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Archive for January, 2010

Jan 2010 net worth

January 29th, 2010 at 05:35 pm

Just updated my net worth. Surprisingly, the numbers are still going up even though I took a noticeable hit from the stock market that dipped just recently.

I'm kind of reluctant to do any more of these, because I don't want to post details of it, and more importantly, I'm not sure what practical implications they have at this point. The bottom line is, I need to get a lot further in my retirement savings, and yet, no matter how much further I go, it doesn't affect how my every day life functions.

Er, not that I'm complaining or anything. It doesn't bother me how boring it is, just so long as it keeps moving forward. Also, TGIF!

Roth 2009

January 26th, 2010 at 08:51 pm

Contributed. I'm late this year because, more than anything, I have to be prepared for the prospect of losing my job. But, I went ahead and maxed it out anyways because I didn't want to lose the 2009 window. I also made sure that I could afford to actually do that before I did it. The numbers say it's doable, but I have to admit it still makes me a bit nervous to part with that kind of amount.

I'm also in the process of filing my taxes. I'm hoping to have it done some time this week or the next. It's not terribly difficult, although my itemizing will not allow me to do it electronically. I have to mail in some forms and stuff.

Oh, and last but not least, I found out that I over-paid my electric bill. Even called up a customer rep just to be sure. Ooops! That's what happens sometimes when you pay manually, but that's just how I do things to stay current with my budget. At least, it's in my favor this time.

Welcome to my exciting world. Big Grin

PerkStreet redemption

January 25th, 2010 at 03:22 pm

Word play. Get it? Redemption? Ok, nevermind.

Anyways, I opened my PerkStreet account back in December and have been wondering just where in the world are my perks?

So, I finally called customer service up, and it appears that it does not automatically credit into your account or anything. I have to manually redeem it first. Ohhhh, man I feel dumb.

But yeah, I've accumulated $7 so far, and the rep confirmed that I am on track for $150 more in a few more months.

Soooo, this is the part where I accidentally clicked on a $5 gift card for Amazon. Oops! But that's OK. I want to make sure that the perk system is working anyways, and it won't be hard for me at all to spend $5 on Amazon.

Otherwise, everything else seems to be working just fine. Credits, transfers, and direct deposits. All good. Once I receive the gift card, I'll know everything is working as it should.

Update: Hey, I just got an email from PerkStreet that gave me a code, presumably $5 off, on Amazon purchases. Wow! So, not a gift card, but a redeeming code.

Also, it seems that yet someone else from PerkStreet has commented here. Kind of scary how they're on top like this. I've only written this entry this morning. Yikes! Well done, PerkStreet!

How to live in a car

January 24th, 2010 at 07:14 am

I just came across this rather amusing how-to video. Not that I'm planning to or anything. Just thought it was amusing.

Funny money

January 22nd, 2010 at 12:51 am

Conan strikes back! And if you've already seen it, watch it again!

$$$ CHA-CHING $$$

(Oh, and in case anyone might be offended at the skit, please remember that it's only a skit. He didn't actually buy an expensive supercar. Nobody just... buys one of those things. He had to borrow it from someone just for this skit.)

Parent's retirement revisited

January 21st, 2010 at 04:20 pm

Just out of curiosity, I played around with firecalc again, you know, just to get a rough idea of where my parents stand. The results... does not look good. At all.

Most simulations show that their money will run out as early as 10 years time, 20 if they're lucky. And that's assuming a liquid portfolio of $350k, which they don't have.

So, something like a reverse mortgage, annuity, or down-sizing their house is NOT optional. They must leverage their house somehow. According to AARP's reverse mortgage calculator, it looks like they can get about $600 a month, which is just enough to pay for home expenses such as insurance, tax, and utility. Ugh.

I mean, I still think they can pull this off. They are very frugal, and expenses is apparently one of, if not THE biggest factor in making your retirement money last.

Still, it'd be ridiculously tight. This is no joke. I'd be sweating bullets if I were them. I'm already sweating bullets about myself, but at least I'm still youngish you know?

Fear and Loathing

January 21st, 2010 at 12:40 am

Heh, kind of on a roll today I guess.

The Fear
Some of you regulars may remember me talking about my parent's nest egg and wondering whether they are going to pull off retirement or not. Well, I think I finally have some solid numbers.

Earlier tonight, my mother asked me to take a look at their latest mutual fund statement. There's nothing extraordinary about the statement itself, but I finally know what the balance is (since my mom didn't know). In short, it's only $60k.

I mean, don't get me wrong. That's certainly a nice chunk of change, but... they're thinking about retiring like maybe next year or the year after that! $60k is NOT going to cut it!

I double checked about the $30k to $40k my dad has set aside to buy stocks. Mom said that the money is still there. Together, that's about $100k. Better, but I was still worried.

