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Now have it all come together...

November 26th, 2007 at 02:06 pm

So I have a problem with accountability. Obviously, as I've only updated twice in the last two months or so. Since then, I've been on a "get fit" kick and I've been visiting my health site daily. When I was on the "get rich" kick, I was here all the time. Now it's time to buck up and track away both sides.

Since my last visit, not much has changed. The ex is still living with me, but will be moving out when I go home for Xmas vacation (for 3 weeks). I think that's best as I don't have to be around to see it, and it'll be free petsitting for my cat while I'm gone. Also, that's an extra month where I don't have to assume the entire financial responsibility for the house. 2008 will be fun!

Spending wise, I've been bad. With the weight loss has come a boost in personal shopping. Not to mention the cross country plane tickets to visit my best friend (much needed post-breakup therapy). Also the $200 car tune up, and a new cell phone (the other one was deaaaadddd).

Positive note: I'm less than $4000 away from my Emergency Fund goal. And in my wallet is a check for $7000...part of the gift I received in September. I'm dumping the whole thing into ING as soon as it clears as I won't be doing any major housework until I get back and settled down. Will be nice to accrue a month or two of interest before I start hiring contractors.

Calming Down.

October 22nd, 2007 at 07:11 pm

So I've decided what to do about my recent stickiness:

1) Staying in my house. It's going to be a bit scary...this neighborhood isn't the greatest. When my ex moves out, so does his truck and his dog...both good deterrents. But the upsides are that I do have a monitored alarm system and once the garage is finally clear, I'll be able to park in there!

2) Not using the $20k to pay down the home equity loan. Either I need to completely get rid of that monthly payment, or just keep slowly chipping at it.

I got the first "installment" of the gift, $5k. Put in a transfer of $2k to give my ING a boost. I'll stop building it up once it hits $10k. Should take just a few more months. Once that's done, I'll stop the monthly transfer of $100.

So between that, also getting out of my work's ESP Plan, removing the ex from my health insurance, downgrading garbage, satellite TV and my gym, in a few months my income should be up about $100/mo, and expenses down around $160/mo. That should help a bit. I'm still very worried.

I have a lot that needs to get done around here. Need an electrician to install ceiling fans and install another motion detector light outside. Also, just had a landscaper out to give me an estimate on building the fence, and finishing up priming the flowerbeds...they are currently mostly clay and rock...very hard...there's no way I can dig it up myself. These things need to get done if I'm to improve the value of this house at all...right now it's just bare dirt and weeds. Also, I will feel better about living here.

Ah!!!!!!!!!!!!

Massive, Scary Life Changes.

October 6th, 2007 at 04:12 pm

WARNING: This is just one big brain dump. I'm a bit numb and need to regain focus.

Let's just break it down into digestible chunks:

1) I broke up with my boyfriend of 6 years last week. We haven't set his move out date, but it'll happen in the coming weeks. It's heartbreaking, but it's the right decision.

2) 3 weeks ago management hinted that my company is possibly heading towards layoffs.

3) Need there be more?

I'm thinking of hiring a financial adviser to get me through the next few decisions.

THE HOUSE:

As it stands, I own a 1978, 3 bed, 2 bath, 1200 sq ft house with a pool/hot tub. Purchased for $280k, 10/01/04.

Mortgage: $214,470. 5.75%, 30 year fixed.
Equity Loan (obtained 05/2006): $41,260. 6.99%, 15 year fixed.

I cannot live in it alone,it's just too big for me to maintain, and the monthly bills would leave me scraping by each month...and I'm not going to do the roommate thing. I don't want to sell it as the market just bites right now and I would not only lose most of my original 20% down payment, but every other dime used towards improvements (carpet, appliances, landscaping) in the last 3 years. So the logical step is to rent it out. Actually, hire a property management company to do the dirty work as I am in no way ready to be a functional landlord.

BUT...the house still needs work. An electrician to install fans in 3 rooms, need a fence put up between my front yard and the neighbors, need to finish sprinkler install in backyard, need to add plants to both front and backyard (right now two big brown dirt patches), re-install carpet in one bedroom, and repaint exterior trim and garage.

The good news: I just received an unexpected $20,000 gift.

