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Archive for July, 2008

Car update and stress

July 22nd, 2008 at 12:33 pm

Well we went out to look at the truck and DH didn't want to get it. Said it'd be too much "work" to get it to what he wants and they wanted too much, it had a lot of body filler and looked good from afar but not when you got up to closer inspection.

We fixed his GTI, turns out it was a fuse box and that cost $367, not bad. But in October when he gets his bonus I'm going to allocate some of that to getting the work done on his car that it needs such as new tires, new struts, cabin filter, etc. I told him I'd let him "fix up" the GTI and be more willing to do that than I would getting him a money pit of a vehicle we can't afford. And I know if he customizes his GTI enough, even just little things, he'll be more apt to keep it.

I have just been stressing a lot to him that as much as he may want something, if we have to finance it, it reduces our daily living and he's getting used to being on a budget and has decided he doesn't like it either so the only solution is to GET OUT OF DEBT

Other than that, I have my first exam for my Operations Auditing class in less than 3 hours and I am STRESSED. I feel ready and prepared but its a LOT of info. The professor gave us 305 study questions and said he'd pick 25 of those, then gave us 9 essay questions of which we will have to answer 5.

They are...

- Know the Institute of Internal Auditing' definition of Internal Auditing
- Know the IIA Code of ethics, the outline and what it does
- Know and describe the 8 steps in an Internal Audit Activity's Charter
- Know and describe the 8 steps in an Internal Audit Activity's Engagement
- Describe the steps in Risk Assessment and Audit Scheduling
- Know the major headings for the IIA's Standards (Attribute and Professional... which there are 11)
- Describe the steps in a Preliminary Assessment
- Know what is meant by Quality Control and its four components
- Be able to relate management objectives to operational procedures to audit evidence, audit objectives, and audit procedures.

I will be soooo happy after I am done with this exam and can actually enjoy a few days w/o this over my head. And then just one more on August 5th.

Transportation and Fuel Cost Analysis

July 17th, 2008 at 04:51 am

Well I examined all of our options as to what we've discussed in the past, looked at fuel consumption for all options, overall debt, monthly expenses.

Our best option is to downsize JUST to my van, but that opens up a whole lot of hassle I'm not sure we really want. Cause the kids are in school, so I have to drop them off at 8 which is also when DH has to leave, so I either have to drop him off at 7... or the kids would be late for school. Then if the kids got sick (which they do) how would I pick them up? Ask a sick child to walk a mile home with me? If my son got sick there would be no way - he goes to preschool a few miles away.

So then our next best option is the motorcycle plus my van and then on bad weather days I have to take DH to work.

The Chevy really only saves us $2000/yr annually in overall debt and it actually increases our monthly expenses because of gas. But I'm sort of swayed to it 1) because DH can fix anything on it and 2) its safer than a motorcycle.

He's on a plane right now so I guess as soon as he lands I'll try to get a hold of him and ask him his thoughts.

Compromising to head off costs?

July 16th, 2008 at 04:37 pm

So I went to my horseback riding lesson today after dropping off DH's car to be fixed. And while there I told her after next week the girls would start taking over that slot again since they would no longer be grounded, but if DH ever got a motorcycle he wouldn't care how often I rode.

I came home to see him perusing Craigslist and he found a 1966 Shortbed Chevy Truck (something he has wanted for YEARS) and looked to me like a little boy in a candy store and said "If I can get this, I will NEVER ask for anything else again"

They are asking $10K for it

I have to admit, I'm considering it.

Why?

We owe $12800 on his car, so thats already a $2800 reduction on our overall debt. Sure gas prices would be higher, but his car is a commuter car.

Factor in I PROMISED that with our tax return next year he could buy a motorcycle. We're estimating about $5000, so if I bought him a truck - he wouldn't ask for a $5000 motorcycle.

Its also something he's wanted since - I've known him. When we met he had a 1965 Chevy Truck that sat in Missouri. It still needed to be fixed up so we sold it to his brother for $2500 when we needed the money, he's wanted one since. This one, its all fixed up and everything he's wanted.

