Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy and a Properous 2010!!!

One great year ended and another to begin, I look forward to a challenging and joyous 2010.

All the very best everyone :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Payments..Payments...

Mr. Scorpio is getting ready for Business school, as exciting as it sounds its also getting me a bit worried. There are a lot of moving parts to our journey right now. Our immigration status has been in a state of flux for quite sometime now and I am not sure how it’s going to affect us once my husband starts the business school. The monthly payments are a kill. I really want to do something about those but when two people are involved, the decision making process slows down. I have been contemplating for sometime now about withdrawing money out of my 401K and pay it towards the car and bring down the balance to 6000 which I can pay off in 6 months. I am not sure what to do. The land and car payments are the biggest road blocks for me right now. I wish I could put that money towards savings instead of paying towards something that is not going up in value. I guess it’s the price we are paying for not making informed decisions. Ideally I would like to have only one payment apart from the rent before my husband starts to go to school. Not sure how I am going to tackle this problem right now.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Its Deepavali - The Festival of Lights

Today is Deepavali for us, what most people know as the Festival of Lights.. Its the day the Good overcame the evil. I logged in today to start blogging again..about my Finances,...but I have changed my mind. Instead of focusing on material stuff, I want to reflect on my life today , take a moment and Thank God for blessing me in so many ways.

Thank you for blessing me with good health so I can live every moment

Thank you for blessing me with an amazing family that love me unconditionally

Thank you blessing me with a job so I can provide for my family and take care of my loved ones

Thank you for getting the messages to my ear when ever I need them.

Finally , Thank you for the good food, air, water and home that you have blessed me with.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Money Diary - Aug-20th

Hurried to a meeting at 9.00 and grabbed some breakfast on the way - money spent - $4.04

Grabbed some lunch at the cafeteria for $3.84 - tried something new today, it turned out to be a good meal and good price.

Came home early, @ 5 and went grocery shopping with hubby -money spent - $65

On our way back to the car, he and I discussed about how much we can save if we went to the local farmers market for veggies, though HEB has good stuff, its bit pricier, I usually spend around $25 dollars for my 2 weeks worth of vegetables. HEB is definetly the choice for meat though, fresh meat at an affordable price plus it comes from local vendors unlike other chains.

Hubby's fav dish Lamb curry is cooking on the stove right now.....

Total money spent today - $73 ..oouch....

Money Diary - Aug -19th

Breakfast at work- $ 3.46

Lunch - $4.24

Total Spent - $7.70

Reached home to my b'day gifts, hubby ordered 212 and light blue from Amazon. Love'em, another suprising gift - Kitchen Confidential from Anothony Bourdain, my fav- host on TV - He Rocks..!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Money Dairy - Aug 18th

I felt like my day was cut short by 3 hours or something. The whole day passed by in a hurry.

Got to work at 8 this morning, completed some work before my mgr got to work and hurried down to get my usual breakfast for $3.07 before the cafeteria closed.

Hurried down to the conference room for a 5 hour meeting which turned out to be more like 7, got to gym at 5.30 pm, played basket ball for 10 mins before I had my fore scrathed by another players sharp finger nail, I get paranoid when its nails and stuff..left the court and worked out for sometime and got home at 7.30 , cooked, had dinner with hubby and now I am getting ready to pick up the book he gifted me..Stop Pissing meOff(LOL), but its for the work place though...

Total money spent today - $3.07

Monday, August 17, 2009

Money Diary - Aug 17th

Got up this morning to a nice cup of tea , got ready and left to work.

Got a muffin sandwhich with egg whites and coffee for $3.07

Transfered $3500 to my ING savings account. I had subscribed for ESPP at work and was able to stack away $4300.

Came home for lunch -money spent - $0

Hubby paid $600 towards our land mortagage.

Went to see my Sis after work and reached home at 7.00pm and cooked , had dinner with hubby -money spent -$0

Its my birthday today, got a nice Godiva chocolate collection from my cousin, waiting for the perfumes my hubby ordered for me..

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

June -Round Up

This has been an awesome month financially for two reasons. First, being that I was able to get my CC balance under 5000 dollars and Second, for being able to save $3600. I subscribed for ESPP (Employee stock purchase plan) at work and it had an automatic payroll deduction even before I saw the money. It was hard initially to cover all the expenses but as time passed by I was able to manage and was able to save another 150 on top of that after all bills are paid. ESPP for first part of the year ends today but I did not opt myself out of the plan which means that I would be able to save another 3000 dollars by the end of December and make a cool 15% profit since employees are given a discount on the existing market price (of course we need to pay the capital gains tax).

