My mom and I went to the Parade of Homes yesterday and today. We saw some absolutely beautiful homes that made me appreciative to even be a home owner, but also made me dream of the possibilities. These homes that we saw, particularly yesterday, were spectacular, custom built homes with all sorts of amenities. I could only wonder at the cost and time to keep those homes looking so show ready. I can barely keep my home up and have a growing to do list. But then again, if I had one of those homes I could afford the help to keep it up. My mom and I had a lot of fun. It was good to enjoy ourselves after burying my uncle this past week. We needed a weekend like this, it was an escape.
Viewing the 'General Musings' Category
It's May, already! Time flies the older you get. I understand that all too well now. Well, I'm on my same course with my finance with some minor changes. I decreased the amount going to savings to increase credit card payments. I think it's a good move.
I am also back to working my regular schedule at my second job. The hours were never cut short fully as people have been needing time off for maternity leave and what not. So I have all the hours I'm used to having plus some more as things pop up. I am grateful to have not just one, but two jobs in this economy.
The federal government wants to be sure we pay our taxes on time! Already got my W-2 online this week. I got my retention pay that was shorted on the last paycheck of 2010. I also got my first student loan payment. They put it on my check for tax purposes, but it gets sent directly to Sallie Mae. So now I'm just waiting on my other W-2 from the state. I also need interest forms for my student loan and mortgage, as well as year end contributions from my charities.
CFC (the Combined Federal Campaign for federal employees) is easy as the same amount gets taken out each week on my paycheck and I pledge a certain amount for the year.
ChildFund (aka Christian Children's Fund) takes out a different amount every month depending on whether it's a month that I pledge an additional gift to be given directly to my sponsored child. Usually it's just the $24 sponsorship, but some months they deduct additional as I give gifts for Easter, her birthday, and Christmas, and they then add a gift handling fee on top of that.
I've considered ending my sponsorship with Child's Fund and just giving to CFC. It's hard to do that when you have a child to connect with your giving. You know that child's name, you see her face, you know all about her family.
I'm adding up the gifts that I remembered to track for the year and I'm up to $1,500 so far. I don't mind giving to family and friends and charity. It's a pleasure.
LSU won last night. I fell asleep watching the game. I guess I knew they were going to win at that point. Really proud of Jordan Jefferson's performance last night. I hate all the criticism he gets.
Today the Saints play the Seahawks. I'm worried. They have a lot of players not listed. Seahawks aren't a strong team, but any team can beat any team on any given Sunday, or Saturday in this case.
Starting my fasting on January 10th. I hope that I'm ready for this! I will need a lot of prayer.
Happy New Year! Yesterday and today I reviewed much of my year end finances and made some changes for 2011. Yesterday I updated my spread sheets for my 2011 earnings and savings. Today I made my 2011 deposit to my Roth IRA. My deposit should be processed January 4th. I also changed my exemption from 1 to 0 at my full-time job. Last year I changed my exemption from 1 to 0 at my part-time job. Hopefully next year I will not owe taxes as I did last year and I project I will this year again.
Here's to a prosperous, healthy 2011! I can't wait to greet this new year. 2011 is going to be a great, great year!
Pleasant surprise this morning when my accounts were updated on Mint.com. Received $1456.16 in capital gains and dividends on my Roth IRA at Vanguard. Nice little boost to my end of year account balance. Think I'll send off $5,000 for my 2011 Roth contribution tomorrow. Love doing that! Goal # 1 accomplished on the first day of the year.
Merry Christmas! It has been such a merry one already for me and my family. I hope the same is true for you and yours this holiday season.
I'd love to have a personal goal besides my annual New Year's resolution to lose weight. I still need to lose weight, but I'd like to accomplish something else as well.
In January I'm starting my orientation to become a CASA volunteer. I'd like to give back more. I just hope that my work doesn't conflict with being able to make court dates and such.
A better relationship with God is always a desire. Maybe I can do some more Bible study. I'm always impressed with people that know the Bible well. I remember some stories from Sunday school, but I get embarrassed sometimes with how little I know.
I will have to think more on my personal goals.
I have had a great birthday and the Saints won!
