Challenges for this week (May 30-June5, 2011)

I’ve decided that it’ll be more “fun” to call my goals challenges. I can be a fairly competitive person (with myself) so I think this will help more. Also, you should know that my weeks go Monday to Sunday.

Goals Challenges for this week (May 30-June5, 2011):

  • Bring lunch all but one day
  • Do Laundry!
  • Work out schedule for this blog.  I have a new idea for “Helpful Hints”
  • Get posts that are almost ready for this blog posted! (Including a #missionsushitour post.)
  • Take and/or Edit 20 photos for this blog.
  • List clutch and other scarf on Etsy.
  • Sort through baking/cooking supplies and weed out more of what I don’t want/need.
  • Finish book I’m reading, review and choose another to read before bed.

So that’s it for me. What are you working on or towards this week?

#weeklygoals

And then I bought a new(er) car.

Me driving my new car :)I’ve been looking for a new car on and off for a bit now and about two weeks ago, I realized that I was more likely to get a loan approval with good terms if I did it before I moved than after. (I’ve lived in my current place for 3 years which looks good on paper for the credit scoring game.) This meant that I had a grand total of about 6 weeks to find a car I wanted, negotiate and secure financing…

(And pack and work and have some sort of life…no pressure.)

Here’s the thing: I hate car shopping. There’s too much “guessing” involved. I want to know how much I can spend and go from there. I want to know what they’ll give me upfront for my car and how much money I have to work with before I find a car I love. Too bad that’s not always how it works.

(See, I know that I’ll be sad if I had to “settle” on a car I liked when there was one I loved out there.)

So Wednesday, I called my credit union to talk about a car loan and see how much I could borrow with what I could afford to pay every month. This was a pretty painless process and I even got preapproval contingent on providing documentation that one of the items on my credit report was incorrect. (A topic for a different post.)

Now I had a number to work with and this considerably cut my anxiety level. I also had general parameters for what I wanted in my new(er) car. I wanted low mileage, good gas mileage and reviews, decently low maintenance costs, power windows and locks, and an AUX jack for my iPod.

I started poking around local car dealership web sites and found a few that I wanted to test drive.  An ’09 Ford Focus, an ’08 Nissan Sentra and an ’08 Toyota Corolla. Basically I was looking at the same car from different companies. It would come down to which dealership could work with me best.

First, (and it turned out only) I drove a ’08 Nissan Sentra – I’ve already owned 2 and loved both of them. When we got back to the dealership we talked numbers…And oddly, we found a number that we could agree on! (The whole time I was willing to walk away and I think that was helpful.)

To make a long story shorter, I finished the paperwork, picked up my car and was on my way on Saturday.

It still doesn’t feel real that I got approved for a loan, found and negotiated a price for a car all by my self. I was sure that with my credit score, they’d never say yes to a loan by my self, that the dealership would never offer me enough for a trade in to even try and that something would horribly go wrong.

But there I am, driving my new(er) car out of the lot.

I DID IT!!! I’m so flippin’ proud of myself, it’s not even funny…

What are you most proud of yourself for currently?

If I Won a Million Dollars

From Little Miss Moneybags

No, I’m not writing about the song by the Barenaked Ladies (although it’s one of my favorites) I’m talking about what I would do if I actually won a million dollars: (after hiring an accountant/investment manager)

(If it was given in one lump sum.)

  1. Pay taxes (estimated at 40%): $400,000 (NYS is greedy, better figure high and go from there!)
  2. Invest $100,000 in a combination of IRAs, Mutual Funds, and Other.
  3. Give money to family, friends, others who need it more than I do. $100,000 invested and paid with proceeds $50,000 paid first  year.
  4. Start an Creative Kids foundation and give money to programs that promote and teach crafting/creativity to kids. $100,000
  5. Put a decent down payment on a  house. $50,000 and put $50,000 into a “House Trust” for taxes, upgrades etc. This would be the location for my own business to be run and part would be taxable to the business
  6. Take a series of kick ass trips to places I want to visit – Prague, Ireland, Israel, oh whatever strikes my fancy. $50,000
  7.  Purchase a newer car (I don’t believe in buying new cars, but a nice, newer to me car would be great…)$20,000
  8. $45,000 for a first year salary for my business
  9. $35,000 Play money for me to just play with.

If it was paid out over 20 years, I’d still have to work for a few years and then I’d bank a lot of that money and start my own thing after awhile.

What would you do with $1,000,000?

Weekly Money Check Up

From My Pretty Pennies (italics are from MPP)
Weekly Money Check-Up is a fill-in-the blank post once a week. The first four questions are always the same each week and the fifth is always different.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on rent.
2. Today I feel ambivalent towards money. (I’m stressed about a lot of other stuff today.)
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was having sushi lunch (gift card from my dad).
4. I will consider this week a success if I make it through without breaking down and crying.
5. My guilty pleasure TV show is old episodes of Buffy or Seventh Heaven.

Care to participate? Fill in the blanks in the comments section or post it on your blog and link back to here! Thanks for participating! 🙂

A $146.70 Lesson

And boy did it sting…

When I leave my apartment, I turn the lock on the door behind me and go because usually the keys are in my hand or my bag. (I keep my car keys and house keys separate so that they’re less bulky and I can slip my car key into my pocket at the gym.)

