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Wish Me Luck

February 10th, 2009 at 06:57 pm

okay ... Lots going on:

- House: We are getting extremely close to making an offer on a house. We have 2 in our cross hairs. The one we are most interested in is a bank-owned foreclosure. Might happen this weekend. DH is due to leave on a long business trip, so all the paperwork and details and negotiating will be left to me. Nothing new there. Smile

- New Little Side Business: As of this evening it's officially up but not yet running. Had to spend a little moolah today to get the ball rolling. DH is freaking out ... I must work hard to make sure I can at the very least recoup what I spent. (Don't worry. It's not enough to hurt us even if I fall flat on my face, but you wouldn't know that from the way DH is acting.)

- Stock Trade: We made our first trade. Bought an individual stock that we sold for an itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny profit a few days later. Trust me, it was just beginner's luck! Interesting experience. DH got all worked up over the whole business. Been watching a couple stocks since then, but I'm thinking more seriously about becoming a buy & hold stock investor. We're really not "day trader" types and besides I think it would give DH high blood pressure.

- Volunteer Work: It's almost a full-time job right now. I have realized that my unpaid, volunteer work (due to level of responsibility and job title) would look better on my resume than my paid job. Right now is an important turning point for the organization I volunteer with, so everyone is working overtime and the number one gal is doing nothing but eat and sleep and work.

It would be nice if I could have just one or two of these developments going on right now, and save the others for later, but this is life and I am coping as best I can.

Out With The Old, In With The New

January 2nd, 2009 at 08:32 pm

1. Year End Net Worth Calculation: We ended up a leeeetle bit for the year. And when I say "leeeetle" I really mean it! 2%. Considering that ROR on mutual fund investments was -25.2% for the year, we can live with that. It means we retained enough of our earnings to ever-so-slightly more than offset our losses. Just like so many of you guys, living below our means was what saved us from being down for the year.

2. DH's Business (2008 results & 2009 outlook): DH's business for the year was down slightly (compared to his annual average). He had started the year off with a bang and we expected it to be an up year, but it didn't end up that way. In 2009, we expect business to be down more. There are a couple big factors working against us (one of them of course is the overall state of the economy), and a couple working in our favor. We will be satisfied with a year that is "just moderately bad to okay." And we know we will be fine even if it is really bad.

3. New Year's Resolutions: I don't make formal resolutions. My goals are created as the need arises, or as I am inspired by something, or learn something new that makes me realize there is something I should be working on. The ones I am working on right now are continuations of things I was already working on Dec. 31st.

While it's not a resolution, I did buy a special book for the new year ... "The Intellectual Devotional" ... I will be reading my way through that this year. Since it is formatted to be read starting on a Monday, I started it on Dec. 29th.

Again, while not a resolution, the one thing I was becoming dissatisfied with towards the end of 2008 was not using my time effectively. So, since the "devotional" (it is not a religious book BTW) is meant to be read one page each day, and since I am reading it in the evening, I stuck a post-it note to myself on the inside cover asking myself: "Am I satisfied with what I have to show for how I spent my time today?" So far, that has been a help. I hope it will continue to be.

4. In-Laws & Plans for the New Year: My FIL finally did it ... after much dragging-out, he got things wrapped up with his business and is now officially retired! I have mentioned before that DH & I want to give them something special such as a trip to commemorate their retirements (my MIL worked part-time at my FIL's business, so both of them retired). The gift is now in the planning stage! When we called to wish them happy holiday, we asked him where he would like to travel. He said he wants to come to the USA. And then he started listing the places he wants to visit. You'd think it would be something like "San Francisco, LA, and San Diego" or "Philadelphia, NYC, and Washington DC" right? But no! He said, "I want to go to Denver ... and Atlanta ... and Boston" ... LOL! That's so cute. (Places can seem so close to each other when you are looking on a map.) They want to come for 3-4 weeks, so I think we could actually make that itinerary work. We know this will be his last trip here, if indeed he is even able to make it this time. He has had some serious medical issues over the past few years, including a couple times he was rushed to the hospital for life-saving procedures ... Not the sort of thing that could be dealt with easily on a 13-hour plane ride. First he has to talk things over with his doctor, figure out what the risks are, and then decide if he wants to take them. DH & I have talked about it, and if the trip is a no-go, we are going to give them a cash gift and tell them to use it on anything that would make them happy. I mentioned that it might seem impersonal to give cash, but DH reminded me that in his culture it is perfectly acceptable, so that is what we will do.

