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Archive for April, 2011

I hate spending money BUT.......

April 29th, 2011 at 04:42 pm

I want to take a vacation.

I am suffering from burn out. I think a vacation would really help. I also want to create some lifetime memories.

DisneySteve would love my idea...Well maybe, since he might question IF I could afford it. If I asked Susie Orman would my idea be "Denied"?

I want to go to DisneyWorld in Florida, Staying either 3 or 4 days, then go to either Busch Gardens or Seaworld for 1 day; staying at the shades of green resort.

Cost=
I went online and I can get three tickets from HOME to the Nearest Airport to DW for $550 each (non-stop). I am sure this will change a bit but I might actually be able to do much better with some research because I want to go in August and stops do not actually bother me.

I am looking at either the military 3 day hopper tickets for $99 or 4 day hopper tickets for $143 for Disney World. I am not sure IF the Soldier is Free and the Spouse and children at the quoted price or if the price is each (lots of confusing details in internet land but we will either buy one ticket (My Son since BF is a Service member also or three). Either way Max $297 (3 day) or $429 (4 day)

Then I am planning on doing the FREE military 1 day pass to Busche gardens OR Seaworld.

I am planning to stay at Shades of Green Resort, it is either $95 a night standard or $105 a night IF we want the pool side room. They also have some different deals going, I am deploying and they have a OIF/OEF special of 20% off (not sure if it works BEFORE the deployment or just during or after but if it works before that is even Cheaper).

So $2554 if I go max prices, for the 5 days.
$2173 if all discounts are applied for 5 days.
$2053 if all discounts are applied and stay 4 days.

There will be some food costs, but the room has a fridge and so I plan to purchase some food at the AAFES shop on Shades of green. We can buy cereal and milk for breakfast and fruit and bread and make sandwiches for lunch. We could either eat out for dinner or do easy groceries. (BF and I are used to going to the store and stretching our per diem).

I figure we can plan atleast one trip off location (outlet stores) and get our Disney Souveniors and eat atleast one of our non-grocery meals cheaper than if on Disney Property.

The kicker will be IF my BF can get time off work. Right now I am flexible I want either the first or second week of August. I believe by then he sould have some vacation built up since he will have been at his job nearly a year.

I hope I do it, BF says it is more a after Deployment vacation BUT I want to take a Cruise Vacation after the deployment and I am pretty sure it will involve getting DS a passport OR getting a babysitter.

I think if one 2.5K to 3K vacation a year keeps me from burning out and resulting in quiting my job and a loss of 38K income a year, then it is spending money to MAKE money. :0)

What do you think?

Help Please, Retirement % question.

April 28th, 2011 at 02:35 pm

Facts:
Divorced Female
age 34.5
Custodal Parent of a nearly 8 year old.

Homeowner with a 30 year Mortgage
134,000 loan balance 29.5 years remaining
ALL housing costs total 22.5% of gross income
My House Value approx: 206K
Utilities, Property Taxes and House Insurance currently is $500 per month.

The median home here costs $166,320. Home appreciation the last year has been 2.07 percent.
Compared to the rest of the country, My City's cost of living is 4.00% Lower than the U.S. average.

Emergency Fund of 8.5 Months Total Household Expenses

Current Retirement
TSP (401K) $75,923.01 Current Value
Roth IRA $7,925.39 Current Value
Total: $83,848.40


The Questions:
How much or what percent of my income do I need to be putting into retirement? I get confused with complicated retirement calculators. I want to live in my paid for home but take a few Nice Vacations a year. By Nice I mean a week or two in duration and to places out of the US, or all exclusive cruises (could be US based). I am not sure how much to budget for those kind of vacations Because I have NEVER taken one. :0(

Am I still BEHIND in investing or am I where I should be and can just invest normally instead of playing catch-up?

Did I forget any information you would need to calculate your answer?

Thank you!

Is a 16.5% return worth 30 years of delayed gratification??

April 27th, 2011 at 08:02 pm

Let me explain....Lately I have been really second guessing myself. Can I really keep this up to another 13 years.

