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Archive for March, 2013

Converting an Old IRA to a Roth

March 25th, 2013 at 06:42 am

I have an old stinky IRA --- It's terrible that I can't even remember but I think it was at one point a 401K at my very first job out of college??? Anyway, it has just been sitting there in some mutual funds at Fidelity for about forever. I was thinking over the weekend that I should convert it to a Roth. I know I'd have to pay income tax, but otherwise we make too much money to have Roth IRAs so I kind of zone out whenever I hear them mentioned.

If anybody knows of an article or two I could read I'd appreciate it. I'll probably go Googling today.

There is not much else going on. The furnace at my Mom's house quit working over the weekend and we currently have her at a hotel. She's had a lot of unexpected expenses this month, I'll probably have to give her some money.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 ...... It is week 12!

March 22nd, 2013 at 05:51 am

Here it is the end of March and the only New Year's Resolution I've ever kept for this long is still going. I transferred $12 yesterday from my checking account over to Ally Bank for the Save an Additional Dollar Each Week Challenge.

My balance in there is currently $77.01 because I've earned a penny in interest.

Thinking Ahead For Summer

March 21st, 2013 at 06:49 am

One of my sons will be living here over the summer and taking summer classes at a local college. I was realizing yesterday what a pain this is going to be for me because he is going to be sharing my car. His class schedule is going to run from 8am until 3pm two days a week, and noon to 3pm two days a week --- with Fridays off.

So I'm going to have to plan for a higher gasoline bill plus a much bigger grocery bill (this kid eats like crazy!). Plus, I won't have my car to drive many days. The campus is fairly close to my husbands work and I'm thinking he can drive in with my husband some of the time -- except my husband usually leaves goes to work around 6:30am. Thankfully it is only for 7 weeks.

The other option is to nudge him toward the online section of one of his classes. He doesn't like online classes as well so he signed up for the on campus section. But if he was online, then I'd only be losing my car 2 days instead of 4 days.

Definitely going to have to plan for the budget and talk to him again.

Finally A Roof Estimate and a HomeDepot Gift Card Question

March 17th, 2013 at 11:53 am

So the guy finally came back and said they would fix the area around one window that is leaking for $900. Then when that is done and they know how the problem goes they will quote fixing the 5 remaining windows. So the major problem should be fixed next week and it sounds like the entire job will come in under my $6000 hyperventilating point.

Now for my question. I think we've picked out new patio chairs to buy from HomeDepot.com. I'd like to get a bunch of gift cards from Plastic Jungle to get a 7% discount. Does anybody know if there is a limit to the number of gift cards you can apply to an online order because right now there are only a whole bunch of $100 cards and the total is going to be around $1400 -- so I'd have to buy 13 or 14 of them.

Any other saving ideas also welcome but so far I've only found these chairs at Home Depot.

Retirement Savings

March 15th, 2013 at 05:56 am

An up stock market is more fun than a collapsing one and I've been keeping an eye on our Retirement Accounts lately. 401ks, profit sharing accounts and IRAs are at $243,000 - so we've almost hit the quarter million mark. I know it is only a number but it is a milestone so I'll be happy to see it go over that. Hopefully once it goes over that number it will stay there, but I have a feeling this zooming stock market is going to correct itself fairly soon.

In addition to that, my husband has two defined benefit pension plans which will help to support us in retirement. They both allow for a spousal payment (joint annuity) but one of them pays nothing if DH dies or retires before age 62. Our family joke is always that is the company's method of making sure the spouses don't kill off the executives before their time.

I don't count our primary Investment account which mostly holds DH's company stock bonuses in that retirement amount because it isn't a retirement account. We've been talking recently about cashing some of this out and diversifying into real estate, but selling is kind of tricky due to Insider Trading restrictions.

Mid-Month Budget Eval

March 14th, 2013 at 06:38 am

Well, we are headed toward over budget on the grocery bills this month. There was the visit to Whole Food earlier which didn't help and just a general over-spending. Also, this fish and vegetable thing the Doctor has my husband on to bring his cholesterol under control is costing more. I will try hard to find some good sales correct this in the second half of the month. I'll be glad when the Farmers Markets get going again and I can get cheap vegetables from them.

