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Archive for March, 2007

Women & Money: Month 3

March 31st, 2007 at 07:38 pm


Month 3 of Suze Orman's book Women & Money focuses on retirement investing. She starts by telling us to focus only on what is in our power to do today. Don't worry about setting aside a larger amount of money than you can right now.

If you have to decide between setting aside money for your children's college education vs your retirement, you should save for retirement. If you don't retire with enough money to fund your retirement, you're going to be a financial burden on your children. It's best for them if you put yourself first in this area.

The earlier you start to save, the more time your money has to grow. You have to start saving and you need to do it now.

If your employer has a retirement plan (401(k)for corporations or 403(b) for nonprofits), you can designate how much of your paycheck goes into your retirement account. It will be automatically deducted from your paycheck and deposited into the retirement account. This money is taken out of your paycheck before taxes. It will not be taxed until you withdraw it.

Employer's generally match the amount you contribute up to a certain percentage. This is free money and should not be passed up. Make sure you contribute the maximum that your employee will match.

Tax Withholding

March 31st, 2007 at 07:24 pm


We have to decide if we want tax withheld from DH's cashout payment from his whole life insurance. My thinking right now is not to have the tax withheld because I think that we will have more than enough in our normal withholding to cover it.

We got a much larger refund this year than we expected because of the 2 college kids so I think that that money will more than offset the taxes owed on this amount.

Surrender Papers

March 30th, 2007 at 11:09 am

DH called Prudential last night to have them send him the surrender papers for his whole life insurance. Of course, they were not happy and gave him a hard time about it. He finally told them that they might as well not waste their time going through all the numbers, just to send the papers. So I should be getting a fax at the library today and hopefully we'll be able to fax them back tomorrow. Hopefully the cash value check will arrive within the next month. Soon the Discover card will be paid off!

Purchased You Need a Budget

March 26th, 2007 at 01:00 pm


After reading the glowing reviews for You Need a Budget here in the blogs and on the forum, I bit the bullet today and bought the pro version. I didn't have a lot of time to play with it before I had to leave for work, but I did get the budget part entered and started adding income and expenses.

I'm hoping this will work well for me and that I'll be able to get rid of my paper budget. It's getting cumbersome and I'd love to simplify and have it all before me on the computer screen. Right now I am keeping track on paper and then spending at least an hour each month transferring it all into Excel to generate the reports I like to use to track our spending and net worth.

Pictures of DS's Bus-Damaged Car

March 25th, 2007 at 11:14 am

Here are 2 pictures of the bus damage done to DS's car when the bus backed over him:



and....



The guy that went and picked it up on his flatbed is pretty sure that the insurance adjustor will total it.

Update on GE Refrigerator

March 24th, 2007 at 09:39 pm


Well, it appears that our GE refrigerator might be fixed after waiting 15 months for them to do the repairs ordered by the class action lawsuit! We will know tomorrow when we test out the ice dispenser. I can hear it making ice cubes, at least.

The repairman came today and spent over 2 hours getting the new doors on and all the other things installed. The water is working so far, but I'm not holding my breath. It's always been a toss of the dice as to whether the water would come out when you wanted it or not. We'll see...

DS#2's Birthday, His Car, and a School Bus

March 24th, 2007 at 11:30 am


Yesterday was DS#2's 17th birthday. He just bought a car 10 days ago and has not even made one payment on it yet.

He had taken the car to Vo-tech so that he could replace the brake pads for the inspection he had scheduled for today. At the end of the day he was following the bus he normally rides on out of the parking lot when a kid along the street threw a snowball at the bus. At that point the vehicles were stopped. The bus driver put the bus in reverse to back up and yell at this kid. She did not realize that DS was behind her and she BACKED UP ONTO HIS CAR!!!!!!

DS said at first he thought he hadn't done his brakes right and that it was his car that was moving! Then he realized what was going on. The kids on the bus were screaming at the driver to stop as they watched the car get crushed. It pushed his car back along the road before she realized what was going on and stopped and then drove forward off of his car.

The car is most likely totaled. It was a '95 Toyota Corolla. He had no coverage on his own car, but I'm assuming since this was definitely the bus driver's fault that the bus garage's insurance will pay him for it.

He bought it for $900 which is much less than book value for it. I'm hoping he gets book value since he has put a lot of work and money into it. That way he can pay it off and also get another car.

What a birthday present!

