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Archive for April, 2007

Catching Up

April 28th, 2007 at 11:13 am


It's been a while since I've been here. Life just seems to not want to give us a break.

DS#2 had another seizure on Tuesday. This time there was no doubt it was a seizure so he has lost his driver's license for at least 6 months. They did another EEG on Wednesday and found seizure activity on both sides of the brain. He goes for blood tests on the 3rd to test his Depakote levels and then we will have a follow-up with the doctor before DS#2 leaves to work at camp for the summer.

I had hope that with all the car accidents we had there for a while that that would be the last punch that life threw us for a while and we could relax. Guess not!

Let's see...financial side of life is going okay. I had to draw out $500 from our EF so that I can pay my insurance deductible on the car, so that's back down to practically nothing. But on the bright side the last Discover Card payment will be made in a couple of weeks. Then I'll snowball that payment to my car payment.

I am very close to goal #3 of having our overall debt below $70,000 this year so that's encouraging.

DD#1 is done with her 2nd semester of college. She will begin doing data processing for the summer for a local company in a couple of weeks. DS#1 finishes his semester in a couple of weeks and is coming home and hopefully can get his job back at the grocery store.

Progress

April 13th, 2007 at 10:12 am


Now that the Discover Card balance is down to $208.85 I'm scrounging around for every penny I can to get it paid off ASAP. Today I am depositing $5.50 of pennies and dimes to add to the payment. I can't wait to have no credit card debt! Because of the Easter weekend there was no overtime money in DH's paycheck to put toward the payment this week.

I am still using my parents' car since mine is at the body shop awaiting parts. There was a delay with the insurance so no work has begun on it yet. I hope to have it back in 2 weeks. Our EF will take a $500 hit when the car is done, but I keep telling myself that's why we have an emergency fund.

My Chase Freedom card is working well for me. I've earned over $70 in cash-back rewards since I opened it in November. I just started having our utilities billed to it each month, so that should start racking up some points. I'm goint to wait until I reach $200 to redeem them so that I get the extra $250.

Pay Off Mortgage or Car First?

April 9th, 2007 at 11:00 pm


Now that the credit card payoff is within sight I need to decide which loan I'm snowballing next. Should it be mortgage #1 or the car loan?

I have gone back and forth on this decision, but I'm leaning toward the car loan right now.

The mortgage has a higher interest rate than the car loan and has a lower balance. If I were to snowball into that loan it could be paid off in 2008.

But my thinking is that the car loan is for something that depreciates quickly and if we were to have to get another car and this loan were not paid off we'd be rolling a lot of money onto another loan.

What would you guys do?

Retirement Savings on Your Own

April 9th, 2007 at 10:29 am


Once you have your 401(K) funded up to the company match you need to look at additional ways to fund your retirement.

Traditional IRAs: These retirement accounts are funded with pre-tax money. You do not pay taxes on the money until you withdraw it. There are certain requirements you must meet to open a traditional IRA that are based on income levels. The amount you can contribute each year is $4,000 if you are below age 50.

Roth IRAs: This type of retirement savings account has only been around since 1998. This type of account is funded with money that you've already paid taxes on. So upon withdrawal, the money is tax-free. This money (what you've personally invested, not the earnings) also is available any time you might need it without penalty. This should only be done in a true emergency though.

The maximum you can contribute to a Roth IRA in 2007 is $4,00 if you are below 50 years of age. The limit goes to $5,000 in 2008.

Someone Make it Stop!!

April 8th, 2007 at 12:06 pm


Accident #4 happened last night.

Recap for those that missed my life of excitment the past month:

- DS#2 was run off the road and ended up in a ditch after having his car for 3 days
- DS#2 had a school bus back over his car on his 17th birthday. The car is totalled.
- I wrecked my SUV on the way to work on Friday

And last night....DD#1 and DS#2 (who have been driving Grandma's car since we're a little short on vehicles right now) drove up to see Grandma (who broke her foot and ankle in 3 places a couple of weeks ago! Anyone else seeing a pattern here?! LOL!). Anyway...on the way home, IN TOWN, a deer ran out from a yard and right into the side of Grandma's car!!! The passenger door no longer opens and it took the mirror off the door.

Will this ever end??? Will we ever get back to a "normal" life?

I'm going to go now and tell DS#1, who is at college, to go hide under his bed for a week or so.

Money in the Mail!

