Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day #16: Clean up day, or One Wedding and a visitation

Oh, life. How you like to change my plans. I forgot that I was going to a wedding reception this evening.  Since my car is currently unavailable, I'll be getting a ride from my folks, but they are going to a visitation for one of our church family.  After that is the wedding, and then the reception. Sounds like a full day of not being able to write about finance or life or that sort of fun stuff.

However, I need to remind myself that this blog is not topic-specific. In fact, I titled it "Things I did today" just so in times where I couldn't get a "real" post done, I can just blog about my day. My goal for this blog is to write every day.

Look I'm writing! So, there you go.  Mission Accomplished.

«Laura»

Friday, October 2, 2009

Day #15: The short post

Yep, it will be a short post tonight. I'm pretty tired and sore. I was in a minor car accident yesterday evening. I was driving on an access road, and a teenage girl failed to yield to me as she was approaching the road from a parking lot. I hit her car on the right side, and the front of my car is in pretty bad shape. The car was able to be driven home, but I doubt it'll last longer without repair.

I had the police file a report, and then I filed a claim with my car insurer, Progressive. They called about an hour after that and got more details. It will be towed on Monday to a local shop and a claims adjuster will survey the damage. I'm afraid they'll total my car since it's an older car - 1995 Cirrus.

So, I'm going to eat some ice cream, then go to bed. I'll work on a more substantial post tomorrow!

«Laura»

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day #14: Thanks for the budget, Ramit!

One of my new favorite personal finance bloggers is Ramit Sethi.  He has a blog, "I will teach you to be rich", and new book of the same title.  I've checked out his book from the local library and this weekend will start reading it.  My friend Joe DeStazio has already read the first few chapters and explained Ramit's take on budgeting to me - automate it!

Ramit advises using rough percentages for the large groups of the budget; fixed expenses, saving, investing, guilt-free spending.

Joe, being the awesome friend he is, created a personalized spreadsheet that with his blessing, will share with you!

The figures in the spreadsheet are dummy data, so please enter data that is relevant to your life (mortgage instead of rent, for example.)

Happy fiddling!

«Laura»

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day #13: The Automatic Millionaire Workbook; Introduction, part 2

Yesterday, I discussed the American Dream and what it means to me, as well as a bit of what I'll need to realize the dream.

Today, Bach gives us the names of a couple, Jim and Sue McIntyre, whom talked to Bach about early retirement and how their values influenced how much money they'll need to live the way they wanted.  Bach suggested writing out a "Values Conversation", a pie sliced into six pieces.


Value
Enjoy my retirement life
Continue to tithe
Be able to see relatives regardless of distance
Travel!
Continue to educate myself in hobbies or new ways of enjoying work (ie a new skill)
Enjoy my home with a sense of happiness and security (ie sunlit room with a piano to create new songs)


After this exercise, Bach builds upon these goals with the Automatic Millionaire Goal Developer, which takes your 6 values and breaks them into smaller actionable goals.


The Automatic Millionaire Goal Developer
Value
Actionable Goal
How much will it cost?
Enjoy my retirement life
Save money in my 401(K) and Roth IRA
$2mil
Continue creating passive income streams through blogging, composing, etc
$?
Enjoy spending money on things that are important to me and not spending money on things that I don't care about
$?
Continue to tithe
Give 10% of my income (or retirement withdrawals) to the church
$500,000 (just a ballpark figure - I hope to leave a large chunk of money upon my death)
Be able to visit relatives and friends regardless of distance
Sign up for frequent flier programs or a credit card that gives back miles
$0-$50 (it better be a good deal if I'm going to pay for it!)
Have a vacation fund for this type of travel (not include the "Travel" goal)
$250,000
Travel!
New Zealand!
$15,000
Europe!
$25,000
Israel!
$15,000
Continue to educate myself through hobbies or learning a new skill
Get a Master's degree (perhaps PhD) in Music
$100,000 (ballpark, guessing large for inflation)
Exercise interests in music, writing, cooking, vegetarianism, minimalism, reading, investing
$0-$500,000 (depends if I just go to the library or if I purchase equipment for the hobby)
Enjoy my home with a sense of happiness and security (ie sunlit room with a piano to create new songs)
Buy/build a  house that suits my creative needs
$200,000
Have some sort of self-sufficient house (solar or wind power) if I can handle or hire for the upkeep
$100,000+


This is a great chart to remind myself of my long-term goals and as I age, I can revise them easily.