5. Party: We got our first formal party invite since moving here to Austin. It's a "wrap up the holiday season" party. Isn't that a nice idea for a party, having it the weekend after New Year's? We did not have to worry about being out with the drunk drivers, we were able to stay home and calm our dog when the fireworks went off, and (most important for us old folks) no need to worry about staying up until midnight. Should be fun, and should be especially nice for DH, since part of the problem he has been having with Austin is feeling "out of the loop" socially.

All-Ahead Standard

December 1st, 2008 at 05:16 pm

Calculated our end-Nov net worth today. *sigh* Down over 1% from end-Oct. If we remove our tax-deferred mutual funds (mix of stocks & bonds) from the equation, we are UP about 1% from the month prior. So we are doing what we need to do, spending less than we earn and saving a decent amount. But for the time being, the stock market is causing our bottom line to shrink.

Don't like seeing the "Journey to Balance Sheet Affluent" number falling off so much. Oh well ... In the area we can control (living below our means), we are doing well.

All-ahead standard.

2 Positives & 1 Negative = Net Gain

October 30th, 2008 at 04:20 pm

Positive Number 1 - Electric: Got our most recent electric bill in the mail today. It's back under $100 per month ... yea! (We're 100% electric) And I had hoped to not go over $150 during the hot, high A/C months, and in fact our highest bill was $129.

Positive Number 2 - Food & Bev Budget: Don't expect to have any more food & bev expenditures for October (1 day left in the month and we still have plenty of everything), so I'm prepared to declare the first month of our new food & bev budget a success, with $22 left unspent. DH is completely on-board; even tho he enjoys grocery shopping, we agreed that for the time being I need to be the one to do all of the grocery shopping ... DH has not yet learned to resist the urge to throw some sushi or deli Chinese in to the cart. We have a househunting trip coming up in a bit over a month ... I thought we might have to add a bit to the budget to cover all of our eating out at that time, but now I'm thinking that if we can leave some unspent in November as well, we'll hopefully be able to cover the meals on the trip within our regular budget.

1 Negative - Twisted Metal Mess: Yesterday when I got home from work, DH told me he thought something was wrong with the garbage disposal. I stuck my hand in and found a mess of twisted metal that used to be the removable part of our garlic press! It is beyond repair, and we use quite a bit of fresh garlic, so we will be shelling out a bit of $ to buy a replacement. Not the end of the world, but definitely an unnecessary expense of $15-20. The one we had was about 20 years old ... No doubt there have been some improvements since we bought that one!
I'm thinking about the Zyliss ... Have read good things about it, and it looks nice. Any feedback from my fellow bloggers?

(At least the disposal seems to be running fine.)

Still Around

October 2nd, 2008 at 08:50 am

No, the fact that 2 of my banks (WaMu & Wachovia) went buh-bye within a period of 5 days did not cause me to take a long walk off of a short pier. I'm still around. It's just that DH's business and my volunteer activities have really kept me hopping, and I did not want to crank out a hurried blog entry that would end up sounding completely incoherent.

First, on the bank thing. I know you're all sick of hearing about it, but as far as I know I'm the only one around here who has accounts at both of the "W" banks, so you might be curious to know how I feel about the whole business. It's fine. Really. Since WaMu was a bona fide failure, it was more disconcerting. But we had already done what we could (short of panicking and pulling all of our money out) to feel prepared for a failure. And with Wachovia ... well, the irrational side of my brain thought that it would have been nice if I could have had a couple weeks between bank blow-outs to get myself prepared emotionally for it! Smile But then again, maybe it was nice to just get it all over with at once. I'm still keeping my eye on what will happen with my yields. With WaMu, I have an MMA. Don't have very high hopes there. With Wachovia, most of my money is in CDs, so I am hoping that my rates will be in effect until the CDs mature.
I went in to my WaMu branch yesterday (had volunteer-related business that had to be taken care of), and the mood there was quite upbeat ... A big change from Friday.

