Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Extra cash challenge - November results

Here are my results for November's extra cash challenge:

Advertising: $85.26
Amazon: $4.42
ING: $8.48
Lending Club: $0.87
Part-time job: $7.44

Total: $106.47

Difference from last month: -$78.74

Every little bit helps, but my extra cash earnings have not been doing as well as of late. It seems like I haven't had the time nor the drive to really work hard at this lately. Hopefully once the new year starts I'll get back into making some extra money!

Monday, November 12, 2012

How much does it cost to be a bridesmaid?

My sister got married recently and she asked me to be her matron of honor. I was honored to be a part of her big day, but it didn't come without a cost. I was wondering just how much it cost me. Here is the break down.

Bridesmaid dress: $164

Bridal shower including gift: $180

Bachelorette party including gift and dinner out and massage: $428

Manicure and hair on wedding day: $0 (thankfully was paid by my sister, but it probably would have been another $80 or so)

Gift to the bride and groom on their wedding day: $150

Lost income (after tax) because I had to take a day off of work: $80

Gas to drive there and back: $50

Total: $1,052


And it could have been worse because they got married out of town, so if we would have stayed in a hotel it would be been about $250 to $300 more. Thankfully my parents recently bought a house not that far from where they got married, so we just stayed there to save money. One frustrating thing I found was for both the shower and bachelorette party the hosts decided to split the costs evenly among the hosts, but apparently a lot of them are not bargain shoppers. I ended up having to pay more both times at the end of it all. Some of my aunts went overboard with the decorations and instead of buying their food at the grocery store, they ordered it from a restaurant. For the bachelorette party 2 of the girls spent over $300 each! They were in charge of the alcoholic beverages though, so that was part of the problem. As someone who will only have a drink every once in a while, I am not used to how expensive that can be! And then I was in charge of collecting the money from those that underpaid and reimbursing those that overpaid and 2 of them would didn't pay me. So then I had to take on that extra expense. One owed $93 and the other owed only $30, but still that's $123 that would be nice to have right now!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Extra Cash Challenge - October results

Here are my results for my extra cash challenge for October, 2012.

Advertising: $77.91
Amazon: $98.42
ING: $8.00
Lending Club: $.88

Total: $185.21

Difference from last month: +$25.06

Overall not a bad month, however my adverting income wasn't as high as normal. Thankfully I sold a lot of a book that was released this past month, so my monthly Amazon earnings were probably the highest ever! I expect the earnings from Amazon to drop in November, so hopefully some of my other income sources will increase.

I don't really have much more to report this month. I decided I am going to add another $100 to Lending Club. I feel like I haven't been invested in it long enough to know for sure if I like it, but $100 is not a huge amount to risk.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Net worth update - 3rd Quarter 2012

It's hard to believe it is already the forth quarter of 2012! It's time to check in with my net worth.

Approximate value of our house: $171,906* (Down $14,794)
Roth IRA: $25,258 (Up $1,348)
Simple IRA: $5,327 (Up $278)
Regular IRA: $974 (new account)
Lending Club: $102 (new account)
Savings (including emergency fund): $15,076 (Down $4,086)

Total assets: $218,643 (Down $16,178)

Mortgage: $179,430 (Down $1,473)

Total net worth: $39,213
Difference since last quarter: -$14,705

*Estimation from Zillow

I figured the main cause of my net worth dropping significantly would be due to buying a new car, but the Zillow value of our house dropped nearly $15K. As a matter of fact, if the house "value" had stayed the same, the purchase of our car would have really not made much of an over all effect on our net worth since I last checked it in July. If the house value was the same, my net worth difference would have only been $89. I still don't know how to best handle figuring the net worth and including our house, but I don't think Zillow is the most accurate.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Extra cash challenge - September's results

Here are September's earnings outside of my full time job.

Advertising: $116.08
Amazon: $24.63
Part time job: $7.43
Lending Club: $0.32
ING Savings: $11.69

Total: $160.15

Difference from last month: +$29.24

I'm not sure why it appears I made less money on Lending Club this month than last month. It said my total interest earnings was $0.92 which is only $0.32 than it was last month.

I have been selling some stuff on Ebay for my aunt, but I didn't actually come to an agreement about what percentage I would be getting for doing the work. Sadly it probably wasn't worth my time because most of her items did not sell. But I'll keep re-listing them and hope to get more things sold. So I did make a little more money this month, I just don't know exactly how much yet.

So overall not a bad month, but I'd still like to increase these earnings so I can accomplish more financial goals faster!

Monday, October 1, 2012

We bought a new(er) car for cash

We ended up buying a new car last week. I have mixed emotions about it because it is a nice car, and it has a basic warranty until 100,000 miles, but I know it probably wasn't the best financial decision. I think we could have got a few more years with probably only minor repairs with our old car. But at least now it's done with and we're on to our next financial goal which is probably to replace our other vehicle (a 2001 Ford Ranger). Our new car is a 2011 Chevy Impala with about 30,000 miles on it. We did pay cash and I'm quite proud of that since most people don't. The sales guy even tried to tempt us by saying "money is cheap - interest rates are only in the 2% range. But why do that if I can pay for it today? With all the taxes and fees it ended up being about $18,500. I sold our old car to a co-worker so we'll be getting back $3,200, so it is costing us about $15,300 to upgrade our car to one that is 7 year newer. Hopefully this car will last a long time!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

We are looking for a new car

We have a 2004 Chevy Impala with about 122,000 miles on it. It is a good car and still runs well. This day in age cars usually last over 200,000 miles. So I had planned on keeping this car for a while yet. But I did realize both this car and our other vehicle (2001 Ford Ranger) are getting up there in age and I have already been saving up to replace them. I don't know the exact miles on the Ranger, but I'm guessing it is around 140,000. So I figured we would be replacing that one first. However while driving the Impala on the way to work one day last week I noticed the heat was no longer working on the driver's side. I don't think it would be a big deal to fix, but when I told my husband he said "well maybe it's time we get a new car". I was hoping to get a few more years out of the Impala, but I'm also anxious to get "buying a new car" checked off our financial to do list. Another advantage to replacing it now instead of a year from now is we only have enough money to buy a used vehicle. If we waited another year we'd probably have enough for a brand new vehicle and because the money is there, my husband would probably want to splurge is get a brand new one that would lose a lot of value in just a couple years. We almost went and bought a new car on Friday night but the dealership was closed. We were busy the rest of the weekend, so we never made it back there. I am guessing we might look again next weekend. I hope we can find a good deal and that we're making the right decision!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I received a $5,000 check yesterday!

