Thursday, October 30, 2008

Saving for the Present!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have been trying to discover, the reason for my existence. What am I and why am I here and what motivates my action. I believe that human’s are always forward looking. We look forward to things and most of the time forget to live in the present. It’s like this constant battle in us to work towards something or save towards something. Seldom it makes me think, what if I keep saving every penny that I can hoping that it would provide me a good cushion when I grow older and suddenly one day I come to know that I have one day left to live. How will my perspective be towards life? I am pretty sure I won’t be thinking twice about going out for a lunch on that day. If that’s the case isn’t future always dependent what’s happening now? Then why do we save, when change is permanent and the only thing in our control is right this moment. I guess that’s what makes life so interesting. We live in anticipation that our future beholds something – a secured debt free life that gives us flexibility to do what ever we wanted all this time. I realized that the best time to live is not the past nor the future but the PRESENT moment. Present moment gives us a sense of control on life that we always wanted and our freedom lies in realizing in this.

I am not saying that we should splurge instead of saving but instead acknowledge the fact that life can take some unexpected turns and be wise about it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Damned by Debt DON'T to be Afraid!!!!!!

I was reading JD’s blog, getrichslowly, this morning and he was writing about a new book that has taken a lighter approach towards budgeting without the boredom that follows along with it. I agree that the balanced approach highlighted in the book makes it easier for rookies or people damned by debt not to be afraid of the word “BUDGET”. After reading his review of the book, I realized that the book and folks like me have one thing in common – WANT. As per JD, the book describes the HAUNTED word WANT as a good one for the first time in any finance journal that I have read. I am at a place where I am today is not because I like the word –WANT but I have attached too much of myself to it. So, all I have to do right now, is to balance out the attachment of the daunted word to myself and I will have it going. Sounds pretty straight forward isn’t it. JD, quotes from the book that we have to spend 50 % on Needs which includes housing, utilities, bills etc which should be paid before we even think of the word entertainment or saving. 30% to Wants and 20% towards Savings. The authors say this simple rule will set us on the path to freedom. I really liked the way they put it. Sounds easy on money slackers like me. If I were to spend my income according these authors, this is how it would look like:

Income: $4300

50% twds Needs - $2150
30% tads Wants - $1290
20% twds Savings-$860

Where in as of now, this is how my income is spent:

90.47% twds Needs - $3890
2.32% twds Wants - $100
6.39% twds Savings - $275

This is because I have $12,000 in debt that I am knocking off right now. I should agree that looking at my budget, I get a bit stressed but looking at the balanced budget suggested by the authors from the book JD mentions I feel more relaxed and happy. More so because for once I can see a WANT category in the budget without being guilt ridden. It’s actually been a positive reinforcement on me. Thanks JD, for this article,

Let me know how you guys matched up against the Balanced Budget

Friday, October 24, 2008

Birthdays and Expenses

It’s been a hectic day today with lot of month end stuff going on. Somehow I got through it even though my manager tired to drive me crazy. We have a lot of expenses coming our way this month. We took our beamers for a service check up and both need around 1000 dollars maintenance that’s not covered by our warranty. I can’t blame myself enough for that beamer purchase. I went out car shopping with a 3000 dollar budget and ended up spending 35k. One of the most stupid purchases I have ever made. Something that goes down in value. Did not have my priorities straight then. My husband’s beamer is all paid off and mine still has 23k outstanding. On top of these expenses we have our annual HOA dues that need to be paid and need to do some maintenance on the lot. I spoke to a yard guy that luckily lives on the same sub division and he says he will mow our lot for 100 dollars. My husband’s birthday is tomorrow and he is hitting his big 3 – 0.

