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Archive for September, 2008

Tomorrow is PURGE Day...

September 30th, 2008 at 06:19 pm

I think the jewelers are having hard times. They called and my ring is ready - less than 24 hours. Almost like they had nothing else to do...

Oooooh - I am excited - but we wanted to pick it up Saturday to put it on the next credit card cycle. It will have to wait... We have spent enough this month.

Reminds me, I got another emergency room bill for January. $135. I hold my breath every time I get a bill or statement (still awaiting the ambulance bill). Anyway, I have held my breath about 100 times.

Our HMO's statements are impossible to follow (dribs and drabs for a 7-month-old-expense. Egads). But my bill did come with a note that they have taken our suggestions and revised their billing system. Hallelujah. It looked about the same though, if you ask me. Made little more sense than usual. All the bill said was "emergency services" and it looked like a familiar amount. So I double checked all our statements for the year (what a pain since they are hard to make heads or tails of). ANyway, I finally remembered they tried to bill dh $135 for some lab work last year though we were not on a HDHP last year and we had already paid.

ANYWAY, I told dh they wanted that $135 so they just billed it this way. No detail beyond "emergency services". I think it is fishy that it is the same amount.

I wouldn't put it past them.

Anyway, BM will cost us around $4k in medical and dental bills this year. Heck, it isn't even October. I will hope that is all. *sigh*

Yeah, he has another dental appointment Friday. I am hoping they are slow to bill so I can keep that money in my account another month (carding it - sometimes those don't come through right away and Friday is the cc cutoff date).

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Tomorrow some charity is coming by to pick up donations roadside, and I am prepared. I have 4 bags and a box. Woohoo!

We have just been too lazy to take it down to Goodwill. I am sold on this "leave it on the curb thing."

We will also cram my van full of large cardboard boxes to drop off in the (recycle) dumpster.

I am giddy with the large amount of purging we will accomplish in one day. Woohoo.

I have a few boxes and packing materials in the living room for ebay and such. It just occurred to me that I should move those to the garage because we have so much more room now. Woohoo.






Business as Usual Here...

September 30th, 2008 at 07:32 am

I don't identify with the masses. Too much panic.

In the midst of the crisis is NOT the time to start hoarding cash, saving more, and changing investment strategies. Too little too late, if you ask me.

You prepare for this stuff when times are good, and then you ride it out and hope your planning was enough.

I guess that is the stage I am in.

I haven't commented much on the financial markets because of this. Business as usual here. We aren't doing anything different. ?

I did decide on a more conservative portfolio in 2006, expecting something like this. You could argue it was a pitiful attempt at market timing. (In the long run I can't say if this was wise or stupid - and just because it might have been wise this time I am not sure I will do again in the future). But it was sure better what I See the panicked masses doing.

& I won't be calling the market bottom any time soon either.

Selling last week to buy back in next week is just crazy. In my eyes, it is no better than gambling. & in the meantime you could lose the hottest day in the stock market year. You just never know. That is the one thing I understand about the stock market. When you start pulling money in and out at random based on emotions, you generally lose. I would venture even if you pull out for a couple of years and try to time the bottom, you also generally lose.

What I mostly don't understand though is if the market has been going up 25% a year for many years (thinking some of my international funds) why does the world end with one down year of 25%? There could easily be more losses. A lot more. You could argue they were way over valued. Nope, a small dip is not rock bottom, for sure.

I see some similarities to the housing market. Our house is worth a solid 20% more than we paid for it in 2001, but the world is ending because of one bad year after a few of the most awesome real estate years ever. This is not rock bottom... This is 20% profit, for me. Big Grin

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Anyway, the other interesting thing for us is we are just coming off some self-imposed tight years and so our economy has been doing REALLY well lately. (We did cut our income in half after all, in 2002. & 2007 was a very good turning point for us as far as moving forward).

I think on the flip side, there is maybe some fear that we are less ready to weather along storm because we have been in the midst of our own "storm" for a long while.

Then again, we haven't bit off more than we can chew and probably have a more solid financial plan then a lot of our peers who were flush with income these last few years. So for that I guess, we aren't feeling a lot of pinch. & maybe while we worry a bit, I don't think we have a lot to worry about.

