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Archive for October, 2007

Earthquake...

October 30th, 2007 at 09:29 pm

Well there was a "moderate" earthquake today, centered just a few miles from my parent's home. They said they were on the road and when they got home there were doors flown open and a lot of stuff strewn around. So in the grand scheme of things probably one of the bigger earthquakes we've had. But so far not much report of damage. (IT was a 5.6? Loma Prieta was 6.9).

They heard some people in Sacramento felt it. I Was sitting on the couch eating dinner at the time - didn't feel a thing.

& how bizarre another earthquake in October - World Series Time. Earthquake season I guess.

Well, I am going to San Jose Thursday. & so I Said, glad I missed it. Wink Then I flipped on the news here and they were saying there was a 30% chance of another earthquake around the same magnitude in the next week and 10% chance of one even bigger. I have never hears statistics like that before (certainly don't recall). Maybe I'll stay home - LOL. Like I Want to be there when the "big one" hits.

Nah, I am not too worried. I grew up in earthquake country. For the most part they are relatively harmless. & I am not driving over any bridges or the like this week either. Which was the worst of Loma Prieta when the Bay Bridge collapsed.

I am just glad everyone is okay.

P.S. In the meantime on Sacramento news they are asking for pictures. ??? Um yeah, we all have lots of pictures of the "big quake" 120 miles away. ? Just strikes me as odd - LOL. Can I send a picture of the fallen shampoo bottles from my parents shower? Exciting stuff...

Another Lowered Bill...

October 29th, 2007 at 07:15 pm

2007 has been VERY good to me. Our water bill has gone down, our car insurance went down. Our cable is going down. On and on and on. Not to mention all the stuff we worked on getting down (all the stuff mentioned above just went down with no action on our part!!!).

Anyway, add home insurance to the list!!! Just got the bill and it went down $200 over last year. I expected much more. (Obviously this was billed before all the wild fire claims and such too. State Farm sent a letter how they lowered premiums to better reflect claims. Yes, we should brace ourselves for NEXT year. Can't say they'll say the same after a year like this in California).

But anyway, not only that but the premium would be lowered additional $100 if we would take a deductible of $2k.

Um, $2k? Like the same deductible I have on my car that is worth 1/50 as much or something? Okay then. Big Grin I think we can swing it. Wink

So I am happy that while I expected my bill to be inflated, it went down $300.

The other thing is we finally got around to raising our coverage last year to reflect increased construction costs (they had about doubled in 5 years). Anyway, last year was about the peak. With the reduced premiums I will just ride it out for now. But I think it is another strategy I can try next year to lower the premiums (particularly if they rise). In this economy construction costs have to be going down. Well, you would think. We'll see next year...

We got our mortgage locked in, and property taxes are controlled pretty darn well out here (orelse no one could afford to live out here if they reflected home values). BUT insurance has been another thing.

The irony is we still pay less to insure 2600 square feet than we used to insure a 1300 sf condo in the Bay. (Just covered the inside of the condo as the outside - walls and roof and all - were insured by the association). So it is hard to get too upset about any of our housing costs having come from that insanity. Certainly not the worst deal - but I am glad for a break.

Guess What I Saw???????

October 29th, 2007 at 05:09 pm

[url]http://www.teslamotors.com/[/url]

I saw one on the road (& it was fast!!!)

BEing in the land of Hummers and Escalades and the like I don't know if I should be surprised this is the first one I Saw (not a lot of rich folk around here caring much for the environment) or if I should be surprised this is the first one I saw. We actually followed it out of my neighborhood - we have a lot of extrmeely well off neighbors. So overall surprised I haven't seen more. I've never seen one in the Bay Area either (where the company is based - I thought). I Would expect to see more there - I'll keep my eyes open as I will be in the Bay much in the following months.

My dad told me he thought it was a $65k version. But I looked it up online and it is of the $100k variety. Not sure a cheaper version exists??

My first thought in my dad's confusion was why didn't Ima Saver get one of those??? Wink But sounds like they are still pretty pricey... (I can't imagine paying 6 figures for a car!!!!!).

Yes, my parents visited and took me to lunch yesterday. Then I made them watch Suze - "Can I Afford It?" I think they thought I Was crazy, and then they actually LOVED it. Before getting my finances in gear we always talk personal finance, and seems even moreso these days. I knew they would get a kick out of that segment. They actually watched the whole second 1/2 of the show and enjoyed it. My mom asked when it was on.

