Funny about Money

Simple Living = Frugality = Peace of Mind: Personal Finance and Stress Control

July 20, 2016
by funny
4 Comments

Spots of Light, Patches of Fog

Ugh! Just finished posting the daily multifarious ads for the multifarious bookoids on the multifarious Facebook sites and Twaddle, a time-consuming and tedious chore to beat all time-consuming and tedious chores.

Can’t complain too much, though: it’s only 8:37 a.m. Now the very worst chore of the day is off the desk. I can spend the rest of the next 16 hours or so loafing, playing with the dogs, sketching a new drawing, or maybe even writing a new Fire-Rider squib. So the sun burns through the fog, hm?

Here’s a little bright spot, surfacing in the side yard on a gray, thick, humid, HOT morning:

CactusFlower

Back in the fog: Ruby woke me up at 3:30 this morning with a threat to barf on the bed. Guess she was sickened by the antics at yesterday’s Republican convention. That was the only truly disgusting thing she got into yesterday.

At any rate, she escaped the bed before producing anything, and in fact recovered without woofing. Metaphorically, I mean.

Republicans. God. That’s not fog. That’s the Dark Night of the Soul. Check out this blood-curdling report from one of their elected delegates.

We’re all going to love it in British Columbia. Though I understand Newfoundland could use some new blood: maybe American refugees will be more welcome there.

Here’s what you need to take your mind off your own and America’s troubles: a nice, entertaining, escapist short story.

Seth

Scattered foggy patches: Have to pay the car registration. Thank you, God! No damned time-sucking emissions test this August. And it’s only $37 — in Arizona, car registration goes DOWN the older the car gets, the theory presumably being that they want drivers to keep their junkers as long as possible, and forgodSAKE don’t give them any ideas about replacing the clunk with safer, cleaner, more fuel-economical cars.

Arizona. The Land of the Bizarre.

Also have to fork over $340 to the Mayo, the amount Medicare and Medigap have paid toward the $650 bill sitting in accounts receivable. Presumably a check or two got lost in the mail. I’ll have to sift through three FAT folders of brain-boggling paperwork to see if I can find any lost checks

Fortunately, the community college district is sending (someday…let’s not hold our breath) around $565 to replace a lost check. That will cover the rest of the Mayo’s bill with a little left to spare. But what a fuckin’ nuisance.

The online bill-pay hoop-jumps and the search through file after file stuffed with incomprehensible paperwork will suck a massive amount of time out of this morning. Just the prospect is making me crabby as a cat.

It’s hot. It’s humid. The thermometer next to the chair where I tap away at this post reads 86 degrees. I need to clean the pool. Fog. Hot, clammy fog.

And finally, to end on a bright spot: Check out the great streaming channels emanating from Vermont Public Radio.

 

 

 

July 19, 2016
by funny
0 comments

Don’t wanna work Tuesday meets the Green Thumb Lady

Asparagus_officinalis0bHm. The attitude seems not to have improved much since yesterday. Tsk tsk!

However, the house is ridiculously clean. The trash is hauled out. The pool has been backwashed. The new composter has been fed. And this morning I speedwalked something in excess of two miles.

LOL! If exercise were good for you, wouldn’t you think I’d feel less crabby?

Quick run to the grocer to pick up ONLY what was on the accrued list: $22 worth. Not bad. If I could stay out of Costco, I think, except for maybe one or at most two runs per month, a great deal of cash would be saved.

Here’s th’thing: Remember that food windfall, the one that struck at the beginning of the month? Well, it took the better part of a day and a half to cook all that stuff up and stash it in the freezers.

But I’m STILL EATING IT!

And it’s still awesome. Had some of the eggplant lasagne this morning. Right now I’m waiting for some spaghetti to get limp, so I can dump the rest of the home-made delicious tomato sauce over it, with a few olives.

Yesterday I reheated some grilled summer squash on the grill next to a slab of defrosted Costco salmon — great! Several of the pretty little stuffed acorn squash are still in the freezer — one piece of those is enough for a full meal, especially when served with a salad.

The vegetable soup is BEYOND awesome when you heat a few frozen scallops with it. That’s as in “deliciousness that defies belief.” I’ve tried it with some shrimp, too: also good, but not as amazing as scallops.

