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All and Sundry

May 6th, 2008 at 02:46 pm

Gonna try to get caught up on a big list of things I have been wanting to blog about. Please pardon the long and varied "everything but the kitchen sink" type post.

1. "Journey to Balance Sheet Affluent" Update: Did my end-April Net Worth Statement while the guys were out golfing on Sunday, and updated my number there to the left. Obviously, I fell short of my first-year goal. Ironically, the main reason was a very good year last year income-wise, so when I plugged in our new average income, the goal (number to reach) jumped up. The reason for the bigger than expected 4th quarter drop was due to taxes owed on said earnings. Quarterly income and non-tax spending were fine. This led me to question whether or not this is still a realistic goal. For the time being, my answer is a qualified yes. I'll be posting my 2nd year (5/1/2008 - 4/30/2009) goals soon, and for the time being I am going to continue to pusue the goal of becoming "Balance Sheet Affluent" by the time my DH is 50; however, I am going to revisit this within the next year, and would not be surprised if I wind up dropping my goal to something like 1.8 instead of 2.0.

And for those of you who like to compare numbers, please let me remind you that I have set the bar extremely high for myself, which is necessary if DH's dream of trying out for the senior golf tour is to have a chance of becoming reality. If not for this dream, I would be happy with any number at 1.0 or higher.

2. Investments = Decided to Stay the Course: Thought I would be switching my STAR Fund to Vanguard Conservative Growth, but after studying that possibility I decided to leave things where they are. If I made the switch, I feel I would be under-invested in international stocks. And besides that, my STAR fund shares are where I give myself permission to be a tiny bit daring.

3. Work: My current work assignment ended today. My next work assignment begins ... day after tomorrow. Perfect. Smile One day off and then back to work. Instead of paying bills & doing laundry tonight, I'll be curling up with a book and putting those chores off until tomorrow.

4. Groceries: YES, YES, YES ... prices ARE up! Here are 2 specific examples on prices of items that are consumed almost daily in our home:
- Bananas: Up from 33 to 44 cents per lb. That's a 33% increase!
- Rice: 20-lb bag up from $14 to $17. That's a 21% increase!

I think what is so "big" about the current price increases is that they are so across the board, rather than commodity specific. We're all used to seeing prices on certain items spike due to crop failures or seasonality. But when that happens, we just make substitutions, right? For example, in the past, if I had seen that bananas were up 11 cents per lb overnight, I would have looked at an alternate fruit. But guess what? Apples are also up, 20 cents per lb, and no other fruits come close to giving me the same bang for my buck. So, I buy bananas at the higher price.

I feel fortunate that even if my vigilance to "shop smart" is not enough to compensate for the increases, I am still able to absorb the price increases, and don't have to take exteme measures (such as giving up buying fresh fruit). I cannot believe that the increases are not affecting those less fortunate, and I am sympathetic.

One thing that I am doing to keep my own grocery bill down is teaching my husband some of my shopping techniques (for example: combine a sale w/ a coupon or skip buying that item this week) so that when he goes to the store the bill will be lower. Just recently, he used coupons for the very first time.

4. Speaking of Good Cheap Food: I recently discovered a great side dish ... Texas Caviar! No, it's nothing like Rocky Mountain Oysters ... It's a spicy black eyed pea salad. Nutritious and Delicious! Fantastic with BBQ or really as a side dish with anything. If it sounds like something you'd like to try, just Google it and you'll find recipes.

5. The Jonses House: Previously I blogged about "The Jonses" house in my old neighborhood that went in to foreclosure. After being foreclosed on, listed by the receivier for well under what was owed on the mortgage, and having a couple price drops, the house finally went under contract. I don't know the sale price, but given the latest list price it is very likely it sold for at or near the "lowball" price DH & I threw out about a year ago. This reinforced 2 things in my mind:
- We should continue to trust ourselves and our sense of where the market is.
- By all means look at buying & selling a house as a business transaction. Regardless of how you feel about it while you are living there, while you are buying and selling you are making an investment! Once the receiver took over, they approached the sale of the Jonses house in a very businesslike manner ... Pricing to market (no ego or emotion involved) and dropping the price as needed.

6. Interesting Retirement Tidbits: Saturday's Wall Street Journal published some very interesting survey results ... Definitely gave me some things to think about when considering retirement. Here are some of the items that gave me the most food for thought:

Q: What percentage of retirees say they left the work force earlier than planned?
A: 51%
My Thoughts: Wow! Sounds like it might be a good idea to chop a few years off of the age you enter as your expected retirement age when you run those calculators. For example, if you plan to retire at 65, plug in 60 or 62 to be safe.

Q: Surveyed adults ages 55 to 74 said they spend the greatest percentage of their leisure time doing which of the following? (choices were Socializing & Communicating, Watching TV, Reading, Relaxing & Thinking, Traveling)
A: Watching TV
My Thoughts: That is sad. Note to self = Make a plan pre-retirement for a life of meaningful activities!

 Q: What percentage of workers in the US say they or their spouses currently are saving for retirement?
A: 64%

Q: What percentage of workers age 55-plus report having $250,000 or more in savings and investments (not including primary residence or defined-benefit plan)?
A: 23%

Q: What percentage of US households are at risk of being unable to maintain their standard of living in retirement?
A: 44%

My Thoughts on the Above 3: Wake up America!

2 Responses to “All and Sundry”

  1. merch Says:

    Good post!!!

  2. Ima saver Says:

    Yes, it was a good post. I enjoyed it!!

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