Monday, February 28, 2011

Family Binder and Legacy drawer

I would never have called the information on this list a legacy. However I do believe that it is so important to make sense of my desk for my husband or DD should an emergency arise.

I cant focus today. So I am working instead on some steps that are already laid out in Dave Ramsey's plan. I will state that I did try and get started on my work but the primary bank where I was doing my work was being hacked - or down due to severe weather. Either way I chose to start this project...

Dave Ramsey's suggestions on creating a legacy drawer for your family.

There are 11 items on the list. I have done #1 and started on #3. (and I kept the cover letter open as I wrote the Financial account information because I kept thinking of things to add which means this was a GOOD exercise for me) It is intense to layout all this information to your family. I have it written down in a couple of places and it made sense to me but having to make sense of the information so that others understand it too. Well thats a bigger project then I thought. But It is important to just knock out a couple of items off your desk. The huge piles of paper on mine overwhelm me so I cnat imagine my husband going through it to make sense of it. So today there has been incremental progress. I'll take small wins where I can.
Take time yourself to go through Dave's list. It is an act of love to create this for your family. It is also very important.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Sometimes the bloggers' efforts recall the words of poet Langston Hughes:

It's such a bore
Being always poor.


not a bad idea to save any $5.00 you get and tuck it away for a cash reserve in the home. I have been thinking about how much should we have in the house just in case. I don't have an answer to that yet. How do you determine it? How much savings do I need? another $1000 ? this would put my savings accounts to 3k which is not that bad considering I want to have at least 20k as a true emerg fund. (6 months unemployment) but still when you are drowning under a load of debt it feels like $5.00 is a lot of cash. I am going to try it. I'll put it in an envelope and see where I am in 6 months to see if this is a reasonable thing to do. I rarely carry cash so it might not stack up/put a dent in my wallet that fast anyway.

A couple (2 give or take) of years back, I gave away my emergency cash to my daughter. I have never replaced it. I used to keep $100. in my wallet for emergencies. It turns out that not keeping the money there was a good thing when I lost/dropped my wallet somewhere. But I did spend the $100 more often then not. So I decided having cash around the house for me was dangerous. HOWEVER I think It is time to with caution revise my plan. It is winter what if the power goes out? What if there are major issues in the area and we need some cash on hand. I have two little kids what if they needed to eat. So

I may not have the money to keep cash around but I can do something about it I can take a small step by saving $5s I think I'll try it.

***Uopdate 2/28 So far I have saved $10. The money is in the family binder I am creating. I still think its a good idea even though I rarely have cash.

I am not a financial professional. If you are looking for financial advise you should seek it elsewhere. If you would like to join me on the journey, walk with me for a while and be my friend......

Finally some good news

Today is the first pay check of the new year. I waited with anticipation to see the results of my choices. I had done a lot of math but with changes to social security happening I was not sure how all the numbers would net out. I am going to "save" by switching health care and the change in SS tax $164.88 per month. Yep feels like a raise to me. Now I need to be careful about what is true savings and what will be out of pocket deductibles. There will be an increase in our out of pocket costs, I am guessing. So we shall see what our options are and if I really save any money by having this health plan. I am hoping that I do. Over the course of the year it puts $1978.56 back into the kitty. Sadly though I know there are deductibles so.... I am not sure I will truly benefit in the end. Hopefully though there will be NO MORE SURGERIES this year. Two surgeries in one year is enough for anyone.

And for those of you who are checking my math yes this calculation is lower then I previously calculated in my estimated savings for the different health care plans. I increased my HSA account from 500 to 750 as a result of knowing that we would probably have more out of pocket costs. That is taken out of each check pre-tax. I also increased the dental plan to include the 2 year old. We are going to get him the the dentist at some point this year. Perhaps closer to 3, cause he is a big baby this week.That stubborn son of mine would not open his mouth if he was asked. So maybe in the summer. ;-)

In the mean time I don't want to fritter away the increase in cash flow. $82.44 per check is helpful. I have two problems this month. #1 I dipped into my cash reserve for my checking account. So I think the first $82.44 will have to go towards maintaining the $1000 minimum balance I try to keep in my checking account. The balance did get down to $876.44 so I will be paying the stupid tax on the checking account this month. $14.00 fee coming my way. Sigh...Issue #2 is I had to dip into the savings I had. So my balance is currently: $1644.86 instead of the $2000 where I like to maintain it.

