Ridiculous Update

In an attempt to be as honest and revealing as possible… I need to update you all bloggies. Remember Two Cents a few weeks ago when I used every speck of my deodorant and toothpaste in an attempt to not waste pennies or bigger denominations!???

Well we were at the end of another toothpaste recently and I emailed BF as he had time during the day earlier this week, and asked him to go to the coupon container that I have everything organized in and grab some toothpaste clippings and head to Walgreens or CVS and try to find the best deal. I even went as far as telling him the color (the red one) and ‘tab’ (dental) within the organizer to find them so it wouldnt be stressful.

Yesterday I got a text message saying that he got toothpaste at Wilson Farms.. Okay for your non NY-ers… Wilson Farms is a CONVENIENT store,, ala Sugarcreek or Wawa or Sheetz or something to that effect. Where coffee is cheap but toiletries ARE NOT! Its like the most expensive place to purchase these items because its ‘convenient’ they can mark it higher for your ‘convenience’.

FURY does not describe how I felt.  BF absolutely watches me cut coupons on the weekend and he knows how excited I get when we save and he knows how frustrated I get when we’re wasteful or miss a sale.

One of my colleagues said ‘its your fault you should have done it yourself’.. which only fueled the fire because I refuse to be the only person capable of saving us money, or shopping for groceries or household supplies. While my brain might get more excited about the numbers matching, we both have the same long term goals and it should not be just me making them work.

Of course by the time I got home, I realized my fury was just frustration but that I did need to communicate to BF why I was frustrated and reevaluate our long term goals and why the little things and the big things both matter.  He understood why I was frustrated and I understood why he did not see it as a big deal. You can’t learn and grow if you don’t talk right?

Two Cents Tuesday (episode 7)

Okay bloggies its that time again,, Two Cents Tuesday! Today’s topic is debt. There are many ways that advisors and financial guru’s like to approach debt, but I think two are the most common out there right now. So we’ll touch on both and hopefully you can pick and choose and find the one that is right for you and your family.

1) Oprah’s Debt Diet– I think this was created with the help of David Bach, Jean Chatzky and Glinda Bridgforth, but I’ve also seen her talk about eliminating debt with Suze Orman and the concepts are very similar.

So here are their steps:
Step One-Determine how much debt you actually have. (yep get those  receipts and paystubs out there and figure out the interest rates and amount due on all of them).
Step Two-Track Spending and find areas with extra to pay down debt.
Step Three- Learn how to play the Credit card game. (a system of figuring out how much you owe and the interest on each. They recommend calling to try to obtain a smaller interest rate on your account, and paying off the cards/bills with the largest interest rate first.
Step Four-Stop Spending (seems simple enough huh?)
Step Five-Create a monthly spending plan.
Step Six-Take big steps to grow your income.
Step Seven-Prioritize your debts and grow your credit score.
Step Eight-Understand your spending issues and save.

So to learn more about each step, feel free to go to Oprah.com and click on the Money tab for other great articles and more in depth talks.

The main reason I put Oprah’s Debt Diet on my Two cents is because of the pie chart . This chart helped guide me on my first attempt at a budget, and helped me figure out what I was spending on each area and what areas I needed to tighten and what areas I had room for improvement. I sometimes still look back at this chart and reallocate to make sure I’m reaching my goals while paying down my bills too!

2) Dave Ramseys Seven Steps to Financial Freedom-
Now Dave has a slightly different angle to debt. He wants you to have none ever and to continuously strive towards a debt free lifestyle. I totally respect and love this ideal and hope someday to have my paid off home mortgage be my badge of honor. His methods work for many, and he offers classes called ‘Financial Peace University’ to help communities get their finances and debt in order. So here are his steps, and again… check out his website at http://www.daveramsey.com to find a FP University near you

The Seven Steps:
Step One- Create a 1000.00 Emergency Fund.
Step Two-Pay off all debt using Debt Snowball (a system of paying off the smallest bills first while paying the minimum on each other bill along the way,, and then taking the amount you paid on the smallest bill and adding that to the payment of the second smallest bill…so the payment grows and the payoffs continue.)
Step Three- Accumulate 3-6 months of  expenses savings.
Step Four-Invest 15% into Roth/Retirement accounts.
Step Five-College funding savings (after retirement amounts are taken out)
Step Six- Pay off Home early (yay!).

