Monthly Archives: January 2010

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Vienna Fingers & Grape FantaI’ve failed.

Nearly 9 months in, 242 days to be exact, I have officially been (soundly) defeated by a soiled diaper.

Yep, the smackdown took place yesterday morning as we were eating cookies and watching ice hockey highlights on television together on the couch.

Sniff, sniff… Suddenly a waft of not-so-sweetness overtook the room.

Eh, routine diaper change coming up. Or so I thought

I quickly learned that this was not going to be a typical diaper change.

Oh no, this was one for the ages…

I’d guesstimate that Duncan has 3 or 4 blowouts per week so it’s not exactly an unusual occurance. Thankfully, though, 90% of them happen while he’s at school (which is what they call daycare these days), so it’s not usually *my* problem.

With my wife in the shower, well, this one was all me.

As is fumbled with the snaps holding his pajama-with-feet outfit together, it became apparent that I had a, um, mess on my hands. We’re talking “Global Thermonuclear War“… and a mess on my hands. Literally.

Fighting a pair of kicking legs, I tried in earnest to control the, well, let’s just call it “insanity”.

Doing my best to keep the, um, “insanity” contained, I used a few wipes here, a few wipes there, a clean diaper over there, and even a bit of his outfit to get it out from between his toes, you know the drill…

I was doing pretty well, or so I thought, and then I coughed…

I gagged.

And then I heaved.

I pressed on though. Had to complete the mission, you know?

But then, holding the little guy’s lower end in the air by the ankles over an overflowing diaper with “insanity” smeared all over much of my free hand, my mouth suddenly filled with a mixture of Vienna Fingers and grape flavored Fanta.

Uh-oh…

I’ve probably already “spilled” too much info here but I’m sure you get the gist of what happened next.

Anyway, I’m still patting myself on the back for lasting 241 days longer than I ever thought I would.
The Guilty Party...
He looks guilty, doesn’t he?

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Sleeping DuncanMy electric bill and natural gas bill were the highest that they have ever been this past month.

It wasn’t even close — I blew my previous highs (from 2005) out of the water.

Now I know that the winter season is upon us and there were a few weeks of frigid weather back in December but an electric bill of $233.67 and a natural gas bill topping out at $335.24 totally caught me by surprise.

At first I thought it was a mistake. Or maybe it was an extra long billing cycle…but it wasn’t either of those.

Ouch.

I loosely budget $500 per month for bills — water, gas, electricity, phone, and cable.

Those two bills alone exceed my budget.

So what’s different from years past?

I’ll tell ya.

Duncan.

See, he hasn’t quite figured out what a blanket is for yet.

He all but refuses to sleep underneath one and, as a result, we keep the heat on a little higher and an electric heater running in his room all night.

That costs a lot.

Okay, so maybe I was a little premature in stating that kids don’t cost that much!

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Netgear ReadyNASWell that was quick!

Yep, just over a week into the new year and I’ve already spent a fortune — unexpectedly.

I suppose that when the month is over, I’ll classify these most recent purchases as “business expenses” but that doesn’t hide the fact that I spent real money on them…

I hate when people are under the assumption that “business expenses” are freebies. They’re not.

And if you work at a company and freely spend money that isn’t your own, well, you should think about that some time.

Anyway, remember that awful day that I had back in October of 2007?

Don’t worry — it’s okay if you don’t. You can refresh your memory here.

The short of it is that I had a hard drive fail. I went out and bought a short term replacement and, while it hasn’t “failed” yet, it’s running at roughly 98% capacity.

It’s crawling…

Lasting for nearly two and a half years is pretty good but I’ve always feared another drive failure and I’ve also always known that I *need* to plunk down the cash to get a real viable long term and expandable storage system in place.

I finally did that earlier this week — but only after making a bonehead move and attempting to do it the “cheap” way.

I surfed on over to CDW and purchased another Buffalo Technologies DriveStation just like I did back in 2007.

It arrived earlier this week…dead.

I’ve never been a big fan of CDW but with Circuit City and CompUSA no longer in existance, purchasing the unit in person is all but impossible these days and then CDW went out and bought out my favorite online retailer so it seemed as if the only place to turn — and they had the best price too. That’s rarely the case — which is why I’m not a big fan…

Thankfully their returns policy is pretty friendly though they still haven’t processed my return yet — I’m hoping I don’t get hit with a 15% restocking fee for a unit that was dead right out of the box.

Eitherway, in desperate need of drive space, this turn of events put me in the hot seat. I decided that enough was enough — no more nickel and diming my way through this.

I bought a file server.

No more of this USB connection crap. I settled on a model from the NetGear ReadyNAS line of products.

Basically, it’s a computer case filled with hard drives.

Back in the 1990’s, I built a few of fileservers from old computers at zero cost and I considered doing that sort of thing again this time but that was back before RAID and, honestly, I don’t have time for that sort of project anymore.

I paid for it this time instead. So far, between the two purchases, I’ve surpassed the $1000 mark.

Tons of space and loads of redundancy are worth it though — especially having delayed this expense for years on end.

That’s what I decided. Or, at least, that’s what I’m telling myself right now.