Auto Fuel is right on line where it should be. I haven't spent any of the clothing budget but our youngest son will need spring/summer clothes coming up so it will likely either get spent this month or next month. I haven't spent anything from the "Other/Miscellaneous" slush fund I have built up in the YNAB software so I do have a cushion there to cover the grocery bills. I'd just rather not use it.

The good news is that I've received one $25 Swagbucks paypal payment this month and ordered a second one -- so $50 total. I've been cleaning closets and put a few things aside for EBAY sales. No real plans for that money yet. We're looking at patio furniture and I'd like to buy a few tomato plants and other container vegetables once the weather finally warms up. It will likely go to help with those.

Still waiting and waiting on the estimate from the Roofing company. DH says he detects a definite feeling of disinterest from their office people over this job and thinks maybe they are too busy to take on small work. He's pondering looking for somebody else. Crap.

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

March 12th, 2013 at 06:12 am

Still no word from the roofing company on an estimate. A man showed up over the weekend who pointed out all the problems and according to my DH his final pronouncement was that the cost would be "not too bad." He was going to submit his papers to the office and they are supposed to contact us with an estimate.

When I asked for a more specific definition of what "not too bad" means in dollars my husband couldn't say.

But my husband did get back the results of some medical testing he had done recently and all his innards are fine and healthy so that was a relief to all of us. I believe he has pretty much wiped out our Flexible Spending Account for the year. We should have funded much more but these things are hard to predict when you fill out the forms guessing what your out of pocket health care costs will be for the coming year. It is much more common for us to guess too high and then we spend November and December trying to use it up.

I have a child home on Spring Break this week so that's kind of fun. I am likely going to take him out to lunch one day - otherwise he seems to be permanently attached to his X Box Controller and headset.

Financially there isn't much going on. I found a quarter in the garage over the weekend and I picked it up and put it in my piggy bank. I am tentatively planning a weekend trip with my Mom in the coming months, but we will mostly use Frequent Flyer Miles and Points so the cost won't be that significant.

Need Good Thoughts for My Leaky Roof

March 8th, 2013 at 12:57 pm

It is a long story but several years ago my husband and I made a very bad choice in choosing a roofer for a major job. He was a crook, and the problems he has caused keep slowly appearing. We hired a lawyer for a consult at one point who came back to advise us that the guy is now in jail on unrelated drug charges and it is unlikely we would ever be able to get any money out of him for his shoddy work. I can really pick them.

So a couple of years ago we bought a REALLY tall ladder and a DIY Roofing book and we have tried to mitigate this disaster ourselves but my husband is apparently throwing in the towel. We are not handy people.

I won't be here tomorrow when the BIG roofing name in town (the guy we didn't hire because his quote was 50% higher than the crook. I know, I know) is coming out to give a repair estimate.

DH must have known how stressful this will be for me because he scheduled it for a time I'm headed to my Mom's and just now told me. By email. LOL

Anything under $6k and we're fine and I can fix it without touching the Emergency Funds. A little over that I can handle because I'm getting a Dividend payment next month and May is a 3 paycheck month. A lot over that and I'm going to be FREAKED OUT.

Learning to Treat Yourself Right, The Right Way

March 8th, 2013 at 07:20 am

I admittedly have had times when I went a little overboard in treating myself right. After all, I work pretty darn hard and I deserve nice things -- right?

Then I got a handle on our finances and realized that as a family, we were all pretty wasteful spenders and we all together, learned how to put ourselves on a budget. As part of this we were all assigned a monthly "allowance." Some people find that term kind of juvenile for adults but it is what we've always used.

More recently, I've probably gone the other way with my allowance and I hardly ever spend it all. At the end of every month I take what I have leftover and I put it away in our house safe. In the way of Moms everywhere, It almost always ends up going to somebody else in the family. The kids need something or we need something for the house. To be honest, I sometimes do feel kind of resentful that it is alway ~my allowance~ that picks up the tab for this stuff.

This morning was a little different. I have had an EBAY alert set up for over two years for something that I wanted. It isn't hugely expensive but It is pretty rare and hard to find. For two years I've been waiting and this morning my eyes nearly BUGGED OUT OF MY HEAD to see an email saying it had been listed on Ebay with a Buy It Now.

I bought it without hardly thinking about it. It wasn't terribly expensive but after years of things like searching Clearance racks for two dollar sweaters that I can wear to the office, it kind of felt like I had bought a new car.

