n That

January 25th, 2011 at 09:00 pm

1. Tax-Deferred Retirement Savings: Finally moved from Wellsley Income to a mix of Target Retirement 2005 & Target Retirement 2010 (all Vanguard funds). It means I am now invested a bit more conservatively but more diversified, and expenses are a bit lower. Had been considering a move for months. I tend to chew on "big" decisions for what to some must seem like way too long time (plus I take the time to actually read the prospectuses), but once I make a decision I usually take action right away. I made my decision over the weekend and did my Exchange Order online, so the exchange was done yesterday. DH decided not to make a change for now, so we now have a little bit of a friendly competition going to see whose funds do better!

2. Work: The organization I volunteer with wants to hire me. If all works out, I would work for the non-profit part-time and continue working with my current employer part-time from home. If it doesn't work out it's OK because I'll just keep doing what I'm doing right now.

3. Mattress Cover: When I took our mattress cover off to wash it, the zipper "broke" (the pull tab came all the way off). I am NOT a seamstress. I have an old Singer, and I can sew more or less a straight line when I need to, but I rarely sew. I'm also not clever at all when it comes to mechanical things. But other than the zipper the mattress cover is in perfectly good shape, so I knew I had to try to figure out how to fix it. It took over an hour, it was not easy for me, and at one point I had to recruit DH for an extra pair of hands, but I did it! It's now fixed! It looks a little funny because I had to do something to make sure the zipper pull wouldn't come off again, so once I got the zipper teeth put back together and the tab back on, I pinned teeny safety pins at the ends, one on each side. It may not be pretty, but it works! Didn't have to buy a new one ... didn't have to take it to a repair shop ... Don't have to leave it unzipped (losing the anti-allergen effectiveness). It's ridiculous how proud I felt for being able to fix that zipper. DH was really happy too and gave me a big high-five. (He never would have been able to figure out how to fix it. I don't think he has ever held a needle in his hand.) It may be of interest to my fellow frugalites that the teeny safety pins I used came from sewing kits that I got in hotel rooms back in the day when I used to travel for business. Smile

4. Groupon: I signed up for Groupon months ago (last summer I think) but just recently made my first purchase. It was for $14 at the restaurant Which Wich and it cost $7. I redeemed it today for DH & I ... 2 sandwiches & a large shake that came to exactly the face value of $14 (yes, I planned my order so I wouldn't go over the $14). Usually the Groupons are for things we don't buy (spa treatments, expensive restaurants, etc) and while they do offer golf packages regularly they aren't that good of a deal so DH has passed on all of them. While we were happy with today's deal, I'm not sure if it's worth the time of getting a daily Email when there are so few offerings that we would use. Anyone else had better luck with Groupon?

Sneakers Update - Saving Money by Delaying Gratification

January 16th, 2011 at 01:37 pm

In May I wrote about Shape-Ups shoes and how I thought they were intriguing but couldn't see spending $100 on a pair of sneakers.

http://scfr.savingadvice.com/2010/05/09/sneakers-on-the-grou...

At that time, I never saw them on sale. Well, now they are being sold at reduced prices. DH & I hit Dillard's New Year's Day sale and actually saw a couple styles being sold for as low as $40. That is the least expensive I have seen. Dillard's did not have my exact size, and I decided that if I was going to spend that much for a pair of shoes (I think $40 is still on the high side) they had better fit perfectly, so did not buy them.

Now Costco is selling them. $53 for women's & $47 for men's. All sizes and several styles available.

Doesn't that always seem to be the case? When something first comes on the market that you think is neat, if you just wait, the price almost always comes down (sometimes by quite a bit).

One of DH's customers came to stay with us for a few days. He also brought along one of his friends. We did as we always do when we have house guests, spiffying up the guest bath & 2 guest rooms (we have one formal guest room but also have a "flex room" that can be made in to a guest room when we need it), purchasing refreshments, booking tee times, washing the car, etc.

In DH's culture it is customary for house guests to give their hosts very nice gifts. Especially business associates, because they know that by staying at someone's house they are saving on the cost of a hotel, not to mention bar tabs & restaurants. We have received some very nice gifts over the years ... unfortunately, some are expensive but useless ones that we have ended up regifting or selling. Well, this particular customer of DH's is a doll who believes in giving his hosts something they really want, so he brought just a token gift (some food from DH's host country) and then kept his eye out to see what we really wanted.

Our house guests wanted to go shopping at Costco ... As you may be able to guess by now, "Mr. S" saw DH & I eyeing the Shape Ups and discussing them (we were both seriously considering buying them but weren't 100% sure since the price is still very high compared to what we usually pay), and announced that he wanted his gift to us to be one pair for each of us for our hospitality! Yipee! I now have the pair of Shape-Ups I wanted, plus DH has a pair, and we didn't spend a dime.

The 2 guests also each bought a pair for themselves, and Mr. S bought a pair as a gift for his wife.

Biggest Outflow Month

January 14th, 2011 at 01:17 pm

Estimated tax payment was dropped in the mail yesterday evening for pickup today. (Dear IRS: You're welcome! Dear Fellow US Citizens & Residents: You're welcome, and thank you to all of you who pay your legally required taxes!)

Annual property taxes will go out next week (tho not due til the end of the month, unlike federal taxes they have to be RECEIVED by the due date).

Car registration for our new car also gets paid this month. This one is relatively small, but it adds to the feeling that we are rendering an awful lot unto Caeser this month.

Trying to Get Your Finances Organized in the New Year?

January 1st, 2011 at 05:38 pm

Right now the stores are selling all kinds of organizational gear. But really, you can have perfectly organized finances while spending no money at all (or very very little). You can probably make do with things you already have on hand. The following are what work for me.

1. Filing System:
David Bach's filing system is the very best one IMHO. I've been using it for about 10 years, after trying several others that just didn't work. Bach's system is pure elegance: easy, compact, it really works, and it's a cinch to keep up. You can find his system in some of his books or at:
http://www.oprah.com/money/David-Bachs-File-Folder-System

I use a plastic Rubbermaid tote that was very inexpensive & is 100% portable. If you don't have a tote or small file cabinet, hanging files, and manilla tab folders you'll need to buy them, but they'll be worth the expenditure.

2. Calendar:
A calendar is essential to staying on top of your finances. This is where I record when I need to make payments (especially the irregular ones like estimated taxes and property taxes), when CDs or other long-term financial assets mature, and anything else that affects our finances.

For example, we get a 10% discount on our car insurance because my husband & I have both completed an on-line defensive course (2 cars = both of us have to do the course). The course certificate is good for 3 years. My husband's certificate expires later this month, and the date is on my calendar so that I can remind him to re-take the course. The insurance company won't remind us; we have to keep track of this sort of thing ourselves.

I use a free calendar that one of my husband's business suppliers gives us.

3. Special Box For Important Little Things That I Don't Want to Lose: In this box I put coupons, gift cards, safe deposit box keys, master key for car with keyless system, extra cash, and passport. I keep the box in a spot where I can always get my hands on it. Any little old freebie box will do.

P.S. - Now if I could just figure out a way to organize my photographs as well as I have organized my finances! Smile