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Archive for February, 2007

Yikes - It Was Ugly Today

February 27th, 2007 at 10:07 pm

Hey well I am glad today I have a conservative portfolio - hehe.

I have been trying not to work in the evenings, but the busy-ness demands it I guess. Well it wouldn't be a huge deal but the odds are if I stay up past 8 I get 4 hours of sleep if I am lucky. LM is screaming his head off as I type - he is on major sleep strike. It is a tossup if it is teething or growthspurt, or all of the above I guess. It's fine when all falls in place and I go to bed early, and we split the shift. But I brought some work home and needed to get to some writing. & I wanted to spend a little time with the kids first! I just pray for some sleep too. I figured since it is a short work day tomorrow (with having to take him and pick up BM from preschool at 5) I don't have to be so awake as the days I try to work 7-6. It's more a 9-5 day instead. Who needs sleep...

Anyway, I had concluded that picking an overall portfolio mix and sticking with it for the longer haul is good. Anyway, I think I have been going conservative as I wait for the big crash of 2007. It just seems like the market was really heading for a peak. I thought this last year. & I invested quite conservatively. & then I kind of wake up looking at the gains we have made this last year and thinking this is silly - time to get more aggressive. I find it ironic I decide this on/before such a bad stock day. & yet it makes it even more apparent that if I had just had an 85/15 mix all along I'd probably be miles ahead. So be it. Today was ugly, but I still have a gain for the year. I haven't even been too eager to put money in the stock market as is. Now I am more willing. Funny how that goes. My timing is pretty bad perhaps but looking at the big picture I will probably move to some money out of bonds to stocks. It doesn't matter because I hope to soon be putting a small amount into the market every month. Until we get to that point it is just a lot uglier. When we are continually investing, the lows (and highs) won't be so dramatic.

Well here's to better stock market days, though I Can't say I Was terribly surprised today.

Anyway, today was super crazy busy and I know I haven't updated much on my finances. There isn't much to tell. I work like crazy, dh takes care of the groceries, everyone is happy. LOL. I do know dh has 3 (THREE!!) doctor appointments next week - yikes! $150. March maybe not so hot. Blech. & it's the end of the month - should have some interest to post to my challenge money. It's funny because overall I think we will be way under budget on most things for February, but medical and such will blow it all out of the water. I am looking forward to a calm month - maybe April? I hesitate to think it though because I know it could be much worse. It hasn't been so bad...

I think it has just been compounded by the fact with busy season and craziness I have had little time to make side money and same for dh. I am frustrated I haven't saved above and beyond my raise the last few weeks. I know I have the full year ahead though and many opportunities to make more money once april is over and done...

Wonderful News & I need your HELP too!

February 24th, 2007 at 07:48 pm

Okay, first I admit I Am shamelessly copying TinaP! So please forgive me.

But I have awesome news. I have always said I have wanted to write a book someday, and lately fancy what it would be like to be the next Suze Orman or Laura Rowley. But I figured I am busy with kids and a career and that is something I will get to in a decade or 2 or 3 when I am a little older and wiser, have more life experience behind me, and more time too. I kind of fancy semi-retiring early and writing or something, just not at the top of my list right now. At least not until my husband brings home some bacon so I Can relax a little more. Wink

BUT I popped onto the blogs a few days ago and saw a comment in someone's blog that SA was looking for some contributing writers - a paid gig at that. I think I Would have been excited regardless paid or not, but committing the time and the effort, I think it would have to be paid to really justify, particularly in the middle of busy tax season.

Anyway, I saw Jeffrey had picked some new writers and figured I most defintitely hadn't gotten the job. I Was actually surprised how disappointed I was. I must be crazy - it is so busy over here. But yes, disappointed - I am a perfectionist. I must have it all - LOL.

Anyway, I had just jumped the gun a bit much. Today I got invited to be a contributing write - woohoo - I am so excited. On a trial basis to start. So I need your help!

I was just reading Tina's blog and I really thought she had an excellent idea to ask for article ideas. So I just had to ask too, what kind of articles would you like to see? Taxes and all that is most definitely my forte. So I am kind of curious what it is about taxes that demystifies you??? What have you always wondered? What have you been unable to find the answers to? Just let me know, it will help me.

Thanks so much. Wink

Oh yeah and my hubby is the BEST!!!!!! I know this is going to be more work on him, watching the kids so I have some time to write (after watching them ALL day and such), and I know he may come to resent this whole thing. BUT he was 100% just happy for me. He's so swell. On the other hand, I tend to waste a lot of time on the blogs and forums so it kind of feels good to convert that into such a productive venture. & I apologize if it keeps me from my blog...

& I will have some money to add to my challenge too - so excited.

Oh yeah and if you promise not to roll your eyes at me - I have been kind of looking at all this *secret* talk thinking it sounds a little like my life philosophy but WAY overly simplified. but reading all about it the other day I thought - fine - I Am going to put it out there that I want to be a writer - that I can have this wonderful side career and blab about personal finance all day. I must admit the immediate results are downright creepy. Though I do feel now the ball is in my court and I must prove myself worthy now. I don't believe for a second that good things will come to me without a little effort on my part too. Wink So I am not sure I am a Secret convert yet. But well, it is a little weird...

Really though, I am absolutely in love with this place and feel very honored to be given a chance...

Okay - so what do YOU want to know about taxes?

One thing I am curious about is how well people really understand their payroll taxes. On one hand it seems so basic to me but on the other hand I get the feeling few people really understand where that big chunk of their paycheck goes. Am I underestimating you all? I would like to write an article on that.

Weather is SO nice!

February 19th, 2007 at 08:55 am

Oh I am feeling in such a good mood because the weather is nice. I was too sick to venture out but late yesterday afternoon dh took the kids to the park - they had a blast. Daylight savings starts early this year and I am stoked. Love coming home and having time to go outside, get a walk in, play with the kids, get fresh air, etc. So am in a good mood with the weather!!!!

I am feeling better today - will brave work.

The budget is interesting this month. I did notice the grocery and gas bill were insanely low - dh hasn't refilled his gas tank in ages. So we were talking last night and he said he hadn't been to the grocery store in a long while because everyone had been too sick to eat (primarily kids who eat way more than us it seems). & also that he hadn't been driving for his film work, all done, so he mentioned he didn't remember the last time he got gas. Plus with sickness I haven't been driving to work or preschool either. I think all of this will help offset some of the medical expenses.

For whatever reason we were also discussing dh's movie - premieres in just a couple of weeks!! & the money he may (odds are slim - but possible) he may make. I guess I was in a generous mood because I told him no matter how much he got we should just reinvest in future movies. I started thinking about all the gas/car expenses we had since he was actually driving his car a lot more, possible daycare expenditures so he could have more flexibility (LM is getting old enough), etc., moreso than the few thousand I assumed he'd want to upgrade his equipment. We were even discussing it as a film fund but could double as an emergency fund as well, obviously a true emergency would come over his film stuff. So something to think about. No matter what we do I will demand a slice for myself and for the e-fund. But if 99% goes back to him moving forward on his career I am fine with that all the same. I think it is just bad overall to get ini the mindset this money is his is why I would at least demand a little for myself and the e-fund. Hehe. I think it is a dangerous mindset to get into. But overall the hope would be to help him generate more income to come back to the family, and that is a worthy goal!

