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Archive for January, 2014

Way overextended and stressed!

January 24th, 2014 at 05:45 pm

Everything is piled up at once in our family.

At the time when DH is teaching for the first time (as an after hours second job, on top of his full time job), he has two large projects at work, and our entire family was sick for a week and a half).

So running behind schedule on studying for him (massive stress), behind schedule on projects at work, and on top of all this he will be working on two of his normal days off this week. Classes also start this week.

So instead of me and him just having 2 full time jobs with long commute and a toddler, there is now 2 full time jobs, one part-time job(that takes as many hours as a full time job), and 2 days of overtime this week for him. wow!!! (He is not getting time and a half for it, only his regular rate).

And we won't have a winter vacation this year (due to his obligations at work and the fact he can't miss classes). I did sign up for it by encouraging him to take the teaching position.

Money wise, not worth it. But, it does look good on a resume and does qualify you as an expert in your field if you are teaching your subject on a graduate level in one of the top degree programmes in the country for this field.

It would not have been nearly as difficult if it did not just co-inside in time with extreme workload at his primary job. That multiplied the stress.

But now there are so much obligations for the next 3 months. Going back to just 2 full time jobs with massive commute will seem like a vacation in comparison.

We are just not able to do everything. Our apartment is starting to look like an episode of "hoarders", I've missed 3 training sessions and two language classes in the last two weeks, fridge is empty and I will be buying takeout again today, and I'm falling behind on a lot of daily life tasks. My poor DH has it even tougher...

My wet iphone update, snowflakes and whole life policy surrender

January 23rd, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Great news on my wet iphone situation -- after I had to pay to Apple to have it replaced, DH submitted a claim to his credit card for their purchase protection benefit, and it was approved. I will be getting a check back for $268, so this destroyed iphone will end costing us nothing Smile))
That was something that cheered me up yesterday -- I was so miserable, down with a cold that is tearing up my throat and nose, so a bit of good news helped.

1) Sold Apple option 2 - $220 profit (taxable).

2) and I won $22 cashword scratch off ($25-$3)
I found one really old one that had $2 on it, turned it in, added $3 to get 2 cashwords and 1 mega millions.
I buy maybe $3-5 worth of tickets once every 2-3 months.
So I spend $3 on tickets, won $25.
I like cashword, because it is fun to do with my toddler -- we are looking for letters, trying to read words. I don't explain a concept of lottery to him, of course, it is just a letter searching game for him.

Oh, and the check from surrendering DH's whole life policy finally came. It was not 6k like I thought, but 5,400. Says on the letter that 1,500 of it is subject to taxes. I am very confused as to why since the policy was open for more than 15 years and more went into the policy than we are getting out. Hmm...

Income inequality

January 21st, 2014 at 04:10 am

Went to an interesting discussion today. Joe Stiglitz and few other economists talking about issues related to income inequality.



Very interesting topic. I read his articles in NYT from time to time. I know he wrote a book on this subject and I will probably buy it (he was not selling it or even plugging it today), he just wanted to get his points across.

The undeserving rich.

January 20th, 2014 at 06:07 pm

Interesting little article in NYT makes few good points:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/20/opinion/krugman-the-unde...

Colds and another option.

January 19th, 2014 at 06:17 am

My son has a cold. I took 2 days off work to stay home and take care of him and my DH took one. And it was pretty hard. Poor thing is miserable. We are pretty miserable too.

Today and tomorrow we are taking a break. My son is with my mom until evening, and she is using grandma methods to get him better. He is getting excellent care, so I'm glad to have a little break. She works full time too, so we will have to figure something out if he is not well by Tuesday (DH has a day off on Monday, but I don't).

I haven't had a chance to exercise in 4 day, so today was my first chance to run. We drove to Fort Tyron park to run (I wanted to try out a new route). Wasn't so great - it turned out much smaller than I remember it when just walking, so I had to make loops, and that is boring. So my timing was much worse than usual. I did my minimum 4 miles and that's it. My heart was not in it today and the energy was not there. The scenery was pretty.





I think we are getting my son's cold - He sneezed/coughed in my face more times than I can count. Now my throat is starting to hurt and my nose is beginning to run.

This was my first time out of the house in 3 days. Tomorrow we will go out for a "bad" brunch and dessert. Smile

But just because I did not leave the house, does not mean I did not spend money.
Amazon is too easy. And did you know you can order liquor online?

Oh, and I got into another option - AAPL 560 call for Feb. That is very high risk and I am quite nervous. I should really stop doing such short-term calls. Man, I hope this quarter is great for AAPL!

