Saturday, January 31, 2009

January Redux

Oops, it's been awhile (I keep saying that, don't I?). But never fear, dear reader(s?), this post will be a doozy! Hope you enjoy:

No-Spend Days: 25/25
No Eating Out Days: 28/27
Extra Income: $0
Money Saved: $300 (not including short-term savings)
Debt Paid Off: $439.81
Retirement Savings: $286.20
Other Money Spent: $388.09
Workout Days: 7
Books Finished: 3
Times Flossed: 2 (hey, at least I’m honest!)
Letters/Cards/Contacts: 4 (although one just got bounced back in the mail, so I'll have to check on that!)

Progress on 2009 Goals:

  • continuing to reduce my Bank of Mom debt (turtling for now to rebuild savings/EF)
  • have kept my card paid off each month
  • got my credit union savings/checking account balances above $750 in each account to take advantage of the special rate - goal MET!
  • new goal added: saved $100 and started "Checking ++" account at my hometown bank – goal MET!
  • met all of the monthly requirements for the Checking ++ account to earn 5.00% APYmonthly goal MET!
  • working on saving up $1,000 to start a Roth at Vanguard and roll my current Roth money out of my semi-shady broker’s account to save money on fees
  • contributed at least a little toward my SIMPLE IRA (w/matching)
  • put some money toward a "gifts" fund, and did not spend anything on gifts or vacations yet
  • technically, I *have* gotten my Little Emergency Fund/STS up to $1000 (which includes the credit union money, which is at a total of $1500). I may have to dip into that somewhat, but I think I should be able to keep it above $1000 so I am going to consider this goal MET!
  • continuing to post on the No-/Controlled-Spend thread, and got 25 No-Spends and 28 No Eating Out days for January – monthly goal MET!
  • worked out 7 days in January… that might not seem like a lot, but it is up from zero ;) This will be harder to do in February with my late work schedule, but I’m going to work on it.
  • have done pretty well staying positive and energetic at work, and had a pretty good month!
  • have learned a lot about investing this month, and have my plan in place… now I just need to save up the money!
  • contacted companies and compared investments for my Roth – goal MET!
  • have continued to do more online surveys, and will probably get at least one check next month
  • could not do my tax return yet, as I am still waiting on one highly aggravating document to arrive! But I did start it, and it will be easy to complete once I have that form. Then I’m going to save it!
  • have done better being patient with people – I think :)
  • talked to my grandma on the phone twice and sent thank you cards

So I think that’s a pretty great start! I definitely have the Roth goals in my sights for the immediate future, as well as getting that tax return and saving it. I am going to try and have the resolve to save the whole thing – I think the most time-sensitive goal is getting money into that 2008 Roth before April… but paying the Bank of Mom, starting an ING (or Sterling Savings!) account for a bonus, or putting more into the Checking ++ account would all be great too!

I am really feeling excited and upbeat about 2009 so far. I think having written goals is having a big impact, and I am working HARD at saving! Now I can’t wait to see what February brings… wish me luck!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Elements of Investing for the Future

So I've started reading books about investing (well okay, just one book so far but there's several more in The Stack already), and already I'm seeing several positive steps that I am taking. In fact, the first chapter contains a list of things you should do before starting to invest, and I am doing all of them! I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I am better prepared than I thought. I have also learned that there are several things on my side when it comes to investing. my age (relatively low) of course helps, but ironically so does my not-that-high salary: it's low enough that I can contribute to a Roth, which will work out brilliantly for me in terms of taxes and I'm in a relatively low tax bracket now.[1] I am learning about asset allocation and diversification, as well as the difference between kinds of stocks, kinds of bonds, annuities, T-bills, all sorts of stuff. I am even learning about taxes. By the time I am done, I will be so smart that I will be able to wisely invest and grow money. Now, I just need to get some money.[2]

[1] This is, of course, the only time that I have not made just-barely-too-much-for-the-awesome-thing, which is how my salary is actually worded in my contract.
[2] And herein lies the problem with that not-that-high salary. Damn.

Friday, January 9, 2009

TV Revelations

So I was watching Sex and the City episodes with LaRue today (okay, so it's DVDs and not TV but whatever), and there is this episode where the main character has broken off her engagement. Her fiancee had moved in with her and her apartment had gone from a rental to a co-op, which he had bought so they could live in it. It's complicated, but anyway the point is he owned the apartment, and so after they broke up she had the choice to move (but she'd lived there for ten years and didn't want to move, and couldn't afford any other apartments) or to buy the apartment. So she goes to the bank to get a loan, and has like $700 in the bank. No loan, obviously, and she has a major freak out. It goes something along these lines:

I just broke off my engagement, and in the middle of dealing with that heartbreak (which is bad enough), I have no money, I have no assets, I'm a 35 year old single woman and I have nothing and I can't get a loan and I can't afford to live somewhere else and now I'm going to be forced to live in the streets and I don't know what to dooooooooooooooooooooo! *sob*

I'm sure this is supposed to be a very emotional moment, but instead of sympathy and concern, I felt a rushing surge of defiance, strength, and pride. Why? Because I am not that girl. I may get broken up with (you never know, I suppose), but even if I did, I have an emergency fund big enough to cover first, last and deposit at a new apartment; I have a solid job which is *knock on wood* recession proof and, besides that, a solid resume with very marketable skills; I have a retirement account of my own and a way to fund it; I have my own bank account(s); I have a strong network, both personally and professionally; and besides that, I am only 29. By the time I am 35, I will have enough set aside for a down payment on a house of my own, should I need to buy a house of my own, and I will know that independent of any man I am in control of my financial future.

Take that, Carrie Bradshaw!