GMAC bank just sent me checks. My new MMA. Too bad since that was s'posed to be my e-fund, separate it out, make it easy. Gah. I know I do not have to use them but I am thinking if I move my short-term savings over there too it will earn higher interest and I can write checks for insurance and property taxes directly from it, avoiding a lot of transfers. I'll think about it. MAkes sense, just makes it a little harder to track. I was enjoying the balance in that one account equaling the balance in my e-fund. But with the interest might be smart - have $2200 in short-term savings today. IT is earning 0.4% less in the meantime or something and gets drained out twice a year so I don't know...

Well that is all the money stuff thinking of today. I actually have not much more than work on my mind really. I am going back to a landslide. Hope I feel up to a full day...

ETA: Oh I just had to add what a BEAUTIFUL DAY!!!!! It has hardly rained all winter but it did all last week (rain = snow in the peaks), and then this week "spring" has been settling in. So my drive to work I saw beautiful snow-capped mountains (sierra nevada) in the background, against a brilliant blue sky. It is just gorgeous out there.

I can't imagine how I would feel in an area with real seasons. Califorina is just so moderate overall there isn't a huge difference in the seasons. I actually find Sacramento a little refreshing, we get more beautiful colors in the fall, a little closer to the snow-capped mountains in the winter. But still overall not a huge difference in the landscape season to season. But with the heavy snow/rain followed by such nice weather, it is just absolutely gorgeous here today. Too bad I am locked up inside under a pile of tax returns - LOL. I heard it was going to rain or something too but doesn't look like it. Wink

It Got Me

February 17th, 2007 at 07:14 am

The stomach bug. Frown

It turned out the laryngitis thing I had came from work. 1 lady got it and gave it to EVERYONE!!!! Blech.

Kids are well on the mend from the stomach bug and dh and I well on the med from the throat thing. But last night I felt completely useless at work and when I got home had NO appetite. I worried aloud this might be a sign of the bug. & then I woke up to it. So far it is just the diahrrea but I am pretty much scared to eat anything. There is hardly anything I dislike more than vomiting. & after being pregnant and having horrendous morning sickness twice, I think I have had my fair share this life. LOL. You think I would be grateful that if I am sick it won't last months, but not really, I am just terrified of the idea of throwing up. Of being nauseous. Plus the thought of saltines and ginger ale makes me want to puke - I just equate them with very bad times. LOL. I will never sip ginger ale again probably.

Anyway, I have renewed respect for BM. He messed his pants a number of times this last week and probably TMI but I ran to the bathroom about 5 times in the last 1/2 hour. I am looking at BM quite impressed he made it to the potty as many times as he did. He hasn't been potty trained that long.

Blech.

I went and I talked to my boss last Monday about all the sickness. I hadn't wanted to because I didn't want to sound whiny, but I wanted to give him a heads up. Feels like there is always something lately. Anyway, he made it abundantly clear he did not care if I was out 2 weeks with this bug as long as NO ONE else got it. LOL. & I don't blame him, the laryngitis thing has hit us hard at the office. I think I will take today and tomorrow off, rest up, try to nick this in the bud, and pray dh doesn't get it too. & praying I have it a little more mild and won't have to hover over a toilet all week. Blech. LM was out both ends for almost 24 hours and LM puked once and that was it. So I will go for something more like that please. Wink

It's been so crazy I haven't updated my Quicken or anything. Been waiting to make a deposit to pay the rest of the month's bills. Should probably get it all ready and ask dh to run it to the bank for me before I collapse. Then when I am feeling better I will have money to pay bills. I need to go rest...

In the meantime my overtime is so out the window. Frown Dh asked me yesterday if I had to work too long today. I said well, um, I could work ALL weekend and not make 40 hours, I missed 2 days work. & he says you only missed 2? LOL. If he thought I missed more than 2 how does he think I would not have 2 days+ to catch up. Oy vey. I hope I can make some progress next week. Luckily I had no tax appointments next week. I have a lot of work to get done, but as long as I am on the mend by my tax appointments I guess this won't wreak too much havoc.

Yesterday was a BEAUTIFUL day!!!! Too bad I can't enjoy this nice weather...

Tax Info

February 12th, 2007 at 12:32 pm

Not good over here - leaving early from work - sick kids. More doctor appointments and copays, perhaps more daycare. Ugh!!! Mostly though worried about my son. He is going to the doc in a bit, may need IV, just can't keep anything down. Frown Just came on suddenly last night. & I am at work a nervous wreck. Dh does great with the kids, but he really lacks that mommy instinct. No matter who spends the lion share of the time with the kids it is something I have, and something he seems clueless about sometimes. So days like these with a fastly declining child, I do not like to work on days like these. I am going home to watch the little one so dh can take BM to the doc and have all his arms free for the gunk that is pouring out both ends. Hope he doesn't make too much mess in the car - poor guy... I am sure he wouldn't be fond of an IV, but I would feel better... Actually, it remains to be seen, he thought getting blood drawn was fascinating. LOL. I am sure he will be fine, but worried all the same... Well the best part is I wouldn't be there to see any needles. I am a big wuss when it comes to shots and needles on my kids - I just can't handle it - dh is good for that stuff... We made an agreement after I suffered through my eldest's first shots that I would just be too busy to break free from work on those shot days - Frown

Anyway, before I head out I did want to share all the articles I got in my inbox today - interesting stuff. BTW I e-filed yesterday - woohoo!!!!!

TAX
Special Section: Your Taxes
Surviving an audit, the IRS deducts deductions, tips on pleasing Uncle Sam
and more.
http://www.nytimes.com/indexes/2007/02/10/business/yourtaxes...

Five Steps to Hiring a Tax Pro
http://www.kiplinger.com/features/archives/2007/02/taxpro.ht...

Kudos and Shout-Outs

February 11th, 2007 at 07:25 am

Just wanted to say thank you to LuckyRobin & Living-In-Oz

I finally got off my lazy butt and made headway on the house this weekend.

First - I mentioned I had to replace the shower curtain, and extra annoying since it is an odd size. I just mentioned this offhand.

& Living-in-Oz replied:
"Just a household hint, you can put the shower curtain in the washer with a little detergent, bleach, and a few white towels and it comes out very clean. Put it into the dryer on the lowest heat setting for 5 MINUTES(no more or it will melt) and it will come out perfect! I hardly ever buy new shower curtains anymore because this works so well."

