Friday, February 19, 2010

Thank God for 2010

2009 went out with a bang and 2010 just keeps pumping the volume. I hope that this is my chance to return to the world of my blog.

I've been scrimping and saving, investing and paying down debt. 2010 is going to be a good year, I think. I hope that I have some people out there who can join me during my journey.

I hope to be more involved in the blog-o-sphere.

I hope that I can spark inquisiteve minds and the ambition of the not-so-money-savvy.

The latest good read that I stumbled upon this week:

Money Magazine/CNNMoney itemizes the 'Best Money Websites for 2010"

Friday, October 30, 2009

Progress is Important

Despite how tumultuous the year has been, I feel confident that I am still heading in the right direction. I've managed to pay for my schooling with cash and still come out positive month after month.

I've dedicated myself to paying down debt, contributing 10% to my 401k and small amounts to a Roth IRA. I am impressed with how quickly I've been able to accumulate not only cash reserves, but also retirement. I've only been saving towards retirement since April of 2008 and have close to $9,000. Using one of my favorite personal finance tools, NetworthIQ, lets take a look at my balance sheet over the last 6 months:

As you can see, in total I've managed to put away $6,816 and reduced my debt by $774. At the moment, my debt only includes three credit cards with balances and two personal loans.

Now that I've secured a more stable position at a higher salary I no longer feel the need to focus on my cash reserves. My plan is to increase my debt-snowball to eliminate all of my 'unnecessary' debt. Many of my credit cards have very high interest rates, which have often detered me from using them at all. By paying off all of my debts I am hoping that I can return to building my cash reserves so that I can one day purchase a home.

How do your assets, liabilities and networth look? Do you know?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Credit Card Ballet

I generally make it a habit to call all of my credit cards each quarter. I like to nose around and see what I can get away with. Whether it be a credit limit increase, an adjustment to my interest rate or having the annual fee waived.

Today was such a day! I started out by calling OrchardBank who has generally been very good about credit increases, yet not so good at adjusting the interest rate on my card. I started the call as I always do, inquiring as to whether we could look into a credit limit increase and was told that they could not at this time. Disappointing. When I asked about the interest rate I was told that they could not do that at this time either.

On to the next. Chase was up this time and I was glad to hear a familiar, midwest voice on the phone. This time, they were able to increase my credit limit by 50%! I was surprised and somewhat elated to here those words. I've had this card for a number of years and the credit limit has been sitting at relatively the same amount for most of that time. I segued in with that good news to see if there was anything they could do about the interest rate of the card and the representative told me that they could not at this time. She was, however, able to tell me that they will begin to release offers on cards in the new year so that I should call back around January or February. Not sure whether I will get anywhere then, but I figure it will be worth a shot.

Lastly, I called CapitalOne and was advised that they could not provide me with a credit increase at this time. Apparently, they are increasing credit limits on a regular basis at their own discretion and not processing increases at the request of their customers. I was disappointed, of course, but more so that I no longer had any power at all in the matter. When I asked her about the interest rate she advised that she would need to transfer me to a Financial Services Representative. This was new.

I was greeted with another Mid Western voice - lucky me, the second of the night. She advised that she unfortunately could not do anything about the interest rate at this time. She asked if there was any particular reason why I had not used the card in well over a year. I proceeded to explain to her that due to the interest rate on the card I just couldn't justify using it, hoping that she might be able to pull whatever strings or make whatever keystrokes she could to fix that for me. She couldn't, unfortunately, but added that if I wanted to avoid the interest rate I could just pay off my purchases before the new billing cycle. Now, I know all of these things, but still found it rather interesting that a credit card company would have someone on the phone who would explain to you HOW to avoid paying them interest. She added, as well, that if I were to start actively using the card I could also increase my credit limit.

So it turns out, CapitalOne would pull my usage history and determine an increase based solely on my usage and ability to pay the full balance every month. She also told me that she had just spoken to a woman who did this for over a year and her credit limit grew from $500 to $4500. I figure I will give it a shot and see what happens.

I think this quarter was rather successful for my Credit Card Ballet. I would also mention that CapitalOne was rather successful in winning my heart over again. Impressed, that they actually have people on the other line who are mentoring their customers on the best use of the credit and how to optimize it.

Kudos, CapitalOne!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Or on $61k

I realize that giving up on my blogging for well over three weeks is probably not very good for maintaining the attention of anyone who has come to visit here on a semi-regular basis. I've obviously needed to be able to sort out some things.

I transitioned into my new position as of October 19th, although, the salary would not adjust to $45,000 until November 2nd. The week prior to the transition I was contacted by a rather large corporation who had an opening with them, however, they had already brought two different candidates into the final phases of the interview and decision making process. They wanted another option for comparison. With that I considered this only an interview exercise for a position I really, really wanted.

To my excitement and after more than nine hours of interviews with about seven different people over two days I was extended an offer for the position at $61,000. Not only is this a salary increase but it is also a move back into a Non-Exempt position which means I am eligible for overtime, which they’ve assured me is a guarantee.

I’ve already told the new company that I can’t possibly decline the offer. Not only will it keep me in a more comfortable financial position but it will also be a step in the right direction for my career. Unlike the new position I am in now, they are able to guarantee that the position will grow based on my previous experience, not to mention the company is very stable with a lot of tricks up its sleeves for 2009.

I will be able to return to contributing 10% of my salary to a 401k plan, accumulate money within my personal savings on a monthly basis and continue to attend school. It is a win-win situation for me that just happened to come at the right time. Not so right for the new company.

I hope that with these most recent events, I will be able to return to contributing to my blog in regular intervals.

Friday, October 2, 2009

September Was Okay

I am generally surprised when I review my networth on NetWorthIQ. At times I feel like the expenses increase around me and unexpected events occur. The reality is that most of the times things are not going so bad.

I really enjoy the exercise of itemizing my balances via Mint and populating that information into NetWorthIQ. This month was particularly better than I had expected due in large part to some better than anticipated returns (and then some declines, especially this week.. yikes) in my 401k plan.

My student loans from 2002 are almost gone. It has not been a terrible amount of money to part with on a monthly basis, but I think there will be a feeling of accomplishment once I've finally done it.

September was better than 'okay' it was pretty good.