Want to know what my favorite $4.50 indulgence is? It's not something that can be ordered with soy milk, extra foam, or in a size venti. But it is long and smooth and and goes down easy!
Bet you didn't guess: it's the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel!
Non-New Yorkers may not appreciate this, but if you are taking a taxi from Manhattan to most parts of Brooklyn, you have a few options: the Williamsburg, Manhattan, or Brooklyn Bridges, which are free, or the Battery Tunnel, which costs $4.50 in each direction. It depends on where you live, but the tunnel is sometimes a much faster way of getting there, even if it costs more! I don't take taxis very often. Usually, when I come back to the city via train or even from JFK Airport, I'll just take the subway and then walk a few blocks. But last night, I got back into Penn Station still feeling tired, yucky, and flu-ey, so I knew I wanted to take a cab. And when the driver asked me if I wanted to take the Manhattan Bridge, I said to take the Battery Tunnel instead, which was a pleasant surprise for him, I think. Usually people don't want to spend the extra money, so they have to make their way down through stop and go traffic and over the bridge into more stop and go traffic in downtown Brooklyn. But instead, my driver got to zoom down the West Side highway and through the tunnel, onto roads with no traffic at all. I was home less than half an hour after I got off my train, and he made a good fare in a lot less time than it usually takes, so everybody was happy! Someday I'll actually calculate the mileage on both routes and see if the cab fare actually ends up being lower by enough to offset the $4.50 toll-- I kind of doubt it will be. But sometimes just getting home faster is worth it in itself.
Saturday, December 31, 2005
Want to know what my favorite $4.50 indulgence is? It's not something that can be ordered with soy milk, extra foam, or in a size venti. But it is long and smooth and and goes down easy!
Thursday, December 29, 2005
One of the nice things about a holiday visit home is, of course, that while I am here, I don't have to spend much, if any money. And now my visit has been unexpectedly extended by my getting the flu, which REALLY means not spending money. Hmm, is 24 hours worth of utter misery worth it? Let's just say I can think of better ways to keep myself from going shopping.
Another thought brought to mind this holiday season: can you place a monetary value on family and tradition?
This year is the first that my family hasn't gathered in my grandmother's house. Instead, we all squeezed into my aunt's much smaller place, just for dinner on Xmas. In the past, most of us would stay at my grandmother's house, which was a lot larger-- not huge, but somehow just laid out better for a family gathering, with a large living room and dining room. We'd order about a dozen pizzas on Xmas eve, arrange presents under the tree, sing some carols, and eat Xmas cookies. On Xmas day, even more people would show up and we'd open gifts and have a big turkey dinner for 30+ people. Since we didn't have enough seats for everyone, dinner would be served in two shifts, with the groups taking turns serving, washing dishes, and eating. Sometimes some of us would stick around for a day or two after xmas, playing board games and charades, listening to music played by the little cousins who were taking violin lessons, eating leftover pizza and turkey sandwiches, and just enjoying each other's company. It was kind of a glorious chaos, and something I looked forward to all year... and it was what we did every year, without fail. But after my grandmother died last year, I knew things would change.
This year, I had a quiet Xmas eve with just my parents, whose relations are tense at best. Then Xmas dinner at my aunt's, which involved everyone sitting at 5 card tables in 3 separate rooms. Afterwards, everyone went their separate ways. I spent some time with my sister, brother-in-law, and their kids, which is a wonderful new part of the holiday tradition, but I still felt a little sad. I couldn't help wishing that we still had my grandmother's house so the family could spend more time together. There was no mortgage on the house, and I wondered how much it would cost if we all chipped in to maintain it and pay the taxes. My sister and her husband even thought about buying it, but they couldn't afford it. And no one else wanted to live there enough to buy everyone else out: my father and his sisters wanted their share of the $500,000 they sold the place for, and who can blame them. The house was starting to fall apart, and I suppose it would have been crazy to try to hang onto it just for family gatherings.
