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3 and a half year update

November 13th, 2014 at 10:47 am

Wow, I just noticed on the forums that my last blog post was 3 and a half years ago. A lot has changed in that time.

I was bragging about my first student loan payment in my last post, well in December 2012, as a 30th birthday present to myself, we paid off my student loans.

We moved from Pcola to Hawaii.

We sold our Pcola house and have continued to rent out our Jax house. We were able to (finally) refinance it, but they discovered we now need flood insurance so it didn't result in much of a monthly cost lowering so we still lose about $30 per month + any repairs.

We got and paid off a BMW. We sold my car and bought another one with cash after the move.

I changed jobs once, have been unemployed for about 8 months, and am about to start another job. DH changed his jobs once too (the reason for the move).

We continue to max out our Roth IRA and 401k.

We started contibuting to a taxable retirement account and are regularly contributing to it.

Kids and Money

June 5th, 2011 at 08:25 am

So I just found a new financial blog which talks about military retirement among other things. Today's post is probably the best article I have ever read about teaching children about finances. He basically tells the story of what he and his wife did in raising their daughter who is now a freshman in college. What I liked best was that it describes what they did at various ages and different books/resources he used as inspiration.

DH and I don't have kids, but we hope to someday, and I just hope I can find this again when we do.

Here's the link if you want to check it out:

Student Loans

April 28th, 2011 at 07:01 am

In honor of graduation on Monday I thought I would start this new financial journey with my student loans.

Spring of 2007 I started applying to pharmacy schools. DH is in the Navy and we knew that it was possible for us to be stationed in one of the four corners of the US (Hawaii, Washington State, Maine and Florida). At the time I wasn’t aware of a pharmacy school in Hawaii, I missed the requirements for the school in Washington state by 1 biology credit (did I mention I was a biochem major in undergrad…how did this happen?!?!) and I was accepted to a pharmacy schools in New Hampshire (the closest to Maine) and University of Florida.

If we ended up selecting Washington or Hawaii, I’d put pharmacy school off for a while or go into something else. The base in Maine was closing so we knew eventually DH would come back to Jacksonville if he was stationed there, but we were holding out hope he would get Jacksonville and we could live together. Well the DAY of orientation, during my lunch break, we found out that DH had been selected to go to Maine and be the first squadron to come back to Jacksonville. I remember asking him “so that means I’m going to stay here [at UF], right?”

So needless to say things were a little up in the air there for a while. We had no idea how much life would cost supporting two households or how much school stuff would cost or anything. So we decided to take all of the loans offered that first semester, both subsidized and unsubsidized. I took all of the ‘profit’ in our savings account. I say ‘profit’ because they give you a bunch of money, take out tuition and give you the rest to live on. Second semester we took out the subsidized loans and my in-laws offered to pay for tuition. For my second year we continued to take out the subsidized loans and then used that ‘profit’ from before to cover gaps. Each semester we took out the subsidized loans, but it didn’t quite cover tuition so after the ‘profit’ was gone we started setting aside $350 a month to save up for those tuition payments.

So now 4 years later I’ve got just over $44,000 in student loans which will continue to be on deferment until November (colleagues who took everything have 100K or more). Since I will be starting a residency, they can be put back on deferment. I’m not exactly sure for how long. My program lasts until June, so at least until then, but I’m not sure if I get another 6 month grace period or not. The unsubsidized loans are currently at 6.8%, and they all with be at that rate when the deferment ends.

Our goal is to pay it off in 5 years. However, I plan to put $1000 a month toward them, which, especially with deferment, should pay them off in about 4 years or so. The nice thing is that with our slush fund whenever we get sick of them we can just cut a check and be done with it. Probably not the best thing financially (paying higher interest than we are earning in our checking account), but liquidity and flexibility is key in the Navy.

On the cusp...

April 26th, 2011 at 05:17 pm

So it's been a while since I've updated or written on this blog. Almost a year, I guess. DH and I are right on the cusp of a lot of big changes so I think now is a good time to jump back in.

First, I will be graduating from pharmacy school on Monday. It was a long, hard, fantastic 4 years and I wouldn't trade a second of it! Financially, I'll be leaving with student loans amounting to just over $44,000.

Second, DH and I both will be starting new jobs. DH is going back to be a flight school instructor and I was selected for a 1 year pharmacy residency position. DH will still be making 85-90K and my stipend for the year is 41K.

Next, these new jobs are no longer in Jax, but across the state. We will be there for about 3 years...and are buying an amazing house. We were supposed to close on Monday, but it was pushed back to Friday. (This time through the home buying process has been AWFUL, I'm sure I'll comment on it later). So we will be adding another $125K to our debt.

We are still keeping our current house and are renting it out to a girl I went to school with. She's signing a 1 year lease, but I hope she stays a little longer than that. If not, we have access to a decent sized pool of renters. Her rent covers all of our costs plus about $15 or $20 to save up for repairs.

This summer before my residency starts my goal is to re-evaluate our financial plan to make sure we are using our money to best meet our goals. I intend to post updates and possibilities and would love to get your input on it!

