Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day #9: Opportunity Fund

Just like an emergency fund is good for covering unexpected emergencies, an opportunity fund is good for unexpected opportunities.

Even though I haven't filled my opportunity fund, I took a chunk out of my checking account recently because I saw an opportunity.

I just came back from Austin, Texas where I spent a week for vacation.  The previous time I went down, I brought my camera (a Canon DSLR), three lenses, an extra battery and the battery charger and packed it in my carry-on with my laptop.  I ended up taking 0 photos.  The most recent trip down, I decided not to bring my camera, and when I got there, my friend was looking forward to taking photos with me at Zilker park.

I had a choice. Either forget shooting at Zilker, or go buy a camera.

I've been wanting to purchase a point-and-shoot camera for about two years now, and none of the cameras that I had looked at were meeting my criteria. Getting my "real" camera around and carrying it when there's a large possibility that I'll not use it is a pain. I wanted a second "daily" camera I could have with me at all times.

What I was looking for in a camera:
8MP +
8x Optical zoom +
Canon or Nikon
Small enough to fit in my purse
Less than $300

I went to Best Buy to look around.  I found the Canon SX120IS. It had 10MP, 10x Optical zoom, was small enough to fit in my purse, and it cost $250. Since it fit my criteria, I happily purchased it, finding that it also has the same features as my DSLR (aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, etc) as well as manual focus. I'm continually finding that I'm very happy I made the choice to purchase this camera.

Here are photos from my trip.

If I didn't have the extra room in my checking account (which would have been placed in my opportunity fund) I would have been camera-less in Austin, missing the opportunity to shoot in Zilker and the house in which I stayed.

Opportunity funds are great for things you would like to purchase that aren't in your usual expenses and aren't emergencies.  I'm guilt-free and I don't have to dip into savings to purchase the camera. Good place to be!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Day #8: The Life Plan

Ah, finally, the weekend!

I had a wonderful week at work. Busy, but good.  Yesterday, I told you that I would share my life plan.

I suppose that I should put some sort of disclaimer here about how my life plan will (and should!) change as I get older. I can't realistically plan for the future more than five years or so.

So, here we go!

I'm 24. I work in a cubicle, playing with Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint. I invest in the stock market, pay my taxes and have no interest bearing debt. I live in the midwest and drive a modest and free car.

When I die, I want to be known as a composer, playing with many recording gadgets as I could get my hands on. I want to have invested in myself, pay my dues and have no interesting debts. I'd like to live in a warmer climate and drive a modest and free car.

Now then, how do I get from here to there?

One of the easiest things for me to immediately enact is investing in myself.  Just by writing in my blog is finding out my "voice", in which I can use for honing what I want to write and to whom I wish to appeal in my lyrics.

I also have purchased a manual to get me started on my recording knowledge.

And of course, writing music and playing music endlessly would be the key to becoming a successful composer.

So, I have somewhat of a plan, but it's a broad open plan. I get overwhelmed thinking about how much I have to do to get there and how much time I've already squandered.

This is not the right attitude.

It's tough when you have a bad day to just let it pass and forget it. But at this point, I'm paralyzed by fear. I rarely play piano nor do I write, nor do I pick up my recording manual.

And, these are things that I love to do! What is the underlying fear?

Failure. If I do nothing, I know I would fail. If I do something, and I fail, what else can I do?

Again, this is not the right attitude!

The attitude I need to employ is one that nurtures my growth into something that I love. I need to remind myself that small steps toward a goal is better than striving for a giant leap.

Tomorrow, I'll be taking small steps toward my piano, then small steps conquering one or two scales.

In a week, I hope to have four scales committed to memory.

A week is a good timeframe to have a small goal accomplished. I can do that. And I'll enjoy getting there!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day #7: Go go Roth IRAs!

Today was fantastic! I had Bible study, work went well, and I'm opening up a Roth IRA, as I write!

I was hoping to share with you screen shots with step by step instructions but my screen shots are not being what I imagined. While I work on this, I'll leave you just a small description:

I opened a Roth IRA with T. Rowe Price. I invested in one fund. It's an aggressive growth fund, and I feel that I will be working at least 40 more years that I should be able to ride out any bumps.

Even though I didn't have the money to make an initial required investment, they would waive the rule if I set up an Automatic Asset Builder with at least $50 per month.

I'm looking forward to being creative with what I earn - I want an emergency fund, a 10% savings fund, an opportunity fund, a tax-deferred fund and a tax-free fund. What are my purposes for all these different funds?

The emergency fund is nearly complete and it's only for emergencies - car breaks down, my hair falls out and I need a wig, etc ($9.4k)

The 10% savings fund is pretty simple - I take 10% of my gross earnings and put them in a savings account. I'm not sure what I want to spend it on, but I'm certain that one day I'll want a new car or make a down payment on a house. I really want to make sure I'm getting in the regular habit of saving at least a portion of what I earn. ($1.00 - just started)

The opportunity fund is for extra cash that I didn't spend on usual expenses, so if I feel like treating myself, I can, guilt free ($1.00 - just started)

My tax-deferred fund is my 401(K). I wanted a retirement fund that grew through contributions that are not taxed until I retire, in case I'm in a lower tax bracket when I retire than now + 40+years in the future. ($5k)

My tax-free fund is my newly created Roth IRA. And just the opposite as the 401(K), I wanted a retirement fund in where the contributions are already taxed, so if I'm in a higher tax bracket when I retire, I don't want all of my money being taxed at a higher rate. ($0.00 - just created)

I wanted to minimize my risk of being taxed now vs being taxed later.

