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Almost Out of August

August 30th, 2011 at 03:40 pm

Well here we are with one more day of August to go. I intend to have a no-spend day tomorrow.

So where are we? Well, my electric bill this month was enough to make me cry. $374. Really looking forward to fewer people in the house. I'm also really, really tired of walking into an empty room or empty garage and all of the lights are on. Groceries aren't too bad this month because everyone pitched in. They certainly weren't cheap, but I think I am on budget there.

When my car insurance was due, I put it on my Visa in order to hang on to the cash a little longer. (I never get any rewards points for my insurance. Humph.) Chase will cut off my billing cycle in a week or so and send me a big fat bill, so I will be parting with the cash soon enough.

Everything is paid for August and I have $1,201.51 in checking. That is less than I would like to have, especially considering my Visa bill will be bigger than usual. Tomorrow is payday, and it is a 12 day pay instead of 11. So that will help some.

I have finally received the rest of summer camp money from my ex-h, so my checking account has recovered from that particular shortage.

I have not one red cent in my wallet. I cleared it out at the bank today. Tomorrow I will withdraw another $60 cash. My Piddly Fund broke $400, and I "swept" the excess to my mortgage. I think $400 is enough in Piddly. Smile I intend to sweep all of my change into the mortgage from now on, the interest from Piddly too. Will that be an incentive for me to spend as little of my allowance as possible? I believe it will.

My EF is not budging as I am sweeping EF interest into CurveBall. I have been thinking about how much I want to keep in CurveBall. I am thinking once I have 2k in there, I will redirect that money towards IRAs if I have not hit 5k for the year. That happy dilemma is still in the future. At the moment, I am just hoping CurveBall doesn't go down in September. I hope I can swing everything in September without dipping into it. I may end up making my budgeted deposit only to pull some money right back out. We will see, though.

50,000 Bonus Rewards Points

August 20th, 2011 at 11:15 am

My Chase Sapphire statement closed yesterday, and I have an extra 50,000 bonus rewards points. I am not planning on cashing them in right now. Instead, I plan to use mine towards a plane ticket (extra 25% if you use your points this way) when we go on our trip to Hawaii next year.

Have I mentioned that a lot of family members have gotten on board? My Mom says she will go. My cousin to whom I am close (and with whom I went to China) and her husband want to go. Cousin's son and his wife and daughter want to go (their daughter 1 year younger than my son). Cousin's daughter and her husband and their 2 kids are considering.

I am a late life baby, so I am roughly the same age as the generation after me. My cousin's son is 1 year younger than me. Most of my nieces and nephews were born when I was in grade school.

Yesterday I received a $20 credit cards reward check which I have already transferred to my mortgage. This month I have chipped $21.85. I am already thinking I will not chip my expected $150 bonus for opening a checking account. I am thinking I will stash it in my Roth instead. I have in the back of my mind that if I hit retirement with more than my Roth goal of 150k, I will be willing to use it towards my mortgage. You know, if I have one at that point. I am still up in the air about what exactly I will do. I may sell my house, take my equity and move elsewhere. At least, I certainly hope I have some equity again at some point. Maybe I am being presumptuous. So anyway, overshooting my Roth goal will not be bad, but missing it will be bad. So if I overfund my Roth, I can always use the extra towards my mortgage later.

I spent some money last night which I shouldn't have. BF and son and I had been invited to dinner at my ex-nieces house. (She was married to my nephew at one time, they have a daughter together.) Something came up in the late afternoon with her son (she is remarried) and they had to cancel. So there we were, all dressed up and no place to go. On a whim, I suggested we go out to dinner. We went to Applebee's. Afterwards, we decided to go see Cowboys & Aliens (we really liked it). When that was over, we decided to see Rise of The Apes (loved it). So it was an expensive night. I paid for everything. BF and I have a policy that s/he who suggests an outing pays for it. We have been together almost 2 years now, so are past the point of "dating". The first few months he paid for almost everything, but then I said that it was silly that one person should always pay. For awhile, we would tussle from time to time over who was paying. At this point, we just go with the person who suggests also pays.

At Applebee's, I had pineapple glazed shrimp served on white rice with a spinach salad on the side. It was delicious and only 310 calories! Applebee's has quite a few low calorie entrees.

Bill Paying Day, Summer Camp Rant

June 17th, 2011 at 10:45 am

I paid all the rest of my bills for June. I will need some more grocery money, but that is it. I had $2,244.36 left in my checking account. I like to keep $1,500 sitting there, and I still have $400 earmarked for my planter, but that still leaves me with some extra. So, I transferred $100 off to my CurveBall savings account. This was over and above what I had budgeted! Smile

I had budgeted $373 for credit card debt. I paid $65 to Discover (my new debt for my CPA review class) which left $308 for B of A Visa. I added the $20 rewards check I received last week and paid them $328. My balance is down to $897.11. Yay!

