Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Family Member Loan

There has been a lot of discussion in the personal finance blogosphere about this topic. Some people think it is the right thing to do and others think it can only cause problems. The reason I bring this up is that I received a call this morning from my sister and she asked if I could loan her $2,500. It is but it isn't a lot of money so I really couldn't decide what to do. Needless to say, the wife and I had a long discussion ranging from expectations of payback, can we afford to even help out, should we charge interest. We finally reached a consensus that we would help out this one time. I am going to try and keep my expectations of payback low and if they don't come through with repayment I will chalk it up to experience and make every effort to let it go so it doesn't become a source of contention within the family.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Tax Refund Received

Just like Tax Act estimated, my full tax refund showed up in my bank account today, exactly ten days after submitting the return. Life is good. We are going to try and save most of it but I have been putting off the purchase of new tires for my car so a portion will likely go to that.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Credit Card Courtesy Checks

Among the items in my mail today were courtesy checks from Citibank for my Sears Mastercard. Two of them stated 3.99% interest until the balance was paid off and no transaction fees. While it isn't that great of a deal since my savings account only earns 4.50% interest before taxes, I thought I would give it a try for the simple benefit of boosting my emergency savings. I currently only have two months of expenses built up and it would be nice to have it closer to four. So, I made the check out to myself for $7,500 and cashed it without issue at my local bank. In a few days, the money will be in my EmigrantDirect account. Based on the 2% minimum payment requirement, I will need to pay $150 to begin with. Hopefully, I can squeeze my budget enough to make this extra payment from current funds and keep the entire $7,500 in my savings. In a way, this is an extra incentive to save.

Monday, March 20, 2006


For the past few weeks, my daughter has been attending pre-school two days a week as a sort of trial run. Things have gone well so we made the decision to enroll her for next year. It is a Spanish immersion school and it has been amazing to see how much she has picked up already. The development of little minds is amazing. Anyways, the personal finance aspect of this decision relates to payment of tuition for next year. The school offers three payment options: 5% discount if you pay in full at time of registration, 3% discount if you pay the full amount at registration with a credit card, and full price if you pay on a monthly schedule. Fortunately, we have the money to be able to pay cash now and get the full discount. Our emergency fund will take a short-term hit, but we should be able to build it back up over the next few months as my wife gets paid for coaching soccer.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

New Credit Scoring System

The three credit reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax have created a new "VantageScore" that will replace the FICO score. According to the article at Yahoo!, the new credit scores will be available to lenders immediately but will not be available to consumers until later in the year. I am anxious to see what my score will be under this new system, so I will be keeping a lookout for the announcement that will proclaim that this is available for customers as well.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Tax Refund

I just e-filed our federal tax return. We should be getting a refund of $2,588 deposited into our checking account on or around the 24th of March. I used TaxAct to complete and file our return. We used their free software and paid $7.95 to e-file the return. Fortunately, we live in the great state of Washington so there is no state return to file.

Back in November, I did a rough estimate of our taxes and realized then that we would be getting a sizeable refund. I adjusted my tax withholdings but was still way off. Hopefully, I can be a little more accurate this year so we don't end up giving Uncle Sam a free loan.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Budget Pains

March has thrown some early curveballs, and I am expecting to be well over our budget by the end of the month. I have decided that I don't want to "pinch pennies" the rest of the month to try to get closer to the budget. Instead, I want March to be a month we do like we always have. After I have a full month of data, I will identify areas we can hopefully trim.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

February Net Worth

February was a rather boring month financially. We held everything constant and just made our normal debt payments and savings allocations. Our net worth increased to $86,045 from $84,254. This is an increase of $1,791 or 2.13%. Our detailed balance sheet for February can be viewed at NetworthIQ.