GI Jane Finances

January 31, 2008

Recipe for success

Filed under: Blueprint — gijanefinances @ 8:47 am

In my journey for a more frugal, healthier lifestyle, I cooked this dish last night:

Prep Time:
15 min
Total Time:
45 min
Makes:
4 servings
2 cups thinly sliced carrots (about 5 medium)
1/2 cup KRAFT Roasted Red Pepper Italian with Parmesan Dressing, divided 4 salmon fillets (1 lb.) 1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained 2 cups instant brown rice, prepared as directed on package PREHEAT oven to 375°F. Toss carrots with 1/4 cup of the dressing in 13×9-inch baking dish. Spread in single layer.

BAKE 15 min. Stir carrots; top with salmon.

COMBINE tomatoes and remaining 1/4 cup dressing; spoon over salmon. Bake an additional 15 min. or until salmon flakes easily with fork. Serve over rice.

I used regular brown rice instead of instant and omitted the carrots (ate them all two days before). Next time, I may try it with white rice even though brown is healthier. Just realize that I did not cook the salmon an additional 15 min–Japan must be rubbing off on me. Tonight, I will bake the salmon an extra 15 min with the stewed tomatoes.

*segue into financial recipe aka budget*

I am not a spreadsheet person, so here it goes:

Monthly
Roth IRA $416
TSP: $1083.44 (no match)
SGLI Insurance: $29
Netflix: $8.99
Auto/House insurance: $157
Salliemae: $1,000

Rental
Accidental landlord property: $597.29 (1st mortgage); $250 (2nd mortgage)
Goal is to put on market again in the spring. Hopefully, current renters will purchase. If not, then it the costs will add to my expenses until sold or rented again.

Rental income: $1000
Net: $152.71

*Taxes due May and August for a total of $3,300. I have it saved separately in my Emigrant Direct account.

Intentional landlord: $940 (includes taxes/insurance)
Rental income: $1000
Net: $60

GI Jane

January 28, 2008

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Filed under: Continuous improvement — gijanefinances @ 10:57 am

Self-improvement will be my focus this year. It will not be about getting a husband or continuing bad practices. Actually, I am so proud of quitting smoking as of Aug 07. I am hooked on Nicorette, but it is better than inhaling toxins. Also, I want to pay more attention to detail in my appearance. In the past I used to be sloppy about my nails, hair and clothing. Many women in the military pride themselves in being low-maintenance and unconcerned about feminine accouterments to a point of “butch.” Not me, I embrace my femininity and love it. Actually, I have noticed some pretty well-appointed women who inspired me to pull it all together. Appearance is just one facet of being “that girl.”

The important areas are:

Education

*Enrolled in my second Japanese language course with University of Maryland. It is fast-paced and free(loving that).

*Read at least one non-fiction book per quarter.

Spirituality

*Attend church regularly.

*Study the bible and apply its lessons/guidance.

Financial Acumen

*Continue to save regularly: currently save 17% of my base pay in the Thrift Savings Plan and $416 monthly to a Roth IRA. Would like to incorporate I Bonds to curb my impluses (see recent posts).

*Eliminate $10,500 of student loan debt.

*Sell house this summer (inshallah).

Appearance

*Get a manicure/pedicure every 2 weeks.

*Update wardrobe (pretty much done with that, hopefully :).

*Continue diligence in hair regimen.

Social

*Network at the club.

*Seek out opportunities to cultivate friendships.

Health

*Continue Zumba workouts twice a week.

*Jog outdoors or on the treadmill once a week.

*Reduce caffeine intake dramatically; drink more water.

*Wean myself off of Nicorette.

GI Jane

January 27, 2008

Emotional Bank Account

Filed under: Out of contol — gijanefinances @ 10:06 am

I just finished the Stephen Covey workshop on 7 Habits for Effective People. It was very helpful and insightful. Some of the stuff I knew already and some info with an interesting spin. A couple weeks ago, I had a conversation with my sister regarding reciporcity in relationship. Covey describes it as deposits and withdrawals. If someone breaks a promise it usually is a pretty big withdrawal. If a person forgets a birthday, it can be a withdrawal depending on the relationship. Even though I live overseas, it is important to me to recognize birthdays in a timely way. Today, I purchased my parents B-day gifts (they are 3 days apart) a month in advance. The problem lately has been my regular emotional deposits in gifts to myself.

I went an another shopping spree and spent nearly $2,000 in 2 days. It seems like these recent binges are due to depriving myself all year. I simply do not have a lot of stuff. Most of my coat collection is from the year 2001. I bought 2 $100 coats in 2003 and 2007. The catalyst has been my new social life on and off the job. During 2004-2007, I was in an isolated location and with no social life. The big spending sprees during that time was on furnishings (curtains and bedding), car repairs, electronics (new tv, surround sound, camera and printer)and hair products/equipment.

