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Archive for January, 2014

FREE Online Jazz Appreciation Course from UT Austin

January 22nd, 2014 at 09:54 am

Here is the link: https://www.edx.org/course/utaustinx/utaustinx-ut-8-01x-jazz...

I've started the course and am enjoying it so far. They mix in real music so it's not just words and lecturing.

I really enjoy jazz music (own several CDs), watched the Kens Burns series on PBS, etc, but am excited to learn more.

If you decide to give it a try, you may be concerned when you read the part that says you will be required to take a web cam photo of yourself and send it together with a copy of your ID. Rest assured. I was NOT required to do that to complete my registration.

27 Day Food Budget

January 19th, 2014 at 11:08 am

DH is away on a 27 day trip. I'm budgeting $5 per day for food & beverage for those days for myself, plus an extra $40 for 4 days when my brother will be here. Total = $175. What will make this somewhat challenging is that I know there will be some eating out when my brother is here, plus I want to have $45-50 left over on the last day for a big "re-stock" shopping trip since my plan is to eat down much of the inventory in the pantry & freezer, to ensure that nothing goes to waste, and I'll want to replenish so DH doesn't come home to bare cupboards. My plan is to buy only perishables until that last day.

Today is Day 2. Yesterday I spent nothing. Today I spent $8 at the Farmer's Market (for those of you who like to know about food prices that was for a 3-1/4 lb bag of organic mixed root vegetables and a 3/4 lb bunch of rainbow chard).

Who Needs TV When You Have the Mr.&Mrs. scfr Show?

January 9th, 2014 at 02:33 pm

A CD we owned matured in December. (Farewell 5% APY ... you will be missed, sniffle sniffle.) One of my start-of-the-new-year-financial-to-do's was to decide what to do with those funds. The decision has been made, but there were some pretty comedic moments along the way.

In the scfr household, decisions are joint. DH used to be more of a follower since I was the one who took the lead on getting our financial house in order many many years ago, but over the years he has become more informed and involved and opinionated (at my urging I might add ... I used to worry what would happen if I were to die suddenly).

I can't remember the last time we fought. I can remember quite a few fights our first year of marriage while we were getting used to sharing a house and a life, but that was 20 years ago. But just because we don't fight doesn't mean that we don't have differences of opinion and sometimes rather spirited discussions. The difference between now & then, I think, is that we've figured out how to hear the other out and inject some humor in to our discussions so that they never turn ugly.

The most recent "spirited discussion" was over whether or not to put some of the CD proceeds in to Series EE Savings Bonds. I wanted to; DH did not. The thing is that it doesn't make much sense to get Series EE Savings Bonds unless you think you may hold them for 20 years (because the interest rates are pathetic but they are guaranteed to double in value in 20 years). DH thinks it's folly to put money away for so long when you don't even know if you'll be alive then ... for some irrational reason, he thinks he won't. We had a similar discussion last year, and I ended up presenting WHO life expectancy tables and convinced him. This year, apparently because he is older, he dug in his heels. He made some comment along the lines that "those will be for YOU since I won't even be here" at which point I rolled my eyes and threw one hand up in the air and said in a mock-dramatic voice "You act as if I'm wanting to buy a Rolls Royce. I want to buy SAVINGS BONDS for crying out loud!" That stopped him cold and then we both started giggling. Castle & Beckett have nothing on us when it comes to verbal sparring, let me tell you. OK, we may not make for very interesting viewing, but we still have our sense of humor & marriage intact.

The end result of our discussions? HALF of what I wanted to put in to Series EE Bonds is going there ("my" share ... haha)! Much is going to a PenFed 5-yr CD at 3.04%, and some will be held in our savings account in the hopes that interest rates will go up. Funds transfers have been ordered; EE Bonds have been ordered; PenFed membership has been opened; and PenFed CD will be opened as soon as transfers are completed.



2013 Year-End vs. 2012 Year-End

January 5th, 2014 at 05:42 pm

Net worth increased 7.9%.

Non-financial assets (car & home) now represent 15.4% of net worth (last year it was 17.6%) ... 15% by retirement is definitely within sight (as long as we don't lose our minds and go out and buy a luxury car). I know this number does not matter to many people. To me it matters greatly because it means that we are NOT house/car poor.

Nothing new here, but we once again lived below the crossover point.

And ... drumroll please ... Somewhere since the time I last calculated, we officially became "Balance Sheet Affluent"!!! I guess I'll need to add a new category my blog since "Journey to Balance Sheet Affluent" no longer applies. It has been a long and sometimes slightly scary trip.

P.S. - "I hope you never fear the mountains in the distance. Never settle for the path of least resistance. Livin' might mean taking chances but they're worth takin'. Lovin' might me a mistake but it's worth makin'." (From 'I Hope You Dance' by Lee Ann Womack ... a song that I listened to over and over again for inspiration & courage when DH decided that he wanted to quit his salaried job and start his own business.)

Happy New Year!

January 4th, 2014 at 11:16 am

Due to a busy work (paid & volunteer & side gig ... grateful for all 3) schedule the past couple weeks, I am just now getting a chance to reflect on the fact that it is a new year.

No matter what the calendar says, mentally today is my New Year's Day.

This is what I will do my "first week" of the new year as far as my finances - listed randomly,not in order of importance:
1. Calculate 2013 Year-End Net Worth. (DONE-Whew!)
2. Spend some time reflecting on where we are now vs. a year ago, and starting pondering what changes if any we'd like to make. (DONE)
3. Sign up for 401K catch up contributions.
4. Get funds in place for Jan 15 estimated taxes. (DONE - Paid) Make plan to have funds in place for Jan 31 property taxes. (DONE)
5. Order cc cash back rewards. (DONE)
6. Pay 2 cc bills. (DONE)
7. Activate reward banking debit card and use it 5 times to earn reward (using 5 times may take a couple weeks but I'll at least get a start this week by using a couple times). (DONE and DONE)
8. Update resume & submit to HR.
9. Activate & use tire rebate debit card. (Activation DONE; totally used)
10. Look in to opening another bonus checking account (DH gave me info & wants me to do it ... I need to study) DONE - Opened
11. Decide what to do with funds from CD that matured Dec that are sitting in savings account. (Deciding to wait to do anything will be a legit decision if that is what I decide is best). DONE - Whew!
12. List 20 items for sale (eBay or neighborhood swap). (DONE,plus several relists)