June 2008 Net Worth Update

All I have to say is: It's a good thing I'm not retiring anytime soon. Let's take a look at my asset/liability classes.

  • Cash: Increased by 15%. This is from my steady contribution to the Unemployment fund.

  • Retirement: My 401k lost, YTD, 14.3% of it's value, while the 401k and Roth combined only lost almost 7% from May. I have to be honest, I understand the market sucks gigantic donkey balls right now, however I'm wondering if I screwed the pooch by rebalancing my portfolio at the beginning of the year. I think I'm losing more now than I would have if I left everything as-is. However there's really no way to know that, as I believe it's my self-doubt talking. My 401k was never balanced, I just threw my money it and guessed at how much money should go to what fund. At the beginning of the year I did my research and bought/sold stocks that aligned with my risk tolerance...which is a lot. I'm not worried about losing money, I'm just wondering if I rebalanced at the wrong time. Meh, I can't think about it too much because there is absolutely nothing I can do about it right now. I just continue to buy stocks hoping that the market will go back up eventually. That's how we're supposed to play this game, right?

  • Credit Card: I owe $78. This was from entertaining the S.O. over the weekend. That will get paid from this weekends pay check, so no worries.

So overall my net worth has taken a 4+% dip from May. While losing money in the market is never fun, I am very happy that my cash reserve is growing and growing, which I believe over the next six months will be critically important.

Making it rain!

-*- Okay, not really. I just spent $77 on a couple baby shower gifts for a friend. That includes shipping and puts me only $2 over my budget. I also went ahead a paid for my parking ticket. Both charges went on my credit card, which I can pay immediately from my savings. I'm choosing to do this because my next pay day isn't until the day after the bill is due. Also it's when my 0% interest period ends, so I don't want to be late or carry a balance of any kind. I'll just put the money back in my savings once I get paid.

-*- Why paying from my savings at all? Well, since I started getting medieval on my savings for the next six months, that left me with very flexibility in the budget, and that's precisely when all the unexpected stuff started happening. Plus the The S.O. is in town and since he covered all my food costs while I was visiting him, I'd like to return the favor, especially since he's really trying to work on paying down his debt (good for him!). It won't be filet mignon, but I've got him covered while he's here.

-*- Oh, looks like my cousin is going to be here for TWO months, not just one, so I really don't feel bad about not seeing her this weekend. Also, I'm sure she doesn't expect me to spend a lot during that entire time. I wonder what she's going to do here for two months?


Got a ticket today for parking on the wrong side of the street: $25

Realized that I underbudgeted my next pay check by: $80

Not paying attention has cost me money at a time when it's really tight. Dayum.

My recession jeans

Yeah the patches are bootleg, but I love the jeans. And I figure since almost everybody is broke these days I can get away with it.


Ok. I don't wear these to work on casual Friday. I have another pair that are patch free. :) These are just for running around on weekends.

I had a new pair of jeans that were supposed to be petite length, however I think they were for petite giraffes. I tried trimming them, but it was lop-sided. Long story short, those jeans are now capri's, and the left over fabric was used to make patches for my other jeans that were perfectly fine but had wholes in the thighs. The denim fabric is much more sturdy than an iron-on patch so it works well.

Financial and emotional stress

I'm feeling a little stressed right now. Nothing major...yet...just looking down the line at some potential "situations."

