Saturday, December 23, 2006

Rethinking Poverty...

I recently came across a wonderful site simply named "TED." It's an acronym that stands for "Technology, Entertainment, Design." Each year TED hosts some of the worlds most fascinating people. Who are these people?
Trusted voices and convention-breaking mavericks, icons and geniuses. The talks they deliver have had had such a great impact, we thought they deserved a wider audience.


A couple of months back they had two speakers who talk about rethinking poverty. Both of them have simple and great ideas on how to help lift up impoverished countries in Africa and Asia. Both speakers gave me a little inspiration and hope for the future of our world...

Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novogratz persuasively argues for a new approach to foreign aid: "The question isn't 'how do we fix this?' The question is 'How can we help Africans to do this for themselves?'"
Watch video online here

Iqbal Quadir is co-founder of GrameenPhone, an innovative wireless operator offering services to poor rural villages in Bangladesh.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Free Things Are Nice...

...like the Motorola RAZR V3. My current two year Verizon contract expires in a couple of months, and to entice their customers to sign up for another two years, they're offering a discount of $100 off any upgraded phone of your choice. At the moment they're offering the razr for $99! I've desired this phone since it was HOT on the market two years back, and being sold for something like $400!

I guess it wasn't technically free since I re-signed for a two year contract, but I've used Verizon for about six years now with a good service record, so I would've re-signed with them anyway. In the past I've always paid a discounted price, but this time it's totally free, I paid $0.00 this time! I'll be sticking with my current plan of $34.99 per month, 300 mintues for prime time usage, and free nights and weekends. I also receive a 12% discount on top of that offered through the company I work for. It's nothing special, but the service is good and the plan seems to be cheaper than many of my friends cell phone plans, and all the plans offered by verizon now. I'm receiving some of my Christmas gift early...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

My Car: Brought Back To Life...

I was driving home from work the other day, cruising along at about 25 miles an hour, when my car suddenly lost all power!! The car went dead and totally unresponsive. Luckily I was driving on a semi busy avenue, and was able to roll to the side of the road. I was a little surprised since I bought the car brand new back in 2001. Thanks to my car insurer G.E.I.C.O., there was a towtruck there within 45 minutes. Thank god I only needed a jump start to get me going.

Dropped it off at the dealer the next day, and about $100 later found that a ground wire to the frame from the starting system was corroded. The day after that I picked up a a set of jumper cables on sale for $15. Ya never know when I or maybe someone else may need them. This experience reminds me of the days with my prevous two cars which were used, car issues all the time, and AAA on speed dial....

Monday, December 04, 2006

Good-bye Virtual Bank, It Was Nice Knowing You...

Several months back I opened two virtual bank money market accounts on behalf of my wife and I. At the time I was taking advantage of the high interest rate, and $20 sign up fee. Alas, the 4.60% interest rate has been left behind in the dust, and all of my referrals aren't as popular as they used to be. I didn't like that the money I had sitting in the accounts was earning a lower rate. So for now, that'll leave us with 5 savings accounts, and one checking account...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

December Net Worth Snapshot...

What a difference a day makes, or in our case, 30 days. Thanks to 5 pay periods this month, it's partially a record net worth. Our net worth increased 5.56%, for a record dollar total of $6,937.36. Due to a mistake I made when opening our new E-loan savings account, we missed the percentage record by .01%. It seems I stated on our application that we're subject to federal tax withholding, which meant they took out a few bucks out of our savings this month. But after a quick phone call and e-mail, that should hopefully be corrected by next month.

It seems the biggest jump on our balance sheet was made in our liquid assests catagory, with a plump $5,000 increase. Retirement was up a bit, and I kept our home value, car and jewelry static until at least the next net worth calculation. The home value will pretty much stay the same ulness I get an official appraisal, I don't put much faith in my real estate guesstimations. The car values I'll have to relay on Blue Book for, and the jewlery which constitutes my personal property, will be appriased for insurance purposes within the next few months.

There's the usual slight decrease in our liability catagory, due to our goal of purchasing a home within the next few years. The credit cards are always paid off on time every month to avoid finance charges. Minimum payments are made on our auto, school and mortgage loans every month. Our emergency reserve continues to fatten, while our debt to load ratio shrinks. You can view the balance sheet by clicking the pic on the left. Thanks to another good month, slowly but surely, climbing the financial ladder...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Top 100 Blogs To Read In 2007...

While recently roaming the net for my sites address, I came accross something interesting. An article on creditcard.org dated December 8th 2006, with the headline "Bloggers Tell Financial Secrets." It goes on to spotlight Tricia from "Blogging Away Debt," and then shows a list of it's pick for the "Top 100 Blogs To Read In 2007." All of them seem to be personal finance blogs, and they are all nominated for "a national award." Surprisingly I'm one of the blogs on that list...

Snips And Snails, and Puppy Dog Tails...

