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Archive for November, 2006

How Does your city rate???

November 30th, 2006 at 10:30 am

I was looking up an article a friend was in and came across this little city by city comparison on best places to retire. Kind of interesting but figure I Would share a snapshot of the city I live in now.

But first I have to shock you with the city where I Was raised. You read it right - median house price over $600k. But then look at the weather - sigh. IT's about all I miss about good old San Jose these days though. A little further out from the ocean and the big cities now, but closer to Tahoe and the mountains now. I Feel pretty central. I wonder if someday Sacramento will be as crazy. IT is getting there fast. But probably will never be quite as popular without the super nice weather and high tech jobs that San Jose offers. Besides that, eh, Sacramento has served us well/.

San Jose:
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bpretire/2006/snapsh...

Sacramento:
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bpretire/2006/snapsh...

I want to see everyone's city - hehe - whoever is not shy I guess. Sometimes I feel private about exactly where I live and days like today I don't care I guess.

ETA: I have no idea where they came up with sacramento temps. High is usually over 100 in july - average 100 - and it is 30 degrees outside right now. I would say the temp drops as low as 30 in winter - but maybe 40 is average. I am just not sure what those numbers are s'posed to be - high or average - but the number for july is super wrong. So you can't really see why I hate the weather here - LOL.

$11 Out - Bummer - & this ditz gets an idea...

November 29th, 2006 at 11:06 pm

Bunco night and I LOST. What the FOO? LOL.

IT's okay, we actually had all completely different winners tonight. I think I Earned cash to pay all year so I Can be patient and let someone else win - it is nice for different people to win once in a while. I think I will skip December too because work is too crazy next month.

In other news, this week is a budget buster. Ah, tomorrow is the 30th. But the credit card will close the 4th, that's my month end. We had a pretty good month EXCEPT the stupid wii purchase. Almost $300. I can almost squeeze it in so it is a good month, but that is $200-$300 less to our e-fund then. Bah. Only saved $100 in November when all was said and done. We have a lot to sell in the following weeks so we'll see how it goes - looks like we can maybe fetch $400 at this point - a $130 gain - I am ready to take it. I do have some CASH I Can not deposit into my e-fund either. I just know once I convert the cash to a check and sell the wii we will reach our $6k goal by 12/31. I think we will get lots of cash for christmas too - so we'll see how it goes. Not many expenses for December so we may get to $6500 in December. Perhaps... We generally take cash as an extra and spend it, but we are accumulating so much (I just spent $100 on that San Frnacisco trip - extra cash). I want to not spend any more - we need to save some.

Anyway, lots of stuff coming up the next few days, so though the budget looks good today, and tomorrow is the 30th. Eh, who knows. Eating out Friday for work. Eating out for my birthday. Groceries perhaps. It will be close.

I think December should be easy not to spend much though. A little on the christmas front, but not much. With all the gifts. I think it should be easy to step back and say we don't need anything, what a month of windfalls. But who knows. I can hope I guess.

I just had a novel idea. Since we have a local bank, I can go deposit the cash - and send it on over to the e-fund. OMG! I am too dumb to figure it out - my mommy has been my bank for so long - LOL. She is a good reverse ATM for me - I am always giving her cash for checks - hehe. I feel like such a dummy - hehe. YEah - I am going to deposit all our cash tomorrow at lunch or something. OR sturday morning. WOohoo. Why did I not think of this SOONER????? I know I Could deposit ATM too but I don't know - that scares me. Woohoo - I Am all excited now - the benfits of local banking...

Well I Can update my e-fund balance to $5700 then - woohoo. I have $75 easy to add. Actually since I get paid tomorrow I should do that at lunch - go make my deposit AND deposit the cash too. That would be fun - a novel experience. I am not sure if I have ever walked in to do a deposit before.

Gosh, next time I get cash I should go straight to the bank!!!!! I don't do well with cash - it disappears. I like to deposit it and track it - the accountant in my enjoys that much more. Cash - no one has to know where it went - LOL - so I am not very responsible with it. I Feel like such a ditz for not thinking of this sooner.




What would you do without a car?

November 29th, 2006 at 05:08 pm

I am just curious. I know a lot of the talk of car replacement funds and collission and all that is a totally different story to me with 2 perfectly working cars at home and a family that only needs one car. It wouldn't even really put us out that much at this point to go to 1 car. Dh mostly leaves the house when I am home from work. So if a car breaks down or even was totaled I really wouldn't sweat it. Though I guess it is possible something could happen to both cars, eh? Flood?

But, I Was just curious because a coworker has not been ALL week because she had car problems. ??? IS it just me? You seriously can not find ANOTHER way? Strange.

When we first moved here and I had no one I had some car problems and took my car in. & then promptly called a cab. The car shop owner looked at me like I Was crazy when I Said I Was waiting for a cab - he had an employee give me a ride to work. Being young and cute helps I guess. Sure a rental may be cheaper, but I just needed a quick ride to work. Whatever. If I Was really desparate I could have taken a bus though. Light rail. Train. Lots of options, my office is right by the light rail. Cab fare for one day so I Can complete my responsibilities at work, no biggie to me. Those were in the days we were making big dough though. Convenience won hands down in those days.

Ah, so I just got the message she won't be in tomorrow again because she has no one to get a ride from. I thought of offering but I thought if she really wanted to be here, she would. Maybe it would piss her off if I offered - LOL. I don't know. She lives far out - 20 miles east of me. But um yeah, I Could give her a ride - I live closer to her than anyone else around here.

I just find it strange. Is it just me? Oh well, just extra strange because not someone I Would imagine is hard up for a few bucks for a rental or something. We are always talking about how crazy it is people live beyond their means. I guess it sends a message that work isn't that important and that isn't a message I would want to send. There are people here where the message would be - "I am too broke to do otherwise." Public Transportation can be pricey around here. But I am afraid she is sending a completely different message. IF it was me I Would just call in sick I guess - LOL. If I was just going to throw up my hands in findig a way to get to work, why would I admit that???

Or maybe I just read too much into the whole thing.

Oh Well - bought SHOES

November 29th, 2006 at 04:25 pm



Ah, it is not terribly often I buy stuff for myself. But if I do - oh yeah - it will be CLOTHES. (well that and jewelry).

I told dh not to buy anything through the end of the week - it is tight with his stupid Wii purchase. Credit card will probably cut off monday so trying to defer defer defer. Then I got another wish list e-mail from his grandma so I thought - bah - and looked up some slippers for the list - to get her a better idea.

& then I came across the shoes - I fell in love with them. They even carried my size. I am not much of an online shoe shopper because my feet are such a weird size but I figured I'd give it a whirl.

I guess the upside is these were from Land's End and they have an overstock store that had jeans for $7!!! I didn't see anything near my size, but interesting to keep an eye on - a lot of deals.

I was good and checked Ebay before purchasing and then I laughed - oh yeah - plenty - but none in my size of course - nowhere near. Thank you big feet. You are useless for ebay shoe shopping. Oh well, who wants to be average.

It is good - spent $30 on those babies. I love them and just what I need. I don't have any casual shoes - just my walking shoes which I have been feeling self conscious with of late. I Wanted some cute black shoes or something. & these will be a little sporty but nice too. I got all black. OF course - black is my color!

I also bought some grey tennis shoes because they were on sale - $25 or something. I don't even know. With shipping I spent $70 or so. Most of my birthday cash. So it is okay. I just have to hold out for christmas money for work clothes which I probably *need* more. SO I feel a little bad. Very um, impulsive. Well now I own 2 cute pairs of shoes. Long overdue really. No more just high heels or walking shoes - something in between - woohoo.

I usually shop Payless but lately all they are good for is work shoes. Even that is hit and miss. I think I am getting too old. They have all the hip shoes, I just want some good old DocMartens or something like that! Plus my big feet don't help with the selection, I usually just hit a few of the stores around here every once in a while and stock up if I see something I like. So I rarely spend more than $10 or something on shoes. Nice to splurge once in a while. Anyway, it has been a year or 2 since I found anything but a few black shoes for work - LOL. I just dread going to the shoe stores - Payless is cheap and carries wide sizes. I thank goodness for them with the kids and their square feet too. THey have wide sizes for the kids which is awesome. Impossible to find at such reasonable prices otherwise. Well, I get so frustrated I haven't really shopped around in years - maybe it's gotten better out there...

But knowing all these cute shoes exist online is very bad. Must not look...

I am really pleased with the quality for the price though, believe me I will wear these forever if I can!!! We'll see how they fit...

Savings Plan

November 28th, 2006 at 11:17 pm

Well, first things first. I got some more ideas for my wish list. Slippers and books. I saw fleece slippers (like $2.97) in the mail ads and thought that would be a good gift for the wish list. I have some super warm socks which when I wear, I can survive with the heat at 60 or something vs. the usual 68. They are amazing. So I saw these fleece slippers and thought - aha. I Will put some fancier/good quality variety on my wish list. Any suggestions on super warm slippers?

Then dh mentioned books - I think that is a great idea. I am a book fiend and that is something easy to shop for, hard to get wrong, etc. If they like DVDs and games and all that, books should be in the same realm. Well, you would think anyway. We'll see how it goes. SO help me if my book choices are criticized - hehe...

My friend wants to meet at IHOP tomorrow and I am not so keen on it. But then again my birthday is friday I wonder if she will buy me lunch. Wink Who knows. Will probably go for it.

Oh yeah - bunco tomorrow too. Send me some monkey karma, eh? (yes I Said monkey karma) LOL. I want to win big - there is a pot that is over $100 - send me vibes for that one! LOL. Funny thing is we are having THanksgiving dinner - someone actually made a turkey. Um yeah, sounded like a good idea last month. I have the feeling the last thing anyone will want is turkey and all the stuff that has been in our leftovers all week. We'll see how it goes. I made fudge today for it. Took 5 minutes and was a cheap recipe. Dh had to buy some powdered sugar but that's about it. I will pretend I slaved over it - hehe. The stuff is so good too - usually only make it at christmas orelse I Would be 300 pounds. Butter, sugar, chocolate, and more butter.... My 3-year-old helped me and said we should make it every night. Ah, I wish...

My mom visited today and gave me $100 for my birthday. I need some work clothes - a suit or 2 - some nice shoes - for tax season. This will help a lot. A nice gift!

Oh anyway, the craziness of it all kept me wide awake through the tax update - I could write blogs and blogs about how crazy tax code is - but after about 6 hours today I started to zone out. I Was driving myself nuts thinking different scenarios in my head. Started thinking about my savings goals for 2007. Along the same lines as BA - what is more important - retirement, mortgage, savings, I Don't know. I think I can save $10k in 2007 and that is still my lofty goal - I thought about it in 1 million different scenarios today. I am probably being WAY too optimistic. I know I am losing $3k in car payments and losing any hope of a tax refund this year - even the measly $1k state refund I always receive. Not measly really, but I am a breakeven person. California is just impossible. Federal I can usually do pretty good but with this whole ROTH conversion I ain't getting any money back - I just hope I don't owe anything - for now it is close.

I Also decided the $8k or so in overtime and gifts I usually get is the perfect retirement funding for us. In past years it has been floating us with our overspending. With our latest round of budgets (which has been going quite well) and at least $100/month raise I Assume next year, we can do it! Save a little, not rely on the windfalls, the windfalls can fund retirement - woohoo. I have just had no idea where that retirement funding would come from, so it is a nice revelation. For next year all that will go to e-fund, but one it hits $15k I think I will relax and will be willing to invest all that extra. It will feel good. In the meantime I just have impatience with how slow going it all is. I just got to slow down and relax and have faith things will work out.

Well, I Was bummed to see so many blog posts today. It's awesome but I barely had time to glance at a few. I See less and less time in my future too - bummer. But I am glad to see so many active blogs - just bummed there are not enough hours in the day.

Christmas Politics Part 2

November 28th, 2006 at 07:00 am

I know there are many worse things in the world than this, but OMG the in-laws are driving me mad - LOL.

I already posted about the christmas politics how when I give them a wish list they scrutinize it and they constantly ask for more. So this year I figure why bother. They will run out and spend $200 on a game system for dh, no questions asked, but everything on my list is up for debate. A wall hanging. Why would you need THAT???? Where would you put it???? Yes, and a game system is top on the list of necessity apparently - LOL. Um I have a house full of BARREN walls - there are plenty of places I could put a wall hanging. Gah.

