Saturday, August 7, 2010

Net debt - August 2010

Student loans: -$80,880.95 (+551.43)
Car loan: $0.
Revolving Credit card debt: $0.
Net debt: -$80,880.95

I'll give up on my Alexa rating for now.  It's a bit depressing to see it continually worsen.  Anyway, as of late, I've been reading a few financial books, right now next to my nightstand is "Smart Couples Finish Rich" by David Bach and "The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas Stannley and William Danko.  I'm also trying to write up a review for "The Automatic Millionaire" by David Bach as well.  I can't express my sorrow for being so lame on this blog lately.  It's been amazing how busy I've been.  But here's some good news!

I still have an colossal amount of debt, however it's been a pretty linear paying everything off and if I keep up, in under 6 years I should break even in my debt.  I've also set up a few goals for myself.  This coming Spring I will become a PhD student (assuming the university accepts me) and with that in mind, my job may be slightly more risky since they don't necessarily support it 100%.  As such, I'm saving up 6 months of expenses and also trying to save up for a car.  My current car has been a little bit erratic with not accepting gas (what kind of car doesn't like gasoline!?!?), idling gone wrong (cleaned the throttle body and that helped but still acts up), and much more.   Ideally, I'll have enough saved to pay outright when the time comes.  Otherwise, I'll keep that money for other big expenses that come along without dipping into the e-fund.

Other than that, things are going great!  Work has been keeping me busy, but I'm still able to read and get some things done outside of work.  We had a great time with some friends recently.  Invited them over for a big Asian night.  We made sushi and meso soup, they brought over dumplings and bubble tea.  A great time for a cheap time with friends.   After the fact I was thinking it would have been really great to watch bad kungfu movies, but we actually only played card games.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Net debt - July 2010

Student loans: -$81,432.38 (+739.57)
Car loan: $0.
Revolving Credit card debt: $0.
Net debt: -$81,432.38

Alexa ranking: 5,333,428 (-63,107)

So my Alexa ranking went up a little bit (probably because I haven't been very active blogging) but the past month has been filled with doctors appointments, studying for my GRE exam, and similarly wrapping things up for PhD school.

I expect the next month to have a few more blogs than the past month.  But as a general summery of the past month: Financially, I've looked into IRA's and 403(b), figured out a plan to pay off one of my student loans while I'm in PhD school, and looked to see if I could save a few bunch on internet (looks like Time Warner Cable is the cheapest).  I've also looked at replacement cars in case something bad happens to mine.  Work has been treating me well, I'll be talking to my boss about my salary increase as he and I discussed earlier.  And at home it's great as usual, found some great recipes in a new cookbook (Vegetariana: A Rich Harvest of Wit, Lore, and Recipes) that we've been using.  It also has some great quotes and factoids!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Credit cards

To help simplify my life and make it less stressful, I have canceled all of my credit cards except for one, Chase Freedom.  The two cards that I canceled (mainly because I wasn't using them) were Discover and Costco's American Express.

The customer service of these two companies were very pleasant and the Discover company even told me that this may affect my credit score by closing the card and suggested I maintain it even though it's inactive.  They also informed me the obvious that there is no annual charge and that it wouldn't be closed due to inactivity unless I was at risk and since I wasn't, they would keep it open for me.  Thanks Discover, but no thanks.

I have a lot less to worry about now that they are out of my wallet and mind.


I'm sorry to hear/watch that the USA lost yesterday.  However, I'm very excited to see Germany (my other favorite team) to win and go to the next challenge!  Yay Germany!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saving money while traveling Part 2 - Packing Light

Some people love to over pack their suitcases while traveling.  But lets look at simplifying that and packing light!  What are some of the benefits of traveling, specifically packing with just one bag?  How about security because it never leaves your side and isn't checked; economy because you can hull it around without paying someone else or getting one of those funny carts; flexibility because you can go places a lot easier with just one bag than with 2 or 3 (or more!), energy because lets face it, 1 bag is a lot easier to carry than 2 or 3 physically; and peace of mind because you wont be paranoid making sure no one is stealing or pick pocketing your other bags; and finally, ecology, less stuff = less materials needed to produce = less energy needed to produce = less machinery = less fuel = less greenhouse gasses.

So now that I've hopefully convinced you pack with only one bag (preferably carry-on), let figure out a way to make this happy and what type of restrictions you'll have.

