Monday, July 31, 2006

 

Savings Goals and Savings Challenge Update

The bulk of my savings is in my regular bank attached to my checking account. This is because in case of emergency I want super-quick access vs. having to wait to get my money out of my Emigrant account. But because of going on vacation this month, I realized I should also be setting aside a little each month as a Fun Fund for vacations, date nights etc. I decided to set aside $300 of what I have in savings as my fun fund, well then we went to a casino for bf's birthday and the fun fund is down to $97 but at least there is still some left. :) We decided a Fun Fund was necessary because if you don't go out and have fun every once in a while, things start becoming a drudge. Fun is good! I'm funding the fund with whatever is left over in the discretionary at the end of the month, which for July will be $76 to add to the $97.

My short term goal for my savings is to have one month of expenses in the quick-access account as an emergency- emergency fund, $3500 (I rounded up). Once this goal is met, I will move on to the next goal which is to have the rest of my emergency fund ($6500) in my Emigrant account making money for me. My total emergency fund goal is 10k. I need to get one of those cool goal-meters for my sidebar.

Savings Challenge: I added $65.80 to my $20 start, this was based on what my grocery receipts said I saved. Bfriend said if I wanted to be really accurate I should take the receipt from the Grocery Outlet and go online and actually compare it with Safeway to see if I really saved the $35 the receipt said I saved but for now I'm just going to go with what the receipt says. I've also decided to budget in $65/month for savings challenge so that I don't have to worry about not having money to set aside for the challenge. If I don't meet the $65 I'll put it in savings anyway just not as challenge money.

I think thats all for now.
 

End of the Month Update

Whew, its been awhile since I posted, I moved offices and took some vacation time and am just now starting to feel as if I am mentally back from vacation. It was freaking hot around here, on the 21st it was 97 which is extremely unusual for Seattle. I really feel bad for everyone who is getting hit with this heat. Heat & humidity is not a good combination!

Anyways, now that it is comfortable enough in the house to use the 'puter without feeling like I'm going to melt, I've done the end of the month book-keeping. I am still having a problem controlling my discretionary spending, but thanks to underspending in the food & gas categories, we end the month $76.52 under budget, this money will be going into my fun fund which I just established, more on that later.

As for my lack of control with the discretionary funds, I'm going to start leaving the debit card at home. Since I dont carry cash, this should help immensely. And I am going to force myself to start bringing lunch. I didn't bring lunch at all in July, I know this is bad, yet I don't feel bad about it. I feel as if I should feel bad or guilty or something. I think maybe I am having a reaction to months of being frugal by treating myself to lunches and coffees. So what I need to learn is how to treat myself in moderation. New rule for August: bring lunch at least 3 days/week.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

 

The Millionaire Next Door and a Contest Coming


Thanks to Tricia at Blogging Away Debt, I'm reading The Millionaire Next Door which arrived in the mail on Friday. Tricia read it first and she had a contest to give it away which I won. I'm only on page 66, here's what I have learned so far:

Millionaires think like us, that is they are all about living below your means and paying yourself first. These concepts are nothing new to us pf bloggers, but it is encouraging to see that I am on the correct road to becoming a millionaire.

Now for the sad news, I am a UAW (under accumulator of wealth), well I knew that already but the book told me by just how much I am under-accumulated. In order to determine what your net worth should be, the authors say to take your age, multiply it by your pre-tax annual household income and divide by ten. My net worth should be $179,420 as you can see by the sidebar, I have a ways to go to reach the $358,840 the book recommends. And where did I get that number you say, well the book states that there are two net worth expectations. There is where you should be based on your age and income (179k) and where you should be in order to be "well-positioned in the PAW category" (358k) which is twice the level of net worth expected. A PAW is a prodigious accumulator of wealth. These numbers are quite the lofty goal for me given my current financial state.

And now for the contest! One of Tricia's contest conditions was that the winner had to promise to pay the book forward when finished. So as soon as we finish the book (I'm having bf read it as well) I will be having a give-away for the book with the caveat that the winner will have to promise to keep the book going amongst us. More to come...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

 

Goodness, maybe I should move to another state

According to CNN, Washington state's gas tax of $0.34 per gallon is the highest gas tax nationwide. Which explains why our gas prices rank in the top 10, but doesn't explain why the roads around here are in such bad shape and why we have no solution to traffic congestion. Where is the money going? We also have one of the highest state sales tax rates at 6.5%. Luckily our 3rd highest cigarette tax doesn't affect me, its $2.025/pack.
 

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

 

My ebay buyer hasn't paid UPDATED!