Overbudget, and then $500 snowlfake!

January 15th, 2014 at 04:53 pm

So bad news -- I am already overbudget by $45 on eating out, and this is only January 15. I have to admit that $300 was not a realistic number for us. I will adjust it to $500 for this month.

We obviously needed to make more money for the monthly budget to balance. And we did!

We took a chance and bought a stock option 2 days ago -- 550 AAPL call. Paid $1,613 for it. Today APPL soared to $558. We sold the option for $2,463. After commissions, we made $834 in 2 days. We will owe taxes on it. Assuming we will pay 40% (besides federal there is state and city, which are very high for us), that leaves us with after-tax profit of $500. So that should fix our over budget problem for January.

This was a VERY RISKY thing to do, and this was a one time deal. I dared to do it because I believed that Apple will likely have a very strong quarter, and so there would be some volatility as we get closer to the earnings call. We are not doing this again for a long time.

It is a relief to be done with the risk and to be balanced again!

My blood is boiling - Christie's bridgegate.

January 14th, 2014 at 05:06 pm

It is not because I live next to the GWB, or get stuck in traffic there with a toddler strapped in tight into his car seat.

But that these are the type of things, petty, vindictive, no regard for their constituents well being...

All of these people had a responsibility to ALL residents of their state, not just districts that voted for them. None of them not only not gave a f* about their welfare, but were actively malicious.

And that this seems to be the culture among these people and from the exchanges looks like it is done on a routine basis. And about how the appointee system works...

They should all go to jail, for sabotage of some kind. But of course, that won't happen. I'm sure they will be protected by Christie's political supporters in exchange for not implicating him. They have little choice but to keep quiet. Where are they going to go afterwards? But if they play along, when things die down, they will get cushy low-profile jobs in corporations that support Christie and will be well compensated to pay all their legal bills.

I, as a normal adult person, can envision possible consequences of such actions -- from bad, like pre-schoolers in school buses barely potty trained and unable to hold it for that long and traumatized by being embarassed by their peers and not being able to even get cleaned up. To people missing interviews or arriving late for jobs where they can't be late... to worst possible scenario - like someone being stuck in an ambulance with their baby in critical condition, and powerless to do anything for hours but to slowly watch them die.

Every month it is something

January 13th, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Christmas month, Chinese New Year month, 3 mortgage payment months, 2 month where semi-annual car insurance bill is due, month where annual life insurance bill is due... Month where taxes are due, birthdays. Than there are months where something expensive breaks...

UGGGG!

Sunday brunch - best fish and chips!

January 13th, 2014 at 01:59 am

We lasted 7 days before going out as a family again. That is a good stretch.

Brunch is a kind of tradition. I remember going to cafes with my mom on Saturdays when I was little. The calm atmosphere, tablecloth, attention. It was special. So we make a point to go out as a family on a weekend. DS is 3, but he is already learning to behave well in restaurants.

There is this British gastropub we like, and it has the best fish and chips in town. I don't normally like fried fish at all, but this is great. There is something about the batter that is special, and haddock itself so juicy and tender...



So we had that, a burger with bacon and stilton, and some beer and coffee.





$74 Expensive, but that's what prices are. If we had credit card debt, we would cut that out, but as long as we manage, it is important to me to keep our family outings.

After that, off to my favorite cake place. 2 slices of cake and one latte: $28

I ate 1.5 of those slices. I justified it to myself by saying that it is not good for a 3 year old to eat the entire slice. So that's probably another 1,200 calories. ouch

Picked up few specialty things since we were in the area:
Small loaf of bread from the shop few blocks away. $7 Special tumeric/hazelnut/pecan/some other stuff loaf.


Citarella shopping for fish tacos tonight:
Red snapper 1.35lb when weighted, 260 grams after it was filleted $17.08
1 mango $1.99
cilantro $1.99
Prince Edward oysters 1 dozen $18.99
Eggs organic, 1/2 dozen $4.29
Milk, org, quart $5.99
caramelized walnuts (impulse purchase, turned out not so good) $9.08
total at Citarella: $59.41

Little one has fun shopping on UES. One macaroon - $2.50

We did not buy everything we saw Smile

When we got home and put our son for a nap, I went for a run.



I intended to do a minimal 4 mile run but miscalculated turn back point and did 5.6 miles instead (averaged out to an 11 min mile sustained for about 1 hour straight, which is not bad for me). It was dark when I got home. Of course that 540 calorie run won't dent the 3,000 calories I had in one meal, but it still does make a difference.