I have 2 birthdays coming up that I need to attend and buy gifts for. Spending money sucks. Its like, I had money and lot of free time so I ended up spending. Now I do not have enough money or time but I still end up spending. I guess there is no way out, we are social beings, we need friends and we need to make small sacrifices for friends and family. Hopefully, all this good karma will help me hit a lottery some day.. Oh shoot I still have to spend a dollar for the lottery… Damn, why can’t stuff be on sale for FREE?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another day goes by

I could barely sleep last night, I was s**t scared being alone. I wasn’t like this before while I was practicing my meditation and yoga may be I need to get back to doing it. I slept with the lights on waking up every 2 or 3 hours and making sure the doors are still locked. I watched the movie “When a stranger calls” last weekend and I guess the director did his best scaring me to shivers. I keep watching scary movies albeit their negative affect on me. Three more nights before my sweet hubby arrives and I will sleep like a baby until he leaves the following Monday.

I am very proud myself. I have come a long way managing my credit. I am progressing very well. I still have 6 more months to pay it down and then my husband and l will start saving for our house. I have been tucking away 100 dollars a month towards emergency savings and I will increase the contribution after I pay off my credit cards.

It been more than two and half months I have bought a single piece of clothing. This is the longest time during my six year stay in the US that I haven’t bought any thing. Its liberating actually and the best part is I don’t feel constrained, I am actually enjoying it. Another major achievement is turning into a vegan. I remember telling my friends that this is something I could never ever do and here I am two months hence holding my head up high- Yes, I am a VEGAN. I hope I don’t beat the drums too loud. You never know the person sitting up there watching all of us can put our strengths to test any moment.

BTW, I guess y’all are eager to know my number from yesterday’s posting, its $34 though I make only $25.096 per hour after taxes. I hope to come closer to this number within the next year. I have a performance review coming up and I hope it will be a smooth ride.

I have also joined the gym at work today. Its 15 dollars per month and I guess it’s a good deal. Except that I hate to take a shower during my workday but I think it will be easier with the jeans-pass we have at work.

Have a great rest of day people ;)

Monday, October 20, 2008

What's your number?

In today’s crazy competitive world it’s very important to know what your worth. Not, what the companies that hire you think you are worth but if someone were to ask you today how much you are worth, do you have your quote ready? The question intrigued me when my manager and I were having a casual discussion about spending time on manicuring the lawns. He told me that he would rather pay 20 bucks an hour and the get the job done rather than him spending that time on the lawn. According to him he is worth $120. It is very important for a professional person to come up with that number. That shows how confident one is when he/she is trying to sell their services. Having this discussion previously with my manager helped me a lot to help my friend realize how much she is worth.

My friend Mel moved from Singapore to Houston a couple of years ago. She owned and worked in her own spa back in Singapore. She found a job as a beautician which was paying her $10 an hour here in Houston. She drives 25 miles to get work and pays $7 in tolls everyday to get to work. She was working long hours with no proper lunch breaks. She was always complaining about how much she hated to work there. One of her clients referred her to another lady who is planing on opening a spa quite close to Mel’s house. The lady called Mel for an interview and offered her $10 an hour and my friend happily accepted as she could save all that money she was spending on gas and tolls and the time to get to her previous work place.

She called me and asked me if she made the right choice. She is one of finest people that I have ever got my eyebrows and massages done with. I advised her to let the lady know that she will only be able to work if she is paid $12 an hour. My friend was hesitating initially (since there are quite a few people who will jump in for previous offer) but she gave the lady a call and the lady agreed instantaneously. Knowing what you are worth is very important. Mel just increased her weekly earnings by $80 and monthly earnings by $320.

Here is how I came up with what I think I am worth.

1. What sets you apart from others: This defines your skills and how you adapt to the changing needs of the market. Do you make a confident and conscious effort to equip yourself with the new technologies or are you happy to work within your own area.

2. How confident are you within your skill set: If you were to rate yourself with you skill set, what would that rating look like. Do you try to find ways to do the job effectively instead of efficiently?

