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...