Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cashing in Vacation

My husband started his new job on December 20th.  He was with his previous employer for 4+ years.  He had 86 hours of vacation time owed to him.  He called the person in HR to verify the amount of vacation he had before he put in his notice.  He called earlier this week to inquire on getting paid the vacation pay that was due him.  The head lady in HR told him that they would pay him but not until after the first of the year.  He is also owed some money for reimbursements for working out of town.  I'm not sure the amount that he is owed because it was impossible to keep track with that employer.  He would randomly get a check but it never had an itemization on what days it was reimbursement for.  He had to turn in his receipts so I don't even have any documentation if they try to screw us which I fully anticipate they will.  It doesn't make any sense to me that they would have to wait until after the first of the year to pay him for his vacation time.  He had already earned the time when he quit December 17th.

I hope we get that money because things are tight for us right now because he won't get a paycheck until January 15th from his new job.  The whole situation seems fishy to me.  The positive thing is that he is no longer employed there.  We won't have to deal with this again. 

Has anybody else had any luck with collecting money from vacation earned after you leave the company?  Any tips?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Savings vs. Paying down Debt

I had the following comment that I thought I would write a post explaining my situation:

Wouldn't it make more sense to pay off the loans and then have $45,000 in savings? Less money in cash but huge interest savings. Just a thought.

Yes, it most situations it would make more sense but not in our situation.  First of all, my car is financed at 0% and my student loan is at 4.5%.  It doesn't make sense to pay more on my car because I'm not losing anything by keeping it.  My student loan interest is tax deductible so that essentially brings the interest rate down to 3.6%.  So why do we want so much cash compared to paying down debt?

We plan to build our own house either this summer or in the spring of 2012.  My husband is going to do most of the work himself.  We will hire out the septic, foundation, and outside shell.  My husband can do the interior including the plumbing, electric, and drywall.  We might hire the kitchen and flooring.  Most construction loans require the work be completed in 6 months or possibly less.  Since my hubby will be doing the majority of the interior work himself and working full time, I highly doubt that we would be able to make the 6 month requirement.  We plan to pay for the exterior and a good majority of the interior with our cash.

For the obvious question, how do you plan to build a house with $65,000?  That amount will take care of the exterior and a good chunk of the interior because we won't be paying for labor.  The house that we plan to build could probably be built for about $150,000 if we hired everything out.  A good portion of that is labor.  We will probably get a construction loan toward the end of construction to pay for the kitchen, fixtures, and flooring.  Those items could easily run us about $30-40K but after you pay for them, they are done quickly.

So, the savings that we could get from paying off my student loan would be very quickly eaten up by hiring out more things when we build our house. 

Is it a financial risk to plan to do it this way?  Of course but we're prepared to take that risk.  Is my husband qualified to do a majority of the house?  Yes, he was a plumber by trade until recently.  He finished off the lower level of our bi-level in our old house.  He did the wiring, sheetrock, finishing, and trim. 

Do you think we're crazy for this plan of action?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter is Expensive

There are so many expensive things about winter compared to summer.  For starters, we needed propane to heat our house.  We ended up ordering 750 gallons at $1.66 per gallon.  That works out to be $1245.  We are also paying $40 a time for snow removal.  We now live in the country and aside from buying a plow truck, we don't have any options for doing snow removal ourselves.  It just keeps on snowing.  Twice last week and again the end of this week.  We also received a notice that they would like to reappraise our property for tax purposes.  An increase in our taxes is the last thing that we need.  I know that it really does even out as far as expenses go but it just seems like we're getting hit right now.  I need to be thankful that in the summer we won't have a water or gas bill. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Financial Goals Update

  • Escrow account to $7000--fail, we sold our house so we don't really need this account so I didn't finish it
  • Savings to $10,000  Done!
  • Student loan under $6000  Fail--it's just under $7500
  • My Roth IRA to $10,000  Done!
  • My Roth IRA contributions to $3500 Done!
  • Stock Account to $2500 Done!
  • Mortgage under $100,000  Done--because we sold our house and bought a different one
  • Business savings to $12,000--fail, its at $9000
  • Savings to $15,000  Done!

2011 Goals

Here are my 2011 Goals
  • Have $65,000 in liquid savings
  • Student loan under $6000
  • Have car loan under $14,000
  • Contribute $2500 to Roth IRA
  • Have ING Stock account to $8000
  • Have Business Savings to $10,000 (this isn't included in my regular savings)
  • Finish Will
  • Complete a 5K Run

Alltel Phones

Husband and I switched to Alltel on Christmas Eve.  We'd debated about switching but we plan to use the wireless internet as our home internet and Verizon doesn't offer unlimited wireless internet.  The good thing about going with Alltel is that I will be able to write off the wireless internet on my taxes since I will be using it for work.  My husband got a Blackberry and I got a regular phone.  We had to have one Smart Phone with the unlimited internet. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

December Goal Progress

1.  Track Spending  Fail!!!
2.  Have 10 No spend Days  Fail!  (I haven't been tracking my spending).
3.  Make goals for the New Year--2011  Done!
4.  Add at least $500 to savings  Done!
5.  Pay the credit card in full--I paid our new home insurance and for the appraisal on it  Done!
6.  Close on our new house  Done as of 12/2!
7.  Get propane delivered for our new house  Done!  I called today to get it done. 
8.  Get Direct TV set up  Done!