  • Size: most airline companies restrict you to only 45 linear inches in combined length, width, and height.  This usually equates to 22" x 14" x 9" or about 1.6 ft3. This is not much space if you think about it but we can still fit enough stuff in there for at least a week if packed properly.
  • Weight: Many companies have a weight restriction of 40 pounds but some as little as 25 lbs.  Luckily for me, and you, they frequently don't weight them.  
What you need to bring:
Obviously this isn't the universal list that you'll use for every trip on every occasion, but there are some suggestions/reasons on things to bring with you.
  • SIM card based cell phone - Acts as a watch, alarm clock, cell phone, calculator, flashlight in a pinch, & music player (if it's allowed.  Not to mention, if it uses a SIM card, it's usable in most of the world and you wont have to rent a cell phone!
  • 3 or 4 pairs of undergarments & non-cotton socks (cotton is known for being horrible and completely useless if wet and do feet sweat? Yes they do.  So if you're planning lots of walking on your next trip, you might want to reconsider.
  • Safety Razor - Safety razors are the best way to go, the blades are incredibly inexpensive, require no electricity, minimal maintenance, and once you're good, can provide a very close and smooth shave with little effort and time.
  • Day Bag - to hold you stuff with while you're on the go around town.
  • Digital Camera - Waterproof camera's now are becoming more popular.  Those are the ones that I'd really recommend you don't need to worry if you spill something on it, the weather around you, swimming, etc.  Not to mention, they usually handle sand & dirt better.

What are some things that you always pack with you when traveling?  How have you saved money while traveling?

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Saving money while traveling Part 1 - Search Engines

    This coming winter I'll be going on my usual trip to Europe. As I'm planning my trip to Germany, I'd figure it's a good time to let my readers know what places to search as well to save some money!

    First of all timing is the most important. If you're flexible and willing to go off-season then you'll be saving the most right there. It's important that these prices can literally drop hundreds just by offsetting the date by one week or to the weekend. So I ask, are a couple of days worth hundreds to you? It sure is for me!

    Here's an example. If you're planning a 4 day - 3 nights trip for 2 adults and 2 kids to Disney's Park Hopper staying at their Paradise Pier Hotel from August 27 to the 30th, you'll be booking it for $1540.06 but push that back not even one weeks to Sept 1 to the 3rd and you'll be looking at $1253.04, a huge savings just because it's no longer the peak season come the 1st.

    Similarly for flights, the cheapest time both international and domestic flights are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Where the most expensive is Saturday for international and Sunday for domestic flights. Also usually early morning or late evenings are the cheapest as well, while afternoons are the most expensive.

    There are tons of website search engines out there to look for tickets. But the list below are the best ones I've found for both domestic and internationals with some small comments.

    Kayak - A really fantastic website, originally you could only search flights and hotels but they seem to be continually broadening now including vacations, deals, car rentals, etc. They will search hundreds of websites (including other search engines) for the cheapest flights and can show you in a couple of different views with great filtering options. I usually find my cheapest deals here.

    Expedia - This website is similar to kayak where they will search about several website and give you the cheapest around, however, from my experience, they'll give you the same or slightly more expensive flights than kayak.

    Orbitz - What can I say, we all know orbits.

    Travelocity - Dito

    Bing - Bing is becoming a lot more popular now, I don't use them too much but they're great for domestic flights because they can show you how the prices have been fluctuating!

    Ebookers - Because I mostly travel to Germany, this is a great website, sometimes they'll have flights a tremendous amount cheaper than kayak.

    ITA software - ITA software is a little bit unusual, it'll give you flights that are available and prices, but working it is a little bit tricky to get the most out.

    Once you have your flight booked, you'll probably want to head over to Seat guru to pick out the best seat around!

    Net debt - June 2010

    Student loans: -$82,171.95 (+397.19)
    Car loan: $0.
    Revolving Credit card debt: $0.
    Net debt: -$82,171.95

    Alexa ranking: 5,270,321

    Gah, so my networth didn't break the mark I wanted to this month of 70k, but there's good reason!  This past month there were many large purchases, one was the my fiancee's wedding band, a years worth of unlimited world via skype, parts for my car so it's finally fully functional, and my years worth of insurance (both auto and renters).  So although I didn't make it this month, I'm sure I will coming months.

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Saving money on utilities for renters (and owners) - Part 2 Electricity

    Last time I spoke about how to save money by conserving water.  Now it's time to talk about how to save money and energy with some simple changes.

