Tuesday, March 27, 2007

That Stork Is Getting Closer...

As of tomorrow my wife will be 36 weeks along in her pregnancy. It will also be the first day of her maternity leave. The doctor said that she would not let my wife go past 39 weeks in the pregnancy due to the size of the baby...he's in the 85th percentile for his size! So that will be about 3 weeks of leave before the baby, and 6 weeks after. If she delivers by C-Section, it will be an extra 2 weeks. So at the moment she's looking at about 9 weeks of maternity leave time.

She'll be receiving approximately 60% of her work salary during that time. After her time is up, she'll be going back to work part time for a little while. So needless to say, it's going to be financially interesting during the next several months. Thankfully we will be having my wife's aunt watch the baby while we're at work. That was a load off of our minds in many different ways. We'll be climbing the ladder a bit slower, but it'll be worth it.

I have to admit it, I'm more nervous than excited. My wife has a good amount of experience with babies and children. From being a baby sitter when she was younger, to being a "mother/baby" nurse in a hospital, she's really enjoying the pregnancy experience, and REALLY looking forward to the baby. We're pretty much prepared for the baby, from furniture to butt cream!

I've received some help from various classes we've been attending: Pets & Babies, Breastfeeding, and Newborn Childcare. The instructor of the breast feeding class mentioned that the money we'll be saving by breastfeeding, will come to the amount it may take for a vacation. Oh well, Que sera, sera...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Come Get YOUR Money!

I'm not sure if you've heard, but the IRS has about $2.2 billion in unclaimed tax-refund money for 2003. There are missing filers in every U.S. state, all U.S. possessions, and in all military services. California ranks #1 among all the non-filing residents with approximately 200,000 for the year 2003.

They've also found that New Hampshire tax filers are most likely to get the largest refund, where the median refund is $709. The biggest potential for even a larger refund are the folks in the military who could be banking about $785 each. They still have the chance if they get their forms in by the April 17th deadline of this year.

This is their last chance, any longer and they could forfeit a refund that belongs to them. My home state of New Jersey had about 56,500 non-filers with the potential of about $690 to be received. I wasn't part of that group, and by the look of my taxes this year, I'm going to actually be paying! Check out how much your states non-filers could be making for 2003, click the pic on the left.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Roth IRA Contribution...

I'm reluctant to mention that I've made a contribution to my ROTH IRA for the year of 2006. It's because it will only be $1000 as opposed to the potential max of $4000. I'm keeping our goal of purchasing a house within a year or two in mind when I make decisions like these.

With this contribution along with my 401 (k) contributions, this will be approximately 7% of our income put away for retirement. Not bad I suppose, but that's running on partial retirement steam, we could do much better.

And unfortunately my wife's new employer restricted her from letting her open a 401 (k) until she was with the company for 6 months. Now that she's finally reached that time limit, they are in the middle of transitioning to a new retirement planner, so they aren't opening new accounts yet. They expect everything to be completed in another couple of months or so.

Though I guess that isn't so bad since I'm banking that money that's not contributed, it's going towards "the goal." Oh well, better something than nothing I always say...

Friday, March 09, 2007

We Were Almost Caught In The Credit Card Trap...

With all the hoopla going on about NCN being featured on the Jean Chatzky Show on XM radio, I thought I'd share our near "trapped in credit card debt" experience. A few years back, my wife and I had about 2 years to save for a wedding, honeymoon, and a new home! At that time we were making decent money, a bit higher than average for Jersey. But that still didn't seem like enough for what we wanted.

We eventually decided to stretch it out and settle for a nice wedding and a condo. That's pretty much where the money ended, even with all of the wedding gifts. All of the condo updating like paint, new kitchen cabinets, new electrical, new furniture, etc. was paid for by credit cards. Luckily all the cards were newly applied for, and all of them offered zero percent financing for a year. After everything was said and done, we had gotten into a little over $15,000 in credit card debt! We had NEVER been that far into the hole before. For me it was something like 1 or 2 grand at the most, and my wife about the same.

I have to admit, I felt a little trapped. We had planned on saving for a house for the next five years. With that amount debt, I was afraid we wouldn't make it in time. Me being the over anxious and worrisome type, I wanted to climb out as fast as possible. With any hooks, ladders and ropes I could find! At one point I considered perhaps getting a short term loan at a National payday place thinking I can pay it off much faster and not have the debt show on my credit report, but I didn't know much about them at the time, so I stayed away.

By staying patient, focused and managing our money well, we were able to climb out of the hole in a little over 6 months. After cutting up the cards, we never looked back. Now all credit bills are paid off every month, with no charges, we maintain a excellent credit rating, and we get cash and valuable rewards by using them. Now here I am, trying to climb the financial ladder...slowly...but surely.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

March Net Worth Snapshot...

Youch! This months net worth stung! Due to automobile value re-calculations, baby preparations, and the stock market "correction," we're up only 2.08% or $2,921.96 for the month of March. You can view the full balance sheet on the left for more data. (click to enlarge)

That's a record low increase for us since we've been calculating it for over a year now. But I suppose it's to be expected since it's been about a year since our last car value calculations. Because I slacked on re-evaluating at the end of the year, we took a hit of approximately $1,100.

Let's see, our cash savings increased approximately $2,200. That increase on top of the $1,400 immediate liabilities reduction brings our emergency reserve to healthy $37,665.33. For now, you're always going to see the obligatory large amount of savings, and a slight reduction in debt due to our goal of buying a house within this year, or possibly the next. Don't get the wrong idea, all bills are paid on time, and do not incur any finance charges.

My prediction for next months net worth is pretty positive. Most of the baby preparation is done, and knock on wood, I don't foresee any big bills on the way. Overall I suppose I should be happy about how our net worth has increased in the past year. By cutting the fat, becoming more frugal about life, and conservatively saving, we're climbing the financial ladder slowly, but surely!