GI Jane Finances

January 24, 2010

AMEX rewards and other things

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 3:34 pm

I had to wait two weeks in order to use my AMEX reward points.  I decided to redeem $300 travel dollars on the lovely trip to Jamaica for my dad.  I wanted to use it for my trip to Chicago, but the immediate family had other plans (to my chagrin).  I haven’t even put away the $800 towards my house downpayment fund.  I am a little reluctant because I do not like the fund’s performance yet.  Nevetheless, the Jamaica trip should cost me $1300 in the end.  I am also annoyed at how slow the mail has been.  Expecting to see my purchases from the Chicago trip show up in my mailbox.  I mailed it Dec 26th–priority mail!

Still have not told my mother about the trip to Jamaica…dad will just vanish around his b-day (lol).  My family is so dysfunctional.  I was talking to my sister about her spending plan from 2005.  She did not want to hear it at all because of putting her head in the sand.  She completely went backwards before and since her lay off, then remployment.  One would think that being laid off should have been a wake-up call, especially running through her meager retirment account of $3,000.   No, ma’am.  No, sir.

Speaking of which my checking will take a beating from the Jamaica and Chicago trips:

AMEX: $1675.12 (include $100 donation to the Haiti relief fund, BTW tax deductible for 2009)

Checking: $7459 after AMEX payment will be $5784 (ouch).

1 Feb balance will be $9184

I have paid my rent and utilities already.  1 Feb bill will be $2,000 housepayment; then renter will pay $1100.  So, after the smoke clears, I should have $8284 left in checking.    I need to put $1600 in my house downpayment away and $208 in the Roth.  When that happens, the account should be around $6476.

15 Feb bills:

$1,000 in savings

$1300 for rent/utilities

$119 for auto/home insurance

$208 Roth

I should have $773 left.  Once I decide what fund to put my house downpayment in, I will schedule $800 on the 1st every month.  BTW, I realized that I contributed $208 extra in the Roth for 2009.  It is so weird to have that happen again.  My investment company needs to have a way to reject overpayments.  The balance in Dec showed that I was under $208 for 2009.  Jeez louise.

GI Jane


January 4, 2010

Lost decade?

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 6:36 am
Good article in the NYT about savings.  I think I started 2000 with about $4 to 5k and ended 2009 with $90,950 in retirement savings.  I do not have a match.  The real powerhouse is my Roth IRA.  I put in less money due to the contribution limits and have about the same amount as in the TSP.  I put in practically double for TSP, apart from this year, and earned $11,000 in the Roth.  I have the amount of money of what I basically contributed in the TSP.  The only good thing about the TSP is that I pay less in taxes and receive a nice refund back.  I would not be able to have a refund if I did not contribute into the TSP.  I also repaid $42,000 in student loans and paid off $50,000 in car loans and credit cards.  So, this next decade is all about saving money for a house payment, nice car and travel.  I also want to semi-retire at 45 years old with a military pension.  This will be the year to know at what rank, inshallah.
For savers it was hardly a lost decade
By Ron Leiber 

It was the age of zeroes, the epoch of naughts, an era when we started with something and added just about nothing.

At least that’s what stock market commentators have been gravely telling us for at least a year. The 2000s, they argue, was a lost decade. And at first glance, they appear to have gotten it exactly right.

If you invested $100,000 on Jan. 1, 2000, in the Vanguard index fund that tracks the Standard & Poor’s 500, you would have ended up with $89,072 by mid-December of 2009. Adjust that for inflation by putting it in January 2000 dollars and you’re left with $69,114.

January 3, 2010

Bailing out on a contract

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 11:17 am

Interesting read…a lot of venom from the readers.  As someone who experienced the selling in a down market, I do not think it is an ethical decision.  I lost more than $17,000 in selling my house.  Not sure what I would have done if I had been upside down by a couple hundred thousand dollars.  But, my security clearance and conscience would not allow me to “strategically default” on the mortgage. 

NPR story: Walking away from the house she can afford

Many homeowners who are tens thousands of dollars underwater on their mortgages — meaning they owe more than the value of their homes — have decided it’s just not worth it. Some, like Heather Baker, can even afford their payments, but they’re walking away anyway.

Baker is done with being a homeowner. Last month, she stopped paying her mortgage.

“Who says that my American dream has to be a home with a white picket fence and all of that?” says Baker, sitting at her dining room table.

