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Mid-month update, odds and ends

January 16th, 2010 at 06:15 pm

I realized I haven't posted since the 2nd of January. I've been extremely busy at work. Not much time for anything else.

I have started getting things organized to do our taxes. Today, I worked on my ebay and half.com sales to start putting those numbers together.

I also scheduled the February mortgage payment online today. Last year, I was paying an extra $100/month to principal. I've now upped that to $200/month starting this month.

I added $215 to my wife's Roth last week and will add to mine with this next week's paycheck.

I'm continuing to do almost all of the surveys that come my way, at least the ones I qualify for. I did a $95 one today and got 2 or 3 checks this past week.

We've actually been to the casino 3 times since the first of the month which is extremely unusual. The first trip on the 1st, I won $310. The 2nd trip I went with a friend while my wife, daughter and his wife went shopping. That was more to hang out and talk than to gamble, but I did win $30. The last time, a week ago, I did extremely well. I won $800 playing three card poker though I did lose $93 of it at other games before leaving. Still, that gave me a $707 profit for the day. That puts me up over $1,300 for my last 4 casino visits. My wife and I will be going to Atlantic City probably the first or second weekend of February so hopefully, the good luck will continue.

I've sold 2 books so far this month on half.com but still haven't listed anything on ebay. I've just been too tired after work or had meetings at night. I do need to do that sometime soon.

Guess that's all for now.

Great casino trip today

June 27th, 2009 at 03:39 pm

Hi. I haven't blogged much lately. Just haven't felt like it. Thought I'd report on a nice casino trip today, though.

My wife and I went to Harrah's Chester for a few hours. A few days ago, I had a dream that I was at a casino and won $4,500 on a slot machine. Now I'm not into supernatural stuff or astrology or any of that nonsense, so I didn't take the dream as any kind of omen or sign that I had to go gamble, but we went anyway.

While I didn't win $4,500, I did win pretty much every thing I played. I played video blackjack, video poker, video roulette and slots. I won at all of them, though shortly before leaving I played poker a 2nd time and lost what I had initially won. Surprisingly, I did best on the slot machine (usually blackjack is my most successful game). In two session on the same machine, I won a total $98.00.

For the trip all together, I won $174.50. My wife ended up behind, but not that much, so we were still ahead for the day, had fun, had a nice lunch and stopped at our favorite bakery on the way home for a special treat.

Good money day - Stock sale, casino visit

March 12th, 2009 at 01:47 pm

Today turned out to be a good day moneywise.

I bought Bank of America stock a few weeks ago for $5/share. It proceeded to drop as low as $2.53 before recovering a bit. With this week's rally, it started climbing. I put in a limit order to sell half my shares (250 of 500) if the price hit $5.75 which it did today. I made $187.50 profit (minus $14 commission) so a net profit of $173.50. I'm going to hold onto the other 250 shares for a while and see what happens.

I also went to do my taxes today. My accountant is up the street from the casino. Ironic, I suppose, but he was there many years before the casino came along. I stopped in for about half an hour and played a little blackjack. I started with $200 and left with $225, so that was a quick 12.5% return on my investment.

So all together, I earned about $200 today that I wasn't expecting.

Casino visit and Decluttering update

January 25th, 2009 at 10:26 am

I thought I'd take a break from the Ebay Challenge posts.

My daughter had a youth group event last night so my wife and I dropped her off and headed to the casino for a couple of hours. As usual, I took a seat at an electronic blackjack table and played for a little over an hour, winning $212.50 in the process, so I was happy with that. My wife didn't fare as well and lost $74, but that still made it a winning trip overall and a nice evening out.

On the decluttering front, my wife has actually been more inspired than me lately. Two main areas that she has attacked: We have a dresser in our hallway that constantly gets stuff piled on it. She has cleared that off to where we can see almost the entire top. Just a few things remain on there. Then today, while I was out, she cleaned out one set of kitchen cabinets where we keep storage containers, water bottles, cooling racks and a few other assorted things. She threw out a bunch of containers that we no longer have lids for, lids that we no longer have containers for, and water bottles that we don't like and never use and organized everything that remained.