I am updating my progress on my 2010 goals, which remain unchanged or 2011.
I completed goal #1 in January 2010.
I will complete goal #2 with my last two paychecks this month.
I am working on goal #3, but it's hard to pin down my monthly expenses. I am tracking on Mint.com, but my expenses seem to vary widely from month to month depending on what's going on. So I'm just averaging those expenses. I think $20,000 would be reasonable start to rebuild my emergency fund to, and I'm not far from that.
Goal #4 has not been completed at any time this year. Maybe next year.
I am working on goal #5 and with my employer's help, the graduate school loans will be paid off quicker.
Two hours until my 33rd birthday. Happy Birthday to me!
This week I got some bad news, later replaced by really good news. I guess many saw that there was a proposed spending freeze for federal employees. While not exactly excited about that, I understood it. Then the next day I found out that my expected annual performance appraisal bonus was doubled what I expected. So that extra money will exceed the 1.4% raise that was proposed for next year. What an awesome early birthday present! Our organization must have done really well in our performance indicators. I'm proud of us. Despite what the public perception may be of federal employees, we really do try to go above and beyond for our veterans.
I was feeling a little bored today and decided to do some Christmas shopping. I know, I'm so bad. I really need to get presents for men, but it's always so much easier to shop for women, so that's what I ended up buying. Oh my goodness, the mall traffic was crazy. I didn't even make it to the mall. I just shopped near the mall then I wimped out and left. Besides, my brake tag expired in October and I suddenly remembered that fact. My car was in the repair shop for most of last month due to repairs from my accident in September.
So the moral of that story is, don't go to the mall on the weekend in the month of December. That's just crazy. I need to not forget that lesson next year. I really do not ever remember it being like that before now. Maybe this is a sign of economic recovery. I sure hope so.
I don't mean to be flippant about the economic prosperity I enjoy, but I'm kind of tired of hearing about what's wrong with our country. I'd like to start hearing that we're doing great. Sometime soon please. That will be my wish when I blow out the candles on my cake.
I do plan on switching health insurance plans to a plan with an HSA. I'll contribute another $10 or $20 per pay period in addition to the $750 that the insurance plan will contribute for the year. I won't contribute to the FSA this year. I think the HSA has many advantages over the FSA including that it rolls over every year. So it's a source of income for medical expenses not just now, but also in retirement when I may need it even more.
I signed up for Mint.com last week. Oh my goodness, but is that site addictive. It's awesome. I'm checking the site daily.
Just saw Going the Distance with Drew Barrymore and Justin Long. It was hilarious, yet sweet at the same time. But warning to some who may be offended by strong language and graphic sex scenes: it fully deserves its R rating.
I've had several great opportunities come up at work. I'm excited about them and hope that they translate into more opportunities. My supervisor even asked me to help at an event for women in the federal workplace. I think it's going to be a great networking opportunity.
It's strange how out of nowhere I get an email regarding a blog that I posted a reply on years ago. Don't know what triggers that.
Took two trips in May which I thoroughly enjoyed. One to Virginia to visit my sister's new baby and one to visit to the Twin Cities to my friend.
I'm getting anxious about my credit card debt. I really need to get that debt down. I'm not used to carrying credit card debt and it makes me uncomfortable. I am really going to focus on paying it off in these coming months.
I've been stressing about my debt a lot - but doing very little to alleviate it. This month I bought plane tickets for 2 separate trips next month. I also need to book a hotel for the second trip. Thank goodness I can get very nice hotels for very low prices at Hotwire.com. I love that website. I've had much better experiences with that website than with Priceline.com.
I'm going to have to curb my spending after these trips in order to pay down my debt like I'd like to. It's not a lot, but I have far less worries when I'm debt free.
My parents welcomed their first grandchild March 21st. My niece Laura Elizabeth is just precious and I can't wait to meet her next month.
My mom and I attended the strawberry festival last Saturday and I really enjoyed it. I need to take advantage of all the great festivals in this area. South Louisiana in particular has the best food festivals. We missed the oyster festival last month - hate oysters - but will go next spring. My sister sent me an e-mail about the crawfish festival. That should be fun.
I was just doing some financial homework online and realized how very long it has been since I posted a blog here.
