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Saving up for a camera

May 24th, 2007 at 05:32 am

So everything's on track with me financially. I'm contributing 15% of my salary to my Roth IRA. I'm putting 10% of my salary in my 'maybe-someday-I'll-want-to-buy-a-house' fund, which I just moved over to Vanguard's Prime Money Market Fund. My emergency fund could be bigger, but since I can dip into the someday-house fund quickly and use that as a second emergency fund if I need, I'm not that worried about it at the moment.

Of course, I still want things.
And since getting out of school and getting a real job, I've never really saved *for* things. If I wanted something, I would buy it.

Now, I'm trying to save up for the thing I want- an entry-level DSLR camera (the Nikon D50). It's about $600 with the kit lens. Right now I'm able to save about $100 a month for it, I think.

It's tough not to just go out and buy it, when the money's right there in my account. But if I can even save up half by July, maybe I can ask for the other half for my birthday.

Finally finished funding my 2006 Roth IRA!

March 26th, 2007 at 07:52 pm

With barely a month to go, I just initiated the final transfer necessary to fully fund my 2006 Roth IRA. I didn't think it was going to happen, with all the job stuff going on, but fortunately I was able to make it. I'll even be able to start on my 2007 Roth in two more weeks (with my next paycheck!)

Yay! This is my first year fully funding a Roth. I started investing in October 2005, and that year I only put in slightly more than $1000.

If things go as planned, I'll easily be able to fund to $4000 my 2007 Roth- and hopefully with more than a one-month cushion!

But I don't wanna save today!

January 27th, 2007 at 05:09 am

Occasionally my inner child pops up and cries and screams and wants something. Something shiny and expensive. It's been happening for me since the beginning of this year, and even before. Two things I want- a digital SLR camera and a trip to Europe- that aren't cheap.

And here's the thing. I can mostly avoid the temptation of putting them on my plastic. But I can't avoid the feeling that if I just didn't save any money one month- just took one month out of a year off of savings- I could get the camera I want. Just two months off of savings and I could take myself to Europe.

None of my savings is on automatic. I have no 401(k) option at work, and for now I've disabled the auto-save to my IRA, since any contributions automatically made now would go for 2007, and I need them to go for 2006. I have to make that choice each pay period, to save money rather than buy the things I want.

The only thing that's really keeping me honest? The knowledge that the project I'm on at work is ending in February, and I may not have a job for a while after that. Oh, that and the fact that I need some dental work soon. Also not cheap.

I love optimistic retirement calculators

January 20th, 2007 at 05:18 am

This one:

Text is http://finance.yahoo.com/calculator/retirement/ret-02 and Link is
http://finance.yahoo.com/calculator/retirement/ret-02
says that I need to save between 3.4 and 7.1 percent of my gross salary to have a comfortable retirement, not counting social security or anything.

Not that I believe it, of course.

Right now I'm saving 15%, though I'm not quite sure what will happen when, sometime next year, that amount begins to exceed the amount I'm able to put into a Roth IRA. I would like to open a taxable mutual fund account in a tax-efficient index fund, but I worry that the small amount I'm able to invest in it every year would make it not worth the fees. After the Roth limit goes up to $5000, I would only be able to invest $1000/year outside of it, and not only does the fund I'm considering have a minimum of $3000, but it has low-balance fees up to $10,000. Only $10/year, but, you know, it adds up.

We'll see; it's not something I have to consider seriously at the moment.

And no, no 401(k) at work. If that becomes available within the next two or three years, that could change my plans too.

Playing catch-up

January 18th, 2007 at 07:46 pm

Tomorrow is payday, my first for 2007. I know I need to catch up on my Roth IRA contributions for 2006. I've only put in about half what I'm eligible to put in for 2006, leaving me with about $2000 to go before April 16 if I'm going to max it out.

If things go well, and I'm consistently employed through that time, I anticipate making it just out of contributions of 15% of my gross pay.

If I'm not (the more likely alternative), there are two ways it could go:

1) I become unemployed in the middle of February, start living off my emergency fund, stop contributing to my Roth IRA, get my tax refund check, continue living off emergency fund and tax refund check, become poorer and poorer till I find a new job/ get on a new project at the place I'm currently employed, fail to max out 2006 Roth IRA.

2) I become unemployed in the middle of February, stop contributing to retirement, but get re-employed before the middle of April. In this case (if I get put on a project that's going to last at least 6 months) I'll take what I need to max out my 2006 Roth IRA from my emergency fund. I can re-grow my emergency fund- and I'm not going to let it get below $1000- but I don't want to miss my chance to contribute the full amount for 2006, if I have any alternative.

