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Where should I roll over my 401K?

October 17th, 2008 at 12:09 pm

I've got a question for all you readers out there, I could really use your advice...

I've just received my rollover forms from Principal Investors, the company that handled 401k for my previous employer. What I've done in the past with all my errand, abandoned 401k accounts was rollover and consolidate them all into one Vanguard IRA. The amounts were pretty small and having them all under one roof with a lot more funds to choose from were huge benefits.

At Vanguard everything is invested in the TargetRetirementFund2045 (VTIVX). That fund is 90% stocks and 10% bonds and has fallen -33.00 this year, and -4.10 the past three years. My rational mind tells me to buy low and sell high, and that it has time to rebound since I won't need that money for a long time, but I'm still scared. Should I be buying bonds, treasuries or commodities instead of this fund? Should I leave it at Principal in case one of these guys folds, even though their choices are meager and the performance just as bad?

I'd like to know what you would do if faced with the same situation... (as long as it doesn't involve cashing it out and stashing it in my mattress)

Miss now Mrs

October 16th, 2008 at 09:54 am

A photo I snapped during our honeymoon. I'm so lucky to have places like this a little over an hour away. Looking at this view every morning made us instantly relaxed and happy.

Wow, what a wild ride the past two weeks have been. There is a lot of pressure on your wedding day to be the best day of your life, and while I can't say that with certainty until I'm much much older, it definitely turned out to be the best day of my life so far! I've never cried, laughed, danced and enjoyed myself as much as I did on that beautiful day.

The weather cooperated and gave us a beautiful, warm and sunny, Colorado autumn day. The service was gorgeous, the reception location was breathtaking, the food delicious, the cake gorgeous, the open bar stocked, and the dance floor packed till 12am! It is by far the best and most fun wedding I've been to in my life Smile

Back from our mini-honeymoon in the mountains I am now slowly settling into married life, combining our households, starting the process of changing my name (a headache for an older and independent gal like me), and starting to combine our finances. Each of those topics deserves a post in and of itself, and I will also do a post with our wedding budget numbers that might be of interest to other brides to be out there.

I am still on cloud nine!

On the job front I landed a contracting gig with my former employer and have two interviews this week. Wish me luck!

Pre-Marital Counseling

September 24th, 2008 at 11:46 am

Yesterday was our second pre-marital session with the counselor, and I have to admit I'm liking it more and more each time. We received three sessions as a gift from a family member since our church doesn't offer anything similar. I'm so lucky to be with a guy who is totally open to things like this, and who's invested in our relationship being the best that it can be.

I wasn't sure what to expect going in, in fact I was even a little apprehensive, but it has turned out to be more eye opening than I thought. My fiance and I had no specific issues we needed to address but it was interesting learning about common marital issues and what skills we should have in order to deal with any problems that might arise in the future. The counselor put us at ease right away, and was humorous and lighthearted making opening-up be pretty effortless.

The first session concentrated on our backgrounds, our relationship up till now and our hopes for our future. The counselor talked to us about common problems couples face in the first few years of marriage and asked us how we'd go about solving them if they happened to us.

During the second session we talked in depth about aspects of our relationship that are going well that we'd like to continue, and things we need to work on and need to improve. We also talked about our families and how they express love and communicate and how that is evident in us. This session really reinforced my belief that we have a really solid foundation, and that we're both invested in making this work through thick and thin. It also explained why he and I act a certain way in relationships, mirroring what we saw our parents do.

The third session will be about our expectations of marriage and of each other. We both have a vision of what we'd like our future to be like together, and what we think marriage really means, and we will get to share that with each other. I am looking forward to it.

It has been a fulfilling experience so far and it is interesting talking with someone who is an experienced marriage counselor. He has heard about almost every type of problem that married couples can face and he is preparing to us for what can go wrong and what we can do to prevent it. I'd definitely recommend something like this to every couple in the midst of wedding planning.

Tips for the Recently Unemployed

September 23rd, 2008 at 12:30 pm

I really don't want to be a member of this club, but I need all the advice I can get. These are things we should all be doing, regardless of how comfortable we are at our jobs. Nothing like being prepared when the unexpected strikes to make the transition less painful and scary.