On a really positive note, I did manage to earn some respect points with my DH for the nagging I did to get him to switch his business account from one that was not FDIC insured to one that is. (Side note: As small business owners, we are fully in support of raising the FDIC insurance limit, and think it is long overdue. This is something they have been talking about for years. For many small businesses, ours included, it is darn near impossible to operate efficiently and keep your balances under $100K at all times.)

Thrift-o-rama asked how we were coping with all of the turmoil in the financial markets, and someone else asked what we are going to change. This is what I've done and what I am going to do (and whether I'm right or wrong, I really don't know, but I'm doing what feels right for us.)

- Over the weekend, spurred by the WaMu failure, I printed out two well-known poems that I like and they are sitting on my table so I can glance at them any time I need to. They help me stay focused. One is "If" by Rudyard Kipling, and the other is "Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann. BTW, I know many people like the line in "If" about keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs, and I like that too, but actually my favorite part is "If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run, yours is the Earth and everything that's in it."

- On Monday I turned on the news as I was getting ready to make lunch. Saw the Dow plummeting. On top of 2 banks going under, it did feel overwhelming, and I'll admit I felt anxiety coursing through my body. I found myself thinking "OMG I hope the Dow doesn't drop below 10,000 ... no, it's not a logical response and 10,000 really is no different from 9,999 ... it's purely a psychological threshold ... but it goes to show that no matter how rational we try to be, sometimes irrational thoughts take over. I realized I still had work that needed to be done and I needed to focus. So ... and I admit this may sound silly ... I decided that instead of just throwing together a sandwich, I was going to make myself a nourishing lunch of brain food. I fixed a salmon patty and steamed spinach. That's right ... the Dow plummets and scfr steams spinach! Big Grin

- Monday evening, after I had finished the work I needed to get done for DH, I popped a Netflix DVD in the player and watched one episode of the old BBC series "As Time Goes By." I love that series ... It never fails to make me laugh out loud. By that point, I REALLY needed a laugh, and it felt good.

- As far as our investments go, we're not changing a thing. Our portfolio was designed so that we could emotionally handle a serious market downturn. I did write a date on my calendar (in 2015) when I will revisit our asset allocation, and come up with a plan to GRADUALLY, year-by-year start moving out of stocks. At a certain age, I'd like to be 100% out of the stock market. (My thinking at this time is that age 65 would be good ... I do realize this is not necessarily a wise plan for everyone.) I feel for the senior citizens whose portfolios are taking a serious beating. I wonder how many of them still have the same asset allocation that they had when they were 40 or 45 or 50 ... and if it made sense for them back then and they just never changed it?

- As far as cutting back, we decided not to renew our just-expired subscription to the Austin Sunday paper (I get the WSJ Mon-Sat). Because we are moving away, we may have decided to let it go anyway, but the country's financial situation made the decion to save $2.44 a week that much easier. I clip a couple coupons in an average week, but do not save enough from them to justify the cost of the paper. Also, DH & I have been discussing our grocery budget and how we might trim it a bit. I am going to be presenting my plan to him when he returns from his business trip next week.

- I have some scrap gold (broken necklace, etc.) somewhere. I'm going to go ahead and sell it ... If I can find it. Smile

- I'm going to vote. Nothing new here, but I do believe it's one of the most proactive things all of us can do to impact the course our country takes.

- We're moving whole-heartedly ahead with our plans to buy a house.

- And now for the more unconventional, and perhaps controversial, idea: When we open our next bank account (if we decide to bail on Chase or Citi for example), it will likely be with a bank that is owned by a non-USA company. For example, since we are moving to Cali, having an account with Union Bank of California makes sense. They are a member of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. If diversifying your stock portfolio internationally makes sense, then why not diversify your bank accounts as well? Y'all can call me crazy if you like, but as I said, we're doing what feels right to us.