Well crumb! I was so excited about my first auction being successful and now not so much. I guess I shouldn't count my success before I get paid. The buyer sent me an email on the 4th saying that he would send the payment on the 5th. No payment received yet so I filed an unpaid item dispute with ebay today after not receiving any response to a reminder email I sent on the 8th. I hope I'm not expecting payment too quickly, since its my first auction I don't know how long it should take.

Update: About an hour after I filed the unpaid item dispute with ebay, I received an email from the buyer letting me know he had sent the payment. I checked my paypal and it was there so I cleared the dispute and shipped the package off and all is well now.

I also want to reply to jem (in the comments), I did take into consideration snail mail for the payment. Turns out the buyer lives about 20 minutes from where I do, so I would have thought a check mailed on the 5th would have arrived the next day, but I gave him until the 8th. I did also check his feedback, he has fabulous feedback, but the 2 negative comments he received in the last 60 days were for the same problem I had. I also thought maybe he went on vacation, but he won several auctions after mine and all the feedbacks said he paid quickly, so I don't know why my auction was a problem.





Monday, July 10, 2006

 

The Paperclip Guy Got His House

Have y'all been reading about the guy who put up a red paperclip for trade on Craigs List hoping to keep on bartering until he got a house? Well he's done it!
Congratulations Kyle!!!
 
 

Challenge Update and How Mine Will Work

Someone asked a question about how the $20 challenge worked, here's a link to a discussion at SavingAdvice and this is from a post from Jeffrey in April: "Ultimately you can decide how you want to set up your challenge, but yes, the idea behind it is to use new ways to create income that you wouldn't have used had you not been doing the challenge."

Since I've been inspired by Ima Saver, I'm going to do my challenge similar to how she does hers and put my grocery savings aside as challenge money. When I shop at Grocery Outlet, typically the savings compared to a regular grocery store is $30 a shopping trip. So I will be taking that $30 out of my grocery budget and putting it in my challenge money. Unfortunately Grocery Outlet does not have a butcher department so I still have to shop at a regular grocery store every month as well. So the trick will be to bulk up on sale items at the regular store so I can go less often.

I am worried about the effect of the challenge on my grocery budget which is only $250/month. I will just have to be more creative and frugal with what I do buy so my money will really stretch and my savings will grow.

As of today my challenge money is $25 ($20 initial and $5 credit from citi)

Friday, July 07, 2006

 

Citi is paying me for nothing

I have 2 Citi cards a regular and a business card. They are both rewards cards, I use the regular one for all my monthly purchases so I can earn the cash back and then I pay it off at the end of the month. Both cards also give me a $5 credit every month because I signed up to receive my statements electronically. And since the business card has a zero balance, Citi sends me a check for the $5 every month. I think its quite funny that I'm getting paid for a card I don't use. And it also makes me wonder, if Citi can afford to pay you for not receiving paper statements, exactly how much did it cost them to send out paper statements? I wouldn't imagine that they would be willing to pay people more than it cost to generate the statements otherwise they'd be losing money.  But that is their problem and I shall continue to happily receive the $5 check every month which I can add to my $20 challenge, cool!
 

Okay I'm in, here's my $20


Julie over at Ima Saver is participating in a $20 challenge started by Jeffrey at SavingAdvice. Every time she saves money, gets an unexpected check or a survey check she takes that money and puts it in her savings account. Every time her and her husband don't go out to eat, she counts that as $20 saved. She pays herself for walking to town and that goes in as well. And she documents all of this on her blog, I find it fascinating to see how often she can come up with challenge money. Since January her challenge money total is: (drumroll please!)

$6589

I am now officially inspired and as of Monday (payday) I will be starting my own $20 challenge, I only hope I can do as well. So stay tuned for updates on my challenge and check out Ima Saver for updates on Julie's challenge.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

 

Sparing Change has a new look

Whew!! What I don't know about CSS and blog templates is a lot! I may leave this as is, I may make more changes, I'm not sure. But a huge thank you goes out to Pam Blackstone's Random Bytes blog for the template and the help tweaking. I definitely could not have done this without Pam's blog to guide me.

Oh and I promise to get the blogroll updated soon as well, I know I am missing a couple links.
 

Net Worth Up!



Just did the Net Worth calculations and I'm up $1251, doing the happy dance now!

Monday, July 03, 2006

 

I'm risque!!

My Money Blog just posted on why he doesn't reveal his salary on his blog even though he shares his Net Worth information with us. And its not because he wants to keep secrets from us, it has to do with his blog not being anonymous anymore and not wanting to create tension amongst his coworkers. Even though I'm a salary revealer, I completely understand MMB's reasoning for not sharing.

