Home > Archive: September, 2008

Archive for September, 2008

September Tracking

September 30th, 2008 at 04:48 pm

Looking over the September spending- we did not do as well as I had hoped.Good news- We had 2 NSD. But we had a few unexpected one time expenses and considering that BB and I were both unemployed with BB also having knee surgery this month, I think we did pretty well.

Here are our gory details:

TOTAL INCOME: $3354.00
Rent: $1750
EBay: $904
Baseball: $350.00
Garage Sale: $200
Rebates: $150.00

Earned: $1112.00
Shipping: -$112.00
Ebay fees: -$96.00
Net: $904.00

EXPENSES: $1551.00
Rent: $500.00
Groceries: $388.00
Gas: $150.00
Electricity: $184.00
Lawn: $100.00
Health Insurance: $89.00
Water: $60.00
Phone & Internet: $45.00
Waste service: $35.00

Wedding expenses$1344.00
New Computer: $830.00
New Dog: $386.00

FUN: $586.00
Takeaway/Dining Out: $244.00
Gifts: $95.00
Clothes & Shoes: $70.00
Vitamins: $61.00
Scrapbooking $50.00
Video Games: $44.00
House Improvement: $17.00
Misc: $3.00
Car Improvement: $2.00

Total -$1343.00 Going on the credit card

It's not as bad as it looks. The negative amount is about equal to the wedding expenses, and that will be paid off in full after the wedding next month. What I thought was interesting is the eBay results. That really adds up! So does shipping though!

A peek into my thoughts right now

September 29th, 2008 at 06:54 pm

Not withdrawing from the market was a good idea. Not withdrawing from the market was a good idea. Not withdrawing from the market was a good idea....

This is cyclical. This is cyclical. This is cyclical...

These lawmakers know what they are doing. These lawmakers know what they are doing. These lawmakers know what they are doing...

I don't need this money for 30 years. I don't need this money for 30 years. I don't need this money for 30 years...

My stock market portfolio

September 29th, 2008 at 02:39 pm

I am feeling better about my position in the stock market.

Before Wall Street opened this morning my financial advisor called me regarding the email I sent over the weekend explaining I wanted to make changes in my portfolio.

It turns out I have been reading my monthly statements wrong. I thought I was 98% in stocks and 2% in cash/cash equivalents...but it is 98% mutual funds (and I think I need to relearn what mutual funds are.)

He said I am actually about 50/50 in safe investments and stocks. I have about 7% in mutual funds, 7% treasury bonds, 21% bond funds and 8% in cash. The rest are also in mutual funds...but mutual funds that are losing money so maybe aggressive mutual funds? Is that possible?

He told me that the conversation we had about a year ago where I said I wanted to go more conservative was a good move because now I am 50/50- but going more conservative will mean missing the upswings of the market.

So after talking to him...I felt better that even if the market tanks, 50% of my money is safe-and so I did not change anything in the portfolio.

I was expecting the market to increase today with the news of the bailout- but the pullout of foreign countries has tanked the market some more- once again what I THOUGHT would happen did oddly enough it makes me feel better that maybe my fear of the market collapsing is unfounded. other news- that house pic I posted 3 days ago explaining BB and I love it- dropped 40k in price last night. It's only been on the market 2 weeks! BB and I are bummed believe it or not- because now someone is sure to sweep it up before we can get out to see it in November. Plus- now it is in a price category that tends to tell me the neighborhood is really that is disappointing as well.

Quite a nice family day...and not spending a dime!

September 29th, 2008 at 12:16 am

Today was an excellent no spend day.

Baseball boy and I took our new dog, Casey, to the baseball field and let her run around on the field. She loved it!

Then I worked at BB's baseball school for a few hours filling in. BB went to the gym.

In the afternoon I came home and napped.

Afterward BB and I took Casey to the beach. It was Casey's first time at the beach. She loved it and was very amusing. At one point I looked up after wading out into the water to see 3 huge fins rising out of the water not far from Casey and I! After yelling to BB and grabbing the dog I processed that they were not sharks, they were dolphin! They were in pretty shallow water so everyone stood on the beach to give the dolphin their space and admire the show.

After we got home we relaxed..then I got bored and decided to test out the rollerblades I bought yesterday at the garage sale. It was amusing but I got the hang of it quickly. Overall a good $8.00 purchase. (until I end up in the hospital..less a matter of 'if', more a 'when'.) I hooked Casey to the leash and let her pull me around the neighborhood on the skates. She was good- but only because she was exhausted from the beach. She's normally a bit out of control on the leash...still learning her manners.

Baseball boy grilled himself some steaks and made me a few grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Now Casey is sleeping on the couch with me. And I am debating an early turn in too.

Garage sale success

September 27th, 2008 at 05:33 pm

Garage sale was a sucess- sort of. I made $206.00 (good) but only sold about 60% of the stuff. Overall it was a good time- I am just frustrated thinking about hauling it all in.
And I bought a pair of rollerblades from next door. I have never rollerbladed in my life- but guess I will give it a shot.

It's hard to figure out what will sell and what wont-you see it all as 'crap' and so you have a hard time arranging the sale to showcase your best 'crap.'

I sold a mink coat (at a huge discount...but the woman was really thrilled with it)..1 barbie in a box, 1 porcelain doll in a box, 2 waterford ornaments, all my scrapbooking stuff, all my CD's, an unopened makeup set, a jewlery cleaner, 3 necklaces, and a tupperware set. And 4 books! (leaving multiple barbies, dolls, books, and jewelery to go back into the house.)

Anyways...I am feeling better about the market today. Sort of. I am still going to go more conservative.

I may miss a soar in the market but I don't care. If this was a few thousand dollars I was playing around with and learning about the market- or I had previously been playing around in the market and knew enough to know what I dont know, or knew enough to be cocky- then I would stay in. But as it is- The money I have invested is too great an amount for me to feel comfortable managing based on my zero knowledge of finances.