Getting Things Done

July 18th, 2008 at 08:01 am

1. Short Sale House: DH & I went to look at it yesterday. It is a real beauty, and it is being offered at a really good price. I had looked at it once, and was afraid DH would fall totally in love with it and want it. I say "afraid" because while it is a lovely home, it looks like the type of home where we would spend quite a bit of time on upkeep of the house and the yard. Fortunately, DH agreed that the house would require quite a bit of time on an on-going basis. (Actually, he made that comment about the yard only, but I can tell the house would be the same, and guess whose shoulders that work would fall on?) The house is pre-foreclosure and has been unoccupied for 6 months. It has not been trashed, but it has been a bit neglected. When we got home, DH walked in to our apartment, looked around, and said: "I like this apartment. It's so CLEAN!" I replied, "Yes, it is" but inside I was laughing and thinking "That's because the magic cleaning fairies show up on a regular basis" Big Grin I was also thinking "Give me 3 days alone with that house and it will sparkle" but I didn't say that because frankly I'm still hoping for a smaller, more modest house and I did not want to put any ideas in DH's head.

2. 2nd Car: Apparently I was not the only one researching cars the last month. In addition to the SmartCar that I want to test drive, DH wants to check out the new Volkswagen Jetta Diesel. Looks like a reasonable choice to me. Now I just need to find out if it's currently available in our area.

3. Short-Term CDs: BofA is offering a 7-month CD @4.11% (available on-line only). Not too shabby. We decided to go with that for some of DH's post-busy-season money. Higher rates are available elsewhere, but either the terms are longer or the bank is shakier.

4. VMSXX: We discussed, and DH is considering it. He's a bit anxious about putting non-tax-deferred dollars in a non-FDIC insured spot. Why that is any worse than putting tax-deferred money in a non-FDIC insured spot is beyond me. He keeps asking me: "How safe is Vanguard, really?" I'm all for VMSXX, but DH needs a bit more time to process the idea ... He has a couple friends who are both financially savvy and conservative. No doubt he will be consulting with them. Hopefully we won't end up with a mattress investment.

Taking a Deep Breath ...

May 22nd, 2008 at 03:51 pm

DH thinks that we will need to be 2.12 times "expected net worth" (please see the formula on the left regarding "Balance Sheet Affluent" if you have no idea what I am talking about) by the time he is 50 in order for his dream of trying out for the Champions (formerly known as senior) golf tour to a be realistic possiblity.

We talked about this last weekend, but I stuck my head in the sand for a few days and did not blog about it. The thought of what it will take to reach this goal is a bit overwhelming.

Oh boy. I thought 2.0 times was setting the bar high, and last time I blogged about this I talked about maybe dropping the goal down a bit, perhaps to something like 1.8.

It's a hard number to nail down because there's no way of knowing what the actual out-of-pocket expenses will be if DH does make the tour. I still think that 2.0 is generous, but I guess that it's better to overshoot, and I'm sure DH has a better sense than I do of what is required.

So, 2.12 it is. Sigh. I can console myself a bit by thinking about what we will do with the money if we reach our savings goal, he tries out for the tour, and does not make it. (I'm sure that sounds downright evil, doesn't it?)

The new annual and quarterly goals are posted on the left. The annual goal is to move from 1.40 to 1.53 by 4/30/09. I'm hoping for a big increase the first quarter (due to DH's business), initially overshooting the goal, followed by holding steady in the second quarter, tapering off in the third quarter, and then taking a rather substantial drop in the fourth quarter (because we expect to buy a house and I have my own unique idea about how the value of a home should be calculated when calculating net worth).

At least we are off to a very good start for the current quarter (May - July). DH has been working hard and has expanded his business a bit; as a result his busy season started a bit earlier than usual this year. And I have been working steadily. Income is going to be key to reaching the goal.

All and Sundry

May 6th, 2008 at 02:46 pm

Gonna try to get caught up on a big list of things I have been wanting to blog about. Please pardon the long and varied "everything but the kitchen sink" type post.

1. "Journey to Balance Sheet Affluent" Update: Did my end-April Net Worth Statement while the guys were out golfing on Sunday, and updated my number there to the left. Obviously, I fell short of my first-year goal. Ironically, the main reason was a very good year last year income-wise, so when I plugged in our new average income, the goal (number to reach) jumped up. The reason for the bigger than expected 4th quarter drop was due to taxes owed on said earnings. Quarterly income and non-tax spending were fine. This led me to question whether or not this is still a realistic goal. For the time being, my answer is a qualified yes. I'll be posting my 2nd year (5/1/2008 - 4/30/2009) goals soon, and for the time being I am going to continue to pusue the goal of becoming "Balance Sheet Affluent" by the time my DH is 50; however, I am going to revisit this within the next year, and would not be surprised if I wind up dropping my goal to something like 1.8 instead of 2.0.

