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Archive for December, 2006

My goals for 2007

December 31st, 2006 at 08:25 am

I wasn't going to do any but this morning during my workout I thought of a couple so here are my goals for the end of 2007:

1] Consumer debt down to $14,000 (currently at $26,834) [monthly amount of decrease needs to be $1,070 to meet this]

2] EF holding steady at $1,000 (currently at $537)

3] Medical savings at least $500 (currently a little over $200)

4] (non monetary goal) Holding steady at my current goal weight (currently have 34 lbs to loose)

Wow that looks pretty intense now that I have it down on paper. We'll see what comes of it this next year.

I may revisit them at the end of each month to see where I'm at.

Network IQ for December

December 30th, 2006 at 02:02 pm

Post #2 today.

I did my networth figures early by a couple of days so it won't include the little bit of interest I earned but that's ok. I took a step back with the money I pulled out to help my brother with but hopefully it'll be all downhill from here.

Assets $ Diff % Diff
Cash $796 $423 113.40 %
Retirement $25,318 $491 1.98 %
Cars $2,305 $0 0.00 %
Total Assets $28,419 $914 3.32 %

Debts $ Diff % Diff
Student Loans $36,108 ($110) -0.30 %
Credit Card $18,154 $1,607 9.71 %
Other $8,680 ($169) -1.91 %
Total Debts $62,942 $1,328 2.16 %

Net Worth ($34,523) ($414) -1.21 %

And here's my nifty graph:



And that's about all there is for that.

Ethical dilima

December 30th, 2006 at 10:01 am

I have participated in Pinecone Research for a while now. I love getting the little $5 checks in the mail (although they're going to be doing it via PayPal in the future). I really have fun with the surveys knowing that I will actually be paid for it instead of a 'we'll put you in a pool of names to be drawn for $xxx'.

I got an email a while back stating that it was a followup and I thought it odd, I'd never gotten one of those before. But I didn't take it because I wasn't really sure what it was. The day after the last day to submit the survey, I received a package from Pinecone Research with another item to test out at home and give feedback. The light went on, apparently I had been sent something to test but I never got it! It wasn't the item I'd just received because the project numbers were different.

I emailed Karen and explained the situation thinking that perhaps there was a signature required and that's why I never got it. I just happened to be home from work the day I actually received a package. She explained that signature wasn't required and if I didn't get the original item it was too late the survey was closed and they didn't have any more. No problem. I thought that was the end of it.

About three weeks ago I got an email stating that the company wanted the test items back, you know the one I never got. I was going to reply to Karen and say 'don't forget I didn't receive this so don't send me the return materials' but I never got around to it. Sure enough, about two weeks ago a large envelope showed up at my door with packing material for the item and a $5 check as a 'thank you' for sending it back.

I don't have the item to send back.

I emailed Karen again, replying to our prior string of emails so she'd know what I was talking about, asking where to send the check back to because I don't have the item to send back. I haven't heard a word since.

I know it's the holidays and she probably has a slew of emails to go through. But I did get one recently regarding the switch to PayPal.

Do I just send it back to their address as listed on the return address when they send stuff out? Do I cash it? Do I just do nothing because it's not really mine to have?

I'm going to give her til the middle of January to respond and then actually do something with it.

It starts today.

December 29th, 2006 at 01:30 pm

I deposited the balance transfer check on Tuesday because I knew K'd need the money by Friday and I wanted to give it plenty of time to clear, yet at the same time I didn't want to deposit it too early because that would mean more interest.

His monthly expenses are $689.
$275 rent
$100 phone
$40 electric
$74 bus pass
$200 food

Now his food budget he claims is more than he needs. I think that's because he's doing the bachelor thing of just eating a couple conveinence store hot dogs a day and counting that as good. But I want to make sure he has enough just in case.

He had about $142 left over from his last full paycheck and today his final paycheck for about a week was deposited which added another $232. All told he was going to be starting out January at $373, only $320 short of his monthly expenses.

