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Overheard in Subway

September 15th, 2009 at 10:21 pm

As I stood in line to order $5 footlong for lunch over the next two days, I overheard this gem from a table of teenagers:

"I just signed up for a credit card."
the others at the table scoff

"No, it's a Walmart card. It's a real credit card. It's got $2,000 on it and I'm going to max it out and then just pay it off with cash. Then I'll have good credit and I can get a car."

I bit my tongue from interjecting, but wanted to so badly!

Good credit doesn't come from one shopping spree. It comes from consistantly paying bills you can afford. So soon he'll have a bunch of useless junk from Walmart, instead of $2,000 in the bank that would better help him to afford the car.

I left thinking of creative ways to squeeze life lessons like this into the conversations I have with my kids. I can't help strangers' kids, but I can sure point mine in the right direction.

still

September 1st, 2009 at 06:41 pm

Still. No. Debit. Card.

On a positive spin: I had 19 NSDs in August. Thanks new bank!

ETA: debit & checks arrived via UPS last night at 7:51 pm so all is well =)

Waiting

August 29th, 2009 at 10:24 pm

It's been 12 long days and I'm still waiting for the arrival of my new debit card and checks from the new bank. They apologized and said they were slammed due to the onslaught of new customers. I should have requested for them to overnight the debit card like my co-worker did. Never thought it would take over 10 business days for a debit card. I feel like I have two banks but no money. Good thing I'm a pro at NSDs: 10 of the last 15 days have been.

On a bright note, the interest from the old account posted. As soon as Thursday's direct deposit posts I will close the old account with an exact check to the new.

RIP CBoN!

Grocery Store Steals!

August 23rd, 2009 at 02:21 am

My favorite grocery store (Smith's) is running a General Mills sale this week. Buy 10 mix & match items, get 50 cents off each item (which are already on sale for a good price).

I downloaded some coupons from shortcuts.com to my shoppers card and also printed some from coupons.com that matched the sale.

Hamburger Helper was on sale for 80 cents a box for selected varieties. The 50 cent off promotion brought them down to 30 cents per box. My coupon was for 75 cents off any three boxes.

Final price = 5 cents per box.

We don't usually eat Hamburger Helper but I can't pass up that kind of a deal.

Switching Banks

August 20th, 2009 at 09:50 pm

Following the Great Bank Failure, I've successfully switched banks to one offering a money market account paying 2% APY. That's as good as anything found online, with the added security/convenience of a brick & mortar.

My bank was different from other failures in that no one bought it. Nevada State Bank has been brought in as a "paying agent" to facilitate the transition. NS Bank employees are onhand in the lobby to sweep in customers. Unfortuately, most of these customers do NOT know that NS Bank ranks only 2 stars on Bankrate.com. (The failed bank had been 1 star for some time; that was my heads up.)

It's sad that people don't research rates and will just go with what's conveniently forced in front of them.

In answer to a comment on my last post:
I wrote a check to myself to open the new account. It cleared within two days: a very smooth transition.

I have submitted the change order for direct deposit. Won't know if that's successful until next pay period. I'll need to keep the old account open until then, just in case. Once I know for sure that's in place, I will close the old account.

Since they are mailing people checks on the last day, I'm not certain whether I need to officially close the account in person or just draw down the funds to zero with one final check to my new account.

The same employees are working day in and day out until the end. I had assumed the place would be swarmed with agents in sunglasses. My favorite teller said they've been so busy since the failure that he hasn't had time to think about what to do next. Their insurance will run out within a few weeks. My BF offered him a contact who may have some work available.

My no-spend days have been training for situations like this. Since the failure, I've had 5 NSDs in a row. I broke that trend today to pay a dentist bill while my debit card still works.

I'll feel better once I receive a new debit card for the new account, but the dust is starting to settle.

Bank Failed

August 16th, 2009 at 06:05 pm

My beloved bank died Friday.
Only had 2 credit cards and one brokerage account tied to checking so the transition to a new bank shouldn't be too overwhelming.

The account paid 4% interest monthly, so there had been no need for a separate savings account. I've been researching rates and am leaning toward opening a savings account at Discover, which is paying 2% now. Same rate as what they are offering on a one-year CD, but without tying up the funds for a year. Can't find anything better so far.

I feel sad for the employees; they were always friendly and helpful, and knew us all by name.

Interesting Money Personality Quiz

May 5th, 2009 at 09:07 pm

http://myvesta.org/tests/moneypersonality/

Surprise! I'm a micromanager who enjoys reviewing her budget more than spending the money.

Disappointed with Discover

March 26th, 2009 at 11:28 pm

On the Smart Spending blog at MSN:
http://blogs.moneycentral.msn.com/smartspending/archive/2009...

Mine is the first comment.