Everything we have put forth in our financial plan is to save up when times are good, to weather when times are bad. So now is the time to just hold on and see if we have done enough preparation to weather the storm.

I'm certainly not going to go buy a new car I don't need, but I wouldn't have done that when we were flush with cash either. Wink

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As far as the market? I just have to have faith in my long-term plan (which is logical and avoids the pitfalls of fear investing).

But honestly, we just don't have that much to lose. We are young and even if our entire retirement was wiped out, I know we could recover and do well.

I am trying to make mental notes because I know next time will be harder. My first experience with this was 2001, and I was very fresh out of college. It was a wonderful learning experience. This time is about the same except I have a better game plan. So though I have considerably more money in the market, I am less worried. Before we had a lot of individual stocks and such. & it did scare me off individual stock investing. & I might learn more lessons this time around. But happy enough to learn them young while I have time to catch up and implement better investing strategies.

But yeah, rather then trying to time anything, we are averaging in our purchases, we invest twice every month and my boss deposits my profit sharing (retirement)once a year, which is also very consistent dollar cost averaging.

We're buying high, and we're buying low. Ideally it all just evens out.

We have an asset allocation that we can live with through thick and thin. Etc., etc.

Spending/Savings

September 29th, 2008 at 04:43 pm

Today was a manic monday. I prefer not to have a lot of manic mondays. Or manic days.

I imagine to myself if this is what most working parents or working moms go through. The way I hear it described, anyway. I couldn't live like this. We were just gone all Sunday and home very late, and hecticness ensued today as a result. That's my excuse anyway...

It rained all morning in the bright sun (where were the clouds?) even though it was almost 92 in the afternoon. Well, this is more like desert than anything. We don't get rain in summer, nor warm rains. But it was bizarre because it was cool and rainy in the morning but hotter than hades in the afternoon.

Looks like earthquake weather to me. But earthquake weather is not so hot. What the heck is this anyway? LOL.

Everyone kept gloating about the wonderful weather. Puh-leez. Another night of A/C. IT's almost October!

I come from 70-year-round weather. A 90 degree day is not pleasant, no matter how cool the shade. Certainly not on September 29th!! Bah!

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So yeah, I have barely had time to slow down, all day.

Spending:

$140 or so to resize my wedding ring. Because it is 2 rings that will need to be re-welded. Dh walked around the mall pricing resizes and then we got hit with this anyway (he didn't mention it was 2 rings, welded together).

Oh well. It's been 8 years and 2 pregnancies. Maybe in 10 years if I need another re-size we'll have more means. I fretted all the way home since I Was so bloated today I Was an idiot to get sized today. Of course I called dh to have him talk sense into me and he asked if he should pick up the ring and we can go another time. LOL. I told him, no, just tell me to get a grip. I thought it through and decided since size 7 rings are too small in general, and 8 is too big in general, 7.5 is probably right after all. Even if I lose or gain a few pounds. Phew.

Dh also wants to go to a NEw YEars' concert. I told him yes, for his birthday. IT means a lot to him. I think he is being too practical to buy the tickets. I am this close to just buying them. HE deserves it. He may be able to take a friend. I am not that interested and it will only be $70 as opposed to $140 if only he goes. But I'll go if he can't find someone.

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Dh made $50 on ebay today. I had forgotten about that, so phew. Will help with the ring.

We are canceling our fresh produce from the farm service. IT is $29 a delivery, and just too much. $58/month for now.

We decided our food bill was also up because BM used to eat at preschool 2 days a week. Yes, we notice that much difference! Bills been same same same, even with the economy, and lately with BM out of preschool, it's just, ugh.

We were discussing it and I told dh, "I am not sure how much is just prices in general." But we picked up the kids from Grandma and she said they ate her out of house and home. We looked at each other and said, "Oh yeah. That's some of it." We feed BM 10 more days a month - breakfast, lunch and snacks anyway. Which can be a LOT of food!!!