So I gave it a try yesterday. I brought down the filthy shower curtain and was a little skeptical. I was lucky I happened to glance a folded white towel on the floor because I Didn't think we had any - was going to use a bunch of white rags, but then remembered we have a pile of white towels in the baby's room - we had used them over the changing pad to protect the pad from poop and such - hehe. So we had a big pile of white towels in there. So I tossed it all the wash and watched it go for a while. I decided hot water should be fine. So I Watched it skeptically for a while and walked away. I put it on super heavy wash settings. An hour later pulled it out, and clean as a whistle. It was AMAZING. Sure I am happy I do not have to go track down this particular sized shower curtain but I am even happier that I do not have to throw that hunk of plastic in the landfill. I am so pleased. Now I wish I could throw the bath tub in the wash too. LOL. I skipped the dryer, the last thing I needed was to leave it in too long and ruin my dryer and my curtain, but was fine, just hung it back up in the shower to dry. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!

& then I was ranting about static cling and LuckyRobin posted this:
"Okay, this will sound weird but it works. Clean the hairbrush
completely out so there is no hair or dust in it at all, then wash it in the
dishwasher in the silverware holder. When it is done and dry again,
lightly spray it with a fine solution of non-stick cooking spray or olive
oil (I ususally use olive oil in a spray pump) and let it dry. Works
for me, I do it about once a month during the winter. If the brush acts
up again during the month, just lightly spray it again and let it dry
before you use it."

I had been meaning to give my hair brush and comb a good wash anyway but had never thought to put it in the wash. so I did last night. I haven't tried it yet, but I am pleased to have something to fight the static cling. We'll see. Thank you too!!!!!

I actually have gotten lots of great tips - just not enough hours in the day to try them all. But these were both pretty big so had to share. That reminds me, that e-mail dinner subscription thing did not really appeal to me but I mentioned it to dh and he actually sounded like he might like it. We will probably try a free trial then. I did notice when looking at the sample menus that even though I Feel like we cook a wide variety of food, we have a very spanish flair to our food. Lots of onions and peppers and corn, etc., bUT I was looking at these sample menus and they had piles of veggies I never even heard of. LOL. No, I think it could be good to widen the variety in our diet. Well, we'll see, will keep you updated.

Oh - found the link - http://www.savingdinner.com/

Stressed Out

February 10th, 2007 at 09:50 am

I hope the rain lets up because I decided today I just need a good walk in the fresh air. I have been so tense.

The news is not good with dh. HE went in Thursday, checked his ears (he has sudden hearing loss), said he looked fine and sent him for testing. He went yesterday and they said his hearing is only at 60% in one ear (moderate hearing loss). They were really fast to book these 2 appointments ($50 each by the way) but his next one is not until next Wednesday, to see a specialist about his ear now that they know how significant the damage is.

Part of the reason they made the appointment later I guess is it just may "go away" - odds are it might in a few days. Well I sure HOPE so. The vertigo just went away (related) and we could hope the same. BUT they said there is a chance the hearing damage is permanent. So dh is very bummed about it. I told him last night to just thing positive. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. It is not even just hearing loss, he has a ringing in his ears which is driving him crazy, though getting used to it I guess.

Doctors all said most likely virus, pretty much is nothing serious (liek a tumor or anything) but who knows, further testing, lots more $50 copays - he already has a follow up hearing test scheduled as well.

I know he was feeling really bad about all the doctor visits and I told him really as long as he doesn't get hospitalized I am okay. Though I guess with no cause, surgery and hospitalization hasn't been ruled out, but appears unlikely at the moment. We don't pay too much out of pocket until the overnight stays hit - $500/night. So I can deal with all these $50 here and there. I told dh not to pay any attention to me because I set very high goals this year and I am all stressed they are not being met due to all these emergencies. But all the same we are well prepared and it isn't that big a deal.

I was really bummed because I Decided we needed our $200 tax refund for doctor bills and such. IT isn't much but I had really wanted to save everything extra. So I am bummed but we are still saving a good $1k/month more than we were last year so I am just insane really. LOL. I told dh not to let me stress him out.

As if things could not get worse, yesterday dh drove the kids to my work so he could go to his hearing test. Kids were napping so we switched cars and I drove them home. Not used to parking on the other side I pulled in and thought, hmmm, I should have swung more to the right, but oh well, should be room. So I get in the van today, which dh had to pull far over to the left against the wall and was paying no attention. BAcked out and slammed the side mirror (which is very wide) on the side of the garage. Smashed it. I about started crying then and there. More dollar signs. IT is just ridiculous. Dh reattached it and it seems to work. Luckily it gave way easily and has some missing chunks of plastic, but overall still functional. I put some black electrical tape in my car in case it started falling apart - LOL. IT seems okay and not sure if it is worth fixing, since it works and all, survived the freeway. The electronics still work. But I feel like an IDIOT!!!! They are the mirrors you can pull inward to since they take up so much space and I am thinking maybe I will just fold them in when I pull in the garage from now on. LOL. I don't know. Luckily that is why they gavce way so easily and did not completely obliterate it. The only problem really was that the car was not where I usually put it and I was on auto pilot. Just stupid...

So February is turning out a lot like January. Doctor visits, missed work, extra daycare, car expenses. STUPID car expenses. I don't even think I admitted that in the end dh's car had NO problems but they charged us like $100 for their time and everything. USeless $100 spent. & now maybe a side mirror to replace. Bah!

Anyway, I am working all day today and tomorrow I will probably come in and file our tax return so we can get our refund. We need it for the bills this month, we just do. May work for a couple of hours too.

My parents just came back from my grandpa's funeral too. They are having a hard time. Work is insane. I am just stressed...





Move Somewhere Cheaper

February 9th, 2007 at 10:00 am

http://biz.yahoo.com/brn/070208/21029.html?.v=1&.pf=real-est...

Interesting article and applies to a lot of what is going on in California.

I guess we already made the move with no equity and that was a pretty sweet move. I can imagine with our equity it would be even sweeter. Wink Where where where is the neverending question.

Brings up a good point of salaries not always being parallel to housing costs.

Also brings up the point that home equity is mostly tax-free money. I am well aware in a state where if I won $1 mil I would only get to keep half of it, that that equity money is extra lucrative from a tax standpoint.

I would do it again - move somewhere cheaper. Odds are we will sometime again. Now is just not the time for us. Today we stand that we are happy with our home, our job, our friends, our locale, our proximity to family. So even with $400k tax-free equity, it just isn't that lucrative, and having seen the equity rise and fall I am not too attached. But I wouldn't be surprised is we reach a point in our life where we are ready to move. We kind of left it as something to discuss when my boss retires. See what my options are, where we stand, how well we could be if we moved, where our family is as they all are itching to spread out anwyay, etc. But in the meantime the talks are off the table, we are happy and staying. But I know it will come up again down the road.

The 2-Income Trap

February 8th, 2007 at 04:53 pm

Came across a really good site.

http://www.hughchou.org/calc/

Anyway, I came across this site while still perusing the pay mortgage vs. invest conundrum. The funny thing is the more I look the more I See pay pay pay. Quite interesting. But like I said I have a long while before I will have money to pay mortgage or invest so whatever. LOL. I tried working on a spreadsheet but got a headache. Very complicated. Plus I didn't have all day.

