Cook vs Eat – The Biryani Blunder

This was a weekday sometime last month, out of the blue – I wanted to cook Biryani (Indian Rice Pilaf or something similar). It is a dish that my husband loves(though not necessarily the veg version).

So, I mentally devised a plan where in I would try and make my husband ask me to cook biryani. That way, I figured I could use the guilt points to my benefit some other day.

How it transpired in my mind:

Me: I feel like eating Biryani.

J: Why don’t you cook some?

Me: Sure. If you say so but you do know the amount of work that is involved…blah blah.

How it transpired:

Me: I feel like eating Biryani.

J: Let me take you out for dinner tonight. You pick the restaurant.

Me: What!!??!!

He couldn’t stop laughing after I confessed my plans to score some brownie points by doing what I was going to do anyway. I told him that I merely wished to cook biryani and not actually eat it. That is alright though, I shall get him some other day(evil laugh).

PS 01: Veg Biryani is a thing. It is not necessary for biryani to have meat in it. If you believe otherwise, let us choose to disagree.

PS 02: Yes, I made Veg Biryani that evening. It was yum, if I may say so myself.

PS 03: We(read I) love playing such games on each other.

Vanguard Stock Market Index Fund Experiment

Does VTSMX\VTSAX really work?

I am a millennial who has heard enough stories about those burned by stock markets. Over the past couple of decades, I have developed a fear (bordering Paranoia) about stock market investing. In early 2017, I discovered Mr. Money Mustache and the online FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) community. They all religiously invest in stock market.

After reading tons of blogs all advising index fund investment, I decided to wet my feet before jumping in headfirst.

The experiment: Keep money invested for 1 year in an Index Fund. See what happens.

On July 24, 2017 I invested 3000$ in VTSMX. I would see where I stand a year from then and make up my mind based on trends. I was neither looking for a raise nor a dip, I was just curious to see what would happen.

VTSMX was worth: 61.75$ as of July24, 2017.

After that, for about a month or so, every single time I logged in, my balance was less than 3000$. Then Life got busy at work and I did not check my Vanguard account for a few months. The next time I logged in was around the end of January,2018. This was a pleasant surprise as VTSMX was cruising around 71$. I was ready to call my experiment a success when the market dipped taking the price to around 65$ again.

I noticed 2 things during this dip. The price of VTSMX never went back to the price of 61$. I also had quarterly dividends (which was cherry on the cake). I forgot about Vanguard and went back to my life. The Market corrected itself and the stock prices started rising again.

1 year later VTSMX is now worth: 70.76$

Initial Investment = 3000$

Price of Investment Currently = 3437.5$

Investment Returns = 437.5$

%Investment Returns without Dividends= 14.5%

Dividends: 13-15$ every quarter.

Yearly Divided: 50$

%Investment Returns including Dividend: 16.2%

For someone who was so skeptical about the market, this is a lovely gain and I plan to invest most (if not all) of my money in Vanguard Index Fund. Once the investment hits 10k, one can convert from VTSMX to VTSAX (Admiral Shares) which has lower expense ratio.

Other Notes:

  • I was so happy in Jan about the rise of VTSMX Price that I poured some more savings into this when the dip occurred in February.
  • I am extremely happy with the way this is turning out. I do not plan to touch this account for a few years, so I am not worried about short term dips. I have a different emergency account.
  • 100% allocation to VTSAX is a risk that I am willing to take. There is a certain stock to Bond ratio that investors are advised to maintain that I am willing to ignore based on my research.
  • Had I done my experiment in any other year or even if my investments were off my a few weeks, the results could have turned out differently. But I like how the prices keep rising.
  • I shall never wait for a dip to invest money as it doesn’t seem to make sense to me.

Keeping up with Dog Expenses

How much Money does it take to keep a dog?

I have been asked this question multiple times since we got our dog. I figured, it is easier to list it here and reference this when the question comes my way again. Below are most of our dog related expenses.