So as you can see they both recommend figuring out what you have in the form of debt and making a plan of action. The plans differ and the goals differ slightly but all in all the idea is to get you closer to YOUR goals.. So pick and choose but make sure to get a plan on board!

Two Cents Tuesday (episode 6)

Two Cents Tuesday is back bloggies!!! Today we need to discuss Roths …and 401ks….
As per usual,, these are the nuggets I have learned…. so feel free to share your nuggets!:)

401ks, or 403b if your a teacher,,,, is an awesome way to pull money out of your earning PRE-tax… Which means it makes your total income lower,,,, which helps you to keep the amount of income you are taxed on being lower…hence refund or lower taxes. Pretax also means that what you put in goes in 100% as your not losing a percentage on tax.
This same bonus helps you to grow more in interest. BUT BUT BUT!!! This interest also is something that will not be forgotten. If and when you take the money out, you are then taxed on it. Ideally the tax rate (or bracket your in or something) will make the percentage something its okay to pay up on later. But if you take the money out before your ‘of age’ 59.5…you pay a 10% penalty fee… Because,, you guessed it ‘THIS IS A RETIREMENT account… so you need to be old enough to retire people!

So one of the other most awesome thing about 401k/403….. is the matchy matchiness.

Many companies offer a match. This is huge… HU- GE!!!! (sorry Buffalo folks I had to).. Basically this is free money. Sometimes they match whatever you put in,,, (you put in 100, they put in 100)…. sometimes they match a percentage.. (you put in 100,, they put in 5% or 5.00), sometimes they match up to a certain amount (doesnt matter if you put in 10-100 they’ll only go up to 50.00).  You NEED to check your company to see what their match is,, and get the MOST bang for your bucks people! ITS FREE MONEY, like your company is providing your own personal allowance like when you were little and got an allowance for brushing your teeth or something.

Okay now what about ROTH IRAs (Individual Retirement Account)..
This is a special version of IRAs that is relatively new and exciting. Roths are considered ‘the young persons’ IRA because its more flexible for us ‘crazy kids’. Same concept,, you put money into it.. but heres the big difference. You put the money in POST TAX,,, so your  money has been taxed already so all the interest is yours an the total put in ,,, YOURS. Sounds awesome so far right? OF course there are a few catches but let me tell you one last good thing.

With a ROTH you can withdraw YOUR contributions whenever you want. But you cannot withdraw the interest. And frankly you should not be withdrawing either! (that defeats the purpose entirely). So if you put in 1000 and in the next year it grows to 1300, you could withdraw the 1000 but not the 300. Honestly you can take the 300 too but your going to get hit with those fees and taxes that nobody wants or likes!

There is a limit to the Roth,,, a limit based on how much you make (if your rolling in it , they set you up to continue using Traditional IRAs and not the Roth,,),, and a limit based on how much you can put in for a year based on your age! So you have to make sure you make the most of your contributions and get the most savings in now.

Why is retirement such a big deal you may ask? Because at some point you won’t want to, or cannot work… but that will not mean that life is going to get less expensive ,,, in fact likely the contrary, with the meds you’ll probably need to survive it will be Significantly more expensive (that’s a sort of joke). No one will pay for your loans or your bills or your future except for you,,, so the same goes for retirement.

Save now,,, save later….. and worry less!:)

Sage advice

Hey bloggies,

I was watching my DVR-saved Dave Ramsey shows and he said something that really made me feel good about my decisions and impressed with him as a financial spokesperson.

He said (and I’m paraphrasing) -the best financial advisors are innately educators, helping you to learn and understand your finances so you can be guided to make the best decisions for yourself with their help.

I am lucky to have my financial advisor be exactly that!. She presents classes on Women and Investing, and Financial Lingo and every appointment I have had with her with frought with learning and questions and diagrams and explanations and VERY little sales. She wants and encourages me to understand and often tells me I missed my calling (finance) because I get so passionate about the new things I learn (hence the blog!).

