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Combining our Accounts

June 22nd, 2006 at 06:25 pm

New city. New game plan.
We figured we'd try this whole joint checking and savings account thing since we really didn't want to open separate accounts here.
SO's initial worry was that he wouldn't know how much was in the account at any given time since he always checked online, but I assured him that because we're both very diligent about checking accounts electronically that we really shouldn't have any problems. We'll see... Smile
Keeping the new checkbook in the office drawer... he has an ATM card, I usually stick to the "Die Broke" method of getting my cash out once a week.
Found out we'll be getting some extra tax money back which is fantastic since prices on the west coast are about 20% HIGHER than what we're used to. Fresh food is much cheaper, however, which will hopefully influence our cooking efforts! We still rely on too many prepared foods... (Bisquick, canned soups, Rice A Roni).
Ice cream here tastes much better than our old town. Why is that??? Lucerne is WONDERFUL. Even the milk tastes better. YUM!
People are fantastic here (for the most part). The only grumpy people we've encountered was close to the water at a restaurant down from Pike's Place... the wait staff were probably tired of the tourists... little did they know that we're now locals. he he
Anyhow, won't be going back.
When we do end up eating out, we'll be staying away from as many national chains as we can avoid (DS loves SUBWAY which means restricting access may cause tears...feigned and real) since there are a TON of restaurants I really want to try out.
This place isn't great for my pocket book and I need to find the cheaper places to buy groceries, get oil changes, etc., etc., but all in all, I'm in love.


BOOK: A Must Read

June 12th, 2006 at 08:45 am

"Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes - And how to correct them" by Bary Belsky and Thomas gilovich

This is one of the most informative fabulous books I've read on the psychology or mental accounting of money. HIGHLY recommend.

Another nice read: "Not Buying It-My year without shopping" by Judith Levine. Not worth buying, but a nice library check-out.

Transfer assets / New account

June 7th, 2006 at 02:39 pm

Maybe I should lay off the financial publications, but just finished "Coffee House Investor" and decided to bite the bullet and open up a Vanguard account.
Finished paperwork today with my signature guarantee to transfer my IRA at TIAA-CREF to V.
Perhaps I should have waited until we're at our new address... unfortunately, I was having nightmares about losing paperwork, so this way it's done. Smile
Picked up DS's new glasses today... they make him look VERY handsome. Will need to get some sort of strap to keep them around his neck for all of the sailing expeditions this summer. No sense in dropping $250 worth into the lake!

Mutual Fund Research/Misc

May 31st, 2006 at 08:33 am

Spent a few hours on Fidelity.com last night looking at mutual funds for my pension $$ I should be receiving any day... (and then send off to Fidelity to join the other retirement stuff). It'll bump my retirement fund savings to $11k/$12k which isn't a lot, but better than nothing! I need to allocate a little better if I'm going to live through these big ups and downs in the market... maybe some bonds instead of NO bonds... I hadn't purcased any bonds before because I thought I was strong enough to stand the risk of all stocks... but watching my portfolio this last week has really made me think "BALANCE" - I need to balance my portfolio.

With the house money in a few weeks, I'll probably place it in Vanguard, in a nice index fund with low management fees and no 12b1 fees, but then I'd have a little at TIAA-CREF, Fidelity AND Vanguard which I don't think is too smart. The thing is that I love my Social Choice fund and the other growth fund at CREF and my retirement stuff was already at Fidelity, so I kept it there and I haven't opened anything at Vanguard, yet, but I love their index funds. Unfortunately, Fidelity charges $75 per transaction which makes me cringe. Oh, what to do, what to do. The cash that I'm not putting into the Roth will be around $10k and it'll go into ING until I get a handle on what to do with it.

I've probably already posted on my worries about this money, but it's something that is still hanging over my head... I don't want to screw up... since:
a) I'm not working
b) this is the last windfall I'll probably get in a loooonnnngggg time
c) I need a "girl's safety net" to feel comfortable
d) doubtful that I'll inherit any money
e) doubtful that I'll be making any significant money in the next couple of years since I'll be home with the little one

Back to the research.

Ah, and the credit card is back in the dungeon of our closet since I had started spending a little on it... $100 for summer shoes for DS and I which we needed, but I don't ever, ever want to have a credit card balance again. EVER! Which means cash, baby. Being in credit debt rebound is tough.

When should financial institutions be held accountable?

May 24th, 2006 at 02:10 pm

My SO got me a European charge card from his bank the other day so that we can use Euros for the coming year from his bank account over there. (This is the year we'll be making about half of our salary for education pursuits).

It got me thinking again about the book that had the 50%Needs, 30%Wants, 20%Savings strategy that I've been using for the last year. Pregnancy has affected my brain, so I can't remember the title, but it's a great book. Smile

Anyhow, the writer's talk about how in the 1950's a person COULDN'T really go over their credit line, and COULDN'T spend more than 25% of their income(or so) on their house and the banks WOULD NOT loan the money for a new car that they didn't think you could afford (using much stricter guidelines than they do now). Etc., etc., etc. Their point was that "fixed" expenses were much much lower than they are/can be today. Hence, many people are in straight jackets because of their fixed expenses.

Back to this charge card thing... SO tells me that I have a credit limit each month, but that the bank automatically takes the payment out monthly and pays the card off in full. He didn't have to sign up for this, they just don't have "credit cards" where he's from, they have "charge cards" like the American Express card that HAS TO BE PAID OFF and if you don't have the money, they revoke the card. That's it. End of story. Is this why Europe has a higher savings rate on the whole than we do? Which brings me to the question at the title of this entry, at what point should financial institutions be held accountable?

