alexseanchai: Supernatural's Crossroads Demon from 3x05 (brb selling soul)
[personal profile] alexseanchai
Dear Mother, the correct response to 'hey, you used to have a personal finance qualification, can you check my math on the taxes on this paycheck vs the preceding paycheck, how come my estimate is so off' does not actually include 'maybe you should buy less junk food and do less online shopping'. That just makes me want to BUY ALL THE THINGS.

Actual answer appears to be 'payroll taxes went up' with a side of 'reinstate the automatic deduction for retirement savings, it actually will do you more good accumulating interest than reducing the credit card interest you need to pay'. On that subject, she went on for a while about Roth IRAs--does anyone have a compare-contrast for Roth IRAs vs 457(b) accounts? Or vs 401(k) accounts, I'm pretty sure 457(b)s are like 401(k) accounts in all the ways except whether the owner is a public- or private-sector employee. I know 457(b)s get taxed when the money comes out, Roth when the money goes in, which I think means the difference between 'money I put into account' and 'money in account' is taxable with 457(b) but not with Roth...
alexseanchai: Purple lightning (Default)
[personal profile] alexseanchai
I now have a little wooden box with a lock. It contains all but one of my credit cards, plus one of my debit cards, such that what remains in my wallet is the debit card hooked to my flexible-spending health-expenses account, the debit card hooked to my primary checking account, and one credit card in case of emergency. I think I am also going to get in the habit of keeping hardly any money in that checking account, transferring everything I need to cover that month's bills into savings and pulling it back into checking the day before the bill in question comes due.

This won't make it impossible to use those cards—I think I have at one point or another used every single one of them for an Amazon purchase, so Amazon remembers them all, and while the box is going to live two floors up from my computer, I don't have trouble with stairs and the key will live on my keyring in my purse—but it'll make it a lot harder. Can't spend money while out of the house using a card that's in the house, after all.
alexseanchai: Purple lightning (Default)
[personal profile] alexseanchai
Between Christmas and not spending shit, amazing how the money piles up. I seem to have four hundred dollars to spare. That's more than a third of my current goal for the rainy-day fund (goal, $1000, current total, $0). That's also enough to pay off the lowest-balance credit card (current total, just shy of $400). But not both.

Advice?

ETA: Taking the advice to put $100 in savings and $300 on the card. Next paycheck, this sucker is going down.
jamethiel: Money! (Money)
[personal profile] jamethiel
Hi guys. It's been a while since you heard from me, huh? I thought I'd give you a quick update.

Read more )
jamethiel: Money! (Money)
[personal profile] jamethiel
So, how did your tasks for finding out your debt go?

I've been thinking. For me, the process of getting myself into financial shape has been mostly one of organisation. Everything seems so insurmountable when you start.

It's one of those saccharine sweet truisms that the hardest part of a journey is the first step. But it's not the whole story, and I think I've worked out what's true for me:

The hardest part of a journey is the first step that you haven't taken before.

Take today, for instance. Yesterday I was rummaging through my filing cabinet when I came across some old receipts from last year for occupational therapy I received. Now, she'd mentioned at the time that I could claim from my health fund for this but it was something I'd never done before and I stuck them in my filing cabinet and forgot about it. I did briefly investigate claiming online but it didn't appear to list my provider as one that I could claim for.

So I hop onto the website today. Turns out that I can't claim online as the receipts are more than 2 months old. So I download a claim form and fill it out and stick it in the post today. I have no idea when it will be processed but that's $120 for five minute's work and 60c for a stamp. And I could have avoided the stamp if I'd gotten onto it at the time.

Another task that I swore I would see to is the transfer of my previous superannuation (401K, to Americans) funds to my new fund. There were multiple forms to fill out, I didn't remember what all of my funds were and I stuck it in the too hard basket. Then I received a note from Choice (Australian consumer testing, very good, the only magazine I subscribe to) about a site that finds super funds where they've lost contact with you.

So I went and filled out my details for a laugh. Turns out there's two super funds that have lost track of me. So I filled out the forms and then I got to the part which needed some numbers (business number and product identification number). I had no idea. But instead of giving up, I actually did something (for me) revolutionary.

I asked for help. I rang the fund and said "I want to transfer funds. I have my old fund details here, but I need to fill in these fields. What do I put in them?"

She told me and I filled it out. Then I went and got a pharmacist to certify some copies of my license and I posted it. So my super can now all be together and incur fewer fees.