Wow! It's not often you get a financial surprise that is good news! Usually to get a financial windfall you either have to win a lottery or someone has to die to leave money to you. Well imagine my surprise when I was handed a $5,000 check yesterday! My parents recently sold their house and they decided to give their kids some money! My parents don't usually do things like that, so I am beyond surprised but happy to get some extra money! They know our cars are getting old, so they even mentioned that we could put this money towards a new vehicle! So once I deposit this check I should have about $22,000 saved up! That would be enough to get a decent 2-year-old vehicle! There is really nothing wrong with our cars right now, so I might just hold on to this money and try to get another year or two out of our current vehicles. Sadly, my husband mentioned he wants to get a brand-new car instead of getting a used one because he said we was worried that he didn't know how the previous owner treated it. I would rather get a low mileage used car that is still in good condition to save on that depreciation cost. I guess we'll have to see what is out there and what the prices are. At this point I don't even know which of our two vehicles we would trade in first because they have roughly the same mileage. So right now, the plan is to still keep saving a much cash as I can.  Although, I am reconsidering adding to my IRA's now that I am ahead of schedule.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Extra Cash Challenge - August Report

Each month I make an update on how much money I have earned outside of my regular job.  Multiple streams of income are important and can help you create a better financial future.  Here are August's results:

Part time job: $0
Advertising: $111.86
Amazon: $4.14
Lending Club: $0.60
Savings accounts: $14.31

Total: $130.91

Difference from last month: -$37.87

I was hoping that Lending Club would have monthly reports, but it doesn't appear they do, so I'll just have to check it at the beginning of each month and subtract the previous month's accrued interest. I decided since I am counting the Lending Club money as part of the my extra cash challenge, I should also count my savings accounts as well. Last month I made $14.31 in interest which is more than I make in an hour at my job. Even though it's not an amazing amount of money, it's kind of nice to make some money without even doing much other than transferring the money into the account. However, I now have $21,519 in savings (including money set aside for expenses such as property taxes). So that $14.31 doesn't seem like it's as much now. But it's better than leaving it in our checking account where it earns 0% and it's more tempting to spend!

My part time job has really died down. I wonder if I should send them an email to let them know I'm still alive! The advertising money decreased again too. With about 4 days left in the month I was doubting it would even break the $100 threshold, but I had a late month rally that got it up to $111.86 for the month of August. Amazon didn't make a lot this month either, but I did get some pre-orders for a book that comes out in October, but since it didn't ship yet, it won't show up until October.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

How bees ate $266

A few weeks ago we started to notice that there were some bees buzzing around our front door.  We didn't think too much of it at first, but then we realized they were crawling into the siding of our house.  My husband tried to use some bee spray to get rid of them, but it wasn't working.  It actually seemed like there were more of them!  So on Friday he tried to spray them again and this time he must has pissed them off and they stung him.  So he had to call the Orkin man to get rid of them.  Sadly it wasn't cheap. Our bill was $266. I wish that seemed like a small amount of money to me, but in my world that is almost a week's worth of pay. I sure hope that whatever treatment they used did the trick because that's a lot of money to spend on unwelcome house guests!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

49 more weeks

As you may know, I started my current job in August, 2010. It is a temporary position, but it's typical that people work for the company for years as a temp. I think it's because the company I work for would rather not have to provide benefits and they like the ability to drop employees if they needed to. It's not such a great benefit to the employees though. I work for the paycheck and that's all I get. No paid vacations, no paid sick time and paid holidays are only after 6 months and only if you work a certain amount of hours the previous six months. You have to work 1,000 works for the previous 26 weeks before the week of the holiday. So that only allows you to miss 40 hours in that time frame - and you don't get credit for the holidays during those 26 weeks since you don't actually work those days. So for example, counting back 26 weeks prior to Memorial Day the first week included in that is the week of Thanksgiving, so if they make us take off Thursday and Friday of that week then I'm already down 16 hours, then I'll miss another 8 to 16 hours for Christmas depending if I work Christmas Eve or not (it's on a Monday this year) and then I'll lose another 8 for New Year's Day. So there is the 40 hours I need keep my holiday pay. So basically if I even miss a half day I won't get paid for Memorial Day. So paid holidays is tough to get on my job.

Anyway, another thing they do because of some legal loophole, they require the temp workers to take 60 unpaid days off once they have worked there for three years. I just passed two years and I am already counting down the weeks until I get a break. I only have 49 more weeks left! I have this internal conflict within myself because as much I need the extra money I am really looking forward to taking those 2 months off. I dread going to work and I'm not really sure if I even want to go back once my 2 months are done. Or if they will even take me back. I've heard sometimes people don't come back after their 2 months off. It's stressful not knowing what I'll be doing this time next year, but I think I'll welcome the change. I'll probably take some of my time off to look for other job opportunities, if I don't already find something before then.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

New Rules of Money

I am currently reading the Robert Kiyosaki book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad". It's making me think a little harder about money and working my 7 to 3 job, taxes, good and bad debt and more. "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" was written in the mid 90's, so some of the info is outdated. I found some videos online about his "New Rules of Money" which are still a few years old, but the information presented makes you think about how to make money.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Extra cash challenge - July

Here are July's results of the extra cash challenge:

Part time job: $29.79
Amazon: $13.38
Advertising: $123.61

Total: $166.78
Difference from last month: -$94.46

Well as you can see I didn't do as well as last month. I don't want to give away what my main blog is, but the traffic really depends on how much the topic is in the news and this July was a slower month than June. I anticipate it'll be pretty slow for the rest of 2012 as well. So some of the income is out of my control. My part time job really slowed down again as well. My part time job is basically updating websites, and two of my main customers are summer festival and a county fair, but which are in June and July, so most of the website updates are done in May and June in preparation for those events. Now that those two events are done for the year, I expect that income to slow down too. So I should be trying to think of up some new ways to bring in some extra income. Any ideas?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Trying out Lending Club

I had mentioned a while back that I wanted to try Lending Club to make a little more money from my money. Right now my biggest financial goal is to save as much cash as possible, and I don't really see that changing much over the next 3 years. I have the expense of replacing two vehicles, replacing the rest of the windows in our house and other home improvement projects that will need cash. Plus I still want to take that awesome vacation next year. So because I have a bunch of cash sitting in the bank, that money can kind of double as my emergency fund. If something comes up, we can use the money we were setting aside for the windows or the vacation and put it towards that emergency. I still want to keep a $4,000 base emergency fund, but I want some of that money to make some passive income for me. I haven't decided how much I want to invest, and right now I just opened an account and put in $100 to get a feel for how it works. If I like how the first $100 goes, I'll probably add another $1,000 or so. It won't be a life changing amount of money, but every little bit helps!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Is a Roth IRA really better than a traditional?

I am revisiting the idea of investing in a traditional IRA instead of a Roth IRA for the tax benefits. With all the questions and uncertainty about our future, I would rather take the known benefits now which is 25% back in taxes. I decided to stop investing in my Roth this month. So far in 2012 I have put in $1,000 into my Roth, so I just opened a regular IRA and I put in $1,000. As of right now that's all I plan to do in 2012 for investments since I have so many other shorter term financial goals to make in the next few years. I'll take the $250 deduction on my taxes next spring (which will come in handy because of my husband's raise will likely produce a higher tax bill).

