Archive for 2008


Net Worth Statement – December 1 2008 (-3.02%)

Posted December 1, 2008 by Chuck Posted in: Net Worth

Taxable Accounts:

$469.12 – Liquid Savings – 3.0% APY HSBC Savings Account
$13,000.45 – Savings – 2.90% APY Countrywide Savings Account
$6,549.94 – Checking – 2.2% APY Schwabb Investor Checking Account
$11,069.78 – Stocks – Misc. Direct Investments
$2,560.09 – Stocks – Ameritrade Izone
$1,760.54 – Stocks – Zecco
$2,730.62 – Bonds – TreasuryDirect

$38,140.54 TOTAL

Retirement Savings:

$11,947.70 – ROTH IRA – Vanguard
$509.36 – ROTH IRA – Scottrade
$41,606.40 – 401K – T. Rowe Price

$54,063.46 TOTAL

Debts

$2,589.17 – Student Loan – AES (3.625%)
$14,850.00 – Credit Card BT – BOA MC (0%)
$15,886.04 – Credit Card BT – BOA NEA (0%)
$4,405.39 – Credit Card BT – Bank Atlantic (0%)
$12,219.72 – Credit Card BT – Upromise (0%)

$49,950.32 TOTAL

Housing / Automobiles

$260,181.97 – Mortgage – Countrywide
$339,500.00 – Approximate Home Value
$8,037.00 – Approximate Car Value – Edmunds.com

$87,173.92 – TOTAL (Approximate Equity)

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Net Worth Statement – November 5 2008 (-13.23 %)

Posted November 5, 2008 by Chuck Posted in: Net Worth

Taxable Accounts:

$340.62 – Liquid Savings – 3.25% APY HSBC Savings Account
$12,496.45 – Savings – 3.50% APY Countrywide Savings Account
$3,106.85 – Checking – 2.2% APY Schwabb Investor Checking Account
$12,133.62 – Stocks – Misc. Direct Investments
$3,212.04 – Stocks – Ameritrade Izone
$2,299.39 – Stocks – Zecco
$2,730.62 – Bonds – TreasuryDirect

$36,319.59 TOTAL

Retirement Savings:

$12,721.99 – ROTH IRA – Vanguard
$693.86 – ROTH IRA – Scottrade
$46,656.83 – 401K – T. Rowe Price

$60,072.68 TOTAL

Debts

$2,632.74 – Student Loan – AES (3.625%)
$15,000.00 – Credit Card BT – BOA MC (0%)
$16,069.87 – Credit Card BT – BOA NEA (0%)
$4,365.50 – Credit Card BT – Bank Atlantic (0%)
$12,368.30 – Credit Card BT – Upromise (0%)

$50,436.41 TOTAL

Housing / Automobiles

$260,677.08 – Mortgage – Countrywide
$339,500.00 – Approximate Home Value
$8,351.00 – Approximate Car Value – Edmunds.com

$87,173.92 – TOTAL (Approximate Equity)

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Calculate Your Driving Cost For Any Trip

Posted October 16, 2008 by Chuck Posted in: Personal Finance

I came across a nifty little website today called Cost to Drive. It calculates the cost of gas for your car trip so you can get an idea of how much you will spend in gas for the journey.

You simply input your starting point, destination, and your car year/model and it will do the calculation for you. It uses the distance of google maps, the average mpg of your car type, and the average price of gas in that area. Its obviously not 100% accurate, and also on some trips I tried it did not factor in tolls (perhaps an idea for a future enhancement) which can certainly add up as well. But overall its a fun and easy tool to get a rough estimate of gas costs.

www.costtodrive.com






2008 Financial Goal #3 Review – Funding ROTHs

Posted October 14, 2008 by Chuck Posted in: Personal Finance

Once again looking back on our 5 financial goals for 2008. Our third goal for the year was:

3.) Fund at least $4,000 in our ROTH IRA’s
I have to admit, before purchasing our new home I was doing a lot better with the ROTH savings. I slacked in 2007 and even in 2008 $4,000 is less than I would like to commit but seems like realistically possible. That however means savings of about $333/mo which has not happened in January so we are already behind.

Overview

My wife and I currently have 2 separate ROTH IRA funds. My ROTH is through Vanguard and I have a direct deposit setup from my paycheck to deposit $75 there (biweekly). My wifes ROTH is through T. Rowe Price and she currently contributes $50 per month.

Goal Progress

So far this year we have contributed $1380 to our ROTH IRA’s. This represents progress of only 34.5% towards the goal for the year when we should be 75% there.

In order to meet our goal we will now have to contribute $873.33 per month for the rest of the year. This goal has become secondary to our debt reduction, so it was kind of thrown by the wayside. The way the market has been going lately it seems like we actually lucked out on this.

