December 13, 2017

Reaping Dividends: December 2017 report

Reaping Dividends: The much delayed October 2017This was supposed to be the October report but stuff happened. Lots of stuff, but you’ve read all about it by now, right? Time for real money talk – let’s dive in!

My current portfolio lives at Ally now, they bought out Tradeking a while back. At $4.95 per trade, and as a relatively low level investor, that suited my needs but I started wondering how much I could reduce my costs by moving to Vanguard where my retirement and 529 portfolios live. It’s not that I trade often, but when are savings bad? In case you’re thinking the same, these are their service tiers and the assets you need to qualify for each:

PERSONAL INVESTOR – Less than $50,000.
VOYAGER® – Starting at $50,000.
VOYAGER SELECT® – Starting at $500,000.
FLAGSHIP® – Starting at $1 million.

Unfortunately, the highest tier I would qualify for is the Voyager tier with the following fees:

VANGUARD ETFs: Free
STOCKS AND NON-VANGUARD ETFs
Online. All trades: $7
By phone. All trades: $25 (not that I ever trade by phone) (more…)

December 11, 2017

2017 Money Move: Maxing out annual contributions

Filling up our savings: IRA and 529The second (missing) IRA

It’s a touch mortifying to admit that until now, I have failed utterly to start contributing to PiC’s IRA – we started to get on that, and …. I dropped the ball. I got distracted!

Plus I let myself get hung up on where his money should go. His work uses Fidelity but I use Vanguard and we all know I’m right! But for some reason, that argument holds no sway with his company. Philistines.

He had a teeny IRA somewhere long ago that we rolled over into a money market account until we had time to make a decision. Er, until I had a time to make a decision. (more…)

Swagbucks: Green Monday cashback bonus

I’m not sure why it’s called Green Monday but I do know that Swagbucks is offering big cash back (2x or more) today only.

Online shopping with cash back bonuses, FTW! Make sure to pop over to Swagbucks before you make any online purchases today to see if you can get the best cashback from them.

Bonus: If you sign up through me before the end of the month, you’ll get a 300 SB bonus when you earn your first 300 SB before January 1st.

Here’s a handy tutorial if you’d like to join Swagbucks and earn. I track my earnings here.

December 7, 2017

Just a little (link) love: Chief Bogo edition

Carb emergencies are real. Don’t believe me? Let me regale you with the tale of running out of carbs one day. I went to Trader Joe’s just to get a load of bread and some English muffins so we could breakfast like civilized humans and returned with every single carb they sold from hash browns and French bread to something called a babka that doesn’t remotely resemble a Russian grandmother so I don’t know what they’re talking about but it had flour, butter, and chocolate and in that extended moment of carbohydrate-deprivation enhanced madness it had to come home with me. *deep breath* Don’t be like me, y’all. Keep your pantries reasonably well stocked. Also your bank accounts because that part was more the whole point of the linked post. On that note, we’ve only used our emergency fund to buy and renovate this house which was absolutely not its purpose but it’s back to being lonely liquid cash that’ll never know the warm touch of human hand so long as we are hale, hearty, and employed.

Ew, we’re eating glitter?

I like checking into the habits of rich folks to see if I have developed any of the same habits or signs. We’re not into the status symbols life but we do have a really expensive home simply by virtue of living in the armpit of Silicon Valley. Anatomically inaccurate but accurate insofar as the location’s value is concerned. I’m good on the clothing front – we spent an average of $100 per person this year, and I spend about 3 minutes deciding what to wear each morning. Grey or blue jeans, or purely at home lounging pants? And short sleeve or long sleeve? I’m working on the multiple income streams, though. We have 2 jobs, a rental property, and dividend income, but the day jobs are what keep the lights on and food in the fridge. (*cough* carbs)

Do you travel to see family over the holidays?

To this, I can only say, duh? That women are “inferior” is pretty much their platform and belief system: “Alt-right” women are upset that “alt-right” men are treating them terribly. Also, no kidding they’re part of the alt-right, or more straightforwardly, white supremacist movement:
“By the end of the thread, McCarthy made it clear that these trolls are part of the “alt-right.” “The problem I’m stating here is not that ‘there are trolls on the internet’ but that people who proclaim to be on our side are trying to tear down women in our in-group,” she wrote.”

December 6, 2017

Holiday gifts in 2017 and wish list

While we stopped buying Christmas presents in our little family, preferring to spend money on stocks to build our Someday Retirement portfolio and enjoying our fake Christmas tree, this year was an exception.

We hit Black Friday sales pretty hard. Online only, but it still counts.

We won’t cover the obligatory family gifts ($250) because they’re obligatory and we shop from wish lists anyway so little thought is required, except for a quick note to say that I’m apparently mellowing on this front. I don’t LIKE it and still think it should be eliminated because we’re also required to spend money on travel every Christmas due to where we live, but my heart is less crabby about it these days.

This must mean that my 2015 wish list has a check mark by Wish #3 – to be a Better Me. There are long held ill feelings that are finally starting to affect me less, and not being grouchy about the Christmas gifting tradition even though I strongly oppose it is a good sign. Oh AND I started liking guacamole! I’m allowed to stay a Californian! I do still want to be doing something more personally meaningful and btw lucrative, but that’s a longer term project. There’s still room for improvement, and that’s ok.