If not I better make changes. Currently I am investing the MAX into my retirement. Because I do this it results in an earned income credit of $2640 more than I would get if I didn't save any in pre-tax dollars. This is basically 16.50% return on the deposit BUT I can't touch it until I am 65 years old.

I wonder is that 16.5% or $2,640 worth it, or should I start funding my Roth IRA and investing in the stock market then when I make a career change I can slowly sell my stock and use it to make my mortgage payments.

I guess option 2 is to instead of putting money into the Retirement account put that amount into my mortgage and then refinance/downsize when I make the change. But will I be refinancing with a higher interest rate? Applying 16,500 a year would take 8 years to pay off my mortgage. If I made it 8 more years in this job I would be crazy to quit.

Truthfully I have been unsatisified with my work life for about 2 years but I have been hanging in because I did not see any other choice. If I change jobs unless I downsize I will be house poor.

I wish I had been able to sell my house when I got divorced because then I would have had a smaller mortgage and would feel like I could make a change. Right now if you figure reducing my income by that 16,500 per year I need a job that makes 36K a year or approx $16 an hour, just to keep maintaining without any retirement savings.

I need a personal cheerleader, the reward is AWESOME if I can hold out in this job another 13 years. The reward is good if I can hold out in this job part time for another 9.5 years.

I am just getting burnt out, I am tired of working 40 hours a weeks plus having to work one weekend which means once a month I have a 12 day streatch without a day off. Once a year I have to leave my son with family for two weeks minimum. Next year I will gone from home for a whole year. I will make approxmately $500 more per month BUT my bills because of this go up MORE than $500 per month.

Last year I signed a 6 year extension but truthfully I am starting to think I should request a hardship discharge. The 6 year extension does not mean I could not switch to part-time, which would be alot easier. I could also go part-time then IF my part-time does not work with my new job request ING then possibly Discharge based on employment conflict.

Everytime I leave for Annual Training, for Job Training, Flood Duty it is getting harder and harder mentally on my son.

I need to start planning short term instead of long term because I don't know how much longer until I burn out. I guess another problem is I am tired of fighting the weight battle. I am allowed to weigh 149 pounds or % body fat. At 149 pounds I wear a size 7/8. My body naturally falls at 165 so the % body fat option has been my option for YEARS. Right now I need to drop weight to get down to my % body percentage. Some times I just wish I could eat what I want and exercise because I enjoy it instead of doing it because someone is going to be putting a tape measure to my body or counting my reps or timing me and judging me.

Rolling the dice with Prepaid.

April 27th, 2011 at 05:22 pm

I have Alltel, I transition to AT&T on May 3rd. I have no contract with Alltel and none with AT&T. I plan on switching to Prepaid.

I have one month to make the switch without issues due to the fact they gave me a free phone.

I am considering 2 options.

I can do straight talk and pay either $30 getting 1000 min/text or $45 unlimited.
I can also do AT&T at $.10 a minute plus texting add ons.

The AT&T texting add on is 200 text/$4.99 a month or 400 text/$9.99 or Unlimited for $19.99.

I normally use just under 200 minutes per month so AT&T would be $18-$20 per month plus $4.99 for the texting. Lately I text just under 200 per month, but I have texted alot higher in the past).

I can purchase cards for the AT&T plan and a $15 card which expire in 30 days or $25 and higher options that expire in 90 days. If I spent $100 that would expire in 1 year.

So it boils down to, do I go with the chance of a average bill of $22-$25 per month with AT&T but possiblility of a HUGE bill. Or do I go with the garenteed $30 plan on straight talk because based on my usage I would have to triple my usual plan to use up my 1000 minutes. I figure I could save about $60 a year going with AT&T as long as I really really watch my usage.

Phones: I can get a free reburished phone for the straight talk plans, the minimum I pay for the AT&T plan phone is $14.99 and that is after some sort of mail in rebate.