So we decided in light of recent things, to drop the farm service. We'll pick it up again when we have the means. We really like it. Just way too expensive for right now. Dh said he was spending more on trying to make recipes for all the veggies, etc. So we'll see how much this helps.

Sometimes you think you can afford something nice, and then you realize you really can't. Which is fine. We try to make a point to make sure most of our luxuries are not long-term contracts. So when we make these realizations, it is quite easy to cut back. Phew.

Heck, our only long-term contract is our mortgage. That is the NICEST part about not having debt. For sure. But some of our biggest luxuries are our gardener and our preschool. & tomorrow we could drop both services. It is that simple. We prefer stuff like that over homes and cars and things that just aren't so easy to get out of!

Weekend Update

September 29th, 2008 at 07:07 am

Well, my weekend was exhausting.

Saturday was actually exhilirating because I had so much free time; no matter how hard we worked.

But Sunday we drove to San Jose in the a.m. for a family party and to pick up the kids. I am exhausted. The kids are more exhausted. I don't think Granmda gave them time to nap (a weekend quite full of activity). Kids were SO exhausted. Slept most of the way home and so I prepared for a wakeful night. BUT they are still asleep at 7am. LM did not even eat dinner since he slept through it.

Dh's relative has finalized the adoption of her third child. Why they had a celebration yesterday. Better yet, she is about 4 months along. (A fertility treatment miracle). They have easily spent $100k+ and 5 years on trying to conceive their own child. I would have told you surrogacy was their only option at this point. Modern medicine didn't seem to be enough. Before now anyway.

So we are collectively holding out breath for the next 5 months. Looks promising, but still a lot of fear there. They've been through a lot of loss these last 5 years.





Garage Bliss...

September 27th, 2008 at 04:58 pm

I told dh we should have done before/after pics. So I did the next best thing. After pics!

Actually, I talked dh into the garage work around 11am. It was going to be a HOT day and we were kind of lazy, and slow getting to it, but I peeked my head into the garage right before 11 and it was still cool, so we got to work. (My sidebar says 96 degrees right now - goodness gracious - but there was a nice breeze - we were outside a lot of the day. I never guessed it was such a hot day - yeesh).

It was really almost too hot though, so I think we lucked out that we were able to do anything.

Anyway, my dh does a good job keeping the garage organized and neat. It wasn't so bad.

But I knew we had a lot of boxes in there. & I had a plastic bag full of dirt and wood chips, that had broken and was laying on the ground in the garage. I asked dh to help me clean it up because it was too heavy. This was like 2002. For the longest time he said he needed a shovel. So he bought a nice big shovel. But fast forward to 2008 and the bag somehow still remains. (With the kids, other projects to tend to, when we get the chance).

So dh kind of asked what I envisioned getting done. I said, I don't care as long as that friggin bag of dirt is OUT of the garage. ! That was about the extent to my vision - hehe.

I guess that was my anniversary present! Hallelujah, it is gone. I think dh just spread it around the yard.

I also only saw one or 2 spiders, and NO black widows. So it was a success. I would have done most of this sooner, but was scared of the creepy crawlies.

I went through most of the boxes and swept and got all the cobwebs and such. Dh broke down large boxes and scooped dirt out of the garage.

The interesting find of the day was a petrified sandwich. Don't even ask! LOL!

Tada!


In this picture - all we have is stuff to go. Trash (that didn't fit in the trash can today), and a lot of boxes. We actually have a dumpster at work which is only for paper recycling. So I can load up the van and take all those boxes to the dumpster, and get them recycled. Phew! I may be able to walk around to the driver side of the van once all those boxes are gone. Imagine that! (For now I just enter from the passenger side).


The back is our storage stash. The bulkiest thing back there is my old childhood bed. It was a very nice bed. BUT it's gotten a little scratched up. We figure we'll put it on Craigslist for $100 and see if we can get anything. Will be nice to be rid of it. It is a zillion pieces of wood for now. Was keeping it for the kids but we ended up getting them smaller beds. It was a twin water bed and these bedrooms here are on the small side. So we got them smaller framed beds.

We have our electric mower, a ladder, a coffee table (not kid friendly) and some outside chairs stacked. There were a few boxes over there too that I think we can be rid of. Woohoo. & the kids's bikes & swim stuff. Not bad - that's really most of our storage space.


