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September 19th, 2006 at 12:40 pm

The Carnival of Personal Finance is up over here: http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/2006/09/carnival_of_per.html

I scanned through the posts and picked out just a couple that I thought might be interesting to read. I did note that there were a couple on teaching kids to save, so there might be something of interest to those of you with kids as well as just regular saving tips. Anyway.


Doing what I can to steer him right.

September 18th, 2006 at 05:13 pm

My youngest brother has been avoiding credit card, or really any debt, for a while. He realizes the traps they can lay when you get in bad positions, etc. Or so I thought.

He had to walk home in the rain, he was unprepared for it, and his iPod got damaged. Just the screen. It's not covered under warrenty. It still plays, he just has no idea what's playing. He was thinking about applying for a credit card so he could get a new one.

Alarm bells went off for me considering he hasn't even gotten his first paycheck yet from his job and his job is temporary just until December assuming he lasts that long. Not to mention the fact he owes me close to $600 for picking up his rent for a couple of months, among other things.

I think I talked him out of it. I've become quite skilled in the art of negotiation. Instead of telling him what he should or shouldn't do, explain to him the risks and benefits of what he's trying to decide on. Once he knows all the facts, if he still chooses to do it fine.

For now, he's waiting til Friday when he gets paid so he'll have an idea of how much money he has coming in. The other red flag that went off was his comment that he was hoping if he got approved soon that he would be able to buy food with it now. I would much rather he owe me money for food than a credit card company. I stocked him for about a week, he's got some left over but not much. I haven't been able to make it back to his part of town so I haven't helped him restock any.

I guess we'll just see what happens.

Spoiled yet jealous

September 15th, 2006 at 01:56 pm

Some days I feel really spoiled by having a salary position. I have a budget that is based on the same amount of money every paycheck and I don't have to worry about getting enough hours to cover all of my bills. Talking with friends and reading stuff online about people getting hours cut really makes me wish they find some way to make it up without too much trouble.

But then, I hear about all the overtime some people get and it makes me jealous. I have no option for overtime on salary. I do get extra money for being 'on call' certain nights the month before but it's not much ($35/night) and I usually only get about half of it after taxes are factored in so I never really budget for it. And something usually comes up to suck that money away.

I used to work for a place that had Hourly Salary positions. Which meant that you got paid twice a month the same amount, like a regular salaried position, but if you worked any overtime you actually got paid for it. I like the idea but don't know if anyone actually implements it.

Almost spent an extra $14 today but didn't.

September 9th, 2006 at 02:55 pm

I walked to the library and the store today. I didn't have so much shopping to do that it couldn't be carried home in a backpack plus extra to be carried by hand. And the store is only a half mile away.

I forgot about the Street Fair going on today. Looked through the stalls but nothing jumped out as a must buy.

At the library I picked up a cd, a movie for my roomate, and The Millionare Next Door. Can't wait to start reading it. I have some cards to write today still (I write til my hand cramps up then I find something else to do) so maybe later this evening I'll start it.

Soon as I walked into the store the table of 60% off clearance jumped out at me. My first thought was 'gifts! I might need something later' since everyone here has been talking about that sort of thing. But alas, it was mostly kids stuff, and I don't know that many kids. However, the last table is what really held my attention. On that table was Scene It the TV Version. I love the Scene It movie game I have, but I'm good at memorizing things so it's not something I like to play with people who haven't played it. I've wanted the TV version as well for a while now. And with the 60% off clearance it made it only $14 or just under.

I walked all over the store with it in my cart. Pretty much forgot about it really until I got back to the checkout stand. And I realized two things. A] I was walking, it wouldn't fit in my backpack, and it would be uncomfortable to carry home and B] I really don't play games all that much, even though I like them a lot. So I put it back on the table. *sigh*

It's probably just as well. What I did go home with was heavier than I'd anticipated and the game would have just made for more uncomfortableness.

Respons to DivaJen's post

September 4th, 2006 at 12:38 pm

I was going to make this a comment but decided it was getting too long so I made my own entry. It's in response to her post about the fact that in southern california, a mother with two kids can expect to receive only $753/mo from the state.

When my parents divorced my mom went on welfare. Not right away but after a while when she was having a hard time finding work and my dad wasn't regular with the child support. She worked really hard to be able to get off of it and in the end the state garnished his wages so we had a steady payment every month of $696. For my mom and three kids. She stayed on food stamps, that was the only concession she made to any state help. She did what she could to find a job she could work, child care wasn't an issue since we were older.