In the back of my mind I still think some anti-Americans could really do us some damage right now and I don't want to have a heart attack if that happens.

I am wussing out of the market.

September 27th, 2008 at 01:55 am

I am once again trying to figure out the forgive my ignorance a bit, I have some questions here:

I am in 'aggressive stocks' and 'conservative stocks.' But what do those terms mean? How much does a stock gain/lose in what time frame to be considered aggressive or conservative?

The news gives accounts of the stock market by saying "the market is down 20% from last month.." and obv that 20% is a compilation of stocks rising while others fail. But are conservative stocks currently tanking as well?

I am thinking of getting out a little bit. I am 98% in the stock market- I think 60% aggressive/40% conservative...and I want to move maybe 20% into a money market account just to make sure that come hell or high water I will have something in the end.

So I should take 20% from the aggressive stocks...right? I imagine the conservative stocks are quietly going along dipping and gaining in small increments and it is the aggressive stocks that are causing the wild fluctuations in my monthly statements-right?

I know you guys will tell me to look at my statements to find my weakest links...but honestly I really have trouble understanding my statement. I am going to set up a phone meeting with my financial advisor but we don't talk very often and I am not sure I am such a huge priority to him. He will do what I ask him to do-but does not often have many suggestions for me.

Also- The money is in an IRA I inherited- If I move money into a money market fund...I need to pay taxes on that money-right? I dont mind that idea- once the bailout starts and a new president comes in- he will probably raise taxes. Better to pay them now than later.

Do I sound completely crazy? My mind is kind of panicky. And I just want to be done with this wild ride. The govt may be doing all they can to calm people down with this bailout...but I just have a bad feeling about things. America seems very vulnerable right now and in this global environment- we are not the only people who know that. And once we begin this bailout plan- we will still be very vulnerable because I imagine the country might be close to broke for a while.

I dont have the experience to imagine what is going to happen in the future, nor the faith to see this course through. I may have my whole life to let the markets recover- but I also have my whole life to get back into the market later.

I feel like such a wimp. But I am done with worrying about the markets.

Garage Sale Preparation-

September 26th, 2008 at 03:46 pm

Why is it that you look around your house and think you have so much junk and imagine a house clutter free and cleaner...but then it comes time for garage sale selling you cannot bring yourself to add anything to the sell pile?

I want to get rid of all the porcelain dolls still in their boxes. I want to get rid of all the paperback books- I never reread them. Scrapbooking stuff that I will never use. Stuffed animals with tags still attached. Barbies still in their box. Shoes still in their box.....

But now we have a garage sale tomorrow and my sell pile is so small!

I think to myself.."If the junk sells then my bookshelf is clear to keep all these books."..."No one will pay $10 for these designer jeans but they were $60 and after tearing off the tags I never wore them once!"...."I hate this little figurine but if I sell it and my friend who gave it to me asks where it is-what will I say?"

And so back into the closets and far corners of the house the junk goes!

I WANT the junk-junk to sell so my semi-junk will have a place to live...but no one will buy the junk-junk and will pay such low prices for the semi-junk that I think I should keep it!

Lunacy! It is! I gotta get detached. Keep the vision of a clean house fresh in my mind.

30% down payment?

September 26th, 2008 at 12:34 pm

(Up above is a house Baseball boy and I have been admiring online....) house down payment is locked up at WAMU/J.P.Morgan. No sweat...not looking for a home...well not looking for a home seriously.

I am wondering about mortgage interest rates though. I wonder if this bailout will mean they raise interest rates because the economy is more stable/ to help the banks a bit more.

I am lucky to have seen this housing crisis from the beginning as an outsider. I learned alot. It confirmed that my initial plan was good to put down 20% despite pressure from peers and advertisements to "jump in now- you are a fool if you miss this opportunity." I decided on the 20% route because that's the way homeowners who still own their home 10,20,40 years later did. It's a proven course to success...all this other stuff was just trendy bling.

But sadly...I think I am a bit spoiled on the mortgage rates. 5% interest sounds good. Quite tasty. Now people are remembering interest rates from the eighties for 10-11%? No way! I'm not paying that! I want to lock in now!

So off to crunch the numbers I went last night. We cant afford it....I am having an opposite problem of most people- I finally have a decent down payment-but don't think we can afford the monthly mortgage.

So now the new goal is to put 30% down. Frown I am kind of sad about it because 30% of $200-250,000 is a long way off...but to sleep at peace Baseball boy and I want to keep the mortgage and all house bills at or under $1600 a month.

So...nothing much to report here. I am financially the same as I was yesterday, just a bit further behind in our life-goals. But we are still going house hunting in November. ~Just to look though!

My man IS on the path to fiancial freedom!

September 25th, 2008 at 03:20 pm

Ok, I know someone out there has a husband who builds/resells gaming electronics.

I was cleaning behind our TV yesterday and came across an XBox controller. For the OLD xbox- not the 360. It is green with the cord attached...just dusty. Baseball boy told me to toss it.

Can I sell it on eBay? Is there a market for it? I tried to look it up on ebay but typing in 'xbox controller' brought up NEW controllers. Is it worth anything?

In other news- eBay is making me some money. I added $400 to my house fund yesterday, and more is coming...I am quickly replenishing the $3400 I 'borrowed' to pay off the credit card. Just this wedding next month- things/finances are getting blurry. Glad it will be done and business as normal in 6 weeks!

AND! The charts on the fridge are WORKING! I have posted:
1 chart of our daily spending totals
1 chart of our wedding expenses
1 chart of our house fund balance...
Yesterday BB was looking at the fridge and says "Hey! We have not had a No Spend Day this month!" I was overjoyed. Truly. I am still smiling.

Question regarding this bailout package

September 25th, 2008 at 11:56 am

So I watched President Bush last night. (Keep in mind- I am a democrat, never liked Bush.)

Anyways, to start off- he did seem to be trying to 'sell' this bailout package. I thought president's talk and people do.

