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Archive for January, 2010

Its been a cold month (and that can be good)

January 28th, 2010 at 01:41 pm

Not only outside has it been cold (the bad part), but inside too (the good part). Given BA's efforts at living at 50 degrees I have been for the past few weeks trying to keep the temperature down lower, usually 55 at night or when I'm not home, and ~62 when I am home. In addition I use an electric radiator in the bedroom as I spend a lot of time there with my computer and watching DVDs. The temperatures have been abnormally cold, and this week I got both my natural gas and electric bills. They totaled $160 (for my 4 bedroom house). That is higher than I hoped for (in fact the highest total I had in a few years), but it has been very cold (much colder than any month the last few winters) so maybe I shouldn't complain. Everyone I know has much much higher utility bills than I do, so I'm sure my efforts have helped.

More DVDs

January 9th, 2010 at 10:29 pm

This past summer I bought 4 DVD TV series sets with the hope of selling them on Half.com. As it turned out they all sold very quickly. I paid $2 - $3 each, and they usually sold for $9 or more. Now today a Blockbuster store was closing, and today was the last day of sales. I got three DVD TV season sets for $10. They are all selling for at least $10 each, so..... I need to watch them first, then on Half they go!

Hey, I gotta pay for my hobbies somehow.

Never let your guard down - it can ruin your life

January 5th, 2010 at 05:40 pm

... or subtitled "The most perfect TV commercial deconstruction ever". OK, I know you're saying "what is he going on about?" Trust me, this is finance related (sorta anyway).

As I was going through some www.fatwallet.com forum postings yesterday(and man they can be hilarious at times), one was talking about marriages and dis-similarities between spouses and their financial "styles". One posting had a link that led to a National TV commercial from a few years back on You Tube. I saw it a few times, and thought it was a horrible commercial then. After reading the comments on the site, I see it as what it really is: the most "pro-greed, irresponsible, oblivious to reality, male bashing" commerical ever. Click here to enjoy It makes you want to never do business with their company ever (and thats impressive to make a commercial that bad). To really appreciate it, you need to read all the comments (which deconstruct the commercial), and the first two video replys (the 3rd one is just an example of how idiots and video cameras don't mix).

As I read the comments it reminded me of a time many moons ago when a similar situation came in my life, and it would have been too easy to cave in like the guy in the video. My now-Ex wanted to go to college - she was too immature but I felt if that made her happy then let her go. The school asked that I be there when they did the loan paperwork for her so I went. Then they expected me to co-sign all the papers which caught me off guard. To this day I don't know what alarms went off in my head, but something did. I looked at the loan officer and said "This is between her and your school. If you don't want to loan her the money, thats your choice but I'm signing nothing." I then got up and walked out.

If I didn't walk out then my life would probably still be screwed up financially to this day. I probably wouldn't have a house to live in, just an apt. somewhere, and I while I would have done ok, it would be nothing like it is today. There are times I am still amazed how close I got to the edge of the abyss and pulled back. Its scary - really. If there is a moral to the story, its if you know something is a bad idea (and I mean really bad), do not give in to the pressure no matter what.

I know what time of the year it is, and I don't need a calendar

January 4th, 2010 at 03:54 pm

OK, so what does that title mean? Well, since around May last year I have made a concerted effort to sell the deluge of books my ex left with me. Tons of books, many never read, or only a few pages (Now why did she buy them? I have my theories, but that'll have to wait for another time).

Anyway, since I have put a ton of books on Half.com, there have have been two times when I sold a lot of books in one day. First was the beginning of the college school year and.... now, which just by co-incedence is the beginning of the new semester at college. My book sales were only a few in December, and now that school has started up again, the books are selling.

Just sorta interesting, and something I wasn't expecting. Nice to get more of these out of here.

A new year

January 2nd, 2010 at 07:39 pm

I haven't posted for a while, and everyone (ok, some) is making 2010 resolutions, so hey, lets see if I can come up with some good ones.

Financial:

•Fund Roth IRA fully by June 30
•Continue max contributions to 457 plan (a 401k plan for gov't types) so that I max out contributions by end of September. This year I maxed out in November.
•Be happy with spending once in a while (yeah, not frugal, but I need to have a life - so to speak)
•Sell more books and other junk to help free up space at home (and make money!). This year I spent more on hobbies than I sold, but it wasn't horrendous, and was actually an improvement. If I can get this year to at least be a wash it would be tremendous.

Personal:
•Finish cleaning the house - yeah doesn't sound like much, but I'm having to do major decluttering going through papers, boxes of old stuff, and on and on. It takes time.
•Try the online dating again, of course trying to keep more of a zen philosophy while doing it. At least now I have a better idea of what to expect.
•Continue to volunteer and donate blood. I did two full days of volunteer work last year (DTV conversions) and dontaed blood 4 times. I'll see if I can donate blood 5 times this year. Hopefully there won't be another fainting spell afterwards (ugh).
•Start / finish repairs & tasks about the house.
•Re-start my exercise routine at home. I did it for 2 months and was seeing good results, then I hurt my leg (not exercise related) and was on crutches. As I work-out during workday lunches, I haven't lost most of my improvements, but I really need to get back into the groove again.
•Look into applying for the team lead position opening at work at the end of the year. Sorta like a management position, our team lead person is retiring at the end of the year, and co-workers have asked if I am going to apply. It seems they think I would be a good leader. In my prior job I was asked to do the same thing and declined, perhaps I should do it this time. If nothing else, it probably is the only way I'll be getting any raise.

Long Term (Post 2010):
•Get my retirement savings to $250K by my 50th birthday. It was around ~$150,000 when I checked my accounts on Thursday(401k, 457, and a Roth IRA). While this increase sounds hard, I can put in $16,500 in the 457 and $5,000 in the Roth each year, so that makes $64,000 for three years. The big question is will the markets go up enough to make a $35,000 increase in my accounts over three years. Maybe??? An 8% return should just about do it.
•Determine within 3 years if I want to finish my working career at my current job, and if so find a house to live in closer to work. Current commute is 45 minutes, I'd like to be able to cut it to under 20 minutes (I know, wishful dreaming).
•Finish paying off of current mortgage by 50th birthday. With my throwing in an extra ~$250/mo. I should have the house paid for a few months ahead of that date. I bought it in '98, so that is just over 13 years total.
•Wow, sounds like I have a three year plan. With that, after the mortgage is done, buy a new (new to me) car. My current one is getting long in the tooth, hopefully it can last another 2-3 years.

Whew. Sorry, that was a lot of stuff to read. I know its a lot, but if I can do that, I'll be pretty well set. But isn't that was being frugal is all about? Having a life you can enjoy without worries?