Some of the stuff in the next picture will be Craigslisted (all the strollers for one) and some of the stuff on the shelves, etc. I need to make a list or keep on top of it somehow. But some of that stuff was spilling into the car area, so it was nice to clean it up a bit and make more room. The stuff left in the middle of the garage - one is my dad's power washer we are returning - and a pool toy we are giving to MIL - our kids have outgrown and she has a pool where all the grandkids congregate.


This picture is dh's crap. He has 2 boxes and 2 framed pictures he never brought into the house. I have the feeling those are permanent fixtures. !!
There are also 2 old car stereos we are going to recycle.

I also showed this last picture because it shows our water heater. Now that I can approach it rather easily I should look up the model number. It was installed in the house in 2001, but I think it is a prime reason our gas bills are so low. Biggest gas usage is hot water and we only used 5 therms for the month of August. I love that thing! I can't tell you what kind of water heater and why it is so efficient though. ?? It has a blanket wrap...



Cleaning the garage cost some money. I hadn't realized our hand-me-down large broom had broken. I found a small/cheap broom that sufficed, but since we were going out and had to stop by Target we figured we'd check out their brooms. Dh was skeptical but I found a nice large one for $12. I will finish the job once the boxes and trash are cleared out.

We also went to Best Buy and recycled an old vacuum cleaner and my ancient (13 years I would guess?) computer.

I mentioned in an earlier blog, they take 2 items per day. When I saw the vacuum, dh said he would call and ask. It was broken and I tried to freecycle it before, to no avail. Yes, I think they take everything!

Anyway, only 2 people had come in to recycle things since dh had last gone in a couple of weeks ago. Too funny (we saw as we signed on a log sheet).

We found 2 car stereos to recycle another time. (Dh was s'posed to sell them on ebay at some point - but just worthless now).

We went out to lunch, parked centrally and walked to lunch, Best Buy and Target. Must have been crazy in this heat, huh? Well, the breeze was nice enough.

Then we came home and I cleaned the interior of both cars.

I am now collapsing inside.

The other expense I guess is I was so heat exhausted I had to flip on the air. I might have been okay otherwise.

I washed BM's shirt with bleach and most the marker came out. Clearly washable. Phew! It still has a pink tint. Maybe one more wash will do...

I think I am going to collapse for the evening now. Phew.

Oh yeah, but besides the petrified sandwhich, hmmmmm...

I threw away an old mirror that I had tried to freecycle a few times.

I will Craigslist of freecycle one or both fans we found. We just don't use them because we have ceiling fans. & a whole house fan.

We just don't use stand alone fans.

I found a jacket that needs a wash. I also found a baby blanket, my old lunch bag, and a couple of dragon figurines. (It looks like a box I packed when the house was on the market and somehow missed it).

Some old shoes and a box of toys for Goodwill.

That's about it.

My dh likes to keep the original boxes for EVERYTHING. Drives me nuts. So the interesting thing was most of the boxes we had in there was for stuff we already sold or gave away. Honestly, I think I only found 2 boxes to keep. So that makes me happy too.

I think his theory is it is easier to sell, or transport old things, when we have the original box. But if you can't find the box and you don't get the box out when you sell things, well, it kind of defeats the purpose, don't you think?

I guess we agree to disagree on that one. I can live with the 2 boxes.

(I also think some of it was he offered the boxes when he sold things but the buyers did not want them. Imagine that).

Well, now you've glimpsed my garage.

Absolutely Spoiled...

September 27th, 2008 at 08:35 am

Ah, today is my spoiled weekend.

& I am very glad not to be SICK!!!!

(Everyone in this house has been sick. Everyone else; knock on wood).

Dh was sick Thursday and since Grandma was taking the kids for the weekend, I marveled how she always took them when we were sick. Certainly nice to have the help while we are sick, but when was the last time we got to enjoy a healthy weekend at home without the kids???

Maybe this weekend after all. Phew.

Well, the kids left with Grandma yesterday and in the evening dh and I had a date.