There’s still a little of the gazpacho, whose flavor seems to improve with aging in the fridge.

Truth to tell, I’ve had to buy relatively little food for myself this month. Of course, as we know we still have the stock of frozen meat and fish unearthed when I cleaned the freezer. That won’t last forever. But for the nonce, it’s supplementing all those veggies very handsomely.

It looks a great deal to me like I probably will have to buy no more or almost no more food for the rest of the month. So even though I’m about to exceed this month’s grocery-store budget, it may not be by much.

Stumbling around the Safeway’s produce department this ayem, I come upon an unprepossessing lady. We inspect the asparagus. I turn up my nose: it’s too mature, too fat. She says it’s perfect. Each to her own, think I.

But then…oh, yes…THEN she remarks that the asparagus in her garden looks like these spears.

What?

Say what?

I think she’s talking about a winter garden and start to talk about my plans for this fall. No. It quickly becomes clear that she is talking about asparagus that is growing in her garden right this effing minute

Yeah? Holy sh!t, I think. She forgot to take her meds this morning! My mother grew up on a dirt farm in upstate New York, a place where snow fell extravagantly when she was a child. She used to talk about going into the forest in the springtime to harvest wild asparagi. I figure that means asparagus grows in cool to temperate climates.

My new acquaintance continues. She explains that she gardens in moveable containers, allowing her to shift various vegetables venues as the weather changes. She moves the “roots,” as she calls the underground part of these creatures, into the shade as summer is y-cumin’ in.

We continue to chat. We discover that neither of us can get a decent tomato to grow in North Central, even though we both were able to elicit magnificent tomatoes in other parts of town. We concur in thinking this to be suspicious.

I learn that she grows a LOT of amazing stuff in containers that she can move with the seasons. And I think…yeah.

At home, I discover that by God, you can grow asparagus in Arizona. WHO KNEW?

How can I count the ways that I can’t wait until the new compost is composted and the weather cools off enough to start digging up the ground and dumping dirt in pots?

Meanwhile, though, werk awaits, oh god how i hate werking.

This book marketing stuff is every bit as boring, as pointless, and as frustrating as teaching freshman comp. But adjunct teaching at least pays almost minimum wage.

I spent about half the day posting ads for the upcoming book sales, which start July 21. To wit:

Cookbook

Naughty June 2016

I’ve stuck these up on every electronic pillar and post I can think of: that would be eight or nine (I’ve lost count) Facebook groups, Twaddle, and my own fine blogsites.

Interestingly a surprising number of friends and total strangers have “liked” and (better yet) “retweeted” or “shared” the things. So I hope against hope that maybe someone will buy the stuff. We’ll find out. And we’ll believe it when we see it. 😀

Getting these things online is frustrating, annoying, and (as usual) effing time-consuming, because no two FB sites are the same. On one, you can post the URL and the desired image will pop right up. On another, no image will come up, so you have to go click-search-click-search-click-click-click-ad-nauseam-search-click-click to get jpeg up. On yet another, an image will come up but will be decidely NOT the goddamn image you want, so you’ll have to delete that image (without deleting the damn post) and go click-search-click-search-click-click-click-ad-nauseam-search-click-click to get correct jpeg up.

All of this is, shall we say, infinitely annoying, boring, and stupid. It feels especially stupid because you suspect that sinking four or five of your $60 hours into this endeavor will reward you with cash receipts of approximately $1.09.

Just share the damn things, will you puhleeeze?

Reading the national and international gnus is one long aggravation. I hope you’ve been duly entertained by the Trump doxie’s plagiarism of Mrs. Obama’s 2008 speech. Please, God: pour me another bourbon and water…

Incompetence, crookedness, and a total vacancy of ethics notwithstanding, the currently incompetent, crooked, and vacant Republican Party has made Bozo the Clown its nominee for President of the United States of America.

One more b&w, please, Mr. God?

Oh sh!t. Il faut cultiver notre jardin.

 

July 18, 2016
by funny
3 Comments

Don’t wanna work Monday

So I should be, at the very goddamned leastest, posting links to posts advertising my wares on FaceBook (two business pages, several “groups,” and my timeline: a half-dozen separate time-consuming mind-numbing actions), Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

I should be hustling some new business for The Copyeditor’s Desk.

