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Archive for July, 2008

Today is my internet birthday!!

August 1st, 2008 at 04:13 am

A few years ago I was warned that when random websites ask for information like my name, address, birthday, whatever- it risks me for identity theft. Therefore I have trained myself to list August 1st as my birthday on all computer websites.
I just logged onto Facebook to find a giant banner that says "Happy Birthday Gamecock!!" and seriously, my heart did a double beat. I was like, "What? Today is my birthday? Already? How come Baseball boy and I dont have any plans?" (Literally, all those thoughts went through my mind before I remembered that no-it's not really my birthday.) LOL.
Just wanted to share. And for those of you who are wondering- No. I have never been the victim of identity theft. Coincidence? I think not.

I heart the Red Sox

July 31st, 2008 at 10:28 pm

Manny Ramirez is going to the Dodgers. As a Boston Fan I am glad to see him go. He has talent, but it's not worth the money he was making. And if you dont appreciate Fenway and the prestige associated with the Red Sox then go. Give the position to someone who will work for half the pay as hard as they can just to keep their lucky stars in line.
I think Manny will fit in less with the Dodgers than he did with the Red Sox. Constant complainer, that one. Glad he is someone elses headache.

Thats my piece. It's not financial related but I got nothin. I am in the middle of a No Spend Day and tomorrow I get to start tracking expenses.

My Goals!

July 30th, 2008 at 04:03 pm

Well, Merch seems to think that if I developed some goals then I wouldnít be using Baseball boyís parent's approval as a benchmark for whether I have achieved success or not. I agree, but wow, creating goals seemed like such a monumental task. And then the confusion that would set in if things changed on me!

But by assuring me that it is possible to have crazy things happen like get married, lose/gain jobs and have kids, and STILL be able to work towards goals, I have decided to take on the task.

To the left, you will see all new information. They are my 2008/ 2009 goals. They are really what I was planning to do all along, but now they are on paper rather than in my head. I tried to put them in a timeline order to organize them. And I am not sure if they are kindergarten-y and 'not real goals' or not. 'Buying a house with 20% down' is a real goal. 'Adopting a pet and paying all costs upfront' is...kind of common sense for a person who lives in SavingsAdvice-land. But each of those little goals is a $4-500.00 expenditure, so it will be a little tough for me to come up with the money over and over in the next 5 months.

I must say that it was easier than I thought, and much more satisfying than I thought it would be.

I thought that because my fiancť has such an unstable career, and we moved around a lot, and I am not sure what or where my lifestyle fits in, that goals would be impossible. Right now, Baseball boy's job is priority number 1 and everything else kind of falls into the cracks.

But I was able to make goals! And just to brag a little, but I am impressed with myself for being in a position where I think I can get these all done. I am excited to get started. I can see the upcoming financial roadblocks now, and I can actively plan for them, rather than know it's some expense coming up in the not to distant future. And I can see how faltering at each of these roadblocks could set me on a path to debt, so maybe these goals are important to overccome.

I think there is something to say for writing down goals and accomplishments.

Thank you Merch. I know I need long term goals too, but I am taking a break on the goal thing for a little while. And thank you everybody who has taken the time to read my thoughts and give me honest feedback.

Am I young?

July 29th, 2008 at 08:14 pm

I am 28 yrs old. I always thought that was definitely an adult age. But Suze Orman said that 28 yr olds are "still just kids." I am not offended by this. I kind of like the idea that I have some more 'wiggle room' to make mistakes and not have 'adult expectations' placed on me.

I definitely donít feel that I have the knowledge or skills that a 28 year old should posses. Thatís almost 30! But I look around at my friends, and they donít seem to have the skills that a person nearly 30 should have either.

I am not talking maturity. Or maybe I am. It's just that there are 'expectations' for age ranges. When you are in your early twenties you are supposed to be starting your career, possibly with a good chunk of debt, and spend the next few years working to become debt free.

When you are nearly 30, as I am, I thought that people (family, elders that I respect and want to please) expect me to have a house, and be really independent so they donít need to worry about me.

And in the next few years is family time. Where the cycle starts again, and people stop talking, worrying about me and focus on my child and how they are developing and growing.

Right now I feel that people still talk and worry about me and Baseball boy. I think Baseball boys parents think we are still somewhat of a burden. They have the mentality about Baseball boy and I that many blog readers do about their finances. That we are 1 screw up away from ruining our lives. Or thats how I feel. Baseball boy's parents are very "in our business" and micromanage things. "What did you do yesterday? What time did you get up this morning? So you have practice at 2pm then a game at 7 pm? Against who? Are you ready? What are you going to do for dinner?"(my mom had enough trust in me to stop worrying about me the second I drove off to college). Maybe that why I am so anxious to buy a house. To just prove to Baseball boy's family we are ok and they can be proud when other family members ask them "how is Gamecock and Baseball boy doing?" and the parents can say, "oh they got a house down south and Gamecock has a full time job being miserable in a cubicle, and Baseball boy is feeling all this pressure to stop playing baseball for financial reasons but at the same time knows how disappointed we will feel that he is no longer playing..." and then the family will cluck amongst themselves at how responsible and grown up we are, and Baseball boys parents will beam that their son was a success and chose a great daughter in law. Then as the family leaves my parent-in-laws house, they will lower their voices and talk about how we couldnít really afford a house and are in debt up to our eyeballs, and that they hear our house is really very small, and that my miserable cubicle job is really a telemarketing job and how boring is that?

I have written off track. Sorry about that.

I guess I am trying to figure out what expectations Baseball boy's family has for me right now. I normally donít care whatsoever about who thinks what of me. I really donít. But for some reason I want to make his parents proud. And I have no idea why.

Up until this point, this year of being 28, I feel like I was quite successful at making his parents proud. I graduated college, I got a full time starter job, then my mom died and I took care of all that, then I started my masters and recently graduated in May. Now I feel like its time to do something else they will be proud of. Something else they can tell the rest of the family about.