[Obviously Airbear is going to marry me by then and hang on to me forever, since I am such an incredible catch and have the financial habits to make us millionaires, which he certainly needs the help with. But you know. I'm just sayin'. I'm covered.]


So I made it to seven consecutive no-spending days (7 days of absolutely $0, people!). It feels like a huge accomplishment to me. I don't know if people who aren't in the same money-geek thread I am think much of it. But let me just tell you it feels pretty awesome and I am enjoying it. So yay for good feelings :)

And speaking of good feelings, this past week was craaazy busy at work. Which is a great thing! I have been tired of it being so boring around there, and I have some strong potentials for new clients. That means more hours for my teachers, assessments for me to do (which I really do like doing), more kids we get to help, and a bit more $$ in the bank for Nitza. I think that people are feeling optimistic right now (new year, new president, snow melting away) and I hope it's a trend that continues. It does seem to help business, and besides, I like it when people are happy.

I'm also pulling some electronic strings and getting a new checking account set up that will give me a great rate - better than any savings account I've been able to find so far, ironically - so when that gets taken care of in another few days I will feel like I've made some real savings progress for 2009. Woo hoo!

And now I'm off to take a nap with the kitties. ;)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

And off she goes...

Four days into January, and four $0-spending days! Off to a pretty good start, I'd say :)

Friday, January 2, 2009


I am going to take a break from the financial side of life to talk to you about something very important: drugs.

Just kidding, not drugs. Manners.

I am sure if you are x number of years old (where x is equal to or greater than, say... 40[1]), you have contemplated the fact that manners seem to be on the decline. Of course kids these days do not have them, because kids these days are, in most cases, tremendous a-holes. I know this because I work with them all the time. Then again, kids (and I am referring to the somewhere-around-teenage kind, not the diaper kind) are probably always tremendous a-holes during a certain portion of their life. You know, like between the ages of 10 and 24.

Anyway, the problem is that it seems that even people outside the teenage-ish a-hole range are still forgetting their manners, or perhaps they never learned any. For instance, how many times has someone invited themselves to an event you are holding? Or RSVP'ed for themselves and brought another guest (or several other guests) without telling you? Or not RSVP'ed?[2] Of course there are much, much worse social blunders, some downright terrible[3]. But even these little ones are still rude.

But the bad thing about manners is that if you have them, they may get you into an undesirable situation in which you "lose" to a person who does not have them. To whit:

Suppose you have a friend.[4] Let's say this friend's name is Sam.[5] Sam starts dating someone terrible, as friends often do, and because you are older than 13 you know that this is bound to happen. You will doubtlessly see them out and about, and you'll be polite and friendly, because that is what adults do. You might know that the new person is not so good for Sam (because you are clearly much, much smarter than Sam) but Sam is a grown-up and must make independent decisions. As time goes by, this new person inevitably does some obnoxious things, like throws a hissy fit at a restaurant, or starts a bunch of drama at your pub (or perhaps everywhere else), or gets really drunk and breaks things, or sleeps around, or whatever. Sam is still hanging in there, though, because as we've already examined, Sam is kinda dumb. Sam knows you are not fond of this new person, but that you still care about Sam and will let Sam make Sam's own choices.[6]

But then one day you decide to have a couple friends over for dinner. Nothing fancy, maybe you wanna play Scrabble or something. You invite a couple of close friends, and decide to call Sam and extend an invite (after all, Sam has to pick up something from your house anyway). Sam says, well, that sounds great but I was planning on seeing New Person tonight if NP is free. Do you have room for me + 1?


Now Sam has made a social blunder - perhaps without realizing it, but a blunder all the same. It is rude to invite other people to a function. Maybe not as rude as pooping on someone's living room carpet, but still rude. Especially when the "other people" you are inviting are a-holes who cause drama, piss people off, break things, and act obnoxiously. You love Sam, but you have already expressed that you do not love NP, and so it was rude of Sam (not to mention stupid) to invite them to your house and not leave you a delicate way out of it. Sam could have said "Well I was planning on seeing NP tonight if NP is free" and left it at that - then if you wanted to extend the invitation to include a +1, you could, but you could also just say "Oh, well then, have a great time and I'll see you later!" Instead, because Sam temporarily[7] forgot to have manners, you are stuck.

You can either a) say, "Oh, sure, there's lots of room!" and make the people whom you've already invited (and who have already accepted) miserable, not to mention making yourself miserable both during the party and afterward when you are bleaching your entire house and/or cleaning broken glass out of the carpet; or 2) be a giant manner-less bitch and say no. There is no middle ground. There is no polite way to say "Look, you stupid ass, I already told you that you can date whom you like but I don't want to hang out with NP" or "You can come, but don't bring that psychopath with you" or "Sorry, I like my evenings drama-free." It's really too bad, because I probably could have used a polite version of all of the above.

In any case, the end result is Sam w/o manners? Win. You, w/manners? Stuck cooking dinner for an a-hole.

Actually, maybe this is why people have given up manners.

[1] I would have said 30, which is almost how old I am, but I have a friend who is 38 who is constantly proving me wrong about older people having better manners.
[2] My *expletiveexpletive* friends do this one all the time.
[3] Like getting mad if people buy you gifts which are not on your list of demands, or dissing the food you just served them, or not liking your clearly awesome ladybug boots.
[4] I am sure that you have lots of friends, if you are witty and charming enough to read my blog. But let's just focus, hypothetically, on this one friend for a moment.
[5] See how clever I am? Sam could be a boy or a girl. I am being very anonymous and respectful here.
[6] This gender-ambiguous thing is getting a little more cumbersome.
[7] Or, in this case, permanently