  • Last week, emails were sent out to several departments are work talking about how the senior leaders were ever so excited to get cracking on some new initiatives to win business. Of course, said initiatives need funding. And of course, said senior leaders will be looking at the current "staffing model" and "performance" to make sure they have "the right people" doing the right things. A lot of people think we're getting warmed up for a RIF (Reduction in Force). That could be true, but what can I do about that? Mind my performance, update my resume, and save money like mad. All of those things are under my control, everything else I'm not all that concerned about. Because of this, and saving for a house, cost of food, etc., I've put myself on a pretty strict budget. The entire month of June I didn't go out (like party, clubs, movies, etc.) and didn't buy any food other than groceries so I could save money for this weekend. I plan to keep this going for the next six months make sure I maximize my savings, especially since my employer has me concerned.
  • A few months ago The S.O. and I made arrangements for him to come visit me. Everything was booked and ready to go when I got a message for a dear friend saying she was going to be in town also. Well I couldn't possibly miss out on the opportunity to see her! So I've made plans to drag S.O. with me to see my girlfriends during the visit. Since he paid for everything when I saw him last, I decided to return part of the favor (what? I'm not rollin' in it!) and cover all his meals while he's here. Thank GAWD he likes Chipotle. :-D We may or may not spend Saturday night with my girlfriends, but we will definitely meet up with them for Sunday brunch. It's going to be a low-spend weekend as we're both trying to save money. Especially him because it's finally sinking in for him that he not only has to pay a mortgage on one salary when there used to be two, but he also has to repay a HELOC he took out on the house to pay out his ex in the divorce. I offered some budgeting help, and to his credit, he took me up on it. Gave me all the financials and we hammered out a budget. It's going to be a very difficult three to four months for him as he pays off smaller debts so he can start saving. I suggested that he cancel the trip to visit me, however he already paid for the hotel and his folks will watch the dog (instead of him paying $100 to have it boarded). I also suggested that I should go visit him since it would be less expensive for me. Still, part of me is concerned about how long this relationship can withstand financial strain inherent on LDRs. It's not a concern that makes me want to drop everything, just something in the back of my head that I think about as I look over my budget.
  • My cousin is coming to town to spend a month or so in the city and bringing her daughter. She mentioned this months and months ago but I never got a date. Well my Dad just asked me to pick her up from the airport on Thursday because he's not feeling well. I hope my aunt tells her to wait outside in the pick-up area, because I have no cash to pay for parking. I'm also hoping she's ok with me not seeing her this weekend because it's already booked, besides, she's going to be here for a month and I didn't know when she was arriving. I can visit with her next weekend. I love hanging out with her, but I hope she doesn't need me to keep her entertained, because the money just isn't there.

I kinda just want to crawl into a hole and come out once I've saved up enough money and these situations have passed. Meh.

Day 6

Day Six: $3,200 Spending Spree

  • Bi-weekly therapeutic massages for my mother for one year.

I am grateful for:

  • Summer rain.
  • Not listening to my friends when they were pressuring me to buy a house about five years ago.
  • Judge Judy
Show me the money:
  • Two side gigs? (I'm starting to run out of money-making ideas)

Saudis fear we won't need them anymore

An interesting article was published on CNN.com last night. It appears that the Saudis will hold a summit to increase oil production in order to bring the cost of crude oil down. Why?

The Saudis are widely believed to be concerned that escalating oil prices - crude hovered around $134 a barrel Thursday, nearly double what it cost a year ago - will cause a permanent drop in demand as consumers get more efficient or, worse, the global economy slows.

Emphasis by me. Oh now they want to help out. Now that consumer nations, especially the U.S. has drastically cut their use of oil in a short time, they're "concerned." In other words, they're afraid that we'll won't be dependent on them for oil as we come up with alternative sources and processes for energy. Hopefully we won't stop coming up with these alternatives as we'll still have the same problems if the crude oil prices come down. We'd still be dependent on a fuel source that is finite, horrible for the environment, and encourages overconsumption.