The cost of my class was $3,065. I paid $65 last week. Since then, I have received $1,532.50 from work to pay for half the class. I transferred $32.50 to CurveBall and sent Discover $1,500. This leaves a balance of $1,500 on Discover.

Right now, the rate on Discover is 0.0% but that will not last forever. I think I may focus on Discover to get it paid down as much as possible before the rate goes up. I'm really not sure what the regular rate is, but I am reasonably certain I don't want to pay it. Smile

My ex-husband says he will have to pay his share of summer camp over the next few months. I said OK, but in truth I find this very annoying. Our son went to this camp last year and it was a great experience for him. We agreed last July we would send him again this July. Last November we talked about it again, still both agreeing that we would send son to camp this July. Then when May rolls around and it is time to register and pay, he has no money set aside for camp and I get to pay the whole thing and wait to be reimbursed. Mind you, my ex-husband makes significantly more money than I do. The entire cost is $465, making his half $232.50. He had 10 months from July to May to set it aside, that is only $23.25 per month. If I can plan ahead and have the money ready to go on my salary, I don't see why he can't do it on his. How I look forward to the day I no longer have to deal with ex-husband at all.

Opened a Betterment Account

June 5th, 2011 at 10:34 am

Have you heard about Betterment? It is a newish company, they offer taxable investment accounts with very low minimums. They have two investment funds, both made of ETFs, one is treasury bonds and the other is stocks. You choose your allocation between the funds in increments of 10%, anywhere from 100% stocks / 0% bonds to 0% stocks / 100% bonds. The minimum to open an account is $10. There are no fees other than the underlying fund expense ratio of .9%.

InBox Dollars has an offer for Betterment. InBox Dollars will pay you $1 to open an account, Betterment will pay you a bonus of $20 to open an account. Yesterday, I opened an account with $10.

I don't have any specific plans for the account at this moment, I just wanted my free $21. I think I will just keep the account open awhile and think about it.

My Cash Accounts

June 5th, 2011 at 10:28 am

Yesterday I decided to cap my EF at exactly 3 months take home pay (for now) and start building up a CurveBall fund, for items such as vehicle repairs, home repairs, etc. I want to keep the EF for dire emergencies ONLY.

Several months ago, I opened a savings account and called it "Personal Expenses" and had started depositing any leftover money from my Cash Allowance, to be dipped into for those sort of expenses as needed. Great in theory, except, I didn't use it when I did need more cash. So I renamed the account "CurveBall" and will add to it instead of to EF (Main savings).

So here are my various savings accounts:

1. EF - kept at Ally Bank, balance $9,075.00

2. Vacation Fund - kept at Ally Bank, balance $3,174.55.

3. CurveBall Fund - kept at Ally Bank, balance $102.21

4. Piddly Fund - kept at Wells Fargo, balance $377.96. This is the account into which I deposit the change in my wallet about every 2 weeks. I have been doing this for years. Usually, I use the money for something fun for my family. However, right now I am thinking I need to just hang onto it.

5. Membership Account - my credit union, balance $5.06. This account is required to be open in order to be a member at my credit union.

6. Checking Account - kept at Wells Fargo, balance currently $2,266.41. Yesterday I paid every bill I have on hand, so there are only a few left to be paid for June. So far in June, I have not received any paychecks. I like to live on last month's salary and have a cushion. My planter money is also here ($400, I sent $300 off to B of A Visa yesterday). In August, my car insurance policy will run out and I will pay another 6 month premium out of the extra in my checking account. Another reason why I like to let it build up.

7. Betterment Account - $10.00

How The Dollars Shook Out

April 20th, 2011 at 06:55 pm

I ended up adding my impound account refund to my EF, as well as $200 from my bonus. My EF is now a full 3 months of take home pay! I feel good about reaching this milestone. Smile

Also, from my bonus, I sent $600 to B of A Visa, $300 to my Roth, $300 to my son's accounts, and the balance ($700) is sitting in my checking account. My bonus was $2700 gross, which is $300 more than last year, so I was very pleased with that.

I have not yet been paid for my seasonal OT. I expect to clear $1900. I think I will send $400 to my Roth and $1500 to B of A Visa. This will mean I need only another extra $400 (on top of my regular monthly contributions) to hit my goal of 3k for 2011. Also, it will get B of A under $1100. It was $4500 and change in November, so I am pleased with my progress.