I created a sub ING account for him and had deposited $1320 into it (holding out the $680 for January in case he really needed it all) earlier in the week. This morning I transferred $360 bringing that account total to $1680 plus I withdrew the $320 and deposited it into his bank account.

He hasn't received the paperwork yet for his GI Bill. Once he gets it, fills it out, and sends it back it'll be 3 months before it kicks in. So right now it looks like I'll need to be supporting him til April.

School costs are $880 for the semester plus books. Someone he works at at the bar might have the exact books he needs so books might not be an issue this time around. Only half of the money is due Jan 22nd (two weeks after classes start). The rest is due in February sometime.

If there isn't any more influx of cash then I have enough to cover him until the end of February, then I'll have to start dipping into my reserves. There is hope though. He works at a bar sometimes on the weekends and he can use that money instead of what's in the bank to pay for food. And he had an interview last week someplace that is pretty low key and he'd have plenty of time to study while at work. So there is the possibility of him not having to completely rely on what I've got. He hasn't heard back from the interview though so we're not really counting on it yet.

He also was palmed money from our aunt when we were there on Wednesday so he won't be dipping into his account quite yet. The plan right now is to spend cash first, and that as little as possible. When the first half of school is due I'll look at his bank account, calculate how much he needs for food til the next deposit by me at the beginning of February (using a rate of $7/day), and hope that there's something left over to put towards school so I don't have to pull the full amount out. It's entirely possible if the bar is busy on the weekends and he gets to be a server.

I'm really excited about him starting school. I think it'll be a lesson for him in more ways than one.

The payment will be going up on my CC that I did the balance transfer on, but right now I'm already paying about $160 more than the required minimum I should be able to absorb any extra that the minimum increases. Plus once he starts getting his GI bill he can start paying me back which will just go straight to the CC.

I am charging him interest and the fee that was incurred to do the balance transfer. Of course the downside to all of this is it'll increase my debt by $2k. *sigh* That's more than I've paid off since I started really concentrating on it in September. But it's ok. It will be taken care of in short order, at least as far as the actual debt going down on the CC. I have every confidence in that.

Sweet!

December 28th, 2006 at 03:25 pm

I went to my aunt's last night for dinner because another aunt and her new husband were visiting. Dinner was wonderful and if I didn't already have a bunch of leftovers in the fridge, I could have come home with more. Instead I insisted she send as much as possible home with my brother, the one who's out of work and who I'll be supporting for the next three months (or rather from now until three months after his GI bill paperwork gets sent in). She also tricked him into accepting $75 by palming him some cash with a $5 on the outside so he accepted thinking it was just a couple of bucks, but there was $50 total in hand plus $25 in a card she'd already planned to give him.

I got $25 as well in my card. Sweet! I was talking to my best friend on the way home and she mentioned that I should hang onto it for my Zoo Pass that I really wanted but no one got me (well I didn't want any one person to get it for me but rather said I was accepting donatations towards it). The other thing that I really wanted was a set of Denise Interchangables (knitting needles). I have a $25 gc for a local yarn store and they sell the needles there for $50. So that would make up the difference. However, the way my friend was acting on the phone I have a feeling she >might< have gotten that for me for Christmas. I haven't gotten her gift yet but she said it'd be showing up after Christmas. And it's one of those things you can't take back so I'm going to wait and see before doing anything.

I decided I really wanted the Zoo pass but I don't want to pull the rest ($34) out of savings. So I'm sticking the $25 in my dollar jar and any time I babysit and get cash for it (instead of a check) then I'll add it to the $25 til I get to $59. I should have it all in time for the Summer Concert Series.

I'm planning a trip to Costco on Saturday. I realize that it's probably a suicide mission but I have things I need to get, staples for lunch that I'll be running out of. There's only $5 left in grocery money so I'll be using my $50 Costco Cash Card to stock up as much as possible. I did a quick inventory of breakfast and dinner items and I should be good til the 5th. Plus some of the items I'll be getting at Costco are dry goods and will help future grocery budgets since I wont' have to buy those items for a while.

