Monthly Archives: May 2011

5 1234

Finally getting caught up with these Spending Reports

They’re invaluable because they keep me honest — and I kept the past two months offline because, well, I knew the report wasn’t anything to be proud of.

So I’m just going to come out and say it — April will be my last month of total financial stupidity in 2011. I’m done.

Here are the numbers:

  • $1937.90 : Hockey Jerseys
  • $498.72 : Mortgage
  • $271.65 : Gas
  • $239.45 : Allstate Insurance
  • $169.01 : Natural Gas
  • $163.77 : Electricity
  • $126.79 : Cable/Internet
  • $79.45 : Business Expenses
  • $77.27 : Babies-R-Us
  • $44.50 : Toys-R-Us
  • $40.00 : Cash
  • $10.00 : Car Wash
  • $3.00 : Bank of America Check Image Service Fee

Together that’s $3661.51.

Better than March.

Far better than February.

And still completely inexcusable…

I can’t justify the hockey jerseys. They’re a want, not a need. I wanted them and I bought them.

Stupid.

Take them out of the equation and I only spent $1723.

That’s a number I’d be proud of.

The rest is what it is… My auto insurance has climbed with the third vehicle on my policy and I’m obivously spending a lot more on gasoline drving the Land Rover instead of the Scion.

Granted, the gas expenditures in April were extraordinarily high and far from the norm — I can’t deny that the latest car is costing a lot more to operate than I’d expected. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve been getting 40 miles per gallon for years and years and years…

2 1002

I read an article today about movies with upcoming sequels that probably shouldn’t have sequels.

The article itself was terrible — you know, just one of those articles with a bunch of single sentence paragraphs.

Oh wait, that’s a perfect description of this place…

Anyway, it referenced the movie Die Hard. I was unaware that another sequel was in the works (apparently one is with Bruce Willis on board) and, from a personal standpoint, they probably should have stopped making Die Hard movies half way through the second one. That’s about where I lost interest in John McClane.

But the original from 1988 is one of those few movies that acts as an anchor when I’m channel surfing.

I mean, there could be less than 10 minutes left until it’s over and I’ll still stop to watch.

It’s that good.

And that got me thinking, will Duncan and Henrik like Die Hard the way I do or will it be one of those “stupid old movies that dad likes…”

I was in 7th grade when Die Hard came out. I’m not certain if I was in the target demographic — probably not — but it certainly stuck with me.

The movie came out 21 years before either of my kids were born. Applying that to myself, can I think of a movie my dad would watch over and over that came out 21 years before I was born? One that I also enjoyed?

Off hand, no.

The first thing that comes to mind for me when I think of 1955 is, sadly, the first Back to the Future movie. Another of my favorites but not really applicable here since it came out in 1985.

A quick google search reveals that Rebel without a Cause came out in 1955. I’ve certainly heard of the movie but I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen it. Don’t recall my dad ever watching it on the couch either.

Marilyn Monroe’s Seven Year Itch came out in 1955 too. I had to watch that movie in high school (for reasons that I can’t recall) and thought it was fairly entertaining.

Can I imagine my dad saying the same thing?

Um, no.

The only old movies that I can think of that would instantaneously get my dad to stop surfing were Ben-Hur (1959), The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966), and Planet of the Apes (1968).

Ben-Hur is pretty close to 1955. That said, I thought it sucked — along with all of the ancient Greek and Roman clone movies that followed. I think my dad just enjoyed any movie that could boast a cast of thousands with a few chariots thrown in.

It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I realized what a great movie The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly truly was even though Clint Eastwood is quite clearly one of the worst actors in history.

I vividly remember in high school rolling my eyes each time I’d catch my dad watching it on a Sunday afternoon, like, every single Sunday afternoon.

Seriously, to this day, I think that movie is on television at least once per week. At least. I catch pieces of it all the time.

Still, though, I can’t claim to have enjoyed that one alongside my dad either.

And who could forget the Planet of the Apes? I couldn’t stand Charlton Heston but I liked this movie and all of it’s sequels right up until Marky Mark and Helena Bonham-Carter ruined the entire franchise a few years back.

Now these were movies that we’d watch together. While I remember the plotline of original the best, I think it was one of the goofy sequels (or the tv series?) where they’re in modern day San Francisco (or some other such place) that I remember most fondly.

Sadly, outside of the original or the Marky Mark remake, you never see these on television.