Why was the Roth IRA introduced? The Roth IRA, which was named after Senator William Roth of Delaware, appears to be a way the government can get their money earlier instead of waiting decades to get it. I'm guessing the option to invest in a Roth IRA was created to benefit the government and not the people. It brings the government more tax money now and who wouldn't want money now instead of later? As I mentioned before, probably around 20% of people will die before they even get to use their retirement accounts. If their savings are all in a Roth, then they have already paid the taxes before they died. If someone who dies before retirement has their money in a traditional IRA, then they never had to pay the taxes on their money. Maybe I'll change my mind in the future, but I'm going to delay paying taxes on my retirement money for as long as possible.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What if one spouse a lot more money than the other?

I was thinking more about needing to think bigger with my income and I was thinking this is even an issue in my marriage. My husband makes almost 3 times as much money as I do. So if he thinks about money, it's likely that smaller amounts of money do not matter to him much. Which is why in his world it is ok to spend $3.50 a day on food that is not even a meal. By the end of the week he has spent $17.50 and in my world that is almost 2 hours of pay. I am happy my husband makes the money he makes, but I sometimes feel like he lives in a completely different world than I do. I feel like everything I do to be smart with my money just gets undone by his stupid decisions. I also feel frustrated when he spends money stupidly on things like beer. He can easily spend $20 a night in beer after his softballs game or when he's out. That's a lot of money in my world, but less than an hour's work for him. I'm not sure if I really have any advice on how to not get as upset, other than just try to look at the financial world through his eyes. Of course I'd rather him see money through my eyes and respect it more. Look at how much money I can save with the muffin and pop scenario. I think even he would admit $600 is a lot of money.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Vending machines are a rip off!

My husband will spend $3.50 on a pop and muffin at work. He could probably a pop and a muffin from the bakery than for less than $1.50 from the grocery store. If it were me, I'd go one step more and have water or coffee in place of the pop and make my own muffins. A dozen muffins can probably be made for less than $2.00 and even if he has 2 at a time because they are a little smaller, he could have muffins for a full work week for probably less than he spends on one muffin in the vending machine. This just started at his new job, so maybe I will have to propose doing it that way. The only bad thing is having muffins around the house. They might not last the whole week. Maybe if I freeze them it would discourage us from just eating them because they are there. But if he goes to the vending machine 5 days a week, he is spending $17.50 per week. Here is what a daily $3.50 vending machine purchase can do to your finances in a year.
Using the vending machine each work day would cost.

$17.50 x 52 = $910!

In this scenario, let's still let him have his soda, but buy a 12 pack of soda for about $3.50 (assuming I stock up when it's on sale) and make a dozen muffins a week. So he has 2 cans of pop and 2 muffins each day and still has 4 of each left over at the end of the week.

$5.50 per week x 52 = $286

That amounts to a savings of $624 in one year.
What could you do with an extra $624?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Need to think bigger when it comes to earning money

I was thinking a bit more about what my co-worker was telling me about renting out his cabin for $200 a day. He earns great money and lives in a completely different financial world than I do. $100 is still a lot of money to me. But to someone like him $100 is probably like $20 to me. The main reason is my income. If I didn't have my husband, I'd pretty much be living on a boarder of the poverty line. Even if I get offered overtime, a full day (earning time and a half) is only worth a little more than $100 after taxes. I can think of several small ways to save money such as setting the thermostat to 74 instead of 70 in the summer, using coupons only on double coupon day at the grocery store, saving myself $2 when I fill up with gas on Tuesdays because they double any competitor's gas coupons. And I'm sure all this still does help to a certain extent. But I'm not going to get financial security by just doing things like that. I need to find a way I can bring in a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars extra per month. I will sometimes have an idea, but I always stop myself by over thinking and thinking oh that wouldn't work or that my husband would not approve. For example, I thought about buying some equipment to detail cars and then advertise that I will clean and detail your car for $50. If I did just 2 a day, I could make as much as I do in a day at my job. Or I think about offering to clean houses, but then I worry what if I accidentally ruin something like if I used the wrong type of cleaner and ruined the floor or something. I'd love to really go big and do some real estate stuff.  However I fret over if I should get gas today or tomorrow because will the price go up or not, so I don't know if I could handle the stress of losing larger amounts of money. I need to not worry too much about pennies and worry more about the bigger picture.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A great passive income idea

I was recently talking to my co-worker and he was telling me how instead of going to his cabin every weekend, they are renting it out for shorter periods of time. He must charge $200 per day because he said something about getting $1,400 for renting it out of a week. Then he said he also rents out his boat for an additional $50 per day. He is not booked solid, but it sounds like he has about half the dates in August already booked. So if he rents it for just 15 days he can make $3,000 a month. If he rents the boat too, it would be $750 per month. If he was able to get it rented for every day of the month, he could make $7,500 per month if they rented the boat too. You always hear about people buying homes to rent out monthly for some income, but depending on the area, you could probably get $1,000-$1,500 per month. By renting your place out by the day or week, even if the place is only occupied 50% of the time, you can probably make twice as much money. Of course this works better is your property on a lake, or in some sort of vacation setting.  We are renting a house for just one night for my sister's bachelorette party and they are charging $435 per night! So if they rented their place out every night of the month, they would make over $13,000 a month! Sadly, I don't think I we are in a position to do something like this at this time, but it definitely something I would consider in the future.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Planning for your financial future and your mortality

I don't know why I keep having this thought I'll die young. Maybe because it is because I see young people in their 30's, 40's and 50's in the obituary section of the newspaper. I think something like 20% of people die before they are 65 years old. And by the time I retire the "retirement age" might be 70, and I'm guessing even less people make it that long. For some reason I am having trouble motivating myself to put more money into retirement. I have been putting in $200 a month since March, so if I continue that I will have put in $2,000 by the end of the year. But I still keep thinking I should max it out again this year and put in the full $5,000.

Another issue is there is a lot of stuff we need to save for in the short term future. The big one is both our vehicles are getting old and will need to be replaced within a few years. I don't want to tie up so much money into something I can't access for another 30-something years. I am still thinking about possibly doing a regular IRA instead of a Roth because then at least I'd get the tax break today, but I would still be putting something away towards the long term future. I wish I had a job that actually had a 401(k) because it would make it less painful to have it taken out of my checks automatically (and if there was matching that would be even better). I don't really even think about the fact I have been having an extra $50 a paycheck taken out for Federal and State taxes.

I know I should just assume that I will live well into my retirement years, but it's tough when I have to be frugal right now and not enjoy life as much because I have so much else to save for. I want to enjoy life now while I know I have it. That extra $5,000 that I would put into a Roth IRA could allow us to be more generous with other people, buy a few nicer things, and just enjoy life more.

