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Archive for April, 2006

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!

Jorge

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,
Jorge