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Archive for March, 2007

Women & Money: Month 3

March 31st, 2007 at 12:38 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 12:24 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 04:09 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 06:00 am

After reading the glowing reviews for
Text is You Need a Budget and Link is http://www.youneedabudget.com/
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 04:14 am

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


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 02:39 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 04:30 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 23rd, 2007 at 05:32 pm

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 12:11 pm

The second month of
Text is Women & Money and Link is http://www.amazon.com/Women-Money-Owning-Control-Destiny/dp/0385519311/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-7986542-9148942?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1174676641&sr=8-1
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 10:29 am

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 10:19 am

Suze Orman walks women through a 5-month process for gaining control of their financial lives in her book
Text is Women & Money and Link is http://www.amazon.com/Women-Money-Owning-Control-Destiny/dp/0385519311/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-7986542-9148942?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1174673334&sr=8-1
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 02:19 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 22nd, 2007 at 05:54 pm

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 04:02 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 03:23 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.