OK. So. Do I spend a good chunk of that money to do all the fixes I need to prep the house for renters? I doubt I could get $2025 monthly for the place (my minimum mortgage and home equity payments), but I am prepared to eat the home equity payment each month and have the place get rented out for $1620 (plus mandatory pool service...spent too much money renovating that thing to let some renter ignore the upkeep). Then go rent a nice, affordable apartment, and use the rest of the money to pad up my emergency account for any home repairs/unrented months/possible unemployment. Is it totally retarded to be renting out my house while I rent myself??? This seems the safer option.

OR, do I use the entire amount, plus sell off $21,000 worth of my stock portfolio, and pay off the entire home equity loan? I would still need to fix up the house pretty quick and wouldn't want to dip into my E-fund, so money would be pretty tight and I'd probably have to stay in the house longer, until I raise the funds each month to complete another project.

About my job. Yes, I could go find another, but I love love love my company and the people I work with. No definite layoffs, but I know we're going through a re-org, and my group might be affected. I know I'm being too sentimental about this as I could get more money at a new job, and also probably find something closer to home (my current job is 40 miles away...hello gas savings).


Ugh. It just seems so huge.

SLACKER!

September 17th, 2007 at 08:07 am

OMG. It's been almost a month. How did 3 weeks just fly by like that??

OK. Update the little sidebar. Not bad. Oh wait, I had my birthday, update that too.

So progress is slow. I want it all GONE GONE GONE nownownow. I've been more mindful of my spending, but I have had a few slipups...though nothing stingy for me. Like this weekend, I blew $100 on a set of Tiffany champagne glasses for a friend who just had a baby. My "thing" is that I buy all my friends a pair of Tiffany flutes for their weddings. It's a good price and I always gift it ahead of time so they have them on their wedding day. It's completely worth it to watch them open a giant blue box and know they'll have them forever. Much better than a set of bathroom towels, methinks. So yes, back to the point...this friend got married before I started doing this, so I figured this is an appropriate time to "catch up" to her...also, most gifts she's getting is for the new baby girl, so I think they'll like an adult present.

Otherwise, I've been good. Eating in, bringing lunch to work, no needless driving, no mindless shopping.

Now off to read everything I've missed!

Excited Over Groceries

August 17th, 2007 at 02:37 pm

Last night's Chevy's trip with my coworkers was a good release. We had 2 pitchers of margaritas: mango and raspberry - which were very good despite my fondness for top-shelf-on-the-rocks, and a huge plate of nachos. And it didn't cost me a thing because when we asked for the check, our server said our boss had paid for the whole thing on her way out (she left early). How sweet was that? Also...passive saving. Smile

Just checked the joint account and there's a nice surplus in it right now...that means grocery shopping! Can you believe that aside from the 2 cartons of ice cream last week, I have not gone grocery shopping since I started this blog? That's how much food I have "on reserve" in my house! And I haven't even tapped into the bags of frozen chicken, salmon filets and ground beef. But I do need some fresh stuff and will make a conscious effort to only buy what I NEED to make meals...no more wasteful impulses.

Though I must admit...I am addicted to those Hostess 100-Calorie Pack chocolate cupcakes. Yes, I know the 100-Calorie line of foods is priced double what the normal packaging costs and you should just buy the big boxes and control your portions, but even if I ate only 1 "regular" hostess cupcake...that's still more calories and fat than the 3 little ones that come in the 100-Cal packs.

That was, like, WAY too much insight into my obsessiveness, huh?

Surveys and Money News

August 15th, 2007 at 11:13 am

Spending Yesterday: $6.20: Lunch.

I couldn't help that. I drove straight to work from my mom's house...2.5 hours away, and I wasn't about to bang around the kitchen at 4.30 AM trying to find something to take to work. Then figure out how to keep it fresh during the drive, so the "healthy choice" cafeteria meal (portion controlled spaghetti with garlic, zucchinni, fresh tomatoes, basil and red pepper flakes) did it for me.

Reading other people's blogs here makes me wonder how big these suvey sites are! I am the only person I know who does this...until you guys! I've been a member of them for 2-4 years (Pinecone, GTM, SurveySavvy, Lightspeed, OTX, Keynote, Buzzback, My2Cents, ePoll, and until recently, the Kraft food community)...I love collecting the Amazon giftcards from some, and Paypal payments from others. It's chump change, but hey, it counts.

