GI Jane Finances

May 31, 2011

Memorable adventures

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 4:27 pm

It has been a flurry of activities these past two weeks. I went ziplining.  My friend had a baby shower on 21 May which was pretty fun.  I spent $60 on baby clothes.  The mother-to-be was grateful that I bought 0-3 months clothes.  I discovered after the last year baby gifts, the mother did not appreciate that I bought 1-2 year old clothes.  The prevailing wisdom is that infant clothing won’t be useful after a couple of months.  But hey, why should the baby not be dressed from 0-3 months? It was a good time.   And I really loved my friend’s house…great view, landscaping and design.

I just recovered from a long weekend in Seoul.  I finally broke down and went to a fraternity party/cruise.  Unfortunately, the Dragon Hill was booked since I waited till the very end to decide on the trip.  I decided to stay at the Grand Hyatt in Seoul.  It was only a $3 cab ride; but the room was about $210 a night!  After checking in early, I thought it would be good to arrive to the rendezvous on a full stomach.  I had the champagne brunch…which was very delicious.  Now I am in a good mood, only to go to the pier and wait 1.5 hours until the cruise.  My friends who were going to meet there had better intel and showed up 10 minutes before the start.  I am kinda of pissed at this point…regretting signing up for the trip.  Nevertheless, I soldier on a find out that they managed to get a table.  The Han River cruise went from 5-9 p.m.  We ended up having such a good time that we did not want to leave the boat at 9 p.m.  The DJ was fantastic.  I had no idea there were so many group/line dances out there.  I only knew the cha cha, electric slide and the shuffle dance.  I managed to get the courage and learn one only for the boat party to be near over.  So, we made it back to the post at 9:30 p.m.  The after party was at 10-3 a.m.  I ended up falling asleep in my room until mid-night, got ready and made it there at 12:30 a.m.  The party was a dud.  Should have stayed in my room.

The next day, I met with a Korean contractor, who has been wanting to show me Seoul for the past couple of weeks.  He was so generous with his time and money.  We went to three famous markets, Bukak skyway and finished with the Seoul tower.  We had an awesome Italian dinner course at the tower (Namsam).  I felt bad he was paying for everything, but he refused to let me help.  I made it home at 10 p.m.

Today, I think I found a buyer for my car.  I initially wanted $1200 for the 96 Kia Credos.  He offered $900.  Hmmm.  He said he will let me know in a couple of days for certain.  I am 90% sure he wants it, especially at $300 cheaper than asking.  Since I am losing $300, I will see if he will wait until 3 or 4 weeks for me to turn it over to him.  I hate the idea of losing $300 and walking/taxiing for a month!

Back to the grind tomorrow…le sigh.

GI Jane

May 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 8:06 pm

My favorite quotes from 50 Fascinating Things I’ve Read Lately:

“Today, of Americans officially designated as ‘poor,’ 99 percent have electricity, running water, flush toilets, and a refrigerator; 95 percent have a television, 88 percent a telephone, 71 percent a car and 70 percent air conditioning. Cornelius Vanderbilt had none of these.”

–Matt Ridley

“A true bubble is when something is overvalued and intensely believed.”

–Peter Thiel

“Sudanese people live in unspeakable poverty, yet come to the U.S. and remark on how miserable Americans’ lives are. All we do is work. No time for family, friends, or social gatherings.”

–Adapted from the documentary God Grew Tired of Us

“In school they give you a question and ask you to find an answer. In the real world the answers are everywhere — the Internet, calculators, history books, reference manuals. The trick is asking the right questions.”

–Adapted from speech by Conrad Wolfram

“The fastest way to become rich is to socialize with the poor; the fastest way to become poor is to socialize with the rich.”

–Nassim Taleb

“In 1945 the U.S. accounted for about 50% of total global output, twice what it does now. Why? Because most of the rest of the industrial world was in ruins. Had history taken another turn or two, the U.S. would not have had the monopoly of riches it enjoyed for the next three decades. Consider: At the beginning of the last century, Germany was an industrial and scientific powerhouse, but two world wars and Nazism ended that. Had it not succumbed to militarism in the 1920s and ’30s, Japan would have had a modern, technology-based economy by the 1940s, not the 1970s.”