My wife and I recently visited the doctors office for our 19 week sonogram appointment. It's the one where they check EVERYTHING. From fingers and toes, to cleft lips and any heart deformations. Turns out everything looks fine and we're having a BOY! We didn't really have a preference, only for a healthy and happy baby. Though I have to say whew! You see, my paternal line is pretty thin. My great grandfather was the only male of seven children, my grandfather the only male of four children, my father was an only child, and I'm my fathers only son. When searching the net for articles on the cost of raising a child nowa days, I came accross Bankrates baby cost calculator.


According to them it's going to cost about 190k to rasie a child until the age of 18! That's hard to believe. With this one being our first, we talk about having a couple more. Does that really mean about 600k? I'll have more time to pay off a mortgage than raising children. Can you say hand me downs, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Oh well, so far it's worth it. It's a wonderful time in our lives, and I can't put a price on that....

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Retriement Portfolio: 401 (k) Asset Re-allocation...

In a post long ago, I mentioned that I intended on creating a less expensive, and better performing 401 (k) portfolio. Well, I finally got off my butt and did it. Unfortunately my options were limited to Prudential Financial's 9 mutual funds, one fixed income fund, and my companies stock. Those mutual funds had an average expense ratio of 0.92% and a front load of 4.61%, not that bad I suppose, I've heard of worse options.

I wound up dropping CABDX, SPVAX, and MIGFX. My portfolio in particular averaged an expense ratio of 1.07% and front load of 5.30%. I kept AEPGX, LAVX and obtained an index fund, PDSIX. No load at all, and it has an expense ratio of 0.30%. Nowa days my portfolio is averaging an expense ratio of 0.73% and front load of 3.83%. The funds I now have, average a five year performance of a little under 11%, and ten year of a little over 12%.

I'll try my best to re-balance every quarter, and at the least every two quarters depending on how each sector of the economy, and the funds perform. Next I'll have to research my wife's 401 (k) portfolio, to find the best value for our money. That should be fun playing with 17 different funds ranging from Vanguard's 500 index fund to Dodge & Cox's Stock fund!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Forbes Richest Fictional 15?

Wow, Forbes has a rich list for everyone, even people that don't exist. So of all of the fictional characters you've seen in movies, shows, stories and even cartoons, who do you thinks tops them all at #1? Is it Richie Rich? No, but he's up there. Then it has to be Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's Island?! Nope, not even close. Ah ha! It's Mr. Monopoly! NO, but getting warmer....Forbes Fictional 15

Monday, November 20, 2006

50 Leading Women to Watch in 2007...

Today the Wall Street Journal Online reports on something very interesting, the new breed of women moving up the ranks to the top of the worlds biggest companies. They find that women held 16.4% of the Fortune 500 corporate-officer job in 2005. These jobs include positions of vice president or higher that require board approval. That was a 0.7 percentage higher since 2002. The same survey found that woman made up 6.4% of the top five earners among officers which is a rise of 1.2% in the same period.


Women of color -- African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans -- held just 1.7% of corporate-officer positions in 2005, and were 1% of the top five earners at Fortune 500 companies.

All these people have one thing in common: They're breaking stereotypes about what women can and can't do well, and opening up new opportunities for women who will follow them.


Melinda Gates tops the list of the top 50 women to watch next year.

Friday, November 17, 2006

FESTIVAL OF UNDER 30 FINANCES: # 10

Today's super fun "festival of under 30 finances" will be @ Tired But Happy. Today's submissions cover subjects ranging from issues with room mates to spam that saves you money. From credit cards teaching youth about personal finance to 5 lessons that a millionaire taught me. So be there or be square!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Moving the power cord out of the wall, and into our wallet...

Well, it's that time of the month again. Time to see how we did with saving on electric. Well, only a little, but that's better that having to shell out more this year than last year. Since the wifey is pregnant, we've been using more heat so far this year. I'm guessing that's going to be a big factor in our electric bill in the next several months. More heat, more stove usage to due to the increase of cravings, and eventually air conditioning. We're starting to take a few more steps to help energy efficiency around the house. We're going to replace our patio door within the next few weeks, and that'll help a lot. Something like 20-30% of savings on energy use a year We've been told. Luckily we have friends who have contracting businesses, so it'll cost less then using someone else. The money we save on electricity, is helping power our savings!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thanks E-Loan, That Was Fast And Easy...

On Monday I mentioned that I decided to open another savings account, this time @ E-Loan. I logged in today to find that the very next day my $5,000 initial deposit was already transferred and in the new account! I also noticed that the verification deposits had already been deposited and debited, the next day. I've already initiated the money transfer only two days after opening the account, not bad. This is probably the easiest online savings account opening I've had...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

November Net Worth Snapshot...

Not a bad month, I'll take it. This month we find that our net worth has increased by $4,862.26 or 4.05%. And by the looks of it we probably could've done better if we tried. We spent more than the average on dining out. Not much out of the ordinary on this one. I noticed that our debt to load ratio is down almost 10% for the year. According to some experts, the debt-load ratio should be around 35%, and most of it should consist of the mortgage. Looks like it'll be a couple of years before we're there. The emergency fund is growing nicely, that'll come in handy with a baby on the way (due date April 25th). This is the another month with our net worth increasing over 4%, which is pretty nice. Climbing the ladder, slowly but surely...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I Couldn't Resist...

