Monthly Archives: February 2009

11 2686

My brain hurts.A simple yes or no answer will suffice.

Over at the Happy Rock, Debt Destroyer lists out his monthly expenses and every month I think to myself, “Man, that guy spends a lot…”

I’ve even left a comment a few times saying almost exactly that.

But does he really spend a lot?

Obviously, his numbers always seem high to me so I’m pretty convinced that he spends a fortune each and every month but, honestly, I’ve never really kept great track of my own spending — just my plus/minus.

In short, I’m going to give it a try.

I think I had a pretty expensive February, so these numbers might be a little bit higher than usual, but maybe not…

  • $1350.00 : Mortgage
  • $897.20 : Auto Insurance
  • $498.00 : Hockey Jerseys
  • $327.08 : Natural Gas
  • $320.00 : American Cancer Society
  • $154.72 : Electricity
  • $123.62 : Business Expenses
  • $109.26 : Cable/Internet
  • $98.67 : Water/Sewer
  • $62.00 : Clothing
  • $60.00 : Valentine’s Day
  • $59.40 : Phone
  • $38.87 : Gas
  • $20.15 : E-Filing
  • $14.97 : Finance Charges (GRRRR!!!)

That adds up to $4133.94!

Holy crap.

DD’s tally for January was $4205.68 — just a tad more than me!!!

I’m actually quite surprised that I’m right there with him… and to think people gave him a hard time, myself included, over a $180 Pearl Jam box set and here I am dropping nearly $500 on hockey jerseys.

(In reality, I dropped over $800 on hockey jerseys as the American Cancer Society donation was in fact a charitable donation for, well, a jersey…)

It’s complete madness.

The only good thing I can take from this analysis is that, as I said, this was an expensive month for me.

It’s not like I drop $897.20 on auto insurance each month. And the $818 spent on hockey jerseys, as lame an excuse as it sounds, was a much needed splurge.

Subtract those two from the picture and my expenses for the month were only $2418.74.

I say that like it’s nothing… Crazy, I tell ya…

And, technically, I could even take it a few steps further and take out the water bill (it’s quarterly), Valentine’s Day, the e-filing fee, and the finance charges.

And really, with the weather warming up, the gas and electricity bills be be cut in half (or more) in a couple of months.

So I guess it’s all good news for the months ahead.

Either way, though, my short term goal for March will be to keep my expenses under $2500…

According to Microsoft Money, I haven’t accomplished this since April of 2001 — not even close. That blows my mind.

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My Break is OverRemember that list I put together when I decided to stop my automatic savings plan?

I claimed that I was “taking a break” from saving.

Yeah, it was less than a week ago.

In short, I stopped my weekly transfer into savings because my checking account was feeling drained.

That, and I also wanted to:

  1. Pay my latest auto insurance premium in full.
  2. Erase the remaining credit card balance from the baby furniture purchase back in January.
  3. Be financially irresponsible and feed my addiction one last time before the smurfling is born.
  4. Pad my checking account balance to $5000.

So here I am, less than a week later and I’ve already accomplished the first three items.

Insurance is paid, credit card balance is zero, and there are 5 new jerseys in my collection.

The crazy part is that my checking account balance doesn’t look too bad even after all of that! (This is due in part to my State Tax Refund coming in this week.)

So maybe I won’t be off the saving wagon for as long as I’d originally thought?

I think that all I really needed to do was break from the monotonous routine for a few days…

6 1540

Investing: Time the MarketMaybe?

MoneyMateKate pulled the trigger last week and picked up 1000 shares of AIG.

A risky move, no doubt, but an inexpensive one too.

She only paid 51.7 cents per share. Hard to argue with that.

And Trevor from the Financial Nut also made a move, though more conservative (if that’s even possible right now), tossing $1200 at an S&P Index Fund.

In the long run, that was probably a pretty wise investment even if he lost his shirt today.

For me, there’s this guy at work pushing me each and every morning to stop waiting around and pick up a bunch of GM stock — he claims that it’s a bargain — but, so far, I’m not having any of it.

It’s not that I’m afraid or even against attempting to time the market — I think that both Kate and Trevor made wise moves — it’s just that the Index Fund route doesn’t excite me enough and, well, with AIG and GM being the only two companies that I’ve even given some thought about, well, I don’t really think they’re for me either.

Honestly, I don’t think either company even deserves to be in business right now. That’s my opinion.

AIG is $0.53/share as of market close this afternoon. Their 52-week high was $52.25/share. I dunno, maybe it’s a bargain but to me that seems more like a company that’s run it’s course. They’re done.

GM, the big huge American car company, is $1.77/share as of market close this afternoon. That sounds like a bargain. I mean, everyone has heard of GM — and a piece of it can be yours for just a couple of bucks!

I already know, walking in tomorrow, exactly what my co-worker is going to say.

“GM for under $2/share!? They’re too big to fail! The government would never let them fail. It’s a sure thing…

I think the only sure thing is that GM will fail and cease to exist in my lifetime. Chrysler is toast too.

Neither is too big to fail and both probably should fail.

Further, based on all of the outcry last week regarding all of this stimulus nonsense, the voice from my corner is growing louder.

Let them fail.

That’s what capitalism is all about.

Neither company was able to adapt to globalization and, well, other companies passed them by as a result.