–Michael Elliott

“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”

–Mark Twain

May 6, 2011

Countdown to the move to San Antonio

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 12:33 pm

I am completely in love with the tv FX series called Justified.  I have been looking to fill the void left by Mad Men as it went into hiatus.  I usually shun cop dramas.  I haven’t watched one since Miami Vice!  I totally have a crush on the Raylan Givens, the lead protagonist played by Timothy Olyphant.  The writing and directing are amazing.  I actually did a search to see if Olyphant or Justified won any awards.  They finally snagged a Peabody this year, but really and shamefully have been overlooked by the Emmys.  According to Cleveland.com:  “Although Olyphant’s wonderfully laconic Raylan can hold his head up high in this select company, “Justified” hasn’t received nearly the amount of notoriety it deserves.”  I can’t wait to catch up on all of the seasons over the weekend.  It is a great show to get ready for my move to Texas even though it is set in Kentucky.

I am moving on up in the world.  Vanguard just sent me a welcome brochure because now I am a Voyager Services member due to having $50,000-$500,000 in mutual funds.  Yeah!  Benefits:

Exemption from mutual fund/brokerage fees

  • Commission-free Vanguard ETF trades
  • Stock and non-Vanguard ETF trades for $7
  • Customized financial plan worth $1,000 for $250 (may just do that)

When I get $500,000 to $1 million in mutual fund assets, I qualify for Voyager Select Services:

  • Greater reduction on brokerage fees and commissions discounted to just $2 for each stock or non-Vanguard ETF trade
  • Free consultations with a certified financial planner whenever the need arises

My goal this weekend is to clean out my car and take pictures of it for the “for sale” sign.  I also need to purge and organize my files in preparation for the move.  I am thinking about signing up for a zip line trip on 15 May that sounds exciting.  That is it for now.

GI Jane

May 4, 2011

Hey Big Spender!

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 12:05 pm

Just got back from Jeju Island.  It was a good trip…glad to be back in my bed.  Wow, Osama Bin Laden is dead.  Congratulations to the Navy Seal team for a tremendous job! 

 I should be getting my orders soon for San Antonio.  I am buying up a storm in preparation for my move.  I am still drooling over a bedroom suite that I have been eyeing since last year.  My bank account took a beating after buying up a storm at a furniture auction.  I bought this beautiful 100% silk Oriental carpet for $1,400.  I also bought a $140 Tiffany lamp that ended up with a crack on it already (very annoyed).  Lastly, I purchased a lacquer/mother of pearl trunk/chest of drawers, a leather window seat and a porcelain wine cooler.  I will upload pictures later.  The bedroom suite I want will probably cost about $2,500.

I still need to sell my car.  I am thinking I should post a “for sale” sign by next week.  I bought it for $1,300 in 2009.  I think I will sell it at $1100 or $1200.  It would be cool to sell it before I leave.  It would offset the costs for my upcoming vacation.  The only thing left to spend on that is a rental car in Chicago.  It seems like the rental car prices are knocked down lower the closer you get to needing it.  I refuse to pay $64 a day.  I have a $100 Hertz gift certificate, but it is useless on Hotwire.  Sorry, I used my points for something that if I used it would cost me more money than if I didn’t use it. Uggh!

GI Jane

April 26, 2011

Suze has lost her mind!

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 7:17 pm

OK, I am far from being a money guru.  Suze did start me on my financial journey. She has gone from one extreme to another.  First, she was a proponent of good debt vs bad debt, credit scores and 8% return on investments.  Now, she want people to work until 67 even though someone can have $1.3 million in assets and $116,000 in mortgage debt.  Here’s what Joann (52 years old) and Tony (54 years old) had:

Retirement:$477,947

Emergency fund: $320,520

Investments: $145,285

Home value: $360,000

Total assets: $1,303,752

Liabilities: $116,389

Suze gave them a D-/F with a $6,700 a month pension between the both of them.  They have $123,000 in a TSP.  Their expenses are $6035 a month–do not know what they are, course.  Suze said their term insurance only went to 70 years.  Also, they did not use their Survivor Benefit Plan that guaranteed income.  So,  if one spouse died,half of their retirement income would go away.  Joann thought that their investments would generate enough income to supplement any loss.