For next year, there is some talk of renting a bigger house that we can all stay in for Xmas, and I hope it works out. That is my idea of something that's worth the money.
Posted at 8:18 PM
Monday, December 26, 2005
Or perhaps it should be called Xmas Un-Wrap-up!
When I was a kid, I remember a Xmas or two when all of us who were spending the night at my grandmother's house did a late night show and tell after everyone else had left. We would take turns showing each other what presents we had received and all the adults would make a big joke of how jealous they were of each other's presents, or pretend they wanted to swap something really boring for the kids' new toys. Maybe you had to be there, but I remember it being a lot of fun, so today I resurrect the tradition in a pale online imitation.
What I Got for Xmas:
$225 in cash
$25 Best Buy gift card
$25 TJ Maxx gift card
A decorative scented oil diffuser thingie
A decorative candle
A book I got through my job for free already (this happens to me EVERY Xmas and birthday)
A book that will tell me how to make holiday foods and crafts in the unlikely event that I ever have a brain transplant and decide to start doing such things.
2 nice shirts from Banana Republic
A fleece top that will come in handy around the house but not to be seen in public
A CD (obscure classical music from my dad)
A necklace I'll never wear
A fuzzy scarf that I maybe might wear but will probably sit in my drawer for a few years until I give it to the Salvation Army
A desk calendar which I fear will become an annual tradition despite my occasional pointed references to how I haven't used a paper calendar in the 7 years since I got a Palm Pilot
A ruler with paintings on it
Now I am probably sounding all Scrooge-like and unappreciative, but that isn't really it. I have a big family and a lot of people like to give each other little things-- it's nice to open gifts and know that people thought of you, regardless of what the gift is. But sometimes it just seems so wasteful. The fun thing about Xmas is to get together with family and watch the little kids enjoy their presents, and I wouldn't mind if the adults didn't exchange presents at all. The only thing I kind of wished for that I didn't get was some framed photos of my niece and nephew, which was what my sister gave to some other people. I mean, hey, is the #1 auntie chopped liver or something?!? But she gave me the 2 shirts, which are great, so I will not complain.
Completely unrelated to Xmas, today I received a minor windfall that should save me a lot of money. A set of silver ware, table linens, a lot of towels, some pots and pans, mixing bowls and kitchen utensils, and a really nice mattress and box spring, all nearly new. I'll have to store everything until I move and then I'll have to figure out how to get it all to NYC, but it will be nice to have all this stuff for my new apartment. At one point today, I had this odd feeling that it was as close as I'll ever come to getting an entire registry list worth of wedding presents. Unfortunately, there is a cloud to which this silver lining belongs... it's a long story that I'll try to post soon.
Posted at 10:05 PM
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
...or, why I decided not to go to work on Wednesday.
I had to walk downtown a ways to meet with my lawyer about the contract for the apartment I'm buying. I left work early, figuring that I'd want to get a jump on the evening rush. So I found myself on Canal St., basically hitchhiking. I had actually made a sign that said "Park Slope or Bust" but I ended up just raising my hand and a lady in a van honked at me and pulled over. She yelled "Brooklyn?" and I yelled "Yeah, where are you going?" and she yelled back "Fulton St." so I thought that was fine and jumped in and thanked her profusely. She then picked up a few more people, with whom she was more explicit about the fact that she was charging $10. That was fine, I would have offered her money anyway.
So I pay up and we get over the bridge fine and then we hit traffic. We have to make a detour and the lady says that since it looks like she won't be able to get to Fulton, she'll actually drop us off at DeKalb. This is totally fine with me, but then 2 guys in the back start freaking out because they thought they were being taken somewhere much further out in Brooklyn on Fulton St. and they are not happy, and they either want to be taken there or they want their money back. It all quickly descends into a screaming match between the driver, her friend, and the 2 guys, all while the driver is artfully bypassing other cars by zooming past in the left lane whenever there isn't oncoming traffic... and sometimes when there is.
Anyway, from there I still had another half hour walk but I got home alive.
