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End of Year Recap

December 31st, 2008 at 05:00 am

Well started my first year of really setting goals with an easy one - to pay off my car loan. (gotta start somewhere)

Well, I paid it off mid-dec and now just have that unexpected new van I got the wife before I deployed.

One step forward, one step back. But hey, I was still successful at keeping within my budget and not ever carrying a CC balance.

Also, I am glad to say I maxed out both mine and my wife's IRAs, started a 529 for my son and already have $2K in it, and finally and most importantly I got home safely from Iraq.

This next year I will add a few more goals,

1. I want to add another 3K to my Savings to bolster my emergency fund to 3 mos worth.
2. Save up ~$2K for flights to a few different weddings this year.
3. Use my tax refund for a little 5th anniversary trip for my wife and I this summer.
4. Finally why not add in a final goal to push myself a bit as the first two shouldn't be hard to achieve. I want to add another $4K value to my brokerage.

I wish you all the best and have a happy new year!

Redeployment

November 23rd, 2008 at 04:35 pm

Well I am heading home from my deployment. I will have 'barely' met my financial goals I set while deployed but considering everything I am not at all disappointed.

I will have set aside enough $$ to pay off my Car Loan.

I continued to max out my IRAs for the year as well as put an additional 5K in my brokerage (before the recent drops but oh well).

I guess most of all I am happy and a bit anxious to be heading back to the 'real world'.

I made a bunch of good friends out there and will definitely miss the mission and the impacts we had on the strengthening of the Iraqi Security Forces.

Most of all I will be glad to reunite with my wife and son. It has been 7 mos since I last saw them and he went from being 5 mos to 12 mos old.

Wish me luck!

Deployed Finances

May 20th, 2008 at 04:53 am

I am not sure about some of you in the military but I rather enjoy doing finances while deployed.

1. When you see your paycheck you notice there are no federal taxes withheld (except fica, ss, med).

2. You also add in all the combat pay. $250 for family seperation, $225 for Hostile Fire pay, $100 for Hazardous Duty pay.

3. You expenses back on the homefront drop (if you are lucky) since my wife is only spending for herself and my son.

This is where a lot of us in the military get ourselves back in line. I could easily pay off my car loan in the next couple months. But why pay off a 3.9% loan when I can put money in the SDP.

The Savings Deposit Plan is somewhere where deployed service men and women can put in up to $10K and get a guaranteed 10% interest from Uncle Sam.

I was also lucky enough to have internet available for my laptop so I can update Quicken and have easy access to my finances.

- D

Unpleasant News

April 7th, 2008 at 11:12 pm

Just got notified that I was deploying next week. Kind of a shocker seeing that I was already supposed to deploy in July. Anyway, now its time for last minute scrambling to make sure the wife is set for while I am gone. Least everything is on auto pay and there should be nothing much to take care of.

I felt bad for the wife and decided to move up car buying a year to make sure things are good and easy for her while I am gone. She is enjoying her new Odyssey. Anyway, wish us luck. More for her staying behind with our 4 mo old...

Budget Busting

February 5th, 2008 at 02:48 am

I have been doing pretty well at not staying within the budget I set out for myself at the beginning of the year of $200 per week discretionary spending.

It's always something I didn't think of.

Last week I renewed my magazine subscription to Kiplingers for another 3 years for $50. I sent my mother flowers after her surgery for another $50. And my wife got a haircut for $40. (she does this every couple months)

This week I stocked up on my multivitamins, $40, for the next few months. I have cholesterol issue so I get some heart healthy GNC stuff that works pretty good. I got a piece of exercise equipment to help me stay in shape when I don't have time to hit the gym, $50. And I had an unplanned work dinner for $20.

Oh well, hopefully most of these things will pay off in the end and I'll have a few light weeks.

I also got word that I am deploying this summer. Though this is not so good news for my family, it will in the end help our finances as I will not need to be fed or entertained. Plus, the tax-free pay and extra combat pay perks always add an extra $750 or so a month to my income.

All in all, I should have no issues taking care of my 2008 todo's...

New Credit Card

January 25th, 2008 at 03:59 am

My parents taught me from a young age how to responsibly use a CC. They even cosigned a cc for me when I was still in high school. The card had a low credit limit so that I couldn't do too much damage and they would of course keep track of the bill to make sure I paid it.