So I went back to the old way where I ignore them. Well I Tell them cash would be nice or clothes - that is always what they get me. So they are really badgering me as usual, our usual dance. What else can I say - I want cash or clothes. IF you don't want to buy what I Want - be creative. I don't particularly like wish lists - takes the fun out of gift giving. & i am sure they equally frustrated with me because I am not aware of their invisible rules of gift giving apparently. I have no idea what they want from me...

So I as I checked my e-mail last night and saw the 20 e-mails me asking me what I Wanted for christmas (while also poo-pooing any prior suggestions) I was frustrated with dh's stupid wish list and their love affair with it. So I decided on a new plan. He has a pile of DVDs on there which I think is a useless waste of money personally, but I put some of his DVDs on my wish list. I figure in the long run it will save me some cash. LOL. I can even regift them to dh or something, what the heck.

HE told me that was very selfless last night. Are you kidding me? This is for my sanity. LOL. We'll see how it goes. These plans always tend to backfire - hehe. Hopefully this will stem the tide of phone calls and e-mails. It is only Nov. 28 - another month of this!!

I usually thoroughly enjoy their gifts which they usually pick out on their own. I have faith in their gift giving abilities. BUT I will sacrifice that to have a nice, quiet month I guess.

Saved $150 - & Back to Work...

November 27th, 2006 at 01:27 pm

While everyone is blah, I Feel pretty stellar today. Coming back to work, a job I love anyway, is nice after such a relaxing week. We'll see how the afternoon goes since I think I have taken an afternoon nap almost every day this last week. Ah, no wonder I am so refreshed. I was just thinking it was funny with the talk of when so and so's kid outgrew naps. I am not sure I ever did. Since I can plop down and take a 2-hour nap every afternoon apparently. So yeah, the afternoon may be trying - my body has probably been growing accustomed to 2:00 naps...

I forgot I have seminar tomorrow too - 2007 tax update. YEah, try to stay awake through that - hehe. My dad was asking me something and was chiding me for not knowing capital gains rates off the top of my head. My lord. What people don't understand is the law and everything changes every year. I am pretty much still working on 2005 for most of 2006. & now I have to plan for 2007. There is NO WAY I can keep it all straight. IRA deduction this year - hell if I know - the years all run together. Luckily I have little handy dandy refrences all over my desk. & my bible too - Federal Tax Handbook. Then I don't have to memorize everything by year - geez. Sure, memorize all the retirement maxes for 401k, IRA, pension, etc., + catch-ups for 2005, 2006, 2007 and keep is straight. Not that hard? Try all the other million details that changed from 2005 to 2006 to 2007. At some point you just give up... So we go to seminar once a year just to have it all laid out nice and clear - 2006 & 2007 will be fresh in my head I guess. I can't even remember if this is more of a 2006 or 2007 seminar - LOL. Probably 2006 since 2007 will be a work in progress for a long while yet.

Came to work today and occured to me I hadn't left the house in 5 days!! Wow! Feels weird. & YES I really looked forward to getting out of the house. The kids were driving me a little batty the last couple of days. A few hours in the evening is way better time spent than me spending all day with them. My patience is thin with them - they were both driving me mad. Probably why I am glad to be at work today -phew. I have NO IDEA how dh does it. They are both in a "not listening" stage which doesn't help. Baby was so happy to see so much of me he stuck to me like glue all week, but the last 2 days he would take to getting into trouble, you say no, he laughs. You say no 100 times - he just laughs. Big Monkey hasn't been much better - he is in a stage. Plus I am starting to see it is extra hard with 2 because the baby doesn't get the same treatment - he doesn't get time outs - you can only say no and remove him from the situation. Big Monkey then says, hmmmmm, this isn't fair - why I Do get timeouts and "you know betters" yelled at me all day? So then he acts up more - bah. The other thing is Big Monkey was never really one for temper tantrums. He skipped the terrible 2s pretty much - straight to terrible 3s. PRobably because he could always communicate quite well. Little Monkey is another story - he did a few full-on tantrums this weekend over the silliest little things. Just falling to the ground, pounding fists and flailing. It is AMAZING to me because this behavior is apparently instinct or something. It was not learned. I just kind of roll my eyes and ignore him - wait for him to calm down anyway - so dramatic. It think it is extra strange because he is the quiet one. But then again that is me to the core - I was the quiet one - but I get so stubborn - my mom said I was a temper tantrum child. What goes around comes around I guess. So yeah, today at work is a piece of cake in comparison to the last couple of days.

Oh anyway, we got dh's vasectomy date but it was a Monday in January. Bummer - it would cost $250 in january vs. $100 in December. & Monday would not work. So I gave dh a few dates to try and asked him to call today figureing who knows when he'd get around to it. Well they had a date for Dec. 21 which works out perfect. Woohoo. $100 for a vasectomy - you got yourself a deal! His mom has that week off work, and though it is pretty busy for me, I can sneak off for a day or 2. Especially if I tell my boss why - he will do a dance for joy that I will not be asking for 3-4 months off again in the near future. The last pregnancy did a number on me too - I am still recovering. I Was crying at work a month or 2 back - and my boss is like oh lord - that girl is so sensitive since that last maternity leave. My hormones are still crazed. I think the office will probably celebrate - hehe.

I can hardly think of anything better financially than not to have more kids - hehe. I am not sure if I am so keen to do this now, but overall I know if we are crazy enough to want more kids down the road there is always adoption. Plus frankly, I can still have kids. So my options remain open. I guess if we really wanted to go for the gold I Would get sterilized too. Maybe in a few years.

Kind of Interesting - A Lifetime of Wages

November 26th, 2006 at 10:12 pm

I was putting papers away the other day and found our most recent Social Security Statements. So of course what does Ms. Accountant do - throw it in excel and see how much money we have made over the years. Quite Interesting.

Year Dh Moi TOTAL IRA/401K
1991 2,693 0 2,693
1992 3,757 0 3,757
1993 3,962 1,820 5,782
1994 3,263 1,972 5,235
1995 7,061 3,756 10,817 2,000
1996 7,614 5,250 12,864
1997 10,063 8,262 18,325
1998 10,944 10,104 21,048
1999 20,986 20,617 41,603
2000 41,371 47,870 89,241 6,622
2001 42,461 56,765 99,226 5,768
2002 29,049 52,671 81,720 5,000
2003* 0 44,665 44,665 0
2004 0 64,474 64,474 4,000
2005* 0 45,955 45,955 0
2006 0 70,000 70,000 2,000
TOTALS 183,224 434,181 617,405 25,390

It is amazing to me to think dh and I have made $617,405 between the 2 of us in our young lives. On top of that I estimate we received around $33k in unemployment and disability. I put a * next to the years I took maternity leave, but did receive $6000 in disability, or so, in 2003 & more like $11,000 last year. This year I just estimated my total. I would guess dh received $10-$15k unemployment in 2002 & 2003.

Dh he is a year older than me and when he started working it was allowed to work at 15, not for me when I turned 15. He worked at the local amusement park from age 15 - 22. I can't believe he was making as much as me those days. For me at the time every penny was going to college. For him, he was living at home all cushy - it went for the down payment on our house though - no complaints here. Wink He saved up $40k easy by the time we graduated. All those game systems and fancy toys - even with all that - hehe. I know he worked at a bank, AT&T, Macys in between there somewhere - while working at the amusement park. Graduate college 1999, laid off 2002. Made $40k or so a couple of years in between. I believe his salary was up to $50k, but then his company did mandatory days off and vacations and such - at the end he was only working 4 days/week. Beat being laid off as it seems everyone and their brother was laid off back in 2000 and 2001. Though eventually they did lay him off.

As for me, I worked the amusement park - summers - from age 16-18. 3 years. At age 16 or 17 I Also started teaching piano. I am not sure if I reported all my income on that the first year - either that or my parents helped me more than I remembered - hehe. I lived rent free in 1995 (house sitting) and rented my first place in 1996. Those were some tight years. Oh yeah - just remembered I also had another job in 1998 which helped boost my income a bit - bookkeeping for a security firm. I believe there was a time I was doing that, teaching, and I took another summer job - didn't take many summer classes - phew. I Am kind of bummed all that and I Could have just kept working with dh in the sumemrs and look at that dough - LOL. Graduated 1999 - first job paid $32k or so, but quickly got promoted - that whole desperation for qualified people thing. Has served me well you see.

The end of 2001 we moved and I took a slight pay cut. Eh, you move to where housing is actually affordable, a few k less a year, eh. Plus with the 10% profit sharing contribution I Came out ahead. My prior job had 401k - but a crappy match. I think they matched me $300 when all was said and done - ??

The 2 years I had kids are a little obvious - took some time off...

1991-2001 were all about saving money for a house, and me just surviving and paying for college so I guess we don't have much to show for that - well except all our equity. Started putting more into retirement a couple of years and then got sidetracked by the whole kid thing.

Right now my social security would be $1,158/month at 62 and dh's would be $325. Ah, but not counting on it. We both qualify for medicare too.

I thought we had a year or 2 of six figures, but you know, we never made it - hehe. Darn close.

Dh's first job out of school was a whopping $28k/year. SO we started at $60k combined and I think that was our income when we bought our $260k condo. We couldn't afford a cent more, we really lucked into it. But we quickly got raises and so it worked out pretty well. It is amazing to me we went from 60 to 90 to 99 so fast. & that 7 years later I am making more than the 2 of us combined at our first jobs out of college. IS this a commercial for college education or what? Wink

Looking back you would think we could have saved more. All I know is we put $50k down on a condo in 1999, and then we proceeded to save most of the down payment on this home - another $30k or so, over 2 years. We had 2 homes for a while and sunk a lot of cash into 2 mortgages. I think our mortgages totaled $500k for a few months. That took a chunk of our income for almost 6 months. You know sometimes I wish we lived somewhere where we could buy a house for $80k. Ah. Or even just a stinking condo - hehe. Oh I am sure there are trade-offs. But the idea of all the money we have sunk into housing and how much we still owe - blah...

In 2002 we made $81,000, but I would guess our take-home was the same or even less than today, with taxes. Kids have proven to be a nice tax deduction. I wonder how much in tax we paid in 2000 & 2001... Probably a lot, whereas we have swung a couple of years with 0 income taxes since then.

Well now you know the whole financial story of my life.

2007 Budget

November 26th, 2006 at 04:35 pm

I can breathe a little sigh of relief because our health insurance won't eat us out of house and home. I hope.

I love looking at people's budgets, everyones is so different depending on their situation. So figured I Would share it in all its ugliness.

Updated #s:

Income: $60k+ (+ if lucky anyway, this is still the big unknown)

Expenses:
Property Tax $4300
Auto Insurance $1800 (should go down woohoo)
Home/Flood Ins $1500
Life Insurance $500
Disability Insurance $100
Health Insurance $8100
Co-Pays $600
Dental $1000 (no insurance - still haven't budgeted for Big monkey who should go in).
Mortgage $16000
Homeowner Association $800
Home telephone $350
Cellular telephones $850
Cable (internet & TV) $1000
Gas/Electric $1200
Water/Garbage $1100
Gardener $1000
Groceries $6000
Preschool $3500
Baby Classes $500
Dining out $350
Cloth Diaper Service $650 (I can hope to get rid of diapers mid-year???)
Car Loan $3000 (to payoff)
Gas/fuel $3600
Car Repairs/Maintenance/AAA $700
Car Registration $250
Blockbuster Online $240
Subscriptions $165
(Cooking Mags & Newspaper)
Clothing $250
Gifts $700
Donations $100
CASH $250 (pretty much lunch out and very small purchases)
Salon/barber $120
Emergency Fund $600 (+ $200/month once car is paid off)
Misc. $1800
(For now $150/month to whatever we want - a trip to the zoo, to splurge on gifts, or clothes, or eating out. OR unexpected emergencies, or save it. Whatever. I like having this amount though just forever we need. So the little and even the medium unexpected things don't throw us off).

