November 2007 Net Worth Update

Sorry for the radio silence. Lot's going on, blah blah blah. But I wanted to make sure I did my net worth update.

My Unemployment Fund has increased by 19% to put me at 63% of my goal. The bar on the right has been updated to reflect this.

Not-So-Much Progress
My net worth has taken a slide by $1,116 from October, mainly due to stock market declines and $38 on one of my credit cards.

The market is the market. Nothing to report there. I'm more focused on my savings and credit cards. With all the talk of a maybe-it-is/maybe-it-isn't recession, and everything costing a lot more there are three things I want to focus on:

1. Pay that $38 and continue to keep my credit cards clear.

2. Continue saving for my Unemployment Fund. I'm almost there!

3. Plan my budget more carefully for 2008 so that I will use my credit cards less often and have more cash to toss into my short-term savings.

And in other news...
I find out what my pay increase will be next week Tuesday. I'll keep you all posted on what happens there.

Kinda stressed

A few months ago, I realized that my salary was below market by about $5,000. I spoke to my manager about it and she said she'd do what she could to convince the higher ups that I deserve a full market increase. My pay review is in a couple weeks. I asked my manager today if she'd heard anything about my increase. She said they were able to give some, but not a full increase.

I'll admit to you all that it depresses me. I work very hard, get great reviews, and they still won't pay me what I'm worth. I can't continue to work there knowing they don't value me, however the thought of having to look for another job, interview, etc. frightens me. I'm afraid I won't find anything better than what I have now. I'm afraid that I'm not good enough to find something better. I know I have to try, because my anger at not getting the money I deserve is greater than my fears. But still, I'm afraid of breaking out of my comfort zone to end up in a crappier situation.

Backing up: When I found out I was being underpaid, the first thing I did was update my resume, contact a recruiter, and spoke to a couple people in and outside of the firm who have wisdom I respect. They gave me some things to think about and encouraged me to talk with my managers. At this point, now that I know my employer still wants to underpay me, I'm going to reach out to that recruiter again and let them know I'm seriously looking. I'll also look for other opportunities within the firm, talk to some contacts I know in the firm and network, and of course just look at job boards, etc. The plan is to leave when I find a better opportunity. Naturally, that means I will have to take that search seriously.


I just got back from the grocery store. You'd think there was a hurricane coming, there were so many people and so many empty shelves! I must admit, I was part of the problem there. I easily went over my monthly grocery allowance by about $80. But hey, it's Thanksgiving. One of the few holidays in the United States that is ALL about the food. Anyway, luckily I've got quite a bit of overtime coming on my next paycheck so that should cover this grocery splurge.

Are friends to blame for your debt?

Are friends to blame for your debt? is an article over at talking about people that have friends with more or less money. I have friends that make more and less money than me, however we've all got core values and interests in common, so I believe that helps to keep our bond strong. Also, we're all trying to be mindful of our money for one reason or another. So even though I have friends that make almost twice what I do, they might be saving to buy a home, pay off debt, etc. So we always are looking for ways to get together that won't be a financial burden. I must say it's nice to know we're all in the same boat, so to speak.

Because I don't have much to say today

Meet Pam. She's a single mom who was addicted to drugs and living on welfare. Thanks to the help of Financial Peace University, she was able to learn about to budget, get off of welfare, and buy a home. Now THIS is what inspires me about personal finance. I always thought to myself that the skill of budgeting, saving, etc. was something that was desperately needed by people living in poverty. I'd read the personal finance blogs, watch the finance shows and listen to them give advice to people that while in debt, make considerable amounts of cash. But what about people living in poverty? The working poor? Seems to me that they are in the most need for training in this skill. Anyway, enjoy the video.

Work, work, and more work

I go into work tomorrow for the second weekend in a row. No biggie, I volunteered to work. Last weekend and this one will be ten hours of overtime on my next pay check and I can use all the extra cash I can get.

It is possible to max out both my 401k and Roth IRA

I did some calculations over several possible scenarios. If I get a very significant increase in pay, I could max out both retirement funds. Otherwise, it would have to be one or the other. My choice would be the Roth.

Even if I got that significant increase and maxed both options, I'd still struggle to meet my after-tax saving goals. So chances are even if I that big increase, I would only max my Roth and use the extra after-tax money to save for other goals while funding my 401k at 15% to 20% of my pre-tax income, which I think is pretty good in and of itself.

I should be in bed right now

However I'm obsessed with finding out how much money I would have if maxed out both my 401k and Roth IRA. I've spent most of the night looking up 2008 tax rates, my projected contributions, Medicare, and Social Security withholding against possible raises.

I should mention that I absolutely SUCK at math. So this is something of an ordeal. I'm sure better minds would have whipped this out in 30 minutes. I'm still staring at my spreadsheet about two seconds away for telling it to go to hell. I'm sure I goofed up somewhere but the take-away is that I have a much clearer understanding of how much tax is taken out of my check and for what. Now to just find out what my possible scenarios are for maxing out my retirement contributions. But that's another fiddy-'leven hours worth of work and I'm tired. I'll probably have it ready by tomorrow.

Random Thoughts

1. My review at work in December. I'm a little anxious to know what my pay increase will be. Knowing this will be a big help for planning my budget and financial goals for 2008.

2. Had dinner with the girls tonight. I normally don't go out so I can save money, but tonight I decided to wing it and I'm glad I did. I had a great time and only spent $40. That included dinner, drinks, tax, tip, and transportation. Sweet!

3. I'm trying not to look at my 401k performance. I know it's ugly. I'm going to refrain from looking until the end of the month to do my net worth post. In the meantime, I'll hope all the asshats on wall st. will settle down and just accept what their greedy behinds got into (I know, I know, some home owners are at fault also. Their asshats too in my book. I've got plenty of grievances to air on this topic.)

