GI Jane Finances

September 29, 2008

Market woes

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 8:54 pm

My Roth has declined 16-20% over the week.  I have seriously considered suspending my contributions to build up reserves.  The market is not giving me much hope that my house will be sold anytime soon.  The realtor held an open house on Sunday.  I can’t wait to hear if anyone even showed up.  I had a dream that 25 people were there, but no offers.  Perhaps my listing price is too high?  I am thinking about lowering it about 5%.

October will be an expensive month.  I have to pay for Japan’s GCI for my car to the tune of $400 (it is good for two years).  My rental home flood insurance increased from $200 to $277 for Louisiana.  I went to the SOS band over the weekend–$107.  Spent two nights the hotel for $170.  My AMEX already has $136 on it.  And to add insult to injury $870 for my empty house on the market.

Where’s my bailout?  j/k.

GI Jane

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September 23, 2008

I Worked My Butt off in School and all I Got was this Crappy Economy

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 9:09 am

By Brett McKenzie

When I graduated in 2004, our commencement speaker was a female Hewlett-Packard executive I had never heard of (no, it was not Carly Fiorina; she was otherwise occupied with giving the HP board a four-page list of reasons to fire her). She talked about the world we were inheriting from our parents and the difference we would make if we worked hard and shared our innovative ideas with the world (or was that the Saved by the Bell commencement speech? Same difference).

We sprang forth from our folding chairs, proudly collecting our diplomas and tossing our caps, ready to share our ideas with the world and max out our 401ks and decorate our cubicles with grown-up toys, like Rubik’s cubes and business cardholders. We printed our GPAs on our resumes and pledged “I will work SO hard for you” in job interviews and begged professors who hardly remembered us to act as references for professions they had no concept of (in retrospect, asking the Colonial History professor to vouch for your graphic design prowess may not have been the best decision). We celebrated our first job offers with cases of Old Style and bought Target furniture and learned how to set our alarm clocks.

And 19 months later, we found new jobs. And 19 months after that, we found newer jobs. Because that is what “Millennials” (or Generation Y, Children of the Boomers, or what have you), do, according to a March 2008 study titled “Millennials at Work.” Approximately every 1.6 years, perhaps thanks to a lackluster bonus, a stinky coworker, or an impossible boss, those of us born between 1977 and 1988 decide, “well I can certainly do better than this,” and reactivate our Monster.com accounts.

Until now.

Now, thanks to a host of issues beyond our control, we are stuck. Because in this crap economy, you’d have to be flat out, shave-your-head-bald bonkers to walk away from a steady paycheck, health insurance, and the ability to afford a bottle of wine to weep over while Jim Cramer sentences your retirement fund to death (cue toilet flushing sound effect, followed by emphatic “Boo-yah!”).

Shouldn’t people be applauding that 26 year olds even have retirement funds, when the average American has about $8,000 in credit card debt? The first lesson fiscally responsible Millennials are learning is, “sucks to be you!”

This morning, I overheard a conversation between two twenty-somethings on the fallout from Wall Street’s meltdown. The first person mentioned that her 401k had lost about 75% of its worth. “I’ll never be able to retire now,” she groaned.

“Dude, that sucks,” said the guy, nodding sympathetically. “I am so glad I don’t have a 401k.”

They call our grandparents generation the “Silent Generation”; as in “shut up, suck it up, and move to the back of the soup kitchen line.” I’m sure they were ambitious and idealistic once upon a time, before they had to turn in their nylons so that paratroopers actually had parachutes to storm Normandy with. No wonder John McCain thinks the “fundamentals of our economy are strong”; no one’s breaking into your bathroom to collect the Sunday sports section for a scrap paper drive–yet.

We Millennials harbor delusions of grandeur that lead us to believe, “I could be doing so much better! Making much more money! Saving the planet! I can do it all!” These beliefs, instilled by our overachieving Baby Boomer parents and reinforced by our disgruntled, pseudo-anarchist professors, have set us on a lifelong quest for betterment. “Settle” is not a word that is in our vocabulary. If it were, I probably would’ve enjoyed being a plain old college student instead of killing myself trying to be an honors student, T.G.I. Fridays waitress, college newspaper editor-in-chief, intramural soccer player, and double major with three minors.

Getting hired by the John Kerry campaign straight out of college didn’t do much to diminish my delusions of grandeur; it just supported the fact that I thought I was destined for greatness. Who cares that on the two occasions I actually met Senator Kerry, he either called me “Brooke” or ignored me to discuss the concession party hors d’oeuvres with Terry McAuliffe? That’s right, no one cares, because I got to eat hors d’oeuvres next to John Kerry.

Can the generation that mastered the text message, Facebook, camera phones, and YouTube really be expected to stay in one place for longer than 19 months or else sacrifice our high standards of living? As far as this Millennial is concerned, I don’t have a choice. I mean, the day I got my first real paycheck, I climbed up on the milk crate that served as our kitchen table and declared to my roommates, “With God as my witness, I’ll never eat Ramen again!” That is a promise I intend to keep. Something about the shiny silver packet with the words “shrimp flavor” printed on it truly frightens me.

