So uh, yeah...

After much thought and hand-wringing, I decided to use my gift certificates for what I really wanted. A new iPod and loads of MAC makeup. Pricey, sure, but came down to a quality of life decision. In my world music and looking, feeling beautiful are just a few of the things that make my life better.

1. I bought a new iPod. The one I had finally died and I can't get through the day without my tunes, man. I also got wicked earphones to go with it. Aaaaand spent a grip on music on iTunes. Yeah...

2. Sadly, the AMEX gift card I wanted to use towards the iPod purchase didn't have as much on it as I expected. It's a $200 card that only had $150. Why? When I bought Quicken online, I tried to use my gift card, but they gave me an error saying I had to use another card, so I used my Visa. Turns out they charged both my AMEX and Visa cards. I sent a note to customer service and they said they didn't do it, to which I had to call them and come THISCLOSE to acting a fool. They said they had to call some other dept., that was not answering the phone because it was Christmas Eve and to call back on Wednesday. So yeah, Quicken owes me $50.99 dammit!

3. Speaking of Quicken, I've been using it and getting the hang of it a little more. I admit that I don't know all the information it wants (like intense tax info, etc.) but I can live without that. I like that I've got all my accounts linked in and updated and that I can categorize purchases, etc. and get reports to see where my money is going. I have my investment info in there also, however the amounts shown in Quicken differ from what my company's 401k site says. I believe it's because I haven't loaded everything into Quicken, I just don't know what it's missing. Whateves. Close enough. I didn't buy it to monitor investments anyway.

4. I spent some money at the grocery store to make some snacks and tasties to bring to work. What can I say, I was slapped upside the head with the holiday spirit.

Goal Reached!

I now have a full three months of expenses saved! The bar on the right has been updated. In 2008, I'd like to add on another three months.


I should be catching some serious zzz's right now, but I wanted to check in since it's been a while.

1. My bosses at work gave me a $200 AMEX gift card! Another gave me a $50 gift card to Macy's!

2. I tried to use the AMEX gc to buy Quicken Deluxe online, however since it couldn't verify my billing address with the gc, it wouldn't go through. I ended up putting it on my credit card. No worries, I have the funds to cover the purchase comfortably. I was going to get Quicken Premier but decided I didn't want the added investment features.

3. However I did manage to save $12 by using a promo code from

4. So now I have Quicken Deluxe and it's not as intuitive as I had hoped. There is still a lot of information I have to enter. I'm hoping once it's all in there, it will be a valuable tool. I want it to pull my info from ING Direct, however it only asks for the user ID and password. Well ING uses about a bajillion passwords, which one am I supposed to use? Meh, I'll sort it out later.

5. Other things I might spend my gc's on: Earphones? A ridiculous amount of make up? One of these? I dunno yet. I don't want to waste my gc's, however I feel compelled to buy something for myself that I normally wouldn't due to budget constraints.

6. While I was making a list of things I want, I also jotted notes about my financial goals for 2008. Once I have those finalized they'll be posted here.

Eeep! It's getting late and I need to go to bed! More later!

Why I don't own a house

I can't afford a house AND furniture. Pretty much, that's the main thing that kept me from buying a house. Plus a few other things...

1. I live in a high-cost-of-living city. Anything that I would be able to afford would be in a far-flung suburb.

2. If I had to move to far-flung suburb, that would mean I would have to buy a car.

3. If I can't afford to put furniture in the house, I damn well can't afford to add a car note, insurance, and all the other nonsense.

4. Saving and buying a home would have meant putting off saving for my retirement.

5. It would also have meant a downgrade in lifestyle.

6. I'm happy where I am right now.

Probably simplistic thinking. But sometimes the right answer comes very easily. And for me, it came down to "I can't afford it."

Unemployement fund update

Made another payment to my UF which bumps me up to 80% of my goal. One more payment and my three-month UF will be complete! The bar on the right has been updated.

Pay Update

I had my pay discussion with my manager today. They gave me a 10% increase to my base income. Four percent was my performance increase (the highest I could get in my bracket) and the remaining 6% to bring me closer to market. There is still a possibility that I might get another market increase in June when salaries are reviewed, but that's not a given. So while I'm still a smidge below market, it's a lot more than I expected them to give me which makes me very pleased. At this point I'm going to contact a recruiter I had spoken to last month and see what opportunities are out there. I love the company I work for and the people. However it never hurts to keep your options open and network, right?

So now I have to get on with the business of planning my 2008 budget, which is a little challenging to do since I need to account for taxes. I do know the following:

  • Health care (medical plus HSA contribution) will cost me $808 (pre-tax) in 2008. That's up from $600 for 2007.
  • I will continue to contribute 20% of my gross annual income to my 401k. In 2008 that will be $10,000 (dang...), compared to $9,000 in 2007.
  • My monthly train pass is likely to go up by 10% in 2008 to $1,087.08, compared to $988.20 for 2007.
  • I will begin funding my Roth IRA again in full after taking a, oh geez, a 6 or 7 year break? I will max out that contribution to the tune of $5,000 after taxes in 2008.
  • After getting my three-month emergency fund completed, I plan to fund my health care fund at $1,500. This covers the deductible, hospital admission copay, and a couple hundred bucks extra for whatever. We're talking health care here, I'm sure that extra cash will find a way to be spent.
  • Going back to the emergency fund. Three months is the bare minimum, I'd like to get it up to six months, so that means an additional $3,600.
  • I need a new computer. Bad. I'm willing to keep this one until Spring 2009. By then I'd like to have at least $7,000 for a new machine. Pricey, yes, but I need a high-performance machine and those cost a pretty penny.
Other post-tax goals include a vacation and starting to save for a home. I just went on a vacation this year, so I would be o.k. not going on one in 2008. The home savings...that one kinda has me conflicted. I'm not eager to buy a home. It's not that important to me. That said, I'd like to have some cash set aside so that if the housing market is favorable to buyers in two to five years and I change my mind, I can do something. However to make a meaningful savings for that, I'd have to cut out other things to save aggressively. Meh. I'm not sure how to handle that just yet.

But for now, I'm breathing easier now that I know I'll be making better money next year and be able to fun my most important financial goals.