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Archive for July, 2008

Today is my internet birthday!!

July 31st, 2008 at 09:13 pm

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 03:28 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 09:03 am

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 01:14 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 12:16 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 01:28 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 02:03 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 12:38 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 04:06 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 20th, 2008 at 05:01 pm

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 10:39 am

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 08:47 am

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.