31 December 2005

New Year's Resolutions

I did split some firewood yesterday, and then I ended up playing some Madden '06 (my Christmas present from my wife's family). Last night, we went to a neighbor's house for an evening of gaming, Princes of Florence and Gigante. Somehow we ended up sleeping in until nearly noon today, putting a bit of a crimp in our plans to clean the house.

So, since I've managed to not do two things I wanted to do in the past 24 hours, why not make my list of New Year's Resolutions? Perhaps I'll actually keep them.

  1. Get back in shape, and start working out (again). Last year, my wife and I actually did a pretty good job with this one. I dropped 25 lbs and looked noticably different (i.e. better). This was mostly from diet, but also from using our eliptical trainer, and some pilates DVDs. We've done a good job of watching what we eat over the year, and keeping the weight off, but I'd like to start exercising as well. Hopefully together.
  2. Generate additional income streams. Right now, I have a job, my wife has a job, and we have a few investments that generate dividends or interest (a few hundred bucks a year tops, total). In the new year, I hope to start selling a lot of my stuff on eBay. Any money would then be availible for investments.
  3. Get our household savings rate to 30% of pre-tax salary. I'm there now (10% TSP, 10% ING Direct, and 10% going to a checking account to be held for Ameritrade). We're actively paying down some car and equity line debt, which should be gone by the end of the year. Then she'll be able to match that rate into her TSP and HSBC accounts, and we'll be golden.
  4. Take the steps required to become financially independent within three years. (2. and 3. lead into this). Right now, both of us have to work (well, have to is a bit strong, but it would be a stretch if I quit my job, and a real strain if she did). If we can stick to the above resolutions, I may not have to work by the time we get back. Or, I could work part time.
  5. Learn Chinese. I'll be living there for two years starting in October, so it's time to suck it up and learn it. That means listening to the CDs, doing the CD-ROMs, and perhaps even taking a class at a local college.
  6. Get my classic car back on the road. She's been stuck in my garage for over a year, it's time to suck it up and finish what needs to be done.
  7. Start playing my guitar(s) again. No comments needed.
  8. A special bonus resolution for my wife. Pick up the french horn and PLAY IT! She was a great player in high school. She was pimped out by her school to do performances all over the place, including at Mar a Lago for Donald Trump. The band she was in helped to pay for a new school. She hasn't played her horn in 8 years, in spite of having it cleaned and tuned (with great difficulty) as a Christmas present a few years back. Hopefully we'll get an apartment in China with thin walls, so she and I can entertain our neighbors. ;)

That's it for the resolutions, though I could go on with a long list of specific tasks that need to be done before we can move. These really capture the bulk of the personal and life improvement things I would like to accomplish in the new year.

Now I'm off to a New Year's party, my last chance to debauch.

30 December 2005

Half day

Half day at work today, the last of the year. It's 50 degrees today, so I'll try to wash the cars and split some firewood before dark. My wife and I got our upper chimney replaced and installed a wood stove insert in our downstairs fireplace last November. We used it quite a bit last year, but this year we've been burning wood 24/7. It makes a huge difference. Probably 60-70% of the heat in the house is now generated by the woodstove, with a gas furnace making up the difference (and the cats, of course).

29 December 2005

ING Direct

So I may have twisted my mom's arm enough to sign up for an ING Direct account. Possibly. I may end up paying the entire $250- deposit myself. Feh.

If anyone would like a referral for an ING account (you get $25- on a $250- initial deposit), please email me at j.arthur.random at gmail.com.

eBay savings

I'm moving to China in September, and I have a lot of stuff to get rid of before then. I'll try to unload big stuff at a yard sale in the spring, and donate whatever is just a bit too nice to trash, but I also intend to sell a lot of stuff on eBay. Rather, I intend to have my mom sell stuff on eBay, and then split the profits.

To that end, I sent her a check to open an account in her local bank. Try as I might, I couldn't convince her to open an online account with ING or HSBC, she insisted on using the savings account with the bank. Then I read this. It seems that Boston Gal has beaten me to it, and figured out how to win the argument. And she makes a pretty convincing case for ING.

My mom is always better at taking advice from people who aren't me.

28 December 2005

First Post!

I s'pose you never get a second chance to make a first post.