Medication savings

March 23rd, 2010 at 05:15 pm

I'm in pharmacy school and just started rotations. I always have known it is a challenge for many patients to afford their medications. However the current location of my rotation serves a set of patients who have little-to-no income. Many of the pharmacists where I work spend a great deal of time helping patients get their medications. Here are a couple tricks of the trade:

Free medications. Publix, a local grocery store, has offered select antibiotics for free. All you need is a prescription and you can get the medications for free. However they just started a new pharmacy program for diabetes where they are also giving immediate release metformin away for free.

$4 lists. Retail pharmacy chains like Walmart and Kmart offer many common prescription medications for $4 a month or $10 for three months. This can be a huge cost savings for everyone, not just those with low incomes. If you have insurance and your co-pay is more than $4, you will still only have to pay the $4. One down side is how busy these places can be, however.

Patient assistance programs. Patient assistance programs help low income patients receive brand name medications from the manufacturer. Often there is paperwork associated with this, either documentation of previous medications tried, or income statements. The work can be cumbersome, but results in receiving the medication at no cost.

Of course if anyone is having a hard time affording their medications they need to inform their doctor. Doctors may be able to prescribe a lower cost alternative. I see many people chose not to fill certain prescriptions due to cost. Also, abruptly stopping some medications can be dangerous. Do not stop taking medications without first talking to a doctor or pharmacist.

Expensive week!

February 23rd, 2010 at 10:05 am

I got a phone call from DH yesterday saying that his laptop had officially died. We weren't really expecting it, but I did know it was falling apart and in much worse condition physically than my computer. I don't know what he'll get to replace it, but I'm sure it will cost $500-1000. A funny side note is he bought it while in Italy 2 years ago on a detachment and he's now in Italy on the exact same detachment.

He's not the only one spending money though. I bought LexiComp for my phone. It normally retails at close to $300, but with my student discount I got it for nearly half price. It was something I was planning to get here soon, so when it was on sale I jumped on it.

I also joined a gym. I decided to go with the month-to-month rather than the year long contract. It works out to be $8 a month more, but if I decide in 2 months I hate it, it would be much cheaper to cancel. I also figured that I needed to do this for me. I've been starting to run and am pseudo-training for a 15K. I've been running off and on for 2 months now, but the weather has been a big hurdle. So with the gym that excuse is off the table.

So we have spent a lot this week, but thankfully we have the money to be able to handle it.

Tax Refund

February 18th, 2010 at 09:17 am

DH and I got our tax refund earlier this week. I can't believe how fast it came! As soon as I noticed it hit our checking account I quickly transferred it to our ING savings account. Don't want to waste a second of higher interest. Smile

We get a huge refund, over $2500. I know that we shouldn't be letting the government have it interest free, but we don't have a strong need for it and apparently the government does. Also I'd much rather be receiving money than having to pay.

This is the second year in a row we've had large refunds. I'm sure it's because I barely contribute to our income and we have to pay tuition. This next year, 2010, we may also be able to itemize our deductions and save any more. Although I haven't crunched the numbers yet to see if the interest on the house and possible interest from the student loans would make it worth it to itemize.

In anticipation of this I've increased the number of exemptions claimed on DH. Hopefully this will give us some more cash throughout the year but not make it so we have to pay come tax time.

As far as the refund goes I don't think we had a set plan for it. I did put some of it into our vacation fund in anticipation for our two week trip to Costa Rica. The rest of it has gone to our "housing/downpayment fund." That's sort of our catch-all for any extra money. When DH gets home the end of the month we may discuss if that's what we want to do or to put the money into other places.

Millionaire Next Door

February 17th, 2010 at 06:49 am

Wow I just found an old post that I was going to put on my blog but must have forgotten to do. It's my review of sorts of the Millionaire Next Door.

I just finished reading the Millionaire Next Door written by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. I have heard a lot about this book so I was curious about reading it. However, I was a little disappointed with it. First of all, it is not really written for 25 year olds. I do not really know who would benefit the best from this novel, but I am not its primary demographic. This is also not a normal personal finance book that makes suggestions on how you should change your life to increase wealth. Rather, it is merely a collection of statistics about the average millionaire in America. (The fact that the “average” millionaire is a 57 year old self-employed male may explain my difficulty in relating to some of the things in the book.)

Things that bode well for us:
There are several common themes that run through the book. The first is that despite our exposure to celebrity millionaires who have all the latest toys and blow money left and right, most of the millionaires are quite frugal. Purchasing items on sale or using coupons is common.

They spend more time tracking where their money is spent and planning for future financial endeavors.

I like that they have a formula to determine how much money a person should have saved: 10% of your age multiplied by your income. At age 25 and an income of roughly 50,000, DH and I should have saved roughly $125,000. Not going to happen. My initial thought was that it is skewed for older workers. I mean, I haven’t really had my first job yet and DH has only been working for 2 years. There is no way that in 2 years we could have saved $125,000. It does make me think that we could be doing better though.