Seeing my CC balance under 5000 dollars makes me feel good because the number makes me feel more comfortable. I will do my best to save every dollar that I can to pay this off quickly. Ideally I would like to have it knocked out by the end of August but it would be a long shot. Nevertheless, I am happy as long as I can knock it out 3months before my India Trip.

Apart from the finances, I made a business proposal to one of good friend who lives in the same city as I do. She was looking to open up her own beauty salon but she is short on cash. I told her that I can invest 5000 dollars and asked her to think about it. Even though I do not have the skill set that is required to run a spa, I definitely do have some business experience coming from a business family myself. I will know something about it in the next few weeks and once I hear a yes from her, I will move forward. This would help me make some extra income and I can use my weekends to learn a new skill and find innovative ways to take the business to the next level.


Overall, has been a good month at work, home and financially.

Monday, June 22, 2009

How I got myself in and out of an embarassing situation at work

This morning I have gotten into a worst situation I could ever get into at work. It all started with a call from my senior manager,let’s call him C for now, this morning while I had my immediate manager at my desk. I had asked C couple of days ago if he would have time to sit with me and discuss about another position with a different application we have within our group. Though the first instinct told me that I have to let my immediate manager know about my interest in this position, I kind of ignored it telling myself that its just going to be an informational session with C” , not like a real interview or anything. I even asked around people in my office on what the best approach would be and “them all” told me talk to C first. Again, for the 100th time in my life I went with what others told me instead of using my best judgment. Fast forwarding to this morning – C asked me if I had spoken to my immediate manager already, by this time, I can feel blood gushing to my ears(which happens to me when I am nervous, or in an awkward situation) and my heart pounding in my chest as my immediate manager was right next to me. I told C that I haven’t yet and he told me in a very casual voice to talk him and to express to him that I am interested in this other position within my group. By the time I hung up the phone , my immediate manager could already guess what was going on and asked with a corny sense of humor – “So when are you planning to tell me about this” , I was so embarrassed to look at his face. I apologized to him and told that I was not in this kind of situation before and I did not what the best approach would be in such a situation and that I was curious to know what the position was all about before I even started thinking about seriously pursuing it.

He said that it was okay and gave me good feedback on what kind of approach to take when in a situation like this. He mentioned one thing about how he thought that both of us had open communication and this incident made him think twice about the kind of professional relationship we shared. I apologized to him again and I told him that I was really sorry and did not mean to offend him in any way. He got over it and told me forget about it and put this behind us.

So for all you new Yuppies’ out there. Lessons to take away from my experiences are:

1.Think it through before you approach anyone above your manager in your organizational hierarchy.

2.Take only expert opinion. Don’t ask around anyone you see, because these folks don’t mean harm but they will advise you based on their life experiences.

3.Look at the situation based on the kind of relationship you have with your manager.

4.Take expert opinion but let the final decision be yours.

5.The first instinct is always...always always right when you are stuck in these kinds of situations.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wall Street employee's humbling experience.

I was reading an article on WSJ and it ran jitters through my spine. The article was about a Wall Street employee who lost everything due to the market meltdown. This person, who was once earning more than 200, 000 dollars a year, now earns 25,000 dollars and works as an escort to seat hotel guests. It’s hard for me to comprehend how people can go through or cope up with such transitions in lifestyles. Reading through the article, I felt like this person was making good financial choices like having an emergency fund, a saving account etc but in spite of all that his family could not escape the wrath of a failing economy. While I work hard and hope that I never get myself into those situations, it’s often too easy to forget the life lessons. Give it a read; it might make you more committed to your financial goals. Hey, the wise always learn from “Other people’s mistakes”.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

May - Round Up

Things are still running at a slow pace with expected but delayed bills coming our way. I have not been able to pay the same amount towards CC, I used to 2 months ago. I am consciously cutting off all the unnecessary expenses but it seems like paying bills is more like a daily affair now-a days. I received a bill for 360 dollars from my insurance company for my DNC procedure. It seems that the expenses are not covered for a female under 30. I paid off that bill with the amount I set aside for my CC payments. I still have to come up with 660 dollars for my Advance Parole application which gives me the flexibility of traveling in and out the country. I am planning a trip to India this year and I won’t be able to get back into US without an AP. (Green Card looks like a far away dream now). The bright side of this is that I still have a job to take care of the expenses and to not fall behind. I am shooting to pay off my CC balances 3 months before my Trip, that way I can save for my trip expenses instead of digging back to CC’s. I think I got a good hold on my CC expenses. I am able to the go to the mall, admire at a nice piece of clothing and walk away without being tempted to buy it or feeling bad for not being able to afford it. All that said, here is how I did this month.

