Why every year I cringed whenever I send my payment towards property tax bill? Maybe I could have added that towards our car loan. At least, we won't have to worry about it for another year. Wohooo...I feel liberated lol
Why every year I cringed whenever I send my payment towards property tax bill? Maybe I could have added that towards our car loan. At least, we won't have to worry about it for another year. Wohooo...I feel liberated lol
I thought this day will never come, but it did. My wife planned a well-executed suprised Birthday Party this past Saturday. Now all the cloak-and-dagger finally made sense. You see my wife had stashed all the gifts/party favors underneath in our guess bedroom. When i first discovered it about a month ago, she told me it was for her coworker's birthday party. Well...suprise suprise. It was all for me...I was completely tricked all the way around. I that guy eyes caught like a DEER in the headlight. I have to give my wife credit...she pulled it off
So the party was this Saturday but my actual birthday was last Thursday so I thought since we already blew out my birthday cake that night at home joined by my parents and relatives. Well that was just part 1.
Part 2 was held in the same restuarant location we had our wedding reception five half years ago. It was a quite familiar place. So as we were walking-in pulled the curtain....VIOLA! SUPRISED SUPRISED. My face turned AMAZINGLY RED....I was shocked in disbelief. Everyone just suddenly swarmed me a like BEE congratulating me. And I was looking at my wife as if it was really for me. Everyone was there, friends, family, and old friends from the 20 years ago. I was so SUPRISED and almost shed some tears. I mean, everyone was there; about 75 people showed up. We had some relatives that drove from Los Angeles, some came from the Bay Area, but everyone else live locally. My wife's bestfriend co-host the event and prepared all the goodies; Hawaiin Theme, everyone were wearing Hawaiin shirts, shorts, sandals---mahalo style. They played photo slideshows of me during my teen years, some old photos were shown which I haven't seen for decades. There was some KODAK moment for me especially a photo of me and my grandpa the day I graduated college. My wife hosted the Trivia game (about me, what's my favorite dish, football theme etc..)she was passing lottery tickets, showed a small video clip featured host my son Ryan who is 4 years old at his preschoold with his teachers, and his classmates. It was truly AMAZING SPECIAL NIGHT! My first ever suprised birthday party, something that I won't never forget, like a kid in the candy store. I was getting $40 in cash as gifts from almost everyone.
I was completely speechless that whole night. Man...I can't wait for my 50th Birthday Party Celebration
We started thinking about saving for EF late last year. We didn't know at first if we could accomplish something that was never really think about UNTIL I became a member of this site. After many discussions with DW, we agreed (actually convince her) we should have EF in case of emergency. So we set our personal goal for 2008 to save $12K by 12/31/08. We were both skeptical at first since most of our disposable incomes are spent on eating out and entertaiment activities. We just needed to try something different to hold on out-going cash normally. But then after several of months of trial (we restricted ourselves from eating out, brought from home prepared lunches 3 to 5 days a week), we began seeing our EF starts to grow as you can see. By June it became a reality that can we actually achieve our goal even before our planned family vacation July (thanks to the stimulus checks BTW). It's all about the budget so long we were prepared to stick to this, we knew we can do it. So I'm very happy to say as of today, we have MET OUR GOAL and even BEAT EXPECTATION this year.
Emergency Fund Balance as of
We don't plan to stop now. We will continue to save at this rate ($1K per month on average) approach for the remainder of the year, except we will stop funding our EF so we can fund our other priorities (like x-mas gifts, daughter 3rd birthday party in December). Also my wife plan to visit her family in the Phillipines early next year. So we need start saving for that as well. If I calculated correctly, we should have enough cash saved without using our CCs to pay for up coming events.
We'll restart funding our EF again begininning January 2009.
But we were still able to sock away $1025, bringing EF total to $11233.98 w/interest. Next month we should accomplish our $12K EF goal this year. No sir! We are gonna keep going till we reach our target goal EF $36K.
I just check with HR today, I'm getting 5% raise, or about $150 net extra per month. With all the prices of gas and food keep going up, it's just a wash to me. Do I even treat this a raise, or save it instead.