TOTAL EXPENSES: $62,000

I imagine we will "find" a few thousand in additional income - gifts and bonuses and odd jobs, etc. For this year I just want it all to go to e-fund. We aren't planning any vacations or big purchases this year. Pretty bare bones. Though we may need it for unexpected things. I just don't have room right now for a repair fund and stuff like that. I just consider all that in the e-fund I guess. I Am sure I will get a raise and can maybe make that $2500 to the e-fund. For now the $600 is kind of measly but I figure that is where my raise will go - whether its $100/month or $500 - it will be in that range. Crossing my fingers...

The sad thing is I think this year we were spending another $6k/year above and beyond. We were just floating along with the extra windfalls getting us by. We have really pared down the budget.

Well it's a work in progress - as it always will be.

2006 has been breaking out pretty nice with my current pay:

+2475 1st of month
-1200 credit card purchases
(groceries, gas, diapers, phone bills, Copays, Dining Out, barber, car R&M, clothes, gifts, donations, misc.)
-700 insurance/property tax "fund"
-525 utilities/gardener/other checks/ATM/leftovers to savings
-50 Savings

+2475 16th of month
-1315 mortgage
-630 health insurance
-315 preschool
-215 personal loan

We'll see how it works out in 2007 I guess. I know my 4 biggest expenses will no longer EQUAL my second check of the month - hehe - bummer.

For whatever reason I have no idea all the insurance and property tax was fully funded in September or october of this year so I have had a lot extra this end of the year for some of the bigger expenses I've had of late. I hope the same next year means a lofty goal of $10k to the e-fund in 2007 when all is said and done. We'll see. Sounds a little pie in the sky but I figure I should aim high!




4 Years...

November 26th, 2006 at 08:36 am

It just hit me that it has been 4 years since dh has not worked. He has probably made $3k or so the last 4 years, he has done a few little projects. & believe me, every little bit helps. But it just occured to me that it's been 4 years - wow!!!! I have been nervous this month because I got pregnant around halloween - twice - hehe. So this year I told dh not to come near me please, I know apprently October is a fertile month and I know neither of us wants another BABY right now. Haha, but it just hit me to he got laid off right when I got pregnant with my first - and well it has been 4 years!

Dh and I had wanted to wait a few more years to have kids, but after moving to a cheaper area, just a few months later, I think we were just AMAZED how much easier we had made things for ourselves financially. So we decided we were financially ready. The only mistake we made I would say is he was working and we figured we could save another years' salary before we had a baby. Another $30-$40k, which I would probably have in my e-fund right now. Taking that into account we felt ready. Then I got pregnant and he promptly got LAID OFF. So much for our grand plan. He did get unemployment for 6 months or so, so it wasn't so bad. Who knows where that money went - new baby stuff? Hehe. Probably retirement and savings, and supplementing my maternity leave. But still we were pretty stressed out going into this without everything going to plan.

I always looked at this 1-income thing as very temporary. IF we could make it a few years, well that would be great. Didn't think we could do it forever. So it is nice to look back the last few years and say, well we made it as long as we planned to at the bare minimum. We did it!!! & hopefully a few more years left.

When I first became pregnant I was making $50k/year and we had plenty of money in the bank to help us through - maybe $30k. This last year my salary was $70k, I didn't foresee it going up so fast and that has made all the difference. We have drained most of our cash, but most of it went to 2 cars, and our retirement fund which we often funded to get a bigger tax refund - which helped as well. & since we just did the ROTH conversion I really look at that $20k as a backup emergency fund in the meantime. IT is tax-free, penalty-free accessible cash. Makes everything feel less dire to me - hehe - though I probably wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole...

I am sure we spent a lot of that money on toys we did not need - probably $5k or so. But sometimes you just feel like you got to live a little.

I go back and forth with myself if I feel proud of our accomplishments or not. We could have invested our cash much better and had thousands more in just interest. We could have done better with our retirement. Sometimes I feel like we should have been saving money too, even if we had just squeezed out $20/month - we could have done that. I Am still not positive our last car purchase was the best either.

At the same time not only have we lived on 1-income, but there were months that we lived on NO income - maternity leave. I get so tired of people walking around making six figures saying they couldn't possibly have a spouse stay home, driving brand new cars, going shopping every week, with just so much excess. It's a choice and I respect people's choices. BUT It gets under my skin when they are constantly whining to me how lucky I am and how bad off they are. You just want to shake them sometimes. I know many people who assume we must be independently wealthy, not only because dh stays home, but because I took a lot of time off work as well with both kids. & throw in the super nice house (with a mortgage less than most people around here pay rent - ahem - that's what people don't get). But then you get back to the whole thing where people will completely turn up their nose at our frugal lifestyle, mostly that we drive old cars and don't value brand names, and then be very openly jealous of the fruits of our frugalness. Well most people can't have both, you have to pick what it is you value in life and work for that. I value my family and have taken great financial sacrifice for us to be home with our kids. Come on. I can totally respect people not wanting to give up some of that financial security. For me it has been hard, because I like to have all my ducks in a row and plan far ahead for the future. HAving only $5k in the bank and owing about that much drives me MAD. But to be home with the kids, it is worth the stress.

Looking forward, dh doesn't plan to get full-time work for at least 4 more years. When both kids are in school... In the meantime, baby turns 2 next year and we love our daycare situation with big monkey so I wouldn't be surprised if he takes on a 10-20 hour/week job. But something that doesn't take a lot of time away from the baby. We'll see. If he could bring in some money I know we could save it all, build up the e-fund, and I can relax a little. I am not even sure if full-time employment is in his future ever again. But for now our goal is 4 more years of just 1-income and maybe a little supplemental. Overall I can not feel that proud with our accomplishments. BEcause if he was working it would pretty much ALL go to income tax and daycare. ???? So are we that great with our money or just smart enough to step back and say, um, it's just not worth it. LOL. I don't know. It seems much more logical at this point to pick up a little extra here and there, where we can, than to work full-time just to squeeze out that little extra.

But today I look at it as 4 years down, 4 years to go I guess. Only 2 more years really where daycare is cost prohibitive. Then one will be in school and I am already paying for one today - I know little monkey will have an awesome place to go to when he is 3 if dh wants to bring in more money. So we are really over the hump. I look forward to more income in the future - that is for sure. I want dh to get a PT job where he can put his entire paycheck to 401k or something and we can start really saving money. With just me working, it is not going to happen in the near future... But it is getting closer...

I guess we had some good fortune. Dh never found a job here when we moved, his layoff was inevitable - he told them he would be leaving when he found a job. So it is best we got pregnant when we did - he had commuted for a year - who knows when he would have found a job and when we would have felt ready for kids otherwise.

We wanted our kids 2-3 years apart and we lucked out with 2 years exactly. If it had been 3, or 4 or 5, it would be a lot more diffucult. Luck has played a big part in our financial choices. Heck, if we had waited a year to move we would not have been able to purchase such a nice house. We had no idea the real estate market would go so crazy up here when we moved, we made it in the knick of time. But you know, looking back, maybe the layoff was good, part of a greater plan. & we couldn't have times the kids better financially. Having them 3 years apart would just mean 1 more year where working would not be as lucrative for dh. What if it took years. I am not sure if we would have felt like we could afford a second child - who knows...

Annoying stuffed turkeys

November 25th, 2006 at 08:32 am

LOL.

Just looking at the pile of stuffed talking turkeys reminds me. Why do people buy such USELESS things????? Dh's family is very generous to us so I can't really complain. But then they bring over these silly little things. Every Thanksgiving they bring over a little stuffed turkey that makes funny noises or phrase when you squeeze it. They do the same at Halloween - weird haloween stuff.

I was just looking at the 3 turkeys we now have and asking dh if we were going to have like 10 turkeys in a few years. They are all of a little different size and shape. Did they forget that they brought one last year too? Do they see a gaping need for talking turkeys in our house??? LOL.

Oh I admit I have bought the occasional dancing hamster or something of the sort. But believe me, 1 is plenty - hehe.

Hmm, have we always had spell check on this thing???? Cool...

One more thing - dh's ROTH IRA conversion is complete - FINALLY!!!!!!!! Phew. Ah, why I should be so happy to get such a massive tax bill this year? Oh yeah- because it means dh can make some money next year. I can get a super huge raise too - now that would be nice. Phew. & we did indeed get to take advantage of a low income year for that - woohoo. I was starting to worry it wouldn't get done in time, for this year. So far I Am pretty impressed with Vanguard. I think I popped the form in the mail Tuesday, and all was said and done friday, holiday and all.

Black Friday/65 degrees

November 25th, 2006 at 08:17 am

It's 65 inside today. IT doesn't feel chilly. 63 upstairs. Funny because I flipped on the heat upstairs but came downstairs and am just fine without even socks. I guess we'll see what dh thinks when he wakes up - if we decide to turn on the downstaits heat too. YEsterday I was about to turn into an ice cube - hehe - less of a chill in the air today, overall.

We were thinking of going in on a $150 gift for dh's dad, and he saw it on sale at Fry's yesterday for $57. Since his dad gave us $40 totally unneeded for groceries, I thought that sounded like a great buy - shelling out $17 of our own money for such a nice gift - hehe. Unfortunatley he went closer to noon and it was already sold out. I doubt he would have braved the crowds much sooner, so oh well. Reminds me he bought something at Frys last year on Black Friday, but I forget what... Guess we are BF shoppers after all, I Forgot. Not much luck when you are too scared to leave the house before noon though - hehe.

Nothing much exciting to report. We netted $90 for groceries from the family and he got the other $50 for the guitar yesterday. I made $150 that I haven't collected yet. I made $40 from jewelry sales and $100 rebate from our credit card. Dang, a good month indeed. Plus the $110 preschool refund and not having to shell out $300 for that this month.

All that adds up to about $900 extra, which is promptly being shelled out. I will owe about $350 to the insruance company in increased coverages and $600 to the estate lawyer still. She is in Sydney and back in a few weeks - a last minute thing - so I am not sure when we will get those signed, but nice to have the money to pay the balance.

December should be good though - I expect some overtime, a bonus (small albeit every little bit helps - maybe $200 if I am lucky). I just checked - I got $150 last year but this year is coming up on my 5-year anniversary. Not sure if that will warrant me a bigger bonus??? Well, expect some nice cash gifts too. & since most of christmas is paid for, I plan to stockpile the e-fund. We'll see how it goes.

Ah, yesterday was luxurious. I mostly SLEPT. LOL. Lots of sleep to catch up on. I feel an extremely lazy weekend coming on. The calm before the storm - work will get pretty busy this month.

With so much extra money I told dh I wanted to order a pizza in this weekend and watch a chick flick or something - that is what I am in the mood for. We actually have a free rental coupon.

& I can not believe how fast the Christmas festivities hit!!!!!! My birthday is Friday and I wanted to go to Spaghetti Factory to celebrate. But Friday is the work christmas party & saturday is the moms group christmas party. We decided to go out sunday for lunch then - slightly cheaper than dinner anyway. Anyway, pizza, fancy dinner, parties, and then lunch. IT will be quite an extravagant week for us. Wink

Oh yes - and I got 2 birthday gifts already. A nice sweater and some goopy, smelly shower gel that is promptly going to the regift pile - LOL. But it will be a nice regift so no complaints here. I don't expect much more since dh and I are not shoppping for each other this year. So that probably about does it - I might get some cash from my mom now that I think about it - woohoo.

Winter Chill Here

November 24th, 2006 at 08:11 am

I woke up and pulled on my big, warm robe because it felt so chilly. The kids slept until 7am, my word, and I was conked out since about 8pm - I didn't want to get up. I haven't gotten that much sleep in ages, but my body was protesting because after napping all week I didn't get a nap in yesterday with all the festivities. I hope I can get back into the swing and not fall asleep at work in the afternoons - hehe.

Anyway, since it was light already I glanced at the thermostat and it said 63 - oh my goodness!!! Downstairs it said 65 or so - funny how the upstairs has been cooling off faster of late - have no idea why.