I asked if there was any other savings, and she said there is still a joint account that she has with her brother, but she's not sure how much is in there, or for that matter, how much of it belongs to her (long story). And... that's basically it.

Enter: The Fear.

I calmly asked my mom if they have any other assets she can think of. Anything at all. To my surprise, she said that their house is completely paid off! Wow, I didn't realize this as this had to be fairly recent. The house is worth roughly $250k (in a medium cost of living area), giving them a basic total of $350k net worth.

I think she sensed my distress and quickly asked, "Can we retire?" I took a deep breath, smiled, and said, "Yes."

But I also explained that there will be a couple of caveats. For one thing, it can't be too extravagant. She confidently stated that it's no problem. That's true. My mom is very frugal. My dad might have to adjust a little bit, but I think he'll do just fine since he won't be a slave to the clock anymore.

The other caveat is that she will have to sell the house some day. $100k is simply not enough to retire in the US, so she will need to downsize eventually (or reverse mortgage or something else). To my surprise, she said that it's fine. You see, she loves the house, but I think she was already aware that they would have to do this some day.

For some reason, I thought they had more than this though. They've always worked hard to save, and truth be told, I thought they might inherit a small chunk of money when my grandmother passes away.... But you know, I think a net worth of $350k should be enough for a simple couple. At least I hope so. What do you think?

The Loathing
Since I took so much space talking about tonight's fear, I'll just keep my loathing short. Big Grin Basically, my W-2s have arrived. I'm still waiting for a couple of 1099s, but I'm basically ready to file my taxes. This year should be interesting, since I've shifted my rollover IRA assets around.

Turbulence

January 20th, 2010 at 08:31 pm

Stock market talk.

"Ladies and gentlemen. Please fasten your seat belts and observe the no-smoking sign. We're about to experience some turbulence."

I read earlier that today's call options on the VIX is more than twice as much as puts. In other words, the majority of the market strongly believes that volatility is going up, which one may also imply the market cap (such as Dow) is expected to go down in the near future.

Well, that's not good. Big Grin

Speculatively, it's a great time for people who are planning to buy in to WAIT maybe another few weeks and see if the market doesn't become cheaper before you do buy in.

And for those who are already in (or passive investors), you might as well stay in. This may turn out to be something, or it may turn out to be nothing.

Oh, and I didn't realize you can buy options on the VIX! Gee, you could literally trade just about anything these days, can'tcha?

Cadbury, you hussie!

January 19th, 2010 at 03:35 pm

Stock market talk.

I wonder if Warren Buffett is fuming right now? I'll bet he is. He just warned his friend, the smitten and all-too-eager Kraft, to be careful about pursuing much younger, gold-digging sirens like Cadbury.

In typical boardroom drama, she finally said, "Yes!" when Kraft tried to propose again, this time with a bigger ring. Apparently, she was only playing hard to get.

However, I speculate that the underlying reason isn't so much as the sweetened deal itself, but rather, the general opposition to the two tying the knot, most notable being his famous friend, Buffett. She might have sensed that this was her last and best chance.

Oh well, at least this isn't the same made-for-reality-TV train wreck that was Microsoft and Yahoo.

Warmth

January 11th, 2010 at 03:20 pm

I had an interesting talk with my mom last night. She was talking about how she only needs the simple things in life to be content and satisfied. A bed to sleep in, eating well, and getting to see the grandchildren from time to time.

I used to think that such sentiments, while heart-warming, it also seemed, well, kind of dull.

However, after having gone through the entire weekend without heat and not sleeping well, her message, in that moment, really sunk in for me. I then realized just how much I was enjoying the warm meal she cooked and just the heat in her house. Big Grin

Kind of crazy, but it got me thinking that we all need warmth in our lives. Warmth in all sense of the word, if you think about it.

Are we interested in only the technical aspects of decluttering and saving money? Or we are after something more than this, such as figuring out where we belong, where we call home, and where we can find our own sense of warmth and soul. Isn't that the real reason why we do what we do?

Otherwise, frugality and simple living really would be nothing more than a cold, dull struggle....

Yes, I think this is how I've been doing it all wrong. Instead of trying to live with less, I should be focusing on finding happiness in having less clutter. Instead of trying to just save money trying to cook at home, I should be focusing on the warmth of a home-cooked meal. Instead of living in a house, I should be focused on living in a home.

Well, that's my crazy Monday morning thought anyway. But yes! I think this is an approach worth looking into.... I'm just not entirely sure how to do it yet. Big Grin If anybody has any ideas, let me know.

Cancelled Netflix

January 11th, 2010 at 01:11 am

Besides Battlestar Galactica, I am just finding that I am not terribly interested in too many movies or TV shows. I guess I am more of a gamer, and anyways, the local Red Box is plenty for me.

