GI Jane Finances

May 28, 2009

Savings guilt

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 1:30 pm

I haven’t restarted the Thrift Savings Plan, so I can increase my liquid savings.  Plus, the move in July will cut my paycheck by $1050 in tax free allowances *sniffs*.  I should have about $9,000-$10,000 in savings by August.  Apart from the start-up costs in moving, I should be in a good place.  So, I ran the numbers in the paycheckcity.com calculator:

Mid-July:

Net pay every two weeks: $1732.79 after contributing 18% to TSP.  After BAS and COLA, it should be around $1875.31.  So, I still plan on $208 for the Roth and $500 for savings.  I am considering $500 to pay extra on the rental every 2 weeks.  I will have about $667.31 left running around money.  The dollar is stronger in Korea than Japan.  I will have to be strategic in my shopping, especially how cheap it is supposed to be.  But, for now, I want to continue enjoying an extra $1k a month until the move.

GI Jane

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May 24, 2009

Budget revisted

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 3:53 pm

My girlfriend said I looked like a bum on the street while I was returning from working out.  Living below your means apparently is not a good look.  After the drawstring pulled out of  my sweatpants whilst on the treadmill, I decided it was time for an update.  Gym clothes cost me approx $250.  I also revamped my skin regimen for about $300 in Shiseido products (with a lipstick).  I have about $4911 in checking with another $3174 coming in Friday.  My Amex bill hasn’t posted, but it should be around $600.  I also have an upcoming hair appointment on May 30 to correct a relaxer–so with food it should be about $200.

Bills:

IRA $208

Cable $39.95

 Club dues $15

Amex $600

Hair: $200

Food: $200

Total: $1622.00

Checking as of today:$4911 after subtracting $200 for spending money for the week.  $4711

4711+3174 (upcoming check)=$7885

$7885-$1622=$6263 in savings+$1100 (saving bonds)=$7363 in total emergency fund savings.

The 15 Jun paycheck should have me close to $10k in savings.  I will be TDY to Korea (business trip) from 15-19 Jun.  So, a little per diem will come my way then.

GI Jane

Don’t believe the hype

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 7:19 am

Last night, I stumbled upon a discussion that was posted on www.bostongals.com about NYT reporter Edmund Andrews.  He wrote an article promoting his book on how he was a victim of unregulated lending practices.  The Atlantic blogger, Megan McArdle, discovered that his wife had a couple of bankruptcies not disclosed in his article or book.  Frankly, even without that information, I was disturbed by his story.  He definitely used wishful thinking by buying his house with help from his mortgage broker, “Bob.”  I also listened to an NPR story where Bob chimed in saying,”he is not a financial planner.”  I agree.  Buying a $460,000 on a $120,000 salary with a wife who hadn’t worked for 20 yrs expecting her to be a lucrative partner, was foolhardy at best.

As a person who was caught up in the housing craze in 2004 and lost thousands getting rid of the thing and knowing the perils of selling in a down market, his story did not make sense to me.  I certainly didn’t blame Quicken loans for helping me get a mortgage.  I knew it was a risk in buying and selling.  It was a gamble that worked until 2007, when I had to move out of the country.  I didn’t bank on my neighbor foreclosing nor the depreciation of property values.  I did curse Alan Greenspan for encouraging people to use ARMs since houseowners usually stay in their homes for 5-7 yrs.  Apart from that, I had no one to blame but myself.   If Greenspan can get it wrong, what about an average Jane like me?

Nevertheless, Andrews wife’s past history should have been included in his story.  As many commenters noted, bankruptcies are a matter of public record.  Now knowing this, both Andrews are not the gullible victims of predatory lending.  Mrs Andrews seems very savvy on avoiding paying her debts–to the IRS, her sister, driving without a sticker–will not get paid.  Even in Andrews response to McArdle, it seems like he is whitewashing the truth.  If you are going put your family out for display to play the angle on subprime lending for a buck, people will sleuth what was left out.  The story was amazing from the outset due to Andrews being a business reporter who should have known better.  That goes to show, many of the business/financial experts who contributed to the bubble, also fell for the okey doke.  MSM was part of the equation that led to the hype.  If they asked the tough questions, instead of participating in the bubble, it could have staved off some of the overinflated values.  Andrews is not the victim, we are.