Suze based her opinion on her mother who is still alive at 96 years old.  According to the Center for Disease Control, the life expectancy for the U.S. is 77.9 years of age.  It hard to say without knowing what the heck the $6,035 are in expenses.  I usually include my saving allotments as an expense.  It would be nice to know what they are so the viewers are not in total shock when she gives people a near failing grade.

Heck, if they are in trouble I am in a world of hurt unless I plan on working until 80 years old!

GI Jane

April 22, 2011

Shopping and Family Matters

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 12:34 pm

I will attend my first auction in Korea.  I attended two carpet auctions in Japan.  I spent about $2,000 the first one and nothing on the second.  I want to update my bedroom set and own a couple of little pieces.  Hopefully, I won’t lose my mind…my upcoming vacation already cost me a pretty penny.  I am not looking forward to being reunited with my furniture in storage.  Next week, I will be going to Jeju Island again for several days.

I slacked off working out over the winter and boy did it add 20 lbs! Tae Kwon Do is certainly not enough to keep the weight off.  My Primary Care Manager is putting me on Lipitor for high cholesterol, even though I have a 1% chance of getting heart disease due to the high good cholesterol count.  So, I started running again and extending my workout.  I want to be in tip-top shape for my trip.  I know my mother will give me hell for adding on weight.  I do not know why because she is pretty overweight and never ran a mile in her life!

Family matters

My brother saved $3,000 in his 401K.  His expenses are pretty low: rent, cable and $3K in student loans.  He does a lot things right, just wish he would tackle the student loans quicker.  My mother is still planning on retiring in July.  Both parents will live on Social Security and their modest nest egg.  I’m nervous that they are a bit overconfident.  They live simply apart from their love of cruises, a small mortgage note and property taxes on two house. Oy vey!  They do not listen to me, so I just have to watch and see how this will work.

GI Jane

April 13, 2011

Love and the military

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 12:02 pm

Divorce Rate For Women In Military Double That Of Men.

Very interesting article. 

I want to discuss a several points:

When naval officer Amanda Smith was deployed to Kuwait in August of 2009, her job was to find holes in existing military medical programs and fix them. Smith (her name has been changed) was a mender. She held together the morale of her peripatetic unit. When she found out that a child of one of her soldiers had been molested during their deployment, Smith stayed up nights comforting the inconsolable single mother.

She also tried to maintain the fabric of her own dislocated family. Her husband, Jeff, had returned from Iraq only three months before her own deployment, and their children were living with extended family in Oklahoma while their father went back to school in California.

Then, without any reason for suspicion, Jeff began to berate her for having an affair while abroad. “When the accusations kept flying at me, I wondered if he had a guilty conscience,” said Smith, who never questioned Jeff during his deployment. “Is that what he did when he was gone?”

On a cold Friday in December 2009, Jeff called Smith in Kuwait to say he wanted a divorce. Emotionally overwhelmed, she did not contact him again until she returned to an empty house in April. She found out that he was engaged to someone else Mother’s Day weekend; although their divorce was finalized only last week, Jeff filed for “single status” so that he could remarry last November.

Smith joined the rank and file of military divorcées.

A friend of mine went through a divorce after returning from a deployment.  I won’t discuss the specifics, but her absence definitely contributed to the break-up of her marriage.

This is very true:

Marriages between civilian husbands and military wives have the highest likelihood of ending in divorce.

According to Karney, among men in the military who are married, over 90 percent are married to civilians, whereas the majority of married women in the military have spouses who also serve.