4. At the end of the day, I'm thankful for where I am and what I have.

5. Kanye West's mother, Dr. Donda West, passed away. This has been all over the news lately. What I find interesting is that in some news outlets, she is just referred to as Donda West leaving out that the woman has a Ph. D. I find it curious that major news outlets would leave this detail out. Then again, maybe I shouldn't. This has nothing to do with finance directly...nonetheless a random thought.

Could I live with $6,000 less every year?

No Credit Needed had a post a couple days ago about contributing the maximum to your 401k and Roth IRA every year, and what the magic of compound interest could do with it over the years.

Y'all know, I contribute 20% of my pre-tax dollars, but on my $45k salary, that's $9,000. That's a stretch for me, so nevermind about that $15,500 max, but you know what? I don't think it's necessary. Dedicating almost 35% of my pre-tax income to my 401k would mean some very lean living for me.

Speaking of lean living, I found out transportation costs for my train route to work every morning are going up 10% next year. So that on top of the increase in health care I'm going for next year (which is a whopping 45% because I pay about $8 a month now for 80/20 coverage, I'm going for 90/10 coverage next year because there's a chance I'll have surgery next year) doesn't make it bloody likely I'll max out my 401k contribution. And while it's not necessary, the thought certainly is intriguing.

Oops! I missed a day!

I was going to past last night, but got caught up with other things. Anyway, I have some significant movement in my UF. Went from 3% to 44% with my last paycheck. It's on-track to be fully-funded by the end of December. Woot!

At this point I need to start planning my goals and budget for 2008. It's little tricky because I haven't had my pay review at work yet. It still couldn't hurt to come up with a guideline in the meantime.

Random thought

I believe if this country is as pro-family as they say they are, they would push for "paternal leave" to be as widely acceptable as maternity leave in corporations. I believe that both both partners raising a child should get six weeks paid leave from their jobs to care for that child. This should be for heterosexual and same-sex partners. I believe it should also extend to partners who have adopted a child.

In my opinion, having two people home for the full six week period makes for better bonding with the baby, as well as better support for both parents. I think it's rather antiquated for a women to have leave then have to get another family member (usually her mother) to help out what the father has to go back to work, often because the income is needed. Provide parental, rather than just maternal, leave and I believe it would be a tremendous benefit.

Ok. Going to bed now.

The Real Hustle: Waitress Card Cloning

Here's an argument for using cash whenever possible.

Setting myself back

So that $155 I had on my credit card has ballooned to $249. I have been getting carried away with spending lately and I just need to snap out of it and refocus. I think I was thrown out of wack a little bit when I made deposit changes to my paycheck. I want a small amount to go to my brick and mortar while the balance goes to ING, which is set up with "subaccounts" for the different line items on my budget as well as my various funds. Well, after I set that up, they sent me a paper check, saying the changes won't take effect until the next pay period. I deposited the check to the brick and mortar and had to wait a week for the majority of it to transfer to ING. Then, there were all the little things I wanted and just bought. Boo Velvet, boo. Can't move forward if I keep dragging myself behind. So I decided to buckle down with the following plan:

  • I took $249 from my unemployment fund and paid my credit card.
  • Payday is Friday. Along with my usual savings for the unemployment fund, I will add $249 to it to make up for the credit card payment.
  • I didn't go to the grocery store today for more chicken breasts. I already have four packages in the freezer. If I commit to using a price book, I'll be able to catch the next sale.
  • I will finish the food I have at home before I go grocery shopping again. Chances are that will be in about three to four weeks. That will give me time to come up with menus and a shopping list to make sure I maximize my shopping dollar.
  • I need to activate my ING debit card and start using that instead of my credit card.

I think the steps above will help keep me focused and my spending under control.

You know you have no life when...

...the most exciting thing that's happened in your world lately is when boneless, skinless chicken breasts went on sale for $1.79 per pound. I bought four packages of it last night, and plan to stop by again after work tomorrow to buy more. And a bag or charcoal. I figure I'll grill them all up, cook up some sides, then put into individual containers. Oh, this is also a great time to get started on a price book! I do "ok" with my grocery shopping, however I know I can do better, and I want to get the absolute biggest bang for my grocery buck. I think a price book can help me do that. In the meantime, I'm need to start looking up chicken recipes. There's only so much chicken fried rice I can make.

Boring Millionaires

During sermon at church today, the reverend said that it would be very boring if everyone were rich like Bill Gates. To which I respond, "Boring to whom?" I'm pretty sure there are a lot of folks who would rather live the "boring" life of the wealthy compared to the "excitement" of poverty.

You know, sometimes I wonder about becoming wealthy. In a capitalist system, for the ultra wealthy to stay that way, they need a lot of poor minions. That's just the way the system is set up. Bottom line: some people can not, will not, win. It's a reality I don't like thinking about, because it makes me ask myself what my role is in all of it.

And in other news...
I'm thinking of decreasing my 401k contribution from 20% to 15% next year. I resume contributing the maximum to my Roth IRA in 2008 along with building up the health care and down payment funds. I could use the extra cash for these saving goals. We'll see. The more I think about it, the more I believe I need to rework my budget and clearly define my short-, medium-, and long-term goals. Sometimes I don't want to do that because sometimes it seems impossible. But if I at least acknowledge and put them on paper, I can see what's really possible. I might be surprised.


Hey hey! It's NaBloPoMo! That would be National Blog Posting Month for the uninitiated. :-D Every day for the month of November I will be making a post on this blog. I'm a few days late, but whateves, I'm here now!

Aaaaand let this be my post for today!