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Back from a long hybernation

December 1st, 2009 at 10:59 am

Well I'm back to perusing the PF blogs after a long hiatus. We've been so busy with home remodeling, getting new jobs and getting ready for a baby that I've just left all the finances on autopilot.

Well after some long and hard consideration, and realizing that daycare in Denver costs $1500-2000 for an infant, we've decided that I will be staying home after the baby is born. Right now we're thinking it will be a temporary 1-2 yr situation, but considering we want more kids it might hopefully turn into something closer to 5 with me freelancing on the side.

This will cut our income in half, and really test all the budgeting and thrifting habits that I've been trying to learn and follow. But I can't think of a more worthwhile reason - family - to do this for.

So far so good. No going out to eat in ages, I've been inviting all my friends over for lunches and making them myself. No extraneous spending, almost everything baby is coming second hand or through thrift stores and I've been selling anything and everything on craiglist and have an Ebay list too.

Now I have to catch up on everyone's posts for the past few months!

Do you get a deal at dollar stores?

July 20th, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Text is Do you get a Deal at the Dollar Store? and Link is http://blog.moneymanagement.org/do-you-get-a-deal-at-the-dollar-stores/
Do you get a Deal at the Dollar Store? - Blogging For Change

Reading this article made me think if the trips I make there are worth it? Not so much.

Food/toiletries/plastic products are not safe, electronics are of poor quality, and we use only natural cleaning products (vinegar/baking soda/elbow grease).

Some things I have/do pick up there:
> A quick gift(candle, etc) and a gift bag
> microfiber cleaning cloths
> dishwashing gloves
> glass dishware (bowls, etc)
> dish sponges

Text is Do you get a Deal at the Dollar Store? and Link is http://blog.moneymanagement.org/do-you-get-a-deal-at-the-dollar-stores/
Do you get a Deal at the Dollar Store?

Where does the money go?

July 14th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Text is and Link is http://www.visualeconomics.com/how-the-average-us-consumer-spends-their-paycheck

I'm a sucker for infographics, and this one from April 2009, is pretty good:

Text is How The Average U.S. Consumer Spends Their Paycheck and Link is http://www.visualeconomics.com/how-the-average-us-consumer-spends-their-paycheck
How The Average U.S. Consumer Spends Their Paycheck

The top 4 are obvious: housing, car, food and insurance. But it was interesting to see that people spend almost as much on groceries as going out (7% vs 5.4%) and that cash contributions (I'm assuming savings) is only at 3.7% of the total monthly budget.

We spend .02% of our income on reading but 3 times that amount on alcohol? I bet that most of the entertainment cost is TV, Cable, movies, video games...anesthesia for the masses.

What does it say that Americans only spend 12.4% of their income on food, but spend 5.7% on Healthcare? If you buy high quality food (healthy organic fats and proteins, fruits and veggies) then you will not have to spend anywhere near that much on healthcare.

Should I take money out of my house?

October 24th, 2008 at 10:38 am

I plan to finish some remodeling projects in my house in 2009. Namely the master and guest bathrooms, the kitchen countertops/lighting and putting in new carpet or possibly hardwood floors.

I received about 5K towards these updates from the previous owner when I bought in 2003, but I chose to invest it at the time and not use it for renovation. I just recently got married, and I see myself selling this home in the next two years, so that we can possibly purchase something together. I'd need to finish these outstanding projects before I can put the house on the market.

Since we are living on one income I have the option to save and pay for these projects in cash. I bought it in 2003, and if I were to sell it now, I'd probably get the same price that I bought it for. 5 years and it's been a totally lousy non-investment! So I'm considering getting a HELOC because I really hate to tie up even more cash in this home.

I guess I am thinking worst case scenario. If the house market tanks hard, and continues to do so, I would just stop payments and short-sale, or deed-in-lieu-of it along with all the repercussions that would go along with doing that. They predict that Denver home prices will fall about 10% next year, and if there are no govmt programs in place to help people to redo their loans when the homes appraise for way less, I think this trend will continue for years to come.

I know this is crazy, fatalistic thinking, but when companies walk away from their commitments left and right without even a slap on the wrist, I wonder why the consumers can't either.

Sure the housing market will rebound, somewhat, someday. But how long will that take 5, 10 years? I hate to put my life on hold for that long.

This was the article I read this morning that made me think about the whole thing:

Text is Many Consider Foreclosure as Home Values Drop and Link is http://articles.gsseo.com/2008/09/22/many-consider-foreclosure-as-home-values-drop/
Many Consider Foreclosure as Home Values Drop

Getting Married and Combining Money

October 23rd, 2008 at 12:00 pm

One of my and my husband's financial goals after marriage is living on one income and saving the other. The first step to that is starting to combine our finances, and it's a headache!

I've been reading this blog post and seeing if I could get some insight on the best way to do this:

Text is Should Married Couples Combine Finances? and Link is http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/should-married-couples-combine-finances.html
Should Married Couples Combine Finances?

I have friends who are married and still keep all their finances separate. Then again, combining everything is not a feasible option either bc I have so many different accounts and investments and property in my name.

I think for now the yours, mine and our approach would work best. We decided to start out with a joint household account to which we will both contribute. We will pay the mortgage, utilities and food out of it, and also contribute savings into the linked savings account.

We decided to go with ING Electric Orange and the linked Money Market for this. I was interested in this account since I've read about it a while back. I gladly trade the ability to write paper checks for earning even a small interest on my checking account balance.

I'm taking charge of the bill paying ofcourse, bc I'm a nerd like that. We do discuss what we're doing and what we're spending, and he is very thrifty like me, so that helps.

How do you manage money in your marriage, and does it work for you? Do you have any advice on for a young couple just starting out together?

I went ahead and joined mint.com

July 22nd, 2008 at 01:06 pm

I started using mint.com as soon as they went beta a few months ago. I saw it as a tool to see and manage all my various credit card activity in one place. Also I want access to my information at any time and from any location, so I'm not a big fan of desktop apps like Quicken.

At one point I was using almost 8 different credit cards for various benefits and perks and watching my spending in mint made me realize that the hassle of managing all of them was not worth it anymore. Simplicity was most important to me getting ahead, so after tracking everything in mint for a few months I decided to stick exclusively with my Chase Freedom card.

I loved all the categorization, budgeting and visual graph features of the site and wished I could manage my checking the same way. I was weary of adding my bank info on the site but recently I thoroughly read through their message boards and faqs and decided to bite the bullet yesterday.

The reasons that made me go ahead are:

--mint runs on yodlee, a site that has been around for a long time and is quite secure

---Deleting your accounts deletes all information from mint and yodlee

--You're only liable for $50 of unauthorized transfers from a bank account if it's reported within 2 days.

--they are Verisign certified and 128 encrypted

--I only keep 2 months worth of bills in my checking account, so my liability is low, although I don't ever foresee adding my investment accounts to it.

Now all my checking account activity, along with my credit card, is nicely categorized with notes and I have a good visual indication of my financial standing.