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Archive for September, 2008

The Kid is Doing Well

September 30th, 2008 at 11:39 pm

The kid is doing well after the car crash. He's back at school and grateful to be alive. He's settled and quietly maturing and I'm so grateful and quite proud of him. He's managing his classes and sports and has applied for work study to save money for a car, he tells me. He wants to have one before next summer in case he gets an internship job. Or he'll get a regular summer job if the internship doesn't work out. I didn't say anything to that except "Good for you, son." This was exactly the kind of maturity I was looking for. A lot of trauma to get there, but I'm grateful.

We had a pick-n-pull company come pick up the car and they gave us $255. I put that into an account to start him off in saving for his car. I think the kid will stay motivated, but we'll see. Think good thoughts...

No Lotto for Me

September 30th, 2008 at 11:29 pm

I do not buy lotto tickets. Nothing personal. Maybe some religious concerns. But really, I just prefer to keep the dollars that I work for. I've probably spent a few dollars over my lifetime buying raffle tickets, scratch-offs, and the like in the past, but no regular lotto tickets for me.

I watched a show about lottery winners. It was fun to watch. I even found myself wondering what I'd do with all that money at once.

But here's the thing. I used to work with a gentleman who was in his late 50s and unmarried. He had a few expensive hobbies like traveling abroad, photography, and buying $20 worth of lotto tickets every Friday. Every Friday without fail he would tell us that he felt he had the lucky numbers this week and he would purchase $20 of lotto tickets after work. I worked with him for 10 years. We eventually grew tired of teasing him about winning, but I can only recall him talking about winning a prize of $500 and some odd dollars during the 10 years I worked with him.

The 'thought' of prosperity seemed to help him feel rich but I wonder, now that he's in his late 60s or early 70s (I'm no longer in contact with him), does he ever wish he'd put that $20 a week into something more certain? That's approximately $100 a month! Multiply that by 10 years and even without interest earned, it's over $12,000, which is a tidy chunk of change.

Anyway, he taught me to treat my paycheck as my own personal lottery winning. Yeah, I have to work for it, but payday is a good day. I'm happy for people who actually win millions in the lotto because that HAS to be exciting. But for me, every payday that comes, I get excited in trying to save as much as possible and stretch that baby out as far as it will go. That's about the only winning I'm going to be doing.

The Car Crash

September 16th, 2008 at 11:17 pm

Well, the kid has done it. He totaled the car he drives. I was incredibly relieved to find him ok with very few scratches on him. Praising God for that all day and every day. He was pretty shaken up and I'm hoping this will become an important life lesson for him.

Here's what happened:
His college is about an hour and a half away. I called him Friday night around 10:30 to make sure he was at the dorm in case the storm (Ike) gave us any backlash. He said, "I'm ok, Mom, just hanging out here." We said good night, love you, etc, and I thought that was it.

At 1 a.m. we (my spouse and I) get a call from him. My son says "I've been in a crash, the car rolled over 3 times. I'm halfway (between school and home, which is all expressway). He asked if we could come get him... then his cell phone went dead.

We drove nearly to his college town (praying), then back again hoping to see him on the highway. We didn't find him nor his car and his cell phone was dead. There was no rain at all, so we were grateful for that, but we didn't find him. We went back home at around 3:45 a.m. and on the home voice mail was a message from him, except he was talking to the clerk in the gas station (not us), telling the clerk about the car crash and asking if there was a place to plug in his phone so he could get his step-dad's number out. (He didn't know it.) We called the gas station back (caller ID) to get the location, which was closer to home than we thought. We went driving again to see if we could find him. By this time, at least we knew that he wasn't trapped in the car.

We drove for another hour up and down the expressway, praying the entire time, and still didn't find him. We found the gas station but it had been 2 hours since he'd been there. At 5:45 my spouse's cell phone rings and my son is at the house. The tow truck had towed his car and him to the house. We were ten minutes away from home by then. By the time we got home again it was nearly 6 a.m., the tow cost $293 (for 15 miles), we had a copy of the police report (they were going to impound it, but the tow truck offered to take him home since there was no criminal or liability incident--nothing or no one else was hurt or harmed). Turned out my son walked for miles and miles on a dark access road trying to find help and he stopped at 2 gas stations and eventually found a church where firemen were setting up for evacuees from the hurricane and storm and they were able to help him.

Anyway, I was very glad and grateful and relieved to see him. So much so that I was in tears. The car, however, not so much. It is totaled. Rear windshield totally out, front windshield crushed and shattered, the trunk and gas tank area crumpled, tires blown, axle bent, etc. It's a 1997 Nissan so we only carried liability insurance on it. (We just got that insurance as a separate policy in his name at the beginning of the month!!)

