NinjaPigeon - My Flight to Financial Independence

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Another CC Application

After I did the Chase application last night, I went ahead and did the Schwaab visa application also. This one is for a $100 visa gift card. I'm hoping I'd get the card by christmas and could use it to pay for some of my gifts this year. I'd only be getting this card for the promo, and not to actually use, but it's worth the time.

There is another $100 promotion out there from Sony, but I might give it a couple weeks before I do that one. I don't want three pulls on my credit in the same month.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Stupid Transfers and CC Promotions

So my HSBC account and my ED accounts both were finally set up this week. I decided to go ahead and transfer $800 to HSBC after calling customer service to link my Wachovia account to it. It went through fairly quicky, but for some reason Wachovia charged me a $2 service fee.

I tried to link ING to HSBC but HSBC won't allow it. So I transferred the balance of my ING account to my Wachovia so I could then move it to HSBC. I knew I'd have to fight to get the $2 fee waived, but I needed to get the money in HSBC.

Well, turns out I think you can link HSBC to ING, and then transfer from ING to HSBC. So, I am now moving my money back to ING from Wachovia. Yah, I know it's a long round trip of stupidity on my part, but it'll be easier once it's set up than dealing with yet another account to do the ACH and I don't want to pay service fees everytime I deposit money.

In other news, I applied over the phone for that Chase Cash Plus rewards card since they were running a $100 promo. The customer service rep said I'd hear back via mail within the next 30 days. Wow, that's a long time. I'm not sure why they couldn't give me an instant approval.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

401k Musings

I've been trying to figure out what I could do to bump my 401k contributions to 20%, which would allow me to hit the cap for the year. The problem is I just didn't have enough money each month to do it. I realized the only ways to pull it off would be a raise (not likely), or to juggle money.

So, I decided to fund my Roth out of my savings rather than out of my paychecks directly. This means that I'll only be putting $8000 into savings each year rather than $12000. However, it allows me to put $3500 more into my 401k, thereby hitting the max. In theory, I'm only down $500 for the year in savings.

But if I look closer, the problem is that after taxes, that $3500 is really only $2450. So somewhere in here I've lost $1550 savings for the year, not just $500. I'm gonna try to make up $1200 of it by putting $100 more into savings each month. The other $350 I'm gonna have to look for. I know it's in the budget, but I'm just not sure where yet.

However, even if I can't make up the difference, I still think this is a better move financially. It reduces my tax burden, for one. Also, I can always contribute more to savings each year. But there is a cap on 401k contributions. So for my 401k to truly serve me in retirement, I have to fund it as much as possible in the early years.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

401k, Banking, and Money Due

Read a little more about 401ks over the weekend and found out that my employer matching didn't count towards the 14k contribution limit per year. However, even with that matching, I'm still not too close to the cap. I considered bumping up my percentage to get me to the limit, but quickly realized it'd hurt my budget pretty badly, so opted to just go from 10% to 15%. Hopefully I can pull off a raise in the next 6 months and go up the rest of the way. But for now, the 15% is gonna make my budget a lot tighter than it was before.

I still haven't gotten the final information from ED, or HSBC for that matter, but I'm hoping to hear from them by next week. Although, I think you have to keep your money in ING till the 15th to get the interest, so it's probably not so bad that I'm still waiting to open those other accounts.

Also talked to my "boss" on my side project and found out that I can send an invoice if I'm ready. I think I have about 40 billable hours right now, so an invoice would be a decent amount. However, I'm behind where I should be, and I want to focus on getting more done and not just the bottom line. And I'm not even sure what I wanna do with the money yet anyway. So, I'm gonna hold off on billing.

On the plate for today is to start making phone calls to find out about my vacation so I can budget for it.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

HSBC Bandwagon

Okay, decided to go ahead and open up an HSBC account since I've heard it can take up to two weeks for Emigrant to actually mail the materials to finish setting up accounts. If i'm gonna be waiting, I might as well kill two waiting periods at the same time.

Once they are both set up, I can decide how to split money appropriately. Plus, this will give me three choices of high interest savings accounts to utilize - ING, ED, and HSBC. And best of all, they are all competing to offer me the best rates!

I noticed they had the same phone number requirements that GMAC did. Apparently, this is going to be a recurring issue for me. I can't use my cell because they require a land line. I can't use my parents' number because they live in a different city. So the best I can do is use the house line which is in my friend's name and can't be reverse looked-up to me. Nor can it be answered, as I don't even own a normal phone. It's only purpose is to facilitate DSL.

It should also be noted that I move a LOT. About once a year for the last 9 years. So the "previous address" question is always tricky for me. My driver's license still has my parents' address listed on it, even though I haven't lived there since I was 18! But I move so often that it's just not worth the $15 to get a new one once a year. Besides, I still receive mail at that address periodically.

I also tried using a promo code I saw on Fatwallet. I am not so confident it went through, but it never hurts to try!

Net Worth

I think it's important to keep up with the progress with my bottom line, so here is my net worth as of 12/31/2004:

And here is my current net worth:

And here is my tentative goal for the end of this year, although I will probably move the money around some.

*Denotes balance, not payoff amount.
¹Denotes a temporary balance earmarked for a specific purpose. This balance is not included in Net Worth.

Still Chugging Along

Just read on MyMoneyBlog that HSBC has passed ED on rates. Since I don’t have any money in ED just yet, I might go ahead and signup for an HSBC account also. This will give me some good options for moving money based on the best rate and also allow me to separate my money as needed. Not everyone has this obsessive need to keep money earmarked for different budget items separate, but I very much do.

I also tried to go ahead and sign up for the Citi Dividends card today that everyone has been raving about. Since I’m already a Citi card holder, they have an option to bypass some of the application process. But, as usual, their page hates me and failed everytime I tried. I think the main problem is that all their data is really stored with the site, which coincidentally backs the data for my AT&T Universal card. End result is that those two sites really give me a hard time.

In other news, I have been neglecting work on my side project. This is bad because 1) it is unprofessional and lazy, and 2) I can’t get paid until I finish.

I’ve also done terrible with my food budget lately. I’ve ordered out every night for the last 5 days, at a cost of about $13 a pop. This is killing my budget right now, and I was already behind this period anyway due to the $125 cost of my cert test and various other things.