Thursday, April 21, 2011

Update: Keeping the Change, Credit Card Spending, and Car Stuff

I'll keep it short today. Here are a few updates:

Keep the Change
At the beginning of the month, I enrolled in BofA's "Keep the Change" program. To date, I've "kept" $17.98 in change. For the first three months of the program, the bank will match my savings, penny-for-penny. This (i.e. the match) sure beats the heck out of their sorry interest rate.

Credit Card
Four billing cycles for 2011 have passed and I am still not paying interest on my credit card. Woohoo for "free credit". However, I should keep a closer eye on what balance I carry at any time. You've probably heard that if you carry a balance that you should keep it under 30% of what's available to you (if you haven't heard this, you just can thank me later ;>....and if you don't believe me, look what Kiplinger's said here). Although I do not carry over a balance (from billing cycle to billing cycle), I am also unaware of when my credit card company reports such information to the credit reporting bureaus. As such, I prefer to stay on the side of caution.

Car Stuff
My balance is just over $5,000 and if I stay on track (and not go crazy shopping for two upcoming weddings and go bezerks with graduation gifts) then I'll pay the note off by the end of August. What's more 'exciting' is that I haven't been made aware of any repairs needed for my car. We know how repairs derail the car note elimination plan.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Would Anything Change?

While searching for insights into small groups working on financial goals, I came across a website called The article that popped up is titled "Social Wealth: Can Facebook Friends Affect Your Wallet?"

In short, the article discussed influence, social contagion, and a few tips on how to maintain one's financial sanity in the midst of a social snowstorm. A specific tip on how to maintain one's wealth habits is to "Share your savings goals with a select group of friends using a tool like" I started to think, what if people shared a few other things on more public forums (ex. Facebook, Twitter), say for example, your current credit card balance (and limit), balance in checking account, balance in savings account (compared to one's goal for that account), or the last time you made a contribution (and amount) into a retirement account.

I recognize that money is still on the list of "taboo" topics, yet I wonder what would happen if people openly shared a few indicators of their financial health (and, most importantly, their goals). Would anything change? Would people start paying off their credit card balances in full? Would people start saving on a more regular basis? Would they increase the amount they save?

Although I have no data to support it, I suspect that a "I'll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours" display of financial health might encourage us to change for the better. At worst, people would be so annoyed/ashamed and "unfriend"/unsubscribe/etc.

What are your thoughts? 
Would you change your financial behaviors if your friends shared theirs? 
Do you think your friends would change their financial behaviors if you shares your own?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Want Some PiggyMojo!!!

If I was paid to promote PiggyMojo, I'd be a ga-gillionaire. Unfortunately, I am not. I'm a fan, nonetheless.

PiggyMojo makes the concept of spending less money equal saving money. In, Dumb Marketers or Dumber Consumers? I explain how spending less money is not the same as saving money UNLESS you actively set aside the difference 'saved' (i.e. not spent). Well, thanks to a bunch of really smart people and technology, spending less literally translates into saving money.

See how it works...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tax Realities....Better Than I Thought

Several weeks ago, I lamented that my goal of paying off my car by the end of this month had been dashed. Why? Because I anticipated a $2500 tax return (federal and state) which would have have been applied to my loan balance....and then I started using TurboTax and I soon discovered that my refund, if any, would be no where near that. So I updated my debt repayment plan to reflect NO tax refund. After having a CPA friend help me sort through taxes for two states (and one municipality) I've learned that I do get a refund (federal and state; I actually owe in one state). Now I am wondering how I should spend my refund. I've already purchased $100 worth of savings bonds using IRS Form 8888, so I have roughly $1100 left to play with. If I apply all of it to the car loan, I can finish the note approximately 1 month early. I could also contribute the amount to my Roth IRA for the 2010, for which I have $3,670.89 remaining. I could spend a portion of it for two weddings (within the month). I could put it in my emergency savings account towards my $10K goal. Or, I could equally divide it among the abovementioned expenses/savings. Decisions, decisions, decisions.....

What would you do if you expected something, then didn't expect anything, yet received something? Would you stick to your original idea when you were expecting something or change course?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

April Net Worth Update

My net worth this month increased by $1,024.70. Here's the summary explanation:

403(b): (+682.51) Every two weeks, $125 goes to this account. The bulk of this month's increase (sans the $250 contribution) is based on the performance of my investments.

Emergency Savings: (+0.75)  No deposits (yet). This is interest earned.

Regular Brokerage Account and Roth IRA: (+146.36 and -272.36, respectively) $50 to brokerage account....$96.36 increase in value in the investments in the same account. $272.36 decline in value in investments in Roth account<<<sad face.

Savings Account: (-50.00) Originally, I had a balance of $25, then I had an automatic deposit of $25, and then I transferred $50 to spend. Now I have a penny in this account. Recently, I enrolled in "Keep the Change" - a program that rounds up the amount of my transactions in my checking account and deposits the difference into my savings account- so we'll see how this affects my savings account balance.

Car Loan: (+574.18) Steady paying more than the $269.11 requested of me. I can't wait for this sucker to be gone!

Credit Card: (-1514.22) From March 1st to April 1st, I've paid $1514.22 to my credit card. A large part of this is because of a $1,010.31 car repair. The other expenses are work-related (which will be reimbursed), a bit of airfare and some other things I can't quite remember (I know, I've gotta do better!)

Student Loan: (+111.64)  With each payment, a few more dollars go towards the principal. I can't wait to get rid of this sucker, too!

Until next time!