Monthly Archives: August 2009

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I’ve heard the rumblings for years now that Microsoft would be giving the axe to their entry into the personal finance software realm but now it’s apparently on it’s deathbed.

I’ve been receiving this “nag” screen periodically for the past few days anytime I use the program:

MS Money Nag Screen

I first purchased Microsoft Money back in 1997 — according to my entry in, yes, Microsfot Money, I paid $52.95 for it in March of 1997 at the now shuttered Circuit City.

Thinking back, and looking at the entries around it, I’m truly surprised that I dropped that kind of coin on something that wasn’t a video game (Diablo, anyone?) or something relating to ice hockey.

In reality, it was probably one of my wisest purchases ever…

Yep, I was able to accurately watch my credit card debt swell to over $30k.

Some people claim not to have a clue how deep in debt they are but because of Microsoft Money, I *always* knew where I stood financially. Not that I did anything about it for years but that’s a different conversation

So, anyway, my first version of Money was Money ’97. It was pretty solid — as a 21 year old, I liked it enough to actually sit down each week and enter every single transaction. That’s saying something.

Eventually I upgraded to the 2002 version. It seemed a little buggy but it certainly looked a lot nicer. Perhaps buggy isn’t the right term — I don’t wanna get all those Mac-holes worked up. I found the “wizards” and “auto-budget” features annoying.

I hoped that the issue would correct itself when I upgraded to the 2005 version. It wasn’t perfect but that’s the version I still use today. Shortly after I got married, I hooked my wife up with the 2007 version.

What I’m trying to get at is that we’re a Microsoft Money family and have been for over a decade. And now they’re leaving us out in the cold…

The logical transition would be to migrate towards Quicken. I’m not happy about it but I’m not against it either — my concern is that importing my thousands and thousands of entries from MS Money (a defeated competitor) will be, well, hit-or-miss.

There’s something to be said for 12+ years worth of accurate right-down-to-the-penny data and I don’t want to, well, I don’t want to start fresh…

Why don’t you just keep using your version of Money, Brainy?

That’s a great question. I wish I could!

That “nag” screen above mentions something called Windows Live ID technology.

I don’t use that.

I never have.

Yeah, I do the online banking thing, but I don’t let the bank update my records. I can take care of that manually (offline), thankyouverymuch.

I went through all of the actions that the Microsoft Support page instructed me to and, well, since I was never using the service, it didn’t have any effect — so here I am stuck with a “nag” screen and a slight worry that someday the software will just flat out tell me, “Sorry, you can’t open this anymore…”

It makes me sad.

So, I ask, has anyone made the switch from MS Money to Quicken (or anything else) without too much of a problem importing data?

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It's easy being green...I’ve officially been a parent for 90 days now…

Being 90 days, it’s almost like I’m at the end of a trial period, or something, so here are my thoughts…

Not only is this not very difficult, I’m not certain that I could even classify it as hard.

Sure, this past weekend was a little rough as he managed to suffer his first fever — a bout that resulted in very little sleep for anyone under this roof — and his first snuffy nose — that resulted in some of the most foul booger action I’ve ever seen.

How so much snot can come from such a tiny nose is simply miraculous…

But outside of that (and a few blow-outs up the back — one even up the front!), it’s mostly been smiles.

Like the picture.

I’d bet the next 90 days are even easier and… hopefully they’re just as kind to my wallet too.

Since birth — I’m “up” over $20k

Woo-hoo!

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Michael Ian BlackI’ve come to the conclusion that I have a low risk tolerance…

Not so much that I’m afraid to invest in moderately risky markets because I’ve done and continue to do that.

My results have been, as you’d expect, fifty-fifty.

Investing in Pets.com was a mistake.

Cashing out just before the dot-com bust was not.

Using that “found” money to buy a BMW Z3 was, yes, a mistake.

Anyway, I say this because there’s been a lot of talk in my social circle about purchasing homes.

I’m certainly not in the market, but living vicariously through these acquaintances (all of which earn an income comparable to mine) while they search for a home, I can’t help but wonder why they’re looking in the price range that they are.

Without actually saying anything outloud (I’m a terrible friend), I think that they’re all nuts. I’d never be willing to take out a mortgage *that* large.

Three grand per month? Yeah, I don’t think so…

But sometimes I sit and think, hey, wait a minute… I can apparently afford to live in a house that commands a $3k mortgage payment so why am I living like this?

I dunno, maybe this is where the often referenced ‘consumer confidence’ comes into play — you know, “Consumer confidence fell 6 percent during the month of July…”

You here stuff like that on the news all the time…

How do they measure that, anyway? Seriously.

So, I suppose my low risk tolerance is due to the fact that I have low consumer confidence.

Is that how it works?

I’m not sure…

I generally like to think my consumer confidence is pretty high.

Perhaps I’m fooling myself?

Either way, I’m definitely not confident that I could pay a $3k per month mortgage payment for 30 years.

