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Today's Financial Update

December 29th, 2006 at 07:19 pm

I did a couple of things to move closer to my New Years Resolutions today...

...hubby set up the automatic payments on his bank account to make a double payment on the home equity loan each month so now we don't even have to think about it (go hubby!)
...every time I go by the bank (which is almost everyday) I stop by and make a tiny deposit to my savings account. I'm trying to get to $5000 in savings and at least the money is getting to where it's supposed to be albeit slowly. I'm sure the tellers talk about the crazy lady who makes $5 deposits everyday.

Panic is starting to set in--hubby's huge extended family is having a family reunion cruise this summer; this will include between 50 and 60 family members. We are directly responsible to see that 15 people make it to the cruise (us, hubby's kids and grandkids) and I'm sure we will end up paying for half (or more!) of this group to go. :I And, since hubby is the oldest male in the family (it's an Asian family at that), he is more or less responsible to help any of the extended family that needs it. I'm sure it will be well worth it in the end...it's just all of the dancing dollar signs I see when I close my eyes

2007 Goal Report

December 28th, 2006 at 08:06 pm

2007 hasn't even started yet but I do have a goal report... (typical "type A" personality--I need to complete some 2007 goals before we even get to 2007 but that's another story).

Here are my 2007 goals:

--Have $500 on hand in my home.
--Have $5,000 in savings in the bank.
--Pay off Macys CC ($270)
--Pay off Mastercard ($1,000)
--Make double payments on home equity loan each month.
--Pay cash for every single purchase this year (except for bills which will be paid by check or online). No debit card, no credit card--CASH ONLY!
--Increase income from my business to $10,000 a month.
--Travel near or far once a month.
--Develop a plan to be able to live in a tropical locale (preferably Asia) at least four months out of the year (the older I get the less I like the colder months here) without going into debt to do it.

So far I have paid off the Macy's card (it was actually $350 instead of $270--guess it was some last minute purchases), and have paid cash for all of my purchases for the past week (since it is the end of the month and I'm low on cash, I haven't bought anything except for gas and a 14 cent candycane which was marked down from 49 cents and was much cheaper than the Starbucks next door). I have put $58 in savings towards the $5,000. I sold a textbook on half.com yesterday so that money will go into savings as soon as I get it. Tomorrow I will make a double payment on the home equity loan. Looks like travel will be every other month instead of every month--our schedule for this year will be Las Vegas in January, Hawaii/Micronesia cruise in March (going there to delivers 200 pounds of donated medical supplies to Fanning Island), Caribbean cruise in May for hubby's family reunion (about 45-50 people will be going), Vegas again in July for a poker tournament that hubby is going to be in, Japan in September and {{hopefully}} November and December in the Philippines. Still trying to figure out how to spend two months out of the country while still being able to pay our expenses here as well as there.

In January I hope to get the $500 together to have on hand, pay half of the Masterdard, take care of the Vegas trip, and get a freelance job with the local newspaper.

Giving on Christmas Eve

December 24th, 2006 at 09:25 am

I just watched a story on the news about a lady who got on a couple of buses in the Spokane (I think) area and handed out $50 bills to all of the passengers. They didn't even get her name she was in and out so fast but how cool is that to randomly give money to people who probably could really use it, especially at Christmas? They estimate she gave away about $1,000. Some people spend that much at Starbucks in in the space of a few months.

I think I will update my 2007 financial goals to add a section in savings for money to randomly give away next Crhistmas.

Merry Christmas everyone!

2007 Financial Goals

December 23rd, 2006 at 06:49 pm

After much contemplation (on an aforementioned quiet beach) I've come up with the following financial goals for myself for the coming year:

--Have $500 on hand in my home.
--Have $5,000 in savings in the bank.
--Pay off Macys CC ($270)
--Pay off Mastercard ($1,000)
--Make double payments on home equity loan each month.
--Pay cash for every single purchase this year (except for bills which will be paid by check or online). No debit card, no credit card--CASH ONLY!
--Increase income from my business to $10,000 a month.
--Travel near or far once a month.
--Develop a plan to be able to live in a tropical locale (preferably Asia) at least four months out of the year (the older I get the less I like the colder months here) without going into debt to do it.

