Tuesday, September 30, 2008

You know you're a dork when...

you track who gets to take the polling calls.

This is my first time living and voting* in a swing state. This means a barrage of political ads. The only thing that makes up for this is the polling calls.

Though I'm not making things political here, I have very strong views. Gameboy and I are also affiliated with different political parties. So I think we should alternate who responds to the calls, informing the polls.

Before today he'd gotten 3 and I'd gotten 1.** When he got what was obviously a poll call I intervened. I let him know it was my turn, and after some thought he handed over the phone. T

*My college town was in a swing state, but I didn't get registered in time.
**Is it crazy that my household has gotten 5 polling calls?

VP Debate & Voter Registration

It's almost time for what has got to be one of the most anticipated VP debates. This will be my 3rd time voting in a major election, but I've been a geek about elections for the last 4. My recollection is that the VP debate happens, but usually doesn't get that much attention. Though I'm sad that Grey's Anatomy will not be on this week, I'll be tuning in to see how the VP candidates match up. It will be on Thursday, 9 EST.

In other election topics registration deadlines are near. If you live in AL, RI, or SC registrations are due this weekend. On Monday registrations in AZ, AK, CO, DC, FL, GA, HI, IN, KY, LA, MI, MS, OH, PA, TN, TX, and VA are due. If your state isn't listed check the link in the sidebar.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fresh Air

Since we bought the house my mom gives me a call every two weeks or so and asks/reminds me of the little things I need to stay on top of. Occasionally it's irksome, but for the most part I appreciate her looking out for us/our house.

Last week's question was about the air filters for the furnace. It was a busy day so I said no, added air filters to the list* of things to do. Driving home I got upset at myself for forgetting but then I remembered. We haven't run the AC since the first two weeks after we moved in!

Even though we lack an IKEA, this city is great b/c it gets so cool overnight. Daytime high's of 90 usually mean overnight lows in the 60's. The combination of good insulation (thank you builders!), open windows at night, and the occasional fan has keep the inside temp pretty moderate. So based on my doctors recommendation to change filters monthly, we've saved $20-30 using fresh air to cool the house.

*which has grown exponentially since we bought the house. Not complaining, just saying.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

For the love of IKEA

I have a bit of a thing for IKEA. We go way back...I vividly remember helping my mom put together my first desk and bookshelf, purchased at IKEA when I was around 7. In college their kitchen wares dotted our kitchen. A few pieces of their furniture rounded out that of our furnished university apartment in our first years, and supplemented the furniture my parents donated when we moved out on our own. Post college my house was a mix of IKEA and yard sale finds. The point- IKEA and I have a history.

So imagine my disappointment when I learned our current city doesn't have one. The closest is a 6 hour drive, over mountains. Though I love it, I'm not that hard core. Most of the time it's not a big deal. But right now we NEED bookcases. We've put off buying them, but have more than 8 boxes of books that need a new home.

The bookshelves don't need to be anything fancy, just a place for us to put our somewhat ridiculous library. In fact these would do us just fine. I'm especially in love with the $20 price tag. Why not just order them you ask?

Subtotal: $59.97

Shipping and Handling: $215.16

Order Total: $275.13

The shipping is 3.5 times more expensive than the actual product. For that kind of money we can get nice bookshelves. So I'll be going back to the drawing board.

Money + Marriage

Recently I've been reading a lot of posts/articles about the importance of being financial agreement is to a marriage, largely inspired by this NYT article. Overall Gameboy and I are on the same page. We want to pay off our debts, save for retirement, and not have to worry about being able to pay the bills. For us though, the devil is in the details. We each have a different idea on the best way to achieve those goals.

I would like to get the efund to 5K, and then send extra payments to the car payment. He would like to make a double payment on the house and then do those things. In a perfect world, we'd have the money to do all three.

In the money order these things all fall after our auto debits/deposits for his 401k and my Roth and paying the bills (mortgage, house credit card (in full), comcast, power, etc). Since we bought the house this hasn't really been an issue because we didn't have much left at the end of the month. Our household credit card has been double to triple what is usually is since June due to moving, car repair, getting married, Gamedad moving in.

Now that we have extra money choosing the priority has gotten tough. In the end we'll probably find some sort of compromise, but I really wish I could just get him to see the light- ie that I'm right :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

a potentially expensive mistake

I’m in the middle of drafting a post, where I talk about finally having some extra money. The new house bills are leveling out and life is getting back on track. And then I ran into the wall in my parking garage.

Ran into may be overstating it a bit. But my car and the wall of the parking garage were intimately acquainted for a few brief seconds. The result is a scratch on my front bumper that is bigger than my hand.

For the most part my car is nice and shiny. I got it used and it’s a 2006. I don’t need it to look like something from Pimp My Ride, but I want to maintain the cars value. I also hope to drive it for at least 5 more years and want it to be in good shape.

The car is overdue for a checkup (oil change, etc) so we'll see what the dealership says when I drop it off.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Presidential Debates

It's Tuesday, six weeks from the biggest election of my lifetime. I'm a big believer in getting as much information about candidates as possible, so this week's election note is about the debates.

This year there will be 3 90 minute debates between Obama and McCain. The first is this Friday, hosted at the University of Mississippi by Jim Lehrer. The previously announced topics are foreign policy and national security issues. It will be interesting to see if that changes in light of the financial turmoil of the past few weeks. The format, for the geeks like me that care, is 2 minute response to a question followed by 5 minutes of discussion. It starts at 9 EST and in my area at least, is playing on all of the major networks.

The next debate will be October 7 at Belmont University. Tom Brokaw will moderate the town-hall style meeting, with questions from the audience and via the internet. The final presidential debate, which has domestic and economic issues planned, will be 10/15 at Hofstra University with Bob Schieffer moderating.

