Musings of the past week

Financial Planning

Kim and I went to chat with a financial advisor last night. We’re on track to getting a house and retirement, I think, but need to shuffle a few things around. I’m contributing too much to my 401(k) and need to put more money toward pre-59-years of age stuff. Also, I recently learned that first time homebuyers can access money in a 401(k) without penalty for the down payment — but only for that first home. While we’ve been saving our pennies to make a good down payment, I have a sizable 401(k) from a previous job, nearly forgotten, that could probably get us in a house in the immediate future.

Overall, I was happy with that consultation. We’ll see, in a year or less, as we reevaluate our standings, if I continue to be happy. It is going to cost a little bit, but honestly, a year of financial advise ends up being less money than a year of a personal trainer at a gym. Technically, I could probably sit down and learn everything and do it myself (just like technically, you could sign up for a year of gym and do everything on your own), but it’s nice to have someone knowledgeable looking over our shoulder and presenting advise and scenarios–just like it’s nice to have someone work out an exercise plan that ensures you’re doing enough pushups, but not too many or two few, and you’re also working out the other areas of your body. It’s less stress to have someone who has done this stuff before. It is more free time to pursue other interests, as opposed to learning from tax books and the minutiae of accounting guidelines.

WWDC / iPhone

Is it just me, or was Steve Jobs’ keynote at WWDC fairly yawnworthy? Last year we were tempted with the statement that there were secret features in the new OS that could not be talked about because Vista might steal them. Presumably, those features were revealed on Monday, and things are starting to look the other way around. The transparent window decorations? Haven’t we seen that in Vista? The dock becomes more of a shelf. Yawn. Coverflow to navigate files?! I don’t even use it to navigate my album covers in iTunes, and can’t imagine trying to locate a file based on a side-scrolling list of icons. Stacks are kind of cool, and it has taken them long enough to realize that patent, but when it is confined to the dock, the purpose is defeated a bit. The “Back to my Mac” feature looks interesting, but is pretty much a compilation of dynamic DNS and network shares. I already have several different ways to do that, mainly by VPN. Dashboard enhancements, iChat enhancements? Yawn. Time machine looks cool, but as with “Back to my Mac,” I already have a nice automated backup system in place.

The iPhone SDK announcement? That was a kick to the head. The apps have to be browser apps? Give me a break! You have to have a constant internet connection for the duration that you are using a 3rd party app–complete with bandwidth, connectivity, and latency issues. The nice thing about the Treo is that if I want a quick game of Sudoko or Bejeweled, I don’t have to fire up the EDGE connection.

Because of the above issues (and because I’m thinking more about money), I’ve gone from “I need to get an iPhone the day/week it comes out” to “meh. I’ll wait a month or two and see if people still like one, and then maybe I’ll get one.” Until then, I have to nurse along my dying Treo. If I don’t go with the iPhone, I’ll have to find a good non-Windows based Smartphone that integrates well with a Mac.

Doctor Who

Last weekend’s Doctor Who, with the crying angel statues, was awesome. It kept me on the edge of my seat–something that Lost sometimes does, but Doctor Who has not done in a while. It was a little weird in that this particular episode had Doctor Who and Martha in, what were essentially, bit parts as far as screen time goes, but it was still darn good. At least it wasn’t crappy like the previous one where The Doctor had a small part (the one last season whose storyline and monster were invented by an 8-year-old contest winner, with the monster effectively being Austin Powers’ Fat Bastard.)

Surplus

I find that I have a surplus of goods. Not realizing that xxx ounces of loose leaf peppermint tea is a much, much, much larger quantity than the same weight of other types of tea, I have a ton of peppermint tea that has been sitting around for a few months. If you’re local peep on my LJ friends list and want some Adagio peppermint tea, let me know. The same goes for the summer sausage (beef) I just made. I made two sausages that are about 8-10 inches long and about to inches across. Since I do not do the cheese-and-crackers-and-sausage thing every day (as much as I’d like to), I am still only about half-way through the first sausage. Let me know if you want all or part of the other one (you’re welcome to sample.) I’d like to clear it out of the fridge so I can experiment (this time, with an even smaller batch) with other flavors. That’s not to say this one is bad — it’s just a good solid baseline from which to experiment with other spices and meats.

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One thought on “Musings of the past week”

  1. Financial Planning –
    My recommendation is to talk to a good mortgage broker now. Where a financial planner is good for some things, when the goal is really to qualify for a decent home loan, you should go to the source. This was the best thing that I did. In my case, he said that the best thing to do is show an assload of money in the bank or a decent period of time. He also said that I would get better interest rates if I did not throw down a huge down payment, but instead, leave the money in the bank.

    I have never put much money in either of the two houses up front. In my condo, I put in about $5K. In my second home, I put in even less. I am not saying that this will be the same scenario for you, since the market is different now, but I did become enlightened after talking to my broker.

    In any case, it sounds like you are doing it the right way. If you want to throw questions at me about mortgages and stuff, go ahead and AIM me during the week. Connelly picked my brain for a good year before he finally took the plunge.

    OH! Last thing, do not do not buy a new car or get any new payment thing going from this point forward. This will CRUSH what you can qualify for. Seriously.

    iPhone –

    Yeah, I am waiting too. I really hope at some point that ATT gives something in the form of a rebate to sign your life away for two years. Also, I really want to know what the real world experience is like from people.

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