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PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 12:24 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:35 am
Posts: 1148
Location: Maryland
I just ordered 250 business cards from Vistaprint (vistaprint.com) and only had to pay shipping (20.00). I'm not sure how fancy you want them, but for a generic business card, they did a nice job.

I know you can buy cardstock and design them yourself, but I have a sucky printer, and don't want to go to the store to buy cardstock, so I thought 20 bucks was worth it. Plus, my cards have two different colors on them and a picture, which is nice.

Enjoy this week. It's back to the grind for the rest of us, starting tomorrow. Boooooooo.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:32 am 

Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:19 pm
Posts: 620
Gah. My less-than-competent school financial aid office somehow managed to screw up my student loans, so that when I've been logging in to check the balance, a few of the loans did not appear. Sigh. I will track down the actual numbers soonish. I foresee a precipitious drop in net worth, between this snafu and the market. I was going to school full-time for most of this school year, and none of those loans were showing on my account. (Hmm, maybe I shouldn't track it down....) My GPA is at 3.7, which is good, too, considering.

The contract is going well -- other teams are trying to poach me, and I'm getting lots done. I love the new commute. The building is accross the street an outpost of my favorite Chinese restaurant, which hurts my lunch budget, but not that badly.

My first paycheck will come in the mail today or tomorrow. I've set up some automated transfers to pay myself out of a central savings account, so I won't see most of it. I gave myself a raise, but I'll be saving all of the pay difference between this new job and my old one -- the raise comes out of my old savings.

I will soon be rolling the old 401(k) into the Vanguard Total International Stock Market (I already own shares in that, and the 401(k) for less than a lousy year doesn't meet the minimum balance requirements). It's the fund I've lost the most money in, and I want to increase my international allocation. I guess I'll be buying low, at least.

I've found $250 worth of errors in my health insurance, and their call center is backed up due to hurricanes. It will take a while to get this back.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:04 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:19 pm
Posts: 620
I've been at my new job three weeks, and just got a really lovely "if you were an employee, we would have given you an award" letter. My contracting company says they are sending me a "surprise" for it; since it's not a pony, I don't know how good it can be, but it's a good sign.

I rolled over my 401k right before things kind of crashed, which saved me a few hundred, and means I am out of Wachovia. Then I went and invested it in the fund that has lost the most money so far (the Vanguard Total International Sock Market Index). I want more international exposure. So I think this time I actually managed to buy low, and sell high(er). I wasn't trying to time anything, just get my accounts all in one place; the expense savings of having access to VIIIX (institutional shares) wasn't worth the hassle of dealing with Wachovia's annoying website.

I started the 401(k) for the new job -- no matching, as a contractor, but at least they have one. The funds were really not that great; some even had pretty big loads, etc, and the S&P index had a 0.35% expense ratio (!). They had a couple Vanguard indices that sadly do not fit my allocation. So I'm contributing 10% of my shiny new wages to the Fidelity Contrafund, which is closed to new investors and has a good record, and is only medium expensive.

Getting checks instead of direct deposit (just for the first few weeks, till things are set up) has been very annoying. I've done some saving, but I'm not completely sure where I am because of waiting for deposits to clear.

I mailed my 10-year-old niece a $500 check for her birthday. The catch is, she has to get a CD with it. She'll be getting really cheap presents for a while, but used books make both of us happy, so that's ok.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 3:33 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:19 pm
Posts: 620
I've changed plans slightly: instead of filling up my emergency fund, I've stopped at $5K and I'm contributing to my Roth. I put in $2000 a couple of days ago, and will put in the rest asap -- probably $1500 in November and $1500 in December, but I may adjust that if things start picking up/falling down more. Buying low is kind of scary, but, worst-case, Roth contributions can be withdrawn. I'm not planning on it by any means, it just helps me buy while the market's in freefall.

My theory in buying now is this: if things go really, really bad, then I'm so screwed that $5000 isn't going to help me. But if this market behaves like every other market in the history of ever, including the Great Depression, then I will have a chance at some fantastic gains. Perhaps enough to get me sufficiently ahead in my retirement funds that I can consider buying a house. (Yes, I'm considering using retirement money for a house. This is because I see no point in saving in taxable accounts until my nontaxed accounts are maxed out, which they are not; because I can trust myself not to do this unless I would still be on track afterwards; and because I don't think I should buy a house if my retirement isn't on track anyway. I mean, I want a house, but I understand it's the American Dream equivalent of "I want a pony.")