...opening up a savings account @ E-Loan.com. I've been debating it ever since I heard their interest rate was boosted to 5.50% last month. That rate is better than many of the CD's out there. We have several online bank accounts already, so I didn't want the hassel of opening another one. Plus I've been thinking about testing the waters with T-bills. But calculating the rate and dollar difference between a possible E-loan account and our exsisting Emigrant account, I couldn't resist. That's a .45% difference between 5.05% Emigrant and 5.50% E-loan, or $180 annually. And seeing that we save every month, that figure will only rise. The only thing I'm worried about now is what the Federal Reserve will do with the interest rates in the coming months. With the past several decisions pause on the interest rate, and word of inflation on the rise, I'm not sure where they're heading. And whatever happens, will E-loan stay ahead of the pack? We'll just have to wait and see....

Wages & Benefits Racing Upwards...

The Associated Press reports that wages and benefits paid to American workers are up in the July to September period. It's the fastest pace in more than two years. Here are the juicy bits...



  • The Labor Department reported that its Employment Cost Index was up 1 percent in the third quarter, compared to a 0.9 percent rise in the April-June period. It was the biggest quarterly increase since a similar 1 percent rise in the second quarter of 2004.
  • The increase, which was above the 0.9 percent rise that economists had been expecting, was led by a big jump in the cost of employee benefits such as health insurance and pensions.
  • For the third quarter, benefit costs rose by 1.1 percent, up from a 0.8 percent gain in the second quarter. Wages and salaries were up 0.9 percent, matching the increase in the second quarter.
  • Officials at the Federal Reserve are watching closely to see whether wage pressures are beginning to accelerate, a development that would give workers' more money in their paychecks but could fuel unwanted inflation.
  • The Fed is hoping that its two-year campaign to slow the economy by raising interest rates will do the trick to send underlying inflation rates lower without slowing growth so much that the economy topples into a recession.
  • For the 12 months ending in September, overall compensation costs were up 3.3 percent, compared to a 3 percent rise for the 12 months ending in September 2005.
  • Wages and salaries are up 3.2 percent over the past year, a significant rise from the 2.3 percent gain for the 12 months ending in September 2005. Benefit costs, however, were up 3.3 percent for the year, down from a 5 percent rise for the year ending in September 2005

Monday, October 23, 2006

Suggestions for minimizing your drug costs...

For those of you who have medicare prescription drug coverage, or know someone who does, this one's for you. http://www.kiplinger.com/columns/ask/archive/2006/q1023.htm answers a question from a reader who states she's reached the "doughnut hole" (the first threshold for medicare part D which is $2,250) and would like to know how to keep costs down after that. Medicare part D covers most of your drug costs up to $2,250. That includes deductibles, your co-pay, and the insurer's share of the cost. After that, you hit the "doughnut hole" or the coverage gap. After that you'll have to pay 100% of the cost of your drug bills until your total out of pocket goes to $3,600. Then the plan will cover 95% of your bills. The "doughnut hole" thresholds will be $2,400 and $3,850 by next year. To help minimize your out of pocket money between the thresholds....
  • Ask your doctor about generics. You can save money in the doughnut hole and get better coverage within your plan beforehand. Many plans, for example, charge only a $5 co-pay for preferred generic drugs but increase the co-pay to $30 for preferred brand-name drugs, or $60 for non-preferred brand name drugs until the total drug costs reach $2,250. And most plans that provide coverage in the doughnut hole cover only only generic drugs while in the coverage gap and require you to pay the full price for everything else.
  • Try different medications. Even if your drug doesn't have a generic equivalent, another medication that treats the same condition could cut your costs. If your plan has enlisted PartDOptimizer (several of the big Part D plans are included), you can compare the costs for similar drugs. Ask your doctor if you can safely switch drugs.
  • Buy in bulk. Many plans give you a discount if you buy a three-month supply of drugs at once.
  • Find a cheaper pharmacy. Wal-Mart and Target have announced that they will sell many generic drugs for $4. Your plan also may offer special discounts for preferred mail-order pharmacies. Also, check DestinationRx.com, which compares drug prices at various pharmacies. Make sure these pharmacies are included in your Part D network. Otherwise, the purchase may not count toward reaching the end of the doughnut hole.
  • Consider Canada. Buying drugs from Canada doesn't count toward the $3,600 to reach the end of the coverage gap, but it can lower your drug costs. Two new rules have eased the restrictions on drug imports. Americans now can carry a 90-day supply of drugs from Canada without being stopped by customs agents. And government officials recently announced that they will no longer seize mail-order prescription drugs from Canada.
  • Get help. If your income is below a certain level, you can get extra help paying for your prescription drugs. For more information, see Bridging the Coverage Gap at Medicare.gov. Also see the resources at the Medicare Rights Center's Help Paying For Prescription Drugs.
The open enrollment for 2007 plans runs from November 15 to December 31.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Blog Monetization...

I've recently been doing a little research on blog monetization and have found some interesting discussions on it...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Every little bit adds up...