Isn't this a little hard on the individuals who borrow this money to be in such financial difficulties? How does it affect a person/family's quality of life if they're in debt up to their eyeballs? Yes, I know, people need to take responsibility for themselves at some point, but that would mean they'd need to be educated as well... kind of like those hazardous messages on cigarettes. If a person hasn't been taught, how are they to KNOW? It took me a long time to get out of debt. What would life have been like if I hadn't gotten into debt in the first place... ? Did it kill me to eat macaroni and cheese dinner 4 nights a week because my house payment and credit card bills took up almost all of my paycheck? Nooooo.... and it's my fault. I just wonder for the rest of our kids, our future, "what if?" What if companies were forced into more reasonable borrowing percentages? And what if credit card companies were required to have higher minimum percentages on the balances owed? The list is endless and this is long. I just got that charge card application in my hand and had to wonder how it is that we're going to compete with the rest of the world when we as a people have no savings.

P.S. Contrary 1 - couldn't figure out how to send a private email like the old set-up on the site. I'll keep looking. And baselle... I don't get the emails when comments are posted, but see above. I'll keep looking. Smile

Help?! Moving to Seattle - need info

May 23rd, 2006 at 04:33 pm

If anyone has recommendations for life in Seattle, we'd love to hear your comments. We're relocating and will be living just NE of downtown (not too far). Since everyone on this site tries to get the best bang for the buck, we're wondering who you use for:

-cable internet (faster than DSL)
-renter's insurance
-car insurance
-which brick and mortar sp? bank (low fees, no monthly fees, etc.)
-anything else?

We don't have cable and won't start when we move...and I think gas and garbage will be paid by the landlord. I've never been to the Northwest, so have no idea which companies to even start looking at. Someone from that area sent me an email from Comcast.net, so I'll start there for cable internet, but golly, there's a lot! AND.. it doesn't help that we're already going to be paying double in rent what we're paying for our mortgage. Life in the big city, I guess!

Thanks for reading!

In Love with Larry E. Swedroe

May 23rd, 2006 at 08:07 am

When I first saw, "What Wall Street Doesn't Want You To Know" on the shelves of my local library, I passed it over for something I felt would be a little more interesting.
Then, a friend brought Sedroe to my attention later in the week over coffee. "It's a good strategy, you should read him."

So, I did.

And I'm in love. I've read a lot of books on why index funds are the best things to invest in, but I never felt that I had the back-up information to support that claim.

Now, I do.

Too bad my parents, who are very much interested in "choosing the right stock" and "making money!!" by trying to time the market, etc., etc., etc. haven't read him as well.

Bummer that my money is in Fidelity where index funds aren't flouted and active trading is. Will have to check out to see if I can buy other funds that aren't Fidelity and see how much the fees are going to be to buy them.

Pension Info and Retirement

April 16th, 2006 at 03:21 pm

My (old) employer just sent me forms to fill out for my pension. I was floored that I had acquired $4,500 in the 5.5 years that I worked there since I was expecting more like $1,000. Excellent because I only managed to save about $6,500 on my own in the company retirement account and it's only up to about $6,900 these days. (They had no match since they offer the pension). The pension money will be a really nice addition.
DH needs to sign in front of a notary since I'm opting out of the annuity ($11/mo. for the rest of my life and $5/mo. for DH LOL) and rolling over the pension to my TIAA-CREF account. I had added $800 into my traditional IRA for 2005, and had thought I would transfer it over to Vanguard, but I think I will give it some time. There's so much going on right now that I kind of just want expense stuff settled.
I will be completely debt-free in June this year and it will be the first time since I was 18 years old with my first car loan. We'll be renting on the west coast for the year and since our house is sold... just need to wait for the closing date. Wow. It feels so great to have a little bit of money stashed away.
Turns out that I only have ~$14,000 in retirement accounts, but that's okay because I'm trying very hard to build up money in other areas. Now that I haven't been working for a month and won't probably be working for awhile, it's going to be tough, but DH will be supporting us on his salary and when the baby comes, I'd still like to work a few hours each week tutoring or whatnot.
Having been gone for a month has allowed me the great opportunity to see my house in a new light. I've started sorting through my bookshelves again and I'm setting things aside for a garage sale or donation. No sense in taking my college textbooks with us since i haven't opened them in almost ten years and there's no sense in moving things that I really don't have an attachment to.
My ex sister-in-law gave us some baby blankets and I think I'll keep all but one of them... it's knitted and very pretty, but I just don't like things that are scratchy and have holes in them. And... there's probably someone out there who would be thrilled to have a knitted baby blanket.
Finished reading "Being Peace" and Thich Nhat Hanh says that people who choose to have children should try to find ways of contributing and helping the world. I agree with this. We could have adopted, but DH would really like to have children from his own gene pool... not sure, yet, how to contribute, but in the meantime, I'm definitely recycling more (office paper is a pain to recycle in our town, but I think it's my responsibility to make the effort) and instead of dumping our old paint cans in the garbage can like I know many people do... we'll be taking them down to the hazardous waste department.
It really is a lot of work, but golly, I look at the impact we're having on this world and frankly, I'd like to leave as small of a footprint as possible.
I also finished reading "Good in Bed" since it was recommended by Laura and I can second the recommendation. It may have been hormones, but I cried during the hospital parts. I think most people can relate.

