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Archive for January, 2013

Don't Touch Your Blog Settings!!

February 1st, 2013 at 04:04 am

I just tried to update my sidebar with 1/31 numbers. Instead of updating, I lost all of my settings. Notice I now have no blog name, bio, etc.

Don't know what is going on.

It's too late for me, but save yourselves!

UPDATE: Nate fixed me. Thanks, Nate! Smile

First Mortgage Chip

January 26th, 2013 at 05:22 pm

But it won't post Feb 1. This little goodie was on my Visa statement:

Congratulations| You have earned a $25.00 rebate which
will be automatically applied to your home mortgage loan
within 4-8 weeks.
Thank you for using your Wells Fargo Home Rebate Card´┐Ż.

I do so like free money.

And I have never received an alert, but i was able to transfer into Vacation Fund this morning. So, hopefully no more hiccups.

More Second Spin, Irritation at TIAA-Cref

January 24th, 2013 at 05:58 pm

I went through my CD collection at work and chose 2 to sell on Second Spin. I went through my small DVD collection and chose 1 to sell on Second Spin. Those 3 items came to $17.50!

Also, I had a copy of "Rosetta Stone" for Spanish. I have asked BF to list it for me on EBay. At one time he had a side business, buying pallets of merchandise at auctions and selling the individual items on EBay. He has thousands of sales and a high satisfaction rating, whereas I have none at all.

I am irritated at TIAA-Cref. My automatic transfer to Vacation Fund did not happen. There was no message or indication as to why. I can look at my "transfers" list and see the next one is scheduled to happen in February. So, I scheduled a one-time immediate transfer. It didn't happen. I couldn't tell why. So, I sent a secure message on their site. They replied I needed to call. I called this past Monday. It seems the problem is my Vacation Fund account is inactive. They will make it active within 24 hours and send me an "alert". As of this morning, still no alert. I tried to transfer from CurveBall to Vacation (an immediate transfer since both are with TIAA-Cref) and I received an error message. Humph.

Thinking I may just switch back to Ally, although their rate is slightly lower. I logged on to Ally. All 3 of my accounts have 0.00 balances, but all show "active" under the "status" header.(On TIAA-Cref's site, I couldn't find "status" information anyplace.) So, I scheduled three $1.00 transfers from WF checking. If they happen, and if TIAA-Cref still won't let me transfer money into Vacation Fund, I think I will just wash my hands of them. I could call again, but it annoys me that I even have to deal with this. I just want to transfer some money into my account, why should it be hard?

TIAA-Cref was paying 1.25% in December, but are down to .99% now. Ally is currently paying .95%.

First OT Hours of The Season

January 20th, 2013 at 08:13 pm

Well, I worked 4.75 OT hours yesterday. It would have been a longer work day, but I got a phone call from a neighbor that my dogs were out and about. I left to collect them.

When I got home, I discovered that a board from my gate was off and neatly propped against the fence to the right of where it had been nailed in place. I wonder how my dogs were able to accomplish that? Either they have some amazing carpentry skills for creatures with no opposable thumbs, or a person did that particular deed. Hmmm. I wonder who would do such a thing? And yes, this gate is right next to the gate of the delightful dog-poisoning neighbor.

By the time I had nailed the board back into place, I didn't feel like going back to work. Even so, it was a productive work day. No ringing phone to answer, no clients dropping in, no e-mails requesting this or that, just one payroll return after another.

I have my income taxes mostly prepared. I estimated a few small items, and will correct those entries with actual numbers before I submit. I am getting a state refund of $1,039 (every dollar which was withheld) and I owe $372 federal. I am claiming a 1k contribution to my traditional IRA, and will use my state refund to make it. I will have the federal taxes electronically debited on 4/15.

BF is excited about the recovering real estate prices in his area. A vacant lot across the street from him sold recently. The lot backs on to the golf course whereas his backs on to an empty field. We looked it up on Zillow to see the selling price. 650k. This bodes well for his sale in the spring. He is hoping to get 850k. Zillow says it is worth a bit over 1m but BF doesn't think so.

This afternoon I am off to our local independent movie theater. They are showing Gone With The Wind. I have never seen it on the big screen, so I am looking forward to this treat.

Alaska trip?

January 17th, 2013 at 04:16 am

My mom has always wanted to visit Alaska. Recently, she brought this up (again!) and so I made suggestions (again!) as to who she might ask to be her travel companion. She said she wants me to go with her. I replied that I can only save for one trip at a time. She said if I will go, she will pay for both of us.