BUT perusing this super cool site I found a link I had seen before and lost. A VERY excellent 2-income calculator.

http://www.hughchou.org/calc/dappen.cgi

I think overall it is a little biased in that it does not consider all the stress of staying home all day and watching kids (which can make you shop more too). & also does not calculate the longer-term affects of taking a big career break!!! But overall I think it is a really good calculator for anyone on the fence of staying home, or planning for the future. I like it because the taxes are reflected pretty accurately, which is BIG and often overlooked. & then all the other little things that can really add up.

Anyway, when I do the calculator with taxes and daycare alone it isn't very pretty - add all the incidentals and we are clearly in the red. Or we could focus on trying to bring home some extra income, even have one of us work minimum wage nights and weekends, would be better off. But that is 2 kids in a very high COL area with a spouse whose earning potential is $30k-$40k. Eh, just so not worth it no matter how you slice it.

& I know plenty of people who are way ahead on 2-incomes and like it like that (generally 2-high wage earners. Way better of financially working often times).

But I am happy I found the calculator and could share. IF you are on the fence or not sure, could help.

Spend Update

February 8th, 2007 at 01:56 pm

Just adding the pants per my last post.

Items bought new in 2007:
Nintendo DS accessories (3) (dh)
Underwear(dh)
Packing Tape (for ebay selling)
Bubble envelope (for ebay selling)
Shipping Labels (for ebay selling)
Professional Pants (4)
Professional shirts (8)
Professional Blazer (1)
Professional Skirt (1)
Professional Shoes (3)
Panty hose (ebay)
Knee-his (for work)
Tire Pressure Guage
Pin-wheel
Toy Bird
Jump Rope (kids)
Dish Towels (4)
Table Clothes (2)

Items bought used in 2007:
Tires for Car (2)
Used books for kids (6)
**Toddler Jeans (growing boy) (4)

**New with Tags!!!

Items free in 2007:
Old cell phones for kids to play with
Toddler's First Library Card!

-------------------------------------

$75 spent today

February 8th, 2007 at 01:47 pm

Well first - zetta - just had to say your calculator was annoying me. LOL. Actually I Was really excited to see it but it annoyed me so I Decided to do my own. I imagine it will be a project - hehe. But one I will enjoy. I am going to play with the numbers. I don't have much to prepay my mortgage today so I got time to figure it out. I agree with you and I do need something concrete to show me how much better off 1 choice is over another, etc. So I will work on it.

Well today is another $75 down the drain. Dh had a ringing in his ear last night so called the doc last night told him to come in today. $50 copay. To basically see a doctor who said everything was fine and is scheduling him for a hearing test to see if they can narrow down what the prblem could be. It is probably related to his vertigo last month and could just be an infection or virus still. who knows, not much answers.

Since I was going to have to leave work to help wrangle the kids and I was also unable to watch BM today so LM Could go to toddler class, I thought maybe I Would try daycare today. She had an opening so the whole thing ended up $75 for the day - doctor and daycare. At least LM got to go to his toddler class which we already paid for.

Doctor bills, doctor bills, doctor bills. So far we are still coming in miles ahead than if we had paid the super giant premiums on full coverage. We would be paying $25 co-pays on top of that and we would be saving about squat. So far I Am pleased overall with our choice, though the year is young...

Now ask me the last time dh went to the doctor. Gheesh. I am so glad we did not switch to HDHP. I don't think we could have afforded all this... The bills would be sky high every single visit. & this is why - I knew the second we swithced someone would need lots of doctor visits...

I feel really bad for dh though. HE has a constant ringing in his ear and can't hear very well out of it. I hope they can look at it before the weekend.

Forgot to mention, dh mentioned BM's 4T pants were too tight AND too short. Oy vey. The kid is only 3. So I won an ebay auction last night - 4 pairs brand new pants for $20. I'll add it to my list of items purchased this year. I am getting behind on my spending log. I should just keep it on paper since I have had a harder time logging on here - will have to catch up. The only reason I spent so much really was because I was bidding on 2 lots of clothes and I wanted to win both and combine shipping. But I lost - oh well. I could probably find the same at the thrift shop for $15 easy (or on sale even), but I figured I saved time and gas so $20 ain't bad. $8 for the pants - but $12 for the shipping... I am sad I lost the other lot too. I think I could have won but I was too busy trying to win both at once - I should have had dh get on another computer and bit on that one - LOL. Live and learn.

Net Worth & Other Interesting Links

February 7th, 2007 at 01:22 pm

Accounting Students Made a Profitable Choice http://accounting.smartpros.com/x56501.xml

Yes we did. LOL. Well I have already alluded to this many times. Starting pay in the industry has doubled in the last few years. Plus desparation for accountants means more bargaining power, more flex time, more working from home, etc. I know I have it good. What I have gotten out of this career is I can work a hell of a lot less for a decent wage - and that is nice. No matter what the pay I Was going to do it, but how hard I have to work is pretty relative to how the profession is going. I like the idea that I may be able to work part-time in the near future and bring in a wage to support my family rather well. On the flip side, we need more bodies. So I don't have to work too much. LOL. I can technically work 35-hour weeks all summer BUT not if I have to much work to do. Bummer...

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2006/12/31/ten-ways-to-accele...

Just a really good article/blog.

& finally:

http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/2006/10/how_to_compute_.html

I found this one when trying to get a grasp on how much my net worth should grow on an annual basis. I know in the past I have been really stuck on how much cash we have and our house because it took so much blood, sweat, tears... But going forward I maybe can only save $10k/year or something, but when I look at the big picture like I Said yesterday, I think our net worth should go up $35k next year. Is this good or bad. I don't know. I think it is good, but looking for some general rles of thumb, some way to measure progress, etc. I think this will help me look at the big picture too and stay motivated, tracking net worth. The article above does a good job.

The jist is that you:

"Take your age and divide by 166. Then subtract fifteen hundredths (0.15). Finally, multiply the result by your age. The resulting number should be between zero and twenty. That number is how many times your current annual income you should be worth."

The article takes it a step above and says if your income is more than your expenses ( which it should be, right?) you can use your annual expenses instead of your income.

Article points out that it grows faster over time. By 30 you need to be at a 1, but then once you hit 40, you need to increase by 1 every 2 years.

Here's a graph of that calc. by age:

Age, Annual Spending Saved

30, 1
35, 2
38, 3
42, 4
44, 5
47, 6
49, 7
51, 8
53, 9
55, 10
57, 11
59, 12
61, 13
63, 14
64, 15
66, 16
68, 17
69, 18
70, 19
72, 20

For this I completely took the house out of the equation. It has a good year of salary/expenses cash sunk into it which I usually count at the least. But this calc is geared towards retirement. So if we retire in our house, where does that leave us. I am not counting it in my net worth. If I did we'd already be at a 7, or about 20 years ahead.

Take out the house and the mortgage, and puts us at a good 1 for age 30. Well okay then, I can hang. I am super stoked with this equation because I have been feeling like we could pretty easily move our net worth up 1 point in 2 years. On 1 income!!!! I guess that is a good place to be.