Bush sounded like he was trying to convince us to 'buy' something. And I understand the bill needs to pass congress, and Congress won't pass it without the public's support...

But last I checked there were still enough people who trusted Bush to support his plan. In addition, the plan SOUNDS good to average people who don't pay attention to economics and industry. I mean, to say that the govt is going to use $700 billion to put into the banking system so that banks don't fail, lending still continues, the stock market recovers, and in several more years the money will be repaid plus interest...well- I think that would get plenty of support from average people. Especially with the economy as it is- I think people are looking for anything with the promise of improvement. So just the president's endorsement should be enough to pass this bill.

But instead the president sounded very alarming. He used sensational words to get an extreme emotional reaction, and predicted an outcome worse than I anticipated was possible...he really strongly implied that America as we know it will be wiped out if the bailout package does not pass.

So my questions are these:
1. Now- what if it does not pass? Will Americans go into a panic because they thought this was the answer and without it America is doomed? Pres Bush really suggested there were no alternatives besides the bailout. He just set us all up to panic if the bill does not pass.

2. MUCH more important than the first. What if the bailout passes but FAILS? All the experts are trying to figure out if it will pass...but what if it passes, the treasury invests $700 billion in mortgages/banks, and the economy still continues going downhill? What are we putting up at stake here? What are the risks?

I can't help but remember President Bush's last big idea to start the Iraq war. After the war on terror. And the bombing in Afghanistan. In my book, President Bush has had marginal success in some cases and less in others. Not a great track record.

Therefore...I really am concerned about this bailout NOT WORKING...and I am at a loss to imagine what the government/society/economics/daily life is like in the case of failure or mistakes or mismanagement.

my stupid $800 computer

September 24th, 2008 at 10:59 pm

ok, I am on my new computer.

I dont know why my computer was $800. oh yes I do.

It was $650. The cheapest in the store was $500 but the sales guy said it wont last a year. This model was the next cheapest price. But then I had to pay $150 for them to wipe it clean from unwanted programs and install security stuff. Then taxes. And my printer is obsolete and is not compatible with this laptop....all came to $830.00.

New question...old computer had 2005 microsoft word. We purchased Microsoft office word 2007-upgraded and installed it on old computer...bringing old windows into the current version.
-we are trying to install word on this computer using the upgraded disk but it asks for a 25 digit product key that we thought we found on the bottom of the computer...but it is 'invalid'. Any ideas?

I am just so annoyed at life right now

September 24th, 2008 at 06:36 pm

arg. just arg. *cries* stupid computer. crashed. this morning. Kaput.

Went to bestbuy who told me a light is broken in my screen.

$150 to replace, plus $150 in labor. =$300 to fix.

I have had this laptop almost 4 yrs and apparently my laptop is a ticking time bomb for other problems. So the suggestion was to just buy a new laptop.

After lots of convincing by baseball boy and bestbuy, I bought a stupid new laptop.

$830.00. hmmpph.

Guess how I paid for it? I didnt. I refused to realize that I am nearly another thousand dollars poorer.

So I opened a bestbuy credit card with 18 months of 0% financing. I have until January 2010 to pay it off. I think I can do that.

I know it dinged my credit a bit and we are sort of in the market to buy a house...but I just couldnt add to our debt right now with this wedding next month. I could not deal.

So am I enjoying the new computer? NO! Its still at bestbuy getting programmed.

I am on an old laptop that would have been our replacement laptop if baseball boy had no been too lazty to pack it properly and cracked the screen over the summer. I have a spiderweb of blackness covering the screen right now.

So we have 2 laptops with working motherboards, but both have problem screens. I actually cant even see what I am typing right now....60% of the screen is black. arggg...

Why is it that we computer users are accepting of spending nearly a thousand dollars on a computer that is supposed to last a "year or two?" I think thats crap. What happened to quality? I remember my parents buying things and expecting them to last a lifetime. I feel good if I get a year or so of use out of most things I buy.

me and my fiance and our money outlooks

September 23rd, 2008 at 01:11 pm

I am trying to get my fiance to be more financially minded. He fights me on it but has made some progress. In return I have learned some communication skills and reasoning coming from the male mind (more like a version of a 4 yr old. "But I wannttt itttt!")

*I introduced the concept of No Spend Days to him over the summer. He discounted the theory until I started challenging him by saying "Lets have a NSD today." So now he has grown to hate NSD rather than feel they are empowering- as I do. ("See commercialism- you are not as smart as you thought with your pretty colors, gimmicky ads and giant signs.") So I need to change that association from hate to love. That was a mistake on my part. The progress is that when I suggest a NSD (about 2x a month)- we have a LOW spend Day. Generally just 1 thing will be purchased. So that is progress. Goal is to have a NSD (a true one) every week.

* I introduced the concept of 'financial freedom' to him rather than 'budget'. He gets confused and calls it 'financial independance' and it makes me laugh. But I think he liked that term. I need to work it into our everyday vocabulary more.

* I THOUGHT this gigantic wedding was a good stopper for all spending "we are not buying a pizza because I am paying over $20,000 for this wedding next month!" - and for about 2 weeks it did stop the unneccessary spending. - but yesterday he pulls the "If you can spend $20,000 for a wedding- whats one lousy pizza going to do?"...and I was unprepared for that. I had no answer. We got the pizza. Afterward I felt bloated and fat and told him I wished we had never gotten it. He felt the same way. sigh.

SOMEONE on this board had a GREAT idea of posting something on their fridge to 'show' the husband what was being spent, or how the small purchases were draining the account- and I cant remember the idea! If anyone knows it, please share. I remember thinking it would work for BB...but then forgot about it. ...maybe I will create a spread sheet with the total balance of our house deposit..and include all deductions made from that account to see how this pizza is affecting things. Problem is we rarely deduct from that account...hmmm.

applied for jobs-finally!

September 22nd, 2008 at 04:04 pm

I spent the morning on applying for jobs I am way overqualified for. I worry that no one will call me in for any interviews.