My dad also gave me the highest compliment. HE said he doesn't know anyone (probably my age) that has done better with money. Big Grin I take that with a grain of salt. For one, HE hasn't looked at my financial records so it's just off face value and talk. Secondly, I know a few people who have done better, my age and all. Thirdly, he works with a bunch of people who own million dollar homes, send their kids to private school and buy new cars every year. They have the money to do all that in the most expensive area of the States. Maybe he is impressed my pacheck is like 1/4 and we probably have more to show for it in the end (retirement and savings). But I know he is always talking about the craziness of some of his young coworkers. They make good money, but I am sure in those shoes I Would be keenly aware that it is not given that good money will always be there. Since I obviously would not choose that same lifestyle, I guess that makes my parents proud. Not sure why they are surprised, I am more or less like them. Except much more financial support from them and dh's parents than they ever got. IT gives us quite a leg up. Oh yeah and the whole moving somewhere cheaper thing (As opposed to them moving somewhere insanely expensive when they were starting out). YEah, it makes a big difference.

So, it's nice to get high praise from my dad, but at the same time I don't need a big head. LOL.

On the flip side I am on a low-spend week. I could probably mostly do no-spend if I really wanted to. But I just need to make it through the week on less than $10 or something. Which I think I Can swing. I got 3 gassed cars in the driveway (Well only 2 I guess as of today). I had a $1 lunch out today with a friend. & I will be stuck at seminar Friday for lunch as well. I know I could bring a sandwhich or something. But, eh. The bad thing is that it is by Old Sac and I would LOVE to do some Christmas shopping while I am over there. I am not sure if my parking is paid by seminar or not, but if so I should take advantage. Wink But probably not since it was a rough month. Dh and I need to sit down and discuss Christmas too. Seems impossible to find five minutes to discuss it. SHould call him from work or something - conference call. LOL. But yes, I Would love to get some milk bread and pepsi at the store. (Yes I NEED my pepsi. LOL). I think I Can swing all that for under - um - well make it $15? I have cash. No cards this week. The card is insane. Lord knows what dh is running up on it in Florida. So I am hedging against that. But though I am a little lazy on the food (I could go no spend if I REALLY wanted to) I have an elaborate gas plan. I don't want to buy any gas until SUnday. & I plan to drive 300 miles Thursday... Will be tight.

Good & Bad

October 28th, 2007 at 09:41 am

Some things I forgot to mention last week when I Was stressed with money outflow was that BM had a potty accident in bed (extremely rare) and dh melted the mattress pad in the dryer (gah). He felt really bad but I Was annoyed. I am sure it was a good $20-$30 - fancy waterproof whatever... So will have to replace that... Haven't yet. Not even sure if it is necessary to get such a waterproof one. I should just be grateful it didn't ruin the dryer or anything like that.

On the PLUS side, went to change dh's oil and there was an angry customer making a fuss. The oil change place was embarrased and insisted on giving me a $10 discount for witnessing that. I'll take it! Big Grin

I also was going through the November numbers because I know October credit card bill is ugly (& one more week to go). I was stressed as I saw a big fat negative, when I finally realized I had shelled out $250 to AAA and Life Insurance. I decided to pull those from short-term savings. Since that was the plan all along. It just flew under my radar until I looked harder. It was a good $150 lower than usual preschool month and it was freaking me out how we could be in the red for November. Gah. Looking rather breakeven. Not sure how December will pan out. I think dh and I Will have to consider any Christmas money carefully. We tend to deposit it for our respective allowances, but we have already spent some money we intended to replace with Christmas money. SO I wouldn't be surprised if most our Christmas money goes to replenish our short-term savings. Dh is just getting out of the red, so we'll see how he feels about that. LOL. He spent his entire years' allowance pretty much on his PS3. I know he is antsy to buy some Blu-Ray movies to watch on it now. OF course his family is big on wish lists so he can ask for all the movies he wants and will probably be fine to funnel the cash to the household.

I also HAVE TO remember to pay the mortgage by December 31. I have gotten in the habit of waiting for the grace period and paying after the first (ever since dh took my "slush" to buy his beloved TV). Anyway, I was thinking today I have to remember orelse it will screw me up tax-wise. I was pondering when I would get my final paycheck and realized 12/31. Wondered if the bank would even be open once I got my check and all that. Then I Realized I am a dummy. I can just transfer some money from savings on the 30th or something, pay the mortgage, and transfer it back when I get my paychek deposited. Phew. (& now that I think about it I will probably have plenty of Christmas money to cover an extra mortgage payment in december).

Anyway, so yeah, it is official, I have an extra $200k coverage on my life. I feel better about that. Will keep just until both kids are in school or dh is working or something. We'll play it by ear. But overall look at it as rather temporary. But gives me further peace of mind.



Good News All Around

October 27th, 2007 at 05:54 pm

Well this is a dumb story:

[url]http://www.sacbee.com/103/story/454330.html[/url]

"Once Housing Turns, Recovery could be Fast."