There is an aversion for military men to marry military women.  Civilian wives are far more likely and more importantly, can drop everything and follow her husband.  I cannot abandon my job until my active duty service commitment is over.  Even then, when faced with the choice of leaving my career, it is hard to do the further along you have towards the mandatory 20 years for a pension.  I definitely feel like I am married to my job.

“The U.S. military is an attractive place to work for some of the most traditional men in the United States,” he said. “It is also an attractive place to work for the least traditional women in the U.S. because being a warrior in the armed services are not attractive to traditional gender roles… Those women might not be attracted to the institution of marriage as a traditional institution.”

I used to get a lot of flack when I was a cadet from my boyfriend at the time.  The military is like a “Good Ol Boys” club.  A lot of functions are couple-oriented.  Even if I am dating someone, I will not bring someone to a function because there is too many gossipy busy bees.  As a single-person, I miss out on the off-clock networking when spouses are invited to the commander’s house especially.

“They used to be called wife clubs and people still Freudian slip,” Litchford said. “I have found that once I show up they do try and make an effort to ask me what I would like to do besides have tea and little sandwiches with the captain’s wife. I’m game for glazing your own pottery though… I went along and made myself a mug.”

The one thing I do not miss is being part of a spouses club.  I have no desire to scrapbook and get involved in pecking-order nonsense.

Cutlip found that a majority of the women attributed the failure of their marriages to “improper partner selection,” which could imply that women in the military are more willing to end an unsuccessful or incompatible marriage.

Marine Becky Andrews (whose name has also been changed) met her soon-to-be-ex-husband at a Virginia military base. The two started dating; she got pregnant; and he was then deployed to Japan.

“Even though we had a child together, I was unable to be placed at a nearby base as long as a single mother,” Andrews said. “We figured it would be best if we got married and then we could figure it out.” After the wedding, Andrews was moved to San Diego. Her husband joined from abroad eight months later. It took them two months of living together to call it quits.

Andrews, says failed shotgun weddings were commonplace throughout the base.

“Girls come in from podunk towns fresh out of high school where people didn’t give them a second look, and then they are in land of testosterone,” said Andrews of a military that is approximately 15 percent female. “Honey, you are the cream of the crop because you are the crop.”

Andrews adds couples tend to marry young so that they can be sent to bases close to one another. She also notes that in the case of the Marines, some would marry out of convenience — to get out of dorm style housing that was only available to married couples or officers.

I remember when I was enlisted that people would meet in basic training and get married before or in technical training school.  It seemed so bizarre to me at the time.  Military folks have a big incentive to be married.  The incentives are more pay and on-base homes/townhouses.  I am sure there are more, but those are the most significant.  I had one young lady who worked for me in 2000.  She was on her fifth marriage by age 31.  Shot-gun marriages I am sure are very common.  I rarely see a single-mother among the officer corps.  The military is very traditional and conservative.  The “cream of the crop” quote made me laugh out loud. 

That is why I am excited about moving to San Antonio.  I am approaching the end of my career.  I have to stay a minimum of three years at the next assignment.  My career should not be as non-conducive to relationships as it has in the past.  Up until now, it really caused a lot of consternation in that area of my life. I would have to say about 71% officers are married and according to the article 90% are married to non-military women.  I thought I would marry a military man.  But reality is that they want someone who can pick-up, move and fill-in the traditional role.  As a quasi-feminist, that mentality has made it challenging to say the least.

GI Jane

April 10, 2011

Randomness

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 6:58 pm

Yeah, there won’t be a government shut-down.  I did not even know it was possible to not pay the military.  The AF has been experiencing Reduction-in-Force and Selective Retirement Boards.  Just when I was about to power-up my laptop to halt my savings allotment so I can pay rent, the government craziness was over.  I tried to check my check on mypay and the website was still down.