I realized I'm not the smartest person in the world when it comes to personal finances. But I know enough about what I "don't spend what you don't have" so not to incur debts way above my means. Of course, this concept did not come easy to understand especially at a young age, but it has been embedded to my brain, I use it as my moral common sense. The fact is, most of us rarely receive a "good financial advice". We act in impulse many times that gets us into trouble. When we do talked about personal finances, we mostly asked either a friend or a coworker. Their good but they are not the "expert" that we really need. Could this be why Americans are heavily in debt because we don't talked about personal finances at the very young age. Perhaps we learned from our own parents who were good providers but knows very little the intricacy of investments or the concept of diversification in creating a wealth of portfolios. My parents certainly qualify, as one that only knows typical savings, or CDs. That's it. But they were common sense people. They knew when not to get in trouble when it comes to debt, or the concept of "spending less than what you make". So why so many Americans are now in trouble; home being foreclosed. Is it because they were sold into buying thinking the market was simply going up and up and never to comeback down. Like millions of Americans who are now trapped in Interest Only Loan, they are now faced with the reality of "foreclosure" because they can't afford the higher rate.
My next door neighbor foreclosed on their house one half year ago. It was sold for "less than" what we paid on our house originally back in 2003. It's almost the same square footage and bedrooms. Yes, we are upside down about $40K according to Zillow.com It is scary to think that we'd lose value on our home, when three years ago, our house was worth was well over $400K. Compared to many homes in our area, our paper lose is minimal when others are faced with $100 to $200K lose in equity. Thank god we didn't use our home like an ATM machine.
Because our loan does not reset til December 2010, we feel TIME is on our side for the housing market to bounce back. At least, that's what we're hoping for. If not, we can still afford our house with our good income. In less than three years, we will paid off our Van. We should clear $700 a month extra adding that amount to our savings rate. We don't have any credit card debt now which puts icing on the cake. We don't intend to use it at all either. Our savings rate on the disposable income is $1000 a month on average, exclude our retirement savings aside. But I know we can do more by cutting back more on discretionary spending.
I'm sorry for rumbling on. It's already late. Ah! i have to work again tomorrow. At least I feel better now
Thanks for listening
We have reached a milestone in our EF balance savings. We have over $10K as of today Friday the 13th. I just hope nothing bads to happen on our savings goal. Gosh!
Wow! Another few months 12K EF achieved!
It feels good knowing we'd accumulated this much so far. With the cost of fuel and food prices rising coupled with inflation fears we feel good nonetheless about our personal economy.
Anyway, I'm getting my 5% raise next month which is excellent. That's an extra $2400 a year or $200 a month increase. After tax, I'll get $150 net.
Our originally plan was to make extra car payment of $200 to reduce interest cost. We currently paying $700 a month and still owe $17,992.00 @ 5.49%. I guess we got into this mindset of saving aggressively very quickly (after convincing my wife) we couldn't afford it NOT to. Beside we also felt, saving on the interest alone can't create "euhporic excitment" but savings thousands of dollars can. So why stop the "money train"
This goes back about 8 years ago, when i worked for this state agency as a public finance analyst. From the 'get go' she never accepted me as part of her 'team'. I think the fact she wanted someone else didn't sit well. I worked on deals worth anywhere 30 to 300 million per bond deals. I don't even received "thank you" or "good job Lee" from her. While I get some 'accolades' from the other managers and even from outside agents like Lehman Brother or Merrill Lynch for doing a good job...I'd never heard her say 'nice things' about me not even a smile. All I get is a look. You know that look, like someone you hate 'look. I get that all the time. And sometimes to just to pissed me off further, she would give shitty assignments that any technician can do "auditing", or rearranged our bond files. I'm not against this work I'm not good doing auditing work and its not even part of my job description. I do it just to make her happy. Otherwise me and her would get the "talk" like "Oh Lee your are not being a team player". So i would just try to brush it off like whatever. Then she complains how come I don't get enough "billing time" for our clients". Then my reply: "what are you talking about...you got me doing auditing working 16 hours a day and on weekends That's why!" At the same time, my other work 'piles up' for days. Then I get behind and try to catch up by working more OT and on weekends at Starbucks. I could never appeased her whatsoever. Sometimes she would make comments like why did you leave your old job, or why are you here" or "you're not working hard enough". Many times she would asked me to reply on an email request that I have no clue or I'm not even part of. Sometimes, she'll tell me "your supposed to be on this meeting" when i know I'm not cuz it's not even my deal or in outlook calendar. If its not my deal or in my calendar i don't attend. Long story short, i quit after 12 months of hell.
