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Archive for April, 2010

Name Change Still Ongoing

April 27th, 2010 at 03:42 am

So after getting married last August I quickly began to change my name. I figured I was done with most of it, but when I went to open my Roth IRA I found out I was very wrong. Somehow I forgot to tell my HR Rep that I had changed my name. I told the school as a student, but not as an employee. Friggin disconnected systems.

I was hoping to open my Roth IRA with the same company that my university's retirement plan is through. If I open my Roth IRA right now it will be forced under my maiden name and then I will have to change my name with the company. So now I have to delay opening my Roth IRA.

Thankfully we didn't change DH's with holdings yet. The plan is to go from $300 a month into his 403(b) to $50 to the 403(b) and $250 to the Roth IRA. We will increase contributions once we have a good downpayment and also when DH's paycheck goes up every year. I know we should be putting more than 5% into retirement, but part of my retirement plan is paying off our eventual house and a large down payment is a necessity.

More Fun Finance for Kids

April 24th, 2010 at 01:23 pm

I found this through Free Stuff Times. Basically like a Math Blaster trivia game for finance. Has really good animation of a soccer game, and you can choose Easy, Medium, or Hard questions and the quicker you answer the better your players do in the game.

http://www.financialsoccer.com

It doesn't really follow sound learning principles for multimedia learning, but it's an engaging trivia game with some quality questions about finances.

Swagbucks -- Guess it Works

April 21st, 2010 at 02:21 am

So two weeks ago I went home for the weekend and my sister was telling me that she had started to use Swagbucks. As part of my move to try to make a little money on the side, I have started doing surveys online. We discussed surveys versus searching sites. I had to admit that in the month I have been doing surveys I have not gained any rewards from them. I just can't qualify for enough surveys. The frugal, childless lifestyle is not what market researchers want to hear about.

So I signed up for Swagbucks. I began using it on April 5 and today, April 20, I just cashed in my first reward for a $5 Amazon.com Gift Certificate. I'm really impressed with how quickly the rewards start. Now I understand that I'm not actually getting any money from them so I decided to purchase something that would reduce my spending in other ways. I'm going to buy an herb garden kit. They cost about $15 with shipping and then I can grow fresh herbs in our window. This will save us money and add such lovely flavor to our cooking. Plus I need to nurture my green thumb if I plan to start a vegetable garden once we own a home.

So from all this I can confidently now show the swagbucks banner on my blog.

Resolving my Crisis

April 15th, 2010 at 02:53 pm

So DH and I sat down last night and discussed how much we had to get us through the end of the month and still stay within budget. We decided that we are still in the testing and adjustment stages of our budget and so we are still going out on our little date night on Friday.

I really do want to try to live off $4600 a month. It is our goal, but it makes no sense to try so hard if it is not livable. We are not in debt, but we have lofty savings goals. I just cannot wait until May when we find out our summer plans, June when we find out about DH's financial aid, and July when I can adjust our insurance savings (I started saving late).

Budget Crisis!

April 14th, 2010 at 09:51 pm

So we've been chugging along this month feeling pretty good about our budget. We avoided buying groceries by eating what was left in the fridge until last weekend. We then went out last weekend and spent exactly $200.00 at Costco and then a bit at the grocery store. This was a big part of our budget, but now we are restocked on meats and other basic ingredients.

Then two nights ago we had a major birth control emergency. This led to a horrible worrying night and a trip to the pharmacy for Plan B. This ran us $54.36. Then in addition I had to buy another prescription this month to finish off my birth control. Thankfully I have two insurances right now through DH's work and my school. That cost another $30. Not a happy situation.

Then today I was going over our budget. As I have said it is divided into Savings, Billed Needs, Flexible Needs, Billed Wants, and Flexible Wants. Under Billed Wants I have added $300 a month to save for DH's Masters. Somehow I forgot to take this money away from our Flexible Wants.