The point is with both of these tasks is that at the time, I was so tired and stressed that I just couldn't cope with even thinking about starting the steps I needed to take to achieve them. Now, if it happens again, it'll be a doddle. If I ever have to claim something again, I absolutely know what I need to do. The known holds no terrors for me. It's the unknown that makes me panic and throw up mental blocks.

So: This week's challenge, should you choose to accept it.

START THE NEW FINANCIAL YEAR OFF RIGHT.
What administrivia do you have to do to get yourself in position for the new financial year? Do you need to file a tax return? Set up an automatic payment? Review your position. Break it down into small steps and if you don't know, ask!
jamethiel: Money! (Money)
[personal profile] jamethiel
Hello everyone! How did your weeks go? Did you succeed in not eating out?

I didn't. I got sick (again. Or still. Stupid ears) and that led to me just being too damn tired to make the right choices. I did have dinner at home every night but that was mostly cooked for me and sometimes consisted of canned soup.

Lunch was where I really fell over. I am craving take-away food like there's no tomorrow. High fat, high salt, high in chilli. I bought lunch probably six times over the past two weeks.

But, it happens. With the ferocity I was craving stuff, I decided to go with it. It's not the best decision in the world, but it's not the worst either. Stuff happens and you deal the best you can.

I really debated whether to make this a separate post or not, but I guess I'll stick it under a cut tag at the end so as not to spam your reading lists.

cut for talk of my personal finances )
jamethiel: A common kingfisher sits on a branch with a background of green foliage. (Default)
[personal profile] jamethiel
I've said it many times before, but personal financial management is as much about psychology as anything else.

One of the things I have is a LOT of goals. There's getting the credit card debt gone. There's saving up for a house deposit. I want to have a yearly public transport ticket. I want a digital SLR. I want my tattoo finished. I want three months wages as a buffer.

Cut for musing )
jamethiel: Money! (Money)
[personal profile] jamethiel
Today I had a salutory lesson. I was just viewing articles in my local paper online and it had a link: "Compare savings accounts!" kind of thing.

I tend to transfer money that I'm not intending to spend in the next week out of my bank account into a linked internet savings account. It works for me--stops me spending money I need to spend on bills, puts any excess money in a place where I can't get to it easily for impulse spending. I can access it by two business days at the outside and it provides me with a bit of a buffer. So I'm all set, right?

Banks rely to a large extent on both customer loyalty and inertia to keep your business with them. The thing is, switching isn't that hard or stressful. Let me be perfectly clear: banks make money off you. Every account you have with money in it, they're making interest over and on top of any interest they pay to you. They have a perfect right to make money--and you as a customer have a perfect right to assess their services and take your business elsewhere if you can get a better deal. Don't let them rattle you. I can provide a number of helpful links for Aussies, at least, who wish to switch bank accounts (just ask in the comments).

What the hell. I was bored. I clicked on the link to evaluate savings accounts.

Cut for length )
jamethiel: Money! (Money)
[personal profile] jamethiel
Hi everyone! How are you? How was your Christmas?

Looking around my reading circle, it seems like most everyone had a pretty horrible, awful, no good year. Mine was actually okay.

Finances and Christmas are a very stressful combination. How to get back on your mental feet after blowing it. )


Now, I'd just like to put a few words in for other blogs. Because finances aren't something we're taught, I'm having to teach myself. I read widely and try to read sceptically. (For instance, "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" has some very poor financial advice) But some blogs that I've found that really help me:

Get Rich Slowly. Get Rich Slowly is awesome. It's sensible. The blog author is all about frugal living, sensible investments and life balance.

He is in favour of totally getting rid of your credit cards, though. It's not an approach that works for me, but horses for courses.

The Simple Dollar. Again, common sense. Trent Hamm is a guy who has dug himself out of debt and established an emergency fund. He's got some fantastic ideas (if I ever buy a car, I will be buying one from Craigslist).

He is a proponent of keeping your credit cards, but tends to get a bit frothy at the mouth and all "If you can't keep a credit card and use it sensibly, you've failed at managing your finances!" While I intend to keep my credit card, money is about psychology and people can be different without being wrong.

So go! Read!

As always, comments are valued. How did you survive Christmas? Does the approach above work for you? If it doesn't, why not and what does work for you?

If you've got any other financial blogs you read on a regular basis, I'd love to read them. Link me!