Balance on CC – $6892 (was able to pay only 765 this month)

Auto Loan – $21300

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Career Confusions:Suze.O comes to the rescue.

The only thing on my mind these days is the “direction” of my career. I graduated with double masters in Finance and International Relations and what I am doing right now has nothing/very less to do with the years I have spent earning those degrees. I work as a financial systems analyst, managing the reporting systems. I should say that not being happy where I am does not stop me from giving my 100% to the job I am in right now. I have learned quite early in my age to do every task/job with utmost dedication. I know I do not want to see myself doing the same job 5 years from now, if I am, then there is something seriously going wrong but on the other hand I do not know which direction to take to keep myself from getting stuck in this job. I have been in this state of flux for the past 6 months. I had this drive in me to excel but I had no clue in what!. I picked up Suze Orman’s YF&B book the other Friday and she mentioned something relating to this problem which made a lot of sense. I have summarized the lessons that I have learnt below:

Do something about it: The most important thing I have learned through meeting people who have excelled in their lives and through reading books is that if you do not like the status quo in your life then “Do something about it”, people can go on and on about how much they hate what they are doing or how much they love to do such and such but if you do not take action to change the status quo then things are not going to change or get better for you. Identifying the problem and taking action are two different things. We need to push ourselves to go beyond the first step.

Do some research: Now that you have identified the problem, the next step is to do some thorough research, I had no clue how to go about this, but again Miss.O’s (not Oprah! it’s Orman) book threw some light on it. Her advice to the YB&F’ers is to pick a career that interests them and do some research on it for at least a week. A thorough research will bring to light the pros and cons of choosing that particular profession.

Make the shift early: If you are in your 20’s or early 30’s making the shift now is much easier now than waiting for couple of more years even if that means settling down for a lower salary. The longer we wait the harder its going to be to make that shift because of the family and financial obligations we might get into. Mr. Scorpio just hit 30 last year and has been working as an IT consultant for the past 7 years. He wanted to get an MBA and make the shift to Finance for a long time and finally he has taken action and is enroute to make that change.

and finally,

Keep the faith: Once we have decided to make the shift or have had made that long waited shift, the initial obstacles might make it tough to ease into the transition and the best thing to do at that point is to keep the faith and have the eyes on the prize. Its more like practicing "frugality", its hard intially but in the long term turns out to be fruitful.



Have you been in situations like these, of so what did you do and how did you make that transition?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Amex just closed off my account that had the longest credit history!!!

Did it ever happen to you that the credit card you had for the longest time is closed off by the issuing company without even letting you know or sending a notification? Well, it happened to me, I have had Amex for 6 years now and infact it’s the first ever CC I got when I first came to US 6 years ago. I have always paid my dues on time and never over charged it; however, I recently paid off all the balance remaining on this CC about 8 months ago and haven’t charged anything on it since. I went to the website recently to see if I have any outstanding balances since I also have a Corporate Card, to my dismay I saw a message on my account website stating that my account has been closed due to inactivity. I am not sure why they would do that, at first thought I assumed that it’s because of the recession. Companies could be streamlining all their accounts and businesses. Amex has been different all the while; they are very stringent on their lending policies, I have had an experience 4 years ago where I was running close to my credit limit and once I paid off the balance they cut my credit limit too. I understand that but cannot comprehend why they would choose to close an account that is in good standing for the past several years. My biggest concern is not loosing the CC but the credit history attached to it, I am aware that credit history accounts for 15% of the FICO score, and its just not right to close an account without notifying the customer, that’s just not good customer service. I will be calling the company today to enquire about the reason that had led to the closing of my account.

Has this happened to you before, if so what did you do, any advice?

Friday, May 1, 2009

April Round –Up.

April has been an expensive month, with some unforeseen expenses coming my way. I had to dig back into the CC that was paid off. The 1000 dollar emergency fund that I had set side has been used to meet another expense. Below is where I stand as of end of April.

