UPDATE: 2012 Savings Challenge

Come join me!   Please leave a comment below of what your financial goals are this year!   Let’s work together to achieve them.

2012 Savings Challenge

Our financial goals for 2012:

Short term goals

Refinancing our mortgage. 

DONE!  CHECK!  We did it!   We refinanced our mortgage and got a lower rate and lower payment.   Like I mentioned in my earlier post be prepared for anything.   Right now even those with excellent credit are having problems with the refinancing process so take a deep breath and go for it.  It will be a bumpy ride but worth the savings. 

Prepare yourself!

1. Make at least 2 copies of your most recent pay stubs or income statements.

2. Collect all of your bank statements for the last month including checking, savings, CDs, 401k, and IRAs.  Make at least 2 copies.

3.  Collect all of your debt statements for the last month including mortgage, Credit Card, and Student loans. Make at least 2 copies.

4.  Make at least 2 copies of any other assets you have.

5.  Look at your most recent credit score.  Have it handy.

6. Then start talking to your banks and referenced brokers for some quick quotes and figure out which one you want to work with.

7.  Be prepared that it will be a bumpy ride but it is worth it!

The good news is we are now saving more than $400 a month on interest!  In addition, this is STILL OUR ONLY debt.

The plan is to pay ourselves back first to cover the closing costs before we can use the additional savings for other goals.

Finding a financial adviser

So far these last few months have been well stressful and a lot of work.  I think I got drained from the refinancing process that I haven’t taken the time to find a financial adviser.  I have a couple names but we haven’t taken the next steps yet to interview them.   This is a goal for the next couple of months.  Any suggestions?

Save towards a vacation or 2?

We have saved for this goal and we are looking forward to enjoy it.  We might even splurge and go on an additional vacation but we haven’t made a final decision.  We also are looking at ways to travel in a frugal way.  Now that we are a family of 5 we love places that feed kids for FREE or have deep discounts for off season times.   We can’t wait!

 

Long Term goals:

Saving for a car. 

Still need to create an account for this goal and start doing it. It might be a smaller savings per month but I’m sure we will do it faster now that we finished saving for our short term goals.

We have 5 vehicles!  Yes, you read that right.  We  know since the vehicles are older that we need to do MORE  maintenance and there might come a time when it will make sense to buy a newer vehicle.   We hope to be completed with this goal in a couple years.   I plan to write more posts about why we own so many vehicles and how we make it frugal.  Here is Part 1 and Part 2 posts I wrote a couple years ago about our cheap SUV.

Saving more for retirement.

This is one of the topics I will be asking the financial planner when we interview them.  I want to know are we investing ok in our IRAs and 401ks.   If I stop working where should I transfer my 401k?  Are we balanced through our accounts?  Are we choosing the right options?   Lots of questions.

Saving more for college.

This is the next topic I want to ask the financial planner.  We are investing the minimum in our kids 529k plan but how much should we try and save after our retirement above?  Or should we take the additional we would have put towards retirement and put it towards college savings?

Photo Credit:  FreePixels.com
These are my own opinions and personal views please see my Disclosure policy.

ING Direct Offering Specials on 7/1/10-7/2/10

I’m a huge fan of ING Direct.  It is simple to use and it is the best way to save automatically.  I’m a firm believer of paying your self first by automatically saving from each paycheck or per month.  Then I pay the rest of the bills with what I have. That way I can’t overspend.

In my email this week, I got a hint to a new sale ING Direct Financial Independence Days Sale that ING Direct is going to offer July 1-2.

Check out  Netbanker.com who wrote an article with more details about the sale.  Back in November last year they had a great Thanksgiving Sale that offered money after signing up for their FREE e-checking account.  Super easy to do and a great account to use as a debt account.

I love referring people to ING Direct and I get a little something in return when I do refer others as well as the new customer!  If you are interested in being referred especially during this event please email me with the email account you wish to sign up for to redberrydeals (at) gmail (dot) com and I will send you the referral link.

DIYPlanner.com – Check it out! Get Organized for 2010!

Organization is a never ending battle.  No matter what life throws at you, you will be disorganized at one time or another.  There have been times I have been so organized it felt great, but life does happen and that planner gets left at home, or the monthly to-do list gets misplaced on the kitchen table with the mail.  Now, that I’m a working outside the home Mom, being organized is a dream!  Even in my About Me I mention my struggle with organization – “I hope as time goes by I will have the opportunity to learn to organize my time better and post deals as well as shopping trips.”

I was a Day-Timer fan for years.  I still have a place in my heart for the Day-Timer concept, it has a very nice simple layout and using the binder I could move pages to different sections at will.  The last year I used it I started having more and more problems being able to move pages without getting frustrated with the binder.