3. How open are you to learning: I see people at my work processing the same invoices for the past 30 years. They have made their cubicle a second home. Though I don’t intend to lookdown upon what they are doing, I always wonder why they do not get bored of what they are doing. I believe the quest to always learn something new keeps me alive. Our department is going through a new implementation replacing COGNOS (a reporting tool); I keep hearing from people how they hate to learn this new tool all over again. I think learning keeps our brains active all the time and something to look forward to.

4. Do you invest in yourself: How much do you invest in yourself? Not just getting dolled- up and looking pretty J but investing in your career. Are you investing in yourself to get new certifications and learning to new applications from time to time that will boost your career?

If the answer for all the above questions is a big “YES”, I am sure you got a big number over your head. I have been working for the past 2 and half-years and I constantly find ways to boost my career. Having said all this, you guys might be wondering what number I will attach to myself. Any guesses?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Daddy’s Girl

I have started writing a PF blog 2 years ago and then I discontinued it. Being born in India, our culture is much different from here. In the US, you grow up and you live your own life but in India we grow up and we live others life too (Others meaning our parents our siblings etc.) Though I am honored to be given an opportunity to give back to my parents what they have spend all their lives giving me, I become frustrated sometimes because these keep me from attaining my own financial goals. I love my parents and they mean more than anything in this world to me. When I was 3 or 4 years old, I used to always tell my Mom and Dad that I will take care of them when I grow up. My parents have given us a good infact wonderful life. They bought us whatever we wanted even if that meant sacrificing their needs which was always the case. I still remember that time when my Dad gave my mom 5000 rupees to buy a sari and my Mom bought three of us new clothes for a festival. One way I figured out to handle this problem is to re-define the word ME. For now, it includes my Parents and later my husband once I finish my commitments towards my parents. Below is what I am planning to do for my parents:

Arrange investment money for my Dad: $ 10000
Buy a car for my parents : $ 8000

My previous plan also included constructing a house for them, but my lovely Big B-I-L took over the responsibility. I am glad he is part of our family.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Married yet Single

I have mentioned in my previous posts about maintaining individual bank accounts between my husband and I though we have been married for 3 years. There is a reason why I keep it that way. I have come out college with around 10,000 dollars in it. Though I paid off most of it after I was employed, I charged two huge transactions on my CC when I went to India last March for the first time since I have been married. We, in India have lot of rituals or obligations (as I would like to say) to not just marry off your daughter but marry her off the Joneses way. My father sold all of his business to pay for my education and my siblings’ weddings. By the time it came to me, he had nothing left. I got married to the man of my choice with absolutely no dowry and my in-laws were not so happy about it because I reeled in Mr. Scorpio for free. Though they haven’t made a big fuss about it, I often started hearing some rambling about it. When I went to India earlier this year, I knew they would be expecting my father to have some jewelry made for me. I did not want my father to take that burden, so the firs thing I did when I got off the plane was to buy some jewelry for myself on my CC. I told my in-laws and my husband that my father bought it for me. My smarty pants husband knew about it but he just kept quite.

Well, at the end of trip I was left with 15,000 dollars in debt and with a new job to get back to in the USA. I decided I will only maintain joint accounts once I paid off all my debt. I don’t want my husband to be paying for some choices that I have made (Though I really can’t justify it to be wrong). I am well on my way towards it. I will keep pressing on.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Goals not met

I have set up some goals for myself last week and our the 5 I have planned to do, I did not accomplish even 1. Well I did go running once but my goal was to go for running 3 times. I have decided not to set-up any goals until I accomplish what I have already set. So there goes my this week's plan.

I pumped another 145 dollars into AIG. I got in at $2.50 per share for 55. I hold 319 shares of AIG now. I would like to keep buying below $2.50 until I hold 500. I am into AIG for the long run. AIG is the largest insurance company and has an abundant cash flow. The disposal of some of its assests to help pay out the loan from FED reduces the market cap AIG has, few years down the lane when markets adjust themselves AIG should come back up. So I am not going to panic by constantly refreshing my TV monitor.