The electric bill recently arrived and I was pleasantly surprised to find a $43.61 savings for the Month of October. With the average temperature down by 5 degrees, we only used 261 kwh. That's 365 kwh less than last year. That brings our total savings for the year to $223.05, see image on left. At this point of the year, our average electric bill is $89.41 as opposed to $104.02 last year. Every little bit adds up...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The New Richest Self Made Woman In The World...

Is a paper recylcling tycoon from China named Zhang Yin. The 49 year old is the founder of the "Nine Dragons Paper Co." Her self made fortune of 3.4 Billion US dollars, puts her ahead of Oprah Winfrey and J.K. Rowling. The company buys scrap paper from the US for use in China.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sometimes saving is the best investment...

I just received a letter from my credit union (mortgage lender) with my new escrow schedule for the next year. It turns out our payments will be about $40 less each month! That's comes out to a savings of about $480 a year! This will be the 4th thing that we will be saving on this year. First it was my car being paid off in June, savings per month $242.47, and for this year $1454.82. Then the electric bills, about $20 bucks a month, $156.00 so far this year. My wifes cell phone bill, about $40 a month, estimated $240.00 for the rest of this year. Now with the escrow adjustment, it'll be approximately $1950.00 saved this year. That's not including all of the other little things we've been doing to save like bringing lunch from home, coupon cutting when food shopping, shopping around for a better deal, etc. It seems like saving could be one of the best investments...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

October Net Worth Snapshot...

It seems as though all of the "financial" moons have aligned to make this one of our best net worth increases to date. Our net worth has increased by a record 5.57% or $6,332.56 for a total of $119,927.21. To tell you the truth, at first thought, I don't really know how we did it. It's probably several factors that happen to fit well together at this point in time. First off, I've started to add all of the small stuff into our net worth, like any cash we may have in our wallets, money in the change jar, uncashed checks, etc. It may not be much, but every little bit counts.

Ah, now I remember, how can I forget? I busted my butt working some overtime this month, and it looks like that really helped. Hm, let's see, we finally received our "New Jersey FAIR home owner rebate" just in time to be calculated. Received a little extra chunk of change from selling on half.com and some ad space on the blog. There's also been a slight increase in the retiremtent accounts due to the market doing pretty well. It seems now that the summer is over, we've generally have been spending less money on eating out, vacationing, parties, etc. It seems the fat check I wrote for a recent wedding hasn't been cashed yet, and the maintenance fee bill for our condo is running late. Again, we didn't have to pay any auto insurance premiums this month, as well as my wife's cell phone bill. So, overall a great month. Slowly but surely, climbing the financial ladder...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Health Insurance Costs Outpacing Inflation...

The associated press is reporting that health care costs will be going up this year by 7.7%, twice the rate of inflation. That's the smallest increase since 1999. Since 2000 health insurance premiums have been raised by 87%, while wages are only up 20%. A survey done by "The Kaiser Family Foundation" finds that more that 155 million American's obtain their health insurance through they're employer. On average those employers pick up 84% of the cost for individuals, and 73% for families. employers pick up 84% of the cost for individuals, and 73% for families.

I guess it's not a surprise that since 2000, the percentage of companies providing health insurance has gone from 69% to 61%. But they also find that number has been slowing as of late with the smaller businesses. The average cost of health insurance for an individual is $4,242, while families are paying $11,480. It's estimated that 2.7 million workers are enrolled in high-deductible plans with a savings account. employers pick up 84% of the cost for individuals, and 73% for families. employers pick up 84% of the cost for individuals, and 73% for families.

Employers or employees get a tax break when they put money into those accounts. Another survey finds that 167 large corporations expect raising health care costs, about 6%, which is way above the expected inflation numbers. Another one of the many reasons to become, be, and stay healthy...

If only I had a dollar for every name in this book...

Currently reading...

This complete baby naming resource includes more names and more helpful features than any other book on the market:

  • Over 100,000 baby names and their meanings, derivations and famous namesakes
  • 5,000 Hispanic names.
  • Icons to identify names used for both genders, and to indicate whether they're used evenly, more for boys, or more for girls.
  • Updated lists ranking the 100 most popular names for boys and girls in 2004
  • Top-hundred ranked names are starred in the main text of the book.
  • A new introductory chapter by Bruce Lansky: "How to Pick A Name for Your Baby"
  • 300 helpful lists of names to consider, including famous authors, actors, athletes, artists, scientists as well as lists of names that convey an image: attractive, smart, competent, friendly, wimpy, etc.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Wedding day...

Today my wife and I will be attending a co-workers wedding and reception. It'll be one of three we will be going to in the next several months. And two of them we'll actually be participating in! Needless to say the frugal angel on my shoulder is wondering how much this is going to cost. We typically give about $200 bucks from the both of us. That's normally the approximate cost of a plate nowa days. And in my friends case, his future in laws will be paying for it, so that's 100% profit. How much do you typically give at weddings?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

You're Fired...

