Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oh you temptress, TIAA-CREF

So I wrote previously about how I am trying to structure my contributions to cram as much money as possible into my retirement accounts this year. Well, TIAA-CREF just sent me a letter about this year's contribution limits for my 403(b).. and my 457(b). What what now?

Apparently I have BOTH a 403(b) and 457(b) set up for me through my work plan. I am not sure what a 457(b) is, but it appears to do the same thing that I am doing with my voluntary contributions to the 403(b). And my maximum limit on it is $14,740. Which means, total between the two, I could put away $30,240.

This has opened up whole new possibilities of cramming money into the account! I am tremendously excited. (Especially since I found out that you can only change your allocations once a quarter, and thus must plan more carefully.) So I think I will wait and see how things shake out in the next couple months as there may be some changes in my life going on, but I might be able to get a whole lot more money in there! (This would also save me a fortune in taxes, given how much self-employment income I have.) Very interesting...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Positive net worth!

I updated my NetWorthIQ page a day or two ago and it looks like I finally have a positive net worth! Click here to see my NetWorthIQ profile.

OK, so it's only $367 above zero, but it's a start! (Although I am currently only including my retirement contributions, not the actual value of the account, so if I used actual value it'd be about $2000 more.)

I have some pretty audacious savings goals for this year. I'm already trying to max out my retirement savings and I want to get up to a $10,000 emergency fund (right now at $4000 and change) as well as save up the money to pay off my 0% balance transfer when it comes due in December (I'll need about $4600, have about $2700 right now) so I've still got some work to do. I have some other goals to meet if I can do those, but those are the first priority.

I'm really not worried about paying off my student loan though - it's fixed at 3.9% and I'm getting 4.5% at ING, so it makes more sense to save right now than pay down the debt.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

OK how dorky am I...

I got all excited because Boyfriend asked me if I would do his taxes. Normally he mails his things home to his father, who has an accountant do them. Which is really silly, because Boyfriend has exactly one W-2 and an interest statement. It took us about half an hour, at least ten minutes of which was consumed by such activities as trying to get TaxCut to open in a browser (doesn't work in Linux or Firefox) and printing out the sheet he has to sign and mail in because he doesn't know his AGI from last year (which is what TaxCut asks you for to prove your identity.) We then went to the Ohio e-file site and filed that - hells no I would not let him pay thirty bucks to let TaxCut do it! He's getting a couple hundred back which is pretty nice. I have also been telling several other people that I will help them do their taxes, because I just don't see the point in paying a couple hundred for someone at a tax place to do what will take us and the programs in Free File half an hour. And maybe some chips. I do like chips.

I won't file my own until April, although they are done, so I can hang onto the money a little longer.. plus TaxCut still does not have the Ohio form that assesses me a penalty for underpayment. (I probably should have looked into this earlier, since the estimated tax payment deadline was Jan. 15th and I could have made that and saved some bucks. But, since I have no idea what they are going to charge me, I might actually earn more in interest than I will pay in penalty.)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Free camera when you sign up for Key Checking

I got a Nano with their last promotion - now you can get what is actually a very nice camera. Click to check it out. You have to open a checking account and:

* Set up Direct Deposit and/or Automated Payments and complete two transactions each of $150 or more by June 1, 2007
* Or, use your new checking account to make 20 transactions - from ATM withdrawals to online banking to writing checks - and be approved for a new Key credit card by June 1, 2007

I'd personally go for the first one as it doesn't involve opening a credit card. I've always had great service from Key and they'd be my primary bank if there were a branch close by. Right now I use them as my bill paying account and things have always gone smoothly.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Someday I hope to be this guy, without the beer

Click if the image is unclear.

This is from PVP Online, a comic that I like to read. This character won a whole lot of money in the lottery and now spends his days drinking beer and playing video games with his friends.

But seriously, I have been thinking (not in a morbid way) about where I would leave my retirement money when I don't need it anymore. One thing I think would make a big impact on people's lives is to dispose of it to a foundation associated with the hospital I work at. This foundation generally pays for things like cab fares and hotel stays and other little things that are important to getting your cancer treated just like the doctors and nurses are - after all, if you can't afford to get there and you have no place to stay, life is going to be a lot more difficult. I know there are a lot of foundations that support research - and seeing as how I am in research, I certainly appreciate it - but the best drugs in the world will not find you a sitter for your kids while you are in the hospital, or drive you here from two hours away when your car is broken down.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Shameless plug - Get a free Fandango movie ticket

Join the Johnnie Walker email club and get a free movie ticket from Fandango! I believe this will only be open until Feb. 15th. If you prefer, you can also join CashDuck and earn a dollar for completing this offer - but a free ticket is pretty good too. =)

Monday, February 12, 2007

A better plan

The more I thought about the plan I came up with yesterday the more stressed I got that it might not work out (like if they don't process the paperwork to return my contributions to a normal level in time!)

