Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Letter

It has been an eventful year for our family, starting last November I along with a 1000 others were informed that Lockheed would be closing its facility in Eagan.  I started interviewing right away and in January was extended an offer to work for Trane in White Bear Lake.  Working with Trane and Lockheed I was able to start my new job in March, but continue with Lockheed until my layoff date in April (it was a very busy month).  Since then work has been good, no travel and normal hour, which has been good since...

We welcomed our daughter Madelyn Olivia in August!  She came into the world in quite a rush.  Jen woke up at 4am and Maddie was born a little after 6am!  Life with 2 kids has been very different than life with 1, but very wonderful.  Maddie is doing very well and really starting to develop her personality.  She is very fond of her brother as well :)

Nick is growing into quite the "big boy," his biggest accomplishment recently has been to shed the diapers and start using the toilet.
 - Why does Nick have juice? Because Nicholas needs juice.
 - I no need nap. it's in here, it's in my body.

Jen is taking the year off to care for Nick and Maddie, and loving it!  She has become very strong from carrying Maddie around while playing with Nick,

Apparently I never got around to finishing this letter (shocking), but I thought I would publish it anyways :) 

Life Insurance

Just paid for our new life insurance policy.

$500,000 for me, 20 year term for $322 a year.
$250,000 for Jen, 20 year term for $122 a year.

How does that compare with your policy?  I also have some insurance though work, so Jen would get a bit more in the case of my demise.  Just checked as well it looks like death benefits are not taxed, so that is good 5 years of income should be enough, right?  I am not sure a 20 year term is right for us, but our agent really recommended it...

Supposedly we will also realize a ~2% discount on our home and auto policies.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rotato, best kitchen gadget ever?

Nick and I were making Apple Cranberry bread last night and I was again allowed to use one of the best kitchen gadgets I have had the pleasure to use.  The Rotato :)  It makes very quick work of pealing, and the side effect of having "apple strings" is not to be dismissed.  A very health snack that Nick will run around eating!  Happy snacking :)

Why companies announce layoff early

I enjoyed this summary of the reasons that companies announce layoff early.  The first is my particular favorite, in order to reduce severance costs, as people bail early.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Great Depression 2

I believe this is what the occupy wall street protests are about.  If you click on the link there are number of other charts that illustrate different perspectives on this.  I think we are headed for a very large correction again.  Why the current crop of plutocracy can't see this and work to prevent it, implies they are expecting to profit from it; Or in denial.

Friday, October 7, 2011

What if time was money?

Interesting post over at My Money Blog about a movie that is coming out apparently about a society where aging has been overcome, but after 25 your productivity becomes the determining factor for your length of life (or something like that).  Johnathan then makes a good point about how much that coffee is costing you in real terms.  I hadn't heard of the movie (don't watch much advertising...), but I might have to check it out.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Chimney Sweep

Well it has been two years (didn't burn as much the first year) since we built the house, so it is time to have the chimney cleaned and looked at.  Fireside recommended Smart Sweep as a good guy to call.  Jim Smart came out to the house at 11am (on time), was great with Nick, explaining things to him (and me) and very clean.  He explained that it was something I could do in the future with an investment in a few tools.

I can recommend Jim highly enough, he was professional and friendly.  The fireplace looks great, and we are excited to try it out (once it cools back down).

Total cost was just under $250, so I think I might invest in the tools and give it a go once in awhile.  But when I need a professional, I won't hesitate to call Jim.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Received our MN Property Tax rebate.  $940 on a tax bill of just under $5000.  That is pretty nice, does that mean that we didn't make a lot of money for the tax that we pay on our house (I think so...).

Anyways it is very nice, too bad they did away with it in the new state budget (I think I heard that).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Extended Auto Warranty rebate

We purchased a new mini-van in the beginning of August, and traded my 2005 TDI Golf in.  I had purchased an extended warranty on it when I bought it that was good for 10 years or 100,000 miles.  The car had just over 80,000 miles when I traded it in.

The dealer told me I could get a rebate for the unused portion of the extended warranty, and I just received a check yesterday for $341.  :)  During the course of owning the car I had to replaced the transmission at a cost of ~5000.  I paid 1800 for the extended warranty, so I am pretty happy with the value I have gotten out of it.

