Friday, February 22, 2008

Your Thoughts Are Valued

Just wanted to take a quick second and remind everyone my contest to win the book The Millionaire Next Door, ends today. See my previous post for details.

Thanks for commenting, I appreciate your thoughts and insights.

Poor Planning Leads to Poor Money Management

I have a prime example of why planning is important in managing your finances.

I traveled up to Atlanta Thursday evening because I have a few work meetings today. I'm planning to stay for the weekend to visit Mr. Be-Mine (I really need to give him a different handle on this blog) and to practice for the Marathon in March with my little brother and marathon running partner. Saturday my bro and I are planning to run/walk 20 miles which will be the most we've ever done at one time. We've been building up to this for the last several months and after this Saturday we're going to start stepping back the miles so our bodies can rest a little before the race.'s where the money aspect comes in.

So I'm unpacking Thursday evening and discovered I've packed three pairs of running tights, three shirts, three pairs of socks, and my running shoes but I failed to pack a single sports bra (sorry for the over share guys). RRRGG nothing is more frustrating than realizing you've left something 4 hours away.

Since I'm not willing to skip even one day of training let alone the long run with my brother I had to make a late night shopping run to try to find something that would make due. My late night shopping run meant I wasted money on something that I already have enough of to fill an entire drawer.

I hate spending money on my stupidity.

What about you, when have you made a dumb move that cost you money?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Saving for a New Car

It has come to my attention that I need to start a specific saving fund for a future car. My current car is only 4 years old, so don’t worry I’m not planning to buy a new one any time soon. I’m really content and happy with my current car, in fact I even wanted to turn down hypothetical winning a truck lease because I’m so happy, yeah I know it sounds a little crazy but read my post about my reasons then maybe it won’t sound quite so crazy.

While I’m not planning to trade in my current car any time, in fact I’m planning to drive it for at least another 6 years and another 90,000+ miles although I’m hoping for another 140,000 miles and associated years but that decision will depend on what mechanical work that will be needed in the future.

When I purchased my current car I was able to buy outright but took out a loan and paid for a few months before paying it off in order to build up my then non-existent installment credit history in anticipation of a mortgage. My previous piece of crap, excuse me “car”, I also paid for outright. So it makes sense that any future car I purchase I would like to also have the ability to buy it outright.

My philosophy for life with goals is that I believe that if you’re going to plan to do anything, to make it happen in the future you’ve got to start now. This means I’ve got to start saving for a car NOW.

This boils down to needing to open up a separate account. By having a separate account I’ll be able to better keep track of it and “see” my savings grow which will motivate me to continue saving. I’ve decided to utilize a savings account for this separate account. I’m choosing a savings account as my saving vessel because stocks/mutual funds etc are too risky for a relatively short term savings, current CD rates and Money Market rates are not very high and the initial capital required to start one is greater than what I want to pull from my regular savings to start car savings. As time passes I may choose to change the savings vessel I’m using but for now a savings account looks to be the best option for me and simplest which will enable me to start saving immediately.

I’ve done a little research and my options for savings accounts are:

Emigrant Direct – %3.60 APY; $1 initial investment
HSBC Direct - %3.55 APY; $1 initial investment
ING - %3.40 APY; $1 initial investment

I’m thinking about using Emigrant Direct, because as far as services and features they all seem to be comparable so then I just am really concerned about interest rates. Is anyone currently a customer of Emigrant Direct or been on in the past, do you like them?

Alright now that I’ve most likely figured out where to start savings now I need to figure out how much to save.

I’m projecting that a future car will cost me $25,000 (okay this is a random guess since I don’t know in the future if I’ll want to buy used, new, what type of car etc. and really don’t want to invest a lot of energy and deciding this since it might sway me to start thinking of a new car before I’m financially ready.) And no I have not factored inflation into my $25,000 or title or anything else, lets just call this an allowance and my allowance of 25k has to encompass all aspects of buying a car in the future. This means I’ll just have to either make it happen for that amount or as it approaches closer to car buying time and I develop an idea adjust my savings to account for my new desires.

Since I’ve decided the amount of money I’ll need when I buy a new car I headed over to’s savings calculator to determine the amount of money I need to save each month and let me tell ya…I was shocked! According to this calculator to save $25,000 in six years at an interest rate of 3.6% I need to save $311 a month. Dang…I’m glad I’m starting this week or I’d be in real trouble if I waited another year to start then I’d need to save $380 a month.

