Coffee heat rising

We’re in the Money…

For the moment…

This morning the Dow was at 19,000! When it goes wacko like this, my fund will make 30 grand in a month. Woot!

Unfortunately, it’s likely as not to lose 32 grand the following month…but let’s not think about that.

Ha ha!! In amongst the stupid chatter to this YouTube video is One (count it: 1) truly inspired comment:

Sonic Ryan 1992
What it feels like to be a post-graduate who finally got a good paying job.

What I’d  like to do is tell my guy to SELL NOW! Convert about half our holdings to cash; then invest the remainder aggressively for another month or two (maybe six, at the outside), then shift that to the money market.

My son has dragged his feet on refinancing the downtown house. It frosts his cookies to have to pony up more cash to principal, and an extra layer of frosting is applied by the prospect of having to pay mortgage insurance (we don’t, on the current instrument). But I  believe the house’s value will soon rise enough to give us well over 20% equity (it’s probably that high now): the housing market is exploding, his neighborhood (as I prematurely predicted) is gentrifying, and as demand rises, so will prices.

So I’ve sicced a friend who’s a mortgage broker on him, hoping that this time around he’ll kick into gear and get that thing refinanced. The problem is, it has a 30/15 loan on it. In 2020 — just  four years, about the time I expect the Trump economy will tank — we’ll be forced to refinance or to sell. We took out that loan, which had exceptionally favorable terms at the time, because he planned to stay in Phoenix just long enough to get back on his feet after being laid off at the tail end of the Silicon Valley bust, save some money, and then go back to San Francisco. It hasn’t worked out that way. Inertia set in, and he seems to be happy enough to stay where he is.

For the time being.

At any rate, it’s hard to believe that in just four years, he will have been in that house for 15 years. Tempus fidgets, eh?

Not real thrilled, myself, about being over the barrel now to get that place refinanced. Rates are already rising, and they’re expected to head straight for the stratosphere. I expect by 2020, we’ll be lucky to get an 8% loan.

When I bought my first house here in the ‘hood, that’s exactly how I felt: very lucky to land an 8.25% loan. Everybody cooed about what a great deal it was. I only owed $80,000 on the house, and the payments were over half my take-home pay. Imagine the payment on a $180,000 loan at 8% or 9%? We are gonna see a WHOLE lot of people who simply can’t afford to buy real estate at all. Ever. And a lot who will go belly-up. Again.

Interesting times, hm?

How are you planning to deal with all this…interest?

Money happens!

SDXB, the master guru of Bumhood, says that when one has no visible means of support “money happens.” As one of those obsessives who craves to know enough is in the bank to cover a month’s expenses before the month begins, I’ve always felt skeptical about that. But as a practical matter, the man is right: like manna, money droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven. It happens.

Couple days ago, the phone rings and there’s the chair of the Phoenix College chairperson. Will I substitute-teach for a faculty member who’s on her way out of town for a week?

Say what?

Subs for college classes?

Unheard of at the Great Desert University. No such thing as substitute teachers there. If you get called for jury duty, have a family emergency, or go to a conference, you have three choices: persuade a friend to show up and babysit your classes; post assignments online to keep the students busy for an hour or two each day and call it “distance learning”; or quietly cancel class.

Well, of course, I assumed that was what she had in mind: I’d stand in for this lady, who had arranged a cruise up Alaska’s Inland Passage long before she knew she’d get a teaching contract, and I’d do it as a lagniappe. What goes around comes around: you help someone out and one day they help you. And especially you help out chairs of department, by way of bowing and scraping.

So I couldn’t believe it when they told me they’d pay for this activity. Yes. With actual money. Not much: fifteen bucks an hour (heh…unless I misunderstood and she said “fifty”…not likely). All told it comes to $135: half a month’s groceries! In fact, the hourly rate for a regular adjunct is just about $50; in that case this represents a surprise $450.

Every little bit helps.

By the end of this semester, the net on the two courses I’m teaching will more than equal the gross pay for one course. Since I’m stashing every penny in savings, this means that the net on what I earn today will cover me next year if I can’t get three classes a semester.

It also means that if I don’t want to teach three-and-three, I could in theory choose to take three sections in one semester and two in the other, or teach three in spring and two in summer and then take the entire fall semester off!

