Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bank VISA - May '10 Update

As promised, I'm trying to spend a good deal of time today dealing with the paper piles that have taken over my desk.

No extra payments for this credit card last month. But we're making progress!

$59.05 paid. New balance = $2,897.98

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Chase Card #2 Update - May '10

I'm still tagging this as Chase Card #2 even though the balance has been transferred to the equity line.

$21.74 paid. New balance = $2,591.40

Tonight is dd's recital, so I spent my morning getting hair in rollers and making sure all costume pieces are packed. I need to make a grocery run, then it will be time to start makeup and head downtown for the big performance tonight! Fun, fun day!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

HELOC May '10 Update & Weekend Plans

The best thing about this loan is that rent from the tenants is totally covering the payment (plus more)!

$276.68 paid. New balance = $71,932.61

I am trying to pull myself out of the funk I've been in this month, and I know that keeping busy and seeing results will do for my psyche than anything. We have commitments through Saturday for my daughter's dance recital and for my god daughter's high school graduation, but Sunday and Monday??? I'll be finding the wood that I know is under my desk somewhere. The papers have piled up, the checkbooks need balancing, and the shredder needs a workout. If I can gain control of this desk by Monday, I know I can start June off on a much better note!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Money Market Loan Update - May '10

For anyone who might not remember, this is where I withdrew some money from my savings with full intentions of paying myself back. I was able to make two small payments to this "loan" in May: $6 from online surveys and a $7.17 check from Ebates. These small amounts are just that....small. But by using them, I've paid myself back over $100!!

$13.17 paid. New balance = $4,603.08

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Capital One Update - May '10

"Slow and steady wins the race."

$11.79 paid. New balance = $1,025.36

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thoughts after the Nashville Flood

I know I've fallen behind on posting monthly updates. I've actually fallen behind on quite a few things. I really don't think it's due to the busyness that comes with the school year ending, preparing for dd's dance recital, or even trying to keep up with the workload of my day job. Honestly, this flood has affected me more than you would anticipate.

Yes...we've been thrown into an immediate "home repair" project which leads to chaos inside the house and that unsettling feeling when checks are flying out the door faster than you can keep up with them. It's strange how each individual reacts differently to crisis.

My husband has been short on patience because of the "mess" that comes with trying to live in a space that the flooring and baseboards are ripped out, tools and saws sitting around everywhere, everything out of place, laborers that don't do their work exactly the way he would. That is the chaos that makes him crazy. (The good news is that he's 100+ days sober...although there were a few days I highly encouraged him to leave the house and hit an AA meeting ASAP).

On the other hand, it drives me absolutely crazy to have this project going with no pre-planned budget, uncertainty just where the funds are going to come from, or exactly how many dollars it's actually going to cost! So I've suffered from my own dose of stress and anxiety. And, in typical fashion, I've done my best to ignore the whole checking account for the past three weeks.

But more than that, it's the stories out there of those who have lost everything. I think they call it "survivor's guilt". The stories that really hit my heart are the elderly (70 and 80 year olds) with paid-for homes who were just getting by with their Social Security checks. Now some don't even have home to go back to and others don't have the savings to restore what's left into a safe and habitable place. To think that their entire financial well-being has been destroyed by something no one ever saw coming is just beyond what my brain can fathom right now. Because I'm one of those weirdos that actually reads the public record section of the newspaper occasionally, last week I found out that some of my closest neighbors were just days away from foreclosure. Although we're close, we really don't discuss financial issues, and I'm not comfortable bringing it up with them. But I spent a couple of days in constant worry and even one night where I dreamed of nothing but mortgages, loan balances, courthouse steps and more mortgages. Talk about a nightmare!!!

Anyway, it's kind of been three weeks where the glass feels even more "half-empty" than usual. I'm trying to dig my way out of the funk because I know that pessimism doesn't help any of us!

Updates to come later in the week. It's getting late, and I definitely don't need to start off another busy week more sleep deprived than usual. I do hope it's a good week for you!

Friday, May 14, 2010

You can't time the markets

That's the old adage anyway. Despite that being drilled into my brain for years and years, I'm finding myself wondering whenever there is a sharp drop if that day might be one of the lowest points of 2010. Why?

Because I've decided to convert part of my traditional IRA into a Roth in 2010. Why? It has nothing to do with the income limit being lifted...our income has never been high enough to disqualify us from making a Roth conversion. It has nothing to do with being able to spread the tax over the next 2 years. I'm quite fine with paying the tax in 2010, since I don't anticipate tax rates being lower in 2011 and 2012.

But, we have set aside $5,000 for energy-efficient improvements (namely windows) to put in place in 2010. These improvements will qualify for a 30% tax credit. So I've decided to convert the amount of my traditional IRA into a Roth that would translate into a $1,500 tax bill. I won't be out of pocket anything, but I will get that IRA money into my preferred retirement vehicle.

Of course, I'd love to make the conversion on the absolutely lowest day for the stock market. That would mean more shares get thrown over to the Roth with full anticipation that the value will rise over time. So when is that day???

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

April Net Worth Funding Update

April turned into a very good month for progress towards the 2010 Net Worth Goal. You can see that I added a new line for the Roth Funding goal I set midway through the month. I was also able to add $165 to my existing Roth accounts as a 2009 contribution.