Right now my current budget is tight, artificially and intentionally tight but tight just the same, so I’m going to start small and only save about $50 each month for now. I think I should be able to readjust some of my current spending to find $50 a month to put towards this goal, but I realize this will need to increase in the near future and plan to reevaluate the amount I’m saving every few months.

So my next step is on Saturday (after I’ve gotten some feedback to make sure Emigrant is a good company) I’ll open up my savings account with $50 and set up automatic transfers for each month. I feel really good now that I’m going to take action!

New Blog Feature

Just added a new feature to the blog on the left hand side -- the capability to search this site and the web for financial topics (and others topics too).

Not sure about the best location so for now I've put it under post labels. If you have a better suggestion let me know.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Looking a Gift Horse (or Truck) in the Mouth

Just got back from my Food Bank Volunteer Board Meeting and right now our focus is on the board is working on the biggest fundraiser of the year which is the Valdosta Derby Duck Race. The Grand Price for the winner of the event is a 3 year lease on a GMC Truck plus various assorted prices for 1st place, 2nd place etc..

A month ago I’d written a check for the adoption of 20 little rubber duckies. I’m not participating financially in the even to win it, but sitting in the meeting got me briefly thinking about winning. This is weird in itself since I never win anything, well almost never win anything, but I started thinking about winning the grand price and realized I don’t think I’d want to win.

So as I was driving back from the meeting I kept thinking of my daydream of winning and I came up with these reasons why I wouldn’t want to win a leased truck for three years.

  1. I love my current 2004 Honda Civic
  2. I can only imagine the gas mileage on that puppy is ridiculous and considering I drove by a gas station and it was $3.08 a gallon today (and that’s in Georgia ya’ll where our gas is one of the cheapest in the country). No thank you I’d still want to drive my 30 mile to the gallon Civic instead of a gas guzzler truck.
  3. Maintenance for a truck compared to my little compact is probably considerably more expensive although I don’t have any research on this, especially since this list was formed in the car.
  4. My car’s paid in full and I don’t think I’d want to get rid of it only to have to buy a new car in three years when the lease expires. And the alternative of just keeping my car and letting it sit for three years doesn’t work either because allowing my civic to sit would still require maintenance.

Nothing like hypothetically winning something for free and not even wanting it! My little fantasy on my drive made me realize that I’m extremely content and happy with my current mode of transportation.

What about you? Are you happy with your current ride? What if you won a 3 year lease on a Truck?

PS Thought I’d give a “shout out” to my favorite charity, America’s Second Harvest.

I’m a firm believer in putting your time and money where your heart is and I strongly believe that hunger is one of the most curable problems in this country and have long since been a regular weekly volunteer with America’s Second Harvest via the Atlanta Food Bank and now the South Georgia Food Bank. So with that ringing endorsement I wanted to give you all a chance to help out and feed those in need and participate in the Valdosta Derby Duck Race (you don’t have to be in Valdosta to participate). To participate just click here so you too can adopt a duck for a chance to win the GMC truck (and a few other odds and ins that personally I’d be much happier to winning).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Saving Savy by a Future Millionaire made No Credit Needed's Blog Stroll

Check it out --- No Credit Needed, a fellow Georgia resident, mentioned my give away for a copy of The Millionaire Next Door in his weekly blog stroll.

Future Millionaire is Coming back to the ATL!!! ---- The Money Side to Moving

Today I was officially given my transfer notice, I"ll be moving back to the ATL in the middle of April. I’ve known this was coming since I was transferred from Atlanta to Valdosta so I’ve had time to think about it, especially since I knew my time in Valdosta was only temporary (and I wanted it that way, Atlanta is home for me). But now that I officially have my notice I've got to start getting my act together and plan for the move including apartment hunting which is planned for this weekend. Fortunately my old roommate from before I moved to V-town hasn't met anyone new she's willing to live with and the timing of her lease works out that we're going to live together again which is awesome for two reasons #1 she’s one of my best friends living with her was the absolute best roommate situation I’ve ever been in and #2 having a roommate means we can have wine tastes on a beer budget (notice I didn't say Champaign tastes because we really can't afford that) by splitting costs we can live in a much nicer part of town and have a much nicer apartment than we each would have had on our own. Plus I’ll be happy to have a real kitchen table again instead using my outdoor bistro table. ( I opted not to buy a new table because I knew I was moving back in less than 2 years and my old roommate and I planned to live together again, just like she didn’t buy a sofa but made do with her chair and a half).

