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June 29th, 2007 at 05:33 am

$20 challenge:

$7,635.32 - Balance 6/18

$ 90.00 - Interest
$ 75.00 - Focus Group
$ 75.00 - Gift Cards (reward)

$7,875.32 - Balance 6/30

Dh did a focus group last night. They only take a few people so you can get paid to show up and just leave (kind of like jury duty - but a much bigger paycheck).

So he made $75 for 2 hours - he did get called in. They paid cash. He kept $20 to replace his emergency $20 in his wallet, I took $5 since I also had no cash, and will put $50 in the bank with my paycheck next week. I might just save it, but am thinking to holding onto it in case I need babysitting next month. He is going on a big 3-day hike but no date set. Not big on planning - LOL. I may need a babysitter since it will be a busy time at work. We'll see. $50 would hardly cover it either, but it's a start. Otherwise I'd put it straight to the efund.

He filled out a form that asked questions about me too. So now 2 of us are in the focus group pool. SWEET. Hell he made more per hour than I do. I am impressed!!!

Interest ran around $90 this month. Yes I did the balance transfer but the money was only in there a few days before interest was paid for the month. Actually most of it comes from my new 5.7% c.d. It's only a 0.4% increase but gosh between that and the balance transfer for a few days made QUITE a difference. A very good month.

Oh yes and the $75 gift cards - credit card rewards. We used them for stuff we were going to buy anyway (food, laundry detergent, kids PJs, kid birthday presents). Free money.

Our credit card bill thus far looks INSANELY low for the month (knock on wood). The gift cards no doubt helped. Well just a few more days. We may come under budget. Even with some huge excesses. Lord knows how - we just haven't spent much on gas and groceries since we got back from vacation. ??? Even with ALL the driving. Gas prices going down certainly helps.

In other news I think I lost my mind. Though I am not big on putting the kids before us financially (well their college anyway - obviously we put them first today). On the other hand, I am learning about the power of compounding. I am considering dropping in $50/month into a mutual fund for them. Looks like they will get enough money from grandma to open a fund this year. If I open one I kind of want to make regular contributions, and the AIP minimum is $50. I believe per month. So I am considering it. I could easily redirect the money I was prepaying on the mortgage to this for BM this year. & next year I can start to add the money for LM too. $50 by itself is small beans. & since LM is younger I can easily wait another year to better afford his contribution.

I will consider it if I can fully fund my IRA. Dh's IRA next year will be left to windfalls and him working. Then again all I need him to scrounge up is $400/month to fund his IRA and put our retirement savings at 25% (25% of my wage anyway). It's not that big of a deal. I think though I like this idea because I can put a very small token amount to the college funds now and it should REALLY pay off with time. I estimate with a pretty conservative balanced fund that their money would be $50k/each at college. Just doing $50/month plus grandma's money. & if she eventually stops her contributions, if dh is working we can make up the $1k/year easily. So I think $100k for college (for both the kids) is a worthy & easily attainable goal. The fact is the longer we wait the more it costs us. I am coming around.

I am not a big believer in 529 plans since we didn't spend much at all on college. I don't like the penalty for not spending it on college. I am considering UTMA accounts instead. We could avoid taxes in the meantime. Which is not really my aim. Well, maybe it is. LOL. I have always been against saving a big chunk in the kids' name - entitlement issues. But whatever. Between that and their already existing 529 ($4k or so?) and any taxable investments we'll save down the road, yes this is why I never really worried about it. The kids will have so much more money for college than I could have ever even imagined having. They are truly blessed. Up until now I figured a paid off mortgage before they start college and a 2nd income would have them WELL covered. & it really would. But hell if we save now then that is less we have to save later - more we can enjoy that second income when it returns. Big Grin

Well it's a plan, for now I am looking at a budget like this:

17% Retirement (long-term)
13% short-term ("escrow" fund)
5% mid-term (car/house fund)
1.5% Kids

I think I can throw them that bone. My aim has been 15% retirement so if we made it and everything else is covered, the kids will just have to be darn spoiled...

My parents hinted they would trickle down more money (they have been getting a lot in inheritance/wealth management gifts from their parents). So it is likely we can scrounge up a full IRA contribution for dh next year as well. Part sweat, part windfall perhaps. Not counting on it but there isn't really anything else we would need the money for at this point. Well I hope it stays that way anyway!

If you told me in 2003 that I could swing this all on one income I would have never believed it. WOW. We used to save dh's money. I keep pondering the many scenarios if he goes back to work and we won't even need it for savings. Perhaps early retirement will be back on the table. Since we have had kids I figured that was out the window. Wink I try not to get too ahead of myself there. Health insurance is still a huge issue and I also need to save pennies for orthodontia and all that too. I think we will still have PLENTY of challenges ahead. But my more immediate goal of working part-time is becoming more and more realistic by the day. My goal was to support my family on part-time income by age 40. Getting there. With each raise we rely less and less on my entire income, and the market is still conducive to some big raises. So I am feeling good these days about everything financially. I really haven't for the last couple of years. So PHEW.

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