No freakin’ way.

Thankfully, I don’t have to.

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Mortgage on the MoveAs of this morning, I officially owe less than six figures on my mortage!

Balance is now $99,623.76.

It feels like a weight off of my shoulders even though it’s a pretty meaningless milestone and, really, still a pretty staggering number too.

Even still, from my experiences wiping out credit card debt, every milestone reached seemed to bring me more and more momentum.

I’m not exactly attacking this balance quite as aggressively as I did on the credit card balances but I’m comfortably (relatively) on pace to have my mortgage paid in full sometime in 2014.

So, while I envisioned the day my credit card balances reached $0 as the day I could spend freely (and to a degree, I almost have, though under an unwritten no-debt-incurred rule), with this new 5-figure balance, I’m feeling that much closer to the day when I can obnoxiously spend freely.

Yeah, I know it’s 5 years down the road but I’ve got momentum on my side…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

PIAC Post Extension:
Yes, an entire year after breaking that 22% threshold (which is apparently a law with a TON of loopholes), I’m *still* paying PMI… Ugh.

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That's my smurfling.Okay, okay, okay… Enough of this stalling tactic.

Yep, I spent too darn much last month.

Way too much.

It wasn’t as if I didn’t see it coming…

So, I’m just going to put it all out there…

No reason to even bother sugar coating it:

  • $2915.00 : Tree Service
  • $2170.00 : Mortgage
  • $1669.25 : Hockey Jersey Expo/Vacation
  • $385.18 : Auto Property Taxes
  • $269.34 : Business Expenses
  • $109.26 : Cable/Internet
  • $96.06 : Electricity
  • $87.70 : JC Penney (I bought a pillow-top thing for our mattress because the hotel we stayed in while at the Jersey Expo had one and it was extra comfy.)
  • $60.00 : Cash
  • $78.21 : Phone
  • $50.22 : Gas
  • $44.58 : Natural Gas
  • $27.37 : Lowe’s (Grass Seed)
  • $10.27 : K-Mart (I forgot to pack underpants on vacation so I had to buy a couple pair)

All together, that’s $7972.44.

That’s over three times as much as I spent in April.

I’m not proud of the number but it feels pretty darn good to have spent so much and not be in one single dime of debt as a result. That feels great, actually.

As for the out of control spending? August will be better…

Seriously.

(But only because the daycare bill is coming out of my wife’s account!)

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August 2009 Net WorthMy net worth is now officially the highest that it has ever been — I can feel the $200k mark coming this month.

I used to think that a high net worth was all about the assets but, for me, that isn’t how it’s panned out.

See, my total assets have been higher in the past. Quite a bit higher, actually, but I always had HUGE liabilities canceling them out.

This coming month, my liabilities will no longer total a 6-figure dollar amount.

Sure, the surging stock market and seemingly re-energized housing market are driving my assets up right now but the constant and continually decreasing debt is what’s really been steering me in the right direction for months.

Okay, here’s the breakdown:

Cash:
While I haven’t reported my spending for the month of July yet, I have hinted at the fact that I spent a lot of money over the past few weeks. A lot more than I usually do.

So how’d this segment of my net worth increase?

It’s called a three-paycheck month.

Savings:
I took a hit here.

The decrease stems from that tree project we had done at the start of the month. Total bill for the project came out to be a little over $3000 ($2750 for the work, $165 in tax, and $80 for grass seed).

I don’t regret it — it was money well spent.

Gov’t Bonds:
Finally that big deposit that I dropped in back in April makes a difference. I haven’t earned $9 in a month in this category ever.

As usual, I’m wishing that I had even more in there earning over 5%…

401k:
I’m on the cusp of my all time high here as well.

On May 19, 2008, my balance was $68284 ($163 more than my current balance) before the bottom fell out. I bottomed out on November 20, 2008 when my balance dipped to $43498.

So, I basically feel like I’m back where I was 14 months ago and on track.

Home:
This was unexpected. Each week when I’d check Zillow, the “zestimate” on my house would be $500 higher. While I don’t use the Zillow “zestimate” on it’s own to report the value of my home, it is a piece of the equation.

Auto 1 & Auto 2:
Yeah, yeah… The BMW is worth $300 less… Hopefully next July the taxes on it will be more reasonable.

Credit Cards:
Holding steady here. I used to think that it would be impossible to maintain a zero balance here but honestly, once you get down to zero, it’s not that hard.

Auto Loan:
Nothing to report.

Other Loans:
Thankfully, I don’t have any “other” loans.

Mortgage:
My goal here has been to pay off over 1% of the mortgage each month and I did it again this month with some more automatic payments on a weekly schedule.

I sort feel like I’m going to ease of the pace a bit when I get the balance under $100k (later this week) but I still want to keep things rolling to have the mortgage paid off by 2014 at the latest.

I’ve got plans…and monthly mortgage payments are getting in the way. ;0)

Can You Dig It?

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