Monday, October 12, 2009

Healthy sleeping tips

My favorite tip from consumer reports is that you:

(this is from National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and individual sleep-medicine experts they consulted):

Use the bedroom only for sleeping or sex.

I wonder how many other things we use our bedroom for?

Little children make it very difficult for parents to have private time for intimacy / romance - especially when the little ones join you in the bedroom (every night!) it's unlikely if impossible that the bedroom will be used for anything other than:

1. sleeping (a little)
2. jumping on mommy and daddy to wake them up
3. jumping because it's fun
4. vomiting or anything else that comes out of a sick child
5. a place to watch tv in bed with mommy and daddy (think safe secure nest)
6. a great place for folding laundry
7. an inconvenient place for building puzzles (try moving the puzzle to go to sleep)
8. a second kitchen when under the weather
9. a mysterious warren of comforter and pillow tunnels ripe for exploration

regards, makingourway

Losing our transit benefit

It's unfortunate, but big company has decided to economize on certain HR benefits.
One, which I really enjoy and will be sad to miss, is our transit benefit.
I was able to pay for more than $200 a month in transit costs using pre-tax dollars. This is like an $80 decrease in pay!!! bummer!!

Oh well. Think hard, make more money!


updating our children's furtniture

Looks like our little ones are getting a bit too big for the hand me down furniture they've been living in (a day bed from my bachelorhood) and a convertible crib (now bed) from our first.

Our strategy looks like we'll do the following:

1. convert the convertible crib bed to a full bed $200 (conversion rails). I'm hoping we can save the full size mattress from the day bed.

2. buy a new bedroom set for our littlest. I'm sure it doesn't mean that mommy and daddy's bed is any less attractive, warm, cozy and less scary, but... it does make a nicer cozier room for our littlest. I'm guessing this will be a full bore furniture set from costco $1200 - $1800.

Anyone have any alternatives?


Sunday, October 11, 2009

quick update on net worth - overall about 13% down on investments

Did quick overview of investments.
Very difficult to track in quicken when rollovers seem to reset investment performance at the time of rollover.
However, most of the rollover assets were similar, so I'm estimating my investments to be down 13% since the market plunged - that's a fairly good recovery.
I did manage to convert some cash back into stocks and did make nice returns on the upturn, but i didn't fully leverage the rebound and kept most of my cash in cash for maximum liquidity.
Anyone have good ideas for tracking absolute portfolio returns?

Overall, our networth is up at about $830k. Not the progress we'd like, but nonetheless progress.


ipod choices

i finally gave in and bought an ipod touch. something i'd been avoiding for a long time.
Now the question is what do i do with my CD's i'd like to rip? rip them in mp3 format or put them in apple's aac format?
Honestly the only way we listen to music is through the ipod or an ipod clock radio (at least for now), so I am uncertain which format is best.
i'll investigate further.

finally getting satelite tv

Well, we've been offline without any cable tv for a long time. Seems like inlaws are the primary driver of having satelite so they can watch overseas tv. I'm ok as long as we don't have English channels. It'll force the children to work on their foreign language skills and we can maintain control over what they watch in English by controlling their DVD purchases.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Watching our investments slowly come back (maybe 6.66% off)

It's been quite a while since our investments lost about 35% at the bottom of the market. They're slowly getting better at about 6.66% off accroding to quicken. However, i think they may be further off as I rolled over my old 401k and I suspect that quicken reset the cost basis. This could get tricky.

How do you handle it?

I've been thinking about some fun / speculative investments.

IFF has done very well from me, having lowered my average purchase point far below what I had originally bought it at, unfortunately, it's not very leveraged.

I've been thinking about other ocmanies like Grainger, which seems to have a very interesting business model (as retailer and distributor). I need to look more deeply into their stock performance and fundamentals. I wonder if they're at the peek of their cycle - they've managed phenomenal historical growth and have a very compelling history. They sell must buy products at healthy margins.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

start thinking about your 2009 income taxes

It's time to start thinking about your 2009 income taxes.
Will you owe money, will you be owed money?
If you plan and project your tax situation now, you'll be able to accrue / save extra cash and be prepared for the april 15th tax bill.

On the other hand, you would add withholding allowances to keep extra money and eliminate the wait that you would otherwise have for the federal government to pay you back.

Another item to think about is multi-state income - do you work in more than one state? will your employer report such earnings? many state income taxes vary. plan with the right numbers.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rethinking the basics

When's the last time you re-examined how you do common activities and decided to learn how to do them better?
Reinvesting in the basics can be a huge liberator, bringing minutes or hours back into your schedule every day.
Just ask yourself simple questions, such as how much time do I spend in Microsoft Word or MS Outlook or Firefox? If I spend alot of time there am I using them well? Could I save time by doing it better?
When I go grocery shopping, would i save time by bringing a list - perhaps one that was sorted by section?
Am I commuting to work in the most time efficient manner?

Granted these questions should be asked periodically and not constantly, but they can bring you very big answers and results.

Regards, makingourway

Thursday, August 13, 2009

blackberry vs. iphone

i'm wondering if i should switch from my personal blackberry to an iphone. Switching would entail:
1. canceling my current phone contract (est. $150 fee)
2. buying an iPhone and a bunch of chargers
3. figuring out how to balance the cost effect on my remaining non-at&t phone accounts; i.e. no longer free mobile to mobile calls

Why i might switch:

1. iPhone is more fun
2. Coverage isn't that different
3. I don't really use most of the blackberry features for personal use
4. much bigger screen for personal internet use
5. better than the horrible chicklet keys on my blackberry - i hate the number of typos (this is really pain #1)
6. i could download and use gps aware apps - like trapster and metromix
7. I would get a bigger discount through my employer (23%) on monthly service

Overall, cost for a personal plan at 900 minutes seems to be about $60 cheaper per month. Rate of payback would be 2.5 months for disconnect fees, for total costs including disconnect, equipment and apps would be 13 months.

hmmm... something to think about. I'm ready to throw the blackberry through the window due to typing frustration.

Regards, makingourway

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

paying attention to corporate discounts

My former employer provided a 17% discount for verizon wireless. May new employer provides a 23% discount for AT&T.

After looking at the various plans, it seems cheaper to put everyone on at&t.

I wonder how many other corporate discounts exist that we can take advantage of?

Do you have a favorite discount?