Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March Stock buys

I didn't buy any others to know than the regular $500 we have going into mutual funds.  For this month, I've made a couple stock purchases.  I bought 100 shares of Target in three separate transactions.  I happened to buy Target shares last fall.  When my stock was up $1000 in two months, I sold around Thanksgiving.  I'm thankful that I was able to time it and sold high.  I'm now buying at what I feel is a low but time will tell.

I also bought 14 shares of BP.  I own just under 180 shares of BP and I would like to buy more.

My retail stock accounts are over $80,000 so only about $20,000 more to go this year 😃

Anybody else buying in this funky market?  If so, what are you buying?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Gender Wage Gap

Since it is International Women's Day today, there are quite a few articles about the gender wage gap.  There is no doubt that there is still very much a wage gap but I do think there are areas that women can fight back.

I'm lucky in that I work for an organization that values women.  Our CEO is a woman.  My boss is a senior vice president and is a woman.  There are many women in management.

I am in sales so I am on a commission comp plan.  It is the same plan as my male coworkers.  How do I know that?  Because I ask them of course.  When our comp plans are changed, I usually end up discussing it with at least three or four coworkers.  I want to know that I'm being paid equally with the only variance being what we produce.  Our employer has never told us not to discuss our pay so I'm not being insubordinate by doing so.  In general, I find that most people don't discuss it because they are unsure how others will react.  However, unless you are in an HR position, there is no way to know unless you ask so I ask.

If I wasn't paid the same, I would either wait for a review or email my boss right away and ask for a change to my compensation.  Yes, it's bold but nobody else really cares about what I make more than me.

I do think that women could fight the gender gap by asking for more and being assertive about it.  It is worth noting that some companies are never going to comply.  They are a good old boys club with no room for women.  My last company was like that and I looked to leave when I had a reasonable amount of experience there.

How about you?  Are you paid the same as your male counterparts?  This subject fascinates me so I would love to hear your input.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Taxes Filed

I just filed our taxes on Friday.  I received the last capital gains statement on Friday from Capital One Investing.  I used FreeTaxUsa.com for the free federal filing and $12.95 for the state filing.  We are getting back $3069 for federal and $14 for state.  I'm happy that we are getting money back.  My commissioned income is all over the place so it is impossible to accurately withhold correctly.   I would rather get back money at tax time than pay in.

We made the most money that we ever have in 2016.  The money actually feels a bit bittersweet.  I was the most stressed that I've ever been at work the last half of the year.  My sales activity is now back to normal and I'm way less stressed.  I actually leave work everyday now to work out during lunch versus scarfing down lunch at my desk.

Have you filed taxes yet?  Anybody else receiving a refund?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Big Fat Goal

I never did post my goals for 2017.  The reason is that I've had trouble finding motivation and inspiration.  However, I have one major goal that is exciting to me.  I want to have $100,000 in our joint stock accounts.  We started the year with $75,785.73.  I track this monthly so I will update at the end of this month.  At the end of January, we had $75,447.99.  The loss was mainly due to our investments.  I purchased Under Armour and it's taken a beating this year.  But I also purchased Unilever toward the end of 2016 and I've made over $1000 on that in the last few business days.

The other goals I have for 2016 involve maxing out my 401k, both Roth IRS's, paying down the mortgage a bit, increasing Y's 457 contributions and increasing 529 contributions for both kiddos.  For my person goals, I want to continue working out at the gym, run 3 5k's, finish basement, plant an apple tree, plant two other berry trees/shrubs and an vacation for 2018.  And have a more relaxing year.  So far, so good on the last one!!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Giving to Needy?

We were at a Walmart in Phoenix tonight when we were approached by a lady.  She said her baby needed diapers and food.  I asked her what size diapers.  She said size six.  I gave her some pullups and asked her what kind of food she wanted for her baby.  She said cooked chicken, bread and avocadoes.  I told her I would buy her food.  I went in and bought her a cooked chicken, bread and bananas.  I brought them back out to her.  She said thank you and stayed where she was with an older guy whom she introduced as her dad.

I think that I was likely lied to and she just wanted money for drugs or whatever.  However, I cannot walk away from somebody who says they have a hungry baby/child.

What would you do?  Walk away?  Give her money?  Or buy food for her?

I'm not looking for affirmation either way.  I'm just curious.  We don't really have homeless people where we live because it is bitterly cold and a really low unemployment rate.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Entertainment Expenses

One area we have decided to spend more on is entertainment.  We want to have more experiences and are willing to pay for it.

Last weekend we went to Wisconsin to spend New Years with two of my sisters.  We went tubing at a ski resort there.  It was expensive but totally worth it.  Lil G even lasted for the entire 3 hours.  He was a trooper.  Punky had a blast going down with my sisters, brother-in-law and her cousin.  It was fun to travel to see them.  I miss them so much.  We even talked about moving to be closer to them.

We are currently renting a rustic cabin in a state park.  We had actually planned this trip a few months back with friends.  We each have a cabin for our families.  The cabins have electricity but no other amenities.  We brought an electric skillet with to cook breakfast tomorrow as there are no cooking facilities.  We rented cross country skis today and went sledding.  It was so cold though, about minus 10.  We are now hunkered down in our cabin.  Y and the kids are watching a movie on the portable DVD player and I'm catching up on blogs while appreciating the fire and being in the middle of the woods.  We had a couple bottles of wine earlier with our friends and played a dice game.  These are the times that memories are made of :)

Next weekend we are planning on going to Monster Jam with the kiddos.  Lil G is excited to see Grave Digger.  It's crazy that monster truck is still around because I saw it more than 20 years ago.

We are comfortable increasing how much we spend on entertainment.  We feel that it does improve our quality of life.  Anybody else spending more and enjoying it?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Almost Free Vacation

We are going on vacation next month to Arizona.  We fly into Phoenix, will stay one night, drive to Sedona the next day where we will stay for two nights and go back to Phoenix to a water park for a couple nights.  I have used credit card points to pay for most of it.  We signed up for the Barclay card this past year and used it for everything.  We were able to use those points for all but $167 for our flights.  I used my previous points from my US Bank card to rent a midsize SUV.  I used previous points from my Chase card to pay for the hotel in Sedona for two nights.  I was a little short and had to cover $98 for that hotel.  I signed up this past year for a Hilton card.  I used it a minimal amount but was able to get enough points to almost cover 2 nights at a  Hilton Resort which has a water park for the kiddos.  I had to pay $100 for additional points to cover the Hilton hotel.  So far, I've spent $365.  I do still have to cover the first night in Phoenix but we will just get something mediocre since we get in late that night.

We plan to drive to the Grand Canyon from Sedona.  I also want to go the Butterfly museum in Phoenix one day.  I would also like to go hiking around Sedona with the family.

My goal was to use points for our whole vacation.  I'm very close to doing it but it won't happen this year.  Plus, we will not have any points after this vacation to keep for next year.  I'm ok with what we have but I'm going to aim for a completely free vacation next year.

Has anybody else used perks or points to vacation free?  I love hearing others stories as it inspires me.