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Archive for November, 2014

39 Minus Two Weeks - My Financial Planning

November 30th, 2014 at 07:39 pm

So in about two weeks here I will be 39. That means that in 1 year and 2 weeks I'll be 40. It's really, really hard for me to see myself as a 40 year old ...

I've been thinking a lot about what I can do to get myself better set for life in ten - fifteen years - the time I'd really like to be at least Financially Independent if not able to kiss the 40 hour work week goodbye.

One thing I'm realizing will play heavily into my financial well being in the future is my health. If I continue the way I am now, my medical bills will more than likely prohibit my FI or early retirement. Plus it would more than likely make life not all that enjoyable.

Financial health and body health I think go hand in hand in the long run.

So thinking long and hard, I've come up with some long term savings goals. These are things that I hope will help me along the road to eventual Financial Independence.

I currently have a networth of approximately $200k. About 35% of that is in two taxable accounts, and the remainder is in ROTH, 403(b), IRA, etc. Included in that is also about $5100 in an EF that is pretty hard to access (earning .90% APR) I have no debt.

Starting in February I'll be able to contribute to my workplace retirement account. Once I see those numbers I'll have to figure out how much I'll continue sending to my ROTH, and how much I'll contribute to the 401k above the required amount.

So I'm going to borrow a term from CyNewbie of YNAB - Big Bodacious Goals for my 39th year of life:

1. Save $2,500 in Car Replacement/Repairs category
2. Save $3,000 in Taxable Account category
3. Save $3,000 in House Downpayment category
4. Save $500 to replace computer

I'll be adding the above goals to my sidebar soon.

Any Windfalls or Snowflakes will be handled like this:
1. Amazon gift cards - pays for protein powder for smoothies, or any ebooks I want, etc.

2. Non-gift cards: (i.e. cash, PayPal funds, tax refunds, 3rd paychecks, overtime)Leftover money from Utilities(gas, electric, phone), Fuel, Grocery categories. *Birthday/Christmas cash I might treat a little differently - maybe a 50/25/25 split.

***20% to Spending Money
***40% to Taxable Account
***40% to House Downpayment

Below is my budget. Pre-tax I have health insurance, health account (Fafa??) and dental insurance taken out right now.

So .. after those deductions, my net income is about $1647/month (until January 30, then I'll be getting a raise of 4-5%)

Tithe: 145
Giving: 25
Rent: 430
Internet: 66 (ugh!! wish I could get this lower)
Phone: 40
Electric: 50
Apt Gas: 40
Groceries: 150
Spending Money: 20
Medical: 25 (have 50/mo deducted pre-tax)
Kari (Cat): 40 (food, litter, vet)
Car Gas: 50

Savings/Rainy Day:
EF: 25
Car Ins: 45 (pay 2x a year)
Life Ins: 16 (pay 1x a year)
Car Replace/Repair/etc: 150
Vacation: 50
ROTH: 200
Computer/Electronics: 40
Taxable Investments: 25
House Downpayment: 25

Clothing, Restaurants/eating out, Household stuff, Entertainment, misc. all come from the Spending Money category.

I don't have cable, and I am not currently paying for any subscription services. I have been using Bing to get free Hulu+, but am seriously considering stopping that. I just don't use it that much.

As part of my effort to improve both my physical health and my financial health, I am going to start doing this --- Any food "treats" (i.e junkfood) won't come out of the grocery category, but will come out of the spending money category. Since I would like to be able to use this for other things than food, I'm hoping it will help me to curb my impulse to purchase (and consume) this stuff.

One Big Thing Accomplished Today - Ting

November 29th, 2014 at 02:54 am

I had my Ting capable phone for awhile now - been using it mainly as an extra device for PerkTv. I got my SIM card a couple weeks ago ...

Today though was the big day when I knew I'd have a good amount of time to work on making the switch from AT&T to Ting.

I ran into some issues when putting in the SIM card. The online instructions didn't say anything about needing to put the sim card in the little plastic piece that came out of the phone. So ... I got the SIM card stuck in the phone. Oops.

Thankfully there is a smartphone repair shop here - so I went over there and the guy had it fixed for me in five minutes. No charge!

I got home and started the activation process. Ran into a problem. I got a great customer service rep - named Clint. He helped me get my phone activated.

As soon as it was activated, I saw that it was going to have a much better connection in my apartment than ATT - so I decided to port my number.

Clint let me know all I needed was my ATT account number.

Another hiccup - I couldn't log in to my wireless account - it kept sending me to my defunct Internet account. So Clint told me he'd send me an email detailing what we'd done so far, and then once I had the info I needed, to email him. (He was willing to wait, but I didn't know how long it would take.)