I keep reminding all of us that if we can organize our storage areas - pantry, drawers, closets, garage - then we will have more room to store the things we do want and be able to find them when we need them.

Casino visit

December 7th, 2008 at 03:34 pm

I realized that I haven't posted about any casino trips for a while. We've actually gone quite a few times. My wife and I have enjoyed going to one of the PA casinos that is about 25 minutes from home, less than half the travel time as to Atlantic City. It is easier for us that way since we have to leave our daughter home alone when we go. That way, we aren't out as long. We can be there and back within 3-4 hours.

Anyway, we took a ride there yesterday. I convinced DW to play blackjack with me and stop throwing money away on slots. She likes playing them but I know the odds are horrible. At least at blackjack, you've got a good chance of winning.

So we both sat down at a $10 blackjack table (these are electronic tables, not live dealer games). She started with $100. I started with $200. We played for about 20 minutes and she was up to $205. I was actually down a bit, maybe $170 I think. She decided to cash out and go play slots. She'll usually budget $100 for play so this way, she'd be playing just with her winnings. She also had $25 in free play that the casino had sent her.

I continued to play and ultimately walked away with $285. Not bad - a 42.5% gain on my investment. Sure beats my stock portfolio.

My wife, of course, went to a slot machine where she lost her $100 and the $25 they had given her, so she ended up ahead by just $5, though I suppose that still represents a 5% gain.

We had lunch at their diner and I had comp points for that so it was free.

This was actually my 6th winning trip out of our last 7 visits, so I've been having a pretty good run of luck. Hope it lasts.

Great casino visit today

October 18th, 2008 at 07:53 pm

We went to the local casino today for a couple of hours. I had a great outing. I played video blackjack and video poker and ended up winning $343 total! I'm generally happy if I break even or don't lose too much. Coming home a big winner doesn't happen that often so it was very nice. DW lost $75, but that still works out to a nice profit on the day.

General update

October 16th, 2008 at 06:12 pm

I realized I haven't posted for a couple of weeks. Nothing particularly exciting has been going on but I figured I'd give some updates.

1. Even though I stopped doing the Exercise Log entries, I have not stopped exercising. I'm still working out with Wii Fit. I think I did 22 minutes tonite.

Now that I've had it for over a month, I would still highly recommend it for anyone looking for a home exercise regimen. Much more convenient than a gym, not dependent on the weather and you can exercise on your own schedule. It is even portable if you go out of town and want to pack it. As long as you have a TV to hook it to, you're all set.

Not only that, but the other night, the TV was in use so I just went upstairs and did several of the exercises I've learned from Wii in our bedroom. You can't do the balance games but can certainly do the yoga, strength training and aerobic ones.

2. My wife and I visited a local casino (Chester, PA) last week. I won $93 and she won about $12. We had a casual dinner at their sports bar and just had a nice evening out. We're planning to go again on Saturday morning while our daughter is at a school program. We'll play a little and maybe do an early lunch or snack.

3. Got the van fixed today. It had failed inspection for an emissions problem. Repairs came to almost $1,500. I know I could have had it done cheaper elsewhere but the dealership is so convenient. They provide excellent service, a free rental and I trust that they know what they're doing. They did recommend some other work be done (like front brakes and tires) but I decided to shop around for those things. Now I just have to get it back to DMV to get re-inspected.

4. We had to scrub our annual Disney World trip. My daughter was hand-picked for a special school program that meets every Saturday for 6 weeks and that conflicts with when we were going to go. We're all bummed since we have been going annually for a long time (my daughter just turned 13 and has been there 14 times). We're talking about going next summer instead. We'd love to go for more than a week so we could do that then. Can't do it during the school year.

5. Since we can't go to Disney, we may just go away for 2 days that week when my daughter has no school. We're deciding where to go. Lancaster, PA is always on our list so that's probably where we'll end up.

6. As I mentioned on the boards, I got 2 books for doing medical surveys. I put them on Half.com and sold one within 24 hours for $7.99. The other one is still listed but hasn't sold yet. Since I got them for nothing, anything I make is okay with me.