I really like that this calculation uses expenses instead of income. BEcause when playing with the #s, I tried to factor a 2nd income down the road. But it really makes it that much harder to save that entire income. Since that 2nd income has always been savings and gravy, it shouldn't really count towards this calculation because our living expenses should always be FAR less. If not, well that is another problem. When I factor that whole thing though we move miles ahead. In the next 10 years or so I guess we will move from 1 to 7 and this will put us where we should be in 20 years. & then if dh got a job at that point, then we skyrocket ahead even faster.

I still really really really do not see setting sights on retirement until 55 at the least, maybe later. But I think that is more the planner in me. I want to do so well, but I know any of many things can slow us down, so I don't want to get too ahead of myself. Even though we may be 10-20 years ahead, very quickly, I don't know if that will mean we will feel like we are ready to retire early. Plus I like working anyhow - LOL. But maybe we could work part-time as we age, etc. Maybe if something catastrophic happens we will be well prepared. Maybe if both boys want to go to med school, we can help. It should leave a lot of options.

I think our net worth will hit $1 mil by 40 - and that is counting our house. I Still haven't ruled out moving out of state to retire super young (or at least work a hell of a lot less...)

Anyway, ironically, the best thing this does for me is help me to set goals in a way that really moves us forward. This is ironic because the person who posted this blog completely discounted the point in the article that said a measure of wealth is having money in the bank to pay the mortgage but not paying it - wisely leveraging debt. I know this to be so true, and yet I still want to pay that sucker down in the next 15 years. I Want to put a big chunk to it. Looking at the net worth big picture I think I can talk myself into investing more money and watching it grow, and knowing I Can even more quickly invest that money and have enough in the bank to pay the mortgage, much faster than it would take me to pay the mortgage. & that is far smarter. HEck sometimes I wish I had a bigger mortgage when I look at it that way. LOL. I truly do. But overall I think tracking my net worth will help me more realistically move ahead financially, and not get stuck on 1 thing, on savings or debt, etc. I can really look hard at where we are at and what we need to do to move our net worth forward faster. & it will help me control my urge to pay down low-interest debt.

Well to truly motivate me I am going to look at the big picture without the house - as I aim for retirement goals and such. However, on an ongoing tracking basis I am still going to count payments to the mortgage because it motivates me. Heck this year i am going to knock $4k off that sucker just making the mandatory payment, rounded up to an even round number. I need the motivation for now.

Electricity

February 7th, 2007 at 07:05 am

Well looking at my weather thing it is indeed raining and it is probably 52 degrees outside. Probably lowest it got all night. When I woke up the house was sitting at 68 - woohoo. I am looking forward to my next heat bill. Wink

Still no electric bill in sight. Maybe our usage was so low it was just not worth billing - hehe. I doubt it - they fell asleep over there or something - just weird. Too busy to call and ask where my bill is - but maybe if I don't get January's bill in the next week or 2. Since the bill is in the $20 range I am not too worried - not screwing up my budget too much or anything - just annoying me! Since I pay electronically I could always shoot them $20, hmmmmmm. Probably would just create more confusion. Well no december bill, we'll see what happens to january. I haven't received the electronic bill and I logged into their website over the weekend and there was no new invoices.

That reminds me though, we have a city-owned electric company and they came out to my office yesterday and I could overhear them telling my boss that they would replace ALL of the lightbulbs in the buildings for free, and something else, some term I was not familiar with - some part of the light fixtures I guess, AND it would save us $1k/year on our electric bill. I have no doubt that is true since we pretty much don't pay for electricity in our house - certainly hardly the lights. Our electric bill - the usage portion generally hovers around $15/month and we cook and do laundry every day, etc. But these light bulbs are just the BEST ever. Plus t.v.s and computers on all day, etc. We certainly do not pay for the light bulbs - pennies it seems.

Anyway, they are just trying to get businesses to cut down their consumption. I already give my electric company 10 kudos, but let's make it 20 judos after that - LOL. I Am just so impressed. They are trying to work out the logistics because they want to wait until after tax season, but it's like if they don't do it now they might have to wait until next year. They have budgeted so much to upgrade businesses, and the money may run out soon. So we'll see if we get new lightbulbs or what.

I am excited though.

We actually moved to recycling all of our paper a few months back and our dumpster is now merely for recycling, I love to bring over all my big boxes I can't get rid of - into the recycle dumpster.

& we are moving on storing everything electronically instead of on paper.

IT feels good to see these measures at work. You don't know how appalled I Was when I started my first accounting job and how much paper is wasted. moving to all electronic storage of files will make big strides in helping the environment...







More shopping

February 6th, 2007 at 07:43 am

I picked up my son from preschool last night and we went to Kohls to return 1 top that did not fit. I Almost fainted when I walked in because they had cleared out everything I had seen on Sunday and all new merchandise.

Figures!!!!

He actually settled down long enough for me to try on 1 dress and a few blazers. The dress was okay, but not great, and I am glad I grabbed some varying sizes. Tried 1 size 10 blazer and it fit really well, didn't like the style. So tried a size 12 one, was really nice with the dress and fit like a glove - I loved it. Was wary because it said "dry clean only" (though I usually ignore and it wash everything but wool) and it was a little wrinkly - not sure if I could really iron it. But I figured I would get it and could return it if I found something better in the meantime. Of course black, but fits better than my others. So I Was pleased.

I tried it on when I Got home - with black pants - looked very nice.

Problem - I tried it on over a sheer dress and so over a sweater it was a lot tighter. It fits fine, but no buttoning. But if I lose some inches before March I may be able to button by then. I can get away with it unbuttoned, though it doesn't look nearly as sleek open.

But I will go by Sears and peruse the blazers. I may return this one in the end.

I also found a beautiful almost cashmere-like sweater on sale from $13 from $50 or something. Just gorgeous, and another nice black top. I had pondered returning some of the others, but when I got home and looked I saw all the beautiful clothes I had gotten at $13/pop - I am keeping them. Just too good of deals. I am trying to go for some more quality in my wardrobe - so it lasts.

I am considering returning 1 pair of pants though. We'll see.

So I have a short size 16 blazer that actually fits good but looks dumb with pants, the old size 10 one that fits for whatever reason, but is too shiny of a material to pair with matte pants, and my new size 12 one that I can match with pants for a suit look(woohoo). Oy vey - LOL. If I lose a little weight though they should last a while - on the small side.

In other news I got my GMAC account all set up - woohoo. This will simplify!!!! E-fund alone is going to GMAC. Keeping our allowance money and our short-term savings in Virtual Bank, since rarely tops $2k. & now it is much easier to track all my varying funds, and I Am earning another 0.5% on my e-fund - woohoo!

Delight your taste Buds with these recipes

February 5th, 2007 at 01:04 pm

HEre you go - 2 WONDERFUL recipes. I don't have the calorie count on these but both very filling and delightful. The meatloaf recipe - I usually eat 1/2 of a mini-meatloaf and am stuffed! & the chicken with rice is very filling too.

