Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I thought I was way behind......

on my financial planning for retirement until yesterday! I finally went to a financial planner to see where I am at and where I could be and what I need to be doing to get where I want, when I want. Turns out, I was actually doing pretty well with the planning I had done on my own to this point. Now, that doesn't mean that there wasn't room for improvement, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear that at 35, I was doing pretty well already, so all I really needed was some fine tuning. I feel really good about some of the decisions I had made on my own and about the things we changed yesterday to get me to my goals sooner. I also think just going and sitting down with the planner was the kick in the butt I needed to get me back on gear and reaffirming my focus and goals so that I will continue to be diligent in this pursuit of financial freedom. I would like to be fully retired or at least have the option to be by the time I am 60, that gives me 25 years to continue working hard to attain this goal. I think I will go back and see the FP in about 6 months to see where I am then, what might need to be done and just to keep me on point, I think it will be good for me. I didn't make a lot of changes, but some I knew he would suggest and I felt pleased that I had anticipated his suggestions and it was nice to hear that he thought I had been doing a good job on my own so far. I'll keep you posted in the next few months to see where things go with the few changes I have made. Hopefully I'll start to see more of an increase in my net worth. ;)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

As a first time homeowner, I am learning

and learning and learning. Just when I feel like I understand things like escrow, taxes, mortgage insurance and the like, I find out I still have more to learn. I knew that each month when I made my mortgage payment that it was broken down into several different categories and I thought I understood them, turns out I did, which was a nice surprise, but I still doubt my knowledge from time to time and this time that turned out to be a good thing! I received my property tax bill the other day from the county and I was a bit confused. It was my understanding that I was paying money into my escrow account each month to build up my payment for these property taxes. So, I call the bank today because not only was I confused that I was receiving this bill, but also by the vast difference in the bill v. what my escrow account had estimated my taxes to be. A nice surprise when looking at the bill I received and hoping it was correct because it was less than half of what my escrow account had estimated. I then did the thinking of, "ok, if it's half it must be because it's for the second half of the year." I call the bank to ask what I am feeling must be a really dumb question, but as a first time homeowner, I needed to get to the bottom of this. Turns out the statement was correct, yeah, and the escrow company had only estimated my taxes based on the total taxes of my building divided by the number of units. Well, I only have a 1 bedroom condo, so my taxes of course would be smaller than someone who has a 2 or 3 bedroom unit. Yeah! Ok, so my 5 minute phone call corrected my escrow account, the future escrow payments to said account and resulted in an $1100 refund to me!

I must say between this, the refund I received right after moving in due to the square footage discrepancy, the fact that I am still not on the hook for my utilities or my condo dues, I am LOVING home ownership! So far, so good! :) I love a windfall, no matter how it comes!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mid-month review of budget

I had been afraid that August was going to be expensive since July came in so far under budget, but so far, so good! I have my mortgage payment written and am just waiting for the statement to arrive. I paid an extra $283.52 this month.

My grocery budget seems almost non existent this month, I think due to the fact that I helped my parents move and since they were moving everything in to storage and staying in a hotel for the next several months, I was the lucky recipient of most of their frozen and refrigerated foods! Yah! And, I got a new Rx this month from my Dr. and I had a coupon for a $30 gift card at the grocery store for getting a new or transferred Rx done there. So, I will hold on to that and may even be able to eat the food from my parents long enough that I will be able to put the gift card towards September's grocery budget!

Taking the extra days off of work didn't add significantly to my spending in any categories really. I did go and get a manicure/pedicure one day, but that was at the beauty school so very inexpensive. The student that did my work also told me to come back next time just to get a polish change, they still file your nails, trim loose cuticles and give the oil treatment, then fresh polish all for only $3, instead of the usual $8 for a manicure. Sounds good to me, I will give it a try. Other than that, I didn't go out much, so my gas bill was down and I ate at home a lot, so nothing significant added to the dining out portion of my budget. :)

Still not paying the utilities or the condo dues at my new place, so I have been stashing some of that money in savings and also adding it to my Roth IRA. With the raise I got in July, I increased my contributions to my Simple IRA by 1%, which still left me with a small raise in my take home pay as well. Yah!

So far, August is looking like a pretty good one for me, with increases in my net worth on the way. And I feel like I am continually finding ways to reign in my spending. A couple of things I would like for my condo I am going to try to hold off on, and add them to my Christmas wish list!