You see, their family is a little...well-gossipy. Maybe all families are? It has always just been me and my mom with zero extended family so this whole big family is new to me. But I like it. Baseball boy grew up with lots of cousins and now that everyone is adults, the elders are great friends and the 'kids' are too.

But...when you ask how so-and-so is doing, you tend to get a very detailed account of what that person is doing in life, what is wrong with that person's judgment, and how that was a bad decision. Itís not hateful at all. It's just...showy? I guess.

I donít want to be the loser in the family. Everybody is impressed with Baseball boy. He can ride this baseball carpet for years and no one will question it. But as the woman, the wife, I feel that I am responsible for the 'home' part of our gossip accomplishments. If we donít have a home by now then it reflects badly on me, because people wonder "just what is gamecock doing?"

Anyways, that my vent. Or my question. When I was 20 I thought I knew everything. When I was 23 I realized there was a lot to learn but I had time to learn it. Now that I am 28 I feel that I should know at least the basics. So am I an adult who is slow, or a 'kid' who is over achieving?

I am not trying to make this some type of pep party, or get down on Baseball boy's family, I am trying to figure out the 'net worth' of my 'life status'. Where I am. If I am ahead, behind, and what is expected of me.

The 'kids' in Baseball boyís whole extended family is each doing their own thing, everyone is done with college, many have finished masters...but as the oldest 'kid' (even older than Baseball boy) I feel I should be ahead of them. Maybe thats why I feel pressure. All the 'kids' in the family are about the same age. So it's easy for the 'adults' to compare us against each other.

This is all pretty petty stuff going on here. I realize that.

regular old update

July 28th, 2008 at 07:16 pm

First, Thank you guys for responding with your favorite American city. You reminded me that there are so many places I have never been (like the entire west coast!), and maybe I still need to move around a bit more before settling down. I donít know.

In good news, Baseball boy got a Win last night after the baseball game went into extra innings and he was called in to pitch the 11,12,and 13th innings. He is used to pitching just 1 or 2 innings, but last night he just got better and better as the innings wore on. He really found his stride. Its times like that that makes me completely forget about the poor pay, poor future employment opportunities, and general exhaustion associated with this job. Last night was a great night.

And financially, I found out I donít qualify for a stimulus check Frown. I didnít earn enough money last year. Baseball boy qualifies for a $300 check that has yet to arrive. He already promised the check to me to put towards the wedding. And he gave me $150 yesterday that he earned for working a baseball camp for the past 4 days.

And!! Today I was able to put $491.00 towards my Discover card. I don't think it will be gone by September, but it should be down to about $1500.

Thatís about it. But I did want to give a shout out to all the new (and old) bloggers on this site, it really reaffirms that while some people are ahead of me, some are behind me, but we are all learning from each other and it is possible to be debt free and live a normal life.

What is your favorite American town/city?

July 27th, 2008 at 08:28 pm

If you could move to any city/town in the USA, where would you move to?

It seems that we are all raised somewhere, we choose to go to college/or not around home or far away, we meet a partner and decide to settle down. We get a job somewhere and stay there for years...It seems that people THINK they control their destiny, but destiny controls them. You THINK you have all this freedom to go anywhere, live where you want, but in reality we all have many ties that keep us, move us somewhere that we may not have anticipated.

People return back to the hometown they grew up in. People stay in the city they went to college. People settle down once they land their first big job. People meet a partner, a spouse, a soul mate and follow that person so they can live their lives together.

People move somewhere, planning to be there a few years, and before they know it they have put down roots, they made friends, they develop a routine, they find a favorite restaurant and they realize they have too much invested in that area to ever leave.

Then there are vacations. People take vacations to see the 'exotic other' to get a taste of a different life. People travel to visit friends and see the other options, choices in life. Sometimes we love the new location, sometimes we hate it. But as a person gets older, the opportunity to move and uproot your life comes less frequently, or we have more invested and choose not to consider those possibilities.

I have lived in so many places and never put down roots. Never invested in a community, and never made lifelong friends that make life worth living. I have great friends, but they are all over the east coast, and now it's time to pick a spot on the map and settle down. The problem Baseball boy and I have is that we love many areas, but find fault with many areas. In the face of really choosing where we want to live, with no ties or roots anywhere, we have a tough decision to make.

We are in agreement with Savannah GA, and have focused our game plan around that city for almost a year now, but recently a friend who heard my gripes about the high real estate cost in Savannah suggested Macon Ga. Then someone familiar with Macon suggested Athens Ga. My poor computer is tuckered out running around finding web descriptions of all these cities. And it became clear to me that though we love Savannah, we are like hobos. We are open to anything, anywhere. We know nowhere is perfect, and therefore what one city lacks, another city will have in abundance.

I am not the most traveled person in America. I love Savannah. I love Atlanta. Every city in between- I have no clue. I love everywhere I move. Baseball boy does too, for the most part. I love it because it's temporary. You can love anything knowing it's not a life sentence.

But now I am very much in 'settle down' mode. I have been nesting for a year, trying to plan to settle down. Get my ducks in order, pick a spot on the earth, and grow a garden. I worry that once I get a full time job, maybe get a kid or two- before I know it, 10 yrs will have passed and the decision on where to spend my life will have been made for me.

So to be proactive, I throw the question out to you guys. What is your favorite city or town? Why? Maybe your description will fit the description I am looking for. This will save me from road tripping all over the country to choose a city to live in.

Normally something, a job, friends, family, kids make the decision on where you should live a no-brainer. I consider myself lucky to have a chance to choose where to settle down, but I feel I have barely covered 5% of the USA. How to make an informed decision based on that research number? Yet it would take a full lifetime to really make an educated decision. I figure I will just steal a bit from all of your experiences and cheat the learning curve a bit.