My sister is getting married, so of course it would be nice if I could get her something nice and splurge on her bridal shower. It would be nice to take my friend who is unemployed out for lunch. I would be nice not to feel cheap going to a wedding and only giving them $40. It would be nice to get myself a pair of shoes that cost more than $20 so my feet won't hurt as much at the end of the day. It would be nice to get a massage once in a while. It would be nice to get a VIP ticket for my favorite band's concert. It would be nice to get a new computer since mine is crashing more often. It would be nice to take a short trip to a warm weather destination when it's -20 degrees in January. It would be nice to buy myself a few nice shirts instead of the cheap K-mart shirts that are so thin you can see my bra through them. It would be nice to get some more jeans that actually fit me. Or better yet,it would be nice to spend a little extra to get healthy foods and supplements so I can fit into my jeans again. Having an extra $5,000 would allow me to do more of these things. But reality is I can't really justify spending money on this stuff because we have so much to save for now. Even though investing in an IRA is a supposedly wise investment, I feel like I'd be better off saving short-term for a new car and allowing myself to loosen the reins a bit and enjoy my money. After all, why do I drag myself to work every day? For one reason and that's money. I wish I had such an abundance of money that I could max out my Roth IRA, not stress over taxes, pay cash for our replacement cars and new windows and siding for the house and still have money left over to do all that other stuff. But reality is I have to make choices. And right now the biggest choice is do I bother locking up more money in retirement accounts or just use the money now? I wish I knew how much life I had and how to save for it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why it is important to have some money in savings

A week ago today started off like any other day. I got up and drove to work and parked in the parking lot (which is probably nearly a ten minute walk to my building so I get my exercise each morning). But anyway, I turned the car off and went to pull out the key and it wouldn't let me! It got close to the "off" position, but not quite enough for me to pull the key out! The lights were all still lit up on the dash board so I didn't want to leave the car out in the parking lot all day with the key still in the ignition and all the dashboard lights on. So I brought the car into the mechanic. To make a long story short and because I still don't know exactly what was wrong (I'm a girl, I don't understand cars), I will just say it cost $1,000 to get it fixed. So that was a huge bummer! I wish I could have put that money towards a nice vacation, an eventual gently used vehicle or even something boring like putting it into my IRA. So now I have to work for two and a half weeks just to get back to where I was.

Thankfully it was not a huge blow to us financially. That's why it's nice to know we have money in the bank! I wasn't expecting to spend $1,000 that day, and it's for reasons like this it is good to have an emergency fund in place!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Passive Income

I have seen a lot of other personal finance bloggers talk about increasing their passive income. Right now I have a little bit of passive income from my savings accounts, but I’d like to increase it. I have also been making some money doing blogging, but I still have to put time into it, so I don't know if that would be considered passive or not. If I stop blogging I might get a little bit of passive income, but it would probably eventually dwindle away to nothing. Right now I have nearly $20,000 in the bank, however the interest rate is so low, I only made $11.24 last month. It’s better than nothing and I didn’t really have to do any actual work for it.

I recently heard about Lending Club which allows people to lend others money. There is a little more risk involved, but the returns are much better. It looks like if you diversify your loans and play it safe, you can still make about 6% even if you consider about 1 to 2% of the loans will default. One negative thing is you have to tie up the money for either 3 to 5 years. I will need to use the majority of the money I am saving within the next 3 years, so I wouldn’t put it all in there. Currently I have $4,000 set aside as an emergency fund. I know it’s not much, but I believe my husband’s job is pretty secure, and if anything were to happen we’d probably get enough warning to stock up. There is an opportunity to sell the loans to others, so the money can be liquidated if needed, but it probably wouldn’t be as liquid if it were in a regular savings account or CD. What are your thoughts on using a site like Lending Club? Would it be a good place for me to put $4,000 in?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Net Worth Update - Second Quarter 2012

Every quarter I like to check how much my net worth is. Here is the numbers for July 2012.

Approximate value of our house: $186,700* (up $11,000)
Roth IRA: $23,910 (Down $87)
Simple IRA: 5,049 (Down $283)
Savings (including emergency fund): $19,162 (Up $4,433)
Total assets: $234,821 (Up $15,063)

Mortgage: $180,903 (Down $1,407)

Total net worth: $53,918
Difference since last quarter: +$16,470

*Estimation from Zillow

I'm very happy to see the results this month. I jumped past the $40,000's into the $50,000's in just 3 months. However, $11,000 of the increase in my "net worth" is because Zillow told me so. So of course some of this may be artificial. I hope the house really is starting to become worth more again. If the number is accurate, then we now owe less on our house than it is worth again! Let's hope it is never "under water" again.

The IRA's are still losing money. It doesn't look bad when you see my Roth only lost $87 since last quarter, but I also have invested an additional $600 since then, so it has really lost about $687. If you add up the losses from both the Roth IRA and the Simple IRA is was nearly $1,000.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Extra Cash Challenge - June Results

Here are the results for June's extra cash challenge! I had a little more work for my part time job in late May and early June. My sister also had a garage sale in which I sold some of my stuff. So those those results are not typical, but they helped me have a great extra cash month!

Part-time job: $61.92
Advertising: $213.26
Amazon: $2.81
Garage sale: $88.20

Total: $366.19

Last Month: $261.24
Difference from last month: $104.95

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Should I take a tax break now or later?

I was thinking a little more about investing in my Roth IRA. Last year I was very motivated to full fund my IRA, but this year I am not nearly as excited. I only make about $20,000 in take home pay a year, so fully funding my IRA would be about 25% of my take home income. It's tough to dump a week's worth of my earnings each month into an account that might lose money or I may never use again (what if I die before I retire?). Another thought I had is now that my husband is making more money that means more taxes. I don't know how successful I was at suggesting he change his tax allowances from a 2 to a 1 because I have a feeling they won't take out enough if he left it at a 2. So I had an idea. I should maybe look into a traditional IRA instead of continuing to fund my Roth. I wouldn't have to invest as much money because I could deduct some of that on my taxes. So if I invested $5,000 in a traditional IRA, our taxes would be about $1,250 less. Putting $3,750 in the IRA doesn't hurt quite as much as $5,000. Yes, I know I'd owe taxes on it when I withdrew it, but honestly I kind of think we could be in a lower tax bracket during retirement than we are now or least it'll be the same as it is now. We won't need as much income if we don't have a mortgage and the expenses of commuting to work every day. So anyway, I thought I'd take a look at seeing if I could open a traditional IRA and saw this:

My husband and I combined made just a bit over the $100K last year, and with this new job our combined income will likely be in the $100,000 to $110,000 range going forward. So at first I thought it looks like the money invested into a traditional IRA would not be tax deductible anyway. According to this post at about.com, it says the tax deduction is phased out if your income is between $90,000 to $110,000 (after $110,000 you wouldn't get any deduction) and your employer offers a retirement account. Well the first thing I wondered is what if your husband is offered a retirement plan at work but you are not?