Extra Income

March 21st, 2009 at 10:18 pm

The publisher at my newspaper asked me to write a frugal-minded column to appear bi-monthly. With two editions under my belt, it's becoming easier each time to churn out something worthwhile. I've solicited submissions from the community, which assists with content, and gauges interest.
Across the layoff landscape, the feeling of indispensable-ness is nice to hold. Perhaps if downsizing where eminent, they would have not offered me this opportunity.

This column, in addition to the Obama paycheck bump and my pithy annual raise will bring in an additional $150 per month!

Hurray for Discover!

February 16th, 2009 at 08:08 pm

"We are eliminating the Two-Cycle Average Daily Balance (including new transactions) method and will now use the Average Daily Balance (including new transactions) method to calculate the balances upon which we impose Periodic Finance Charges. This means that when you switch from paying your balance in full each month to carrying a balance, you will only be charged Periodic Finance Charges on your Average Daily Balance in the current billing period, as opposed to the Average Daily Balance in both the current and previous billing periods."

In an age where every day credit card companies are slashing limits and raising interest rates, it's nice that a company I've been loyal to for many years is doing something right by consumers. Hurray for the end of double cycle billing.

They also continue to offer 25 day grace periods from the closing date of the statement.

FREE retirement advice! ~ for FREE!

January 8th, 2009 at 04:49 pm

Sponsored by Kiplingers
2 days only (next Tuesday, Jan. 13 and Friday, Jan. 30)

http://blogs.moneycentral.msn.com/smartspending/archive/2009...

FREE Suze Orman book

January 8th, 2009 at 04:47 pm

Offer expires at 11:59 p.m. CT on Thursday, January 15

http://www.oprah.com/article/oprahshow/20081119_tows_bookdow...

2008 - Where the money went

December 28th, 2008 at 03:44 pm

These are not absolutely exact. I plan to keep better track in 2009. But this will help me decide if my money is going where I want it to.

Taxes - 14% (inevitable)
Groceries - 11% (lower than budgeted, which was 15%)
Dining Out - 3%
Personal fun $ ($800) - 4% (about 1/2 of budgeted)
Gas ($864) - 4% yay for falling prices!
Gifts - 2.5% (not including xmas, which was paid for with extra job)
Roth - 25%
Cellphone ($576 oh dear) - 3%

I realize this doesn't add up to 100%. A girl's gotta have some secrets!

2009 goals

December 27th, 2008 at 05:46 pm

Continue contributing 25% per paycheck to 401k

Continue to fully fund Roth IRA by contributing $350/mo. and the remaining $800 with year-end bonus in Nov. 2009

Stick to budget (or below!) to allow for at least 4 trips home

Minimum 12 NSD per month

Maintain current weight by continuing to walk/jog 10 miles per week, along with sit-up regimen

Wish List:
SF summer vacation


By end of 2009:
401k + Roth = $25k

So Much For That Idea!

November 20th, 2008 at 08:41 pm

Pfft!

Tah Dah!

November 12th, 2008 at 09:02 pm

Speak of the devil! (see yesterday's post)

Plodding Along

November 10th, 2008 at 07:58 pm

Although I'm down $2500 from my all-time 401k high, I'm still plodding along with my 20% contributions.

In the interest of buying low, if the S&P 500 drops below 850 again I will bite the bullet and put the last $1000 of my 2008 IRA contributions in early, instead of waiting until the end of the year.

Buying at a discount... this too shall pass... better days lie ahead... all will be well...

Ouch!

September 18th, 2008 at 05:49 pm

Between Monday and Wednesday, I've lost almost $1000. My gut reaction is to lower my 401k contribution from its current level of 20% down a few notches, so as to let the money trickle into my checking account that is paying 4.5%.

Of course, before it trickled there, I'd be taxed on it. And then taxed on any interest it makes.

I'm torn: 4.5%, even with the taxes feels like a better deal than the negative 10% I've endured this week.

Then I sigh, and remind myself that I'm in this for the long horizon (15-20 years out) and that any additional contributions will be used to buy these funds at a discount.

If I were to drop to say, 18 percent, what would signal the opportunity to increase back up to the original 20%? Once the stock prices start getting more expensive to buy?

I should just leave it at 20%, be thankful that I'm buying at a discount, and take solace in the fact that I'm debt free and living beneath my means.

Just stinks, because it takes me a LONG TIME to make $1000. =(

Vegas for cheap!

August 4th, 2008 at 11:01 pm

Here's how I booked a standard room for two nights at The Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for $22.27 a night:

Expedia has the room for $111 with the second night FREE. (+$5.45 per night for taxes and service fees.)
I used a $50 coupon I had from my last trip.
Expedia threw in a $25 gas card for staying two nights.
I used my Discover credit card to receive an additional 5% off.