Credit Card 1 = $6700
Credit Card 2 = $955

Emergency Savings = $300.00

Balance on CC = $7655

I am planning on bringing up my emergency fund to at least $3000 and pay only minimum on my CC until I meet my emergency fund goal. With only myself working I think we need to have a better cushion for any expenses that come our way.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Finding meaning in chaos

I haven’t been blogging for more than a month now. So many events took place within this time that brought quick joy and sorrow to our lives before we could take it all in. I came to know I was pregnant at six weeks. We went to the doctor and she detected the heart beat and asked us to come back in 2 weeks. I had so many emotions during that two week period, excited but tensed, I wasn’t sure if we both were ready to start a family as my husband was preparing for B-school and we had only one income coming in and lots of debts to pay. Mr. Scorpio was like a rock all through this time, assuring me that everything would be “ok”. We went in for the 8 week check-up and that’s when the sad news hit us, that the fetus is not growing anymore. As per the doc, this was quite normal, 70% of the people have miscarriages and sometimes they do not even know it. It was new for us, because I have not known anyone in my family that had one. We still had hopes that may be another 2 weeks into it, we might somehow miraculously find the fetus still growing but that wasn’t the case. We went to a radiologist and at the end of the check-up she gave it away saying “I hope to see you in a better situation next time”.

Devastated, that we were, by the news I had a DNC last week and I am recovering from it. Through this journey I have learnt one thing that is “How important an emergency fund is”. I ended up paying 1200 dollars for the procedure and that is only the beginning, I am not sure how many medical bills are in store for us. Only 80% is covered by my employer insurance after a 1000 dollar deductible which I haven’t met yet.

I had 1000 dollars set aside for rainy days like this but I had to take it out to help out my sister in India. Though I am grateful that I am able to help my family in need, the pressure of not having saved enough is setting a fire in me to push harder. My credit cards are in control now. I haven’t charged anything on them for the past 7 months up until last week, I paid the 1200 contribution from my side through the CC. I am all motivated to pay it off. I have been religiously making payments to my CC. My initial plan was to pay everything off by May but looks like that date will be pushed to July. As long as I can clear off all my debts by August, I am good with it because I need to tackle Mr. Scorpio’s debts next. He is looking for a job right now and also researching some B-schools, not sure which path he will take yet.

Like my Mr. Scorpio always says, I am trying to find the meaning of life amidst all this chaos and I am hopeful that this too shall pass.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

February - 2009 Round Up

After a slow start this year, things are finally starting to fall in place again. I have paid off all credit cards but one that has the highest balance - $7568. I moved all the cash from my petty savings account into my emergency account to bring it up to $1000. I will start monthly deposits of $150 to my savings account until I pay off all the remaining balance on my credit card. I had a performance review at work last week and it went very well. My manager told me that he is very happy with my work and the way I progressed within a short period of time. That meant getting a raise, however, that happiness did not last longer. I received an email later from our company's VP that the management decided not to consider salary increments for this year until after they review the first quarter results. I am ok with that, I guess. Its good to have a job right now and I am grateful for that. Keeping that aside.

Below is how my finances look at the end of February.

Credit Card: $7568

Auto Loan: $22,325

Emergency Savings: $ 1000.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lessons learned from Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover Book

I just finished listening to the Total Money Makeover audio book by Dave Ramsey; I like what he says about managing our finances. The eternal optimism he injects into his readers throughout the audio tape is fascinating. All of us have been in those situations: where our impulses take over our wallets and vanity our common sense. That is not the end of the journey; it’s just the beginning because it’s from these precipitous falls we raise to great heights. These experiences teach us life lessons which help our minds to continuously probe into our past and help us make sound decisions in the present. It’s always good to know what the outcome of a bad judgment would be. Some are wise enough take those lessons from others mistakes and some are smart enough not to repeat them.

Dave talks about being “gazelle intense” – Gazelle is a small swift antelope from Africa which escapes 99% of the time when being preyed on by a leopard: an analogy that he uses to describe how unrelenting our efforts should be towards attaining financial independence. The basic underlining statement is that –Don’t buy stuff unless you can pay for it. Sounds very simple and straight forward, then the question comes- Why we do we fumble? Each of us has our own reasons; mine was that – I deserved to be happy. Little did I know that delaying those gratifications could have kept me happy for as long as I could live. Like Dave, I am an eternal optimist too, I believe in giving and taking second chances. I believe that people are always willing to work towards a better life except that some need big kicks on their behinds and some a jerk on the knee.

So, no matter if we are 18 or 28 or 39 or 56 years old we can always start NOW, start making wise choices and most importantly – BE HAPPY.

