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...