It is so hard for me to track my spending.  Any tips?  I'm not sure why I suck so much at this.  I don't even have a prayer for keeping track of my husband's spending.  Of course, I know what he spends out of our checking account but cash dissolves in his hands. 

How does everybody else keep such good track of their spending?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Favorite Store

I have a new favorite store.  It's so awesome!  It's Toys R Us!  I went there with my daughter last night and I love it.  We both had a lot of fun.  She's almost 1 1/2 years old and had a blast trying out the many different toys.  My husband's grandpa had given us $100 for her for Christmas.  I was going to put it in her savings account but I decided that she should have a gift from him.  I bought her a musical table that was $45, so about $50 with tax.  I will put the other $50 in her account.  I know that her great-grandpa will have a lot of fun watching her play with her new toy from him. 

That store is so cool though.  They have everything.  I would have loved to be a kid in that store.  I remember thinking that the toy section in KMart was the coolest thing. :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Changing Cell Phone Providers

We've been with Verizon for about 4 years now.  I'm thinking of switching to Alltel because they have a better plan for us.  We can't get regular internet at our house because we live in the country.  Dial up isn't an option because my husband won't put up with that.  We can get satellite internet but its about $50 per month, even paired with our Direct TV.  So that leaves us looking at wireless internet through our cell phone provider.  I talked to Verizon and its $50 a month for a limited internet package.  I was at the mall during my lunch hour doing some Christmas shopping and I happened to stop in the Alltel store.  Basically, our cell phone bill is right around $103 per month.  That includes two regular phones (not smart phones) with 1400 any time minutes with a limited texting package on each phone.  For about $150 per month (taxes included), we would get 2 phones with 1200 any time minutes, 1 regular and 1 smartphone, unlimited texting, and unlimited wireless internet.  They are very close but Alltel includes the smart phone in their package which my husband really wants a smart phone. 
Has anybody had any luck with Alltel?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New House

We closed on our new house on Friday.  I'm so happy that its finally done.  My husband got the job that he applied for and he starts 2 weeks from yesterday.  We'll have to get more information on the benefits he will have.  I do know that health insurance is completely paid for our family. 

Now we have to get our propane filled up.  Holy Batman, that's expensive!  Much more expensive than having natural gas.  We don't even have the option of natural gas because our new place is in the country.  I've been tracking my spending for December and its high.  I will try to do a post on that later.  We're in the process of getting internet at our new house.  It's also going to be expensive because of location. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Quitting Walmart!

Last week we spent like crazy at Walmart to the tune of over $400.  I talked it over with my husband and we both decided that we would steer clear of Walmart and get our groceries at a regular grocery store.  Often Walmart does have very good prices on groceries but we end up buying so many other things there that we may or may not need.  We did buy a few turkeys at rock bottom prices of 50 cents per pound and we needed to stock up on a few things but I feel that we wouldn't have spent as much at a regular grocery store.  This past Wednesday, my husband went to the grocery store and only got what was on my shopping list.  He's much better about following a list than me.  He will often not have one extra item from not on the list.  I always get what is on my shopping list plus a bunch of other items.

Has anybody else stayed away from Walmart because you spend too much there?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Net Worth

I don't keep track of my current net worth the way that most people do but I keep my own version.  The reason I don't do it like most is because I don't figure that I will actually sell some things.  For instance, most people track their home net worth by subracting their mortgage(s) from their home value.  That is very deceiving because there are a lot of fees to actually sell your house and you would have to pay them to gain access to that money.  We also have a couple paid for motorcycles and another vehicle but I don't see us selling them so I don't include them.  Anyway, here goes. 

Savings  63,009.61
Retirement  12,201.14
Stocks  5,655.59

Student loan  7,576.48
Car  18,950.00

The huge increase in savings is because we sold our old house but have still not closed on our new house.  The car loan is at 0% and my student loan is at 4.5%.  I only keep a cushion of $500 in my checking account and I don't include that.  I also do have a business checking and business savings but these totals don't reflect those balances.  The retirement is just mine.  My husband has a 401K and a Roth IRA but I don't include those balances.

Tracking spending and December Goals

Today is December 1st.  I'm going to track all of my spending in December.  It's kinda weird but it actually makes me excited to have a better control of my finances.  With moving in November, I completely lost it for that month.  For December, my goals are:
1.  Track Spending
2.  Have 10 No spend Days
3.  Make goals for the New Year--2011
4.  Add at least $500 to savings
5.  Pay the credit card in full--I paid our new home insurance and for the appraisal on it
6.  Close on our new house
7.  Get propane delivered for our new house
8.  Get Direct TV set up