*Update: DH is now further into his career and his income has leaped up. I, however, am still in school. Our new goal is about $220,000. However we are MUCH closer to reaching that than we were 2 years ago. We've started and fully funded our Roths, we started contributing to TSP, and our savings account has nearly doubled. At least I see that saving that much could be possible*

There was a large portion of the book that related to educating children about money and enabling them with gifts. Not having kids, I haven’t had a chance to mess that up yet. It made me reflective of my own childhood though. My parents lived fairly frugally, I don’t know how much money we had, but we didn’t live extravagantly, but there was always enough money for me to do what I wanted. I have always been interested in money and lived pretty frugally. I think that it was more of an internal thing, but maybe some of it was shaped by how my parents were. If you needed something you bought it, if you didn’t need it, you didn’t buy it. And we didn’t need a lot of things….we didn’t try to keep up with the Jones. Actually my parents bought our first DVD player after I was out of high school, probably in 2002 or so. My step-dad still has dial up internet.

But it did make me realize how important it is to teach children to be financially aware and financially responsible. I’m sure DH and I will help our children out financially at least for school, both of our parents helped us. But I think we’ll also take more of a hands-off approach and make them do it on their own too.

Another thing the book seemed to emphasize was that most of the first generation millionaires are all self-employed. This was a little disheartening to hear as that isn’t really a plan for me. They say that many of them are tax advantaged and that the income they earn is only a small percentage of what they make. I wonder if it is possible to have a similar tax shelter without having a business for write-offs. I mean, does increasing the amount I have in my Roth, increase my net worth without increasing my taxable income? Would a traditional IRA/401(k) have a similar effect? Are there non-retirement accounts that would do this?

Debt free?

November 8th, 2009 at 07:50 am

Is it bad that I consider us to be debt free?

In reality we have a mortgage ($149K) and my school loans ($30K), but I don't really think about them. DH and I closed on our house in August, so we have a mortgage, but the only real change is that rather than paying rent to a landlord, we pay it to the mortgage company. So mentally there hasn't been a big change there.

Also the school loans will still be deferred until I finish in about 2 years. So since we aren't paying for them, I don't think to include them. Additionally with the exception of the first semester DH and I have only been taking out the subsidized loans. So while fellow classmates who need those loans to live off of, have about 100K in debt, I'll only have about $40. Another reason why I don't include it is that if push came to shove, we have the money to pay it off, we'd drain our savings, but technically that could be gone tomorrow. So maybe once the school loans come out of deferment I'll start feeling differently, but I doubt it.

So no, I still have debt, but we've got it under control, so I may slip and say we're debt free. Wink

How it paid to go to Lowe's everyday

August 5th, 2009 at 07:44 am

So DH and I closed on our house a week and a half ago. Since that day we have gone to Lowe's nearly everyday...I think I've only missed 2 of the last 12 days.

Thankfully most have just been little trips for paint and brushes. However one of those trips was a big weekend where we purchased all new appliances for the house. The house was 20 years old, and had mostly original appliances with no washer/dryer. We shopped well: went during the weekend where they had 10% off energy star appliances, a rebate on Samsung kitchen appliances, and used our 10% military discount. All in all, much worse than it could have been, besides we can take the washer, dryer and fridge with us when we go if we want!

DH made a little fuss about buying washer dryer pedestals. I think I'd like the extra height so I don't have to bend down so low to get to the front loaders. (Yes, I know you have to bend down for top loaders, but hey, it was my one sticking point. I offered that DH could do all the laundry if he didn't want to spend the money, but if I was doing laundry, I'd like the pedestals.)

Then the next day I just happened to wander back by the appliance section mentally I'd just checked off the appliance section, so wasn't even planning on going to that part of the store. I notice a sign that said if you buy any Samsung washer/dryer you get the pedestals for free, starting on Thursday...and we had purchased our appliances on Saturday. I was pretty sure that we were charged $200 a pedestal, so I talked to the appliance guy and he verified that the washer/dryer we bought would qualify. He said to check the receipt to see if we were charged, and if we were to bring it back.

Lo and behold, we were charged, so on my next daily trip to Lowe's I brought my receipt and was refunded the nearly $400. In addition to the money DH now can't complain about purchasing the pedestals...they were free! Smile

Closing on Friday!

July 22nd, 2009 at 05:26 pm

DH and I will close on our house on Friday!! I feel like I've been talking to our mortgage company every day, but I think it's all coming together.

Today I was informed that the sellers agreed to pay more money than was allowed due to the particular circumstances. We had the sellers pay 3% of the selling price towards closing costs, that amount covers all the closing costs plus the $1000 binder and $350 fee to lock in the mortgage rate, which is great. The problem is that there is an additional $250 "owed" to us. Unfortunately it's not allowed for us to just pocket that $250, so our mortgage agent was calling to see what we wanted to do. Our options were:
1. Do nothing and forfeit that $250.
2. Use that $250 and pay $500 of our money to buy down the interest rate.
3. Use that $250 to help pay the VA funding fee, if allowed.

Well I don't like walking away from free money, so option 1 is my last choice. Option 2 doesn't make real financial sense. It would take 3.5-4 years to recoup the costs of buying down the interest rate, and I don't know that we'll keep it that long. So that leaves option 3. If our contract is written so that the money can be used towards the VA funding fee, then we'll take it. It won't really adjust the mortgage payment, but it will lower the balance to below $150,000.