I have a list of items to buy with my 'extra' money this next check instead of putting it into savings. Why is it that savings is so much harder to push paying into than credit cards? Anyway, I knocked one thing off that list this week. I was talking to someone about wanting to get a wireless card for my desktop and how since I have a $20 gc for Best Buy maybe I'd pick one up there. I started looking on eBay and found a new Linksys card for $19.96 after shipping with BuyItNow and decided to just get it now. Then when I went to pay, I was reminded that I had $9.99 sitting in PayPal that I'd forgotten about. So it really only cost me $9.97. I took it out of my 'Personal' money. The rest though will probably cost more than I'll have coming in so they'll have to wait til the next month. The list is:

- Oil Change (sucks because I still have one that I've prepaid but I can't find the card that shows it, who knows I might find it before the 5th, $20)

- Concert tickets (I'm restraining myself and not spending $40+gas to go to the Seattle show and only going to the Portland one which is $14 but I'm taking my dad and buying his ticket so he can't back out of it so that'll be $28)

- Home Depot (Damp Rid refill and container, and a staple gun about $30 total I think)

- Classmates 3 month membership (I have this strong desire to reconnect with people I knew before leaving for college, someone on there is trying to contact me but I won't know who without getting a membership so I'm getting the lowest level possible. $15)

- Yarn store. (If I do get the needles I wanted then this will actually come out of my gift card and I'll just get yarn for the socks I want to make, otherwise I'll be buying the needles I want. $25)

All told that's $118. And I'll probably only have about $87 extra. But I also changed my withholdings back to 1 so that might change too. So we'll see what gets held over for February.

I'm anxious for Monday, I really want to see how things look for the end of the month as far as Net Worth is concerned. I was hoping I'd get my uncle's check for the concert tickets I bought for him before the end of the month since I pulled that money out of my savings. But I don't know that that'll happen. There's still three more mail days though so it's possible.

Change in the 401k plan.

December 27th, 2006 at 03:06 pm

Figures, just when I get used to checking things online for my 401k and actually keeping up with it, we change companies. There's a meeting on Wednesday where we will 'learn about new options and investment opportunities '. Not only that but they scheduled the meeting to start at exactly when I get into work so I need to make sure I'm early that day. *sigh*

I had a nice holiday. I'm planning a trip to Costco to spend my cash card on things that I need to stock up on food wise but can't because I have $5 left in my grocery money to last til the 5th because I spent grocery money on Christmas Eve Dinner. Not regretting it in the slightest just stating fact.

ETA: Looks like this new company has accounts similar to Vanguard and others where it's more agressive in the beginning and then gets more conservative later. I'll find out more details on Wednesday. I'm actually looking forward now to this meeting.

That makes so much sense!!

December 22nd, 2006 at 10:47 am

Lucky Robin mentioned something about being able to get a 90 day supply via mail. The light clicked on when I read that because on my insurance card it lists the amounts for by mail Rx as being double what it is at the retail pharmacy and I always thought why would you pay double. But if you're getting three times the amount...

I am going to wait until my next appointment to talk to my dr about the possibility of doing that. I'd need a new Rx for a 90 day supply and would have to stay on the ball with ordering it at least two weeks in advance. Plus I don't know if my plan's supply maximum is 90 days. And I'm not sure how many of my meds are stable (ie won't be changing dosage). Definately something to ask about!

I picked up my new meds this morning, two week supply was $2.95. Nice. I'll get one more refill and then it'll be time to see the dr again.

I called my dr about getting a pneumonia vaccination, had to leave a message though so waiting to hear back on that. Insurance covers it 100% though which is nice.

Lastly I called my eye clinic to make my two year checkup appointment. The dr I've seen every two years for the past eight is no longer with them so I'll be seeing a new dr. And the way my insurance works it has to be exactly 2 years so since my last appointment was Jan 20th it has to be after Jan 20th. At least I know when to budget for now.

