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Archive for April, 2013

I want a Porsche ...

April 27th, 2013 at 06:47 pm

well, sort of. We are in the market for a new vacuum cleaner and I am lusting after this: http://www.amazon.com/Miele-S7260-Upright-Vacuum-Cleaner/dp/... Definitely the "Porsche" of the vacuums we are considering. No, we don't have a cat or dog right now but DH & I had "the discussion" when we started looking for a new vacuum and we decided that we should prepare for the day when we will hear the pitter-patter of 4 paws around the house again.

2. Free Kindle Fire: I got Email notification that my free Kindle Fire has been shipped. It was a promotion for opening a new bank account. Sure beats a toaster. I've never had an E-reader or a tablet before. Will be fun to figure out how I can get the most out of it for the least $.

3. Utilities "Sweet Spot": I love this time of year, when we aren't using either the heat or the A/C, and the yard is fine with once weekly waterings. I paid our electric, gas, and water bills today ... $147 total for all three. I budget $200 and last year we averaged $193. Water & Electric rates have both increased so I don't know if we'll be able to stay under $200 average for the year but we will try. Late last summer we bought a stand-alone dehumidifer which is helping us keep AC usage down. Also, without a pooch in the house we use a bit less water (no more weekly bath or filling up the water bowl, and no more doggy bed laundering) and we don't have the regular "out to the backyard" trips that cause us to lose heat & cooling out the back door.

4. 28.6%: Yesterday was payday. 28.6% is the percentage of my gross income that ended up in our bank account. And it's OK. The rest went to taxes, my 401K (50%), Medical Insurance, Dental Insurance, and Vision Insurance. My husband is self-employed so the insurance is for the both of us.

5. Legacy Project: I'm burying this deep in the post for those of you who cared enough to read this far. The legacy project for our beloved late dog is on. Our dog was a rescue, and the organization where I volunteer will be building beds for an animal shelter that is located about an hour from where we live, where the animals stay on wet concrete floors all the time. Frown DH & I are going to pay for several of the beds, and the organization is going to invite other people to donate beds as well. We can write messages on the bottom of the beds in Sharpie pen if people want us to. I'm going to write "In loving memory of(our boy's name)" on ours and draw lots of hearts. This is what the beds look like: http://kuranda.com/ This is what life is really all about, isn't it? Maybe I'll need to get by with a less expensive vacuum and pay for one more bed???

Every Once In A While I Don't Bargain Shop

April 14th, 2013 at 09:20 am

Usually when I have a purchase to make I take the time to shop around for the best deal. But not always.

On Friday I found out that a neighbor's dog (who we jokingly called the "girlfriend" of our late pooch) was diagnosed with cancer and is going to have an eye removed on Monday. She's a sweet little dog and the owners are fantastic people. To illustrate how kind-hearted they are, when our "boy" died they made a donation to the animal welfare group where I volunteer.

Yesterday I went to a local doggy boutique and bought a stuffed animal and bag of treats, paying full retail price. This morning I wrapped them up and will deliver this afternoon when I take my walk. No time to bargain shop this time.

People and pets first, then money, then things.

Disappearing Posts

April 14th, 2013 at 08:48 am

The problem with blog posts vanishing when I go to post has become pretty frustrating. It has happened to several of my posts now, and it always seems to be the ones that are lengthy and that I have put a lot of thought in to. Yesterday I wrote one about the ability to think in an abstract way as it relates to personal finance. I may re-do it later if I can find the motivation to overcome my disappointment that it went *poof* The problem is that re-written blog posts never seem to be as good as the original.

I really do want to keep up my blog. I must remember to compose in a Word document and then copy and paste, so that my work isn't lost.

I made the mistake of briefly venturing back over to the SA Forums but was reminded pretty quickly why in the past I have steered away from there. There is one poster whose grandiosity is, frankly, rather frightening to me.

Minor Investment Shifts

April 10th, 2013 at 06:50 pm

Had the day off today so did a little financial housekeeping:

- Issued a purchase order for I-Bonds through Treasury Direct (had to transfer funds to my linked bank account first).

- Made a minor adjustment to the allocations on my 401K. Shifted to a very slightly more conservative mix.* (A few days ago I had done the same with my IRA accounts at Vanguard.)

*I'm really not happy with the investment choices in my 401K. I've been contemplating doing something kind of crazy and writing to the Committee within the company that Administers the Plan and let them know how I feel. My number one complaint is the lack of transparency in the Stable Value Fund. How can I as a plan member know if the "safe haven" offering really is safe? I don't expect the Committee to actually listen to what one lowly employee has to say, but I just may write to them anyway. Crazy, right?

We The People Petition Re IRAs at Treasury Direct

April 10th, 2013 at 11:58 am

Please consider signing my "We The People" White House Petition to allow the establishment of IRA accounts at Treasury Direct. Thank you!

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/allow-purchase-us-...

Celebrating

April 7th, 2013 at 06:46 pm

We celebrated a "milestone" anniversary last week and celebrated in style!

We went to a nice view restaurant for a great meal. We used a Groupon that I purchased and had been saving for the occasion.

I bought a single serving of Tiramisu at a local bakery, and we got 4 servings out of it (for the 2 of us over the course of 2 evenings). I also bought a single can of Sofia Coppola champagne at the liquor store that we shared.

Everything was such a treat.

Total Expenditure = $47.50 plus driving expense, and worth every single penny!


End March Net Worth Statement

April 1st, 2013 at 07:01 pm

Prepared the statement yesterday. The end-March statement is the most meaningful for us as far as looking back at how we have done over the past year, because the taxes are done. Because my husband is self-employed, his income varies and so do our taxes and the amount(s) we can contribute to tax-deferred retirement funds. By the end of Feb or March we know with certainty how everything has shaken out.

Highlights:
- Compared to a year ago, our net worth is up 9.0%.
- Over the past year, as we have done for several years now, we lived above the crossover point.
- Non-Financial Assets (house & cars) represent 17.4% of net worth. Can say confidently that we are NOT house (or car) poor.
- Updated the "Balance Sheet Affluent" number on the sidebar ... getting closer.

Lowlights:
- We have 2 CDs that are paying 5%+ interest, and doing the net worth statement was a painful reminder that the days of earning that kind of interest are coming to an end. One of the CDs matures in December. Sigh ....
- We are getting so close to the time when DH will be taking the big step towards his lifelong dream. (Yes - I'm intentionally being cryptic. I've shared what it is in the past, but now that we are so close to the time I'm not sure if I want to share with the "anonymous internet world at large.") We are very close but not quite as far along as I had hoped we would be in terms of net worth.

Next Step:
- Purchase some I-Bonds? Thinking about it.