Our rent, for a really crappy but large three bedroom two bath apt: $435/mo It was kept low by my mom's refusal to let them put in new carpet to replace the nasty green shag stuff. Well, not like we could have stopped them really but the apartments kept changing hands so stuff like that got forgotten.

I don't know what our other bills ran, but I do know that we never used the AC between 2 pm and 6 pm, the hottest times of the day and the most expensive time to run anything electric. Instead we would go to a store and wander around enjoying the cool air, or go to a fast food restaurant and just drink free refills for an hour or so.

When I was in jr high, I started babysitting so I could pay for my own school clothes and help relieve my mom of the stress of finding the money for it.

We were also supported by a friend of my grandmother who spent a lot of time 'dumpster diving' for clean trash, the stuff on top nothing that had to be dug for. She collected rebates, used her garbage finds to gather UPCs, and certain stores (like Longs Drug) didn't list anything but the price of items and the date purchased so she'd keep an eye out for stuff like that to send in with the rebates. She would give us a few every week to send in, and once they started coming back it was nice to get the small checks every week or so.

That was living in Redding, CA between 1990-95.

When my mom died, I assumed guardianship of my teenage brothers. I graduated college, couldn't find a job, needed to be working to provide for the family so went back to Burger King. Made $800/mo plus child support from my dad (don't recall how much that was) and my brothers got about $93/mo each from social security for survivorship benefits. We made it work. Granted I got snowballed by debt trying to keep them in clothes since they were still going through growth spurts. But we survived.

It's not a lot of money. I've heard that comment over and over again, how can people exist on minimum wage. I know I got lucky with my fast food job, the manager knew the position I was in and did what she could to make me the highest paid non management employee.

Somedays I consider myself a failure. I have so much more coming in than my mom did yet I still live paycheck to paycheck. And my definition of paycheck to paycheck is as soon as I get paid the money gets allocated and there's no breathing room. Yes, I save some. Generally $45/mo between two savings accounts. But the money that goes into my local bank savings account usually ends up getting drained by something every few months. And when that goes usually something else comes up that drains my ING account.

I know I need at least two new tires before the rainy season hits. That's November. It'll cost at least $140 for two tires because the rims I have are specialty. That's just how it was when I bought it from a friend of mine, not something I did. I'm hoping that when the time comes I can get a better price but I'm afraid that when the time comes, they'll tell me I really need four new tires. Which is essentially a planned spending of savings but still it'll put a dent in things.

And I've totally lost my train of thought so I'm ending this post here. I've read it over too many times.

Please tell me I'm right...

August 23rd, 2006 at 04:49 pm

Ok senario. Friend (we'll call M) was involved in a car accident. Not her fault. She got her car back finally since it wasn't totaled and they fixed the damage done. Her cruise control was working before the accident, is not working now. Because of the long commute to work this is something she uses every day.

She took it back to the shop that originally fixed it from the accident, they couldn't figure out why it wasn't working. Said to take it to the dealership and if they determined that it was accident related then it would be covered under insurance.

She got a call today from the dealership where she was very rudely instructed on the way to engage her cruise control, as they found nothing wrong with it and it worked just fine (according to them). To top it all off, they're charging her $150 for two hours of labor.

Ok they're going to be condescending to M about the proper way to use cruise control (something she's been using in that car for four years) yet it took them two hours to figure out it was fine? That does not strike me as ok. I do understand paying for an hour of labor even if it only takes 10 minutes, because that's how the labor gets billed sometimes. But two hours?? I told her to call and complain and she will but she says there's nothing she can do about the payment since her sister will be picking it up for her.

I disagree. Since she can't have it picked up til tomorrow anyway, I think she should call and complain today and have them alter the bill accordingly. Or am I just getting riled up over something that can't be changed?

More possible moving news.

August 23rd, 2006 at 01:52 pm

I still haven't talked to my current roomate. I think I'll do that tonight since I plan on being home. Part of me doesn't want to move. I hate moving. But I really wouldn't mind helping out my friend with her mortgage payment.

Friend (I'll call her L) just texted me wondering if I was still interested. Now, I haven't seen the place yet. But I am still interested. I keep saying how I want to consolidate and get down to the point where I can exist in one room. This would be the perfect opportunity to do just that. She also changed her original rent statement. Before it was $200 for the room plus 1/3 of utilities (water/electric/cable/internet) and possibly 1/3 of home owners dues. With the inclusion of the dues I was looking at about what I was paying before. Now she's saying a flat $300/mo including my portion of utilities and other community stuff like dish/laundry soap, tp, etc. Which is fine by me, I'm currently buying all that stuff now usually out of habit.