Hope August is going well for everyone else too! I do think I might have to go buy some fall clothes for work, but I think I will be able to get by with just adding a few basics. That will mean a trip to the outlet mall where I can get pants pretty reasonably priced.

Happy Friday! Make it a great weekend!

Monday, August 13, 2007

The book........

A couple of people have asked me what book my mom bought for me. Here you go,it was:

Prince Charming Isn't Coming! Thanks MOM! Glad to know that she has so much faith in my finding someone! Ha! Actually it was a GREAT book and I would highly recommend it! The author was the daughter to one of the founders of H&R Block, she inherited a fortune and her first husband managed to practically bankrupt them. There was so much great information in this book for anyone, not just single women. It also stresses the importance for all women to take care of themselves, regardless of how financially secure they are with their spouses. I would highly recommend it. I would tell you who the author was, but I have loaned it out to a friend. I think it was Barbara Stanny? If someone knows, please put it in the comments. Thanks!

One more day of vacation, then back to the grindstone!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A wonderful vacation...

I am currently on vacation and I am loving it! I decided that I wasn't going to go another year, not taking all of my vacation time and losing it when the next year rolled around. So, I took last Thursday and Friday off, and I will have Monday and Tuesday off as well. I really haven't been doing much, but it has been WONDERFUL!! Just the idea of having 6 days off in a row without any commitments has been so relaxing.

Thursday I went walking with a friend of mine early in the morning, earlier in fact than I get up to go to work. It's funny how it is much easier to get up for something like an early morning walk than it is to get up for work! :) I spent the rest of the day spoiling myself. I got a manicure and pedicure, both at the beauty college, at very reasonable prices and it's nice to let the students get more hours in for their experience. I went to a matinee, also less expensive than if I had waited one hour later!

Friday was just as relaxing, starting again with the early morning walk, such a wonderful way to start the day! Then I went to a local festival and wandered around checking everything out. I didn't buy anything, but it was so fun to look. Friday afternoon was the big date with the firefighter from the parade! He called! Yeah! So fun! Then Friday evening I went school clothes shopping with my niece and nephew and was so proud of my nephew for figuring out that he could get several shirts he liked for the same price as one REALLY cool shirt! He's the bargain shopper for sure! I couldn't have been more proud!

Saturday I went to a hot rod show and BBQ for charity, very fun! Those cars amaze me! Back to the festival on Saturday night and hanging out with many friends I haven't seen in years! One of the fun things about still living in the same small town I grew up in is that a lot of people come back every summer for this weekend and it's so fun to reconnect with old friends.

Sunday, ahhh, what a lovely day relaxing and reading on my porch and taking cat naps throughout the day! And vacation is not over yet! I still have 2 more days off! Not sure what those days will involve, hopefully more relaxing and taking the days as they come! ;) I hope everyone else has had as great a weekend as I have.

I am looking forward to going back to work on Wednesday, of course knowing it will only be 3 days of work before heading in to the weekend again does help!! :)

Does anyone else ever take their vacation time like this? I know, I for one will do it again next year for sure! All this great fun and I still have 3 weeks of paid time off to take before next July.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Way too much stuff....

My parents are in the process of moving and I have been helping them pack all their stuff. Oh my, what a chore this has been! I have probably put in close to 50 hours helping them pack up and we still have lots and lots of work ahead of us. They have been in this house for only 10 years, but I am amazed at how much they have accumulated in those 10 years! I helped them pack up when they moved last time and it wasn't nearly this bad, and they had been in that house for 24 years! As I was packing up all of this stuff it got me to thinking about how much money they spend on material things! Yikes! It made me really glad I have decided to live a paired down, simpler lifestyle. I was packing up the pantry and had to throw so much food out because it had expired, some of it over 2 years ago! It mad realize that by having so much stuff, they couldn't even tell what they had, therefore a lot of things were wasted! It seems like such a shame to waste all of this stuff, but what can you do? You may recall that I recently moved, I packed all of my things without any help, then on moving day, it only took 2 1/2 hours to move all my stuff from point A to point B. And I had it all unpacked and put away within the next two days! My mom did say that all of this work of packing made her not want to go shopping for anything ever again. I'm guessing that this feeling will fade rather quickly and she will be out shopping again soon! Just my thoughts on having too many things! What are your thoughts?