We went to try a Thai restaurant nearby with rave reviews. It was packed and we were lucky we got their early. Lucky to get a seat.

The dinner was nice and all but when we left I pretty much said, "Blech." LOL. Dh agreed. He thought it was just his blocked sinuses. We certainly did not see what all the hype was.

But we tried it I guess. & we can cross that one off the list. Kind of a bummer since a night out is such a rare treat.

We spent $35.

After that, we went to a movie. Dh got some free movie tickets in a trade for some video game stuff. We hadn't used them yet because all the movies suck. Just NOTHING we want to even see. Which is kind of sad - my dh is a movie buff. So he tried to talk me into the new Coen Brothers movie - "Burn After Reading." It said it was violent and I was feeling kind of "eh" about the whole thing, and I asked how long it was. "90 minutes," dh says. (I ask because I can not stay awake past 10pm. LOL). "90 minutes? Seriously?" I was so there. I am so sick of these 2.5 hour movies. They just keep getting longer and longer and longer.

& yes, this was the first good movie we have seen in the theaters this year for sure.

It was a CRACK UP! Loved it.

I don't remember the last time I laughed out loud so much at a movie.

Take note movie industry - 90 minutes is a NICE length for a movie. !!

Anyway, yeah, my dh id trying to tell me this is a comedy and it started out so dark. You are just like, where the hell is this going? But, yeah, hilarious pretty quickly. & GREAT acting.

It was rather dark too.

Bizarre maybe, more than anything.

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Today - what is on the agenda?

Trying to talk dh into helping me clear the garage a bit. & while in there, maybe I will clean the cars.

I have been uber super lazy. So of course, what will I do while the kids are gone? Clean house. But boy, it NEEDS it.

Garage, cars, hose off the house a bit. Things I have been noticing...

The bathroom needs a scrub. & the kitchen. & so it goes...

I will bug dh to get all of our strollers back on Craigslist. We gave one to a relative who gave it back so we have 3 to sell.

& yeah, dh has a volunteer shift today so I get a chunk of time to myself. I will probably clean house. What else would I do anyway? I am not accustomed to TIME. I think I would be bored if I had nothing to do. Sad but true. (Well, I may take a nap too).

Oh yes, but we are absolutely spoiled! We got $110 cash from dh's family, for our anniversary. I am sure a chunk of that represents gas money since we will drive to San Jose tomorrow. But was completely unexpected and very generous. We decided to go to dinner yesterday and maybe even lunch today ($20 total for a buffet). We want to resize my ring. & there it goes. We mostly blew it.

But it was nice. Sometimes it is nice to just blow unexpected money.

I guess you could say we blew $60 on food and the $50 or so to resize my ring was planned anyway. Now we don't have to pay for it out of our own pockets. That is NICE.

Funny thing is last night was so disappointing I told dh I wanted to go to the Japanese buffet today.

We were probably going to treat my parents' tomorrow for dinner. (As a Thank you for the Denver trip).

So we are a bit spoiled this weekend.

I also feel spoiled because often the only quiet time I get, sans kids, is if dh takes them to San Jose without me. & like clockwork, I am always immediately saddened and bored with all the QUIET. I have always been a very independent/alone type person. But the constant noise and drama of 2 children, well, I guess you get used to it. I always look forward to the quiet, and then immediately hate it.

Today is nice. Dh is here. & yes, I am putting him mostly to work. Big Grin But it is really nice. It's nice having a peaceful house and someone to share it with too.

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I paid all the bills for October (to see if we were in the black or the red) and I told dh that I would be nice and just pay for the extra preschool day, when he was sick last week.

We seemed okay. (In the black).

The extra $110 changes things as well. Might have flipped me if I had decided the other way.

But yeah, we did fine with our spending in September (we pay the cc bill in October - and what I was mostly gauging, how much I had left all the savings and October bills were taken care of; how much left to pay the cc bill).

We did good, but our short-term savings is a little on the low side. So I had life insurance and some car repairs I would have pulled from savings, but will essentially be paid by dh's business ventures instead. PHEW!

I pulled no money from savings then, except for $400 from the medical for BM's fillings.

& that was a relief.