GI Jane Finances

October 31, 2010

Change is good

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — gijanefinances @ 12:40 pm

I took my Air Force Physical Training Test on Friday.  The AF changed the scoring system by implementing minimums for each component: sit-ups, push-ups and 1.5 mile run.  Also, if the score between 90-100, you only test once a year instead of twice.  My dream is the max the test like I used to when I was a cadet.  I took Tae Kwon Do thinking it will help increase my score by 10 points. Although, Tae Kwon Do is hard aerobically, it took away from my actual running practice.

 I realized the morning of under the new scoring system, I would need to do 46 push-ups (my weakest area) to max.  I did 26 push-ups in April, so I lol at even maxing that out.  However, 26 push-ups is even a great improvement from the 14 push-ups I used to do for the past 4-6 years.  The  minimums at my age group for women are: 14 push-ups, 29 sit-ups, 35.5 inches for waist and 16:57 for the 1.5 mile run.  If you fail any component, you fail the test.

I had the worst run in a long time because I got a cold the morning of.  I couldn’t even breathe or talk afterwards.  You have to do the sit-ups and push-ups for one-minute each.  Anyway, I maxed the sit-ups at 47; did 26 push-ups; had a 29 inch waist; and 14:00, 1.5 mile run.  The good news is that I scored 91.3 points!  Under the old system I would have gotten about 87 points.  I finally reached the “Excellent” range!!!  I haven’t done that since the AF went to this physical testing system in 2003.  Change can be good, apparently.

I would still like to max the test.  I need to focus on my running after I test for black belt next month.  I should have practiced on the track that we tested on and done sprints or fartleks.

Now, I am sick again…but relieved about my PT test.

GI Jane

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October 27, 2010

Suze Orman: Change is good?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — gijanefinances @ 8:31 pm

Suze Orman had  newlyweds from Chicago on her 24 Oct show.  The hubby blew $2,000 in one night at a bar paying for 20-25 people!  I had no idea that was even possible.  The wife wanted to save $500 for vacations.  They are both in their late twenties.  She did not even find out about the $2,000 until a week later.   They have $10,000 in credit card debt; $8,500 in student loans; and a car loan for $23,000.   Then two weeks later he spent $600-$700 for champagne.  He did not even remember purchasing the champagne.  I actually think he has an alcohol problem and the spending is the symptom.  I think Suze was too polite to say it.  He also needs to grow up.  He is partying like he in a spendy single, most times without his wife.  This has to be the most alarming opening segment on her show in a long time.

Now, on the other end of her spectrum, the “Can I afford it” segment usually depicts her wealthy callers.  Suze addressed the feedback from her viewers who wonder what the heck do these people do for a living?  She even had a 28-year-old female with about $500,000 saved asking if she can afford a $75,000 wedding?  Of course, Suze said she could afford it.  She also had a 36-year-old female doctor with $215,000 seeing if she can afford a $900 flight/hair appointment.  She approved it even though the doctor had $118,000 in debt.  I would say the majority of her callers for this part of the show are pretty affluent.  It kind of defeats the purpose of the segment.  I do not think they reflect the average American.  You would think that we were in the 2003-2006 heyday.

I was surprised that she mentioned gold as a good investment in your portfolio.  If I did not listen to Ramsey, I would have bought good right after Katrina.  I did not know it was taxed differently since it is a commodity. 

Suze said a good financial planner changes with the times.  I somewhat agree with her because she certainly has.  But I like the reliability/consistency of Ramsey since his advice is pretty old fashioned and simple.   

Interesting show.  I need to stay away from bars with table service.

GI Jane

October 25, 2010

Myfico revisited

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — gijanefinances @ 2:12 pm

Just for giggles, I checked my Experian fico score.  It is now 790, a slight improvement.  Last year, it was 775…see post plastic surgery.

What’s hurting your FICO® score

The negative factors listed here are reasons why your FICO® score is not higher. You should focus on changing the behavior that caused these negative factors. These factors are listed in order of their impact to your score, the first has the greatest negative impact and the last has the least.

Please note that a negative factor can be provided even if you are better than the national average of FICO® high achievers on that factor. In all likelihood, this means that your FICO® score is already quite high. The fact that you are still receiving a negative factor means that there is still some room to work on that factor.

  1. You have too many credit cards carrying balances.

    Your FICO score was hurt because you are carrying balances on too many credit cards  at once.