Since Baseball boy and I generally have no clue whats going on in our life a month in advance, I applied for part time work, or easy, call center type jobs that already have a high turnover.

I dont want to commit to a complicated 'career' job that will take priority over everything else in life.

I want to have 3 days off in November for my wedding, and get 2 days off in December for 2 out of state weddings I am attending...complicated 'career' jobs dont usually give vacation days until you have been there several months. But easy part time jobs tend to be flexible.

I really hope I get some calls!

BTW- living in the suburbs sucks during high gas times. I can't apply to any city jobs because it's almost an hour away...but local jobs are very few right now.

Earning money while I sleep-

September 22nd, 2008 at 05:51 am

Holy cow I just made $70!

Its 2am...I was peacefully asleep when one of our good friends called to say he just broke up with his girlfriend and was on the road driving 2 hrs to spend a few days with us (he was visiting his girlfriend who lives 9 hrs from him- we were the closest people he knows.)

I was thrilled to see him...but needed to do some cleaning to get the house presentable and his room ready for him. Anyways, he calls back after the vacuming, dusting and mopping is near completion to say the girl is crying...maybe he overreacted-he's turning around to work it out.

Since I am awake- I check my eBay listings. One trinket (the limoge I was asking about earlier) has been quietly making it's way up to $26 over the last several days- tonight suddenly the figurine is at $100!

I have NO CLUE why this item skyrocketed. I searched completed listings and all limoges have sold for $40-$80. 1 limoge sold for $200...but my item doesnt even have original box..and I stated the top is slightly scratched!

I keep re-reading my listing wondering if I accidently said it is made of 14 carot gold or something...

But I'll take it. I was expecting bidding to stop around $40- so this is a nice surprise. I have another limoge listed and sitting at $20...maybe tomorrow night that item will earn me good money too!

My personal economy...

September 21st, 2008 at 09:47 am

Well it seems as though everyone out here in the blogs are weathering this economy really well. Some people have had setbacks, but just temporary ones. No one has admitted to going on shopping new cars...nothing crazy. For myself- I have shut down the house hunting. And that's a BIG attitude change considering how much this 'want' was consuming me!

Baseball boy and I are treading water right now. Considering neither one of us has a job...I'm pretty impressed with us. He's been focusing on healing from the surgery (maybe it's a WE have been focused...since I drive him around, take him to PT, get him ice for the knee, grocery shop, took over all household chores..)

And I have listed about 20 items on ebay. A few items have been shipped off- many are waiting for bidding to end. I kind of decided to forget about getting offended at the selling prices of the items and just list them ridiculously low to get the items out of here (though I know my selling tactics drive down the prices for all other sellers out there who need the money to feed their kids...I apologize sellers.)

So far...grand total deducting fees and shipping...$5 profit. But it's not as bad as it sounds, I purchased 2 things off ebay (see..I do put the money right back into other sellers hands!) and have about $300 coming once biddings end.

But since we are unemployed, we have both been very good about budgeting. There have been a few 'bad things' like take out and eating out- but not much. So far for the month we have spent just about exactly my rental income and BB's last paycheck from baseball. If I only spend $30 more this month (1 week to go!) I will NOT use my credit card!

Excluding wedding stuff. Wedding stuff goes in another catagory to be paid off in the month or two proceeding the event.

On top of that, Baseball boy's parents had a garage sale this weekend and included some items I had left at their place for storage (I really didnt want the items)and so "I" made $100! Should I send them a gift card or something for their effort? They were selling their own stuff, but...I'm not sure what I should do in this case.

PS. I like that you all are posting your stock investment information. My information comes to me 1x a month through the mail. I am curious to do a comparision to see how my investments are doing.

Lately in the news....

September 20th, 2008 at 12:23 pm

I feel like there are so many new developments in the finance industry that I cant keep up with it all! Everytime I turn on CNN or MSNBC the anchors are buzzing about some new development and "what it means to me."

Really- I know it's their job to get me riled up over this stuff, and to make it seem like it's the end of the world, but their constant excitement makes it hard to judge if something is "really big" or "they want you to THINK it's really big."

I am lucky I have a small understanding of finances to use as background because the terms they use and speed that they talk is way to advanced for most people. I understand why people choose to stick their head in the sand and flip the channel.

And then I am lucky to also have this forum to go to and read what is going on in the world in "laymans terms."

BTW- Who is this Carmen girl now hosting a Suze Orman type of show on MSNBC and do we like her? I normally like females in mens industries (like finance) but she talks kind of weird (emphasizing 'key' words that are not really key words- speeding up then slowing down her sentences.) But maybe I need to get used to her.

My man is very lucky...his birthday gift is expensive!

September 17th, 2008 at 12:12 pm

Baseball boy's birthday is next month. I have been planning his gift for almost a year.

I am going to get one of his Double A jerseys matted and framed and include a plaque detailing the team and stats.

He has about 20 jerseys sitting at his parents house that he has collected over the years, and I figured if I get one done every holiday, it will be better than getting them all done at once.

I went to Michaels yesterday and OMG! It's almost $300! I had no idea. I'm still going to do it- once we buy a house we want to hang up his jerseys and I guess we hypothetically have 'more money now than we will after we buy a house. It might be years before we can afford to do it then.

One GOOD thing coming from the upcoming wedding and now his birthday is that when BB brings up spending money on food I just get stone cold no nonsense and am like "I am in the process of paying almost $25,000 for the wedding next month- I am not spending a DIME except your birthday." And he shuts up. He totally gets that line. $25,000 is a scary amount to him too. When I had the $5,000 credit card debt- that didnt bother him- it wasnt a 'scary amount'...but this wedding is. Thank god somethings shutting down the spending!

AND one of the expensive items was bid on eBay!!

odds and ends

September 16th, 2008 at 07:30 pm

Well, American financial crisis aside, I am trying to just live life and be smart as I do it.