But guess what, I now see her working in the same company as I am. Few times, we passed each other in the hallway, its very awkward to say the least. So I don't pretend to see her and try not to make any eye contact. But you know...the animosity is still there. My coworkers tells me you should bury the hatch it...sure if I don't see her. But occassionally I see her which is what triggers the whole thing.
Spent major $$ this week on our 06 Honda Odyssey @ 44K miles. Replaced tranny oil, radiator fluids, new set of tires/with alignment, and air filter total cost $910.00. Our budget was $1800.00. Remaining $890.00 for our San Diego trip next month. That hurts the pocket whenever you shell with that kind of money for maintenance even with the budget in mind OUCH!
I can't believe the month went quickly. I'm glad because we were able to saved $1025 towards our EF. We're way ahead of our schedule our goal, but i hope we can continue savings at this rate...$12K here we go
May was a good month but it was very expensive as well...i bought my wife her mother's day gift (new Coach handbag) that she always wanted. This week my wife took me shopping early for Father's Day my advance gift. We ate out more times this month compared to previous month. However, the good news we still were able extra $$. It really pays to socked those money away first before it goes out again More importantly, my wife finally took her "Oath" taking to becoming a full fledge US Citizen. I admit, I shed some happy tears for her during the oath taking. It was a culmination of all her hard work and many visits to INS. But at the end, it finally paid off. It was a very special day for our family to say the least
I decided to stay extra day from work today. My wife decided to take me early shopping ahead of "fathers day" since I was home plus I needed new working clothes anyway. I didn't want to go at first, but knowing I haven't really shop for new clothes in the past year and my DW is treating me for it, it was hard to say No! Shopping on a week day is rare for us by the way. We ended checking out the local mall. When we got there, there very few shoppers. We ended up going to my favorite store at all places "Eddie Bauer" which I must say, had some pretty good sales and discounts. I picked up few khaki pants and shirts, a new sunglasses. I was able to pick up a pair of Nike shock running shoes, and casual dress shoes from Walking Company. I never ever bought a pair of shoes that cost $175. Father's Day bill was $872 bucks for today (mine alone came to $537). That total bill included a new $40 ergonomic headphone for DW's ipod and few discounted shirts from AF for our son. DW also bought few items from Victoria's Secret and pair of running shoes. Hers totaled around $200.00 plus $71.00 gas, and Costco $70.
I must say this happens once every few years. I hate shopping but it was actually fun today We didn't have to fight over other shoppers and the service were excellent. The good news, we didn't have to charge any of it. We used our debit cards and still under budget for the month of May.
In preparing for our trip to San Diego this July, I decided to take our 06 Honda Odyssey for tire rotations. Hold and behold, the guy came back and told me "by law they can't rotate the tires, because the rear tires are really bad". So I was pretty shocked because it only had 43K miles on it. These tires are rated around 60K miles. But admittedly though, I haven't really maintained the tires properly (i.e., not rotating every 7500 miles) like I'm suppose to. So i guess, I deserved it. Anyway, they give me an estimate cost of around $655.00 with lifetime free tire rotations. It was a bit high, so I went to Costco and their estimate was $30.00 lower $626.00 this includes $60 discounts.
So my wife and I discussed it on how to pay for it. We had few important parameters.
First, we didn't want to use our CC to pay for it.
Secondly, we didn't want to use our EF either to make up the difference since vacation is not considered emergency.
Thirdly, if we go over the our budget we pay using our Debit cards ONLY.
Fourthly, we didn't want to spend more than $1800 for the whole trip.
Finally, we'll pay using our $1800 stimulus check.