She wants a trip which includes both a cruise and a train ride. I said that if I visit Alaska again, I want to see Denali.

We got online to price some trips. It seems we can book a 12 day trip in June leaving from Seattle which includes all of our desired features. It will cost right at 5k total. I explained that tips and excursions are extra.

I have a niece (my mom's granddaughter) who lives in Seattle, so that would be a nice opportunity to see her as well.

My mom has a history of wanting something, but when it comes right down to paying for that something, she will change her mind. She has always been frugal and just has a hard time paying for anything which is not a necessity. My mom is not wealthy, but she is comfortable. She has reached her 80th birthday. I would like to see her spend and enjoy her money. I hope she does take a trip to Alaska, whether she takes me along or not.

So, we will see. I think I will give her a month or so to contemplate parting with 5k, then ask her if she still wants to book a trip. If she does, then heck yes I will go. You betcha.

BF Update; Recovered Courtesy of Nate :)

January 16th, 2013 at 07:19 pm

BF was here over the weekend. The change in him is very noticeable. He is out of his "funk", and is more his old self, the fellow I was so attracted to in the beginning. He is getting a lot accomplished with his mom's estate, and was full of plans and details (of things already accomplished) to report. He left Sunday afternoon, as he had to be at work early today. (We live approximately 88 miles apart.)

I don't think I've mentioned before how we met. We were both on Nutri-System. Nutri-System has a website with message boards for support. There is an area specifically for singles in their 40s. People discuss challenges and strategies with their NS diet, and of course chat about their personal lives a little bit. (Kind of like here, only the focus is on diet and exercise rather than finances.) Well, I started frequenting that message board and BF did too. I first noticed BF because he made a remark which struck me as funny. After a few months, BF sent me a private message and asked if I would like to have lunch with him sometime. I thought that might be fun, so I accepted. We met for lunch one day (at a Fresh Choice, very NS friendly) and immediately hit it off. There was a lot of chemistry,and we just "clicked", right from "hello". That was about 3.5 years ago now.

I had kind of lost sight of that man, while he was in his "funk". It's pretty exciting to see him again! Smile

In other news, I transferred $600 from CurveBall to cover my HVAC repair.

Payday

January 16th, 2013 at 03:20 pm

Yesterday was payday, and I saw that my take home pay for an 88 hr pay period has gone from $1534 to $1499.

Now that I have so many things set up for automatic transfer, there wasn't much to do besides record the transactions which will happen shortly. Smile

I finished the pay period with $4 left from my allowance. I had a few more splurges (lunch out with a friend, and Starbucks), but that is what my allowance is for. I only sent $2 off to EFund, and gave the other $2 to J for bus fare. I always fund that out of my allowance too, just because it is convenient.

Tomorrow J has his physical so that he can be on the swim team again this year. I will be using his Health Savings Account debit Visa for the first time. It is ex-h's HSA, so I don't use it for any of my medical expenses.

I am off to work, have a great day everyone.

Oh Saving Advice, Never Leave Me Again!!

January 16th, 2013 at 02:51 am

I was swamped, swamped, swamped at work today, but I still found time to miss Saving Advice!

Cancelled Extended Warranty

January 10th, 2013 at 02:38 am

I went to Best Buy on my way home tonight and cancelled my extended warranty. There was no hassle at all whatsoever. J knows that there is no warranty. I feel good about the decision. Smile

BF got a job this week! It is part-time and just minimum wage while he is training. He is processing mortgage loans. BF hasn't had any job whatsoever in about 6 years. In the past, he has done a number of things. Most recently he worked for an HMO in their IT department. He did that for about a decade. I'm glad for him that he is making progress towards getting "unfrozen". (I just don't know what else to call it.)

J is making dinner for the two of us tonight. Grilled cheese sandwiches. Yum!

Made Mistake Buying Extended Warranty?

January 9th, 2013 at 03:22 am

Well, my son's ipad quit working. I bought it in December 2011, and I did purchase a 2 year extended warranty.

I located my receipt and took it back to the store (Best Buy). They determined it was not fixable and exchanged it for a new one. Then I had to make a snap decision I was not expecting, did I want to buy another warranty? I opted to buy another 2 year warranty. Upon refection, I am thinking I made a mistake.