EBay is doing pretty well. BB's video game sold for more than we expected...but a new person to eBay with poor feedback won it 2 days ago- and has not paid for it. Disappointing. It's such a hassle to file an unpaid claim.

All other low priced items have bids on them. No expensive items have bids on them. Not much surprise there.

My camera battery ran out of charge...and I left the battery charger in Texas, so I ordered another off ends in another day. So my eBay listings are on hold till it arrives.

That's about it. I have spent the last 2 days working on a spreadsheet to detail exactly the cost of this's just excessive. Frustrating. I really wish I had never agreed to this thing. I know people 'say' you can 'cut' but...

Since it's an out of town wedding, we are paying for many things that in town weddings don't pay for- like hotels and transportation. And every vendor charges 'extra' fees like 'service charges', 'save the date' if you cut back on the amount or type of service you want, it's really only taking a small percentage off the bill. I cut back my flowers by 50% and it only eliminated $150 off a $600 bill. Frustrating. I don’t want to talk about it. I am so ashamed of myself for spending this much money but feel stuck.

I try to be optimistic and think maybe it's because I am just writing checks, checks, and checks and have nothing to show for it. Maybe the day after our wedding I will say it was all worth it. Maybe. I hope.

Musings on the stock market

September 15th, 2008 at 01:29 pm

Thank you guys for your reassurances with the stock market.

I am assuming this is just an interesting wave in the historic tide of the stock market?

This is not the beginning of the end where America starts to lose its foothold as a world leader and eventually plunges into a new era of 'depression like times'?

I assume this is like the whole Indy-mac collapse...created a flurry of activity and panic but in the end had really no big bearing on the big picture?

Everyone tells me that when I eventually need the money tied up in the stock market- it will be there. Everyone also told me I should buy a house during the height of the boom. I cant help but wonder if people have been brainwashed into a certain way of thinking- by people who's lives and careers are dependant on us continueing to think that everything will be ok. I have seen alot of propaganda and have become very cynical of all the way 'advertisements' make their way into our lives disguised as fact and public assistance.

But I am hoping very much that the difference between the reassurances that the stock market will eventually return to it's previous climbing status and the advice I was given to buy into the housing market- is that the former advice is from people who actually know what they are talking about.

I have a few worries- That other countries (or terrorists) will see our weak financial state as a big vulnerability and figure out some way to use it to wipe out/take over/ ruin America. Dont say it cant be done. No world leader has continued forever...well...England has a pretty good track record. but they might be reletively young as well. It's been awhile since I have sat in on a history class.

I also worry about how the baby boomers will impact this. I am very spotty in my history/financial education. But I think one of Americas largest generations is now entering retirement and drawing off social security. They are also well respected for their contributions to the stock market...but now they need money from the stock market. I wonder how/if the baby boomers will somehow unintentionally set the stock market into a downward spiral.

Maybe I should look at this as "the stock market is correcting itself." As the housing market is correcting itself. Sucks for the people who need to sell their home now- or bought high- but in the long term of things this will educate people to see 'bubbles' in the future and this whole housing crisis really has no long term impact.

At this point I feel that I am 'stuck' in the market. So I will stay in. I have not heard a peep from my financial advisor in many, many months- and as far as I know- he needs my ok if he wants to sell or move things around.

I cant wait till this whole financial crisis is over so I can maybe use this experience in the future when the next big crisis starts brewing.

Deep breaths. Repeat to myself "This is a learning experience. This will help you in the future."

stock market decline

September 15th, 2008 at 12:48 am

I just heard the stock markets going to tank tomorrow due to a Merrill Lynch buy out. Sigh. I'm still all in...only because I dont know anything else to do.

eBay success

September 14th, 2008 at 05:33 pm

Well, I listed about 10 items on ebay yesterday, 3 of the low priced items have a bid so far. The little lion cub Swarovski piece pictured in yesterday's blog has a bid too! 1 person asked me to do a layaway if she bids on one of the expensive items. No problem with that.

She has purchased from me before. I dont think she can really afford to purchase the item (when she purchased from me previously she had to sell some items before she could pay me..and alluded to her husband not allowing her to use paypal.)So it's a bit of an ethical problem. I saw what my mom did (buying useless items using money she didnt really have and later crying about it)and I dont want to contribute to the cycle. But I justify it as- my items are listed on ebay for about 20% of the original price. Even though it's still several hundred dollars- it's a fraction of what this woman would pay in a store. So she IS getting a very good deal- even if it is still a useless item.

So now I am going to start selling my mom's Limoges collection. Anyone know about these? They are little pill boxes originally made in France that royalty had. Now they are still hand painted (I think?) but produced in several different factories (I think?) even though they are still signed "Limoges France". My question is- how do you tell the valuble ones from the cheap ones? There are literally hundreds of thousands of different styles so its impossible to see what an exact limoge is selling for on ebay. Prices range between $5 and $200. Some are signed 'Peint Main' and some are unsigned. Experts seem to know the difference because I listed 2 limoges yesterday- 1 has a bid already and 10 watchers...the other only has 3 watchers. My mom was the type to buy some REALLY high end pieces and then fill the rest of the collection with 'filler' pieces.

I tried to do some reaserch on the limoges, but their royal history is all I could find. I dont know what artists are sought after (some are initialed by the artist) or what shapes are valuble.

Anyone care to educate me- pass it on.

eBay day

September 13th, 2008 at 05:31 pm

Starting up the eBay today. I have not had time since I have been in FL due to BB's knee surgery (healing well) and you know how men are. Giving a hundred orders at once and constantly bored.

Anyways- we finally got him some medicine that blocks the pain enough for him to sleep- so today is eBay day.

I plan to build back up that house fund I depleted last month to pay off the credit card.

I am a bit frusterated because I am still selling off my moms possessions on ebay-only now I am relisting what has not sold previously and this leaves me doubting about the item selling this time around.

So I just listed two Big ticket items for just over 20% of their original price- and even at that price I am doubtful they will sell. The economy is keeping people from purchasing luxury items or spending alot of money on their purchases.

