Monthly Archives: March 2009

Making the piggy bank virtual

I’m one of those people who likes to save for things. I like to save for new appliances, car care items (yes, those performance tires are expensive) and fun money for vacations, etc.

If I had the patience I would be en envelope stuffer – an envelope for this and one for that and stuff some twenties in it every week. I am not though and it just doesn’t feel right to have the money sitting in the house doing nothing. I have suggested to my credit union that they should let you divide your savings accounts into separate folders, so to speak. All I got from that was a suggestion to use the holiday fund account. I don’t want that though, I want my money all in one account, but kept in different little buckets.

My whines have been answered though, not by the credit union, but by this cool online site called SmartyPig (www.smartypig.com). I get to create a savings goal for my little piggy bank and it decides how much I need to save every month to reach the goal. I can have as many little piggy banks as I want and I can see them filling up and how far they have to go. Of course, what really swung it for me was that they offer 3.25% apy on the savings! Emigrant and ING online savings aren’t close to that these days.

They are FDIC insured too, for those of you more cautious types (me!) and everything is done electronically – you can even access your money whenever you want. Such a simple idea, but so effective. Now I have my little piggies for the car tires, the pet expenses, the vacation and the fun money.

I think you can also set it up so that you can let it be public – not done that but, maybe it would be nice to have that for a kid and let the relatives contribute to it for Xmas and birthdays. Don’t really want people to see how big my vacation  account is before I decide where I want to go on vacation!

There are a lot of online financial tools now available – mostly for free. I have used Mint.com to track expenditures and Wasabe.com to check my checking account purchases. I used to mainly use Emigrant and ING for online savings, but since their rates are junk right now (it’s the economy, stupid) I don’t do much with them.

The Scottish building society (like a credit union) The Dunfermline just crashed. Kind of sad to see these old institutions die because of bad decisions, but new ones will take there place. Iceland had a complete meltdown financially and a lot of UK councils appear to have lost money because of it.  The old adage of not keeping all your eggs in one basket would seem to be one that should be a standard refrain for everyone these days. Stuffing the money under the mattress doesn’t make sense, but neither does keeping everything you own in one place.

Maybe if more people take advantage of SmartPig accounts then everyone can get back to learning how to save money. My mother taught me about that at a young age – wasn’t particularly appreciative of it at the time, but it did sink in. She told me how she bought a new jacket for me when I was about 4 and got it on the never-never – pay 20p a week for 5000 weeks and it is paid off. Course, I had the thing ripped to shreds well before the 20th week! I think about that sometimes when I see people buying these big plasma TVs – have they really got the money for it or are they paying a ludicrously small amount every month for it?

Ah well, I may not have a big plasma, but my 5 year old 32″ CRT is doing just fine, thank you very much!

… and they call it puppy love?

I am sure people with kids must go through the same thing – like where you just wonder why on earth did I think getting a puppy (or having a child) would be a good idea? Was I mad? Could I plead temporary insanity?

What could be prompting me to these deep questions, you ask? Well, let’s just say that this should be a warning to all!!!

The other evening I was out with Bailey in the front yard when one of the neighbors came down. He has a sausage dog and he brought his daughter too. We were having fun watching the digs chase one another around and his daughter chasing the dogs. All fun and game…

His daughter drops her glove on the ground and Dad tells her to pick it up before the dogs get it. Well, Bailey must have suddenly got his English translator working because no sooner were the words uttered than he comes racing down and snags the glove. Of he goes, glove in mouth. I wasn’t too worried though because he has been at obedience training for a few months now and knows what the ‘come’ command is. So I thought!

No amount of calling is persuading him that it would be a good idea to come anywhere near us.

I try chasing, but he is way faster than me.

Then I figured I will go get some real cookies for him. He has, as the training instructor noticed, a real food motivation. So I run in the house and get his favorite treats – those yucky smelling liver things. Come out and start to call him and show him his yummy treats. Usually this is a no brainer, but not tonight.

No, he raises his head and flicks an ear at me and decides that what he has in his mouth is obviously some important prize not to be relinquished for anything so feeble as a few liver treats. I creep a bit closer to him and keep trying to persuade him how nice these treats really are.

He starts to come over and I am beginning to savor the anticipation of out foxing the little beast … aaahhhhh @$#@ he swallows the glove!

The whole glove – gulp – down it goes. True it is a kids glove, but it is still quite big and knitted.

I rush over and try to stick my fingers down his throat – nope, it’s all gone.

So now I have a screaming kid who lost her glove, a father who is in shock never having seen a dog Bailey’s size swallow a glove and me wondering what the heck to do now!!!

Bailey is dragged in the house and I decide I should try and make him puke it up. Not thinking of anything better I start to squirt salt water down his throat. Yeah, he wasn’t too impressed by that! He didn’t puke anything though.

I call the emergency vet and she says not to make him sick, but just to watch him for vomiting or cramping or bowel issues. ‘Em, right, so how do you tell if a dog is cramping?

Anyway, I give him lots of water to drink – after the salt water he is a bit suspicious of liquids, bot overcomes it eventually. He seems fine and we all go to bed – well the neighbor goes home to his own one though, before anyone gets any ideas!

Next morning, I am woken by bailey puking and what pops up, but one kiddie glove, some assorted mulch and cherry stones.

Will he have learnt his lesson? No!

He still is eating mulch, cherries, rotten apples and anything else that his nose finds in front of it!!!

A new calculator…

I have this fear of running out of toilet paper, so I always like to keep a good supply on hand. I have never actually run out of toilet paper so I am not quite sure where this fear has come from. Rather than spend loads of my employers health insurance money on therapy, I compromise by keeping an eye out for sales.

Buying toilet paper is very stressful though. Who would have thought it could have become such a fraught exercise!

In the good old days (when exactly?), the choices were quite simple: cheap 1-ply sandpaper or pricier 2-ply soft rolls.

Now though, oh my goodness, what choices you have: 1-ply, 2-ply, soft, softer, strong and soft, strong, a roll, a big roll, a mega roll, lotion printed, decoration imprinted…

So after all that you then have to decide which is the best buy. The supermarkets thought they were being so nice in telling you how many cents per 100 feet each costs – unless they are on sale. How do you know if the shelf price now reflects the sale price? Being smart ( and maybe a little too frugal?) you decide to see how many square feet is in each packet and then decide on the pricing from there.

No, some packs tell you how many square feet a roll is, some tell you how many inches each sheet is and how many sheets on a roll others just waffle about how many sheets they have. Hence, the need for a new calculator: $ per square inch/thickness.

The reason this all came to mind and that I even decided to write about this was because the other day I hard someone on radio or TV make a passing comment that said “like a toilet roll calculator for when you are shopping”. At this point I realized – there are other people in the world who face this challenge too!!!

I have to say at this point I am having a hard time trying to keep the zinging one-liners clean now!

“Why worry Fiona”, you say? Cause I don’t want to get ripped off on something that is going to get flushed.

“But it’s only toilet paper, Fiona”. True, but I feel it is an area where I can afford a little luxury!

As if it wasn’t diffilcult enough to shop for a car or a new mattress, now you have to gird yourself for the great toilet paper shop too!!!!

On another topic, don’t wet yourself while reading these:
http://www.examiner.com/x-4663-Workplace-Examiner~y2009m3d10-Snappy-answers-to-stupid-interview-questions