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Savings for LASIK - done!

March 16th, 2008 at 12:20 pm

On Friday, I opened a 9 month $3700 CD at 3.6% APY. This will cover the $3400 needed to pay for my LASIK. It will earn exactly $100 by maturity, leaving me with a nice sum of $400 that will be available right at Christmastime.

LASIK Plus offered me no interest, no payments for 12 months. A friend questioned why I don't just pay off the surgery if I have the money available and get it over with now? My answer was the $100 interest I can make on it! Why give it to the company before they demand it? Some people just don't share views!

Although my checking interest rate is still 3.82%, I feel it is good to lock in this 3.6% CD in anticipation of the FED lowering the interest rate another 0.75% (to 3.0%) this coming Tuesday.

LASIK Update

February 17th, 2008 at 02:50 pm

My procedure was performed Friday morning. I was nervous, yet felt I was in good hands, having chosen a respectable doctor with extensive experience. The entire process took only minutes and immediately after surgery I was seeing well, although it was cloudy and blurry. I've been using the drops they prescribed and after my check-up consultation yesterday, the doctor says I am almost 20/20 already. (The blurriness is to be expected at first, and will subside over time.)

This feels like a miracle. I can see my feet in the shower and I don't have to put on glasses to get a drink of water at night! Twice I have caught myself pushing up phantom glasses on my nose and last night as I lay down for bed, I reached with both hands to take off glasses I no longer need! 20 hours after the surgery, I was able to drive myself the 65 miles to the laser center for my follow-up appointment. Without glasses!

After the appt. I went shopping for non-prescription sunglasses (for the first time ever) and found a pair that rang up for $1.65!

IRS Tax Refund

February 9th, 2008 at 03:52 pm

I e-filed and received my refund, directly deposited, in seven days.


February 9th, 2008 at 03:47 pm

My LASIK consultation appointment was fantastic! The doctor told me I have suitably thick corneas and my prescription is stable, therefore I am a good candidate for the procedure. The entire appointment took 90 minutes, and I got to see an actual surgery happening that day. (It wasn't as gruesome as I anticipated.)

However (since my pupils are rather on the large side) to help prevent the possiblity of night halos and glare, I'll be having Custom Wavefront LASIK which adds about $300 per eye.

The initial price was $1999 per eye, but they knocked off a few hundred due to the fact that I told them my boss's wife had the procedure done at their facility in 2004, and I made an appointment to have it done within a week. I was hoping to get a 15% discount through my vision insurance, but that only applies to in-network facilities. Regardless, the couple hundred they knocked off equals that anyway. Additionally, if I put this on my credit card I can shave off another 2% (cashback). I will pay it off, as usual, at the end of the month.

The total final price will be $3500. My appointment is set for Friday!

LASIK Consultation and more...

February 7th, 2008 at 09:52 am

I got paid today and my raise showed up on the check. This is good, because I heard one co-worker say hers took 2 months to kick in. In addition, it seems that not only did the raise kick in, but they applied the new rate to the entire last 2 weeks of work. (I was expecting only 3 days on this check to have the increased rate.)

I made an consultation appointment for LASIK tomorrow! I am hopeful the cost will be less than $3000, but am prepared to hear more toward $4k.

As stated in my last post, I am transferring money to my "far-away" savings account to pay for this procedure. In addition to my previously mentioned amounts, I have also decided to add any extra on my paycheck (OT, and the amount that equaled my raise).

My Challenge

February 5th, 2008 at 07:37 pm

I've decided to move the following amounts to the savings account each month:

interest earned from checking account (~$20)
$1 for every No Spend Day (~$10-$15)
any $ under budget (~$15)

My goal is to average $50 per month. After containing most of my money in the checking account the past few months, I haven't been able to chart my savings as well as I'd have liked. Unfortunately, lately, my savings each month has been "whatever is left over." Now that my 401k contribution has edged to 17%, there hasn't been that much "left over" lately.

Bank Rates

February 3rd, 2008 at 03:20 pm

Six months ago, I opened a savings account at a bank 60 miles away which was offering 5.12% APY. The idea was to put the money just far enough out of reach so as not to touch it.

Two months later my community bank offered a great new account (see post below re: 5.61%), so I consolidated most of the money back into checking. It felt peaceful to have the majority of my money together in one account again, although I left the savings account open (albeit minimally funded), to take advantage of either account's better interest rate in the future.

Fast forward through the recent interest rate drops, and the savings account has edged ahead, still offering 4.0% APY (for now). I'm debating whether to move the bulk of my checking back. I'm sure as soon as I do, the interest rates will fall again.

I realize I'm obsessing over a difference of 0.18%, but this has become my passion lately.

UPDATE: Today the savings account rate has dropped to 3.85% APY. I'm glad I refrained from transferring out the money.