    Saving energy can be simple by just turning off lights when you leave for the day to completely changing appliances.  Well be talking a little bit about both here beginning with the simplest to the more difficult/expensive.
    • Turn it off - Turning off the TV, radio, lights, and everything else that isn't actively being used will immediately save you money.  Not only that, it can save you money by not needing to replace the devices as frequently too. 
    • CFL lightbulbs- Right now is the time to change these light bulbs, not when they blow.  You're probably thinking, the cost of them is too high to change now, I'll slowly integrate it into my bills by replacing them as they go, this is wrong.  Yes, you certainly will have a higher cost up front, but you'll instantly see a drop in your electricity bill as well, especially if you always keep your lights on.  Technology has increased to the point now where CFL are much better than they were years ago.  The buzzing along with the dim effect of where it takes a few minutes to light fully are completely gone now.  Changing these light bulbs will also free up a few minutes for you because they typically last for 8 to 15 times that of a regular light bulb or put into hours, I typically buy CFL's that last 10,000 hours, while regular light bulbs last about 1,000 hours.  In addition to having a lower energy bill you might need less of your air conditioning during the summer months since CFL's run much cooler than regular light bulbs.  Check your local energy company for discounts or rebates, sometimes they'll even give them to you for free!
    •  Programmable thermostat - A programmable thermostat like the Honeywell RTH230B is a 5 +2 day thermostat which means you can program during the week and a program for the weekend.  This change alone can save you up to 33% on your heating and energy bills! 
    • Killing the vampire energy - For electronics that are capable of going into low power mode or have create "warts" on the wall, smart strips are the way to go to get rid of them.  These power strips know when the electronics aren't being used and will automatically turn them off, saving you money.  To know what's slowly stealing your power, a great device to use to check would be the kill a watt, this device can determine how much energy you use and how much it adds to your energy bill once you enter the rate you're paying.
    • Switch to Energy Star - When your next appliance dies, it might be a good time to switch to an energy star device, they will not only save you money, they are typically of a better quality from what I've found and will last you a lot longer.  Check with your local energy company for discounts or rebates.  Currently most of the appliances we've bought are energy star and it's amazing how low that bill can go!  
    •  Get rid of it.  Life is so complicated with all of this technology around us.  In my apartment, I just have my laptop, NAS to back up the data, ipod for the cat, and cell phones.  No TV, no DVD player, no game systems, nothing.  And let me tell you, when I come home, I feel so relaxed because I'm away from all of those distractions, complications, wires, etc.... Life is simple, the way it should be.

    Sunday, May 2, 2010

    Net debt- May 2010

    Student loans: -$82,569.14
    Car loan: $0.
    Revolving Credit card debt: $0.
    Net debt: -$82,569.14

    Alexa ranking: 12,675,786

    Yes, I still have 82.6k worth of student loan debt, but it's getting chipped away one day at a time and I'm making a tremendous amount of payments each month usually putting in more than one payments worth each month.  Which will hopefully save me a ton of money.

    Solar Fest in San Antonio

    Yesterday was the solar fest in San Antonio.  While I was there I was able to see several very interesting things and learn a fair amount in the short stay.

    First of all, this was not the stereotypical hippy "buy solar or die a gas guzzling SUV-driving capitalists" type of place.   As we walked into the park, we were greeting by a row of car that were converted into pure electric and I think there might have even been a hardcore electric-gas hybrid truck.  I have to note that one of the cars was even a DeLorean!  "Back to the Future" Baby!!  Live music was powered completely by the sun, and a solar pump to charge up that electric bike of yours that you rode in on. 

    While there I was able to see how easy it is to green up both your home, car, office and everything in between.  There were booths on transporting natural light from outside of the home into your home, solar panels, wind energy, vespa's (for those of you who want great mileage but not the hassle of recharging),  among many other great things.

    For those of you with kids, they were able to play catch with all of the different mascots running around, they included a sun, fox, and smoothie (from the smoothie king stand) all of the while the adults listened to the music watching the kids play.  They also had face painting and a Radio Disney stage available. 

    The expo showed, I believe, a great insight into all things that were renewable and sustainable living.  They had talks from local companies, HEB, CPS, and others talking about what they were doing to help and show how you can afford to purchase the units.

    For example, a 4kW system would cost you around $32,000 to $40,000 but after all of the tax credits and CPS credits it'll end up about half of the cost or about $18,500.  And a nice note is that CPS among other companies is trying to make sure you can add it to your mortgage.  No, this may not be something you do to your house if you plan on moving soon, but for those who have a home and really plan on staying there, this is a great investment into retirement!  Imagine owning your home without any mortgage and having solar on top meaning your bills really would be almost nothing with just your basic phone, water and gas.  Simply Amazing.

    From what I read there was expected over 4 thousand people attending and a great success.  And for those of you who live in Texas or other sunshine states and own a home, I can't stress it enough how great an investment solar is, both financially and sustainably, for you.

    Saturday, May 1, 2010

    I'm a member of Yakezie now!

    As suggested by my friend Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, I've joined the Yakezei Challenge.  It's a dynamic website ranking operated by Amazon who is trying to get us money bloggers ranked 200,000 or less.

    You may think that being ranked at 200,000 is a horrible ranking however, it's quite prestigious.  To help me and other bloggers/websites out there all you need to do is download this free toolbar here and it'll help start ranking us immediately!

    Please take a look at Financial Samurai's more detailed explanation here since I'm not doing it justice.  Below are some of blogs that are joined as well to the cause.