This needs to stop. I removed my AMEX out of my wallet–I couldn’t bring myself to cut it. And more importantly, turned off the Bluefly sale emailings.

baby steps.

GI Jane

January 25, 2008

Oh my!

Filed under: Bling Bling — gijanefinances @ 12:09 pm

I usually do not do a double-take when looking at celebrity finances. CNN had a story on Britney Spears before her breakdown that she made about $700,000 monthly and spent $40,000 every month. The writer then lamented about her retirement and I was like, “give me a break.” Looking at the proportion between her income and expenses, it seemed pretty reasonable. Until I found this on http://www.ahotmessblog.com:

It has now surfaced that Shaq is spending up to $850,000 a month on his expenses. That is ridiculous and all but are we really all that surprised? I’m just mad at him being emotional over his wife being secretive of finances when he is spending $6,730 a month on dry cleaning! Outrageous!

The tall-head just sent a Miami-Dade court a never-seen-before affidavit for his and wife Shaunie’s divorce file. Records show O’Neal dragged his size 23 sneakers over the mandatory financial snapshot for months.

While the document says O’Neal makes an enormous amount of money, $1.8 million in monthly salary, publicity contracts and returns on investments, his routine expenses total $875,000 – A MONTH.

Among them: $156,116 in mortgages on three homes (including his $20 million mansion on Star Island, Miami Beach), plus $31,299 in homeowners insurance; $3,345 in phone bills; $1,610 in lawn and pool maintenance; $12,775 in food; $1,495 in cable TV; $24,300 in gas; $6,730 in dry cleaning; $17,220 in clothing; $2,305 for pets, and $110,505 in vacations.

Child care sets Shaq back $26,500 a month. He and Shaunie have four children, and Shaq had an extra one from a previous relationship. By the way, Shaq is paying $10,000-a-month in temporary child support and another 10 grand in alimony.

To his credit, the big-man-in-the-middle is doing his share in helping close the giant federal budget deficit. The 13-page document shows he pays nearly $6 million a year in federal income tax and nearly $2.5 million in taxes in states where the Heat play away games. Property taxes sets him back about $850,000.Source

A great discussion ensued, but the notable quotes came from:

Joe (12:44:18) :

*goes outside and practices jump shot*

Rebecca (17:08:12) :
grownANDsexy, I cosign what you say. That’s a very thin line between income and expenses. I’m gone put Shaq on that TVone show “Singletary Says”. He needs a budget ASAP. The cable bill is killing me especially. I used rabbit ears for about three years before I finally broke down and got some cable. I pay 160 a month and that’s with my telephone and high speed internet. Plus I get HBO, CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, STARZ and ENCORE. Shaq must be gettin satellite feeds from Jupiter.

January 22, 2008

Housing woes

Filed under: Regrets — gijanefinances @ 7:17 am

I finally got my house off of the market. It was listed in June before I moved in August. I decided to rent it out due to $850 mortgage note and $150 in utilities coming out of my pocket monthly. Also, there were about 2,000 homes on the market thanks to the glut and new construction. The somewhat “good news” is that I used a 5/1 ARM instead of a 3/1 ARM. I got a renter in Oct, much to my realtor’s anger. She did not mind me paying $12,000 over 12 months before paying her commission of possibly $6,000. You gotta pay to play in this market. Why on earth did I decide to purchase in 2004?

The false/unreliable premises that based my decision:

— Houses always go up in value
— Hoped to gain $30,000 in equity that would be used in paying off Salliemae and building an emergency fund
— Prove to family/friends that I made it even though I had already purchased a home in Louisiana
— Wanted the experience of “selling” a home
— More importantly, there was an unavailability of suitable apartments for my oversized furniture; needed cathedral ceilings and a basement

I also was lulled in a false sense of security…the market was still “hot” in
2004. The Louisiana house practically sold itself. I could have made $10,000 after living in it for 2 1/2 years. It is not a lot of money–but would consider myself a winner if I could get that much now on my 2nd house.

Boy, have times changed.

January 19, 2008

Random notes

Filed under: Musings — gijanefinances @ 3:51 am

This week has been a good week. I went to an awesome New Year’s day party at the Japanese Press Club. They had free lobster, king crab, sushi (of course), beef curry and sake. I even got to meet the ambassador of Costa Rica and South African dignataries. I love this part of my job…being invited to cool parties. My co-workers have nice camaderarie and good vibes–a great way of bonding. It is also nice seeing everyone dress up. Tonight, I am going to a wetting down…the Navy’s tradition of celebrating promotion to a higher rank.