I am doing well, both personally and financially, though I wish that I could be more focused and disciplined when it comes to my credit cards. I think that will be my big challenge in 2010.
Things going on with me:
I am still working my second job and enjoying that additional income. I've been thinking about adding another income source. I think it's good to have several sources of income. It provides security, as long as you aren't dependent on all those different sources of income. I would sell Avon, but worried that I would spend it my income buying Avon for myself, family, and friends!
I have been attending a church that I really enjoy. I am becoming more involved there. I have enjoyed my spiritual growth in recent months. I definitely feel more at peace.
I have lost 13 pounds since joining the YMCA in September. I hope to lose at least 13 more by the end of summer and even more beyond that. I am a slow loser because I do enjoy my food! Obviously.
I am expecting my first niece in 9 days. I'm so excited and I love her already! We went to Virginia a couple of weeks ago to participate in a surprise baby shower. We had so much fun.
Funny how that works right? I'm finding that what I didn't want to happen is happening. The more money I bring in from working PRN, the more money goes out. Granted, it's going towards paying off debt, but I hope that I can return to living on a lot less if or when I return to just working my one job.
It's nice to see my investments slowly inch upwards - for however long this will last. I'm not counting on the end of the swings, dips, plunges, and surges quite yet, but a relatively stable and seemingly improving economy seems to be improving a lot of people's moods, funny enough. I'll enjoy the feeling while it lasts.
I've been very much absent from my blog and I apologize for that. Not that I think I'm so important to the members here, but I like to not just fall off the face of the earth for two months.
I'm off to LA on Sunday morning. I'm taking a long week of vacation to attend the World Figure Skating Championships and catch up with old friends. I've been working and socializing. The life of a relatively young single person with no kids and little responsibilities.
I started back at my former job working part-time two evenings a week, in addition to my current job. Nice to bring in some extra cash. Student loan repayment is coming up quickly!
I have been neglecting my blog here and I truly apologize. Since I last posted we have celebrated Christmas and the New Year. I personally celebrated a birthday and a graduation. Yes, it's finally done. I have a graduate degree.
Since mid-November I have been celebrating my graduation. I'm in a really good place in my life right now and I don't know if I've ever been happier. I feel accomplished, hopeful, and carefree. It's crazy to think that in these very uncertain times, but I'm very much at peace with my life and what the future holds.
I turned down an offer of a job in Bethesda, Maryland. I spoke to the manager and then interview with a lady, I think she was the assistant manager/supervisor. I got a salary quote from her that was several thousand more than the offer the manager ultimately extended to me. I was very disappointed and felt that I was being low-balled because he thought he could. So I turned the position down. They had five openings at the moment.
I just sent off an application for a job in Sacramento, California. The salary is very nice, better than the position in Maryland (the higher salary offer) and the cost of living is much less expensive than the DC area according to all information that I have researched. They also seem to have long-standing openings so we'll see how this goes. I know that there is a lot of openings in my field, but I get nervous when there are many openings or openings that remain open for a long time.
Other than that, I feel very thanksful this holiday weekend, that I am solid financial ground whatever I decide to do. Choosing a career in health care provides a lot of stability in very uncertain times.
Last week I finished graduate school. Gave my final presentation - without any major panic attack - and turned in my last paper. It felt good! I've been floating ever since then.
Finishing grad school allows to really focus on advancing my career. I'd like to make more money. I don't have to be rich, but I understand the freedom that comes from financial security. I make decent money now, but more would be better.
I work for the federal government and there are a few programs that allow for an increase in salary with achivements, such as completing another degree. We'll see how that goes. I'm relying on my supervisor to take care of that.
Otherwise, I'm actively searching job listings. I will be attending the inauguration in January - I just couldn't pass up such a historic event - and will be in town long enough to have a couple days of interviews if I get any offers in the area. It will also be nice to spend some time with my sister and her husband.
My Roth IRA usually isn't fully funded until my last automatic contribution in December. But I decided to take advantage of the low prices during this week and go ahead and fund my Roth for the year. It's nice to have that done.