Checked the weather and it said current temp was 33. It usually doesn't drop much below 30 around here so I figure it must have been a pretty cold night - brrrrr. I can feel it. Reminds me how it has been unusually warm I guess. It has barely dropped below 67 inside so last night was a bit of a shocker. Hope Big Monkey's new, warm PJs arrive soon! More nights like these and the house will settle around 60 overnight - an 8-degree drop from the day. I am paranoid about babies and blankets but Little Monkey has been sleeping with a nice, thick knitted blanket, even keeping it on all night, so I think we will turn off the heat at night. This is something we haven't done the last few years with the wee little ones around. It is nice that he has graduated to blankets. Though while shopping online the other night I saw some of those blanket sleepers with foot holes. Hadn't seen those before. Oh well, blanket is doing just fine. I know I am extra paranoid and about 18 months he should be able to handle a blanket. Particulalry since it is knit & has holes to breathe through if it gets pulled over his head.

I think it is interesting that overall Black Friday is not a favorite pasttime around here. I Always felt it was overrated. But I am a pretty good shopper I think - hehe. Sure there are the occasional super awesome deals on Black Friday, but to me not worth the hassle and crowds I guess. & risk to life and limb, etc. I get the feeling that many in the frugal crowd agree.

Ah well, now you can laugh at this silly California girl who is gonna freeze her ass off because it dropped to 63 inside the house - hehe. It is funny because we had relatives over yesterday from back home who were saying the weather here isn't that different. Well it isn't really, but back home it never drops below 50 or rises above 80 - very rarely. It is such a shock moving from such a mild climate to where it drops down to 30 regularly overnight AND gets up over 100s in the summer. It is the difference of night and day. Luckily spring and fall are usually pretty mild - more like summer and winter back home. I would not survive anywhere else I am afraid. We talk about moving to ORegon but I know I would probably not last more than few weeks. Brrrr. I know it would costs 10 times as much to make the 2-hour mkove back home. But I do REALLY miss the weather. I guess maybe that is why people are willing to pay 700k for the crappiest fixxer-upper house. It's the weather.

Oh well, not much planned this weekend. Dh said he had some books and DVDs to sell. & I have quite a few large baby things to get up on Craigslist this weekend. So we'll see how much we make on all that. I think we already made $300 extra money this month, so this will just add to it - a good month indeed!

I just read in someone's blog that they didn't intend to go to the mall or shopping between now and Jan. 1. To that I say amen. I don't plan to step foot in a store. I usually don't anyway so it is not too hard. Wink

Spent $$$$

November 23rd, 2006 at 07:30 am

Ah, I was looking at the budget and everything figuring just one more week and not much going on. A good month!!!

Then dh reminded me that I was going to go shopping to get Big Monkey some warmer pajamas. He just has some cheap ones that are all warped and that I am not happy with. Forget being warm in the least. He reminded me anyway around dinnertime and I hadn't gotten dressed and I didn't feel like going out and the idea of going out shopping at all the next few days sounded like hell on earth if you ask me - LOL. So I decided to pop online and be lazy. I couldn't really find any PJs below $25 - overall is is apparently warm PJ Season. Unfrotunately all the cozy 1-pieces were dire cheap - didn't hardly see one for more than $8, but figured that just doesn't really work since he is fully potty trained at night. Bah. I am not sure if he could get thos off. This is super ironic too because in the past I can never find those 1-piece footed pajamas in bigger than a 1-year-old size. But they were EVERYWHERE. Anyway, as a last resort I did pop by Children't Place Website and saw they were having a pre-Thanksgiving sale - phew. I usually only buy socks and the famous footed PJs there because they are the only places I can really find them at a decent price. So they had a bunch of PJs in the $8-$10 range. I got 2 pairs for Big Monkey, 2 pairs for little monkey (since he didn't have much in the particularly warm variety - pretty worn). & then I remembered he needed pants and socks so picked up some of those. They had a ton of shirts for $5 and I was extremely tempted, but nothing particulalry exciting (solid colors) and I figure he probably doesn't "need" any shirts. Oh but I did buy him a sweatshirt for $5 - just remembered that one. Something of the warmer variety for outside. All that was about $70 with tax & shipping, but I looked last minute for the online web coupon codes. Sometimes those can be pretty hit and miss but I lucked out - just googled coupon code and found a 15% off right away. Woohoo. Total was more like $63 for that pile of clothes. I knew I had just thrown out a coupon too knowing I wouldn't use it so was super happy to retrieve the code online after all. Anyway, I usually don't spend that much on clothes - but man, not having to leave the house - I was VERY happy - I think I did good.

Oh yeah - I also saw the cutest PJs on ebay which I did win but ended up $14.50 with shipping. Oh well, Big Monkey will appreciate having some nice PJs I hope - especially as it gets chillier. "As of now I would say the boys are pretty set for winter. Little Monkey could maybe use a jacket and a pair of shoes, but he doesn't really go out much so he may not need them - who knows. We can put on his christmas list I guess. It is so funny to me to see people bundle up their kids in coats just to walk from the car to a house or a store front. I dropped off my son at preschool the other day - it might have been in the high 50s/low 60s, and a lady was bundling up her kids in coats to walk them to the door. I am looking at my son in his thin shirt wondering - hmmm - am I missing something here??? I have noticed that a lot since. Since the kids generally don't go outside much in the winter they don't have particularly heavy coats or anything. Carrying the little one from the car to a store or front door, I think he will be okay. Wink

Oh yeah - the other thing I got my Chase rewards card and they are SUPER annoying. I had to call them twice and I had to sit through their buyer protection plan whatever spiel - no no no no no. Then yesterday someone called. I NEVER answer the phone - I am pretty anti-social - hehe - but I had just gotten off the phone with a friend and I assumed it was her again. Picked it up - stuck listening to some speil from Chase - not sure what they are saying. Trying to be polite, but when I Say no I am not interested they keep saying "but you can cancel in 30 days." & so I say well, I don't want to cancel in 30 days - I Am saying NO NOW. SO much for being polite - next time I will probably hang up on them - gah. So annoying!!!!!! Luckily I Am usually not home to answer the phone - dh will tell them to buzz off if he answers. HE's good for that. But the only other credit card I ever had directly from a big cc company was MBNA and they were super annoying as well. They called me once to send me a new card and asked me all this personal info + my social. I called to report this "fraud" and they were like, oh yeah, that was US. You are sitting here scrazthing your head - HELLO??? Who gives that info over the phone and why don't you have it??? Oh well, a matter of time before I get so p.o.ed I Decide the rewards are not worth it.

Everything around here is good. I only stayed up until 10:15 cleaning house so I think we did good. Not too much last minute hubaloo. Cleaned for 1/2 hour - 1 hour after kids went to bed. This morning I have to vacuum and make deviled eggs. That's about it. Our ice breaker broke a while back, but the dispenser in the freezer still works. So I have been making ice for days - pouring it into the storage bucket in the freezer, and then into bags for the cooler and drinks. Almost there. We could have easily whimped out and bought ice. I guess this is how people did it before ice machines - hehe.

Not sure what is on the menu today - besides turkey, beans, spinach, cranberries, pie, cheesecake, soda, mashed potatoes, etc. Probably much much more. Our parents are coming and dh's aunt/uncle/cousin & her family. Just one other little one for the kids to play with, bummed dh's sister and my niece couldn't make it. Oh yes and grandma too and another of dh's cousins. A full house, but not a BIG year since we are missing 3 of the usuals. Great-Grandma is going to do the stuffing and the turkey which is still thawing as we speak. My dad does the gravy, dh's dad carves, his mom does pies, my mom will separate all the turkey from the bones after/finish carving I guess. Everyone has their little part. I love doing deviled eggs - yummy. My dad is also making his homemade salsa when he gets here - something to munch on until dinner at 2.

Ah, there is so much to be grateful this Thanksgiving. I hesitate to do a list because it is all boring and the same as everyone's - hehe. But I am just super grateful that we can afford to live in such a nice place close to family so that we can see them. There was a big part of my life I thought we could never afford to live in California. So I am grateful to be here, to have an abundance of food, for us all to have our health, and such wonderful healthy kids. Dh's cousin has been completely unable to have kids of her own, and so seeing her and her little adopted boy today is always a huge reminder how lucky we were so easily to have kids of our own. I am mostly gratfeul for food, warmth, a steady job. Everything else is just gravy. Wink

Have a wonderful Day!

EDITED: While I Was typing away I got an offer for the freecycle item. A family in a new apartment who owns NO furniture or kitchen items. I remembered I have a pile of silverware and old stuff I had intended to give to my sister, but she didn't need. I Will add to the pile. I think I will go through the house and see what I have. An EASY purge - I LOVE Freecycle!!!! Doesn't get much easier than that - will probably show up today to take this stuff off my hands!









Pondering the Nov. Energy Bill

November 22nd, 2006 at 07:50 am

I think we have been doing awesome this month on the energy bill - just not so quick to turn on the heat just because the thermostat says "less than 68." If it doesn't feel cold, we don't touch it, but a couple of times I turned it to 69 because it felt really chilly. No doubt tomorrow we won't need it - the turkey will heat the house - well at least the downstairs. All that cooking will and body heat too I guess. 15+ guests tomorrow...

But overall I think it has been rather warm. Rainy - and the air seems to stay warmer. A chill in the air, but 50% of the time we don't even turn the heat on - house has settled around 68-70.

& yeah we don't have a fireplace, that could be another reason our house is SO insulated, just another way not to lose heat. Don't even ask - it is a long story - why we have no fireplace - hehe.

Oh yes, but I am not so confident we will have the most stellar bill ever this month because I think I did 10 loads of laundry yesterday, and 10 to go. We were all sick a couple of weeks back and the house has settle into quite the trashed state. Yesterday I went through the upstairs and just washed all the sheets/comforters/blankets. I still have to wash the sheets on our bed and pull out some warmer blankets. I picked up the kids rooms and vacumed. Filed away a stack of papers a mile high sitting on my desk at the top of the stairs. I still should scrub the bathrooms a bit but saving that for last. Don't really expect anyone to go upstairs.

I am not the biggest house cleaner, BUT I usually keep on top of it a little better. It was pretty bad.

Today we need to clear out the living room - boxes from storage and piles of stuff to put away. A couple of presents to wrap... Scrub the guest bath and the kitchen.

Not much cooking to do - mostly we are providing space - phew. I had wanted to bake a cake, but decided on storebought cheesecake - sounds yummy. Mostly I have to wake up early tomorrow and prepare deviled eggs.

Oh back to laundry - washing the highchair cover and halloween costumes to put away or sell, etc. LOTS of laundry. I actually don't mind laundry - to me that is an easy chore - you throw it in and the machine does the work. I don't necessarily fold and put away laundry every load either - hehe - probably why I don't mind it so much. I just tend to throw it on the bed a fold for 5 minutes before bed every night OR throw it in the corner for later. There wasn't even that much in the corner yesterday - phew. Been keeping up with that I guess.

I am meeting a friend for lunch today and I was going to go shopping, but alas now I am not. I am bummed - was looking forward to it. I had asked dh's grandma to pick up a cute christmas outfit for Big Monkey since dh slashed that out of the budget. I said okay because I knew his mom or grandma would get something. But she e-mailed me monday and said she hadn't found anything (probably early) and if I picked up something she would reimburse me. Woohoo. I looked forward to going to Target - knew they would have something. But just got an e-mail that she wants to go shopping this weekend and will probably find something. Bummer. I was really looking foward to shopping after lunch today - with someone else's money - hehe.

Dh went to the store and stocked up on drinks and beans and chessecake. & oh yes the turkey. My mom said she will give me some cash for the turkey. OVerall we didn't spend much. Dh's family is bringing the rest of the food.

Oh well - I have lots of picking up to do. I am trying to balance the bare minimum of cleaning before guests who will just make a MESS - hehe - with the fact that without a day off I never have time to do all the extra chores, etc. So I am kind of doing a bit of everything, but want to make sure everything is ready for tomorrow - don't want to go overboard on the stuff that doesn't matter. & yeah, I intend to maybe pick up a bit Friday after the big turkey day - but mostly I intend to rest up and relax after tomorrow.

Oh yeah - took Big Monkey for a haircut - about $15 at the kid place - they are awesome and worth every penny. I then tried my hand at Little Monkey's hair noticing it was looking shaggy, and it actually turned out pretty well. Not bad fror a kid who can't keep his head still and kept whipping his head around rihgt when I tried to cut - LOL. I am glad no blood was shed. I cut my oldest son's hair for the longest time, not that great at it. BUt little monkey - at almost 18 months this is his 2nd haircut. He is pretty bald overall - hehe. Well I am super impressed with my hair cutting skill. Probably just a big fluke.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!!