Tomorrow I'm leaving town so today I took the precaution of buying LIRR tickets in advance, for a round trip in case the strike is still on when I get back after Xmas. They are special "strike fare" tickets, so if I end up getting a ride, or if the strike ends, I'll have lost $16 but I think it's worth it not to have to stand outside at Jamaica for another hour-plus.
Anyway, everyone is still fairly cheerful about all this nonsense, taking it in stride, well in many strides, as is necessary. I actually enjoy these things, in a weird way. Since I've been in NYC, I've gone through a massive blizzard, 9/11, the blackout, and now this, and in each case, these crises bring out a certain camaraderie and goodwill among most city residents... except for the cop who hassled me today for slipping past a police barrier to get out of the train station-- not for cutting in line or anything, but for just getting out of the way of the people coming in, thinking I'd better not go against the flow. I hate that kind of meaningless exercise of authority, yelling at me, yanking on my arm, and making me show him my ID for absolutely no reason. I know the cops have a lot on their plate, but all the more reason not to waste their time on someone like me. It was a real piss-off, but I treated myself to an afternoon at the movies afterwards, just to get it off my mind. ($10 for movie, $5 for snacks.)
In case I don't post again for a few days, happy holidays everyone!
Posted at 11:55 PM
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
...sucked, to put it bluntly, though it could have been worse.
I walked for half an hour, past a supposed car pool location which was deserted as no one was even attempting to car pool, to the Atlantic Avenue Long Island Rail Road station. There was a huge line to buy tickets, so I dutifully made my way to the end of it, but a few feet away, a train was about to pull out and the conductor just waved to us to get on, saying we'd be in line all day. So I got on, and no one ever tried to make me pay.
From that station, the train goes outbound to Jamaica, Queens, where you can then change to an inbound train to Manhattan. However, at Jamaica, the police were checking to see if people had tickets, and if they didn't, forcing them to get on a huge line. I spent over an hour on that line-- it looped back and forth for blocks, and everyone was freezing. Then by the time we reached the ticket booth, they weren't even charging money for tickets anymore, if they ever were, so I got right on a train to Penn Station, which pulled out half empty. I can understand why they wanted to make people line up and not have total chaos in the station, but they should have at least moved the line through faster and made sure all the trains were full to capacity before they left for the city.
Then when I got to Penn Station, I walked to work, which took 20 minutes or so but seemed like nothing compared to what I'd been through already.
So anyway, it cost me nothing to get to work, but lord only knows what I'll have to do to get home. I'm hoping I can share a cab, as it is pretty damn cold to be walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. Hitchhiking is also starting to look like a good option.
Posted at 11:35 AM
Monday, December 19, 2005
As reported in this article, the wealthiest Americans are not the ones who donate the most to charities. A study was done analyzing charitable giving as a percentage of assets, looking at the data by age, sex and level of wealth, among other variables, using data from 2003 tax returns.
Among working age people, those with incomes of $50,000-100,000 donate 2 to 6 times as much of their assets to charity as those who make over $10 million.
The least generous of all Americans were the 285 taxpayers under age 35 who made over $10 million, donating only about .4% of their assets.
Other interesting tidbits: single men are more generous than single women. But among the top group of those who earn more than $10 million, the average single women had investment assets almost double those of the average single man.
Ugh, I am doing some serious finger-crossing in hope that we don't have a transit strike here. My options for getting to work would be to walk almost 7 miles, which will cost me nothing unless I have to buy a lot of bandaids for blistered feet; or see if I can share a cab at a cost of $15 per person each way; or ride my bike which will cost me at least $60 or so since it is not in very good shape after not having been ridden for a long time; or somehow find a carpool that I could join up with, for the cost of some gas, I guess.
Or I can see if I can scrape by working at home for a few days and hope this thing gets settled.