My piano class was cancelled today so I went to HEB to get some groceries. I have been spending $1.94 every day for breakfast. I told myself I am going to save that money by making BF at home. So I got some food items to make the BF tacos at home. Usually I have eggs, cheese and hash browns in my taco. Here is the amount I spent on buying stuff for my D-I-Y breakfast.

Eggs: $2.39
Tacos : $4.29
Cheese :$ 2.20

Total : $8.88

I spend $9.70 per week for BF. The stuff I bought from H-E-B should last me two weeks. Savings for 2 weeks: $10.20

So how do you guys save money on little things.. Any tips?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


It’s a busy day today at work. It’s good in a way, time goes by so quickly. I dread days when I don’t have much to do except to keep staring at the computer. I try to put that time into use by reading or learning about stuff that I do not know. But too much of anything doesn’t do much good. I am very confused lately about my professional career. Questions like:

1.Should I stick to what I am doing now?
2.Does this job take me where I want to be few years down the lane?
3.Is this what I want to do for life?
4.Which career should I pursue of meeting my goal of becoming a Project Manager in 3 years?

These questions keep creeping up in mind and not letting me give my 100% to whatever is that I am doing.
I have read an article in PINK magazine (that I just subscribed 1month ago) and one of featured guest gives a very good advice to young professionals like me to “Keep doing what you are doing instead of thinking too much about your ambitions”. She was very right in saying that and now days whenever I feel down and confused and keep thinking about her advice.

I have failed to keep up my 5th goal that I set for myself to have breakfast at home. No matter how much I try and go to bed early, I am unable to wake up at 6.00 and go to gym and make breakfast. Let me see how far my evil twin controls me tomorrow.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Weekend rewind and plans for this week!

I ran my first 5K ever last Saturday. It felt nice to have finally done something that I was wanting to for so long. My timing was 36 min and I am very happy about it. I have attended two parties over the weekend by myself as Mr. Scorpio (My husband) was out of town. I love to observe people when I attend parties, not that I am judgmental or anything but I just love to watch how people react to things. It’s amazing how different people think differently about the same thing. I have met quite a few women with vibrant and active personalities and I started thinking of forming a team where in we can do activities together whenever we all get a chance.

Coming to my plans aka goals for this week. Below is what I would like to accomplish:

1. Go to gym 3 times during the week
2. Ride the bike twice during the week
3. Restrict to eating out only once.
4. Write up an email to all the ladies I met at the party proposing to form an all- girl team and come up with a name for it.
5. Have breakfast at home instead of spending money at the cafeteria.

No.4 on my list is exciting me; I have to wait and see what the outcome will be.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Snickers Financial Stand as of October

I have been away to the world of blogging for almost two years. After reading several blogs of savy investors and frugal livers, I decided to get back on to track. I have been maintaining a record of all my expenses and investments. Going forward, I will be updating my blog imposing a check on all my finances. So, here it goes:

As of October 6th -2008 this is where I stand financially.

Balance on Credit Cards : $ 13950.00
Blance on Car Payments : $ 26000.00
Savings in ING direct : $ 375.00
Investments : $ 1200.00
401K : $ 2100.00

I have been paying off my CC sincerely for the past 5 months. I should be left with zero balance on my CC by Mar - 2009.

I bring home $ 2156.00 bi-monthly,thats $ 4362.00 every month.

$ 2000 towards Credit Cards
$875 for Rent
$100 for Piano Classes
$100 towards my savings
$150 for gas and other personal expenses.
$660 towards the Car Payment.

I have been trying to keep a tab on unneccessary expenses that I cannot account for every month. I will be paying off all the Credit Cards by Mar-09 if I keep up this pace and I will. Next I would like to knock off my car payments.

My husband takes care of food and other entertainmnet expenses. We have still not reached a point in our marriage that we could save and invest jointly. I will let time decided when that happens.