September 17, 2008

Asset review

Filed under: Kicking Sallie out of the house — gijanefinances @ 8:42 am

In light of the recent Lehman brothers collapse and pundits saying the market is and bad as the Great Depression, I avoided looking at my mutual funds.  However, after a slight recovery, I decided to tally up the losses.  The losses are about 20% overall.  I have to think long term.  I am buying everything on sale.  I had adjusted my portfolio to include bonds around July of this year.  I was tired of seeing my contributions evaporate for seven months.  Yesterday, my fellow Marine lamented that his IRA lost around $5k.  He was wondering if it was worth stopping his contributions to his IRA.  He said that over 12 years of investing, it was better off putting his money under the mattress.  I told him that the market will recover and hopefully we see the Dow in the  14s again.

My damage for now:

TSP $43,546.64 (better than I thought it would be).  I invest in Common Stock, Small Cap and Intl.

Vanguard IRA $35,754.48.  The funds are: European Stock Index, Short-term Bond Index (no loss, earned about 2% this year) and Emerging Markets Stock Index.  I thought I had 10% in  bonds.  I did at earlier this year.  Now, it is at 30% of my IRA portfolio.

I-Bonds: $1,110.90

Grand total: $80,412.02

On another note, I forgot to delay my automatic Salliemae payment for this month.  The account is now $3227–to include $27 in interest over the couple months of non-payment.  Payment isn’t due until 2010.  The game plan was to hold off and build up reserves for selling my house.  I currently have the realtor’s fee of $7,500.  I need to pony up about $4,000 more to sell that dang thing.  So, now my Salliemae balance will be $2727 after the $500 payment.  It is now corrected to have the payment pulled out in Jan 09.

My sky isn’t falling, yet.

GI Jane

September 15, 2008

New gig

Filed under: Continuous improvement — gijanefinances @ 9:09 pm

I have been wanting to teach English here since last year.  The market is cornered by the military wives on base.  I figured many needed or wanted to supplement their household income.  One of those spouses will be moving to Turkey next month.  I told her I would love to teach her three students.  She agreed to introduce me to her students.  The gig is once a week on Mondays from 2000-2100 hrs.  I would have to pick them up at the gate.  Since they love Zumba (which helped me edge out the competition), I have to pick them up at 0830 hrs (at the gate) for class.  She charges pretty cheaply–about $45 an hour for 2-3 students.  They pay once a month.  There may also be an opportunity to pick up another day of teaching for another batch of student in the future.

This comes at a great time since I have to pay electricity/water and mortgage on the house for sale.  I like giving myself an extra little raise to soften my angst with the housing market.  And today’s news of Lehman and Merrill Lynch, isn’t making me feel any better about the economy.  But, all we can do is soldier on, right?  Right.

GI Jane

September 10, 2008

Spinning out of control

Filed under: Continuous improvement — gijanefinances @ 6:15 am

I had a mock physical fitness test last Thursday. I really did not prepare for it, but the test ended up becoming a rude awakening. My run time increase to 15:37–almost a minute from last time. I always perform badly on the mock tests. But, it was incredibly humid and a tough 15:37, 1.5 mile run. The real moment of truth came when I went for my weigh-in. I had always been tiny all of my life, until this assignment. I was diagnosed with pre-mature ovarian failure in 2000. I take a low dose of Prempro for hot flashes and night sweats. I also retain a lot of water, so it was hard to tell what my real weight was and weight gain is one of the symptoms.

I do not own a scale. So, I never use to obsess about my weight at all.  But, my thighs were always a problem area. Even when I weighed 130-135, the sizes would go up and down depending on the fit. I have a small waist. But would have to go big to get it past my thighs and there would be a gap around
my waist. Therefore, I would usually wear skirts or dresses to fit my shape.

The weigh-in revealed a whopping 168 lbs and I am 66 inches.  I was completely embarrassed and disappointed with myself. I need to lose 33 lbs, stat! My real physical fitness test is Oct. 27. So, my goal is to lose the weight and run better by Oct. I have already started spinning class and working out daily. Military members have awesome benefits that include a gym with free classes. My gym is literally .5 mile away from home and work. It is also renovated with brand new equipment and bikes. I have been working out since last week pretty regularly (before it was only twice a week).

I only took Sunday off and already lost 3 lbs–thirty more to go.

GI Jane

September 2, 2008

GI Jane’s Outlay

Filed under: Cash crunch — gijanefinances @ 10:26 am

Labor day weekend spending:

$102 on a new power adapter for my laptop.  I had no idea those things need to be replaced.  The adapter that came with the HP6000 only lasted for a year.

$100 on random entertainment– e.g.  went out to eat and saw “Wanted” again.

$96 on hair products from Hairveda.  This includes some products for my friend’s birthday on 26 Sept.

$34 for Oktoberfest on 27 Sept.

Savings update:

$8,000 after posting $1300 for oil/mineral drilling under my other house (woohoo).

I still need:

 $1,400 for mortgage shortfall.

$3,200 for this year property taxes.

I also would like to wipe out $3,200 in student loans.

Grand total: $7,800

GI Jane

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