Fifteen minutes later after a bunch of annoying stuff, I had my account info and emailed Clint.

He called me about five minutes later. He then started the porting process.

I was told it could take six - 24 hours - but during this time I could still use my number on my ATT phone.

--
About then is when NE came over and we went out to do some errands. We got back about two hours after I started the porting process.

I had an email telling me that the porting was finished!

I had a bit of trouble finishing the process - mainly because of user error (couldn't remember my Ting password and then forgot to do the final step to finish activating my phone.) Clint was so helpful the whole time.

Now I just have to wait to see what my final bill from ATT will be. I have a $50 credit on my account from the previous time I 'tested' Ting, so my first month at least will be free.

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I would give major kudos to Ting's customer service!

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I wasn't able to do the other thing I wanted to do today - make a doctor's appointment. The place I want to try out was closed. So I'm going to call on Monday during my lunch break.

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Had a very different Thanksgiving. NE and I were invited over to his friend's house. I'd never met his wife and stepson before. His friend had done all the cooking (I brought my corn pudding a sparkling grape juice) His stepson barely even acknowledged our presence - he had his head in his phone 99% of the time. As did the mom ... We sat in the living room eating off tv trays while eating and watching tv .. the whole time.

So very different from what I'm used to.

End of 60 Day Eating Challenge! etc

November 21st, 2014 at 01:25 am

Today marked the end of the 60 day no eating out challenge. I celebrated by getting a vegge burger from BK. Smile Yum!!

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A couple weeks ago when I was in KC getting NE after his car troubles, my check engine light came on. I figured it was the oxygen sensor or something minor like that. That's what it always was with my Honda. Today I finally got by an Advanced Auto Parts store and had them do a reading to make sure.

Ugh. It doesn't sound as though it is a minor thing at all - something about a malfunction in the computer/engine connection. The guy told me I should get to a dealer pretty soon to get it figured out.

I have a 2010 Yaris that I bought used two years ago (hard to believe it's been that long!)

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Work has been ... stressful ... boring ... hair pulling outing ... Without wanting to, I seem to have been placed in square in the middle of a political (office politics) nightmare. The long and short of it is that some of the people in the office had someone else in mind for my job, who obviously didn't get it. They now gleefully point out every single mistake I make to my boss K. I'd love to say I don't make mistakes, but I can't. Thankfully K is an uber awesome boss and has told me not to worry - that she isn't worried.

I just keep repeating to myself that I have health benefits and in a bit over two months will have retirement benefits too and a raise ...

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For Thanksgiving NE and I have been invited over to a long time friend of his house. He and his wife and stepson will all be there - I've never met the wife or stepson so that will be interesting. I'll be making corn pudding so I can be sure to have something I can eat besides sweet potatoes and bread. Smile

NE is back to working 20 hours a week at his job - although *both* of his shoulders are in terrible condition. His ribs at least seem to be healing. He is really looking forward to January when the Obamacare plan he is working on enrolling in will go into effect.. At least one of his shoulders will more than likely require surgery. (He had a bad shoulder already, but the car incident a few weeks ago made it ten times worse. Then the spinout last week tweaked the good shoulder.)

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I am SO looking forward to a short work week next week. 4 days off in a row will be heaven.

More Interesting Stuff, etc.

November 15th, 2014 at 12:50 am

So on Thursday my already interesting week got even more interesting. This time thankfully it wasn't a scary experience. It was something I would never have thought to have put on a bucket list, but am glad to have experienced it. Smile

What was this experience?

I got to attend my first ever press conference!

The bus company I work at was awarded a sizable money grant that they are going to use to buy 3 new buses and a driving simulator. The mayor, and some other major dignitaries were all there.

It was way cool. Smile There were 4 tv stations covering it, and at least one newspaper reporter (who asked some questions at the end.)

My boss K told me I'll have the chance to attend many more. Smile Whatever gets me away from the phones ... Big Grin

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Today was very stressful at work. I think I'm just way overtired. I made a mistake this afternoon - a stupid one - that I'm sure to hear about on Monday. I've really been trying to be *uber* careful, and yet still did it (gave the wrong pass to someone basically.)

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We're supposed to get more snow tomorrow. It sure is cold enough for it!

Wednesday the heat wasn't working on my side of the office and I was *freezing* - Thursday it was working - today it was sort of working.

I brought my space heater to the office on Thursday, but haven't used it yet.

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If you haven't heard of PerksTV it is an iPhone (and Android too I think) app. you earn points by watching videos. I finally earned enough to cash out for a $5 AGC today. I wonder how long it will take to arrive?

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I think it is a good thing I got a new phone. My 4S has been having some weird battery issues this week.