After some more research, it looks like I might have found the answer at this website because it says "if you are married filing jointly and your spouse is covered at work, then your deduction limits start phasing out at an adjusted gross income of $169,000 and top out at $179,000." So that is good news - it looks like I still eligible for a tax deduction if I start a traditional IRA.

Another thing to concider is just like you need to diverify your investments (stocks, bonds, large cap, small cap etc.) tax diversifation is a good idea too. For me currently I have a small Simple IRA from an old job that will be taxed at retirement, but the majority of my retirement is in the Roth IRA. However, when we look at my husband's retirement accounts it is all in a tax deferred 401(k). So is that enough tax diversifaction?

What are your thoughts on this? Is opening a traditional IRA for the tax deduction now a good idea? I know almost all the financial experts suggest opening a Roth over a traditional. But, I'd rather take that tax deduction now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Good news!

Last month I wrote about how I finally got a raise, well now I have even more good news.  My husband is starting a new job on July 2, and he will be making a more money too!  I figure he will be making about $370 more (after taxes) every month, which is about $4,440 per year!  Plus his profit sharing bonus that usually comes in March will be higher as well!  There are only 2 drawbacks.  One is his current job gave him a cell phone and paid for the plan, and this new job won't.  So now we'll have an extra expense every month which I figure will be between $50 and $80 (I'll have to see the first bill to really know for sure).  Also right now we work for the same company (him full time and me as a temp) so we usually carpool to save on gas.  Now we'll each have to drive separately to work.  But the good news is this new job is closer to home, so it shouldn't cost as much in gas. Hopefully this new job is a good fit for him and he likes it.  Now I just need to find a better job too!

PS: I ended making $88.20 at my sister's garage sale.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Extra Cash Challenge - May Results

Here are my results for May's extra cash challenge.  But first I need to follow up on a couple posts...

I few weeks ago I had asked what I should do with my extra money from my raise. I received 2 votes - one in the comments and one on my twitter page.  Both votes were in favor of putting the extra money towards the mortgage, so that is the plan!

My sister's garage sale is this weekend.  I had posted how I wanted to sell at least 60 things.  Well I didn't count, but I'm pretty sure I did put at least 60 things in the garage sale.  My sister was over at our house at our house earlier this week for our mom's birthday so she took most of the stuff back with her, and I forgot to take a photo first.  I still have a smaller pile of stuff that she couldn't fit in her car, so I'll be bringing that over on Saturday when I go over there to help out. So this is probably not even a quarter of the stuff...

I know you can't really tell what's all in there, but it's mostly clothes, some art supplies and kitchen stuff.  A few years ago I was trying to make money on Ebay.  I hated the idea of having to go to work after one of my temporary jobs ended, so I wanted to try selling stuff on ebay.  I would shop at garage sales and then resell items on ebay.  Sometimes I'd make a profit and sometimes I wouldn't.  I think if I were to add up the time it took to work on it between shopping, listing, packaging and shipping, I probably only made like a $1 per hour.  I still ocassionally sell stuff on Ebay, but I haven't for a while. Lately I feel like if I can't make at least $3 profit then it's not worth my time.  Now that I have a regular full time job I can't go to the yard sales on Thursday and Friday's like I used to.  By the time Saturday comes all the good stuff is gone.  So anyway, I had ordered several different size boxes and padded envelopes for my "Ebay business", but now they are taking up a lot of space in our closet, so I put some of those in the garage sale. I still kept a few of each size but I have come to the conclusion that I won't be making a living doing Ebay sales - at least not anytime soon.

So as you can guess I didn't make any money from Ebay in the extra cash challenge this month, but here are the rest of my extra earnings.

Part-time job: $19.81
Advertising: $232.91
Amazon: $8.52

Total: $261.24

Last Month: $213.77
Difference from last month: + $47.47

So I had another great month and a new record for ad income!  The only disapointing thing is 96% of that income came from my big blog, and I expect that topic to not get as much traffic in a couple months. But I'll take it while it lasts!  June is looking good so far and I also should have some garage sale earnings to report next month too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's official, I got a raise!

I checked my pay stub online and as of tomorrow's paycheck I make 50 cents more an hour! It's not great, but every little bit helps!  Fifty cents an hour equals $1,040  a year.  So my yearly wage (assuming I don't take any days off because I still don't get paid vacation and sick time) would be $28,912. Oooh, so close to $29k.  I should be eligible for my regularly scheduled raise in August, so that should push it over the $29k mark.  Next goal: $30k. I did make over $30k last year because of overtime and if you included my side income. However, I'd love to make over $30k just from my regular 40 hours a week.

After taxes, the weekly pay check is about $15 more than before, so that means I'll be making about an extra $60 a month!  I want to use this extra money wisely, so if you haven't already, let me know what you would do with the extra money.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The 60 Things De-Cluttering Challenge

My sister let me know that she will be having a garage sale in a few weeks. This will be a nice opportunity to make some extra money and clean up the house a bit. I just donated some stuff to the Good Will about a month ago (and will get a bit of a tax deduction), so I already got rid of the stuff that was easiest to part with. Without looking, I can't really think of much to put in the garage sale.  Since participating in her garage sale will involve an hour drive each way and a day of volunteering to help, I want to make it worth it. So I am putting out a challenge to myself to find at least 60 items to sell in the garage sale. Hopefully 60 items will make it worth my time and the gas money to bring the stuff there. I have tried to de-clutter before, but I need to dig deeper!  I have been reading this blog once in a while called "Zen Habits" by Leo Babauta and he is a big believer in de-cluttering your environment to bring more peace in your life.  I've also read that getting rid of old stuff will help create space physically and metaphysically for more abundance. Over the next few weeks I will look around the house for what I can get rid of and will share my results on here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Help me decide what to do - vote now!

So as you might know, I finally got the news a couple weeks ago I will be getting a small raise. I still don't know how much it will be, but I should hopefully find out next Wednesday when my latest paycheck will be available to view online. I'm guessing it'll be 50 cents an hour.  Before taxes that will be about $80 a month, or roughly $50 after tax.

So I have been debating what to do with this extra money each month.  I was thinking I would increase my Roth IRA contribution from $200 to $250.  However, I looked at my balance yesterday and it had dropped $1,463 since my last net worth update which was only about a month and a half ago. To make matters worse, I had invested an additional $400 since then ($200 on April 15 and $200 May 15), so I really lost about $1,863 - which is about 8% of the value.  I know this can just as easily bounce back in a month, but I get frustrated when I see I lost more money than I make in a month at my job!

So another option that might be a little safer is to increase our mortgage payment.  We are paying 4.5% interest, so this would be like getting a guaranteed 4.5% return. If you look at my post about increasing your mortgage payment to save money on interest, you'll see increasing your extra payment from $100 a month (which we are already doing) to $150 per month would save us $7,856 over the course of the mortgage. It would also shorten the mortgage by 18 months.  That's an extra year and a half of no mortgage payment!