The price of the 16gb ipad was $499 when I originally bought it, but is down to $399 now. The 2 year warranty was $158.01. Well, that is almost 40% of the cost of just buying a new one! What do you think? Should I contact Best Buy and see if I can decline the extended warranty and have them reverse the charge?

In other news, I decided I didn't have enough of my portfolio allocated to total stock market, and so moved 5% from total international stock market. And that's it, I am done "tweaking" my mix. I have a pattern. I stay hands off for a year or more, then play with different tools (such as Future Advisor) and decide I need to make some changes. Then I am unhappy with the changes and gradually move back towards what I already had! It's dumb. Lesson learned.

Cleaned House on Second Spin

January 8th, 2013 at 05:53 am

I've seen people talk about selling things on Second Spin. I do have a large CD collection. Most of them, I won't part with. However, I was sure I had a few at least I wouldn't miss. Nonetheless, I've never been motivated to try selling them.

Be A Wealthy Warrior's post tonight inspired me to see what I have and don't want that they would buy. I went through my collection and surprised myself. I had about 40 cds I don't really care to listen to! I sold 26 of them tonight. With the extra 20% code my total came to $29.88. And I will have a bit less clutter to boot. Smile

Thanks, Be A Wealthy Warrior!

Why Dave Ramsey's Math Is So Scary

January 6th, 2013 at 08:24 pm

I like to periodically re-read various personal finance books. Over this weekend, I just finished re-reading Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover".

While I have no objections to his get out of debt advice, I find his investing advice scary. In my opinion, people who follow his investing advice are setting themselves up for failure, big time. If you read the forums, you may have already read my objections to some of his investing advice, as I have been vocal about it a time or two already. After re-reading this weekend, I find his investing advice scarier than ever.

A few weeks ago, I shared my Excel calculations on the possible size of my nest egg at retirement age, assuming different scenarios. Here are my projections using Dave Ramsey math:

My traditional and Simple IRA balances as of 12/31/12 total $141,313.40. If I were to re-allocate that money based on Dave Ramsey's advice and assume I can count on 12% returns from now until age 65, my nest egg will reach $1,217,098.64 without my adding another single penny.

Currently, I am aiming for 600k in those accounts so that I can draw down 24k per year (standard safe withdrawal rate of 4%). But, Dave Ramsey says 8% is a safe withdrawal rate. So if I follow his advice, I only need 300k to safely draw down 24k per year.

Well holy cow, I am already looking at a nest egg of 4 times that amount without adding another penny between now and age 65. I will be able to count on my nest egg being 1.2 million, and I will be able to count on safely drawing 96k annually from my 1.2 million nest egg. I only make 49k per year now, so to me that is a fortune! Conclusion: I am golden. I have no need to continue adding to my traditional or Simple IRAs. I should immediately begin doing something else with the money I have been directing towards my traditional and Simple IRAs.

What about my Roth? I need to re-allocate that to 100% stocks too. The $15,295.50 I had on 12/31/12 will grow to $131,736.50 by the time I reach age 65 without adding another penny. My goal is 150k, so this is a little bit short. However, the whole reason I am saving in my Roth is to have a fund to pay for large irregular expenses such as a new roof or a new (to me) vehicle. But if my income is 96k per year, I don't foresee having any trouble paying these expenses out of current income. I will have twice the income I have now and no longer be saving for retirement or paying Fica taxes, so surely I can come up with 10k to buy a nice used car. I won't even need to dip into my 131k Roth. In fact, I don't see why I need money in a Roth at all.

Conclusion: I have already salted away far more than I need. I am done saving for retirement.

So I stop saving now and arrive at age 65 with...substantially less than Dave Ramsey promised me. Then what? Well, adjust to a much lower standard of living than I had expected. It's too late to do anything else.

It is a good thing for me that I recognize the huge flaws in Dave Ramsey's investment math. I hope that those following his advice are able to recognize the flaws too, but I fear that many are not.

Floor Plan of My House

January 6th, 2013 at 04:37 am

It is not to scale, but here is the floor plan of my house. The wall I would like to take out is between the kitchen and bedroom #4. I suspect it may be a load bearing wall. However, it is also vaulted in the center (between living room and kitchen) and tapers down. I think I could remove most of the wall and leave the top part as is and be ok.

I think that the builder would have had to file the blueprints with the city. So looking into that is going to be on my "to do" list this year. If a general contractor looked at the blueprints, s/he should be able to tell me if what I want to do is possible or not.



