Home > Archive: October, 2008

Archive for October, 2008

Refunding EF

October 28th, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Today I moved $402 back to the EF to bring it to $1454.

Just $298 left to go before its fully refunded. I get paid tomorrow and plan to repay it then.

I think I did okay this month. Groceries were a bit more than I expected but I won't need to go grocery shopping till November 9th now.

GTI is paid down, so the new stats are

GTI - $9,150
DH's CC - $8,935
My CC - $8,403
Odyssey - $33,500
HELOC - $25,300
Student Loan - $15,134
Total Debt - $100,422
EF - $1752 (as of tomorrow)

Not GREAT but I know we are on track for our 3-4 year plan to be 100% out of non-mortgage debt. This time next year we should have $73K in non-mortgage debt. The GTI will be paid off in February, so that is our closest goal.

Found money

October 25th, 2008 at 10:36 pm

We got a letter in the mail today saying DH had $243 in unclaimed money from a state tax return and the company wanted to charge us $24 to process it.

I went online to check if it was legitimate and it was. But I am filing it directly with the government itself so I don't have to pay $24 to get back our own money.

A very nice surprise because the money is 10 years old.

My grocery shopping regimen

October 24th, 2008 at 02:57 pm

Its that time again, I noticed in my pantry I have enough to make dinner for tonight and that is it.

SO I pulled out the cookbooks picked out 19 recipes to make. Last time I had picked 14 and obviously that wasn't enough.

After I make the list, I proceed to go back to all the recipes and write down the ingredients, organize them by type (veggies, canned goods, etc) in an excel sheet so I can consolidate ingredients from recipes and organize them to reflect the layout of our grocery store easier once I'm done.

Meanwhile, as I go through this I look through my pantry to see what I don't need to go shopping for (i.e., olive oil, pepper, etc) so I don't double up on anything (that is how we got 3 bottles of chili powder).

Then I look through my coupons and search online for coupons for the ingredients on my list. And then organize them by the order I'll come across them in the grocery store.

Its a process... but it saves us a lot of money and reduces our waste consumption of food. I don't do it because I ENJOY doing this. But I enjoy being more efficient with my money and making it stretch.

Also, I paid down the GTI today, so the balance is now $9150.. which is refreshing, we haven't owed that little on a car since 2002! So we're definitey on our way to getting it paid off in February which will free up $435/mo of our income.

We covered derivatives and hedges in class yesterday. So now all this "Hedge fund" stuff makes a bit more sense to me. I have to admit it, learning about all this is fun to me. I'm learning what the terms futures, options, and hedges really mean so when I watch the news the information is more meaningful to me.

So how has all this been affecting you?

October 23rd, 2008 at 08:26 pm

Was the question my boss asked me today.

I really didn't know much to say. In my mind I was thinking "Well, as long as I have my job we'll be fine since DH is in the military" but I didn't till a few moments later.

I did tell her I wasn't TOO worried. We're cutting back in some areas, but we always have so thats not really new.

Truth is, my life isn't changing too much from the economy. The only way it could right now is if I lost my job.

My friend's hubby lost her job... my other best friend is a millionaire. I'm somewhere in the middle.

I see the President did sign to make the military's pay raise final... so next October DH will be making $300 more than what he is now. In January we get a $100/mo raise. And then depending if BAH and BAS go up too, then thats extra as well. I think we'll be fine.

The Homeowner's Association wants to raise its dues. We already pay about $40/mo and I think they want to raise it to around $60/mo. I was telling DH that now didn't seem like the right time for most people, not with the economy and all.

There is a board meeting in November to discuss it. But there are already signs being posted by neighbors who want to rally against the raise.

We'll see. In the end though, as I said, I think we'll be fine. People have an amazing tenacity to survive and do what they need to in order to make ends meet. We've been far worse off years ago... no matter what comes our way, it'll be okay.