I found out that my agency will pay us an additional $300 each day worked for the week of Hurricane Gustav. Monday was Labor Day, but I worked Tuesday-Friday and so will get paid an additional $1200 on my next paycheck.
Additionally, my insurance company paid me $400 for the food that I lost from losing power for the week. That's below my homeowners' insurance deductible. I love my insurance company.
I'm a happy lady.
I tried to get my inspection done for my car, but the place that I frequent ran out of stickers. In fact, the guy ahead of me got the last one. Bad luck. No worries. I can go back later today or tomorrow.
Well, we made it through Hurricane Gustav. My home suffered minimal damage. My parents' home had a tree fall on it, but they and my younger sister were luckily unhurt. That's what matters the most. I got all my utilitie: phone, cable and power, back Friday night. My parents got power back Saturday night and the rest today. Oh, the joy of hot showers and baths. I'll never take that luxury for granted again.
My city got hit hard. Tuesday morning, since I'm considered essential personnel, I had to go into work. It looked like a war zone. Truly, it was something out of a movie. Trees on homes everywhere I looked, power lines down in the streets. We had a 8pm-6am curfew. Grocery stores are still mostly bare. Gas station lines wrapped around blocks. I lost a freezer full of expensive Jenny Craig food. My freezer and refrigerator are bare.
I never want to deal with anything like this again. Hopefully, Hurricane Ike will spare us this week.
I'm always looking ahead as well!
My 2009 goals remain the same as my 2008 goals. Contribute 20% to TSP, build savings to 6 months' of income (I think I currently have about 4 months' income), pay off credit cards, and pay down my car and graduate school loans. I need to do better on paying off the credit cards, otherwise I'm doing pretty well on accomplishing my goals for 2008 and beyond.
So last month I get a notice that someone has visited my page and left their name. Of course, when you log you can't see their name unless you upgrade to "gold" membership. But there was a 7 day free trial. You know, those free trials where they take your credit card number because they know that you'll forget and they'll get some money out of you.
So of course despite my best intentions, I forgot. I just checked my credit card balance online which I rarely do, and caught it. Of course the membership fee is non-refundable and of course I promptly went to Classmates.com to see what I could do in order to avoid any more charges. I cancelled the automatic renewal that I had never authorized and deleted my credit card information. They had the wrong expiration date by a year anyway. My mistake.
I'm just pissed that I knew it was going to happen and did it anyway. I've learned my lesson.
There's a new link at the IRS website where you can check on the amount and date that you can expect to receive your money. Mine will be $600 deposited May 9th.
I upped my withholding for this year. Because I'll get a $2,000 credit for tuition I'll be getting a good bit back. I'd rather get it back over the year. I need it now. Next year I'll lower it.
I love that with the federal government you have access to so much employee information online. I was able to get a lot of detailed information on their Employee Express website.
I wonder if you receive a W-2 for Pinecone? Do you need to declare that maney as income? I've started to keep track of my checks just in case.
I got my first check from Pinecone. I always wanted to take part from all that I've read about the company through here, but never could sign up. But I clicked on an ad banner from Spark People and finally got started. I'm excited to have a little extra change and be able to get information on new products.
I'm enjoying my new job. I think that I'll be happy here. I miss my old co-workers, but my new co-workers are friendly as well. I'm excited about all the opportunities.
I'm bringing my lunch everyday. I'm actually enjoying finding different healthy things to bring. I like browsing the deli and picking out different meats and cheeses to try. I also started buying the Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted whole grain bread. It's good. I think bringing my lunch is helping my wallet and waistline!
This Sunday my friend and I attended the French Quarter Festival. It was the 25th anniversary. It was such an enjoyable even and free! Even better, they didn't charge ridiculous prices for food. The prices were very reasonable and the food was delicious. I had a bbq shrimp po'boy for lunch and gumbo for dinner. There were even more choices than that, but for dinner they were running out and closing down. My friend had the best shrimp etoufee that I ever tasted! Most everything was $4-6, including alcohol. It was a great day, a little chilly as the day wore on, but still wonderful.
The spillway was open on the way into New Orleans Sunday and on my way back today. It was closed some of last week. The currents looked so strong standing on the riverfront Sunday. The river was higher than I've seen.
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