So throw out your opinions. A few things about Baseball boy and me, we heart the south. We are united against snow. He wants to be on/have access to water for fishing/boating, I am very outdoorsy and like hiking, green spaces, parks. We are somewhat 'green' and I am trying to become more green- so pollution, litter and clearcutting land is not my ideal. We both want a city that is walking/biker friendly, IE. not too metropolitian with traffic and large crowds but has an urban feel where there is a good congragation of people clustered in a downtown area of shops and bars. We are young, and like to be around other young people. We both love history and think it would be neat to live in a historical area.

I'm gonna end up somewhere. I'm ready to close my eyes and point to a place on a map.

Old construction housing values

July 25th, 2008 at 09:03 pm

Hi guys,
I think I have figured something out in the housing market. I am posting it here, to see if my line of thinking is right (or not).

Now, many of you know me and Baseball boy, and do not think we are ready to buy a home yet. I am still enthusiastic about buying a home, but not 100% committed to it either. I am still just watching the real estate market, and trying to see how Baseball boy and I fit into it. When the timing is right, I am confident that all this market watching will educate me to know it is time to buy.

We have been looking to buy our first home for almost a year now. We have been looking for an older home (pre 1930's), because we love the historical feel, especially Victorian architecture.

Several of the homes we initially saw on the market around christmas time are still on the market today. However,there have been NO PRICE drops in the 8 months we have been looking. "Where are these big discount deals?" we wonder.

I thought maybe because the town was not vulnerable to the flipping mentality, maybe the economy didnít change so dramatically during the boom that people were buying into the alternative mortgages expecting their incomes to increase, maybe people who buy older homes stay in the homes much longer than people stay in newer homes, maybe because the older homes are 'specialized' in a way and the owners wait for the ONE buyer who will LOVE their house...I donít know.

I have come to the realization that maybe the fact that it's an OLDER HOME we are looking for is the reason for the steady home values. All these 50-100k price drops are on NEW CONSTRUCTION which was built on city outskirts when there were large population fluxes and economies were booming and job growth in the towns was increasing.

Now jobs are declining somewhat or holding steady, and people are no longer moving to the suburbs because there is plenty of housing available in the cities. And older homes tend to be located in the heart of cities.

So...maybe these big price drops I have been waiting for are never going to happen for me?

I wonder then if my fiancť and I should actually change our dream to accommodate the current economy and the deals available.

It seems stupid to buy a high priced home in a land of incredible deals, but it also seems stupid to buy a deal of a home because it cannot hold its value.

We are looking for our 'forever home' and plan to stay in this home for at least 6-7 yrs, then we are planning to rent it out if we need to trade up for a bigger home/better school system due to family needs. We canít predict the future, there is a possibility we will need to move, but we still plan to keep this home in our possession for decades regardless of our circumstances.

So do we give up on our plans and learn to love new construction? Or buy a more expensive home that is 'not on sale' because it has proven it will retain its value?

But since it is our 'forever home' then resale value is not very important, or since it is our 'forever home' then we should buy what we want?

Oiy. These are new concerns for me. I wish I was like so many others I know who just go out house hunting and come back 2 weekends later telling me they made an offer on a house and it has been accepted. Housewarming party is in one month.

Shopping in this economy

July 25th, 2008 at 07:38 pm

So Baseball boy and I went out to The Mall of America again today, this time with Baseball boyís parents.

The parents wanted to see the Mall of America, and Baseball boy and I were interested in getting new cell phones. We are all on one family plan, (there are 5 of us on the plan). And usually once every few years we trade in our old phones for new phones, and get a killer deal because we are re-newing the cell phone contract. I think 2 yrs ago it was 5 phones for $250.00.

Anyways, now there are no deals going on for renewing the contract. One phone gets $100 off, and each other phone is $50 off. So the phones we were looking at was $250 each- it would have been around $700 for new phones, not including the contract! There was no real incentive to us to renew our plan.

So we are all going to look online, buy our phones separately at whatever deal we find. I'm thinking eBay. The parents are going to ask some other carriers what they can offer us in the meantime.

There were no other deals either going on. We went all over the city, looking for one thing or another, and there were no sales, no discounts for big purchases.

In this economy, why are businesses not begging for our business? I guess to make money, businesses have taken away their discounts and deals...it just annoys me.

Consumer spending is way down, businesses are concerned, so what do they do? The just eliminate their sales to make money!

I am planning a wedding, no deals to be found anywhere there, no deals in cell phone -land, no deals on clothing (we looked for Baseball boy today but all brands he likes are regular price), and the cost of resteraunts have gone up. These are LUXURY ITEMS! I guess America has become so 'want' based that the luxury items (weddings, phones, clothing, and resteraunts) have become staples and these industries are not affected.

Paying back the father in law!

July 24th, 2008 at 11:06 pm

Yup. I am paying off the father in law. I withdrew the money from the bank today. Baseball boy's parents just came into town and we plan to give him the money tomorrow morning.

I'm not sure how much we owe him though. Since the mail forwarding got all mixed up some bills from our FL house have been lost in the mail system and I am probably getting all kinds of late charges added onto them, and other bills arrived in NC (to Baseball boys father) and he paid them for us because the bill was due in a day or two. So there was no time to forward the bill to us to pay. I dont even know the bill situation completely, FIL would just sometimes comment to me, "oh, I paid your electric bill today." and when I was presented a stack of mail from FIL yesterday, there were some bill stubs, but not all of our regular bills. So I sat down and tried to guestimate what FIL has paid over the summer for us.

I paid all of Junes bills personally, because the mail forwarding was working back in June, so I just included an extra $200 for July bills. No one is living in the house, everything has been unplugged and the air conditioning is set at 80 degrees. I think $200 should cover the month of July. Then I have no idea how August will work out, but it's only one more month of suffering through this weird mail situation.