Saving for the future and beyond, Jorge

Managing my $ and I bought the bag

April 10th, 2006 at 03:38 pm

Thanks, Kashi - I think you're right and I bought the bag. It really is fabulous and I've never seen a bag like it.
Back in the U.S. is interesting. I've spent almost $100 my first day home. Ouch! Had to change the title for my car, $14, faxed an important document long distance, $6, took a friend to lunch $12, bought two donuts $1.90, allowance to DS $10, developed photos $30, and a few more things. Crazy how the cash flies out of one's wallet.
Received a nice surprise in the mail from the grandparents... and have set up a deposit to ING in two days after the check clears.
The buyers for the house would like us to fix two things on the house (they just had it inspected on Friday). One is some sort of backdraft on the water heater and the other is to call an electrician to fix a couple of wires that aren't connected to anything on the fuse box. Hopefully the fixes won't cost more than $150.
Tired, and ready for bed already.

SOLD! & Shoulder Bag - Dare to Spend?

April 5th, 2006 at 02:26 am

SOLD THE HOUSE!!! Yes! We sold the house! Okay, so the ink isn't dry, yet, and won't be until two months from now, but at least we've got an offer that's legally binding! Woooohoooooooo! Just a few more hoops to jump through: the inspection, the appraisal, and the buyer's financing. I guess all that spruce up work really helped, eh? The house was only on the market a couple of weeks, but I suppose it is that time of year. Ohhhh, what a relief.

So... onto the spending stage of this entry...

Since arriving in this city, I've been using a shoulder bag that is huge... it's actually DH's, but my purse doesn't have a long enough strap to place it crosswise on my body and DH's bag does. This city has an amazing amount of pickpockets and thieves (there are even signs posted in the Hertz rental agency to beware of professional pickpockets) and having a person's bag crosswise is helpful to deter... they could still cut it off you, of course, but why make it easy for them??
I've been in search of the perfect bag that has a long strap, is square-ish, has lots of pockets to put things, and is well sewn...
After looking in two different countries and countless windows and stores, I have found my bag. Having such good taste as I do (ahem) it is of course way out of my league... 100
Oi. Other bags I found that were less well-made, but still stylish were between 50 and 60. Bags that weren't very stylish but would get the job done were about 30, but they didn't have any little pockets or zippers to sort things...
Do I buy the bag? We'll see. I found it yesterday and may go back to the store today to check it out again. It's in this beautiful aqua blue and very very cool. My grandmother always said to buy quality when you buy bags, shoes, belts and coats and then you'll always be sure to get your money's worth. Hmmmm...

Spending Today

April 4th, 2006 at 07:27 am

Fellin' good with a 50 note still in my pocket. I spent 10.30 on groceries yesterday and ate in for supper. Spent 1.20 for the bus last night and this morning... 2.10 for some rolls and a big bottle of water for lunch today.
Brittany asked if I used any software to track my spending and the answer is, "not really." I tried Quicken a few years ago and screwed it up so much that I didn't want to try again. I have used Excel to track my spending and find totals, but that turned out to be cumbersome as well. Today, I keep my networth and account information locked up in an Excel sheet that I tally up monthly or more on average and this seems to work well for me. I have my budgets for house and personal also within my Excel worksheets as well as my goals for the coming year and next five years. And... I keep a list of wants... so that when I feel the desire to spend more than $50, or am just feeling rich, I can take a look at my wants list and figure out what to spend it on... I think this helps to spend money on things I really desire instead of something I see in passing. It works the other way, too. When I see something I want and it costs a fair bit of change, I place it on the want list. It'll be there tomorrow or the next day if I really want it. There are so many places to buy things nowadays!!!
To track spending, I usually just use a pencil and a small notebook. The notebook also has rough guesstimates on what things cost in the grocery store so that I can compare before purchasing. I think this is a good habit.
Cash is also my friend. When I used the credit or debit cards more, I always spent a heck of a lot more money. When I take my cash out every week or two weeks, I know exactly how much I have left to spend. Works great!
There is a teacher I met here who wears their clothes at least 4 or 5 times before washing them. How very different from the US, eh? She's from the U.K. and just seems to feel more comfortable with not spending so much money on washing clothing... it doesn't get all that dirty during the day while teaching students and she changes clothes when she gets home to save the good stuff. What a fantastic way to live!
In the U.S., it seems that people are expected to not wear an outfit if they wore it the week before or something. Silly. Clothes are just clothes and I would assume that if you don't spend your money on clothes, you have a heck of a lot more in your savings account!!!! Ha!


Cheap Weekend !

April 3rd, 2006 at 02:34 am

I've only budgeted 100 for this week and the weekend turned out to be quite affordable. 13 at the grocery store that included a housewarming gift. Spent 4.95 on tulips for another housewarming present. Other than that, though, I was fairly conservative in not spending anything.
Figured out the bus system on the way home yesterday so that this particular trip didn't cost me 2.40, but only .60. Yes!
There are always cheaper ways of doing things in general and when travelling... just depends on how much time a person has to devote to finding the cheapest method that gets the job done.
I have 90 and some change left until Sunday, a bus card that has 9 trips left and a bus card with 3 trips left. Will spend some money this weekend on transportation and admittance fees to some attractions, but I'm hoping to not spend more than 30 so that I will still have money in my pocket.
The $107 charge on the cc still hasn't gone through, yet, so I don't know what it is... hmmm... very curious, but I hope that I can clear it up before I leave this place on Sunday!
We got an offer on the house... they offered 5% less which is what I would have expected, but they wanted to close 15 days before we'll be ready to move out and wanted us to pay closing costs... we are going to counter today that we'll pay closing costs with a cap of $3k, but we want $4,500 more in the price of the house and a closing date more to our convenience... DS is still in school until the first week of June and moving the end of May would be too much of an interruption, I think. Moving is hard on people, best to try to make it as easy as possible!
Now I just need to start tracking down boxes when I get home. Smile