Varied online shopping today :o

January 12th, 2014 at 05:22 am

Today was not a cheap day.

I bought few things I needed, and few that I wanted.

Needed to replace my pillow. It has been few years and it has started to bother me. $49 on myhabit.com (cheapest pillow I ever bought) Goose down - normally they go for $100+
I need 2, but I bought one so far, to see if I like it before buying a second one.

2 sweaters for my son (he is growing out of what he has). One very pretty one and one more casual but still cute, for daycare) and a long-sleeve t-shirt: $76


Popcorners kettle flavor chips $26.13
These are individual 1.1oz packets, so I will eat controlled amount, I really like to have these with a drink.

Lysol wipes and Mr. Clean erasers $10.53

Brainquest exercise cards (for my 3 year old son's speech improvement) - $10.75

new fan for desktop computer $6

DH went for a guys night out with his friends. So that will be dinner and poker this time. (he only does it once in 2 months and it usually does not cost much). He is still out so I don't know the cost.

Day off today. Awesome workout yesterday.

January 10th, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Last night I had a great workout. I'm trying out new gym in Grand Central and they have a lot of great equipment.
My HR monitor says 790 calories. Don't know if I should believe it. It was 1hr 20 min of strength circuit training with short hard bursts of cardio.
Got home, made quick dinner - buttermilk chicken and beans:



Then, after DS went to sleep, DH and I had some margaritas and I had with it about 4 oz of really nice cheese, with freshly toasted pecans and honey. (Ate back my exercise calories and then some, but it was good!)

This morning, DH had to go to work on a day he was supposed to work from home. Frown

So I took my son on a trip to Grand Central again. He loved the snowy weather, the train trip, and he really liked a model train showcase in the Transit Museum store. He spend 1.5 hours fascinated, examining every detail and chasing trains around. It was a very nice setup, with layers of details at every level. Some of the miniature people even moved. And it was free.











Expenses
Breakfast:
$3.25 1 Tres Leches doughnut
$4.73 1 almond croissant and coffee
2nd almond croissant DS got for free, because he was so cute.



My muscles hurt after yesterday.

Packed my lunch, and forgot it.

January 9th, 2014 at 09:30 pm

Morning doughnut $3.25
Coffee - made my own at work

Lunch $12.41
I packed a nice lunch. (Buttermilk chicken and fava beans and baby lima beans mixed in with a little brown rice). I made twice as much for last nights dinner to take leftovers to lunch. Today I was running out to catch the train and forgot it until I locked the door. I did not have one minute to spare to go back. So I bought lunch, and will eat what I packed for dinner. This means no cooking today (I will just have to make a vegetable side, but that's fast). I will hit the gym after work instead of making another dinner. Maybe me forgetting my lunch was for the best.

Lock for gym locker $10.11 (I lost the one I had)

Set of Dominoes $7.97
(Pre-school teacher mentioned that DS did not seem to get the concept. Since we don't have this game at home, I bought it so I could play together with him. That way I'm sure that way he will pick it up in no time.)

Crazy forced NSD. Bringing lunch led to some trouble.

January 8th, 2014 at 07:18 pm

I did an unbelievable (for a woman) thing. I forgot my purse today (hopefully at home and not in a hallway or elevator - I am a bit nervous about that. It had my checkbooks, cards, ID, cash ipad..).

How did this happen? I packed my lunch today. So I was holding something in my hand, and that was a familiar feeling. It just was not a purse, it was a bag with lunch items. So I had NO money, no make-up, absolutely nothing! I had my work id and metronorth pass in one holder in one pocket of my coat, and my iphone in the other. I had one second to decide if I should turn back or not. If I turned back, I would miss the train and be 40 minutes late. If I went to work, I would be uncomfortable all day, but I had a way to get to work and a way to get in. So I decided against being late, if I could avoid it.

So for breakfast I brewed my own coffee with hazelnut half and half, and ate a greek yogurt I had in the fridge and a granola bar crumpled in. And I had brought my lunch. A piece of arctic char, a squash and mushroom side, a flour tortilla and an egg. Nothing exciting, but it will get me by.

Yesterday I went out for drinks with co-workers, which was surprisingly cheap. A bar nearby gives special happy hour deal for employees of my organization. So one white russian and one beer were only $7 together. For midtown Manhattan, that is seriously cheap. $4 tip, so $11 total.

Free latte, cold morning, 2 days of expenses.

