Friday, February 28, 2014

Investing for Income

I've taken a crucial step towards financial independence.

On Tuesday, February 18, I started investing for income, not just retirement.

Every single blog or book about retiring early or being financially independent without exception talks about living off of revenue from one's investments.  And one day while glancing over our IRA statements, I noticed one fund was called "Capital World Growth and Income" and the light bulb went on.... Wait, you can have funds like these that generate income now, not just when you retire?

Which brings me to one thing I really like about our financial advisor.  He doesn't act like I'm wasting his time just because I haven't got a lot to invest. Everyone has to start somewhere.  Some of us just don't start with very much!.

So, my loyal readers, I will share all the details with you so if you are considering something similar you can see what it is like.  Spare me, however, the comments like, "You should invest in indexed stock blah blah more stuff I don't understand...."  I'm dipping a toe in.  This is my learning experience.  If I lose every last penny, well, it was cheaper than taking a class at the university.  And, yes, I'm sure there are better investments out there that involve lower fees, but I feel comfortable with this because it is similar to the mutual funds I am already familiar with.

I invested $250 in a mutual fund called "Balanced Portfolio" administered by American Funds.  This involved a chat with my advisor about my risk tolerance, filling out two pages of forms, and writing a check.  The fund is 60% stocks and 40% bonds.

There's a $10 fee to buy class A shares, plus I must have lost a little because my amount is $238.78.  Class A shares, though, mean that I can cash out in less than a year without paying a penalty.  I can add to the fund anytime I want.  There was a $250 minimum to start, but I can add $ in smaller increments.  Every quarter I get paid dividends, although right now they are set to be re-invested because they are so small.  Eventually, if the fund gets bigger, I will get a direct deposit into my checking account (or a check, not sure which) instead.  So at the end of March, June, September, and December I would have additional income.

This is going to take awhile before it amounts to anything.  But the journey of a thousand miles still begins with one step....

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Humorous Dialogue about Dance for Us Old Folks

I just learned that I'm old.
Here's how.  I was at a fundraising dinner last week, courtesy of my good friend Clem, and after an excellent meal, the dance began.  The DJ was trying to reach the demographic.  He really was.  He played "Footloose."   After a few more similar attempts to get people out on the floor, I thought I'd help him out.

ME: Perhaps people would dance if you played a waltz.
HIM: (reaching for his computer) Yeah, cool.  Do you know a title?
ME: (pause) The Blue Danube Waltz.
HIM: Dan who?
ME: Danube.  Like the river.
HIM: Oh, yeah, the river.  (He nods and turns back to the computer screen, diligently searching.)

By the time we left, it still hadn't played....

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Painting for His Birthday

I made this for The Magician for his birthday.  It’s a sturdy thrift store frame that I had gessoed over ages ago and met to use as the top for a little coffee table.  I was really nervous to give it to him because abstract is a kind of love it or hate thing.   The only reason I was gutsy enough to try it is that he had admired a board with a hole drilled in it that I keep near my easel and smear left-over paint on.  (I hate to waste paint!)  

I tried to do something similar. 

First I wrote a message in slightly puffy paint.  Then I painted, trying to balance the colors and to convey a sense of energy.  I started with lighter colors like yellow, and was quite generous with them, as they can always be easily covered up.

The final results probably would have looked better with more planning.  However, it did brighten up his office at work.

(Yes, the photo on the wall is Harry Houdini!)

Health Log Update

"I've been good for AGES and my weight went up?  See, it's been.... two days.  Oh."

That nicely summarizes how it going.

The first thing I've learn from my health log experiment is that since I am surrounded by push-a-button-instantly-get-what-I-want technology, this makes dealing with my body seem slow and frustrating.  Also, I tend to grossly exaggerate how "good" I've been in my mind, forgetting the half-a-foot tall chocolate cake tower I ate at the fundraising dinner Saturday but remembering every exhausting workout.

This is slow going.  And after a month of keeping track, I haven't lost weight, I've gained it.  I've slimmed down my waist, but not my hips.  And I'm amazed how hard it is to be consistent.

Later - My husband informs me that when muscles are sore and/or growing, they retain water and so we weigh more.  As I'm getting used to the work outs and less sore, the scale numbers are inching down.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Looking for an Unusual Girl's Name?

In the Middle Ages, today was the feast of St. Walburga, whose intercession was sought for protection against coughs and respiratory problems.

And she'll be the only one in her class!

Monday, February 24, 2014

A 2014 Resolution

Last year I spent a lot of $$$ on stuff.  At the end of the 2013, I looked around and realized I had a ton of things...

And material things can weigh you down...

So for 2014, I've made the resolution that I won't purchase anything - for me- for the whole year.  Now I don't mean not purchasing food, necessary items, etc.  I mean anything extra that doesn't add to anything and that's a personal expense.

The goal is to use more of what I have, to get rid of things I don't use regularly, and to develop a clutter-free philosophy.