When I first started to eBay her stuff 3 years ago the economy was booming and her things were ALL selling, for at least 65% of the original price.

Dumb me held back the REALLY big ticket items because I figured that selling other items would give me experience and feedback to get an even better return on the expensive stuff.

Then eBay turned a corner. To many sellers. Economy going downhill. Slowly the listing price increased, slowly I started getting the frusterated feeling from listing an item- paying the listing fee-only to have it not sell.

So I pulled off ebay about 1.5 yrs ago. I decided to wait for the economy to turn around. hahaha -since then I have listed a few items around christmas with some luck.

Now I realize I dont have time to wait for the economy to come back. All these items in the house drive me crazy. And its a nuisence keeping the items clean and being so careful around the breakable items...which is most of them.

So I guess selling for some money plus earning intrest in the bank may end up equaling money made off the item if I wait for the economy to come back.

Ok, break over. Back to eBay.

Rule #2

September 13th, 2008 at 12:08 am

Ahhh...thanks for the support! It is a weird topic and I already feel 'icky' about having told people about it.

But now that it's out, I'm gonna VENT about Rule #2. 'Do not tell anyone about it.' I did not know about this rule- and the basic upheaval of the death combined with the basic mind blowing thought of "oh my god...I am a millionaire"...caused me to feel the need to talk to my friends about this change in my life. And the unexpected (but logical) outcome for having broken rule #2.

I have always been a big saver- never wanted to spend money- always wanted to collect or save it. Baseball boy has loosened me up alot as he comes from a 'money comes and goes-enjoy it'- mentality. And actually how quickly I do adapt to the nicer things in life scare me. Once I discover something I really like- I canít go back!

Anyways- well, my saving mentality was never a problem till I got an inheritance. I was always the girl who was "good with money." Then suddenly my friends are calling me a 'scrooge' for complaining of the cost of this or not wanting to pay for that. My best friend (who is broke broke broke but accepts that she is bad with money and really tries not to care that she is in debt) told me that I "am a bit of a scrooge" because I was worried the wedding is getting out of hand. (It did get out of hand- but no one was able to help me stop it- they just kept piling on the suggestions and expectations because I could afford it.)
And my other best friend said "oh-we all know you can afford it Gamecock, you just donít want to pay for it" when I was telling her about how something was too expensive in my opinion.

Comments like that- from my good friends- just shut me up. I can no longer complain or talk about money, or the price of things- period. Difficult for me because money is like a hobby for me.

And I wonder (think) their expectations of me and what I do has changed. I am suddenly the girl that all my friends think can do all the fun things they want to do. "I'm going to Vegas in a few months-will you come with me?" "Letís go to the Spa!" "Hey- when are you going to come visit me already?" -I admit in the first year- I did go to Vegas. I did go visit several friends. I even flew one friend to another friends place across the country so we could all meet up together. (In my defense- it was a central city between all our states) But I quickly saw how I could not keep that up. At all.

But my friends just see the initial amount- and it labeled me. If I keep up with all my friends wants-I will be broke broke broke. (I have more friends and the world has more fun things to do then I have money to make it all happen) I donít want to be the tragic "Oh my did she spend it all?" story- but no one is trying to keep me from being that story except myself. (And Baseball boy supports my resolution to save but does not comment if I spend.)

And now I fear I will ALWAYS be the million dollar girl-even when I am down to my last hundred dollars- it will be "Hey- why canít you go with me to Mexico? What happened to all your money?" (Ummm...I spent it in Vegas with friend A, and California with friend B, and in New England with friend C.)...but since they are not financially minded- they donít really think about compounding expenses. They donít think that it's been three years- and maybe it's gone. Or half gone. Or that the stock market is falling falling falling...I am still a millionaire to everyone.

Everyone has great expectations for me. They think as I thought- that the money lasts or buys alot more than it does. Only they donít get the reality check I got when I saw my balance statement after a few months of 'having fun.'

So in the last year or so I shut up about the cost of things. I stopped the extracurricular fun, and I have put the money out of sight and live off only a rental income I inherited. Baseball boy and I are trying to live normally off our own accomplishments. We live off our incomes, and I struggle to save for a home as everyone else does-I try to control my credit cards like everyone else-but life is still different for me. I have a security blanket (that I love!) that none of my other friends have. And so it has changed things. I wish I could have been more discreet in the beginning, this just changed my life, and not in the normal "I bought a mercedes' way. In a subtle way that is hard to pinpoint.

my dirty dirty secret...

September 12th, 2008 at 03:33 pm

So....I have mentally bounced back and forth on a topic I have not discussed yet in this blog. I have not talked about it changes things. And I like you guys, I like the 'online' person that I am, and I like my blog writing experience so far.

But sometimes I see others dealing with it, or read about their confusion and I KNOW itís a psychologically changing event because I went through it myself. And just a bit ago I was commenting about this topic on the forums and now my mind is on the topic. Thinking back to my own experience reminds me how dramatically things can change from it. In the past, I have done a brief online search for this topic, but never found discussions about how it changes you, your life and the people around you, just financial education about it.

So...ugh. I hate this. I guess I will say it. Inheritance. That word is not so bad. BIG Inheritance. There. Thatís my dirty little secret.

I guess I will spill the beans. I inherited about a million dollars about 3 years ago. Ugh. I hate admitting this.

So you all know my mom died. She was diagnosed as Bi-polar and was a wild and crazy shopper. But 11 years before my mom died, my dad died, and I donít know how much $$ he left her, but based on vague references from her financial advisor and looking at bookwork and receipts, she spent well over half in the 11 years Dad was gone. Hereís my disclaimer - (I have learned to recognize peoples, or my own psychological, societal justifications.) I was pretty positive I would inherit debt. I never knew what my mom started out with, but I knew she was spending a lot more than she was making- she blew through my inheritance from my dad-(I was a young minor so she could) so I never counted on any money from my family and lived a very frugal life (away from her) and pictured a very frugal future. (See- I justify why I deserve this money- I actually feel the need to explain my actions to make myself feel better about getting the money- you see how inheritances can just mess someone up?)