    Yakezie Member List:

    151 Days Off
    20s Money
    Beating Broke
    Bible Debt
    Bible Money Matters
    Blog Income Life
    Bucksome Boomer
    Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
    Budgets Are Sexy
    Canadian Finance Blog
    Car Negotiation Coach
    Chasing Prosperity
    Cool to be Frugal
    Couple Money
    Credit Card Chaser
    Deliver Away Debt
    Downturn Living
    Early Retirement Extreme
    Eliminate The Muda!
    Enemy Of Debt
    Engineer Your Finances
    Evolution of Wealth
    Financial Samurai
    Fiscal Fizzle
    Foreigners Finances
    Free From Broke
    JOB's Money - Free by 30
    Joe Tax Payer
    Learn Save Invest
    Money Beagle
    Money Crush
    Money Funk
    Money Reasons
    My Budgetting
    My Journey to Millions
    Narrow Bridge
    Out of Debt Again
    Personal Finance Ninja
    Personal Finance Student
    Planting Dollars
    Punch Debt in the Face
    Rainy-Day Saver
    Saving Money Today
    Simple Life in France
    Stay at Home Mom CFO
    Suburban Dollar
    Sweating the Big Stuff
    The Amateur Financier
    Ultimate Money Blog
    Wealth Pilgrim
    Well-Heeled Blog
    Young and Thrifty

    If you are a Yakezie member and don't see yourself on this list, please shoot me an email.  Thanks!

    Friday, April 30, 2010

    Saving money on utilities for renters (and owners) - Part 1 Water

    Earth day was recently here and with that in mind I'd like to put in my two cents on how to save money for rents who may think it's a challenge.

    Water, next to oil, is one of the most important resources that's very difficult to renew. Yes there are desalination plants, water purifying systems, distilling plants and equipment, etc, but all of those require tremendous amounts of energy and money to clean large amounts of water. So we should be aware of this and try to conserve as much as possible. How did we do it here in our apartment? For our faucets we used an aerator as shown in the picture. This aerator is actually the one we use here, it has a flow rate of 0.5gpm (gallons per minute) which is considerably better than our old one which was 2.2gpm, a 77% reduction!  We still have clean hands and toothbrushes so don't worry!  We don't even notice it anymore.  It's really a great thing.  We use this in all of our faucets besides the kitchen one because we don't want to wait forever to fill up the pot with water.

    Shower head is next on the list.  I love taking long showers so this was a huge saver for us.  And I can thank this shower head for saving us approximately 10950 gallons per year!  This guy will flow at a rate of 1.5 gpm compared to our old one which I think was 2.5 gpm.  So needless to say this saved us money right off the bat and we saw savings right away.
    Perhaps you're worried about installing these items?  Installation is a cinch and completed in just a few minutes.

    Our last water saving device that we currently have is the toilet "bank".  It's called the bank because it saves water in its pouch so that there is less to fill after you flush.  This can save up to 0.8 gallons per flush.

    I wanted to install one other device into our toilet which would make it a dual flush, one for the liquids and one for the solids, however my partner in crime thought it was a bit much.  Coming from Europe, I was surprised by her reaction against it!  All of these things are under $35 and can be found on amazon's website.

    The last few things that deal with water would be things like the dishwasher, laundry machine, etc.   Our solution to this is just to purchase things that are water saving and running the machine at optimal loads.

    My next post will be about energy!

    Monday, April 26, 2010

    Book review coming up!

    So I was checking out my buddy's website, J$, over at and he was giving away books! So I of course can't give up a free book, so I applied and won! So you'll be expecting a book review of "The Hero with a Million Dollars."

    For those who are interested this is what amazon
    The Hero with a Million Dollars uses Joseph Campbell's path of the hero as a template to help people define their purpose, discover their passion and build a life of wealth and fulfillment. With practical advice and immense wisdom, The Hero with a Million Dollars packs a volume of advice in a book that can be read in a single sitting. The Hero's Journey has been used as an inspirational source for movies and novels for decades. Now, William Radford expertly applies the stages of the journey to help readers define their purpose, discover their values and create outcomes that lead to success.

    Have you read this book? Any other suggestions of books to read? or give away?

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Increasing your credit score

    On August 7, 2008, I paid ($1) to found out what my score was, 761 at the time and recently on April 11, 2010 I did it again and I found out something horrible! It's gone down to 737! Okay, so maybe it's not that horrible, but I am a little disappointed at it. However, I’m still in the “very low risk” category, which is good.