That's what a former co-worker heard last week. It's not often that some one is fired from our department, but it does happen. That's what happens when you frequently call out sick, and come in late. The good and bad of this for me is more overtime, one of the reasons I haven't been posting as much recently. I'm actually hitting an all time high this year in overtime. With a baby on the way, we need all the help we can get...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Wallet cooling down as the summer heats up...

...Well, at least for our electric bill. We saved $23.40 for the month of September from last year on our electric bill. That translates into using 226 kilowatts per hour less for the month. Since January it's a total savings of $179.44. That's very surprising since the average temperature for last month was 98 degrees! According to electric company that's up 18 degrees over last years temp.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A child's allowance: How much and when?

Janet Bodnar @ Kiplinger's writes about how she's big proponent on giving children an allowance and asks, how much and when? She points out that certain experts say that you should start to teach your children about managing money around the age of 3 or 4. Having three children of her own, she feels that too young.

"I believe in keeping kids young as long as possible and not pushing them into things they're not ready for. And most pre-schoolers are too young to understand the abstract idea of money. They'll choose a nickel over a dime because it's bigger, and they have no idea how far $1 will go."

She believes at ages 6 and 7, children are more mature and will most likely be learning about it in school. She also believes that buying gifts for their friends at age 7 or so is too young to be making decisions about things like that.

"they should be getting a seasonal clothing allowance by age 9. Kids should definitely take on those responsibilities, but I'd recommend waiting until middle school for the gifts and high school for the clothing allowance."

Do you have children? How much and when did you start with the allowance system?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

When is the best time to buy...well, everything?

Kelli Grant @ Smartmoney writes about the best time to buy EVERYTHING. She points out that bargain lovers know there's a smart time to buy anything and everything. Shopping for a car, and looking for a good deal? Go on the weekday mornings in September. Looking for cheaper groceries? Check them out on a Sunday evening. They talked to the experts to find the best time to buy everything from Airplane tickets to wine. The article goes on to mention 15 different things to buy at the best price and at the best time. Here are a few...

Computers and electronics
When to buy: Just after a new model is launched.
Why...

Cars
When to buy: Weekday mornings in September.
Why...

Clothing
When to buy: Thursday evenings, six to eight weeks after an item arrives in stores.
Why...

Gas
When to buy: Early morning or late evening on a weekday.
Why...

Baby Clothes
When to buy: During your pregnancy.
Why...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Survival in a one income family...

Terri Cettina @ Bankrate.com writes about "How to survive as a one-income family." What a coincidence, my wife and I were discussing that after finding out the good news. With a baby on the way, we started to discuss what we'd do after the child is born. We feel child care before starting school is very important. So what do we do once my wifes maternity time is up? We have several options available...

  • Daycare: We'd like to try and avoid this option as much as possible. Between not being comfortable with strangers taking care of our baby, and the cost of daycare, this will have to be a last resort.

  • Family members and close friends: We have several people in mind that may be able to watch our baby while @ work. We'll only need someone to watch the baby 4 days a week, from around 9 in the morning to about 3 or 4 in the evening, about 6-7 hours. So hopefully that may make it easier on whomever is willing to help us out. My job schedule is flexable, so I may be able to shrink it down to 3 days a week.

  • Change of work schedules: Like I mentioned, my schedule is flexable. If need be, I can watch the baby during the day and then my wife during the evening while I work. We feel this may be tough on the marriage, so we'd like to make this next to the last resort.

  • Wife quits job: This is another tough decision. The wife is the one with the bigger salary, so it would be financially tough to live on only one income. We haven't run the numbers yet, but I believe we may be able to do it for a while. We're currently saving for a house, and plan on purchasing one in about 3-4 years. If she quits, it will really delay things. Another reason for moving is to find a town with a good educational system. The city we currently live in...does not.

The bankrate article gives 5 tips/suggestions on how to check if your family can survive on one income...

1. Track actual expenses for one to three months.

2. Try living on the working spouse's income for three months.

3. Get insurance, update wills, consider a home equity line of credit.

4. Check into tax implications.

5. Don't put off retirement planning.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Pregnancy Announcement...

I hinted in a previous post, but would now like to make it official, we're pregnant! Which brings me to enlisting your help. The wife is only about 6 weeks along, but we were kind of excited so only made the announcement to some close family and friends. We're still debating on when making the announcement to everyone, other family and friends, co-workers, etc. Many people are superstitious and think it's bad luck to announce it before the first trimester has ended. We're stuck in the middle. It looks like that superstition is based on the fact that... "About 15 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and more than 80 percent of these losses happen before 12 weeks." I've also heard that percentage may be higher with first time pregnancies, and having a mother who has had more than one miscarriage. When telling close family and friends, we knew if anything happened, they would understand. But some people say whatever happens, will happen know matter who you tell, so why not? What do you think, and what did you do with the announcement of your first child? This question is for both women and men, with and without children. I've also created a little poll in the lower right side of he blog for you to vote. I'd also like to hear your comments on the situation.

September Net Worth Snapshot...