That's it. Actually meeting even half of these goals will be quite a challenge. I think the most difficult goal will be paying cash for everything--something I have never done for longer than a week or so.

Back From Hawaii

December 23rd, 2006 at 12:31 pm

The Hawaii cruise was just awesome. Hawaii is so beautiful but the highlight of the trip was going to Fanning Island (a part of Kiribati in Micronesia) where they do not have electricity, running water or even shoes!

Due to cruise ship regulations, ships that sail American ports need to stop at at least one international port per cruise. Since Hawaii is so far away from everywhere else, the closest international port (not even a port but an island that the ship tenders its passengers to for the day) is Fanning Island.

Below is a picture of me with local kids from Fanning Island, a shot from the beach in Kona and a sculpture of lost luggage of SeaTac airport. Now you know where your lost luggage ends up...

I truely miss the weather!! 80 degrees and slightly humid is my favorite weather. We came back home and it was cold and rainy then this morning we woke up and were totally suprised with four inches of snow!

Beautiful Hawaii

December 8th, 2006 at 08:39 pm

We made it to Hawaii and it is just beautiful!! The weather is perfect (especially compared to Seattle where we had snow for the entire week before we left). This really is paradise except for the exhorbiant prices of just about everything. Fortunately we were able to get a room at the military base hotel which was a lot cheaper than outside the base (how was I supposed to know the Honolulu marathon was going on THIS weekend and every hotel room--except those that cost $500+) was booked? The food is great and MUCH cheaper in Chinatown where we are happy to eat anyway compared to the Waikiki tourist area. Anyway, here's a photo from Hanauma Bay (which by the way costs $1 to park and $5 per person to go down to the beach). We just took some photos and skipped the swimming (a mile down the road it was free to swim AND camp).

Praying for a Miracle

December 5th, 2006 at 09:32 pm

It's been over ten days since a family left Seattle to head back home to San Fransicso. The husband, wife and their two children were stranded in their car along a snowy road for nine days. Fortunately the wife and two children were found with the car yesterday but the husband had left the car to try to find help two days previously and still has not been found. I don't know why this has impacted me so much. I dont know the family although I often read the husband's columns (he is an editor at cnet.com). Anyway, I am praying for a miracle...hopefully the searchers will find him alive soon.

To read all of the info and updates about this story, click on the link at www.cnet.com.

Vacation Booked--Looking Forward to the Warm Weather

November 27th, 2006 at 05:45 pm

Finally got our December vacation booked...of course at the last minute but that seems to always be how it ends up.

We will be heading to Hawaii for an 11 Day cruise in a week and a half. This has got to be the best deal that we have ever got on a cruise...$399 for 11 days!! Thats equals $37 a day per person for hotel (room on the ship), all of the food you can possibly eat (ie: the cost for all food is included whether you go the the restaurants, buffets or have room service deliver), all of the entertainment (movies, shows, etc), plus every morning that you wake up you are in a different port. Airfare was reasonable ($400 per person from Seattle) as well. The only problem is that I booked the cruise first then the airfare (thinking it would be nice to sightsee for a couple of days before the cruise leaves), then got to the hotel booking part and found that every room on the island appears to be booked! There was a couple of rooms available--at $785 and $825 PER NIGHT so I'm thinking we may be sleeping on the beach... At least it is 85 degrees there.

Overall we are pretty much sold on cruise vacations because when you figure the per day cost you really can't beat it (lodging, food, entertainment, activities included) compared to vacations in most major cities.

Snowed In and Loving It

November 26th, 2006 at 06:48 pm

Today has been great. We are literally snowed in (only about 5 inches of snow but for here that equates to two feet of snow in the Northeast, everything grinds to a halt here with any accumulation of snow since we are so unused to it). So besides being a quiet Sunday the snow gave me a reason to keep huddled up next to my computer instead of out at the malls. The result--lots of work done Smile Hoping to be snowed in tomorrow and, if requests are being taken, snowed in on Tuesday as well so I can skip a couple of meetings and finish even more projects.

Going on day three of Thanksgiving leftovers. 'Nuff said...