Christmas Politics

November 20th, 2006 at 06:57 am

Oh man, Christmas with the family really annoys me - hehe.

With my family, how I was raised, I like it. We get each other a few little things and don't make a biggie out of it. Even as a kid, every few years I would get something super cool or awesome, but that wasn't the norm. The words "wish list" are not in our vocab, we resent being told what to buy each other - the fun is in the surprise. My mom might buy the kids some clothes or something or a small toy and that is a-okay with me. The LAST thing they need is more toys. Overall I think my family views Christmas more as a time for giving, not for exchanging gifts. We have never been big on material stuff anyway.

Dh's family is a whole other ball of wax. IT amazes me how similarly we were brought up money-wise, and how frugal he can be, it amazes me sometimes because he was somewhat spoiled ROTTEN and our kids even moreso. It annoys me because they do not need 1 million + toys. This year proves to be particular interesting because my MIL is so unfair when it comes to the grandkids. She is constantly showering Big Monkey with gifts because he "needs" things (toys and clothes). & she will look at Little Monkey and say "He doesn't need anything." I am just sitting here wondering why Big Monkey *needs* MORE books and toys because he has plenty, and how her flawed logic can be so obvious to everyone but her. Sure he needs clothes more, but Little Monkey's hand-me-down are a bit worn - he could use some new things too.

Anyway, last year he was a baby and I didn't say much, but I expect her to be fair this Christmas. Probably too much to ask. I was so annoyed with dh because we were putting together a wish list for the kids and he says, "most of these toys can be for both kids - why are you designating certain toys for just 1 of the kids?" I am like, hello - because if we don't designate she will just buy everything for just the big one. Come on. That is why the wish list is heavily weighted for Little Monkey. We'll see how it goes.

Oh well, in years past my son has received what feels like 100 presents - he was bored after opening 1/4 of them and could care less. Last year was a bit better with 2 other grandkids to share with. I just hope my SIL has a baby soon, would get even better. I Think before they only had 1 grandkid to buy for and they went a little crazy. Dh's family is a little wacky so you try to talk to them and they turn it around to we hate them or something, so you just throw your hands up and give up. IF they drown in a mountain of toys, I guess we can just hope we don't notice if quite a few "disappear." You ask them to buy less presents and they take it as the biggest insult imaginable I guess - I do not understand in the least. For now the moutnain of present is worth family peace, though it is all pretty aggravating to me as to me it goes against everything we stand for as parents. A battle that will get fiercer as the kids age and are more understanding of what is going on.

Anyway, I did the obligatory wish list so we'll see how it goes.

The other aspect to all this is they are a wishlist family and I have never partaken. I have been in the family for over a decade. Last year was a pretty tight year for us so I decide what the heck. I Could use a few things. They will spend hundreds of dollars on me, so I put a few $50 items on the list. & some little things. Well, they got NOTHING from the list. LOL. IT was like they looked at it and said, um, okay, where is your "Real" list? LOL. IT was so frustrating at the time, but looking back kind of funny. You know dh has a list a mile long of games and DVDs and they will buy that but I Ask for a few kitchen items and they look at me like I am crazy. We were discussing it later and dh was like - well your list was "Expensive." Um, a new game is $50 and they don't blink at that!?! Hello???? I think the thing is they like buying video games and DVDs, maybe because it is easy. My list, apparently too complicated. I don't want a DVD or a game or anything of that nature. USually they get me clothes and gift cards, which is pretty nice and well needed. So for this year I just went back to our old usual ways. They ask me for a wish list over and over and over and I Say I don't want anything. Then they get me clothes and cash and everyone is happy. LOL.



A Day by the Bay...

November 19th, 2006 at 07:58 pm



Oh yes, yesterday was quite a spend day.

I didn't really intend to spend much, but a day in a tourist trap adds up pretty fast I guess.

The good was one of our bus rides was free (broken money-taking machine?) and at the carousel after going through much to get stupid tokens they didn't even take them. So I have some for next time. So hey we got a few free things - hehe.

Big Monkey had a blast. A day in San Francisco was as much fun as Disneyland to him. Frankly, he looked more fascinated. HE was a handful at times, but overall it went pretty good. The ride went quite well. My only regret is we left the house closer to 10. Since we didn't get to SF until around noon, I wish we had planned to leave early in the morning. We were a little crunched on time, but next time we will leave earlier. We just did not get in near as much as we had wanted, but I think that was good for the pocketbook.

We ended up going on a $5 boatride too. I thought my friend was crazy when she saw some lady hold up a sign that I didn't see. I thought - yeah right - what's the catch???? I wasn't too enthused when she drug me over to check it out. IT turned out to be the highlight of the day. Very funny tour guide, great tour, and the kids both got to steer the boat, though my monkey not for so long because he kept spinning the wheel left and veering for Alcatraz - LOL. So my friend's son got to drive all the way back - he wasn't so wild with the wheel - hehe. Anyway, I totally recommend the $5 boat tour if you ever make it to San Frnacisco and Fisherman's Wharf - money well spent!

Well - here's the breakdown:

Fancy Lunch - $25
Dinner @ Subway - $7
Cute chocolates for the kids - $6
soda - $2
water - $2
donuts - $3
---------
Food $45
---------

Boat tour for 2 - $11 (includes tip)
Juggler - $1 (tip)
Souvenirs - $10
Carousel (2 rides) - $10 (what racket, eh?)
Toy - $7 (don't ask - had to buy something to get stupid carousel tokens that we didn't need after all)
-------------------------------
Entertainment & souvenirs $39
-------------------------------

Subway - $9.50
Bus - $1.50
Gas - $20
Tool Booth - $3
-------------
Transport $34
-------------

Grand total of $118 spent, plus $7 for a christmas present for my dad. That was in the christmas budget though.

Oh well, I don't think I would have spent as much if I hadn't of been with my friend - I think I would have stayed out of the stores altogether. But I got my son a couple of little tokens as a result. Food is always the killer on these types of trips, eh?

Oh yeah, besides all that, no time to read blogs or forums today - this week doesn't look so hot. Got a little done around the house today - MUCH more to go...

Tomorrow is a day off work, but I am helping a neighbor with quickbooks, hopefully will not take ALL day. Also meeting with my insurance agent, hope the damage is not too high. I checked my dh's car on blue book and had no idea it was worth so much - has hardly dpereciated at all in 5 years - I guess we did get quite a steal. IT is worth like $4k trade-in & $8k (what we paid) by dealer??? I will discuss the whole comprehensive/collission thing as well. We really don't have a ton of money to replace it at this point. Is worth $4k and we could probably, BUT at the same time not without clearing the rest of our cash. So I am considering it, depends on how much it cost of course!! I figure odds are I won't bother because I know I could find a sweet car for $1,000 if need be. No biggie. People throw away cars like water so it is easy to find a steal. I really assumed dh's car was worth squat at this point. So I am impressed with our buy today though kind of annoyed - hehe. It will be a tough decision...

Ah, and the true test. I just checked craigslist and there are 30 of them for sale, most ASKING under $3k which means you can find one for $2k easy. Go stick shift and its even less. Blue Book can be deceiving I guess. I thought $4k trade-in was pretty pie in the sky...







I now own a Wii

November 19th, 2006 at 08:53 am

Why get a job when you can wait in line all night and buy a toy you can sell for 200%+ profit????

Oh yeah - my hubby decided againt all that racket for the PS3 BUT silly me didn't realize there was another game system coming out this week. When we got home last night he told me he was thinking of going. Though I think it is insanely silly, I actually encouraged him to go last night. Why, because our neighborhood is extremely terrible for auto theft AND the kids rooms are right above the garage. Big Monkey and I got home so late we couldn't park in the garage, without risk of waking the light sleeping little monkey. So when I Walked in and dh told me his crazy plan I said, whatever. I Rather him take our most expensive possession to the Best Buy parking lot in his sight all night then sitting in the driveway. This turned out to be a good choice because though I did not turn on a light in the van and I KNOW for a fact I locked the doors, dh said when he went outside a light was on in the van and the driver side door was unlocked. VEry strange but there is no doubt I would have met bad news with such a "come get me" sign on it. Frankly I am not sure if someone was tampering with it I have no idea how the door could have been unlocked or a light on otherwise. Strange. The other reason I did not mind so much is the Wii is a mere $250 vs. the $500 playstation. Though if dh does not make a nice profit I will not doubt be annoyed. Time will tell I guess - I am sure those things will flood Ebay for a while. Maybe closer to Christmas - the last minute shoppers - will be what we wait for.

& yes I am annoyed that dh's sleep schedule will probably be ALL Screwed up all week. Not worth it if you ask me - geez. Today he will be useless, that is for sure. HE is still not home yet - it is 9am. He told me at 8 he got a ticket to buy one so he was "in." I will be curious to hear how many people behind him got tickets and if it was worth waiting in line from midnight.

ETA: looking at the thousands on listing on ebay I am not too keen on this today, BUT I noticed Play Station is still going strong. I Was just tempted to list the thing today because guaranteeing shipping tomorrow might be our only edge. But we decided to wait it out - dh can return it if it doesn't pan out. Imagine waiting all night in the cold to just return it. I am having a bad feeling it may stay in our house for a long while - like forever. We'll see...

Oh yeah, I called dh again and periodically people were yelling "wii." I asked what was going on and he said anytime someone walked out of the store with one, they all yelled "wii." OMG! LOL. What a bunch of crazy people... He said only 4 people in line behind him made it, the rest camped out for NOTHING!!!!!

I have no words...







November Update

November 18th, 2006 at 06:43 am

Woohoo - the month is looking good.

Just deposited my preschool refund and unless I Am forgetting something (I could be), I have another $185 to add to the e-fund. The month is not over yet and dh made $100 on the guitar AND I have quite a few large baby items to sell. We will get $100-$200 through the end of the year - maybe $100 this month. Plus I have $125 cash sitting in my pocket. As I always say I hate cash, but I will splurge a little on our trip today. Hopefully I will have $50 at least leftover, probably more - so makes it pretty certain we can get our E-fund to $6k this month! OMG!!!! To go from feeling like you can not possible save to saving $1k in such a crazy time of year is super awesome. It was mostly working extra and selling things - but I think we can keep that up for a while - the little things really help.

Oh yeah - but wish us luck. Our house is insured for about $200k and rebuilding costs have SOARED these last few years since we bought. Doing our insurance review Monday. Hopefullly the damage isn't too bad - I know we need more coverage on our house. But I don't now what else they will try to sell us. I will probably just be aggreable and then come home, pop on the internet, and research everything and call and cancel most of it - hehe. I am a pushover, and dh isn't but he said he didn't want to go because he doesn't know anything about any of this stuff. Oh anyway, when we moved here I met with the insurance agent and he was really NICE and didn't push a bunch of stuff on me. But he shortly retired, the young whipper snappers are pushy, we'll see. It's hard to know what is necessary or not. Our old agent was always pushing more medical and liability stuff on our car, and I might consider it now that we have a lot more significant assets. Feel like the more you have, the more you have to spend to protect it. On the flipside, they just changed their rate structure so instead of going by zip code they are charging auto insurance by driving record. So though our home insurance may be going way up, I think our auto insurance may significantly decrease next year - woohoo. I Was so bummed when we moved here and our insurance pretty much doubled. Did not make sense to me since it is a less metro area and I drive way less, etc. But with our perfect driving records (knock on wood), our rates have got to be great with the change. I know it was simply the zip code that was totally reaming us. Well we'll see how much a difference it makes next year when the rates take effect. Oh anyway, I put the $185 for savings in the short-term fund because I wil probably need it for insurance - might not go to e-fund after all.

I admit I don't completely understand all of the ends and outs of profit sharing plans but I was clarifying something with my boss yesterday, for a client, and realized I have more guaranteed to me today than I realized. I thought I wasn't eligible for my contribution unless I Worked a full year, but I Am eligible after working 1000 hours. So I added my contribution through November to my tally. Woohoo - added $2500. I had accrued some of it already but don't want to get into profit sharing plans and why - hehe. But I will start accruing that every month. Well after I hit 1000 hours next year. & the coolest part is at the end of next month I vest another 20% and will add another $5k to my balance. Next year I should vest about $6k and get an $8k contribution, so next year is looking pretty good. I have a round idea in my head that I Want to get our Retirement up to $100k by the time we are 35. Depends on the market and other factors, but I think even if dh doesn't work until then that we can do it.