I have a feeling I am going to go with Straight Talk. The reason that tilts me that way,... the free phone. Between the free phone and the fact that I am really close on the borderline for the texting and could see needing to pay the higher texting plan, so then Straight Talk would be cheaper

STOP....No I do not want MAY to come yet.

April 27th, 2011 at 03:46 pm

Where did April go? I am not ready for May. In May I have 1 week of normal life then 3 weeks of Annual Training.

So if I blink it will be June. I then have just under 4 months left until my deployment when June starts.

Yesterday I was told the 2012 rates for my afterschool care will go up by $5 a month because of gasoline. Not that big of a deal. I just am getting cranky because of the 30 days written notice of cancelling the daycare.

I thought I prepaid for May back in August. I have to check my bank account IF I can go back that far because either I will not get charged anything. I will get charged $170 or get charged $165. And if I get charged $165 I am either getting charged twice for May or am getting under charged for September.

If it is a school year program why would they pull for Sept 2011 in May. Originally I thought it was just me since I was only going to be doing a few days in August and about a month in September. Last year they did not pull anything in May, the last pull was in April WHICH I was really looking forward to.

I am really glad when I am done with my deployment that my son will be old enough to ride the bus home or walk home and be home alone until I get done with work. I might even reinstall the house phone then, Between $30 for a cell phone and $30 for a house phone that is cheaper and less headaches than dealing with afterschool care.

New Plan - Change 12-13 or maybe it is 14?

April 26th, 2011 at 03:47 pm

I have a fully funded Mortgage Account, I also have a fully funded Escrow Account.

My goal now is to have 3 months total bills in my Emergency Fund so I can transfer that into my checking on or near the 1st of September. I need $5662.80.

I also want to have 2 months in my Child Care Checkbook, this is $1283.80.

I need to set up the autofunding of the Child Care Checkbook, I need to have $641.90 going in monthly and to end once it reachs the 7702.80 balance not including the $44.44 balance. I am not sure how to do this, I am thinking maybe I will do half payments June-July-Aug-Sept then have it switch to full payments Oct thru July. The half payments I can handle because I will just transfer my Child Support into this account (which happens to be half and right now I don't include in the Child Support in my budget). Then Starting October I will not have Auto Gas, Cell Phone, Internet, and no drill daycare bills so that is actually really close to the other half.

I am currently short $3294.18 for the Emergency Fund. So I have 4 months to come up with this if I am going to have it prior to 1 Sept. That is $823.55 a month. How do I make this happen? I don't really have a plan for this yet. Any extra at the end of the month is going to go there BUT will it be enough.

I am Done!!!!!! Cost $1.87

April 26th, 2011 at 01:59 pm

Well the good news is I am done with Flood Duty. Long Story of lots of last minute changes. But after all was said and done, My cousin only watched my child for 45 minutes, the rest of the time my son was with my BF.

I have drill this weekend and so when I pay her for drill I will just round up to the nearest $5 increment as long as it is atleast an increase of $2.

I got home on Saturday afternoon, so I was able to enjoy Easter with my son, BF, and our sweet fluffy doggy. It was nice. Also because I was home my BF got to go to my uncles house for Easter. I am not sure IF he would have gone if I had not come home since the only other of my family events he has gone to so far is Christmas.

I bought a protein powder shaker for my flood duty. It came in handy! I had carnation breakfast shakes in my pantry from when they were free at CVS, they come in a handy packet, so really easy to travel with just add water and it is a meal.

Love it, so spent $9 after tax on the bottle but I got $25 per day in food costs so my meal savings paid for it and today since my normal drink holders are not dishwasher safe, I could not make my normal frozen fruit blender protein shake breakfast and lunch so I am using it. I Really Really like it.

For food I spent:
$5.00 Two 6 inch 3 topping pizza corner pizzas with 2 12oz soda.
$2.50 Mini DQ Blizzard

$.75 Soda

$4.50 One 13 inch deluxe pizza corner pizza
$.50 Soda
Total:
$13.25

$9 BlenderBottle
$22.25 if you include the blenderbottle.

What I should get back for food is $75 so I made a profit of $61.75
or $52.75 if you include the blenderbottle
or $50.88 if you include the daycare.

