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Archive for December, 2007

Can You Feel It?

December 31st, 2007 at 05:16 pm

2007 has been a year of changes for me. Like any year, it has had its ups and downs, but it seems that they were more drastic. The ups were really up; the downs were really down.

I went from being a student to being a teacher. I went from undergraduate classes to graduate classes. I saw the end of my competitive running career with my graduation from college. I went from having no money and little responsibilities to fully steering my life and managing my own assets.

Like most years of my life, 2007 had a distinctive "feel" to it. It felt like a plant that dies and is absorbed into the ground before it bursts back to life more full and powerful than it was before. That's what 2007 was to me. Many things in my life came to an end. Many of those things were good and brought my great joy, but they had to end to make room for the future.

As we press onward into another year, I wish you all the very best. I hope you are surrounded by your friends and family tonight. I will be. Any year that ends in such a way can be nothing but wonderful.

Wedding Bands

December 30th, 2007 at 04:18 am

Q and I bought our wedding bands today. I ended up spending $500. It felt really good to have the money readily available with no strain put on any of my savings accounts or bills. Managing money well takes such an incredible amount of stress out of life.

Good News with my Car! Yay!

December 28th, 2007 at 04:19 pm

Some of you probably heard my lamenting over how much I expected to pay to fix my car. I was expecting a bill in the vicinity of $400. Well, it turned out to be $158!

I didn't even have to tap my emergency fund. Now, I will most likely have some other car trouble in the near or semi-near future, which will cause the cycle of lamentation and rejoicing to repeat. That's fine; that's life.

After receiving excellent advice from several of you, I have started a Car Fund and Car Repairs section of my savings. I will soon begin funneling money into those two accounts, which will hopefully have time to accumulate significant amounts of money before I need them.

Having money saved away for various purposes feels so good!

Farewell Benazir Bhutto

December 27th, 2007 at 09:35 pm

I am shocked. Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan, was assassinated and declared dead at 6:16 p.m. Pakistan time.

I am shocked and saddened by this event. Benazir Bhutto was a moderate Pakistani politician. She was a strong female leader in a part of the world beseiged with prejudice and persecution.

As she was a politician, I am quite sure that she was no saint. Nevertheless, she was a voice of moderation and reason in Pakistan, a place that cannot afford to lose its intelligent, semi-honest leaders.

While everything I write about on here does not have to tie in to personal finance, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto ties in as much as anything else. An unstable Pakistan equals a world market that is less stable than it could be. An unstable world economy directly affects me.

I am not shocked and saddened by the world economy at the moment, however. I am hurt that this has happened. I am sad that such hate and violence exist in the world that a leader like Bhutto is not safe to seek democratic election.

This is a loss to Pakistan. This is a loss to women. This is a loss to democracy. This is a loss to capitalism. This is a victory for terrorists and religious fanatics. God be with Bhutto.

0.5% Interest on My Savings Account??? HELP!

December 26th, 2007 at 05:24 pm

In lieu of my needing to tap my emergency fund to pay for car repairs, I called my bank to make sure that money would instantly be available in my checking account as soon as I transfered it to checking via online banking. They said it would be. Then, it popped into my head to check the interest rate on their savings accounts.

SHE SAID THEIR SAVINGS ACCOUNTS GET 0.5% INTEREST!

What!

0.5% interest??????

Is this normal? I was under the impression that interest rates should at least be 2%.

New brakes and tires. =(

December 26th, 2007 at 03:31 pm

I knew this day would come. I drive a 1998 Mercury Sable, and it is paid off. It's had some problems over the past year with not starting; however, I haven't had to put any cash into it. That is about to change.

The good ole Mercury probably needs new brake pads and new tires. This is all going to set me back somewhere around $410. That's not terrible, but it's the first major repair bill I've had to pay since I've been out in the world on my own.

My emergency fund can easily absorb this, but it's the principle of the thing. Overall, however, the Mercury is being good to me. As long as I'm not pumping thousands of dollars into it a year, it's saving me cash. I don't want to make a car payment any time soon. Roll on, Mercury! Roll on!

Christmas! (Part II)

December 25th, 2007 at 04:25 pm

Merry Christmas to everyone! Enjoy all the food, friends, and family!