A dear friend of ours introduced me to Levenger Circa, which I had never seen before.  Basically think of a Rolodex but in a notebook.  You can carefully pull the pages out and then put them anywhere you want!  The down fall is the Levenger brand paper is a bit expensive and the Circa punch at a silly cost ($58!).   Levenger has a couple stores including one in the Northern Virginia area at Tysons Corner Mall, and you can ask (nicely, of course) for a FREE sample and they will create for you a sample (I prefer junior size) to try it out!  It is wonderful!  What a great concept!

Me being the savvy shopper that I am wanted to find a deal and back in the fall Levenger had a sale on Circa products on their website.  I was able to get some of the items on sale and then I ordered the $40 sampler packet with the $40 gift card I could put that towards the Circa punch.

Now, I have all of the tools to create my very own planner! The best place to check out is DIYPlanner.com, that has lots of templates and even a simple program to create your very own planner.  I can have a daily calendar as well as a monthly calendar exactly as I like it.

Speaking of a great site to learn about planners it also has my next favorite subject -financial planning.  This link has some templates to create envelopes to help you with your financial planning!

Since it is tax time and the beginning of the year what a perfect time to mention this stuff.

What do you think?  Have you heard of DIYPlanner.com or Levenger Circa?

Img Source:  All You

2010 Savings Challenge

I’m a huge fan of so many bloggers including Mrs. MoneySaver and Frugalfriends.wordpress.com.  It is so inspirational to read about each of their goals for 2010!

I’m so excited because if you read my earlier post from last year about our financial goals 2009 I’m excited to say that we’ve done everything on the list and then some!   We’ve done a lot and we continue to stay on track!

This is what we did in 2009!

1. Continue to pay our credit cards each month!

2. 6+ months of expenses for emergency fund

3. Increased each of our life insurance policies!

4. Got an umbrella policy.

5. I’m super excited to say that we maxed out on our retirement accounts!

6. We started a 529k for our daughter and family has even helped with some gifts.

7.  We refinanced our mortgage 2 months ago and lowered our mortgage payment by 9% per month!  That might not sound like a lot but for us that is a decent amount.  Of course that means we went back to a 30 year mortgage but I’m pleased with that.  Here is a great article from Ric Edelman — 10 reasons to Keep a Big – Large Mortgage.

8.  We are going to keep our extra stock and keep it until it rebounds a little bit more.  The advisor fees are too high to keep it after that. We are going to put this money towards our next savings goal.

9.  Get a home equity line of credit – Still looking into this option.  At this point we are comfortable with our current options.

10. Go on vacation!

Financial Goals 2010

Woohoo!  We only have our mortgage debt!  Not bad!    After a quick milkshake with the hubby we came up with these goals.

1.  Continue to pay off credit cards each month!

2.  Try to spend only $40 a week on groceries and try and spend less on eating out.

3. Max out our retirement accounts and look at other options to save even more into retirement.

4.  Continue to save each month into our daughter’s 529k plan.

5.  With the extra savings from our mortgage each month we are going take it and invest.   We will include stock that we were going to sell last year into this fund.  We have a goal and so far we have about 40% saved up!

6.  We went on vacation!  Woohoo!  Thanks to saving and being frugal at Christmas we went on vacation.  More about that soon.

7.  Save towards landscaping our front yard.  We need to get a couple estimates to figure out how much we need to save. We plan on doing some of it ourselves and having someone come and help too.

8.  Save towards remodeling our master bathroom.  Our bathroom is fine for now but it needs some tile work and we’ve thought long and hard and realized that it needs a good makeover and we plan on getting some estimates.

Keep Saving!

What are your goals for 2010?

Free Download of David Bach’s New Book –

Click HERE to download David Bach’s New Book – Start Over, Finish Rich 10 Steps to Get You Back on Track in 2010 for FREE!  Today only – started 1/4/09  and will stop sometime today – 1/5/09!   Hurry!

From David Bach:

Now that is a great question! And the answer is I truly want to help millions of you make 2010 your best year ever. I know many of you may not be able to afford a book at this time and this was my best way to give back in 2010 and help as many of you as possible. We know that giving away this book five days after it is released is risky and may hurt book sales, but I’m willing to take the risk. I told my publisher, trust me, the more people we help in 2010, the better! I know many of you will still buy the book, love reading the paperback and enjoy the free bonuses we’re giving away (only when you purchase it.) But for those of you who can’t, here’s your chance to enjoy it today!

Thanks for being a part of my community and sharing Start Over, Finish Rich with those you love. And thank you again for reading my past books (and this one) and letting me be your trusted financial coach.

Happy New Year!