Posted at 11:07 AM
Saturday, December 17, 2005
After going to the gym today, I decided to hit a few stores. I was pleasantly surprised to find the crowds lighter than I'd expected, but I still went into some kind of shopping overload paralysis and didn't really buy anything for the remaining people on my list. What I did do was somehow convince myself that I could give several of those people custom-made mix CDs as an economical and personal gift (since I make excellent CD cover art and have mad DJ skillz) and that in order to properly create these gifts, I would need to add $85 worth of CDs to my personal collection.
Actual presents bought for others: 0
Presents bought for me: 5
Here's the additions to my jukebox:
Kate Bush's new album
Brazilian Girls (who are not actually Brazilian)
Bebel Gilberto (who is Brazilian)
Nouvelle Vague (who sound Brazilian)
| was good and put Ladytron and Tom Vek back on the shelf for now.
But I did manage to send money and a Xmas card to my grandmother today, so I guess the day wasn't a 100% strikeout.
Posted at 10:52 PM
Not in a fight-- when you buy dinner!
Though I do try to buy groceries and cook for myself, sometimes I get home so late in the evenings that I just don't want to deal with it, so I order takeout. Sometimes it's the old standby Chinese, but that gets boring, and I actually have a lot of restaurants nearby that will deliver (or let me pick up) a wide variety of takeout food. In general, this is not a cheap way to eat, but it does cost less than actually eating in the restaurant, as I can consume my own cheap wine and don't tip the delivery guy as much as I would a waiter. And you can lower your costs even more by stretching out your meal with side orders.
Example: there is a little restaurant in Park Slope that looks like a dump but makes incredible pot roast. (Jack's, at 13th St. & 5th Ave, for any locals reading this. Help me keep them in business! And don't be put off by their weird-smelling garlic bread.)
The pot roast comes with yummy mashed potatoes. For me, anyway, the entree itself is just a bit more food than I want to eat, so I'd either end up overeating, or wasting food. But if I order an extra side order or two, of, say, wilted spinach or mashed yams, I have enough food to make two meals if I portion out half of everything and save it to heat up the next day. The pot roast is $12 and a side is $4, so it works out to $8-10 per meal, not counting tax and tip. That isn't that much more than if I made myself a good steak and a salad. And though pot roast probably isn't the healthiest choice to begin with, I can feel like I am eating a more reasonable portion size. A lot of restaurants these days give you so much food, it makes sense to cut it in half! I do afterall have to retain my girlish figure so I can fit into these swanky jeans I've been buying on EBay.
Posted at 2:40 PM
Friday, December 16, 2005
I'm about to go out for lunch, as I didn't brownbag it today. I will probably also do some Xmas shopping while I'm out. As usual, I have procrastinated until almost the bitter end and I still have a couple of people left to buy for, and of course they are important people!
I hate Xmas shopping. I like giving gifts when I find things that I know someone will like. Usually this happens as far as possible from their birthday or Xmas, and I just want to give it to them anyway. And then when the actual occasions come around, I panic. I hate giving stupid little tchotchkes, and getting them--I'd rather people gave me nothing. I have a big family, so Xmas is a bit daunting, but fortunately they all like books, which are something I can easily get for cheap or free! But I do end up buying other gifts, especially for my immediate family.
I haven't spent much money this week. I was away on business part of the time, and then spent $30 on a nice dinner out (at a restaurant that does a 2-for-1 entree deal), $6.77 on breakfast, $5.42 on lunch not counting today, and $10 on my contribution to a group gift for the office cleaning lady. Also, thanks to an excellent suggestion from Savvy Saver, I bought the exact Lucky jeans I wanted on eBay for $46, brand new at less than half price!
Posted at 1:05 PM
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
You know the old saying, "Good things aren't cheap, cheap things aren't good"? I'm not saying I think it is 100% true, but sometimes I think you do get what you pay for and I'm all for spending money on things that are worth it. But certain things really aren't worth it, as far as I'm concerned.