Or, if they offered me three-and-three and I chose to accept them all, whatever little bits and pieces of cash come in this fall can be folded into next year’s budget, guaranteeing that I continue to live in the style to which I have every intention of remaining accustomed.

Money happens, and it underwrites retirement.


Money happens…

SDXB, a fellow who found his way clear to jump off the hamster wheel in his late 40s and never went back to the workplace, is fond of saying that “money happens.” By that he means that he never seems to lack for money (and it’s true he lives well, despite having little or no visible means of support) and that occasionally unexpected little windfalls happen.

Truth to tell, he has always made money happen. Until he reached retirement age, he supported his bumhood habit by occasionally volunteering to go TDY with the active-duty Air Force Reserve, in which he was the highest-ranking non-com in his job classification. The military pays certain people who are effectively temp workers pretty well, and reservists who stick with it get a nice pension and health care, plus access to commissaries and base exchanges around the world. He also did a fair amount of freelance journalism, especially travel writing, which underwrote trips you and I would regard as vacations and provided some nice tax write-offs.

He insists that a person who is willing to live frugally, who has even minimal resources, and who makes bumhood (read “permanent unemployment”) a priority can live comfortably without having to labor in the salt mines. And for him it’s worked: he’s almost 70, and he hasn’t held a steady job since the day he got up from the editor’s chair at a Scripps-Howard newspaper and walked out the door. He climbed on a plane, flew to Hawai’i, and camped on the beach for a month, where no one could reach him by telephone. He’s bought two houses in cash and he buys his cars in cash; he travels, he never wants for entertainment…and he doesn’t go to work.

Well, I’ve always been too cowardly to pull that one off, even though he kept assuring me that I had more than enough to live on and that money happens.

Now that I’m about to be forced to get out of the editor’s chair myself, though, I’m discovering that the guy may be right. In the past couple of days, money has happened three times.

Two happenings occurred yesterday. First, a client from bygone days resurfaced to ask if I’d edit a new project he’s cooked up. It was short and easy—I got through it in just a few hours and will bill about two hundred bucks. While I was playing with that, the phone rang, and lo! There was the chair of the English and Humanities department of Phoenix College, an inner-city branch of the community college district, conveniently located about eight minutes from my house.

Asked she, would I take on, at the last minute, a 200-level course in journalism?

Happy to, said I, but I’m already signed up to teach the maximum number of credit hours the district will permit.

No problem, quoth she! Because it’s an emergency hire, she can get an override.

You’re on! said I.

She said she’d have to be sure the course actually makes before forking over a contract, but it only needs 18 students. It’s a hybrid course that meets once a week, and when I looked over the district’s requirements, I realized it’s much the same course I’ve taught several times at Scottsdale!

So. This fall, in the four months running up to Canning Day, I will gross ninety-six hundred extra dollars with this side job as a community college teacher. Since our office is winding down, I doubt if this will cause much strain; after all, the “two” GDU courses I signed on to teach in the spring of 2008 morphed into four, and I survived.

Meanwhile, an hour ago I finished reading another detective novel for pay. A pretty darned good one, too: well written and clean. Another $250 in the busker’s hat.

Money happens, but money unhappens, too. A few mutual fund, IRA, and 403(b) statements materialized toward the end of the week, showing that my devastated investments are reviving a little. Since reaching their April 2009 nadir, they’ve climbed about $9,000—and that’s after I took out about $15,000 to pay off the Renovation Loan. Still, the total of retirement savings is down $126,792 from the high balance in May of 2008: thanks so much to the greedy bastards and misguided dogmatists who’ve run the country and the economy this past decade or so.

Think of that: a hundred and twenty-seven grand lost in the collapse of the Bush economy. If that money hadn’t unhappened, I’d have plenty to retire on without a worry in the world. On the other hand…if the economy hadn’t crashed, I’d stick with a boring job for the next three years and not be about to embark on the grand adventure of bumhood.

Win some, lose some. Maybe being pushed to quit working, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, is worth a little money unhappening.

Hamster and hamster wheel, Dimitar Popovsky, Wikipedia Commons
U.S. Dollar Bill, public domain