So as of now thanks to all the problems, I have no more money budgeted for Needs and only $116.49 in Flexible Wants. This money will have to go towards Needs, especially since I have to go to Denver at the end of the month for a conference! Ugh! Looks like we will be going over budget and putting less towards the Down Payment and Frivolous Spending accounts to cover our monthly budget. That was supposed to be for trips this summer...guess not so much.

The Power of Advertising

April 9th, 2010 at 06:28 pm

So DH and I live in a largely ad free world. We only watch TV on Hulu (one ad per break) and we mostly frequent webcomics and blogs on the internet. Usually most of our advertising is video game related.

So somehow I received a copy of [url http://www.thenest.com]The Nest Magazine[/url]. It really is a fun magazine aimed at newlywed yuppies. They are trying to aim at both husband and wife, which I think is a good goal.

So last DH comments at dinner that he was looking through the magazine. Suddenly he is talking about how much he want to buy a multipart screwdriver and Japanese saw that he was in an article. I incredulously asked him why he would need these things in our dorm-apartment! I proposed maybe when we buy a house we could get them and he actually said that he wanted them now! What for? This led us to talk about the power of product placement and advertising.

I used to frequent sites like The Knot and Martha Stewart when we were getting married. Now I'm on sites like Saving Advice and Help Me Financial. Then I wanted to make my house look amazing. Now I want to scrimp and save as much as possible. It just shows how you environment can effect your expectations for yourself.

Federal Financial Literacy Resources

April 7th, 2010 at 07:29 pm

This is partially for my own research use and partially to share with all of you. As I said in an earlier entry I am becoming interested in financial literacy education. I was just reading the Obama Administration's "A Blueprint for Reform" which outlines their proposed changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (the current version is called No Child Left Behind, but it's been around since LBJ). The Blueprint outline that in addition to Literacy and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) it supports a "Well-Rounded Education" which includes "arts, foreign languages, history and civics, financial literacy, environmental education, and other subjects". This got me to explore what other governmental bodies have information about financial literacy.

Federal Offices
US Treasury Office of Financial Education

Financial Literacy Education Commission

Federal Citizens Information Council - Product information


President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy


General Reports
National Strategy for Financial Literacy 2006

2009 National Financial Capability Study

General Education
National Council for Economics Education

Federal Reserve Teacher Search Tool - Elementary to College, NCEE & Jump$tart standards

National Financial Education Network Database - Database of personal finance educational materials

Adult Education
Free My Money Toolkit

Federal Reserve Personal Finance Education

National Credit Union Administration Financial Education

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

Secondary Education
FTC Game for 5-8 Grade - Teaches about scams, advertising, information security, and business economics

Atlanta Fed 8th Grade Curriculum

National Financial Capability Challenge - High School students can complete a quiz and top students receive rewards

Elementary & Preschool Education
US Mint's History In your Pocket (HIP) Games - Some of these games focus explicitly on identifying money, others include secondary information about money that is nonessential to the game

Money Math Lessons for Life A series of lessons to meet Grade 4 & 8 national standards for financial literacy

Social Security Fables - Text of various fables which teach financial literacy

March Zero Out

April 1st, 2010 at 06:07 pm

So I "zeroed out" my checking account for March yesterday. I always keep $4000 in there, but I like to move any excess to savings at the end of the month. I opened our "Frivolous Spending" account and put 25% of the zero out in there and 75% in my home downpayment. So that means $568 to frivolous spending and $1706 into the home downpayment! My little ticker says we are 43% of the way to the downpayment and that doesn't include the interest on our CD!

We talked again about starting a Baby Savings Fund. I'm thinking that might just involve adding $10,000 to the Emergency Savings instead of opening a new account. I'm torn if we should start one right after we finish the downpayment fund or wait until the car fund is ready also. We decided to reassess after we hear back about DH's financial aid. Right now we are contributing to savings for a car, auto insurance, DH's Masters, and the downpayment.