Knowing this, it will take some compromising, nice hotels and all the amenities, perhaps eliminating our trip to Santa Barbara altogether. I already cancelled our original hotel reservations booked online which cost around $700.00. We booked instead something more affordable and to stay within budget. That saved us few hundred bucks. Here's the new breakdown of our budget:
$1800.00 Stimulus check
- $ 588.00 Hotels/San Diego/Santa Barbara
- $ 242.00 Gas (based on total 1150 miles)
- $ 626.00 New tires
- $ 344.00 Entrance fee SeaWorld/Zoo/food/gift
My Union is giving us discounts for SeaWorld and Zoo tickets @ $35.00 per ticket X 8 = $280.00 which gives us $64.00 remaining for food. I don't think that will work for us. We'll probably will be eliminating our two nights stay in Santa Barbara which we'll save us $208.00. We might end up stopping by instead for a day.
We think this is workable. What do you guys think?
Wow! I couldn't believe it. Well partly, I'd been on this diet for past 8 days and has saved tons of money between DW and I. But I also been bringing in my lunch to work. I still have $160 remaining budget invelope and the month is almost over
We just sock another $956 towards our EF. And we are still just half way till the end of May. This is so much fun...We're just taking names and kickin ass folks!
My mom bought this diet powder (chocolate and vanilla) for me to try; 1 for breakfast and dinner. I tried it this morning and it taste awful. At least I can eat anything I want at lunchtime. It's almost 11 am and I just want to gobble a burger or something. The urge is just killing me....Now I have a headache so bad. Thinking happy thoughts....happy thoughts....imagining losing 30 pounds by July....happy thoughts
It was nice to see the checking account was a bit bigger today $1800. I can now booked our family vacation down to San Diego in July. At least San Diego's economy will be boomin while we're there lol
That's right folks! I can't believe it either. I hope to do this more often and be able increase our saving rate. Now if I only also correlate this with losing weight, I'd be a kid in a candy store. SorryI digress. Anyway, I still have $290.00 on my envelope budget for the month and were already one-third away. Outta the way folks! cuz' the train is rollin'.
At the end of April we were able to save $1275 from our disposable income which brings our total to $8225.00 EF. We didn't have any big expenses in April. Just plugging away!
Last year was a great year for us. Our gross income went from $105K in 2006 to $142K in 2007. Unfortunately, our marginal tax rate also went up from 9.2% to 14.2% because of raises a little bit of OT. Our AGI was $122K. So when we did our taxes we got back $3200 but owed the state $207. Still not bad considering our income went up significantly. That will go up again this yea. We still claiming 1 exemptions on our withholding so not to owe money and we preferred this option. Plus we'll get another $1800 in May from Bush's stimulus package. That's a total $4792. I know most people hate the idea of loaning the government money for free. But for us, that's really the practical solution because we stress more on "owing" than how much interest we'll get in invested interest.
It's a good thing that we get money back each year because that funds our property tax and family vacation every year. We're not a big spender; we don't stay on fancy hotels, or fly to exotic locations. We preferred to drive instead. For example, last year we took our kids to see the Grand Canyon and Lego Land near San Diego. On the way to Grand Canyon we stopped to Las Vegas and Hoover Dam. I think my wife's enjoyed it more than my kids since she hasn't seen any those places before. It was a blast!. The year before that we visited my wife's relatives living just outside Seattle WA. On the way there, we stopped to see Mount St. Helen. That was the highlight of the whole trip for me. From there, we drove straight to Seattle and stayed there for a week. I also finally got the chance to visit my Aunt who I haven't seen in decades. She lives just outside Vancouver BC. That was really fun.
This year, we might spend few days to Disneyland or San Diego Sea World. But were also thinking of renting a beach house in Oregon for a week just to get away from NorCal. So we're looking forward to that, but we haven't found a place yet. So if anyone know a place in Oregon to rent a nice beach house with excellent view, please share them.
It's that time again already. I tell you time fly before you know it, its summer time.
Anyway, the month of March was fantastic. We were able to throw our son's his 4th year birthday party. We rented a Palace Jumping place for $315 (max 26 kids) for toddlers. Some of his classmates from school was able to attend. The rest were friends, relatives, and coworkers. We had about 24 kids attended the party and about 30 adults. We originally budgeted for $700.00 but we were able to spend less than $600.00. My mom paid for the cake and all the preps. We saved just over $100 bucks from everything else which included food. My wife's best friend made her fantastic spaghetti.