On top of the packing of boxes and finding that “perfect” apartment I also need to make sure to budget for my move and for added costs I’ll have living back in Atlanta.

The company's paying for my move, but I've been told I need to keep it cheap, real cheap so I guess the means U-haul and buying pizza and beer for my friends who help with the move, I hate always having to ask them for help moving but as one of my friends said, they like it when I ask for help because it make them feel useful -- don't know if I buy that but I do appreciate the help. So now I just have to think of the other expenses I will incur after this move so I can start gearing myself up for it.

The biggest expense with my move will be the potential cost of living increase moving from small town South Georgia back to “Big CityAtlanta. (Okay for those of you living in NY and LA, maybe Atlanta’s not big but compared to Valdosta heck anything would be a big city.) You’d think I’d have a good feel for this cost since I moved from Atlanta about a year and a half ago, so I should have a pretty good feel of costs, but life’s changed some since then. My roomy, we’ll call her “Fashionista” (I’ll have to write a post about her at some point to explain her nickname), and I are planning to live in a nicer part of town. When we last lived together we were either in college or very recently out of college and lived close to campus in the “college ghetto” area. Now that we’re both “grown-ups” we’d rather not live around a bunch of rowdy college kids. Go figure! See what two years will do to change your perspective!

On top of the change of location, the type of apartment we’ll be renting will change from one where utilities are included in the rent (which by the way was awesome) to one where it will all be separate, again I guess one of those “grown-up things”. I’ve never had to pay utilities until moving to Valdosta and I know currently living in South Georgia I have had a serious steal on utilities compared to in the “Big City”, for example I get my DVR cable, super channels, and high speed internet access for $55 a month (trust me if it weren’t that cheap I wouldn’t have those extra’s). Go try and find that price in Atlanta – I’d be lucky to pay that for high speed internet alone. On top of just a changed media bill, I’ll have the whole electric and gas bill to deal with. I’m a cold natured person and living about 6.5 miles from FL I’ve been able to keep my heating completely off this winter and with the use of ceiling fans kept my apartment comfortable without using the AC for all put three months this year. Unfortunately “Fashionista” is not like me, she’s very hot natured and that was fine in our previous living situation since utilities were included and there was no direct effect for keeping it below freezing other than I literally walked around the apartment in August in sweats, gloves, toe socks, and a scarf. She thought it hilarious; I thought it was a sacrifice to roommate gods.

Another way I’ve been spoiled with a lower cost of living in South Georgia is my gym membership. I expect to see that increase by moving back to Atlanta. On the plus side my gas budget should decrease since I’ll no longer be maintaining a relationship long distance.

Hmm…other than that I’m stumped as to what other expenses I should consider about moving back to Atlanta.

To recap expense so far I have:
Moving Expenses (Truck, gas, etc) – Company Covered
Beer and Pizza for my fabulous movers – Me – anticipate around $100/one time expense
Slightly Higher Rent – Me – anticipate an additional $10-$50/month
Potentially Higher Utilities – Me – anticipate an additional $50-$100/month
Security Deposits – Me (although theoretically I should receive mine for my current apartment back which can be used to reimburse myself for what I’ll be paying at the new apartment.) --- anticipate $600/one time expense
Higher Gym Membership Fees – Me – anticipate an additional $5-$30/month
Less Gas Money – Me – anticipate a savings of $100/month

So all in all I’m looking at $700 worth of one time expenses and between savings $35/month to spending an extra $80/month for my move back to Atlanta. All in all it doesn’t sound too bad, unless I’m forgetting something.

Any suggestions on other expenses should I consider? I want to make sure I have all my ducks in a row.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Taxes -- The Good, The Bad, and the Plain Rude!

I never win anything - ever. I mean I never, not even the free lunch from the fast food burito place where you put your business card in the fish bowl so the insurance guy trying to sell you something can make a sales pitch.

