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Sushi night

April 30th, 2008 at 12:56 pm

My friend invited me to Sushi night.

She is teaching Japanese at one of her students' house, and they decided to do sushi night. My friend used to work for a Japanese restaurant and knows the guy who is a sushi chef. So, the sushi chef came and taught us how to make a sushi roll.

The chef brought all the ingredients, rice, salmon, tuna, cucumber, fake crab, tobiko, avocado, etc. and we made our own rolls.

I started talking to the guy and found out we are from same area. And I told him how much I miss watching professional sushi chef making nigiri. He casually said, "I will do nigiri for ya." and made me a tuna nigiri. ohhhhh, I loved watching him making it for me.

He also taught us things about sushi, like sushi was invented about 300 years ago (which is not too long ago in Japanese history), but sushi using raw fish actually became popular after WWII. I didn't know it was such a recent trend. Before that, all the ingredients were cooked or prepared with vinegar.

The fee was $35. It's quite a bit IMO, but I really enjoyed the night with my friends and food.

Tuition is due

April 29th, 2008 at 01:33 pm

My tuition for summer classes is due on Monday. I need to take $1k from my EF to pay for it.

Eventutally, I will be reimbursed, but until then, I need to pay my own money.

Tuition for spring sememster will be reimbursed in June. So, I will be able to put 1K back in to EF in June.

April is almost over. Wow... time is just flying by....

Anybody good with car maintenance vocabulary?

April 28th, 2008 at 10:26 am

I went to oil change for my car on Saturday at Toyota dealer. My car is now at 85K miles, and I asked for 90K service quotation while I was at the dealer. The minimum recommended services is $798.41.

Here's the list of things they do.
Replace engine oil and filter
Replace engine air filter
Replace differential oil
Re-tongue drive shaft bolt (4WD)
Rotate tires
Check battery connections and clean and tighten if needed
Inspect ball joints and dust covers
Inspect brake lines and hoses
Inspect and adjust brake linings/drums and brake pads/discs if applicable
Inspect drive belts
Inspect drive shaft boots
Audible inspection of engine valve clearance
Inspect exhaust pipes and mountings
Inspect fuel lines and connections
Inspect fuel tank band
Inspect fuel tank cap gasket
Inspect fuel tank vapor vent system hoses
Inspect nuts and bolts on chasses and body and tighten if needed
Inspect steering gear box
Inspect steering linkage and boots
Inspect charcoal canister
Replace air conditioning filter
Replace timing belt 4 cylinder
Replace transfer case fluid
Replace differential fluid 4WD
Replace automatic transmission fluid

I have no clue about car maintenance vocabulary. I talked to my co-worker who is an engineer and he thinks this is reasonable estimate for a dealer. Any suggestion?

Article about gas price

April 23rd, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Yes, and we just paid $120 for our DD's F150.


And, I just paid $42 for my RAV4. Not having any public transportation around here really sucks.

We have light-rail in Sacramento which is a joke. It doesn't go anywhere I need to go.

In a meantime, oil companies are making all kinds of money....

Random thoughts about stocks

April 21st, 2008 at 04:52 pm

I never really made any money in the stock market. Yes, I have bought some stocks here and there, but return wasn't too good. Maybe I'm too impatient. So, I gave it up for a while.

Well, after I missed opportunities for Coach (I bought a $250 purse instead buying their stock), Apple (I bought an iPod for DD instead of buying their stock), Starbucks (my husband goes there EVERY day and I didn't buy their stock), and Amazon (I sold my books for $5 a piece instead of buying their stock), I thought about buying Aeropostale.

I didn't even know the company until I saw my class-mate browsing their website. I asked her "American Eagle?" She said "No, it's called Aeropostale, and they are much cheaper." Hmmmmm.....

I started buying their stock through Sharebuilder last September after:
1. Getting tired of paying $100 for a shirt and a pair of jeans at American Eagle for my DD.
2. I felt economy is getting worse and people are looking for cheaper alternative
3. My DD asked me for Aeropostale's gift card for one of her holiday gift. She says she can buy "more" at Aeropostale than American Eagle.
4. I saw a Japanese actress wearing Aeropostale T-shirt. There's no Aeropostale store in Japan, that mean people are buying them when they visit U.S. Eventually, Aeropostale may open stores in Japan, like Gap and Coach did. Means, business expansion possibility.
5. I went to the store myself, and liked how they narrowed the lines of clothing they sell. I thought they are very focused and manage inventory well.

So far, first time in my life, my stocks are doing well. When I started buying them, the price was $23 per share, and it was $30 per share today. I'm only investing $100 a month since September, so my investment total is $800, and the balance as of today is showing $967.98. My goal was to save $1,000 in this account, so I'm almost there.