Detailed Description Amount Comments
Adoption Fees 150$ You might get this waived if you visit during any adoption drive
Harness, Collar and 5ft Leash 25$ Bought at shelter. Overpriced as it is a donation.
Lease modification and 1 time pet fees 325$ Only for those in apartments.
Pill Pockets 10$ Our dog had medication when we got him. Found out later that Costco has better rates.
Furminator Deshedding Tool 50$ Was suggested to us. Was an unnecessary expenditure
Dog Bed 50$ Costco has good quality beds for big dogs.
Dog Kennel 80$ Walmart had good kennel with removable floor.
Reflective Collar 5$ Good Quality
County Dog License Fees 25$ for 3 years.
Retractable Leash 20$ 16ft.Our dog doesnt walk without leash
Kong Classic Dog Toy 10$ The folks at shelter recommended this and he does love it.
Seat Belt 8$ Found out hard way after he jumped out of the window at local park.
Seresto Flea and Tick Collar 50$ Because I saw a Giant Tick on another dog at the local park.
Nail Grinder 35$ Because I don’t take him to a groomer and do it all myself.
Zoom Groom Brush 7$ The lady at the Vet’s office recommended it. And it works wonders.
Pet Hair Vaccuum Handheld 30$
Car Plug In Portable Vaccuum Cleaner 15$ Markdown at local Aldi. Got Lucky
Baby Gate 30$ To keep him away from Kitchen
Wellness Insurance Monthly 26.5$ Cancelled after Month 01
Vaccine and Heart worm Medicine 60$ Will recur Twice a year
Wellness Physicals at Banfield Pet Clinic 42$ Will recur Twice a year
Pet Shower Spray 11$
Lysol Disinfecting Wipes 13$
Arm and Hammer Pet Fresh Carpet Cleaner 10$
Dog Treats 10$
Hand Sanitizer Giant Size 14$
Candles and other Room Freshners 30$
35lb Food bag per month 50$ Our 70 lb dog is a picky eater and eats only Hills Science Food.Monthly Recurring.
Sum Total 1191.5$ What can I say, he is worth it.

Our dog was neutered before we got him. So, that is another 100$ saved. He might need a dental cleanup soon – so that is another 250$.

There are cheaper ways to do this and if I had to do this again, I would probably start with Facebook Marketplace for things like Kennel or Dog Gates.

Cheapest and Best Wireless Carrier in USA – TMobile

How I came to  realize that TMobile is the cheapest and best Cell Phone Carrier in the USA, that provides the biggest bang for your bucks.

My monthly Cell Phone bill has taken quite a steep downward turn after I switched to TMobile One Plan.  I am on one of the best plans available and I pay less than 20$ a month (30$ if I use more than 2GB of LTE). The plan is not grandfathered as of 2018/March/06. The following are what I receive:

  • Unlimited 4G LTE smartphone data
  • Unlimited Talk & Text
  • Free Netflix Standard Subscription
  • Scam ID
  • T-Mobile Tuesday Benefits
  • Other benefits I am unaware of around in flight wifi and international roaming.

If you have following, you can follow my hack and get your monthly payments down to ridiculously low amounts:

  • Good Credit Score
  • 08 – 10 Lines. (Trusted family/friends who will pay you back timely)
  • A little bit of patience

How to get on this amazing plan:

1. Get the T Mobile One Family Plan. The Plan costs are 130$ for first 2 lines. 25$ per line for 6 lines after that. 30$ for last 2 lines. All taxes are included so no surprise charges.

  • With 8 Lines the cost per line = (130 + (25*6)) / 8 = 35$ per line
  • With 10 Lines the cost per line = (130 + (25*6) + (30*2)) / 10 = 34$ per line

2. TMobile has auto pay discount of 5$ off per line up to 40$. You must log into their site and enable auto pay.

  • With 8 Lines the cost per line = 35$ – 5$ = 30$
  • With 10 Lines the cost per line = 34$ – (40/10) $ = 30$

3. Once this is done, log into account settings and enable Kickback on every line. So, if any line does not use 2GB of data in the current billing cycle, they will get 10$ off in the next cycle.

  • Cost per line = 30$ – 10$ = 20$

4. Call the customer care (They hardly have wait times and they are amazing and helpful folks) and check if there are any extra costs per line. There will at least be 1 extra feature on at least one line. Ask them to disable everything that will cost you extra bucks. You are now set.

Few things to Note:
1. There will be Initial set up costs.
2. Kickback will start only from Month 02.
3. The coverage isn’t that great if you travel into wilderness a lot. No complains in cities. Their recent bandwidth purchase gives me hope that the coverage is getting better.
4. T Mobile Tuesday – Freebies, Coupons, Fuel Discounts, Free Movie Rentals etc easily add up to over 20$ a month. But I do not use all of them and maybe get 10$ of benefit a month.
5. Corporate discount doesn’t work on this plan (I tried. Else I would have had an extra 20% off).
6. They also occasionally have Buy One – Get One free offers on the most amazing phones (but that is a blog for another day)
7. They provide free signal boosters if your residence does not have enough T-Mobile bandwidth.

I have been using T Mobile for over 3 years now ( 6 Months on prepaid, 2 years on Simple One Now-Grandfathered Plan and the rest with TMobile One). I have had no complains and highly recommend this cell phone carrier.