January 2, 2010

Throw yourself a party

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 7:41 am

Boy, December was  a spendy month.  Happy New Year, ya’ll!  Fearing and looking forward to 2010–it will be an eventful year.  The title was inspired by my dad in a recent conversation I had about his birthday.  My father will turn 65 years old in Feb along with my mother.  It seems that every couple years, he comes up with lavish gift ideas for his birthday.  He has bad knees and complains about the pain pretty regularly. So, through my sister, he requested a massage chair to help with his pain.  This was in 2005.  Kinda of manipulative, but I decided to shell out about $1200 for a chair.  My dad hands over his weekly check to mom for the past 38 years.  Mother gives him an allowance of about $50 per week.  Mother calls all the money shots.  For example, when I commissioned in Dec 1996 and needed a car, I had to beg for $1000 downpayment.  Even though mom easily gave my sister $1,000 for her car who did not have a secure job, it took a lot of begging from me for the same amount.  However, to be fair, I was also asking her to cosign on the note–which she did. 

 OK.  The following year, in 2006, dad decides he must travel to Florida in Dec.  Parents have a paid for house in Florida across the street from my aunt.  In that conversation with pops, I tell him that I had to pay $400 to fix my carpet.  The stupid builders did not stretch the carpet.  So, my heavy solid wood Turkish furniture caused waves in my living room.  After silently listening to me complain about the carpet, he tells me I must pay for his trip to Florida.  When I balk, he said to put it on my credit card.  I do not keep balances on my credit card.  Well, I will pay you back, he says.  No, you won’t…fine I will pay for your plane ticket.  Do not ask me again for a trip. 

In 2007, I leave the states for Asia.  Two years later, I fund a $1,000 plane ticket for mom and $1700 ticket/hotel for brother to visit Japan and China.  I gave my brother about $450 for his birthday and Xmas gifts. Back to the parents.  Mind you, both parents are working with a paid off house in Florida, $56,000 mortgage on their current residence and about $400,000 saved.  This leads up to the conversation a couple of days ago with dad fresh from his Xmas Florida trip.  I told him since Oct-Nov that I planned on being home for Xmas.  He decides to book a trip to Florida.  Don’t forget about the bad knees–I let him off the hook about not visiting me in Asia because of them.  Had to redirect my plans to see him for a couple of hours before he took off for Florida.  Now, back in Korea, after telling him how I am doubling up payments on my rental mortgage–he complains how he never had a birthday party in all of his years on the planet.  He was invited to a wedding in Jamaica this summer, but wants to go there for his birthday that is a couple of months prior. I say go for it, that’s great–do not know how this relates to not ever having a birthday party.  Well, I think you should pay for it, he says.  What?!?!   Aren’t you working?  I plan on retiring this year and moving to Florida.  How does the Mrs feel about that, she likes your checks? It doesn’t matter.  Really, I say.  Hmmm…just for giggles decide to google prices.  OK, you are nuts…I hate when you ask for lavish gifts like I have won the lottery or received a huge signing bonus or something.  What happened to your bad knees?  Didn’t you just return from Florida?  Don’t you have $$?  What is going on?  Nothing, I feel my daughter(s) should be able to pay for my trips.  The other one is a principal of a school (not really, try assistant dean).  She just had that job for 5 months after being laid off earlier this year along with $100,o00 of student loan and credit card debts. 

Which bring me to sis, who after having that conversation with dad drops a bombshell that he had problems at work in July.  The problem nearly caused a fatal accident that caused them to suspend him for a couple of weeks.  Stunned by not hearing that bit of news until Dec 30 and now understand his urgency of returning to his homeland.  My sis is more embarrassed more than anything and the incident was around when she was unemployed, so it was an “inconvenient” burden.  She only found out because mom wanted to vent.  BTW, both are a piece of work.  I call back my dad to tell him, you know what—I will pay for you to travel.  Now, he pretty surprised because I was very pissed of the very idea just a day before.  Sis swore me to secrecy.  So, instead I tell him it is a milestone to reach 65 years (it is) and he has worked 38 years of his freaking life at one company.  But he should look for ways to add to his quality of life in his surroundings.  Hey, if you wanted a party I would have preferred to throw in $200 for a catered party, with Jamaican food at a hall, for his closest friends.  I threw myself a promotion party in 2006 (it is a military tradition) at a golf club.  It was the best $746 spent!  Plus, you receive gifts–which for some reason I didn’t expect.  Why not return to playing cricket or golf?  Read a book.  Take a class.  Go to church–you are not getting any younger, aren’t you concerned about the hereafter?  It is important to have a spiritual walk. Cultivate a hobby.   You can do so many things without fleeing the area.  Those staycations that some people are complaining about, are far more practical and fulfilling than drinking red stripe on a white beach.

Don’t get me wrong,  I love the islands, but we still have other 358 worthwhile days to live.  Oh, when I went home, that massage chair was packed with clothes and moved to the back room.

GI Jane

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