This will be the FIRST year I actually came out ahead after doing flood duty.

I should say I had planned on purchasing a blenderbottle for my deployment anyway, this flood duty just moved up my timeline. I was just going to buy one at Wal-Mart but when I went to buy it they no longer had them on the shelf. I checked everywhere they could have been, you know how some stores like to randomly place stuff near other stuff to try to upsell the total purchase.

I am glad now that they were out though, The one they had was about half the cost of this one, but it was not as good in quality. But at the time I just wanted the cheap one, now I am glad I got the one I did.

I was trying to spend as little out of pocket for food as possible but I did buy some food, The first time was my first day; I was so boried that the first opportunity that I got to get out of the work location and go relax with the other crew, I did.

The second meal purchase was on a day when the vehicle my bags were in got driven away so I did not have any of my belongings or food. So after about 9 hours since breakfast, I had to buy something or I was not going to make it until I could get back to my hotel room and cook my dinner.

Hope Everyone Had a Great Weekend!

Deployment Trial Run!

April 20th, 2011 at 04:07 pm

Okay change 314, I was told I leave Friday for flood duty, then I was told I leave Thursday but inprocess Wednesday Night and would be driving my vehicle.

With the price of gas, the fact my ABS light is always lit, and we are not paid in and around mileage just from home of record to the Work location and then from the work loaction back to Home of Record; I really really do not want to drive.

The past few years it was nice to have my car so I could still have somewhat of a life instead of working my 12 hours then spending my 12 hours at the hotel but that was before I was saving all my money to get ready for the deployment. In 2009 I ended up having my car and did a little CVSing when I was not on shift (I worked the night 12 hour shift so this worked out).

Now I don't leave until Thursday, I am to meet another co-worker here at 2pm and we will be driving a GSA part-way where someone will then drive the GSA back here. We will then hop on a helicopter and fly into the work location.

I also talked to BF and he will be watching DS from Thurday evening until Sunday Morning so as of now my cousin will be watching my son for 109 hours so the cost has gone down to $272.50.

I am going to treat this as a deployment trail run. I will be staying at a hotel BUT I will only have what I bring with me (besides towels, bedding, etc). So this will be a chance to write down reminders of things I really need to make sure I pack. In the 5 weeks I was on flood duty in 2009, one thing I ended up going to the store for was facial moisterizer. My face was soooo dry it hurt.

I also will be going to Annual Training in May and will use that as a trail run also. It is hard to remember sometimes what you really really need to have when you are trying to pack as lightly as possible.

***
Sidenote, I never got that Cell Phone I ordered online so I will need to order it again. I never was sure if it took since I did not get a confirmation page. My phone transitions to AT&T on May 3rd so just incase my flood duty gets extended I will have to take both phones on flood duty with me. Tonight I will need to go down to the AT&T store at the mall and transfer my numbers. I got a call from the store at the mail suggesting I do that.

I also purchased a extra tall wide span gate (baby/pet gate). I have a 42 hallway that I want to block off, most non-wide gates expand to 41 or less. My dog keeps peeing on the carpet. So I want to block off the hallway so if she continues to pee on the carpet at least it will be limited to the area at the foot of the stairs. So less area will need to be cleaned. The gate was free ship to store, and it was a little under $52 after tax. I want to minimize the damage to the carpet until I get back from deployment and can level that hallway and then put lamentant back down.

I had been holding off on the gate because I could not find one in stores that was wide enough. Well today my sweet fluffy pee-ed on the carpet this morning after I brought her in since we were leaving for work and school. We do not have a fence yet so she has to come in during the day. She also left me two brown presents on the carpet area at the foot of the stairs. I moved the training pad from an area on the lamanet where it was laying unused and put it over the area she left my present and usually marks.

This mornings incident was why I had enough and went online and was able to find what I wanted. A little shopping around actually saved my a lot.

I am sure she wants to be left outside all day while we are gone, but because we don't have a fence she can't. I am sure that this is the reason she is showing her displeasure with the potty business.