Till later,

City Life in Spain

March 29th, 2006 at 11:47 pm

I'm currently living in a very conservative city and nylons are the norm until summer hits. Well, this weather is too hot for nylons on my bulging belly (even the low cut ones) so I didn't wear any today. If I have any more glances from men checking out my legs, I'm going to knock them on their butt! Sometimes, it just takes too much energy to blend in like a native - especially when one is pregnant!
So, yesterday, Besides the two bus trips (about .60) each, I went to the bakery and picked up a late evening snack for 1.97 and I also spent .87 for a stamp. I think I already marked down the bakery run earlier in the day.
The bakeries here are so very wonderful. I haven't tried everything, yet, but the bakery workers are very helpful. Smile
I must be getting a lot bigger than I was when I arrived because people have started giving up their seats for me on the bus. It's quite sweet of them and I really appreciate the thoughtfulness.
I knew it would happen, but it really does get tiring of having bread, cheese, and meat every day of the week. Sigh. Ah well. I made eggs last night (cheap dinner!) and they tasted great. Just a little salt, pepper and olive oil.
This morning, I spent 1.25 on an ensaimada and a roll for lunch to eat with my meat, cheese, butter and later I'll have to go buy an avocado or tomato to spruce up my sandwich a bit.
I'm visiting friends over the weekend in Germany, so hopefully expenses will be at a minimum... will probably have to take advantage of their washing machine, however... I wouldn't be able to get my clothes washed and dried before I leave.
Trying to be frugal away from home,

Expensive Travels

March 29th, 2006 at 05:33 am

Hello Everyone,
Had to start tracking my spending in Europe after spending 100 the first week I was here on just food and admissions to museums. Ouch! I felt before I left that I had a pretty good grasp on where I spent my money, but watching that much money float through my fingers without a second thought was an eye opener for me. I had hoped to limit my spending to about 600 for four weeks not including room which was 350 plus a 60 deposit.
Huh. Doesn't look like that'll happen. Now that I'll hopefully have access to internet on a more regular basis, I think I'll just start keeping track on my journal again for what I spend...
It's a nice tool!
If I buy a punch card for the bus or metro, it works out to about .60 for each ride... otherwise, normal price is 1,20.
I've been trying to bring food for lunch and not eat out for breakfast other than grabbing a morning pastry on my way to the bus stop... I unfortunately ran out of clothes because it took 2 days for my clothes to line dry in the humidity and I'm 5 months pregnant with very few clothes to begin with (and I only brought carry-on luggage for 4 weeks). Hence, my spending $130 on a pair of maternity pants and a shirt. Oi!!!! That was painful. Then I started to get blisters on my feet from all of the walking (at least 5 miles each day) (how much more in shape am I compared to when I arrived?!) and purchased another pair of shoes. I had brought my Tevas for warm weather and a pair of comfortable clogs with me... the Tevas were too cold to wear even with socks when I first arrived (something I hadn't expected) and no one wants to wear sandals anyway when they're in a big city... too easy to step in something nasty on the cobblestones!
Well, my comfy clogs aren't so comfy after a few marathons around town (much to my dismay).
$90.00 for comfortable shoes.
Before these expenses, I thought it would be a nice treat to bring something little back for myself, so $35.00 perfume went on the VISA.
Rented a car over the weekend to travel to a city where it was necessary (no public transportation) and spent $81 shared 50% with a friend. I checked my credit card transactions online today, however, and see that there is an outstanding authorization for $107 that doesn't list a merchant, yet. Hmmm, wonder what the heck THAT could be. If it's an additional charge for the rental car, I'm going to have to waste time trying to clear up the charge. Hopefully it's just a reserve on my card like a deposit so that it'll clear itself up.
Spent .21 for a little round roll of bread today and .60 for the bus. Otherwise, I brought my food for lunch to eat with my roll and I brought my own water.
Will keep ya'll posted on how my savings in Europe progresses!



March 9th, 2006 at 06:52 am

Has anyone figured out, yet, why logging in on the front page doesn't work for the whole site? I still had to log in under the blog pages...
So, today's the day - heading off across the Atlantic and am going to try to spend as little money as possible. I have money in cash to pay my rent and I'm only taking a carry-on piece of luggage. Rick Steve's web site on travel tips was very useful. For the plane, I have a Nalgene bottle with 1/4 juice (helps with the runs to the bathroom), granola bars, GORP, and fruit rolls. Never make a pregnant lady go hungry. Smile
I've already checked in online and have my boarding passes. Now I just need to finish a few things around the house.

Till the next internet connection,

The IRA shuffle

March 3rd, 2006 at 05:13 pm

Thanks, baselle, for the link to MorningStar's article on TIAA-CREF. I believe that I, too, will be moving my account from there.
My traditional IRA only had $2300 in the account and after looking at Vanguard's web site, an individual needs $3000 minimum for the IRA account rollovers. So... I sent an extra $800 into TIAA-CREF so that I can eventually transfer to Vanguard. Haven't put anything in IRA's for 2005 since I was too lazy to open a Roth, hadn't been interested in contributing to the traditional and had been sending 20% gross income into my 403(b) anyway. My other retirement stuff is with Fidelity. Unfortunately, I've never bothered to try to figure out their fees (wrong move) and tried to find them today online with no luck. Must be looking in the wrong place, eh? I'll end up calling them on Monday to see what fees they actually collect and take it from there as to what I want to do with the money.
We filed our taxes which is a big relief. I was negligent, however, and didn't include my 2005 traditional IRA contribution! Doh! We're getting $1,000 back and I haven't done the calculations to see if it would make a difference, yet. Is it hard to do an amended return? Does anyone know? Is it worth it?
I have three bank accounts and am in the process of closing one of them. Actually, 2 are credit unions, 1's a bank and I'm closing one of the credit union accounts. The bank has the mortgage and the other credit union is very good at trying to provide value to their customers. I'll keep both of them open as I've read so very many horror stories about people who have quit their jobs and find that they are no longer worthy of credit... even if they have lots of money in the bank. Okay, so I don't have lots of money in the bank, less than $200 actually, but I still want to keep my lines of credit and my credit cards open! Wink
DH is taking me out to dinner to celebrate my last days at work. There's a lot to do at the house, though, so I won't be sitting idle!