I have $109 right now left in my 'medical envelope' for this month. It looks like it won't be needed for anything else since my next round of appointments isn't until after I get paid again. I could transfer it out to my medical ING account but I think just to be on the safe side I'm going to leave it in my account until the day before my next payday just in case.

ETA Just called my insurance company and the maximum is a 30 day supply so I'd be paying double for the same ammount. I guess that's not an option right now. Ah well. It was worth a shot.

Santa did come after all!

December 21st, 2006 at 04:24 pm

Post #2 today.

I was just sitting here, minding my own business, when 'Santa' came by and dropped off a $50 Costco Cash Card on my desk. I promised to keep his identity a secret, even though y'all dont know him. Smile

Of course, I already bought the ham last night, spent $20.04 on it. *sigh* But that's ok. I'm not taking anything back and I don't have time to go to Costco before Sunday anyway.

So it'll go in my wallet and hang out with the leftover 'grocery' money and if I'm in dire need of anything after I run out of what's left, perhaps I'll use the cash card to stock up.

---

In other news, while I am starting new meds tomorrow (I pick up the Rx tonight) I don't have an appointment to see my doctor again until next month. I have a lab appointment next week but that doesn't require cash at time of service. That makes me happy in the 'I might actually have some money to transfer to my medical savings account this month after all' kind of way.

One day after payday and the food money is mostly gone!

December 21st, 2006 at 11:52 am

But I'm not panic'd. Not yet. The reason I spent most of it was for Christmas Eve dinner and I'm expecting there to be plenty of leftovers to get me through.

I have $17 out of $100 left. I do still need to pick up some green beans for Sunday and fruit for lunches. But the fruit I usually only buy a little at a time so it doesn't go bad before I can eat it.

I'm really excited for the meal on Sunday. I bought an 8 lb ham and I think there's going to be 7 of us eating. Ham, a stout and cherry sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans with toasted almonds and garlic, rolls (gluten free), pumpkin pie, sparkling cider. I think someone's bringing a salad.

I also got gas. I figured that as long as the price hasn't hit $3.079/gal then I'm still safe telling them to 'fill'. Unfortunately I only got 19 mpg last tank. I do a lot of city driving...ah well.

I was able to stash away $6 for my trip to Seattle in March. That makes me happy. We'll see if I can actually hold onto it...

Three Phase Plan, December update.

December 20th, 2006 at 08:30 am

Phase One. Eliminate CC2.

COMPLETED!!! I was very much expecting to have to pay a little bit of interest on this month's statement but it is all $0.00! Wheee! Onto Phase Two officially!

Phase Two. Build up EF to $1,000.

Between the three accounts, taking out unexpected loans and adding in regular budget amounts plus extra once Phase One was unofficially completed my savings has increased by $205.33 since the end of last month. Rock on.

Phase Three. Pay off as much of CC1 as possible by 4/15/2010.

Statement balance difference: -$293.12
Total payments: $523
Total charges and fees: $229.88

Previous potential balance by 4/15/2010: $6,096.99
New potential balance by 4/15/2010: $3,916.24 (I'm going to start using Quicken's figure for this)

Right now only $992.91 to go before things get back to normal. Unfortunately that won't be lasting long. I'll be cashing a check next week for $2,000 balance transfer and will be adding a few more dollars to the mix.

------------------

I updated my balances in Quicken. It still shows the same payoff date of 10/2010 but now it shows the interest saved as being $472.34. I'll take what I can get.

------------------

I got paid today. All bills are paid and my cushion left in the account is $18.65 It'll be interesting to see if we do get a Costco Cash Card after all since the guy who makes Costco runs went yesterday on his way home from work. If we don't, I'll be stretching that food budget creatively. Smile

Tuesday Deposit.

December 19th, 2006 at 12:35 pm

I took my change into the bank today. Came to $18.72. That's not a year's worth, I know I took what I had collected in a couple times over the past year. But I do want to see how much change I do save over a year so I'm starting with a clean slate. Mostly.