It’s still not here and, sadly, it’s scheduled delivery is next Monday (MLK day, ugh…) so I probably won’t have it until that Tuesday.

Here’s to hoping that I can make it through another week with just over that 1GB to work with…

Now the only big ticket item (that I’ve been eyeing for years) left on my list is a good high-quality file cabinet.

Ever priced one of those out? Yikes — they’re expensive…

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January 2010 Net WorthNow that’s the way to close out a year and start a new one!

This past month made it 10 consecutive months of increasing my net worth — and for many of the months by a substantial amount. It’s all good…

My last negative month was February of 2009 when my total net worth was $162288. Today, I’m $68934 wealthier.

Economy woes aside, yeah, 2009 was a very good year for me. I’m sad to see it go.

So here are this past month’s details:

Cash:
The big secret is here is that December happened to be a three-paycheck month for me. Those are always nice padding for a new worth report.

Savings:
No more Mickey-Mousing around. I was transfering every last penny that I could into savings in an attempt to get a jump of my financial goals for 2010.

I still have a looooooong way to go but I’m off and running now.

Gov’t Bonds:
Another $300 bond purchase on the last day of the year brought me right up to the $5k maximum. I’m still not seeing the fruits of the last few months worth of purchases but I’m confident that they were “good” buys in the long run.

401k:
Though I’m not earning a match anymore, I’m still contributing the maximum allowed. Not entirely sure why or how long I’ll continue to do so but for as long as I can afford it, I’m going to stay the course.

Home:
It only took a year and now my home’s value is right back to (and above) where it was when the whole mess (reportedly) began.

Auto 1 & Auto 2:
Apparently a new year isn’t favorable to used car values. Who’da thunk?

Credit Cards, Auto Loans, and Other Loans:
Zilch. Zero. Nada.

Mortgage:
Back at it — knocking an extra $175 off of the principle each week. I back off of this strategy for 3 months or so but I really only see an upside to knocking off over 1% of the balance each and every month.

The sooner the mortgage is paid off, in my opinion and for my own peace of mind, the better.

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Duncan on the couch.Well, it’s a new year now so I’m not going to apologize for *any* of my ridiculous expenditures last month.

Really, though, I didn’t go drastically overboard in any category and I even got a jump on some of my financial goals for 2010 — specifically the mortgage goal.

So, here’s a listing of the damage:

  • $1850.00 : Mortgage
  • $1147.23 : Hockey Jerseys
  • $226.54 : Christmas Related Stuff
  • $200.00 : Lawn Service
  • $152.32 : Electricity
  • $136.59 : Natural Gas
  • $111.50 : Cable/Internet
  • $81.42 : Gas
  • $69.50 : Business Expenses
  • $68.48 : Phone

That’s $4043.58 — a lot of money.

Explaining it all…

I stepped up my mortgage payments this month to the tune of $175 towards the principle per week. This puts me back on pace to finish off the mortgage in a timely fashion.

The hockey jerseys… Well, history shows that I splurge at the end of November each year and I did it again this year except, for once, it didn’t hit the books until December rolled around. Yeah, it’s a number I should feel shame over but I said up at the top that I wasn’t going to apologoze for anything.

Christmas only cost $226.54 this year. Definitely a thrifty holiday compared to years past. We figured that Duncan isn’t going to remember this one so we didn’t bother to go all out.

The lawn service expendure was also a hold over from November. I’ve mentioned a few times on the site that I’d never be raking my own leaves again because, in my eyes, it’s definitely worth the money to have someone else come and get rid of them for me. They sucked every last leaf up back during the first week of November but the bill arrived in mid-December.

The bills this month were a pleasant surprise. It’s gotten super cold so I expected the electricity and natural gas bills to skyrocket. They both went up but not by much.

The gas total indicates that I only filled up 3 times in December — a combination of getting great gas milelage and not making a single lengthly car trip.

Lastly, the phone… This one is starting to irk me. See, if I recall correctly, I only used the phone a total of 4 times this month. If you were one of the lucky fortunate to have spoken with me on the phone this month I’m sure that you’d agree that none of the calls were worth the roughly $17 I ended up having to pay for them.

Bring on 2010…

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BrainyPIAC Post Extension:
Though I didn’t start doing these spending reports until the end of March, I have the data for the entire year nice and handy so, for the record, I “spent” $48665.80 in 2009.

That works out to an average of $4055.48 per month so, really, I had nothing to apologize for this month — I came in under “budget” in a wacky sort of way.

Here are the totals for all years past where I’m 100% confident that the numbers are complete and accurate:

2004: $55,594.06
2005: $66,791.22
2006: $78,530.31
2007: $81,046.25
2008: $49,342.55
2009: $48,665.80

Keep in mind that 2006 and 2007’s numbers are skewed by the home improvement projects we took on back then.

No matter how you read the numbers, whether you think they’re insanely high or welfare level low, I’m on the right track having kept my expenses over the past two years lower than they’ve ever been.

What exactly occured roughly two years ago that allowed me to turn the table?

Yep, I wiped out the last of my credit card debt.

Coincidence?

I think not.

If you’re carrying some credit card debt, I can’t stress it enough — wipe it out before anything else because once you do all of the other stuff will suddenly fall into place.

Can You Dig It?

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