I got my sim card in the mail on Wed but haven't had a chance to mess with it yet. I need to call ATT and find out what my ETF is going to be.
---

So I'm close to the end of my 60 day eating out challenge. Other than two exceptions I did it with no trouble. I m looking forward to allowing myself the option again, but I think the challenge has successfully reset my resisting eating out muscle so I won't go crazy with it.

My Week ... Yikes.

November 13th, 2014 at 01:17 am

This week two things I never wanted to have experienced happened.

The first happened Monday night. NE and I were driving back from Kansas City where we had picked up his car. NE was driving ahead of me. It had started snowing pretty hard (at least blowing hard) and we were going too fast for road conditions.

I was just thinking of trying to get NEs attention to slow down ....

When NE spun out right in front of me.

My heart was totally in my throat. I was wondering if I was about to watch my boyfriend die in front of my eyes.

His car went into the ditch and came out on the other side facing oncoming traffic. Thank God there was no traffic.

He sat there for a few seconds and then drove back to the proper side of the road, parking on the shoulder in front of me.

He had a popped tire and had tweaked his "good" shoulder. But otherwise was okay (other than being scared out of his wits.)

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Tuesday afternoon we went to put a new tire on his car. It was maybe 18 degrees out. Maybe.

We'd left his car on the side of the road Monday night.

His car jack turned out to not lift the car high enough to get the new tire on. (I jacked the car and removed the flat tire and attempted to put the fixed one on.)

So we had to go back to Walmart and buy a better jack. Then I got the tire put on. This whole process took the better part of four hours.

---
Then today .. I had someone come to the window to buy a pass who was talking and talking and talking. In their talk they mention that they had "found" a bag of coke under a bridge and were excited to get home to test it and see if it was real so they could sell it. :bug eyes:

I talked to K my supervisor. She thought I should call the officer who comes by every other week to pick up the lost and found wallets. He was out til Friday.

So then I called the non-emergency number. They told me to call Crime Stoppers. Which I did. I was given an id#. The lady I talked to knew exactly who I was talking about.

So ... #1 - watching someone I care about spinning out in front of my eyes, and #2 calling Crime stoppers about a possible drug thing .... so not on my bucket list EVER.

FB Garage Sale, etc

November 2nd, 2014 at 11:03 pm

I bought an Epson all in one year old printer w/full ink cartridges (except yellow) for $35 from the local FB garage sale. There was another one for $25 that didn't have ink. I've already used it to print my Sam's Club voucher and some coupons. Smile Works great!

The $35 comes from my spending money.

I also cashed out my Pact money - $37 - which goes into my Spending Money category (just covers the printer!)

I did get on Bubblews today - but only for 1 hour. (maybe I stretched it a few minutes past that ...) I am not going to let myself be on there for more than an hour a day - whatever I accomplish in that time is what I accomplish.

I cashed out on Bing for a 500 SB reward - got the code and redeemed it already. Also cashed out 2 more $5 AGC cards for a total of 4 so far this month.

I did buy some groceries - I had to pick up printer paper - so went ahead and did my ONE shop for the week. I've got plenty of food, so I don't think it should be an issue.

I finally took my broken bookshelf out to the dumpster and also sorted through some more boxes - made a trash box and a donate box (both full already.) Have a lot more to go, but feel like I accomplished a little something.

Today I finally broke open my POI Season 3 DVDs and watched the first episode - can't get my money back on them (by selling) until I watch them, and the longer I wait, the less others will be willing to pay!

I'm about to head out to the store again - not for myself, but for NE - he needs some groceries and a charger for his phone (forgot to get from his car before.)

I downloaded two new SBs apps for iOS - have exhausted 3 of the 4 and am working on the 4th one now. I am considering signing up for the accelerator, although I need to double check terms - if CC SBs count towards the 1500 they'll match or not. (it basically means an extra 500Sbs each month)

I also downloaded PerkTv on my new iPhone and have been running that most of the day. It's another app where you can exchange for gift cards.

What I haven't done at all this weekend ... is write anything towards the 50k words. I'm actually not sure if I want to do it now - especially after talking to my mom on Thursday (before I got the stranded in Kansas City call from NE.) She was very supportive and everything, but I'm thinking maybe it's too soon. Some of the stuff I might want/need to put in wouldn't be too flattering to her. Maybe I'll figure something else out.

Budget and Goals

November 1st, 2014 at 08:18 pm

I stayed up pretty late last night updating my YNAB budget.

Even though I haven't gone out to eat in 6? weeks (I think that's right?)I still have spent WAY too much money at grocery stores. That's the thing about credit card statements - it's there in your face how often you shopped at different places.