    What to do about this: You should consider paying down the balances on your credit cards and keep the balances low. However, consolidating or moving your debt from one account to another will usually not help your FICO score since the same total amount is owed.

    Bullcrap!  According to my snapshot in time, I owed $1024 on Amex with about $50k in credit lines.  The current balance is $191.00.  Kind of annoyed that I am not in the 800 range.  I am not buying another house in the immediate future, so it doesn’t matter.  I just wanted to see if anyone is fraudently using my name.        

GI Jane

October 24, 2010

Not retiring broke

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — gijanefinances @ 7:57 pm

Interesting story on 65 year olds and older filing for bankruptcy:

Retired and broke: why retirees are filing for bankruptcy

 My parents are approaching 66 next year with no pensions.  They love their credit cards, especially for vacations.  Their balances are usually about $5-10k.  Both took withdrawals out to pay off their auto loans and credit cards against my wishes.  They were quickly acquainted with huge taxes since their earnings exceeded $100,000.

 I need to research a good fee-only financial planner.  Yesterday, my mother brought up buying an annuity to supplement their Social Security.  I do not know enough to properly advise them.  I do need to try and link them up with a planner so they can stop making rookie mistakes.

GI Jane

October 21, 2010

Random musings

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — gijanefinances @ 2:06 pm

Last night I went to my boss’ farewell.  It was really a nice turnout!  I didn’t even know he went to an Ivy League school…that was news to me.  He actually has a very distinguished career, as I suspected.  He is still sad about leaving–a real Patriot.  The one thing I would miss about the military is moving every two years.  I hope next year I will get my wish of going to Europe.

Next week I have my physical fitness test.  I just realized that the AF shaved 10 points off the waist measurement.  I usually max that part, so that really sucks.  I delayed my black belt test until next month.  Hopefully, Tae Kwon Do will help me knock the PT test out of the park.  Yesterday, a student pulled his hamstring trying to do a roundhouse.  Thankfully he is a doctor and his doctor friend was there to help.  It was scary watching that happen.  I injured myself twice…but I didn’t need an emergency room!

I had lunch with the Korean Nationals from my office on Tues.  I decided at the last minute to treat them all to lunch since they always treat me.  They were like shocked that I paid for all four of them.  It only came to $38  for everyone, including  me.  When we sat down one of them was like, “I thought you couldn’t afford to pay because of the car you drive”  or something like that .  Even though I make more than all three out of four combined and their boss, it boiled down to the car I drive!  I said, “well I do not have a car payment…so I use that money to buy you all lunch.  The retired Korean colonel on my staff then chimed in that “majors get paid very well, so you do not have to worry about her.”  It is so funny that a $1,200 car causes so much consternation.  Earlier this year, the Koreans around the building apparently was talking about my car.  I got several questions on how much I paid for it.  They are still shocked it is still running after having it a year.  A lot of people ship their cars from the states.  But maybe about a 1/3 have hoopties.  Cars are very much a status symbol over here.

Anyway, I discovered a terrible snafu in my records.  I have to appeal to the Board of Corrections in order to finalize my performance report.  My boss is retiring next month, but his last day is tomorrow.  Yikes!  I also have to get my 2008-9 report resigned.  The general who signed it has his change-of-command on Monday.  It totally stressed me out…so freaking annoying.

GI Jane

October 15, 2010

Viva Chile!

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 5:48 am

Congrats to the rescuers/experts on successfully extracting the 33 miners!  I am very happy that it did not take until Xmas to get them out of there.  To be there an unbelieveably 69 days and survive 17 days on little food before being discovered is amazing.  You need to see John Stewart making fun of the news coverage .

Today is pay day and membership night at the club.  I wonder what the menu is?  I haven’t been there in months.  I pay membership fees of $18 and the club serves a nice meal to members once a month.  You also get a discount at restaurants on base. My boss’ going away dinner is next Wednesday.  He said that employers are in a bidding war to hire him at three times what he makes now.  Before he leaves Asia, he is going to China, Guam and a tiny Microindonesian island.  He wanted to stay in the AF for another 4 years which would give him 30 years.   Nevertheless, he is in a really good position financially, so I am not worried about him at all.  

Still tracking down my missing Army decoration.  I think it may have been found, but will know next week. 