I hope this progress continues. It's nerve-wracking at the moment with the money we need to spend to get our house back in order after the flooding. We already had some other electrical/appliance repairs that came up even before the water damage. And we added a new member to our family in April (a 2-month old black labrador retriever) who needs all her shots. We're also trying to figure out how to pay for an invisible fence for our acre-plus yard so she can burn off all that puppy energy without running down the street or requiring constant supervision. It's kinda one of those "when-it-rains-it-pours" scenarios....and I guess based on the events of May 1-2 you can take that literally. LOL

So my focus is changing...we're in the land of minimum payments on the debt since the priorities are now to pay for these larger unbudgeted expenses without taking on any additional debt AND to fully fund that 2010 Roth IRA.

Monday, May 10, 2010

We must always look for the good

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, I would be remiss if I left you thinking that all is despair and agony here. There are SO many wonderful stories out there, I'm sure I won't be able to remember them in the 15 minutes I have before I round up kids and herd them off to bed.

The volunteer effort here has been enormous. Even before the news graced the major media, neighbors were helping neighbors. People were rescuing horses from rising floodwaters. If you owned a boat, you more than likely were out rescuing people from their homes.

Last Monday morning, the day after the rains moved on, people started returning home (if they could). And what was amazing was the outpouring of support and help from family, friends, church groups and even strangers. At one of the large condominium complexes hit especially hard by the flood, the volunteer turnout was so large on Saturday, no one could find a parking spot!

Hands on Nashville, which is coordinating many service projects all across town, reported today that through their organization alone, 39,000 volunteer hours were logged from 5/2 through 5/9! That is just astounding!

We've already had telethons and performances solely to raise money for flood relief, with more being planned.

FEMA arrived last Monday, and declared they had never been to a place where so much of the disaster cleanup was already underway before they arrived. That speaks volumes to me!

This flood may have washed away alot, but it sure didn't take with it the love we have for our city and the people in it. I couldn't be prouder to live in The Volunteer State right now.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Prepared for the Unexpected?

Yes....that is a rooftop.

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. It has been quite surreal here with all the damage and devastation our area suffered from the flooding last weekend. I'm sure you seen pictures. It is so very many people have lost everything including some who lost loved ones in the rising floodwaters. And yes, the Titans football stadium looked more like an Olympic swimming pool, the grandeur of the Opryland Hotel was reduced to resembling something from a scene in the Titanic. But real people with kids and jobs and mortgages have lost their homes, their cars, virtually everything they own. They are calling this a 100, 500 or 1000 year flood depending on what news source you listen to. We just don't have floods here! Tornadoes-- yes, floods - NO! In fact, in a city with almost 600,000 people only 6,000 had flood insurance. Which means much of this is a total loss. FEMA will help, but they have low limits on the dollar amount of help they can provide. I'm expecting another wave of foreclosures in our city as people decide it's better to walk away since they will not be able to afford to restore their homes to a habitable state and replace everything they need to function.

As for us, the damage was minimal. We had about an inch of water in our lowest level so we’re replacing carpet and flooring in our rec room, laundry room and one bathroom. Here is a picture of all we lost. Nothing compared to many. Unexpected? Unplanned? Certainly, but we’ll use some savings and tighten the budget even further the next few months to get it done.

But for some of my "neighbors", there was no way to prepare for a catastrophe that no one predicted, no one could have imagined. It just goes to show, as hard as you try, no matter what the financial gurus say, you can not plan for every emergency.

Editing to add a link to more pictures of the devastation: Click Here

Monday, May 3, 2010

All good things must come to an end

One of the best almost-no-risk investments I ever made was a zero-coupon bond issued by the state of Tennessee. I bought it when I was just an investing novice at age 27. I paid $251 for a bond that was to yield 6.9% for 20 years. It matured May 1, and I have mailed it to the trust department at one of the banks for redemption. Hopefully, I will get my check this week for the maturity value of $1,000. And since it was a municipal bond, all that interest/gain is totally tax-free!!

Now, because of my bucket mentality, and because this originated from funds given to me by my dad, I'm searching for the next investment to keep building this little pot of money. Only wish I could find another tax-free super-safe 6.9% guaranteed return.

What I'm considering??? $250 in I-bonds, $375 to NNN, and $375 to CEL. A little speculation with the CEL, safety in I-bonds, and real estate diversification in NNN.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

More April '10 Updates

April is always a busy month. I'm not working the double shift hours like I did the first two weeks of the month, but things are still busy at the office. Even today I'm up at the crack of dawn to get a couple of hours of weekend work knocked out so I can really be "here" at home once the rest of the family wakes up!

While I wait for the coffee to finish brewing, here are the last of the loan updates for April.

Money Market Loan:

$4.02 paid - $4,616.25 remaining. WooHoo! I'm hoping next month I'll cross over that $100 paid threshold.

Bank Visa:

$93.61 paid. New balance =$2,957.03 Another WooHoo! This one has now gone under the $3K mark never to return again!!!

Chase Card #1:

$158.32 paid. New balance = $5,577.76. And this is the biggest WOOHOO! With this update the total of all the credit card debt is now $12,816.01. It started at $15,981.86 so credit card debt is down over $3,000!!! YIPPEE!!!

Now to get that pesky work finished before the rugrats start circling. Hope you have a great Saturday!