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CNBC Portfolio Challenge

February 25th, 2007 at 07:40 am

I was watching Suze Orman last night (yeah.. we're such party hoots!! Smile ) when an advertisement for CNBC Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge came up.

I start Monday, March 5th, next Monday.

I've signed up and am ready to trade!! I have no expectation whatsoever, but I think it could be fun.

If you're interested, you can https://register.cnbc.com/registerUser.do?serviceName=Millio...

After Ima's comment, I realize I might not have given enough information. Below are some of the rules. To view the whole thing: http://contests.cnbc.com/milliondollar/rules.html

The Contest is a stock trading game that provides Participants with a fictional trading account, One Million (1,000,000) fictional dollars (“CNBC Bucks”) and the fictional ability to trade individual stocks on the NYSE, NASDAQ and/or AMEX exchanges. At the end of the Contest, the winner will be announced on CNBC television and/or CNBC.com.

Car insurance premium way down...

February 12th, 2007 at 12:37 pm

I just notified our car insurance company of our change of address. Somehow it never occurred to me what a difference it would make. Otherwise, I would have notified them the day we moved (10/26/06).

This change will give you a new annual premium. The annual premium has changed from $969 to $656, causing a $18 prorated credit on your policy from now until your policy renewal on 03/07/07

Wow... $313 for having a "nicer" address? I'm shocked.

Wow... Water bill

February 10th, 2007 at 12:08 pm

We got our first water bill a few days ago: $103.41 for 69 days. 10% discount if paid before 02/26.

This is my first ever water bill, so I didn't bother to really look at it. And then today, I did take a closer look:

Rate Information:
Water $4.06 per 100 CF
Sewer $7.43 per 100 CF

We used 900 CF, or 6732 gallons. This seems like a lo-oot of money. So I look around and find out what other Massachusetts cities are charging for water/sewer:
Rate for Shrewsbury, MA:
Min. charge $ 16.50/qtr. (5,000 gallons)
5,001 to 25,000 gallons $ 2.85/1000 gallons

At that rate, we would have paid:
16.50 + 4.94 = $21.44

Ok, so Shrewsbury is in no way the reference here. I just happen to find that particular information quickly. But this is still a huge difference.

Can I get feedback from you guys? What does your water bill look like?

Re: Update on hubby's CCs

January 30th, 2007 at 11:47 am

Following the previous post on my http://lau.savingadvice.com/2006/12/13/update-on-hubbys-ccs_...
All 4 small balances credit cards are paid off!!!! Yay... I'm really happy.

Next, I'm going to snowball what I used to send them to my much larger balance credit cards and pay those off by the end of the year.

Let's recap:
That was back then (October 13):
CC#1 22.9%, 66.5% balance to limit
CC#2 21.0%, 84.7% balance to limit
CC#3 24.0%, 71.6% balance to limit
CC#4 27.75%, 57.4% balance to limit

This was then (December 13):
CC#1 22.9%, 53.1% balance to limit
CC#2 21.0%, 39.0% balance to limit
CC#3 24.0%, 0.0% balance to limit
CC#4 27.75%, 0.0% balance to limit

This is now (January 30)
CC#1 22.9%, 0.0% balance to limit
CC#2 21.0%, 0.0% balance to limit
CC#3 24.0%, 0.0% balance to limit
CC#4 27.75%, 0.0% balance to limit

Well... that feels pretty good!

E-loan drops its rate again

January 19th, 2007 at 12:09 pm

I was checking my E-Loan account this afternoon, and noticed the rate at 5.25%. A few weeks ago, they already came down to 5.36% from 5.50%. That sucks!

Got myself a shinny new Roth IRA

January 18th, 2007 at 03:02 pm

So I was opening myself a Roth IRA on Vanguard yesterday when I could not find any fund that had a minimum investment less than $3,000. So I gave up on it...

Today, Jim at http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/ posted this blog today: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/go-open-a-roth-ira-rig..., which gave me a little extra motivation to check it out again. So I found a fund that requires $1,000 minimum investment, which I can do.

So guess what? I did it... I am now the proud owner of a Roth IRA account.

------- Edit ------
This morning, even the Consumerist was suggesting the post by Jim:

Now do you think you should open that Roth IRA??

Spam Comment...

January 17th, 2007 at 08:22 am

I was very very surprised to find the following comment this morning to one of my earlier post about my car insurance:

Author: keiko
E-mail: asiankeiko24@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.CarInsuranceDaddy.com
Hi my name is Keiko. I am sweet Japanese girl.