It was truly a fight last month between saving and spending. It was close, but saving wins the month! Saving needed some help by the extra paycheck for the month, and some overtime, but it stands victorious this round. Our net worth increased $4,063.06 to $113,594.65 or 3.71%. I was expecting a better number due to the extra payweek, no car insurance premium this month, and my wifes cell phone bill to be paid by her new job. But she won't be reimbursed for that until this week, so that's a little over $250 out of our pockets for now. The cell phone plan has been adjusted, and should only be around $80 for the month..and paid by her employer. The overall net worth has also been helped by the market improvement, with slight increases in all of our retriement funds. If you noticed the wifes fund sitting still for the past several months, it's because with her prevous job she had to be employed for a year before being able to roll it over and start contributions again. Now that she has recently started a new new job, we'll have to wait a little longer. If you notice, we have plenty of cash along with plenty of debt, i.e. auto and student loans. It's because we're saving for a house. We moved into a condo 2 years ago with the intentions of saving and buying a house in about 5-7 years. And between having a 5-1 ARM mortgage loan, not living in an area we're used to, living on the first floor of a 3 floor building condo, we're pretty motivated! Don't be fooled by the credit card debt, it's paid off on time, every month..no finance charges. We use the cards for pretty much any type of expenditure, from a pack of gum, to groceries, to car repairs. It helps pay for entertainment expenses like, movie rentals, movie theater visits, and some cash gift cards here and there. Slowly but surely, climbing the financial ladder...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Currently Reading...

Hamilton went on to oversee the creation of the First Bank of the United States, the ancestor of today's Federal Reserve. Even more important for America's future prosperity were Hamilton's plans for government-encouraged industrial capitalism. "The magnitude of Hamilton's feats as treasury secretary has overshadowed many other facets of his life: clerk, college student, youthful poet, essayist, artillery captain, wartime adjutant to Washington, battlefield hero, congressman, abolitionist, Bank of New York founder, state assemblyman, member of the Constitutional Convention and New York Ratifying Convention, orator, lawyer, polemicist, educator, patron saint of the New-York Evening Post, foreign-policy theorist, and major general in the army," writes Chernow.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Little Yellow Basket...

For the first time I'm actually going to apologize for the lack of posts. I'm doing this because I suprisingly have several people that subscibe to my feed! A lot has been going on with the two of us. Don't worry, it's positive. I can't announce it right now, but I'll give a little hint. I believe there's a song that goes..."A trisket, a trasket a little yellow basket..."

Monday, August 21, 2006

Gas under $2...and then you wake up...

Tamara @ Banktrate asks "Will American motorists ever again see gas under $2 a gallon?" She finds that some experts say "no" over the short term. They point out that it's due to the recent history, along with the current economic and geopolitical conditions. But over the long term it's a definite maybe. An expert says that if the U.S. became serious about investing in alternative fuel sources, oil producing nations would cut the price of oil in half! The present prospects for alternatives are Biodiesel, ethanol and hydrogen. But this year Saudi Arabia announced that they will be trying to get to it's "hard to reach" oil reserves. It's said that "the oil is heavier than that which is currently used, and it requires special equipment to get it out of the ground and to free it from impurities." If the they are successful, in four or five years, they might have much more oil coming online. Other options are the oil sands of Canada, an area in the northern part of Alberta. But that spot as well will have oil that is hard to reach. Many projects have been started to increase the global supply. "A major shift in the global economic climate could also cause gas prices to trend downward. " One of the main reasons for higher gas prices is an increasing demand for oil. They say that American consumers and car buyers can play a role in gettnig gas prices to decline. Interesting...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Gobs of reasons to be debt free...

Well, more like 50. Steve Bucci over @ Bankrate finds 50 good things about being debt free. Here's a sneek peek...

  • #4. Never being required to spend money you have not yet earned.
  • #7. Having a savings cushion for emergency expenses.
  • #16. Knowing how to create a realistic budget.
  • #20. Setting a good example for your kids.
  • #26. Reading a statement that reads "paid in full."
  • #29. Never having to pay late fees.
  • #32. Sleeping better at night.
  • #43. Experiencing the joy of living below your means.
  • #45. Being able to prevent financial problems before they happen.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

My money is safe at Chili's...

In a weak attempt to help prevent credit use by an unauthorized user, I have "check ID" written on the back on my credit card. I started doing it on this particular card about 3 months back. Well, today after enjoying a delicious dinner @ Chili's bar & grill, I saddled up to pay the bill and was surprised when asked for my ID! That's probably the first time out of approximately 100 times used. So roughly 1% of the time I may be safe from unauthorized credit card use. For more tips on preventing credit card theft/fraud, check out the "Federal Trade Commission."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Saving energy, saving money...

It's been a couple of months since I've posted about our electric bill savings, and since I recently received the bill, nows my chance! (check chart on left) It looks like becoming more aware of energy consumption, we've saved over $156 compared to the previous year. With the exception of a few months, not bad...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

August Net Worth Snapshot...