Till the next time,

Selling real estate

March 2nd, 2006 at 06:56 am

Our housing market is really starting to break open right now and everyone has convinced me that I need to put the house on the market before I leave. I've been really rotten to DH and DS about them leaving clothes in piles on the floor, leaving the kitchen a mess and not picking up after themselves in general, but it just feels like it goes in one ear and out the other.
I've been involved with selling 4 houses and DH hasn't had to sell any. In my experience, immaculate houses sell for better prices and quicker. Tell me if I'm wrong here!
I am frustrated that all my scrubbing on counter tops and bathroom fixtures will be for nothing because my boys can't keep things tidy. And they're mad at me because I keep telling them what it is they need to do!
There's another pile waiting by the door to go to the Salvation Army and hopefully by weekend's end, I'll have almost everything gotten rid of that we want to get rid of and the stuff that isn't necessary packed up so that the house looks bigger and there's less stuff to keep clean.
After that, I suppose I'll just need to let it go while I'm gone and hope that they do what I ask. On the other hand, maybe I'll spend the money on peace of mind and have a cleaning person come in once a week while I'm gone. Ha! Now there is an idea.

Earning my worth *warning* boring

February 28th, 2006 at 06:47 pm

Using "Overcoming Underearning" the book, this is just an entry for me to keep straight what it is I want and where I'm at. Easier for me to find again than entering in a paper journal

To start:
What DO I want?

*I want to stop using debt - even though it gets paid off monthly except the house, I spend more than I should and then juggle to make sure it's paid and don't incur finance charges. My mother always did the same thing and I want to break the habit - CASH ONLY and don't touch savings!!

*I want to make sure I always get paid what I'm worth, for most of my skills, they're within a range of $20-50+ per hour.

*I want to find out where I am mentally to achieve where I want to be financially

*I want to update my resume and CV so that I'm ready when opportunity strikes!

*I want to run my own business because I'd be good at it and following someone else's vision is boring

If I had six months to live, what would I be doing?

*I'd be spending as much time as possible visiting family, then I'd travel to the one or two countries or states on my "must see" list, I'd be making sure my will/durable power of attorney for healthcare/living will were in order, and I'd be taking the time to enjoy my last days

Where would I be living/Who would you be with?
*At home, with my loved ones, or traveling with loved ones

What would you change? What would you add? What would you eliminate?
*I'd want to make sure I left my children an inheritance - something to help them through university or buy a house, I'd be more forthright in expressing my appreciation to folks, I wouldn't hesitate about spending $3 on a malt (they're my favorite treat), and I'd try to be kinder to those I encounter in this life.

Affirmations to wealth taken from aforementioned book by Barbara Stanny:
-I am confident in my ability to make money
-I always live below my means
-I love money and appreciate what it does for me
-I am very optimistic about my financial future
-I experience very little fear or uncertainty around money
-I am determined to get paid what I am worth
-I am passionate about my work
-I have very supportive, nurturing relationships (including spouse)
-I like wealthy people
-I have little or no credit card debt
-I intentionally get myself in situations beyond my ability and then rise to them
-I am resilient and able to bounce back when I fail
-I am filled with gratitude for the success I've achieved
-I work very hard, but I know I don't have to do everything myself. I know how to delegate and set limits
-I am tenacious in achieving my goals

We're eating home more now and I have a year to plan my re-entry into working for money. These explorations allow me to stay on track. Smile

Travel Expenses and Silly Musings

February 28th, 2006 at 06:43 am

I leave in about 9 days for Spain and trying to figure out how I'm going to be frugal while there. Found a shared apartment for 350 Euros for the month, but doesn't include washer/dryer. So laundry will be an expense. Also, I don't want to eat out and I have kitchen access, so I'll try to do a daily shopping excursion for fresh fruits, fresh breads and cheeses. Meat leaves me feeling sick these days, but it does help to lower expenses!
We had a voucher for 50 Euros from the last time we flew NWA which helped with the ticket price... and I'm not going to bring anything back except postcards - I just can't afford it if we're starting to live on our savings in April. Besides, no one really Needs anything anyway.
I'm taking the next year off for our little one that is on the way and as I've written before, to sell our house and get us moved 4 states away.
I donated a huge box of books to our library the other day and I'll bring another big pile of children's books today. It feels soooooo goooooddd to give people things that they can use.
My mom is coming to see us for 2 weeks and said she'll help get the house ready - wow! I'm very glad! DH works a lot and DS needs direction, so my mom will be a huge help since I'm not supposed to paint and lift heavy things. What a random entry today - I think there is just a lot going on and it's hard to keep track of everything - maybe it's time for a list!
Worked with two contractors for quotes on fixing a few things around the house and I think I'll divide the job between the two. Now I just need to find someone to let them into the house since DH will be working, DS in school and I'll be away at school.
I've been reading about Huna lately and like this concept of not thinking anything bad or negative and how it helps your total outlook on life. I've been trying to keep track of negative thoughts and there really are a lot of them sometimes! Thoughts that include "can'ts" or "not possibles" or just thinking bad about someone before I've ever met them - judging in other words. Like women who wear a lot of diamonds have always been on my "judgement" list because so many diamonds are blood diamonds and I can't see how anyone would ever want to wear them unless they came from Canada or were fakes. Someone once told me that when we encounter someone we don't like, it's that they remind us of parts of our person that we have chosen to not include in our life. So when I see someone overspending and automatically create dislike for them, it's because I don't like it in myself when I spend money on things considered "non-essential." Interesting, I think.


