Monthly Archives: November 2012

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    Now I have to admit, whenever a folder full of artwork comes home from daycare, it’s pretty unusual for me to take the time to actually look at it.

    I’m not proud of that.

    But last night my wife went through a bunch of it and hung (masking taped) some updated stuff on the wall. By “updated”, I mean more recent than 2010.

    Here’s one of my favorites by my younger son Henrik…

    Chicken Artwork

    Now, I know, this is clearly not the work of un-aided toddler. Their “real” artwork has more of an abstract expressionist (not to mention worthless) feel to it.

    That’s okay, though.

    I never really had my hopes set on either of them becoming artists anyway…

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    Vote!I do my best not to get too political on here but it’s hard to deny that there’s a pretty important election coming up this week.

    From the top all the way down to the local candidates, everyone seems to be stuck on the topic of jobs and the economy… as if a local town councillor has any power on the subject.

    And, frankly, I’m not sure the President has much *real* say either…

    Whatever.

    What I do find hilarious is that every debate I’ve watched (outside of the foreign policy themed one), whether it’s Obama and Romney or just two local folks running for a State House seat, they all meander right back to jobs.

    Specifically, manufacturing jobs.

    And during their prepared remarks on those government propelled manufacturing jobs they always ramble on about the need for skilled workers and university degrees.

    Say what?

    Skilled workers (and by skilled, they’re implying 4-year degree skills) and manufacturing jobs?

    Really?

    Don’t get me wrong, many manufacturing jobs require skill but I don’t know too many machinists, tool & die makers, or assembly folks with university degrees.

    The two do NOT go hand in hand.

    Manufacturing jobs, by definition, are for “unskilled” workers.

    Again, calling them unskilled isn’t really fair… The carpenter that fabricated the window frames during our remodel a couple of years ago has some serious skill.

    But it’s certainly not a skill he picked up over four years at Harvard. Had he gone that route, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be a home improvement specialist.

    Point is, an over-educated workforce doesn’t lead to more high paying jobs across the country.

    It leads to an overqualified workforce where a vast number are perpetually dissatisfied with their current occupation while continuing the current trend we’re on with a complete lack of folks willing to do the “real” hands-on work.

    How many university graduates out there want to drive a forklift around a warehouse?

    A lot, I’m sure.

    It would be kinda cool to try.

    How about for 50 hours per week? Um, no thanks…

    But we need people willing to do that sort of thing. Lots of people.

    Again, there’s a reason there isn’t as much manufacturing going on in this country — it’s like the illegal migrant worker issue — we don’t have the workers available to do some of the jobs… and a big reason is because we all think we’ve got delicate hands and some “mad skillz” worthy of top dollar…

    China has had a big target on it during the campaigning. China this and China that. I think a lot of it has to do with jealousy but, the fact is, they’ve got a larger workforce of those “unskilled” workers to man the plants, inject the plastic, pick the berries, and shine the sprockets.

    It’s not an education thing. It’s not a government thing. It’s an attitude thing. It’s our own fault that we’re not competitive. And that has resulted in a loss of jobs.

    I don’t really care who wins on Tuesday — though, locally, I hope Linda McMahon does not.

    I can’t vote anyway (I’m Canadian), but it’s troubling to know that the one issue everyone seems so concerned about is something that the government has essentially zero control over.

    Handing out more student loans (resulting in fewer people willing to fill the jobs we’re apparently trying to bring back) and creating more high paying “government-funded” jobs will just dig the country into an even bigger hole than it’s already in.

    That said, everyone knows that what the candidates say during a campaign won’t actually happen anyway so… it’s all good.

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    November 2012 Net WorthIt’s funny how perception can deceive you.

    I mean, I’ve felt like I’ve been on a pretty good run lately, keeping my expenses relatively low and my income has been up a bit.

    At least that’s what I thought was happening…

    Cash:
    A couple medium sized side-business payments came in at the tail end of the month to boost this up a bit.