Since so much is up in the air, I figure having cash on hand is better than having it sunk into a house that we aren't planning on keeping that long and we will be doing some upgrades to.

Offer was accepted!

June 11th, 2009 at 11:58 am

Well DH came home and we were leaning towards our condo right up until the time that he saw the house. Smile The resale (and ability to rent) is better with the house. So Monday we put in a verbal offer to which they countered. So yesterday we put in another offer (written this time) and they accepted!

So in about 6 weeks we'll be home owners!

Full Circle

June 4th, 2009 at 07:16 am

So I've been house hunting for a couple months now, mostly because the condo I've been renting from was going through foreclosure. The manager called it "loan modification," but the paperwork I was served with said foreclosure. I think I'll believe the courts.

Anyway that notice sent me from wanting to buy the condo we're in, to buying another condo in the same complex, to looking at any condo, to deciding I don't really like many condos, to finding 2 houses I like. So when DH gets home, we were going to look at our top 2 houses and decide if we want either one of them.

However yesterday I get a call from our property manager saying that the loan modification fell through and they are now doing a short sale. I believe she said they were approved for 90K and were looking to go even lower to 80K. As the current tenant we get first 'dibs' on the condo. Well this just brings us back to square one! So now DH and I have to decide if we should get one of the houses we liked or the condo we are currently in.

Pros of the Condo:
1. Half the price (80 or 90K vs 160)
2. We wouldn't have to move
3. We LOVE the location, it's really convenient.
4. We wouldn't have to worry about yard work or anything like that.
5. It might be easier to rent out.
6. If something goes wrong with the outside the HOA has to fix it.

Cons of the Condo:
1. It doesn't qualify for VA loans, so we'd have to have a down payment and last time I called it was a ridiculous 25%.
2. We'd have to pay HOA fees FOREVER, and it's $300+ a month.
3. When we sell it there are a LOT of condos in this area, so it will probably be pretty competitive.

Pros of a House:
1. It would be ours completely and fully.
2. We should be able to get VA loans and not have to put any money down.
3. Both houses are listed at 160, so the cost would be significantly more.
4. It could be a new start, the condo has been mine and my roommates, DH hasn't lived here yet. So that house would be "ours", the condo may still feel like "mine." Although I think I'd get over that quickly.

Cons of a House:
1. We'd be a little bit further from school and my friends, but closer to DH's work.
2. We'd have to buy all the fixings for a yard (mower, etc).
3. We have to worry about the outside and inside of the house.
4. We'd have to move.

So those are the main things I can think of right now. Any suggestions or thoughts?

Searching for a house

May 27th, 2009 at 02:36 pm

I've now been out with the agent twice and have looked at a total of 8 houses. The first time I met with her the very first house we looked at I was hooked. It was beautiful with all hardwood floors and very large with both a living room and family room. My only hesitations were that the two bedrooms were close to one another and the hardwood floors would need refinishing. It was my favorite of day 1.

Then day 2 we go look at that house again along with 4 new ones. Looking at the house again I found a spot where there is a leak and it had soaked through the wall. Now this is something the sellers will have to fix, but it sort of sucks to know that at least part of the roof needs repair. Second, both times I've been there the backyard has been flooded. To make matters worse the entire street has drainage issues. To be fair we've had massive amounts of rain in the past couple weeks (on the order of feet). But we're still not sure if that's something we'll want to deal with.

On day 2 we also saw a house that is a great house, but is decorated very heavily in a country cottage feel. It's hard to see what the house will look like because I am so put off by the decorations, but it's nothing some hardware, paint, and a new sink can't fix. This one has a lanai and is right on a man made lake so no drainage issues there (and the house is quite a bit above the water).

So we have two houses that we like with some positives and some negatives. When DH gets home from deployment he'll get to see them and we'll probably put an offer down on one of them.

Housing situation

May 13th, 2009 at 02:06 pm

We found out in January that the condo we are renting is going through foreclosure. We've been paying (and continued to pay) our rent on time, but it is going through the process nonetheless. They say it is only going through Loan Modification, not foreclosure, but really it's all the same to us. Our lease is up in August and we've been holding our breath that we'll be able to stay in this place til then...looks like it will. Smile

So during this process I got a wild idea to just buy the condo. We decided to rent this place with the idea that we'd stay here for at least 2, if not 3 years. So needless to say the realization that I'd have to move was not a pleasant one...I've moved about 5 times in the last 3 years.

So our condo is on the market, but listed at 175, the balance of the loan. In looking up the listing I found that there was a bigger condo in the complex that had already gone through foreclosure listed at 90K. I was really ecstatic and wanted to buy it RIGHT THEN! So I found a real estate agent and began talking to our bank.

Then the other shoe fell. I didn't like the agent I was working with. I don't think she was that experienced in buying/selling...I found her from people who had used her looking for apartments to rent, not places to buy. Then we found out that we couldn't get a VA loan on this condo complex because it was a conversion from apartments to condos. Our primary bank said they'd lend to us, but they'd require 25% down. 25%! I've never heard of that before. I figured that because of the poor economy we may have had to put 20% down, but 25% never crossed my mind. Now we actually had the money, but we hadn't been planning on putting that much down.