It would mean a savings in rent/utilities of $50/mo. It would still mean (I think) that I'd use all of my gas budget ($80/mo) as opposed to now when I only use half of it but I still budget it all just in case. I might be able to get away with it being cheaper to take the bus and carpool. Just will have to see. One of the gals I'd be living with gets off work about 30 minutes before I do, and works near me. So it's possible an arrangement could be made where I catch a ride home with her some evenings.

L also says we can shoot for a move in date of November/December which would give me time to continue consolidating stuff. I am going to aim to not only not have my storage unit anymore (including what I'm stashing downstairs at my current apt that is included in my rent). That would mean another $60 saved a month.

I think I can pull this off. The hardest part will be leaving my current living situation. I love being able to walk to work and I have no issues with my current roommate. Plus I'd hate to put her in a bind to have to find another roommate. Guess I'll just broach the subject and see what her thoughts are. Since she was expecting to have to move out of the area at some point to get a job in the field she just got a degree in anyway.

Yet another reason I hate shopping.

August 17th, 2006 at 09:29 pm

I rarely buy new clothes. I wear the same thing over and over and over again until it totally gives out or it doesn't fit right. But even if it doesn't fit right chances are I'll keep it for when it does fit right again.

The last item of clothing I purchased new (not counting the shoes I bought recently as part of a mystery shop) was a pair of jeans from Old Navy last September. I needed a pair of lightweight jeans for a work trip to Kenya (we'd be working on an orphanage so I needed the protection of jeans but light weight enough to be worn in the heat). My brother and I just happened to be killing time before going to see a movie, there was an Old Navy so we wandered in and I found exactly what I wanted for only $20. They finally gave out on me in May. That was ok, summer was coming up and not really jeans weather.

This weekend I'm going on a road trip to see my favorite band. I'll be working the merchandise table for them at one of the shows even. So I decided a new pair of jeans was required since I don't really have any right now. What I've been wearing are convertable kakis (y'know the kind that you can unzip the legs and make them into shorts) and they aren't the most flattering but they work in a pinch.

Old Navy was having a sale, all adult jeans under $25 so I wander into the closest store tonight to find the 'highest' waist jean that they carry is just under at waist, that they only carry stretch jeans, and the boot cut is more like a taper to the knee then straight/slight flare at the bottom. Which looks absolutely horrible on me.


So I went to Ross and Marshalls. No dice. I'd also decided I was overdue for a fun tshirt, so I stopped in at Hot Topic because I knew they had Daria shirts and of course, they were all out. I popped in on Lane Bryant hoping they had stuff on sale. Well yes in a way, jeans were buy one get one half off. But that would mean spending $60 to get the deal ($40 for the first pair and $20 for the second) and I just can't justify that.

By this time I was really hungry and I didn't see any mall fare that looked good so went to a little pizza place nearby and just had a slice ($4) and stopped into Goodwill. Nothing. Not a blessed thing. ARGH!

Back to the mall, since I had to walk by there to get home, and made Sears my final stop. Finally found jeans my size, in my price range, that didn't have an elastic waistband, and they're all SHORT. I'm a tall gal (5'11") so short just doesn't do the trick.

I leave Saturday at noon. I don't know where else to go. I'm kinda depressed about this. Why is it so hard to find something I like that fits when I really need it?

More thoughts to consider with moving.

August 17th, 2006 at 10:48 am

If I did move..my roomates would both have cars. I could sell mine (put the money received towards debt repayment), not have to pay $93/mo for insurance or $80/mo for gas. Would then pick up a bus pas $74/mo which is still a savings of $100/mo. If I went anywhere that needed a car, chances are I could get a ride from one of my roomates. And getting to/from the store for major grocery shopping wouldn't be that difficult with their cars accessible. The new place is right next to MAX (light rail).

I'm not so concerned about the whole gym thing (ie giving it up) because I do have workout videos I can use at home (I mainly joined Curves so I could have someone else measure me and keep track of all that stuff). Plus I still think I'd be walking plenty, if I did go the bus route, the light rail stops about a mile from work so I'd still walk that bit.

Ok more thought is required on this.

Possible new living arrangement.

August 16th, 2006 at 04:57 pm

Right now this is my current living situation:

Rent: $287.50
Utilities: $63
Gas: $80 (usually use only $40 because I can walk to work)

I've lived with my current roomate for 3 years, I love my current roomate and wouldn't really want to ditch her except that I'm working really hard to get out of debt so if something else comes up I'm tempted to change things up a bit.