I was ready to admit defeat on this goal a quarter into the year, and now I’m so far off it seems I’ll be lucky if I hit 50% of the goal.






Beware of Falling Savings Rates

Posted October 10, 2008 by Chuck Posted in: Personal Finance

With the recent downturn in the stock market, the fed has reacted by slashing interest rates. This has caused a number of banks to lower their APYs on savings accounts:

  • WAMU lowered their savings account rate from 4.0% to 3.0%
  • Schwab lowered the rate on Investor Checking from 3.0% to 2.2%
  • ING Direct lowered their Orange Savings from 3.0% to 2.75%

I expect more cuts on their way, so if it hasn’t hit your account yet don’t be shocked when it does.



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2008 Financial Goal #2 Review – Paying Off Debt

Posted October 9, 2008 by Chuck Posted in: Personal Finance

This is the second checking of my 5 financial goals for 2008. The following is a recap of this goal:

2.) Pay Down 20% Of Our Non-Mortgage Debt
This is a pretty ambitious goal but I think we can do it. After the wedding and home purchase though we have quite a few assets our debt has been steadily increasing. I would like to get this completely eliminated within 3 years, and 20% will be a great start. Most of this debt is at 0% or other reasonable rates so that is why I am not overly worried about paying it all off before all else.

Starting Point

We started this year at a rather staggering sounding $148,240.40. The majority of this debt however is my wife’s student loan debt which is at a fairly low interest rate (3.25%) as well as on some 0% credit cards that have been lingering for a while.

Progress

So far this year the debt has been reduced to $122,836.94, which is a 17.14% decrease. The chart below illustrates the decrease so far:

April Goals

At last update I was thinking 20% would be hit rather quickly and I should up the goal to 25%. Well, I’m at 17% with a few months to go. I think 20% is definitely within reach but 25% may be a little much with the Holidays coming up.

Overall I’m very pleased with the progress of this goal so far this year. I have made steady progress on it throughout the year and am looking forward to seeing it down to a more reasonable number next year.



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Net Worth Statement – October 1 2008 (-3.85 %)

Posted October 1, 2008 by Chuck Posted in: Net Worth

Taxable Accounts:

$771.26 – Liquid Savings – 3.25% APY HSBC Savings Account
$15,644.35 – Savings – 3.50% APY Countrywide Savings Account
$6,334.56 – Checking – 2.2% APY Schwabb Investor Checking Account
$15,292.03 – Stocks – Misc. Direct Investments
$3,838.72 – Stocks – Ameritrade Izone
$2,864.72 – Stocks – Zecco
$2,730.62 – Bonds – TreasuryDirect

$47,476.26 TOTAL

Retirement Savings:

$15,222.01 – ROTH IRA – Vanguard
$879.21 – ROTH IRA – Scottrade
$53,561.34 – 401K – T. Rowe Price

$69,662.56 TOTAL

Debts

$2,676.45 – Student Loan – AES (3.625%)
$2,604.89 – Credit Card BT – Chase (0%)
$16,225.12 – Credit Card BT – BOA NEA (0%)
$6,745.50 – Credit Card BT – Juniper (0%)
$4,454.13 – Credit Card BT – Bank Atlantic (0%)
$17,887.44 – Credit Card BT – Upromise (0%)

$50,593.53 TOTAL

Housing / Automobiles

$261,169.42 – Mortgage – Countrywide
$339,500.00 – Approximate Home Value
$8,545.00 – Approximate Car Value – Edmunds.com

$86,875.58 – TOTAL (Approximate Equity)

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2008 Financial Goal #1 Review – Merging Finances

Posted September 22, 2008 by Chuck Posted in: Personal Finance

At the beginning of the year I had set 5 financial goals for 2008. Well now that we are 3/4 of the way through the year I wanted to take some time to reflect on this goals and see what progress has been made on them. As with life some priorities have changed and some goals are not as important now as they were.

The first goal was already recapped once this year. Today I’ll start with that one which was:

1.) Better Merge Our Finances
Since getting married last year, my wife and I still haven’t fully merged our finances. Part laziness, complexity and fear has kept us from doing so. I have been working so far this year on fixing this but it is still not done yet. It probably will take a few more months to get everything fully integrated.

Checking Account

This part of the goal I consider completely accomplished. We have completely switched all our checking to our joint Charles Schwab Investor Checking account. All paychecks are being deposited here, and all bills are being paid out of here. Checklist for this is as follows:

  • Pay all utility and house related bills from checking account.
  • Stop using our individual checking accounts and just use our joint one.
  • Convert all credit cards to new checking account
  • Get both us more involved with expenses out of this account so we do not overdraft.