Taxes, Cost Basis, and a Raise

February 27th, 2006 at 12:04 pm

Worked on taxes more this morning and all I have to say is that I am a wuss and TurboTax is my friend. I could have handled a simple 1040EZ, but when I start adding in interest and dividend income and figuring stock sales, etc., I'm out of my league. I'm learning a lot and I hope I do everything right! I've been using an accountant for years because I owned rental property and never could trust myself with depreciations, etc., etc. Now that the rental property is gone, TurboTax is my step into the "real world" of doing my own taxes.
I need to find the cost basis and acquisition dates on three stock sales last year and then we'll be almost set to submit our return. Boy will that be a good feeling!
When we're living overseas, I'm not sure how we'll end up doing taxes. Does anyone know? Does an American citizen not living in the U.S. need to file taxes (not being military, that is)? We'll be in the EU and I'm hoping there are some conventions in place so that we won't be double taxed on our income.
My raise came through and it's an awesome 5%. The major bummer is that I'm almost done with work so that I can batten down the hatches and get our house sold and our stuff packed up for the BIG MOVE. It really was a very nice raise on my pocketbook. *sigh*

Will the clutter Ever END: Still making money on my junk

February 19th, 2006 at 07:51 pm

Tore through the basement over the weekend finding boxes that can't be used for moving (too big, too broken, too dirty) and took them for recycling. Snagged all of the copper piping that has been sitting in a box since who knows how when and recycled that, too. $1/lb. in our area.
Books that were listed on half.com for $1 and have been there for a month, I've taken off my listings and will donate to the library and friends. No money made, but goodwill from the universe created. Wink
I never knew a house could get so dirty. I have been out of commission for about 3 months for pregnancy-related sickness/fatigue and decided it was high time to DUST! What a mess. I went through all of the windowsills, most of the woodwork in the house and wiped down almost every flat surface that dared to get in my path! I was a maniac. The mirrors were polished, even the kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Mopped the basement and cleaned the shower downstairs. My house is feeling loved and sparkly and I'm just glad it's finally getting done.
The weekend also included a few home improvement projects, so I set myself down to learn how to grout. There were areas in our bathroom floor tile that had been taken up that needed to be re-affixed and grouted, so off to the home improvement store I went. After affixing the loose tiles, I had to wait until they dried before using a sponge to spread in the new grout. To be honest, I was quite terrified of this project, because I didn't want to screw it up, but it actually looks quite nice.
The garage still needs some sprucing up/organizing/de-cluttering, but I think I'll wait until the weather gets a bit warmer.
I look around at all that we have and I just can't believe how lucky we've been in our lives. I am so very grateful and I couldn't have done it without the angels in my life.
I'm still pursuing some educational possibilities to increase my income long-term and will start carrying this quote with me that I picked up from "Secrets of Six-Figure Women":

"Every blade of grass has an angel that bends over it and whispers: Grow! Grow!" - Talmud

Till the next time,

Wealthy Women and Six Figure Earners

February 16th, 2006 at 09:49 am

I am an underearner. In the book, "Secrets of Six Figure Women" there is a big section on underearners and I fit into most of the categories. The two big ones were that I've always felt like the money wasn't supposed to matter if the cause was worthy and I am constantly giving away my skills to help someone or some entity out. Do I want to spend the rest of my life like this? Not a chance. Do I see myself at a six figure salary? Yes. When? Not sure. Do I want to achieve financial freedom? You bet. The number isn't a million, since I can live on much less than that and travel, too, but the number is definitely up there. 1/2 million and a paid for residence is close.
Now that I think back on it, I wasn't always an underearner, I didn't always devalue my own skills... I remember writing dollar signs on my pancakes with the syrup as a child because I just knew that I would be one to make money. And then... well, society and all those learning lessons on how to be a lady got the best of me and I suddenly found myself in the "it's not polite to talk about money or ask for more" mentality. How did this happen?? I've always felt bad when I haven't charged for something I knew others were getting paid plenty to do, so why didn't I ever speak up? The book is a great one because it made me remember that I am worth more. More, and infinitely more. I don't need to settle for a $15/hr. job because I am worth more than that. Why didn't it hit me sooner?
Granted, I am making more than that at the moment, due to a promotion, but this book is a reminder to never settle for less than I know I'm worth.
My husband and I were talking the other night and I told him that he can support us for the next 10 years while we have a couple of kids and get settled some place, and that I'll support us the next 10. Consulting probably. I am happy. And I'm worth every penny I've ever made, and I'll start charging for those things I should have been charging for a long time ago. My next book? "Millionaire Women Next Door."



Investing your $$

February 13th, 2006 at 07:55 am

Previously, I had written about how we were selling the house this spring/summer and how I was confused as to what I should do with the money.
I had figured:
$4,000 into a Roth
some money into ING CD's...

and I had no idea what to do with the rest.