7. Watching my portfolio dissolve right along with everyone else but keeping my cool. 18 years until retirement and 6 until college so time for things to turn around. I'm sorry that I already maxed our Roths for the year. I would have liked to have been putting that $10,000 in now instead of earlier in the year like I did. Oh well.

Can't think of anything else to report at the moment.

Roth, Bat Mitzvah, Atlantic City, etc.

May 26th, 2008 at 08:59 am

I haven't written an entry for a couple of weeks. Nothing particular to report on until now, so here's an update.

I just transferred another $445 to my wife's Roth. Mine got maxed at $5,000 with the money from the tax stimulus. After today's transfer, I need to send in another $1,085 to max hers. I'll do that in the next couple of weeks.

Our daughter's Bat Mitzvah is 4 months away, September 27th. We are meeting with the caterer on Wednesday to go over the menu, table linens, and other details. We will be making an installment payment to him of $5,300 also. That represents approximately 50% of the total bill. At that meeting, I'll get the suggested bar list so that we can start shopping for the alcohol needed. We will be saving hundreds by providing the alcohol ourselves instead of paying them to provide it.

We spent the day in Atlantic City yesterday. The 3 of us plus my mother went down. We had a nice lunch together and then my wife and I went to Caesar's to play for a couple of hours. Also, I had a $25 cash comp to collect. I ended up losing $50 at blackjack which left me down $25 counting the money they gave me for coming in. My wife lost about $46 and got a $5 comp for parking, so $41 for her.

After lunch, we did some shopping at the outlets. We picked up some nice stuff at the Disney outlet on clearance - a couple of Mickey vases $3.99 (one to keep, one for a pollyanna present for our collector's club), an Eeyore wall-hanging $3.50, and a couple of very nice stained-glass hangings $2.50.

I guess that's all for the moment.

Nice trip to Atlantic City

May 9th, 2008 at 08:26 pm

I took the day off today and my wife and I went to Atlantic City. We enjoy going and don't get to do it as often as we'd like. Typically, we go on a weekend day when the place is much more crowded so it was very nice to be there on a weekday.

We parked at Caesar's, as usual. I had a coupon to redeem for a free buffet at Bally's so we walked over there to redeem it. Unfortunately, they told me the promotion had ended and they couldn't honor the coupon (I have had it for a while).

My wife signed up for her own Total Rewards card (she's been playing on my account until now). Now when the casinos have special promotions and give-aways, we'll both get them instead of just me. Today, for example, they were giving away a pair of cubic zirconia earrings to card members and randomly placed among the cz earrings were 200 pairs of real diamond earrings. We didn't get the diamonds but the cz ones are nice.

We played for a while - me at blackjack and her at slots. I left the table up $5. We decided to have lunch at Wild West at the buffet. I used $20 of comp credit and paid for the balance. Lunch was very good. They have a nice buffet with plenty of choices and good food.

After lunch, we walked around The Pier shopping mall for a little while, bought some fudge for our daughter and then headed back to the casino. We played for another 45 minutes. I ended up down $4.50 for the day. I'm happy any time I walk out with close to what I came with. I had fun. I got comped for parking ($5.00) and earned credit toward more comps (like the $20 I got today for lunch).

All in all a nice day. Hope everyone has a nice weekend.

Odds and Ends

February 16th, 2008 at 04:38 pm

I realized it has been a week since my last post. Not a whole lot has happened financially, though earlier tonight I transferred $1,000 from the money market in one of my Vanguard IRA accounts to purchase more shares of the international fund. I've been gradually doing that and had forgotten the past couple of months. I want to build up my international exposure which is much too low currently.

DW and I are going to Atlantic City tomorrow. DD is going on the youth group ski trip - her first time. She'll be snowboarding, not skiing. Hopefully, she'll let the instructor work with her and take instruction well (not always her best attribute). I'm looking forward to the day as I haven't been to the casino since the day after Thanksgiving. We're also meeting friends for lunch while we're there. They spend most weekends down there.

