Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Recipe - Beef Stew Summer Style

This is just to hold a recipe because myfitnesspal, while useful is a bit stupid and won't let me share recipes easily.

Might as well do it up proper though:

Beef Stew (Summer Style)

3 cups beef stock

2 lbs lean stew beef
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper

3 tbsp lemon juice

4 onions
2 lb carrots
1 lb kale
1 lb parsnips
1 lb celery

Directions:
Mix flour and some salt and pepper. dredge beef pieces in it.
Brown pieces in the stock pot.
Add water, lemon juice and 2 onions coarsely chopped and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and wait 3-4 hours.
Coarsely chop the other vegetables and add to soup.
Add salt to taste, add additional water if needed.
Wait another 3-4 hours until vegetables are tender.
Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Being handy around the house

One thing they say about owning a house is that it is it's own perpetual project. And for me, I've generally found that a good thing. I mean sure no one really likes extra work, but being able to fix and repair things gives me quite a sense of accomplishment when I do get it done. Plus it's motivation in and of itself to do and learn things rather than sit on my butt all day long.

A list of accomplishments around the house in the past few months:

Fixed a leak in the washing machine: Disassembling it was the hard part (so... many... screws...), after that all it took was a quick path on a leaky line. Also I no longer think that the machine is some great vast unknowable thing, turns out it's pretty simple on the inside.

Redid the brick walkway: This was a big one, one side had been sinking for a few months, and finally I went and did something about it. Bought maybe $20 worth of sand and tools and got it re levelled. Had to pull up half the bricks and re-lay them, but no more than an afternoon's effort (with help from the fiancee of course). Plus got rid of the pesky weeds growing between the cracks. Now I'm looking forward to doing the same to the other half of the walkway to get rid of all the weeds growing there too. Although I admit this is partly a temporary solution since the original cause was dirt escaping from between the asphalt and wood logs acting as a retaining wall. I did mortar the crack shut, so it should hold for awhile. But eventually it should be removed entirely and redone with logs that are actually sunk into the ground, rather than just laying on top of it.

Fixed up some cabinets: One of the fake drawer covers was falling off, so a bit of work with some screws secured it back in place.

Pulled up various weeds: Turns out owning a home has changed my general disinterest in nature into an active war. (To be fair I enjoy things like hiking and such, but I don't want nature invading my home.) Gone so far as to put some salt into the areas I don't want things growing. Even mixed in some into the sand for the bricks I re-laid. Should help deter the spread of plants into places I don't want them, and keep it looking nicer for longer.

There are still some projects far bigger than what I'm willing to do as a DIY project, but doing the smaller things myself can free up funds for them. The next big thing we're looking at hiring contractors for is taking out a wall in the basement to open up the space as a big lounge/game room. That I'll want done professionally as the wall is under the main beam of the house, and it'll need to be replaced with a support beam. So that's some heavy duty work right there that'd I'd not want to learn as I go.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In defense of hoarding

Minimalism, it's all the buzz in PF and money management. Declutter your life, get time for yourself, and such are the touted benefits. But is there a downside? Can having stuff be beneficial?

Of course, given my couponing habits it's no small stretch that I'd defend hoarding, or stockpiling as it is. Why buy bodywash at full price three months from now, when they're paying me to take it home today?

Minimalism is often touted as environment friendly, but the way I see it, it's not. Except for those minimalists living Robinson Curoso style (having the necessary hunting/foraging skills to survive independently) they rely on modern society to provide instant access to life's necessities. Take a basic like food, in the past people had to store it for the coming winter because nothing was growing so you had to live off your stockpiles. But now with cheap oil to transport food around the world, supermarkets always have a constant influx of fresh foods, so no need to stock up, because it's always there.

Though hoarding to just have stuff, and otherwise buying more things that you won't use is bad. Having your own personal scrap heap is unlikely to add value to your life. But if you understand your things to be assets much like your cash and stocks, then you can make hoarding work for you.

To me stockpiling and owning things is about preparedness. The scenario I always imagine is that if an item for a minimalist were to suddenly break, they'd need to replace it, and fast. Supposedly this item is necessary and unique (else it would have been removed), thus it needs immediate replacement. As we know time is something we pay for, if you can wait you can usually get better deals. So they end up having to pay a premium for urgency in replacing the object. Now a conscientious stockpiler may have a replacement, or a substitute product, or even the tools to repair it.

I'm still a fairly thrifty spender I just get what I need, but not necessarily exactly when I need it. For instance I know our bedsheets are getting a bit old, so I'm on the lookout for a good deal, and when I find it I'll pick up a set. Then when we do replace our current set, I'll have it and not have to scramble last minute and pay exorbitant amounts for it.

Basically having a stockpile is both insurance and an inflation/price spike hedge. It's having a spare tire, that extra is a form of insurance. Also if the prices of commidities rise I've already bought them at pre-inflation prices, I've lost no buying power on what I already own. That said it's not like I'm keeping hundreds of barrels of oil in my basement (though I do have a fuel tank for my heater I guess).