I found my answer this weekend in the book, "Prince Charming Isn't Coming."
First of all, I found out what I didn't want to do with my money - I didn't want my money languishing in something that would cause inflation to take over. I didn't want to use the money for everyday expenses and I didn't want to lose my money.
Well, even at 4.something%, with taxes taken out and inflation, over the long haul, I would not make money in an ING CD. And that is, what I found out, what I want. I want to make some money and grow a nest egg. Not just let it be "safe" in an FDIC insured account, even though the idea is extremely appealing, it just Doesn't work that way! My favorite chapter in the book is called, "Risk Is Not a SYnonum for Loss" and it was a chapter that really helped me to see that what I needed to do was bite the bullet and invest in the stock market. Yes, yes, I already invest in the stock market through an IRA and my retirement at work, but outside of retirement accounts, I have not invested.
So, here's my plan.
This is money for the long-term. I want it set aside for at least 7 years and probably much, much longer.
$4,000 will go into an IRA as planned, $3,000 will stay in ING as an emergency fund, the remainder will be placed into stocks or no-load stock mutual funds (wherever I can find good quality and not big fees)and next year, I'll take another $4,000 and place it into an IRA. The rest will stay outside of the retirement vehicles. This is so very scary for me. Of course, I will not buy everything all at once, since it is much, much better to dollar cost average. For example, whatever my amount, say it is $12,000, I'll divide that amount by 12 months and end up investing $1,000 each month into my chosen stocks. This recipe then calls for a "sit, wait and see" attitude since I will have done my homework and invested in stocks I think have good long-term potential. No selling at low points, no panicking, just buy and hold. Huh. Can I do it? Can I take the time to research Morningstar and Baron's and find something worthwhile? I'll have to. I think this is the only way to make sure my money doesn't stagnate.
My retirement money is in a handful of index funds, and I'm happy with that. Maybe I can do something similar with the other money.
None of this will take place until the house is sold, however, so I'd better get crackin' de-cluttering and clean, clean, clean! Not that we're a messy family, but things do tend to get away from a person. Some of the screens need to be repaired and our windows need to be washed inside and out. There is some trim that needs to be put up that requires hiring a carpenter and I need to replace a swath of carpet. Ah, yes, and we need to seal the basement concrete areas with something that will look nice. Maybe a grey will do. Since I'm pregnant, I can't do any of the painting, so that may have to get hired out. I'm budgeting about $2,000 for home fix-its in order to get a higher price for the house.
Hope it works!

Keeping the money you have and a birthday

February 5th, 2006 at 05:30 pm

When we sell our house, even at the low end, I'll have a nice bit of money in the bank. Now I just need to figure out what to do with it! I figure I'll put $4,000 into a Roth IRA. I have a traditional (a fluke thanks to the efforts of Edward Jones - they labeled it "Roth" but really set it up as a traditional many years ago) with TIAA-CREF (switched companies after that snafu, and my retirement account through work is in Fidelity. So, what would you do? Keep 3-6 months in ING CD's or something?? If that, then what? Place the remaining few thousand in a stock fund or something? I just don't know. Like baselle has said, once you have the money, then ya need to think about how you're going to protect it.
DH's birthday is tomorrow and I took him out to a nice restaurant on Saturday. He'll have a few things to open, but nothing crazy - dinner was expensive (worth it, though!). Smile

2005: A Recap on My Finances

February 2nd, 2006 at 11:10 am

My credit card statement holding year end totals arrived in my inbox yesterday. This prompted me to take a look at how my money situation has changed in the past year.
This is what I found out:

In 2005...
- I did not spend any money on credit card finance charges (a first since my first year in college)

- A combination of stock increases, savings, and debt reduction increased my net worth by 14% (this has since gone up more with the student loan payoff)

- There is $1,000 in an emergency fund (unheard of in my life)

- My worries about money began at "often - at least 10 times a day" and have decreased to "every now and then - once a week or so"

- I started spending allocated money for self-improvement and not feeling bad about it

I hope 2006 has as much or more to offer.

Budget for February

February 1st, 2006 at 04:04 pm

Went shopping today and spent my $50 for the week that I allocate to personal spending. Also cleaned out the piggy jar and instead of depositing it into ING like I was Supposed to, I spent it on a few things for the house. I guess I'm feeling rich with the money from my sale arriving soon and having no more student loan debt. Ah well. Cercis inspired me to go buy a box of henna, so that was how I spent the remainder of the morning. I always buy a box color called, "Sunset Glo" and like the red highlights/shine it gives my hair. Spent $3.49 on the box, though, which sounds expensive compared to Cercis brand!
Purchased some shampoo, body gel and conditioner from the organic food store. We have a nice one in town that offers cosmetic products along with groceries. They even have dog and cat food!
Anyhow, everything is biodegradable, no sodium laureth sulfate, etc., no animal by products and not tested on animals. My kind of stuff. And then, I prostituted myself to the gods of fashion and bought some Matrix sculpting mud. I've tried products that are from the cheap chains and they either give me an '80's look, or they clump, flake, or generally reduce my hair to ruin.
So, back to that budget stuff.
With the 40 must-haves/30 wants/20 savings plan, I haven't really felt the need to track spending, but I'm quitting my job the end of February and need to know where we're at without my salary.

$20 for emergency cell phone
$45 for DS's music lessons
$15 DS's allowance
$200 for my spending money
$150 to savings

And I suppose that almost does it for what I spend my money on outside of what I put into our household account. Our household budget reads more like this:

$80 for gas
$80 for electric/water/sewer
$600 mortgage
$100 "second mortgage"
$25 phone
$45/3 months for waste disposal
$400 groceries including dog food and paper items even though I don't buy a lot of them at the grocery store
$25 for landline
$50 account for car repairs
$75 account for house repairs

We're making good money right now, and our must-have's are at 40% with our combined salaries, so it won't be much of a hit, but I think I'm going to miss earning my own money.
I'm taking a month to go learn how to teach English to speakers of other languages and am really looking forward to the training and subsequent life changes. All is going well so far this year!

$$$ in the mail!!!

