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Archive for October, 2008

Don't Look Now - My IRA Balance

October 23rd, 2008 at 10:42 pm

I had hoped to remain in ignorant bliss until some of this crazy stock market action has settled, but I opened my IRA statement quite by accident and was horrified to see that the value of my IRA (stock mutual fund) dropped from nearly $44,000 from last year to $31,500 currently.

Ignorance WAS bliss. Still contributing $100 a month. And I still have about 20 years to recover, so I think I'll be ok. But still, could someone pass the Kleenex, please...give me a moment...

(Note: I haven't yet reviewed my balance in my 401K. Same deal, I imagine. Considering my wide-eyed reaction to my IRA balance, I'll wait as long as possible to look at the balance for my 401K. Good grief!)

Go Freedom Account Go!

October 23rd, 2008 at 10:25 pm

Yes, I'm a Freedom Account addict!!

If memory serves correctly, I've had my Freedom Account going for about 2 years or less and it was rough (rough!) in the beginning, but lately I've noticed that things have smoothed out nicely.

The plan is still to deposit an automatic $90 from every paycheck I receive, which I do faithfully (even when it seemed like all I did was take it out again). (I've previously added extra money like tax refunds also.) I also faithfully balance the subaccounts which are: cushion, car insurance, car repair, escrow/home warranty, medical expenses, and travel.

This year I expected to pay about $550 or so in home mortgage escrow. That was how much I'd set aside in my Freedom Account. (The bill has been between $400 and $700 every year except one year, when we got a refund.)

However, when I received the statement from the mortgage company, we only owed $15 in escrow!! A far cry from the $550 I was expecting to pay! That means I can carry over the $550 into next year's escrow if needed. I'm excited about that. (Of course, I wrote the check for $15 escrow and mailed it quickly so they wouldn't change their minds!!)

As usual in the life I'm living, there have been several large expenses throughout the year like car repairs and dental work which I've used the Freedom Account for. But it's working, working, working, and I love it, love it, love it!

New Strides with The Kid

October 23rd, 2008 at 10:03 pm

The kid continues to have a spiritual growth spurt and has matured a great deal due to surviving such an ugly car crash last month.

It's affected our relationship in a positive way. As a result of this, I've had more meaningful conversations and emails with him. I've expressed over and over how extremely grateful I am that he survived this crash and that he was ok. I found out that until this happened, he didn't seem to think that I cared one way or another about his wrecklessness or about what happens to him. How did we get to that point?? That says sad, sad things about our prior relationship, but I did read the Five Languages of Love (I believe that's the title, recommended by a fellow saver) and can see what I could have done differently. Anyway, I'm incredibly grateful that we both got a second chance.

This crash has also affected my budget. We lost a car which cost me $3500 and with only liability coverage there was no pay-out for it. We received $255 from the wrecker (who'll use it for parts). We're adding that $255 to the car fund as a start, since I (nor he) had no plan for replacing a car so soon.

The kid's looking into getting a job that he can walk to. He handed over his debit card when I asked for it (the week before the crash in September, he had $75 in overdraft charges). He's now only using cash, but a lot less of it, since he's without a car and on foot.

Without his car, the gas for it and the insurance are no longer needed. The insurance premium is about $550 lower (we had to cancel the insurance we'd just set up for him on his own and put him back on our insurance as a driver). He's also eating in the cafeteria rather than at every drive-through that's near campus.

His goal is to get by without a car until summer. He's hoping to save money to purchase one. So much has changed. I'm still so incredibly grateful.

DREAM

October 16th, 2008 at 11:32 pm

I just hit a work anniversary and realized this: I am tired of working!

I've been working full-time for 22 years (with a one year break in my late 20s due to a relocation move with my first husband). I'm TIRED!

But every morning I drag my tired butt out of bed, wash my face, brush my teeth and show up, because payday is around the corner and the only way I can see that I'll become financially free or wealthy (dare I dream?) is to focus on doing everything I can to honor the money I make and to save as much of my paycheck as possible.

Nine years, 11 months and 13 days until retirement.

My current job is not a job I love (nor have any of the previous jobs been jobs I've loved), but I currently work with people I both admire and enjoy working with, so I let that thought comfort me in the midst of my day-in-day-out routine.

My dream, however, is to wake up and stretch (with a joyful smile on my face of course), THEN decide if I want to write a novel or make pancakes that day. Or decide if I want to tend a garden or go to the library. Or decide if I want to tutor school kids in math or learn a new instrument.

Not only that, I also want to be able to donate money (and time) to any number of causes out there that have tugged at my heart in the past several years, either locally, nationally or internationally.

In my twenties I had no idea that I'd be working this long. I guess I thought I'd marry some rich guy and live happily ever after??? It started to dawn on me in my thirties that the rich guys weren't looking for me (though there were plenty of poor guys who loved me madly) and here I am in my forties still at it.

One day, one day... A girl can dream, can't she?

SEPTEMBER REVIEW

October 16th, 2008 at 10:49 pm

Had high goals of saving on utilities and groceries this month since my son would be away at school rather than home every weekend. However, we didn't do as well as I'd hoped.

Total household expenses: $3,103 plus $639 for regular car insurance premium, so that's $3,742 total. (Transferred $650 from Freedom account to pay for car insurance and extra.)

Utilities were about $60 cheaper than prior month, but still higher than I wanted. Groceries were over the budgeted cash envelope amount of $200 (I borrowed from other envelopes to stock up on sale items--I bought 6 boxes of Cheerios!--and to buy snacks for the kid at college.) I've been at or below $200 a month four months this year for grocery purchases (includes some household items, but I budget additional $40 to $60 a month for household items). Still working on this...
Gas was also over the budget amount due to extra travel to my son's college.

Added regular savings allotments to all accounts, plus extra $64 not used (a gift check for shopping).

Refuse to look at the balance in my IRA. I know it isn't pretty. But my regular savings accounts are still building up. I'll have to comfort myself with the familiar routine of regular savings allotments and 2% interest.