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Viewing the 'Savings' Category

More to $20

February 27th, 2008 at 10:30 am

Yay! I added $67.29 in Google adsense profits from my Web magazine to the Tiki $20 challenge.

2008 Total: $560.25, $939,75 to go!

I also paid an extra $143 this month on my student loan, bringing the balance to about $16,140. Down from $40,000 in 2001!!

I have long had an "accelerated" payment plan for the loan. When I work full time, I have used any money I've made as a freelance writer to pay extra on the loan every month. It's really sped up the pay-down.

I know it has a low interest rate and all, but it's our last outstanding debt, and I want it paid off. I totally hate debt.

"Automatic Millionaire" and finally getting ahead

February 22nd, 2008 at 12:23 pm

I'm a financial journalist, so I think I do a decent job managing my finances. But, every week at the library I load up on 4 or 5 personal finance books and read them all just in case. I call it job research, and usually it's no big deal.

But last night, I read the Automatic Millionaire by David Bach. It was great. So simple. And,even though I do a good job staying on top of the cash as family CFO, it made me realize we weren't paying ourselves first and we could do so much better.

We hadn't "paid ourselves first" since Hurricane Katrina threw a wrench in our plans. But that was almost three years ago. I guess that kind of financial/emotional stress makes you even more conservative, to your own detriment.

So, this morning, I hit the computer and automated our savings.

I set up bimonthly transfers to our stock brokerage account, my hubby's Roth IRA, the high-interest online savings account, and the 529 college savings plan for our soon-to-be-born baby.

The money will be taken out on the Monday after each payday and will be enough to max out our personal savings goals for 2008, and then some.

I hope it will also instill more discipline because now we REALLY only have what's left over to spend.

Today was also great because my hubby's annual bonus finally came through. Although taxes cut it in half (love those taxes), it allowed us to pay off the new windows we just had installed. I had used the credit card as no-interest loan for them, so that's now paid (And I get rewards on top of that...)

I also socked away the "monthly payments" I should have made to the above accounts in January and February, so we will be on track for the year.

I boosted the reserve in our checking account, too. I had run the balance razor thin since Christmas, in part because of the holidays and the window expense. I wanted to pay for all of that with normal cash flow, not savings, even though they were larger, partly unplanned expenses.

And we still have a little left over. I think what's left will (hopefully) be enough to cover any out of pocket expenses we'll have to pay the hospital when our baby is born this Spring. Of course, it's nigh impossible to read the mind of the insurance company...

A little more into the Tiki fund...

February 15th, 2008 at 02:44 pm

I got to add $9.51 in profits from Amazon marketplace sales and $3.40 in profits from a sale on my Web site to the tiki bar fund.

Tiki "$20" challenge: $12.91
Total this year: $487.96

Yay! A bonus!

February 14th, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Turns out the hubby is getting a bonus this year.

I don't know how much it will be after taxes but I am pretty sure it will be enough to pay off the last of the new windows we bought this month (around $3,000 left to pay) and to fund at least part of his Roth IRA for 2008 ($2,000 to $4,000).

It feels really great to be so close to meeting those 2008 goals and we're only in mid-Feb. Plus, it'll free up money to help us meet the rest of the year's goals, including maxing out the 529 college plan and adding $5,000 to our liquid savings.

With a little one on the way this is like pennies from heaven!!

Our $1,200 tax "rebate" going to...

February 8th, 2008 at 04:22 pm

Well, looks like the stimulus plan is going to make it through. I'm really not a fan of the idea, but I guess it's time to at least entertain the idea of what to do with the money.

Bush won't be happy. It won't stimulate the economy.

Looks like we're in line for $1,200 as a couple.

With a new baby due April 4, we've decided to put all of it into junior's 529 college savings fund. We'd planned to contribute $2,000 this year (that's the max for the state income tax deduction). So we'll only need to put in $800 after that to reach our goal.

Hey, I don't know how expensive having a baby is going to be, so it does feel good to not have to think so much about scraping together the money for that future college education!

Self-employment tax and IRA contributions

February 8th, 2008 at 03:20 pm

Another check from a freelance assignment came in the mail today, so that's another $225 toward the IRA goal. I'm now up to $2,199 out of the $5,000 I want to contribute for 2008.

Here's the rub. I was reading the IRS guidelines on IRA contributions (yes, I'm a geek) and it appears that I have to subtract half of my self-employment tax from the amount I am allowed to contribute. .

If I have a good year, this won't be an issue, as I will have enough freelance income to max out the IRA and then some. But if I make less than $5,000 this year, I won't know exactly how much I can put into the IRA, due to the SEP calculation.

What to do.

I guess these are the challenges facing the self-employed.

At the moment, I've just been putting the entire freelance check into a reserve bound for the IRA account. I guess I can wait and see how much I have in it at the end of the year and do a quickie calculation.

Any other ideas?

Another $11.97 into the Tiki Fund

January 28th, 2008 at 10:38 am

Thanks to an eBay sale and another sale from my Web site, I added another $11.97 into the Tiki Bar savings account today. It feels good.

I know it's only small amounts, but just deciding to do this and keep track of the results really keeps me motivated and constantly thinking of new ways to make extra money.

$55.97 closer to a tiki bar!

January 26th, 2008 at 02:31 pm

Thanks to some craft sales and another Amazon book sale, I'm adding another $55.97 to the Tiki Bar fund. It isn't a lot, but it sure feels good to make some progress! I've also decided to raise the Tiki Bar Fund savings goal to $1,500, since I'm almost half way to my original goal of $1,000.