To be fair, minimalism has it's place as well as stockpiling. It does no good to keep around things you'll never use (too many extra clothes), but at the same time don't throw out all your winter coats just because it's summer. And buying something does have a risk, you might actually not need it, it may expire before it's used, the cost to own it could outweigh the savings (true of most insurances). But with things that have seasonal or other price variations, buying low and selling high is just as applicable here as stocks.

Monday, June 14, 2010

shopping 6/13-6/19

So yet another profitable week for body wash.
CVS and Rite Aid both have a sale for free (after rebate) Gillete/Old Spice Body Wash.
This is after getting Nivea Body wash last month, and Old Spice last week. I'm going to look and find a shelter/food pantry to donate most of this stuff to (I think I'll end up with near 20 bottles of the stuff).

CVS
2x Old Spice Bodywash $4.00 ea -$4EB (limit 2 even though ad says 1)
1x Shick Hyro Razor $ 8.99 - $4EB
1x Colgate Pro Clinical $3.99 -$2EB
- $4.00 B1G1 Old Spice BW (PG 6/6)
- $5.00 Shick Razor (RP 6/13)
- $1.00 Colgate Pro Clinical (SS 6/13)
- $4/$20 email coupon from CVS
= 20.98-14 = $6.98 - $14EB = $7.02MM

Need to use a $20 certificate by Tuesday so I'll fill in the rest with either stuff I need/want or whatever gives the best SCR returns, but I'll list what's definate.

Rite Aid
2x Herbal Essences $2.49 - $1.50 SCR (limit 2)
2x Gillete Bodywash 2.99 - $2.99 SCR (limit 1)
[Other Stuff - considering scope, secret, dr. scholl's, tidy cat, clorox] at least $10
-$5/$20
-2x $1 Herbal Essences (RP 5/13)
-$4/2 Gillete BW (PG 5/2)
-other coupons
=$10.96+X-(11+Y) = at least $20 OOP - $(5.99+Z) SCR = ???

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Shopping this week

Ho, still bad, but didn't really do much coupon shopping. Well I have but none specifically for it for a bit, just using coupons to get better deals on things I already planned on using. But this week I'm back in the game.

Rite Aid
So originally I planned 2 transaction this week, though I may bump it to 3 now.
2x $3.50 Old Spice Bodywash
2x $4.00 Old Spice Fresh Collection Deodorant
1x $3.59 Aveeno Moustirizing Lotion (2.5oz)
1x $2.99 Johnson&Johnson Baby Lotion
-$4.00 B1G1 OS Fresh Collection Deo (6/6 PG)
-$3.50 B1G1 OS Body Wash (6/6 PG)
-$1/2 OS BW/Deo (6/6 PG)
-$3 Hand/Body Lotion (in-ad q)
-$3 Hand/Body Lotion (in-ad q)
-$5/$20 (VV q)
total = 21.58 - 19.5 = 2.08
get $2 SCR (2 deodorants)
get $4 UP+ reward on receipt
$8 towards P&G SCR, $3.59 towards skincare

1x 9.99 Fusion Proglide Razor
2x $3.50 Old Spice Red Zone Deodorant
1x $3.59 Aveeno Moustirizing Lotion (2.5oz)
-$4 Fusion Razor (6/6 PG)
-$1/2 OS BW/Deo (6/6 PG)
-$3 Hand/Body Lotion (in-ad q)
-$5/$20 (VV q)
total = 20.58 - 13 = 7.58 (use $4 UP+ reward)
get $5 SCR, $4 UP+ reward
$7 toward P&G SCR, $3.59 towards skincare

1x 7.99 Blink Tears
2x 3.50 Old Spice Red Zone Deodorant
1x $3.59 Aveeno Moustirizing Lotion (2.5oz)
1x $3.50 ??? usure, may be just extra deodorant (needs to count for P&G SCR)
-$2 Blink Tears (IP)
-$1/2 OS BW/Deo (6/6 PG)
-$3 Hand/Body Lotion (in-ad q)
-$5/$20 (VV q)
total = 22.08 - 11 = 11.08 (use $4 UP+ reward)
get $7.99 SCR, $4 UP+ reward
$10 toward P&G SCR, $3.59 towards skincare

so total ~$10 towards skincare, $25 to fill P&G rebate & $4 left in UP+ rewards
total spent = $12.74 -14.99 SCR = -2.25MM - $4 UP+ - $5 Gift Card
In total I'll end up with making $11.25 ($9 only usable at Rite Aid).

CVS
3x $2.50 Scented Oil Candle Refills
1x $2.50 Scented Oil Candle Holder
-2x $1.50/1 Scented oil candle refill (inside the tin candle holders)
-$2.50 B2G1 Free Refill
-$2.00/1 Candle Holder
= $10-$8 = $2
get $5 ECB

repeat this twice, though if I get the $5/$15 coupon to print I'll toss more on the second transaction.

