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 Post subject: 2/1/8 Report
PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:52 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:03 am
Posts: 298
Location: Michigan
Sorry to be so detailed, but I thought I'd discuss things in more detail today since I clearly need to figure out what's gone wrong. More on that later.

January Income ($4471.16)
$4346.82 Salary
$75 Credit Card Reward
$29.64 Barnes and Noble discount
$6.23 Savings Interest
$5.00 Buzzback survey reward
$4.49 Coupons
$2.20 Bottle Deposit Returns
$1.20 Roth Cash Reserve Interest
$0.33 Checking Interest
$0.25 Dividend Income

January Expenses ($4623.53)
$1090.38 Travel
$625.00 Rent
$438.53 Federal Taxes
$434.17 Dining (Subgroup: Coffee $27.86)
$400 Dental Expenses
$254.51 Social Security
$155.97 Computers
$155.63 State
$140.84 Groceries
$128.98 Books
$115.99 Auto Gas
$107.36 Med. Ins.
$63.71 Auto Maintenance
$59.52 Medicare
$52.91 Tips
$39.23 Sales Tax
$38.15 Gifts
$35.61 Postage
$30.58 Electric Bill
$26.93 Household
$25.31 Linux Group Donations
$25.09 Student Loan Interest
$24.99 Clothes
$24.55 Household Gas
$24.41 Credit Card Interest
$18.77 Medical Expenses
$14.95 Haircut
$14.83 Netflix
$12.40 Cable
$7.84 Dental Ins.
$4.49 Entertainment
$4.00 Web hosting

Net Loss: $152.37
Net Worth (including retirement, excluding car): $6943.39

401k value: $16,021.43
Roth value: $3908.3843

So lets talk about a few things:
1. Deficit spending. I'm not terribly troubled by that. I'm traveling this month, and I have an expense report for $1048.39. So accounting for that it should be something on the order of a Net Profit of 800 dollars. That said, if I only spent 3600 (including federal taxes, rent, etc) that's still a lot. It would seem dining out, computers and books are my downfall. I need to eat in more (but that's hard when traveling).

2. Strategy. The $20 a day thing is a terrible plan for me. I hold up important things for too long because I don't want to be in the red. I need to return to my old fashioned budget.

3. Credit Card Interest. I was playing the margins a bit too much with the holidays and I got whacked. My credit card statement came due 2 days sooner than I expected, so I got clocked. I've shifted to the other card for the time being, so unfortunately all the work travel isn't counting towards my retirement account :( symptom of overspending I guess. That and I was in too much of a hurry to meet the Roth max out. Lesson learned, and all in all $24.21 isn't the worst thing in the world. I've gotten $225 out of them in rewards. So I'm winning so far.

4. Taxes. I did my taxes last night, and it looks like I'm getting $48.00 dollars back from the feds, and $142.00 back from the state of Michigan. I haven't decided if it's going to be a political contribution to my favorite prez candidate, a donation to my Linux Users Group or just savings.

5. Boyfriend visit. I'm visiting Boyfriend in about a week and a half. I'm very excited. He wants to pay for the hotel, and given that I'm a bit strapped right now I'm alright with that, but I feel guilty.

6. Dentist. I have another tooth to take care of, but since I'm out of town I'm not sure that's going to happen quickly. I just hope it isn't so costly.

I'd try to post a budget, but it's hard to estimate what I'm spending for work. I may need to create a whole new set of expense accounts for work. Hmmmm. I'm trying to stick to making 416-417 dollar contributions once a month to my Roth, but I'm not sure if that'll last.

Guesses for next month
Income $7,500.00
Expenses $6,000.00
Net Profit $1,500.00
401k $17,000.00
Roth $4,400.00


Last edited by sdkramer on Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Mid-Month Update
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 6:27 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:03 am
Posts: 298
Location: Michigan
Haven't done a budget, work travel makes it a bear. Boyfriend and dentist expenses still to come.

Here's the numbers as of 2/12

Net Worth: $7285.86
Net Worth Change: +$342.47

Income: $3414.86
Expenses: $1675.55
Surplus: $1739.31


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 Post subject: OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 7:15 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:03 am
Posts: 298
Location: Michigan
Car shook when I hit 80 or above, and I noticed the tire was bald on the side of it. Smelled like an alignment issue. Took it to Firestone, $1296. I managed to get it down to $952 and I'm still getting screwed. GRRRRRRR! I hate car repair places! and I hate cars! I'll be lucky if I make my CC bill next month.

At least I can use it to drive home tonight, because I'm going on vacation. YAY!


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 Post subject: Millionaire Next Door
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 2:41 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:03 am
Posts: 298
Location: Michigan
I just read the Millionaire Next Door. It's a great (and quick) read, full of lots of juicy statistics about the purchasing, saving, investing habits of the average millionaire. I highly recommend it, and I don't read a lot of financial books. I'm also reading a biography about Andrew Carnegie, that so far is interesting, but is only incidentally about personal finance.