Two steps closer to savings goals

January 23rd, 2008 at 10:33 am

I sold two book through the Amazon marketplace, so those profits are going to the Tiki Bar Fund.

(I'm applying the $20 challenge principle to my Tiki Bar Fund-- using new sources of revenue to boost my savings.)

The total sales came to $17.87, but after shipping and fees my profit was only $7. (Boo.) The tiki bar fund total is now $399.19.

I should be able to add more to that by the end of the month, due to some pending eBay sales.

On a more exciting note, I just got a check for $1,947 for a freelance project I did late last year. It's going directly into my IRA.

My goal is to max out my IRA this year with $5,000 in contributions. This is a good jump start. Only $3,053 left to go!

On another note, I just got $75 worth of Amazon gift certificates in the mail. We use an Amazon credit card to and these are our accrued "Rewards". I used the certificates to buy my crib mattress, so that was a nice bonus for baby that didn't have to come out of our pockets.

First trip ever to Aldi's

January 22nd, 2008 at 06:28 pm

I went to Aldi's for the first time tonight. We needed a lot of pantry-stocking basics. At first, I wasn't impressed. The prices seemed very similar to those at Wal-mart on most items.

But the small savings must have added up. At the checkout, I paid a little less than $54 for an entire cartload of groceries. I'm guessing we can eat on that stuff for more than a week.

I even bought "luxury" items-- meat and fish, which we don't normally cook at home. Geesh. I can't even get by on $54 at Wal-Mart!

It's really time for me to start that price book so I have more than a vague idea of what things cost. I'll definitely be patronizing Aldi's again.

First baby money anxiety

January 18th, 2008 at 11:37 am

My hubby and I are expecting our first baby April 4. It's causing a bit of anxiety. We've always been somewhat conservative financially. As in, even though we both have held full-time jobs, we have always lived on one income only and saved the rest.

This has worked out well. However, our plan for when a baby came along was for me to go from full-time to freelance. After child care costs, I'd have next to no take-home pay so it wouldn't really be worth it. It'd just bump us into a higher tax bracket.

But freelancing isn't easy. It's hard to plan when you don't know what projects will come your way or how long it'll take to get the check.

Right now, I'm having a bit of anxiety. We simply don't know how much this little one is going to cost us.

Maybe I shouldn't worry, because even without my freelance income we are managing to pay bills and sock a little bit away. The savings account balance isn't growing as fast as it used to, but at least it's still growing.

And, even pre-baby, we've been rather thrifty. We've used second-hand stores to get a lot of what we need for the little one. We've only spent about $120 so far and we have the crib, stroller, play mats, blankets, toy chests, and a large laundry basket full of clothes.

We're using a Xmas gift certificate for the car seat, and we are going to use gift certificates from last year's credit card rewards for the crib mattress. We're planning to use cloth diapers, which will save $ in the long run, but require an up-front investment.

We've also put $2,000 into a 529 plan for junior, to get a jump on college savings.

Still, even though we're thrifty on this front, we have no idea what it really costs to have a baby.

We still want to meet our other goals: Starting a business, investing more in the stock market, maxxing out our retirement accounts. And we'll need a new car in two or three years.

Can we keep our expenses low even with a baby or is there something we just haven't thought of yet?

Using the change jar to get closer to my goals...

January 10th, 2008 at 09:36 am

It's that time of year again. Time to empty the giant plastic beer bottle "piggy" bank. It's the receptacle for all of my spare change, linty pennies I picked up on the street, as well as my go-to guy for bus fare and parking meter money. When it gets overwhelming, I empty it out. It's been about a year.

This year, with my honey's blessing, I'm putting that money in the Tiki Bar Fund. This will probably be the last big "easy" boost the fund will get this year. A sad thought considering it's only early January. I'm actually going to have to go out and (somehow) earn the rest.

I rolled as many coins as I could last night while watching television. Holl-ee cow. When I counted, I had $112. I also cashed in pennies at the Coinstar, for a total of $26.19.

I know, I know. Coinstar charges 8.9 percent to sort, but I ran out of wrappers and my bank won't take loose change. I wrapped all of the silver, so it's worth it to me to pay $2 or so just to get those pennies off my hands. I guess that isn't very thrifty of me, but I'm choosing my battles.

I went to the bank this morning to deposit all of my ill-gotten gains. This afternoon, I'll transfer it into the official Tiki Bar Fund online savings account.

The grand total: The pennies came to $26.19, for a grand total of $138.19 in change. Plus, I found a bonus $4-- a lottery ticket that my mom gave me for Christmas, so I'm adding $142.19 to the fund. Yay! I'm now up to $392.19!

Now the real work can begin.

First $250 in a high-interest online savings account

January 10th, 2008 at 06:45 am

I have opened a high-interest online savings account for my initial $250 "investment". This is money I earned selling handmade indie crafts in December. (If only every month were as good!)

The deposit cleared today, so I am officially earning interest. I chose EmigrantDirect.com. I already have a savings account with them and have been very happy. The Web site is easy to use and getting your money in and out is fast and easy. It currently has an interest rate of about 4.5 percent--with an APY of about 4.65 percent-- much higher than the measly .05 percent my normal bank offers!

When I was shopping around, I found that Bankrate.com has an easy to use tool listing the highest paying accounts, their minimum balances, etc.

Let's see if I can figure out how to link to Bankrate's Guide:

[url] http://www.bankrate.com/brm/rate/brm_mmasearch.asp[/url]

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