Sunday, March 15, 2009

March Net Worth: Down $28k

Sheesh! It's no wonder I've been putting off this post. I'm a week late posting this and as a result, our financial picture is slightly better because of the delay. The 3-day rally on Wall Street helped to recover some of the killer losses in our investment portfolio.

Real Estate Values are More Accurate
In terms of valuing our real estate, I've abandoned Zillow altogether in favor of a more localized calculation based on neighborhood comps sold in the last couple of months. I'll outline my methods in the next post. I adjusted last month's RE values to align with my current valuation approach.

Chipping Away at Debt
On the bright side (something we CAN control), we've reduced our debt by nearly a thousand dollars in the last month. Gotta keep that Smackdown focus! I'm hopeful that we can step up our intensity in this area in the next 60 days. Kinda depends on my sales performance, since my income is 100% commission. Last month sales sucked. Partially due to the economy, but mostly it's a post-holiday seasonal thing. Looking back over the last few years, my sales in January and February have never been on par with other months.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Las Vegas is Calling Begging

We've planned our 2nd annual trek to Las Vegas for early April. This is a good time of year for us to travel to Vegas. We're nearly suicidal from all the gray Northwest days, it's warm enough in Sin City to take advantage of the hotel pools, and last but most important, there are shoulder-season deals to be had.

Last year three couples joined in the fun. But this year only four of us are able to make the trip. One of the people who was unable to make it this year finally had to opt out because she's a corporate controller and just couldn't get away from all the tax prep hubbub.

Her delayed decision not to go this year was a total blessing in disguise. We were prepared to pay $400 each for airfare and three nights in a mid-priced hotel on the strip (New York, New York). To our amazement, this tab dropped to $275 the day we made our reservations! Holy cow....the cost dropped 30%! We budget a fixed amount every year for vacations. It's not an extravagant vacation budget so I'm thrilled at this turn of events.

Hotels Have Slashed Rates
When I investigated the drop in costs I discovered that airfares haven't significantly changed but Vegas hotels have drastically dropped their rates in concert. Here's a sampling of mid-week room rates:

  • Bellagio: $146 per night
  • Mirage: $108 per night
  • Monte Carlo: $160 per night
  • Flamingo: $50 per night
  • Excalibur: $43 per night
  • Luxor: $60 per night
  • Mandalay Bay: $110 per night
  • The M: $54 per night
  • New York, New York: $75 per night

Some casinos have reported gambling revenues down by as much as 25% so it's no surprise they're all but giving hotel rooms away.

Budget-Friendly Vacation
If you're looking for a quick getaway on the cheap, check out flight/hotel packages to Las Vegas. The crazy economy is affecting us all to some degree. You might as well put the recession to work in your favor.
Photo by mandj98

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Personalize Your Blogger Header

I added a little personal touch to Bankruptcy to Boom this week.

How do you like my fantastic new header? It took me a couple hours of trial & error to add it. Despite the outcome, I've learned a little more about digging into blog editing and making wider use of Photoshop. Seems I've been on a precipitously steep learning curve since starting this blog in January. So many things to learn....only so much time!

For those of you who use Blogger and are inclined to pimp your blog a bit, here's a rundown of how I customized my header:

  • First I found a photo in my pictures file that, when properly cropped, would lend itself to a wide, short format. This is a shot I took recently from our deck:

  • Next, I opened the "Layout" tab and clicked "Edit" on "Page Elements".

This opened a new window, "Configure Header"

  • Then I went to my photo editing program and fiddled with the crop, through trial and error until I found the correct photo size to fit the Blogger header exactly. In my case, the correct dimensions were 1262 pixels wide x 150 pixels high.

  • Finally I uploaded this newly cropped image and saved the change. Note my selection of placement "Behind title and description. This kept my blog title and tagline intact:

There you have it. A brand new look. If you're using the Blogger platform, give this a try and infuse your blog with a little more of your personality.