And for those of you who like to compare numbers, please let me remind you that I have set the bar extremely high for myself, which is necessary if DH's dream of trying out for the senior golf tour is to have a chance of becoming reality. If not for this dream, I would be happy with any number at 1.0 or higher.

2. Investments = Decided to Stay the Course: Thought I would be switching my STAR Fund to Vanguard Conservative Growth, but after studying that possibility I decided to leave things where they are. If I made the switch, I feel I would be under-invested in international stocks. And besides that, my STAR fund shares are where I give myself permission to be a tiny bit daring.

3. Work: My current work assignment ended today. My next work assignment begins ... day after tomorrow. Perfect. Smile One day off and then back to work. Instead of paying bills & doing laundry tonight, I'll be curling up with a book and putting those chores off until tomorrow.

4. Groceries: YES, YES, YES ... prices ARE up! Here are 2 specific examples on prices of items that are consumed almost daily in our home:
- Bananas: Up from 33 to 44 cents per lb. That's a 33% increase!
- Rice: 20-lb bag up from $14 to $17. That's a 21% increase!

I think what is so "big" about the current price increases is that they are so across the board, rather than commodity specific. We're all used to seeing prices on certain items spike due to crop failures or seasonality. But when that happens, we just make substitutions, right? For example, in the past, if I had seen that bananas were up 11 cents per lb overnight, I would have looked at an alternate fruit. But guess what? Apples are also up, 20 cents per lb, and no other fruits come close to giving me the same bang for my buck. So, I buy bananas at the higher price.

I feel fortunate that even if my vigilance to "shop smart" is not enough to compensate for the increases, I am still able to absorb the price increases, and don't have to take exteme measures (such as giving up buying fresh fruit). I cannot believe that the increases are not affecting those less fortunate, and I am sympathetic.

One thing that I am doing to keep my own grocery bill down is teaching my husband some of my shopping techniques (for example: combine a sale w/ a coupon or skip buying that item this week) so that when he goes to the store the bill will be lower. Just recently, he used coupons for the very first time.

4. Speaking of Good Cheap Food: I recently discovered a great side dish ... Texas Caviar! No, it's nothing like Rocky Mountain Oysters ... It's a spicy black eyed pea salad. Nutritious and Delicious! Fantastic with BBQ or really as a side dish with anything. If it sounds like something you'd like to try, just Google it and you'll find recipes.

5. The Jonses House: Previously I blogged about "The Jonses" house in my old neighborhood that went in to foreclosure. After being foreclosed on, listed by the receivier for well under what was owed on the mortgage, and having a couple price drops, the house finally went under contract. I don't know the sale price, but given the latest list price it is very likely it sold for at or near the "lowball" price DH & I threw out about a year ago. This reinforced 2 things in my mind:
- We should continue to trust ourselves and our sense of where the market is.
- By all means look at buying & selling a house as a business transaction. Regardless of how you feel about it while you are living there, while you are buying and selling you are making an investment! Once the receiver took over, they approached the sale of the Jonses house in a very businesslike manner ... Pricing to market (no ego or emotion involved) and dropping the price as needed.

6. Interesting Retirement Tidbits: Saturday's Wall Street Journal published some very interesting survey results ... Definitely gave me some things to think about when considering retirement. Here are some of the items that gave me the most food for thought:

Q: What percentage of retirees say they left the work force earlier than planned?
A: 51%
My Thoughts: Wow! Sounds like it might be a good idea to chop a few years off of the age you enter as your expected retirement age when you run those calculators. For example, if you plan to retire at 65, plug in 60 or 62 to be safe.

Q: Surveyed adults ages 55 to 74 said they spend the greatest percentage of their leisure time doing which of the following? (choices were Socializing & Communicating, Watching TV, Reading, Relaxing & Thinking, Traveling)
A: Watching TV
My Thoughts: That is sad. Note to self = Make a plan pre-retirement for a life of meaningful activities!