So her getting cancer when I can barely tolerate her-her dying within a few weeks- me being there only for the last 2 weeks- then getting a pile of money and a pile of legal/financial/probate/real estate confusion on top of sorting through my families EVERYTHING and learning a lot about deceased family members- it just messed me up. Hard core.

I WISH that it was a topic that I could have looked up online (because I looked) like mental disorders, grief,inheretance money issues are available...but all that rolled into one topic that talks about how it changes YOUR LIFE- not really discussed.

My friends have not had to go through it yet...but my friendships have changed as a result of my going through it.I learned a lot, and regret a lot. Maybe I was young and immature and that inheritances are normally handled very well, I wouldnít know- because I am the only person I know that this happened to- but since I am in a sentimental mood- I will outline a few BIG lessons I learned, and also constantly break along the way. I have stories to tell- and just plain "I donít understand why that happened or what I was thinking" moments- but that would make for a long blog post.

To start are the cardinal rules that work for me-(not that they are easy to stick to) but they seem to be a universal truth- they always work for me in every situation. And if I ever went through it again (I wont- but Baseball boy will-maybe in the next 10 yrs) I would read these every day before going out into the world.

P.S. I know that the logical side of your brain is wondering where the money is-NO I DID NOT SPEND IT ALL ON BOATS AND CARS!!!Lol. After paying $76,000 in bills from my mom- I bought a new car that I plan to keep forever- $23,000. I took a few vacations -$3,000. This wedding monstrosity that I already regret- $21,000. And the rest is in the declining stock market and real estate market that has me in tears every month. So it is steadily declining...but not by my hand. It took a good 2.5 yrs to develop and stick to a plan, but Baseball boy and I have the rest planned for retirement. It's been a long road getting there though.

Lessons learned:
1. Do not make a single financial decision for a long time. It's ok to sell a property that is losing money and you just inherently 'know' you need to get rid of ASAP- but everything else should wait. If you are unsure about something or it's a possession that is not increasing/decreasing in value- hold onto it for a year.

2. Do not tell anyone about it. (You SEE how I break these rules?) The less people know about it the better. You will need to vent/ and complain as well as brag and say 'Oh my god' then do it online annoyminously (See-I redeemed myself.) EVERYTHING changes when there is a change in affluence in your status. Especially when it is 'free money' from an inheretance.

3. Research. Everything. People come out of the woodwork to sell you things and manipulate you. They have methods of knowing who you are. I donít know how they know it, but they do.

4.You will want to give it away. I dont know why. Money guilt. Not educationaslly bright. Thinking the amount is larger than it is (as in, it will last longer, buy more than it does). You will even pay more for an item than it is worth, or pay for items you dont want for stupid reasons. (The salesman is cute, you feel bad because the person works on commission and they have a family to feed, the store is going out of buisiness and your money will make a difference in the workers lives) So unless you are aware of this- you will lose a portion of it to generosity that suddenly apears within you.

5. Declutter your life. Paperwork, learning things, life experiences are overwhelming and the more you can throw away, give away the better. But donít give/throw away anything you are unsure about! See number 1.

6. Accept that you will contradict yourself and confuse others. Youíre in a dazed state of mind even when you think you are thinking clearly. YOU ARE NOT!

7. Money guilt. Itís a powerful, powerful thing. I canít even go there right now.

8.Pay attention to your standard of goes up quickly and it is hard to bring back down...make sure your lifestyle doesnít outpace your inheritance.

9. itís a bit of a dirty word. This inheritance thing. America is built on the premise of 'pulling yourself up by your bootstraps' and 'working your way to the top' and people respect you less if they know where your money comes from. But they wonít admit it. Maybe you will respect yourself less- I know I do.

10. Donít rely on it. It will make you feel less powerful, less accomplished, less valued and less everything. Working hard and 'earning' something is truly the only way you appreciate things and like yourself.

11. Create a long term plan for it. Not right away and not in one conversation-with anybody! Do not commit to any plan right way. Discuss options with people you trust or need to discuss it with. But wait a year to commit to anything. But have a short term plan before the long term plan. Money earmarked for something- even if itís earmarked to sit tight until the 1 yr mark and long term plan is made- is safe. Money sitting somewhere until you create a long term plan will get spent. Things will come up, decisions will be made- it will be gone. And when you have big money sitting around its harder to see the 'need' from the 'want'.

Thats it. For now. I'm tired.

doggie update

September 11th, 2008 at 12:20 am

Thank you all for your supportive comments about our new dog. She is great- nothing to complain about.

She's a little 'rough around the edges'- typical new dog stuff. Not coming when called, jumping up, pulling (or dragging) when on the leash. Nothing big, I just need to be careful not to get annoyed about these things. Dogs dont start out as well behaved as our last one finished up.

We took Casey to the vet today to find a host of problems. The vet said we had no luck at all adopting this one-and I am torn. (We're keeping the dog...I dont believe in tearing an animals life apart for money that would get spent on other 'wants' anyways.)...but the vet seems to think we will be visiting alot.

I kind of think we are a bit stupid taking on the regular expenses of a new pet, then accepting additional expenses because this new dog has problems.

She has a major ear infection

She has pretty severe allegies and will
be on a daily medicine for her whole life.

She is on extra medicine now to clear up an allergy attack she recently got.

She has some type of ingrown hair issue around her mouth, that the hair will bleed regularly?

She has eye problems. Her eyelids turn inward so the hair scratches her cornea and unless it is surgically fixed, she will constantly have ulcers on her eye. (Funny thing is- the SPCA performed surgery on her eyes last year to correct the problem.) But the vet said the surgery didnt work.

And her teeth are in bad shape.

The vet wants to see her again in 2 weeks to check on her allergies.

I asked the vet that since she will be living indoors, and have regular care- maybe her issues will clear up a bit? And the vet said not to count on it.