Received Confirmation Letter

March 24th, 2007 at 12:32 am

We received a letter today confirming that Zander received our payment for DH's term insurance, that it is now in effect, and that we can now begin the process of cashing in his whole life policy. Yeah! The cash value on his policy is over $4600. That will take a big chunk out of what we owe on the Discover card!

Women & Money: Month Two

March 23rd, 2007 at 07:11 pm


The second month of Women & Money focuses on credit cards and your FICO credit score.

Suze's aims in this chapter are for women to:

- have 1 credit card in your name only
- check your credit card statement every month
- avoid extra fees and high interest rates
- make it a goal to pay your credit card bill in full each month
- know the difference between good and bed debt
- have a plan to pay off old credit card balances you've been carrying
- understand how important a good FICO credit score makes in your financial life
- learn how your credit reports work
- check your credit report annually

My Chase Freedom card that I use for gas, groceries, and utilities is in my name only. I also pay the balance off every month. I check it on-line several times a month to make sure that charges are mine and nothing else has been charged. It has no fees and no interest for a year.

I have a set amount of money that I pay on the Discover card each month to get that paid off ASAP.

I learned the difference between good and bad debt in my Personal Finance class last year and I know the importance of a FICO score. Last year I ordered a credit report and got my FICO score. Wish I still remembered what it was, but at that time it meant little to me so I didn't pay much attention.

I need to work on learning more about how my credit reports work and need to remember to check them at the end of the year.

The More I Save, the More Money I Seem to Have

March 23rd, 2007 at 05:29 pm


I have noticed a trend since I first joined Saving Advice last October. At that time I was not saving any money at all and it seemed like I was barely able to pay our bills at the time. It seemed that we were losing the battle of treading water and were beginning to go under.

Since I have joined, our bills have not really changed much, but I took to heart the advice of "paying yourself first". I started setting aside $5 a week out of DH's paycheck. Over the months that has grown to $25 a week for an upcoming vacation/birthday trip, $20 a week for an emergency fund, and $50 a month for the Ameritrade Save Yourself plan.

Where did I find that money? I have no clue! I just decided that it needed done and started doing it. I seldom miss a week now that I don't set aside money in all the savings areas.

I have also found that the easiest money to save is the account that I have set up to be transferred automatically from our checking account each Friday. If money is tight one week I am liable to not put the Emergency Fund amount aside because it's not already scheduled. But the payment that is scheduled is made each time. It's just easier to sacrifice money in one of my less important budget categories than it is to change the automatic transfer.

My advice: pay yourself first. It really does work!

Women & Money: Month One

March 23rd, 2007 at 05:19 pm


Suze Orman walks women through a 5-month process for gaining control of their financial lives in her book Women & Money.

I want to make myself walk through this plan one step at a time. I quite often tend to dwell on those steps that are easy for me and skip altogether those that I struggle with or that take too much energy.

The first month's focus is checking and savings accounts. The assignment is to:

- learn how to read the statement and balance your checkbook
- stop paying for checking services
- know the difference between checking and savings accounts
- appreciate the importance of savings accounts to financial security
- earn the highest savings account interest as possible
- use an automatic investment plan to build a savings account to cover 8 months of living expenses
- open a savings account just for yourself in addition to a family account

I already have conquered all of these requirements so no need to spend time on these.

Registered for Summer Course

March 23rd, 2007 at 09:19 am


I am officially registered to take the summer semester Accounting Applications course that I was supposed to take this semester. I ended up having to drop out of it this semester because I didn't know what was going on with my health and was afraid I wouldn't be able to finish it.

Now that my health seems to be heading back to normal again, I took the plunge and registered. The class starts May 21st and will cover Quickbooks and Turbo Tax. I use Quickbooks every day at work but it will be nice to know more of the ins and outs of it than what I know now.

I must admit it has been very nice not taking a class lately. I've gotten lots of reading done but I'm ready to hop back on the education wagon!

Wills & Living Trusts

March 23rd, 2007 at 12:54 am


Okay, since I read Suze Orman's Women & Money I've been thinking more about our need to get a will and living trust done. We've been saying for YEARS that we needed to get a will drawn up but I had no idea until I read this book what a living trust even was.

Through our library district we have access to legal forms that you can download and fill out. I looked tonight and they have wills and living trusts. These documents are tailored for your individual state. So I downloaded both but haven't had a chance to look at them yet.

I will have to take a look this weeekend and see what all it entails and do a bit more research.

