GI Jane Finances

November 22, 2010

Bah Humbug, almost

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — gijanefinances @ 9:20 pm

That was how I felt over the weekend when my longtime childhood friend sent me her gift list.  I have spoken to her about three times this year.  She sent me my Xmas gift in April of this year! 

In her email: “Last year after considering the time, effort and resources everybody spends on purchasing gifts, I thought why not be certain of the fruits of your labor. And one of the easiest ways to be sure of getting anybody what they want, is to ask them what they want (ground breaking, right).”  On her list: Burberry perfume, Marc Jacobs pocketbook, Tory Burch flats, etc…

Mind you one year she sent baby wipes and baby powder as gifts to everyone.  She was getting herself back on her feet, so we were fine with it.  The year she was laid off, we all still gave her gifts and told her do not worry about giving us anything.  Therefore, she has a reputation for being a “bad gift” giver.  I decided to remove her from my list this year because she does not make the effort to invest in this friendship anymore.  Other people have–and I rather spend my money on them than to continue to reward longevity.  She sent her list out just in time for her birthday and Xmas while neglecting other people’s birthdays and Xmas.    I feel if you have regular contact with people, you know what they want or even want to ask for their requests through semi-regular interaction.

And just when I was going to write off gift giving this year after dealing with her, something awesome happened.  Today, I had an office Thanksgiving luncheon and invited my Korean counterpart/civic leaders.   

My co-workers surprised me with a gorgeous gift basket with big scented candle, candle holders, fruit, soap and towels.  I was really shocked and touched by that.  My counterpart showed up with a beautifully wrapped in gold cloth rice cake basket and sweets.  It really looked too pretty to eat. 

My good neighbors gave me a Korean bell and drum.  I plan to use both as decoration my office. 

Tomorrow, I will going to Seoul for another party for more gifts and good food.  I also plan on having my first house party on Thanksgiving day.   It is funny when I bought liquor, I maxed my limit for the month since alcohol is rationed on base!  I opted for a 6-pack of Heineken, Red Stripe, Miller Genuine Draft and two bottles of wine.

It looks like it will be a good week.  Happy Thanksgiving!

GI Jane

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November 14, 2010

Suze Orman: How am I doing?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — gijanefinances @ 9:18 am

I am still marvelling over Suze’s “How am I doing?” guest all week.  Jason, a 39-year-old married man, retired from the Air Force after 20 years.  It appears like he retired as an E-8.  He is in his second career and would like to know if he can retire by age 60?  Jason gave himself a B- for what he had done so far:

Retirement: $190,807

Emergency fund: $73,015

Investments: $166,975

He and his wife saved: $430,797 total.

Mortgage: $269,904

House valued at $295,000.

Income: $6197 a month.

Suze gave him an overall score of B+, but gave a C+ in retirement savings.  I think he has done phenomenal job for retirement.  I have no idea why Suze neglects the pension and only focuses on investments. She ironically opened up the segment about the need to live off dividends.  People need to accumulate tons of money, so they can “live off the dividends” later.   I would think that one would have to have millions of dollars to match what a federal pension does every month.  I would give Jason an A+.

GI Jane

November 8, 2010

Moral Compass weekend

I’ve been winding down on the weekends lately…and love it.  The theme from the past weekend is “What is your moral compass?”  Three stories troubled, captivated and amazed me over the weekend:

1.  The 2009 Easter hit and run in Atlanta (related story).  A 22-year old recent college graduate was on an errand for some cake and ice cream.  She ended up pushing a Mercedes over a medium that ended up hitting a Volkswagen.  The entire Carter family was incinerated and 6-year old little girl cut in half.  Aimee Michael fled the scene with the view of the flames in her rear view mirror (from her on tape confession) and returned home.  She waited two days before telling her mother and grandmother.  What does the mother do?  Pay a mechanic $1,500 to fix the bumper/paint in the middle of the night. Two days after that, Aimee applied for graduate school. 

On Nov. 4, Aimee was sentenced to 36 years and her mother, Sheila, to 8 years in prison.  The father is a Marine and  works as a contractor in the Middle East, was out of the country when this terrible accident happened.   If Aimee stayed and actually called the police and check on the damage that was done, she probably would have gotten 6-8 months.  I can’t imagine driving away while seeing flames in the rear view mirror.  If the story is not horrible enough, the mother attempting to cover up something that was an accident that resulted in the deaths of 5 people!   A neighbor tipped the police off to the Michaels a week  or ten days after the incident.  They were not going to turn themselves in at all.  I feel sorry for the dad.  It is too bad that Aimee and her mother did not have a conscience.  I am certain my mother would have turned my butt in, stat!  She does  not even let me drive her car.