From the Huffington Post today:

Text is Tips for the Suddenly Unemployed and Link is http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-kushell/tips-for-the-suddenly-une_b_128574.html
Tips for the Suddenly Unemployed

Trimming the Wedding Budget

September 22nd, 2008 at 09:11 am

With the layoff last week still a fresh wound, it was time to revisit the wedding budget and see if there was anything to trim.

W-Day is less than two weeks away and most things are already paid for, but I was able to trim down a few things this weekend:

* moved the hair trial and appt to a cheaper salon ($120)
* Doing my own makeup now ($75)
* Honeymoon is downgraded to three days and to a closer location ($300)
* photographers are down to three hours, ($100). I'm bringing my SLR, and asking guests to take pictures as well.
* I have the option to take back my favors which would save about $60, but I'm not sold on this yet...

Last day of work is the 1st of the month and they are keeping me as busy as ever. I'm not plunging myself into the jobsearch as much as I should because the wedding is taking all my free time and energy. Just trying to take it one thing at a time.

OMG I was just laid off

September 19th, 2008 at 03:41 pm

I am in total shock. Yes, I was hearing all the financial news, and being more careful with spending, but you just never feel that it could happen to you. I feel like this is a bad dream.

I've been working since I was 16 years old: part time during school and college and full time otherwise. I've never been laid off before, I was always the one in control of the situation and looked for new positions on my own terms.

I work(ed) in R&D for a division of a large, very well known outdoor/travel company. Recently we went through a structural re-organization. The first thing our new president did was eliminate 25% of the positions in our office, including my own. My boss was almost in tears because there was nothing he could do and he was being told to outsource half of his staff to India.

I consider myself very lucky to have received a good severance package and having two more weeks of work. I'm glad I have a fiance that can support us so I can buy food/gas and pay my mortgage and utilities. I am glad that I am healthy and I have friends and family to lean on.

My wedding is 2 weeks away. This couldn't have happened at a worse time. I've talked the thrifty talk now I will really have to walk the walk, like I never have before...

A family's no-buy experiment

September 18th, 2008 at 08:53 am

I came across this interesting article at readers digest today. I found it especially humorous reading about them abandoning a full shopping cart at Target after realizing they don't need any of that junk. I've definitely had those feelings before.

Text is http://www.rd.com/advice-and-know-how/hochman-family-cuts-spending/article99718.html and Link is

Off to our new adventure!

July 23rd, 2008 at 12:23 pm

Our bags are packed, the house is cleaned up and the bills are paid. We leave for our European vacation tomorrow!

I'll post some photos, our travel budget, and tips for keeping it cheap while traveling, when we get back in August.

Take care everyone!

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.

$20 Challenge - Just starting out

July 21st, 2008 at 04:09 pm

Not sure if this challenge is still going on but I'm going to start it for myself to keep track!

This month my fiance and I moved in together and we're selling a lot of duplicated stuff on craigslist and ebay.

The totals for this month so far:

Start: $0
Small writing desk (craigslist): $25
XBox Game (paypal): $8.40


The dollar is down, but we're going to Europe

July 21st, 2008 at 09:54 am

Oh how the mighty dollar has fallen, and fallen, and fallen... It has been declining steadily for six years, when will it finally stop? While it's true that the cost of everything stateside has been climbing, imagine going overseas where the dollar now buys 30% less of what it used to just a few years ago.

The odd thing is that around two million Americans come to Europe every year no matter what's happening to the dollar. If they're rich, they don't worry about the exchange rate. If they're on a tight budget, they look harder for bargains.

All year long both my fiance and I funnel money into our travel fund, and about once a year we make a huge dent in it heading overseas. While most travelers change their vacations for somewhere closer and cheaper, I don't get the option because I go to see my family and birthplace.

Usually along with our yearly family trip we try to squeeze in a week or two in another country. This year is no exception. And even though we'll be visiting one of the less expensive E.U. countries, we're really feeling the financial pinch.

Here are a few things we are doing on this trip to try and make our dollar last longer:

-- Staying at small B&Bs which include breakfast. These are often just as cheap as hostels and much much better.

-- Hitting the local markets early in the morning for lunch fixings, snacks, water and alcohol.

-- Communicating by email and texts.

-- Taking public transit everywhere and using bikes to get around in some areas.