Luggage Purchase

March 22nd, 2007 at 11:02 am


Bon Ton was having a sale at the beginning of the week on luggage. Prices were 50% off and if you opened a credit account you got an additional 20% off.

DH and I needed luggage for our trip to Mississippi this fall so we took the opportunity to get the luggage now. I applied for the credit, charged the purchase, and then immediately wrote a check to pay the balance. What started out as $200 luggage ended up costing less than $80.

I never shop at Bon Ton and only went this time because DH noticed the ad in the paper so this card will be collecting dust.

Peter Pan Peanut Butter Refund

March 21st, 2007 at 10:23 am


I received my refund check yesterday for the 4 containers of Peter Pan that I had that were recalled. I got back $16.45. Not too bad.

Tax Refund is Here!

March 17th, 2007 at 11:41 am


I mentioned in an earlier entry that we were getting back quite a large refund from the government this year despite raising the number of dependents we claimed. I checked our checking account on-line last night and the money was there!

So...early this morning (5:30, to be exact!) I jumped out of bed and set about dispersing this money to the areas we had agreed upon. I put money aside for repairs that DH's truck needs, padded a few of my budget accounts that always seem to be in the red, paid state tax we owe because DH works in another state, paid off the balance on DH's truck, and still had $3,000 to send to my Emigrant account!

This money is going to be used to do house repairs. I really would like to have heat in the kitchen next winter, the garage roof needs replaced, we need siding on the house and still need to replace a few windows, etc. The list goes on and on.

Never Buy GE

March 15th, 2007 at 06:05 pm


Just wanted to warn everyone that if you buy a GE product be prepared to wait an eternity for service should something go wrong.

A few years ago we bought a Hotpoint (GE) refrigerator. We immediately had problems with the ice dispenser. We would wake up in the morning to find that there was water all over our kitchen floor. The water dispenser worked sporadically. The business that we bought it from came out and repaired it 3 times while it was under warranty. We still continued to have problems.

Finally, we got a notice in the mail that GE had a class action suit against them for the very same problems that we were experiencing. We filed our papers and eagerly awaited it to be made right. That was back in January of 2006. We are still waiting...

Originally we started trying to get it fixed with the original company from which we'd purchased it. 6 months went by and they were still waiting for the parts to arrive. So we contacted another repair shop that was listed in the paperwork we'd received from the class action settlement. 9 months later we're still waiting. The refrigerator doors that were shipped to us are still sitting on the porch, where they've been since November.

The repairman has contacted GE several times telling them that they sent the doors but did not send the ice/water dispenser (which is the problem part!). They have sent him 3 more doors instead!!! So now we have 5 doors and no icemaker unit.

Every time you call their 800 number to speak to them about it you are put on hold for at least 20 minutes and quite often over an hour before you finally get someone, if you don't get boiling mad and hang up first.

I have emailed them and complained about their service and have gotten an email back with the same 800 number to call!!!

I have told them that I am informing everyone I know not to buy their products because they do not back them up. Service is terrible and you might as well say, nonexistant.

Paid Day Off Because of Flooding

March 15th, 2007 at 04:58 pm

I got a "free" vacation day today! With all of the snow melting and the steady downpour of rain all night long, roads all around us were shut down early this morning. Here is a picture of what I would have had to drive through to get to work:



Schools were cancelled and volunteer firemen were called home to help with evacuations and putting up signs along roadways.

DH was called home to help. My main problem with that is that his company will not pay him for being called out to volunteer for his community. They use his training that our community pays for when they need him to respond to a medical crisis or fire at work, but yet won't pay him when his community needs him. I don't think that's right. So we'll take a big hit in the paycheck for this week.

Start Late, Finish Rich

March 14th, 2007 at 06:49 pm


I found Start Late, Finish Rich when I was changing the books at a deposit station today. I immediately slipped it into my work box so I could take it home to read.

The claim is that this book has the plan that will help you to build a secure financial future.

Making Some Money on Ebay

March 13th, 2007 at 08:28 pm


Well, the workout DVD that I listed on Ebay is going to sell for at least $14. That's pretty good. At least I'm getting something out of it so it's just not sitting in my cabinet not being used.

I have someone watching 2 of my pilates workouts so hopefully they will sell too. I really don't care what I get from those.

When is it Safe to Cancel Life Insurance?

March 13th, 2007 at 10:54 am


We received DH's term insurance policy in the mail yesterday. We have to send in 2 month's payment and the signed amendement.