January 7th, 2014 at 09:29 pm

Today, since I have 10 punches on my loyalty card, I got my latte for free:

And they only charged me $2.75 for my favorite doughnut too!


It is a really cold today, but I am perfectly fine in my uggs, my wool tights, baklava, ski mask and very good ski gloves.

Personal training session today (400 calories to my 2014 bank) $180 (I'm getting a free one session in Jan. and she was on vacation for one week, so less than usual).
Lunch - cosi signature salad. $8.70
DH lunch $7
1lb of Columbia Supremo for the house, $13.99

Yesterday:
They ran out of coconut cream doughnuts yesterday morning, so I had to go to plan b and get Pret ham and cheese croissant. That and coffee was $4.73. I had 3 hours of sleep and did not care to make my own coffee.
Lunch was a salad bowl from Roti. Very tasty and filling. It had fresh hummus, pita, chicken, spicy sauce... $9.74
Gas $50
Ez-pass $300
Replacement iphone $273
Maintenance charges for January $1,386
student loan $141
DH lunch $10

Money spent first January 1-7 -- $5,624. That's pretty scary. (This figure does include our mortgage and maintenance charges).

$408.82 on food today, itemized. Snapshot of NYC prices.

January 5th, 2014 at 05:41 am

Today we left the apartment for the first time in 3 days (except going for a run) We had dinner, dessert, and did grocery shopping.

First stop: Lady M (dessert)
http://www.ladym.com/cakes/
For my favorite dessert in the whole of NYC -- green tea crepe cake.
$18 for 2 slices to go ($8 per slice and $2 tip -- the woman opened it up for me after they were closed for 2 minutes, and they usually do not do that.

Than to O Merveilleux, where I got 3 mini belgian pasties as a thank you for my neighbor, a small treat for DH and a big merveilleux for myself, to tie me over until dinner. $15
http://www.omerveilleux.com/

Than Citarella for fresh seafood.
http://www.citarella.com/
$60.74
Arctic char 2.3lb(weighted before filleting) $22.98 - I love it, it is extremely fresh and I cook it rare, so I buy it even though it is farmed, I just can't help it.
I buy the whole fish (have to pay for the whole fish) and than have them fillet it right there, that way I can see how fresh the fish by looking at it fist, how clear and moist the eyes, how good the body of the fish looks... and it won't be soaked in phosphates or sulphates. But fillet, of course is much smaller than the 2lb fish.
Very symbolic amount of St. Andre 0.225lb - $3.15 and some Pyrenees de chvre 0.53lb $11.23
One dozen live oysters. $17.99. I don't normally buy oysters, but DH recently purchased an oyster shackling knife, so I got the hint.
1/2 lb coffee beans columbian supremo $5.39

Than dinner at Virgil's BBQ.
http://www.virgilsbbq.com/
I can't stay away from trainwreck fries.
$78 for dinner (1 appetizer, 1 entree and 3 Magic Hat #9 beers, all shared between me and DH.
$7 two hours of street parking.

Than going for the rest of grocery shopping at Fairway.
http://www.fairwaymarket.com/
spinach bunch $2.09
wild king salmon (0.39lb) $15.83
org buttermilk $3.99
chicken broth $2.5
pink lady apples (1.73lb) $4.31
garlic 0.8lb $3.19
squash acorn org (1.71lb) $4.26
Avocado, haas (4) $8
broccoli rabe 1.28lb $5.11
grey p mustard $3.79
maille mustard $3.00
flour tortillas $3.89
Wallaby org greek yogurt (6) $10 on sale
rice org $5.49
blood orange 0.78lb $2.15
beet golden bunch org $2.99
mushrooms blend (2) $3.99
pears, red d'anjou $2.07
onions 2.06lb $2.61
yams org 2 $2.62
strawberries, pack $3.99
pack of limes, managers special $1.99
pack of ripe pears, managers special $1.99
cilantro $1.99
ribeye steak org 0.57lb $11.39
chicken legs, org $12.66
fennel 2 bulbs $5.98
can't discern code $1.99
pineapple fresh $3.99
acorn squash 2lb $2
1.4lb peppers orange $6.99
3 mangos $5
leeks bunch $2.99
herring, 3 filetts $8.79
tomato grape $2.5
mayo $5.99
misc specialty grocery $8.69
peppercorns $4.49
coke 0 - 7.5oz can 6 pack $4.19
deposit bottle $0.4
raw coconut water 2 16oz bottles $9.98
sambal chili paste $3.99
bean sauce $2.99
magic hat #9 6 pack $11.49
deposit bottle $0.30
milk org 1 gallon $6.99
tax $1.39
balance $230.18

Sure, there are a few luxury items, but a most of the grocery list is just normal healthy food.