GI Jane

May 20, 2009

Plastic surgery?

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 6:50 am

I checked my FICO score the other day.
Your Equifax FICO® score:
775
On May 13, 2009

Your Equifax FICO® score is great

Your score is well above the average score of U.S. consumers and clearly demonstrates to lenders that you are an exceptional borrower.

■FICO® Scores range between 300 and 850®
■Higher scores are better scores
■The higher your score, the more favorably lenders look upon you as a credit risk
Your Equifax FICO® score is based on the information in your Equifax credit report. Below are factors in your credit report that are hurting or helping your score:

FICO® score ingredients How you rate

Payment history
Your history of paying bills on time:
Great

Amount of debt
Your total amount of outstanding debt:
Great

Length of credit history
How long you’ve had credit:
Very Good

Amount of new credit
Amount of credit you’ve recently obtained or applied for:
Good

I couldn’t get my Transunion score for some strange reason.  My score used to be in the 800’s.  MYFICO says I have too many credit lines open.  So, I need to close Discover and Banana Republic cards for it to boost up again.  Not like I am shopping for any loans or more credit, but I wanted it to be higher after selling my house/eliminating the student loans.  FICO is all about keeping you in installment debt apparently while telling you too many credit cards are bad.  Discover and BR were supposed to be temporary anyway.  They were just too pretty to cut up–I do not even keep them in my wallet.

GI Jane

May 15, 2009

Just got paid, it’s Friday night!

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 7:53 am

I have $6100 in savings after subtracting my spending money.  I was figuring out when to start contributing to TSP again.  Reading other financial blogs have inspired me to get with the program again.  I would like to develop more of an emergency savings, though.  Plus, with my move in July…that will come with some costs.  I will have to sell my car for $1k (which is a good deal).  Need to figure out what I have to do to make that happen paperwork wise.  The move should not be too costly.  Not sure if I want to stay in the dorm or move off base.  I am leaning towards staying on base for convenience sake.  It is so nice to not have utilities and paying out-of-pocket for housing.

Speaking of which, according to Zillow and looking at comparable houses near my rental, it looks like the property appreciated $55,000.  I would like to double payments to the mortgage so it can be eliminated by I retire in 2017.  I would be in a very sweet position to pocket the rent.

GI Jane

May 10, 2009

Living like a rock star

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 11:09 am

Tori gatesJust got back from my awesome vacation.  I felt like I was on the Amazing Race with the amount of cities and sites we visited.  The first night we had dinner at Gompachi in Tokyo.  The next day, we headed to the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto for four days.  In Kyoto, we visited the Gion district, 10,000 Tori gates and several shrines that I am too lazy to look up the names.  The Tori gates were fantastic.  The shrines were very impressive.  Had dinner with a Maiko (apprentice geisha).  We took the fastest bullet train (Nozomi) to Himeji castle.  Took the local train to see the Akashi bridge (largest bridge in the world).  We then flew to Beijing for another 4 days.  There we climbed the Great Wall, walked through the Forbidden city, Tiananmen square, Summer Palace and temples.  I also bought pearls, jade and a silk kimono and silk duvet.  The silk market was hilarious.  The Chinese really know how to sell.  It was fun bargaining and haggling with the salespeople.  I had the best pedicure and foot massage there of my life.  It was life changing.  I had no idea my feet could feel that soft–it felt like it did when I was a teenager.  We stayed at the Westin in Beijing.  A very expensive place.  The Sunday buffet was $58!  It was the bomb, though.  The breakfasts were $38 a meal.  I only had breakfast there and one late night meal.  I spent over $2,000 for food (treated my brother/mother occasionally), massages, facial, hair stylist, goods, taxis, Cirque ticket and shuttles.  We ended the trip in Roppongi, Tokyo by partying at four different clubs.  

The good news is that I still have savings–not much–but at least over $3,000 left after paying for everything.  Now, it is all about preparing for my move to Korea and rebuilding the funds.  I went ahead a paid for a years worth of Vonage.  So, my mid-month bills are:

$208 for IRA

$97.77 for auto insurance

I have about $2400 left in checking and $3141 coming in on Friday.  After paying the mid-month bills, I will have $6100 in savings.  Back in the day, I would have a credit card bill, along with student loans and car payments.  Not anymore. 

It feels good.

GI Jane

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