We also did some landscaping project for our front yard and side corner of our house. We live in the corner lot so we had bunch of weeds and stuff growing that we wanted to eliminate and clear things out. We put new rocks and new plants. We originally budgeted for $2K but only spent exactly $1K for the entire project. Again, we did our due diligence and invited lots of bidders to come. Thats how we were able to save.
I should also mention. The $10 a day limit for lunches seems to work really well for me. For 3 weeks this month, I brought my lunch from home which saved me about $200 from our budget. I also brewed my coffee each morning. I'd say I saved about $300 just on coffee alone this year and by staying away from Starbucks. That explain Starbucks losing its appeal lately. Huh go figure!
With all those extra expenses for March, we still were able to saved $1015 towards the EF, which met our goal again for third straight months. Again, majority of those savings came from less eating out, brewing my coffee, more cooking at home, and less DEBIT card activities. So far this year, we have increased our EF to $3015.
It's about time i update our progress.
We thought the month of February was going to be a tough month to save. My wife got sick because of the "flu bag" but she recovers and started going back again today after a week off. I'm still recovering myself but only missed one day of work. However, because she couldn't cook and I don't really cook either other than making basic stuff (hotdogs, sandwiches, salad etc) we ate a lot of take outs. At least my kids love it! However, the big difference before why we spend so much money was we didn't have a budget plan. This time we did. And so, at the end of the month we were able to save an extra $1000.00 towards building our EF. As long as we were conscious on what we spend we were able to keep each other in check all the time. Our balance as of Feb 29th is $5935.00. We still have another $10K to save by the end of the year. We're still moving on...!
March is typically where we spend lots of money because of birthdays for our son, cousin, and relatives. Not only those gifts, but our property tax is also due so that's a big chunk. Thank god we have a separate pot of money to pay that every year. That pot is well funded again this year. Nevertheless, we got our budget planned out for all the extra expenses. So we should expect to save an extra 1K. I almost forgot to mention, we did received our tax refund which is about $3K. Not bad given our AGI was $122K. But this is the fund that helps fund our Property Tax and summer vacation. As long we can maintain between $4K to $5K balances on this account, we don't worry about a thing. We don't know about what we're going to do about the rebate checks ($1800) when we get it. But I suspect we might just use it for all towards our vacation in Oregon this summer.
Well, the good news is that we were able to follow thru our budget for this entire month without major sacrifices. I agreed to bring my own coffee and lunches to work, which help me save more. Of course our biggest worry was not able to stick to our budget. But we did it. Our goal original is to save an extra $1000.00 a month toward EF (split between me and wife). We did better than we thought, our combined saved a total $1009. Yippie So this money is going straight to our EF. 1 month down 11 months to go.
In the next several months, lots of of bills will start to pop up; car maintenance, birthday parties, including my son's 4th birthday party (planned) in March. How can I forget our Property tax due ($1600) in March. We're gonna have to apply the brakes harder to stay within our budget. The good news is that DW received an extra $600 a month net pay increase which help us for planned expenses. Wish us good luck
By the way, I appreciate the encouragement and feedbacks from many of you here like scfr, baselle, Ima Saver, Koppur, and DisneySteve. I took many of your advice to heart. So we're just going to plug away until we achieved our goal. Thanks
Great news! My wife just got an 11% raise for this year, which was a real surprised. Not that I'm complaining
We were both betting that it might only be 3% being the market was so bad. I loss the bet. Hard work does pay off So we're going to celebrate it with a nice family dinner to Cheese Factory this Friday And Yes, I'm happy to be paying.
Let me tell you the background first before anyone replies: I have some play money that I trade online from time to time aside from our emergency fund or retirement accounts. I strictly use this account for the purpose of taking profits to purchase gifts or do whatever. I'd had this account even before I got married so I'd had it for years.