Christmas!

December 24th, 2007 at 04:48 pm

This Christmas has been good to me. I have all of my shopping done, and I've spent less than $200 on gifts. I'm fortunate to have people in my life who don't overemphasize expensive gifts.

Q and I decided to set a $100 spending limit this year, and it has worked out quite well. It makes you think of creative ways to give to the other person, but it's not so frugal as to completely omit fun things.

So I spent $100 on Q, and I spread the other $100 out on my family. I already received $100 from my grandmother, so I'm pretty close to breaking even!

Now, changing the subject, I received some excellent advice in posts over the past couple days. One of my favorites is the "car fund." I think I'm going to begin putting $100 per month in my car fund. That way, when I do need to buy a car, I'll already have a nice down-payment ready without having to dip into my emergency savings.

In response to how I became so financially conscious at 22, I'm not sure. Both of my parents came from poverty and made it into the middle class. They made it by being extremely good with money. While we have only recently had formal "financial talks," their money skills rubbed off over the years. If I'm half as good as they are, I'll be lucky.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

Long-Term Financial Goals

December 22nd, 2007 at 02:57 pm

Wow, thanks so much to everyone who posted on my first entry. It really means a lot to feel welcome right from the start.

I guess a good second entry might be to set some tentative financial goals. I'm open to any suggestions and feedback on these.

Goal #1: Have enough money in my 401k and Roth IRA to live on for the rest of my life when I retire.

Kentucky teachers draw a pension after they have taught for 27 years. The pension system is a pretty good deal; you draw 60% of your max salary for the rest of your life. If I stay in the classroom, I'll draw somewhere around $40,000 a year from my pension for the rest of my life. Now, that seems like a good deal, especially if you have a nice stash in your 401k and Roth IRA, but I know enough to know that I should NEVER bank on a pension system of other form of group benefits. Those things are at the mercy of politicians and other types who wield far more power than I do. I need to be prepared to financially stand on my own two feet when I need to retire.

Goal #2: Figure out how much money I will need in my 401k and Roth IRA to meet Goal #1.

Does anyone know how I can go about doing this?

Goal #3) Have absolutely no debt.

This is a really long-term financial goal for me because I have just started accumulating debt. I got through my undergrad without acquiring any debt, but I have had to start taking on some since I started my M.A. I am nursing a car that my parents gave me a long time ago, a 1997 Mercury Sable, so I'm going to need a new car within a year or two (I'm thinking of buying a certified, pre-owned Honda Civic). That will put me farther in debt. Then, I'd imagine that Q (let Q = my fiancee) and I will be looking for a house within five years or so. All of these things are not bad debt. Still, they are debt.

Many of you have much more experience with this stuff than I do; please let me know what you think. Offer suggestions because they are more than welcome.

Hello!

December 21st, 2007 at 11:13 pm

I'd imagine that I'm somewhere around the billionth person to cast a puny "hello!" out into the vast abyss of the internet. Judging by the other blogs on Saving Advice that I've read, however, I'd imagine that several helpful, intelligent, and kind people will stumble by here before long.

As you can see by reading my bio, I am 22 years old. I just finished my first semester teaching high school English in south-eastern Kentucky, and so far I have had a blast with it. The kids are great, and being not much more than a kid myself, I really enjoy what I do.

I am very passionate about literature and language. That being said, I don't fall within the typical mold of literary/humanist types. I am a fiscal Republican. I believe in the free market. I believe that competition ultimately is good for everyone.

My career has nothing directly to do with managing money. In fact, I never even considered a career in banking, finance, or business; however, I absolutely love to manage my own finances. I am more frugal than most, but I am not an extreme penny-pincher. I like to buy things for my fiancee. I love going out with my friends and having a few drinks. I LOVE Wal-Mart! I feel that I have a healthy respect for where money comes from and what it does for us.

When I stumbled across this web site, I knew that it was a place that I would enjoy frequenting. After reading several blogs and seeing the positive, encouraging environment in place here, I hope to become a part of that. Please drop me a line. I'd love to read your blog, have you read mine, and hopefully, we can all help each other on the road to financial freedom.