So what would you do?  Put the extra money towards the Roth IRA or the mortgage payment? Leave a comment below and I'll choose which ever one has the most votes by May 31st!

Saturday, May 5, 2012


It only took nine weeks, but my boss finally told me yesterday I will be getting a raise! The bad news is he didn't know how much. He said "starting this Monday you will be getting an increase". Of course it starts the week I'm gone and won't get paid at all. So I might have to wait until I actually see a paycheck to find out how much it is, and that paycheck won't be until May 24. But at least I know something is coming. I don't think it'll be as big as I was going to ask for if my boss had asked what I wanted, but at least it'll be something!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Extra Cash Challenge - April Results

Here are my results of my extra cash challenge from April 2012. I am pretty happy with my blogging results. The majority of the earnings still come from one blog. The second most popular blog dropped to $16.56. It was 26% of the earnings last month, and this month it is only about 8% of the earnings. On the plus side, I actually made a little money on this blog! Overall the extra cash challenge was a success since I got back up over $200 total. Here are the numbers:

(Very) part time job: $7.44
Advertising for my blogs: $197.48
Amazon affiliate: $8.85

Total made for April: $213.77

Last month: $188.06
Difference from last month: + $25.71

I'll have to try extra hard for May's extra cash challenge, because next week I'm going on vacation, and since I don't get paid time off, I'll be losing a whole week's worth of pay.  However, yesterday I got back one day's worth of salary by calling my local Internet provider.  Even though they advertise $19.99 per month Internet for new customers, they were charging us $60 a month.  I called them back in January to see what they could do for me. After they tried to get us to sign up for their phone service or any other extras they could come up with, they agreed to give us Internet for $39.99 a month.  The company is not know for their customer service, so not surprisingly, it didn't get updated on the next bill at the end of February.  I called them again and they said it would start the following month.  There was still no change in price on March's bill, but I really didn't feel like calling customer service, so put it on the back burner and waited for April's bill.  April's bill came and it was still $60, so I finally gave them a call.  At first they said they had no record, but the second person I talked to saw the new price on their records, so I wonder if the first one was lying or just looking in the wrong place.  Anyway, to make a long story short, I got them to back-date the new price, so I should (if they don't screw it up again) be getting an $80.04 credit on my account this next month.  And since $80 is one day's worth of work, now I feel like I'm only losing out on 4 day's worth of pay instead of 5. And if I consider I should be getting another eight months of Internet for about $20 less than they wanted to charge, that's like $160 in addition to that $80 - a total of $240 or 3 days pay just for one 20 minute phone call.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

When is the market value assessment for property taxes determined?

After I wrote my last post about my concern about the market value of our house, I asked my aunt who is an appraiser when the values are determined. She says that the values are assessed every January and they are based on the sales from the previous year. So if I understand her correctly, the 2013 market value was determined by the 2011 sales. So that's a relief that the $40,000 drop in value is not necessarily a prediction of a further decline in value this year.  I also found a website for a different county that says:

The value notice for payable 2013 tax is based on:
The market value of each property on January 2, 2012. The January 2, 2012, market value was based on "open-market-sales" that happened between October 1, 2010 and September 30, 2011.
I'm starting to wonder if Eppraisal is actually more accurate than Zillow?  On September 17, 2011 Eppraisal valued our house at $165,161 and that falls at the end of the date range that the county used to determine our house's value.  The value our county came up with was $167,200, which is pretty close.

By the way, here is what Eppraisal came up for the value today:

The exact same value! I wonder how often they update the values on that site? However, the Zillow value has decreased since September.

So, I don't really have any conclusions other than it looks like our tax assessment uses somewhat outdated sales information.  I guess I'll have to wait until next year to see if it drops further.

I really had not planned on moving out of our house any time soon, but my husband came home from work the other day saying he wants to start looking for a job in his home town.  I hate to wish him ill-luck, but I hope he doesn't find anything too soon so our house value can bounce back up.  The houses in his home town were not as dramatically affected by the down housing market, so it wouldn't be like we'd get a great deal if we bought a new house there.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Can a $250,000 house lose $100,000 in value in just five years?

We choose not to have money set aside in escrow when we pay our mortgage, so it's now time to make a semi-annual payment towards our property taxes. I am responsible and I just know to set $200 a month to cover this expense. But here is my concern: This morning I was writing the check and looking at the paperwork they sent us and I found out some potential bad news. The market value they are going to use for our 2013 taxes is $39,900 less than the market value they are using for the 2012 taxes. Are they expecting our house value to drop by nearly $40,000 in the next year? Or are they a little behind? They say our market value of our house for the 2012 taxes is $207,100 and the market value for the 2013 taxes will be $167,200. Right now zillow is saying our house is about $175,000. I don't know who to believe. I hope they are saying our house is already at $167,200 today and the taxes will reflect that next year and not that they think the house is actually worth $207,100 today and will still lose $40,000 in value in the months to come. So if our market value on our property taxes for 2012 is about $32,000 higher than Zillow is today or about 15%, will our Zillow value be 15% of next year's market value of 167,200? If that's the case, our house will only by worth $142,120 on Zillow by 2013. That thought just sickens me. That would mean our house will have lost about $100,000 in value in 5 years. I really hope our property taxes are just behind the times and we have already bottomed out!

If there is any good news, maybe our taxes will be less next year? The market value for 2013 is about 80% of the 2012 value, so let's hope the taxes will drop by that much! We pay about $192 a month right now, and 80% of that would be $153.60, so that would save us $38.40 a month. I'm not really counting it though because the market value from 2011 to 2010 decreased by $3,400 (which is about 2%) but our taxes actually increased by $84 a year.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Will my boss give me a raise?

This Friday will mark eight weeks since I originally asked my boss for a raise and I still have not heard if I am going to get it.  The boss did mention to me on Monday that he is still waiting to hear back from someone else. But I'm really starting to lose hope.  My co-worker had encouraged me to just go ask for a raise because she made it sound so easy.  I thought I'd know by the time I left his office the day I asked.  Then I figured I'd know no later than a week later, now almost two months have gone by and I still have not got an answer. So I'll let you know if anything ever happens there. I think after I take my vacation next month it might be time to look for a new job!

My husband's cost of living raise starts this month, so at least we will be getting a little more income.  Unfortunately my husband's personal trainer will be increasing from the already too expensive $100 per month to $132 a month.  I really, really, really wish I could convince him to stop going because it is not helping him at all and it's just a waste of money. 