Snow days and my cheese woos.

January 4th, 2014 at 11:29 pm

On Friday my employer was closed, so I got a free day off! I cooked varied meals, including Dutch baby for breakfast and chicken Chettinad curry from this recipe for dinner.

http://showmethecurry.com/non-vegetarian/chettinad-chicken-curry.html
Luckily, I live in NYC where I can find every single ingredient needed, including fresh curry leaves.

So Thursday and Friday were NSD. Smile

They were also lovely nights for sitting on our glass-in terrace at night, sipping cocktails in the candle light and watching the snow fall (and stay). The problem is, after 3 cocktails your judgement is impaired. So, as a result I finished ALL the chevre des Pyrenees we had in the house, ALL of the St. Andre, and in my tipsy state I somehow managed to make cheese quesadillas with all the mozzarella we had. That's not the first time I did that in the last couple of weeks. After a few drinks I go straight for the cheese.

And today we are going out for Lady M for green tea crepe cake and than dinner -- this is our last day without our son, just the 2 of us, so we will take advantage and go out, just the 2 of us.

4 miles today (deep wet slush everywhere, so my heart was not in it). 407cal
2014 workout bank new total: 1,258

I'm glad I did not listen to her.

January 2nd, 2014 at 08:34 pm

That voice in my head that said "It is 24 degrees, there is snow on the ground and slippery, another snowstorm is coming in... just skip your run today, you can run on Saturday." I told that voice to shut up, got dressed and decided I will at least do the minimum (4 miles). It was a great run. Fresh, fantastic, beautiful, almost meditative -- there were no people walking around and it seemed like we had the whole city to ourselves.





I did 4.2 miles, less than usual, but a solid workout, keeping heart rate at 80% the whole time.

So that's 442 calories (the area is hilly, so it takes more effort) and workout #2 of the year.

I decided I am going to keep count of my "calorie bank" for this year, just for fun. Even though calories are only forth in importance benefit of a workout, it will be kind of curious to see total yearly numbers.
Current 2014 balance: 851 calories.

Things I will do in January.

January 2nd, 2014 at 04:13 pm

I will:

1). TRACK.
This will be my goal. To write down every expense, and maybe even post it here every day. If I do this, I think it will keep me more on track.

2). Work out at least 12 times (14 would be goal+bonus).

3). List at least 3 things on ebay and 3 things on craigslist.

4). De-clutter one room in the house completely.

I am making goals that are completely in my control. For example, Instead of saying "sell", I'm saying "list" that way I have no excuse, all of these goals are up to me to do, and they are not dependent on actions of others.

Extremely financially eventful day. MIL's gift.

January 2nd, 2014 at 05:41 am

First, bad news. I dropped my 100 days old iphone 5s in the toilet. It is dead. Frown It sucks. I will have to pay $300 to get it replaced for a re-furbished one in the apple store.

Today we had lunch in Chinatown with mother-in-law. Dim sum and my favorite shrimp and walnut dish(deep fried and the sauce base is mayo and condensed milk mix. 50 minute workout I put in later will not fix that).


We picked up the tab ($42). That is very cheap for 3 people and a child.

Than we talked with my MIL. She wanted to buy a whole life policy on our son, as "protection" for his future family. So I made detailed spreadsheets to illustrate to her how this was not a good use of money. It worked! Just trying to talk her out of it never worked, but when she saw our projections, that helped.

She also told us that she had a policy on my DH, that she opened when he was 4, and that if we want to cash it in, we can do it and use the money for whatever we want. That is about 6K. That is pretty unexpected.

She also gave us a gift of 10K, to help us with our son's pre-school fees or whatever we feel would be of benefit to him or us. WOW. that is extremely generous and I am very grateful. She just gave it to us. We are not struggling or ever complained about finances, so this is absolutely amazing.

She did say though that we should have a second child, but I choose to attribute that to her being a grandmother, it was not a condition for her gift - she gave none. I think it was probably more of a gesture to let us know that she can help and so we should not be as scared to have another one.

So, overall we are 16K(-$300) richer today, as a family(we will probably put large chunk of that money away for our son's education). And it is all tax free - there is no tax consequence for gifts under 12K, and life insurance policy was held for over 15 years, so that is not a subject to tax either. That is amazing start of the year.

Would this qualify as a snowflake? (or an avalanche Smile )