Saturday, January 26, 2008


Today I’m shopping, but hopefully this benefit the budget. The recent rate cuts by the fed have had a negative impact on my favorite savings accounts and it’s time to shop for a new rate.

These are the rate changes reflected on my account:
Nov 2006.......................4.50%
Sept 19, 2007................4.30%
Nov 1, 2007...................4.20%
Dec 13, 2007.................4.10%
Jan 23, 2007.................3.65%

Now don’t get me wrong, I love ING. I’ve been with them since 2001, had amazing customer service, and watched my money grow. The problem has to do with ~11,000 of my debt, my car loan. In late 2006 my father, who I hadn’t seen since 2000, came for a visit. He lived on the opposite coast for most of my childhood and moved back to Africa when I was in high school.

In addition to a great long weekend he gave me 10,000 to buy a car. That money immediately made its way to ING, growing happily. After much thought I decided on a used car (one year old) and a warranty. I could have just bought a car for 10,000. When I took my feelings about the environment and gas prices into account I decided that it was worth the extra money to buy something with good fuel economy. A year later I love how long I can go between filling up.

My mom, a huge worrier, much preferred the idea of me buying a newer car. Over my two months of research she made her opinion know and eventually put her money where her mouth was. I was offered three interest rates, each based on the amount of money I put down. She gave me enough to lock in a 3.9 percent APR for the car loan.

For the past year the funds from my dad have been in an ING account (nicknamed car money). Until last September the car money was earning ~.60% more interest than what the dealership was charging me. So I was actually earning money by not paying more than I had to each month. I was unhappy when the margin narrowed over the last few months. Now that it is -.25% I’ve decided I need to move the money somewhere else. I’ll be shopping the rate today to see if I can find another online account that will pay me more.

I’m looking for:
  • Interest above 3.9%
  • No minimum balance
  • Monthly withdrawals allowed

I may also consider a cd for half of the funds to protect against any further rate cuts.

Wish me luck!

how i got here

I’m on second ‘real’ job. To me a real job is one that: fits with your overarching career plan, has benefits, and is full time. The first ‘real’ job was back east at a national non-profit. After a couple years I moved to the mountains for a guy and grad school. The plan was to live off of my savings, use loans to pay for tuition, and get a part time job to supplement the fun stuff. Then life happened.

His industry fell apart. Working was not an option for the first 8 months of my program.

Six months out of school my total debt is up to $38,000. That’s a combination of school and car I bought in January 07. The school interest is almost double the car interest, so it will get the bulk of my attention. Nearly $5,000 is also in the bank in a car fund. Until last week my high yield savings account was outpacing the car interest, but that’s a story for another day.

On the plus side (after looking at those number I need some sunshine) I have no credit card debt. And even though the new job doesn’t pay as much as I’d like (a serious understatement) there is a steady demand for our product, so job security isn’t a concern.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Balancing it all

Lately I feel like I have one too many balls in the air. New job, contract work, babysitting, wedding planning, the end of my student loan grace period, and the first steps of buying a new house are all up in the air. I am grateful for the first three, without them I couldn’t come close to attacking the rest of the list. The key for me will be figuring out how to find the balance between the different jobs and the best way to divert those funds to all of the expenses.

Some goals for the year are saving for:
  • saving for our wedding
  • creating the rest of an emergency fund (1/6th of the way there)
  • saving a down payment for our first home
  • paying at least an extra $3000 of the principal on my student loans
Hopefully that isn't more than I can handle.

Update: Doing the calculations on each payment are getting to be too much. I'm going to go for an extra $3000 in payments instead.