«Laura»

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day #12: The Automatic Millionaire Workbook; Introduction pt 1

I read The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach a year ago (yay library!), and it was an amazing piece about saving and how to go about it.  It inspired me to purchase The Automatic Millionaire Workbook.

I thought that reviewing and working through each chapter would be a good exercise for me and a helpful insight for you.

Bach discusses the "American Dream" and how the baby boomer generation is not faring well with their savings and retirement accounts.  He continues with posing the question, "What's your idea of the American Dream?"

So then, what is my American Dream?

I want to live debt free (except a mortgage, or perhaps a car loan if the conditions are right).  After I retire, I hope to have income passively and work only when I want to.  I want to cook whatever kinds of food strike my fancy.  I'd like to travel to different parts of the world (United States, Western Europe, Iceland, New Zealand, Israel, Japan) and not worry about money. I'd like the equipment and space to compose and record, assuming I still have my wits about me.  Of course, I'd like to taste some of these wants before I retire so money management is very important now and in the future since my wants are rather expensive!

After this exercise is completed, Bach asks to fill out a table titled, "American Dream Snapshot"

What are your top three American Dreams?


What are your top three American Dreams?
What do you want?
What will it take?
Why is it important?
The equipment and space to record
$100,000
Music is my life, and I want to be able to create it anytime I want
Travel the world
$1 million
I'm not sure how much it will cost, but I feel that $1 mil should cover it!
Live comfortably without the need to work
$2 million
I want to be able to live on a small(ish) percentage of my retirement income (around 5%) so I won't have to worry about money.

Lastly, Bach wanted to have readers take "The Automatic Millionaire Truth Tester".

Habit
True or False?
What can I do to change it?
I buy things I can't afford
False

I often spent "some" of my paycheck before I even get it
False

I shop for fun, not because I need to
False

I say "yes" to new credit card offers
False

I only pay the minimum on my credit cards
False
I'm often late on my credit card payments
False
I don't balance my checkbook or check bank statements
False
I promise to save money every month, but don't
False
I don't save anything towards a down payment on a home
True
I am not thinking about purchasing a home soon anytime soon, but I know my 10% savings account will be part of that payment when it happens
I put money aside for future emergencies and I end up spending it
False


These exercises are a great beginning to looking at what your lifestyle is now and how you want it to be in the future.  Next post, I'll discuss the last half of the introduction!

«Laura»

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day #11: ING

I use ING because of that defunct band I mentioned a few days ago, One Thin Dime.  They used to have a website with a few photos and band info, gig info, etc.  The band didn't hold onto the domain, and now it's a personal finance blog written by Anna Haferman. I read one of her entires discussing ING Direct, and I decided to hop on the bandwagon and use her referral link to get an extra $25.

I'm glad I did!  ING is the best bank I've ever dealt with. I now have my checking and savings accounts with them, and I find their customer service superb.  Their savings interest rate is much higher than any other physical bank, even though at this time it's pretty low (1.3%).  I started using ING in April 2008, and they've been great.

Recently, I've been tempted at other banks offering signing bonuses between $100-$300, but they have too many restrictions in order to get the extra money. I'm going to continue my business with ING and look for other ways to earn extra money, like blogging (hah!), a second job, or some other side hustle.

«Laura»

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Day #10: Tithing

Just a short post about tithing.

You may have noticed that I didn't have any mention about this when I discussed savings and other accounts.

It's because I don't tithe. I used to, 10% of my earnings when I was attending a church that employed a traditional setting. I left for a home church where services held in a living room, the average attendance is 6 and no offering was taken. It was a nice reprieve, but tithing previously never altered my financial life in a negative way. I just got used to saving all the money given to me.

I realize that this is no way to praise God. He has given me much, and even though I praise him and gather together with fellow believers to worship him weekly, it just isn't enough. So, I'm going to get back into it, no matter what church I attend.

I now am attending a church that has more of a traditional setting, and occasionally attend my parents' church. I need to get back into giving back.  Regardless of what church I attend, I'll give my 10%.

I know that 10% of gross will be a shock to my usual saving, so I'm going to ease into it (or else I'll decided it's too much and just quit).  For one month, I'll pay 5% net, next month 10% net, then 10% gross for the third month and all further months.

I know that it is right for me.

«Laura»