So this is a reflection moment,,, the person that you entrust with your investment and portfolio decisions…. do they explain things and educate you or do they make decisions and move your money without a conversation and instead just ‘send you a memo’.

Two Cents Tuesday (episode #5)

Hey bloggies, we’re back for episode #5!!!

Two Cent Tip # 1 is about saving…… You know I like to save, if there is a person in my relationship that is the saver it is totally me. I like to save to have a security to know that I don’t have to ever worry about paying a bill or missing out on a friend’s wedding or joy!

In order to make the most of your dollar,, you have to make the most of the things you spend your dollars on also. This might seem obvious when it comes to non-perishables… you wouldnt’ go out and buy a case of spaghetti if you had a case at home right?  But how many times do you throw out extra food? Whether its leftover dinner or the ends of soap? If you are like me you lose chapsticks or dental floss 100 times a day and hope at the end of the day you can find it. If my hair-tie was not in my hair or wrapped around my wrist!

When I started this blog, I was really learning more about budgeting and I had never thought the lesson of scrimping and pinching was so relevant.

I guess I had a bit of a flash on our white tile in the bathroom, But I hope you can see that this Secret deodorant is 100% gone. Not broken off into the garbage,, not 1/3 in the garbage,,, not lost in my gym bag. GONE.. I made a conscious effort to use it till its last moment of life. As I got closer it reminded me daily that I need to start price shopping the ads and my coupons for replacement deodorant.  I did the same thing with our toothpaste.. squeezing the very life out of that sucker till I got it all! I was very determined and used a chip-clip to hold it tight so my squeezing didnt create a mess in my bathroom! I had a picture of that one too but it got lost in cyberworld (arrgghh!). I promise I’ll get another one next time but it will be awhile!:)

The concept to saving,, is if you use all of the products you have then your not paying double for the products,, your not your own personal version of overstock.com, AND when you get close you can remind yourself to price shop for the best deal, using coupons, websites or circulars!

WHICH  Leads me to Two CENT #2!!!!

Two Cent Tip #2 DO your Homework!
When you do purchase something outside of the ordinary (no I’m not talking about Q-tips or tissues!) or something you’ll only purchase once in the course of multiple years (ideally) you should do some homework. I used to say if you purchase anything over 75.00then if your in a debt-paying relationship you should discuss it with your other half,,,, some people have different numbers for the ‘limit’.

Regardless of your limits, if you spend this amount you need  to do homework. You may say “why does it matter if I research microwaves or couches or televisions?” It matters when you buy a crappy one or a shotty one or one that does not function the way you want it to and your not only out money your dissatisfied. Not everyone has the CVS policy on returning makeup that looks terrible on you or causes an allergy. *disclaimer that policy may have changed but that’s how it was about a year ago or so!*.

Step 1)Go to http://www.pricegrabber.com and that will start the ball rolling. It will give you EXPERT reviews (not just people who review things only that they hate which is common with other websites) and tell you what you need to know. You’ll learn what to compare and they can help you compare and contrast the different sites.

Step 2) Check your local circulars or ads, often times you can find better prices when you have to foot the gas and delivery bill (aka no shipping costs).

Step 3) Pound some pavement,,, or social/blog networks? Some people ask around to those in the know that they trust, some hit the pavement and actually go to the stores to see what the salespeople can do to help them wade through the information they did not understand before.

Step4) Finally,,, once you have done your homework you will know the details you need in order to buy the item you want,,, then you will also have an estimated price for what this ‘gem’ will cost you. Then OF COURSE you should make SURE it is in your household budget!!! Assuming that it is,, you THEN take all of your homework, and go to your local store that has salespeople who work on commission (sorry sales guys!), explain to them that you’d like to purchase your goods and give them the commission but that you need them to come to the price match that you found elsewhere. Without your homework and without your printouts you have nothing to stand on.