    Savings:
    I’ve been stashing away over $1300 per month here but, like last month, I had to “borrow” hundreds of dollars from myself to pay for and/or down other things. This past month it was for that sideline credit card that was getting a little heavy.

    That doesn’t bother me so much — it’s the fact that saving up for a new garage is looking more and more formidable as my piggy bank fails to grow at the rate I’d expected.

    Worse yet, I might need to dip into savings again this month to pay my homeowners insurance premium (on which I paid a monthly installment for the first time ever just a few weeks ago)…

    Three months in a row of taking out over half of what I’ve put in… Not a path to success.

    Gov’t Bonds:
    Another month, another two bucks!

    401k:
    2012 is looking to be a pretty flat year. Or maybe the fact that I stopped contributing (over a year ago) is just now starting to be noticeable?

    Home:
    The news might have you believe that Hurricane Sandy also wiped out much of Connecticut but my house is doing just fine.

    Auto 1, Auto 2, and Auto 3:
    If you offered me $20,880 for these three cars today, I’d gladly hand over the keys. Offers? Anyone?

    Credit Cards:
    So while my net worth went down this month, my ability to keep the credit card balance at zero cancels out any downward feelings. I’m living within my means. And Christmas time is always more fun with a clean credit card balance!

    Auto Loans and Other Loans:
    Zilch. Zero. Nada.

    Mortgage:
    Another minimum payment.

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    New ShoesWhat an unusual spending month October turned out to be…

    $810.00 : Family
    $700.00 : Daycare
    $498.72 : Mortgage
    $350.07 : Business Expenses
    $326.80 : Gasoline
    $322.22 : Auto Repair
    $228.27 : Auto Insurance
    $129.54 : Electric
    $112.00 : Hockey Jersey
    $100.00 : Cash
    $90.00 : Auto Registration
    $85.00 : Toddler Computer Class
    $68.16 : Homeowners Insurance
    $67.30 : Cable/Internet
    $48.47 : Natural Gas
    $47.00 : Clothing
    $40.08 : Life Insurance
    $27.00 : Fast Food
    $22.18 : Rakes and Mouse Traps
    $20.20 : Toddler Hockey Stick

    Grand total comes to $4093.01 which is actually a lot lower than I’d expected considering all of the “extra” expenses that came up.

    The family expenses were sky high this past month because the balance of a credit card that isn’t reported on here got a bit larger than I was comfortable with.

    FULL DISCLOSURE ALERT — I only report *my* assets, liabilities, and expenses on this site. My wife has her own income, her own retirement accounts, her own car, and her own month-to-month and daily expenses.

    If you’ve ever wondered why I never seem to list groceries on my expense reports, well, that’s cause she buys them. Along with diapers, half of daycare, and countless other things that I kinda like not ever really having to worry about.

    So, anyway, one of her credit cards needed an additional payment.

    The daycare bill went down this month. No, not because the rate went down but because we’d been overbilled for every other month this year. Hooray for us — for this month, anyway…

    Business expenses were high again. Ugh. This time I could blame Hurricane Sandy (and probably file an insurance claim) but that’d just be a weak excuse and, frankly, crooked too.

    Anyway, while restarting my servers (after shutting them down for the expected power outages during the hurricane), the sync scan reported that one of the drives in my RAID array was failing… and then, yep, it failed.

    End result, I purchased two larger replacement drives that’ll cure the problem, restore redundancy, and expand my storage space.

    The car repairs were for the Land Rover…again. One morning I went out to start the car and the engine wouldn’t turn. No biggie, I’ve got four cars, so I jumped in another one and it was dead too.

    Awesome.

    Yeah, it was a great morning.

    The Rover just needed a new battery and it’s back up and running just fine now. The other dead car probably just needs a new battery too but we’re going to get rid of the car soon anyway so, for now, if we need it, we’ll jump it.

    Yeah, yeah… I bought a hockey jersey. Whatever. At least it was cheap.

    Auto Registration comes up every now and then.