Saturday, I went to the store to get produce like groceries. When I got back, I took my bags of fruit and diary into the house and thought about how much I needed to lay down. As I was getting settled, putting my things where they belonged and putting the food away, I realized  I had left my phone in the car. No biggie, I’ll run out and get them then finish the rest.

With car keys in hand, I walked  out the door. Locking it behind me. (Of course.)

Wait. I looked down at my hands…I had already hung the house keys up on the hook by the door.

I was really tempted to cry, but I didn’t. First I looked in the maintenance guy’s closet at the end of the hall to see if there was anything I could use to break into my house or maybe even a spare key. Hey! You never know…

There wasn’t though.

Next? I called the people I thought might have a spare key to my place. One I know is in Chicago which is a huge help of course and I thought a couple other people might have one so I gave them a ring, but to my chagrin, they did not.

Here’s the thing. It’s February and chilly out. Granted it’s a bit warmer than last week, but it was NOT warm and all I had on was a fleece. I thought about going to the store to see about getting the items I might need to break in and realized that wouldn’t work – my wallet was on the futon right next to my keys.

I called Daddy-O and he said that he could come up but I’d have to wait for him (about 2 hours out) to help or I could try a locksmith. He was pretty sure they would likely be ABLE to let me in, but would they be WILLING? Well, there was only one way to find out!

I started calling around and finally found someone who had an available person to come to my house, all they wanted to see was my license and a check or cash for $135. (Seems a little shady, but OK I could do that.)

So to make a long story short, guy showed up, let me in, asked to see my license and for my phone number, wrote a bunch of stuff down and left with my check in hand. It took him 20 seconds to get in my apartment and 12 times that for me to find my check book.

What was the other $11.70? That’s me getting 3 new sets of keys made which I’m putting around town in case this happens again. Let’s hope it doesn’t. I’m trying to SAVE money, not spend it on stupid things like locksmiths.

Expensive lesson learned. Make keys ahead of time and know where they are!

What’s an expensive lesson you had to learn the hard way?

Taxes? They done hit me hard

This last year I made some money, not a lot by many standards, but enough to be comfortable to a certain degree and then some. Looking at it in retrospect, I’m almost embarrassed that I didn’t save more. Really. I am and that’s one of the things I’m working on for this year. To be a better saver.

But, I digress. Sorry.

Last year I made enough money that I got nailed on taxes. According to my part time job, I don’t work enough hours to regularly take out that much in taxes. Combine it with what I make at my full time job, I make more than enough to get taxed. (I had asked them to take out some anyway, but it wasn’t enough.)

It was enough of a hit that ends up costing me about $700 in the end. Yes, if you’re saying, “Grrrrr.” I’m with you.

I started doing research and talking to people who know far more about this than I do and to sum it up, I basically have three options (legally):

  1. Quit the job and not have that income for playing/saving or my free gym membership.
  2. Buy a house or condo/ get married/ have a kid (Basically a major life change that will affect my income levels and deductions.)
  3. Go back to school and take loans to do it. (I can get income credit for part of my tuition and school fees and deduct the interest for any loans.)

OK first things first, I won’t quit that job until it’s not fun anymore. I like my gym and love my kiddos even when they’re totally being difficult. Not going to happen and as a side note, I get way more out of working with them than they do.

Secondly, I’m not in a position to buy a house or condo right now…getting married and having kids will be wonderful life changes when they happen, but rushing them for tax purposes isn’t my idea of a good plan.

The last option is feasible and I’m looking into it. I do want to go back to school and possibly this is the kick in the pants I need to make it happen. I don’t mind taking loans out for school because I believe the pay off is more than financial.

Do you know of any other LEGAL options? Right now, I’d prefer to take above the line deductions where possible because I don’t have enough to over come the Standard Deduction. I don’t think at least.

Do share.

People are important too

As we know (or if you don’t you can click here and see some of them) I have a bunch of savings goals that I’d like to achieve and I am working hard to reach them.  They involve having self-discipline and saying no to myself when I want to eat out or go shopping for things I don’t really need. They involve being careful with my money and thinking about what I’m doing it with it now so that later I can spend it on things that matter to me.

My savings challenges that I set forth are all well in good on paper/blog, but they don’t always take into account the human component and the fact that I’m a person who is very tied to my friends and family. I believe that our personal connections are worth more than money. Spending time with people is something I enjoy. If an impromptu dinner with a friend I haven’t seen in far too long makes me have dinner out more than twice or trip home to visit family pops up and sends me over my gas budget for the month, I’m not going to say no. I’m going to take a hit on my challenges and spend the money to make sure that those people know that they are loved (and enjoy their company!).

I also believe that we should share our good fortune with those who are not as fortunate and show gratitude when given the chance.  This means when given the opportunity to help someone reach their dreams I’ll do what I can or is reasonable, it means that when I’m getting lunch and there is a soldier behind me in line, you can be sure that I’ll be paying for theirs too as a gesture of thanks and gratitude for what they give up for me to have my hour lunch and general freedoms.

Does this mean that my challenges will take that much longer to achieve? Yes, but people matter to me. People matter a lot.

How about you? What do you think?