We did not get an extended warranty for the mini-van, which I hope we don't live to regret.  It was the end of the day when we went in to purchase the van, and the extended warranty that was offered, was pretty bad compared to what I had gotten on the golf.  We financed at 0%, so I would be loath to purchase one now after the fact.

We will see how well it holds up, the good news is that any service will probably be more reasonable than service on the golf was.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

ING Direct living up to high standards

I received an email today, that I didn't have enough money to process a withdraw from my savings account for my auto payment.  This is the first month for the auto payment, so I made a payment early to make sure everything was set up correctly for automatic withdraw.  After that went through successfully, I changed the date to the due date and went on my way happily.

I didn't expect ally to attempt another payment this month, and so when they did the balance was too low (I had put the money into the market, in an attempt to make some quick profit).  I received the email from ING saying what had happened and that they wouldn't charge me a fee.  Now this is an instance when a bank could have very easily charged a fee, so I am very happy that they didn't (of course I would have been pissed if they had :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

PromoCode for Sharbuilder

Sharebuilder (ING Direct) is offer a promo code for current subscribers!
Get $50 for depositing $100 each month till 2012.

A $50 return on $400, good luck finding that anywhere else.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The final fill up

When we bought the minivan we traded in my 2005 VW Golf TDI.  So here are the final gas charts:
20 Fill-up rolling average

Days between fill-ups

Gas price 03/2005 to 08/2011

MPG at each fill-up
Overall average MPG was: 38.55 MPG.
Total gas put in was: 1978.63 gallons.
Total gas cost was: $6140.50.
Total miles traveled: 80051.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Our other new baby

So we had been planning on purchasing a van for awhile, and with Madelyn's due date getting so close, we thought we would check out minivan's.  I ended up stopping by Roseville Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep on Friday (before Madelyn was born) and had Joe quote me a price for a basic Grand Caravan Crew, and appraising my Golf TDI '05.

The quote for the Crew was good, a couple hundred over Edmund's invoice, the quote for my Golf was a bit less than I thought it should be ($7500).  Long story short, we ended up going back on Saturday and buying the van for the price he offered, and $9000 for my trade it.  We received $8000 in cash for the trade and financed the van at 0%.  I like having the money to invest, and not feeling like I should pay off the car sooner rather than later :)

A happy note as well is that, I had signed up to do a test drive when I went to look at the van, and I received an email for a $50 gift card if I went through with it.  We received the gift card today :)  So don't just delete those emails.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bringing home baby

We have had a very exciting two weeks, we brought home our new baby girl last Wednesday!  Jen had a super fast labor we were at the hospital at 05:30 and Madelyn was born at 06:08.  Wow!  Everyone is doing really well :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Extreme Early Retirment

I have a confession, I have been reading this guys blog for the past couple days.  He seems like a really interesting person, with some very counter-culture ideas.  It is very inspiring, and I am happy to provide him some income by ignoring the ads on his site :)

He is a post that I enjoyed about how to spend very little money.  It is basically how the guy (Jacob, I believe), managed to retire at 32 years old.  If you want to learn (waste) about 2 days, start reading from the beginning, hey it doesn't cost you anything but time. :)

His book will though ;)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Historical Tax Rates

I was curious what the top marginal tax rates have been for the last century.  As you can see the last time we had rates this low it preceded the Great Depression.

There is a lot of interesting information on that tax policy website, unfortunately it could be organized quite a bit better.  The Times has an article by Paul Krugman explaining that corporation have ample cash right now, but the problem is a lack of consumers.  You can't trickle down to a not existent middle class.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Financial Independence Sale!

ING Direct is having a sale, with some pretty good deals today and tomorrow.
  • $126 for opening a checking account and direct depositing into it.
  • $76 for opening a Sharebuilder account.
  • $76 for opening an IRA.
  • $76 for referring 2 friends ;)  (Call / email me if you want a referral and I will split the bonus with you)
  • $1776 off closing costs.
I decided to apply for a 5 year ARM @ 3.125%.  Unfortunately, our house probably won't appraise for enough to finance the whole amount anymore, plus ING required 75% loan to value, but we do have some extra cash in the bank at the moment so it might make sense.  Our payments would go from $2200 a month to $1700 a month, which would be really nice with Jen probably not working this year.

And who knows what it is going to be like in 5 years, worst case scenario interest rate raises to 9.125% after 8 years for a payment of around $3000.  So actually that should be doable as well (in 8 years). 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

How about 6 tons of River Rock?