I have an automatic transfer of $105 From checking to savings. It will take 4 more "payment" transfers before the balance goes above 2k again. That means I will have paid myself back by March 15th.

Now to be sure the first thousand is for a real emergency. The second thousand is for known expenses that I like to avoid. Car insurance being top of that list. Some time ago I divided Car insurance and I think DD contact lenses to determine I needed to save more. So far the automatic savings has worked very well for me. I never feel that OMG feeling in the pit of my stomach that I have forgotten something. And although I do like to pay the car insurance with the tax return I dip into that top thousand of savings when it rolls around if I need to like in Oct. when there is no tax refund to cash in on.

OK so the math:

I am short $356.00

$105 * 4 = $420.00 // current payment pays back the deficit with $20.00 left over to go to debt at the end.

$165 * 3 = $495.00 // paid back in 3 transfers plus So I would be done by 2/28 AND it leaves me with $95 in the beginning of March to go to debt.

This is of course understanding that Murphy did not come to visit my house - which you know he LOVES me. Who am I kidding. I none the less hope for a quiet few winter months. In the past it typically is in the fall where I fall apart so here is to hoping...

The other option is to put in an automatic transfer directly to the credit card
I am leaning towards the automatic transfer. Its cleaner. I am already doing it, so the bite wont be too bad. And well I like savings in my pocket instead of those bloody debtors.

Of course I am paying interest for that privilege so there is the argument for the other side. paying off the debt faster pays me faster.

I think its the fact Murphy in the form of a snow storm or a DD need will win the case in the end. I am going to do the cash thing. I need a 2k Emerg fund and that is that. Once the savings account is paid back then I can begin to hit the debt harder. And if we use the tax return on the car insurance.... Ahh I can continue till October on the $ I have and stay focused on the debt. Lets hope I actually get a raise this year too. I think we'll know in June. If its a whopping $2.56 again so be it. LOL More reason to study programming in my spare time.

Oh and for those of you that noticed I slipped the extra $20 into my purse - Yep I always seem to feel short on pay day. Maybe that $22.44 will help me stay in balance and I can avoid dipping into savings.

I am not a financial professional. If you are looking for financial advise you should seek it elsewhere. If you would like to join me on the journey, walk with me for a while and be my friend......

Friday, January 07, 2011

New Years Rituals

I am replacing the Cross Stitch calendar on my desk it is a very small thing that I have discovered makes me happy. This year I feel like they gypped it a bit. There is one pattern for every 2 days instead of a pattern a day. Really? you couldn't do a pattern a day? Sigh. But I feel like I have started the clean slate process with setting up my calendar, Next up scanning to clear off my desk. What can I purge?

That process starts a few rituals that I do every Year in the December/Jan time frame.

The first thing I do is buy a new calendar for my purse. Yep no matter how tech I am I like my little paper pocket calendar. $7.00 (rounded up) and I am good for the year. Most if the info is is in other places but this is my at a glance when I am in the Dr's office am I free/ busy can I make this appointment first place I check.

The second thing I do is try and clear off my desk. This is going to be a BIG challenge this year. Last year I was without a scanner on my desk for about 8 months. It caused a terrible backlog in what is on my desk. Regrettably I am trying to start scanning again to move forward.

I also need to look through all these papers to see if there are any tax documents. I do have some stocks (that I debate on weather to sell to pay off debt or to keep and hold) and they send me 1099's so I need to track those. I also need to make sure I have last years return backed up. and I gather the same info for this years return.

FAFSA needs to be done as early as possible for maximum financial aid (I am writing a separate post on this topic.) and I need the w-2's to at least estimate our income so we can get that ball rolling.

I also like to empty out all last years credit card statements. Shred any old health information that makes no difference any more, and look for any outstanding questions there. I know of at least 3 things on the Health care front that needs to be addressed right away.

I like to create budgeting spreadsheets for the upcoming year. Create folders in windows that will contain my bills for the upcoming year etc.