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 Post subject: Re: OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 3:44 pm 

Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2007 9:30 am
Posts: 576
sdkramer wrote:
Car shook when I hit 80 or above, and I noticed the tire was bald on the side of it. Smelled like an alignment issue. Took it to Firestone, $1296. I managed to get it down to $952 and I'm still getting screwed. GRRRRRRR! I hate car repair places! and I hate cars! I'll be lucky if I make my CC bill next month.

At least I can use it to drive home tonight, because I'm going on vacation. YAY!


i'm sorry to notice this so late, but it "smelled" like an alignment issue? i hope that price included 4 new tires, balance and alignment, and some other major suspension work... :shock:
never ever understimate the value of the second opinion, especially if the car is drivable. and of finding a good honest mechanic for the long run.

i just hate to see people pay exorbitant prices for car repair.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 8:14 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:03 am
Posts: 298
Location: Michigan
I'm on a mini-crusade to improve my credit score, so I tried to raise my credit line on one of my cards. I requested 10k, and they denied me. So I stopped using it for two months, and switched to the other card I have. I just requested the same credit increase two months later and it was approved immediately. I guess they got my gentle hint. Next time I go home I'll pick that card back up. I just wanted to share that little story.

Things are looking relatively good this month. The market is still crap (401k has been fighting to get above $16,000 for the last 4 months, even with regular 15% contributions,) but considering I took a vacation, and had some major car repairs this month I'm doing awesome.


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 Post subject: Re: OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 8:21 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:03 am
Posts: 298
Location: Michigan
galactic wrote:
i'm sorry to notice this so late, but it "smelled" like an alignment issue? i hope that price included 4 new tires, balance and alignment, and some other major suspension work... :shock:
never ever understimate the value of the second opinion, especially if the car is drivable. and of finding a good honest mechanic for the long run.

i just hate to see people pay exorbitant prices for car repair.


Unfortunately I was traveling for work, and leaving the next day on vacation, so time was really of the essence. I needed my car by the end of the day. I needed to put in 12 hours at the client's, and then drive 5 hours back home, grab a few things, and drive 3 hours to the airport to catch my flight. So given all the driving I was about to do I needed it taken care of pronto and without a second opinion.

This is going to sound terrible, but I didn't even read what they did. Once I'm home again probably the weekend after next. I'll see what they did that warranted such an astronomical fee and post it here. Either way between this, and some previous work I had done at Firestone, I certainly wouldn't recommend them to anyone.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:26 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:03 am
Posts: 298
Location: Michigan
I upped my other card's limit to $12,000 as well. Again in preparation for purchasing a house one day. I should be getting a reimbursal for travel tomorrow, and hopefully either late tomorrow or Saturday morning I'll have something about this month.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 1:04 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:03 am
Posts: 298
Location: Michigan
February Income ($8426.23)
$8301.48 Salary
$122.36 Dental Insurance Benefit
$6.49 Coupons
$5.21 Checking Interest
$1.85 Savings Interest (kept everything in checking this month)
$1.20 Found Money
$0.13 Roth Cash Reserve Interest
-$12.49 Barnes and Noble discount (had to renew this month)

February Expenses ($6806.00)
$1983.39 Travel
$1045.67 Auto Maintenance
$799.31 Dining (Subgroup: Coffee $63.00)
$625.00 Rent
$476.25 Federal Taxes
$357.87 Auto Gas
$287.22 Social Security
$195.90 Political Contributions
$155.48 Computers
$122.36 Dental Expenses
$107.36 Med. Ins.
$106.34 Tips
$72.00 Auto Parking
$70.84 Groceries
$67.17 Medicare
$36.10 Sales Tax
$30.36 Books
$26.53 Electric Bill
$28.54 State Tax
$26.93 Household
$25.55 Household Gas
$22.00 Auto Rental
$14.95 Haircut
$14.83 Netflix
$12.40 Cable
$12.00 Laundry
$11.00 Student Loan Interest
$10.00 Charity General
$7.84 Dental Ins.
$7.25 Bank Service Charge
$4.49 Entertainment
$4.00 Web hosting
$3.00 Auto Fees

Net Gain: $1478.86
Net Worth (including retirement, excluding car): $8520.24

401k value: $16712.96
Roth value: $4541.71

Comparing January the following things come up.
1. Salary. Salary is much bigger for two reasons. I'm too lazy to make a category for reimbursals, so they go under salary at the moment. Also, I'm having my overtimed payed out, so it's also a bit higher.

2. Travel + Dining Out + Gas. Through the roof. Obviously. This whole month I've been traveling.

3. Auto Maintenance. Grumble grumble grumble. I referred to this before. Later I'll post what they actually did.

4. All in all I'm pleased with the gain for the month. I still have about 1000 in outstanding reimbursals to go as well. So hopefully next month is good as well.