Another friend of mine had to move for the umpteenth time and finally threw up her hands and put an offer on a condo. Her offer on a new condo was accepted. The condo is 3 bedrooms, she and her current roomate are looking for a third and have offered it to me. So this is the potential new breakdown:

Rent: $200
Utilities: $60 (potential 1/3rd of electric, water, and cable)
Gas: $80 (possibly more because new place is 8 miles away from work so I'll actually use all of my budget)

Now I haven't seen the place yet so I don't know for certain if it's something I'd want to do.

The other potential cost is her $140 monthly condo dues. I don't know if she's going to want us to help her out with that as well. Which would really just make it all even out for me.

Of course there won't be any room for my stuff that I'm pulling out of storage so that $60 I'm trying to save from not having storage I think I'll have to spend $45/mo for the stuff left over for storage.

I'll probably ditch the gym for good because my schedule is going to be changing up so much, so that'll be another $30 savings.

Anyway, lots to think about. I haven't told my current roomate yet because I want to wait and see if I like it etc. The other nice thing about this possibility is that I wouldn't have to move in right away, I could wait a couple of months. Which would mean I could go through my storage stuff more, get rid of more crap, and give my roomate time to either find another place or find another roomate.

Oh yeah and it'll take a while for everything to process for them to be able to get into the house. Which is sad because I think they only have less than 3 weeks to be completely moved from their current residence.

Lil bro got a job!!

August 5th, 2006 at 12:08 am

I'm so excited! He got a three day gig at Costco handing out samples (it pays $120/day and for that he'll do almost anything). Today was his first day and when he got home his friend T called and said congrats on the job! He replied that it was only a 3 day gig and she said no...congrats on the real job. You start Tuesday.

He is very excited. I am to. It's data entry for the cable company. It makes me happy. It makes him happy.

I'm doing what I can to help instill financial sense. Like for example our conversation tonight:

Him: So I've decided what I'm going to do with my Costco money now that I have a real job.
Me: What's that?
Him: Get my driver's license!!
Me: Good idea.
Him: Oh and once I get caught up on all my bills, I've decided that before I get all those piercings I want I'm going to invest in some nicer clothes and not wear them as often.
Me: Not a bad plan. Don't forget to start saving, for a car, for emergencies.
Him: Oh yeah, that too.

Yipeee!!! I'm not going to bug him about paying me back, I know he will once he gets everything squared away. Right now Verizon is being nice, even though he's over 2 months past due on his cell, because he's looking for work (so he can pay his bills) they let him have incoming calls only. So that takes precedence over me.

Oh and as an aside...I haven't relisted my timeshare but when I was on craigslist I did a search for the name of the company just to see what other people were trying to sell theirs for. I found an add for someone looking to buy, though she wanted more credits than I have annually. I emailed her anyway and she's tempted. So we'll see if anything comes of that. I've learned not to get my hopes up too much until the papers have been notorized. I'm even willing to pay the $150 transfer fee if someone will just take it off my hands!!! Smile

Screening interview

August 4th, 2006 at 01:50 pm

I had a screening interview and tests this morning at a staffing company. They have an entry level ish staff accountant position that one of their clients is trying to fill. The benefits cost way less than I'm currently paying, there's no pre-existing condition clause, but their max pay is about $5k less per year than I'm making right now. I did forget to ask if benefits start immediately. If they don't then I'll be going to Costco for my meds and putting off my next checkup as much as possible.

I checked a paycheck calculator and figured out that the monthly net (based on federal and state withholdings) is about $172 less than I'm making right now. Uhh. I know that has to do with benefits that I have to pay for ($125/mo pre tax) and the 3% I have going into a 401k account.

So I could concievably take the job and make ends meet somehow, providing they opt to interview me and like what they see. Plus I'm putting up my timeshare for sale again in September (decided to start doing that quarterly) and if I can get rid of that it will knock $170 off my required monthly outflow. Which would put me at breaking even. Give or take. Not to mention I'm trying to knock off a couple of things anyway.

I'm really excited about the potential to actually use my second degree. Just hoping that it all pans out. Sounds like a good company and it's a bit larger than my current one (currently there's 9 employees in my company, new company there's 100 on the payroll). So more potential for movement or at least raises possibly. Guess just will have to cross my fingers and hope.

30 day notice.