January 30th, 2006 at 07:31 pm

I am so excited! There are three debts that I have/had. One is the mortgage, one is a private loan that could be considered an equity loan and the other was a private loan for college costs.It's a "was" because, well, my debtors (i.e. loving grandparents) decided that they could afford to forgive my student loan! I got the letter in the mail today. Holy smokes. That's just awesome. Which means... that way back in August when I made the goal of paying at least $3K towards my debt by February 2006 has been met. Granted, I was only actively involved in putting a little over $1K in the pot, but everything counts if it lowers the balance! Yipppeeee!!!! This bumps up my net worth by $11K.

Friends, retirement and how to do an estate sale right

January 30th, 2006 at 07:22 am

Friday night was spent as a girl's night out and we had a great time. Stayed at a friend's house, brought treats to share, danced some salsa, laughed and met some new people. A reminder that friends are important!
My newfound $$'s aren't ringing in my bank account, yet, but they're definitely ringing in my head. There's a TEFL course in Barcelona for 4 weeks that would get me certified to teach English as a foreign language. I've applied to two schools for their March programs and we'll see what happens! The kicker is that any training I do needs to be before my third trimester since it's not good to travel after that. I checked out programs on the west coast for certifications, but they cost more money, were accredited by the same institutions and took at least a semester to complete. Forget it!
So, on to estate sales. My parent's sale was such a success. The woman they contracted to do the sale was very organized, professional, and knew her stuff. She and her workers took about a week to sort books with books, kitchen stuff with kitchen stuff, and so on. I.e. they made it easy for people to find the stuff that interested them. Once they had beds taken apart in the bedrooms and had everything laid out on either tables they had brought or bookcases they had brought, everything got a number. By numbering things, it helped to figure out what had gone missing or what hadn't sold.
Next came the pricing. I'd definitely suggest getting someone to help you price your things if you don't have a lot of experience in it. They got $175 for some crazy German soup kettle that was a wedding gift that they were originally going to give away. Paintings didn't sell for much, so if you buy artwork, buy it because you like it, not as an investment (in general). The bedroom sets were a big hit and went for almost the same prices they were purchased for. A good tip to make sure you know what things cost before you go to an estate sale!
On the day of the sale, Saturday, people first on the scene were given a number. The sale didn't open until 8 AM no exceptions. 25 people were allowed in at one time and the estate folks had a person in every room to keep an eye on buyers and answer questions. The second day of the sale was 1/2 off of everything and even then, my parents got good prices for things. They ended up selling 95% of their belongings and are now footloose and fancy free to travel down south for some much needed down time.
They've been retired since my mom turned 55, my dad a few years younger, but they never allowed themselve to actually do fun stuff. I think they felt guilty for retiring early and also felt that they needed to keep up the same standard of living - middle class house, middle class neighborhood, etc. It's taken them almost ten years to realize they really don't want all the middle class status symbols. Or maybe they realized it before, but never had the impetus to actually do what they wanted. Either way, I think they're happier.
So, if you're trying to retire, make sure you really enjoy it! And don't tie yourself down with what you think you're "supposed" to do when you're retired. You'll be much happier.

Maternity clothes and disgruntled males

January 26th, 2006 at 06:44 am

How is a person supposed to know what size they're going to be when in the later 2nd and 3rd trimesters??! Our first trimester is finally over and the morning sickness/fatigue have started to let up. I'm searching for sale maternity clothes, but all of them look so big! And many of them are really ugly which doesn't help my self-esteem any! I was reading some fashion book on "What Not To Wear" and the British authors had Earl Maternity Jeans as a strong recommendation. I looked online and guess how much? $140! Would it really be worth it? It's been 11 years since our last one and with the last one, I was in a very warm climate and just wore dresses a few sizes too big in stretchy fabrics. Now I'm living in a cold climate where bundling up is a necessity! LOL

After reading the Challenge #4, I went to to the Emigrant Direct site and was in the process of opening an account when it dawned on me that this really wasn't going to help my decluterring process. I already have an ING account.

The men in the house were at each other's throats this morning and I was stuck in the middle. My DH is not DS's natural father and they've been butting heads. DH really likes to have a pleasant morning, with "good mornings" and smiles and DS11 is on the opposite end of the personality spectrum with grumpy "why'd you have to take 1/2 an hour in the bathroom?" comments. I'm going to strangle both of them if they can't come to some sort of compromise. We only have one bathroom, so perhaps it's time for a schedule!!!! (with the pregnant lady having first dibs, of course). Wink

Money from a clutter clean out and feng shui for wealth

January 25th, 2006 at 10:18 am

My DM/DF had an estate sale last weekend and I had included many of the things I didn't want to move this summer. I made $500 and didn't have to do anything more than clear out the clutter! I had to laugh when my DM told me that people didn't want to pay $5 for a box of Christmas decorations, but they were willing to pay $.50 for each individual decoration which made the whole box sell for more than $12! A china set I couldn't sell on eBay for more than $200 went for $300 (made me VERY happy) and I just can't believe all of that stuff that I never used was worth half of my emergency fund! Yes!

D.S. broke the tea kettle the other day. The next day, my darling parents came over with a new kettle... very large, and very shiny. As a throw back to my feng shui studies, shiny kettles are good for stoves and prosperity and this is an especially good place for one on our stove because it provides the cook with a view of those entering from the back door (so they can't sneak up on you). Since the new kettle, I've received $100 owed me from a friend, $150 DH owed me, the $500 from the estate sale and sold a $45 book off half.com. Oh, and DH got an unexpected $3 from a survey in the mail. Smile We're also thinking we'll probably get a tax return this year (W-2's haven't shown up yet, so this is a rough guess) which means I'll hopefully have $2,000 in my emergency fund by the time April rolls around. I am so excited!!!
Yay clutter control!

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