I gave us the (physical) gifts of …

Cast iron! Our last two nonstick fry pans have been A-W-F-U-L and I refused to replace that last one for a few months because dammit, they should last longer than a couple of years! In a nod to Katy at The Non Consumer Advocate who extolled the virtues of cast iron, we located a 12-inch Lodge cast iron pan (with scrub brush and grippy handle thing because we are both idiots who WILL grab hot cast iron with bare hands). This should, once we read up on how to properly take care of it, last us decades!
Total: $30, and we stop ruining the environment with crappy nonstick pans

Power on the go! My 3.5 year old charging pack is on its last legs, barely taking a charge, so loathe though I am to replace it already, replace it we did. I resisted the urge to go for the super-powered 26900 mAh pack at twice the price, and picked up the more economical and compact 10000 mAh pack which is still more than I was getting before.
Total: $26

Data storage! This is where we splurged – I went for the 8 TB drive for long term digital storage. I’ll keep our 120 GB hard drives as backups to the backup for critical information in case this drive ever fails. It would be heartbreaking if we lost all our financial and photographic files.
Total: $164

Nice holiday photo cards. I almost got away with cheap Walgreens photo cards, using a T-Mobile affiliated code for 75% off, but unlike their photo prints, their standard photo card prints are unbelievably bad. I briefly debated taking them because I loved the simple design and $15 for 40 cards was under budget but they looked awful and even I hesitated to send them out. These may be PiC’s passion, I didn’t think I cared about their quality, but $15 on crappy product is a waste of $15. Instead I combined sales and promos at Shutterfly to get nice cards that neither of us will be embarrassed to sign.
Total, $50

and the financial gifts of …

Points! Chase thought they could dangle a 100,000 Ultimate Rewards point promo for closing a mortgage with them, and then fail to credit us? Oh no no no, you do not know who you’re dealing with, foolish bankers.

It took 4 emails, 7 phone calls, 3 inquiries, and 6 months to run them to ground, but those delicious points are in my account for future travel.  We’re going to be traveling with points and miles most for a few years while we recover from the mortgage.

Savings! The very second those points arrived in our account, having been held hostage for an additional two months, I laid out our ten step plan to liberate our cash from Chase. The cash was wired (free courtesy of our temporary status as Chase Private Clients) to our savings account, there to earn 1.25% APY until our next stock purchases are selected.

Investing (but on hold)! The market being what it is, I’m hesitant to commit to any particular stock right now but we’ll pick something in the next several weeks.

More savings (a second recast)! I speculated that our money would be tied up through December or January but the second those UR points landed, an email was launched to Chase to start the next recast approval process. I’m crossing my fingers that it’s approved Very Quickly.

Last, a little wish list

There’s still a handful of things I want but can or must wait for: a working Kindle, a trip to Japan, another trip to Australia, yet another trip to Italy, also to Hawaii and New Zealand… a second dog. Fleece and flannel pajamas (one of each and with pockets, dangit!). But none of these make it onto the Christmas list for this year.

My focus is putting together an office that isn’t a children’s sized maze of boxes and puzzle pieces, so more organizational pieces like shelving and some good baskets or containers are needed. Room enough for an actual library or a piano remains a far fetched desire. 🙂

I’d still love to get Seamus that Costco bear, or something that size. It would blow his mind!

PiC is a simple man. He likes basic clothes like shirts without JB-torn holes in them, and tools I usually find with deals and coupons, so he’s set.

JuggerBaby has so much already, there’s nothing ze needs other than our love and attention. Lots and lots and lots of attention. It almost makes me wish we could have had a second child after zir 2nd birthday to play zir Boon Companion. The age difference would have been perfect, zir favorite cousin is around that age. It’s close enough to adore and engage with and ze adores small children. But now it feels like even if we could manage another pregnancy (physically, or the very real monetary costs for help), the age gap would be too big. Ze wants a companion to actively play with now, not a baby to care for like ze enjoyed earlier. This is all speculation, anyway. Our plates are full right now.

:: Is there anything on your wish list? Did you find or get any spectacular gifts yet?

December 4, 2017

Net Worth & Life Report: November 2017

November 2017: Money and life report

On Money

Income

Our normal income comes from two full time day jobs.

We experiment with earning money on the side, including minimal cash flow that we don’t touch from an investment property and investing in dividend stocks.

Our side income comes from Swagbucks, selling clothes on Poshmark which is hit or miss, using cash back sites like Ebates, Mr.Rebates, and tracking activity through Achievemint (my introduction to it). Any purchases you make going through my Amazon links keep these blog lights on.

The long term goal is to replace our day job income before my health declines enough to prevent me from working.

(more…)

November 30, 2017

Just a little (link) love: glasses edition

This is a really old news bit but it made me laugh inside so here is yet another good argument for my not dressing up in costume ever – this women’s group dressed up as pirates to get in the spirit for a talk they were hearing about pirates. Specifically the man who was held hostage by them….

My beloved Grandma (not to be confused with the mean abusive or negligent ones) ate this every morning: “Diep Tran, the Vietnamese-American chef of Good Girl Dinette in Los Angeles, told me that she wishes she could serve a breakfast of nothing but baguette accompanied by condensed milk diluted with hot water, for dipping. “It’s refugee food,” she said. “Proustian, kind of like Spam. But people get upset; they think they’re being ripped off.””

Representation matters: “The whole reason why it’s so difficult to raise a child and have a career in Japan is because there are no women with children involved in the decision-making process,” she said. “I’m determined to change that.

I Shalane my professional relationships to help young women grow in the field even while I build my career. There’s every good reason to give support this way – the people you nurture will do the same for others and create a far better community.

Ohh I’m excited for Marvel’s Runaways, and Nico! She’s a fantastic character.

Kieran Gillan on plots that twist and audiences that guess what’s next.

Lucy Bellwood’s post on how and how much she made from an illustration gone viral is greatly relevant to my interests. It’s pretty fascinating to see how conversion happens and how little it happens.

This website and its content are copyright of A Gai Shan Life  | © A Gai Shan Life 2017. All rights reserved.

Site design by 801red