I called up other lenders and some flat out refused to lend for this condo. Apparently the high number of foreclosures and number of investment properties (versus primary residences) in the complex made it unappealing to lenders. So I finally found a bank that would lend to us, told the agent, and found out that someone else had already put an offer down.

I was devastated. Frown At that price it really shouldn't have been surprising, but I was sad that we didn't act quick enough.

So I picked myself up again. I've already found a new agent...one that seems ok. I haven't dealt with her much yet. This one was recommended by the bank (USAA Movers Advantage, for those who know it). I drove all over town looking at nearly every condo complex to see if it's a place we'd want to live. Well 2 hours and 60 miles later, I decided that I didn't really want a condo. Figures. Smile

So now were narrowing the search to single family homes under 160, but widening it in terms of location. We've already found some that are looking good. Now if only DH were here to help me! Less than 1 month left!

Whoops! Expensive lesson.

January 3rd, 2009 at 10:23 pm

So I knew diamonds were just about the hardest thing on earth, and the only thing that could really cut or scratch them were other diamonds. What I didn't realize how big a factor this would play in my wedding ring.

My mom and I were at the mall and she suggested having my ring cleaned. Most stores have your ring cleaned for free, but I never actually get around to it. So since I was at the mall that I actually bought the ring, I decided to do it. Immediately after I give the woman my ring she announces that several of the diamonds have chipped!

My wedding ring has 3 stones on the first band and a row of five or six much smaller diamonds on the second band. I never got around to getting the bands stuck together ("fused"), and honestly, I liked that they moved around. I didn't realize that every time they moved they had the potential of scratching and chipping! Thankfully only one of the 3-stone diamonds was chipped...and not the main one...and 3 (maybe 4) of the smaller diamonds. So 600 dollars later...I should have almost a completely new ring.

This now motivates me to 1. Keep up with regular cleanings to maintain my warranty...every 6 months at least! and 2. Get the jewelry rider on our renters insurance updated. The last time I called I found out that while I was insured for the total cost of my wedding ring, and other jewelry, the "per-piece" maximum is significantly lower than it would cost to replace my ring. So expensive lesson learned!


May 7th, 2008 at 07:57 am

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been two months since I last wrote here. Well I sort of can, the last couple months of school were horribly busy, not leaving me time for hardly anything! But now that’s over with and summer is here.

We’ve had some big changes financially here. First of all DH has been in Italy for the past 3 months. While it’s been hard to have him out of the country, it’s been very good for us financially. They get paid per diem, a set amount each day that they can spend on hotel or food or whatever they want. It’s amounted to nearly an extra 1500 a month for us! On top of that we got our tax return and some extra family separation pay so we’ve been able to fully fund our 2009 Roth contributions! I’m so excited that we’ve been able to do this and there is no way I thought it would be possible to do this early in the year. Now, I know that we can’t actually make that contribution yet, but it’s sitting in our savings account accruing interest until January when we make the deposit.

Funding our Roth IRAs has been my number one savings goal. When I graduate from pharmacy school I don’t know that we’ll be able to continue contributing to them because our income will probably be too high. I’m trying to make sure we take full advantage now, while we can.
Everyone is all excited about the economic stimulus money. I’m excited to think we’ll be getting some extra money, but I think we’ll only be getting $460, not the $1200 that was being thrown around. Although I guess I can’t really complain. We only ended up pay $460 in taxes, so to get that back, means we won’t have paid anything last year. In other tax news, last month DH entered a combat zone, albeit one that hasn’t had any fighting for several years. Since he did that though, his income for the month of May should be tax free. That will probably add up to another $500 this month, and save us down the road too.

Having my #1 savings goal met, I’ve been thinking about what to do with the rest of our ‘profits’. I basically consider whatever we haven’t spent by the end of the month our profit. I know a lot of people have to work backwards and take the savings out first, but thankfully DH and I have pretty low expenses and lately the government’s been throwing money at us. But anyway. Six months ago I realized that it wasn’t financially sound to pay of DH’s car early. We were earning higher interest in our savings account than we were paying in interest on his car. However, since the rates of the accounts have dropped so dramatically, and we’ve met our Roth goal, I think I’m going to start diverting some of our profit towards his car.

On top of all of this I’m starting my internship today. It actually will start on Monday, but since I didn’t know anything about the store, they’re having me come in today to get my feet wet. I’m mostly working for the experience, having never actually worked in a pharmacy it will be interesting to see the things I’ve been learning about put to work. However, I’m not going to refuse a pay check! Actually the company I’m working for has the lowest starting wage for interns, but as a customer I like their store the best. So it should work out. I’m still working on a transfer to Maine. DH comes home the beginning of June and I plan to spend the summer up there with him. It’s been too long since we’ve seen each other! So I’m heading up there regardless if I have a job or not, although, it would be nice to have some sort of job up there. Having this week off of school and not working has been torture!

Well I think that’s all of the major financial happenings that have been going on! Hopefully I’ll be able to post more now that school is out.