 2.  Oscar Grant shooting.  I really hate this story and the outcome.  Oscar Grant was shot in cold blood on New Year’s in 2009.  Johannes Mesherle, Bay Area Rapid Transit policeman, killed a defenseless young man.  Oscar Grant, 21-year old,  a father of a 6-year-old girl, was lined up against the wall and completely slaughtered.  Beware the video is very hard to watch.  Mesherle was sentenced for 2 years which is really 1 year for time already served for mistaking a gun for a taser.  I cannot believe a jury bought a story that a cop can’t tell the difference between a firearm and a taser.  I pray he will be forever out of law enforcement.  Very disgusting.

3.  Eliot Spitzer.  I rented Client 9, the Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer, for a whopping $7.99.  If you are a mutual fund investor or a victim of the bad economy, Sptitzer should be of interest to you.  I remembered being very disappointed when he resigned over using prostitutes.  I have supported his new show on CNN (Parker Spitzer).  I do not condone prostitution, but he did predict the fall of the economy as we now know it.  He took on Wall Street, AIG, CEO big payouts, the banks, etc…long before it was fashionable.  I do not know if this docudrama will completely do for him like the “Inconvenient Truth” did for Al Gore or McNamara’s “The Fog of War,” but it is in the step in the right direction.  His one-time call girl  totally milked out the scandal for everything it is worth.

If you want to know what hate looks like, check out former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg, Kenneth Langone and Senate Majority leader Joseph Bruno appearances in the movie.  They are so happy about Sptizer’s downfall…you can see it in their eyes and smirks.  A cooky political consultant, Roger Stone, rounds out this motley, but powerful group.  I was so angry that Greenbeg’s AIG stock is now worth according to him, “nothing, only a $100 million dollars.”  I am mad that Spitzer gave his enemies something with to ruin him.    I really enjoyed the film…it definitely makes you think.  A great bookend to the docudrama is Spitzer’s Colbert nation appearance Feb of this year.

GI Jane

November 6, 2010

Joneses Chronicles

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — gijanefinances @ 1:05 pm

I am not a money guru by any stretch of the imagination.  Over the past years, I have had several epiphanies along the way.  However, my good friend and her husband’s journey has been interesting to observe.  They got married in 2004.  He is far more gruff and less personable than my girlfriend.  We thought she hit the jackpot with him because he earned about $150,000 at the time working two jobs.  She was earning about $40,000 a year at a job she hated.  Nevertheless, earning nearly $200,000 a year between the two of them is pretty good.

Shortly after they married, I was at their house hanging out in my sweats.  The husband decided to call me a “bum” for the way I dressed.  I was like “whatever, I have no desire to impress you.”

Girlfriend: “What do you think of the house?”

Me:  “It’s big with 4 floors, but it’s pretty sparsely furnished.  I prefer a ranch house…can’t deal with hiking up and down the stairs like that.”

Husband: “Well, you can’t afford all of this!  You wish you could afford something like this.”

Me: “No, I do not.  I own two houses thank you very much.  I do not envy what you have, so get over yourself.”

In hindsight, owning two houses made me overleveraged and later lose money.  This conversation took place in 2004.  Both of them ended up visiting me at one of my houses a couple months later.  He thought I furnished it to impress him.  What an ego!

Flash forward six years later.  When I visit this past September in Chicago, he tells me that his house is $100,000 underwater.  My friend lost the job that she hated.  He wants her to work after just having a baby.  He just bought her a new car.  She has student loan debt.  I sold the house I bragged about at a $10,000 loss and about $10,000 in taxes, improvements and realtor fees.

I decided to check out his house on zillow.com and discovered that he lost $195,000 in value.  He is carrying a $339,000 note from when he purchased it in 2002.   I am actually shocked that his house lost so much.  It has a lot of square footage.  If he did not tell me about being underwater, I would not have believed the zillow estimate.

In Dec 07, I had $270,000 in mortgages and $11,565 in student loans. The neighbor who bragged about wanting to buy my house in addition to his also foreclosed, thus depreciating my house by $10,000 when it finally sold.  I now have $100,935 in mortgage debt.  A house just sold on the street my rental sits on for $189,000, even in this down economy.