I think FIL never thought he would "see" the money back that he loaned us. He paid some bills for us generously thinking he was helping us, but I hate owing people money and have harbored a torch to pay him back as soon as we could. The money has been sitting in the bank all summer. Finally! It's gone and off of my 2Do list!

Baseball boy and I have not figured out a way to give it to FIL in a way that he will accept it and not "leave it behind" for us. In the past we have tried to give him money for something and he either talks us into keeping it, or leaves the money untouched on our kitchen table.

I understand it comes from a good place, this wanting to let us keep the money, but that drives me crazy, and I try to avoid borrowing money from him at all costs in the future, knowing that it will be hard to pay it back. I want to just give him this money, and be back on a clear slate with him.

So, thats my thoughts for today.

American Gas Stations

July 21st, 2008 at 12:01 am

I just recieved this forwarded e-mail. I wanted to post it for ya'll. I dont know how true it is, like many Americans I have never researched this type of information or thought much about it~ Some of it may be a little nationalistic and biased, but I opted not to delete anything because I am not sure what is fact or fiction:

"Are you aware that the Saudis are boycotting American products? In addition, they are gouging us on oil prices. Shouldn't we return the favor? Can't we take control of our own destiny and let these giant oil importers know who REALLY generates their profits, their livings? How about leaving American Dollars in America and reduce the import/export deficit?
An appealing remedy might be to boycott their GAS. Every time you fill up your car you can avoid putting more money into the coffers of Saudi Arabia. Just purchase gas from companies that don't import their oil from the Saudis. Nothing
is more frustrating than the feeling that every time I fill up my tank, I'm sending my money to people who I get the impression want me, my family and my
friends dead. The following gas companies import Middle Eastern oil:

Shell.. 205,742,000 barrels
Chevron/Texaco..144,332,000 barrels
Exxon /Mobil...130,082,000 barrels
Marathon/Speedway..117,740,000 barrels
Amoco..62,231,000 barrels

CITGO oil is imported from Venezuela by Dictator Hugo Chavez who hates America and openly avows our economic destruction! (We pay Chavez's regime nearly $10 Billion per year in oil revenues!)

The U.S. Currently imports 5,517,000 barrels of crude oil per day from OPEC. If you do the math at $100 per barrel, that's over $550 million PER DAY ($200 BILLION per year!) handed over to OPEC, many of whose members are our confirmed enemies!!!!! It won't stop here - oil prices could go to $200 a barrel or higher if we keep buying their product.

Here are some large companies that do not import Middle Eastern oil:
Sunoco
Conoco
Sinclair
BP / Phillips
Hess
ARC0
Maverick
Flying J Valero
Murphy Oil USA* Sold at Wal-Mart, gas
is from South Arkansas and fully USA owned and produced. Not only that but they give scholarships to all children in
their town who finish high school and are legal US citizens.

All of this information is available from the U.S. Department of Energy and each company is required to state where they get their oil and how much they are importing."


I only have a BP near me on the American list, but I will try and use them as often as possible just to keep the dollars in America and maybe help the economy.

Holy credit card statement!

July 20th, 2008 at 05:39 pm

Wait. I must be missing something. I'm confused. It's my credit card statement.

I paid the full $524.00 balance on my Visa card last month but then got hit $75 in interest fees. I planned to pay it in full this month (July) and close the card down.

Well, since my paycheck has not arrived I have no money to pay the balance in full and was checking my online statement today to see what the minimum balance due is to see if I can scrape up $5 or $10 to keep up to date with the card and not miss a payment.

Heres where I am confused~
The TOTAL BALANCE on the card now is $85.75
The minimum due is $43.00??? Why are they requiring me to pay over 50% of the balance due??? Is it because it's interest?

And wouldn't you know it the minimum due is due TODAY. bah! My internal money clock has been hounding me all morning to check my finances and this is why. I inherently knew I needed to paya bill. I just wish my internal money clock gave me more than 12 hours to figure out what I am gonna do.

Does anybody know of a store I can go to to pay my VISA card? Like the way I go to Sears to pay my Discover card.

UPDATE: I went ahead and transferred the balance to my Discover card. I dont know if it will count as "balance paid" today though, the "fine print" on the transfer said it can take up to 2 weeks to transfer the balance! I REALLY hope my credit score doesnt get dinged for this.
AND
My Visa card stopped offering reward points! I'm not sure when they stopped that but I looked everywhere to collect on them before transferring the balance, and they are not being offered.

nothing really new

July 20th, 2008 at 03:47 pm

Hey guys,
I have not been around the last few days; I have been sight-seeing. I plan to go check out some waterfalls today.
When Baseball boy was released and the wheels were stolen off my vehicle 2 weeks ago I got sidetracked from recording our spending and want to get back to that. I will start it up again on the 1st of August.
Baseball boy got his check from the workmanís compensation and it was for $450 instead of the $600 he normally gets. Frown
And my monthly income, my rental check I get every month from a property I inherited is not here yet.
I am so annoyed because I have been making last months check last all last month and all this month. Then last week I have resorted to the credit cards. Frown
I know it is not my renters fault, she is always on time, and itís the dang fact that I have my FL mail forwarded to NH where Baseball boyís parents live. Then they mail the mail to us at whatever address we currently live at. For some reason this season, the mail has not been getting to NH. It's been an ongoing battle, bills are not coming in as they should, neither Baseball boys nor my stimulus check has come in, and now my paycheck has not come in. My rental property HOA bill has not come in yet either. (Not like I have money to pay it when I have no income). Grrr...I have to get on the phone tomorrow and call everyone and get bills and checks re-sent. This season is just not going well. I keep waiting for everything to settle down and get into a routine, and it's just not.