Now, the question is when to sell. I really don't want to sell until my gain is considered as capital gain. So, I need to hold them more than one year which I don't mind at all. I just hope the price won't drop before I sell them. Buying is easy, but selling is so much harder.

Anyway, that was my random thoughts of the day.

Feeling low

April 18th, 2008 at 01:49 pm

Boy, I remember why I should bring lunch to work.

I went to Chinese buffet for lunch today, and well, let's just say it didn't settle well in my stomach. (In other words, I threw up everything I ate. Yuck!) I think it's some kind of seasoning they use that my body does not accept. Well, with $8.46, I could make a nice sandwich or something.

I'm having a feeling low week. I don't know what it is, but many things annoy me and I feel depressed or frustrated. I went to Chinese buffet to treat myself and make me feel better, but it didn't work at all. Grrr!! Everything seems to be that way this week for some reason.

Lighter traffic

April 17th, 2008 at 04:17 pm

I was driving to work yesterday morning, thinking "There isn't much traffic these days....."

I came home, and DH asked me "So, how's traffic these days?" Funny he asked. I told him that was exactly what I was thinking this morning, lighter traffic. He told me about the guy who commutes to Bay Area, and the guy was telling DH traffic is much better than before.

I guess some people cannot afford to pay $4 per gallon.

DH also told me about the guy who used to drive a huge pick-up truck. Now, the guy drives VW Jetta. DH asked the guy about his truck (I know my DH is really nosy LOL) and they guy told DH he cannot afford gas anymore for the truck. Hmmmmm.

Gas price sure impacts people's lives.

Free OJ & Free coffee

April 16th, 2008 at 04:11 pm

My work was crazy busy last few days. There are some delay in the project we are currently working on, and I had to rush people to do some things. I tell you, some people just don't have any sense of urgency. Things will be calm for next two days, and will be crazy again. Oh well, such as life.

I stopped by a grocery store yesterday because they sent me a good store coupon via e-mail, and the expiration date was yesterday. They were giving out 12 pk 100 calorie snack and a bottle of pomegranate juice for free. I could find a snack pack, but no juice. The clerk told me the juice is out of stock, and I can pick any juice I like. So, I told her that I want OJ, and they gave ma a bottle of 96 fl. oz OJ for free!

For dinner, I prepared pork cutlet (ton-katsu), rice, miso soup (with tofu, seaweed, green onion), cabbage salad, and cantaloupe melon. Cantaloupe melon was just right and really yummy.

And my morning coffee was free with coupon this morning : )

Budgeting for grocery

April 11th, 2008 at 02:42 pm

I changed my credit card from mileage type from reward type. I haven't used much of my credit card since I changed it, because I wanted to be careful with the new card first.

Now, I know how it's functioning, I decided to charge my grocery spending, too. Since grocery money comes from our joint account (we have his/her/our accounts), I bought gift card from two stores I normally shop. I bought $100 Safeway, and $50 Trader Joe's gift cards, and this should last at least for next two weeks. This way, I have a grocery budget in my hand (as a form of gift card), don't have to worry about the balance of our joint account, and I can earn some reward points.

I will see if this method is going to work well for us.

$5 off coupon at Walgreens

April 10th, 2008 at 03:38 pm

$5 off/$20 purchase coupon is posted at Walgreen's website. This is good for tomorrow, April 11th.

You can use it to buy FAR items, or some RR deals.

Happy shopping!

Gas spending

April 10th, 2008 at 10:10 am

I went to gas station to fill up the tank yesterday. $45. This is, so far, the most I paid, and that's all I spent yesterday. I drive Rav4 that gets decent gas mileage, but commuting and getting places around sure got quite expensive these days.

Today will be NSD. I have no plan to do any shopping whatsoever. My company is providing lunch to everyone today. I love free lunch : )

Where are the cheap people?..... like us LOL

April 9th, 2008 at 01:49 pm

I was reading people's responses to "Why do you blog?" by Dickyman. And some people said there's no frugal people around them. Come to think of it, it applies to me as well. I don't have anybody around me I can talk about personal finances. I searched all kinds of frugal living website, and ended up being here because this site was the most real and I found people who share similar point of view with me.

But, really, where are frugal people? Where do they hide? Are they ashamed to be called "cheap"? Are we the only ones who care about saving?

I know my friends' eyes get glazed when I talk about finance. I experienced people just laugh at me when I suggest clipping coupons. So, I simply stopped talking about these things in front of people. I know, in this forum, I can brag about how little I paid for things, or nothing at all. I feel safe talking about my "hobby" without being criticized or laughed at. Maybe, that's why I blog here.