Often they are "status symbol" kinds of things. For a while, Burberry items were my pet peeve, because they are so ridiculously expensive and instantly recognizable. Their stuff may be very good in terms of quality, but their prices are still often way out of line even in relation to other high-end brands. For instance, these $300 pajamas. Are they really so much better than any other pajamas? Yes, they have that distinctive plaid, but they are still just pajamas! And what good are they as a status symbol if you can't wear them to your Junior League meetings? Of course it could be that the pajamas are at a premium because they are the last remaining Burberry item that isn't yet available as a cheapo counterfeit version on Canal Street!
Then there are items that are sheer folly. Why would anyone spend $245 on MBT shoes when they could write the words "I am a moron with money to burn" on their forehead for no more than the price of a Sharpie marker?
In case you are not familiar with the purported benefits of this attractive footwear, the concept is that the Masai people of Africa don't have cellulite because they walk barefoot over uneven surfaces, and that by replicating the effect of that rocky terrain, these shoes will make your cellulite melt away. Ohhh-kaaay! Forget status symbols, these are a stupidity symbol.
One final jaw-dropping example of this year's gift for the person who has everything:
Despite my complete willingness to pay $400 for a pair of Gucci shoes, I will not be buying the $70 Gucci Ice Cube Trays. It's not that I don't understand the appeal of fun ice cubes. In fact, I bought a similar set of ice cube trays at a shop in my neighborhood, and I got all 26 letters of the alphabet for $69 less. Even if I wanted an equal number of Gs, I could have done it for only $20... though I might have had trouble getting all the trays into my freezer at once.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
A few days ago, when I was looking at my net worth changes, I had a slight panic about my cash flow. Well, after looking at my monthly spending in more detail, I am feeling reassured.
From Jan-Nov 2005, I spent between $2,176-$3,682 per month, not counting taxes. Comparing this to my takehome pay, of approximately $3,600 a month, it worked out that I actually saved an average of $834 from each month's pay, not the $240 or so I had erroneously come up with the other day.
The $834 is a little misleading, as I haven't had to renew my gym membership during this period, and that is a hit of almost $1,000 (I pay for a full year in advance in order to get a free extra month or two). But even if I factor that in, I do seem to be saving over $700 a month on average, not counting what I contribute to my 401k through payroll deductions. That is about 20% of my takehome pay.
To celebrate my confirmed frugality, maybe I'll go to Gucci!
Posted at 5:49 PM
Saturday, December 10, 2005
For some reason, today I am just sick of my whole scrimping and saving mentality. Calgon, take me away!
I'll get over it fast, but for once, instead of talking about how I hang onto every possible penny, I'd like to fantasize about just blowing a lot of cash on STUFF, NEW STUFF! I can be very anti-materialism, anti-consumerism, blah blah blah, but there are things I sort of need, or at least want. I will limit this to what I could buy if I just felt like being a little irresponsible, this isn't an "if I won the lottery" scenario:
A new computer. My iBook is about 5 years old now and it was never top of the line, so I want a really snazzy new one. And I'd get the broadband, the wireless, etc etc so I could download more music and video and then maybe I'd want one of those new iPods too. I'd also get a printer and a scanner, neither of which I currently have.
A personal trainer and weekly massage.
Shoes. I love really good shoes and am always looking for the perfect boots, loafers, sandals, etc. Gucci, here I come.
A new pair of Lucky jeans. I love the ones I have and they fit me perfectly but I haven't been able to pull the trigger on spending another $100 on another pair when I do have other jeans that are totally wearable.
And clothes in general.
A not-too-big flat screen TV, and cable, and a DVD player, so I could watch movies somewhere other than on my laptop.
A new digital camera.
Some new lamps.
I could use some new silverware, as half the set I have has disappeared over the years. I think I'd buy some more pots and pans too. And a coffee maker.
A very comfortable armchair.
A Nokia 8800 phone.
I actually can't think of anything else right now. Obviously I'm out of practice!
I'm guessing all this stuff would set me back maybe $10-12,000 or so, not counting the ongoing costs of the personal trainer, massages, and cable TV... in a way, that doesn't seem like that much. I could take that much out of the bank and go on a shopping spree if I really wanted to... but I would never do that. Ok, I think I'm over it now.