5. Market. I'd be nice to actually see my retirement amounts go up. I know, don't watch them obsessively but sheesh.

6. Dentist. I'm having that other tooth taken care of this week while I'm home.

Again budgeting while traveling is going to be impossible, unless I track work expenses separately, or don't enter the information when it's going to be reimbursed.

So how'd my guesses do?
Income $7,500.00 (Lowballed by 900)
Expenses $6,000.00 (Probably about right if I hadn't had to fix the car)
Net Profit $1,500.00 (Just about on the money)
401k $17,000.00 (was until the 300 pt. drop today)
Roth $4,400.00 (a little higher. YAY!)

So for next month?
Income $6,500.00
Expenses $4,700.00
Net Profit $1,800.00
401k $16,500.00 (at the current trend I'll have 0 at 30)
Roth $5,000


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 10:11 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:03 am
Posts: 298
Location: Michigan
Okay the total cost of repairing the car was $1063. It included 4 tires, 2 tie rods, and labor and apparently their lifetime alignment nonsense. 600ish Parts, 300ish labor, $60 tax, and $20 shop supplies. I still feel gypped. Oh well.

I deposited $417 into the Roth today for March. So far I'm $75 ahead of the plan of 417/mo.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 8:14 am 

Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2007 9:30 am
Posts: 576
the lifetime alignment service is what bit ya.

get your money's worth and check your alignment every 10k miles, then. it'll extend your tire life. :) but know that shop (or chain) is the only one who can do alignments or any kind of suspension work on your car from now on if you want that to stay in effect.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:06 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:03 am
Posts: 298
Location: Michigan
I got both tax checks back. 140 something from the state, 48 bucks from the feds. I need to adjust my state withholding if such a thing is possible. For now it's just sitting in the ING checking account. I've been requesting the overtime I've been working as pay for a little while. As long as I'm working overtime that'll offer a little bit of extra cash in my pocket. Should be useful for a down payment on a house, or preparing to get a new car one day, or a potential move. It all depends on how things go with Boyfriend's visa. I'm crossing my fingers, but for a little bit I was concerned about having to file a federal suit to try to keep him in the country. Things are looking better at the moment.

Updates as they warrant.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 8:28 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:03 am
Posts: 298
Location: Michigan
I started using Mint.com yesterday. I was always really nervous about it. I do like some aspects of it, but others seem like blatant commercialism disguised as financial advice. I still prefer Gnucash, but Mint's budgeting is much easier than Gnucash's. I think I'll use Mint to budget. Gnucash to track the numbers, and I've been using a spreadsheet to track total spending/day versus total earnings/day.

I'll give an updated report Tuesday. It seems to have been a mediocre month.


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 Post subject: March Wrap-Up Report
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 11:15 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:03 am
Posts: 298
Location: Michigan
I'm still spending too much.

Net Worth = $9254.16

So that's an increase of $730. But I don't feel real good about the whole thing.

Assets $24,071.02
Cash on Hand: $2630.17
401k $16,749.55
Roth $4691.30

Liabilities $14,816.86
BofA Card $2237.78
FIA Card $2037.57
Student Loan $10,522.75

I'm still spending too much money, and I'm a little worried. While my Net Worth is increasing it seems to be by only the amount I submit to my 401k or Roth. I need to have some money saved for a move when/if it should become necessary. I'm thinking seriously about ditching the credit cards because they seem to be causing me to spend more than I might otherwise. For example yesterday I somehow managed to spend $109 on groceries. I'm a single guy living alone for now. That seems like a crazy amount to be spending. For the moment I am spending a lot on dental bills and that should almost stop next month. If next month seems out of control I'm going to have to ice the cards for a while as a test.

Income $6455.80
Expenses $4576.22

Top 5 Expenses:
Dental Expense $1153.47
Rent $625
Groceries $467.87
Fed. Tax $462.24
Soc. Sec. $283.13

Looking at this makes me feel better. Obviously dental is crazy, and a one time thing. Groceries need to get under control. Taxes and Rent are in line as major expenses.

Goals for next month:
(1) $417 in Roth
(2) Net Worth >$11,000
(3) Savings of $500 for move.
(4) Groceries <$350


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:30 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2007 8:11 am
Posts: 1088
Location: Sunny Florida
I don't think credit cards or evil and my husband and I each have one. However, we don't use credit for day to day spending. We found out last year, when we paid of $55,500 in unsecured debt, that our spending habits changed when we moved to spending money we already have (debit or cash) vs. spending future money (credit). We generally use debit as its easier for us to keep track in Quicken, we each get $500 for half a month to cover groceries, dry cleaning, gas, eating out, entertainment, gifts, etc. and when the money is gone we stop spending and start eating soup.

We still use credit for booking travel and we take advantage of the 0% offers at Home Depot for our investment property expenses.


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