In bad money news, got a letter from ATT yesterday saying that "one of my plans" is going to be more expensive soon. They don't tell me which one (cell? internet? landline?), or by how much. Just a vague, "hey, we want more of your money", and a catch of..."hm, maybe you should call us and see if we can bundle services for you". Makes me angry.

In good money news, I got a check from AAA as part of their profit sharing program (who knew)...$60. Wahoo! Shame I've cancelled my insurance through them and am moving to Liberty Mutual (combined auto and home savings of $200 a year). But I will still gladly deposit that check Smile Thanks, guys!

They ARE Sneaks!!!

August 9th, 2007 at 01:55 pm

So, I got the results of my little experiment. Verdict? Charter One Loans are bastardly! Yes, I'm sure that's a real word. It is now.

I sent $100 to the home equity loan AFTER my normal payment, and they cheerfully applied the entire amount to interest only, even though I specified principal. I called and she's having the charge moved to principal but the only way to ensure that extra payments make it to my balance is to send them in with my regular monthly payment. So I can't send 2 a month without having to call and reiterate where the second one should go. This daily interest accrual stinks.

Not So Hungry Hippo!

August 8th, 2007 at 09:23 pm

Spending:
$16.18, dinner with the girls.
$250, plumber payment.


The dinner is almost a weekly thing, and I will NOT give it up! We have been friends for almost 10 years, and those of us who are within a 1 hour drive try to meet up for dinner 2 or 3 times a month. This was a spendy night...all I had was a dinner salad and water! Usually it can be under $10. No problemo.

Speaking of food, I am reallllly trying to clean out my pantry/fridge before I resort to purchasing more groceries. I might be able to pull it off for the rest of the week! What I need:

2 breakfasts: I have exactly 2 more yogurts left!
2 lunches to take to work: Out of my usual frozen meals, so I'm thinking tortillas, deli sliced chicken, some cheese, and a side of cottage cheese. That should do it.
Dinner tomorrow: Can of soup with added leftover kidney beans for protein.
Snacks: I have a few rice puddings and granola bars left.

See? I have plenty! Then I'm off to visit family Friday, and staying there through Monday night. So meals are out of my hands.

You know, now that I'm hyper-aware of saving, I really cannot believe how much I was nickel-and-diming myself. How many urges I've had to squash and try to break bad habits. Bored at work? Head to the outlets at lunch! Nothing fun to eat at home? Stop by the to-go sushi counter on the way home. Out of desserts? Ice cream from the gas station! No more!

Wealth Goes / = Weight Goes /

August 7th, 2007 at 12:39 pm

I noticed something possibly related to my newfound budget: I have lost weight in the last week. Yes, just one week, but I do weigh myself almost every day, and there was a significant (3lb) drop since last week. I'm almost completely positive it's because I'm making an effort to eat homemade meals instead of dining out with my coworkers. My usual $2, 300 calorie frozen meal vs. $7 at the cafeteria for a plate of pasta, some bread and a diet soda (or up to $15 if we go offsite).

Also, last night when I got home from work, I had the last beer. Once finished, I did have the urge to run to the store to grab more beer (to my alcoholic defense, it's a $7.99 LIMITED EDITION Sam Adam's Cream Stout that I just LOVE...but I'm not going to do some crazy stockpile because knowing me, I'll be sick of it in a few months) and maybe some $3.99 ice cream. BUT in the spirit of saving, I got a glass of water. That's $12 passive savings, and what would have been an extra 400 calories right there!

Checking Testosterone Levels...

August 3rd, 2007 at 03:38 pm

I might be on my way to another zero $ day! That all depends on who gets to drive tonight - I might insist as the boy drove last weekend, and I have XM radio for entertainment. Heading down to the coast for the weekend, which usually costs over a tank of gas ($50). And I already know my sister bought us tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, so I will have to repay her $25. Beyond that I don't think I'll be spending anything, eating at home or out to lunch with my mom.

So I'm getting the balls to bite the bullet and sell some of my company stock. I've been here over 5 years and thusly, have a lot in both vested options and Employee Purchase Plan (which I've dropped contributions down to 1% just to keep my hand in the plan, but the price just isn't worth it right now).

But what do I do? Say I sell enough to net $5,000 after taxes - do I dump it into 5.05% E*Trade savings? Do I open a Roth IRA? Do I pay down my 6.99% home equity loan? Or, in addition to my girl-balls, do I also grow some hair on my chest and start investing? Grrr.