Getting More Money: Day Five

Day Five: $1,600 Spending Spree

  • Hire a registered nutritionist/dietitian (2 sessions--$200)
  • Pre-pay for a membership at a the only gym near my office that is open at 5am ($1,200)

I am grateful for:

  • My cholesterol level being 156
  • I'm grateful that my family can afford to live in a pleasant, safe neighborhood
  • The peaceful, quiet moments I have when I'm alone
Show me the money:
  • Sell some of the stuff I have laying about the house

Getting More Money: Day Four

Day Four: $800 Spending Spree

  • Get laser hair removal for my chin (8 to 10 treatments--$700)
  • Donate to NPR ($100)

I am grateful for:

  • The awe-inspiring intelligence, warmth, and love of my friends
  • Witnessing a wicked side-eye
  • That I live in a state that makes it illegal for a pharmacist to not fill my prescription for birth control and/or emergency contraception
Show me the money:
  • Create a side job as an independent virtual assistant

Getting More Money: Day Three

Day Three: $400 spending spree
  • Get my hair trimmed and colored ($105 includes tip)
  • Get a facial, brow wax, manicure, and pedicure ($265) includes tip)
  • Lunch at Cheesecake factory afterwards ($30)
I am grateful for:
  • Having a job
  • That my parents have active, fulfilling social lives
  • That I am debt-free
Show me the money:
  • Get a part-time job in the evenings Tuesday through Thursday.

Saving for a home of MY own?

I eluded to this in a prior post, I think I'm ready to seriously consider buying a home. Why now? Well, because I live at home (which is GREAT) but I'm tired of fighting for freezer space with my mom.

(tangent)Please tell me why a house with three people needs TWO stoves, TWO refrigerators, and one full sized freezer? Better question: WHY, in the name of all things right and glorious in the world is every crevice in these fridges and freezers PACKED?? I need answers.

And another thing, why is a loan for a mortgage based on your gross income? That seems rather faulty to because not all of that is spendable. Why aren't loans based on income after taxes, deductions, etc.? I don't understand that.(/tangent)

So anyway, yeah. I'm ready for my own space where I can store my meals in peace. Below are some of my thoughts on savings preparation:

1. I'm using the idea that one shouldn't buy a home that is more than 2.5 times their current salary. For me, I can't go beyond $125,000.

2. I'd like to find a place for less than that, however I am going to base my down payment savings on the above, so my goal is $25,000.

3. I'd also like to have some money for furniture, etc. If I find the right spot in the burbs it must be within a 5 to 10 minute drive to public transportation. In that case, I would need to buy a car to get me there. It would be a safe, used, no-frills car.

4. Based on my current salary and saving habits, it's possible for me to save $38,400 in two years, $40,000 if I stretch. Again, I'm not taking salary raises into account (the cost of health care/inflation renders it moot anyway).

5. I'm going to scrap the "Computer Fund." Instead, once my Unemployment Fund goal has been reached, I will increase my savings by $1,200.

6. So by the end of 2008, I will have a total of $8,400. $6,000 will be used to fund my 2009 Roth IRA*. The remaining $2,400 will be used for a new computer...and that will have to include a monitor.

7. Speaking of Roth IRA, my 2010 contribution will have to come out of #4 somehow. But I'm hoping my raises will be enough to take care of that.

8. If I'm still in a long-distance relationship next year, I'm covered by way of travel...kinda. Provided United Airlines doesn't go out of business or decide to mess around with their loyalty program, I have enough flyer miles right now for 6 or so round-trip tickets. As far as this year, well...I do have a travel fund and I'm planning to try out Megabus.

9. I'm in no rush to buy a home. It's not something I feel I absolutely NEED to have right NOW so I'm will to wait and save. Ideally, I'd like to be in my home between two and three years from now.

10. In all of this, is very important to me to be able to fund my retirement, especially after I get a home.

So that's what has been on my mind lately.

*Starting in 2009, Roth IRA contributions will be indexed by inflation in $500 increments. I have no idea how that would work, so I'm just guesstimating that it will go about another $1,000.

Getting More Money: Day Two

Day Two:

$200 spending spree:

Buy ticket to see the S.O. ($170)

Show our love and appreciation for Chipotle and Graeter's ($30)

I am grateful for:

  • The current warm weather
  • "Family Guy"
  • A good, supportive bra
Show me the money: Sell my Hello Kitty Vibrator (never used!)