($122-$50-$25)*0.95 = $44.55/2 = $22.27



Additionally, I used SkyMiles (21 days in advance) to book the plane ticket which only cost $10.

I'll use my club card to get a discount on the buffet across the street so breakfast will be only $5.95.

Now I just need a coupon for the Eiffel Tower.

Exuberance!

August 4th, 2008 at 03:39 pm

Next week is my 6 mo. check-up after having LASIK done last February. I just dropped off four pairs of my old glasses to donate to the Lions. What a wonderful feeling of not needing them anymore and giving them to people that might get some use out of them!

http://www.lionsclubs.org/EN/content/vision_eyeglass_sight.s...

CD Matured

July 29th, 2008 at 09:45 pm

1 yr. CD matured so I closed the account and moved the funds to my 4.5% interest checking account. This is ideal in that I've decluttered one of seven accounts.

Also, in order to get a comparable interest rate in a CD, I'd have to lock it up for 18 months. Liquidity = security in these uncertain times, imo.

I love my bank and hope it's not on the close-to-failure list. I've read a few articles assuring me FDIC insurance would cover my accounts, but I'm not expecting that it would reopen under a new branch name still offering the awesome 4.5%.

Bloglines

July 14th, 2008 at 05:24 pm

I use this handy web site to see at-a-glance when the blogs I frequent are updated, instead of visiting them all independently. It's free, and very handy.

http://www.bloglines.com

Interest Bump

July 14th, 2008 at 05:22 pm

Pleasantly surprised that my checking account interest rate unexpectedly bumped from 3.25% to 4.5% over the weekend.

Just in time for CD to mature... wasn't looking forward to renewing it at the current measly rates.

Gas

May 21st, 2008 at 10:40 pm

I posted this comment on English Teacher's blog regarding ways to lower the bite of high gas prices.

Tip above all else: Slow down!

Fortunately for me, I live in a rural area with not much traffic. I've slowed down and seen a huge difference in the gas mileage in my 2002 Honda Civic. (Previously ~34 mpg, currently 41+)

People pass me and gun their motors to show me how dumb I am for driving 5-10 miles under the speed limit but I usually catch up to them at the stop sign, and then pass them as they turn in to a gas station and I coast on by, enjoying my 41 mpg... =)

My 10 mile commute takes a whole 4 minutes extra at 35 mph rather than 45 mph, yet it yields an increase of 7 mpg (in my case). That 7 mpg may seem small, but to me, it's the equivalent of 2 free gallons per tank of gas. I think of it this way: if you were filling your tank and the attendant hollered, "Hey! I'll give you 2 gallons free, all you have to do is slow down!" Who would turn down $8? I sure wouldn't!

Stimulating

May 9th, 2008 at 03:10 pm

In an effort to stimulate my own economy, the $600 monopoly money has not passed GO, but gone directly to my Roth IRA.

I'll never pay taxes on it, EVER!

Birthday Present to Myself

April 6th, 2008 at 03:22 pm

My birthday present to myself is to raise my 401k contribution one more percent.

Note to self: ask for the paperwork on Monday so it will be in effect by next pay period.

ETA: Done. AND I was able to encourage a co-worker to do the same. Spreading the vision...

Retirement

March 30th, 2008 at 06:04 pm

I've been tinkering around with some 401(k) and Roth IRA calculators and determined:

Assuming a conservative 4% rate of return, I can hit my target nest egg in only 25 years ! (At age 58)

This is using:
17% contribution to 401(k) with 3% employer match
$5000/yr. Roth IRA contribution

This doesn't include any additional monthly savings or CDs.

Target nest egg = 20x to 25x current salary

I'd be interested to hear from others if this is on track.

How much to save?

March 17th, 2008 at 08:12 pm

http://bankrate.com/brm/news/boomerbucks/20070411_retirement...

Bankrate.com has a great article complete with a chart showing how much you should be saving for retirement, taking into account what you have saved already. (In my humble opinion, these rates are too low, but a good place to start.)

I found this paragraph to be a cheerful, comforting point:

Net pre-retirement income refers to your gross salary minus the amount you're putting away for retirement. That stands to reason: After all, you're managing to live on your earnings minus retirement savings right now, and you won't be saving for retirement after you've retired. This takes some of the pressure off, since it substantially reduces how much you need to save.

Another rate cut

March 17th, 2008 at 03:13 pm

The Federal Reserve on Sunday lowered the discount rate from 3.5% down to 3.25%.

"The Federal Open Market Committee meets Tuesday, and analysts now expect the Fed to lower the federal funds rate -- the rate banks charge each other -- by a full percentage point, to 2%. Analysts also expect the Fed to cut the discount rate again."

Buh-bye savings interest rates =(

Savings for LASIK - done!

March 16th, 2008 at 07:20 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.


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