UPDATE: I called the renter, she is sendin me a new rent check DIRECTLY to the field here, and if the HOA really wants their money, they have my phone number.

on a lighter note~

July 17th, 2008 at 02:59 pm

Well, I still have plenty of economic questions, but today I donít have much time to read and comment on the answers, so today's blog will be a bit lighter.
Yesterday Baseball boy and I scanned the internet to see about getting a new dog, since our beloved rottie passed away last month.

It is an exciting process, to pick out your new family member and anticipate all the precious memories you will build together.

I started out with the criteria that I want a guard dog. As I get older, and see more things going down around me, my "fear of the world" instincts have risen. I am too aware of being alone in underground garages, driving through hostile neighborhoods, and being alone in new apartments while baseball boy is on road trips.

Our rottie gave me the security due to her size. With her by my side, I knew no one would consider approaching me to do harm. But even she had her shortcomings. She was just the most people loving dog I have ever met. If someone actually did try and enter our apartment, I have a suspicion she would be the type to wag her little tail nub at them and follow them around trying to entice the intruder to pet her.

So new criteria, a dog that is a bit more aloof. A one man only dog. I have the years behind me to deal with a bit more of a guard dog than a lap dog.

My other criteria are to get the dog at a rescue. For me, the idea of buying from a breeder just means you are taking a home away from a dog sitting in a shelter cage, or abandoned on a road somewhere.

And ideally we want a dog that is around 1 years old. Our rottie was about 9 months when we got her and we lost sunglasses, a baseball glove, a retainer (ewww), and carpeting due to her chewing.

I have an application in to a swiss mountain dog rescue but since those dogs are not typically the type that needs rescuing, I could be on their waiting list a long time.

We looked at rottie rescues, but found a lot of half breed rotts, or rotts that were marked as not getting along with other dogs, kids ect. Plus, looking at some of the rottie faces- just opened up the wound on my heart from our last dog. I donít know if I could bring another rottie into our house, let it sleep on our bed, eat from our dog dishes, and sleep on our couch without feeling I have replaced our previous dog.

A different breed seems like a different experience and a new dog. Not a replacement dog. Baseball boy has his heart set on another rottie though. I think he feels that no other breed will give him as positive an experience as our last dog did.

And then we looked at dog shelters in the surrounding area. We came across a few pit bull terriers that are definitely worth considering. The pit bulls are not very big, they average about 50 lbs, but I have met plenty of pitts and love their personality. I know that they look intimidating even though they are smaller.

A few problems with the shelters. Most wonít adapt to people who live 60 miles outside of their radius. I donít know if Baseball boy and I count because we are here now, but will be moving cross country at the end of August.

Second, the adoption fee for one dog we really liked is $310!!! Oh Boy. For that price I could go to a breeder! I understand the cost of food, vets, housing and would gladly pay the organization in exchange for what they do to help the animals. But in another breath I really wonder how much of the general population they are turning off from adoptions?

Baseball boy and I ran the numbers, and $310 adoption fee, plus $50 to take new dog to the vet for a check up, plus $30 a month in food, plus $50 in dog toys/treats- thatís one hell of a start up cost to get a dog.

We decided to shelve it and wait until the season is over to re-asses our situation.

So...How is our economy doing? Part II

July 14th, 2008 at 04:29 pm

After my history lesson from yesterday combined with the numbers of today, I feel reassured that we are just hitting a low, but the ship is not sinking.

I do have some money in the stock market and honestly, I feel that I have no business whatsoever being in the stock market.

The amount of money I had in stocks in 2005 rose gloriously, tumbled a bit, went up a tad, tumbled some more, tumbled some more, and is now sitting in the stock market at the exact same amount I had in 2005.

I am not a financial whiz, but common sense tells me that if the money had been in some type of bond or money market account I would have been better off than I am now.

I invested in those diversification stocks, the kind where it's hundreds of little shares wrapped up in one stock that you buy. And I have not touched it. The money is earmarked for retirement and I have heard the old saying "what the stock market is doing now is not important compared to how its doing 2 or 3 years before you retire." Or some variation of that advice.

So yesterday's question(s) was a bit aimed to try and see if the world was falling and my money would be gone or worthless when I retire. I gather it will be ok. Yesterday I was researching (not just on this blog) just what I should do with my nest egg sitting in the stock market. I feel like I came up against a wall.

~The stock market is expected to continue to go down. But how much down and for how long, no one is sure. I have read somewhere that for this year, the stock market went down almost 20%. And I know from Suze Ormanís little demonstration that when you lose 20% you must earn 40% to get back to where you started.

~Inflation has been going up quickly. Inflation is outpacing interest rates, so investing in treasury bonds or high yielding anything, you will still be behind the inflation curve.

So I am guessing everyone is just losing money right now? And no one is pulling ahead because there is no vehicle in which to invest to make money? I donít know. I just canít help but wonder if there was some point in the last year or two when everyone saw a big flashing warning sign that I missed telling us to pull out of the market. But I missed it. And now Iím not sure if I should stay in because I have 30yrs to let it rebound, or if it goes down another 20% then thatís a lot of percentages I will be ĒhopingĒ to make up.

Because in the stock market I feel clueless. I feel like I am sitting around month after month ďhopingĒ that this months number is higher than last months number. At least with money market accounts, CDís and bonds I understand what I am doing and feel that I have some sort of control over my money.

I have only been trying to learn about stocks for 2 Ĺ years now. From what I have seen, it goes up a tiny bit at a time, but goes down a lot farther than it goes up. But I am assuming over the long run it goes up more than it goes down? Or is it savvy investors that are constantly buying/selling that win in the stocks? And they tempt the little guy (me) to get in the stock market by all their wild tales of making thousands of dollars in a few months. When in reality it is like the housing boom was, prosperous for a few people who knew what they were doing, but bad for everyone else who thought they just had to get a house and watch as their equity rose.