Shaws
There are 4 dollar doublers that I can use this week to make deals with.
Stopping here for
Cat's Pride Cat Litter 20lb B1G1 $8.29 - 2x $1/1 (IP) = $6.29 for 2
Tribe Hummus B1G1 3.49 - 2x $1/1 (Blinkie) = $1.49 for 2
On the vine Tomatoes $1.99/lb - $1/2lbs (printable store coupon) = $3.98 for 2lbs
Bottom Round Roast $1.99/lb - $1 (printable store coupon) = depends on weight (probably ~3lbs)
Oscar Meyer Deli Fresh Meats B1G1 $4.49 - 2x $1/1 (IP) = $2.29 for 2

I like the B1G1's this week, also picking up B1G1 Arnold Breadand B1G2 Thomas English Muffins without coupons this week.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Specialization

Ok, so I haven't done a post in a while, but I was out on vacation (well back home for a funeral, but really it was vacation time as well).

But I think people obsessed with survival are silly. Why? Because I see them as preparing for a catastrophe I think is absurdly remote: the collapse of society. And not just a collapse of government, but a complete destruction of our economic infrastructure and knowledge. Kind like shark repellent in Kansas.

But why rant about that? Well the less fringe people tend to ascribe to the economic benefits of it. Namely you can do things for yourself without having to pay people. Now to me that's wrong, specialization, not generalization makes for a more productive economy. Think do you want only handymen building a skyscraper, or a foreman, architect, civil engineer, plumer, mason, etc. to biuld it? Their dedication to a particular field is actually more beneficial than them than trying to branch out. Similarly we societies based around subsitence farming tend to be lower tech.

Now I'm not saying, being able to do your own laundry or cook meals are bad. But if you stop and consider, you're actually doing work. Now most of this consider it our 'free time', but your still doing work. (note: we do still have free time that isn't work, sleeping, actively consuming resources, or even doing something otherwise productive but to no end, like sailing a boat in circles). But the reason we think of it as different from our day job is that it's at an amateur level, we aren't being judged on it by anyone but ourselves, as the benefit is not spending resources rather than accumulating them. But if you were willing to use that time instead to work your job (assuming it's more skilled than what level you're doing your hobby at), you'd likely end up richer for it, but likely less happy. So it's not always about optimizing your wealth

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Diversification: why?

So a big thing pushed by most financial advice type people is diversify. By that they mean distribute your money in many different markets and sectors, don't put all your eggs in one basket so to speak.

But why?

The standard answer is to hedge against risk. It's like roulette, you can drop all your chips on one number, or tossing a few chips on various numbers. Of course the analogy is a bit backwards, to make it work better you'd lose if your number comes up. So instead of everything blowing up, only part of your assets lost, while the rest sat ok and made out.

Now this analogy reveals something commonly not considered. Betting one of each on something is not a good idea in roulette, because the house always wins. So diversifying is based on the idea that the house will always lose, or in more real terms, that the market overall will grow. Now to be fair, we have most of human history to back up this point, but do recall the old fund disclaimer, "past returns are not guarantees of the future". Of course if you look at the length of data, I might as well be claiming that the sun might not rise tomorrow. While technically true (it could explode or something), the pattern has happened so consistently we anticipate it being there. Think about it you've likely made plans for events in the future largely based off how your life has been going up to that point (e.g. likely to be in the same city, have the same daily commitments, be with your friends).

Now I'm not trying to build up to a 'everything you know is wrong' moment. Actually I quite believe the underlying premise as well, that the market will continue to expand. It's just important to know what your assumptions are for your investment strategy. So if we do see a trend start to emerge, like say, a marked trend away from consumerism, the world's governments having a radical shift towards environmentalism/sustainability, or a maxing out of our population and each person's work potential, then you'll know to start considering a shift in strategy.

Also a diversification strategy assumes you are stupid. Well not stupid so much as ignorant. And it's generally true too. Regarding the market and economics (micro, macro, global), most people really know squat, and some know just enough to get them in trouble. So unless investing is your day job, or a hobby you're really enthusiastic about, your largely ignorant of what's going on in the economic world, or only know about the overall picture, and not to a small enough granularity to start betting. Back to the casino example, take the market as the biggest poker game ever. There are professionals out there whose job it is to play the game, if your just a casual player, you're not likely to come out ahead. So throw a little everywhere and just follow the overall trend, rather than trying to out-compete people with far more resources than you.

Finally a cute diversification strategy that might not seem so at first glance:
Buy 3-5 large blue chip stocks.
Why? Take GE, in one company you have financial, healthcare, electricity utility, aviation, and more. Plus it's not just tied to the US market because it's a multinational corporation. Pick a few spread out and you can cover most of the market and world, plus large companies like these are usually dividend paying, so you get that strategy as a bonus too.