    So, here’s how you can increase it with some examples. I recently moved from NY to Texas so coming here, I had to get new car insurance agent, bank, etc which resulted in me getting a couple of hard inquires, 2 to be precise. Luckily for me, in 2008 from August to October were the other 4 inquiries, so by the end of this year, those will be erased and my score should go up approximately 9 points. Below are some rough limits for when your score will change and how my credit score would change if they were moved into that category:

    Available credit using:
    0-15% (no change - I'm at 7%)
    16-29% (-3 pts)
    30-50% (-13 pts)
    51-64% (-19 pts)
    65%+ (-24 pts)

    Hard Inquiries:
    0 (+31 pts)
    1-2 (+9 pts)
    3-4 (+9 pts)
    5-6 (no change - I sadly have 6 inquiries)
    7+ (no change)

    Open Installment loans:
    0 (+5 pts)
    1-2 (+5 pts)
    3-4 (no change - I currently have 4 loans which account for my debt)
    5+ (-9 pts)

    Declared a new bankruptcy?
    No (No change - Thank goodness!!!)
    Yes (-169 pts)

    Delinquent accounts?
    No (no change - Always pay off everything each month)
    Yes (-42 pts)

    Getting a mortgage?
    No (no change - Currently don't have a mortgage)
    Yes (+10 pts - This really surprised me)

    There are obvious things that will increase your score:
    Pay on time,
    Vary your types of credit and limit unnecessary credit accounts,
    Don't max out your credit card,
    Don't go on an account-opening binge,
    and Don't apply for too much credit.

    Another one I found was having 2 revolving credit lines to every installment. So in my case I have 4 installments (my student loans) which would mean I need 8 credit cards. However you want to be careful also to not apply for too much credit.

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    What impacts your credit score?

    Your credit score can vary dramatically. Each year it's possible to ask the three scoring companies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) what your report is (not your score), however, sadly it's a trade secret what exactly the formulas are that calculate and determine what your score turns out to be.

    From my research, there are 5 categories on which your score is determined: payment history (35%), types of credit used (30%), amount owed (15%), how long or your length of history (10%), and your new credit (10%). There are, of course, other factors like your public records, which include bankruptcy, foreclosure and judgments; all of these things stay on your report for the next 7 years (Hint: Try to avoid them!).

    Payment History - 35% - This is simple, pay your bills on time and you'll do fine here! These bills you can typically paid in full or the minimum and as long as you pay the minimum you'll be okay here. But who wants to pay just the minimum, you'll never get out of debt doing it that way! If you are late in payments, there is definitely a difference in a bill that's 60 days late versus 90 days, so get them all current and paid!

    Type of credit used - 30% - Fair Isaac Company, or FICO, like to see a variety of credit, this includes credit cards, loans (car, student & mortgages all fall into here) and consumer finance accounts i.e. credit cards.

    Amount Owed - 15% - This is where having high limits will come in handy, you'll want to show a low debt used to available credit here. So although you may never go and use that $10,000 limit, having it will come in handy here especially if you come close to your limit each month

    Length of credit history - 10% - If you're constantly closing cards because you never use them, you might want to keep your oldest card. The longer you've been using credit the better your score will be here.

    New Credit - 10% - If you constantly open credit cards to get discounts at stores that will show here. Each of these credit cards will affect your score along with all of the inquiries made. Preapporoved offers are usually soft inquiries, which will not change your score; only the hard inquiries will affect your score, which they have to ask you for your permission (read the fine print!).

    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    Scam Parody

    About two days ago I watched this video and really thought it was great.  I hope you’ll enjoy ....

    Sunday, April 4, 2010

    Net debt - April 4, 2010

    Student loans: -$83,259.83
    Car loan: $0.
    Revolving Credit card debt: $0.
    Net debt: -$83,259.83

    How the little things add up....

    Recently in the news I read how, what appears to be a homeless man, died at age 60 a millionaire.  Curt Degerman rode around inside of a town in Sweden on his bicycle collecting cans and eating scraps of food that he would find.  However when he wasn't doing that he would go to the public library and pour of the financial sections and invest what little he collected.  By the time he was 60, he died with $1.4 million, a house, and 124 bars of gold. 

    This is truly amazing and definitely shows how the small stuff like collecting cans really can add up and living well below your means will create a fortune!  However in his case, I feel pretty bad, he left it all to his cousin and now the rest of his extended family is arguing over the money. 

    This year I'm hoping to become slightly more active in my stocks and mutual funds along with opening up a roth IRA.  Do you have any plans now that the new tax year is almost beginning?  Any examples of how the small stuff added up for you over time?  We're collecting all of our pennies in a nice jar and are eager to open it once it's full and see how much we've collected. :-)

    Sunday, March 28, 2010

    Car repairs are finally finished!

    My car has, for the past few months, been having continual problems.  And while I help out my friend on his repairs, I've reached my own limit of problems with my own car. 

    A few weeks ago, I replaced both of my window regulators, and today, I finally finished the last repair, replacing the charcoal canister.  In case you weren't aware, when the charcoal canister for Hyundai's break, it's likely that it'll clog up the hoses in your car, and then, you'll get the problem that I had, which it takes about 30 minutes to pump 12 gallons of gas into your car.  Needless to say, this was not acceptable and I've been tolerating this problem for months now. 

    The actual repair was quick and easy, two bolts dropped the canister from the car, then it was just taking off three hoses and installing the new one.  The whole process only took about an hour or so.  And the canister was definitely broken because as I was removing the original one, charcoal was pouring out.  So I was able to fill up my gas, semi normal today and within a few tanks, I imagine it'll be perfectly fine again. 

