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Archive for January, 2008

A Day in Costco

January 28th, 2008 at 12:54 am

Well, not a whole day - just about an hour. DH wanted to there today to return some old battery cores (to get his deposit back - $5 each) and buy 2 new marine batteries. Seems Costco has a great price on them. I dread going on the weekends but we got there when they opened and it was not too bad.

Because we got there by 10 am, DH did not have time to sit down and eat breakfast. But our dear, dear, DD had a great response for him: "Dad, just eat the free samples at Costco. That will fill you up until lunch."

Of course, batteries were not our only purchase. I usually buy milk, cheese, and eggs there -- for our area the value is good. We bought lots of fruit that we split with his dad. I do not go to Costco often because temptation abounds. I have purchased items that have gone bad because we can't eat it all before it isn't fit to eat! I also couopn quite heavily so I can get good deals from our local Vons and Ralphs markets.

It was also interesting to people watch a bit as well. After about 10 minutes the rest of the herd began storming in. Carts were filling up aisles and jockeyed for position so that not a single item was missed. Carts filled to overflowing with mo' stuff was the norm. If Costco customers are the pulse of the nation, then the economy does not appear to be in any trouble!

We had a tornado watch!

January 26th, 2008 at 02:42 am

The word "tornado" and southern California do not go hand-in-hand. But the wintery weather here has changed things a bit. It has been raining buckets here over the last few days with more to come this weekend. We were watching TV about 5 pm last night when the emergency system voice came over our programming. There was a tornado watch for the coastal communities and that a waterspout had been observed in the area. The watch would be over at 5:45 pm. "He" also stated that if additional warnings occur, that we should take shelter in a basement! Hee hee! I personally do not know anyone in this area that has a basement. Most homes are on a slab foundation. Some older (50+ years usually) home might be on a raised foundation (no room for a basement). The only place I think we could go would be in our closet! Luckily, nothing came of the watch. But I think that I had better get all our emergency supplies in one area and make sure anything perishable is not expired. I have lived through a few earthquakes here but at least tornados can be seen. Hmm... I am not in Kansas anymore......

Setting Goals

January 23rd, 2008 at 02:57 am

With the New Year, I am trying to establish goals for myself and the family. Both financial and quasi-financial goals of course. I joined a fitness group of parents at my daughter's school. About 40 people are participating. We did a confidential weigh-in last week and one final weigh-in in April. Group walks are organized, etc. a means to meet parents and moral support. The winners in each category (% of weight lost) win cash prizes! That was a surprise for me -- the group camaraderie was my goal. I do hope to lose 15 lbs. during that time frame (I need to lost about 25 lbs. but I'll take anything!). I'll keep you posted on my progress. DD is supposed to be the "food police" at home to ensure that I at least think before I take a bite of any junk food!

Financial goals -- my DH and I have so little debt that we do not have an organized plan for saving goals. Maybe that is a blessing of sorts. Most of our savings are on autopilot. My 457b and DH's 401K are automatically withdrawn from our paychecks. I actually accelerate my contributions so that the entire yearly amount if completed by the end of summer each year. I have also done EE savings bonds (not the best choice for investing) for both kidlets. I have many $$ set aside, especially for DS. Our debts are minimal -- our house was paid off 5 years ago (a story I will tell another day -- I believe anything is possible with hard work) and one truck payment to be paid off in June of this year (0% interest loan). Any credit card debt incurred is paid off in full monthly.

At this point, both of us have ING Direct accounts with automatic deposits. I am thinking of using the ING Direct account as an emergency fund containing 2 years of projected expenses. I would also earmark these funds to supplement any shortfall when retired (even though I may work part-time). I am planning on retiring in 6 years from full-time employment and perhaps working part-time for Social Security reasons. As a government employee, I do not contribute to Social Security. I am short quarters - from other retirees I have heard that it would be prudent to get my 40 quarters in because it will affect Medicare. If the quarters are not there, then I will have to pay out of my own pocket for Medicare. Even though DH contributes to Social Security through his employment, I had better earn my own.

The Battle of the Wii

January 22nd, 2008 at 02:59 am

DH and I are having a friendly "battle" over the Nintendo Wii system. The battle is whether or not we should buy one -- and so far, I (the NAY vote) is winning! We went to a friend's home last month and played all the sports games (bowling, tennis, baseball, golf, and boxing). It was fun! But I don't really feel it is worth the cost. More time in front of the TV is not the best idea. Fresh air (kind of) and outside exercise is healthier (although the boxing game was tiring). In this area, the system is sold out everywhere and I will NOT wait in line at 5 am at Target, etc.

In the local business section, one pundit predicts that the Wii will be a bargain for the 2008 holiday season. I am all for delayed gratification! DH feel that we will have more fun as a family (true) and the price is reasonable based on the wate of fun (return).

Hmm... our "truce" rules that if DH wants the Wii, then HE will wait in line and take funds out of HIS pay. So far, no Wii.

Life Observations

January 21st, 2008 at 01:02 am

I went to a cousin's memorial service a few days ago. He was in his early fifties and died of cancer. He was an only child and actually never grew up. His father died when he was quite small, and I think his mother wanted to make up for that death for the rest of her life. Looking back on Mr. L's life, he was always bailed out financially by his mom and others. He was a very handsome and charming man and used those attributes to his advantage. But his love affair with the bottle superceded any desire to work or get ahead. His mom's guilt had her sneaking money to him on the sly so her DH would not know about it. I even heard that L and his GF built up debts to the tune of $25K in about 6 months on "fun and frolic." Mom bailed him out that time, too. His mom was weak but before she died she established a trust fund for L so that he would get a lump sum inheritance. Smartest thing she ever did! He railed against everyone in attempts to get extra cash from the trust. He did not succeed; however, several relatives (including my Mom and Dad) gave him small amounts of money because they "felt sorry for him."

Well.....what does this have to do with finances? To me, the moral of the story is this: Give your children a sense of responsibility about money. If they do not listen, then do not bail them out! Some must attend the "School of Hard Knocks" before they learn anything.

FREE Retirement Financial Advice

January 16th, 2008 at 04:46 pm

Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisers are sponsoring a program for people seeking retirement planning advice for FREE.

Jump-Start Your Retirement Plan Day will be held on January 25 from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Financial planners will provide advice by phone. The toll-free number will be activated on that day.

Call 888-919-2345 or visit www.kiplinger.com to participate in an online discussion with an adviser (that day only).

Hope this is helpful to someone!

An Introduction

January 15th, 2008 at 02:48 am

Just thought I'd jump into the blogging world. I have been reading blogs on Saving Advice for quite some time now - and I love them all! I have learned so much from each blogger's financial adventures...

More about me -- I am 40ish (hmm...) working wife and mom living in --- gasp! Southern California! I work for a local government and love my job. I have a 19 year old son in college and a 9 year old daughter still at home.

Hubby and I are frugal by nature - we both grew up with Depression era parents. Our main focus is retirement (6 years for me and 14 for DH). I am trying to save as much as possible towards that goal. We do max out our IRAs and 401K/457bs every year but feel that we need to do more. I am also a fierce couponer (sometimes to DH's chagrin) but he also appreciates a deal.

As soon as I get the hang of blogging, I will post more about our "financial adventures."