I'm getting pretty tired, so tomorrow I'll talk a bit more about my life plan and an example of why an opportunity fund totally rocks!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day #6: I bought so much jewelry!

This evening, I attended one of those "parties" hosted by a couple of my good friends. These kinds of parties are not my cup of tea - where a stranger, all bubbly and cute tries to sell you expensive stuff you don't want. Then, there's an added bonus of all your close friends there inadvertently pressuring you to purchase something. (Though they claim otherwise.)

This party was a Premier Designs Jewelry party. I wear no jewelry. Ever. I'd be very happy to continue this trend. And I stuck to my guns (partially because I'm poor this month) and purchased nothing. I had a good time talking with friends, and was able to see a few that I've not seen for years.

But I digress - you're not here to read about the jewelry party, so enjoy tonight's topic:


Not the stuff in your pocket that you're going to wash when you forget to check your pants.

This definition of change is: things that are not constant that usually people would prefer them to be constant. For instance, most people don't want to change careers or jobs or friends. Something like 75% of the US population live within a 25 mile radius of their parents. Change is difficult and different.

I found this blog post a fantastic read! I thought it went well with yesterday's talking partly about taking action and moving on.

Thanks for writing it, Leslie!

Being prepared is a great way to help when the loss is sudden and you're stuck in shock. There are some cases (like death) where you can't get yourself ready for the loss, even when it isn't sudden.

However, many changes in life (mostly financial) can be played out smoothly when you prepare, like an emergency fund, or retirement funds. Perhaps one of the best things you can do to prepare for sudden change is practice being calm. One of my friends is very calm, even when he is upset. I admire that trait and I work hard to gain that sort of composure.

Realizing that you're the only thing you can control is something I wish all people knew (or at least pretend they knew). How many situations have you been in where one person was trying to control another person? It just does not work. The only way you'd be able to control people is through leading by example - and even then your success rate isn't that good.

Having a purpose in life is key. If not, why are you even getting out of bed? Your purpose may lie in your job, or in your hobby, or in your family. Whatever your purpose is, make sure you take care of that so you can be pleased that you did do something positive in your world.

What is your purpose in life?


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day #5: Declutter Your Mind

I was productive today! Our topic of discussion this evening:

Thanks, Glen Allsopp for this amazing post!

My thoughts:

Glen is absolutely right.

When things or people are upsetting you, there are two ways to get through it - accept it and move on, or change it and move on.

The similarities between the actions: move on. Don't sulk in your problems, don't identify yourself as your problems. Letting them stop you makes your life stop. Sure, you're waking up every morning and going through your daily tasks, but you aren't growing, nor learning, nor really living.

Glen talks about being in the present moment in several posts, including this one. To be in the present moment requires you to forget the past and forget the future. No worries nor problems. Only focus on your senses or tasks or the person with whom you're connecting.

Focus is a big deal. You clear your mind of clutter. It lets your better yourself with your relationships, career and life in general. You are making every moment count.

And that's what you should do every day. That's what having a living is about.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Day #4: Let's do a little digesting

Today, I finally got the emails written that I've been meaning to write since Saturday. Work went along fine, and I bought some pasta and cheese seasoning to make poor man's mac and cheese. I didn't turn my phone on today, and I think I'll leave it off until tomorrow morning to give my technological brain a break. (Augh, going through withdrawals! Must... text... must... check voicemails....) Heh, no, I'm okay. Really.

I've been bookmarking blog posts that I have been meaning to read. Today's topic:


I decided to read this post by Glen Allsopp.

My thoughts?

It's a great guide for those whom have never tried meditation.

I need more practice. I wasn't able to get my mind to shut off, and my eyes were darting back and forth as if to say, "Laura, what are you doing? Why aren't you DOING something?"

Meditation is something I want to practice and to achieve, as well as yoga. Baby steps, I guess. I took five or more minutes and found a quiet place to meditate.

I'll let you know next time I meditate and how it goes.

As for now, I'm going to play a little piano!


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day #3: I'll fly away

I was looking forward to watching loads of Monarch butterflies being released on Saturday. However, the Butterfly House changed the date of the event, and so I ended up being a week early.

In conclusion, I'm still looking forward to watching butterflies being released.

I sent a few emails, and thought of a couple more that I need to send today.

I went to the bookstore yesterday and was thinking about buying a book, then thought about buying a journal, even though I have many, many books I want to read that are on my bookshelf, and many blank pieces of paper in different shapes and sizes that are suitable for any writing task.

But the trip was successful. I did not spend any money at the bookstore. And now I'm writing. I think I'll play piano after emailing people.