I don't know... we'll see I guess. DH emailed the guy to see if it was still available since it was posted in June and the 4th of July... I can't imagine too many people want an old truck for $10K OBO right now. I know with gas prices it might not be the most astute thing, but for an automatic $2800 debt reduction and potential $5000 for NOT buying a motorcycle next year (and using that debt to pay down the CC) maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

Dealing with panic and how it can cause financially poor choices

July 11th, 2008 at 02:17 pm

DH took his car to the dealership today cause the air conditioner stopped working. They didn't charge us anything cause they told him there is either a problem with the computer or its a wiring issue.

So DH is freakin' out and thinking "OMG how can we afford this if it costs $3K or something - we should sell the car" (Like I said in a prior post, this is our past habit and how we ended up owning 15 cars in 8 years of marriage)

I'm trying to explain to him that even if it DOES cost $3K to fix, its better to just fix it than to have to buy another car and trade it in w/negative equity. We are finally in a break-even point where we could sell his car for what we owe private party, but trade in value we're still 2K negative IF we got excellent condition.

I don't even know what to say to him right now. He's freaking out that its going to cost $110 just for them to diagnose the issue, and then to fix it on top of that. So he's online right now trying to figure out how much it costs for a new computer for the Volkswagen, so I walk up and say "Try not to worry about it, we can't do anything about it till they tell us what's wrong."

And I hear "What do you mean, don't worry about it? Its MY car? I'm the one sweating everyday coming home and if it costs $3K to fix you want to just fix it?"

"Umm... well, yeah"

I mean, its not a lemon. Its a 5 y/o car with 50K miles on it, and I'm sure it will NOT cost $3K to fix. But in his panic of "What if it costs an arm and a leg to fix and things keep going wrong with it"... I'm having difficulty trying to go against his argument. On the other, it is dumb to keep selling a car when the least thing goes wrong and we don't know what it is... what if it just ends up costing $1500?

I don't know. I want to break this habit cause I'm trying to think of our TOTAL debt. He's caught up right now in panic and its hard to rationalize with him in that state and me telling him not to worry when I'm not the one dealing without an air conditioner is like me talking to a wall.

But really, I don't see the point in panicking over something like this when we have no clue whats wrong or how much it'll cost... its like panicking about having cancer before getting a diagnosis.

Resist temptation

July 8th, 2008 at 12:40 pm

DH's car needs to be fixed
The A/C unit in the rental needs a new compressor or unit
I have to pay off the CC

I know all this stuff.... and as businesses are getting desperate to drive in more business during these tough economic times and I'm seeing more and more ads that seem like a steal, its tough to try to stay strong and not splurge

DH and I really want an iPhone, have wanted one for quite some time. Key word though is WANT... buying one... or really two would be $400 and then an additional $70 or so a month on top of our normal cell phone bill

Our electric bill rates were just raised, so was natural gas, gas prices are - well, if you've been to a gas station recently you KNOW what they are - and food prices are going up (or the quantity is less despite the price remaining the same).

It seems really dumb to buy an iphone, seems dumb to splurge like that. And if I was on Suze Orman's show she'd flat out say "DENIED"

*sigh* The trials of being an adult.. you can't just be that person who says "Yes, I will take that" and not worry about stuff later. And secretly I'm a little jealous of my best friend, well, not so secretly... I told her. I guess her husband is coming into a good position to where it looks like they can pay off their mortgage in 4 years, and they just bought this condo in Hawaii last year.

The only reason I am jealous is just because she can be out of debt in 4 years, and even if I stay disciplined, best I'll be is having the mortgages on both homes.

Seriously, how do you stay disciplined to resist temptation? I realize I was an emotional spender... when times were bad, we'd buy a new car, new house, new something or other.... like now... DH's A/C is going out on his car. So we have to get that fixed... he started talking about buying a new car. Thats what we used to do in the past... and how we flipped cars 15 times in 8 years of being married.