– – – – – – –

Hey, I just noticed that Ford is only $1.73/share… Interesting…

5 1285

Results of my 2008 Tax ReturnYep, spent some quality time with TurboTax this morning finalizing everything to the point where I was comfortable enough to file.

Things weren’t as rosy in 2008.

That was my final conclusion before clicking the “Submit” button.

See, our 2007 tax return landed us $3444 total. That broke down to $2643 from the federal government and $801 from the state government.

This year, our refund is just $798.

We actually owe $460 federal. That’s never happened before.

It’d be safe to say that I’m a little disappointed right now.

It’s not that I was counting on a huge sum to roll in… I guess I’ve just come to expect it. And this year, it won’t be there. That kinda hurts.

But, at the same time, I have to pat myself on the back a bit for all of those calculations I did back in December of 2007.

Without asking you to go back and actually read that original post, I adjusted my filing status and withholdings in an attempt to “balance” things more to my own benefit.

In a nutshell, I tried to increase both my take home pay and my 401k contributions by decreasing the tax withheld — but only to the point where I wouldn’t owe anything to the government come tax time.

I came pretty darn close.

In fact, the only reason that I went over is because the hockey team that I quit working for in November of 2007 (because they were *months* late in paying me) finally paid me on January 6, 2008.

Yep — that one check, just six days into 2008, resulted in a 1099-Misc. Grrrr…

In other news, I find it really aggravating that the state charged me sales tax for e-filing.

Connecticut Sales Tax for E-Filing?

Gotta love the double taxation. Call it what you want, but that’s what it is.

More puzzling, that $0.20 works out to around a 1% sales tax.

Last time I checked, 30 seconds ago, Connecticut’s sales tax rate was 6%.

I *really* don’t get it.

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Now that I’ve finally reached my goal of $10k in savings (two months later than I’d hoped), I’m going to ease back on the throttle a bit and concentrate more on getting my checking account balance to a level that I’m a lot more comfortable with.

For the past few months, I’ve been transferring roughly $400 in to savings each week!

That’s freakin’ crazy.

Sure, I’ve seen my savings balance grow at an impressive clip but, at the same time, I’ve been cutting it real close in my checking account.

Too close for comfort, actually.

And, now… I want to get comfy.

So, with the money that I’m no longer throwing towards savings:

  1. I’m going to pay my latest auto insurance premium in full.
  2. I’m going to erase the remaining credit card balance (around $750) on the baby furniture.
  3. I’m going to be financially irresponsible and feed my addiction one last time before the smurfling is born.
  4. I’m going to pad my checking account balance to $5000.

That last one will likely take a few months.

And then, of course, when $5000 is the new $0, I’ll resume “feeding the pig” at my crazy high rate.

So I’m not *really* backing out, just, well, re-grouping, I guess?

And with the terrible rate that I’m earning in savings currently, well, this seemed like the perfect time to make this move.

2 1901

Allstate Sign - LA TimesMy auto insurance bill from Allstate arrived yesterday and it seems that things are creeping up.

Sure, it was just six months ago that I knocked $400 off my premium by actually calling my agent to tell them that I’d gotten married YEARS earlier but still…

Over these past six months, I haven’t gotten any tickets, I haven’t gotten into any accidents, and let’s face it, my cars aren’t getting any “newer”.

One is over a decade old and the other is a subcompact economy car.

And that’s why I don’t get it.

They’re worth *less* but I’m paying *more* to insure them? Huh?

But really, the “new” 6-month premium is $897.20 — that’s a mere $11.80 more than last time.

It’s not that big of a deal so I’m not going to worry about it too much but, seriously, it should perpetually go down until I purchase a new car or file a claim.

You’d think, any way…

3 1052

Rush LimbaughJust expanding on my post from earlier today

At lunch I was listening to a fat, pig-headed, drug abusing, egotistical, mostly deaf jerk-wad (aka Rush Limbaugh) and he very accurately described what a certain part of this new “Stimulus Law” will actually do.

His words, “We are bailing out losers

And he’s right.

He was talking about what a lot of people were talking about today, you know, the part where 10-million homeowners on the road to foreclosure will get to stay in their homes…

That sounds all peachy but the real problem is that it’s pretty likely that 9.9 million of those folks never should have been in those homes in the first place?!

Now, of course, at this point, Rush went on to blame Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barney Frank, and Barack Obama for everything simply because they’re Democrats… Yawn.

(Drives me nuts how Rush can so often make some great points but his arguments are always so weak and predictable…)

But he re-gathered himself and went on to say that there are millions more people, way more than the 10 million headed for foreclosure, who have been paying their mortgage on time all along even though they’re “upside down” and for their efforts, they’re getting nothing.

Personally, I’m not upside down and I know I shouldn’t be bothered by what other people get or don’t get but this one really rubs me the wrong way.

Most of these folks cheated and lied their way in and they’re getting rewarded for it.

(Don’t tell me that their “victims” of predatory lending… That’s BS.)

I just wish I could reset my mindset around 18-months back, you know, to when things seemed fair.

Things are certainly not fair now.

Really, agree with his politics or not, Rush’s transcript from this afternoon’s show is worth the read (or listen!).

CNBC’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera also had an interesting take on the whole situation that’s definitely worth a read too: A Break For Those Who Least Deserve It

She says most of what I’m thinking but more eloquently.

Can You Dig It?

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