    Doing these repairs made me pretty happy as the mechanic wanted to replace my computer thinking that was the problem after he replaced the close valve.  So the part was only $130 and nothing for the labor since I did it myself!  Sure beats a bill of well over $600 for the parts and labor of the computer.

    Not bad for a weekend project.  :-)

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Money passing through the time....

    We all know and love compound interest. So let me tell you an idea of compound interest passing through the generations....

    When I was younger, my grandfather told us to work hard and do well in school and do what you loved. Regardless this got me thinking....What would happen if your money, today, was saved and over the course of say 65 years?

    As it grows, compounding year after year until the day you retired? A small chunk of change, could grow to be a very large pile of change! What would you guess $5,000 invested for 65 years growing at an annual rate of 8% could turn out to be? Answer: $743,899.23 is present day dollars or $119,199.50 in 65 year dollars with a 3% inflation.

    Although, not much, $5,000 still is a sizable amount of money in 65 years. Now for your child to be a "true" millionare in present day terms in 65 years accounting for a 3% inflation, you'd need to invest a bit more money, around $42,000 (without inflation that becomes $6.25 million).

    A great idea, I think, would be not to plan so much for your childrens retirement but rather for your grandchildren's. This would allot for soooo much more time. What do you think?

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    Securing your wireless internet

    It's amazing for me how many people don't have a secured wireless internet or for that matter, a weakly secured one.  If you take your blackberry out or anything else that has wireless and go down a residential street, or for me, an apartment complex you'll see that many of them are completely open and you can "steal" their internet.  So in this post I'll tell you how to secure your wireless modem or router so people wont have access to it.

    In many routers you there are options of different types of security available.  They range from hiding your SSID (the name of your router) and WEP to WPA or WPA2 encryption. 

    The first two are not really securing your router as it's very easy to detect hidden wireless and takes only about 10 minutes or so to hack into.  You can see youtube videos and download programs to be able to this very easily.

    WPA and WPA2, however are the best type of encryption you can use today.  WPA2 if possible would be the optimal choice as it corrects all of the flaws of WPA.  Every newer devices allow for WPA encryption, and similarly many of those are allowing for WPA2 encryption.  You'll want to select a very good password as well.  I would suggest a long password as you'll only have to enter it once per device.  If you have trouble thinking of one, I recommend using a website like good password  to create a good long one for you that has both lower case and uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters. 

    Lastly, if you are so technically inclined, I recommend you upgrading your router (if possible) to something like DD-WRT.  This is a firmware upgrade that will literally turn the functions of your router into a $300+ router.  I can't highly recommend it enough.   There are also other things you could do, like MAC filtering, etc.  This doesn't really qualify as securing your wireless, but it is another security feature.   Similarly, you should have it set as a DHCP server to help fight off any hackers from the internet along with the built in firewall.

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    Adopting a cat

    So we made the big plunge and adopted a cat.

    The animal shelter fee ended up being $89, we donated $11 since it's a no kill shelter and would like to support that movement, and we bought a small carrier for $4 made from cardboard.  Right next door to them (luckily for us) was a super Target and we bought the litter, litter box, catnip toys, etc. which came out to be around $80 (I think).

    She seems to be a great cat and today was the first time alone in our bedroom.... after keeping us up all night.  Hopefully she'll come out of her hiding a little bit more today.

    I promise better posts coming up!

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Buying a Cat (or any other animal)....

    During the past few days, my girlfriend and I have been determining how to buy a cat and figure out all of the expenses associated with it.

    First, how to find your desired pet.
    1. Animal shelters
    2. Pet shops
    3. Breeders
    4. Online (I'm constantly amazed with what you can buy online!)
    1. Animal shelters from the research I've found are typically the cheapest, they might come with microchip, de-wormed, up-to-date on their vaccinations and de-sexed and if you're lucky maybe even with a month of pet insurance and food/toys.  All of these things can cost hundreds to do by yourself.  This is the route if we do end up getting a pet.
    2. Pet shops are nice, they typically will have the variety that you'll want but I don't see the point personally shopping here because there are so many pets running free or killed because they don't have room in the shelter.  
    3. I'm not someone who is picky enough to buy a pet from a breeder unless it was given to us for free like my dog when I was a kid (she was the runt of the pack from over breeding).  
    4. Buying online, I feel, really limits you in interacting with the pet before and also I'd feel so incredibly sorry to have a pet possibly shipped hundreds of miles just to live with me.  There is just too much stress on the animal for that and it isn't fair for him/her.

    1. Vaccines:  These can range in price dramatically.  Different pets have different types.  Since I'm looking at a cat, lets look at those.  The main ones include:
    • Panleukopenia virus (distemper)
    • Feline calicvirus (FCV)
    • Feline herpes virus (rhinotracheitis)
    • Rabies

    And can extend into including:

  • Feline chlamydiosis—this vaccine is not necessary unless the cat is at high risk of infection due to living among other infected cats.