All these problems made Baseball boy MORE in love with her. (Which is good.) He optimistically said "well, its not like she has diabetes or something." Which is true. I guess. So we are taking it one vet visit at a time. $180 today.

Maybe the allergies will clear up now that she lives indoors. We are waiting on the eyes to see if they irritate her (so far they dont seem to). Vet said that surgery is about 2k. And maybe some greenie treats will clean up her teeth.

So- thats the doggie update. Right now she is peacefully sleeping on the couch-snoring.

We got a new doggy

September 9th, 2008 at 08:32 pm

Meet Casey. She is a 2 yr old red Pitt Bull/ Retriever/ Bull Terrier mix. We think.

Baseball boy and I went to the local SPCA yesterday looking for our new rottweiler, or pitt bull pup. Neither were available, and after looking at all dogs available, we decided to leave and come back to the shelter another day.

I really wanted a larger, intimidating looking dog. Baseball boy really wanted a rottweiler, or at least a dog younger than a year old.

As we were leaving we saw the red mix displayed above. She's certaintly no purebred of any type. And she's not young at 2 yrs old, but standing at attention, she looks intimidating.

I hestitated and commented to Baseball boy that she was nice. He nodded and we continued out the door. I got into the car, and as Baseball boy was getting in he turns around. Coming down the sidewalk is the red dog we saw inside and a SPCA volunteer. She had noticed our nod of approval at the dog and wanted to push the 'sale.'

Baseball boy politely bent down to pet the dog, while I waited in the car. This was suposed to be Baseball boy's choice, as he has the 'purebred' breeder mindset- that dogs from breeders are better than pound dogs- and if he was accomodating my insistance that we save a shelter dog- he gets free rein on what dog it is that we adopt. I can love anything.

After he talked to the volunteer a minute and did not get back in the car- I got out to pet the dog.

The poor girl has been in the shelter for 18 months! She was brought in as a stray with a collar embedded in her neck. She had surgery to have it removed, she had surgery on her eye that was damaged, she had parasites and multiple cuts. Now she has a huge scar encircling her neck, and multiple scars on her face.

She's really thin right now, but is 65 lbs, so her size and scars fits my request for a scary looking dog. She was there at the right time. Baseball boy was so desperate to have a dog again, we went ahead and adopted her right then.

I worried because we were trying to read each others intrest without 'talking' in front of the volunteer, and we were both giving signals like, "I like her, do you?" that we just kept taking the next step in the adoption process being like, "are you sure?"

But she has settled right into our routine. She is very quiet and well behaved.

I asked Baseball boy this morning why he liked her when she certaintly doesnt seem to be his dream dog- but he said her story touched him. Hearing of dogs that are chained up or wandering the streets injured are the two types of abuse that breaks his heart. For me, once I heard she was at the shelter 18 months- I knew she had to get out of there. It was obvious she was not a desirable dog because she had been overlooked for so long, and if we didnt take her, maybe no one would. I would hate to see a nice, friendly dog rejected by people for their entire life and never know what it is like to live comfortably.

So here she is with us now. She's not an attractive dog. She does not melt your heart with one of her puppy dog looks. But even the ugly dogs need love too. I look forward to the memories and bonding that are in store for us in the future. Wish us luck!

Leaving Texas, and finishing out the baseball season

September 6th, 2008 at 08:55 pm

Well, the season is over for us. Baseball boy is coming back from a road trip tonight and then tomorrow we are driving back to Florida. I've got everything packed up, and thought I would take some time to post an update.
The season was pretty bad. Financially and performance-wise. But dont you know- these last few weeks in TX have been wonderful. Baseball boy only gave up 1 run since he has been here- the team defence and moral here is exceptionally better than our previous team. Baseball boy will be returning here again next year, unless something happens in the meantime...but we plan for him to be back here anyways.
So- on to our immediate future. Yes. I am staring at unemployment now. Baseball boy is getting knee surgery as soon as we are back in thats a few weeks he is unable to do much. However- he has talked briefly with a coach from Puerto Rico who wants him for a winter ball team starting in early November. (Right after our wedding actually.) Winter ball has been an opportunity Baseball boy has been chasing since he went pro. It pays considerably well...but it's very difficult to get on a team. This is the closest he has come to having the chance to play winter ball but I cant allow my mind to go there yet. (kind of already has though.)The coach first recruits major leaguers then moves down the levels from there...Baseball boy will get on the team if there is room left.
As for myself- I will start sending out my resume as soon as we have unpacked. Income is priority number one- the rest will fall around that. Baseball boy asked me about going to Puerto Rico with him but I told him "lets not make plans till we know whats going on first." Thats just like him, to plan out everything based on a million assumptions.
And as promised I have the results of my August spending. Funny- we spend alot more money than I think we do- but we earn alot more money than I think we do to!
I am not posting a day by day recount because 1. thats boring, and 2. I really dont think this month was reflective of our spending. We moved cross country halfway through the month, and moved into an apartment with nothing. So we had alot of replenishing and deposits to pay.
Sadly, we did spend more than we made, by about $600. But we are not in debt- we used money saved from previous months. And we are heading back to FL with about $700 saved from the season.
But in the intrest in punishing myself for unnecesary spending- I will post our jaw dropping 'want' spending for the month of August. Maybe I can shame myself into only spending half that amount in September. So here it is...
Groceries $137
Gas $87 (gotta LOVE living a few blocks from the field...our cross country road trip was comped by the new team)
Fast food $62 (all Baseball boy...I gave up fast food months ago)
Eating out $480 (I know! Ridiculous!)
Drinking $62
Clothes $212 (2 prs of jeans, 1 pr shorts, sunglasses, and 2 tanks)
scrapbooking $100 (new ink cartidge and camera battery)

So those are some weird numbers. In August, clearly our priorities were out of whack, too much eating out, not enough groceries...but thats not our typical eating out habits....Anyways, thats whats going on here in TX, for one last day!