Cheers,

GI Jane

October 13, 2010

Reflections

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 8:35 pm

Boy, I am being prolific lately.  I just received my Social Security Earnings Record.  I love to reminisce where I was and what I was doing in the years listed:

1986 earned $195 (lol).  I was 15 years old!  I did not even know any income was reported then.  It must have been my short-lived job working at the school library.  I didn’t last long.  I kept coming in late to work.

1987 earned $2118: do not know doing what?  I started babysitting, but remember it as under-the-table money.

1988 earned $3078

1989 earned $1187.  I used to work as a telemarketer and at a hobby shop, so  I am surprised 1988-89 earnings are so low.  I also graduated from high school in 89.

1990 earned $5501.  Started college and subsequently enlisted in the Army Reserves then National Guard as a combat medic.  Money was tight–couldn’t get any aid because my parents made too much.  I didn’t get the $2500 bonus that the Army was paying medics since I joined the Reserves initially.  Paid off my $200 Marshall Field’s card and $500 Citibank credit card.  lol.

1991 earned $1926.  I had to take a year off in order to qualify for the National Guard scholarship.  It was a year from hell and a terrible recession at the time. I could hardly get employed…realize that I need to return to school.

1992 earned $1169.  Back at school and drilling in the National Guard (5 hours away from school monthly…it sucked).  My little drill check paid for the freaking round-trip Amtrak ride.  Therefore, I earned nothing for the weekend.  Loving being back at school, though.

1993 earned $2859.

1994 earned $2011. Boy living hand to mouth.  Discover AFROTC on a lark.  Ask my Sgt. for a conditional release from the Army into the AFROTC 2-year program.  He successfully won my release from my company commander.  Thank you Sgt. Curtis.

1995 earned $3148.  Went to field training. Started graduate classes…finished my undergraduate degree but couldn’t register to graduate because of AFROTC.  I also worked part-time at the School of Social Work.

1996 earned $334.  Weird amount?  Was I that destitute?  Received my commission from the AF as a 2 Lt…butter bars!  Woo hoo! 

1997 earned $24,543.  I am in the money–in an expensive apartment.  It was like $695 a month.  I now have a car payment of about $300 for a car I hate (Nissan Sentra that my parents made me buy since my sister had one.)   I’m guessing that I had about $10k in student loans.  I decided to defer them for about 5 years (big mistake).

1998 earned $26,580.  I am feeling kind of broke in my expensive apartment with hardly no furniture.  Lieutenants do not receive a relocation allowance.  Housing allowances back then sucked big time.

1999 earned $35, 284.  Moved out of expensive apartment.  Traded in the Nissan (upside down) for a shiny new VW cabrio with a $500 car payment (much have been brain-damaged).  Took out student loans for my Masters at a private school.

2000 earned $36, 853.  Finished Masters. Moved to Turkey…loved that assignment!  I pin on Captain.

2001 earned $48,028. Moved back to the states and bought my first house. A three bedroom/2 bath with 1500 square feet.

2002 earned $50,788.  The finance office is jacking up my pay because of my move from overseas.  It made me realize that I need to get a handle on my finances.  Decided to actually open my deferred statements on my student loans and nearly collasped…$41,000!  I start to read Suze Orman (no such thing as a podcast to my knowledge).

2003 earned $55,465.  Cashed in $8000 in savings bonds and paid off my credit cards.  My dear brother moved in for about 9 months.  I help him enroll in community college.  I hadn’t seen him for about seven years..barely recognized him.

2004 earned $57,531.  Move into my AFROTC instructor job.  Buy the second house since the first one worked out so well.  Big mistake.

2005 earned $60,990.  I am in a job from hell.  Hate my boss…but loved the adorable cadets.  Very encouraged by the next generation of officers.  My girlfriend of now 21 years (godson’s mother) gets married.

2006 earned $66,411. I pin-on major. Get new boss, who I love!

2007 earned $74,242. I move to Japan! Put second house on the market.  Move into the dorm to save money. Buy a 1993 Toyota Camry.

2008 earned $76,849.  I finally sell the second house at a loss.  I lost about at least $20,000. Begin to listen to Dave Ramsey.

2009 earned $80,674. I pay off all of my debts to include student loans.  Go to China, Kyoto, Hawaii and Chicago. I move into my current assignment in Korea. Sell my Toyota.  I buy a 1996 Kia.

Whew—that is everything.  The earnings record from 1997 to present only shows the basic pay.  Military personnel’s housing, COLA and subsistence allowances are not taxed.