I have to admit, I was a bit reluctant to calculate a net worth this month. It seemed like a tough month between the extra summer spending, medical bills, and auto insurance premiums. But to my relief the gain wasn't so bad this month. This month we made a gain of $3,375.80 or 3.18%. Not having an extra auto loan payment, and my wife's new job probably helped a bit. I don't want to jinx myself, but I'm looking foward to the rest of this month. 5 pay periods, one less auto loan payment, wifes new job, which means more money, no more car insurance premiums, hopefully not many medical bills, and my wife's cell phone bill will be paid by her new employer. Still climbing the financial ladder...

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Minimum Wage To Be Raised By 2009...

Today Reuters reports that the House of Represenetives voted 230-180, to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 by mid 2009. It will be raised 70 cents in three steps by that time. The current minimum of $5.15 has been in place for almost a decade. I'm not certain what the effect will be on the economy, some experts have their theories...and some, other theories.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pay Raises Vs. Inflation...

A few months back I mentioned that I received a pay raise of only 3%. I pretty much wined about it actually. I see that I may not be the only one that's received a raise that's not beating inflation. The associated press mentions that pay raises are struggling to outpace inflation this year. A recent survey shows that U.S. employers are planning to increase base salaries by 3.7%, which is a bit higher than last years 3.6%. As of right now the projections for inflation are 4.7% this year. That's more than 1 percentage point over last years 3.4%. And it looks like companies will be relying less on pay raises, and more on year end bonuses which help keep good employees without raising fixed costs. Of course industries that are planning the bigger pay raises will be the energy companies, which will be giving raises averaging 4.8%. Running right behind them are the legal and accounting sectors who plan on 4.5% increases.

Monday, July 24, 2006

New Jersey FAIR Homeowner Rebate Surprise...

New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the United States. In order to relieve some the this tax burden, they have several programs in place. Among them is the annual "FAIR homeowner rebate." We didn't qualify for the rebate last year, because we purchased our condo in late part of 2004. I was pleasantly surprised by the application in the mail the other day. The deadline is August 15th, so I made sure to fill out the rebate application online later that night. Turns out we won't be getting the money until the fall of this year. With our age and income, we are eligible for a $250.00 rebate this year. Not a bad surprise...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Federal Reserve Nearing The End Of It's Economy Nature Trail Hike...

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke hinted that they may be nearing the end of the long interest rate hike. The federal fund rate was rasied .25% last month to 5.25%, making it the 17th consecutive hike since the end of June 2004. Mr. Bernanke says "The economy was likely to slow and this should ease inflation pressures." They also mention that a weaker housing market supported the case for the fed to back off it's rate tightening.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Covering All Of The Top % Rate Bases...

Earlier on in the month I was getting tired of seeing the fed rate raise, and seeing most of the online savings banks not keep up. And occasionally I like to chase some of the online bank account rates. I currently have an account @ ING, Emigrant and Virtual bank. At the time, ING was about 4.35%, Virtual 4.60% and Emigrant 4.80%. The HSBC online savings account was among the leaders is high rates 5.05%. Plus, they are running a sign up promo, a $25 Best Buy gift card. I figured why not? There's no minimum, it's a great rate, and I'll be getting a gift card for signing up. Well, the process is taking a bit longer than expected. It's a couple of weeks later and I'm now waiting for the password to arrive in the mail. And soon after applying for the account, Emigrant raised their rate to 5% even. And they now plan on raising it to 5.15% coming late July. Oh well, the price for chasing...

Monday, July 17, 2006

140 Personal Finance Calculators?!

I Recently came accross AOL's personal finance section and noticed that they have 140 financial calculators! I never knew there could be so many. Here are the catagories, and the number of calculators they contain...
  • Autos: 11
  • Bonds: 13
  • Budgeting: 7
  • Credit Cards: 8
  • College Planning: 7
  • Credit & Debt: 6
  • Mutual Funds: 11
  • Mortgages and Home Finance: 17
  • Life Insurance: 7
  • Paycheck Planning: 6
  • Retirement: 15
  • Roth IRAs: 8
  • Savings: 10
  • Stocks: 9
The calculators range from "Should I lease or purchase a vehicle?" to "Should I use a home equity loan instead of an auto loan?" Or maybe..."Should I consolidate my debts?" to "What will my tax savings be?" The page I hyperlinked has about 135 calculators. Another five can be found here. Pretty interesting...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

It's not the summer heat I feel...it's my wallet on fire!

I'm only slightly bothered by the summer heat compared to the heat I feel from the wallet, when summer comes around. I knew that weather is more conducive to spending, but sheesh. Summer fairs, barbeques', dining out more often, summer blockbuster movies, beaches, vacations, oh my!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Lazy Boss = Happy Wallet!

Like i've mentioned before, my wife really likes her new job. The new job requires the use of a company cell phone. While recenlty inquiring about waiting for the new cell phone, her boss mentioned that due to new cell phone logistics, he was too lazy to get the cell phone, so offered to pay her personal cell phone bill. Not the difference or something like that, but the entire bill. Nice! With her cell phone averaging about $40 bucks a month, that should be about $480 in savings a year! Not a bad deal...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Student Loan Hike...