 Q: What percentage of workers in the US say they or their spouses currently are saving for retirement?
A: 64%

Q: What percentage of workers age 55-plus report having $250,000 or more in savings and investments (not including primary residence or defined-benefit plan)?
A: 23%

Q: What percentage of US households are at risk of being unable to maintain their standard of living in retirement?
A: 44%

My Thoughts on the Above 3: Wake up America!

... And 1 Step Back

February 3rd, 2008 at 07:13 pm

After calculating our Net Worth at the end of January, I re-calculated where we are on our "Journey to Balance Sheet Affluent." The result is shown on the sidebar, as is an explanation of the BA calculation.

This was a "one step back" quarter due to the performance of our mutual funds. Ah well, we are still ahead of where we wanted to be at this point, and we will keep running the marathon.

Speaking of mutual funds, I'm glad that we are invested in balanced funds and "funds of funds" ... Our asset allocation gets re-balanced automatically without us having to do anything. It eliminates that ever-so-tempting urge to do a bit of market timing in the guise of deciding when to re-allocate.

Some good news on the savings front:

- We did our second fillup since getting new tires filled with nitrogen gas put on our car. We got 30 MPG, so our mileage has definitely improved. There may be something to this nitrogen gas after all ... Does anyone else use it?

- Since I started reading our electric meter regularly (not every day like Ima Saver, I'm afraid, but every few days) and "whacking the mole" (unplugging & turning things off) we have cut our daily electric consumption by 13%. We're not using our heater (this is Texas remember), so that has nothing to do with it. I want to cut our electric consumption even more ... right now I'm challenging myself to see how quickly I can shower.

P.S. - The new blog color scheme is for tax season, a patriotic theme in honor of everyone who pays what they owe!

Quarterly Results, Journey to Balance Sheet Affluent

November 2nd, 2007 at 08:15 am

Here's a brief recap ... In "The Millionaire Mind" author Thomas Stanley outlines the following formula:

Age x .112 x Annual Realized Household Income = Expected Net Worth

Households with at least 2 times their Expected Net Worth are considered "Balance Sheet Affluent" (or BA).

My goal is for my household to be BA by the time my husband is 50. Then, I think I will feel confident giving DH the green light to go ahead and pursue his lifelong dream of trying out for the Champions (senior) golf tour.

And now for the results for the quarter ended 10/31/07: We are now 1.569 times expected net worth. My goal was 1.435, and I had allowed for our number to decrease this quarter, but it actually increased. Why the better-than expected results?

Expenses: Savings on expenses was the number one reason. Moving expenses were substantially lower than budgeted - This was due to a combination of planning and hard work plus a bit of luck. We did not have to pay rent in September because we had prepaid last month's rent at the start of our lease. Our rent here is Austin is less than half what our rent was in Seattle, not only because the area is less expensive but because we are living in very small temporary quarters to keep costs down. We are down to just one car, which saves on insurance and upkeep.

Income: We sold one of our cars. My little business made a fair amount more in it's final month than I had expected. DH's business is past it's peak period for the year but still he's doing pretty well.

It's nice to be ahead this early on. There is room to have some setbacks and still meet the goal. It's going to get tougher meeting the quarterly goals because passive income will be down due to lower interest rates. We've already scouted out the best rates available, and we can't control what the Fed does, so there's no point in dwelling on this. It can't be helped.

Focusing on what I can control, my goals for the coming months are: 1) to find a fantastic bargain on a house and 2) to line up some temporary work as soon as possible after I return from my trip to DC next month.

I toured a very interesting REO (foreclosed & now owned by the bank) home yesterday; it needs some serious work done to it, and it doesn't meet my "dream home" criteria, but I think it does meet my top 3 requirements (can be purchased well below market + a nice place to live + a good investment). I'm going to take DH through it to see what he thinks; if he is up to the challenge of buying a semi-fixer, then I think we'll go ahead and have an inspection done and get some ballpark numbers for repairs and renovations, then perhaps go ahead and make an offer.

I've also identified a position I'm going to apply for. It is a 3-1/2 month temporary position. Not only do I think it would be interesting work, I like the idea of a temp job because it will give me a chance to see how I feel about being an employee again (after being self-employed for 4 years) and I don't want to take anything permanent until I know exactly where we will be living (so that I can factor in commute time when deciding where I want to work).