Then it's on to thinking about 2007...

Testing this weekend to get on a new project at work. Hope that it goes well; I would rather stay employed than the alternative.

Feeling pretty good

December 11th, 2006 at 04:49 pm

Well, I'm wrapping up 2006 and feeling pretty good about this year. Though I was unemployed for most of it, I did manage to find a job in the end, and though I accumulated some credit card debt, it's amost paid off ($250 left; will be paid off by the end of this month). This Christmas I will be totally debt-free.

One of the accomplishments this year that I'm proudest of money-wise (besides the whole job thing) is that I finally put together an Investment Policy Statement. This is basically a statement of where I am as an investor and where I want to be. It contains a listing of my assets, my asset allocation, my investment strategy, etc, etc. I did that in the middle of November and I just looked it over for the first time again today... I feel for the first time like I have a road map to where I want to go. It's all laid out: how much in stock, how much in bonds, how much domestic and international stock, how I will choose which mutual funds to invest in, tax efficiency considerations, acceptable loss amounts.

My paycheck from Friday was the first check that got after finishing the statement, and right after getting it I was able to put a certain amount into my savings account and a certain amount into investments. It really lets you automate your savings and investing, and takes the worry out of it.

Oh, and all my holiday shopping's done, with the exception of 2 gifts I still have to buy, but I can do that this weekend.

Asparagus, mozzarella, and ham...

October 5th, 2006 at 05:40 am

What's the smell of asparagus, mozzarella, and ham, sitting out in an 80 degree room for 10 hours?

Not very pleasant, I can tell you that.

Such was my lunch yesterday, those items on a tortilla, along with an apple and some carrots. Which I got up early to make and pack, and which I left sitting in my room yesterday morning. Of course I didn't notice I'd forgotten it until it was lunchtime, and I was sitting in the park just opening my book. So of course I had to go buy lunch- 3rd time this week out of 3. Monday and Tuesday I didn't bring a lunch because I didn't have any food out of which to make a lunch (no, not even PB and J!). Tuesday I bought groceries, so I could bring my lunch Wednesday... sigh.

October's eating out budget is already not doing too well.

So I'm bringing lunch today.

If I remember it.

September Budget

September 2nd, 2006 at 06:07 am

Well, I finally have my September budget in order. Of course I know I should have done it before the first of the month, but I just got my first paycheck yesterday (YAY!!!) and didn't know how much my take-home pay would be till then. So after several drafts...

September Budget
Take-home pay: ~$2350 monthly

Rent: 640
Additional deposit: 55*
Grocery: 160
Toiletries/household: 40
Phone: 44
Electricity: 77
Transportation: 76
Internet: 11
Netflix: 6
Gym: 75
Clothing: 50
Laundry: 20
Dining out (entertainment): 50
Dining out (lunches/convenience):50
Entertainment: 50
Blow money: 50
IRA: 100
Emergency fund: 100
Giving: 100
Credit cards: 696**

Notes:
*: They raised my rent this month by $55 and to add insult to injury they want me to send another $55 this month so that my deposit is still equal to one month's rent.
**: The minimum payment is somewhat less than $100. I'm following a slightly modified Dave Ramsey plan (you'll notice the $100 to emergency fund and $100 to retirement don't really fit in his step 2) so that whatever was not accounted for in the budget is going straight to my credit card debt. And lest you chastise me terribly for luxuries like an expensive gym (gasp!), a cell phone (oh no!) cable internet, and a $160 grocery bill for one person- yes, I could cut more. I could obviously cut more and would if I were deeply in debt.

But at this stage- if I put close to $700 on my credit card every month, I'll be out of debt in 3-4 months. I don't have a car payment, I don't pay for gas, I don't have a mortgage or insurance or any of that stuff. My expenses are relatively low, and I don't really have a problem with some luxuries in my life when I'm saving nearly half of my net income.

Though I am going to be happy when I'm out of debt!

Edited to add: I can't believe I forgot a category for 'giving!'. Fixed now. Next month budgeting will be easier.

Good things

August 21st, 2006 at 06:11 pm

Thanks to good advice on this site, I moved some money around this weekend. Depleted a $600 taxable mutual fund account to put the money in my Roth IRA. I will not come near maxing it this year, and am glad I'm not going to pay taxes on this money for the next 40 years.

Also got to see my dad this weekend(yay!) and he gave me some money (also yay!).