I am pretty uneducated as far as money goes. I am trying to learn as much as I can. But I worry that my lack of understanding will lead to me mismanaging my way to the poor house.

1.So stock market. Best left to experienced financial whizzes or safe for the common gal?

2. Am I on par that my 2005 investment amount is my 2008 amount or is everyone else way ahead of that number and I screwed up somewhere along the way?

3. If diversified and left alone, over the course of 30 years, will the stock market on average go up more than it goes down? Or do I need to be heavily involved to make that happen?

4.Was there a big flashing neon sign telling people to get out of the market? Has that sign flashed lately? Is there a formula to follow, like there is to see if buying a house is a better financial move than renting?

5.Are these questions way to heavy to be asking on a little blog? Once again my age is working against me and I have no idea if the things I see are alarming or just part of a historical trend.

Thanks once again for your input. I appreciate it.

So...how is our economy doing?

July 13th, 2008 at 06:20 pm

This is one of those times where I feel my age is working against me. It's the economy. And the fact that I don't have the hindsight to see how bad things might get.

The housing market is declining, causing a credit crunch and banks to become unstable. The cost of oil is predicted to nearly double in price, the stock market is declining, and people are losing jobs. And now I have heard that Israel is planning to go to war with Iraq.

So...hereís my question~
As a (relatively) young person who has never seen the economy bad~ I might have been alive for it, but I was unaware of it~ is "this" (waving my arms to gesture towards everything around me) "bad"?
The last 10 years have been pretty good for me by my terms. I was always able to earn enough money to put a roof over my head, and food in the pantry. Many years in a row I also had plenty left over to go to restaurants and vacations too.

This year I have seen the cost of everything rise. But I still have enough money to put a roof over my head and have food in my pantry. There is just less money left over for extra stuff.

I have heard the economy will get worse. I am wondering how much worse. I obv. Wasnít alive back then, but in my perspective the Great Depression is about as bad as it can get.
~Will it get to be like another Great Depression worse,
~or worse like I am able to put a roof over my head, food in the pantry but money is so tight that there nothing extra?
~Or will I NOT be able to put a roof over my head, food in my pantry without raiding my savings?

Another question, Short of nuclear war, is there a "perfect storm" for our economy? Is it possible for America to collapse? I know there are safeguards now in place to protect the economy, but are we in a position where we will soon be utilizing those safeguards? With the Indymac bank needing FDIC help, are we already starting to tap into the safeguards?

With our economy as intricate as it is, is it possible for anything to collapse?
I am just wondering if we are riding a downward wave and in 10 years we will be headed back up, or if America has cycled through its era of supremacy and is on it's way to being recorded in the history books as "it WAS a great nation."

I know the economy is cyclical, but I wonder if it is possible for our economy to just get off the track and run a whole new uncharted course. Or have these "things" (once again waving my arm around to everything around me) happened before where banks become unstable, oil becomes unavailable, large amounts of jobs are lost, ect.

Thanks for your input.

Best $53 I have spent in a looonnnggg time.

July 13th, 2008 at 04:35 pm

I broke down. I had to do it. I couldnt stand it any longer. I bought a vacume cleaner. Frown
Every season I have always managed to either ignore the dirt or borrow a vacume cleaner. Not this year. I guess I must be getting old, because the dirt is getting to me. It got to the point where I was showering twice a day because sitting in this apartment made me feel that dirty.
So I bought a dirt devil hand vacume. Hopefully we should have room left in the jeep to take it back with us next month.
I feel so much better! I was on my hands and knees all morning long vacuming the whole apartment.
It was $53.00. I have no money left after making a hefty contribution to my credit card debt, so this purchase came from Baseball boy's account. He wont mind.
Ahhh! I feel so good. I'm going to take one last shower now because I am covered in dustand grime from vacuming all morning.

Should I? Shouldnt I? I need your help here...

July 12th, 2008 at 11:25 pm

I have been told by a few people that I should write a book on the "real" minor leagues. Not the groupie, cheating, drinking drama, but the "real" stuff that the players go through. Like the draft, the promotions, tensions between the wives, steroids. Ext.

Although I have toyed with it, I never went through with it because 1. I donít think I have the discipline to write nearly 200 pages about anything. And 2. Baseball is such a political field where itís actually a bunch of sensitive pansies that run it. Baseball executives are very high and mighty and are willing to blackball anyone that insults them. Even if you are really just producing a mirror to show them what they have been doing all along. I would never risk getting baseball boy into any kind of trouble. On field actions such as stats and percentages are rarely the reason for promotions or releases. And itís this kind of information that I explain to all incoming wives but have been told I should explain on a broader scale. Even baseball boy told me I have way too much knowledge about the industry, it's a shame I canít find some outlet to capitalize on it.

So last night I was talking to yet another incoming baseball wife about some aspect of the minor leagues and it was brought up again. She said I am basically echoing her thoughts, at the same time I am providing huge chunks of information that was missing for her.

I began to think that maybe I should write a book. Or not a book. But maybe a blog. And get paid for it. I have never blogged before this savings advice one, but you guys seem to like me, so maybe others will like me too? Maybe thatís what I can do to bring in money while I live on the road?

Last night I did a pretty exhaustive search to see what was out there. Aside from one or two well written- ok. Just one-blog, the rest are all pretty catty and immature. It seems that the internet is inundated with websites designed to make scathing remarks towards "groupies", and the "groupies" have likewise posted some pretty serious websites designed to tell the world how "fat and ugly" the wives are. LOL. I think people will appreciate my sticking to real topics.

However, my concern is for Baseball boy. I would be reporting on some not-so-pretty topics regarding the baseball system, as well as lighter topics. I am not very computer savvy. So is there a way to keep really savvy computer people from uncovering my identity? And how would I go about getting paid for it? I just start it up, find my own readers (that should be easy, I think members of these silly baseball websites would be relieved to see someone talking about real issues) and then look for advertisers once I have a solid list of followers?