Oh - 1 warning - chicken calls for way too much pepper - when I make it I cut it in 1/2 - still very spicy. If you do not like spice, sprinkle some very lightly, or everyone can season to taste theirselves. It is just too much even for us hot food lovers.







The Bad About Shopping

February 5th, 2007 at 06:39 am

I think this is why I hate shopping.

When I Was clothes shopping yesterday I perused the purses because my old cheapie is falling apart and needs replacing - has been for a while (as about everything I own - frugal to a detriment - though even moreso just because I hate shopping!).

I then spotted some big purses and was pondering that I really could use one for like a diaper bag. Since I had this really cute fashionable diaper bag from ebay, but the thing is so cheap just worn to shreds even though I rarely use it - just after 2 years. IT is trashed - given up the ghost. Even the 3.5yo who has been potty trained for 6 months, I always take pants and underwear just in case, so I could probably use a bulkier bag for a while for the kids. So I am perusing some of the bigger bags thinking about it when I spotted the wallets. I Won't even tell you how old my wallet is and how thrashed it is - just pathetic.

& so it goes. I already had a list in my head from christmas that I could really use a new backback and a new makeup bag - but I Wanted to pick them out myself - so they are on my list.

My list is getting longer...

I didn't buy anything because I would have been there all day - LOL. I had other stuff to do. But need to go purse shopping another day I guess. I REALLY like the diaper bag I had but I don't know if it is worth $20 on such a crappy product - maybe I will try another brand or style - will peruse ebay I guess.

Challenge Update

February 4th, 2007 at 02:22 pm

$20 challenge:

$769.50 - Balance 2/1

$9.00 - Savings on ebay purchase

------------------
$778.50 - Balance 2/4
------------------

I decided to do some shopping today. I had set aside $200 to get some nice clothes for work - preferable suits and such - I have been "waiting to lose a few pounds" for about 18 months. Whatever. No quicker way to lose a few pounds than buy a new wardrobe, so it goes.

Anyway, I thought I would peek online real quick for pantyhose - on ebay. I bid before I went shopping. Came back and got 6 pairs brand new for $11 including shipping ($5 for product/$5 shopping). Woohoo. I really don't know where to get a deal - usually go to Marshalls or Ross where you are lucky to find $3/pair so I figured I saved $9 on 6 pairs at the least.

I hit MErvyns and Kohls because Mervyns generally does good in my size and Kohls was having a big sale. I was so super frustrated - I tried on a pile of jeans thinking I could maybe find a pair that really fits. good luck. Fine - I rather hit Marshalls anyway - good for jeans & much cheaper. I did score big on pants - my pants were on sale 1/2 off and they are extra nice because no hemming - since apparently I am so short. But I did get 1 pair for my mom to hem for me too. But I just LOVE this brand and they had a ton in my size. Even better the other style I tried was just a little tighter, but I figured better if I did lose a few pounds - would last a while. my other ones are getting big - or maybe just stretched out since I had 1 pair I loved and would wear every day if I could (at least 3 times a week). So long overdue for a couple of different pairs.

No suits or skirts - just weird. No nice tops even. ???

So I Went to Kohls. Again - no suits or skirts in sight. So frustrating - apparently women don't wear suits anymore. Or skirts for that matter. I can usually get away with a skirt and a nice blazer, but I Would like to wear more than 1 blazer all tax season. Hmmmmm.

Though both stores had huge sales racks 60-90% off, I did not have time to go through. my shopping trip was 4 hours as is with all the endless trying on clothes. BUT Kohls wasn't as overwhelming so I Went through a few racks and found a bunch of very nice professional tops for around $13 each. I didn't try anything on there - only 1 item to return - too tight.

All told I spent $200 - my budget - and no suits or skirts - LOL. I still need to go by Payless or check online for some new shoes as well. But I have another few weeks to go find a blazer. Bah! If nothing else I think I have enough in my closet to get by. I have 2 black blazers, 2 dresses, and a couple of skirt - with mixing and matching I can look like I own more than I do I guess - I generally only see each client once. But for the rest of the year I got some nice quality clothes at a good price - woohoo.

Now let's lose some weight so I Can start all over again - hehe.

I find Marshalls and Goodwill/thrift shops tedious to shop for suits and such - but I may hit them over the next month.

I think my office will be happy I bought some clothes - LOL. Just been lazy since the last baby - thinking I don't want to buy anything and then lose these few pounds.

LAst time I bought this many clothes I immediately got pregnant - lOL. I should have a nice wardrobe then if I lose some weight!

Travel & Random Things

February 4th, 2007 at 08:10 am

Well if I go into work today, and remember, I have a couple of awesome recipes to post. We have been eating good over here a couple of simple recipes overall that are not Taste of Home but divine from a cookbook I have. A citrus chicken recipe (about the best chicken I ever have had) and a meatloaf recipe with a bit of spice horseradish and chili sauce we love it.

I also updated the budget and will post it later computer problems for now. I keep all our quicken data and financial stuff on a separate removable hard drive in the house so that data is not kept on our laptop or on any of the computers with the Quicken program just theft prevention. But the laptop has been giving me problems so I Can't access it. I got up early and looked at the budget variances for january but now the kids are awake so I am relegated to the laptop. They are watching Calilou for now and eating breakfast LM is in heaven. I swear if I had a dollar for every time he said Calilou! LOL.

He had a horrid horrid night friday night but thankfully he slept last night. I am exhausted though. Kids are both a little sick sniffly and coughs. Poor boys. Probably didn't help with sleep.

But yeah I have to go into work for a couple of hours at least. Just a mountain of work to dig through will make the week more bearable. It was nice taking a break yesterday though indeed.

Weather looks like it may be quite pleasant today and I am ready to get out of the house!!! I am so done with winter. Maybe tonight we can walk to the park or something before dark we'll see how it turns out I see the sun so it is a good sign woohoo. I hears 70s today I am in heaven...

Well for whatever reason I am little miss travel agent. I think I need to learn some new tricks though. When I was in college and no one had heard of cheap tickets I flew to Vegas fro $60 and New York for $150. I did a lot more travel then (flexibility helped) but never spent much. Anyway, so everyone calls me when they need tickets. I apparently still have the touch because I will always find a better deal than joe blow average, but I think I need some new tricks. The discount sited are just so the norm any more, they aren't the best deals I can't imagine finding a $150 ticket to NY either post-9/11. I don't know how much is just the industry changed or the travel secrets have evolved. But last summer MIL wanted to treat us all to Hawaii but she was absolutely driving us batty because it should be an easy direct flight but she was looking at cheap flights on dicount carriers (which I saw REALLY bad things about delays and such I can't even remember what it was some terrible airline I have never heard of before or since) AND she wanted a layover in LA Ridiculous. With an infant we were like, well, can we please skip the layover at least we will pay the difference. She was being real stubborn so I finally decided to take matetrs in my own hand she insiste on paying for it all, yet being cheap. Sure fine, I understand when you are buying 7 airline tickets you want to be cheap, but just let us HELP already so we don't have a completely miserable flight. So I started looking at all the airports in the area, including ours, and found a sweet deal for about $400/person from Sacramento. She was quite pleased but I had heard to check directly with the airlines for discounts so we did and I think we ended up paying closer to $350/person. Plus it was sweet because they had to all drive up here and we just had a 5-minute drive to the airport ourselves. Can't beat that.

