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Archive for February, 2015

2014 IRA DONE and Travel Issues

February 18th, 2015 at 08:52 pm

I don't know what I Was thinking on funding 2014 IRAs but I guess I was leaving a wide margin of error for MURPHY. I thought I may finish funding in March or even April, but I was able to top off dh's IRA today with my paycheck. Woohoo!

Still feeling behind, but so much better than last year (post 2013 crazy Murphy year).

Anyway, I decided to fund it because I could keep cash at the minimum I am aiming for, plus a whole $50 to spare.

In other news, it looks like the upcoming Japan trip (for dh and BM) is a little up in the air.

I've said it before. It's not like we never try do any big splurges like this. Yeesh! But the universe just never seems to be in agreement whenever we try to plan any travel abroad. (Free trips initiated by other people are always fine. Spending our own money to travel abroad has *never* panned out. I may be 0 for 4 with this trip).

Anyway, it might work out or we might postpone for one year. Will see.

Since dh and I have no particular love of travel, it's just kind of funny. Like, "Okay, we get the hint!" I do admit though if it was really important to us we would try much harder. Fair enough. I do think it somewhat speaks to our priorities. In this case, my older child LOVES to travel and thus it is a little more important to us. So we might see this through more than other failed travel plans of years past. Will try again!

Home Enhancements

February 14th, 2015 at 06:49 pm

When we bought our home we made a lateral financial move from a high cost region. Traded a small condo for a big house.

I can't say we have had much use for the formal dining and living areas, but they have been filled with hand-me-downs and re-purposed furniture throughout the years. I did invest in some drapes a few years back but that is the extent of my financial commitment to those rooms. I think early on the extra space was overwhelming and later on we just didn't want to get used to it because we just plan to downsize eventually anyway.

Anyway, that said, we parked BM in the formal dining room when we got a new laptop about a year ago. Figured the room might as well get some use. Well, I decided to kick him out last weekend. I moved him to an unused corner of the living room. We had an extra desk he could use and it gave me my pretty formal dining room back.

When we moved him it brought my attention to some hand-me-down (I guess?) lamp that I really don't like. He would need some better lighting for homework. It turns out my parents just bought a lamp and though I wouldn't have been surprised if it was more expensive they had only paid $60 for it. I wish I had looked at it closer, but I had liked it at a quick glance. Of course, after shopping around online for about an hour that was the best option I could come up with. Free shipping and it arrived in 2 days. It really classes up the room.

The old lamp was something like this:

The new lamp:

I guess that is the first lamp we have ever bought for this house. The house came with overhead lighting in the rest of the rooms.

All that and dh ended up moving BM back to the dining room. (In the corner - not using the nice table any more. I agree with his reasons). HA! But, I appreciate the opportunity to make a small investment/enhancement to the living room.

It's little stuff like that bubbling up to the surface for us these days. What has been completely overlooked while we had higher priorities. (Though for the most part we are more than happy with all the free furniture we have gotten over the years! I don't foresee many changes like this).

While claiming my elegant dining room back I remembered that the table cloth in there was starting to fall apart. I had noticed at Thanksgiving. (It was vinyl and though it was very pretty and looked more like lace, time was wearing it down).

I ended up finding a table cloth very much like my mom had and I had admired. Plus it was washable and should last much longer.

Thankfully it was as nice in person. Spent about $50 on that, but is a really nice improvement. It didn't match as nice as I thought it would with our current place mats, but that might be a good wish list item (birthday or christmas) or something just to keep an eye out for. I don't feel the need to rush out and replace today.

Vacation Planning

February 11th, 2015 at 02:25 pm

We got our room booked in Maui. Cost will be $0, thanks to in-laws' timeshares.

Airfare is going for $300 right now from the west coast. I don't know that I've ever paid more than $400. But $300? WOW! It's the first time I am flying all four of us to Hawaii and so these prices sound good but the low prices have not hit for fall yet. We will keep an eye on things. I signed up at a website that had a lot of great airfare tips and sales alerts. I feel relieved because when I perused airfare last month I thought it might be a lot more expensive than I had envisioned. It's since gone in the opposite direction. $300 per person x 4, would be phenomenal.

Our annual vacation budget is $1,500 and so I think I will just try to fit airfare in that range. (We usually don't plan trips to Hawaii and I Would not expect our usual vacation budget to cover that!). I plan to use credit card rewards to pay for the car rental. I may hold back $1,000 from my overtime this year to fund the trip. We wanted to take surfing lessons, maybe two of us do a zip line, etc. But most the lazing around and swimming, snorkeling, hiking and boogie boarding type stuff should be fairly inexpensive. I am feeling optimistic that this trip will be easily funded without pushing into our savings goals.

Of course, our usual vacation budget funds our overall more "vacation lifestyle" and frequent weekend trips and so on. This year is going to be "two BIG trips and not a lot of money to do much else" kind of year. We still live in a resort community, have some amazing hikes in our backyard, and maybe we should make more of a go of some camping excursions this year. I think we can easily keep our "vacation lifestyle" but it will just be more frugal than recent years. Will just have to plan accordingly.

Math and Money

February 5th, 2015 at 09:05 pm

I saw a great article about teaching children about finances:

The Smart Way to Teach Children About Money

Text is and Link is

"We focus on teaching finance in school when regular math is much more effective at helping children manage money."

"“A lot of decisions in finance are just easier if you’re more comfortable with numbers and making numeric comparisons,” says Mr. Cole.

Without strong math skills, he says, people tend to use more emotional ways to invest, spend or save their money. What’s more, people with less math experience make worse financial mistakes with issues like compounding or underestimating how quickly interest accumulates."

I can see that it would be hard to make better financial decisions without math skills.

Both my kids are (very) strong at math and I try to apply that to the real world however I can. Which has led me to comment over the years that like my 8yo had more money sense than most adults. Anyway, when I discuss credit cards with them they look incredulous. You know, like why would anyone pay 30% interest on a purchase?? I always thought it was somewhat genetic or learned, but it is interesting to think that maybe their math skills are also a LOT of it. That an 8-year-old might be horrified by the idea of high-interest credit card debt simply because they understand the math.

The above article basically said that the personal finance education just isn't working. Really interesting.

January Savings

February 2nd, 2015 at 02:00 pm

Received $42 bank interest for the month of January. I am still just adding this to cash, for simplicity. We never seem to have enough cash, anyway. When I have "too much cash" we can re-evaluate. Wink

Dh received $70 birthday money. He generally prefers to save this money but we had such a good year I encouraged him to splurge. I think he only spent $40 of it. He had wanted to get Prime but I told him that I would just get it for free. He signed up for a free trial in the meantime and we have what feels like is a million TV shows and movies (on top of the million we already had). I can't say that we miss cable *at all*. (We already had netflix and hulu and get all sorts of free content over the internet).

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $43 credit card rewards (cash back) from our 2% card.

snowflakes into investment account:

$68 cc rewards (per above)

Savings (From paycheck):

+$200 to investments
+$900 to IRAs
+$300 to cash

I updated sidebar for all of the above.

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):

+$1,300 to cash
-$530 for insurance (home/auto)
-$195 school lunches (6 months)
-$100 passport expenses