Anyway, I've been following this one stock for about a year, which by the way I'd made some money just before x-mas. So I'm very familiar with this stock. So the same stock took a tumble down 37% post xmas holiday. No reason why the stock is down, excellent fundamentals, and earnings outlook. But lately, traders took profits which pulled the stock price really low.
So this week the stock was downgraded for the year down from its high $112 in early December to $71 Tuesday, where it became so attractive and everyone including grandma was scooping some shares. So i thought, why not...so i bought some 30 shares at $72 Tuesday. So for the next two days all market traders started buying up the stocks because of its discount price, pumping it up so high it reached $79.00 a share at one point and the volume high @ $20 Million trades, unusual for this stock since it only average about $4 million volume a day.
So by noon yesterday I was deciding whether to take the profits about $210.00 @ 79.00 a share. So here's what I'm thinking at this point. Should I sell now or later. I also knew this stock will go up again $100 at some point, especially when the earnings comes out in several weeks. It should provide a nice rally. I also hate paying commission. But I also knew this stock will pull back for profit taking late Thursday and early Friday and I could be the last man standing. So come Friday, I expected to be down but not much. So after all that, I stayed bullish and didn't sell.
So I woke up this morning and got to work. Check my account, the stock was already down $4.00. So I was like ok, not a problem. Then I watch it for the rest of the day which continued to go down until the market closed @ $71.40. So i just gave up and didn't do anything. On paper I lose $210.00 so what's the point of selling. I just let it ride. So at the end of the week I'm down $30.00 instead of up $210.00 for a nice weekend getaway with my kids. My wife is working all weekend. Instead we'll be at home watching football.
But what's tick me off, I knew I could have sold it yesterday and take a nice profits but didn't. I listened to my own logic instead of my trading instinct which would have done the opposite: bought back the same stock today at a lower price $71.40 while taking profits.
I'm glad I took this out of my chest. I actually feel better (deep breathing and release....ha)
Just another day in the office.
Here's our debt we pay a month. We pay a little bit more toward each loan except my parent's loan.
Loan 1. $15K remaining balance (2nd owned property) @ 5.39% = $200 A month
Loan 2. $21K Car payment @ 5.59% = $700.00
Loan 3. $12,573.00 remaining balance (owed my parents Down Payment towards our current home @ zero rate) = $213.00 a month.
A total $1,113.00 monthly payment.
My wife and I save an extra $1000 a month towards our emergency fund goal of $12K this year. In addition, I also saved an extra $210.00 a month towards my own personal savings account (earning less than 2% ).
My dilemma: Should I use this extra money towards paying off the car faster, which we pay the higher interest rate, or should I just continue to saving it?
In defense of saving the money, I use this savings as my day trading account online. On the other hand, 2007 has not been a good year, but not the worst either. I just broke even. So it really hasn't appreciated that much except what I put in.
So far this year we had been really good spending wise. We'd hardly use credit cards at all except just a month ago to fix my commuter car. We only owe $1300 left. I'll make $800 payment in January which will give me $500 to pay the rest in Feb 08. Although, my wife and I both make good money, we don't seems to able to save more than than we like. Our goal for next year is to really build our emergency fund at least 6 months or $30K. With our existing expenses and the tendency to pay everything cash crimp our ability to really save. You could say we're a spender more ways than one. We don't spend on lavish things or have bad habits, don't gamble, smoke, or buy big item tickets. We do spends however on many family functions; birthday for our kids, presents for relatives, friends, and coworkers. My wife parents travel once a year to visit us and stays. Their roundtrip costs about $2000 a pop. We did upgrade our carpets to flooring last year which cost about $5000.00 but paid that off in 4 months.
So our plan is to save for next year. Based on our expenses we could save about $700 per month which will be towards our emergency funds and and additional $300 per month towards our planned vacation next summer, birthday, and xmas presents. That's about $12K we could potentially saved in additional to our retirement contributions (403, 457, ROTH, and Pension).
This won't be easy but I also figured that I need to cut down on things i spend daily; starbucks, lunches, and dining out. This month alone, i spend $25.00 a day, which is $100 bucks a week. I'd figured i could save $300 a month alone through drastic measure.
I like to get some feedback from people and hear your story....
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