Credit Cards

This part of the goal we have not made much progress on. We both still have individual credit cards we are using instead of joint ones. The only advantage to individual ones is it has been easier at the end of the month to see who has spent what. In reality this is a goal that should be easily accomplished if we devote some time to it.

  • Phase out my wifes American Express and merge her account into mine (since I have had mine longer and we both have the same card). This will be our primary credit card.
  • Stop using our other individual credit cards and settle on some joint ones.



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Net Worth Statement – September 3 2008 (-0.24 %)

Posted September 3, 2008 by Chuck Posted in: Net Worth

Taxable Accounts:

$638.10 – Liquid Savings – 3.50% APY HSBC Savings Account
$15,601.36 – Savings – 3.50% APY Countrywide Savings Account
$7,077.08 – Checking – 2.2% APY Schwabb Investor Checking Account
$15,641.73 – Stocks – Misc. Direct Investments
$4,629.16 – Stocks – Ameritrade Izone
$3,132.02 – Stocks – Zecco
$2,716.50 – Bonds – TreasuryDirect

$49,435.95 TOTAL

Retirement Savings:

$16,588.12 – ROTH IRA – Vanguard
$994.11 – ROTH IRA – Scottrade
$58,234.36 – 401K – T. Rowe Price

$75,816.59 TOTAL

Debts

$2,719.74 – Student Loan – AES (3.625%)
$3,642.76 – Credit Card BT – Chase (0%)
$16,387.28 – Credit Card BT – BOA NEA (0%)
$6,800.61 – Credit Card BT – Juniper (0%)
$4,499.12 – Credit Card BT – Bank Atlantic (0%)
$17,994.00 – Credit Card BT – Upromise (0%)

$52,043.51 TOTAL

Housing / Automobiles

$261,659.00 – Mortgage – Countrywide
$339,500.00 – Approximate Home Value
$8,515.00 – Approximate Car Value – Edmunds.com

$86,356.00 – TOTAL (Approximate Equity)

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Net Worth Statement – August 1 2008 (+2.93%)

Posted August 1, 2008 by Chuck Posted in: Net Worth

Taxable Accounts:

$636.24 – Liquid Savings – 3.55% APY HSBC Savings Account
$15,555.67 – Savings – 4.0% APY Countrywide Savings Account
$8,700.56 – Checking – 2.2% APY Schwabb Investor Checking Account
$15,865.52 – Stocks – Misc. Direct Investments
$4,285.10 – Stocks – Ameritrade Izone
$3,118.44 – Stocks – Zecco
$2,711.46 – Bonds – TreasuryDirect

$50,872.99 TOTAL

Retirement Savings:

$16,560.20 – ROTH IRA – Vanguard
$1,088.03 – ROTH IRA – Scottrade
$57,937.39 – 401K – T. Rowe Price

$75,585.62 TOTAL

Debts

$2,762.89 – Student Loan – AES (3.625%)
$3,669.00 – Credit Card BT – Chase (0%)
$16,443.28 – Credit Card BT – BOA NEA (0%)
$6,818.18 – Credit Card BT – Juniper (0%)
$4,544.56 – Credit Card BT – Bank Atlantic (0%)
$18,268.00 – Credit Card BT – Upromise (0%)

$52,505.91 TOTAL

Housing / Automobiles

$262,145.84 – Mortgage – Countrywide
$339,500.00 – Approximate Home Value
$8,640.00 – Approximate Car Value – Edmunds.com

$85,994.16 – TOTAL (Approximate Equity)

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Net Worth Statement – July 2008 (-2.21%)

Posted July 1, 2008 by Chuck Posted in: Net Worth

Taxable Accounts:

$634.44 – Liquid Savings – 3.55% APY HSBC Savings Account
$15,509.36 – Savings – 4.0% APY Countrywide Savings Account
$6,436.82 – Checking – 2.2% APY Schwabb Investor Checking Account
$14,840.99 – Stocks – Misc. Direct Investments
$3,968.79 – Stocks – Ameritrade Izone
$3,004.75 – Stocks – Zecco
$2,710.30 – Bonds – TreasuryDirect

$47,105.45 TOTAL

Retirement Savings:

$16,711.41 – ROTH IRA – Vanguard
$1,196.91 – ROTH IRA – Scottrade
$57,923.09 – 401K – T. Rowe Price

$75,831.41 TOTAL

Debts

$2,806.19 – Student Loan – AES (3.625%)
$3,743.00 – Credit Card BT – Chase (0%)
$16,609.28 – Credit Card BT – BOA NEA (0%)
$6,887.18 – Credit Card BT – Juniper (0%)
$4,590.46 – Credit Card BT – Bank Atlantic (0%)
$18,546.00- Credit Card BT – Upromise (0%)

$53182.11 TOTAL

Housing / Automobiles

$262,629.96 – Mortgage – Countrywide
$339,500.00 – Approximate Home Value
$8,763.00 – Approximate Car Value – Edmunds.com

$85,633.04- TOTAL (Approximate Equity)

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A Look At Some High Interest Savings Account Rates

Posted June 20, 2008 by Chuck Posted in: Personal Finance

It seems recently there has been a bit of a surge in online interest rates from the bottom where they were. Currently I am with Countrywide Savings which is still offering one of the higher rates. There are some other popular banks out there like HSBC who have recently increased their rates. The average rate is about 3.50%.