He was speeding. Such a sad thing that this happened because he was speeding. And on the road when he wasn't supposed to be there, in the middle of the night. And it could have been SO MUCH WORSE!! But thank God, it wasn't. He'd already received 4 speeding tickets within the last year and he's had defensive driving classes and all the lectures about driving carefully, taking good care of the car, etc. It's unfortunate, but this may be the wake-up call he needs to take more responsibility - financially and personally. He is now without a car and without any plan for getting a new one.

I feel like I've done my part in purchasing the car and providing him transportation and insurance and rules. He didn't hold up his end of the bargain by respecting that. He could have died or killed someone because of his wrecklessness. Thank God he didn't. He now has a second chance to do better and I have a second chance to hopefully watch him learn. He appears not to be 'teachable' by me, but I'm hoping he will still 'learn' from his actions.

Right now it's a good thing for us that he stays in a dorm room--we dropped him off yesterday. We'll keep doing that until we (he) comes up with a better plan... But again, I'm SO GRATEFUL that he was ok.

Progress in September - Musings

September 9th, 2008 at 10:26 pm

I'm reading everything I can and watching a lot of Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, the Big Idea, etc., to get additional ideas to save more money now that the kid is back in school. I'm saving fairly well each month, but feel like I should be doing more, saving more.

Budget: I've reviewed my spending plan for the millionth time this year, constantly trying to cut expenses and force savings. We hope to be able to cut down on utilities and groceries this month.

Current savings: I already have automatic savings allotments in place. I already save all my change and use the change for various savings goals (the kid, the grandkids savings accounts, Christmas shopping). The new thing I've started (after reading a blog or article in savingadvice.com about 'the cost of saving change') is to save as many of my one-dollar bills as possible and not spend them, then deposit them into various savings accounts as well. I deposited $8.00 in my emergency fund this week. Yay me.

Interest rate: My 6 month CD (principal $2500) matures in November and I'm searching for another CD that may pay more interest. I also plan to add enough to make the principle $3000.

Education fund: My son's education fund will be near $0 after this school year, much to my dismay. I'd hoped he would have made better decisions to use the money more wisely, but at the same time, I'm glad he's attending school and that I was able to help.

Retirement savings: I'm trying not to look at my IRA and 401K balances, praying that they heal themselves from the losses over the past year. I'm still contributing the same amounts.

Mortgage: I have a new plan to pay extra on the mortgage--I plan to save about $80 each month (which was the monthly payment of the second mortgage which we paid off earlier this year) into my money market account. I'll track those deposits and withdraw that accumulated amount at the end of each year to send in to the mortgage company as an extra principle payment. It won't be a lot this year, but it's better than nothing and I hope to shave a few years (and interest) off the loan by doing this consistently.

Emergency fund: I have too many money goals at the same time. That's why I feel like I'm not making a lot of progress. My emergency fund is a combination of my checking account cushion, the savings account cushion connected to this checking account (which I'm also using as my 'freedom account' to pay for large expenses that creep up on me) and a money market account. Totals are $500 in checking and $1500 cushion in the savings account. There's approx $8,000 in the money market acct, part of it the 6-month CD I was talking about. My goal for emergency funds is $18,000 so I have a ways to go. (Gee whiz!) PLUS I want to save for our next car purchase. I feel like I should focus more on this, but we'll see. Too many money goals... I feel like I'm a hyperactive saver...I'm all over the place...

AUGUST REVIEW

September 3rd, 2008 at 10:32 pm

Made $473 extra in overtime during the month of August. Received gift of $100 (for birthday).

Total household expenses from household account: $3,646 (Ouch! Expensive month for us!)

Extra bills paid from the freedom account and savings cushion:
Paid $412 balance on Visa card (for airline tickets to visit my parents in July)
Paid $265 for second half of son's dental work.
Paid $194 for new eyeglasses.
Paid $536 for son's car insurance--a new policy after removing him from our policy (used $200 from savings, $336 from household account-overtime money)

(I'd hoped to save all the overtime money, which is why I was motivated to work it. However, it got sucked up into real life, which included the insurance and an exterminator/pest control contract visit at $111. Bummer!)

SAVINGS:
Total regular savings (automatic deposits from net pay): $100 to wealth account, $80 to extra mortgage payment account, $100 to IRA, $10 to son's no-touch-move-out-on-his-own(!)account.

Total regular savings (automatic allotments from gross pay): $180 to freedom savings account, $226 to 401K, $24 to Christmas ccount, $50 to furniture account, $20 to Creative Ventures account, $260 to education account.

Extra savings: $14.50 to Christmas account, $100 to wealth account.

Freedom account is a little bare and I still have another insurance payment ($630)in September.

GOAL for September:
The kid has returned to school so we're on a crash savings diet in utilities and food in an effort to save even more. Goal is to add extra to rebuild freedom account cushion and also add an extra $100 to the Christmas account while maintaining all other savings goals. Hmmm....