Does anyone know if we're safe to cancel the whole life policy we have now or do we need to wait for something else? As long as this whole thing has taken I hate to think how long it will take until we get our money from the cash value of the whole life. Hopefully not nearly as long.

DH's Term Insurance

March 9th, 2007 at 11:12 am

We got notification that DH was approved for his term insurance. They say the final contract will be sent in the mail. After all the paperwork is done and we know the coverage is in effect we will cash in his whole life insurance. The cash value on that is almost enough to pay off the Discover card. We had agreed, way back when we started all this, that if we could get term insurance we would use the money from the whole life to pay on the CC.

It feels good to know that soon these debts are going to take a big hit and we'll see the numbers reduced by quite a bit.

I Got a Bid!

March 8th, 2007 at 07:04 pm

I checked today and I've got a bid on my listing for Leslie Sansone's workout on Ebay.

I went ahead and listed 2 other Pilates workouts and 3 yoga ones that I don't do anymore. I try to keep my exercise cubbyhole from getting overly full. Right now it's bothering me so it's time to pare down and get rid of those workouts that don't get used much.

Pinecone

March 8th, 2007 at 06:19 pm

I got my email today from Pinecone Research to fill out my registration so it sounds like I'm in. YEAH! I'm anxious to do my first survey.

Ebay Listing

March 7th, 2007 at 02:33 pm


I ordered a new set of Leslie Sansone's walking workouts a few weeks ago and opened all the actual walking workouts, but did not unwrap the toning one. I know I won't use it because I prefer barre workouts.

So I decided this morning to list the toning workout on Ebay. I see that someone else has one that the bids are over $18 already! That would be great to get.

I should list my yoga and pilates workouts that I no longer use too. Any extra income would be nice right now.

Profit Sharing

March 7th, 2007 at 11:17 am


DH came home last night with his profit sharing check for $1124.42. Of course, $337 came right off the top to pay for those taxes that our escrow didn't pay. The rest went right into savings for house repairs.

I contacted the collection agency and they assured me that this will not show up on our credit. Anyone know if that is true??? I find it hard to believe. I paid the bill so it's taken care of and now I need to contact the escrow department at the main bank to find out why, if they weren't going to pay the bill, they didn't send it to us so that we knew it was due. I just don't understand that. How can we pay it if we don't know:

#1 how much it is
#2 when it is due
#3 that they didn't pay it
and #4 that the obligation even exists???

Ack!!!!!

For 2 cents I would take the profit sharing check and our tax returns and pay off this little mortgage just to be done with them. Then I would receive my own tax bills and know that they are paid. Too bad we actually need to have heat though and the money has to go for that!

What the Heck???

March 6th, 2007 at 02:29 pm


This morning has not been a good one by any stretch of the imagination.

As soon as DH left for work this morning I walked back into the living room to find that the pellet stove was shutting down yet again. It's been doing that every couple of days lately. When it does this DH has to pull it out away from the wall, take all the pellets out of it and take it apart to clean the top auger. For some reason it is getting a build-up of something on it that prevents it from turning and feeding the pellets down so that they burn. So we started the day with no heat and the record lows for March of 1 degree with wind chills of -20.

Then I picked up the mail on the way to work and there are 2 notices from a debt collection agency that our school taxes from last fall were never paid by our escrow account! So I called our tax collector and she said that for some reason the bank did not pay anyone's taxes last fall (which they've always done before) and that she sent out notices so that we would know they hadn't been paid. I never got the notice. So now we've been turned over to the collection agency which is going to mess up our credit.

My question is...why didn't the bank let us know they were not paying them and why aren't they paying them??? This is how it's worked for 7 years now. It would have been nice to know that they changed things. The money to pay these taxes is included in our monthly payment. Would be nice if it was used for what it's intended for.

I'm very close to changing banks right now.

Profit Sharing

March 5th, 2007 at 10:58 am

DH gets a profit sharing check tomorrow. We're not sure how much it is going to be, but probably around $1,000. We've decided to stick it in the savings account and use it for home repairs so we can get things done that have really needed done for a long time.

Ameritrade Account

March 2nd, 2007 at 05:38 pm

I have been reading Suze Orman's new book Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny and took her advice and opened an Ameritrade money market account. She has partnered with Ameritrade to try to get women to take control of their finances.


The challenge is to direct deposit at least $50 a month for a year. At the end of that year Ameritrade will give you a $100 bonus! Not bad earnings.

So I checked on-line today and my account is open and active!