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Archive for December, 2010

It was the best of times, it was...

December 14th, 2010 at 08:24 pm

... well... pretty much just the best of times. Smile At least it was today. One of those days that has "ugh" written all over it, and at the end it was a "wow, could anything else go right?" day. Well that was today. (If you read to the end, there is financial info - honest. Or just skip to the end if you like - it's labelled.)

I was supposed to telework today, but was asked to go in so I could attend a branch lunch. (I love teleworking) I wouldn't be able to workout at lunch due to this. Overnight the winds picked up, and by morning it was bitter cold outside. My body was miserable stiff getting up, as I had worked out last night, and was still feeling it. It was not a good start to the day. (I know what you're thinking: "Be happy you have a good paying job" - I am, honest)

The morning at the job was good, as I was having luck figuring out how to make the technology do what the users needed for their auditing reports. With that good feeling we went out to lunch, and I had a wonderful meal, quite relaxing. The afternoon was the same, good work was done. Since the day went well, I decided to workout at the gym after work. Then things started to pick up. First I saw a box I could use to send one of my ebay sales. It was an odd size and just what I needed. Next I was feeling better than usual while working out, and I see on the gym TV that my baseball team has amazingly signed the best pitcher available this off season. Super wow - but wait, it gets better.

(OK - financial part followsSmile

And then it kept going. Once I got home, I see a UPS envelope at the door. I have no idea what that could be. Also in the mail I get a letter from one of my DRIP investments. After I get in out of the cold, I open the DRIP letter. My quarterly dividend notification has arrived, and it has a 7% increase - super! OK, the day is going great - it can't get better, right?

Nope, the best comes last. I see the UPS letter is from my old employer. I never get anything from them via UPS - what in the world is this? Inside I find a letter from the company saying they want to buy back the stock from all the employees (it is a small employee owned company - no public stock). It doesn't explain why (I seriously wonder about this), but they paid for a third party to be an independent manager and come up with a "best price" for the employees. Now the company is going to pay us almost double what they had been saying the stock is worth. Unfortunately I didn't work there too long, but they had been saying my stock was worth $4,500 for a few years, and now they will pay me $9,000 for it. I used profit sharing money of about $3,000 to buy the stock about 8 years ago. A nice ROI.

OK, I didn't win the lottery, get an inheritance, or find the love of my life. But short of those things, I wish every day could be this good.

Squeaking by on $250,000

December 13th, 2010 at 04:35 pm

The same people that brought us "Squeaking by on $300,000" have apparently decided that another in the series is appropriate. It seems this time they couldn't find anyone dumb enough to put themselves up for deserved ridicule, so this one has a hypothetical family making $250,000 and they show how "impossible" it is for them to save. "Where does $250,000 a year go?" The story shows this family of 4 living in various locations around the country, and determines how much they'll spend in each location.

Ignoring the bad math in some spots, they have this family (may as well call them "The Stupids") doing the following:
- Paying extra for a house close to the city center where their jobs are going to be, and then ignore any public transportation. Instead they will use two cars, and then not only pay to drive back and forth, they will also pay an extra $3,000 (in my area) just to park.
- And speaking of cars, they allocate over $7,500 for gas during the year. Ok, lets make gas @ $3.00/gal. That is 2,500 gallons for the year, or 1,250 per vehicle. Assume 15 MPG (pretty poor I know), and that comes out to 18,750 miles per year. Ok, they have a short commute (see above), where the hell are they driving? Are they doing a cross country trip? Who comes up with these numbers???
- They're paying $5,000 just for cleaning, because well... you know... they're so Stupid they can't do any cleaning themselves.
- They have to eat out every day at work for $10 lunches and they eat takeout of $25/week (a meal on the weekend? So we're talking 6 dinners, 7 breakfast, and maybe 1 or two lunches each week. Their food should be less right? The family of 4 pays $13,659, or over $1,100 per month just to eat at home. WTF are they eating????
- Even the dog is costing $1,571 a year. Is the dog having surgery every year? I would have to estimate even with vet vists (admittedly infrequent as my mutt was fairly healthy) I spent no more than $2,000 total over 11 years on my dog.
- Phone, cable, and internet is coming in at $200/mo. Apparently the Stupids never heard of bundled service. And if they're so busy making this great money, why do they even have cable?
- Gas & Electric comes in at $5,280, or $440 per month, every month. Did they buy a home with no insulation what so ever????
- Oh, btw, there is under "Leisure" an entry for "Eating Out". Another $200/mo. for that.