I should be writing new copy for Plain & Simple Press.

I should be writing some sort of personal-finance post for Funny about Money.

I should be trying, once again, to get into Goodreads so as to hustle my wares there, even though that cause appears to be too forlorn to waste more time on.

But y’know what?

Yeah. That’s correct:

i…

don’t…

wanna…

If it looks like work, if it sounds like work, if it smells like work, if it feels like work: I don’t wanna do it.

That’s not to say I’ve totally diddled the day away, so far.

compostThe new cute little composter arrived. It’s “Cute” (the maker’s term) because it really is quite small: maybe a third the size of the one the fake beekeeper destroyed.

At first as I unpacked it from its cardboard box, I was disappointed. Then thought…waaaitaminit here. Let’s not be stoopid about this.

As a practical matter, smaller is probably better. First, it’s a lot more manageable. The old one, when it was full, could be almost impossible to turn, so it took forever and a day to compost stuff — and I had to reach in there and toss stuff by hand. This thing will be easy to roll even if it’s full.

Second, the manufacturer has made two exceptionally smart improvements in the thing’s design. a) The lid and its opening are MUCH larger compared to the overall size of the tub; and b) they’ve developed a hinge held together with a long, sturdy pin. If you remove the pin, you can lift the lid off the tub, making it easy to lift or dump the compost out.

So. I decided I don’t just like the Cute Composter, I downright love it.

The little guy is now in his place by the side of the house, with a pile of leaves, exhausted potting soil from dead plant pots, and kitchen trimmings in his belly.

Yay! We soon will have compost, and this fall we will have a vegetable garden again, for the first time since the memory of Fatlady runneth not to the contrary.

Gerardo just blew in and blew out; while he was here, he had the underlings gather up some relatively seed-free dry leaves and deposit them in the little composter. It’s full just now, but I expect those will pack down as they start to degrade and as I sprinkle a little water in there. By planting time this fall, there should be some nice compost for the pots that will hold chard, lettuce, spinach, mâche, and some LGOs.

The writer’s group I belong to puts out an annual anthology. They’ve put out a call for submissions — theme has to do with “celebration.” I have an essay that fits, though it fits in a distant way.

So I diddled away a fair amount of the morning editing and tightening that — their length limit is 3,000 words, and the lash-up runs to a little over 3400 words. Managed to cut it down a bit. Last year they accepted an essay of about 3400 words, but they had a different editor. WTF…we’ll see what happens. Nothing ventured…

My son has wondered if he should throw his $20,000 emergency fund at a refinance of his house, given that this could cut his mortage payment by about 300 much-needed dollars a month. His dad advised him absolutely positively not to do that. When the subject came up yesterday, I seconded his dad’s motion. Discussion ensued; the question was left up in the air.

So I called Wonder-Financial-Advisor today. He thirded the motion. We believe he should hang onto the cash, given the still amazingly low interest rates.

The dad has urged M’hijito to make no move until after his 102-year-old grandmother passes away. The suggestion, never fully articulated, is that money could be forthcoming from the estate. Said dad is in charge of the grandmother’s finances and so should have some idea what he’s talking about.

But the question is: WHAT estate?

The old gal has been living in a nursing home for many years. She’s blind and deaf. By now whatever money she might have accrued must have been absorbed by her care. How could there be anything — ANYTHING — left?

Well, I personally don’t think there is any such thing. But why the ex- would advise my son along those lines not once but several times…hm? It escapes me.

Almost.

The immortal grandmother was the daughter — the only child — of a man who owned a lumber company that served Denver, Colorado. He was a prominent local businessman. When he died of advanced old age in 1977, his funeral was overrun by well-wishers from the business community. A LOT of people showed up.

I don’t know what happened to that business. But if he sold it, dollars to donuts he sold it for a substantial profit.

His background was Amish. As that factoid might lead you to imagine, he lived quietly and conservatively. Not sparsely, but frugally. I suppose it’s not outside the realm of possibility that there was a trust. That could have protected the estate from the clutches of the nursing home’s collection agents.