Now to finances, the Dow is ridiculously low, 12,159…yikes! I think I need to stop checking my portfolio every other day. Maybe, once a quarter. I did finally move $8,000, 20% of my Vanguard funds, to a short-term bond fund. The market is so volatile that it really highlighted the need to diversify.

I returned $366 worth of shoes/clothes to Anthropologie and Zappos. So far, I have been doing quite well with figuring out the correct sizes and kept most of the purchases. However, due to spending $3,000 on clothes, I decided not to spend $200 on a Hiroshima bullet train package and shopping w/friend at the Navy Exchange two hours away. I did purchase a $150 Police concert ticket for next month. It is all about balance. I saw Sting in Cesme, Turkey in 2000, so it is just fitting to see the Police reunion concert in Tokyo.

Even though I spent $3,000 on clothes that could have went to my emergency fund or Salliemae, I stuck with the plan of paying SM a $1,000 month. Student loan balance is now $10,500 vs $7,500. Dave Ramsey would have given me a big lashing for not being on a “beans and rice” lifestyle. The areas where we definitely disagree: not contributing to a retirement plans while in debt and being austere. A girl gotta have some clothes and fun.

GI Jane

January 15, 2008

1st Shipment

Filed under: Bliss — gijanefinances @ 9:09 am

I received my first shipment today from the recent shopping binge. I have never been much of “shoe” person. My friend was looking at 10 pairs of shoes I own, including the new suede combat boots, with a horrified look on her face. I was also tired of going through my 3-pair heavy rotation that comprised of patent leather flats, gym shoes and Uggs (another recent purchase). So, she turned me onto to Bluefly and I now have 3 more pairs to add to my collection: Charles Nolan, Cole Hann and Michael Kors. Bluefly has high-end shoes and discount prices. It is so bookmarked.

I still couldn’t find a decent pair of driving shoes…

GI Jane

January 11, 2008

Fallen off already

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 4:39 am

My pastor recently said that people make half-baked resolutions every year. He was seriously reading my mail. I actually showed up late to church due to my online shopping spree at Anthropologie. The spending did not even stop after brunch, as I returned to update everything: wardrobe, bedding and shoes. In my defense, I was having a closet crisis for the past several months. I literally had no slacks and a couple pairs of shoes. My new job, I am invited to parties and official functions that require nice civilian clothes. In constrast to my old job, where no civilian attire was hardly needed. The final catalyst to change was acquiring a new love interest who I need to impress. His fashion attire far out surpasses mine.

The damage (in the effort of full disclosure):

1st order–Anthropologie: $236 (sale)
2nd order–Garnet Hill: $627
3rd order–Anthropologie: $1,800 (wow)
4th order–Bluefly: $353 (well needed shoes)

Grand total: $3016

Yikes. No buyer’s remorse, just sticker shocked. According to Wikipedia, Anthropologie caters to women in their mid-thirties who make an annual household income of $200,000. The good news is that some of the stuff on my list were out of stock or it would have been bigger. The bad news is that I do not have an annual household income of $200,000.

GI Jane

January 3, 2008

Game plan

Filed under: Kicking Sallie out of the house — gijanefinances @ 1:03 am

My biggest thorn is my side…Salliemae.

Next due date: 10/16/2008
Monthly payment amount: $288.95

Past due amount: N/A
Late fee(s): N/A
Other charges: N/A
Present amount due: N/A

Pay this amount: N/A

Original principal balance: $41,176.29
Capitalized interest: $2,921.84

As you can see, after my consolidation in Feb 2002, I started with $41,176.29. The capitalized interest is from when I deferred my loans beginning in Jan 1997. In 99, I went to graduate school and used about $5,000 a term. It was a private school that offered a military discount. At the time, the military only paid 75% of college tuition (now it is 100%). Every semester, the school messed up my GI Bill submissions. So instead of using my late GI bill payments and paying my loan balances–I lived very well. It was like a $500 monthly raise. It would not have paid my bill in full, but it was better than doing nothing. At the time Suze Orman was preaching that student loans were “good debt” and to not worry about them. I also thought the interest was tax-deductible and with future promotions, the payments would be more bearable. I was correct in both, however, the more you make the less of a tax deduction you receive.

After haggling with their customer service reps in India about Salliemae not posting my payments properly, I decided to become aggressive in paying this off at $1,000 a month. Since I consolidated the loans in 2002, it was not eligible for any point reductions (of course!). I began with $41,176.29 (enough for a nice Lexus) at 6.5% and now it is at $11,629. I posted everything from Salliemae and the finaid.org calculator for your reading pleasure. Apparently you need an income of $120,000 a year to make huge payments…ha! I must be doing a job living below my means because my friends think I’m broke. Anywho…enjoy!

