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Friday, April 29, 2011


Last Friday my baby shower went so well. My very good friend and I spent all day making Martha Stewart Cupcakes for the party. We were up to our elbows in batter and dirty dishes.
The shower was beautiful and the games were fun. We played a sherrades game that made us crack up laughing the entire time. I ended up getting the crib yay!! I didn't take too many pictures because my cell phone camera isn't very good quality. I regret selling our digital camera it probably would have been super better. I got a lot of clothes, wipies and newborn size diapers.

Updates on the condo flood. There are no worries because everything is getting taken care of by our insurance company with a $500.00 deductible. The super upside is that last year we canceled our "appliance insurance" ($430.00 x year) we began paying that to ourselves so we have enough saved to cover the deductible, the plumbing bill, and some leftover. We are so glad we learned from Dave Ramsey about what kinds of insurances are stupid and which ones are necessary. This appliance insurance was a hoax! First of all our appliances did not break down enough to get our money's worth and second we had to pay a $50.00 deductible more when we needed the service. What a JOKE! Can you imagine paying these people so that your appliances never break down and they keep your money? Or you can pay yourself and put the money in a mututal fund so you can reap the interest and by the time your dishwasher breaks down there will be enough funds to buy a new one and with cash you have the power to talk the price down.
So far everything has been going smoothly and the pergo flooring is going to be entirely replaced so now we can having matching floors in every single room, yay!

Last wonderful news is we got our car sold! In one of my first blog posts I have a picture of the 1998 Hyundai Accent we purchased used and in cash. This area of Virginia doesn't have a strong transportation system so we needed an extra car when we moved here. We had the car listed for about a month on craigslist and ebay and last week someone bought it! We purchased it at $1600.00 with a couple of problems like a broken strut and cv axels. We got the strut and the brakes fixed then re-listed it for $1600.00. Our first offers were $1100.00, then $1350.00, and this buyer offered us $1500.00 almost all our money back!

This coming Tuesday the packing and moving company is coming to pick up our stuff. Little by little we're getting rid of more items. I found a couple more text books that I sold and in total we got $45.00, then Shane sold a car model toy for $17.00. We're making a couple bucks here and there.

Monday, April 18, 2011

We Got Screwed Over Big Time

I had spoken too soon. We were hit with a huge emergency two weeks ago. There was a flood in our condo due to a clogged toilet and the tank was continuously running. The flood was so major it leaked into the car garage below. We were not very happy with how casual our property manager was handling everything. We were notified first by the HOA manager when you would think the tenants would have called our property manager straight away to get a plumber to stop the leak. How could they have let this leak go on so long that it flooded into the garage downstairs??? We were pretty frustrated that we didn't get any information on this catastrophe for another two days. When we finally got an answer from our property manager she didn't have any definite answers she still didn't know why or how the leak started, she didn't stop by to inspect what was damaged, she told us not to worry that the floors are wood anyway. YEAH, FAKE wood! Ugh we were so upset that this lady was taking everything so lightly, we didn't get our insurance adjuster out there until the weekend and by that time every square inch of the living room and hallway were damaged including the walls. Some of the bedrooms and kitchen were damaged. The company that needs to dry out the apartment is barely coming today, a whole two weeks later from the date of the flood. All in all the entire cost of the damages came out to $5,700.00. We do have insurance but it is still not good news because they will only cover up to $5,000.00.

We're going to have to pull from our emergency fund for the $700.00 and I am trying to figure out if the tenants are responsible for this flood because according to the plumber's report it is unknown why the toilet was clogged but it did say that the toilet water was running, so does that make it their fault? We don't have a buddy-buddy relationship with our P.M. and since the liability is blurred I fear she will side with the tenants and tell us it is our responsibility.
We are also not clear if the $5,700.00 estimate covers to replace the damages. Wow, I'm starting to get anxiety over the idea of how many thousands of dollars more we are unaware of.

On top of this financial crisis we are so super stressed about our move to San Diego that is coming up. Everything is happening the first week of May. I have finals, it's Shane's birthday, the mover's are scheduled to come, we've got to clean the apartment for inspection, pack our personal things, and that weekend is my flight home. I'll be glad when its all over.
On the bright side we did score a free crib, the Coast Guard is handling our move by packing everything for us while we watch and delegate. This weekend is "party" weekend ;) starting Thursday night we're going to a farewell for a kid at church who's going on a mission, Friday night is my baby shower, and on Saturday is our friend's kids birthday so I am definitely looking forward to hanging out, laughing, and eating some junk food.