So my goal for November is to not grocery shop more than once per week - at any type of grocery store. I would really like to try out the vegan restaurant that Ceejay mentioned before the day after Thanksgiving - maybe can get NE to go with me - That'll be my reward for keeping to only once a week grocery shopping for November (and the end of my 60 day no eating out challenge)

So here is my basic budget. The phone cost will be changing soon (thankfully!) but the Internet can't be cut - believe me, I've looked for something cheaper. It boggles my mind that I paid half that in a boondock town in NM with no competition ...

Giving:
Tithe: $125
Offering/Charity: $20

Fixed:
Rent: 430
House Gas: 50
House Electric: 50
Phone: 75 (hopefully will be 30 soon)
Internet: 65 (ugh!)
Auto gas: 70 (usually more like $35, but like to have a buffer for months where I use more)

Not Fixed:
Groceries - 200 (would like to get to 150 or less)
Medical - 50 (monthly prescription, co-pays)

Spending Money - Funded only by outside sources such as Pinecone surveys, Bubblews, Swagbucks, etc.
Used for
Restaurants
Clothing
Household Goods
Entertainment
Gifts
Wants that don't fall into the other categories

Savings:
Car Fund (maintenance, repairs, replacement, etc): 200
Car Insurance: 42 (paid every six months)
Life Insurance: 16 (paid once a year)
Vacation: 25
Technology (i.e. computer - will need new one soon): 25
ROTH: 200

Slush Fund: Whatever is left after the above categories are funded. When this gets over $2500, it will go to:

60% House Fund
40% Emergency Fund (I have 4 months worth saved right now.)

I want to keep my Slush fund at $2500, so if it goes below that, then I will just go back to funding it again until it's back there. You could call it kind of my Buffer fund between my regular budget and my actual EF.

The Slush Fund would be used in case I have a larger expense in one of my budgeted categories than I have funds for. Also to be used for any cat expenses above cat litter and cat food (those are included in groceries category.)

ETA - With the exception of Spending Money, Charitable, and Savings - any leftover money on the last day of the month will be swept into the Slush Fund.

ETA 2 - I wanted to mention that my phone purchase was totally funded by the Spending Money category - earnings from surveys, Bubblews, etc. When I sell my 4S, the proceeds will go back into the Spending Money category to kind of repay myself. Also the difference between my 75 phone bill and my new bill will also go into my spending Money category until I've "repaid" myself. Smile

Got my Sprint iPhone 5S from Glyde

November 1st, 2014 at 07:38 pm

My phone arrived in the mail on Friday. I got it out of the mailbox and then headed out to Sam's Club.

At Sam's I was planning on using my voucher to get my one-year membership plus freebies - but they said I had to have a printed voucher - not a mobile one! Ugh!
They did however give me a temporary one day shopping card.

So I purchased an Otterbox cover ($30) and an extra charger cord ($14) to use in my car. I also picked up toilet paper, quinoa, frozen fruit, cat litter and a few other things - to the tune of $100 total.

When I got home I opened up the box with my phone and realized it needed to be charged - it was 100% dead. So I waited while it charged ... 30 minutes later I realized it did not have a SIM card!

I called Ting's customer service and found out that iPhone 5 and up had to have a SIM card. News to me. So I tried to purchase one on the Ting site for $9 - but couldn't because my previous account had been closed.

Call Ting again - they reopen my account (send me a code to my email to tell them) and I am able to purchase a SIM card - $4 shipping. It's guaranteed to be here in ten business days, but most likely will be here much sooner (could've gone with the $14 shipping method and had it here Monday. Not that desperate.)

I have my new phone all set up and ready to go - once I have the SIM card I'll be able to activate it and make sure it works well in my apartment. Once I know that for sure, then I'll be calling ATT and letting them know it is the end for us. Smile (and porting my number)

I ordered a couple more charging cords for the 5S so I can charge my phone at work if needed or by my bed at night. Only $4 each.

Oh, after I started playing with my phone, I realized I'd gotten a 32GB one! I thought I was getting a 16 GB! So cool! Smile

I need to order a new charging cord to go with my 4S in order to sell it on Glyde - the one I use now is ... um... frayed to say the least.

I have a $50 credit on my Ting account from somebody using my referral link, so that will cover the SIM card and probably the first month's phone bill.

I am truly looking forward to seeing my phone bills go down to $30/month or less. (Currently pay $75/month)

It may take awhile for me to break even (not sure what my ETF is going to be) but eventually it will be a money saver.

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I'm going to do a separate post on my budget, since this one got so long.

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I did just want to say that I was shocked at Sam's Club gas prices - $3.35/gallon!! I hope I just misread it, because that is at least $.36/gallon more than any of the local gas stations here. Kind of defeats one of the supposed benefits of a club membership.