Oh anyway, my birthday is coming up and christmas. Since most of the shopping is done I Expect to save a big chunk in december - we will probably get some nice cash and I Am putting it straight in the bank. I was thinking about it in regards to the luxury thread because I Feel like we have quite a few luxuries. BUT this time of year it is like dh and I Are not even exchanging gifts - we see no need. I think having a little luxury in your life it ieasy to give up a lot of things. Oh yeah, and my friends around here think I am absolutely DEPRIVED because I don't want anything for Christmas. Is it that hard to see that I am satisfied with what I have? LOL. HAving the money to enjoy things throughout the year and hire a gardener, and have dh stay home. Those are all the luxuries I enjoy through the year and I can forego the materialism that is Christmas. I think I will survive. Wink & plus the truth is though my family is not big on gifts and my mom will probably get me something silly that I Will promptly freecycle - LOL. The truth is MIL absolutely spoils us rotten and she will get me some nice gifts that I will enjoy, and some cash. So don't feel to worried about me. Though frankly I am hoping to get gift cards or cash because I need a new suit for work. Ah, here I go being all practical...

Ah, well everyone have a great weekend. We are taking the kids on the BAy Area subway equivalent today and spending the day in the city. I hope the kids enjoy it - I am sure it will be quite an adventure for them. Hopefully I survive. I am a little nervous because we went to a playdate last night with my travel buddy for today and I guess the preschool teacher told her our 2 monkeys are quite mischevious when they are together - they can not be alone. This is the first I heard this so of course I figure we have to watch those 2 like a hawk - they do get pretty rambuctious together too. Hopefully we won't have to turn right around because they can't behave or something. LOL. We'll see. I am sure they will be fine, but you know if it's one of those days somoething is in the air, or someone is in a funk, it can spell disaster. But if it goes well, I really hope to plan more trips like this in the future just my son and I. I think he would enjoy.

Feeling Overwhelmed/No Spend Day

November 16th, 2006 at 11:59 pm

Um, well, first I Spent too much time here today so I am vowing to myself not to come online tomorrow. I wil break this vow unless I spell it out here to be accountable to myself - hehe.

I tried to read everyone's list, but might have missed a few. Hopefully I will catch up. I like Tina's idea to make a category for 'list.' I hope more people do so, so we can catch the lists we missed more easily.

I think I Added 3 items to mine and I think I don't want to add any more. I imagine you can easily get your list out of control this way. IT is what it is and I think it is closed - hehe. I reserve the right to change my mind.

Today was super cool because I know on that thread about giving things away some people had said that when you give you are rewarded. I totally believe in karma and all that and probably why i am a "lucky" person overall. But frankly lately I am tired of giving and giving and giving, and other people being so UNgiving. Just for example, we lent and gave away all of our babys tuff to SIL, and the only thing I Wanted to borrow from her with my second son was a baby bathtub, since her child was 1 at the time. & she wouldn't let me borrow it. What the hell?????? Reminds me she would not give me back something she had borrowed and I needed back, as well. I Will give someone a ton of hand-me-downs, but they are trying to sell something I would just give away and they won't even budge on the price for me. Stuff like that - I am SO fed up with people. BUT today karma hit fast. Ds's preschool teacher called and was clarifying how much of a refund she owed me. I thought she had already sent the check in the mail, but since she hadn't I told her to keep $100. I figure things were tight for her and she is super awesome. It's for christmas but I figure it was silly to wait a few weeks - she probably needed it now. She was super grateful. & then later I met a friend for dinner who I hadn't seen in years, and I figure I would swing it however, but he offered to pay for my dinner - insisted really. I didn't expect it at all and it felt really good. So my spend day today turned into a no-spend day like that - woohoo. Though I guess maybe in a sense I spent $100? Nah, I just decreased my refund...

Oh well it is nice to be grumbly and think why bother being nice. & then to have someone be nice on a day you are feeling that way. Know what I mean?

Anyway, it was quite strange today hanging out with someone I haven't seen since having kids and stuff - reminding me of my carefree youth - aaaaaahhhhhhh. I guess he moved to San Francisco recently and I have a really good friend who lives over there but I never visit in the city because she lived in such a bad neighborhood. But she just moved, so we were making plans to hang out in the City soon, and I Was thinking cool now that I know 2 people there. But I was thinking back and figuring this other girl is like my best friend and I have seen her a few times back home and such but I don't think I have hung out with her, without the kids, since I had my first son over 3 years back. That is just sad. Everything is so crazy and the distance doesn't help, but it just feels so weird to talk about plans to take a day off for myself and go to a museum and out to dinner and all that stuff the single people do - hehe. Anyway, we are trying to plan a visit in December, we'll see how it pans out. This weekend I Am taking my son to the city on the rapid transit - kind of a dry run - I guess we'll see if I Will be up to taking the route alone. I Am sure I will be. Wink When we moved here I figured we weren't relaly that much further from SF, but have since learned driving is not an option. I rather drive 2 hours home and then another hour into the city, then get into the city from this isde, over the bridge. IT is the worst thing ever if you ask me. I used to take the train from the other side, just less familiar with the area on this side, and it is annoying because it is a good hour drive to get to the train - it is a pretty large trip all the same - though probably faster than driving and sitting ont he bridge for 1 hour waiting to get past the toll booth. I Talked to my friend today if it was possible to get those fast passes even if you only use them once or twice a year - the electronic chips so you can zoom through - you know. He said probably possible, but not always faster, since he traveles a lot for work and gets stuck on the bridge all the time, fast pass and all. Bummer.

I guess I Am excited because just as I Was gaining independence from my first son I got pregnant all over again. I don't intend to do that again anytime soon -hehe. I See some freedom in my future - woohoo.

Oh yeah, I Was going to say I have been trying to meet other people around here, but it is always so mom-centric - people I meet for playdates, or even on a night out all we do is talk about the kids. I look forward to spending time with people that know me pre-kids, and talking about something else. Though I will probably bore them and talk about my kids the whole time, huh? Anyway, I am super excited at the prospect.

Oh yeah - I forgot to say why I felt so overwhelmed. Work is crazy tomorrow since I intend to take next week off. YAY! But next week I am preparing for the big feast here AND doing some freelance work. Plus I have a few appointments thrown in to keep me on my toes. Saturday is the big trip to the city. I Figure Friday night I could do all my last minute planning and such. But then I just came online and saw I have a playdate tomorrow after work. OMG! I totally forgot. I am officially overwhelmed. This is why I have to keep off the internet - I have much to do!!!!

Health Insurance GOUGING

November 16th, 2006 at 06:59 am

Oh man - I Was gonna leave my home loan entry on top a while, but yesterday we faced financial ruin. Okay, a little dramatic, but feels like it.

I have been waiting for our 2007 health insurance premiums. We have private insurance because we are really attached to our HMO for one, my hubby and I have had our whole life and I think it is stellar. & frankly it is cheaper than anything else out there. my boss would cover me, but it would cost me the same to cover dh & kids as it is just to put us all on private insurance. & frankly his insurance SUCKS. My industry in general doesn't provide good benefits, and I Put up with it because I get 10% profit sharing, it all evens out in the end. THat is about how much my health insurance is, and no where else is going to give me 10% profit sharing OR Decent benefits. I figure I have it as good as it gets. I Can't afford to save any money for retirement with these insane health insurance premiums, but at least I know 10% of my pay is getting contributed to my retirement every year - phew.

Anyway, every year the premium increases freak me out, but this year I have been a little extra nervous because I turn 30 and that means a big increase for "old age" - hehe. We considered going to the high deductible plan which is 1/2 as much per month, but after digging deeper, I didn't feel comfortable doing this without a lot more cash in the bank. If something catastrophic happened we just couldn't afford it. We decided to suck it up one more year until dh gets his surgery and I get my IUD out, etc. Once the chance of pregnancy is almost nil maybe I will get onto my boss's plan, see if it is any cheaper now - can keep the rest of the fam on HMO. & frankly after next year dh can get a PT job with beenfits to cover at least him. I can handle the kids coverage at $300/month or so. But in the meantime, suck it up another year...

So I have been anxiously awaiting our new premiums. I read premiums had on average gone up 7% this year, lower than the last few years. We pay $631/month now and I knew the premiums would be $715 today if I Was 30. So factoring all I Read I just budgeted for $800/month - figure that is like worst-case scenario.

& then yesterday I get the mail. No new premiums but a flyer was sitting on top with an ad for our HMO And rates. I Was glancing at it, curious if they would be 2007 rates, but not really expecting it. OMG it was and I Almost passed out then and there I Swear. $865 a month!!!!!!!! Are they insane??? THat is a 20% increase for turning 30 AND a 20% increase over that. I have been sick of the 10%, 12%, 15% increases everywhere. So NOW this year they decide a 20% increase is in order??????????? Oh MY GOD!

Frankly, after calming down, I Was not even that upset for our family. You just wonder how in the HELL anyone can afford health insurance these days. I know I freaked out at $631 and I know we will adjust. But I am just super disgusted with the system.

There is a silver lining too. The $50 copay plan is only $673/month which I can stomach. IT doesn't really differ too much from our current plan, except bigger copays, BUT it does not provide any drug benefits for whatever reason. I think that is why I wrote it off before. Today it is a no brainer, forego the drug beenfits so we have semi-reasonable premiums. That is what we decided on for now. I updated the budget and it is pretty darn breakeven for the year. I squeezed out $50/month to save. Lately I have been saving by being under budget and making extra money, so I am sure we will be able to save more than just $50/month. & I am happy that we won't be paying $800/month. Though don't even ask me about next year - I can't even think in the future with these kinds of increases. IT's enough to paralyze you with financial fear.

Oh yeah, but lucky us, it appears they completely restructured their rates so that you don't really pay any different if youa re 30 or 49. Gee great, the year I turn 30 they start charging like we are 40 or something. Which frankly looking at the rates I told dh we have to find an alternative before we turn 40. I guss the time has some sooner thatn I Thought - paying those insane rates.

For the long-term we do plan to get a job with some good beenfits. We live in the state capitol and there are a lot of great state jobs with good benefits - they offer our HMO As well. THe best is they offer full benefits if you work part-time so that is my goal down the road. I Am almost hoping dh can find something he really enjoys with the state because I don't really dig government accounting or being an auditor, and there is now ay in hell I Would work for the IRS, but I am sure I Can find something. & I know dh can find something he would enjoy. We have a plan. For now dh isn't working and I love my job too much. But my boss is a sole proprietor who is retiring in a few years so I know in a few years I am either going to work in healthcare (probably a better idea) or government to get some benefits. I had the idea to get a job at the HMO, because I figure if you can't beat them, join them! In the meantime, the next couple of years will be rough.

Oh yes, and beyond all this I get my annual raise in January. I think I Will stick with the $50 copay plan no matter what. But hey maybe I can save some money for retirement this year too if I get a raise. I Will get a raise, how much is the question I guess. Our budget isn't too dire yet.

That's my health insurance rant, I will try to lay off the griping for another year - LOL.

Hey I got an AWESOME haircut yesterday. Woohoo. IT is always so hit and miss, but for $14 I can deal with the hit and miss. But I recognized the stylist right off and remembered she had done a great job before so I got her name. Hell, I should have gotten her home # in case she leaves in the meantime. i have really unique hair (don't we all) that is usually so flat and she gave it so much body, she is like a miracle worker or something. I LOVE her. She actually did the entire haircut with a razor blade or something of the sort, I love how that leaves my hair. Forget the scissors....







Mortgage Loan Amortization Tips

November 15th, 2006 at 01:13 pm

I didn't have much to blab about myself today so I figured I would be helpful instead. & give some tips on figuring out your mortgage, or any loan, and how maybe you can pay it off early.

Anyway, a while back I went through some amortization tables and played with how much in extra payments, that I Can afford anyway, I should make on my mortgage to get the most benefit. Basically, what is the minimum amount I Can pay that will shorten the loan the most? For me, paying an extra 11% was the best. I am not sure how it differs on different variables. But another $100/month was doable and maybe shortened it a few years. An extra $150 shortened it 6 or 7 years. $200 only shortened 8 years. I said why bother then $150 is like the sweet spot. I like round numbers so I didn't dig much deeper than that.