August 3rd, 2006 at 08:53 am

It makes sense. Apparently the apartment complex where I rent a garage from (my friends live there so I pay them the extra charge for the garage and they include it in their rent) requires 30 day notice if you're going to not have it anymore. Originally my friend had told me just to let her know when I didn't need it anymore.

This adds a whole new twist to things. I don't know that I'll be able to clear it out this month. I want to, but my weekends are crazy busy. If I give a 30 day notice right now, can I move everything out in time? If I wait until I know I'll have it all cleared out though that means shelling out extra $$ for the rest of the time. Argh! I wish it wasn't so far away. Round trip will cost at least 2 gallons of gas, and since I've been surviving on only 7 gallons over a two week period, that's a lot. I may stop by and make an assessment of things on my way to my brother's on Sunday, since I'll be passing right by.

I'm assuming that if there's any overlap, ie the 30 days isn't given at the start of a month, then the excess will be pro-rated. I can deal with that. Just need to get off my butt and finish clearing out the space where I'm intending to store it.

No spend Thursday

July 28th, 2006 at 08:30 am

I didn't spend anything yesterday, except gas. I don't have anywhere to drive to until Sunday, that'll be good too. I think the $20 I put in will last til next week Friday when I get paid. Which means I'll have only used half of my gas budget.

I'm planning on walking to work today. Possibly going to a cheap movie tonight ($3) but that'll come out of my 'personal' fund. Plus the theater is close enough to walk to. Tomorrow is a brewfest with free admission. I can't drink per doctor's orders, I'm just going with friends to be social. And I can eat before hand and bring in my own drinks so long as it's sealed. I picked up a 32 oz gatorade for $1 when I was at the store yesterday just for that purpose. We might also go to the movies on Saturday after spending the day in the sun. Either we'll go to the cheap theater ($3) or if we go to Regal I have coupons to make the tickets cheaper ($6 or $7.50 if it's new). But the movies they suggested aren't really ones I want to see so I may bail on them at that point.

I keep running out of time to do everything. It's really frustrating sometimes. Right now, all I want to do is veg. But I've only got 3 German classes left and I need to start clearing out my storage unit. Unfortunately it looks like that'll be by end of August now instead of by end of July.

My friend picked up something on eBay that I just decided I had to have. It had a 'make offer' button though and I put in an offer of $10 (not including shipping and insurance). The buy it now price is $24.99. We'll see if they take it or not. She did a 'make offer' for $24.99 including shipping at insurance (an additional $7) and they accepted it. I have a feeling I bid too low. If they don't take it I'm just going to wait til my next paycheck and decide from there.

Next round with the car.

July 20th, 2006 at 06:17 pm

Ok so car started fine for the shop. Picked it up on Tuesday, drove it to pick up pizza, then to friend's house, then to get gas, and finally to home. Wednesday didn't drive it anywhere, walked to the gym, walked to work, friend drove to class. Today, started just fine, helped a friend jump his jeep, went to dr's apt, stopped by church office to pick up stuff for Sunday, went to work. Go to leave, won't start. I left work a little early but even though I called the shop (they close at 6 and I normally get off at 6) they didn't answer and I went to voice mail. I tried a couple of more times to start it, called back and left a message but I don't know how audible it will turn out.

So now I'm looking at walking home. Normally not a big deal but right now it's 93F and I wore flipflops because I didn't think I'd have to walk. I just started wearing flipflops again, haven't worn them since grade school, and am not sure they're the greatest thing to be walking home in. Not that I have a choice.

For those who asked, this is what it's doing. I try to start the car like normal, push the clutch in all the way, turn the key, lights go on, engine does the initial thing/sound/whatever but it never fires (that's the mechanic's word for it I call it catching, it never catches). It just stays at that initial part for however long I have the key turned. It doesn't need a jump, that is definately not the problem.

Ugh. It's ok, it'll all pan out. Eventually. I had plans to go to the store tonight, in fact I sort of need to as I have nothing for dinner in the house. Well not true, I have some hummus and crackers and could have cereal and yogurt. But had planned to pick up dinner stuffs when I was out. So I may just walk home and borrow roomates car to go to the store. Or just walk home and go to the Zupans nearby (Zupans is a spendy organic type store) and just get enough to get me through tonight. Which at this point includes a pint of ice cream (Ben n Jerry's style) or a small tub of cookie dough (to be consumed by the spoonful raw).

I came back up to my office to fill my water bottle so I'd have it for the walk home. But I'm going to try starting my car one more time before I walk home. Though if it does start, I'm leary of going to the store. If anything, I'd prefer to leave my car overnight at work vs overnight in the store parkinglot where it might get towed.