And then I realized, spending money on myself actually feels pretty good and I probably need to, within the limits of my allowance, do it more often.

So that is my new resolution. Reasonable treats every now and again to remind myself that the line item on our monthly budget dedicated to ME is just as important as everything else.

Some Of These Surveys

March 7th, 2013 at 07:26 am

I think, like many at SavingAdvice.com, I have a Swagbucks routine which brings in a little bit of extra money every month. I'm not always really comfortable with it however because I sometimes find myself walking a very fine line between honesty and trying to avoid answering questions in a manner which will get me disqualified from the surveys. Hey, I like earning my $1 just as much as anybody else.

In many regards it has to do with the questions. Without violating any disclosure agreements I probably agreed to (I've done so many surveys they are honestly a blur in my mind) I was recently answering one where a common household product was changing it's packaging.

Some of the questions:

After seeing this new form what would you do?

Call Your Friends and Family and Discuss It?
Post on Facebook or Another Social Media?
Visit an Internet Site to Research it Further?

Are they kidding? They were changing the shape of the container of something that costs less than $5! Do people really do that? "Hey Mom guess what? It was round but now it is square!!!!! Yeah, put it on Twitter and Then You Must Go Buy It Now!!!"

There was another one this morning where they were showing me a picture of a label and wanted me to check all the adjectives I felt.

Inspired! Free Spirited! Bold and Active!

Good Grief!

What further bothers me however is the indication of how much these marketing tactics probably do work in our society. There are many times I feel like I'm mired in a constant onslaught of images and words all designed to make me spend money I really don't want to spend. To make me buy things that I really don't want or need, and probably wouldn't miss at all if I didn't buy them.

I have no doubt that our entire economy is mostly built on these empty motivations and the sad thing is, when people turn away and start making their money follow what they truly believe in, then things turn bad for all of us. Because when we don't spend money, the economy is bad and those Recession, Depression, and Economic Collapse terms start to get thrown around.

Just my thoughts from this morning.

They Weren't Kidding

March 3rd, 2013 at 08:01 am

A Whole Foods store opened up near us a couple of months ago and I've been meaning to stop by, yesterday we finally took the trip.

Oh holy heck was that a nightmare. First, we had to fight like Black Friday to get a parking spot and then it was so packed in the store we could barely move. I've never had to use my elbows as weapons to get to a bag of overpriced carrots before and I can't say I ever want to repeat the experience.

DH pointed out some fish fillets he wanted and I said "Honey, those cost $17.99 a pound!" We finally settled on some fish taco stuff that was $9.99 a pound.

Even with all my horrified sticker shock we managed to spend about $140 on hardly any food at all. I've always heard people joke the place should be called Whole Paycheck and now I see why. I try not to overly judge anybody but

I.just.do.not.get.it!

And I even buy a lot of organic and health food type of stuff. Why in the world is that place so popular????

I cleaned out my purse yesterday and took the $28 that was in my billfold leftover from my February allowance and put it in the safe. I haven't withdrawn any of my March allowance yet. I'll probably use some of that to take my Mom out to lunch next weekend.

Happy Day!

March 1st, 2013 at 06:26 am

I like the first day of the month because that is the day I make transfers from our checking account to various savings account. I hate to sound all corny and everything, but it does give me a feeling of peace to put money into savings. So today I transferred

$405 to Emergency Funds (the $5 is because I have a rule that part of all money in must go to Emergency Funds and I just received a $25 Paypal payment from Swagbucks).

$370 to Repairs and Insurance

$200 to Tuition Savings

Sadly nothing to the Vacations and Gifts fund because I need to keep it in our checking account to pay for the computer I bought my Mom.

I took the world's longest survey on Swagbucks this morning and earned 150SB immediately so the daily goal is met. I also ordered two $5 Amazon cards (daily limit) to put toward Holiday shopping. I have enough points built up to order two more tomorrow so I'll have maxed out the 5/450 point cards pretty early in the month. I'm expecting a big Swagbuck deposit soon from my husband buying dress shoes and a belt last month from Shoebuy.

Not much else going on. I'm very thankful it is the first of the month because that means the grocery budget resets and I can go shopping. Last night was chicken soup made from things I could find in our freezer and fridge. We need groceries BAD.

Happy March Everybody.