My job seems to be going really well. Everyone is expecting them to hire me if I want to be hired. The activity in my area is increasing, a lot (go M&As! and I can guarantee that this is one area where we will not be taking on the processes of the acquired company). While being a consultant is neat, I think I'd rather not go for contracting in this environment. So, Monday I'm call to tell my recruiter that yes, I can be hired. Preferably asap. And ask him how to approach my bosses.

The 401(k) and direct deposit have finally started. Damn I hate depositing paychecks; it's worse because all of my real banking is out of ING, so I had to wait for transfers. But that's done with.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 3:39 pm 

Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:35 am
Posts: 1444
i'd stick with your plan of $1500 in Nov and $1500 in december regardless of what the market is doing. Don't start second guessing yourself. The market will continue to remain volatile. Understand that, and go with what you are doing.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 4:19 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:19 pm
Posts: 620
googoo wrote:
i'd stick with your plan of $1500 in Nov and $1500 in december regardless of what the market is doing. Don't start second guessing yourself. The market will continue to remain volatile. Understand that, and go with what you are doing.


All I meant was that if I could get the money faster, I might do it faster, in order to save up for the 2009 Roth faster....

I'm still not entirely clear on what I'm doing with this ridiculous paycheck; I should know by now how much I can save out of it, but I don't.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 4:39 pm 

Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:35 am
Posts: 1444
Daedala wrote:
googoo wrote:
i'd stick with your plan of $1500 in Nov and $1500 in december regardless of what the market is doing. Don't start second guessing yourself. The market will continue to remain volatile. Understand that, and go with what you are doing.


All I meant was that if I could get the money faster, I might do it faster, in order to save up for the 2009 Roth faster....

I'm still not entirely clear on what I'm doing with this ridiculous paycheck; I should know by now how much I can save out of it, but I don't.


and what i meant was that don't be in such a hurry that you lose focus on what you are doing. be methodical and stick to the plan.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 6:44 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:19 pm
Posts: 620
My cat is very sick, and I'm worried.

I hope it's the kind of thing where blowing my emergency fund will actually help. However, it seems doubtful; we won't know for sure until the blood tests come back on Monday, and may not know for sure then.

She doesn't seem to be in pain, just tired and listless and dehydrated and omg skinny. She's purring. The vet promised to call me first thing. The list of potential causes was scary.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 10:28 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:22 pm
Posts: 548
Location: Northern CA
I hope it's something treatable. Our eldest cat is skinny as h*ll, and has been diagnosed with a thyroid deficiency (pills 2x/day) and an inflamed intestinal tract (thank gosh no stomach cancer).

Dh has taken to calling her "Skeletor" - but she's still active, loving, sociable...

I hope the news is good; I'd deplete my EF in a heartbeat if it meant diagnosis and treatment for any of our cats.

Sandi


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:03 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:19 pm
Posts: 620
My cat died a week ago. I'm pretty upset, and my other cat is deeply confused and lost. I miss her a lot. Cats live so long now; it's surprising when a nine-year-old dies of liver failure. But the vets agreed that there was nothing I could have done for her that I would have been willing to do.

My budget is all shot to hell, of course -- I changed my airfare for a visit to family so I could care for her, and vet bills, and ok some retail therapy. My emergency fund is not where I want it to be. I don't really care.

My workplace says they are very happy with me and that I really oughtn't look too hard for new work just now -- everyone expects I will be extended, or maybe one of my internal customers will be able to hire me directly. (Another internal customer was joking about it, too.... I really love this job. They appreciate me, and I'm brilliant at the work, and it fits really well with my career plans.) This is pretty good, considering I've been off my game for the past few weeks for obvious reasons. There's a major merger going on, and that means more work for my area.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 11:21 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:22 pm
Posts: 548
Location: Northern CA
Daedala, my condolences. I cried for days when my last cat (Zappa) died at 15.5 - he was (and is still) very much missed.

I hope it's of some comfort that you did everything you could to help him. As I said earlier, I'd blow my budget in a heartbeat if it would have saved him, so I understand entirely.

I'm so sorry.