Besides, didn't you know that Minimalism is the 2014 trend? Ok, ok... maybe it isn't officially... but it would be a great idea!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Thoughts: A Tolkien Quote

 “Fantasy remains a human right; we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made; and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.”
 --J. R. R. Tolkien “On Fairy Stories” 

So today in celebration of my Divine Birthright Of Makerness, I made this, among other things:

 (It's not done yet.  But I'm getting closer!)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

DIY Art: Mosaic Tree Video

Here is a video of the growth of my mosaic tree, made out of a free frame, free cardstock, and upcycled/recycled Christmas card bits.  (Once it stops playing, you should be able to 'refresh' this page on your browser and it will start again.  I don't know about you, but I could watch it pretty much forever!  It's my first animated .gif and I'm pretty jazzed!)

This piece will be in an art show featuring just art from recycled materials in Beatrice April 5-19, 2014.

For a tutorial one the basic technique, click here.  It's a different project but the same concept.

Weekly Round-Up

This week I...
... went with my husband to celebrate his birthday with a friend who also shares the same birthday.  BIG BONUS: hanging out with our Goddaughter:

.... got messy!  I touched up my roots, which involves making a henna mud pie in my hair.  The picture does not fully capture how very green the henna mixture is....

Friday, February 21, 2014

Life Hack #8: How to Get Candle Wax out of a Glass Container

Did you know you aren't supposed to burn a candle down past half an inch?  (Flip over an unlit candle and look at the warning sticker on the bottom.)  Apparently the glass container can shatter.

Anyway, I wanted to re-use a candle container and found a wiki that suggested putting the candle in the freezer for a couple of hours.  I did and much to my surprise, the wax popped right out when I turned it over. Super easy!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Can't Touch This

Off work a few weeks ago due to a snow day.  I was productive-ish in the morning.  In the afternoon I goofed off.   Here's something to show for it :-)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Don't Use This Sealer for Crafting!

It dries yellow when it is gooped on too thick, and dries tacky to the touch.  It is not a good substitute for ModPodge!  Maybe it works better for what it was intended (sealing paintings) but I would never use it on anything I valued.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Denim Blanket for the Magician's Birthday

Here's how it turned out!
That's not a spot on the blanket.  It's my inept photography!

It is 4.5 x 7.25 feet or 54x87 inches.  It took much, much longer than I thought it would, but it is durable and practical, as well as being attractive.  (At least, he seemed to like it.)

I'll post a tutorial eventually.

Here's to picnics! 

A Timely Gospel Quote, Just for Me....

This afternoon I’m meeting with our investment advisor to discuss investing for income, rather than just retirement. 

And the reading this morning was from Mark 8:14-21.  Right after the miracle of the loaves, the disciplines went fishing.  But they forget to bring lunch and they only had one loaf of bread.  When Jesus was teaching them, they didn’t get what He was saying.  Then….

When he became aware of this he said to them,
“Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread?
Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember,
when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?”

I’m going to interpret that as: “Relax about money, J.  I’ve got you covered.”

Monday, February 17, 2014

An Update on Some On-Going Projects

 BackBlaze – It hasn’t slowed down my computer at all.  Hooray!  And I haven’t needed it.  Double hooray!

Solar night light – There just aren’t enough hours of daylight right now.  Plus I'm not liking this cold, so it stays inside on the kitchen table where it gets even less light.  Maybe once a week it accumulates enough juice for an overnight as a night light.  Not effective for frugality unless you ask for it for your birthday...

Self-watering herb garden pot - Mysterious.  The soil seems utterly dried out, the water level doesn't appear to go down, the wick is covered with gross algae and the plant is fine.  (Next time I won't use a wick that is dyed.)  Further update--after I wrote this, the wick broke off.  The container is now a regular herb pot, but at least it has a hole for draining!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Weekly Round-Up

This week I....
.... worked on turning this into a blanket for my husband's birthday (which is tomorrow).
 ... enjoyed the company of some friends at an informal wine and cheese evening.

... added another layer to the papier mache mirror

... got a surprise package in the mail--the giveaway from included two books.  The first was Make your Own Cute and Easy Pompoms, which surprised me with the sheer amount of detail and variety and the other was Playing with Image Transfers by Courney Cerruti, which looks like a lot of fun for someone like me who is addicted to collecting paper with interesting images on it.
... stopped by to see Gen and little Madeline.  My niece Arwen had just loved that toy, so we were glad to see it making another little girl happy.  (Here's hoping it doesn't drive her parents crazy.  It does have an off button....)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Finished Mosaic! (Plus Solving Framing Issues)

All done!

I used an old frame, of course, rather than buying one, and when we went to assemble it, we discovered that the extra layer of mosaic Christmas cards made it too thick.  I'd hoped to pop it back in the frame and staple into the frame, then pull out the staples ever so slightly, enough to overlap the cardboard and keep the picture in place.  That was how it had been done before.  But we had to jerry-rig it.