Funny how it isn't till finding this forum that I realize "Hey, its pretty dumb to trade a car in just cause it needs something fixed" because we owe $12K on our car... even if it cost $3K to get it fixed... we're only 15K in debt compared to $20-$25K to buy a new car. Seems we are better off just fixing the car and paying it off so when it needs more repairs in the future, its no big deal.

*sigh*

So the point in this post? I don't think there is one... I'm just trying to put some of my thoughts to paper to help me resist the urge to spend money for that instant gratification. I know as much a I'd like an iphone... I like not having the $110 cell phone bill every month even more.

No you cannot have a hybrid just because gas is $4.34

July 7th, 2008 at 06:00 am

DH is succumbing to the masses and thinking if he trades in his car for a hybrid it would be better financially.

WRONG. First off, he has a 2003 VW GTI which is not a gas guzzler. BUT it requires Premium gas because of the engine. So it costs $50 approximately to fill it up in today's market. We owe under $13K on it and it will be paid off in 2 1/2 years after paying $435/mo on it.

He keeps trying to say "Maybe we should look into a hybrid" but I just tell him "Pay off the VW and that $435 is suddenly opened up to pay for gas, vs buying a hybrid for $25K-$30K and then you have a car payment and STILL have to pay for gas"... I can guarantee the savings wouldn't be $435, and considering the longest he's ever kept a car is 3 years... I think paying off the VW is the best financial route.

Now, if we were in the market for a new car in the first place... then it'd be another story but to go out and buy a hybrid JUST for the gas savings doesn't really make much sense.

Something about the housing market I don't understand

July 6th, 2008 at 02:54 pm

Where we are... its highly military and a lot of military people bought homes during the housing boom, ourselves included.

When the military relocated, which is typical with 3-5 year tours of duty, when people couldn't sell their homes, they started renting them out. We skipped the attempting to sell your home part and just went straight to the landlord part when we bought our 2nd home.

Servicemembers were eager to just get their homes rented, so they started pricing their rentals competitively and undercutting what the current market rates were.

Last year I was easily able to rent my rental out for $1/sq ft... this year a more competitive rate is $0.86/sq ft. Meanwhile home prices are still falling.

How is this possible? There is an increase in rental properties at continuing lower rates while real estate values are also dropping. Don't rentals and real estate tend to work in opposite directions?

I keep wondering when the overall market may turn around, but this one - well, I also just BARELY remember Economics 101,I don't understand.

I'm not really sure why both real estate and rental prices are going down together. What makes rental prices rise? I thought it was inflation which is definitely happening. Then when rentals rise to a point that it makes homeownerships a not-so-big jump, people start buying.

*sigh* Maybe it is time to read some articles about economics and how these things work.

Saving money on grocery bills

July 5th, 2008 at 10:17 am

I've started writing lists for my grocery shopping and I've realized how much more efficient I am at spending our resources by doing this.

On June 28th, I went grocery shopping and bought enough food for a family of 6 to eat till next week Wednesday. So for $151, I bought enough food for us to eat for approximtely 11 days. And that was healthy stuff, I bought blueberries (2 pints for 5 dollars), 10 lbs of red potatoes for $5 TOTAL, 2 1/2 lbs of bananas at $0.49/lb, Sweet potatoes, 5 lb bag of oranges, 5 lb bag of apples, peaches.... a pack of diapers (I buy diapers once every 2 months or so because we cloth diaper and use disposables as a "back up")

I bought another cookbook... those seem to be about the only books I am willing to buy from now on because its hard to borrow cookbooks when you may re-use them several times.

But I bought Jessica Seinfeild's "Deceptively Delicious" book. And its given me ideas on how to use more of what we have in our pantry. I've had 2 cans of packed pumpkin in our pantry since October. Today I realized I can use it to make French Toast, then I realized that any vegetables or fruits we may not eat right now...I can puree and freeze for the recipes later, so it doesn't go to waste.

