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Archive for August, 2012

Mish Mash

August 25th, 2012 at 10:46 am

Firstly, Nala is doing very well. Here is a pic taken this morning:



And just for good measure, here is a pic of Bree, taken one day when BF had left his laptop on the couch. I guess she was checking her Facebook page. Smile




I have decided to sue the mother (homeowner) for the fence and the son for the vet bill. I don't expect to win on the vet bill, but I am going to sue anyway. While the burden of proof in criminal court is "beyond a reasonable doubt", civil court is "preponderance of the evidence". Hopefully he will realize that if he is accused a second time, there is even more circumstantial evidence against him. I want this incident to be well documented, in the hopes there will be no further incidents.

Mini E-Fund is coming along. Recent additions include $14.25 from a wallet sweep, $11.20 from a secret shop, and $7 from Beezag.

I bought myself a new laptop last week. My old one was failing regularly, requiring trouble shooting and restarts. It was getting to be an every single time I turned it on thing. I bought a fairly nice Gateway laptop for $406 including tax.

I played around with Future Advisor some more, then decided to ignore their advice. I still like the tool, I just prefer the excellent investment advice available on The Bogleheads Index Forum! I did alter my target allocation slightly. Here it is:

25% Total Stock Market Index
10% Small Value Index
10% REIT Index

20% Total International Index
5% Small International Index

15% Total Bond Market Index
15% TIPS

And lastly, Bobbie Bushman is no longer blogging! She wrote a final entry, basically stating she no longer had the time to keep up her blog. I will miss Bobbie's entries. For now at least, the blog can still be read.

Neighbor Poisoned Our Dog

August 14th, 2012 at 04:09 pm

Yesterday as I was getting ready to leave work about 5:15, BF called and said "Where is your vet's office? We need to meet there." Nala (my nephew's beautiful yellow lab) was vomiting and seemed to be dizzy. She was slobbering and wheezing. Her head was soaking wet with some sort of chemical (BF thought it was pesticide, the vet said it was gasoline). Here is the thing: this happened to her in our yard. There are no chemicals, no pesticides, no gasoline in our yard. She went out the pet door the picture of health and was back inside 5 minutes later, vomiting and in obvious distress.

The good news is, she is doing much better now and it seems she will make a full recovery.

The bad news is, the vet bill was $624.53. They washed her eyes with a rinse, put her on an IV, and did some blood work. They kept her about 6 hours, then said she was OK to go home. They gave me some meds to keep her tummy settled so she doesn't vomit.

My conclusion is, the charming gentleman next door has made good on his threat to poison her. This is also eerily similar to the poisoning and death of my daughter's cat, which happened just a few days after said neighbor threatened Nala. I called the police and two officers came to the house. They took our statement, then called in to get a report number. Then they went next door to speak to the neighbor. I don't know how that went, but I suspect he simply didn't answer the door. He wouldn't answer the door to speak to the two officers who came out when he called to report my nephew was playing his music too loud, so I don't think he would answer the door when I called the police on him.

I am so disgusted. What a revolting human being he is.

I am definately suing his mother now, for her half of the cost of the replacement fence on our property line. The dollar amount she owes me is $630.

In other news, I read recently on the Boglehead's Index Forum that if you log in to your Vanguard account from a third party site (such as Mint or Future Advisor) and your account is hacked as a result, it is your problem. This caused me some concern, so I have deleted my Mint account. Wells Fargo has a budgeting tool on their site. It is inferior to Mint, but I am going to figure out how to make it work for me. As far as Future Advisor, I deleted the link to my accounts and then just plugged in my holdings manually. I will have to update it myself, but it will still analyze my holdings for me.

I need to post pics of Nala, Buster, and Bree, our canine tribe. Nala is beautiful, Buster and Bree are mutts, but so loyal and sweet-natured.

Retirement Planning Tool: Future Advisor

August 11th, 2012 at 10:18 am

I stumbled upon this free planning tool recently:

https://www.futureadvisor.com/signin

and wanted to share in case anyone here is interested in giving it a whirl.