On the agenda

October 22nd, 2008 at 12:01 am


Finish my section of a group project going over a comparison of Alcatel-Lucent's consolidated financial statement reconciliation to U.S. GAAP from IFRS

Read about derivatives. I got through the first page and didn't quite see how it "managed" risk, it seemed a lot like gambling but hedge funds, speculators, and derivatives make a bit more sense to me now than it did last month.

Get started on my paper on Germany regarding the social/economic/political implications they've encountered in switching from German GAAP to IFRS.

I don't know if I'll get it all done tonight. Maybe the first two... in my group project I was assigned to write about capitalization of development costs & liability recognition of employee benefits. I've only finished the first one.

And I've only started the brainstorming portion of the Germany paper.

Kicker is, this is all for ONE class.

My tax class is fairly easy and I'll probably get more into now that we're past the research portion and will now start establishing how to determine basis.

Next semester I believe I'm supposed to be taking advanced financial auditing and professional ethics/legal issues with accounting. The ethics one will probably be easy.

Unwaivering faith

October 21st, 2008 at 12:59 am

I have a technique I use whenever I tell someone about my goals and I get the usual response that either my dreams are too lofty or impossible.

I've had this happen to me several times in my life. Often by the very people closest to me and I've used it as the fuel for my success.

When I became pregnant at 18, not only were people betting against my marriage lasting, my motherhood capabilities, but they had also said I'd never get my bachelor's degree.

By the age of 23, I received my bachelors degree in accounting, happily married for 5 years, 3 kids, and by age 24 I had bought my first house.

I know when I tell people I plan to "retire" in my 40s, I get the looks of "You can't do that" especially when they know we are in debt now

And I just have to remind myself, they just don't know me. They don't know my drive, my ambition. They don't know that EVERY single time I've really wanted something, I have made it happen. Sure, life happens and throws me a curveball... but anything I've ever TRULY wanted, I've made it happen.

In the meantime, I guess I should just take it as a compliment the more people think I can't do something - they obviously don't see the doors open that I see. I guess thats why I'm not afraid in the current market or anything really, cause I know whatever happens I'll be given the tools to deal with it and come out on top. Its not ignorance or bliss... its the confidence of knowing that I make my own dreams come true. I can't control around me or what happens to the economy, but I am able to control how I adjust to it and have the insight to not let any challenge deter me from my goal.

For four years, my job and the director of operations have told me there were no accounting opportunities in my job. I put together a proposal and suddenly I'm right there in Quickbooks, something I was told would never happen.

My DH used to believe we'd never be millionaires... he grew up in a trailer and on welfare. I was the opposite, I've always dreamed big.

Sure we have debt right now, but in 2011, we'll be debt free except the mortgages and I don't plan on selling the houses unless the world changes... so with our TSP, Roth IRAs, DH's pension, and two rental incomes... I think we've got a good plan.

Must remember to check PMs

October 20th, 2008 at 03:23 pm

I went to the main site and noticed I had 2 messages since June! I felt bad for not responding but truth is, after - well, I'll say it, I got my feelings hurt in the message board section in regards to my rental, so I vowed never to check the message boards again. My best friend reminded me that with message boards you will come across those people who are helpful and those who aren't as so. So I didn't go back ever since. I feel a little bad now that I had 2 messages but never responded because I didn't realize they were there and they were both nice messages.

Other than that things are going well here. This week is off to a great start.

My refund is still not showing in my bank account but I know I'll get it, its just a matter of when.

In the meantime I'm thankful we had our EF to cushion the discrepancy.