I did the extra $150 thing for a while, but that has been out the window since my last maternity leave. We took a big hit on our cash and I am waiting to have $10k in the bank to resume payments again. I am guessing next summer though so not much longer. I then updated my amortization schedule with some future thinking. $150 extra/month for the next 2 years. After that I assume with raises and dh bringing in some money I could really afford $200/month extra for the following 2 years. At that point the youngest will be in 1st grade and odds are dh will have at least a part-time job. So I assume $500/month extra at that point. There is a big difference between my attitude now with kind of struggling to get ahead, vs. when dh can bring home a significant check and our goal then will be to pay off the mortgage as fast as we can. With this plan we will payy off the mortgage in 2022, or Big Monkey's first year in college. That's pretty much how I came up with the $500/month extra amount.

The beauty of making early mortgage payments is not only you are paying down your principal, but you are being charged less interest over time as a result. My current plan has $100k in early payments but also saves $85k in interest over the life of the loan. Hey that is $85k I Rather not spend if I do not need to. Even just sticking with the $150/month saved $65k/month interest. So that is really the sweet spot. That would take 4 more years to pay though, but still shaves 7 years off the original loan.

OF course, there is always the argument that if you have money in the bank earning more, that it is best not to pay off low-interest debt. For now my $215k loan at 5.75% is way beyond my measly few thousand in the bank. But certainly something I will re-evaluate as our means change. I am trying to find that balance where we are saving, paying down the mortgage, and maxing our retirement contributions. IF we can do all 3, great. If not, that is where priorities have to be made. But I know money going to my mortgage every month is money well spent and will not go anywhere else once it is gone. A forced savings plan in a way. Trying to balance all 3 is a challenge, but I have never been a fan of debt, and I decide not to be a fan of my mortgage either. No doubt needed it to get into a house in our region in our lifetime, BUT doesn't mean I won't try my best to pay it off long before it is due. An extra $150/month is pretty simple and doable and saves a lot of interest.

Anyway, I have always felt at an advantage because when I applied for a loan and as I study my loans, I have lots of tools at my fingertips as an accountant. But I Decided I would look for some free tools onnline and share, so you can evaluate your loans and do the same. The same principles should apply to auto loans and such.

First I will go through the basics for the really ambitious, and then share the tools for those who just want to know the bottom line.

How amortization works is you take your current loan balance and multiply that by the interest rate. Divide that by 12 (12 months) and that is your interest payment for the month. Take your total monthly payment and subtract the interest portion, the rest is applied to principal. Subtract the principal paid from the beginning loan balance and that is your new loan balance. You can set up columns in excel to calculate your amortization. Maybe a column with date (month and year), monthly payment, principal portion, interest portion, and balance. The sum of the principal and interest portion should always equal your payment for the month. Put in your calculations for a month or 2 and just copy it down the spreadheet until the remaining balance is 0. IT is also a good idea to add a column for extra payments, then you can throw in extra payments evenly for the life of the loan, or just times when you think you can swing it. You can see the length of the loan shorten as you play with it, and you can get to a point where you are happy.

This is the hard way and I wouldn't recommend it overall, but it sure gives you an understanding of how it all works out.

I actually found this website which had a pretty good amortization tool: http://www.hsh.com/calc-amort.html

The top part of the calculator you put in all of your variables. This is good if you are evaluating a new loan - it will calculate your payment. On the bottom portion you can add extra payments too. The resulting amortization table is really informative - says how much you save in interest with prepayments, etc. You can play with it and see what your sweet spot is.

However, on the above tool, though great, you can't customize to make extra payments here and there, and change amounts over time, etc. What works great for that is an excel amortization template. Here is a free one, you will have to scroll down to the "loan amortization schedule": http://www.score.org/template_gallery.html

You just enter the basic loan info, and it will calculate the monthly payment for you. & in the spreadsheet you can change the additional payments line by line if you like. I understand that this template works in open office as well. I haven't tried, but read it does.

And beyond all that read this super cool article I found. http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/7112005_Payoff_Mortgage_Amo...

I don't know anyone, besides my accounting friends anyway, who even knows or cares about all this stuff. But I figured if I shared here it might actually be appreciated. Wink

& just FYI - this is all in regards to fixed rate mortgages. It does not work the same on ARMS - don't even ask - I have no clue how those work but I always hear scary words like "negative amortization" and such when it comes to other products. I am not sure how much you can prepay principal on some of those ARMs. I tried to find some articles on the subject but it just confused me more...

My Monkeys

November 14th, 2006 at 01:16 pm

Today has been pretty productive. I woke up at 5am and got a lot done this morning. Been super productive at work too. A good day. I have been crashing absolutely exhausted at 9pm. The only problem I find is with everyone asleep at 5am I have to be super quiet. Hard to be too productive. But once tax season hits maybe I can work a little in the morning and then come home at 5 instead of 6 or something. I will put my morning self to good use. My dh on the other hand has been staying up until 1 or 2. This is what happens when the baby sleeps well - we revert to completely opposite schedules. He gets annoyed I am never *on time* to work (no one cares). But he doesn't understand why when he waked up at 7:30 and demands I watch the kids while he showers, that I can not get to work at 8:00 - LOL. Anyway, he is staying up until 2am anyway, he seriously could get a full-time job working 6pm-2am something. Not that I want him to work FT, but he is frustrating me.

So anyway, I have trouble sometimes typing about my sons and not saying their names. Would prefer to remain mostly anonymous and I know I have slipped a name here or there, but I decided to call them Big Monkey & Little Monkey. Maybe I will think of something else, but works. Baby Monkey works too, but he is quickly outgrowing babyhood.


BILLS BILLS BILLS & more BILLS

November 14th, 2006 at 06:35 am

I really dislike the end of the year.

$3000 to IRS
$1200 to estate lawyer
$1100 to house insurance, which BTW is undervalued - will probably pay more - have an appointment to review next week - BAH!
$2200 property tax
$500 car insurance
$150 bird poop cleanup
& then there is Christmas!

Yes, not all of the end of the year bills - just the ugly and unusual ones. I am sick of Bills!

I REALLY like spring. I work like mad but generally we don't have much in the way of big bills due and I get paid overtime. So yeah I work my ass off a few months, but around may I am generally rewarded with a slight tax refund and a nice overtime bonus. Then summer is super slow - no big bills - and then fall hits and it feels like it will never end.

Oh well, just a few more weeks of this. This was my third try to pay all the big bills, keep getting interrupted - so I just wrote them all. While I Was at it paid all the bills for the month. Still think I can save $500 by Dec. 31. Wow, imagine what I can do without all these big bills coming due!!

Oh the IRS & estate lawyer are just one time things, but it is giving me a hernia - such a chunk of change. *sigh*

I also wrapped a few christmas presents and dh ordered our older son's gift. I think he just has to find something for his dad and leaves December to pay for all the potlucks and gift exchanges. Cash for boss, gardener, etc. Christmas has hardly made a dent in our budget so that is the upside I guess. With a lot of planning anyway!!

Dh got $100 cash for the guitar and we are getting $130 cash for that bounced check today. I took the check out of the equation when paying the bills so that is $230 cash. We are going on a little road trip to San Francisco this weekend so with the cash I think we will splurge a little. Certainly not all of it - plenty left for savings too. Woohoo.

Frankly I hate cash because I can't just transfer it to the E-fund, or track very easily where it all ends up. Was thinking of having dh use it for grocery shopping or something but then we would lose our 3% cash back.

Oh yeah - paid all the bills but also got a $100 cash rebate from our old card. Just a matter of time before we earn $250 on our new one though. I love getting "interest" on our purchases!! Now that is the best!


In the realm of "free entertainment", dh is taking the kids to a tour of the police department today. Think the toddler will like it - planned through the parents' group. They have library storytime thursday too. The world is not ending without preschool - LOL.

& oh my gosh, the baby is starting to talk - so CUTE! He was sitting next to me and kept saying "Ball-y" or something like that when I realized he was saying "Belly." He just kept saying it over and over last night and lifting up our shirts to look at our bellies - so CUTE!!! LOL. This is the time I feel horrible as a parent because I could never pick up on what my kids were saying 1/2 the time - I feel this is a huge disadvantage as a working parent. You know it's bad when other people understand your kid more than you - LOL. & I wasn't sure if my older son would be ruined because the only thing worse was dh was even worse than I and he was the caregiver. BUT my older son turned out okay, in fact he kind of just started out talking in full sentences and everyone says he speaks extremely clear for his age. Probably because that is the only way we could understand what the hell he was trying to say - LOL. He seriosuly completely skipped baby talk for the most part. So I feel less panicky this time around, but it stresses me out not knowing what else I am not picking up on, all the same. Wink I am sure he is saying way more than I can grasp right now. For now, I do a lot of smiling and nodding. Whatever you say - baby!

Saved $10!!

November 13th, 2006 at 07:40 pm

I know flowers are pretty extravagant - especially the lazy just buy them online angle - LOL. But ds's preschool teacher is so wonderful - wanted to do something special. Ds even helped me pick out a beautiful arrangement of yellow and white daisies and roses in a yellow happy face mug. Yellow is his favorite color and he is so happy I knew she would appreciate it - would remind her of my super cheery son. Plus he picked out one of the cheaper arrangements - all the better - hehe. I would have swayed him if he hadn't.

So I go to check out and apparently I bought flowers from this site about 2 years ago, and I had a $10 coupon. They just automatically applied it. So my $40 extravagance turned out to be only $30. I think that is pretty sweet!!

I know I have been online way too much, but popped on to order flowers and change my credit cards for as many vendors as I could think of. Since I Switched to a bigger/better rewards card. Good thing too because I realized I never got either my phone bills. By some strange miracle I Was under my minutes on the cell. I had kind of decided a little extra money to call my mom from the car which is the only time I have any peace and quiet - was okay. & yet I managed to stay under minutes too - cool!! ANyway, I have been getting so much JUNK in my e-mail I deleted my 2 phone invoices AND also an e-mail from that lady who had realized her check had bounced and had offered to meet me today to give me cash. I Called her today and since she would see dh tomorrow just said give it to him. She felt bad and had a reasonable excuse - I feel better about it. Phew. I thought she was lying that she had e-mailed me because I did not see, but I really dug deep and finally found it. YEah, at face value it had looked like junk and I Deleted it. oops!!!

Anyway, darn e-mail, I will have to look closer before I hit delete - amazed how much I missed this last week!! The junk has just gotten SO out of control. I Am super anal about all of my bills so unlikely I Would miss one completely. But who knows...

Net Worth

November 13th, 2006 at 11:30 am

www.networthiq.com

Time for my monthly update I guess. I posted the link before without much interest but I try again. It can make you feel real good, depress you, motivate you, I don't know.

Sure Cali is super expensive, but once you get in, these days anyway, watch your net worth skyrocket. IT is certainly a trade off - housing costs more, but rewards you more as well. Though buying at the peak can REALLY hurt you I guess. IT is hard to say where real estate is. You know, when we bought our condo (1999)and then our house (2001) the sky was falling and we were crazy to buy - it was the PEAK! So here we are almost $300k equity later. So many friends still renting waiting for the peak to be over. Missed the boat I think. Though I certainly bow my head to luck - we certainly never foresaw this!

Well, my net worth is $363k!

Without house, hmmm, $78,000. Not bad. But you see where most of my net worth comes from.

Of course we easily could have really stretched ourselves for some house we could not afford and maybe even have a higher net worth. I am comfortable where we are at - very comfortable with our mortgage no matter how ugly it compares to other areas of the nation. Wink Being comfortable is what is important. At the time we bought a house we felt we could afford on $40k/year comfrotably. I think we underestimated how expensive child rearing could be. But at $70k/year our mortgage is extremely comfortable regardless. Dh could bring in a few hundred bucks a month sure, would be great. But don't need the whole second-income thing to reach all of our goals. In this kind of market it is so easy to get in over your head so I am proud we thought it through and decided getting in over our head was unacceptable.