I'm trying to decide what to do with it. It isn't a whole lot, but it's enough to make a pretty significant dent in my remaining credit card. Of course, I have, like, no money right now, because I just started a new job and won't get paid for a couple weeks. I'll probably use it just for expenses and stuff I need until I get paid, at which point I can put what remains on my credit card.

I want to save a little, too, for the Ren Faire coming up. I know it's an irresponsible expense given that I'm not out of debt. Still, I am going to go ($20 plus $30 either gas or bus fare) and I really, really want to buy something pretty.

We'll see. I don't even know what my take-home pay's going to be. Once I know that, it'll be easier to budget, and if I can make a couple spending cuts to buy myself something pretty at the Ren Faire, that's something I can do.

Back on savingsadvice, thanks to new job

August 19th, 2006 at 05:41 pm

I have been gone from savingadvice for awhile. I stopped visiting because I was unemployed, not eligible for unemployment, had no money to save, and began having a lot of anxiety problems surrounding my finances. I really couldn't even think about my finances- even open bills- because not having any money coming in just really, really stressed me out that badly. My credit rating has suffered a lot (probably about 100 points) and I have about $2500 in credit card debt that I need to pay off.

But the good news is (yes, there's good news in this whole mess) that I have an income again.

So I'm going to take the next 4 months (Sept-Oct-Nov-Dec) of guaranteed work (the job ends in January, at that point I might be placed elsewhere in the same company, I might not; depends on work availability and performance) to pay off my credit cards and start improving my credit rating. I know that with all the late payments I've had, my credit rating can only improve so much in 4 months, but I'll do what I can. I'm not planning on needing credit anytime in the next 2 or 3 years (at least) so if I pay on time from now on, my credit rating should be much beteter by the time I want to buy a house or something, which right now looks like it's going to be in the very far future, if at all.

Plan for future:
1. Pay off smaller card (DONE)
2. Start putting away $100/month to retirement and $100/month to emergency fund (DONE)
3. Send $600/month to larger credit card, get it paid off within 5 months
4. Increase Roth IRA contribution to $333/month (to max it out for the year)
5. Increase emergency fund contribution to $400/month

That's the plan for now. I should be here by January; if my job continues, I'll be set. If not... Well, at least at the end of this job I'll be eligible for unemployment, and have no debt, so that's not so bad.

Response to comment

November 2nd, 2005 at 04:37 pm

In response to SharylIMB's comment on my journal:

"So you opened your Roth IRA with Vanguard? What was the process like? I'm looking into cutting back my 403b contributions just a bit (I'm currently contributing 20% of my income) and opening a Roth IRA as well."

I can't completely speak for the ease of opening an account with Vanguard, since I actually had a UTMA (Universal Transfers to Minors Act) account there that my mom had set up for me years ago to pay for college. So, because that account had my name and social security number on it, I didn't have to open up a new account with Vanguard, I just had to start up a Roth. However, I can tell you that doing that was very easy. It took about 20-30 minutes... Easy as pie. I did the whole thing online, no need to mail anything in, no need to call them or anything. They deducted the $1000 I chose to put in from my checking account electronically, and 2 days later the funds were in there.

-------

Nothing really to report today. Worked a bit late at work. Only spent $1 today, for a snack. Oh yeah, I got paid. A couple days late, but I don't mind too much. Getting paid=awesome.

November Goals

November 1st, 2005 at 06:40 pm

Yeah, I didn't really watch my money too well in October. I didn't spend like crazy, but I know I spent more than I needed to.

Here's the goals for November:

1. Stay on budget!
2. $1000 into my emergency fund (either ING or Emigrant, I'll see what happens to rates after this latest hike. I've had problems with my Emigrant account-- I keep forgetting to call them during business hours.)
3. $100 into my Roth IRA! (I just now set it up to be done automatically- $100 every month until I set it to stop.

Well, I don't know what caused me to go ahead and open my IRA last Thursday, but boy, am I glad I did! Vanguard just raised the minimum investment on IRA accounts from $1000 (which I have, and have plenty left in my emergency fund) to $3000 (to keep my emergency fund where I want it, I would have had to wait till February!).

I don't think this is a smart move on Vanguard's part. There are too many other places you can invest that let you set up an automatic, every-month investment plan, without you needing a huge investment. I know it's in Vanguard's customers' interests, ultimately, for Vanguard to keep costs down, and I have heard that Vanguard loses money on accounts less than $7000... But $1000 accounts grow into $7000 accounts, and $70,000 accounts, and I have a feeling Vanguard's going to be losing a lot of those accounts.