 GI Jane

October 12, 2010

Lap of luxury

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — gijanefinances @ 9:08 am

I have driven hoopties for the past three years.  When I rented a Toyota Camry in Chicago a couple of weeks ago, driving it felt like living in the lap of luxury.  The great advantage of driving a hooptie is not having a car payment.  Plus, the Toyota and Kia were pretty reliable…meaning very minimal repairs.  I think I paid about $200 in repairs since 2007.  The only scary thing about my Kia are the brakes.  During the worst winter in 10 years, I nearly collided with a car when it couldn’t stop at a four-way intersection. I definitely need to get it checked out next month.  Since it is very hilly here, having good brakes is a difference between life or death.  Apart from that, my hooptie really keeps me grounded.

To my surprise, my girlfriend’s husband bought her a ToyotaVenza this year.  The car is freakishly keyless! Before that car, she had a Montero that she refused to drive.  I guess it was a big gas guzzler.  She loves the Venza.  It was nice to live vicariously through her for the four days I stayed there.  I do not envy the car payments. This morning, I wistfully yearned for my 99 VW Cabrio that is in the states.  Every time I got it detailed, I would fall in love with it all over again.  People wanted to buy the car when they would see it on the road.  VW discontinued the model.  I have been drooling over a mini-cooper for years.  Not sure if I want another tiny car…but really love the cool stripes.

I have $3974.88 in my car fund.  A new car is not in the immediate future…and I am fine with that.

GI Jane

October 11, 2010

The importance of planning ahead

My boss was told that he had to leave the Air Force by the end of this month.  He had joked about the possibility all year since the AF planned on conducting a Selective Early Retirement Board.  Nevertheless, it appeared to be soul-crushing news.  I think he is a 4-year O-6.  His retirement should be about 75% of his base pay: $7535.  I have no idea why he was so devastated.  I had to console a guy who will be making $90,423 a year, passively!  I told him he needs to beef up my performance report before he leaves.  The only thing I felt sorry about was that he had to leave so suddenly.  The AF should at least let him finish his tour.  Now, the big boss has to pull someone out-of-hide for about nine months.  I think he is putting his son through college.  He didn’t share anything personal with me.  He is more of a distant boss than I have ever had in recent years.

I had one boss who probably was a millionaire when he retired.  He had a 1975 BMW that he would actually cover it every morning like it was a new model Porsche.  He always dressed sensibly but stylishly.  I loved his silver hair…reminded me of Sean Connery.  He also wrote very well.  A runner.  I completely admired him…the very best boss I have ever had.

I do not know what the AF has in store for me in the next five years.  Hopefully, I can finish without any soul-crushing news.  I would like to reach $200,000 in cash/retirement next year.  I feel somewhat behind the curve after paying off my student loans, unloading the second house from 2008 and expensive travel.  I have my sights on relocating to San Antonio/Austin in my mid-forties.  My girlfriend (my godson’s mother) also wants to relocate to Austin.  Her husband is looking for a job at Microsoft.  Thankfully, when she and my other girlfriend visited me in 1999 when I lived in San Antonio, I showed them an awesome time. We went to the warehouse district and the strip.  Had martinis at some cool joints, hit the piano, salsa and karaoke bars.  It was such a good time!  Love Austin.

 We gotta get ready for Tae Kwon Do.

Cheers,

GI Jane

October 10, 2010

Oct networth

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — gijanefinances @ 11:51 pm

It was time to pay the piper in October.  I had also made some changes to my Roth.  It turns out that I should have stuck with the REIT fund instead of exchanging it years ago.  I ended up returning to the REIT this time around.  I also have some dividend paying funds.  Yeah!  Here it goes:

Roth: $49,066.54

House down payment fund: $11,265.07

TSP: $67,579.79

Savings: $10,080.92

My checking has been obliterated after paying for my trip: $325.86  I have not seen it that low in a long time..since early 09.  I ended up wiping out my travel account and removing $1,000 out of the emergency fund.  Was it a real emergency? No. But, I wanted to wipe out my credit card debt.  I still paid $1,000 extra on my rental mortgage.

Balance on the mortgage: $102,252.61

Grand total excluding the rental mortgage: $138,318.18

Paid expenses:

I had to pay $200 to test for my black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  I also paid an additional $80 for Oct class and $20 for my red stripe.

Unpaid expenses:

I believe I have to pay my flood insurance by the end of the month.  I have not checked my mail since I’ve been back.  It is usually about $235.

GI Jane

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