Eitherway, those movies (the sequels) are only a few years older than I am — not a couple of decades older. They don’t really apply.

So, will my kids treat Die Hard (or Star Wars, or Back to the Future, or The Goonies, or Red Dawn, or Rocky IV, or Space Balls — all 20+ years old now) the same way I treated Ben-Hur?

Man, I *hope* not.

Here’s to hoping Angie is right!

5 1705

erpentine BeltOkay, I’ve been putting this off long enough. The original reason for not posting March’s numbers was because Henrik was born on the 31st.

When I finally had the time to sit down and put the numbers together, I was so horrified and ashamed of my findings that I just didn’t want to post them sooooooo…I didn’t.

But here they are now — better late than never.

  • $1139.68 : Auto Repair
  • $1075.00 : March of Dimes
  • $498.72 : Mortgage
  • $483.67 : Hockey Jerseys
  • $224.87 : Natural Gas
  • $210.00 : Credit Card Transaction Fee
  • $189.45 : Gas
  • $159.14 : Electricity
  • $156.35 : Allstate Insurance
  • $123.96 : Cable/Internet
  • $92.38 : Business Expenses
  • $40.00 : Cash
  • $23.50 : Cool T-Shirt
  • $21.20 : Cell Phone
  • $20.91 : Magic Jack
  • $10.25 : Airport Parking
  • $6.58 : Finance Charges
  • $3.00 : Bank of America Check Image Service Fee

Add it all together and you get $4468.66.

The top two expenses are what killed me.

It didn’t take long for me to learn first hand that Land Rovers are, um, incident-prone.

The dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree mid-month and it cost me over a grand to fix it. Something about a green serpent belt (pictured above) and a thermo-something. I don’t know… Take my money and make my car go. Thanks.

Obviously, I’m not a gear head.

The next item doesn’t look like anything to apologize for. Well, in some ways, there is something crooked about the March of Dimes…

Did you know that the mission of the March of Dimes is to cure polio? I’ve never personally met anyone with polio and I’m thinking that it’s probably because there’s been a cure for polio for nearly 60 years now?! The March of Dimes, though, is *still* running strong and collecting money…

What’s up with that?

Okay, okay… Their mission these days to collect money for premature babies or something, and that’s great and all, but this “donation” was really a hockey jersey purchase that I had no business making.

For charity or not, it was still an ill-advised purchase.

The rest of it is pretty self explanatory.

The Credit Card transaction fee was for the convenience check I wrote to myself to pay for the Land Rover back in February.

The cool t-shirt is, well, totally cool. It has Abraham Lincoln fighting Big Foot on it and it’s awesome. I’ve gotten a great reception from the folks in Toddler Room 3 while wearing it.

I found it interesting that we’ve been with MagicJack for an entire year now. I have to say that it’s been one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.

We’ve saved so much money and haven’t noticed a difference in service from when we were with AT&T (and paying over $70 per month).

If you’re on the fence about MagicJack, well, get off the fence. It works and it will save you a ton of money. Oh, and telemarketers will never find your number either.

And I don’t really want to talk about it cause it makes me angry but, as expected, Bank of America dinged me with that $3.00 fee again.

Argh?!

So it’s now been a year since we re-financed our mortgage.

On one hand, that move gave us great financial, well, not freedom, really, but…flexibilty, I guess.

I mean, suddenly having a sub $500 mortgage payment when you’ve grown accustomed to a $1500 mortgage payment for years on end should be lifestyle altering…

And it was…

But it feels like we’ve gone the wrong direction.

Back then, we were debt free and living pretty comfortably — a tiny mortgage payment was really just icing on the cake.

The good kind of icing where you can’t feel the sugar crystals in your teeth. I recommend Betty Crocker.

One year later, though, we’re $28k deep in credit card debt and our mortage balance $4k higher than it was.

That’s not progress…

Déjà vu?

Money’s not tight, like, “Oh crap, how are we going to pay the water bill,” but it’s not growing off of trees like it probably should be.

Still, though, while the re-fi may have sparked the tailspin of the last year, I’m still convinced that it was the right move.

I just lost my way shortly thereafter…

I stopped paying down the mortgage like a maniac.

That was a good move, actually, but it also kinda gave me that stuck-in-the-mud type of feeling. The balance isn’t falling — and how could it with $500 monthly payments?

Financially speaking, it’s unwise to overpay it. Mentally, though, I really miss seeing the balance drop each month. For a few months there, I was knocking it down over a thousand bucks per month and it felt great.