So what I am going to do instead with the extra savings is to max out the Roth now, and change my monthly contribution to $1000 from $500. That way I won't feel much of a pinch since I won't be contributing the $200 per month (which sadly since I am now in such a high tax bracket, I would only get post-tax about $300 from the extra $500).

Also I figured out that I would only be able to do the whole-month thing twice before I hit the cap on my 403(b) contributions. What a dilemna to have, eh? ;)

So if all goes as planned, I will contribute the following amounts to my 403(b) during the year 2007:

$3990 - involuntary contributions
$500 - already made, voluntary
+ $11000 - will make, voluntary
$15490 - juuuust squeaking under the maximum voluntary contributions

Also: $5784 - employer contributions
$4000 - Roth IRA

Total: $25274, maxing out both the IRA and the 403(b).

I am extremely pleased with myself. =) Maybe I will hit my retirement goal before 30!

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I'm feeling very pleased these days about my retirement contributions. With the new job came a healthy pay raise, and since my involuntary contributions as well as my workplace's contributions are done on percentage, they've gone up 30%, to $814 per month. I'm also putting in $500 per month myself, so I'm now getting nearly as much in retirement contributions as I am living on. This is astonishing to me.

I've got an automatic contribution of $200 per month to the Roth, and I'll max it out by the end of the year. And I'm now saving plenty of money. So I'm casting around for ways to get more money into my retirement accounts. I don't want to contribute so much every month that I have to rely on other money to live, but the 403(b) is the only other option after maxing out the IRA to get more money into a tax-sheltered account.

So here's my plan. I use about $1800 per month to pay all the bills, rent, groceries, contribute to the Roth, etc. So my plan right now is that once I have a comfortable amount saved up, I'm going to change my retirement contribution amount for that month from $500 to $2000 or $2500 - essentially my whole paycheck after about $470 in pretax required deductions - and live on my saved-up money for one month. Then I'll change it back the next month and save up my money again. Then when I get another $2000 or so saved up, I'll have another "no-income" month and put it in the 403(b).

This sounds pretty good to me but I'm also kind of chicken about not having the money coming in. But I think I can prep ahead of time and make sure the bills money is in the bills bank account, and the living money in the living expenses bank account, and I've got my ING debit card in case there is an emergency. So perhaps next month... :)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Saga of the pennies

So the desk I have at my new job was inherited from a nice lady who is friends with my mentor lady, so I know her pretty well and have spent a lot of time with her. I have returned several things that I found in her desk that I thought she might want. Today, I went to ask her about the pennies. Lots and lots of pennies.

See, in my desk drawer I have a tray, and in the tray are some rubber bands, binder clips, bits of paper, and about 100 pennies. It seems that she just dumped all her excess pennies in this tray, and pushed it to the back. So when I went to give her something that I found in my area today, I asked her about the pennies and if she would like me to bring them to her.

She made a face and said she did not want them. Apparently she really, really doesn't like pennies.

So I put them in a zip bag and brought them home to put in my piggy bank. Hey, it's 100 more pennies than I had before!

And if you were curious, yes, I also pick up pennies off the sidewalk. That's also one more penny than I had before.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Now up to 6 ING accounts...

I am a huge fan of ING Direct and have been for a long time - I joined in June 2001, the summer before I left for college, and my first account was named the "oh shit fund". (It is still called that.)

Well, I am now up to six accounts with them, having opened an Electric Orange account a week or so ago, and yesterday opened yet another savings account in order to hold my credit card payoff money. I have about $5700 on a 0% balance transfer and decided to just save it up and hang onto the money until it expires next December to earn a little more interest. Once it's paid off, I may start doing some 0% balance transfer arbitrage stuff to earn more, but we will see. But to keep that money separate, I opened another account. You can open as many savings accounts as you want under one customer number, and give them all different names, and they will have different account numbers so you can direct deposit into specific accounts. So right now I have my "oh shit fund", a house fund, a credit card holding account, an Electric Orange checking account, and two accounts for CashDuck which hold tax money and business savings. This should be enough accounts for me in a while.. I just do so love to have every dollar in its place!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Why I don't carry cash

Cause I took out $90 a week ago and have.. um.. $49 left, and no clear recollection of where it went. I know I went out to eat, bought some little things for my mom, a couple snacks, a bagel sandwich for breakfast, um..

See, I needed cash because I have to take a cab tomorrow and wanted to have cash on me to pay for it. And I figured I should get $90 so I could get closer to the actual fare than I would with only $20s. Then I thought I should get some fives and broke a twenty.. then broke a ten to get singles.. and now I have five $5 bills, nine $1 bills, and one twenty left. And that twenty was supposed to stay in my purse as emergency money.

Oops. I guess I have to go to the bank again.. but this time only take out $20!