What I know for sure is that having a specific "big picture" goal, specific intermittent (quarterly goals), and checking my net worth at the end of every month really helps keep me focused. So does this blog and all of the great tips I pick up from you all! Thanks!

Sold A Car

August 29th, 2007 at 03:07 pm

Forgot to mention that we sold one of our cars over the weekend. It all happened so fast that it still doesn't seem quite real. It was the Subaru Outback, the one we just bought in February at a terrific price, and the one for which we bought new tires and a new HD radio/CD player & speakers.

One of DH's friends wanted to buy a car for his son. The son wanted something with a decent audio system, and with enough space to hold equipment for his band. The parents wanted a reliable safe car that would never end up in a street race.

The dad knew the story of how we got the car and asked if we'd be willing to sell it. He said he'd reimburse us what we paid for the car, plus everything we had added to the car, including a major tuneup at 60K miles. The family came over to look at it and decided to buy it on the spot.

We decided to go ahead and sell it. It's a great deal for our friends who bought it. And it's a great deal for us too, because it means we won't have to drive it to Texas. Instead of DH & I driving separately, we'll all be able to go together in the truck, towing our Camry behind.

My last day of work is Monday, so we should be able to easily get by with one car. We're going to go as long as we can with just one car, at least until after I start working again. I think it would be great if we could try to get by with just one car period, but we'll see how that goes. Cars are such a money drain, not only with the purchase cost, upkeep, and gasoline, but also insurance & licensing.

Even tho' we spent "life energy" researching and buying the new tires & radio, and getting the Subaru serviced, what it boils down to is we got to use that car for a little over 6 months for just the cost of gasoline and insurance. Not too bad.

I'll admit I'm gonna miss that HD radio tho' ... sigh.

Journey to BalAff - 1st Quarter Results & 2nd Quarter Goals

August 2nd, 2007 at 09:47 am

Since I don't want to give Broken Arrow too much of a big head, I will try to remember to title my entries related to my "Journey to Balance Sheet Affluent" something other than "Journey to BA" Smile

Well, even tho' I revised my goal upwards by quite a bit, we still managed to exceed our 1st quarter goal quite handily. Our current estimated* Net Worth is 1.51 times our expected net worth according to the "Balance Sheet Affluent" formula [Age x .112 x Total Realized Annual Income].

*I say estimated because the current balance in DH's business account is just a rough estimate. Just before he left on a business trip, I asked him, "How much do you have in your business account, minus what you owe, plus what people owe you" and he gave me a very round figure as he did not have the time to calculate it precisely. After he gets back and gets all caught up, I will be able to get a precise number from him. Also, DH took all of our foreign currency with him on his trip, so I entered that amount as "zero" even tho' I expect he will bring some back with him.

These are the things that helped us on the positive side this quarter:
- DH's business has been excellent [His busiest season falls in this quarter, and it has been a very good year]
- My little business had been pretty good too
- We got the money from our garage sale in May, plus additional funds have come in steadily from Half.com
- I made $20 on Pinecone surveys ... Hey every little bit counts, right? Wink I am one who believes in focusing on the big AND small things when it comes to personal finance
- Interest earnings: I have gotten our bank accounts (MMAs and CDs) narrowed down to a few banks that have consistently offered the best rates over time. I may not be getting the very best available rate at any given moment, but I'm also not seeing my rates suddenly drop or having lag time waiting for funds to get transferred from one institution to another.
- Mutual Fund Investments: Our choices are quite conservative, and the results for the quarter were fine.

Necessary but unusual expenses this quarter (and there are always going to be some unusual expenses, so we have to anticipate them) were:
- Car repair
- New tires for car
- Teeth cleaning for dog
Unnecessary but very nice "want" purchases this quarter were:
- New radio & speakers for car
- New driver for DH (to replace his old one which had cracked)

My "Journey to BA" goals for this 2nd quarter are primarily related to our relocation:
- Finish pre-relocation sell off
- Keep relocation expenses as low as possible (the less stuff to move the better; keep costs while on the road down)
- When chosing a rental in the Austin area, choose a cheap one!!! [It is so tempting to go for something nicer, but I must remember that it is only temporary housing and it makes no sense at all to spend a lot of money on a rental.]