-- Keeping a log of our spending day by day so it doesn't get out of hand. We've done this on last trips to see where we could have cut back.

We will be thinking and spending like we did when we were students because in the end it's the experiences and the memories that matter, not the thread count of our hotel sheets.

A really cheap Thursday night out

July 18th, 2008 at 09:10 am

Yesterday evening my fiance and I met up with some friends from work to watch the Colorado Rockies play the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The tickets which normally run $28 were free extras from my employer. We saved ourselves the cost ($10+) and headache of parking close to the stadium by parking further away at a UCD campus lot. Cost for the meter $1.00.

We jumped on the LightRail, which dropped us off right by the stadium. Cost $0 thanks to our student passes.

Since I'm on "Mission Clean Out Pantry" we had a warm meal in the crockpot after work, and were able to resist all the hotdog/nacho temptation at the stadium. I packed a few pantry snacks and drinks in the backpack instead.

Because it cooled off considerably after the game we decided to take a long, leisurly walk back to our car. I snapped some great night-time shots of downtown and the campus. Also free, and fun!

Total for the night: $1.00 parking + minimal gas for my fiance's uber efficient little commuter car.

Trying to eat through my pantry, again....

July 17th, 2008 at 08:37 am

Growing up we had a small European fridge and an even smaller pantry. Mom or sometimes dad would walk to the local market and pick up fresh produce every other day, if not every day, after work. Because we didn't have the space we didn't keep much and ate fresh and wholesome meals everyday.

Fast forward to today. I've got a fridge so big I forget, and sometimes am scared to see what's in the very back of it. My pantry is overflowing with canned and baking goods of all sorts. My freezer has some things in there from 2004. And here I was, last night, swinging open all the doors, exclaiming: "There is nothing to eat!!!".

I shouldn't complain really. Half the world is getting by with flour, rice and beans, and I have access to anything my little heart desires. But having so much choice is difficult and confusing. With 1, 3, 5, even 7 ingredients I can use my imagination and come up with a decent dinner for my fiance and I. But when I glance into my stuffed-to-the-rim pantry which is overflowing with everything under the sun, I don't get inspired, I want to slam closed the door and order out.

So here I am, deciding to really simplify my weekly menu plans, and it starts with slowly eating down that pantry until just a few useful staples remain. Simplicity will save me!

I'm not starting out on the best foot. Yesterday, since my fiance was out playing sports, I had a can of spanish rice and green peas for dinner. I figure there is nowhere to go but up from there, and my body agrees.

One site I found really useful in this process is
Text is www.allrecipes.com and Link is
www.allrecipes.com. They let me put in a list of random ingredients from my pantry and show me all the recipes that contain them. I'll leave off the 8 cans of sardines from my mom (why?), and the weird things that came with my fiance when he moved in last week (canned sausages, spam, hash). Those might have to wait out for the apocalypse.

I will not try and restock the pantry with any new ingredients until it's almost cleaned out. And when I do, it will be with a few things we actually eat, which I hope one day to be canned fruits and veggies from our own garden.

Just Starting Out, Welcome to my journey to financial freedom

July 16th, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Well here I am starting a little page of my own. I hope can write blog posts as well and often as I can comment.

I'm a 27 year old girl living and working in Denver. I've worked in some capacity ever since I was 16. I held several restaurant and retail jobs while in highschool, worked part time and interned while in college, and had a full time job by the time I got my hands on my diploma.

Because of my school and work track, I've been able to really become a successful young woman in societal terms, with all the trappings that success brings. 4 years ago I bought a home of my own, in the crazy expensive Denver market. A year ago, after years and years of savings I bought a nice new car, and paid for it in cash. I have no debts outside of my mortgage, have an emergency fund, a decent 401K, ROTH and some taxable investments as well.

Even though it seems like I'm doing well on the outside, I still feel like I'm struggling to get ahead. There is so much pressure at every turn to get this, or buy that, trying to make us all feel inferior. I also feel somewhat trapped by the status symbols of "now you've made it" and I think a lot of people over-extend and bring themselves tons of grief trying to attain them.

I was raised by my parents with good common sense to be thrifty and economical, but everything in our culture is trying to push us the other way. I hope this blog will expose me to more like-minded people, who are trying and succeeding by doing more with less, gaining true financial freedom in return.

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