So we did this:

Here's the final image--I cannot seem to get a decent photograph of this thing!  Maybe at the art show in April :)

I have the dates for the art show, incidentally: April 5-19th, at the public library in Beatrice, Nebraska. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Fishy Font Fate

In order to keep the font Doves from falling into the hands of his business partner after his death, its creator Thomas Cobden-Sanderson dropped it into the Thames, bit by bit, over a period of three years.  It was never recovered from its watery grave (pp. 86-87).

 ~ From Just My Type: A Book about Fonts by Simon Garfield.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Paper Mache Mirror Frame: A Work in Progress

I will post a tutorial when it is done (if it works!) but in the meantime, here's some of what I've been up to:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Two Sketches and a Blank Canvas

I picked up a canvas for $10 from the Eco Store, and my beloved has gessoed it and hung it up.  (I'm not sure if that is so it is less likely to get knocked over and damaged there, or to remind us to do something with it....)

We each took turns doodling on a piece of scrap paper.  It was such fun, that we did it again.  Now we are trying to decide which sketch to use....
Exhibit A
 Exhibit B

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday Thoughts

Why do we assume that God means it when we read that He loves us, but not when He gives us rules?

That's not very logical.

Convenient, yes, but logical, no!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Weekly Round-Up

This week I...
....worked on Alex's book.  I am very excited because I think this turtle actually looks like a turtle!

... flipped through this catalog and checked out a bunch of books on herb gardens.  (As I write this, snow drifts by my window....)
... took The Magician to see Out of the Box, a cool architectural salvage store which also features work from local artists, including our friends Marcia and Evert.
... saved $9.61 from grocery shopping with my master price list.
... made progress on the denim blanket.
 ... introduced newly weds Jen and Michael to crokinole.  New converts to our latest pleasure from Canada!
... checked out gardening books.  The lady next to me at the self checkout smiled and said pleasantly, "You're dreaming!"  Yes, ma'am, yes, I am!  It's too cold to do anything else!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Demin Blanket: Work in Progress

Here's what I'm up to on this snowy afternoon....
I'm turning this pile into raw material for a blanket.
I'm using the scissors I won from CraftGossip, and I'm happy to say that they are working well.  I'm cutting denim like it's silk, and that's easier on my hands than with regular scissors.

The scraps are going into my rags-to-donate bag.  Catholic Social Services sells torn or ripped clothes to be recycled into paper, so I have a big box in my sewing room where I toss scraps too hard to be used as stuffing.  Every now and then I head down there with some huge sacks labeled "rags" for them to add to their pile.  Nothing wasted!
So if you have jeans too torn and ripped to give to Goodwill, I'll take 'em!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Health Log

I’m tired of my pants not fitting. 

And I’m tired of conflicting advice about which of my favorite things to eat I shouldn’t or how impossibly long and hard I’m supposed to exercise. 

Plus the scale seems to jump upward when I have gluten. (No!  Say it isn't so! Please, please, please, can I be wrong about this?)

AND I've noticed that monitoring something can actually improve it. (It's one aspect of the Hawthorne effect. More on that later)

So I'm just going track what I'm doing.  I had tried to say "No sweets until my weight drops below X," but before I do that, I want to see if sweets matter more than exercise than getting lots of sleep, etc.  It's me.  I gotta do an experiment!  (Yes, there are flaws in this one.  But I'm trying to keep it simple.)

Here is my health log.  (NOT my diet long!)  This is the second one.  The first one I accidentally left off the sweets category...
FYI: The Hawthorne effect was named after an experiment in a factory in Hawthorne, IL.  The researchers wanted to see if productivity increased depending on lighting (and other changes).  They gradually increased the lighting and productivity did, in fact, increase.  Then they slowly decreased it—and productivity continued to go up!  They concluded that just knowing their work was being monitored increased the workers’ efficiency.  Their conclusion is disputed, but I have found that it has worked in getting my dissertation done and in tracking our budget.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Weekly Round-Up

This week we...
... worked on the frame for the mosaic tree.
Before I sanded it.
After I sanded it with my new Christmas power tools!  And after I decided to paint instead of stain it, meaning I didn't have to remove every speck of paint, I just needed it to be smooth.
"Thanks, sweetie!"  (I still can't hammer straight to save my life.)
… checked Star Trek Voyager out of the library and started watching it. (Maybe next year I'll get a spaceship for Christmas....)
... started tearing tissue paper for a papier mache project: 
Thanks to all the friends and family who donated tissue paper to the cause of my crafting craziness!

January Budget Numbers

Despite the plumber and taxes on the "new" car and The Magician's new glasses, we actually managed to put some money into savings.  (It wasn't much and it might come back out again for bills, but hey, a girl can dream!)

We had our best month ever on revenue from the Amazon link ($48.38).  Thanks to all our readers who buy stuff through the Amazon portal on the right!  Every purchases is appreciated!  (And going through the portal never increases your bill.) 

This month I'm going to dip a toe into the investing-for-income world and visit our financial advisor. 

I'm hoping for a February with no unusual expenses....