Saving account swap

March 8th, 2008 at 01:45 pm

Today I transferred nearly all of our money out of our bank's saving account to my ING account. A year and a half ago, we did the opposite when our bank's saving acocunt was at a higher rate then ING's, but with the recent economy the rate has been steadily declining. So back to ING we go!

I haven't used ING for a while, but I know that you can set up different accounts. Currently I have a spreadsheet that I use to track different sub-accounts (Roth contributions, EF, down payment, etc). So questions for the people who have ING...do you have multiple accounts? Do you like it?

I do not live the "Hills" lifestyle

January 4th, 2008 at 12:53 pm

So I was really bored today and MTV was having a "The Hills" marathon. For those of you who have never heard of the show, it's a reality show who follows Lauren, a girl who works for Teen Vogue in LA and her friends.

For the first couple of episodes I saw today they were having a pop-up-video of sorts where they selected certain items the the girls were wearing to show how much they cost. Several of the shirts and shorts were $300, headbands and bracelets were up in the $100s. The least expensive thing I saw was a pair of sunglasses for $11. Then at the end of the show they would total up the price of everything shown. One of the shows the total was $69K (they did show a $60K car), and for the other two they were about $8,000 and $9,000.

Many teenagers watch this show, what sort of ideas are they getting that to be cool and trendy like the people on the show they need to spend $300 on a shirt?!?! To the shows credit there was about once or twice per episode they had an advertisement saying "get this same look for cheaper at ______(insert Target, Kohls, etc)" But still, way too much money!!

Needless to say, I am NOT living the Hills lifestyle, nor will I probably ever be!

Paid off the car

September 19th, 2007 at 03:26 pm

Last night DH and I had our semi-regular meeting to discuss our money. For a while we've been hoarding cash since there were so many unknowns in our life: we didn't know if I would get into pharmacy school, where DH would be stationed, if one or both of us would have to move, and how all of that would influence our monthly expenses.

Well now we have a better idea about most of those and decided that even if expenses would be higher than expensive we could handle it. Since we aren't going to buy a house for 4+ years, we took $5,500 from our downpayment fund and used it to pay off my car.

Now we just have to pay off DH's car. It shouldn't take too long, but I'll crunch those numbers later.

Closed my accounts

August 15th, 2007 at 10:01 am

Since we got married and have joint accounts I've had my old US Bank accounts that have just been sitting there empty. I knew that in August the monthly fee would be charged to my credit card so I wanted to close it before that charge was posted. Well I procrastinated and checked it last week and the fee was sitting there. So I called them up and asked to close the account. They didn't do anything drastic, just said, "We'll reverse the fee and close the account for you."

So then I called the main bank to close my checking and savings accounts. Again, no problems there. I told them that we live in a part of the country where there aren't any branches and they said OK and shut the accounts.

I thought for sure I'd have to jump through a bunch of hoops and talk to several different people to get the accounts closed. Thankfully that wasn't the case.

Now some people may cringe that we have joint accounts and I shut my personal account. First both DH and I are responsible with our money. Second, DH is in the Navy. Therefore there will be months on end where he will be away and won't be able to deal with our finances. So from the beginning I have been the one to manage our household financially. Having a joint account is the best and easiest way for us to do this. Besides, I like dealing with money better than he does. When he's out of the Navy and we both are working we may set up another system, but right now this is working really well for us.

Getting antsy

August 14th, 2007 at 07:38 am

I'm stressed. There are so many things up in the air and I'm getting my monthly desire to do something drastic with our finances. Orientation for pharmacy school is on Friday...and next Tuesday. We won't find out this week if we will even be stationed here or have to move. I'm hoping and praying that will we stay in Florida, and I'm working with that assumption, but it's possible that I'll have to withdraw from pharmacy school and move to Washington or Hawaii.

Assuming we stay here I'll be taking out $16,000 in loans this year. Since we don't know how much money I will actually need for school and how much DH's salary can cover, I'm taking all they'll give me. I'm assuming that subsequent years I'll be able to take out less. I haven't gotten word about scholarships yet, and I'm hoping I get some, but I don't want to count on those either. Looking over the loan stuff I've pretty much decided that I'm going to pay the interest on the unsubsidized loans while I'm still in school. We should be able to handle it, and it will decrease the amount I'll have to pay back.

We have been saving for a down payment on a house and for retirement and our EF is fully funded. So I feel like we have a lot of cash available to us right now. Since things are so up in the air, I like knowing that. However, about once a month I get the urge to drain our down payment account and use it to pay off the cars. It would completely pay off my car (5.99%) and pay of about half of DH's car (3.59%). I calculated that if I paid off my car it would save about $300 in interest payments. $300 isn't anything to shake a stick at, but I'm not sure it is enough to motivate me to do something that drastic either. Especially since at the end of the year that 7-10,000 could be used to pay off student loans, put towards retirement, or keep for its intended purpose of a down payment.

We have a plan to pay off the cars, and our goal is to have them paid off by December 2008. Until we know more about school and possibly a house (although that is pretty unlikely) I think I'll just continue the way things have been going.