October 18th, 2008 at 09:41 pm

We did a lot today

DH got his car fixed... $980, $20 under budget

Our baby had her pictures taken... $77, $73 under budget

We filled up our cars for the rest of the month... $84, $16 under budget

Our other daughter's birthday gift... $10, $40 under budget

So with that extra money we spent:
$20.64 out to eat lunch (for 5)
$49.82 an outfit for the baby & shoes... we did splurge and buy the Sleeping Beauty DVD for the kids
$10.49 for the baby's shoes
$35.04 for socks, underwear, & two shirts for our oldest daughter

Total $115.99 of our $149 that we were underbudget

Not bad, I think I'm going to use the remaining to make sure we have enough groceries for the rest of the month or any other necessities

I feel pretty good, we did buy "extras" that weren't in the budget, but everything we did buy was reasonable I think

I also just finished my tax midterm (it was take home). Its sort of boring, but at the same time, I'm really enjoying the class. We finished the first book "Federal Tax Research" and will start the "Taxation for Businesses" book next week. I think I'll find more interest in that since it starts to relate to the application part of tax law.

The first book is primarily about how to research tax codes, the judicial process, how to select a court, working with the IRS, etc. Which I did enjoy but after writing 3 essays regarding IRS pronouncements, the judicial system, and precedent value on sources... I think I'm done with that.

Now I need to work on my other class. I am really behind. Its a lot of reading & with the midterm I was trying to focus on that first since its due Monday.

I'm doing a group project on Alcatel, then need to write a term paper on Germany and any political, social, economic implications for the country as a result of adopting IFRS.

But whats REALLY scary to me about that class is, we only have ONE exam and its at the end. I really don't like comprehensive exams so I'm trying to make sure I get everything else squared away so come Nov/Dec all I will be focused on is THAT.

Its nice to get an unexpected check in the mail

October 17th, 2008 at 06:36 pm

I was wondering how my financial aid award was doing since I submitted that I was attending 6 credits of graduate school in the Fall and 6 in the Spring.

Well my college sent me a check today. Its a Federal Subsidized loan so the interest won't accrue till I graduate. I had already paid my tuition via CC but it doesn't make sense to pay that back (it won't pay off the card just pay it down) because it is at 0% until July of next year.

So Dh and I are going to sit down and see if it makes more sense to go towards our EF, paying down the GTI, or paying down his CC. His CC and the GTI are at similar interest rates (less than half a percentage point difference) but the GTI's payment is 2x the amount.

On the other hand, we have $1400 in our EF and to get 6 months of my salary and our rental income saved (DH's job is pretty secure being in the military), we'd need $25K in our EF

The check is only for $1850 but we want to make the most use out of it

So we'll see but I guess this solves my cash flow problem so I can reimburse my EF and get it back to the original $1750 it was at.

Tempted to cut up my debit/credit card

October 17th, 2008 at 02:03 pm

And just go back to an ATM card

I made a purchase online last week Friday, I called MINUTES after to cancel the order

I was STILL charged on Wednesday when it posted to my checking account

I was told a refund was in the works but when I called my bank today they still did not see a pending refund

So I called the company today and they said the refund is in process and can take up to 10 business days


DH needs his car fixed tomorrow, I'm estimating $1000 for that, its our 2nd daughter's birthday on Monday, and our 9 month old has pictures tomorrow. Because the charge went through even though I cancelled the order, I now have to dip into our emergency fund to make up the cash flow difference because I don't get paid till Wednesday

I know we'll get the money and I'll put the money back to reimbursing the EF but I hate having to do it in the first place. When I cancel an order, I expect to not have my account charged or at least for a stimultaneous refund be processed.

I miss the days of just using cash. If I was, I wouldn't have made the purchase online and refunds are automatic when using cash. None of this "up to 10 business days" mess and me trying to figure out how to make up the cash flow difference.

HUGE win

October 15th, 2008 at 06:39 pm

I just had to write because I'm so excited.

I work at home as a business analyst (I use that term loosely because my company doesn't use titles) and essentially what I do is handle all of the reporting for our marketing department regarding profitability. I also am responsible for reporting our expenses to our accounting department (which is outsourced) and making sure our advertisers get paid.

We've had a lot of problems with our reporting because the system does not lend itself to accuracy, efficiency, or timeliness.

So I created a proposal to improve the process and get me closer to accounting. We had a conference with the Senior Partner Manager, Senior Marketing Manager, CFO, and Director of Operations.