Oh I am only too aware of this. I have mentioned many times here, we put up our condo like the day before 9/11 and ended up in 2-house hell for quite a few months. But our refi of the condo (to pull out the down payment for our home) happened to end right before the first weekend of recovery. After months of low asking prices and nothing, we raised the price a bit and sold in a day with competing offers. We had to take it off the market 3 months for the refi and the timing couldn't have been better when we put it back up. Oh yeah, that's the real estate market I know. So um yeah, in California, when things turn, they turn fast. You could get left in the dust.

Also, large returns here have been sustained for many decades. So all very viable. Not sure it is the end of the line for California...

BUT this article is insane. It's kind of like, "get ready, because things are going to go back to the bubble any day now. Yippee!"

I say, eh, give it a good 5 years at the least. Yeesh! Just seems to be jumping the gun a bit. I didn't read the 60 comments yet on the article but will probably be good reading. Will probably add my own too.

I am at a loss what all the freakout is really. I am trying to think - we have been here a good 6 years. Our house would sell EASY for a good 50% more than we paid. That is still a good solid 7% return per year. If you bought earlier you'd have a good solid 10% per year return. So basically only people who bought in the last couple of years are screwed. ???? & the economy is crumbling? Oh yeah, all the ARMs and borrowed equity. Like you couldn't see that would end ugly. Just plain, bad short-term thinking. I kind of wish we lived in a bubble so when the house of cards came tumbling we wouldn't be affected, but I always knew that would be a pipe dream. Well I did talk a few people out of ARMs (& yes they are very thankful today). I did what I could...

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In other news, just wanted to say, I got contact on 6 of the 7 cards (ID Theft) that everything is resolved. Got it all in writing. I'll give the last card another week and then call and see what is going on. Luckily that card is only $900 or so. The smallest of the bunch. Maybe why they are dragging their feet a bit. I actually got 5 of them this last week, and one before my trip. One more to go.

I have to say that it wasn't so bad to clean it up. IT would be even better to see justice served one of these days, but won't hold my breath. Well, it has been exactly 3 months. I will probably wait until January and then double check all my credit reports. They said give it 6 weeks. My FICO is in the 770 range as of today. (Balance transfers and all. sick of hearing how that will ruin your credit score. You just have to know how to play the game!!)

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P.S. I have seen this blog before (Very interesting). This last week he posted that 1/3 of the homes currently for sale in this area are foreclosures and short sales. Eeks! The newspaper is a mess of these statistics, as well as "things will be better tomorrow" articles. Guess it's covering all bases. Wink

[url]http://sacrealstats.blogspot.com/[/url]

Score!

October 26th, 2007 at 04:55 pm

I got a SW e-mail about low fares of $50 one-way and unfortunately Las Vegas was not on the list. HAve been keeping my eye out.

Anyway, I must have missed one though (maybe while I Was gone?) because as I perused the fares I noticed I could get $50 each way from Oakland. Started to consider it. USually rule out Oakland as you can get decent enough fair at one of the other 3 airports around. & I try to avoid Oakland (BAD area). BUT then I saw round trip from San Jose was $125 each after taxes. Not bad! Was about my limit, just the fare I have been waiting for.

The bad is the returning flight was at 6am or something but since we were going to drive a good 10 hours or so, anyway, I reasoned we would have to be up at DAWN regardless. But this way we could get home MANY hours earlier. I know our babysitters will appreciate.

I hesitated to purchase though because I at least wanted to run it past dh and check my dates. I am pretty certain these are it, but I need to go home and make sure. LOL. I got thrown off by the wrong dates a while back. I want to triple check.

I am pleased though. I believe the time share people were to pay some of the travel anyway. We'll see. Driving will be a good $125 easy. But all the wear and tear and such to factor too. Doubling that for the convenience of flying is pretty sweet. We can pretty much leave any time we want Thursday the day we go. Then return at dawn.

I checked Sacramento as well figuring the cost of gas for a drive down to san jose (& the potential to pay parking though I Am sure we can get a ride). Anyway, nothing under $200 each, or so, from Sacto.

It is probably the best secret we have to getting low fares. We live in proximity to 4 major airports. One of them will always have a deal. & thankfully Oakland isn't always the best deal. HEck, it rarely is. Phew.

Well we'll still have to drive 2 hours to the airport, but what a load off!

Hopefully I Can purchase them tonight. HAve to check on things first...

If I put this on my card I will get a $250 rebate available in a week (credit card). I didn't really think we'd spend enough this month to redeem it this month. Thought I would get in December. What do I know? Gosh, I should just buy those tickets. I know how they will be paid for!!!

P.S. Got the tix! Woohoo!