Acted toooo soon

April 19th, 2011 at 02:22 pm

A couple days ago I transfered money from my Daycare fund that was ear marked for flood duty. I moved it into my Emergency Fund since the river had crested and was on the down swing and I was told that as a deploying Soldier the deploying Soldiers would not be put on flood duty unless absolutely needed.

Well I report Friday Morning the 22nd. I will be back Saturday the 30th. I was suppose to have drill Friday the 29th through 1 May. So when I get back Saturday Morning I am going to have a lot of makeup drill activities to get done.

I will miss Easter (really sucks), but this is why I made sure I had the baskets ready to go for weeks. I need to find out if my autn and uncle are having Easter, and if so to show BF where their house is incase he is willing to go.

I called my BF and he will watch my son Friday thru Sunday. Sunday Evening he will drop my son off at my cousins (he works Monday at 7:00am). My Son will then stay at my cousins until I get back from flood duty or Sunday after drill is over (or whichever is later). He would have been able to start watching him again Thursday evening the 28th BUT he also has drill that weekend.

So I am looking at about $407.50 in flood daycare costs. On the good side at least I will not have to buy gas for my vehicle for that time frame so that is $40 saved.

Man I hope my NEW straight talk cell phone comes in today or tomorrow. I need it prior to Friday because it will really mess up my plans if ALTELL switches to AT&T while I am on flood duty and have to carry around two cell phones (I have read that the day of transition you might not have cell service on either phone for a 24 hour period). Also if I start service with AT&T I have one month to cancel, I do not have a contract with ALLTEL and want to cancel service before I have to even mess with AT&T.

I also need to call my EX, he was going to be in town Thursday the 28th to sign the family care plan before his drill. I will need to tell him that will have to wait and if he wants to see our son Sat evening 30th after drill for a few hours (his normal plan) then he will need to cordinate with My Cousin.

So much to do, at least by the time it comes to pay for the flood daycare I can pull it out of my paycheck from the 1st.

So stressed, I really really HATE Flooding. Why doesn't the city build a permanant dike.

Fridays Mussings

April 18th, 2011 at 06:19 pm

On Friday as I was driving home I saw something that made me think.

I have been thinking about the purchase of an SUV. Of course I will not be purchasing it until I get home from deployment BUT I have been thinking about how I would do it.

I don't want to dip into my EF, So depending on how much extra money I have after deployment would depend on how I paid for the SUV.

I am thinking of a NEW SUV and the three I am most interested in are 22K-24K in price. I was thinking about a loan, I hate loans and like to pay them off early. I figured a loan this size would be $450-$500 a month. I was thinking of doing a loan because I do not want to use my EF, I would rather get a loan then just pay it off early. Instead of paying for it out of savings then if something comes up Wish I had gone with the loan.

Right now I only have 1k in my car repair or replacement account BUT I have a feeling this money is going to be moved into the Child Support Checkbook. So I will have no money for a new car.

********
So back to the drive home from work on Friday. In front of me is a SUV it is a 2003 SUV with 79,000 miles and it is for sale by owner I can't remember if it was $5,800 or $8,500. But both prices are less than the 22K-24K I was pondering. Now this SUV was not the make and model I was thinking of.

But maybe just maybe when I get home I might consider going used SUV in one of the makes and models I wanted. It would be much cheaper.

I really would like to buy a NEW SUV, because I bought my last car NEW and then drove it 12 years. The only reason I am getting a new vehicle is because I need better ground clearance because of where my house is located. So in my mind I am thinking new SUV at 22-24K driven for 12 years is 2k a year or about $165 per month. My current car was 13k lasted 12 years so an average monthly cost of $90. When I purchased my current car I was making an average of 12K a year, my current income is 56K. So in my mind the increase in average monthly payments seems in line.

Hopefully when the time comes to buy a new vehicle there will be a USED SUV in my prefered make and model so that I go that route. I hate spending money, so that will help in the battle of USED VS NEW. But I also like knowing that the vehicle has been properly cared for from day one....New wins out.