Tuesday April 19th 2011
 Yesterday after I wrote this post I came home and my husband had spoken with our insurance adjuster about how we were trying to comprehend our policy. From what we understand our policy covers up to $5,000.00 of flood damages and since our total estimate is $5,700.00 we told her we were really worried if that covered replacement and labor. Then she told him not to worry, everything is being covered, Everything. I was so relieved when Shane told me but he still didn't get a clear answer as to why our policy says they will only cover up to 5 grand if they are covering a bit more? So once again I am a super happy camper, although I wish I could be there to pick out new wall colors and floor pergo.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Setting Goals

I enjoyed reading the Get Rich Slowly website about setting goals and what they had to say of course made some sense. This week I finally accomplished my goal to sign up for the WIC program and saving on groceries is a small help to my bigger goal which is to save for Baby Step 3 (3-6 months of savings). One key step I'm missing is setting a time frame. I need to sit down with Shane and talk about how much money we should put away every month in order to accomplish our goal. As of right now there is no particular amount we designate for it. I kind of make it a last priority because I really want to add most of the $ to the Condo Improvement fund but now I've been thinking my priorities are probably not in order. It's just so difficult because if I choose to make Baby Step 3 a top priority over my goal to remodel my kitchen then I won't be able to enjoy a functional beautiful kitchen while we're living in our condo over the next three years. Another pro to getting the kitchen remodeled is it will increase the net worth of the condo. What to do?

I've been following the Organizational Wizard's 30 day challenge and on Day 9 it said to organize your garage but since I don't have a garage I have a storage and we spent all day cleaning that closet out! The piles of boxes were about 7 feet tall when we started and by the time we finished our stack of boxes minimized to about 4 feet. We got rid of a bunch of books, painting supplies, and other stuff that we never used. Thanks to another blog that I read called My Life of Spending Less and Living More she introduced me to an application on Turbo Tax that records everything you donate and if you file on Turbo Tax all your information automatically transfers over. So far she has recorded $1,028.00 that she will get to deduct on her income taxes next year. I found 5 more text books that I will try to sell online this weekend and hopefully get $20.00 bucks for each.
Today's challenge is to clean out your glove box but since I'm trying to sell my car (because Shane and I are thinking we can survive with one car in San Diego) the glove box AND my car are currently clean. We had a potential buyer come look at it on Saturday but no luck.

This week I finally signed up for WIC, can you believe that? Learning about the WIC stereotypes growing up, I never thought I'd ever be a participant of WIC. Learning more about WIC and knowing some friends who use it I have signed up and will be going to my first meeting on Thursday. The two of us definitely go through milk as if it were water, cheese is a definite staple in our diet like grilled cheese sandwhiches, bean and cheese burritos, apples with cheese, pizza bread (slice of cheese and tomato sauce on toast). So I guess WIC will be a good help. Right now we average about $350.00 for groceries a month, we'll see how much my costs will go down.

The latest event is my Baby Shower!! I am super grateful that my friends from church insisted on throwing me a baby shower before I leave to my homeland (CA). They are so sweet. One of them took me to the fabric store to pick out some patterns for crib bedding as a gift. I was shopping online to get ideas on what I wanted and they averaged out to $150.00-$500.00. Super expensive. I got to choose three different patterns and last night I went over to see her work in progress. It looked amazingly super cute!! I really love the way its coming out. The colors compliment each other so well. I had chosen a modern rainbow and tree pattern as the main component then I picked out yellow, blue and green fabrics so that it would be unisex and so it will save money by using it for all my kids. Then I am getting a breast pump and car seat from my sister, a PEG-PEREGO stroller (HEEEYY!) from my very good friend who is also throwing my shower, another friend had an extra crib that I might have scored but I'll post updates. I am so excited and feel super loved.

Here I am 27 weeks and this Thursday April 14th I'll be 28. 7 months down 3 more to go 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

We Need College Degrees

If you hadn't noticed Shane is pretty much the master keeper of all our budgets and the savings accounts. I just help spend it. Just kidding, since I'm a member of the budget committee I get to vote on how the money should be distributed. Shane's salary and my meager part-time job wages are not enough to get to our 3-6 month savings goal as quick as we'd like.
In order to start investing and making real money we need to kick-start this fund. Shane's friend told him about this guy name Scott Alexander who is now a millionaire. He's a motivational speaker, and he talks about how he made lots of money and is super rich but never would had taken the risks of investing if he didn't have two years of income saved up.