We are working on placing river rock about the house.  Looking at the cost of buying it bags from Menards (1/2 ft³ for around $2 on sale), Gertens, and Hot Rocks.   Hot Rocks seemed to have the best price, even though I have to go back and forth with the sales person (18 emails... she confused me once with another customer).  I asked for a 10% discount they listed on the website that had expired, but they gave it to me anyways.

I ended up paying $214.30 for 6 tons of river rock with delivery and taxes.  Now we just have to find the time to move it around :(

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

No Soda how about Hawaiian Punch

Since I quit soda for June (wow only 2 days left :), I have been drinking a lot more water, but also I have been using single packets for flavor.  My favorite has been Hawaiian Punch.  Target dollar spot usually has 8 packets for a dollar, which works out to 12 cents per packet.  I usually have 2 a day.  Now I have to go read a study on Aspartame...

If you don't have a Target near you, I have found you can also buy cases at Dollar Tree online for the same price (but in bulk).  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lending Club

I joined Lending Club in January so I thought I would report.  According to lending club I have made a return of 9.8% since joining.  Pretty nice return, though I am not sure how they will report taxes.  If they report as income then it will be taxed more then if it is reported as dividend income.

In any event I put in 3k at the end of January and have $3200 now, 6 months in.  $100 of that was a bonus for investing over $2500 to start with, so it seems a bit high of a percentage, but they probably know better than I.

The promo they are doing is that if you sign up and invest $2500 you get $100.  I think you invest over 5k you get an additional 1% as well.  I think prosper has a promotion going on as well, I might look into that as well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Backyard Patio

This is a project that we started last year and are in the process of finishing this year.  The patio was finished last year, the retaining wall was finished this spring and the grass was planted a couple weeks ago.  Here is the  material costs:

  • Delivery $50
  • Sand $175 (locking and leveling)
  • Block $604
  • Retaining Wall Block $477
  • Compactor $121 (1 day, 4 hours Home Depot)
  • Class 5 base $176
  • Misc $80 (wood and rebar)
So all told for the patio we spent just over $1200.  This summer one of the corners of the patio sunk a bit, so I am not sure how successful I was with the compactor.

Patio block and Retaining wall
Thanks Menards :)
Area Prepped and Ready

In Progress in the middle of the night. Not too bad

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Michele Bachmann quotes

I generally try to be political on this blog, but my father-in-law is always pro-Bachmann and I say she doesn't always say the most intelligent things, but can't come up with a list for him.
I found a list and thought I would share.  Everyone can make a gaffe now and again, but I really think that some people have more of a tendancy to say "ironic" or irresponsible things at times, and Michele is one of those people.

  • "I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out under another, then under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter. I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's an interesting coincidence." -Rep. Michele Bachmann, on the 1976 Swine Flu outbreak that happened when Gerald Ford, a Republican, was president, April 28, 2009
  • "I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?" -Rep. Michelle Bachmann, calling for a new McCarthyism, Oct. 2008
  • "Take this into consideration. If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations at the request of President Roosevelt, and that's how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps. I'm not saying that that's what the Administration is planning to do, but I am saying that private personal information that was given to the Census Bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up, in a violation of their constitutional rights, and put the Japanese in internment camps." -Rep. Michele Bachmann, June 2009
  • "During the last 100 days we have seen an orgy. It would make any local smorgasbord embarrassed … The government spent its wad by April 26." -Rep. Michele Bachmann, accusing the Obama administration of premature fiscal ejaculation, May 2009
  • "That's why people need to continue to go to the town halls, continue to melt the phone lines of their liberal members of Congress, and let them know, under no certain circumstances will I give the government control over my body and my health care decisions." -Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), a pro-lifer who completely missed the irony of using the same slogan as the pro-choice movement in arguing against health care reform
  • "Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas." -Rep. Michelle Bachmann, April, 2009
  • "There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design." -Rep. Michele Bachmann, Oct. 2006
  • "I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us 'having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,' and the people -- we the people -- are going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our country." -Rep. Rep. Michele Bachmann, March 2009
  • "Does that mean that someone's 13-year-old daughter could walk into a sex clinic, have a pregnancy test done, be taken away to the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, have their abortion, be back and go home on the school bus? That night, mom and dad are never the wiser." -Rep. Michele Bachmann, on health care reform's potential to dupe parents, October 2009
  • "I don't know where they're going to get all this money because we're running out of rich people in this country." -Rep. Michele Bachmann, accusing the Obama administration of plotting to divert money from Republican to Democratic districts and planning to tax the wealthy to fund the windfalls, Feb. 2009

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Article on sugar and food

I have been hesitant to post, but I have decided to cut out soda for a month.  I have to say it isn't the easiest thing, it is all over the place, and if you go out the only alternative is typically water or lemon aid (a cheat? maybe).  I have been faithful for the last 9 days (wow!?), though it hasn't been easy.  Oh, did I mention that there is a free soda fountain at work?  So am I giving up a part of my compensation?