Posted at 6:10 PM
Friday, December 09, 2005
Still catching up on November!
Here's the scoop:
Clothing $133 for a parka from REI that I need to return, and something at Banana Republic that I don't even remember buying. I'm going to have to look into that! I vaguely recall being in Banana Republic, but lately I have been feeling like all my clothes are old and cruddy, so if I have something new that I could be wearing, I'd like to remember what it is.
Dining $491 another good month of not eating out too much!
Entertainment $20 someone told me a good joke so I gave them $20. No, actually it was a movie rental and a book, technically a reference book so not exactly entertaining.
Gifts given $37
Household $22 laundry and some drugstore stuff
Misc $46 some postage and being short-changed $20 when I exchanged dollars for Mexican pesos
Travel $91 a train ticket to visit a friend and my usual subway pass
And then the usual rent, AOL, insurance, newspaper subscription, taxes, etc etc.
Posted at 3:33 PM
I've been semi-paying attention whenever I see people posting (here and here) about VOIP. "Semi" because I don't have DSL, and don't want to spend money on DSL, so VOIP isn't really an option for me right now. But I currently spend over $100 a month on phone costs, mainly because I make a lot of international calls. I use a cheap calling card and I have an AT&T plan with great international rates, but now that I've started to hear about VOIP with all-inclusive international plans, such as Broadvoice, I'm starting to wonder if I could do better.
I suspect it is still not worth it for me at this point. The added cost of DSL might outweigh the phone savings. Or would it? DSL costs seem to keep dropping... I think I will put this on the back burner again for a while, but after I move next year, I will have to look at it again and analyze all the costs. I will probably be getting a cell phone via work, so that will cut down on some of my phone costs. And VOIP at home won't help me with international calls made on a calling card from my office. But perhaps it is time to take the next technological step with my home set-up...
Posted at 1:09 PM
The latest issue of Women's Health magazine has some interesting stats. In every issue, they have a back page feature called "The Average Woman" with statistics about health, diet, sex, careers, whatever... and this time the topic is money. I don't know where they get their data but here's a few of their numbers:
The Average Woman's annual income: $31,223
... If she graduated from college: $36,267
... If she only gradulated from high school: $22,363
The average man's income: $40,798
Average single woman's net worth: $23,028
Percentage of women who always pay their credit card balances in full: 39%
Percentage who pay only the minimum: 14%
Amount average woman owes on her credit cards: $2,522
Age at which the average woman starts investing: 30
Percentage of women who admit they have no discipline when it comes to money: 57%
Percentage of women who seek professional financial advice: 13%
Percentage of women who lose sleep over financial stress: 49%
Thursday, December 08, 2005
I noticed that Brian at Personal Finance for the New Age had some really impressive increases in his net worth from month to month, not only in terms of dollars, but by having double-digit percentage increases from month to month!
I hadn't looked at my own net worth changes this way so I decided to try it.
Here's a chart showing the monthly percentage change.
The most my net worth ever increased in one month was $9,479, or 4.3%, from May to June. This actually seems really weird to me-- I didn't have any big inflows of cash other than some moderate expense reimbursements, and I thought I had spent a lot of money during the summer, but perhaps the stock market was really strong that month. My bonus and tax refunds hit in March and April, so I would have expected those months to be the highest.
From Jan. 1 to Dec. 1, the overall change in my net worth was $45,995, or 22.3%. I tried to figure out how much of this was due to investment returns, and how much due to savings. After backing out contributions and withdrawals from my investment accounts, my return on those seems to have been 12.7%. My cash savings on hand also increased by 15%, factoring out transfers to and from my investment accounts, but including interest earned. Factoring out the interest earned, it seems that I added $8,775 to my cash savings. Backing out tax refunds and bonus, this would mean that I saved only 6.6% of my take-home pay each month, not counting 401k deductions.
This is a bit alarming, as I had been thinking my monthly cash flow was better than that. I am going to have to check all these numbers again before I do my budgeting for next year, as my housing costs are going to be going up and I don't want to find myself in the red! When you live by the spreadsheet, you can also die by the spreadsheet-- all it takes is one typo!