Actually my net worth was $464k in january. A lot more cash and the house was worth way more. But it is funny, my net worth besides house was $81k. Today it is $78. I feel so behind over that $3k because I have a nice new car now but a lot less cash and a small loan. I am really not that far behind. In fact I Will catch up soon enough. Car will depreciate but we can save and will pay off the loan soon enough. IT is not as dire as I thought. IT all comes down to we have a lot less cash and that makes me uncomfortable. But if not I wouldn't be cracking the whip so much on our finances - I think we will come out ahead soon enough.

Minus real estate I am average for 'All' and Education. Way above average for income and age. (That feels good!) Below average for occupation and state. Throw in the house and I Am doing 10 times better than average. But I don't really like to count it overall - here today, gone tomorrow. Real estate is finicky.







Lots of Monday Ramblings

November 13th, 2006 at 09:45 am

Oh I just wanted to say the DRIVE was so beautiful this weekend. Most of the time Northern CA can be pretty brown and dry, in the summer I guess. But was so green and lush this past weekend - just a beautiful drive. I know I took some pics way in the past I will have to dig them out and share - some pics of the landscape beween the Bay Area and up north.

Oh yes - and a wonderful dinner at MILs and my dad took us out to a wonderful mexican lunch. Makes up for the gas I guess. Actually I ate TOO well. As usual, spoiled by our parents.

But a few things to share:

1 - I forgot to mention our investments are all up about 9% all of a sudden, for the year. Were up about 3% 2-3 months ago, and the last couple of months have been AWESOME!!! Woohoo.

2 - We got home last night and house was FREEZING. The chily weather has moved in. BUT usually when it dips below 68 I Am freezing. Today I took a shower in the 63-degree house and it just didn't bother me. For the kids I Set the house to 67 before I left for work. Dh probably wouldn't have even thought to turn on the heat. He freezes the kids out sometimes. They'll be in shorts when I get home or something - wouldn't be surprised. ANyway, I was pondering why the cold wasn't bothering me so much and I pretty much concluded it was body fat. I have a lot more than usual - LOL. I am totally serious though. I usually feel I am suffering through at 68 with layers of clothes and blankets, etc. So it's the only thinkg that makes sense - hehe. I know overall the kids have been keeping me on my toes a lot more - less downtime - more running around and therefore need less external heat. But doesn't explain the shower. Maybe losing weight is not a frugal thing to do - hehe. I just got this layer of fat around my middle that I have never had before - from the last pregnancy - better than any blanket or clothinbg - HA! Oh well, I do truly wonder. I am losing it with all the frugal eating so we'll see. In the meantime I am keeping the house at 67 instead of 68. See how that affects the bottom line. I have to have a discussion with dh about this though - how this means a little more bundling for the wee ones. Dh is an enigma. He is thin as a rail and never gets cold so I am the one who sets the heat basically.

3 - I am not sure what to think about this one, except probably it is a bad idea. Dh wants to buy a PlayStation3 now (is that what it is?) and sell it on ebay - he says he can make 100%. LOL. Sure, I am sure odds are he can make a profit. But first he has to get the dang thing. & then there are so many variables. Like 1, what if EVERYONE has this idea? Woudln't be surprised. I haven't said much because he lacks follow through so it is better to humor him and know it will never be done, then to arge about it - hehe. After years of new playstations coming out and being completely sold out - who knows - this may be the year there will be too many. & I gurantee regardless Ebay will be flooded with those things - other people thinking the same thing. IT will all be in the timing. In the meantime I have no idea why he thinks he can score one if they will be that hard to get. If this involves camping out, as he has done in the past, not sure how practical that is. Even then it is not guaranteed he would get one. In the past inevitably we would get a windfall like this completely unplanned, for example getting rid of extra concert tickets for a REALLY big show, and as soon as we try to recreate it, it doesn't work. So you think he would learn...

Man I Wish he would just get a JOB. The true answer is just too simple, huh? LOL.

4 - I got some little popsicle makers for the kids so I Wondered if you all had any ideas of some good popsicle recipes. I made some smoothies last week that had tofu instead of yogurt. I can not eat tofu in anything - I think it is nasty. But these were pretty good. Recipe was huge, so I told ds I would make them tonight again and the leftovers we can make popsicles with. I think those would be pretty yummy. Anyway the tofu smoothie is way more low-cal than my usual yogurt recipe. But even that one if I made popsicles with would probably be smaller servings. I am not a big fruit fan overall so I am the smoothie queen - helps me to get my servings of fruit. I can eat fruit as long as it is all mashed up and frozen I guess - mostly not big on fruit texture.

So what else do you make popsicles with? Juice? Pureed fruit? Hmmm. I will probably look around online for some other ideas too.

I know, this is so not the season for frozen treats - LOL. It's chilly.

Bounced Check - Grrrrrrr

November 13th, 2006 at 07:21 am

Not me! But I just was doing some transfers and stuff since all the bills are paid for the 1st 1/2 of the month. Looking at what I have left and how much I needed from short-term savings for my $3k bills due soon - property taxes and insurance. & updating Quicken since it had been a few days. When I see a $5 charge from my bank. WHAT???? Digging deeper I find a $125 check that I received has bounced. I am beyond p.o.ed, because my Moms group is having a Christmas party at my community Clubhouse. I sent in the check ages ago and it took forever to get my $125 reimbursement. I waited until my paycheck to cash it so even then I waited another week or 2 before depositing it, and yet the lady does not have the funds to cover it. Bah!

Usually these kind of things always happen at the worst time, but luckily I had not gotten around to paying my credit card bill yet. I just wanted to pay the old one off which would be maybe $1400, but with this I only had $1300 left in my account. So I paid $1300 and will still have to pay a little next month. Fine since a couple of automatic charges I saw had been added. Will probably have a couple of months of charges until we move everything over. But I am just beyond peeved. Yet grateful nothing bounced. I usually run my checkbook balance to 0, but frankly my balance never really dips below $2k. I input all my online bill pays when I enter them, but maybe they aren't due until the end of the month so that is when I set them to be paid. I always pay my mortgage after the end of the month just as float though the money is there well before the end of the month. I am starting to think that maybe I should get a checking account with interest. I always thought why bother since I keep it at 0 overall. But just the other day I was looking at my balance and I realized it had not dipped below $2k in the last 2 months. Wow! The thing is my bokkeeping system is complicated enough without having to figure out how to have my book balance be 0 and my bank balance keep the minimum. Too complicated. Why I won't switch to interest-checking. Just how it is working out for now.

Anyway, decided how much money I had and needed for my lovely $3k in bills and decided I could add another $100 to savings this month. I didn't need it ALL - woohoo. My goal is to get that sucker up to $6k by year-end.

I told dh I had wanted to make some early payments on our personal loan and he talked me out of it. So we may be building up our savings more in the meantime. The power of interest - he convinced me. I need constant convinving - I swear. I hate having open debt - Bah! Wink We will have this conversation 10 more times before it is paid off - I swear. I told him we would have it paid off May no matter what - which is early - and he doesn't mind. But he has the point - what difference does it make in the end if I make extra payments in the meantime - either way it's all the same. So you pay off more towards the end, you earn more interest in the meantime. & he is right! Either way just a few more months!!!

Phew - a Blonde Moment

November 11th, 2006 at 08:01 am

Airhead strikes again!! LOL. & I am not even blonde. Wink

When I grabbed my property tax bill I Was looking at the amount due after penalties if paid late. Something like $2400 vs. the $2100 last year - for 1 installment. I was freaking out looking at the budget. For DAYS! I knew some big new school bond passed and I thought it was s'posed to be a few hundred per year so I wasn't terribly surprised.

Anyway this morning I grabbed all of the bills to figure out just how much to transfer from my short-term saving account for this and some other bills. & I looked a little closer and was SO relieved to see the real amount was closer to $2200. I have been GRIPING about how insane our taxes were all week. LOL. Phew - wasn't so crazy after all.

Oh yes - and I tried to get that jewelry I had to have, but read the fine print after trying unsuccessfully, it wasn't available until today. I threw it with the bills and figured if I remembered and grabbed it before it sold out, whatever. If not, good for the budget. Anyway, when I grabbed the bills I saw and remembered today was the day, BUT again it wouldn't let me order. Oh well. I will save money then!!!! I don't think I will even bother trying again. Whatever. I take this as a sign - LOL.

Oh yes - and send good vibes - preschool teacher is going into surgery TODAY. IT is sad since ds could not go monday to say good-bye - she didn't originally think she would get in so soon. Bummer. So we are getting around $500 refunded. I am probably going to give her a generous $100 cash or something for christmas since taking 2 months off so unexpectedly has got to be hard. & we figured maybe splurge on some nice flowers. & still a big chunk to pay down the van - woohoo!!!

Oh yes, and being sick has made our gas bill nil these last couple of weeks. I am going to make it about 2 weeks between fill-up. WOW! LAck of preschool will help that too. Wink We are driving to San Jose today to visit with family but will be WELL within the gas budget - could probably make another visit this month. Yay!

I have been spending WAY too much time on here so I have to go tidy the house and take care of things I guess. Have a good weekend everyone!









A Bummer with a Silver Lining

November 10th, 2006 at 06:59 am

Oh phew, finally have new on preschool teacher. She apparently has some fybroids in her uterus. I am very aware of all this kind of thing because both my mom and aunt-in-law have gone through a lot with this, resulting in hysterectomys. So apparently she is having a hysterectomy next week. I am relieved it is nothing more life threatening, though going under the knife is never a great thing either. She called us all last night and laughed when she found out how dire her assistant made it all sound. She said oh she didn't mean to keep it a secret - wish she had told us. I think she got the point when we called that we were all extremely worried about her!!!! The downside - she is closing the daycare until January!!! Ack!!!!! Of course my usually pleasant son was behaving like a banshee this week - I think dh had about the worst day ever yesterday, just to top it off with this news. I felt that no doubt part of his behavior was missing the regular routine with his wonderful teacher. He was pretty upset when we told him he'd have a couple of months off. Wish us luck that he doesn't drive dh completely insane. He is at that terrible 3 age which for the most part hasn't been as terrible as I hear (neither was 2 really but he could speak so well I believe that whole terrible 2 thing really has to do with lack of communication. Sure he had his moments but don't remember the tantrums and stuff so to speak since he could always tell us what was wrong). 3 is frustrating because apparently at 3 they just completely tune you out. You can repeat yourself 1000 times, say it nice, yell or scream, no matter what - they have a knack for completely ignoring you. Talking ot my friends this sounds pretty usual - the frustrating part of 3. & throwing toys - oh my. We were going to get him a Kid Tough digital camera for Christmas but now we rethink. The way he throws and drops his toys he does not deserve anything so nice. & the best part is the baby is now a copycat. Now when he is done, he throws his sippy cups across the room. Of course that is what you do when you are done with any object. Oh my, a long 2 months ahead...

The silver lining to this cloud is that I will probably get $150 refund for this month and will save $300 next month for preschool. I am kind of excited about that. I Also made clear to dh that did not mean he should not look for a job. Every little bit extra helps right now. I was kind of thrown off by our huge property tax bill, and still have to pay off the estate attorney, so this will really help. I don't have a huge hold on where we will be at the end of the year, but if we have a surplus because of this I will apply it to our personal loan. Would like to knock it down a few hundred extra - woohoo. & gee, I am so gald we don't need preschool and are not scrambling to find alternate care right now. It's got to be tough on those daycare kids.

Bird guy came this week and for $150 re-birdproofed front area of house. Their little alcove which the birds love so much. There is a lot of bird poop he didn't get - the way up high stuff. I imagine we may go up and work on it ourselves one of these days. BUT I have not seen a bird on our house since. Woot. So far so good...

Yesterday I lost a dime. I think that is a bad sign - LOL. I was going to pay for a $1 meal at BK, and I dropped my dime when I Was sitting and waiting and playing with my change. LOL. Bummer. I have been finding money and getting lots of little windfalls so I just have to wonder is this a sign of things to change. Of course I lost a dime around noon and found out at night I would save $450 this year. I guess I am still on the good side. Dime was just a fluke!

I figured I would start documenting my meals. I feel we eat pretty good on our grocery bill. Breakfast - applesauce & wheat thins, hot chocolate, lunch - BK bacon cheeseburger & soda - Dinner: homemade chicago pizza bake & garlic bread, milk. Not the most gourmet day, but dh feeds us pretty well overall!


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