Confession- Just to see if I could do it, I kind of already started it on a Google website called blogger. I like it! So should I keep doing it? Should I be careful of anything? Should I get a whole new email address to keep the site under or does that not matter?

Maxed out

July 11th, 2008 at 07:23 pm

The reality show "Maxed out" is on the style network right now. People who are drowning in debt are given a financial coach to really "see" their money problems then to learn to overcome them.

The show takes somewhat extreme people, but kind of average people who have just made normal typical mistakes. Car leases, confusing home business expenses with personal expenses, weird investments, ect.

I just think its fascinating where, how other people choose to spend their money. I have no idea why, LOL. Are you guys interested in the spending habits of other people? Even strangers? Or is it just me? Or is that a stupid question because I am asking people who read financial blogs, the epitimy of peeking into other peoples lives? LOL.

The show is on a marathon all day until 4pm.

ugh. I just did to my body the equivelent of lighting a hundred dollars on fire.

July 11th, 2008 at 03:17 am

I just ate a quarter of a cookie dough log. Ugh. I love cookie dough but swore it off about 2 yrs ago when I ate a whole log in the span of 3 days and within a day after that I had gained nearly 3 lbs! I am a small girl so that 3 lbs had a noticable effect on me.

I have no idea what caused me to suddenly drive to the grocery store today and buy a cookie dough log. After 2 yrs of good behavior and discipline. And of course, I must eat the rest so it does not go to waste.

*sigh* I guess this secret eating junk food compulsion is another side effect of the road trip. I would never have done this if Baseball boy was around.

I see budgeting and eating right as a complimentary discipline. Both are hard to do, but if done properly, the effects are noticable and worthwhile. And I just fell off the wagon.

Why I love the men's road trips

July 10th, 2008 at 05:26 pm

The boys are on the road right now. 10 day road trip. Just left this morning. So that leaves me here in a new city, no friends, no job, not much going on, all alone. I AM SO EXCITED!!

I have such a long '2Do' list; go to the gym, go to the park, go hiking in the state forest, find a lake with a beach, find more parks, scrapbooking, Pilates, wedding research, catch up on reality TV, get an updated budget...ahhh...I love it.

The boys leaving on long road trips have been a chief complaint I have heard over the years among baseball girlfriends and wives. Not me. No complaints here. Rather than looking at these long stretches of alone time as days spent lonely and bored, I look forward to the chance to hang out with ďmeĒ.

When you live with someone, you become "us". It's a hybrid of the both of you. As much as I love dear Baseball boy, like any relationship, there is a good deal of compromise we must do to accommodate one another. It's a subtle, unconscious accommodation that you hardly realize is happening at the time. The compromises create less fighting and resentment, and it becomes routine. And years later you wonder if that small part of you is lost forever, or you have "changed" to be in this relationship, losing your true self.

Thatís all pretty heavy sounding stuff and when you hear my examples you might think I am a bit over-dramatic. But it all adds up! Like what you watch on television. My boy wants to watch ESPN baseball- of course he does-do I? No! Give me reality TV. So we compromise. We watch Law and Order. It's just a show we both enjoy. I love enjoying the great outdoors, but due to 3 knee surgeries Baseball boy gets pain going for long walks, and also tells me "I get paid 8 hrs a day to be outside, I donít want to be outside anymore". So we compromise, sometimes I will get a 10 minute trip out of him.

But when he is gone, and Itís just me...I get to be selfish me. I get to re-discover myself and find out what the authentic me likes to do. I am not living off his time schedule. We donít share a car when he goes away, so I can take my time at the gym, I can watch re-runs I have seen a million times before, I can delay going outside until its the perfect temperature before dusk, and I can get lost in the city and not have someone telling me I should have been paying attention. (ďI was paying attention my dear- to the beautiful building we just passed, the Mississippi river that I have never seen before, and the gorgeous church on the corner- streets signs? Who can pay attention to those little things when there is so much else to look at!Ē)

Baseball wives tend to take on a mourning type of attitude when their men leave, and I wonder if they are not approaching this whole road trip business from the wrong perspective. I have tried to share my viewpoint before but get a ďI love my man so much I cannot function without him and maybe you donít love Baseball boy enoughĒ attitude. But thatís a whole other topicÖthe psychological justifications a woman will put herself through to ďproveĒ to the world and herself the ďrealĒ reasoning she is dating her Baseball man.

AnyhooÖI know this is a finance blog, but I just wanted to celebrate my upcoming alone time and tell you all I hope this weeks blogs are extra long because I have plenty of time to do commenting now that no one is in the apartment asking me when I will get off the computer already!

I'm going to go ahead and potentially get publicly slammed for this opinion...

July 9th, 2008 at 01:21 am

I'm going to bring up a topic that -well-I have never come across publicly discussed on a personal level. This topic seems to be more harshly judged than sex and only seems to be discussed between close friends for only a few minutes. When this topic is verbally discussed, voices lower, and suddenly it sounds like you are discussing the death of a loved one.

It's a mix of planning the wedding and watching Suze Orman that reminded me I still gotta get it done. (So you all know where I stand on the issue)

Pre-nups. What do you think? Better question, what do you have? I am thinking alot of people advise others to get pre-nups when they themselves dont have one.
I have privately given this topic alot of thought. I am for it. For me. Now there are alot of pros and cons here. So I dont think there is a universal law applying to all people. Here is my reasoning, next I want to hear yours.

I have never been married or divorced. I dont know how I would react in a divorce, but can't believe I would not act emotionally, rather than logically. I might try and take the man for all he is worth. I might drag out a divorce to make him suffer. I dont know. I have seen it happen. Why would I think I am above that, when others have behaved this way?