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I finally totalled everything up and I made it to $251,331! This does not count some expense reimbursements that should hit in a couple of days, so technically it's more like $252,462! So I have hit my year-end goal. Of course, if the stock market doesn't do well, I could be below $250,000 again a month from now, but let's hope not!
Posted at 9:43 AM
Monday, December 05, 2005
Uh-oh, I think I may have missed my company's deadline to sign up for a 2006 Flexible Spending Account. I'm trying to decide how upset I am about this! On the one hand, I'd like to do anything possible to lower my taxable income. On the other hand, I'd like to think I won't get sick this year, and thus would not be putting much into the account anyway. After all, I already have a couple of pairs of prescription sunglasses and I don't want to keep having to buy more every time I have FSA money left over!
But then there is the nagging fear that I might need some expensive dental work... don't you love it when your dentist tells you that a filling "looks okay for now, but that tooth could crack at any time... or it might be fine for years, you never know..."
So what do I do, put a lot of money in the FSA and if I haven't spent it by November or December, just start eating a lot of peanut brittle and Milk Duds to accelerate the inevitable?
If I can still sign up, I think I'll just put in enough to cover the usual co-pays for routine exams, and a little extra for good measure. I'm not even taking any prescription medications any more, so I can't factor those in. And hey, I will share the secret that has allowed me to save over $100 a year on medications! I will caution you not to read on if you're eating lunch right now, but here is the tip:
If you suffer from sinus problems and frequent colds, you might be able to save a lot of money by using a relatively inexpensive over the counter product: Simply Saline. Don't use Ocean Spray or any of its generic imitators, as they contain preservatives which some studies suggest can actually make sinus problems worse. Simply Saline is exactly what you'd think-- just saline solution with nothing else in it. Basically, you just squirt it up your nose with your head tilted sideways so it runs through your sinuses and out the other side, flushing all the yucky germy irritants and congestion away. In the past, I've taken all kinds of pills, had allergy tests and even had my head CAT-scanned. But for maybe $5 a month, this spray has helped me more than anything.
We will now return to our regularly scheduled programming, in which the contents of my nostrils will not be discussed whatsoever. Thank you for your patience.
Posted at 5:45 PM
Boy is it not fun coming back to cold, grey, snowy NYC after a week in warmer southwestern climates. I have a horrendous sore neck and back, partially from carrying luggage and sitting in airplane seats and partially from shivering in the cold. Tylenol just isn't cutting it, and of course I start to think about how much money people pay for illicit drugs because they are desperate not to be in pain! How much would I pay to just make it disappear? I don't know, and I suppose there is no point in worrying about that now anyway. I think I will go for a swim tonight to try to loosen myself up. And if that doesn't work, there's always crack.
I am trying to get all my finances in order after being away. My paycheck was direct deposited in my absence, so that needs to be entered in Quicken. The good news is that on this last paycheck, I hit my maximum of $14,000 for 401k contributions. I've had my deduction set at 50% for my last couple of paychecks!
What else. I have bills to pay. I have to deposit a dental insurance reimbursement check. I just did my latest business expense report, and I'll have over $1100 worth of reimbursement coming in the next few days. And I'll have to set up an account in Quicken for my leftover Mexican pesos, all 6 of them! The foreign currency accounts are a bit of a nuisance to maintain, as I currently have small amounts in British pounds, Euros, New Zealand dollars, Canadian dollars, and now Mexican pesos. (I drew the line at trying to account for my old francs, lira and deutsche marks!) But it's nice to keep track of what spare change I have for future travels, and I usually remember to take them out and bring them with me on the next trip.
And when I get all of this stuff entered into Quicken, I'm hoping that I will still be closing in on my $250,000 year-end net worth goal, since most of my closing costs for the apartment won't hit until next year. But there is still Xmas shopping to do... uh oh...
Posted at 2:37 PM