Our portfolio has recovered a bit from it's low point a couple of weeks ago. I'm hoping that the market will stabilize, though I'm still taking advantage of buying opportunities so staying flat isn't such a bad thing.

I'm still doing my doctor surveys - just did one tonight for $100 and got a check for $30 on Thursday from one I did last month.

Haven't done my taxes yet. I've pretty much got all the paperwork together. I just need to tally up my ebay sales for the year. Then I'll give my accountant/cousin a call to make an appointment.

Speaking of ebay, I have continued to list 5 items/week except for the week before and week of the Superbowl. Of my current auctions, 3 have bids and 1 other has 4 watchers so will probably sell. Only one looks like it may go unsold as it has no bids or watchers. They all end tomorrow evening.

I guess that's all for now.

Last casino visit

October 18th, 2007 at 04:33 pm

I realized I didn't mention my last casino visit. I went to Harrah's Chester on Sunday morning. I played for a little over 2 hours and ended up slightly ahead. I made $42.50. I also earned 950 comp reward points. Comp points are essentially worth a penny each, so about $9.50. That makes the total won $52.00. Not spectacular but not a bad way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday morning when I had nothing else going on.

Nice day in Atlantic City

September 9th, 2007 at 05:34 pm

Our daughter went on a rafting trp today from our temple youth group so DW and I took a ride down to Atlantic City.

We went to the Showboat casino. Haven't been there for years. We also wanted to see the new shops/restaurants they opened at Taj Mahal which is next door, and I figured we'd visit my cousin who has a store at Resorts (Caprice).

We got down about 10:45am. We wandered through Showboat, just looking around and checking out the smoking/non-smoking sections (we HATE being anywhere near smoke). Then we walked over to Taj to see the new shops. By then we were getting hungry and headed back to Showboat to decide where to eat.

We decided to do the buffet, but they didn't open until noon, so we hit the casino for a half hour or so. I played blackjack (that's all I play) and won $20. DW played video blackjack and lost some (not sure how much - no a lot).

Lunch was very good. The buffet is $17.99/person and I had a $7 comp coupon, so with tax and tip it came to $34.

After lunch, we walked down to Resorts to visit my cousin. There was a special prize drawing every hour at Showboat. We had been there for 1:00 and 2:00 so we made sure to be back for 3:00 and 4:00 (but we didn't win). We played for another 40 minutes or so, and I won another $80, before we called it a day. We had to pick up DD at 6:00 so we couldn't stay too much later than that (although she ended up not getting home until 7:15 but we didn't know that at the time).

Overall, a very nice day. The weather was beautiful, though a bit humid. I won $100. DW lost some, but not nearly that much - I think about $25. We got a $7 comp for food and enjoyed a great buffet.

Family trip to Atlantic City today

July 21st, 2007 at 04:10 pm

The 3 of us took a drive down to AC today, after stopping to pick up our copy of Harry Potter, of course. DW and I thought there would be enough non-casino stuff to do with DD and I'd still be able to play a little while they shopped or snacked or something.

We got down about 11am and parked at Caesars. I had suggested having lunch at Bally's buffet, where DW and I have eaten before, but we got there to discover that folks under 21 aren't permitted at the buffet. Not quite sure why that is but that's the rule. We decided to eat at Pickles deli also at Bally's. Service was very good as was the food. We all enjoyed our meal.

After lunch, we walked up the boardwalk a bit and browsed in a few shops. Then we headed over to the Pier, the shopping mall across from Caesars. We wanted to show DD It's Sugar, the big candy store there. She loved it, of course, and we bought a couple of snacks for dessert.

After that, we split up. I went into the casino to play for a little while and they stayed at the mall to see the fountain show and wander the shops.

I did ok in that I left with more than I started with, but only by $12.50. I had been up more than that at some point, but slipped back down before quitting. I did get a comp for free parking, so that's worth $5 for total winnings of $17.50 for the day. Any winning is better than losing, so I'm happy with that.