Now what am I getting at? Well I am a fan of Dave Ramsey but I still believe in credit cards for those who can keep them in check. I do also agree with his reasoning that when using a CC instead of cash you tend to spend more but that's why my wife and I have a budget.

So anyway, my wife and I each had our own cc for the last couple years and we decided what was the point. So, instead of dropping one of the two we decided to see who was offering some of the best rewards programs out there and decided to give the new Chase Freedom card a chance.

It matches our current card giving 1% back on everything with a bonus of 2% to a total of 3% cash back or points on your top three spending categories for the month.

Since we use our cc's for everything from bills to groceries to gas the cashback of a couple hundred at the end of the year helps.

The only drawback of the chase freedom card is for those who carry over a balance. The interest rate is 17%.

Anyway, anyone know of a better rewards card? I know there are some awesome rewards cards where the rewards are like 5% for the first 6 mos, I am not talking about those...

Friggen Waiting Game

January 22nd, 2008 at 04:01 am

Just a slight rant...

This time of year drives me nuts. Not because I have to pay off the CC after Christmas or anything...

What drives me nuts is that I want my money back from the IRS and I am forced to sit here and wait for all the little tax documents to come visit me in the mail.

I am not sure how many of you wait till the last minute to file but I cannot stand waiting even a day once I get the final 1099 or w-2 to get my return filed.

I don't always expect a big check but 1k here or 2k there always helps. Sure, I try to give the least amount throughout the year and all but with my being military I never know how much of my pay will be tax free. So I am forced to go ahead and take a decent amount out.

Anyway, atleast I got my w-2. Now I just need to wait for my wife's w-2 and 3-4 1099-div/int/b or whatever else is coming. I am sure there is something else I am missing aswell...

2008 - Taxes or lack thereof

December 31st, 2007 at 02:27 am

Doing a quick look ahead to the coming year I am confronted with another familiar situation.

This past year was one that was slightly different from those I am used to. It was the first year I didn't get every cent in federal income taxes back. But that could easily be explained by the fact my wife actually worked most of the year and I had a couple nice raises to boost my income.

This coming year however, we are getting used to our newly born son. As such, the wife doesn't plan on going back to work and I am looking to be deployed for half the year. That will take my adjusted income to under $15K and with the various credits like the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit (which is freakin' awesome if you haven't heard of it) I will most likely get every cent back once again. So Uncle Sam will only be getting my continued military service and not my income (except for Social Security etc).

Back to planning for the upcoming year. Normally when planning my taxes for the year I adjust my withholdings to account for what I plan on owing. There is no reason to give the gov't an interest free loan. But to be completely safe this year I will withhold as if I am not going to get 6 months of tax free income. Better safe then sorry...

2008 Goal - changing course, getting rid of debt...

December 28th, 2007 at 08:02 pm

Okay, this is my first Blog entry so bear with me. I hopefully gave you a quick snapshot of my families situation under my info. What I'd like to throw out there today is my thought process on my 2008 goal of paying off my Auto Loans.

First of all, both loans were for 60 mos and I had no previous intentions of paying them off early. I got lucky enough to purchase both vehicles a few years back when interest rates were quite nice.

However, I was bored at work one day and was looking at my Money Market accounts interest. It got ~4.25% last month, well not actually 4.25% but 4.25%/12 or the equivalent monthly amount. Anyway... in the past I never thought about taxes, and since I am fortunate enough to still be in the 15% tax bracket and I was getting upwards of 5% on my Money Market I never looked into paying off my low interest debts early.

STATS:
Truck Loan: 3.25% - 16 Pmts Left
Car Loan: 3.9% - 29 Pmts Left
MMKT (4.25%) - Tax: 3.6% Yield

So now with the lower money market rate I set my 2008 goal to pay off my Car loan before I put my usual $500 a month into savings/investments.

So, $500 plus the approx $300 / mo that goes to principal on the car should get me paid off by Dec 08.

Now, in my mind there is a small struggle with the truck loan as to whether to pay it off early or not after the car loan. I am leaning towards knocking it out as I should be getting extra income starting this summer as I will be deployed.

There is no telling how this will go. We have a pretty tight budget set and even though I am comfortable with it, I am sure there will be things I didn't account for especially considering we have a newborn Son.

Wish us luck...