Interest Rates

February 2nd, 2008 at 02:21 pm

Late September my bank began offering an interest bearing checking account with an outrageous 5.61% APY as long as you:
make at least 10 debit transactions
make one direct deposit
make one electronic bill pay
sign up for e-statements

I left the bank that day with a headache from smiling too hard =) It seemed they had tailor-made this account for me; I was already complying with each stipulation!

Since its inception, the interest rate has dropped twice (understandably). It is now down to 3.82% APY. Which is still good, but I mourn the loss of 5.61%! At least I enjoyed it for a while.

Uncle Sam

February 2nd, 2008 at 01:47 pm

After receiving my final 1099 last Thursday, I e-filed my taxes through H&R Block's Free File. I don't qualify for any EITC, but I did get $200 saver's credit for 401k contributions (the maximum for singles with my income level). Gotta love that 10% return!

I'm expecting a refund of $747, six hundred of which is slated toward my Roth IRA.

My effective tax rate was 6.83%

Insurance - Part 2

February 2nd, 2008 at 08:19 am

After not hearing from my insurance company in 2 days regarding their weird billing structure, I called to see if there had been any progress deciphering the amount. Underwriting simply cannot explain why removing $202 worth of medical payments insurance only results in a decreased premium of $141. (I suspect that having the medical payments coverage makes you "safer", which gives you higher passive restraint discounts, etc. but why can't someone at the company know/explain that?)

Over the previous two days, my agent shopped four other companies because she was not satisfied with underwriting's convoluted answer. However, the 4 other companies were far more expensive than the coverage I currently have; one was TWICE the amount I'm paying now!

So I have decided to stick with this company. Subtracting the medical payments portion has brought my bill lower than it was last year. I am so thankful to have health insurance through my job this year, thereby not relying on only $10k worth of auto insurance for medical.

I have worried that, if I should have to file a claim someday, will this insurance company not be helpful in processing it? It cannot be worse than my previous not-to-be-named national well-known auto insurance company. When a carful of teenagers ran into me while I was at a stop sign, the claims adjustor told me, "We are not an attorney for you. You need to call the other party's insurance and hassle them to pay this claim." Shocking, I thought I paid the premiums so that they would do that job for me!

Student Loan - DONE!

January 29th, 2008 at 07:46 pm

After repaying $24,420 over 10 1/2 years toward an original $14,375 student loan, I am finally DONE!

One funny note: I paid my last lump payment online the day before MLK Day, so the banks weren't open to process it (adding one extra day's worth of interest). Upon logging in to check my account balance, I found I still owed four cents! I called to inquire about it, and was assured the loan company would "write off the 4 cents." I wasn't too keen on associating the term "write off" to such a long loan. So, after first considering dropping 4 dirty pennies in an envelope, I ended up writing my smallest check ever for $0.04.

Whee! A Raise!

January 28th, 2008 at 07:43 pm

Tomorrow is my one year work anniversary. I haven't worked an entire year at the same job since 2001! This is a good feeling of stability. I love my job and the flexibility it allows.

A month ago I raised my 401k contribution 2%, so I won't enjoy that much more money in my take-home paycheck, but I will enjoy the fact that I've forced myself to save extra.

Although the markets have dipped, I take solace in the fact that I'm buying at a supreme discount. The markets will rebound eventually. I've diverted a few percentage from my long horizon target fund toward bonds for the short term. Perhaps that's a little too much diversification, but it makes me sleep better at night.

Due to being an investment dork when I first enrolled, I'm showing a depressing 16% loss since I started my 401k in April of 2007. HOWEVER, when you factor in the employer match I'm still ahead almost 6%, which is a more optimistic view.

Regardless, I'm in this for the long haul and I have at least 30 years to watch this turn around.


January 27th, 2008 at 10:31 am

My auto insurance is set to renew the beginning of March, so I logged on their web site to see how much the premium would (inevitably) increase. Much to my surprise, it had gone up 13% from last year. No tickets, no accidents, no change in credit score, yet a substantial increase over last year.

So I called to ask why the major hike? Needless to say, no one can tell me why or how. Not the parent company, not the agent.

Gee, I'd like to give myself a COLA of 13% JUST BECAUSE! Keep in mind, my health insurance only increased 7% this year (a serendipitous surprise).

Last year, I added $10,000 worth of medical payments insurance, since I had yet to qualify for health insurance at my new job. I've decided to drop this, saving $202 off the premium. Yet when I log on to see the adjusted premium amount, it has only dropped $141. Again, no one can answer why.

I am hoping this will be resolved before the bill is mailed out, otherwise I will get hit with the $4 service charge for the privilege of paying my bill.

Still, my agent assures me he has many customers that would love to have a rate as low as mine. I told him I'm not comparing myself to them. I'm comparing myself to myself-last-year!

Does a 13% increase seem high to you?

I finally join!

January 27th, 2008 at 09:32 am

After months of lurking and learning, I'm ready to put in my two cents.

My goals are:
staying debt free
continue contributing to 401k at 17%
continue contributing to ROTH IRA at 17%
saving for LASIK

I'd like to learn how to add widgets to my sidebar.

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