Bored with saving

July 25th, 2007 at 01:01 pm

Does anyone else ever feel this way? For most of the past year a significant portion of my time has been spent tracking spending, setting up a budget, determining the best plan to save money and pay off our debts, and learning the best ways to do this. The past couple of months we’ve set up a plan which is really simple to stick to and allows us to allot money towards our goals, specifically paying off our cars, retirement and a down payment. With that plan I feel like the only thing I’m doing is waiting until the end of the month so I can transfer the money to the appropriate spot. I feel like I’ve learned a lot of the basic stuff so now I’m just waiting for enough paydays to pass that we’ve got everything paid off and our savings accounts are grown.

Part of me feels like I must be missing something since it’s all just automatic and I don’t have to actively do anything. I am still tracking our spending, but it isn’t taking as much time, nor providing us with as much information as it once was. We are saving for a down payment and retirement, and are planning to pay off our cars early. Am I missing something? Is there something I should be doing? Or are we just to the point where our finances are taking care of themselves? Sort of an odd thought that everything is figured out we just have to wait it out.

Our semi-wild spending

July 23rd, 2007 at 05:51 pm

This hasn't been a great month as far as spending goes particularly in the entertainment/leisure and household areas of the budget.

First we spent $80 and bought roller blades. We have used them 3-4 times, about once a week, and we plan on also using them in the future, but they were pretty much an impulse buy. They are great exercise though!

The new Harry Potter book was another unexpected expense. Well sort of. We knew we were going to buy the book (DH would have gone crazy otherwise), but we were planning on getting it from Barnes and Noble and using our gift card. We had saved the gift card for this purpose. Well apparently this book was in much higher demand than DH expected and we weren't able to reserve a copy from them. So we had to go to another bookstore and pay for the book out of pocket.

There have been a number of other little things that we've spent money on like another book, a trip to the movies, and a visit to a museum. We're about $100 over budget right now, but we are also currently under budget in other areas.

By far the biggest expense has been our dining set. We have been wanting a new dining room table for a while and come the end of August it would have become a need. His parents and sister are visiting and our current table only seats 4. We've been saving $100 a month for the past couple of months in preparation for the purchase. Well we went looking this weekend and the first ones we were looking at were going to be about $1400 for the table and 6 chairs. We finally went to Ashley Furniture and were able to get a table that we liked better for just over 1000. It's nice that we already have about $300 saved up from it, but the other 700 is going to come out of next months "profit" so that means less money to go toward our cars.

Despite these set backs we should still have a profit this month and next month so that means that extra money will be going into our Roths and down payment funds and toward our cars. It just may not be as much as it could have been.

Real Life

July 6th, 2007 at 07:16 am

DH and I have been attending church online. Now, before you start thinking I'm a cult member let me tell you a little bit about how we got involved. We were stationed in Corpus Christi, TX and started going to Real Life Fellowship and immediately fell in love with it. When we moved to Florida we were sad that we would be losing this great church and that we would have to find a new one. About the same time that we moved, Real Life started up an online "campus". It can be found at: www.reallifeconnect.org

They tape one of the Corpus Christi services and play it online Saturday at 7pm Central and Sunday 11 am Central for the world to see. There also is a chat room feature where you can talk with other people who are watching the service and also with Chris, the online pastor.

I think this church would be great for anyone, but I see it fulfilling a very special role in the military. First of all, I know for the past 2 years while training DH has hardly lived in one spot for longer than 8 months. Repeatedly finding new churches is hard and frankly we haven't always done it. With this online church you can still be connecting with the same people no matter where you are living.

My favorite reason though is that families can still attend church together while deployed. I know that having that shared experiences even while he's gone would be special and nice. We already have at least one member who is stationed in Bahrain.

The two services are Saturday at 7 pm Central and Sunday 11am Central. Check it out yourself at Real Life Online www.reallifeconnect.org or pass it on to someone who might be interested. DH and I usually attend the Sunday service if you want to say hi!

Change to how I divvy up money

July 3rd, 2007 at 01:12 pm

A while back DH and I had a money date and determined how we were going to divide up our surplus each month. Since that time we have added some new goals so we needed to fix our plan accordingly. So here is our new plan:

Between the 1st and the 5th of each month we will drain the checking account down to our 'buffer level'. That money will then be divided up accordingly depending on if the month is an even month or an odd month.

Even months:
*$100 will go to our dining room table fund
*Half of the remaining amount will go to our down payment fund
*The other half will go to our retirement sub-account (for our ’08 Roths)
*The interest earned on the savings account will also be put in the retirement account
*We will pay the minimum on our car loans

Odd months:
*$100 will go to our dining room table fund
*$100 will go to our retirement fund
*The interest from the savings account will go to our retirement fund
*The rest will be applied to our car loans…mine specifically since it has the higher interest rate.

I like this new plan because it means that each month we are putting away money for our Roth IRAs and saving up for the dining room table.

Wonderful weekend

July 2nd, 2007 at 09:18 am

Today is DH and my 1 year anniversary. It has been a fun and wonderful year. Our best man gave us our wedding gift a couple of weeks ago and he said that the money must be sent on something frivolous. We decided to spend it on a weekend away. Friday we drove up and had lunch in Savannah, GA at Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House. If you ever have the chance to go there, do it! It serves up traditional southern food family style. The tables seat 10 people and you meet people from all over the country. We had a very nice meal with a young couple from Michigan, an older couple from Pennsylvania and a family that had just moved nearby.