Love Per Square Foot – Netflix Original Hindi – Worth a Watch

Netflix does it again! A much needed breathe of fresh air as far as Hindi movies are concerned. After getting used to the faster than average pace of English series these days, I had given up on Hindi movies when Netflix recommended this gem to me.

The plot starts with character introduction of 2 bank employees, each with a mediocre salary and a dream to own a house in the expensive Mumbai. They run into each other quite by chance and enter a business deal where they pretend to be married so that they can qualify for a housing scheme. They jump head first into this dream considering themselves practical till they realize that their hearts have a different plan. Add to this weird deal two different religions, a little bit of confusion, traditional parents, original and lovely music and a crazy boss lady.

It has the right combination of humor and drama. The story is very well written and the characters are extremely relatable. Perhaps what stands out is the impeccable comic sense even amidst all the drama.

Vicky Kaushal : Resembles a young Hiten Tejwani and delivers an amazing performance and is the star of this movie. For a change, he is an eye candy who can act.

Angira Dhar and Alankrita Sahai are fresh faces who play their role convincingly. They are both beautiful and confident and bring us a smile with their lovely performances.

Ratna Pathak Shah, Supriya Pathak and Raghuvir Yadav: I do not know why such powerful stars were part of this movie but their performance is simply delightful which shouldn’t really surprise anyone.

To summarize – it is a lovely movie that makes you smile long after it is done. (Am writing this review after a day and am still smiling). Go, turn on Netflix and watch this original today.

Netflix: Altered Carbon: No Spoiler Review

Altered Carbon: Author’s Rating: 4.5/5

Our time on this earth ends due to the limitations of our human bodies? What if human consciousness could be transferred from body to body thus making us essentially immortal? And if this is indeed possible, then would the richest amongst us be nothing less than the New Gods? And what happens when ennui hits these new gods with human minds\bodies and too much time on their hands? This interesting concept is explored in delicious detail in this new Netflix Series.

History is written from the perspective of the winners and survivors. A freedom fighter(of sorts) with special skills is woken up after 250 years to be branded a terrorist from the past. He is offered a chance at freedom with full pardon and a lot of money if he could but explain an intriguing and perplexing death of an immortal. In this new world, he has no rights and is the exclusive property of the person whose death he is trying to solve. A cop and a few low lives also take an interest in him for reasons explained throughout the series.

In this age on immortals, what is the extent to which one would go for love? And does one love the soul or the body that the soul is in? Can a love be so strong that it transcends centuries and bodies with a blood trail so huge and wide?

Beautiful acting by the cast. Definitely binge worthy and there is a twist in every episode and all characters and sub stories come together beautifully at the end. Joel Kinnaman did a great job and is now an actor whose career I would be following starting today. Having been a fan of Will Yun Lee since Elektra, it was a pleasant surprise to see him in this as I had not noticed him in the Cast before starting the binge.

Note: The series has a lot of nudity- full frontal and otherwise, but the lovely physiques of the actors involved and the amazing direction adds to the main story without taking anything away and makes every scene look like art.

Justice League: Must Watch! 4.5/5

NO SPOILERS !

I did not expect much from this movie and nor did I read any reviews before taking my seat. All I had to go on were the trailers. I was expecting another dark movie but I was determined to sit through it. But what followed was a pleasant surprise – my Christmas came early this year. Let me give my opinions of the characters first

Flash: The arrogance of youth and the on-your-face humor are balanced in perfection. I have never liked flash before, Ezra Miller might have just changed my mind.

Aquaman: His arrogance at being invincible was a joy to the eyes. Jason Momoa is here to stay. He has some drool worthy scenes sans his shirt. I am looking forward to his origins story as I don’t have a lot of back ground on his character and do not want to ruin any surprise by reading about him.

Wonder Woman: As usual – she carries the burden of the being the wisest person on the team with grace and strength. Gal Gadot does justice to the daughter-of-god character that she plays.

Batman: Ben Affleck has outdone himself in this one. After the dark brooding batman from the past, this one was a joy to the soul. This was the batman that I grew up reading. (Still fuming about the last movie where the Bat was portrayed as a self-serving hero)

Cyborg: With half a face to act with, Ray Fisher does a wonderful job conveying his pain at the knowledge that he might be the next monster. It is nice to see his fear evolve into confidence and conviction at doing the right thing.

Superman: Is it just me or does Henry Cavill seem to be getting more gorgeous with time. The character does come across as too perfect at times or maybe I am more of a Batman fan than a Superman fan. (I know they are on the same side, but a lady can still choose)

The movie does not have a single boring minute. All the folks look like they got out of the gym and into their costumes. If you are like me and on the heavier side, don’t be eating food while watching this movie. Those actors will make you guilty for sure.