Anyway, I was so pleased dh and I have had it in our mind maybe we will take a trip to Hawaii in the near future that is not bad airfare it costs me more to fly to Kansas LOL.

So anyway, last night my dad called for help re: tickets for the funeral in Kansas next week. They couldn't find anything below $700. I thought I had heard about bereavement fares being a thing of the past but I did tell him whatetever I found I would call the airline directly for a discount if I was him. I couldn't fund much below $800 cheatickets wasn't helping. But I pulled up qixo.com which is a more tedious search but I finally found if they flew from San Francisco and had 2 stops on the way back it was $600. They also had to leave later in the day and come back earlier in the day, not maximizing their time. Since they had already found $700 I figured they would stick with that. But I shouldn't underestimate my dad mr. Frugal pants. He insisted he would take it LOL. I am not sure how my mom felt about that. I imagine she was not too happy they can easily afford another $100/each, and she does not fly well. So he called me later and told me called United directly and got a $500 bereavement fare only 1 layover each way. So I guess my info was wrong bereavement fares are still around. I can just imagine the argument ensuing over there if not for that - let's spend 10 less hours in kansas and take a 3-legged flight on the way back to save $200 total even though I make a very decent six-figure salary and have no debts or obligations whatsoever. Ah, some things will never change - LOL.

No Plans here for Valentines Day, or Superbowl for that matter. You know we tried to have a big superbowl party last year since we have such a giant screen and all. We found most everyone had their Superbowl traditions already we find it hard to get in on it LOL. I am sure this year we could have had a big family turnout at least, but caught me off-guard/last-minute. Will have to try next year I guess. Valentines Day we try to just do special things throughout the year rather than being relegated to the silly holidays. I am sure Valentines will pass by without a thought between the 2 of us, and we will be happy with that! Wink We celebrate our anniversary much more heavily, we find that far more important I guess.


Doing Better - Good Financial News

February 3rd, 2007 at 12:30 pm

After being unable to do much today I finally told dh what I would really like to do is just clean up a little. I have been pretty overwhelmed lately and everything around the house seems to be suffering. Anyway, came upstairs to file bills & papers, opened that new GMAC MMA I intended to (oh yeah, I think they lowered their rate too - figures - but still felt it was worth it). Dh decided to vacuum the downstairs and I am so grateful. When I ask to help he does. But usually all the housework falls on me. I don't really mind for the most part - I don't do a ton, but I think I go through this every busy season - it just sldies by the wayside and becomes so overwhelming I can't even think about it. Anyway, just simply vacuuming the family room and kitchen/dining area just feels like a weight off - just less overwhleming. THank you dh - & it is extra nice when I don't have to ask!!!!!!

I picked up the kids room sand laundry last weekend and now the office area is a little more tidy, everything filed. I would love to scrub the kids' bath (filthy) and should probably get a new shower curtain - it's just disgusting. & the table clothe downstairs is trashed - ripped and stain - time to replace - may do a little shopping tomorrow. Unfortunately we have extra big shower, hard to find a shower liner so will just go over to Bed, Bath Beyond - I know I bought the last one there a while back - see if I can find one.

Maybe tomorrow I will hit the kitchen and the rest of the downstairs needs a good vacuum.

HAving a bigger house, overall I don't spend a lot of time dusting and scrubbbing overall, so it is really not that much, but the downside is the master bath pretty much never gets cleaned. IT is always filthy - just the one thing I never have time for. & then when I get to it, it takes so long to scrub, I just never want to do it again. LOL. SO as usual the rest of the house will probably be "clean as it needs to be" as I always say, and the bathroom - eh - it will wait as usual But at least once I get back on track it won't be so hard to keep up. I hope. I really prefer to do my own housework for many reasons - I doubt I will ever hire a maid. For now, in the winter, it is the only exercise I get. Seriously. So I like to do it myself.

Anyway, the good financial news is I totally forgot when I lessened BM's preschool days that most months would be $280. $280 or $315 depending if it is 8 or 9 days that fall in that month. I totally forgot because no sooner than we switched than they shut down 2 months. Anyway, just paying the bill and thinking it shouldn't be MORE than 9 days so I better check. I saw it was a short february and 8 days. I Was really pleased. & THEN I noticed march was the same. $70 I did not expect to save in january & february - woohoo!!!!!!!!

Anyway, I am super stoked because we are short about $200 this month based on income anyway mostly because of all the car repairs (was looking pretty good even with all the emnergencies this month until the last couple of days of course). BUT I made almost $100 in Cookie Lee sales this month - woohoo - and just found another $70 - WOW!!!!! To bridge the end of the gap I have had my eye on selling an old Milli Vanilli C.d. I have. They are selling upwards of $20. I also have a couple of baby items to that I need to clean and put up for sale. So overall I am super pleased.

I am also extra pleased with my decision to round up the mortgage payment by $32. A day at preschool is $35 and since about 1/2 the months we pay $35 less than I budgeted, is easy to apply that to the mortgage. Just something I totally hadn't realized and I Am super pleased! All works out...



Deep Freeze Heat Bill

February 2nd, 2007 at 07:05 am

Just a quickie because craziness abounds over here.

But I got the heat/gas bill and it was $116. Considering we had record low temps for well over a week, I am impressed. We have had worse.

& hopefully this does it. It has been warming up and I look forward to 3-5 months of slim gas or electric bills - it will get mild and we will rarely run the heat, until May or June when the heat wave hits and we start cranking the air. Woohoo. I am a little over budget this month with all the health costs, extra daycare, car repairs, etc., etc. But I decided to forge ahead with all my full savings goals. I know in the future months when our gas/electric bill goes down we will catch up. Right now I pay everything so early I will just push things a little later in payment until I catch up. No biggie. It's about how I usually do things. I know if I just save the full amount I intended to, the rest will work out.

If I have 5 more months like this though, I can't say. LOL. I even lost track of how much money we spent these last few days, and with how hectic it is, easy to pull up the cc and look overall, but I Am just going to start my spend updates over Feb. 1. Here's to a better February!!

Oh yeah, still no word from the last electric bill (have received 2 gas bills in the meantime- have separate companies). Logged onto my account last night - no bills, $0 balance. Well okay then. Something else I am not sure I really have the money for. In the meantime I think I have to start paying the preschool 1st of the month instead of before. Oh well. It is nice something so simple balances the budget - that is why I pay everything so darn early, so if I have a bad month, I can pay everything when due and not get behind - woohoo. Either that or my personal loan which has no due date. Hmmmm. Or the mortgage, or the utilities, or the cc payment. Many options, just don't want to screw up my system - since I divide each paycheck into the bills due.

