Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Miscellaneous Updates

Happy New Year, everyone! I've taken a longer than usual holiday from posting this year, due to visiting family and friends. Here's a little report on what I've been up to, as it relates to personal finance:

I had a short conversation with my Dad about whether or not he has a will. He doesn't, which is probably not a good thing for a man in his mid-70s, with serious health problems and a financially irresponsible wife. He does have the name of a lawyer and I offered to visit again and go with him if he wants. I think I've at least goaded him into taking some action and he seemed glad I'd brought it up, even if he doesn't end up involving me in the whole process.

I deposited checks totaling $220, which were Xmas gifts from my parents and great-aunt.

I gasped in horror on New Year's Eve when I saw a TV news report about how much the stock market had dropped yesterday. As I write this, I have not yet updated Quicken to see what the damage was and whether I'll make my year end net worth goal.

I listened to my mother's worries about my sister. My mother, whose own shopaholic tendencies put her in quite a bit of debt, says that my sister is "even worse." She said she advised my sister not to overspend, which I'm sure Sis took as the pot calling the kettle black. Of course my mom always has her own spin on things-- she's worried that my sister's husband, who she adores, will get stressed out by having his earnings eaten up by my sister's spending. Though my sister is a stay at home mom right now, she and her husband discuss and share all the financial decisions. That may not mean he approves every item she brings home from Costco, but my mom is obviously putting their relationship into the context of her own marriage, in which the husband earned the money and controlled all the purse strings. I'm not sure I'm explaining this very well, but I guess to me, it just showed that my mother couldn't see controlling one's expenses as something worth doing for its own sake, but just as a way of making sure your husband doesn't think you're some kind of shrew!

And speaking of Costco, I went there for the first time over the weekend. The friend I went with is a member but doesn't go too often. She said it herself: "the prices are great on lots of basic things it makes sense to stock up on, but every time I go, I always end up buying some high-priced special item and when I check out, I can't believe I've spent hundreds of dollars." And sure enough, between the two of us, we did some damage. My purchases: two pairs of much-needed pajamas ($17), half of a two-pack of those racks that hold brooms ($2.50) and the new Mary J. Blige CD ($10). Her purchases: a mini-stereo system ($150), a book ($15), the other half of the broom holder two-pack ($2.50), some stick-up lights for inside closets, ($10, I think) and jumbo packs of toilet paper, paper towels, AA batteries, Power Bars, and a number of other food items including a $10 shrimp cocktail package that we ate as a post-shopping snack. The total was somewhere over $300. I was glad to have an opportunity to pick up a couple of things I needed/wanted at very good prices, but it's probably just as well I'm not able to shop at Costco more often!

I also did some other shopping, buying a couple of new pillows to replace the flattened out ones currently on my bed, and a new answering machine to replace the 20-year old one that just recently broke. I also picked up a cute little pizza-making kit for kids that was on sale for $2.50 at Bed, Bath and Beyond-- it will be perfect for my niece's birthday.

That's it for the moment-- I'll be returning to my regular posting schedule soon. Now it's time to do some work in Quicken so I can have a net worth update ready for later this week... will I be able to hold to my $350,000 net worth goal? Oh, the suspense!!!


Anonymous said...

I expect it's particularly scary for older people to think about wills. Confronts one more with one's mortality than it does younger people. Even though we probably need them too.

I'm very happy that my parents just made wills. They're in their 60s, Mom's terminal and Dad's never been in good health (well, in the 22 years I've known him). I'd been planning to present a case for wills over Christmas, but they preempted me. Fine by me.

Kitty said...

Great that you've encouraged your father so that he can really take time to think about his planning. It sounds scary but I hope he can feel some empowerment in it.

I just came back from LA from the holidays, the land of huge shopping malls. Shopping malls make it so much easier to be cost efficient, and there ain't none in the city.

You can find bargains here and there, and there's the internet, but sometimes I wish there were more alternatives!

Noel Larson said...

We have always said that it is nearly impossible to get out of Costco for less than $300 if you don't go in with a list.

Death from 1000 cuts!

Great Deals, especially with my 2% back Membership...but the danger is not to be ignored! :)

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