David Bach

Copyright © 2010 FinishRich Media 295 Greenwich St. Suite 529, New York, NY 10007

I like a lot of the financial writers and advisers like  Ric Edleman, Dave Ramsey,and David Bach.   They all have very sound advice and some of it I’ve accepted and used wisely and some I’ve listened to and made my own decisions.

David Bach was the first to introduce me to having a frugal mindset before I even knew who Dave Ramsey was!  David Bach introduced me to the “Latte Factor” – stop spending extra on things you could live without – “find out what investing your small savings can do for you.”   I strongly suggest you take a look at his books and learn more about how you can “Finish Rich.”

Mint.com – free personal financial tracking!

mintcom

Since it’s the beginning of the year its that time again to start getting taxes ready and organize my financial information. I used to be a big fan of Quicken and Money but both programs have limitations and require a lot of work in my opinion.  I usually would have to spend 1 to 3 hours a month to add all of the account information and figure out my financial situation.  In addition, I prefer not to pay $30 to $60 for software that I didn’t think really helped me much.  So, I did some research a couple weeks ago and I discovered Mint.com.

What is Mint.com?

Mint.com is a personal online financial tracking system for free!  That’s right free!  You create a secure account online and add your login and passwords for your individual accounts – checking, savings, investments etc.   This is similar to what Quicken and Money offer, however, Mint.com automatically categories the transactions.  Then it takes that information and tells you how you are doing financially with simple to understand pie charts, and bar charts.  You get a quick picture of your financial health.

Does Mint.com help you budget?

Yes!  This makes me very excited.  The problem with Quicken and Money is neither software programs could help you “budget” because it was after the fact rather than before the fact.  Mint.com does it differently.  It immediately will check your accounts and tell you via alerts or when you login, if you go over your budget.  You can change your budget very easily too.

Does Mint.com notify you have changes to your accounts?

Yes!  This is the best part in my opinion, because you can setup alerts that can be emailed to you.

How does Mint.com make money?

They have a section on their site that offers you suggestions to save more money by applying for a different checking account or credit card for example.   If you decide to take an offer then they will get referral fee from the company.

How secure is Mint.com?

Mint.com is very secure.  More details about the security is on their site.   I recommend you always use a strong password – at least 8 characters that include numbers and symbols.

Let me know how you budget and what your opinion is of personal software programs.  Do you have a favorite?  Would love to hear your opinions.

Financial Goals 2009

This evening I’ve been updating my blog.  There is so much to talk about and so little time.  I now realized that it is 11:10PM so I need to finish up and go to bed.  The little one is in bed and I’m sure she will wake up early.  In the mist of updating my blog  I found Money Saving Mommy’s blog on 2009 goals Her blog always inspires me to save even more.  I have to admit I’m not as good a saver as other bloggers have been and it really helps to see others who believe like we do.

In 2008, we had our wonderful daughter and realized that we had to do better about our finances.  We knew we had to start a 529k and we need to save more than we were.  Right before I had our daughter we visited a financial advisor.   I decided I wanted to talk to Ric Edelman‘s Financial group.  I’ve listened to him on the radio for years and I’ve read his books including The Truth About Money.

We met with a very nice advisor who took his time and step-by-step talked us through what we should do.  (This was a recommendation for us only.  This is not a recommendation for everyone.)

We already do the following:

1. Pay off all credit cards each month.  (I personally like to use credit cards because then my husband and I can track our purchases.  It’s harder with cash only.  In addition, I don’t like to use a debt card because in the past we have had someone steal the card number and you can imagine what happened next.  Not fun!  I completely understand the concept of using cash only too.  It just doesn’t work well for us.)

2. Save 20% of income

3. 6+ months of expenses for emergency fund

He recommended the following:

1. Pay off our school loans – Done. Used cash reserves.

2. Pay off our car loan – Done. Used cash reserves.

3. Increase life insurance – Still need to do this.  Got a quote and need to call back to start process.

4. Sell extra stock that we own.  – Still haven’t done this because that was when the market went down so fast. I’m thinking of keeping it.

5. Increase 401k contributions to max out – I’ve done this but my husband is about to do this.

6. Start a 529k for our daughter – I’ve applied for the application packet.  I did some research on each of the programs and we will benefit better by doing it in our state.

7. Get a home equity line of credit – Still looking into this option.

We live in a very expensive area.  I’m so impressed to read about other bloggers that have paid most of their mortgages off.  In the future, that might be something I will add to my list.  If you are familiar with Ric Edelman’s books you will know that he has a different view about paying off mortgages.   He thinks it’s better to keep a large mortgage and have the extra money you would have put towards the mortgage to invest somewhere else.  I can agree to this as long as you can make more than the cost of the mortgage.  Again, everyone’s situation is different.

Off to bed..will update again with 2009 goals.