So much to my surprise, I received an email today from Will at Wise Bread that read

Hi Future Millionaire, You are the winner of our TurboTax giveaway! I just need your name and address so we can ship the software to you. Thanks again for participating on our forums. Congrats! Will

I won the Turbo Tax give away! I actually won something, but now winning this makes me start to rethinking my original thoughts to get an accountant to do my taxes this year -- after all when you're provided something for free you should at least take advantage of it. For now I'm just going to sit tight, wait for the software, see if I like it and then make my decision. I'll at least go through the Turbo Tax software and if I decide not to use it, the run through could at least serve as a basis before I go to a professional for my taxes.

Although all of this is a little moot since I've still not received my W-2 yet! RGGGG, I've seriously been ready to get my taxes over and done with for the last two months but I've been waiting on my W-2. Supposedly it was mailed out on January 31st but its not made its way to me yet. I've checked with my co-workers and they all have received theirs, so last week I call up our Payroll department to see what's going on and received the worst customer service known to man. Granted our company has over 5,000 employees in the US alone but you'd think that if you all work for the same top boss man you're be nice to each other a little...but no. So after trying to politely explain to the most rude person known to man that I have not received my W-2 and wanted to see if they were still being distrusted or if I needed to request a copy. After much heartburn, finally I was told to fill out form 10-52-C (no joke that's the form number) located on our company's portal and fax to xyz number. So about two days after faxing in form 10-52-C I receive a phone call from a different person with the payroll department and was interrogated about if I'd lost my W-2, after assuring them I had not, swearing on my grandmothers grave, promising my first born child, and begging I was finally approved to receive a "duplicate" W-2 form. So we'll see if/when that comes.

As a side note about our wonderful payroll department, for the last 4-5 months our paycheck subs that we used to receive at our home address on paydays are now being received at home about 7-8 days later. Thank goodness the direct deposit still comes on pay day.

Monday's Money Funny - Flirting at Work

One of the regular features on my blog is "Monday's Money Funny" which are humorous (or at least humorous to me) articles/jokes/just about anything (real or satire) that I've discovered over the weekend when I catch up on all my on line reading that spark a need for knowledge. For example last week's was a book review on "House Lust: America’s Obsession With Our Homes” by Daniel McGinn.

This Monday I've decided go with a topic that's a little controversial and that's flirting in the work place. This NY Times Article "Two Paths for Aspiring Alpha Females" peeked my interest when one of the authours interviewed talked about using seduction and manipulation to get ahead including flirting.

Below are a few excerpts of the article:

The two principal tactics advocated by Ms. DiSesa are seduction and manipulation. After bundling them together in a glib Madison Avenue abbreviation, she declares that, “All the men in our lives — the ones we work with or live with, admire or desire, and love or hate — are easier to control if we master the Art of S.& M.” Why would men fall for such tactics? “First of all, they love seduction,” she writes. “And second, they are oblivious to manipulation.”
“One of the greatest tools, or weapons, we have as women is flirting,” she says, later adding, “Men like women who like them.”

Personally, I don't think I've ever knowingly flirted to get ahead, but I've definitely used my awesome personally to seal the deal with a client or get a task accomplished with a subcontractor. I have to say being female in a male dominated industry has its ups and downs, the downs being I feel like I always have to prove myself at the start of any work relationship. I miss out on the "good ole boys" network and don't socialize with them in that setting (ie I don't go with them to Peaches, the local strip club) and I occasionally get called a bitch by workers when they have to fix something that wasn't installed properly - but in that regard I figure the man who told them the same thing would be called a son of a bitch so its all the same. On the plus side I think I'm able to get coroperation and sometimes calmly resolutions a lot better becasue the "good ole boys" don't take too kindly to yelling at women so they'll often hear me out but I don't think that would constitute flirting.

With that in mind I did a little searching about flirting in the workplace and found a different NY Times Q&A article entitled "When Flirty at Work is Flirting with Trouble", also found this very interesting study reported on CNN Money that it does not pay to flirt. In fact according to the study CNN reported about flirting may cost you when it comes to promotions and raises.

I'm not sure what to think. Have you ever flirted at work to get ahead? Ever been flirted with in order to for the flirtee to get ahead?

Stay tuned for next week's Monday's Money Funny. Also if you run across any Monday Funnies please email them to me at and if I use them I will give you credit and link to your blog.

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