Interest for October

October 26th, 2007 at 08:34 am

$20 challenge:

$8,776.87 - Balance 10/5

$ 145.00 - Interest

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$8,921.87 - Balance 10/25
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I think $9500 will be "easy" for this challenge as the year wraps up. I am still at a loss how to get to $10k. Some focus groups would be nice right about now. Big Grin

It will have to be overtime I am guessing. Or pray for some nice cash gifts to deposit into retirement. Not counting on that at all as we have had such a fruitful year when it comes to gifts. I am not so motivated to pile on hours though when this is the REAL calm before the storm. & it is actually CALM at work. Has not been so all year. around Dec. 1 it will get harried though... I might pull some overtime in December without compromising a lazy November - there's hope...

I also glanced in Quicken and though it was a very expensive month, somehow our inflow still tops outflow by a good $1k. On a cash flow basis I feel we are in the red, but a lot is automatically going to retirement, and interest is good, so we are forging ahead regardless.

I can not wait until 2008 when we start to contribute $5k/year to our car/house fund. It will also supplement our emergency fund. (Meaning the more emergencies we have the less car we can buy. IDeally we would love to both by $20k cars next round, but won't count on it. We could settle on $1k if we had to). Anyway, for now my efund is funded but it taunts me because I wouldn't touch that thing with a 10-foot pole. I need some slush. The $5k next year will go a long ways to slush. Phew. As much progress as we made this year, we have a ways to go before I relax more...

Expensive Month...

October 25th, 2007 at 06:55 am

Gah, If it's not one thing it's another.

Feeling a little stressed this month. Will be one out of control credit card bill. Just too much going on. The fam all got haircuts and changed the oil on dh's car. All little but just adds up on top of the whole Dinosaur, Japan, Florida thing. Also paid the final diaper service bill which was $100. I am just working working working to offset what I can with overtime.

Plus yesterday my car window got stuck AGAIN. Last time it was the same time as the electrical system kaput (on the doors). But it was s'posedly unrelated. Just needed "grease." We'll see. So I am not happy. That on such a new automobile the window can not work. This is BS. I am leaning towards a REALLY used car again every day. The money we have sunk in this auto in comparison, is insane. I budgeted like $600 for the year for repairs on both cars because having always driven very used cars we never spent much on repairs. Sounds weird? Is the truth. So I am annoyed that this car is such a piece of crap in that regard. I have no idea how to grease up the door but will ask my dad to look at it or hubby when he returns. If it's not a simple fix I'll take it back to the mechanic to make right. We were trying to diagnose the electrical system last time so maybe greasing it up is an easy solution.

It's annoying too. It's something so unnecessary BUT it drives me absolutely insane. It will drive me insane until it is fixed. Yet it's hard to justify throwing money at if it comes to that.

Plus the garbage disposal broke on me last night. I thought I was going to have to call a plumber - I figured - great. IT's "everything break" day. I just happened to be running the disposal when the dishwasher spouted a bunch of water up and then I think when it sucked back down it sucked down chunks of food into the pipe. I talked to dh in Florida and just mentioned how we should never run the disposal again while the dishwasher was on. Was obviously the problem as we have never had a problem in 6 years. It seemed obvious to me what happened. But he was all, "It can't be that. That's stupid." I say, bite me. He can fix it next time then. LOL. But I am not touching the thing with the dishwasher on again.

I thought I was going to have to take off the disposal and clean it out. Actually, first I got out the Draino and it said right on it you could use on disposals. But since it didn't seem to be working I went online where it said NEVER USE DRAINO. Gee thanks. So I am scooping out drano and sucking it out with a turkey baster. At a last ditch attempt I took apart the piped under the sink and scraped out all the potato. & I prayed. & I put it back together. & it was all good as new. Phew. I was impressed. I am NOT good with my hands at all. So if I can fix a plumbing problem like that - ANYONE can!!!! There was a U-joint at the bottom which I hope helped contain all the food, and it did. Good as new. Phew.

So yeah - lesson learned. Disposal clog - do not use draino. To be fair, the clog was not in the diposal, but I wasn't sure. Just lucky I had a double sink and the other side was working fine so I was scooping everything onto that side. I figured how bad could it be if that side is working.

Phew.

Though the draino didn't work I imagine it gave the disposal a good cleaning too. LOL.

Oh one more thing. On the money saving side I think we are going to pull BM out of karate for the rest of the year. Is $30/month. They changed the time (& day) & it is just not working. So that is a load off to. We'll revisit next year. As pricey as this month is, all our expenses seem to be going down. It helps!

It is also quite warm here for late October. LOVING the weather. No heat yet... Heck we are closer to turning on the air than the heat. But the house has been holding between 70 & 80 the last 6 weeks or so. (Mostly around 70 but this week is a little warmer).