I thought I would take some time to look at the interest rates of some of the top as well as the more popular savings solutions.

  APY Name Min Bal Notes
  4.00% Alliant CU Savings $5 If < $100, 0% APY; *via linked acct
  3.85% IndyMac Bank $10k 0%,$7/mo < $1K; 1.35% < $10K
  3.65% Countrywide Savings $10k 3.0% < $10K
  3.50% Cap One Online Savings $10k 2.5% < $10K, no fees
  3.50% HSBC Direct $1  
  3.50% FNBO Direct $1  
  3.30% WAMU $1 link to free checking accnt
  3.00% ING Direct $1  





Amazon.com Grocery – $10 off $50 and June Clearance Event

Posted June 12, 2008 by Chuck Posted in: Personal Finance

Amazon.com is having yet another grocery sale with a $10 off coupon. You can find some good deals here on bulk items like coffee, and I find their prices on gluten free pasta and bread kits to be pretty good when you can use such a coupon.

Use Code: GROCJUNE to get $10 off a $25 order (only good in the grocery section). You get free shipping on a $25 order before the coupon is applied.

They also have some deals on their June Clearance Items.






Rethinking The Railways As Fuel Prices Surge

Posted June 11, 2008 by Chuck Posted in: Personal Finance

As gas prices have reached over $4 per gallon in most parts of the country it seems that alternative forms of travel have been gaining popularity. According to this routers article, passenger railway Amtrak had a record increase of riders compared to last year – up 12.3%.

For some shorter trips where you need a layover or 2, the rail can be just as fast as flying. And with prices sometimes less than 1/3 of airfare its making sense to more travelers. Businesses are also trying to cut travel costs and encouraging their employees to take the train.

Federal Funding

There is growing debate whether the government should continue to fund Amtrak since it has been in red ink since its creation in 1971. The house has passed a bill that would give them $14 billion for improvements and maintenance over the next 5 years. Currently president Bush has threatened to veto this. The presidential candidates are on different sides of the issue – John McCain wants to stop funding, while Barrack Obama wants to continue it.

My Thoughs

I rarely travel on the train because it used to not be cost effective. Now with the gas prices the way they are I might have to reevaluate the savings as many Americans already have.

I’ve been hoping they would add faster train services like they have in Europe and Asia where the speeds can reach 185mph. Currently here by the time it makes stops along the way a trip to Montreal on Amtrak takes about 2-3 hours longer than it does to drive there.






Former Boxing Champ Holyfields Financial Woes

Posted June 6, 2008 by Chuck Posted in: Personal Finance

According to an article by the associated press former 4 time boxing heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield is having some serious financial problems. His Atlanta mansion is under foreclosure and he is being taken to court over 2 bad debt – a $500,000 landscaping loan and $6,000 in unpaid child support.

Holyfield’s estate is not your typical foreclosure. It is a 54,000sqft home (located on a highway named for him) and features 109 rooms including 17 bathrooms 3 kitchens, and a bowling alley. A notice was published in the local paper that it will be auctioned “at public outcry to the highest bidder for cash” at courthouse on July 1.

Child Support and Other Lawsuits

There is also the threat of jail if he does not make good on a $6,000 child support payment due to one of the mothers of his nine children. The mothers lawyer is optimistic she will be paid now that his estate is in foreclosure – a 2003 trial uncovered evidence that the boxer had paid a $17,000 electric bill the previous December, largely because of an elaborate light display at the home. Without those kind of expenses looming it would certainly make it easier to pay off other debts.

He is also being sued by a company who loaned him $500,000 to landscape his sprawling estate which he has not made good on.

Squandered Earnings

Money mismanagement seems rampant in boxing. It is estimated Holyfield made hundreds of millions of dollars during his 24-year boxing career. He was part of what at the time was the richest fight in boxing history – a rematch with Mike Tyson in 1997 that reportedly earned him $34 million. Tyson is another fighter who spent most of his vast fortune.

This has forced the 45 year old to continue fighting way past his prime. No matter how much money you make, you still have to live within your means.



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Retirement Savings
$57,919.77

Non-Retirement Savings
$43,749.52