Heat Is Back :)

January 5th, 2013 at 07:13 pm

The circuit panel is all that was needed. The repairman was scheduled to come yesterday between 3 and 5 pm. I was expecting him to call so that I could come home from work, discuss anything which needed discussing, and pay. He never called. I came home to a toasty 68 degree house. After turning the thermostat down to 64, I asked J if the repairman had said anything to him. He said nope, and the guy had already been gone for awhile. So, I guess I will call the office Monday and use my Visa over the phone.

Mortgage payment #6 is scheduled today, but will hit my checking account Monday I suppose. Another $258.60 to principal.

I have been thinking about my house, and what changes I would like to make if I stay here for the rest of my life. There are some positives to this, as I am just a few blocks from a bus stop (I was thinking about the possibility my mom might need to move in with me at some point, and that if she could no longer drive herself, she would like the independence of taking the bus under her own steam), a few blocks from a grocery store, and it is all on one level. I have a small kitchen in the back of the house. On the other side of one wall is a small bedroom. I have 4 bedrooms and would not miss one. I wonder how much it would cost to open up that wall and incorporate that small bedroom into my kitchen. This isn't something I would do immediately, but something I might do down the road. I would then have a lot of windows, a lot of counter space, and a lot of storage. I think it would be a nice improvement.

Plumber's Bill Arrived

January 4th, 2013 at 03:03 am

The plumber's bill arrived. It is $40, which I feel is very reasonable. I paid it via bill pay. (I am really enjoying not writing checks.)

The heat & air place called today. My circuit panel is in, so they will be installing it tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully, that will do the trick. I asked if they take Visa and they do, so I am going to get some reward points out of this at least.

I stopped by the library tonight. As I walked in, I thought about how much I enjoy our downtown library, and how I have taken my kids to story time and other programs, how we used to meet up with friends, how my daughter displayed several of her collections, how my kids loved to see their huge aquarium fish. Then the thought occurred to me that if I were retired, it would be a fun weekly outing for me to bike to the library, browse, and take home my choices.

I guess I must be preoccupied with planning my retirement, since these little thoughts flash in my mind from time to time.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it will be like for me if I have to retire with a mortgage. I would prefer to retire without one, but the truth is that simply may not happen. One option I do keep in the back of my mind is a mortgage recast. Freddie Mac (owns my mortgage) allows a recast at any time. There is a $250 fee to do so. So if I have chipped away at the balance, and especially if I can afford to apply a largish lump sum, I could at least reduce my monthly mortgage payment.

CurveBall to the Rescue

January 3rd, 2013 at 03:41 am

I didn't mention it before, but my central heat stopped working over the long weekend. It's been a bit chilly around here.

So this afteroon a repair guy came to take a look. He said my circuit panel is burnt out and needs to be replaced. He cannot say with certainty that is the only problem, as he cannot do much testing without the panel. So they are ordering the part and will call me to arrange a time for the work to be done. The estimate is $600.

Oh CurveBall, what would I do without you?

In other exciting news, I had $1200 odd dollars in cash in my traditional IRA due to dividends. So, I calculated where the money needed to go. It turned out I was under-weight in bonds and tips, so I bought 6 more shares of each.

I have recently added a page to my sidebar with my exact portfolio holdings. I will try to keep it current.

An Afternoon of Cards

January 2nd, 2013 at 03:12 am

Today I spent the afternoon at my mom's house, visiting and playing cards.

I brought up the Mexico trip my brother had proposed. I just told mom that I spent more in Hawaii than planned and that I just paid off my credit card in December I said I simply won't have enough saved by June to afford a trip to Mexico. Mom was OK with it, and we agreed we will plan to go in June 2014. So, I am relieved and happy about that.

We also talked about possibly going to Lake Tahoe for a week or so this summer instead. My cousin L (went to Hawaii and China with her) owns a rustic little house in the old part of Lake Tahoe. (Well, her husband and son do. It is a family vacation home from her husband's family.) I have enjoyed several long weekends in that house, and my cousin L will let us rent it for $25 a day. However, 2 winters ago a pipe burst, the downstairs flooded, and extensive repair work needed to be done. I am not certain, but I think it is not finished and so we could not rent it. However, we could check around. I am sure we could find something reasonable. That would be a nice and affordable vacation.

I get three weeks of paid vacation per year. It is use it or lose it. This past year I used 7 vacation days and just lost the other 8. I realy, really want to stop doing that.