It does feel good to have unloaded $180,630 in debt over the past three years.  If I could do it, anyone can.  I am excited that my rental mortgage will be $99,615 at the end of the year.  I also will have saved $388.85 in interest.  By the end of next year, it will be $83,000 and save $1136.58 in interest.  Love it.  If I did not pre-pay, it would have taken me 8 years to reach that.

The overall lesson of this story is to not be cocky.  The Joneses are broke…if you don’t believe then just check out zillow.  I have another friend who told me that he has four properties!  People are nuts…I was one of them when I had two homes.  

My goal is to reach $200,000 by the end of next year.  It will be hard to do, since I am moving.  For some reason, I want to use my favorite quote in the post:  Marine General Oliver P. Smith said, “Retreat, hell!  We are just advancing in a different direction.”

Cheers,

GI Jane

November 4, 2010

November networth

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 6:35 am

I like this month already with the stocks rallying:

Retirement:

Roth: $50,089

TSP: $70,717

Savings:

House downpayment: $12,055.20 (unrealized gain of $539.98)

Vacation: $206.93 (earned $25.36 interest @ 1.1%)

Car: $4278.69 (earned $14.59 interest @ 1.1%)

Emergency Fund: $6605.26 (earned $45.95 interest @ 1.1%)

Checking: $1307

Grand total: $145, 259.08

I paid an extra $1048 on my rental mortgage: $100,935.  The house is worth about $165,000.

Excited that my savings are approaching $150,000.  If you include my house, the overall networth is $209,316.

GI Jane

November 2, 2010

Bizarre encounter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — gijanefinances @ 1:09 pm

I have been approached to join a cult!  Proselytizing in the military is not allowed.  I actually do not mind if my big boss starts a meeting with a prayer.  Several months ago I was excited about my new amplified bible and discussed a couple of passages with a subordinate.  I think I was up on the edge of propriety doing that.  When I get excited about something I read, I talk about it in general. 

This O-5 earlier this year invited me to a church concert in Seoul.  I ended up not going because it was during the day and work got in the way.  Then last week he invited me to his church.  Inviting people to church is a regular practice.  I have invited people to my church in the past.  I am actually considering changing churches.  I have gotten tired of the chaplain preaching the same thing over and over again.   I do love the band and choir, though.  I haven’t made up my mind leaving yet, but wanted to check out the Traditional service anyway. 

So back to the O-5.  I politely listen to him about his religion and said I wanted to research his church.  Especially, when he started talking about how traditional churches are doing the works of Satan.  According to him, Easter and Christmas are pagan holidays.  Then he invites me to worship with him on Saturday. 

 I asked “why Saturday?”

 “Saturday is the proper Sabbath.  It is in the bible…. we strictly practice the scriptures.  If you come to one service, your eyes will open up to the prophesies and God our Mother,” he said. 

 I told him I still need to look it up.  So, three days later he tells me that there are a lot of negative things on the internet about his church.  He drops off a 6-page article from a Korean newspaper.  The journalist clearly is a follower.  But, even reading the “positive” article raised a lot of red flags.  Last night, I watched a video that depicted the followers–and they were in a spaced out haze.  I am so alarmed that he is on our staff and trying recruit people in this cult.  The church has 1.1 million members.  And yes, it is defined as a cult by some watch groups.

A couple of years ago, I obsessively read about the People’s Temple and Jim Jones.  As a history major, I like to read everything about a historical subject that interests me.  The largest suicide in history definitely intrigued me…ironically the anniversary is coming up on Nov. 18th.  The People’s Temple started out good–integration, charity for the poor and elderly, etc…However, when the leader proclaims himself as G-d and families are destroyed, the damage done can result in casualties.  The abovementioned mentioned cult is getting ready for the end of the world in 2012.   A lot of cult experts say cult followers are not necessarily robots, they can be lawyers, doctors, etc…This O-5 looks very normal, you would have no idea he belongs to a cult until he starts talking about it.  I have been here a year and a couple of months working right down the hall from him.  His family did seem weird, especially his daughter. I did get a bad vibe from him, but did not really pay attention to it until now.

Well, I politely declined his invitation for lunch and worship service.  I want nothing to do with this church, but will pray for them.

GI Jane

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