So about that $7,200 computer

Dimples left a comment last week saying:
"I know I am late but I just saw your goal of $7200 for a new computer in 2009. What computer you trying to buy? Bill Gates personal laptop???"

Not so much. ;) I budgeted that high for a high-performance gaming machine. Basically, I want to play games online, and to do so, I need a machine that can handle the graphic loads of today's offerings. The apple, so to speak, of my eye these days is HP's Blackbird 002. Shipping alone for the custom beast I have in mind would come close to $200. Before anyone looks at me strange, the machine I have right now is one I built myself back in 2001. It's had some updates, but it's ready to retire, and I'm ready for a new toy!


...BUT...my mind is changing. I've given some serious thought to buying a home in the next two to three years. $7,200 could sure come in handy with that fund. But I really need a new computer. Clearly there needs to be a compromise of some sort. I'm still working the numbers, but chances are pretty good that I won't be getting the super-duper monster machine. It's wicked awesome, however I think I want a home of my own more. So I see myself downgrading the new machine so I can jump-start my down payment fund.

Getting More Money: Day One

MMND has a month-long exercise going where she's being "open" to getting more money, but not working more to get it. After giving her the virtual side-eye, I decided to give it a try for a couple reasons:

1. Who doesn't want more money?

2. And not have to work for it!

3. Seriously, I've been approaching the idea of getting a second job. However I will freely admit that the idea of working two jobs makes me uncomfortable. To be clear, I don't need a second job, I just thought it would help me earn some extra cash to make some goals I've been thinking about for next year. I've looked around for part-time gigs on Craigslist, etc., but I haven't searched in earnest.

4. It will give me something to blog about. :)

From MMND's blog, here's how it works:

"Here's what I'm going to do:

For the next 30 days, I'll open my mind to receive increasingly more money. On day one, I'll decide how I'd like to spend $100. On day two, I'll double that amount to $200. Day three, double again and I'll have $400. And so on, doubling every day for the next 30 days. I'll list how I'd like to spend every penny, with no repeating of items during my month-long spending spree."

I have a concern: I don't know how to visualize getting more money. I don't think I understand how to do this. Seriously. Am I just pretending like I'm going to get more money at some point, or wishing for it? How does one become "open" to receiving money? I admit to just not getting. But I'm willing to give it a try, so without further ado, here's mine:

Day One:

$100 spending spree:

Dinner and debauchery with a friend

I am grateful for:

  • My peaceful, loving home environment
  • My cat who brings me joy and beauty on a daily basis
  • That I take public transportation to work everyday
Show me the money: Volunteer for overtime projects at work as the opportunities present themselves.

Constant Re-evaluation

While I set up my annual budget at the beginning of the year, it is always under constant re-evaluation. Things change so I have to be flexible. Even though I'm debt-free, I'm always looking for ways to "downscale" and/or improve.

Getting Into the Automation Game
I got paid today, so that means going over the budget and double-checking bills that need to be paid, transferring funds to savings, etc. However this time I decided to try automating a few things to see if I like it. I know I'm late to this game, but I figured what the hell.

  1. Automated the transfer of funds to my Charity and Unemployment Funds.
  2. Automated the bill pay of two upcoming bills. Just for the next two weeks though, because I want to see how it works.

I figure doing this might save me some time, and less obsessing over my money.

A Closer Look at My Cell Phone
One of the bills I paid today was my cell bill. I have a few features on there that are unnecessary. I'd always meant to take a look at them and purge but never got around to it, until today. I removed two features from my cell today.

1. Equpiment insurance. I was paying $4.99 per month for the privledge of getting my phone replaced if it had become lost or stolen. Oh, and there were be a $50 deductible should I file a claim. I decided this was completely unncessary for me because of the following:

_*_ My phone is well over two years old. It isn't worth anywhere near $50.

