Monday, July 07, 2008

Three Year Anniversary!

It's my third blogoversary!
I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at my first month of blogging. One of my early posts was about my E*Trade portfolio, so here's a look at how things have changed since then. There are only 4 mutual funds/stocks that I still hold that were in my portfolio in July 2005:

BRSIX $ 14.80 $ 18.01 -17.8%
ICENX $ 35.54 $ 28.94 22.8%
RYTRX $ 11.69 $ 12.88 -9.2%
XRX $ 13.48 $ 13.13 2.7%

Not the prettiest picture, but at least all of these are up between 40-60% since I bought them, except for Xerox, which is down 1.74% overall. All in all, this is a good reminder that you have to ride out these ups and downs!

I also wrote this post:

I keep trying to figure out if the housing market here is about to take a downturn. For so many reasons, it seems like it has to. Bubble Meter is very reassuring on this topic! I set up a little grid to track how many apartments are listed on the NY Times website each week, so I can see if supply might be starting to outpace demand. I'm kind of passively apartment-hunting right now, just checking out different neighborhoods that I might need to consider, trying to figure out what might still be comparatively a bargain. It's hard to believe that the bubble-burst, when/if it comes, will be a drastic cut in prices, but there has to be some kind of dent in the long-term upward trend line. So do I wait? Buy now in an up and coming neighborhood where I can get more space and prices have more room to grow? Buy now in a well-established neighborhood and get less space but perhaps less risk of loss of value in a downturn?

I also found this article -- it certainly hit home with me. My rent, which includes gas and electric, is $850, for a small studio in a decent area, not too far out in Brooklyn. For this same monthly cost, assuming a 20% down payment and $450 monthly maintenance, the selling price would have to be around $120,000, which is about half (or less) what studio apartments go for in this area, and still a lot less most than studios even in areas quite a bit further out. I could rent a small one-bedroom for less than it would cost me to buy a small studio anywhere near here.
Obviously, those who believed the bubble would soon be bursting were right. Though I was leery about the market, I had no idea how broad the implications would be of all these sub-prime mortgages. In any case, a few months after I wrote that post, I went ahead and signed a contract on a non-yet-constructed condo in an up-and-coming neighborhood. I have no regrets-- I don't think I would have saved much, if any money by waiting til now. I love my apartment, and plan to hold onto it for a long time, perhaps even renting it out rather than selling it if I ever decide to move elsewhere. Hopefully I'll still feel the same way even if this downturn gets worse!

And here's another post I wrote that first month, which captures how I continue to feel whenever I go shopping:
It's Friday afternoon, just went to the gym, do I need to do anything else before I go home? Oh yeah, Bed Bath & Beyond, I've been meaning to buy a new pillow. My neck has been killing me, maybe I'll buy one of those special neck pillows. Here I am in the store, look at all this stuff... wow, they deliver grills to the Fire Island ferries... but then what? Does the ferry let you carry a giant Weber grill on with you? Do they charge extra for that? There are those alarm clocks I looked at last time. My alarm clock is fine, I shouldn't buy a new one even though I've had it since college. Sheets! Wow, a whole set of nice ones, only $59.99! That's cheap, isn't it? Maybe not, I don't know... I haven't bought sheets in ages... yeah, I really should buy new sheets, I'll pick these up. Ok, pillows, downstairs... ooh, more sheets, these ones are even nicer, and only $79.99, which probably is pretty cheap since here are some other ones that are $149... but do I really want sheets? The ones I have are fine. And anyway, if I buy an apartment maybe I'll actually have a bedroom that isn't also my living room, and then I might want a whole new color scheme, I should wait. Ok, ditch the sheets. God, I'm going to spend a ton on decorating if I ever buy an apartment. Ok, pillows. Ooh, there's the neck pillow... memory foam... I don't know, it actually seems kind of creepy how it keeps the handprint... $90! for a pillow! The hell with that! Ok, here are the pillows I want... this one? That one? Geez, even these are $30, when did pillows get so expensive? I thought they were like $9.99... and pillow protectors, they have tons of these. Keeps pillows clean and sanitary, anti-allergen and bacteria, I should probably get some even though I suspect this is one of those made-up things that they invent a need for just to get people to spend money... $5.99 each, that is what the pillow should cost...Ok, let's go pay for this... here's the silverware, someday I'll buy new silverware... hey, ice cube trays for $2.99! That is something I should pick up, I only have one ice tray except for those stupid alphabet letter ones that don't work. Why do I only have one? Oh yeah, I used one for some art project, it's got ink in it... but do I need more ice? It's not like I have a lot of cocktail parties...and I don't use ice that often... well, they're only $2.99, I'll get them. More kitchen stuff, wasn't there something I wanted??? Oh, yeah, a wine holder for inside the fridge... they don't really make such a thing... I could invent one, make some money maybe... this soda can rack could work though, and it's only $2.99... made in China, everything is $2.99 and made in China... should I ditch the pillow protectors? No, I'll keep them. Ok, I'm going to pay and get out of here... at the register... neat-o, bleach pens! and toothpaste clips! Licorice Altoids! Chapstick! Get me out of here! $51.97 total. Not bad. I feel like I just went through an obstacle course.
After I bought my apartment, I did go shopping again to buy more pillows, new sheets, a nice set of silverware and a whole lot of other stuff. And I still resisted the temptation to buy a bleach pen.

That's enough blasts from the past for now. Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting and making this blog so much fun for me-- it's been a great 3 years!


mapgirl said...

Go on with your bad self! 3 years? WOW! How do you sustain interest? Mine's flagging.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Ms. X, and may there be many more years to come! Yours is one of the first websites I check in the morning; I can't wait to see what you're thinking about that day, and your writing makes me smile.

Anonymous said...

HAPPY 3 year anniversary!!!

I hope you had a great 4th of July. Lots of food and fun and festivities.

S said...

Keep doing your thing! Congrats! I jumped on your blog just 3 weeks ago and you been doing it for 3 years, I have some catching up to do on my reading!

Dolly Iris said...

Congratulations on still having a rocking blog after 3 years! I have been reading your blog for about two but only recently started commenting. I love your blog. Keep it up!

Noel Larson said...

Happy Happy Joy Joy!

Congrats on Three years!

Still rockin' and a daily read

All the Best!

Anonymous said...

Oh the difference in the coasts, I am happy to have paid ONLY $273k for my house in a surburb of LA.

Anonymous said...

Congrats! I hope you keep blogging for many years to come.

frugal zeitgeist said...

Congratulations and many happy returns. Keep on doing your thing.

Esme said...

Happy anniversary! I started reading a year ago and love your posts.

san said...

congrats thats cool thing happened to you keep going


Anonymous said...

Hi Madame X,
I just want to congratulate you on your 3 year anniversary :-) I've been a loyal reader for two years now and you and Boston Gal have inspired me to start my own blog. Anyway, thanks for all your hard work and great advice over the years!

Ms. Penny Pincher

Kiwi said...

Congrats on 3 years! I've been a long time reader and appreciate the great advice. I've actually been convinced to start a PF blog of my own, hopefully in 3 years time my blog and finances may be in as healthy shape as yours. Happy blogging!