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Combining our Accounts

June 23rd, 2006 at 01:25 am

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.

Jorge

Mutual Fund Research/Misc

May 31st, 2006 at 03:33 pm

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.

In Love with Larry E. Swedroe

May 23rd, 2006 at 03:07 pm

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.

SOLD! & Shoulder Bag - Dare to Spend?

April 5th, 2006 at 09:26 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...

The IRA shuffle

March 4th, 2006 at 01:13 am

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,
Jorge

Taxes, Cost Basis, and a Raise

February 27th, 2006 at 08:04 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*

Wealthy Women and Six Figure Earners

February 16th, 2006 at 05:49 pm

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."

Ciao.

Jorge

Keeping the money you have and a birthday

February 6th, 2006 at 01:30 am

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 07:10 pm

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.

3 Basic financial fitness markers plus 2 for 5. :)

January 5th, 2006 at 05:38 pm

These were interesting and I wanted to share.
After developing my financial goals for 2006, I reworked my net worth and had taken it for granted the formulas I use to assess my financial fitness.
Perhaps someone else may find them useful:

The markers involve the following:

1) Emergency Reserve: equals immediate liabilities minus liquid assets and should equal half of net annual income

2) Debt-load Ratio: equals total liabilities divided by total assets and should not be over 35%

3) Progress toward retirement: equals net worth divided by annual income and should equal 20x annual income

I've used these guidelines for years, but cannot remember where I first found them to attribute the source accurately. Perhaps bankrate.com? Apologies. As the authors in "All Your Worth" have said, it used to be that one Couldn't spend more than they were able on necessities because of guidelines that had previously been upheld by banking and credit institutions.
My response to this is that people should then apply those "old" guidelines to themselves rather than relying on someone else to do it for them and then they'll greatly reduce current and future financial woes.
It's not always about being frugal.

Two last BONUS guidelines: 4) TOTAL debt (not including mortgage, but definitely including equity loans) should not equal more than 36% of gross monthly income and 5) housing should not be over 28% of gross income

This needs to be a private blog for me, so I've tried to be more discreet in my entries on the personal front compared to my last 5 months worth of entries (which I've deleted). And professionally, I wouldn't want too much information out in the open, either. On the other hand, I truly enjoy reading financial publications and sharing information learned with others, so I will continue posting a journal, just not quite as personal as I'd started out.

My first journal helped, though, and I'm in much more control of my money. It's a great feeling to see progress.

Happy New Year!
Jorge