DC seems to be taking a leaf out of the Marvel Algorithm as we see a lot of witty and humorous dialogues when least expected. Humor might be what saved this movie as without the humor, it is very intense. The visual effects were on-point. My personal grievance is that Superman was granted more power than the last movie where his powers matched that of Wonder Woman. (That’s the reason for the docked 0.5 in the ratings)

The word for the wise. There was hidden wisdom in a few scenes that seemed to resonate with me. The first one, Artificial intelligence should be feared. Cyborg wakes up knowing something new every day. AI is an unknown beast. I loved the scene where the advice to the scared is ‘Save Just One’. It was a beautiful 3-word sentence about which books could be written. Last – The wonder woman dialogue on good leadership was wise beyond experience.

Not that it matters, but the villain was a worthy opponent. Sometimes, a villain can make or break the movie and this movie had a nice bad villain for everyone to hate.

In a nutshell – Just go and watch the movie already!

 

A Hairy Tale Indeed

I am not a vain woman but I do have some weird tendencies that might make me seem like one. I would never share this story were it not for a friend who said that the trait is not unique to me and his wife possesses a similar tendency. With just a few discrete inquiries, I found out that several of my friends (or their wives) share this trait. So here goes nothing…

Whenever I get my eyebrows shaped, I expect my husband to notice and compliment me (however undeserving the situation be).  Almost every time, he doesn’t notice. So, I get offended that the love of my life does not take an interest in my appearance. He says it is trivial enough not to matter on the grand scheme of things. Things usually go downhill from there.

I would never in a million years have expected this to backfire as I enjoy these debates that we have so much that I look forward to them. One day, I think It might have been post the ‘No Shave November’ month or so, I was out in the living room watching Netflix and my husband comes out of the shower and we discuss our Lunch Plans.

Five minutes later, in an angry tone

He: Don’t you ever … ever talk to me about the 1-2 hair that you get removed along your eyebrows again.

Me: Huh? (*Confused now)

He: (waits a minute for it to sink in. Starts Laughing)

Me: What are we talking about again?

He: I had a full beard a while ago and you did not notice that I now have a clean shave.

Me: But J, I don’t think that counts. I love you however you groom yourself. You know I find you very good-looking….

He: (*Interrupts my explanation laughing uncontrollably now) Nice try Sam. It is not going to work. I think we can end this topic for good. Never ever ask me about eyebrows again.

Since then, as tempted as I have been, I dare not speak of the topic again. But in my defense, I am in love with the person and not his appearance…

Requirements Gone Wrong!

As an IT Consultant, getting and giving the right requirements mean the difference between success and failure. This is one example where my requirements weren’t as specific as I had hoped it would be.

Growing up in India with my big family, cricket was a religion. It was sacred. When Team India played, everything else took a back bench. Everyone would gather around the television and the entire day was spent watching the match (sometimes 5 days in a row) and then the next few days will be spent dissecting the match. Though, at one point in time, I did enjoy the game – this utter dedication drove me to the brink of craziness.

As I grew up and the thoughts of an ideal husband started evolving in my mind, 1 thing kept coming to me recurrently. I will under no circumstances marry someone who was so crazy about cricket that he won’t notice if the world around him just ceased to exist. This was one constant throughout that I held on to tight.

A few years, I have a friend on whom I have an insane crush. He has every single quality that I want in my life partner. To this day, I can picture the conversation we had quite clearly. It was a group of us having coffee and the topic was cricket. I asked him ‘What about you? India is playing today. Aren’t you curious about the outcome of the match?’ He shrugged his shoulder and said ‘Not really. I do love cricket and Sachin, but I don’t follow it crazily’.

Fast forward a few more months where we announce to our friends that we are in love. Our cupid (That is what I call the person who introduced the two of us), comes to me, congratulates me and says, ‘You better start learning about Football’. I was stunned, I had no idea what he was talking about. He looked at my blank face and started laughing. He walked away saying ‘You will know soon enough’.

And yes, I did know soon enough. My then Boyfriend and now husband is crazy about football (soccer if you are in the Americas). So crazy in fact that I now have a healthy respect for all my brothers and uncles back home who watch cricket. His obsession with football is unlike anything I have ever seen. Luckily for him and me, I am way too head over heels in love with him to kick up any fuss now(not that it would lead me anywhere).

Moral of my Story: Make sure your requirements are clear, crystal clear!!!

HJ’s weekend

Written By: Harinee Jibeesh

Written: 05/30/2017

My weekend was fun because I went bowling, went to the playground , played with my friends, watched a movie- Parent Trap. It was fun. There was a baby in the home that I watched it in.My parents friends had come to visit us from Richmond. I played with the 2 babies and that was my weekend.