My proposal went off great and I'll be able to work more closely with the CFO and DO. PLUS it is getting me closer to accounting! I've only worked with the company for four years and started as a Customer Service Rep & am getting my Master's in Accounting to get this far.

So I'm thrilled. Marketing is not my thing and if I can actually get to work within our accounting system, even if its from the basis of ensuring accurate reporting from the Marketing department, its still much closer to my goal.

Student loans, education, planning

October 10th, 2008 at 10:24 am

I received my student loan package a few days ago and sent it back to let the school know I accepted. I'm not sure the final loan amounts they'll give me because they had me under full time and I plan to take 6 hours of graduate courses per semester.

I told DH and he said "What does Suze Orman say? Student loans can never be discharged in bankruptcy."

"Its not like we are PLANNING bankruptcy and my student loans are still less than what we've spent on the cars." (My current student loan is only $13500 at 1.65% and we spent $36K on my van)

I'm thinking I may take a student loan out for $10K to cover the rest of my master's program, which still would not be bad to have $23500 on a student loan. But I likely won't need that much. Maybe more like $6000

I cancelled the $81/mo plan with the financial planner and opted to just pay him hourly. So for 2 hours of talking with me, I paid him $300.

I didn't really get much more beyond that. He told me my investments were properly diversified, we are on track to retire in 20 years... he actually told me we are in really good shape, its just the current debt situation seems overwhelming to me but once we get that tackled, we're really in a good position.

I think the most valuable thing he gave me was just reassurance of a plan.

I'm sure in a year or so I'll probably meet again with him just to reassess where we are and action step to get there, but for now we are doing pretty good.

Other than that I am considering homeschooling my daughter. I'm hesitant to make that first big jump so I found a curriculum at $38/mo plus $240 for the materials that I can use the math and language arts to supplement her school... see how that goes and then decide what I want to do.

She's falling behind in areas and I want to make sure I address those.

Simple weekend

October 5th, 2008 at 01:01 pm

It was a really nice weekend. The weather is great here.

I really think this "scaling back" will be much better on the family in the long run. DH spent the day cleaning and washing his car, I took the girls to Girl Scouts to put flyers in a neighborhood for the local food drive, we cleaned the house, and after dinner my daughter & I went to the grocery store and for $10 we bought 2 containers of ice cream, a Key Lime Bar mix (similar to Lemon Bars), and Cinnamon rolls.

She really liked that. I still can't believe she is 8. On the way to the grocery store it hit me... I'll be 37 in 10 years and have an 18 yr old, 17 year old, 14 yr old, and a 10 year old. When I retire at 47, ALL of them will be out of the house.

I remember being younger and thinking "Yeah! That will be wonderful to have my 40s to myself since I never had my 20s"... but now, I think to myself... 40s is still pretty young - what would DH and I do with ourselves without the kids? But I'm sure whatever happens, we'll enjoy ourselves.

At work I never come back and have great weekend stories to tell, its always the same "Oh we just stayed home"... but there is something about just staying home and relaxing that is very rejuvenating for me. After all, there are 6 people in this house, its not like I need to really go anywhere for companionship or entertainment.

My oldest was making sandwiches for her two little siblings when she asked my son... "What would you do if you were President? I already know Malia (my other daughter) would make the world prettier with flowers."

And my son responds: "I'd give everyone candy and presents"

Oldest daughter: Yeah but would you make everything lower? Like gas prices? Homeprices? Taxes?

My son: Yeah, and give out LOTS of candy

Hahaha! It was one of the sweetest moments and completely free.

So I think we did good this weekend. I put $31.20 towards paying down the car, spent $10 on dessert stuff to last the next 2 weeks, and we took care of the house and our cars.

No longer going to look at the stock market

October 4th, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Its too stressful and the IMF and other reports are very "doom and gloom"

So despite the losses yesterday, DH still has $16K in his TSP. And over the next year I'll slowly put that back in with $1300 deposits instead of just throwing it back in the pot all at once. Which on the bright side... if I had never moved the money out of the account - I'd only have $15K in there now.