I want to say thank you to nice man for email to me about http://www.CarInsuranceDaddy.com

It make me so happy! Now I understand how to buy right car insurance.


I tried posting this to the forum, but somehow I do not have access to it anymore... Anyone else has gotten this kind of comments??

Balance transfer

January 13th, 2007 at 10:22 am

I talked about how we got a new credit card a few weeks ago with a 0% APR on balance transfer for 12 months. We had managed to charge on it already, but the balance transfer wasn't done. We consider it done. I'm waiting for the money to be moved around (ie: Chase cards paid, Citi cards charged), but the request was sent on Thursday.

And on a lighter note, here are two pictures of a new dog, Beaux:

10 new tax laws you need to know

January 12th, 2007 at 11:00 am

I found this very helpful article in my Bankrate newsletter this afternoon:


State of our affairs...

January 9th, 2007 at 07:55 am

I am late posting our end of month status. I have had to adjust it because I had forgotten accounts. This thing is getting larger every month.

Anyway, here it is.

What has changed?
- I added my Scottrade account info. As you can see, not very brilliant.
- I got a new Citi card. I only got it for the 0% APR on balance transfer, and was going to transfer the whole Chase card balance on it. I have not done that. However,I successfully charged stuff to it already!! Damn me...

Our net worth is up a bit, but our debt has subsequently gone up, which isn't good. I blame it all on Christmas! Smile

I forgot the Car Insurance!!

January 8th, 2007 at 03:02 pm

I have been completely obsessed with our budget lately, counting to the penny what comes in and goes out every month and trying to figure out what will come in a go out in the next few months. Well you dummy! What about the car insurance?!?!

Last year in March, our insurance comes up. Because I didn't have my US license and we were switching companies, it took a few months for the premium to actually shows as it should. We went from $1,600 to $2,100 back to the "normal" premium of $900. But while it was very high, our monthly payment due was also way up there, and whether I liked it or not, I had to make the $2,100/12 payment for a few months. Long story short, our premium ended up being paid way early in July I think and I sort of forgot we ever had to pay for car insurance. Now our policy is going to come up in 2 months and I didn't factor that into the budget.

Ok, we'll have to readjust he number a little bit. What really makes me angry? This article from Boston.com: http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2006/11/30/auto_rate...:

A state law passed in 2004 changed the effective date of the 2007 auto insurance rates from Jan. 1 until April 1, which means anyone renewing their policy during the first three months of the coming year will continue to be billed at the 2006 rate for all of 2007.

And when is my policy being renewed??? Huh huh... in March! Damn you people making laws

Are we really going to owe taxes??

January 5th, 2007 at 11:59 am

I tried to figure out our taxes last night and surprise! We might be owing taxes. I've never owed taxes, I've always gotten a refund. Here's what has changed:
- We both do make more money
- DH's son was living with us so we could claim him as a dependent... not no more!

Since we bought a house only 2 months ago, we have not paid enough interest or real estate taxes to itemize, so we have to take the standard deduction. I have a small capital loss on my Scottrade account, but not enough. This is a really a big bummer!

------- EDIT -------
After a little bit a digging around, I found out that there are 2 things that can be done to lower taxes:
- http://www.bankrate.com/nltrack/green/taxes/basicsfour-intro...:
• Earned income tax credit
• Child-related tax credits
• Education tax credits
• Retirement saver's credit
We qualify for... well, none
- http://www.bankrate.com/nltrack/green/taxes/basicsthree-intr..., which consist of
• Standard Deduction/Itemization
• Above-the-line Deductions - I was hoping to find something in the latter, but no such luck
• Exemptions - nothing surprising there, we are 2, so 2 * $3,300 = $6,600 deductions.

Well, haven't found anything for us to use, but I hope I helped someone else with their taxes!

Anyway, whatever you do, don't forgot the http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=161506,00.html

My favorite spreadhseet and Free MIT courses?

January 5th, 2007 at 07:58 am

I have mentioned this a few times in various comments I've left, but I wanted to share with everyone this little spreadsheet that has come very handy to me while figuring a lot of loan-related things: car loan and mortgage mainly.

I found the http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/TC010197771033.a... template on the Microsoft template website.

Once you've entered all the information in the gray cells, it automatically displays your whole payment schedule, with how much you're paying for towards interest and capital. You can see the impact that making extra payment has on your total interest payment, as well as on the actual number of payments you will end up making. I think it's a fantastic little tool.

--------- EDIT ---------
This is not brand new, but I just found out that http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/index.htm from Aeronautics and Astronautics to Writing and Humanistic Studies. I have actually already used it to get a refreshing course in Java.