  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (feline AIDS or FIV)—this disease is spread through bite wounds, so only outdoor cats and cats that live with other aggressive cats are likely to be at risk. Original FIV vaccines are given 2-3 weeks apart, with annual boosters afterward. The vaccination is not always effective in preventing the disease.

  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)

  • Feline chlamydiosis—this vaccine is not necessary unless the cat is at high risk of infection due to living among other infected cats.

  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (feline AIDS or FIV)—this disease is spread through bite wounds, so only outdoor cats and cats that live with other aggressive cats are likely to be at risk. Original FIV vaccines are given 2-3 weeks apart, with annual boosters afterward. The vaccination is not always effective in preventing the disease.

  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)

  • Feline chlamydiosis—this vaccine is not necessary unless the cat is at high risk of infection due to living among other infected cats.

  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (feline AIDS or FIV)—this disease is spread through bite wounds, so only outdoor cats and cats that live with other aggressive cats are likely to be at risk. Original FIV vaccines are given 2-3 weeks apart, with annual boosters afterward. The vaccination is not always effective in preventing the disease.

  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)

  • Feline chlamydiosis—this vaccine is not necessary unless the cat is at high risk of infection due to living among other infected cats.

  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (feline AIDS or FIV)—this disease is spread through bite wounds, so only outdoor cats and cats that live with other aggressive cats are likely to be at risk. Original FIV vaccines are given 2-3 weeks apart, with annual boosters afterward. The vaccination is not always effective in preventing the disease.

  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)

  • Feline chlamydiosis—this vaccine is not necessary unless the cat is at high risk of infection due to living among other infected cats.

  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (feline AIDS or FIV)—this disease is spread through bite wounds, so only outdoor cats and cats that live with other aggressive cats are likely to be at risk. Original FIV vaccines are given 2-3 weeks apart, with annual boosters afterward. The vaccination is not always effective in preventing the disease.

  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) — first

    • Feline chlamydiosis
    • Feline immunodeficiency virus  (Feline AIDS)
    • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
     These prices are typically anywhere from $45 to $85 for the first year of the cats life and anywhere from $10 to $35 each year afterward.

    2. Toys and beds.
    This can, of course, range dramatically with what you are comfortable spending on.
    For those who are particularly eccentric, you can have your whole house redesigned for the pet lover in you.... 
    3. Food: Again, this can range in prices, but for cans it can be anywhere from a few cents to over a dollar for a tiny 3 ounce can.  And again anywhere from $10 to $20 for a big bag of dried food.  

    4. Pet Rent: If you live in an apartment, like me, you might find out that man's best friend may have to cough up money and pay some rent, a fee, or both!  Where we live you've got a $200 fee and a $200 refundable fee and although a $10 pet rent is written in the contract, they ignore it.

    So overall the total cost of a pet can range quite a bit and can cost you a pretty penny.  But I think it's worth it overall.  What about you?  Have you been looking into getting a pet? What are your thoughts on trying to be frugal and pay off debt but having/getting a pet?

  • Feline chlamydiosis—this vaccine is not necessary unless the cat is at high risk of infection due to living among other infected cats.

  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (feline AIDS or FIV)—this disease is spread through bite wounds, so only outdoor cats and cats that live with other aggressive cats are likely to be at risk. Original FIV vaccines are given 2-3 weeks apart, with annual boosters afterward. The vaccination is not always effective in preventing the disease.

  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)

  • Saturday, February 27, 2010

    Tiburon Car Repairs!

    So today was a day of repairs!  About a year ago when I got my car during a cold New York winter, I broke the regulator of my drivers side window.   Even more recently, I brought my car to the mechanics for repairs and while there, my other regulator broke.  So it was time for repairs!  The mechanic quoted the parts for around $250 and then 3 hours of labor.  I managed to buy the 2 window regulators online for $138.  I completed the repairs with my trusty 11mm socket and screwdriver (and occasional help from my lovely girlfriend assigned the official task of window holder and watergirl) in 2 hours.  Saving me a whopping $350!  And I got to enjoy a great day outside in the sun working on the car which I always enjoy.

    I know in Texas it was a great day today, how about you guys?  Anyone else do some home or car repairs?

    Net debt - Feb 27, 2010

    So as of Feb 27, 2010, this is my financial situation:

    Student loans: -$84,026.74
    Car loan: $0.
    Revolving Credit card debt: $0.
    Net debt: -$84,026.74

    A note about the above finances. The student loans are at a weighted rate of around 6% ($32,241.50) for my government loans, and around 3% ($51,785.24) for my private loans.

    How's your net worth going?  I hope it's going up!

