Thursday, April 30, 2009

April Flowers

I’m not usually one to do these marathon posts, but it’s been a busy month, I haven’t made a real post since April 1st, and I’ve got a lot to say.

1. Spend-free April. You may remember a couple of years ago Alison and I had a spend-free April. At that time we did our best to not spend any money on pretty much anything but fresh produce and bread. Alison was on WIC at the time so we were able to pretty much go a whole month without spending. We didn’t think we were really in a position to duplicate the experiment again, but we did set a goal to cut spending on all variable categories by 80% (basically, we will pay our full mortgage, utility bills, etc.) We wanted to trim our spending on groceries, clothing and other household items. I haven’t calculated how we did, but I don’t think we quite made it. It doesn’t help that we purchased a 65” TV this month…

2. Yes. We bought a new 65” Mitsubishi DLP TV. We didn’t expect to get one so soon or so big, but we’re not complaining. Not that we need to justify this purchase to anybody but ourselves, but here are our justifications for purchasing it: We had enough money saved up to pay for a 52” LCD TV. As I was looking at them at RC Willey one evening the salesperson made an offhand comment that if we weren’t going to hang the TV on a wall we could consider a DLP TV (which is around 15” deep). We did and we purchased. We had planned on buying one at the beginning of football season in order to let the prices drop lower, and then we wouldn’t have to pay for an HD DVR until then… But RC Willey was having a good sale (and they paid our sales tax), we had free delivery and setup until the beginning of June and a $150 (or so) gift card to RC Willey that we wanted to use. We have not been disappointed with our purchase. It’s been fun to watch the Masters and the NBA Playoffs on the big screen. We put the TV on the RC Willey 18 month no interest plan because we had just paid off our last big purchase (remember this one?) and what’s not to like about making money on our savings while paying the minimum due for 17 months? But, it turns out that my payment to RC Willey was posted after we purchased the TV and they applied it to both purchases – thus leaving our interest-free purchase from last year not paid off and the TV paid halfway off. Because I don’t want there to even be a chance that there will still be a balance on last year’s purchase, we’ll pay the full remainder off this month.

3. Work. This has been a really good month for me at work. I still love my job and I was able to bill more than 100 hours the last two weeks to my principle engineer as well as many thousands of dollars on another project of my own. It feels good to work my butt off, but I still can’t believe how much I don’t know. I love my job because there is truly a lifetime of learning ahead for me. My company had an open house to show off our new office space on Earth Day. Fitting because we are going for LEED Platinum (no building is yet certified LEED Platinum in Utah, but when all is said and done, ours will probably be the third). We also changed our logo. The new one is shown below:
4. The Jazz. They’ve been a hard team to peg down all season. They’ve got great players and they have a cast that should take them a lot further than they made it this year. They just seem to have so many players that are inconsistent and don’t play hard every game. I definitely think that changes need to be made to the team this summer, but I have no idea what those might be. Part of me feels that a summer free from Olympic obligations and other injury causing activities may allow them to have an injury-free year together as a team and then they’ll go ahead and win a championship. I can dream, right?

5. The Malibu. The Malibu’s registration was due in March and I took it in on the last day of the month and it failed. There were three problems that showed up. I took it to one shop and paid for the diagnostic and they were able to take care of one problem. They told me that the second problem was intermittent and that the third would have to be taken care of at a dealer. I didn’t want to pay dealer prices so I found another shop that could fix the third problem (which they did), but they also told me that the first shop had fixed the entirely wrong problem and that the first problem code was still active in my car’s memory system. I then took it back to the first shop and they tried to explain their way out of what they fixed but they got the check engine light to finally go off. That same day I left work early to take the car back to the inspection point to get a retest done. As I was driving there the check engine light came on. Of all the rotten luck. The next day I was going to return the car to the shop that failed at fixing the first problem when I noticed the check engine light was off. I drove directly to the inspection place and had my car all checked out (but I never turned it off, so the codes wouldn’t reset). The car finally passed and as I looked through my emissions report I saw that the same problem code was still active, but that it wasn’t one that even mattered to pass emissions. $600 later, arrgh.

6. I am reading Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette – Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle. While many of the tips are too over the top for me or don’t apply, there are many that do and I will try to share some of them here. As always, I’ve got loads of new book reviews on my book review blog. Check them out if you haven’t in a while.

7. I befriended SeaBass on facebook. You should too. I can die happy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Flag Friday - Los Angeles Dodgers

I've been to a few Dodgers games, both with Alison and with my family. I love how Dodger Stadium is situated up in the foothills above downtown LA. Don't worry, not all my blessed pennants are for baseball teams. It will soon start getting more interesting... :)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Flag Friday - San Francisco Giants

I've been to a few SF Giants games, once even getting to sit in a luxury box thanks to Alison's sister. The best game that I ever went to at AT&T Park (aka Pacific Bell Park, aka SBC Park) was the 2005 Emerald Bowl when Utah beat Georgia Tech 38-10. In fact, I've even been down on the field and, yes, the field is spongy.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Flag Friday - Kansas City Royals

The same year I went to an Indians game, the family also went to a Royals game. I liked the waterfall behind the outfield and Wal-Mart sponsored fireworks after the game. I would love for Salt Lake to have a major league team someday.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Flag Friday - Cleveland Indians

My dad and I went to an Indians game their first year at Jacobs Field. We had scalped tickets way up above the left field line, but it was a good time.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Budgeting 101

I taught a class to the Relief Society in my ward last night about budgeting. I hope to start posting a little more information such as this in the future. Here are a few quotes from prophets and apostles about keeping a budget:

President Spencer W. Kimball said:
– Every family should have a budget. Why, we would not think of going one day without a budget in this Church or our businesses. We have to know approximately what we may receive, and we certainly must know what we are going to spend. And one of the successes of the Church would have to be that the Brethren watch these things very carefully, and we do not spend that which we do not have. (Conference Report, April 1975, pp. 166-167.)
President Gordon B. Hinckley stated:
– In managing the affairs of the Church, we have tried to set an example. We have, as a matter of policy, stringently followed the practice of setting aside each year a percentage of the income of the Church against a possible day of need. I am grateful to be able to say that the Church . . . is able to function without borrowed money. If we cannot get along, we will curtail our programs. We will shrink expenditures to fit the income. We will not borrow. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “To the Boys and to the Men,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 51.)
Elder L. Tom Perry said:
– After paying your tithing of 10 percent to the Lord, you pay yourself a predetermined amount directly into savings. That leaves you a balance of your income to budget for taxes, food, clothing, shelter, transportation, etc. It is amazing to me that so many people work all of their lives for the grocer, the landlord, the power company, the automobile salesman, and the bank, and yet think so little of their own efforts that they pay themselves nothing. (L. Tom Perry, “Becoming Self-Reliant,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 64.)
Elder Marvin J. Ashton stated:
– Some claim living within a budget takes the fun out of life and is too restrictive. But those who avoid the inconvenience of a budget must suffer the pains of living outside of it. The Church operates within a budget. Successful business functions within a budget. Families free of crushing debt have a budget. Budget guidelines encourage better performance and management. (italics added, Marvin J. Ashton, “It’s No Fun Being Poor,” Ensign, Sept. 1982, 72.)