Hubby bought me a scanner for our anniversary (I'm not sure if I blogged about it but after deciding to get divorced, we decided to work things out--things are going fine and we will have our 20 year anniversary on Friday). Anyway, I guess, for the same reason I like reading peoples blogs, I like listening to the scanner...not to be nosy but to see what's happening in other people's lives (my life is pretty boring in comparison to everyone elses!). I have a whole new respect for police officers...many calls that I have heard include the dispatcher coming back on the line telling the officer the person that they are pulling over has felony warrants, suspended licenses, etc. Not a situation I would want to walk into ever. Scary!

Happy Thanksgiving To All!

November 23rd, 2006 at 02:38 pm

I wish you all a great Thanksgiving. Knowing how frugal we all are I'm sure we will be sharing our leftover stories for a week. Anyway, back to the turkey...just wanted to stop by and wish you a great holiday!

Tis the Season to Spend Money

November 21st, 2006 at 09:01 pm

Actually the season starts around Halloween ($30 for candy this year!) and ends right after New Years. So after all of my diligent saving and cost cutting measures throughout the year it comes to about this spot on the calendar when I want to throw in the towel. Everything is set for Thanksgiving (that was about $80 at the grocery store today but I intend to have leftovers for a couple of weeks thereafter) and now Im looking at my Christmas list, checking it twice and feeling faint.

Hands Down Coolest People on the Web!

November 16th, 2006 at 07:12 pm

Wow! Love this list stuff! Never knew there were so many interesting people in the world. Which got me to thinking...
If everyone we saw was wearing a sandwich board with their list prominently displayed I think the whole world would get along much better. People tend to judge others in a glance not realizing how many interesting, courageous, funny, amazing people they walk by every day. Every list I read today had something that made me say wow, something that I could relate to and something that amazed me. Thanx to all for sharing...you are all amazing people!!

And on a financial note...if everyone had their financial status on their sandwich board, Im sure many would be suprised/amazed/shocked. Like if the guy in the Armani suit driving the BWM had "NET WORTH -$285,000" on his board people wouldn't be so quick to judge him as a success while they look disparagingly at the "average" looking elderly woman who reuses baggies but has a net worth of +$1,500,000.

My "20 Things"

November 15th, 2006 at 08:24 pm

I read our illustrious blogmaster’s “50 Things” and thought that was such a great idea. What better way for people to get to know you (I bet even his friends didn’t even know all of that about him!)? Anyway, since I am not nearly as interesting, here is my list of 20 things…

1) I hate tags. Tags on clothes, tags on bedding, tags on towels…they all get removed as soon as I purchase the item.
2) Flying scares me. I love to travel but on the way there I am in a state of sheer panic!
3) I met my husband when I delivered a pizza to him. I was 19 and worked for Dominos at the time.
4) I’ve met a few famous people in my life: Wayne Brady, Olga Korbut and Jaya ( a famous singer in the Philippines).
5) Speaking of singing and the Philippines, I can sing fluently in Tagalog (I’ve even sang on stage at a couple of big venues in Manila) but I can’t speak the language at all.
6) I’m anemic. I’ve been anemic for as long as I can remember. Iron pills don’t really work. I chew ice like a fiend.
7) I detest being an employee. I always need to be running the show. Fortunately I’ve been self employed most of my life.
8) I admire people who do well in math and science even though I’m lousy at both.
9) Chocolate makes my face break out. Always. I ate two chocolate truffles a couple of days ago and am suffering the consequences now Frown.
10) My purpose in life is to help people. I’ve always been drawn to people who need help and vice versa.
11) I’m known to carry a concealed weapon (Sig 9mm).
12) I have a wide range of friends…from extreme conservatives to illegal immigrants to gun-toting rednecks.
13) I like old people. I find them interesting. Hearing about how things were sixty, seventy, eighty years ago is fascinating.
14) I love music. In my car you will find equal amounts of English, Spanish, Tagalog, Japanese and French music.
15) Sometimes I need to be more tactful. You know the main character on “Bones”? I’m like that. If something doesn’t make sense I want to know why. Unfortunately I (occasionally) say what I am thinking. One time a guy was going on and on to a group of people about how he served in Vietnam. I said “aren’t you 35?’ he said yes. I said, “well that would make you 12 years old when Saigon fell.” The conversation ended rather abruptly.
16) Psychic ability runs in my family for at least the last three generations that I know of. It comes in handy sometimes.
17) I can bake anything. I’m a lousy cook but I can bake!
18) The best compliment I ever received was from a group of guys in an Atlanta hip hop club. They said I danced “like a sister”. That’s a pretty big compliment for a red-headed white girl!
19) I like to see how people live. When we travel overseas, I would much rather walk through a neighborhood, visit someone in the hospital, or babysit a friend’s kid then hit the tourist spots.
20) I’ve read one fiction book in the last decade (Memoirs of a Geisha). All of the books I buy/check out from the library are non-fiction.