    Privacy Policy

    Privacy Policy for

    The privacy of our visitors to is important to us.
    At, we recognize that privacy of your personal information is important. Here is information on what types of personal information we receive and collect when you use and visit, and how we safeguard your information.  We never sell your personal information to third parties.

    Log Files
    As with most other websites, we collect and use the data contained in log files.  The information in the log files include  your IP (internet protocol) address, your ISP (internet service provider, such as AOL or Shaw Cable), the browser you used to visit our site (such as Internet Explorer or Firefox), the time you visited our site and which pages you visited throughout our site.

    Cookies and Web Beacons
    We do use cookies to store information, such as your personal preferences when you visit our site.  This could include only showing you a popup once in your visit, or the ability to login to some of our features, such as forums.

    We also use third party advertisements on to support our site.  Some of these advertisers may use technology such as cookies and web beacons when they advertise on our site, which will also send these advertisers (such as Google through the Google AdSense program) information including your IP address, your ISP , the browser you used to visit our site, and in some cases, whether you have Flash installed.  This is generally used for geotargeting purposes (showing New York real estate ads to someone in New York, for example) or showing certain ads based on specific sites visited (such as showing cooking ads to someone who frequents cooking sites).
    You can chose to disable or selectively turn off our cookies or third-party cookies in your browser settings, or by managing preferences in programs such as Norton Internet Security.  However, this can affect how you are able to interact with our site as well as other websites.  This could include the inability to login to services or programs, such as logging into forums or accounts.

    AdSense Privacy Policy Provided by JenSense

    Thursday, February 25, 2010

    My "first" real post

    My first real post wasn't actually on this website, it was on my buddies Free Money Finance, and I'd like to say thank you to him.  I've been interested in money my whole life, seeing compound interest in other things before money, and once I saw that it translated over, I was pretty happy.  Within the past few years I've become increasingly interested and active managing my money and then I chatted with FMF and he sort of convinced me that I could start up my own blog.  So here's my outreach and an intro to what my finances are now.  In the future I'll be posting my "Net worth" updates each week on Friday, not to get my posts up, but simply because I receive them each week and I feel like it'll encourage me even more so to hit chunks out of it bit by bit.

    Below is what I emailed FMF and what he posted!

    Help a Reader: Getting Out of Debt

    Here's an email I recently received from a reader:
    I'm currently 25 going onto 26 soon.  My net worth is currently -$73,520 roughly and although that's (really) bad, I'm not in a horrible spot overall but want advice. 
    Currently I have :

    • $3k in emergency fund,
    • a few hundred in my savings/checking (which I'm trying to have a base of 1 to 2 thousand)
    • no credit card debt.
    • a few thousand in stock
    • ~ -$52k private student loan @ 3.1%
    • ~ -$32k government student loan @6.8%
    Currently I'm paying the minimum on the government and paying an additional $300 each month on top of minimum for the private.  The reason why I'm paying more on the private than the government is because of a new rule that just happened for people who work for the government or public service which allows for your student loans to be wiped free after working there 10 years which is what I'm doing currently.  Also that 300 dollars will allow me to have it paid off in about 5 years instead of 10 and saving me a lot of money.  Also, my job allows me (actually forces me) to save for retirement 6.5% of my pay along with them contributing an equal amount. 
    Also, I'm hoping in the next year or two to get married. The ring I've priced out is going to cost somewhere around 3 to 5k.  I think my folks will give us some money for the wedding as well which I'm hoping we won't go over, but still planning on doing it all myself.  Each year at my current job we get a COLA (Cost Of Living Adjustment) "raise" but once the fiscal year starts I'm hoping to get a pay raise of 25 to 50% of what I make now, apprx 35k which will bring me up to (at least I'm hoping) 50, preferably 55.  Planning on this raise money to set aside a portion for budgeting a ring/new (used) car since mine is starting to go and also mainly the student loans again.  I'd like to have almost no debt by 30.  Idea's?  Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Am I nuts?
    I believe the main question here is how to get out of debt by 30. Think he can do it?

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010


    First of all, welcome! This is my new blog, one that I would like to share with the world and was inspired by many of my blogger friends out there. I'd like to use this blog to convey my thoughts about money, finances, my own personal life, perhaps any other things that come to mind.

    So the blog is titled, Job's money - Free by 30. This isn't for the workplace, or about stealing your works money, I titled it more for the fact that "Job", is a popular word that gets tagged, along with "money", so hopefully this blog get more hits from google and other search engines. And the last part, I hope is obvious, "Free by 30" it's my personal goal to be debt free by 30. I'm currently 25 so I have 5 years to go!

    While you look through my blogs, I'd like to remind you that I am not a CPA, accountant, or for that matter, that I work with money at all. I am a trained physicist and you should not take my blog as the final word and I will not take any responsibility for money made or lost by you. Remember, it's your money, you choose what to do with it and always use common sense. My next post will tell you what sort of situation I am currently in and where I'd like to go.