If you go and read it, there's more (really!), but I think I have overwhelmed anyone reading by this point. Apparently the Stupids make an amazing amount of money, yet can't for the life of them figure out how to stop the continual wasting of money. These people would have to be dumber than the average American when it comes to finances, yet in the top 3% earners in the richest country in the world, which is just amazing there could be people like that. In fact, they have them overspending by $5,000 to $24,000 per year!

The names have been changed to protect...

December 11th, 2010 at 03:18 pm

... the guilt ... errr, I mean the innocent. I tend to talk finances with a co-worker, who last summer was talking about getting a new car. He admits he doesn't save nearly enough (and he is amazed at how much I save and how little I can spend and still get good things), and he is nearly my age with a wife and one child still living at home. His house is falling apart (his words), and he has been spending money like crazy to fix various issues. I haven't kept track, but it had to be $10,000 or more this year alone.

Anyway, as he started to look for another car (he felt his latest new one was having issues) he looked at various models, including an expensive car he had wanted since he was first driving (you know - a super sports car). He had mentioned it to me, and he already knew I would say "Are you crazy, what a waste of money". I did try to be even handed with it, mentioning that I had read where some frugal types would say "save your money on what you don't care about to spend it on what you really want". "If that reallllly makes you happy, then maybe its worth it to you." That said, I *did* think it was crazy to spend that type of money (and said that too).

Later I heard that his wife kept saying "get the car, you deserve it". She didn't go to college, works but doesn't make that much, and doesn't worry about finances, or how it can stress him. Ugh. And so he bought the car. He told me that even while buying it he kept hearing in his mind what I would think of it. (And he was right! :P) Not sure on the price, I think it was around $35,000. The expense was so much, he had to get a 6 year loan, and even then his payment is (I am estimating here) almost half his mortgage payment.

Since then I have kidded him, asking if he has his first scratch yet (yep), and how often is he going to get pulled over (once already). Yowza. Now this past week we were at the office Christmas get together. There different people ooh'd and aaahhh'd about the car. They all loved the car, and asked what the wife said about it. He told them she was the one encouraging him to get it. I then hear lots of "oh, what a great wife". The whole time I am cringing inside. No concern about if he can afford it or about how "helpful" she is with the bills. Ugh. I think most of the people there are in two income households, but even so, no one was concerned if he could afford it? What's the saying, "If you still have a job, there is no recession."? Some people still live in their own bubble of fantasy, even today I'm afraid.

It rolled over

December 8th, 2010 at 07:36 pm

I guess more accurately I rolled it over, but still... It being an old 401k plan worth near $11.5K. Not earth shattering, but its now into an IRA I have (that was empty). Friday I plan on stopping by the broker (Scottrade) and transferring it over to an existing Roth IRA. Then I need to figure on what I want to invest in with the funds.

With tax rates looking like they're not going anywhere in the coming years, this'll work perfectly. With my mortgage dropping off in ~1 year, I will have more money to pay the extra taxes needed in 2012/2013 due to this. I know there's the debate on whether the Roth IRAs will be a good thing when you retire, but I figure that having various sources of funds with different tax implications means I will be able to pick and choose each year how much to take from each pile of money to optimize what will be best for me.

In other areas I now have 4 book sales for December. I'm not sure of the "profit", but I should be clearing about $35 from the sales. Hey, it works for me. Three ebay sales left me clear another $45, probably $30 after I net out the cost of the items. A little less clutter is sure nice.

Over T-day I got my jacket fixed (from a prior posting here). Came out great, and its perfect on cold (but not super cold) days. Of course with the cold front that came in this week I'm using the winter parka instead. Still, its nice to have it back and useable.

Nothing special on my exercises - I am keeping up with them, and thats good enough. I think I have held my weight constant over the holidays so far, and maybe I'm a little stronger to boot.

Good start to the month

December 1st, 2010 at 07:52 pm

Nothing extrodinary here, but after about 3 weeks with no Half.com book sales I was beginning to think the book sales had stopped. Tonight I got one sold, and a nice one too. A $30 sale for a book I paid $0.50 for this summer. I was reluctant to buy it initially, but I convinced myself I could give it as a present in a year or two if it didn't sell. Its a sports reference book that lists for $80 (yeah, its big - 3,000 pages!)

I'll probably end up using the money to pay for sending out Christmas presents in a week or so. Oh well, easy come, easy go.