Well that’s me. I hope others will make similar lists. I love reading everyone’s blogs and this kind of “behind the scenes” info would make for even more interesting reading!

Bird Feeder

November 11th, 2006 at 10:14 pm

This was the strangest thing...I looked out the window today and noticed that the seeds in my bird feeder had sprouted(!) Guess either a. the birds arent eating very fast, b. i'm putting out too much seed, or c. this is what happens when you get 9" of rain in one day.

Two Accounts = Simple Spending

November 11th, 2006 at 03:49 pm

OK...this is so simple I'm not sure why I didn't think of it before. I have a main checking account that I use for everything (paying bills, buying groceries, basically all of my spending via check/debit card). This past month I started using another of my checking accounts (it's free, there are no service fees) that basically has just been sitting there empty, as my "spending" account. I put a few hundred dollars into it at the beginning of October and now use it for my disposable income spending. Now bills and big items such as airline tickets, etc. come out of the main account and I use this new account to pay for gas, food, Starbucks, clothes, gifts, etc. This has really simplified things.

I keep a running total of how much is in this new account and it has actually stopped me from spending. Today I was at the mall and previously I would have used my main account to buy a few hundred dollars worth of clothes since there is always a lot more money in that account, but by using this new account with a limited amount of funds in it, I only bought a jacket (at 40% off the clearance price). It's nice having a seprate amount of money that I can use as I want while at the same time I am aware of just how much I am spending because there is so little money in there that I can't go on a major spending spree.

My next task is to link this account to PayPal and fill up the funds in this account by EBay sales, refund checks, etc. Hopefully I will be able to keep this account topped off without having to transfer funds from my main account.

Food Shopping at International Stores

October 28th, 2006 at 12:52 pm

Here's one trick I use for saving money when grocery shopping--I do a lot of shopping at international (mostly Asian) grocery stores.
The fruit and vegetables are usually locally grown and cheaper than regular stores. Spices are a fraction of what they cost at the local chain store (ie: a tiny pack of Bay leaves at the chain store is $1.99, at the Asian market a giant pack of Bay leaves is $1.99). Depending on the store, meat, fish and dry goods (if you like the Asisan variety such as noodles, rice, etc) are much cheaper as well. Both Asian and Middle Eastern stores usually import directly so you may not be able to read what is on the label but start out with the basics and see how much you save!

Something to Make You Laugh

October 27th, 2006 at 03:32 pm

Well this week has been pretty lousy (see previous post) but as I was checking out a couple of websites I came across this video that made me laugh. (And it is financially related--it's from a website about getting out of debt).

Long Time No Post

October 26th, 2006 at 03:10 pm

I haven't posted in ages but when I get into a financial funk, my first stop is these blogs.

A lot has happened it the past month. I went back to college because I thought I wanted to go to medical school. Found out I dont like chemistry and biology isn't all that interesting to me either so I'm thinking medical school is out of the question. Am exceling in Spanish so I guess my liberal arts education from 20 years ago was the right thing to do after all.

Also talking divorce with the hubby. Things haven't been working out for quite a while so it isn't a suprise to either of us that this is happening.
I need to get my financial house in order...fast! I need $8000 to pay off a couple of debts and my regular bills this month and a whopping $50,000 to pay hubby off for his share of the equity in our house within the next couple of months. I definitely want to keep the house. I work from home, my office is here, and basically I just love the house and the location is great.