April 7th, 2007 at 04:28 pm


We hit the jackpot today when we got our mail! Our long-awaited state tax refund was there AND DH's check from Prudential for the cash value on his whole life insurance! So totally we had $6252.09 in our mailbox! A nice little sum, indeed.

I got right to work and started assigning each dollar a job. It really wasn't that hard though. The $901 from the state is being held to pay for DS#2's replacement car this week. He'll reimburse us when the check for his totalled car comes in the mail. The rest of the money went to pay the Discover Card almost off. There is $208.85 left to pay on that and then that debt can be retired. Woo hoo!!!

A very good mail day.

Another Car Accident

April 6th, 2007 at 05:55 pm

...and this time it was me with my beloved Equinox.



I decided to head into work early today to get in some extra hours and maybe come home a bit earlier since everyone else has Good Friday off.

Winter had returned to our area and the plows had not been out on the roads yet this morning. I came around a bend, only going 35 mph because the roads were so bad, when I hit a patch of ice and just totally lost control. By the time I landed in a deep ditch I was facing the opposite way of the direction I had been going.

The car was almost totally on the driver side. I had to be helped out of the passenger door by one of the people that were following me. The first thing they asked was if my neck hurt because the impact was so hard.

It's amazing that the car really doesn't look bad at all. The most damage is up front, but it's not crumpled at all like you would expect. The driver's side that it landed on is not messed up at all that we could see.

I am sure I'll have some bruising. I can already feel some aches and pains.

So my car is now keeping DS's car company at the body shop. This will hit our Emergency Fund with a solid $500 punch.

Good news on his though...they did total it but the bus' insurance has decided to give him over $1900 for it. We have no idea why they went from $800 to $1900, but they did!

Don't Touch that Money!

April 4th, 2007 at 10:43 am


More from Suze Orman's Women and Money Month Three:

Do not touch your retirement money before you reach retirement age.

Two common mistakes that people make that put their retirement years in financial danger:

1. taking out a loan:
- If you are ever laid off or change jobs, you normally have to repay the amount left on the loan within a few months of leaving. If you don't have the money to pay the loan off, you owe a 10% penalty as well as income tax on the withdrawn money
- You end up paying taxes twice on the money you withdraw. The money you use to pay back the loan is after-tax money, and when you do withdraw the money at retirement, it is taxed once again.

2. cash-outs:
- There are 4 options for your 401(K) when you leave a company:
- if you have at least $5,000 you can keep the money in the plan
- move it to your new employer's plan
- move it into an IRA rollover account
- take the money in cash
Never take the money in cash. You will owe a 10% penalty and income tax on any money you withdraw before age 59 and a half. You may think you need the money now, but think ahead to how much more you will need it in the future.

Investing Your 401(K) Money

April 3rd, 2007 at 09:26 am


Notes from Suze Orman's Women & Money book:

- if you have at least 10 years until you retire, your money belongs in individual stocks or stock mutual funds. These give you the best chance to earn more than the rate of inflation. The historical average annual rate for stocks is more than 10%. Bonds average less than half of that and savings accounts even less.

- if you want a maintenance-free plan choose a lifecycle fund. Choose a fund that has a retirement year in the name that is close to when you plan to retire. The fund will automatically hold and adjust to the right types of investments based on the number of years until retirement.

- if you want a more "hands-on" involvement go for index funds. These types of funds strive to follow the performance of popular market benchmarks such as Standard & Poor's 500.

Opened an Electric Orange Account

April 2nd, 2007 at 10:14 am


While on the ING site this weekend I was looking at their list of accounts and got interested in having a chceking account that earns interest. The one we've had for almost 20 years at our local bank does not have that option. Lately our balance in the account most of the month has been quite high since I've instituted a new bill paying schedule. Why not make some money on the balance?

I came to the forums and read what others had to say about the Electric Orange account and then decided to give it a try. I decided to try using it to pay the credit card bills each month and also to keep the money there for budget categories that don't get used as often (yearly tracfone bill, clothing, etc.).

I am hesitant to put the money for things like the car payment and mortgage there since I have coupons I'm supposed to send in with those payments. I don't know how that would be done. ???

I set up 2 automatic deposits that will be made biweekly to Electric Orange. DH gets paid weekly and I get paid biweekly. So one amount will be automatically transferred on the weeks that I get paid and another amount on the weeks only DH receives a check.

I feel that this is another step forward in managing our finances.