This is a great time to back up your data. At work I bought for myself a 2 Terabyte drive for a whopping $100. It makes it SO easy to back up all my stuff. I took it to work and put all my personal files that I had been saving on my work computer onto this drive. DONE. But it reminded me that I have a TON of scanned documents that need to be backed up at home and how would I like to handle that? Ahhhh I also have a terabyte drive at home. Time to copy over the files. Especially those Christmas photos that I have yet to post for my family.

The last item on Gather little by little's list is check his safety deposit box. I don't have one, But I do have a "vital documents" folder for each kid that houses their birth certificate, bonds given to them, social security card and and pertinent data. My husband has been looking for his Birth Certificate. Perhaps I will make a folder for him too. I think it would be smart to purchase a fire proof box to house these items. I also want to get passports for each of us. Because frankly you never know when you might need one. I used mine when my wallet was missing and while it was expired it was still an acceptable form of ID. If we travel with the kids each should have their own passport for ID purposes. If I do it now then in the summer when we may travel there wont be a big panicked rush.

The digerati life suggested scheduling financial mile markers. I think its a good idea... So things I need to schedule throughout the year so I don't forget...

  • Quarterly credit checks
  • Make a will
  • 529 plan for kids
  • Create a financial and emergency disaster plan.
  • add big payments to calendar (car insurance)
So there we are.... On our way to 2011 success. Lets Roll

I am not a financial professional. If you are looking for financial advise you should seek it elsewhere. If you would like to join me on the journey, walk with me for a while and be my friend......

Thursday, January 06, 2011

New Years Reading

Reading has become front and center this week. I have a new set of glasses and I literally see things in a new way. I also asked for and received a kindle for Christmas. I just finished reading the girl with the dragon tattoo. I now understand why it was on the best seller list for so long. It was quite a compelling read. I am torn between downloading the next book or taking a break and organizing my Cross stitch. Some Combo there in I think I will find balance. Typically I alternate - Read, Stitch, do a project, Read, stitch, do a project. In the last two years I have not been doing much reading. That is unusual for me. I love to read and my desk is quite covered in books. Currently there are a LOT of SharePoint books. This is good as I move forward in trying to expand my career and increase my salary.

Yesterday I was rebuilding my computer at work and I discovered a new Mozilla Add on. It is fabulous. I am so thrilled. I did not like the new look of Bloglines and while I had been a faithful Bloglines subscriber I have a new solution. I do still like netvibes. But the Feedly add-on in Firefox is SO cool. I am content. I have done more reading this week then in the past 4 months. I am starting to feel that I am back. This is good.

Here are some of the blogs I would recommend to a reader:

10 personal finance blogs I love:

  1. Clever Dude I like reading about the personal finance journey. Clever posts often with info I like to explore. In short his blog makes me think and I like that.
  2. Boston Gal Boston the city has a special place in my heart so when I started reading Boston's blog I really enjoyed her thoughts. It reminds me of someone I know. She also does a huge amount of reading and sends me to other sources I would not have read.
  3. Graceful Retirement I really like Grace. She has a saucy way of looking at things and I really enjoy getting to know her.
  4. Man vs Debt Lots of resources. Interesting read.
  5. Lazy man and money The title appeals to me. Should I be the lazy woman regarding debt. I think it would be better if I applied "Gazelle intensity"! LOL
  6. No Credit Needed - This guy I followed closely and really enjoyed. Lately he does not post as often and I read it less. But go through the archives and share his journey. Very cool and interesting.
  7. Fabulous Financials I really like single Ma's tude. She cracks me up. I don't agree with everything she does but I love being on the journey. I guess I relate because I was single for so long with a DD too.
  8. Wise Bread Lots of resources around the net. Variety of ideas, always something new.
  9. Blogging Away Debt
  10. We're in Debt

I read hundreds of Craft type blogs. I love to see what others are working on. I believed for a time that Cross stitch was dying. But there are stitchers out there. and I am ever inspired by their work.

5 stitching blogs:

  1. Becky Bee She does such beautiful work
  2. Blacksheep's bit of the web Edgar is creative and thoughtful I like him a lot.
  3. Cherry Hill cottage I just love the designs that they post here. Gives me inspiration for things.
  4. The Stone Rabbit One of the Most creative blogs I read. I do like her style.
  5. All the beautiful things The photograph of her work is amazing and I am so impressed at the sheer quantity of projects she is able to do being the mom of two girls.