I finally booked my Chicago trip.  Delta Skymiles is so dicey.   I was shopping for upgradable flights so I could use 12,000 miles to upgrade in class.  When I called Delta, the representative said that the flight from Chicago to Ft Lauderdale was $880 dollars!  What is the point of having miles when the upgradable flight costs $300 more than a Delta first class ticket on Expedia?  I called Delta back and found someone who knows what they are doing.  Expedia was a bit misleading, the flight was half first-class and half coach.  I ended up getting an upgrade for $74!  Very happy about that.  I swear calling Delta takes years out of your life.  I also had to change my tickets for Italy because my friend said he lived 5 hours from Rome.

Anywho,  I have a big event tomorrow morning.  We had a good rehearsal on Friday…just hope it does not rain.  The weather forecast is not exactly lining up with what is happening locally.  I decided not to get a canopy since we have so much to set-up already.

Great stories from interwebs…

I like this guy:

  • Dane Lacey, 49, a radiologist from San Diego, has saved nearly $1.4 million for retirement in eight years by living below his means.

Did you always have a goal to front-load your savings? Yes. I want to retire when I am still young enough to travel, hike and body surf. It was a race for me to put a large amount away so that I could enjoy it. I knew that if I got it in early, it could grow.

Read more: http://www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/how-to-stash-1-million-in-savings.html?si=1#ixzz1J6ek4u8q

  • This other guy is admirable since he has an average salary, but with terrible eating habits.

Cheers,

GI Jane

April 7, 2011

Shock and Awe

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 2:12 pm

A government shut-down seems imminent.  I can’t imagine not receiving a paycheck next week…hopefully Congress will get it together.  Especially after paying $934 in taxes, never owed that much in my life.  Just paid for my Italy trip.  So glad I have an emergency fund.  I would be up the creek if I did not.  Can’t imagine how people lower in rank who live off-base would cope if it drags on?  The last time this happened was in 1996 for three weeks.  Thankfully, they got back-pay, but the media said back-pay is not a guarantee.  Not in this recession!

I have been looking at houses in San Antonio online.  My housing allowance is $1,335, but I will experience a $1,200 monthly pay cut.  The government also pays for my utilities while living overseas.  Since I won’t have my utilities paid for in the states, I need to artificially create a utility allowance within my housing allowance.  Therefore, I need to pay no more than $1,000 for rent.

You have to drive everywhere in SA.  Gas prices in Chicago is about $4.00.  Jimminy Crickets.   I still looking forward to moving home.  I wish I can have the same salary as I do now.  I will experience a big lifestyle change with the move.

GI Jane

April 2, 2011

The summer awaits

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 6:44 pm

I am gearing up for my move to San Antonio.  My boss finally approved my leave for 7-29 Jul.  I finally paid for my plane ticket to Italy.  I only have to book my trip to Chicago and Florida.  A good friend emailed me that he visits SA several times a month.  I also found out what my position will be.  It is somewhat outside my career field but in it.  I need to have additional training for the job.  Hopefully, the training will only be a couple of weeks.

I have a big event that I am planning in about 8 days.  April will be an interesting month.  A friend is throwing a birthday bash and I am going to Jeju Island again.  I am training with nunchucks and a staff for Taekwondo.  I hate nunchucks!

Today, I finally removed my eyelash extensions that I have been wearing for 1 1/2 years.  I loved having them.  People would always compliment me on my eyes.  I bought some Latisse last September during my trip to the states. I pray they will turn out even longer than my natural length.  What women do for beauty?! lol.  I never thought in a million years I would wear fake eyelashes.  But they really make you look awesome.  My brother has the most beautiful eyelashes.  I have no idea why men have longer lashes than women?

I am so looking forward to SA.  I have become a TV addict, namely an iTunes one.  The operational tempo here really sucks the life out of you.  When I lived in Japan, I couldn’t tell you what was on TV apart from Dancing with the Stars.  I have met some cool people here though.  I will be visiting one of my amigos who moved to Italy in July.  I can’t wait for the summer!  I’ve checked out some SA  meetups and housing.  I have one more old SA friend to contact…think she is out-of-town.

It is so cool that I named this year to find an awesome mate.  Even though I had some interesting prospects over the past four years, I love the SA and Austin single scene.

Cheers,

GI Jane

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