Task for today is to list an armload of old purses (Coach, Dooney, etc) on EBay. I just checked and there are 17,450 Coach listings on Ebay right now (!) I guess everyone is offloading their extraneous stuff at the same time. :I

I think Im done venting now and actually feel a little better. I'm going to make chocolate chip cookies this afternoon. I've sworn off the mall and Starbucks (and spending any money for ANYTHING except actual needs) for the time being. I figured out my "latte factor" is about $10 a day that I spend on non necessary stuff. That's $300 a month, $3,650 a year.

Good Links

September 4th, 2006 at 06:38 pm

One thing about not having much to do this weekend is that I have lots of time to surf the net. Here's a few useful links that I found:

A free downloadable day/financial/life planner... www.diyplanner.com/templates/official/classic

More money saving and get out of debt ideas...www.simpledebtfreeliving.com/

Day Two of My Do Nothing Weekend

September 3rd, 2006 at 02:26 pm

I just realized I'm not good at doing nothing. I thought "wow...three whole days, work is done and I can really sit around and do nothing". I can't remember the last time I had a day off so I had big plans to do nothing this weekend.

After a day and a half, I've come the conclusion that
a. I dont like being bored
b. I can only sit still for so long
c. The reason that Im always busy is because I like it that way.

So far this weekend I've learned how to make granola (if I knew it was that easy to make I wouldn't have been buying it all along!), wrote an article, worked on a new website Im building, brushed up on biology (at least I was sitting on the porch swing while I was reading the book...I think that counts for relaxation...kind of), cleaned out the pantry and called a dozen friends I havent heard from in a while.
So much for doing nothing...

Almost Finished With Today's Goals

September 1st, 2006 at 01:36 pm

Today I wrote a list of "must do" tasks that had to get done today and (yipee) Im almost done. Actually I have a task list every day but I decided to take this weekend totally off (no work at all) so I needed to get some things finished so I wouldn't worry about not doing them over the weekend. Anyway, only one small task to complete and I will be FINISHED.

This weekend I am going to totally lounge around and do what I want when I want. I literally never get a day off (I am self employed and run a non-profit on the side, attend college and Im also a freelance writer so there are ALWAY things to do). Even on vacation the laptop goes with me (the person you see typing furiously on her laptop on the cruise ship, internet cafe in third world country or on the Beach in the Caribbean is probabaly me). Yikes...I need to get a life.

So here's to doing nothing for three days and (hopefully) spending that much as well!

The Value of Asking

August 30th, 2006 at 07:16 pm

These last three days have been pretty hectic but Ive learned a few lessons on the value of asking.
--I wanted a book from the library that they did not own, so I asked them if they could order it...and they did.
--I usually need to find out what office my investment guy will be at then run across town to drop off my Roth IRA payment. This time I called him, he was at, as usual, the bank branch furthest from my house, then I got the bright idea to ask if he could somehow just take the money out of my bank account...and he said sure (and I though thanks for telling me this a couple of years ago--duh).
--This is my third no spend day in a row. Yesterday I needed a booklet for school (only $5.95) but didnt have any money on me so I asked hubby to buy it for me...and he did (we keep our money seperate so this didn't come out of our money, it came out of his).

Anyway, I am always the one people come to for help and I really don't like asking for anything from anyone, but I think I am getting the hang of this. Smile

Transportation Decisions

August 28th, 2006 at 06:32 pm

Today I figured out I can only drive 575 miles a month. I have leased my cars for the past half dozen years and it is a vicious cycle. You lease, you go (way) over the alloted mileage so the only way to get out of the car is to lease a new car and they roll the negative equity over into the new lease amount. Anyway, I have 39 payments remaining on this lease and if I keep the total mileage under 40k, then I can just hand it over at the end of the lease. It is an expensive lesson learned but I swear my next car is going to be paid in full with cash--no more leasing or loans. So calculating how many more payments I have and subtracting how many miles I have on the car, I can now drive a total of 575 miles a month. We always drive my car because it gets the best gas mileage so I told hubby this is going to change. We will be driving his car a lot more and leaving mine in the garage. I also researched taking the bus starting this fall to my college classes if I don't have any meetings afterwards. Since I usually work from home and only meet with clients a couple of times a week, I figured I will take the slow boat (uh...bus) to school. At least I can read on the way there. A bus pass is only $35 a month and although no one of any status in our little yuppy corner of the world would be caught dead on a bus I don't care. Im tired of being tied down by debt!!!
--venting completed--