I now have $8,000 saved up for the upstairs windows.  I don't know when we are going to get them replaced.  My husband isn't as enamored with windows now that we got the downstairs ones done.  So the $8,000 might be used towards a replacement vehicle. I read on J.D. Roth's website "Get Rich Slowly" that he is not saving for any goal in particular.  I kind of feel that way, but I still have so many things to save for, I'm just not sure which one we will need first.  Because they are all big ticket items, I have to start saving months or even years in advance. Even if you look at the chart I posted a couple months ago, it says I saved for flooring for the bathroom, yard work, my sister's wedding, a front door and a vacation - none of which has happened yet (although the vacation is coming soon!).  Other than the sister's wedding and the vacation (which for the most part is now pre-paid), I don't have each of those in a separate savings account.  So the $8,000 could go towards some of those items as well. Anything smaller than $500 can probably be cash flowed as long as the other spending that month is not out of control.  So I think I'll just concentrate on the bigger items. The main ones are:
  • Upstairs windows
  • Replace vehicle #1
  • Replace vehicle #2
  • Fund Roth IRA
  • Trip to Japan
  • Replace siding on the house

None of these need to be done this year (except maybe 2012's IRA contribution), but I would like to see them all done within the next 3 years. We are probably looking at a total cost of about $65,000 to $75,000 accomplish just those six things on the list.  Maybe I should just make a big fat goal of raising $75,000 and then go on a shopping spree and take care of all six at once!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How big of a nest egg do we need? Taking another look at retirement...

Saving for retirement is so frustrating. I hate having so many unknowns. There are way too many unanswered questions.

Will Social Security be around?
If Social Security is around, how much can we expect?
What will the value of the dollar be when we retire?
What will the rate of return be on our investments?
Will we live "too long" and outlast our money?
Will my husband still get a pension and how much will it be?
Are we saving enough?
What will the tax rates be when we retire?
Should we take the tax savings now or later?

It's so frustrating and it is very tempting to ignore saving for retirement. I had been kind of ignoring it ever since I fully funded my IRA last year. I feel like there are so many things I need to save for now in the short term, I just don't want to put so much money away that I can't touch for another 30 to 35 years. Who knows if I'll even be alive by then. I see so many people in the obituary section of the newspaper who die in their 50's and 60's and you got to wonder how much they put away towards their retirement and now they never get to use it. In order to save for a future they were not even around for they might have sacrificed going out to dinner with friends, seeing their favorite rock band in concert, a vacation or getting the car they really wanted. It's kind of sad to think of people dying with all this money saved because they sacrificed some enjoyment in their lives to put money in their retirement accounts.

How long we'll live is just one of the biggest unanswered questions. It's tough to just plug your info into a calculator online such as the one from Kiplinger to see if you're on track to make it in retirement when changing just one variable slightly can significantly affect the results.

One big variable in question is the rumor that social security will not be around for people our age. People that are currently retired can get by on a lot less of their own money because it is being supplemented by Social Security. I've seen articles saying it won't be around in 30 years, or it'll be only 77% of what it is today.

Another issue is my husband says he gets a pension, but I have never seen any paperwork on this. I asked him once and I think he said it was $30,000 a year. I'm not sure if that is today's dollars or future dollars. And that brings me to another question - how bad will inflation be? Will it be like the 1970's or will in be a steady increase of about 3% a year?

So I plugged in some numbers into the calculator and did a few different scenarios.

  • 80% of gross income of $97,000
  • Years until retirement: 30
  • Monthly SS $1,908 and $1,001 (today's dollars) (I used this calculator to get these numbers)
  • Monthly pension $2,500 (not sure if this is today's dollars or not)
  • Current retirement accounts: Husband: $69,013 Me: $28,899
  • Assume 6% return
  • Assume stay in same house, but mortgage paid off
  • Live 30 years past retirement
  • Investments have 35% stock at retirement


Scenario 1:
(Best case scenario)
Annual Retirement Income In Future Dollars: $188,568.00
Annual Social Security and Pension Benefits: $133,426.00
Nest-Egg Goal: $1,588,090.00
Projected Future Value of Current Savings: $562,015.00
How Much You Should Be Saving Each Month: $739.00

Scenario 2:
Same inputs but 77% SS
Annual Retirement Income In Future Dollars: $188,568.00
Annual Social Security and Pension Benefits: $113,889.00
Nest-Egg Goal: $2,150,755.00
Projected Future Value of Current Savings: $562,015.00
How Much You Should Be Saving Each Month: $1,144.00

Scenario 3:
Same inputs but no pension 
Annual Retirement Income In Future Dollars: $188,568.00
Annual Social Security and Pension Benefits: $84,826.00
Nest-Egg Goal: $2,987,770.00
Projected Future Value of Current Savings: $562,015.00
How Much You Should Be Saving Each Month: $1,747.00

Scenario 4:
Same inputs but no SS
Annual Retirement Income In Future Dollars: $188,568.00
Annual Social Security and Pension Benefits: $48,600.00
Nest-Egg Goal: $4,031,078.00
Projected Future Value of Current Savings: $562,015.00
How Much You Should Be Saving Each Month: $2,498.00

Scenario 5:
Same inputs, no SS or Pension (worst case scenario)
Annual Retirement Income In Future Dollars: $188,568.00
Annual Social Security and Pension Benefits: $0.00
Nest-Egg Goal: $5,430,758.00
Projected Future Value of Current Savings: $562,015.00
How Much You Should Be Saving Each Month: $3,505.00

So, the best case scenario says we need to be saving $739 a month.

Here is what we are doing currently:
Husband's 401k contribution: $350 (6% of $70,000 year salary)
Company match: $175
My Roth IRA contribution: $200
Total: $725

So we are very close to being on track for the best case scenario. Some of the money will be taxed when it is withdrawn, but my Roth IRA money won't be. So that is yet another question. Do we need to save $739 before or after taxes?

Ideally I'd love to get back to saving $5,000 a year in the IRA. If I spread it evenly throughout they year it would be about $416 a month, so that would mean between the two of us we'd invest a total of $941 a month.  If scenario 1 is what ends up happening, then we're good.  But if Social Security drops to even 77% we are not saving enough even if I increase my savings by $216 a month.  I don't know about you, but $216 a month is a fairly significant amount of money.  And if the worst case scenario happens, we might as well just give up now and plan on working until we drop dead. So this is very frustrating because I'm trying to make a good decision, but I don't feel like I have enough info.  If I do increase our retirement investments, it'll take some sacrifice now and I don't even know if I'll ever need that money later.

So right now the results are inconclusive.  I think I will try to invest $5,000 in the Roth IRA each year, but I'll probably wait until later this year in fund the majority of it (and just keep it at $200 a month right now) so I can have some more cash reserves first. It just hurts because that $5,000 (after taxes) every year could allow us to go on a pretty sweet vacation every year!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Net worth update - April 2012

It's time for my quarterly check in on my net worth. Here are the numbers:

Approximate value of our house: $175,700* (up $100)
Roth IRA: $23,997 (up $1,887)
Simple IRA: $5,332 (up $832)
Savings (including emergency fund): $14,729 (up $1,918)
Total assets: $219,758 (up $4,737)

Mortgage: $182,310 (down $763)

Total net worth: $37,448
Difference since last quarter: $5,500

For the first time in a while our house value hasn't dropped like a rock and negatively affected our net worth. It even went up slightly! It was nice to see an increase in our net worth of $5,500 in 3 months! My IRA's are doing well and increasing in value and I only added $200 since my last net worth update. Maybe this is a sign of good things to come:)

Currently, my main wealth goal is still to build up cash. I was a little disappointed to see the cash savings not go up that much, but I also have to remember we bought windows for the basement which were about $4,000 and we also had some expensive car repairs too.