And if that’s the case, there could be a small amount of money there. It wouldn’t have to be much to solve my son’s financial problems, such as they are.

So I diddled away some more of the day on the Internet, trying to track down the old man and, mostly failing that, trying to find some trace of the business.

Total fail on the latter. Inconclusive on the first. Became bored and so brought that to a halt.

It’s now the middle of the afternoon, and I still do not feel up, in any wise, to working. and so…

Away.

 

 

 

July 15, 2016
by funny
11 Comments

Thank You, Costco and Citigroup!

Hot dang! Costco’s move to annoying CitiGroup is going to cut my monthly Costco budget at least in half, and maybe by as much as three-fourths!

Remember how much I guessed I’d have to spend on today’s Costco junket, to pick up meat for the dogs and a few things for myself that I can’t easily find elsewhere? It was ridiculous, as you’ll recall — I guessed that the giant packages of chicken and the pork would each cost about 30 bucks; $15 for the restaurant-sized package of frozen veggies; maybe $10 per package of Campari tomatoes and of Mexican mangoes.

Well. That was all so majorly wrong. Wrong wrong wrong! The chicken came to about $13; seventeen pounds (!!!) of pork, $35.55; the mangoes and the tomatoes, each $4.49.

Now, I did expend the $95 projected for this trip, but only because for the first time since the memory of Fat Lady runneth not to the contrary, the store happened to have a pair of white Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in size 10.

It has literally been years since any of the Costco stores I habituate has had a size 10 pair of Glorias that fit, in white. I know, because every goddamn time I go into one of those stores, I search for them. So, add $14.99: come up with a total, including tax, of $94.23.

Costco Run 7-15-2016

This means the real cost of buying only the food items needed for this trip was about $77.

You realize…that’s about half the $150/month dedicated to Costco in the new budget.

Budget 6-2016 2

And, since the amount budgeted for Costco shopping in the New Regime is itself half the average I found I’ve been spending of late, $77 is a little more than a quarter of the amount I’ve been diddling away in Costco.

Think of that…

A 75% saving on household goods, food, and (monumental) impulse buys, just because Costco switched from AMEX to the dreadful, impossible CitiGroup as vendor for their in-house credit card.

Their loss, my gain.

🙂

I must say, I’d forgotten how annoying and stress-inducing it is to have to write a check while standing in line at a cash register. It’s been a long time since I’ve paid for anything with anything other than a credit card or direct bill-pay.

Shopping at Costco is aversive to start with. It’s crowded, the lines are endless, the insulting shoplift check at the door makes you want to bite someone…ugh. That’s exaggerated at the store nearest to me by cultural issues having to do with personal space: for a middle-class white American female, it really isn’t a very comfortable place to shop.  That’s why, whenever I can swing it, I’ll shop Costco in other parts of town. Not that I don’t love my fellow shoppers, but that I really do dislike people climbing up my rear end or parking their carts crosswise across the aisle so I have to turn around, go all the way to the start of the aisle, go all the way down the next aisle, and then come halfway back into the original aisle to get to the merchandise I want to buy.

Sociologically it’s interesting and amusing; time-wise and patience-wise, it ain’t.

So add to that the slight — but significant — extra hassle of having to write a check, and I find myself thinking “no, thanks.”

I’ve paid my Costco membership for this year. We will see if it seems like a $50 fee for the privilege of shopping there is worth paying.

The truth is, the things I can’t easily get anyplace else — a whole package of those wonderful mangoes; massive amounts of chicken, pork, and appropriate veggies suitable for processing into dog food; giant packages of high-quality pecans, walnuts, and pine nuts; lifetime supplies of paper goods; the incredible maple syrup at the incredible price; the smokin’ deal on gasoline; the beloved tire shop; the cheap propane — may not really add up to $50 worth of easy shopping or $50 worth of savings on gas and junk.

At any rate, given the hassle involved in writing checks and the general PITA it is to shop there under the best of conditions, you may be sure I won’t be running into Costco every time the whim strikes: not anymore.

I’m hoping to keep the Costco runs down to one a month, ideally; two at most. And if I only spend about $75 or $80 on each such trip…jeez. Costco’s CitiBank debacle will be my profit, to the tune of about $150 to to $225 a month!