We now have come to the point where we really need to get school done to reach our goal quicker. If for the rest of our lives we made the average annual income which is currently $40,000.00 we wouldn't be millionaires until we retired. Which seems like such a bummer because we want to "live it up" as soon as possible, you know? We researched military salaries and to earn under $90,000 salary in the military Shane would need to put in 38 freakin years in the service if he remained enlisted. If he had a degree and applied to be an officer it would take less time to make an $80,000 salary. We discussed the topic and our goal is to work toward careers that start off at $70,000 a year hopefully even higher.

We decided we're not going to stay in the military, we feel that there are way more options to get a higher salary faster with a college degree than trying to climb the ladder in the Coast Guard. We do love the Coast Guard and we are so grateful for Shane's job and the fact that it has helped us map out our life and delivered us into the hands of the almighty financial guru Dave Ramsey.

Shane has decided to pursue a career in accounting or as a financial advisor because he fell in love with this new financial journey we are on and plugging in numbers and calculating savings. He definitely would like to help others who are struggling to get their finances in order. As for me I wanted to get my bachelors in architecture but I didn't do outstanding in highschool. I was accepted into Cal Poly Pomona but I wasn't accepted into the Architecture program so I tried out a year at a private architecture school in San Diego. After taking Dave Ramsey's Financial class I realized that I would have dragged my poor husband $130,000 into debt with no ideas on how I would pay it back. In order to afford a college tuition my plans changed and I have been accepted to the interior design program at San Diego State University (80% funded by financial aid). My ultimate goal is to do a great job at SDSU so that I can get into a master's program for architecture and help speed up our goal to "Live like no one else"

Savings Here and There

We have been purchasing a lot from on-line. Our rear drivers side window has a broken regulator (which looks like a cheap plastic $5.00 barrel for a skate board) and it isn't sold seperately from the entire motor which is $150.00 retail price. For months we have tried to find the regulator on-line. The junk yard would only sell me the entire motor for $75.00. Finally last night on Amazon we accepted that we had to buy the whole motor so we looked for the cheapest price. We found it for $48.00 and the best part is that we had $25.00 of Amazon credit from selling them a textbook. In the end we only had to spend $26.00 from our "Car Repair" fund. Yay!
Next we bought Microsoft office 2008 for MAC at an e-bay auction for $52.00. The savings comes from choosing an older version which works just as well as 2011.

Back in July Shane bought a laptop and with the computer came a promotion which was to purchase an H.P. printer for a full rebate. The printer was $100.00 and the rebate was for $100.00, "FREE PRINTER" was flashing through Sweetheart's mind. I was thinking why the heck did he fall for that scam when we already have a printer. What are we going to do with two printers? We don't even have one office. Sure buying things that offer a rebate is fine if you really want the item but we didn't need another printer. It urks me because if they are going to return us the full amount anyway, why don't they just do it right then and there? I am guessing since nothing is free, they probably are making some kind of profit for themselves first before they return the money. Basically we gave Apple a free loan without charging them interest.
Last month, I ate my words because our initial printer had broken down after 2 years. That was one less thing to spend money on.

Right now I'm looking for tools and furniture from Craigslist because we are getting closer to the time when we move back into our condo. The military movers are packing up our stuff in Virginia on May 3rd and shipping it out. Meanwhile I've been planning how to set up our condo so that we can accomodate a new baby. I'm deciding on what furniture to keep and what we should get to make our condo more functional with our new addition.

I have accumulated a list like; I want a day bed with a trundle for the guest/baby room. I'm storing away our home-made office desk. The nook in our living room Shane installed shelves for needs to be re-adjusted from housing our entertainment to an office nook. I so badly want to replace our kitchen counter top so that we have an up-graded, leveled, eye-appealing kitchen. I want to replace the corner base cabinet with one that has a lazy susan so that its a functional cabinet. I want new summer curtains for every room, a new bedding and pillows, a living room chair or two. In order to get this goal accomplish I gotta make a wish list prioritize from most important to least and keep saving money to purchase this stuff in cash.

