Monday, July 31, 2006
Was just thinking about my savings account, and how much I like it, and thought I would share it with others that may find it useful.
I needed an account where I can save my money off automatically and use it to pay my quarterly tax payments. Naturally, I looked into the savings account at my Bank (Bank of America) but they have an extremely low interest rate, and they always have strings for this type of stuff. I find out about some new fee on my checking and savings accounts every few months or so.
So I decided to look around. I wanted to still leave some of my savings with Bank of America since those accounts are highly accessible and very liquid. But I wanted some place I could put my tax savings to earn me some interest instead of just sitting there attracting fees.
Eventually, I tried an ING Direct savings account via a recommendation of a friend. They have a savings account with 4.35% interest right now and it seems to be going up all the time (mine was at 3.75% when I started). That's a pretty decent interest rate for a regular old savings account.
And my first thought was... I guess they have a minimum balance. Nope. Well I guess they change the rate based on how much you have in your account? Nope. The probably have service charges then. Nope. Well then I'm sure they have some sort of penalties or fees, or direct deposit requirements? Nope.
It is truly no strings attached. And that was about a year ago. After I have been using it, I can testify that it is really a great service. Transferring money between it and my savings is as easy as can be. Also, there automatic savings plans make it real easy to automate deposits from another account.
If you shop around, I think you can find some savings accounts out there that have an even slightly higher interest rate than ING. But, I love this service. I just thought that I could post it in case anyone else was looking for a good interest bearing savings account. If you are, let me know. I think there is some referral thingy that might give me a free bonus. And no... that's not why I wrote the post! Also, if you have some suggestions on where to place some money while saving for an expense, post it in the comments! I would love to hear it.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Things are great around here, except for the rain. It seems like it has been raining on and off for almost 3 weeks now. And the grass... well, we can still see the top of the mailbox... if we put the flag up.
The new room is amazing. What a difference a couple of weekends can make. The next room will probably be the dining room.
We decided to splurge and go out to eat Mexican on Monday. Neo always gets the same thing... "Cheese enchiladas no beans double rice, please," he rattles off to the waiter as he hands away his menu. What a rascal. We were eating and talking and noticed that Neo had pulled all of the cheese off to one side... and then he said, "Look... now they are just 'chiladas'". It took us a second, but then Christian and I realized that he thought they were called "Cheese and Chiladas" all along. That guy cracks me up.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
The room is done and I am pleased with the way it turned out. Considering what it looked like before, it is a million times better. Using a few clicks in Picasa, I made a before and after shot, and also a simple little collage.
All of the before and after pics of the room can be found here. Thanks to everyone that helped, including John and Greg.
I'm sure Christian will have a post about it on her website soon. She is really happy with it... and that makes me happy :)
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
We have been hard at work on another project at home. We are painting and fixing up the upstairs master bedroom. My friend John came over this past weekend and helped us get most of the room finished. It really looks a million times better than before. We are almost done... just a bit more painting and cleanup. After that, I will have some good pictures to share with you all.
And the shuttle landed! What a great flight. Thanks to all of you for being understanding about how hectic it can get around here before a flight. The only bad news (actually good news) is that we are about to be flying every 3 or 4 months! But don't worry... that will only last till about 2010. :)
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Christian is preparing to go back to school and get her MBA. The first step of this was preparing for and taking the GMAT. I won't get into the details since Christian will probably tell you guys all about it on her website.
That's right. Christian has a website now! It took us only a few minutes to set up and she is ready to post to her blog. The address of her website it http://christian.graffagnino.net (there is a link to it under the "homepages" section). I am hosting it here on our web server and it is very easy to do, so if anyone else is interested in doing this, please let me know. It can be a great way to share thoughts about decorating a new home, news about grandkids, or photos from a recent jewelry party.
Our refrigerator went out last week. We shopped around but was forced to make a quick purchase. In the end, it didn't have to be, because we lost most of the food anyway.
We eventually settled on a Whirlpool from Lowe's. Whirlpool has been ranked the brand lowest in repairs for 8 years in a row (by Consumer Reports I think). We got a black, 25 cu ft. side by side. It is one of the cheaper ones, so not many bells and whistles, but it has a lot of room. Also, Lowe's gave us 10% off if we put it on a Lowe's card, a $75 gift card, and a rebate for free delivery. And since we have 12 months no payments, no interest, we should have plenty of time to sell our blood and plasma to pay for it :)
We had always hoped to be able to take the house one room at a time and furnish/decorate it buying the exact things we wanted for that room, and then saving for the next room. Now that we have had some expensive repairs to make, and foundation repair coming up, we decided to start decorating the rooms as best we can with the things that we have and not buying anything. This will be kind of fun to see what we can do without spending much money.
The first task was to wrap up the theater room. This weekend, I got in the attic and we installed an outlet in the ceiling next to the projector so we don't have a power cable running down the wall. The only things remaining in there are two movie posters to hang up (we are thinking about using "The Incredibles" and "The Matrix"). If anyone knows a place to get cheap movie posters or cheap poster frames, let us know.
Next up on the list, our bedroom!
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Got a minute? If you are on a windows machine and have Internet Explorer, watch this video and see if you see anybody you recognize :)
Sunday, July 02, 2006
After months of experimenting and playing, I finally got our Asterisk PBX set up. What is it? Well, basically it is an entire PBX system. With it, I can be a mini phone company of sorts. I'm using an all in one distribution known as Trixbox
In fact, the plan is to eventually get some IP phones for all of the extended family members that have broadband internet access and give them their own extension. For example, Vince and Amy could be extension 105, Emily and Brent could be extension 107, etc. Then, to call each other, we simply dial the extension. Or, if you want to dial out, you could simpy dial a prefix, and then dial a regular phone number. Of course, dialing out costs us some money, but it is pretty cheap (about 3 cents a minute). And of course calls to other extensions are completely free. I'm anxious to see how it evolves. I think it could be a very powerful system.
Right now, we can dial out through our VoIP phone service, or through the bluetooth connection on Christian's cell phone. Also, I automatically route 911 calls through Christian's cell phone. Lastly, I have it set up so that even if my PBX system fails or the network goes down, we can still dial out through Christian's cell phone and have her cell phone ring thru to all of the phones in the house.
Drop me an email and I will give you our new home phone number.
In other news, I have been some problems with my jaw lately. I'm not sure what is going on with it. Over the last few weeks, it has started to hurt more and more and be more and more difficult to close my mouth completely. It is obvious from the way my teeth hit each other that they are not falling in the same place that they used to and something has changed my bite.
And if I ever want to be able to yell at my son about going to the doctor, I know I have to go. I went to the dentist last week. He did multiple x-rays and did an ultrasound on my jaw joints. He showed me that my wisdom teeth are impacted (it was pretty obvious from the x-ray), but he admitted that he believed it was only contributing to the problem and not the source of it. He referred me to an oral surgeon who can do some CAT scans and find the real issue. My appointment is on the 10th, so we will see how it goes.