    Toddler computer class is brand new. Yep, they’re putting three year olds on computers these days. It’s insane, Duncan’s command of the mouse blows my mind. I’m not sure I’d even figured out how to turn on a television when I was three. On that note, Duncan has mastered the television remote as well.

    The cost was so high because it was the first month — it’s just a $40 expenditure per month from here on out. I think it’s worth it. The jump start he’s getting by taking part in something like this is priceless.

    Ahhhh…homeowners insurance. I’ve never once not paid for the entire year on this but the money just wasn’t there when it needed to be so I made a partial payment. Not sure if I’ll pay the rest of the balance in the coming week or just continue on this monthly payment plan.

    In the end, I’m still thankful that I have conventional homeowners insurance.

    Remeber that internet/cable company rant I mentioned in last month’s spending report? You know, the one you probably haven’t read yet because I just posted it a few minutes ago? Well, in the end, we’re saving some coin now. Sure, we only have like 20 channels but we still get the ones we want and they’re still in HD. Even better, we’ve rid ourselves of the clunky cable box and it’s terrible remote! Woo-hoo!

    More clothing expenses. This time it was for a pair of shoes for me. They’re pictured up above.

    My wife has been doing it for years and I’m finally following suit — using a card at a fast food restaurant. In the past, I’ve always used cash but I’m catching up with the times. Slowly.

    And since the weather is getting colder (the mice are moving indoors) and the leaves are coming down, I had to pick up a few mousetraps and a toddler sized rake. So far I haven’t caught a single mouse (though I’m aware of their existence) but the lawn is mostly raked!

    And Henrik now has the motor skills to play hockey with me and Duncan so I went out and bought him a real stick. I bought him a righty since he seemed to favor that side with the plastic stick but as luck would have it, he’s holding the new one like he’s gonna shoot lefty. D’oh!

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    Motorola SurfboardI know it’s November and I know I only made one post in all of October but here’s my spenging report for…September. Sigh…

    $902.20 : Daycare
    $498.72 : Mortgage
    $459.53 : Business Expenses
    $360.00 : Family
    $277.90 : Gasoline
    $240.00 : Cash
    $228.25 : Auto Insurance
    $219.41 : Clothing
    $193.45 : Electric
    $115.43 : Cable/Internet
    $95.00 : Hockey Registration
    $44.97 : Gifts

    $40.08 : Life Insurance
    $35.77 : Natural Gas
    $21.27 : Cell Phone
    $14.00 : BoA Maintenance Fee

    That adds up to $3745.98 and I’m okay with that.

    Most of it is what it is but categories that stand out to me as different-from-the-norm are the clothing, the hockey registration, the gifts, the cell phone, and the maintenance fee.

    Business expenses were a bit high too mostly due to the fact that my internet provider suddenly decided to stop talking to my perfectly functional cable modem.

    Their solution was for me to “buy a new one” which I reluctantly did. That’s it in the picture.

    Sure it “fixed” the problem that was 100% on their end. Then they started to charge me as if I were renting it, then they screwed up my bill some more when crediting me, then they spelled my name wrong so they couldn’t access my account, and the hole got deeper and deeper…

    Whatever — I’d gotten over it until writing these last few paragraphs.

    Moving on…

    The clothing was mostly for the kids — they’re both at an in-between size right now and hand-me-downs for the younger one aren’t lining up with the season just right.

    The hockey registration is the fee I need to pay to play. I should probably just retire but it’s pretty much the only real exercise I get and for that reason, it’s worth it.

    The gifts were birthday presents that arrived too late so I’ll categorize them as super early Christmas expenditures.

    The cell phone bill only comes along four times a year. How much are you paying for cell service? I pay $85.08…PER YEAR.

    And the banking maintenance fee really makes me angry. In short, I went 14 cents under the $1500 minimum required (for less than 12 hours) in whatever variation of checking account I’ve been rolled into by Bank of America. Jerks.

    Can You Dig It?

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