With a list like mine Shane has given me a "Condo Improvement" Fund and we have to decide how to make every dollar stretch by doing the remodeling ourselves or buying used.

Saving for Family Visits

Back in September (I think) Shane's sister Azure said she was planning on coming to visit us in April to go to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.
We got to preparing for her visit straight away. We set a goal to save at least $500.00 to spend on a hotel, transportation, and food. Every month we put away some money to the Cherry Blossom Fund. When the time got closer to April, we hadn't really heard from Azure about her decision to come so we called her and it just so happened that lucky girl is going to Hawaii instead. (Shooot, I'd take a trip to Hawaii instead of D.C. anytime.)
So in March we saw that we had saved $546.00 cash!! and our next step was to decide what to do with it.
What would you do if you had an extra $546.00 cash laying around?

 Since I applied to San Diego State University and was accepted :) I now have a $400.00 admission fee to pay. Instead of pulling from our $1,000.00 emergency fund we are using the Cherry Blossom Fund to pay for my fee. Whoopie!

My Mom's Visit:
Since October we had known my mom was coming to visit us in March but for some reason we didn't put 2 and 2 together until January when we realized we need some money in order to be proper hosts for my mom. Well we put little money to the "mammasita" fund and I believe we saved up $340.00 for her visit.
I took her to Jamestown where the ships of Captain John Smith landed and colonized. There they had tours of replica's of the English settlement, the ships and the Indian villages. Volunteers were dressed up in clothing of the era. We went to Williamsburg, there they have a preserved historic 1800's downtown.  We both took her to Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's Estate) in Charlottesville, VA. We went shopping and out to eat, but the lady would not let us pay for anything (I love you mom). We spent one day sewing seat cushions.
Out of the $340.00 we spent about half because my mom would not let us pay. We had to be sneaky and give the waiter our credit card when she wasn't looking in order to pay for the bill.
Cash leftover: $146.00

Where We Stand Today

Dear Financial Journal,

Lately Life hasn't been a whirlwind of events that are getting us closer to
"Living like no one else so later we CAN live like no one else."       
     Since paying off our debt all we've been doing with our money is saving it and deciding where it should be spent. In other words putting a name on every dollar so that we never question "where did we spend all our money?" Shane has been really excited to see how much our savings has grown. The other day he looked at his retirement fund that he started back in Septmeber (I believe but not exactly sure) and it has reached the $1,000.00 mark. We have our Baby Step 1, $1,000.00 emergency fund in place and we are blessed that it hasn't been touched in a while (Thank you Heavenly Father for blessing us with no emergencies). Aside from our Baby Step 1, and our 3-6 month savings, we have an extra $1,500.00 as a cushion to back up our checkings, thanks to the "pesky old lady" Sallie May. Here's why: 

 Shane tried to pay his student loan in November and the stinkin loan company withdrew the money TWICE! Causing us overdraft fees and a headache of trying to sort through the problem with our bank and them. Because of them we keep that money in the savings account that checkings will withdraw from without fees if this ever were to happen again.

Anyway, so I have given you the picture of how much money we have accrued since paying off our debt. Our current focus is to get Baby Step 3 done which is our 3-6 month cash savings.
When we got our tax money we split it 3 ways (I believe). I know that we fulfilled 1 of the 6 month savings. In order to accomplish this goal and not feel like it's going to take forever to reach, we split the 6 months in 2 so our mindset right now is that we knocked 1 month down and have 2 more months to go.

Then a portion of our taxes went to the "Condo Improvement fund" and the last of it went to "Baby Prep Fund". It felt really good to be able to designate this money to our hearts desire and not because we needed to pay someone. I'm looking forward to replacing the kitchen countertop.

Another thing that has been blurring my focus is my friend's new car. My co-worker has just bought a new car and there's been all this talk about new cars, new cars, and searching on craigslist for cars we can potentially afford, but I have to STOP and not get sucked into the mindset of wanting a newer car. Some people would say our car is old and that we need a newer car for the new baby but there is no way we are going to pull from other funds to buy a newer car.

Latest update: We are in the process of opening mutual funds with American Funds. One for a new car and another Mutual fund for a house. According to http://www.associatedcontent.com/ the average household car payment a month is $400.00 which is how much we will be paying ourselves (NOT the car dealer) beginning in May. Who knows, our income tax next year might get us faster to a newer car.