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. We just received notification from my wife's student loan company that the interest rate will be rising. From 5.3% to 7.14%. Anyone know any good student loan companies with lower rates?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wife's Job Change..What a Difference

I mentioned a few posts back that the wifey seeked and obtained a new job a few weeks back, and boy, what a difference. The business she works for is family owned, so I believe there's a slight difference in how a family run business operates. They're a nice bunch of folks, and on top of that, great pay. Her birthday happen to fall on the weekend of her first week there. That Friday she received a birthday gift from her boss! A card, and a $25 American Express gift card! The job is much less stressful on her, which equals a happier wife...and a happier husband. The only downside is the distance of the office, and the more traveling it requires. Not a bad trade off....

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

State Gasoline and Cigarette Taxes...

Ever wonder how much your state taxes cigarettes and gasoline? CNN finds that Rhode Island and Washington state are among the highest taxed states nationwide. Here are the top 5 for both catagories...
Top 5 highest gasoline taxed states(Per gallon)
  • Washington: 34 cents
  • Pennsylvania: 31.2 cents
  • Wisconsin: 30.9 cents
  • Rhode Island: 30 cents
  • North Carolina: 29.9 cents
Top 5 highest cigarette taxed states(Per pack)
  • Rhode Island: $2.46
  • New Jersey: $2.40
  • Washington: $2.025
  • Maine: $2.00
  • Alaska: $1.80
A full list of states can be found in PDF format here.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

July Net Worth Snapshot...

Well, well, well..where has the time gone? Net worth snapshot #6 is here already. A net worth of $106,155.79 which is a 2.35% increase from the previous month. Turns out it's the smallest increase since I've been keeping track of it. I'm not sure exactly why without further analyzation, but I do have a few thoughts on it. We've been shoping for food a lot less at the supermarket, which has increased our eating out opportunities. For a few months in the beginning, we were brown baggin' it. Bringing everything from home..not lately. We've also been splurging on a few wants here and there..must be the warm weather, we're out more often..makes us want to spend! In between her old job and new job this month, she took a few days off..lost a few bucks there. The stock market still isn't doing as well as it had been since the beginning of the year..so we're at a loss in our retirement funds. Well, we've discussed it and have decided to make another dedicated effort to cut down on unnecessary spending. I have to admit, it's the summer time..it'll be tough. Overall though, not bad, we're making progress every month..slowly but surely. Saving money, paying bills, paying down loans, etc. Could be worse....

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Jury Duty...Stick A Fork In It, It's done...

Today was my last day of jury duty. The case started last Wednesday, and finally finished today. It was an interesting case, and a difficult decision in my mind for me to make. But overall i'm satisfied with it. It was a civil case that involved a man who'd fallen over a young child in a dentist's office waiting area. Besides television, I've never been to court before, so I was surprised to see how it works in the real world. Anyway, it turns out Friday was a day off, so I won't be getting paid by the court for that day. So I estimate that I'll be getting paid about $210 for time served. I'm also paid by my employer for my time served as a juror. Overall a good and interesting experience, though if I had a choice, I would've chosen not to do it. I'm not that crazy about having that must responsibility over people's lives i'm not familiar with. Though now I think I'm in a special pool of jurors with court case experience, and will be more likely to be chosen again if I get picked.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Telephone Tax Refund...

George Saenz over @ Bankrate.com explains the results of a lawsuit that was brought against the IRS by several large corporations over the invalidation of a 3 percent excise tax on all long distance services. The tax was originally enacted in 1898 to fund the Spanish-American war. Turns out the IRS lost the suite, and now the Treasury will be refunding about 13 billion dollars to the tax payers, starting from February of 2003. This won't start until 2007. The IRS will add a line onto the 2006 tax forms for businesses and individuals to allow a request for the refund. They expect Individuals will get a set amount without having to document any of the charges made. According to an IRS notice, they are still working on the set amount. The tax on local phone service won't be affected by this decision, but it looks like some folks from the senate finance committee are calling for it's repeal. The IRS has advised the phone companies to stop collecting the long distance tax after July 31st, 2006. I can't imagine what the amount of the refund would be on a tax of any long distance service from Feb. 2003 until August 2006 would be, but it's your money..so don't forget it...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Great Magazine Deals...

I just received my first issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance today. Courtesy of "Magazine Price Search" I obtained the subscription @ (3 years ) 36 Issues for $4.91! The subscription is normally $44.91. It usually takes 8-12 weeks before you receive your first issue, but at that price, it seems worth it. Some other great deals to point out...

  • Smart Money: 12 issues ($10.00)
  • Forbes: 26 issues ($15.49)
  • Money: 24 issues ($29.95)
  • Readers Digest: 24 issues ($13.99)

Thanks to Jon @ Mymoneyblog.com for the find of this site a couple of months back.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I've Been Chosen To Perform The Highest Paid Duty Around...

...Jury duty. I was getting a whopping $5 a day to wait until they've chosen the jury . Now that I have been chosen, I'll be getting a hugh raise to $40 a day! They expect the trial to last about 6 days, which will come to a total of $250 for all of my service. I will get full pay from my company, and the courthouse is relativly close to my house so I'll be saving a bit on gas. This is my first time service on a jury, so it should be interesting...