Now you will ask why I am thinking I might get a divorce when I am planning a wedding. But I'm trying to be practical. If over 50% of marriages end in divorce, I truly dont think those couples planned to get a divorce either. They were equally or more in love than I am. I think it's very arrogant of me to assume my marriage will last when 50% of others dont.

I have some assets to protect, but when Baseball boy and I agreed to a pre- nup (my idea) he had the earning potential to just slaughter any income I ever make. I wanted to protect him. From me. From a revengeful, spiteful version of me. I wanted to plan the 'divorce' when we were in love, so we would agree on a fair division, and think this through rationally.

Baseball boy was initially against it. But could not really express why. So after he got used to the idea he agreed to it. But he doesnt like to talk about it. Planning "it" (I dont even like saying the word publicly myself) has fallen on my shoulders. Baseball boy is still uncomfortable with it and just tries to get out of the conversation ASAP whenever I bring it up.

So, pre-nuptial agreements, anyone want to open this pandoras box with me?

Final wedding numbers...

July 8th, 2008 at 07:56 pm

Ok, I'm gonna lay it out. It's all going out on the table for everyone to gasp and tell me I am way overspending on this wedding. I know I'm overspending! I'm just not sure where! (Except the hair and makeup~ thats just ridiculous but it was the best option I could find).
*sigh* I dont like doing this. I really have entered a scary territory where the numbers are higher than I imagined they could ever be.
If you tend to have a queezy stomach, or have high blood pressure- turn away. Go read someone elses blog. This wont be pretty.

Reception location and lodging~ $7600
JOP $150
Dress $1300
Suit $500
Cake(s) $360.00
Wedding planner $1,000
Ceremony location $405
Horse Carriage $200
violinist at ceremony $150
Food $1800
Alcohal $1000
Hair & makeup $560 (3 bridesmaids and me)
Invitations and STD (+ stamps!)$115
Wedding rings $1200
Reception Band $1000
Flowers $544
Photographer 700
Bartender $125
Guest transportation (rent 2 15person vans) $800
--------------
$19,509


Need to get:
mens shirt to go with suit
mens shoes to go with suit
veil
my wedding shoes
Rehersal dinner dress
Wedding earrings
groomsmans gift (1)

Plus:
tipping and taxes

Altogether, over 1 yr of my GROSS annual income is going to be poured into this destination city in one weekend. And they say destination weddings are cheaper than at home weddings. I beg to differ.

I GOTTA cut, just not sure where yet. I hand made invitations (and it's still expensive!) I am making flower bouquets for extended family that need flowers, and I wouldnt feel right cutting things like food or transportation because that affects the guests who are all paying $$ to fly in for the wedding.





Lets recap now that the turmoil is over

July 6th, 2008 at 11:36 am

Hi all, back from my Georgia trip. Got alot done in 2 1/2 days, I planned the whole wedding! (I am exhausted, we met with vendors from 10am to 7pm all day long)

The wedding is over budget. I keep looking at my list wondering "where did it all go wrong?" There are a few areas (like hair and makeup for bridal party and myself $560!)that are outrageous but I tried very hard to go to multiple vendors-they're just all expensive!
I justify it as paying for accountability and reliability as well as service, since I am an out of town bride. I'll post the wedding totals later.
I managed to squeeze in a short house hunting trip too. I come back to report disheartening news- I dunno what I'm going to do. The houses I had sent to the realtor on my list to look at are in very dangerous areas of the city. I THOUGHT 250k is a bit of a lower middle class price range- not in Savannah. Much more expensive city than I realized.

So my realtor told me that when I come back to look at houses again we will look at condos in safer neighborhoods (but a good 800 sq ft smaller than I was hoping to get into). So thats disapointing, but I guess safety and security is expensive nowadays.

Finances are improving. The jeep has tires once again. $600. ouch. But Baseball boy got a win last night, so job security is good for at least another week. That helps our peace of mind. But his job security is always low, we never count on his paycheck, because he is one injury away from retiring.

We thought the end was soon last week. I didnt want to post anything because its hard to explain the reasoning and logic of buerocracies when you're going through them, you are never sure what is going on or how things will turn out till they turn out.

Baseball boy was injured (very minor) but needed a 2 week rest. According to this leagues regulations he had to go on the 30 day disabled list and just receive workmens compensation. During this time, the coach decided he needed to replace baseball boy to have a 'stand in' guy on the roster to fill baseball boy's spot. So baseball boy was released from the team with the understanding he would be signed back after he was cleared of his 30 day sentence.

Baseball boy was very uncertain he would be signed back because if the new player performed well, then there is no room for baseball boy to get back on the team. So he called a few other teams and was in negotiations to move possibly to Canada.
The next day the tires were stolen from my jeep. The day after that I had a flight scheduled to go to Ga. Things were chaotic and a mess. Baseball boy was trying to remain unsigned as long as possible to recieve workmans comp from the original team, but still keep Canada interested until I got back and could handle the jeep issues myself. Luckily, our original team wanted him back, and he signed back yesterday and got a win yesterday!

Unfortinately, they signed him back at $1100 a month, decreasing his pay by $300. It's pretty common to do that this late in the season, when a player has no team to play for, and many rosters are filled, you can get players very cheaply, and of course Baseball boy was in a bind where it would have been a couple hundred bucks to drive and move to Canada and live in a hotel for the remainder of the season, or stay here for less pay. It is just a tad smarter to stay here.

Our emergency fund is wiped out with the dog getting sick and then dying, the move and drive across states, and then the tires. I dont see it getting replenished until after the wedding in November because,well-theres a wedding going on.

But the house down payment fund will keep earning interest (100 bucks a month is a 100 bucks), I am burned out on house hunting. I just dont trust the listings anymore. There are some things that cameras dont capture in real estate ads.
and theres been no need to dip into retirement savings, so hopefully we are clear of financial hurdles for a bit.