Deposited $50 that went straight to my Emigrant account. I'm pleased to say that my EF balance has grown a fair amount, even with paying cash for something that I'm waiting for a reimbursement check on. My new credit card statements should be available tomorrow so I'll have a better idea of where everything stands then. I'm really excited to see the results.

Deposited $11 to cover the excess I spent for last minute baking. I have $6 left in my wallet, about $2 of which will be spent tonight picking up one last skein of yarn to finish a blanket I'm knitting. The rest will go to my Dollar Jar which is money I'm trying to save for a trip up to Seattle in March.

Dr's apt went ok. I paid my co-pay while I was there, the way they do billing annoys me so if I have it I'd rather pay it then. They had me take a trip down to the lab for some blood tests. I'll find out tomorrow if I'll be starting on a new med or not. I've been having random dizy spells and the new med may just enhance that so they want to check the levels of a few things. No new appointment has been made yet, it all depends on the results of the bloodwork. If I go on new meds that means I'll be going in more often for appointments while they work me up to the right dose.

I got my balance transfer check in the mail yesterday. It's how I'm going to be supporting my brother til his GI Bill kicks in. I won't be depositing it until it's actually needed, which will be before it expires in about 80 days. I don't want to incure any more interest than necessary. His last day of work was Friday, the contract ran out officially. School starts January 8th. He works at a bar when needed on weekends, last weekend he made $80 between the two nights he worked. He is going to be filing for unemployment today and he had an interview on Sunday. I feel confident he'll have me paid back in short order, once his GI Bill kicks in that is. Now if we can just make it til then on whatever I've got and whatever he brings home in the mean time.

Got my hopes up...

December 18th, 2006 at 03:49 pm

But it didn't work out. *sigh*

I had to call the doctor's office to have them call in a new prescription since my refills ran out. The nurse asked if I wanted a 90 day or 30 day so we tried for the 90 day prescription since it would work out to cheaper in the long run and if insurance refused it it would automatically revert to the 30 day no harm no foul.

I was a little nervous about this refill because I had forgotten to give myself some leeway between when I ran out and when I got the refill and literally took my last pill this morning, I take one in the morning and one at night. So I ducked out of work briefly to go pick it up, figuring that if there was any problem at the pharmacy the doctor's office would still be open to fix anything.

Got to the counter and wound up actually being helped by one of the pharmacists instead of a tech. He looked high and low and couldn't find record of my prescription anywhere. I explained that I couldn't autorefill it and had the dr's office call that morning around 9:30 and the light went on, he remembered taking the call but wasn't sure what happened after that. So I got to wander the store for 10 minutes hoping that when I went back there would be a refill for me.

I got back just in time, as I got to the front of the line I heard the pharmasist call my last name and put something on a shelf. *phew* Unfortunately it was my regular 30 day because my insurance doesn't do 90 day. Ah well, I'm not really complaining but it sure would have been nice.

I have a dr apt tomorrow, it'll be interesting to see if I get started on new meds.

Tomorrow's Tuesday Deposit will probably be my last this year. I got paid on Sunday for the 17th and the 24th. I have one potential babysitting gig on Friday but it might get canceled. So I'm packing up my change (all but enough to do 10 loads of laundry) and will be depositing that into my regular savings account when I go to the bank tomorrow. It's not much but I'm curious to see how much change I can actually save in a year, especially since I'm using cash for groceries now. Which means I need to clear out my change since it's end of the year roughly.

We had our work Christmas Pizza Party today and nothing was handed out by way of 'bonus'. Usually we get a Costco Cash Card with $50 on it. I was sort of counting on that to buy stuff for Christmas Eve Dinner. But I'll make it work out anyway. I wont' be going shopping until I get paid on Wednesday. There's still time for it to be handed out too, like possibly with our paychecks on Wednesday. Just have to wait and see I guess.

Overspent today...