I'm wishy-washy I know, but I just don't want to miss hitting my annual Roth targets, because that will lower my odds of hitting my ultimate target, and THAT would be BAD.

Please Help Me Decide

April 13th, 2011 at 10:30 am

The life insurance money is now safely tucked into my Roth.

On Monday I will be receiving my seasonal OT check (about 80 hours) and my bonus. I expect to clear about 4k.

I am going back and forth on what to do. Please help me decide!

Plan 1
Pay off B of A Visa. Balance approximately 3.2k.
.3k to son.
Remainder to checking towards yard maintenance.

Plan 2
1k to B of A Visa
1k to Roth
.3k to EF
.3k to Egypt savings
.3k to son
.3k to Trad IRA
Remainder to hold until yard maintenance complete, then pay down B of A some more with what is left.

It would feel GREAT to pay off B of A. But without that extra boost to Roth, I may not hit my 3k goal.


Cancelling Universal Life Policy

February 17th, 2011 at 08:44 pm

The last joint account that my ex-husband and I have is a universal life insurance policy. The benefit amount is 300k on him, 130k on me, and 5k riders on each child. We are still splitting the cost and it has a small cash value (I think right around $1900). Our daughter is 20 and married, living in another state with her husband who is in the Army. Our son is 15. As we are no longer married, the chance of us dying together is quite small. I feel we no longer need this policy. I told ex-husband this several months back, but he wanted to keep it.

Additionally, I have a 50k term policy with ex-husband being the beneficiary. I would like to change that to 50% each child. They are already the primary beneficiaries of my retirement funds.

Ex-husband called me today and says he wants to cancel the universal life policy. He needs his half of the cash value and doesn't want to keep paying the premiums. He says he will up the term policy he buys through work. I said that is fine with me.

So, he will be cancelling that soon and I will be receiving my half. I have thought it over today, and I think I will put my half into my Roth.

Also, my life insurance costs will decrease by $28 per month. I plan to send $25 to my emergency fund and allow another $3 for "everything else".

My emergency fund should break the 10k mark in April. I think that is enough of an e-fund for someone with credit card debt, so after breaking 10k, I will direct those dollars to B of A Visa.

More Budget Tweaks

February 7th, 2011 at 03:32 pm

I decided to go ahead and tweak my monthly budget. Since I spent $360 out of $500 budgeted grocery dollars, I am going to cut my grocery budget to $450. I am going to save an additional $20 in my emergency fund, pay an additional $5 on my credit card debt, and bump "Everything Else" from $163 to $188. Ideally, I won't be spending much of "Everything Else" and so will have some surplus built up in checking to handle unbudgeted expenses.

"Groceries" is really for groceries and household items such as cleaning products, lightbulbs, etc. I have to feed myself, my 15 year old son 5 days a week, my 34 year old nephew, and 3 dogs. One dog is my nephew's, the other two are dogs my ex-husband let my son adopt. When my ex-husband lost his house to foreclosure last year, he couldn't find a rental which would allow him to keep the dogs. My son loves those dogs, I couldn't let them go to the pound, so I have them now.

Also, I count my son's meals at school as "groceries".

I think I can do better than $450, but I don't want to adjust my budget down further based on only 1 month's grocery expenditures. I'm still new to this tracking business, so I don't have much data for analysis.

Extra Income Allocation

February 1st, 2011 at 02:49 pm

So, after setting aside money for my car insurance, I will have just over 2k in extra income from my income tax refunds. I have tweaked my extra income allocation and plan to do the following:

30% - Emergency Fund
20% - Credit Card Debt
20% - Egypt Fund
20% - Roth
10% - Mortgage

In about 2.5 months, I will have 4 - 5k or so extra income, and will do the same with that.

Extra Money

December 11th, 2010 at 01:37 pm

I have been thinking I need to have a standard allocation for extra income. I don't mean tiny amounts such as from decoy mail, but the occasional large chunk of extra money. In the past, I have decided on a case by case basis how to best use each cash infusion, but I want to stop doing that.

Here is my extra money allocation:

40% credit card debt
20% Roth IRA
20% regular savings
10% Egypt savings
10% mortgage

Once my credit card debt is gone, I will decide on a new allocation.

There is a reason I have been thinking about this lately. I usually get a Christmas bonus. I hope that will be true this year as well, but of course I can't count on it. Also, it is almost the time of year for seasonal overtime at my place of employment. I will literally be able to work all of the overtime I can stand for several months. The way it is handled is to record the overtime, then pay it all in one sweet check at the end of the high-volume period. In addition, a bonus is traditionally paid.

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