_*_ Because I reached the end of my two-year contract back in August, I am eligible for a new, free phone worth up to $100 (if I sign another two-year contract)

_*_ My provider has a deal with my employer that entitles me to a selection of phones completely free, without signing a contract. They are lower to mid-end phones, but whateves, they are newer than what I have right now, and did I mention that they are free?

2. Ring-back tone. When someone called me, they would hear music instead of ringing. It was cute, and I didn't even sign up for it. I think it was a limited time freebie service when I signed up but never cancelled. I figured it was only 99 cents a month, no biggie. But today I decided that I just wanted to get rid of it. I don't need it. The only reason I would keep it is because I always had it and it was kind of "different." I was thinking that for a second then got over myself. It's just a freaking sound, it's doesn't define me, for crissake. I don't want anything hanging around that I don't need or really want.

So I gave myself an extra $5.98 per month savings today.

Pseudo Milestone
Apropos of nothing, I've finally broken the $10,000 seal in my bank account! It really doesn't mean anything, but it's kinda neat see I have liquid, available money in the 5 digit range. I feel like I'm taking good care of myself. :)

Love don't cost a thing my beige ass

One moment, I was signing up for eHarmony, the next moment I'm four months into a relationship with a guy in Ohio (I'm in Illinois). We've visited with each other four times already (I just got back on Sunday from spending a week with him over the holiday) and talk on the phone/email daily. There's a lot of information online about keeping long distance love alive, but not much for getting to that point. I mean, we're still in that shiny, brand new stage. You know, where we'd rather explode than pass gas in front of each other. We both signed up for eHarmony looking for a long-term relationship and opened ourselves to the possibilities wherever they might be. Right now, Dude is pretty awesome and we really like each other. It's still early, but I see a lot of potential for a long-term commitment. However, it's going to take time, visits, and money to make that happen.

We're already good about using emails and unlimited minutes on our phones to talk, the money comes from traveling to see each other. When he visits, he drives over and stays at a hotel (I don't live alone), and has to board his dog (to the tune of about $100). For a weekend, it's about $400 for a hotel in my area. He drives a hybrid car, so gas costs are not as costly for him, but still... When I flew over to see him in April (I don't own a car) it was a last-minute fare of $171 for the weekend. Since he lives in a fairly remote area, normal fares even with 14- or 30-day advance is between $500 and $600! Fortunately, it appears that there's a last-minute fare to his neck-of-the-woods on a regular basis, so that seems like the better way to go. But still, $171 is still nothing to sneeze at. For my last visit to see him over the holiday, that ticket was $335...on sale. To Ohio. The bloody HELL?!? :::sigh:::

When we do get together, we manage to keep costs manageable. I think I mentioned before that we stick to soups and sandwiches for meals, long walks, watching movies and cooking at home (when I'm at his place). We're both mindful of our pennies, and if things continue to go as well as they have been, we're going to have to figure out a way to make this work for us fiscally. That might mean me getting cozy with Megabus. At the risk of sounding really uppity, I shudder at the thought of being on a bus for 5+ hours. I hate being in a car for more than 2, and the characters that tend to me on a bus...meh. But I can't possibly ignore the ever increasing cost of flying. Again, meh.

May Net Worth

Overall, my net worth has increased by 5.52% to bump me up the $89k range.

A closer look at my asset/debt classes
  • Cash: The almost 35% boost came from two sources. 1.) Now that my Roth IRA is fully funded for 2008, that $1,600 is now going into my Unemployment Fund, and 2.) $300 of my $600 stimulus check also went into the Unemployment Fund.
  • Bonds/Retirement: No change with bonds. The 2+% boost in retirement comes mainly from earnings on my Roth IRA. As with last month, my 401k isn't losing as much money these days. Still holding at a 7% loss YTD.
  • Credit Cards: $32 to get my eyebrows waxed which will be paid off with the next pay check.