So your homework was not only helpful in getting you what you wanted before you realized what that was,,, it also helped you get the best deal for yourself!:)

PS… wanna see my new microwave:)

its stainless steel, its huge and it has a handle (which is important to me because I hate when those buttons stop working but my ability to pull a door open well,,, that won’t stop till I’m in my 70s or something!), and it was an excellent price and bf and I did our homework and it was awesome!

Dave Ramsey!

Money and Dave Ramsey

So I’m on the road to monetary strength. I started with some Suze inspiration and now I’ve moved along to Dave Ramsey (pictured above). I won’t pretend to know or represent their thoughts as you can go to their websites if you’d like but as always…. I will share my thoughts!.

First question: Does anyone know how to search through Blogosphere world and find bloggers devoted to budgeting and Dave Ramsey or that are like ‘following his steps’.
I would very much like to connect to a strong community of Bloggies

Second question: I need some real logistical applications here. I can create a debt to income flow chart, I know what I owe and I know I make more.. I know how to set limits and I know how to break them. What I don’t know is how to coordinate that with a ‘significant other’. I’m not ready for the ‘joint account’ world, but we definitely want to be saving more and pushing ourselves more and limiting more and the logistics of ‘envelope programming’ is confusing to me.

Third question: When do you pay off bills and when do you pay above the minimum but use the extra for savings?

Fourth question: Do you put money away for when your car does need to be replaced? What areas are in your budgets and envelopes. Just when I think I have a complete budget I forget about prescriptions or stamps or something stupid.

Okay thats all the questions I have today.

Mostly I need some logistics and ‘this pulls from here and this pulls from there and then your rich over a long period of time’

Originally posted on 12/28/09 at Danielle’s Meandering Thoughts

Ten Thousand!!!??

Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money to spend. I wish I had it,, if I did these are some things I’d consider doing with it! What would you do!?

If I wanted to buy a 100,000 house in Buffalo (which is totally possible becuz housing prices are different everywhere),,, that would be a 10% deposit right there.. on a house I’d own FOREVER!!!

I could install a hot tub and pool in my backyard if I already had a house.

I could redo my kitchen and get new sink, cabinets and marble countertops (I know this is possible my parents did it!)…ohhh and new floors!!!!

I personally, could probably host a really awesome wedding celebration with all those I care/would want to celebrate with and not feel limited to invite people based on cost.

Okay using “money chimp” If you put that 10k in only once,, and never added a cent more (which would be strange but not impossible… and let it grow until say we were 60 (approximately 30 years).. and did NOTHING to it except let it accrue its interest….
THAT 10k.. would have grossed to about 43,219.42!!!! Now can you imagine the things you could do with 43k when your 60!! That could help you retired, that could let you and your family take a vacation, or maintain health insurance in this particular economy,, or help your children who are older to finance their weddings or their college eduations, or their new homes.. or so many things.

10k… what else?

I could go to Italy for perhaps a few weeks! Maybe more!

I could go to Ireland for perhaps a few weeks! Maybe more!

I could pay my COBRA insurance for 22 months,,, TWO YEARS

I could put a deposit on a condo in Florida so that I could visit Disney anytime I wanted!

I could put it in a savings bond for my kids so they can use it to pay for school or offset their college loans.

I could take my kids to disney! Probably more than once!

I could probably build like 4 schools in Africa or something.

I could refinish the basement of a house to have a playroom for the kids.

I could fly myself and my family members to Ireland so we could ALL go together and see one of our heritage-cultures.

I could donate to the church, synagogue, Red Cross, Cancer Society, Roswell Park.

I could pay for 1/2 of a year of tuition at a SUNY College. Be it for my own child or for one in need.

I could apply to possibly 10 med schools.

I could help a family in need (there are SOOO many right now) to find shelter and support and housing.

I could donate 70,000 (SEVENTY THOUSAND!) pounds of food through the Foodbank of WNY

Four thousand meals for those to survive.

What do you think? What would you do with 10k??
What things are your ‘guilty pleasures that you’d like’ and what things would you do for charitable organizations if you had that much ‘extra’ to share.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

originally created at Danielle’s Meandering Thoughts on 12/16/09