GI Jane

Salliemae
Account information
Next due date: 10/16/2008
Monthly payment amount: $288.95

Past due amount: N/A
Late fee(s): N/A
Other charges: N/A
Present amount due: N/A

Pay this amount: N/A

Original principal balance: $41,176.29
Capitalized interest: $2,921.84

Outstanding principal balance: $11,629.62
Accrued interest: $33.11

Total amount outstanding: $11,662.73

According to finaid.org:

Loan Balance: $11,629.62
Adjusted Loan Balance: $11,629.62
Loan Interest Rate: 6.50%
Loan Fees: 0.00%
Loan Term: 1 years
Minimum Payment: $1,000.00
Monthly Loan Payment: $1,000.00
Number of Payments: 13

Cumulative Payments: $12,044.68
Total Interest Paid: $415.06

Note: The monthly loan payment was calculated at $132.05 for 120 payments (10 years). Since this amount is less than the $1000 minimum, the term of the loan has been shortened to 12 payments of $1000 plus a final payment of $44.68 .

It is estimated that you will need an annual salary of at least $120,000.00 to be able to afford to repay this loan. This estimate assumes that 10% of your gross monthly income will be devoted to repaying your student loans. If you use 15% of your gross monthly income to repay the loan, you will need an annual salary of only $80,000.00, but you may experience some financial difficulty.

The following table lists the minimum income necessary to repay the debt without encountering a partial economic hardship. Partial economic hardship is defined as having annual education loan payments in excess of 15 percent of discretionary income, where discretionary income is the amount by which Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) exceeds 150 percent of the poverty line. This figure is shown in the Minimum AGI (IBR) column. The Minimum AGI (ICR) column uses an alternate definition of economic hardship, based on 20 percent of discretionary income which is defined as the excess of AGI over 100 percent of the poverty line.

Household Size Minimum AGI (IBR) Minimum AGI (ICR)
1 $95,315.00 $70,210.00
2 $100,535.00 $73,690.00
3 $105,755.00 $77,170.00
4 $110,975.00 $80,650.00
5 $116,195.00 $84,130.00
6 $121,415.00 $87,610.00

By paying $1,000.00 per month instead of the calculated payment of $132.05 , you save $3,801.32 in interest charges.

These results assume that the student is paying the interest charges on any unsubsidized loans and is not capitalizing the interest while in school. If the student is capitalizing the interest, the cumulative payments and total interest charges will be higher than shown here.

Payment Schedule

Payment
Number Payment Interest Principal Cumulative
Interest Cumulative
Principal Remaining
Balance
1 $1,000.00 $62.99 $937.01 $62.99 $937.01 $10,692.61
2 $1,000.00 $57.92 $942.08 $120.91 $1,879.09 $9,750.53
3 $1,000.00 $52.82 $947.18 $173.73 $2,826.27 $8,803.35
4 $1,000.00 $47.68 $952.32 $221.41 $3,778.59 $7,851.03
5 $1,000.00 $42.53 $957.47 $263.94 $4,736.06 $6,893.56
6 $1,000.00 $37.34 $962.66 $301.28 $5,698.72 $5,930.90
7 $1,000.00 $32.13 $967.87 $333.40 $6,666.60 $4,963.02
8 $1,000.00 $26.88 $973.12 $360.29 $7,639.71 $3,989.91
9 $1,000.00 $21.61 $978.39 $381.90 $8,618.10 $3,011.52
10 $1,000.00 $16.31 $983.69 $398.21 $9,601.79 $2,027.83
11 $1,000.00 $10.98 $989.02 $409.20 $10,590.80 $1,038.82
12 $1,000.00 $5.63 $994.37 $414.82 $11,585.18 $44.44
Payment
Number Payment Interest Principal Cumulative
Interest Cumulative
Principal Remaining
Balance
13 $44.68 $0.24 $44.44 $415.06 $11,629.62 $0.00

January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Filed under: Partying like a rock star — gijanefinances @ 5:56 am

Tomorrow, I am back to the grind. *sigh* Really enjoyed the 10 days I had off. It gave me a glimpse of what my retirement will feel like in about 20 years. Egads! It hurt just to write that.

I finally broke down and emailed Vanguard about not being able to update my automatic investments. Strangely, the website said the max for 2008 is $4,000…which of course, is not true.

On my way to my friend’s New Year’s Day party.

Happy New Year!

GI Jane

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