I guess some people just don't understand the concept of "saving." I save because I don't like being broke, and I have nobody I can ask for the money.

I clip coupons because I think it's ridiculous to pay full price when I have other means to substitute the payment. Manufactures book coupons as promotional expense, and consumers are paying for it. If we don't utilize coupons, we are paying premium for the products we buy. I know we can afford regular price as our gross income is over 100K and there's only three of us in the family, but I choose not to waste our hard earned money. I'd rather spend the money to save for DD's 529 or something more meaningful, such as visiting museums, or taking family trips. Plus, as you all know, it's not how much you make, but how much you save.

School related spending

April 8th, 2008 at 08:15 am

I did some spending related to school yesterday.

I filed my petition for graduation (spring 2009), and the diploma fee was $43. I cannot believe I am graduating next year. It may not be a big deal for people who went straight to college after high school. Well, it was not a big deal for me when I went on to the vocational school when I was 18. I just did my two years of schooling , not thinking about anything, and got a job.

But this time around, it was my decision to go back to school, my choice to study Business Admin, my money to pay tuition (well, most of it is from my employer, still, I earned it, right?), and I am spending my precious time for school while working full-time. To my surprise, I really truly enjoyed going to school. I like it so much that I don't want it to end LOL I started looking into their graduate program, so I can stay in school few more years.

I also paid $65 for honor society's lifetime membership fee. I didn't have to join if I didn't want to, and I debated if I should or not. At the end, I decided to join. Not sure what the benefits are for these honor society, though.

Positive side of bad economy

April 7th, 2008 at 01:02 pm

I got a reply from Monkeymama for my previous post, things people cut back. And she said she is eating out more taking advantage of deals restaurants are offering these days. I feel the same. Since better deals are available at various restaurants, we are taking advantage of it. One man's loss is another man's gain, I guess.

So, at the end, bad economy offers some positives to us.

Like I posted, I am finding more restaurant coupons I've never found before. The local restaurant DH and I often go to now offer 15% off of entire bill, or buy one get second one 50% off cpn. good for any time, any day. This is new. Another steak house we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, is now offering $70 gift card for $50. This is a very nice restaurant and food is excellent. But, it is pricy (we normally pay close to $100 for two of us), so we only go there for very special occasion. Now, I am thinking about taking DH to dinner for father's day.

Things people cut back

April 6th, 2008 at 05:51 pm

DH and I went to IHOP for breakfast yesterday.

He tells me that he has been thinking about what people have been cut back due to this bad economy, and which store would go down. (btw, he is not much of saver.)

I told him people are eating out less. I can tell by the promotion restaurants offer. For example, I had a coupon for IHOP, good for any day of the week. I could not find an IHOP coupon good for any day before. It was only good for Mon - Fri, not valid on weekend. Now, they're giving out coupons that are good on weekend as well.

We tried to think of some other things, but couldn't think of much since our spending pattern hasn't changed much and couldn't tell from our own experience.

Can you think of anything?

7% New Member Special Certificate

April 3rd, 2008 at 11:26 am

I found a newspaper ad showing 7% 12 months certificate for new member of Patelco Credit Union. I checked their location and they're all over in California, and one in Chicago. So, my fellow Californians, if you have $1,000 to spare for 12 months, this is a good deal.


Website says:
7% New Member Special Certificate.
- 12-month term
- $1,000 maximum
- $1,000 minimum opening balance.
- Available for new members only.

* The Dividend Rates and Annual Percentage Yield are effective as of June 4, 2007, and are subject to change at any time. Minimum deposit $1,000, maximum deposit $1,000. Rate is 6.785%. Term is 12 months. At maturity the certificate will renew at Patelco's current yield for a regular 12-23 month share certificate. Penalty for early withdrawal. Available for a limited time. Funds deposited to this account must come from an institution other than Patelco. Account available to new members only-must open a new membership. One certificate per member.

It is also offering $50 for opening a checking account with direct deposit.


April 3rd, 2008 at 11:11 am

Finally, I started functioning again. Boy, this was a baaaaaad case of flu. I've never been this sick in my life. I was down from Friday evening, and finally started feeling better yesterday.

There are some things I wanted to do, and I have a lot to catch up because I lost five days being sick and could not do anything.

First thing to do was to tally up my March coupon/rebate savings.

$481.11!! Walgreen's RR deal was a big kicker, and so was Office Depot. This amount does NOT include $200 I saved for Lens Crafter coupons. I won't count it because it was already funded and budgeted in my FSA. Seperate fund, means no cash flow impact for my regular chceking account.

Anyway, $481.11 added to my EF.

