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Survived Wall Street's Wild Ride

September 19th, 2008 at 06:42 pm

Wall Street gave us a roller coaster ride we won't soon forget and now my bank (WAMU) is faltering! Where will it end... or is this just the beginning of the end? Don't answer that... I really don't want to think about things getting worse right now, especially since I just broke down and checked my stocks, even though I'm trying to get into the habit of checking just once or twice a month (vs. my previous obsession of checking daily). Here's a recap of my battered stock portfolio:

Monday, September 15th - Down 3.72%
Tuesday, September 16th - Up 2.95%
Wednesday, September 17th - Down 4.67%
Thursday, September 18th - Up 3.73%
Friday, September 19th - Up 3.42%

Surprisingly, this week my portfolio fared better than expected considering the havoc in the market. But the bigger picture is bleaker: I'm down 6.1% for the month (from the previous month) and down 14.3% for the year. I'm not too alarmed (yet), but it's definitely disappointing for someone like me who just retired. Well, at least I'm not depending on this money to live on right now, but it sure would be nice for it to be there when I'm 85. I made the decision not to buy long-term care insurance because I thought I had enough assets and we also have good health insurance but I may have to rethink this.

In other money matters, I've been super-busy and this is a good thing because it kept my mind off the stock market. Here's how I've saved money this week:

1) Called my TV satellite company to complain about the high cost of their service. To me keep me as a happy customer, they gave me a credit of $10 a month for a year, gave me the high definition channels free for a year (another $10). I canceled HBO that we rarely watch and saved another $14. Total monthly savings: $34

2) Called the phone company about my landline because I wasn't happy with my rate plan. They reduced my plan to the rate they offer new customers. Monthly savings: $20 and no change to services.

3) Saved $3,000+ by buying airline tickets with miles for a family celebration we're going to in December. See yesterday's post for details.

4) Took an inventory of the pantry and freezer and stocked upon staples to last at least 3-4 months. Spent $192.58 but saved $39.73 by shopping carefully. I stocked up on chicken, ground turkey, pork roast (to be frozen), canned tuna, pasta, marinara sauce, coffee, green tea, 16#s assorted dry beans (red, black, lentils, garbanzos, green peas, and pinto), EV olive oil, salad dressing, canned tomatoes, popcorn, canned corn, cream of mushroom soup (I use it in various recipes), and a large bottle my favorite sake (yes, it's a staple!).

5) Bought a Brita "smart" water pitcher for filtering tap water to use for drinking. (We need to reduce our copious bottled water consumption and be more "green" consumers.) Used a $10 off coupon at BBB and will send for a $4 rebate on the extra filters. Final cost $45 for the large size plus filters for a year. We will also save about $30 a month by not buying as much bottled water. My DD uses a Brita pitcher and they have well water. She says it does a great job filtering.

6) Took a free online defensive driving class sponsored by my employer (my PT job). Not only will my auto insurance company reduce the annual premium by $40, but now I'm also eligible to get reimbursed for my mileage by my employer.

7) I was able to find a solid tenant for the rental that will be available on October 1. Since I leased the house without using a property manager, the monthly savings will be $119.50. I also raised the rent by $45 a month because I was told the previous rent was way under market (I've kept it the same for five years because I had really great tenants). Finding a tenant for this house is a huge load off my mind... a vacancy can suck a reserve account dry in no time.

On top of all this, I worked six hours on on Monday and spent Wednesday in beautiful Monterey at a workshop. My room was paid for, we had excellent meals, and the presenters did a decent job... not the best but better than some I've suffered through. Now, I'm ready to relax for a while. After all, I AM retired!

2 Responses to “Survived Wall Street's Wild Ride”

  1. djudah Says:

    Can I just make one observation, WAMU is not faltering (if by faltering you mean getting ready to fail). (It's my bank too btw) It has sufficient capital (or so they say) but the new CEO who was brought in is one who is known to be good at finding buyers. They have a lot of problems and it would be good for them to merge with someone. I don't believe they have to in order to survive, however, it is probably in their best interest. Cheers. Smile

  2. lartiga Says:

    @djudah - Thanks for the info... Let's hope WAMU finds an acceptable buyer. It's still a little unnerving to read about it being on the "auction bloc"... sounds a little like a fire sale, but glad they're not on the brink of a titanic meltdown.

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