For those of you who aren't in love with the political info I'll be writing about the finances of adjusting to the new job and planning for the holidays later this week.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Election Season

It's election season. To me this means lots of bad (and often deceptive) commercials, a lot of research, and even more debates*. Election season also means making sure you're registered or updating your registration to vote. In my area voting on election day is at a set location on election day, so I want to be registered with the new address.

I've added a voting section to the side bar. Right now it has a list of registration deadlines and a registration page from Rock the Vote. As time goes on I hope to go add some non-partisan information on the national candidates and other voting resources.

*Gameboy and I belong to different political parties.


With the tumbles in the market many are worrying about their savings. Personally, I've decided not to look at my retirement account that's invested. I think in this instance burying my head in the sand is the best policy. That's the only account I'm worried about because I haven't invested much and I know that the rest of my accounts are FDIC insured.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures deposits in approved banks across the US. On their website you can search for your bank to see if it is covered or put in your account info to see how much of your money would be protected in the event that your bank was to fail. Generally checking, savings, trust, CDs, money market deposit accounts, and IRA retirement accounts held with insured institutions are protected. Funds with higher returns, including mutual funds, annuities, life insurance policies, stocks and bonds, are not insured. Essentially, with the chance of increased reward there is increased risk.

As I said, I'm not worried about my FDIC insured funds, especially since I am nowhere near the $100,000 insurance limits.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dance Time

With the new job comes the benefits dance. This is how I refer to making decisions on the level of Medical/Dental/Vision/Life insurance, retirement accounts, and flexible spending. It's a game of balance, deciding how much risk you are wiling to take, how many dollars you want to have in the paycheck, and how much you want to be responsible for at the end of the year.

For the first time I have another major factor to take into account-Gameboy's income. During my professional life I've always been a salaried worker I know that at the end of the I will have earned X, and plan from that. I have a certain amount of contract or other extra income, but even that is something I can account for pretty well. Gameboy is in sales. He has a base that is piddly and makes most of his money based on commission. If he had been with his company for a couple of years, or even most of this year, we'd know what his average salary is. But he started 5 months ago, has been on a training base, will have a draw to settle up the training base, and then switch to his regular base. The final layer of fun is a varied commission structure for old vs new accounts and the different products a consumer can buy. This means estimating how much money he will make by the end of the year is near impossible.

This year our filing status will be married filing jointly. We haven't been married the entire year, which I'm sure will make things even better. And then there's the house.

At the moment we're decided on a set percentage for retirement for me, but can't agree on how much of that should be 403(b) (pre-tax) or Roth IRA (post tax). I want to finish funding my Roth. There are three parts to this thought- I want to have enough to buy where I want to buy, I think in the long term Roth's are a good idea, and I want to follow through on at least one of the financial goals I set for myself. He want's more to go into my 403(b), to reduce our tax burden this year. Usually I would do the math (I've done a rough tax return in the past) to figure out the numbers, but the easy breezy days of running the numbers on a 1040 EZ seem to be behind me.

I'm sure in the end our decisions will work out, but woah is this more complicated.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Water Bottle Alternative

This is a really basic tip, so basic that I almost didn't post it.

When the latest warnings about BPA and Nalgene bottles came out I decided to retire the bottles I currently have. I plan on buying a Sigg bottle, but they're not cheap and I haven't gotten around to it yet.

In the mean time, I've gone old school. I brought a couple of cups to the office and bring a travel mug with water into the car. At work I keep the cups in my cabinet and use them as needed for water and tea. I store them in one of my cabinets and wash them out at the end of the day. I use them as needed, wash them out at the end of the day, and keep them in a cabinet.

Since I spend the majority of my time in my car, at work, or at home this works well for me. It keeps me from spending a lot of money on bottled water and saves the resources that go into making plastic bottles.

For more frugal and green ideas check out Thrifty Green Thursday.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Need an airline ticket?

Head on over to Ebay. Jetblue recently decided to put some of their plane tickets on Ebay. Set flights between set destinations (ie Boston to DC, 9/29 8pm flight) are up for auction and it seems to be going well. The bidding started at $0.05 yesterday, but majority of the flights are already over $100. The bidding goes on for another 5 days, so it will be interesting to see how high the bidding goes.

Would you buy tickets this way?

Monday, September 8, 2008

The First Day

This weekend I felt like I was in school again, trying to think of the perfect outfit for the first day. Something that would be appropriate, but fun, and show a bit of my style. In this first day of school/work haze I seriously considered going on a mini shopping spree to update the wardrobe. W

Then I came back to reality. In truth, I will need to buy some new clothes. With my old job there was a decent chance that finger paint or bodily fluids could end up on my clothes, so I stuck to bottoms just a step above jeans with nice shirts. The result is 2 years since I've had to look professional. Between gaining some weight and other things wearing out my 'nice' wardrobe has gotten pretty thin. I decided that until I figure out the level of dress necessary for the office and position the mini spree will have to wait.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Life update

In typical me style I managed to plan what turned out to be a crazy week. We got home near midnight on Tuesday. The wedding was perfect and the trip was otherwise amazing. Friday was my last day at the old job. Monday is my first day at the new job. Everything was on track to be a little rushed, but go well, until my boss made a mistake and deleted around 12 hours of work.

Despite the work craziness I managed to get my name changed with Social Security and on my drivers license. I still need to tackle my passport, credit cards, bills, and whatever else comes up. So far things haven't been that hard or time consuming, but the process still feels overwhelming. The good thing is I start the job with my new name and won't have to deal with double the paperwork on that end.

I think much of today will be devoted to laundry, getting ready for tomorrow, grocery shopping, and otherwise getting the house in order. It's not that sexy, but will keep the week running smoothly during my first week of work and keep me from eating out as much.