Wants versus Needs

August 27th, 2006 at 09:01 pm

I was at a high end outlet mall today (didn't buy a thing, just looked while hubby played poker) and a realization hit me. There was a little girl maybe six years old shopping with her mom, she was dressed head to toe in name brand clothes, carried a fashionable purse and had a real cell phone. She was like six years old! Anyway, that got me to thinking about how I was raised. I could say I want something all day and mom or the grandparents would say 'you dont NEED that' but then we would go school shopping and they would say you NEED one pair of shoes, five peechees and a pack of pencils. Being raised this way, the difference between "needs" and "wants" was clearly delineated. Im wondering if many kids these days have a hard time telling the difference between needs and wants since they get most of the things kids couldnt even imagine having years ago.

County Fair

August 26th, 2006 at 07:49 pm

Worked at the county fair yesterday and today. Since I was manning a booth for an organization I volunteer with I got free entry and free parking at the Fair. I was pretty suprised to see how much the fair costs these days...
$5 parking
$7 entry
$22 bracelets so you can ride as many rides as you want
$?? food

Overall that makes for a pretty expensive day, especially if you bring a lot of kids with you. I remember when these events used to be free (!)

Pondering Home Refi

August 24th, 2006 at 03:23 pm

When we bought this house it was on a 30 year loan. After paying for two years we refinanced it to a 20 year loan. Now we have been paying on the 20 year loan for two years and Im considering refinancing it to a 10 year loan. The payments would increase by $500 a month but the savings on the interest would be HUGE. Anyway...just pondering...

College Update

August 21st, 2006 at 08:00 pm

Paid for my fall tuition today. Even though it was offset by a $750 scholarship, I still had to pay $225. Then I went to the book store and paid $495 for books for three classes (used books no less!). The cost would have been over $600 for all new books Frown Luckily I am taking Spanish 101, 102, 103, Biology 201, 202, 203, and Chemistry 140, 150, 160. Since all of the classes are in a series I will be able to use these books for the whole year so I am really saving money over changing courses each quarter.
The books weight about 50 pounds...Im glad I got the backpack with wheels on it!

Why the Price Difference?

August 20th, 2006 at 09:44 pm

I've been looking for a Columbia fleece jacket for the last couple of weeks. The Exchange (military department store) had them for $25.95 in the women's department (already a very good discount over regular stores) then as I was going through the boys department I saw that they had the exact same jacket for $14.95! So I bought a boys size 12 jacket instead of a women's size small jacket...and saved $11!

Found Money Links

August 18th, 2006 at 08:19 pm

Here's a bit of info for you all...

Check out www.missingmoney.com and www.unclaimed.org and if your have ties to Washington State check out www.claimyourcash.org. While I haven't found any money this way, I have looked up friends and relatives on these sites then called them with the good news that they have money waiting.

I Can't Believe the Money These People Have!

August 17th, 2006 at 09:24 pm

By "these people" I mean many of the refugees I work with. One family came to me a few months ago needing help purchasing airline tickets online (they wanted to return to Turkey and visit family). I showed them how to buy tickets online and put the charge on my credit card since they don't have one. They gave me $8500 CASH for the tickets. Today I just did the same thing for three other family members who want to visit family in Europe (another $2500 CASH).
Anyway, I started thinking about how they do this...they have 9 kids and only the dad works (full time and makes maybe $35,000 a year) yet they can still save incredible amounts of money. From what I can tell here are the things they don't do...
--they don't eat out. Ever. No Starbucks, no McDonalds, no restaurants at all.
--they don't have credit cards or purchase anything on credit.
--they don't buy new cars. Only used cars and of course they pay for them with cash.
--they don't have cable TV, cell phones, internet, computers, digital cameras, et al.
--they don't go to the mall. Ever.
--they don't go to movies, amusement parks, or any other pay-to-be entertained place.
--they don't buy "stuff", only necessities. Can you imagine a house with nine kids and absolutely no clutter? Pretty amazing.
--they don't have dozens of pairs of expensive jeans, shoes, jackets, purses, etc.

With the amount of money I've made over the last 25 years, if I had spent like they do, I would be a millionaire and retired by now!!!

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