I'm still not really sure what our next big purchase will be, but I know it's coming. I'm guessing it'll be a new vehicle, if not windows for the upstairs. So of course when the time comes to make the big purchase it will make it appear our net worth is less. I don't like to include non-monetary assets other than the house in these reports. I'm still debating whether to remove the house, but if I did it would show a negative net worth due to the mortgage.
*Source: Zillow.com

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Extra Cash Challenge - March Results

I'm still waiting to hear whether or not I'm getting a raise. The boss at least told me it is still pending. Of course these higher-up's are not in a big hurry or anything. It's now almost a month since I originally asked, so hopefully I'll hear something soon.

I actually had an opportunity to work a few Saturdays this month, so it was nice to make about $300 extra this month. Too bad we recently had a $900 repair on our truck and a $400 repair on our car this month. In this case we would have been better off having 2 car payments on new vehicles that don't have issues. Hopefully we are done with repairs for a while!

Anyway, I thought I'd post my results for the extra money challenge. I did a lot better this month. Too bad it wasn't enough to pay for the repairs on the cars, but every little bit helps. I'm posting this a little early before some of these numbers become "official" (they usually go down slightly), but it should be close.

(Very) part time job: $7.44
Advertising for my blogs: $162.00
Amazon affiliate: $18.62

Total made for March: $188.06
Last month: $81.43
Difference from last month: $106.63

So I more than doubled my earnings since last month! Hopefully this will continue to improve every month! I have one blog in particular that usually makes about 95% of the income. However, this month my second most popular blog made $42.61 - or about 26% of the advertising earnings! That blog was also the source of pretty much all the Amazon earnings too. I was very happy to see that. However, there was a TV special about the topic of that blog that aired last month so that caused people to search for the topic and find my blog. I believe the special is now done airing, so my numbers might fall back to where they used to be.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Still waiting

The boss is back, and another week has passed and I still don't know if I'm getting the raise. I only want to follow up with the boss once so I don't seem like I'm a greedy pest. So I want to wait until the right time to ask and not ask too soon and he doesn't know the answer.

Another co-worker got another job offer, but she is going to our old boss to see what they can do for her. I don't know what will come out of that, but I guess I'll find out if it turned out well for her if she decides to stay. Maybe I should have went to my old boss instead.

I'm really getting sick of my job. I hate the actual work and I'm really getting sick of the people and all the cliques. I hate feeling left out, and that's how I feel more often. If it wasn't for needing the money, I'd quit.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The boss comes back from vacation tomorrow

I still don't have an update about whether I am getting a raise or not because the boss was on vacation all of last week. I hope to have an answer - the answer I'm happy with - tomorrow. As much as I dread work, I'm actually kind of looking forward to going tomorrow because I want to know. I just hope the boss remembers... having all that time off gave him a lot of time to forget.

Well, that's about it for today. I don't really have much else to report with my finances.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My financial goals chart

I feel like I need a specific wealth goal rather than just saving up money. I'm currently paying an extra $100 per month on our mortgage which should save us about $20,000 over the course of the mortgage, and starting this month, I'm putting $200 in my Roth IRA. I think I'm only going to invest $2,000 in the Roth IRA this year ($200 for 10 months) because I have too many short term financial goals. I can always change my mind later this year and add more if I start feeling guilty for not doing the full $5,000:)

Anyway, here is a chart I created to show what I'm saving for. I make about $400 a week after taxes, but $50 goes into the IRA. Assuming my husband's income pays the regular monthly expenses, and my income is used for saving for these goals, we should be able to save $350 per week.

It's pretty daunting to see I need to come up with $66,500 more (I started with $78,600) to reach all these goals.  I've love to have all them done in 2 years, but realistically it'll take about 4 years.

(Click on image to see larger version)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Extra Cash Challenge - February's Results

Here are the results of the income I made outside of my job last month. Sadly, I have had the worst month since I have started tracking this.  Hopefully next month will be better.

Advertising for my blogs: $75.72
Amazon affiliate: $5.71

Total made for February: $81.43
Last month: $97.29
Difference from last month: -$15.86

I thought about selling some stuff on Ebay, but I couldn't really find anything worth selling.  If anything I might make 50 cents after shipping and fees and it just doesn't seem worth it to take the photo of the item, list it, pack it and then drive over to the post office just to make a few pennies.  I feel like I need to be confident that I can make at least $3 profit on each item to make it worth my time and effort.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

How much interest would I save if I paid an extra $100 per month on my mortgage?

Our new mortgage is $116 less than before, so I was thinking I should add $100 in additional principal to every payment since we were already used to paying more. I was playing around with some numbers on interest.com and saw that adding an extra $100 to every payment will have us pay off our mortgage 3 years and 9 months earlier and will save us over $20,000 in interest! So I think I'm going to do that. I'd love to do more, but for now cash is king and I need to continue saving money. It would be stupid to pay down our tax deductible mortgage at 4.5% but then be stuck with a car payment (where the interest is not tax deductible) at 5% or more. My goal is to pay cash when the time comes to replace our vehicles. But if you don't have any big purchases like cars and windows coming up in the next few years and are debt free except your house, then maybe consider adding a little extra to each payment to save lots of money over the course of the mortgage. Here are some different scenarios based on our loan just to give you an idea of what you could save.

Prepayment amount$1,000 per month
Prepayment shortens mortgage by15 years, 8 months
Prepayment savings$81,077
Prepayment amount$600 per month
Prepayment shortens mortgage by12 years, 8 months
Prepayment savings$66,560
Prepayment amount$500 per month
Prepayment shortens mortgage by11 years, 7 months
Prepayment savings$61,124
Prepayment amount$400 per month
Prepayment shortens mortgage by10 years, 3 months
Prepayment savings$54,473
Prepayment amount$350 per month
Prepayment shortens mortgage by9 years, 5 months
Prepayment savings$50,553
Prepayment amount$300 per month
Prepayment shortens mortgage by8 years, 7 months
Prepayment savings$46,136
Prepayment amount$250 per month
Prepayment shortens mortgage by7 years, 7 months
Prepayment savings$41,117
Prepayment amount$200 per month
Prepayment shortens mortgage by6 years, 6 months
Prepayment savings$35,358
Prepayment amount$150 per month
Prepayment shortens mortgage by5 years, 3 months
Prepayment savings$28,677
Prepayment amount$100 per month
Prepayment shortens mortgage by3 years, 9 months
Prepayment savings$20,821