I opened a money market account yesterday on the advice of the financial planner. Right now its generating a 5% return so it is doing much better than our savings account.

We also neutered the dog yesterday and it was $31.20 under budget so I'm thinking I'll put that towards paying down the GTI.

Variety of financial thoughts

October 3rd, 2008 at 01:54 pm

Yesterday my financial planner sent us our "financial plan" - an 82 page document discussing cash flow, retirement, education, etc.

And the good news is, despite the current debt. Our net worth right now is in the positive and we should be able to retire early, DH at 50 and myself at 47.

So I was surprised. But feel really good now about being on the right track.

On that note though, I'm not sure how I feel about the economy right now. I moved DH's TSP back to the Lifecycle fund and I actually made money (about 50 shares worth) off of selling last week and rebuying this week.

But I'm not sure if the bailout will work and I have a feeling worse things may come & want to move it back to the Government Securities fund which averages a 5% rate of return each year since inception. At least then I'm not losing anymore since we've lost about 20% or so.

The reason I think greater problems may be around the corner is because of the mark to market rule.

Even my International Accounting professor doesn't agree with this. And I think in the long run it will collapse.

So thats why I'm considering pulling out the money I've already invested and continue to invest in the Lifecycle fund with new money but the money I already have - keep it secured.

I'm not sure though. I know we have time on our side, but I don't believe in this new accounting rule and I think it will blow up in our face in the end.

Met with the Financial Planner

October 2nd, 2008 at 11:12 am

Well I had the consult with the financial planner yesterday.

I decided to keep it because he will help make sure we stay on track, which would be a good investment in the long run.

For first steps he set up an action plan of:

1) Use 20% of discretionary income to building our emergency reserve, 80% to go towards paying down our car loan

2) Setup a Money Market account and contribute $52/week to it to build our emergency reserve

I know it sounds obvious but we can't do much more at the moment because of our cash flow. But I think its still worthwhile because he's assigned these as "homework" items - so it develops a sense of accountability for me.

He'll also be sending us an 82 pg "plan" for our long term goals - retirement, DH's truck, motorcycle, going back to Hawaii, buying a home there, and really all of this stuff I am unsure how to tackle ALL of them.

So I think its worth it BUT if I don't think this has added any value to the process, I can always cancel and they will refund me my enrollment fee. Yet, I have a feeling that this will be worth it.

We meet again next week.

Feeling much better

October 1st, 2008 at 11:53 am

I think DH figured doing the finances would be simple and easy.

But I think even I needed the reality check. We had to make some tough choices to make up our deficit but in the end we came up with a joint plan to pay off his car and his credit card in 12 months and to stop being in the red starting in January with the pay raise information of what we know now.

The two things I wasn't willing to compromise on was our son's preschool and my school. If our son stopped preschool, our dilemma would be solved right now. But I see how important this is and its only till June.

I wasn't willing to sacrifice my school either. I don't know if DH is going to be stationed somewhere else in the next two years, otherwise I'd scale back on my school. If I stopped all together I'd have to start paying on my student loan again.

So we put $1700 into our savings account with the bonus. Going to put $50 towards our daughter's birthday, $200 towards neutering the dog, $1500 towards his car repairs and then there is just enough left for the baby's pictures. We do them every 3 months for the first year and then every 6 months till 2. I'd put that off too but I can't exactly shrink her back down to size when we do have money.

It goes without saying and I'm proud of DH for this... once he saw the finances, he got it real quick that a new truck or motorcycle is out of the question.

The main goal now is to stop being so dependent on my income.

Hopefully in 2 years or so, we will be back to just living on his income. Thats the way it should be and a definite way to ensure that our finances are recession proof.

But right now, if we can pay off his car and credit card in 12 months - that will be a huge step in itself.