Really, though, the big mover and shaker of the past year was the major renovation that we had done last year.

I don’t regret it — it HAD to be done and it’s made our house a safer and more comfortable place to live.

At the same time, I really thought we’d have it paid for in full by now.

And we should.

I just didn’t stick to my re-payment schedule.

And I kept spending. An expensive trip last summer and the new car purchase just a few months ago were crippling, just crippling, and we haven’t recovered.

Making matters worse, in another month or so, Henrik will be joining Duncan in daycare.

Wanna talk about a budget buster?

More on that later…

0 943

Ever get the feeling that numbers lie?

Sure, my net worth gained over $5k this past month but my debts seemed set in stone. No movement there and so the month felt like, well, like whatever 30 days of treading water must feel like.

I’m not happy with it but things should turn around soon…

Cash:
Just trying to keep a nice cushion here and, so far, it’s working.

Savings:
I should probaly redirect some of this towards debt but that 5-figure balance that I had in here a few months back made me really content. I want that feeling back — even with the debt.

Gov’t Bonds:
I’m pretty sure these will earn even more now that the inflation rates have been adjusted upward. Not yet time to start buying more but perhaps after November 1st.

401k:
Sometimes I wish I could tap this — if even for one month’s worth of gains.

Home:
Eh, whatever…

Auto 1, Auto 2, and Auto 3:
Was adding a third (and technically fourth) vehicle to our fleet a good idea, financially-speaking? Probably not. But it sure makes family road trips a lot easier.

Credit Card:
Shoot me now. I haven’t posted a spending report lately but I should. It’d shame me into getting this under control. I had this moving in the right direction until the last day of the month — then I blew it.

Auto Loans and Other Loans:
Nothing to report! Woo-hoo!

Mortgage:
Same thing I’ve been saying for months… Just another minimum payment. Since the re-fi, I’ve totally flip-flopped and hopped on that bandwagon of folks that say that overpaying the mortgage is stupid. I totally agree with them — but only if your monthly payment is insanely low…

1 881

Okay, so this morning, since it’s finally warm outside in New England, I went outside to do a little lawn work and within 5 minutes or so, it became apparent that I’m still not ready for lawn work just yet.

The answer is yes, it hurts.

I just can’t believe that it took less than 5 minutes to tear a hole in myself…so I guess it’s good that my primary job is behind a computer screen.

I know, I know — it’s a tiny blister.

I’ve had far worse but this one is in just the WRONG place. I’m telling you, it’s worse than it looks.

Anyway, I thought I’d expand a bit on Friday’s post about Smurfling 2.

Duncan’s new little brother is named Henrik.

Say what?

Well, it wasn’t that long ago that I mentioned that we were partial to “weird (by North American standards) Dutch or Scandanavian names” and Henrik certainly fits that criteria.

Since “announcing” the birth, we’ve heard all kinds of comments regarding the name…

Most are convinced that he’s named after a hockey player since I’m Canadian and that automatically makes us fans of the sport — Sedin, Zetterberg, or Lundqvist.

Maybe, but not really. None of those guys are Canadian or play for our favorite team.

Or maybe since I’m a nerd, it’s paying homage to Niels Bohr? His middle name was Henrik.

Amazingly, I knew that his middle name was Henrik but I’m not enough of a nerd to name my children after turn of the century physicists.

We’ve even been told that Henrik is the name of one of the major characters in the “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“.

Thankfully he’s a good guy, apparently. Not surprisingly, though, I’d never even heard of the book (or movie) until after the fact. Even still, I’ll likely never read it.

Or… since we’ve got a super German last name, we wanted to go all Nazi and name him after SS leader Heinrich Himmler.

Um, no. That would be insane — though it certainly led us to steer clear of that spelling and pretty much every single other German first name.

In reality, though, I think it was more of a Henry Ford type of thing that my wife and I agreed on — but all of those baby name books out there right now list Henry as one of the “uber-popular” names for the next few years.

With that in mind, and the memory of having 12 Jennifers in my class during the third grade (one even permanently switched to her middle name of Neel for 4th grade), I wanted to avoid a similar situation.

Unable to think of something better than Henry (which we still agreed on), we went Scandinavian on it — some folks still look at us like we made it up.

Then again, those are the same folks that thought the name Duncan was spelled wrong too.

Damn you Dunkin Donuts…

Can You Dig It?

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