Read this article on Lifehacker, it is pretty interesting.  It explains the issue with High Fructose Corn Syrup, America's favorite little sugar.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Huh, Tax refund?

We received a check from the state for $179, so apparently I didn't do our taxes correctly and they were able to figure out where I went wrong and send us a check.  I guess I would expect that, but it is still surprising.

Once I figure out my mistake I will update.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Nick's new trampoline!

Grandma and Grandpa G bought Nick a trampoline for his birthday.  It is actually pretty nice and he was able to run into the screen walls and it didn't seem like it was going to break...  It was an interesting design, but once I figured out how to use he metal tool it came with it wasn't too bad, though I do have the blisters to prove I put it together...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Employment picture

Recently Lockheed decided to close the doors of the it's facility in Eagan, unfortunately that meant I was out of a job.  The announcement was made in November, and the first wave of layoffs was scheduled for March 15th.  I was included in the April 29th layoffs.

So I started job hunting at the beckoning of my wife :).  I secured a couple of interviews, and was eventually offered a job with Ingersoll Rand in White Bear Lake.  I really liked the sound of the job and so was quick to accept, they offered a bit more then I had been making at LM and signing bonus.  I didn't negotiate the offer and only asked for an extra week of vacation (which they couldn't grant...).  The one sticking point was the starting date, they wanted me ASAP, but I wanted to wait to collect my severance package.

Luckily LM needed me as well to support the sell off of the second P3 to Portugal.  I was able to work out a plan with them to work full time till March 21 (my start date with IR), then part-time will April 29th.  I ended up on travel for most of my last couple weeks with LM, then working a bit in the evenings and the weekend to finish up my time with them, while working full time at IR.

I just received my severance pay, just under 10k (it will be interesting to see the deductions statement for it, (as it should be close to twice that, but...).  Taxes will be interesting this year, so with the bonus, severance, ect, I will make more then 106k, so I should get some of my SS/Medicare dollars back as well :)

I am happy at IR, and the Portugal program was running into some challenges, so in the end it all worked out for the best for me.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Broken water pipes

Ran into some problems with winter with exploding pipes in the garage. I went to turn on the water to the garage faucet and was met with a "turn it off, turn it off" from Jen who was in the garage.

As you can see once I removed the pipes from the sink there is a small blown out area on each copper pipe. I had to find a tool to remove the nut from the pipe, as it is located in a very difficult to reach place. I found the "vertical" wrench you see, it didn't work too well, it slipped on the nut. I was able to eventually get it off though.

I bought steel flexible pipes to replace the copper pipes and they went on very easily. Hurray problem solved till next winter. I will have to make sure to drain the pipe this winter... I didn't realize there was a value on the turn off to drain the pipe... DUH!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cell Phone plan

Recently Jen and I both switched from ATT to T-mobile prepaid.  It makes sense for us, because we don't use our minutes each month and most of the day we are by landlines (work and Magicjack at home).

We were paying ~$65 a month for our two phones with 700 minutes.  We switched our "known" numbers over to google voice and then were able to forward to random prepaid numbers we received.  We also forward to our home and work numbers.  I forward to my work number during the day and home at night, Jen to our home number all day.  It is pretty cool, because in the evening we know who is getting the call by which cell phone rings :)

T-mobile seems like the best prepaid deal currently, 1000 minutes for $100 for up to a year.  Jen has been on prepaid for over a month and used about 7 minutes so I think we will save money.  I started a couple weeks after her, because I was using my work cell phone, and used that till I was laid off.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spending in 2010

This was our spending in 2010, as you can see the majority goes towards our house.  That number includes almost $6000 in spending at home improvement stores as well, though property taxes are included in taxes.

Mint is a great site that make it very easy to get graphs like this :)