Sandi


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 8:18 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:19 pm
Posts: 620
sandi_k wrote:
Daedala, my condolences. I cried for days when my last cat (Zappa) died at 15.5 - he was (and is still) very much missed.


Thank you. The other cat is very confused about where she went.

I suppose I should get back on track with finances. Sigh. The company I'm contracting for hasn't officially extended or hired me, but they have come just short of promising that they will. A lot of "please don't look too hard" and "you're doing great and we want to keep you for the foreseeable future" kind of stuff. I have performed the traditional job-summoning spell by printing up business cards and handing them out (they are quite snazzy).

Credit card debt = $8400
School loans in deferment = $29,800
Retirement = $14,700 (cost basis $27,200...ouch)
Emergency fund = $5000
Other cash = $2600 (goes to rent, COBRA, living expenses, and that IRA deposit).

Recent expenses: Kitty :(, holiday airfare (and changing the schedule because of the kitty), new bicycle, COBRA
Coming expenses: $3000 Roth IRA deposits (this got slightly delayed, but I should still be able to make a November and a December deposit)

I have fretted a bit about the school loans, which are higher than I thought they would be because of a lender snafu (my fault for not tracking them as well as I should; my school is extraordinarily disorganized), but I've decided that they are reasonable. My contract is effectively a $40k/year raise, and I've learned that all of my colleagues have at least a decade more experience than I do. I don't think I would have been considered for the job if I weren't in school; I doubt I would have the confidence to handle it if I weren't, either.

The housing market is suddenly looking affordable again. I don't like the reasons, but I do want a house; with this job, I can catch up on a down payment before the market turns back, so that is what I am planning on trying to do. There's a house in my neighborhood that looks pretty good for me, at a mortgage I can afford. I don't want that house, but more will follow.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 5:29 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:19 pm
Posts: 620
Making my own business cards worked! My contract has been extended for a full year -- they usually only extend people six months at a time. I'm also getting some overtime. I am ecstatic. This is a fabulous job. A friend pointed out that my job might now be more secure than many "permanent" jobs, too.

And at this rate...wow.

At the beginning of the year, I will increase my 401k contribution enough to max out my 401k. No matching, but now I need the reduction in taxable income.... I will also max out my Roth. And then I will pay off my credit cards. And then I will save a down payment for a house. I think I'd like to have either a permanent job and a 10% down payment, or a contract job with a 20% down payment. That seems to be the right risk ratio. There are foreclosures here, in my same nice neighborhood, next to the light rail line, for 65K. I am very sad that it will get worse; but it does mean I can afford a house soon. Quite possibly within the year.

I might go to London in the summer for a professional conference. I'll be able to afford that if I choose to.

At the end of the month, I will have a whole year of Quicken data with which to make a solid budget (instead of my current half-assed savings plan, which has still done pretty well). I like the idea of waiting for a full year of data; I won't be able to tell myself that "Christmas changes things" or whatever.

In mid-January, I will get my remaining cat a new kitten. I want one of http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2008/12/miracle-kitten-born-at-the-beardsley-zoo.html


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 10:09 am 

Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:19 pm
Posts: 620
One of the homes on the way to my bus stop is selling for $89,000.

The mortgage on that is less than my rent, which is itself only 15% of my take-home pay. Okay. No more London plans. I want a house. Not that house. But there will be more. While I'm sad about the reasons for it, not buying because of that would be stupid all around. Things aren't going to get better until there are people living in the houses.

My credit is good, my job seems likely to be secure -- and I will be pretty sure one way or another by the time I'm ready to buy -- my consumer debt is at about 2.3% interest, my student loans are deferred until I finish my degree (and still less than the raise I got changing jobs), and my retirement is on track. All I need is a down payment, and I can save that this year while still saving for retirement.

At the end of the month, I will have a full year's worth of Quicken reporting with which to make a budget and see how much I can save. I've already been using almost 40% of my income to fund retirement or pay down debt; now that I'm making a lot more, I can really focus on saving for a down payment.


Last edited by Daedala on Thu Dec 25, 2008 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: good year
PostPosted: Thu Dec 25, 2008 1:19 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 10:13 am
Posts: 148
Yea, a good year for you. I agree that having all of your spending data for the year is incredibly helpful in planning the next year.


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