Friday, January 30, 2009

January- 2009 Round- Up

It’s been a busy month at work with new implementations going on. However, I cannot make that an excuse for not blogging regularly (Does someone care? LOL). So, I took look at my financial progress and realized things have been taking a slow turn. Until December I was able to knock off 2000 dollars off my CC balances that has been slowing down. I have my reasons (well we all do). I have registered for Employee Stock Purchase Plan at work and maxed out my contribution, so that’s taking 1000 dollars off my pay check every month. On top that, I have registered for MS-150 last October and I see some expenses coming my way. I have been researching online to find some good bargains for the stuff that I need. Keeping that aside, this is where I stand at the end of January

Credit Cards
Bank of America CC-1 = $7875
Bank of America CC-2 = $845
Balance as of January: = $8720

Auto Loan
Jan Beginning Balance: = $23420
Jan Ending Balance: = $22760

Savings
Emergency Savings: = $60
Long Term Savings: = $605
Parents Health Fund: = $40
House DP Fund: = $40


I would have to set aside around 150 dollars for MS-150. Still need to get the shoes, gloves, tubes and pump. phew. I am going on my first training ride with a group of people from my company tomorrow. Hopefully, I keep up the pace and am ready for my 150 mile ride on April 15th.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

How to Pay it Down?

Last year has been great for me, most importantly because I realized the value of money. I never had my money organized; it’s ironic that I have my masters in Finance. I came across couple of PF bloggers that have really motivated me to gain control of finances. I started blogging in June-2008 with a debt of around $ 20,000, today I have $ 8000 remaining. I am proud of myself that I have come a long way. For anybody out there who is starting your “Pay it down” journey right now here are a few tips to get going.

Start with a plan: I know this is what many PF bloggers say and they say it for a reason- because it works. I did not plan anything fancy. I just used Excel on my computer. I listed all the debt I had, the target pay off date and how much I paid down as I progressed. I had it color coded to keep it interesting. I had red in the debt column and green in the ones I paid off. I was always curious to see how my excel page would like if everything was green, and I have only one column in “RED” left now. Having a plan gives you a purpose and acting with a purpose in mind will always yield results.

Start paying your debt by paying yourself first: I am a big fan of Ramit This was the tip from him. I opened ING Savings account and automated 50 dollars bi-weekly to it,when I decided to get control of my finances,even before paying my CC’s ,I slowly increased that amount 200 now. This way you will be saving money for unforeseen expenses instead of digging into your CC again.

Don’t Nickel n Dime: When I started paying off my debt, I was trying to save every cent which really did not make me feel good. I wrote a post about how I saved 10 dollars a month by making breakfast at home but I realized its just waste of time and resources. If having breakfast is something that you look forward to, go and get it from your cafeteria at work. It’s the big items that save you money not the small ones and that’s my next tip.

Save on big ticketed items: The reason I was able to pay off 12,000 in 6 months was because I kept myself away from making big purchases. I loved to shop so I kept myself away from the mall. I enrolled in 24hr fitness with a friend for 30 dollars month and started going to GYM after work. This way I got my workout and I had to go home to freshen up instead of going out elsewhere. I haven’t been to the mall for more than 4 months until last Dec-2008.

Keep yourself busy: You end up spending more money if you have too much free time. Pick up a book and start reading or learn something that will enhance your career. This way by the time your have paid off your debt you would have learnt something new that might lead to an increase in your income.


Follow the snowball method of paying down debt: Seeing results sooner will keep us motivated than having to wait for longer periods. I followed the snowball method to pay down mine. You simply have to arrange your debt from the lowest amount owed to the highest and keep paying if off in that order that way mentally it keeps you motivated to clear off the remaining debt. I followed this method, however, I called up my CC Company and transferred the high balances on to a zero interest card that way I won’t be accumulating too much interest when I am knocking off smaller balances.


I hope these tips will help you pay off your debt as they helped me. Let me know if you have any more tips. All the best and remember that;

" You cannot go back and have a new beginning but you can always start NOW and have a new ending."

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year Resolutions?



I have been thinking about coming up with a list of resolutions for this New Year- 2009 and to my surprise I couldn’t think of any and yes that raised an alarm. I think one should be able to think of something that they want to take up or give in at any point in their life, which is a true symbol of progress to me. So this morning when a colleague that sits across me asked me what my New Year’s resolution is/are, I replied saying “I haven’t thought about it and that I would really like to think about the resolution that I want to take up and stick to this year”. As I pondered through the day I came up with a lot of things but then I decided to cut it down 3 that encompass personal , social and professional aspects of life.

Personal - Just relax, be happy and take one day at a time. (Just take action)
Social - Become part of a voluntary organization:
Professional - Get Six Sigma certification by the end of the year

I think these resolutions are attainable with the right attitude; as a matter of fact anything can be achieved with the “right” attitude. Lets see how I do this year.
BTW, here is a video that I took while vacationing in Vegas. Its called the "Living Garden" and is performed at the Palazzo. ENJOY