If your gonna increase your income you gotta be up to date on your topic of choice....

5 SharePoint blogs:

  1. Everything SharePoint - Steve is a great resource. I love the links he puts up he saves me a lot of hunting in my reading.
  2. Meet Dux - I just love this guy. He has energy, a balanced perspective, and something interesting to say.
  3. Office & SP Dev Cool resource. I also try to follow as many women developers as I can.
  4. End user SharePoint Always something going on and new here I get tons of ideas and things to try from this site.
  5. Woody Windischman excellent developer.

As I looked at my favorites I did see a trend emerge. I like a good story and I also like bloggers who link to other resources. I can get so lost linking to other things. I like learning new things and exploring the world.

5 great books for 2011 - I am not sure what to do here so I am going to ask you readers to make suggestions.

New year new reads... What can you recommend for me? I would love to hear about it.

I am not a financial professional. If you are looking for financial advise you should seek it elsewhere. If you would like to join me on the journey, walk with me for a while and be my friend......

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year - Refreshed goals

Typically I like reading other blogger s new years goals and their year long wrap ups. To my horror I looked at my blog and have not posted since July. Wow. I am not sure where all the time passed to.

In quick summary I have had a new DD child#3. She is beautiful and wonderful I am so happy she is here. She arrived via C-section so my recovery was slow. I also fought mastitis, bladder infection and nursing. Toddler adjustments to a little sister being born were tough but he is handling it OK and we are on the road to being a happy family. Lots of family visitors this time and my DD#1 home from school. In Nov I returned to work for 2 weeks only to skip out again for Thyroid surgery. It took a LOT of effort on family to make that happen and I cant say enough how grateful to my mom I am that she came for a stay.

So here we have arrived at the end of December.
Yesterday was an insane day and I want to blog about the choices I made.
As this is pretty much a pf blog lets look at yesterday from a financial perspective. I am still not sure I made the right choice and I am a bit nervous about it. It really helps me to see things written down

Yesterday was Health Care. So here we go...

Currently I have been paying $578.26 per month

If I left my health care alone it would cost me $855.82 per month. So Obviously we are NOT going to spend that kind of money

The PPO plan is $369.28 per month
The ALT plan is $288.64 per month

So.... I am going with the ALT plan. It makes me nervous but we are going to try it for one year to see if we like the plan. If I don't like it, I will change it to the PPO. We are done with the HMO.

I will save $289.62 per month by making the switch. That adds up to $3475.44 per year. Hmmmm that is two credit cards in a year. Well there is the reason right there to do it. Done. I just needed to see it in black and white. And if we end up paying a lot of $ out of pocket will deal with it when it comes.

Here were my last years goals:
  1. Pay off 28,077.53 amount of debt, or this year about $9000.00. That equates to $750.00 per month. I am budgeting about $800.00 to debt but some of that is interest. So we’ll see how I do.
  2. Lose 20 lbs
  3. Learn to be a SharePoint developer/programmer
#1 was not so hot. Over the course of the year despite paying down some debts here and there they were also increased here and there the net sum for the year: I paid down $ 581.81 total. UGH So goal #1 will be renewed. Pay off $9000.00 of debt.

#2 I have indeed lost 20 pounds. Goal for 2011 Keep it off and loose 20 more.

#3 I did not start a blog and I did not write enough code to be considered a developer. But that is a higher priority this year. Baby is here. No more kids I have the IUD to prove it. Focus is going to be on self and career. Because if I truly want to get out of credit card debt I will have to increase my salary. I have one more year at my employer so they pay the % of my DD tuition. After that I want the economy to be solid enough to risk looking. But I think I can do it. I just have to sharpen a few skills first. So Goal #3 is really #1 and I have a plan on how to accomplish it.

I have a SP environment in which to practice writing code
I have 3 developer books that I can use
I WILL sit down each morning for 1 hour per day and write code. To be a good author you have to journal and write every day. Same with programming to be a good developer you have to write code each Day. The blog has somewhat successfully helped me to be accountable to my finances and I hope the same effect will happen with SharePoint.

So there we go nothing new under the sun except t scars and a beautiful daughter. Good bye 2010. Welcome 2011!