The Boys

Inspired by Sheila’s pictures of “the girls” at Reynolds in Progress, I’ve decided to post pictures of my boys.  Yes, my dogs.

Uh, of course the post is finance related, these suckers are constantly chewing things of importance plus require a constant supply of treats and toys!

Wilson - 1 year old daschund (as a lobster for Halloween)
Wilson - 1 year old daschund (as a lobster for Halloween)

Doggy #2

Jackson, 3 year old Chocolate Lab
Jackson, 3 year old Chocolate Lab
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The Price of Power

Today I’ve been struggling with things I want in my new house.  I work for an electrician and am obsessed with our wattstoppers.  These are devices that turn off the lights when a room is empty and turn the lights on when someone enters.  I love these suckers, they make me feel like God.  In fact, some mornings I enter the copy room and boom (silently in my head) “out of the darkness I create: light!” a little wave of my hand and ta da: light!

Stop staring at me like that, this is what I am like before coffee.

But am I seriously too lazy to turn on and off my own lights at home?  Sometimes.  I can also blame my brother who bought and installed a remote controlled fan at my parents house.  Dude could turn on a dozen different electronic devices in his room without leaving bed in the morning. But King Tut I am not. 

I suppose I could stand to turn on my own lights, make my own coffee and (gasp!) do my own dishes.  Besides, there’s always the wattstoppers at work to make me feel powerful.

A Shopper’s Nightmare

No, not Black Friday stampedes, I’m talking about none other than Costco Newsletter which is mailed with increasing frequency to my inbox.  I have the Costco membership because it gives me access to cheap gas for my car, bulk toilet paper and great cash back rewards on my American Express card. But the newsletter, oh boy, this newsletter is evil!

Why do I read such things? Stupidity.

Opening the email is an onslaught for the senses.  A 46″ LCD HD TV!!! Only $1,300! A pretty, shiny Canon Digital Camera only $800! Digital photoframes for the pictures, only $70!

What’s that you say? Not a tech junkie?
Well then buy a sofa, a portable generator, carpet, new windows, a portable air conditioner for the home! Or a $600 pool table!

Huh? you’re into the Green Thing? Then buy a portable camp fire, a $1,000 Greenhouse (some assembly required), a sewing machine to make your own clothes or Grape Seed extract gels (I honestly have no idea what this helps or cures, besides isn’t it more fun to just drink th wine?).

But every time I think about opting out of this invitation to run up my credit card with more crap that I would know what to do with I find just one item that I may buy.  New tires, for example.  Or custom business cards as I currently work 160 hours a week (approximately). 

Maybe the real value in this newsletter is in deleting the email and thinking “ha! I won again! I will NOT be buying like an obedient, vapid little consumer!” Or maybe I’m a masochist for just opening the file.  Sigh.  Time will tell.

The amazing power of networking

 

Several months ago I joined an online community of women committed to paying off debt and educating themselves about finance. In six months I’ve cancelled my cable, tivo, gym, stopped going out to eat frequently, cut back on shopping, switched to a better credit card and switched banks. 

It sounds like I’ve been living like a nun, doesn’t it? 

Yet during this time in my life I’ve never been more content or fulfilled. In addition to cutting back what I don’t need I’ve also paid off nearly $4,000 in debtand bought a house. 

Today is one of those days where I pinch myself and people keep asking “are you really only 23?”

Due to the support this community provides I was virtually surrounded by dozens of women who have made mistakes, been successful and are willing to tell their stories.

I’ve found many young women who are enjoying life without charging their credit cards.  One new friend has become a business partner in writing ventures educating others about finance without the doom, gloom or nun-like living. Our joint project writing for the website sparknotes.com, a division of Barnes & Noble, has just premiered on their site.

http://community.sparknotes.com/index.php/2008/09/16/snark-bite-words-of-wisdom-from-some-sassy-sparkers/

Update Spending and the first box

I packed the first box yesterday!

I know, I was going to be packing a little each day and for the most part I have been.  But this was the first box I packed completely, sealed and labeled.  It was light bulbs, in case you were wondering.

In addition to packing the first of many, many boxes, I picked up a few things from the store today.  To keep myself accountable I’m posting about it here.

I know I’ll be painting before I move in and thus will need lots of supplies.

*Paint tray, rollers and brush set $9.00 (Home Depot)

*Kilz Primer, 1 gallon $15 (Osh)

Safety is a concern, especially in a new home

*Smoke Alarm, 2 pack $6 (Osh)

*Carbon Monoxide Alarm $11 (Osh)

The yard is quite dry and will need lots of water and fertilizer to survive.  While there is a sprinkler system I have my doubts as to it’s reliability.

*Oscillating Sprinkler, $7 (Osh)

*Nozzle $5 (Osh)

I also will need to do lots of cleaning and I found a small  vacuum that will do the job.

*Hoover Hand Vac $30 (Home Depot)

And finally my tool set is missing quite a few bits and so I’ve picked up a new set that can handle most installation and repairs I’ll need to do.

*14-piece tool set $5 (Osh)

Total Spend: $88

Ouch.  It hurts a little when I add it all up, especially knowing I didn’t get a pruner for the rosebushes, hoses, paint or drop cloths, not even the really nice cute grill I was convinced every homeowner should have.  These really are important essentials to getting the house in good condition and I know each item was a bargain- the clearance vacuum for example- but it’s still money that’s going out.

Saving Goals & Action – Part 2

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Car Maintenance– they take us wherever we need to go at the flick of the wrist and we don’t know how much we rely on those suckers until they’re gone.  Or broken.  Or crunched up a little.  My car enables me to earn my salary because, try as I might, riding a bike 20 miles to work along the freeway just isn’t too practical.  And public transit, though cheap, would hinder my ability to volunteer and work side jobs.

 

At this point I’m not buying much for my car because I have the following on hand:

 

·      Oil- 24 quarts

·      Oil Filters – 4

·      Cabin Air Filter – 1

·      Engine Air Filter – 1

·      Windshield wiper fluid – 1 gallon

·      Car wash liquid – 1 gallon

·      Car wax – 1 bottle

·      Emergency roadside kit

·      First Aid kit

 

I also have ramps for my car and oil catching devices plus lots and lots of rags.

 

The first goal is a $1,000 on hand to cover my deductible if the car is in an accident that requires repairs. 

 

The second goal is $1,000 for yearly maintenance.  Realistically I have enough supplies to get me through the next year without buying anything.  However, as oil goes on sale for $0.49/qt and filters are just $3.50 I’ll stock up again.  The biggest concern in the next 20,000 miles (one year) is my tires. 

 

Action Step: this month I’ll take the car in to have my tire air pressure adjusted and get an idea when I should be replacing the tires.  By the end of the year I’ll get quotes from three sources. 

 

The third goal is to start saving $20/week to cover my insurance deductible every year instead of paying a pitiful $2 extra each month for monthly billing. 

 

Action Step: this one is actually on hold until I close on the house.  At that time I’ll have a life insurance policy, house policy and car insurance and my premiums will drop by one half.  Yes, that’s half the cost for adding two policies.  Go figure.  So the best time to take advantage of this is probably late January before the premium renews in February.

 

My long term goal is to replace the car.  However, I drive a ’07 Toyota.  I’ve decided to keep this car even though I could sell it for twice what I owe and buy a clunker.  Primarily because this car should last for another 8 years, at least, and I plan on driving it that long.  Once the car is paid off – probably in the next 12 months – I’ll save half my monthly car payment in a “replacement car” fund.