December 15th, 2006 at 08:36 am

I walked into the store with a list and $19 in my wallet. Walked out with $31 in groceries put onto my debit card and still have the $19 in cash. *sigh* I have a few things coming up that I need to bake for so I picked up the ingredients and it was a little over my budget. I have decided to pull out the cash from my wallet that will make my register not be in the red anymore and stash it away in my box for Tuesday Deposits so my register will be in the black come Tuesday.

I do have money in the account, it's not like I spent money that wasn't there. Just it's earmarked for other things. So I'm not really in the red but I turn Quicken into an Envelope system by taking the money earmarked for certain things and creating a future payment with that money. Then I look at the ending balance not the current balance to know where I stand with things.

I did know I was going to spend a little more grocery wise because of the holiday but was hoping I could still fit it mostly into my budget. I can't wait for the Christmas Party on Monday to see if we got Costco Cash Cards again. That will be huge in funding Christmas Eve Dinner.

I am excited though. I now have enough ingredients to make two kinds of fudge (chocolate and butterscotch) and two pumpkin pies with gluten free crusts. I'm going to have fun this weekend.

Sort of spending...gifts and such

December 14th, 2006 at 10:59 am

This is the week of birthdays..

Sunday went out to eat with a friend for his birthday. His parents wound up paying so I didn't.

Last night I went out for a friend's birthday. Since the party was starting so late I borrowed my roomate's bus pass instead of driving. I hate trying to find parking in the district of town where the bar was at anyway. I just bought tea because I couldn't really have anything else. A friend was the bartender (didn't know he worked there til I got there) so I tipped him pretty well all things considered. Spent $3.50 total. I have a bunch of blank cards at home so I just grabbed one for the birthday card and inside wrote that my gift to her was a free night of babysitting. It's something she'll use and needs. Valued at about $25-30 since that's about what they give me when I sit for them.

Another friend has a birthday on Sunday. She really likes music but even more mix cds made by people. For my home communities' Christmas party we were instructed to make a mix cd of our favorite songs instead of a White Elephant gift. (although the 'wrapping' for the cd can be something white elephanty so long as money isn't spent on the 'wrapping'). That way we get to know people in our community better by their choice of favorite music. I will be putting together my cd this weekend and last night thought that it would be cool to get a copy to my friend for her birthday. I'll use another blank card for the belated card since it will be late and to cover all bases I'll send her an e-card on her birthday from Hallmark.

All in all I think I survived this round of birthdays quite well.

I went to the dollar store last night and found the exact box I was looking for to put the only gift I bought this year in. That was a nice bonus. And found that they had Nestle hot chocolate there. I'd slowly stocked up on it when the nearby Walgreen's had it for $1 for a box of 6 packets and had gotten used to having a mug of it every day at work. I hadn't run out of my stash yet but I only had about a week left so I picked up a box since I was there.

Tonight is women's community and I've been so excited about watching the gal open her gift that I completely forgot until this morning that I'll be getting something to. That's totally secondary right now. I found what I think is the perfect gift. Just really hoping I'm right. One of the gals moved nearby me so we're taking turns carpooling since the house we meet at is about 8 miles away. Not terribly far but it doesn't make sense to each drive when we live so close.

And just because I'm so excited I'll tell you what the perfect gift is. In addition to exchanging names we also filled out a little questionaire to get ideas of what people like/want/etc. The gal I got wrote that she collects stationary and that her favorite flower is a Peruvian Lily. So I google'd pictures of the flower, found one with just a single flower and a white background, edited the photo to add her name (first, middle initial, last), and uploaded it to Vista Print to be printed on the front of 20 blank notecards. And at the dollar store I found a cardboard box, kinda like a cigar box or those older style school pencil boxes and they fit perfectly in there. I wanted to find a box that doesn't necessarily look seasonal (this one just is green with big red dots) but she could refill it as she gets more stationary. Plus it protects the ones I gave her. I am sooooo excited to see her open it I can hardly stand it. Granted I did pay more for shipping than for the printing because we're exchanging gifts today instead of next week because people are gone next week for the holidays, but I didn't want to spend too much more than $20 total and all told it came to $24.