After lunch and wandering around Savannah some, we headed up to Beaufort, South Carolina. We spent the evening wandering around the shops in the downtown area. We also went and saw Ratatouille which DH has been dying to see. Saturday we went to Hunting Island and hung out on the beach. Then we had dinner in the historic district again. Every chance we got we walked through the waterfront area because the area was just so beautiful. There was so much water and lush greenery.

We really had a good time this weekend and it was a good way to celebrate our first year of marriage.

Price of movies

June 6th, 2007 at 10:19 am

DH and I rarely go out to movies. We have the 1 movie at a time deal from Blockbuster Online and for about $10 a month we can see pretty much as many movies as we want. A goal of mine is to see the top 100 movies and all of the acadamy award winners so that's what's in our Blockbuster que. After we watch the one that's been sent to us, we go to the store and get a new release to watch. It makes for a nice blend of new and old movies.

Last weekend we went and saw Knocked Up in the theater. I was blown away by how expensive it was. Now, I'm sure for those of you who go to movies more freqeuently or recently woun't be shocked by this price, it was $14 and I was surprized. We almost made the mistake of going to a show half an hour later and having to pay $18 dollars. Thankfully, I caught it in time and minimized the damage. I did find out that before noon on Friday, Sat, and Sun the tickets are only $5 each. So from now on that's when we'll be going!

When Spiderman 3 came out we went and saw it at the local drive in. It cost $4 a person (so $8), and I thought that was a stretch, but do-able to see a first-run movie.

DH and I already sat down and each listed 3 movies that we each want to see this summer in the theater, to plan and budget accordingly. However to not completely break our entertainment budget we'll probably be seeing them weekend mornings or evenings at the drive in.

Results of our money date

May 17th, 2007 at 02:37 pm

DH and I sat down this afternoon and discussed our finances. I feel pretty good about the decisions we made and I am really looking forward to starting on them. Here’s what we came up with:

1. We need to be better about sticking to our budget. We have had a ‘budget’ since we got married 10 months ago, but it never really got past the tracking our expenses mode. Meaning I use Money to see where our money goes and put that in the budget, but we rarely denied ourselves if it meant going over budget in a particular category. Part of that comes from the fact that we put everything on our CC which we pay off each month. So it was spending virtual money. To make up for this we have enacted the white board system from our college days. Basically we have a white board with our most variable expenses (entertainment, groceries, dining out, etc) and the amount budgeted for them. Then after a purchase in one of these categories it is subtracted from the total budgeted. This is along the lines of an envelope system, but it allows us to still use our CC and earn cash back from those purchases.

2. We are going to open Roth IRAs for both of us and max out the contributions for 2007. We are planning on opening a Vanguard Target Retirement account since it automatically becomes more conservative as we get older and we wouldn’t have to think about it.

3. We are going to maintain at least 10,000 in our savings account as an EF. This is the minimum needed to earn the higher rate of interest, and about 3 months expenses. DH is in the military, so he’s got pretty good job security. [Since this earns pretty good interest it is also going to be the holding for our other goal of saving for a down payment, so there will more likely always be more than this available to us if needed…plus our Roth if things got REALLY bad.]

4. Once a month I am going to drain our checking account down to a safe comfort level for us. This is so that we won’t bounce the few checks we write, but also so we can earn higher interest on that money. On odd months we are going to transfer that money to help pay off our cars and on even months it is going to go into our savings/EF/down payment account. If we stick to our budget, this amount could be about 1200 a month.

5. We are using the $10,000 I got from my dad’s life insurance to cover unexpected education and travel expenses. Looking back over the last 5 months expenses, tuition and other associated educational costs were by far the biggest budget busters. We weren’t really able to plan for these expenses and they were quite significant since I was considered an out of state resident. So, having this money to cover these expenses in the future will be budget a life saver.

Rant on pay dates

April 23rd, 2007 at 11:49 am

This may seem weird to some of you, but the fact that my husband gets paid on the 15th and 30th really messes with the budget. Our budgeting software (Money) tracks the money from the 1st to the 30th…as one would imagine. However, because of this it looks like we have a negative balance for most of the month. Then on the last day of the month we get paid and interest is credited and *whoosh* we have a positive balance (ideally…there were times when that didn’t happen).

It just makes keeping track of where we are and where we should be more difficult. It also creates a different sentiment. When I look at our budget I see, “oh, we’re only $900 in the hole this month” instead of “yay, we are saving an additional $200 this month.” Not a good feeling or motivator. You wouldn’t think that one day would make a difference, but it does. I also want my budget to match our actual accounts, so pretending he got paid on the first would probably be an even bigger hassle.

We put most everything we can on credit cards, and pay it off each month, so we don’t have to worry if we actually have the money in our checking account at the time or not, especially since we have bills due throughout the month.

Anyhow, I’ll make due. It really just involves an added step of subtraction, but it’s still a hassle.
Thanks for letting me rant. Smile

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