So its weird...our cupboards LOOK bare but we actually have more food than I initially realized - its just not the "prepackaged" commercialized convenience foods. Which in the end is better for our health anyway. After all, I have a TON of all purpose flour and now have a few recipes I can use that in.

I've already written out my list for next week's shopping trip and I'm estimating it will only cost $150 next week even with all these rising food costs. And the odd thing is, my family is actually eating better since we can no longer afford to eat out and the convenience foods that aren't good for us anyway.

What do you want to be?

July 3rd, 2008 at 05:53 pm

Ahhh the proverbial question I often ask myself as my life continues to pull me in different directions. I found myself asking this question once more as I sat in class listening to lectures about work/life balance and getting certified to be a CIA (Certified Internal Auditor).

And I thought to myself... as the professor said in every marriage especially with children, typically one person becomes the breadwinner and the other is the one able to go for the brass ring.

I came to the conclusion there that my husband, no matter how much I out-earn him... is the "brass ring" person. We travel the world, I'm left as a single parent, all this in the effort of his job. He plans to make Senior Chief before the next 9 years are up and he retires.

My goal is just to enjoy my career. I want my masters because it is good to fall back on... and I realize I should probably get my CPA certification then CIA and CMA, but I'm sort of approaching that in a relaxed fashion. After all, I have young kids and despite how much I want to be "career-oriented"... my passion and life ambition rests within my children.

So... I think if anything this class is hard for me to take because I know a lot of what is talked about cannot be applied to my job, and I can't nor will I leave my job because it allows me to stay home with my children & earn a competitive salary. So my career takes a backseat... corporate America may not be for me... but I know when I'm 40 and my kids are grown (or mostly grown), I can always go back... I've gone back to school and stayed current in the meantime, and yet I will not have sacrificed their youth.

I've always wanted to be that, the mom who is home when the kids are sick... but I've also wanted my own career and identity... as well as my own hobby in horses and pets. I've wanted it all, and I realize the key is balance. You can't have it all at once, but if you pace yourself you will find you can accomplish all of your dreams.

So yeah, I'll stay in school... work on my CPA and then CIA and CMA certifications, and likely by that time my youngest will be 5, DH will retire in 9 years, and I can start branching out and be more a part of corporate America. Until then, I'll just go to school, enjoy my family, and hobby in horses... I'll get there one day.

Back in the groove

July 1st, 2008 at 07:02 pm

I just got back from my first class... Operations Auditing... and I have to say now I'm very excited to go back.

I ran into a couple of people I knew from prior classes and one guy from my undergrad studies. I almost accidentally named my son after him (I was pregnant during my senior year with my son and we were going to name him Ryan James... well, the President of Beta Alpha Psi was named Ryan and the Vice President was James... once our Treasurer alerted me to that fact, we changed our son's name a few months before he was born).

The professor said something towards the end... and I sat there just staring at him in disbelief.

He said "Don't tell other people your vision because 80% of the people who you do, will be against it and try to stop you."

And I felt VERY blessed at that moment that I still work for my first job post-college. I've been rewarded for sharing my goals, vision, and ideas... never discouraged. I've pointed out areas where there could be improvement and have quickly risen.

I came home and sent an email to the owner of the company about what the professor said (I figured he'd appreciate it since he has worked hard to create an organization that is very different than the rest of corporate America)... and talked to my boss, a man who has worked in a few other jobs where that probably would have been good advice.

Wow, is all I can say. To work in an organization where you aren't rewarded for thinking out of the box like that? I have questioned people even when it wasn't my job, and I'm rewarded for it... its just... well very different.

But my boss enjoyed hearing the story too & told me to share anything else I learn.

My research paper is going to be about how Internal Auditors address issues of Virtual Businesses... which since I work in a LEGITIMATE virtual business, figure is something that definitely touches home to me and interests me.

So I'm excited... and wow, just a couple days ago I was dreading going back. Now I can't wait to get started.