Let me also say that my experience with Netflix has been absolutely positive. So, this has nothing to do with their service. For that matter, I think $10 a month is a very reasonable price.

But then, if I'm not using it all that much, then it's still money wasted right? So, I figure I might as well cancel it.

I am cold!

January 9th, 2010 at 07:09 pm

This arctic cold snap is no joke, but that's not why I'm cold. The central heating is suppose to maintain 50 degrees F.

It is not!

I hear it kick on from time to time, but the thermostat needle is way below 50 and it definitely does NOT feel like 50!

Something is very wrong with the central heating. Of course, I wasn't going to walk out there in the middle of the night to investigate. Now that the sun is up, I'm going to go take a look.

On the "upside", I learned that my current passive heating strategy can handle about this temperature, but just barely. I wouldn't be surprised if I slept through below 30 degrees F last night.

But this is getting insane.

Bought minutes

January 8th, 2010 at 03:04 pm

Tracfone currently has a web exclusive deal where you can get 1500 minutes for $200.

Now, I know that sounds really steep at first, but if you break it down, it comes out to only $0.13 per minute! That's better than even their own usual rate of $0.17 per minute! (All this is before tax, which bumps up the rate very slightly.)

Plus, my phone has double minutes, so, I actually got 3000 minutes total, or roughly $0.066 cents per minute! My service is also extended out for an extra year.

I still have 200 minutes left, but I went ahead and jumped on this one because it is simply a great deal. Overall, I'm saving $60 with this than if I bought their usual minutes. And of course, this is still infinitely cheaper than most anything else out there.

To put this into perspective, I use an average of 100 to 150 minutes a month. In other words, my total phone bill is basically paid off and set for the next 2 years!

2010 quickies

January 5th, 2010 at 02:51 pm

* Anybody got their PerkStreet bonus money yet? I haven't. The first one is suppose to be that $5 for making a credit card purchase. Maybe it's a lump sum thing they deposit at the end of the month? I should've kept the email. Frown

* I'm basically loaded and ready to do some more trading this year, but I haven't made a move yet. The year is still young, and if there's one thing I've learned about trading, it is that one should never be in too much of a hurry to lose money. Big Grin

Actually, I'm just wondering if I will even be able to do this once my job is over. My current job is pretty sweet. I get to sit down and actually do all this part-time trading while I'm at work. Will I be able to do this on my next job? Will I even have internet access or get to sit down?

If so, I'll probably continue to trade, but if not, I'm seriously considering just plopping down with Vanguard and go completely passive.

* I admit I'm in a bit of a funk about my job situation. But then, I would read about all the troubles other people are having, and you know what? I can't complain. My life isn't so bad! At least my problems are strictly financial, and it's not like I'm even in a bad financial shape really.

* Saw UP last night. Wow, that was a bitter sweet movie. The bonus short feature was hilarious, and fleshes out what happened to the dogs in the beginning.

* Last but not least, here's today's moment of zen.

100 years of spending

January 5th, 2010 at 04:43 am

Check out the chart!

Usually, I'd just add it to my links, but I thought it'd be fun to share it first as well.

Free e-book! Today only!

January 4th, 2010 at 06:31 pm

David Bach has an e-book out that's available, free for today only, called Start Over, Finish Rich.

I don't know if the book is any good yet because I wanted to share this link as soon as possible. At quick glance though, it looks like a basic book aimed at people who, as the title implies, are just starting over.

But it's free, so get it while you still can!

Holiday freebies

January 4th, 2010 at 02:35 pm


So, my family took a trip to see the Biltmore estate in Asheville, NC. The trip turned out to be surprisingly affordable, but only because of a series of fortunate happenstances. Is that even a word? Big Grin

Anyways, we found a motel that costed $60 per night, which I thought was cheap considering that it's 2 queen, not 2 doubles. Plus, they offered a 10% coupon for a nearby restaurant, which turned out to be one of the best restaurants I've ever went to.

The shocker was that I thought the Biltmore estate was going to cost $25 per adult. I guess not for their Christmas festival, because that turned out to be $60 per adult! Oh but here's the REAL shocker.

My mom is a very friendly person who tends to smile and say hello to everyone. I'm always constantly watching her, muttering that one day, we're going to get mugged for it. But for that day, some lady seemed to be so impressed that she gave us vouchers that was good for 4 adults (which we needed) that was worth $240!

Yes, her being nice and saying hello to total strangers saved us $240 in admissions! We thanked the lady profusely, and she responded with, "Merry Christmas!" Big Grin

But the best part of it all? My parents sprung for everything. They wanted to do it, and who am I disagree? Yeah, I know. I'm such a Scrooge. Big Grin