I had wanted to build up a bit of a slush fund for this purpose with budget underages (is that a word? LOL) and intended to put aside $50 every month for car maintenance which is very reasonable. But having $250 in car bills in month 1 is not helping me!

Frankly my only real problem is being too aggressive in the savings, which really isn't a problem if you ask me. Wink

Well I have my first tax appointment today. & so it begins...

Library Card for Toddler, and Latinos pay Cash for College

February 1st, 2007 at 12:59 pm

Had to share this, too cute. My little 3-year-old is quite the reader, he has actually been reading for a long time, and obsession with books since infanthood. It is funny how something like that can be so ingrained from such a young age since the difference between him and the little one is so obviously night and day. The little one is not on the path to pickin up reading in the next year, so be it. THe big one pretty much taught himself. I know no one believes me and imagines I make the kids sit in the corner and read flashcards all day, but that is not the way it is at all. The kid is obsessed with books, and by reading a million books to him every day since he was a baby taught, and encouraging his fascination with the alphabet by teaching him the letters and sounds, reading just came naturally to him. As for Little Monkey, I think we are kind of relieved he gets bored of books a little more easily, since the big one would demand we read hours and hours and hours on end to him. Well he still does, at this age still prefers to be read to, of course. But at this age at least they are a little more interesting to us - LOL.

But the kids' favorite little t.v. show is Calilou, a really sweet cartoon on Public Television about the adventures of a 4yo boy. I understand why BM loves this show, because he can REALLY identify with him - the kids has a little sibling and a cat, and goes to preschool and parallels his life so much. The funny thing is LM is totally obsessed with this show too and I have no idea why. All day long, "Calilou, Calilou, Calilou." Dh said he talks more about Calilou than "mommy" all day though he babbles about us both a lot I guess - LOL. Anyway, Calilou just got his own library card in the last episode they watched and dh and I felt so silly we never thought of that!!!! Today I went to take BM to the libray while LM was at Toddler Class with daddy, as the usual drill. BUT today he got his own library card. He was so excited, got a little "Today I got my first Library Card" sticker, and was really charming all the librarians. IT was cute too because he ran over to the machine to check out a book too, after he got his card, but before he picked a book. Just could not wait. He was extra lucky because when daddy came to get him he grabbed a Bob the Builder DVD for him to check out too so he could show daddy how his new card worked.

& that is how you make a kid's day without paying a dime. Hehe.

& I still feel so dumb for not thinking of that myself! Kudos to Calilou...

In other news found this article rather interesting. (below). Kind of brings on the debate if you should finance school or not. Probably overall there is some middle ground. Article said also 1st-generation college goers tend to pay cash. My father was 1st generation and paid his way by working darn hard. My parents helped me a bit but expected me to work hard too. Financing was never considered an option. & thinking about it I see why. As the first generation in his family to go to college, knew nothing about financing options available, etc. So I think that is an interesting point. HAving made my way through school working hard and owing no debts I think people are too quick to write off working as an option overall, because it interferes with studies. There has nothing that his taught me more or served me better in my life than working so hard and learning how to balance my responsibilities. I worked mostly full-time through college and had all As. Come on, it is not impossible. On the flip side, if you are working to the bone and your studies are REALLY suffering, then sure, of course, take out a loan, do what you need to do. I just think the prevailing attitude to put it off, and off and off and off is not helpful financially. The people I went to college with who ran up the huge debts wanted to live a certain lifestyle. I Was living with roommates and eating Top Ramen, driving my 20-year-old Toyota - the difference night and day with many I Went to school who were so "whoa is me - I have to pay my own way - so I run up tons of debt rather than figure out how to really afford to live." I remember one friend who I actually worked with after school who lost a father and was always high and might he had to run up debt and do it himself, like us 18-year-olds just had mommy and daddy paying our way. Us 18-year-olds would just roll our eyes and humor him - whatever, plenty of us who were barely scraping by but doing what we needed to get out without running debts. Well there goes my college debt rant - LOL.

I think the downside this points out though is an all or nothing approach. I could see with skyrocketing state college costs that my kids will likely need help or a little financing. I Can not imagine them needing 100k for college or anything like that, but a few thousand here and there to help isn't the worst either I am sure. As long as it is taken on with great thought and effort to pay it off quickly. I think that is the problem with the system, people are taking on great debts without even considering if they will really finish their degree, considering they have picked the right degree, etc. IF people took on a cash attitude I think they would at least tread more carefully. I would rather the kids take on small laons and figure it out themselves than finance their college though. From the experiences my family has faced, I Think that would serve them best. But no matter how you slice it with parents to cathc them when they fall and grandparents to spoil them, I don't know how it all will really turn out. Dh had his college completely paid for, was not kicked out of his house at 18, etc. & he turned out okay. I hang on to that hope - I just don't want to spoil my kids. But I don't want them to struggle too much either - is a fine line.

"Most Latino students spurn college loans
Educators fear that a tendency to work their way through school can hurt
them academically."
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-latino31jan31,0,1961...

$20 Challenge - + Interest

February 1st, 2007 at 07:34 am

$20 challenge:

741.65 - Balance 1/26

$27.85 - Interest savings

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$769.50 - Balance 2/1
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Woohoo.

I have much to blog about but little time, so it goes.

Cash wise though we are really short. I went to Bunco last night. Dh had used his emergency $20 for my tire (since it was a PITA to pay by card). THen I Stole the rest of his money for Bunco. Figure I would turn it to gold - hehe. Well not so much but I did win $15!!!!!! pAid in $12, won $15 - pays for my lunch out this week - woohoo. Leaves $15 cash in my pocket - plenty. Dh needs $40 - $20 for spending & $20 emergency back. I took ALL his cash - LOL. Anyway, today I get an auto reimbursement around $40 so will go to the ATM for him. Cash is usually in our budget, but just tight with the winter gas heat bills. Plus instead of using all the cash we generally come across, I have been depositing it aLL in the bank. Leaves us cash tight but that is okay. IT always seems to work out. & my savings is growing - woohoo.

Bunco - I didn't add my winning to the challenge because I Always win - LOL. Just nothing new. THough if I took the cash to the bank and deposited it I would. My $15 saves me a trip to the aTM instead - for myself anyway - and that is usually what I use it for - so no challenge for that.

I got free dinner to boot - woohoo.

Our electric bill has also gone missing. I get it paper and electronic. Since I paid the last one 12/29 I figured I should have gotten it by now - I generally set them to pay electronically when due. Weird. Guess I will have to call - no electronic or paper bill in sight. I Can't figure out January budget - this is messing me up.

Today is pay day and I plan to immediately transfer $1000 to savings. $200 for the EF and $800 for Short-term savings. Most of that will go to the dentist this month. LEaves $1200 for credit card (on track before mechanic - grrrr) and 500 for utilities. CC went over so will just pray utilities fall below, have a little in the slush fund for mechanic anyway - so works out. Nothing will keep me from putting $1k in saveings. (well almost nothing. Wink )

Ask me the last time I saved $1k from a check - LOL. It has been a LONG time. Woohoo.