But I don't understand why salary is such a tension creator at work, it is even where I work. Salary is a huge secret and you're not supposed to discuss it, but if someone feels like discussing the gory details of the surgery they just had by all means go for it. While I was thinking about MMB's post, I started thinking about my previous post when I revealed my salary and I realized that I didn't explain why I felt it was okay to reveal my salary. Well I can give you the answer in three words: Public Disclosure Laws. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it, but I work for a public university which means along with being a state employee, we are subject to public disclosure laws. Joe Blow from mid-state nowhere can submit a public records request to the university at anytime and receive all of our salary information. He can then take that information and post it on his website. Which has happened, there's a guy out there somewhere who posts our salaries, King County employees, City of Seattle employees and I can't remember who else. He wants all the taxpayers to know exactly how much we are all being paid. So I figured since I never cared if anyone knew how much I was being paid and since anyone can have that information for the asking, why not post it.

So now you know and thank you to My Money Blog for calling me risque!!
 

Our Tiny Garden is Growing!!

I mentioned before that I was going to try gardening this summer and purchased an Organic Gardening Kit. Its a 4x4 kit that sits right on top of your grass, I figured the size was just right for someone who wasn't sure how to garden or if I would even be successful at it. I had really wanted to get the topsy turvey tomato planter like Jane Dough has, but I don't have anywhere to hang it so I went with the kit. So far all is going well with the garden with the exception of the green onions. I planted them and they came up just fine, but I had no idea when to harvest and left them in too long, they've grown super tall and have flowered. I've decided to let them keep growing and see what happens, besides they look interesting. Today I planted a new batch of onions and will make sure to pull them up before they become flowers.

The first picture is the garden from the front, the overgrown onions are those tall things. The trees in the red pots around the garden are my free trees for joining the National Arbor Day Society. In the side view picture you can see the tomatoes at the back, my 2 little pepper plants and a potato plant. The empty space between the peppers and the onions is where I planted the new onions today.



 

my first ebay auction, over already!


Manstown, otherwise known as our garage masquerading as a music studio, is getting a facelift this summer. My bf has a group of guys that come over every week and play jam band, we can have anywhere from 3 to 10 of them show up at a time. Anyway the walls, which are currently unfinished drywall, will be mudded, taped and painted and maybe we will even get a new carpet remnant for the floor. Currently the 'town, is in a state of upheaval, the guys came and got their gear and this coming weekend we will be hauling everything out sorting it into keep, donate or trash and then the next weekend we will have a bbq/do all the cosmetic work party.

So the point of this story is that my bf is soliciting donations from all the townsfolk to help pay for the redo, one of the guys gave something to auction off on ebay as his donation. I was given the job of auctioning for which I am to be given $50 of the proceeds. I have never sold on ebay before so I was quite looking forward to my task. This afternoon I composed the listing and posted it at 3:30, we then went out to run errands after which I was going to do a post letting y'all know I was conducting my first auction. Well when we got back at 5, I checked my email and yippee! Someone had chosen the buy it now option and my first auction was already over. I hardly had any time to enjoy the process, but I'm very pleased with the results. I will be using my $50 as vacation money and hopefully the rest will be enough to fund all the paint, tape, carpet, junk hauling etc.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

 

I was bad in June and how to vacation cheaply in July

In June I spent over $250 going out for coffee almost every morning at work and then buying lunch almost every day. And this after going almost the entire month of april and may without doing either. Luckily we ended up under budget and I can guarantee that this will not happen in July. I only work 14 days in July and I'm sure I can control myself for 14 days :)

UPDATE: I read my spreadsheet wrong for June and we did go over budget by $67.39

Now about vacation. Usually we take 2 vacations in the summer, we go to Vegas and we go camping for my bf's birthday which is this month. This year we will not be doing either because of the cats diabetes. Since he needs 2 insulin shots a day I don't want to go anywhere overnight. I know I could board him, but that can be expensive and I wouldn't feel good abouut doing it, I have heard horror stories about diabetic cats being boarded. But I felt we were still worthy of vacation so our solution is this: the weekend of his birthday we will camp in our backyard. Its a big backyard, very grassy and lots of birds. You can't hear any city noises so it will be almost like camping except for the glory of having a shower and kitchen available. I will miss going to Mt Rainier, but it will be there for awhile and I know we'll get back someday. And the day of the birthday we are going to go play slots at a local casino. So we will have done frugal versions of our usual vacations and I'm sure we will have just as much fun.