I met up with them and we walked around a little more before heading for home. DD thought it was a great day, so bringing her along worked out fine. It definitely isn't a real family friendly place. Vegas has a lot more to do with kids than AC does, but for a few hours, it's fine. I wouldn't want to spend days there, though. We took DD to Vegas a couple of years ago for 5 days and we had tons to see and do and we could easily go back for 5 more days and see stuff we didn't see last time. AC just doesn't have that kind of set up.

Good trip to new casino

July 8th, 2007 at 01:33 pm

DW wasn't feeling well today and just wanted to hang out at home. We did that until after lunch but I was kind of antsy and wanted to get out somewhere. I decided to take a ride to see the new Harrah's casino in Chester, PA, just outside of Philadelphia. I looked it up online and saw it is only 25 miles from our house. I also confirmed that they recently installed video blackjack, as I have no interest in throwing my money away on slot machines.

Sure enough, it was just over 24 miles and took 28 minutes door to door to get there. They have free parking which is nice as parking in Atlantic City is at least $5 (more if you don't belong to the casino's players club).

What is NOT nice is that there is no smoking ban here. Now that we are spoiled by smoke-free gambling in Atlantic City, stepping back into a smoke-filled casino was rough. I certainly won't be coming back with DW as she is far more sensitive to the smoke than I am.

Anyway, except for the smoking, it is a nice place. There are a ton of slot machines of every type in every denomination. There are also a great many video poker machines. The lower level has daily horse race simulcasting and live harness racing 4 days/week from July through December.

What I went for, though, was the video blackjack "tables". They are set up like live tables with 5 seats in semi-circle but instead of a dealer, there is a video screen with video of a real person. A 2nd video screen serves as the table top. The dealer appears to deal to each player and play proceeds as it would at a live table.

I got a seat at one table and started with $40. I played for about 20 minutes until a new player sat down next to me and lit up a cigarette. After the next hand, I was up to $80 and figured that was a good point to quit and get away from the smoke for a while.

I got a drink (they have free self-serve soda machines around the casino) and checked out the rest of the property, the restaurants and the simulcasting area.

After a while, I went back and got a seat at blackjack again where nobody was smoking. I started with $100 and just played a short time until I was at $140. At that point, I didn't want to press my luck so I cashed out.

Bottom line, I won $80 for the day! Other than having to hop right in the shower when I got home because I reeked from smoke, it was a good trip. I'm sure I'll go back sometime. One perk is that we are members of Harrah's Total Rewards club so if we ever can't get to Atlantic City for a while, I can shoot over there to keep our reward points active. You need to earn at least 1 point every 3 months to keep points from expiring. So just one more option (though it would be a much better option if they would ban the smoking).

Another casino trip report

June 9th, 2007 at 05:19 pm

Our daughter went to Washington, DC with Girl Scouts today so my wife and I headed for Atlantic City. Althought my wife likes going to the casinos, it was something we could never do because of the horrendous smoking situation. Finally, AC passed a smoking ban that went into effect in April. I visited AC in late April for a convention and it was heaven. I could actually spend time in a casino without getting a headache and sore throat. So I told DW that we'd have to go down together.

So today was the day. We got down there around 10:00. We visited The Pier, the new mall at Caesar's. I was there once before but it wasn't finished yet. We also called friends of ours who were down for the weekend and arranged to have lunch with them.

Anyway, we went back to the casino. I took a seat at a blackjack table and DW went to play some slots. I played for about 25 minutes and lost nearly $200. DW lost about $25. So not a great start to the day.

Lunch was excellent. We ate at The Continental in the Pier. Our friends treated us as they had a ton of comps to use.

After lunch, we walked up to Tropicana. We both played a little video blackjack there. I lost $10 and DW won $13. That still had us down about $222.

We headed back to Caesars and played for another hour, me at blackjack and DW at video poker and blackjack. I won back the $200 I had lost earlier plus $25. DW lost $14.

So the tally found us down $11 for the day. Before heading back to the car, I checked our comp account and we had credit for free parking, so that saved us $5, meaning our day in AC ended up costing us a grand total of $6 (plus gas and tolls).

The best part is that DW agreed that with the casinos now mostly smoke-free, it is a fun place to go, so we will definitely be making this a more regular outing.