You link to your retirement account(s), kind of like Mint, or you can manually enter your holdings. You enter how old you are, how much you are saving annually, how much you earn, and how much income you want to have during retirement. It calculates your odds of success and makes recommendations. It is similar to Financial Engines.

I have played around with it a little. I wouldn't consider all of the recommendations, but I did consider and decide to implement some of them.

Note that Future Advisor is a fan of low-cost index ETFs (also available as funds). I am also a fan, so this is a good fit for me.

Some of its recommendations:

-Have 9% of portolio in REITs, an additional 9% in foreign REITs, for a total of 18%! I think that is too much, and I don't want to invest in foreign REITs. I did however buy some VNQ, Vanguard REIT Index. I am passing on VNQI, the foreign REIT index.

-Buy some ETFs in my Simple IRA. Um, I'm not able to buy any ETFs in my Simple IRA. I don't see anyplace where I can input this information, so I can't get any recommendations which are actually possible. If I bought the fund version, I would be paying additional fees since the amounts in each recommendation would be much less than 10k. Also, I have to pay an annual custodial fee per fund, so I prefer to have just 1 fund. I did sell Target Retirement 2030 in favor of Total Stock Market. This was a good idea. TR 2030 is composed of 3 index funds. To rebalance, I needed to know the percentage of each. By holding only 1 index fund, I have eliminated this step. I should have done it this way from the start.

-Sell my VXUS (Vanuard Total International) in favor of VEA (Vanguard Tax Managed International). A tax managed investment inside a tax advantaged account? This perplexed me for a while until I noticed that the expense ratio of VEA is slightly lower. A-ha! They are trying to save me a litte money. I haven't done it, though. VXUS has a bit of mid and small, VEA doesn't.

-Add some emerging markets. At first I rejected this idea as I know my VXUS holds some emerging markets. I examined its holdings and saw that it has only 5% in emerging markets. I had thought it was more than that. Since it has only 5%, that means about 1.25% of my entire portfolio is in emerging markets. That did seem too low, so I added some, although less than the recommendation.

-Sell small cap value in favor of small cap. Hmmm. Maybe. I haven't done this.

-Add a large value and an international large value. I did add a bit of each.

-Reduce bonds. This is probably the recommendation with the most impact. I considered for a few days, then I did it. The tipping point for me was looking at the amount of bonds in TR 2030. It is less than the amount of bonds I had.

So that is how I spent my Happy Friday afternoon this week. Smile

Would You Retire Out of The USA?

August 7th, 2012 at 04:33 pm

Would you consider it? If so, what countries would you consider, and why?

According to International Living, there are places where an income of $800 per month will provide a comfortable lifestyle. If the area is scenic and local infrastructure is in place, yes, I would consider it. Especially if my income is such that I could afford to travel back home to visit every few years.

So this is something to keep in mind as I plan future vacation travels. Two countries which I think I might want to investigate are Uruguay and Ecuador. A conversational Spanish class might be a good idea. Smile

Last week, I did 3 more secret shops. These required an initial cash outlay, but I will be reimbursed plus paid $5 each. All 3 were for the same fast food chain. There are more of these shops available, but I am done eating their food for now. The free (after reimbursement) meal is part of what makes the shops worthwhile.

My daughter has repaid $260 of the $500 I lent her. As you can see on my sidebar, Mini E Fund is looking a little more healthy these days.

Beezag is in some sort of transition. There are no new videos available. I received an e-mail about this and was asked to cash in my points. I had 7,226 pts, and was able to redeem 7,000 of them for $7.00. I hope that the other 226 follow me to their new site, but who knows what will happen? The e-mail was rather vague.

My son J started his Sophomore year today. Last Thursday at orientation, I shelled out $110 for his student ID card, his yearbook, and a new set of gym clothes. Today I sent him off with a $40 check for his lunch account, and $5 in case he needed to ride the city bus home, or buy a cold drink if he decided to walk to a friend's house. (Neither of these things would cost $5, but J will only spend what he needs to spend.) His best friend from last year is going to a different high school this year. Last year they would walk to the friend's house and I would pick J up after work. In return, I would pick up the friend in the mornings and drive him to school.