My ING account showed March interest of 5.60 and the balance was $2,326.13. New balance will be $2,807.24 after I deposit my coupon/rebate savings.

How I .....

November 2nd, 2007 at 01:19 pm

.....saved 100K in my 401K in 7.5 years.

And, I don't make six figure salary. My wage was $18 per hour when I started with my current employer 8 years ago.

1. Pay yourself first
2. Set a clear goal
3. Challenge myself and be creative

1. Pay yourself first
I like saving money this way because any money I have in my bank account is my spending money. If it goes down to zero, no more spending. And, I don't stress out like "OMG! I have no savings!" I do have savings, and it is done before I know it.

2. Set a clear and measurable goal
My first goal was to save equivalent to my annual salary. The balance grew very slowly first, and it took me almost 4 or 5 years to reach this goal. After I achieved my first goal, I set my second goal that was to save 100K. It took much shorter time to achieve my second goal. Now, my next goal is to save 250K. I don't particularly set the deadline for it because I still have almost 20 years till I retire.

3. Challenge myself and be creative
I set my contribution percentage at 20% before tax and made myself used to the income after the deduction. Since cash flow was always tight, I became frugal and creative. I started packing lunches instead of buying lunch, look for coupons for anything I do, borrow instead of buy, sign up for survey, etc. When there's a will, there's a way.

I'm sure anybody can save money if I can. There was another blog about "10 things you need to do before you turn 40" or something. Yes, I used to go to exotic places for vacation, I have the real watch, I have real Louis Vuittons, and I used to pay $300 for a pair of shoes.

I changed my mind-set from finding a pleasure from material things to finding a pleasure from challenging myself. Saving money to me is like playing a game, a game to reach larger balance in my net worth. Like I said, I could do it, so anyone can do it. Really.

$91.5 added to my rebate account

March 20th, 2006 at 10:34 am

I've been answering a reserach from Cairo.com. They said they collected enough data and finished research. I just received $80 check from them for completing all of my survey questions.

$10 Colgate and $1.5 Orajel rebate also came on Friday.

That's $91.5 addition to my rebate account!

Current balance:
Bank A $421.78
Bank B $285.32
Software rebate pending $225
Total $932.1

Going after software rebate

February 22nd, 2006 at 11:08 am

I thought about transfer more money to Bank B that is giving above 4% interest rate till the middle of April. Then, I found a deal "Buy tax software and get these software for FREE" deal at Best Buy. I bought 12 software including Tax Cut, send out rebate to all of these software, and planning to turn around and sell them at Amazon.

It turns out one software has an upgrade rebate and another one requires activation. So, I returned two software and got my money back.

So far,
Total spending $294.83
Rebate total $265
Out of pocket $29.83

I have nine software to sell, and they should average at least $10 each. So, I can expect $90 sales - $29.83 out of pocket. Final profit should be at least $60. That's 20% return for $300 investment. Not bad at all if it all goes well. We will see.....

Bank A
Previous balance $472.94
Software payment $294.83
New balance $178.11

Bank B $285.32

Total $463.43

Software rebate pending $265

I aready saved $758.26

February 21st, 2006 at 10:22 am

I started doing rebate from drug stores last year. After spending all the rebate money I received for few months, I wonder "Wait..... How much will I save with all the rebate I receive?"

This simple question triggered me to open up a new account that is specifically for rebate saving purpose.

Of course, I didn't waste my chance to receive a bonus from the bank I opened the accout with. I just saw $50 creditted to my account.

OK, I started doing this in December and here's the result so far.

Bank A
Opened with $100 initial deposit (I got $75 bonus from on-line bank, so used it as an initial fund. My out of pocket $25.)

Monthly deposit
December $168.94
12/23 Deposit $79.95
?? I forgot what they were.....

12/19 Deposit $88.99
$75 check from other local bank
Longs rebate $13.99

January $77.53
1/26 Deposit $35.99
Rite aid rebate $25.99
Del Monte rebate $10

1/23 Deposit $24
Reward from research company $20
? for $4

1/12 Deposit $17.54
Not sure what it was....

February $376.47
2/2 Deposit $277.49
Reimbursement for eye exam $110
Rite Aid rebate $38.97
.... And I totally forgot what the rest was.... Shame, shame....

2/10 $50 credit from the bank
2/21 Deposit $48.98
Longs rebate $2.99
Schick rebate $10.99
Three checks from research companies two $5, and one $25 Total $35

Total deposit so far $722.94

Transferred $250 to Bank B to get a bonus and earn higher interest

Current balance $472.94

Bank B

Initial deposit $250
Account opening bonus $25
Referral bonus $10 (I sent a referral link to my friend, and he opened an account.)

Current balance $285.32

Total $758.26