Heating bills and financial lessons

Okay, breathe with me. Last month’s heating bill was ~ $44. This month’s heating bill = ~ $66. My jaw literally dropped and I instantly placed a call to my energy company to schedule a free high-bill re-check. Then, I called my husband and broke the news to him. lol. He claimed he wasn’t surprised, but I was honestly was. In retrospect, and if I’m brutally honest, the high heating bill was my fault. My usage of my small space heater was drastically increased (I’m talking about turning it on daily for ~ 12 hrs each day!). Being the argumentative wife I am, I argued with Matt that it must have been the 3 – 5 times we must have run the heater for the house or leaving lights on. In any case, this is a huge wake-up call for me. I cannot do things like run a space heater for 12 hrs daily and not expect my heating bill to bite me in the ass. *sigh*

In other news, if you have been living under a rock, the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates further and while this is good  news for borrowers, people with money in savings account (i.e. us) are essentially seeing our savings rates slashed too. Right now, ING Direct’s Current Annual Percentage Yield is 2.75%. I’m not complaining though because it is still better than Wachovia’s saving rates. Now I’m on the topic of finances, I just have to say that we have done rather badly in terms of savings. This wasn’t because we went on a huge spending spree. We had strategic investments i.e. payments to make. For one, I finished making payments on my laptop and we also bought a used car from Matt’s friend (which was a steal). Nevertheless, I’m forging ahead and I clearly won’t make my saving amount of ~$5, 000 for the year (although that goal was set while at my previous job).

The Suntrust account is still 75% paid off and I’m disappointed that I didn’t do more to get this figure up. Nevertheless, my financial goals (going into the new year) will be:

  1. Keep making “payments” to our ING Direct savings accounts: Again, it bears repeating that everyone needs an emergency fund. Ideally, this should be 3 – 6 mths worth of money that will allow you to ride out the loss of 1 income source, a health issue, a car wreck, etc. We technically don’t even have an emergency fund yet because once I remove the cost of our current liabilities (just 1 credit card), we’re left with not much. These payments will occur monthly and the deposit will be at least $150 each time.
  2. Pay off Suntrust credit card before April 2009: This is a rather modest goal and definitely eases the pressure. We have enough room to keep making just the minimum payments, but I’ve been reading horror stories about people who saw their lines of credit cut in half & their credit scores plummeting. I definitely want to keep my score (~ 720 in all 3 credit bureaus) looking the way it is. 🙂
  3. Resume payments to Fidelity ROTH IRA: Since the purchase of my laptop and other big ticket items, I put my payments on hold. I haven’t actually begun investing the current funds in my ROTH IRA because it needs to be at $2,500 or above in order not to incur yearly (not sure if they are monthly) fees for making investments in mutual funds. The only way to get around those pesky fees is to commit to making automatic payments of $200 or more in order to invest in mutual funds.
  4. Consolidate my retirement accounts: Actually, this is already done because I’ve got my employer’s matches going into a Fidelity retirement account as well as my contributions. Fidelity’s also the holder of my ROTH IRA. The consolidation largely refers to the previous holder of my retirement account. It should be interesting how this all plays out on my taxes filings.matt
  5. Figure out investment options with Matt’s retirement account: His rate of return is currently -26% while mine is -1.8%. Now, my low rate of return is largely because Fidelity (for some reason) has about half of my stuff in a money market account. I’m sure when all that’s migrated to actual investments, I’ll see my rate  of return get lowers. Now, Matt’s retirement account is managed by Merrill Lynch and while they provide a more hands-on approach, their selection is a little bit limited (not to mention confusing!). I just want to put his funds into an investment “bucket” (so to speak) because they takes the headache out of managing his account. I adjusted his investments to spread the risk so I’m hoping that it will stem the bloodletting. lol.

Enough of the money talk. 🙂 I’m currently jamming to some Alicia Keys. Peace and I’m out!

Less than 10 days to my break

Phew! It’s been a long while, my darling blog. How have you fared in my absence? 🙂 Well, my Christmas shopping is far from done. It goes without saying that Matt & I are going with thoughtful gifts that won’t break the bank. I wouldn’t want to receive any gifts that broke the bank either. Anyway, my break starts on Christmas Eve until the New Year. That’s pretty awesome. I have been plotting on ways to spend my time and I need to draw up a sheet with the list of activities that could be done.

First of all, I just want to congratulate Matt on getting an A one of his first courses towards getting a certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). He put so much time & effort into it and it paid off handsomely. Cheers, babe!

Second, I’m contemplating the idea of pursuing a minor in Computer Science. Hear me out folks! lol. I think know life is too short and I’m all about focusing on what makes me feel fulfilled & happy. At this stage in my life, I think a change of pace/scene will do me some good and perhaps light the fire under me once again. The exact details of what I hope to study are sort of, unclear, but in time, once I figure out payments et. al, I’ll keep y’all updated. Basically, it’s been well documented that I have an interest in computers and I’d like to explore that part of me. Who knows where it’ll take me? In any case, keep me in your prayers!

Map picture

Third, I finally got some video of my darling niece (Maxine). She’s just too cute for words and I cannot wait to hold her in my arms. 🙂 ‘Well, that’s all for now. It’s getting late here. Cheers! Lest I forget, that’s a map of Lagos, Nigeria. For any newcomers, that’s my city, right there.


The bedfellow called Marriage

The feeling of being married is still slightly alien, in a very good way. 🙂 It’s been over a year and everyone I tell says the first year is the hardest. However, everyone goes ahead to say it’s year 2 that’s harder, or year 5 or … you get the picture. However, I will say something I’m sure you knew: your marriage will be in troubled waters if you:

  1. Always want to get the last word,
  2. Always want to win the argument,
  3. And always want to have it your way.

As we continue on this journey, I’m learning that often times, when I hear out the partner or even agree to do it their way, the partner becomes more amenable to suggestions and *gasp* you still might end up having it your way! 🙂 I know it’s cheating, but the idea behind this is showing respect and that you understand what it means to have delayed gratification. Obviously, I’m working on moving away from instant gratification to delayed gratification to it-may-happen-or-it-may-not-happen-but-I-will-live. 🙂

I’m over at the lab, but I’ll be leaving soon. Take care and have a wonderful Memorial day weekend!!

Beautiful in this skin. :)

Man, I feel good. 🙂

Whoa-oa-oa! I feel good, I knew that I would, now
I feel good, I knew that I would, now
So good, so good, I got you

Whoa! I feel nice, like sugar and spice
I feel nice, like sugar and spice
So nice, so nice, I got you

That is how I feel this morning. I had an awesome breakfast of brown rice with steamed broccoli and I snuck some handfuls of Kashi GoLean Crunch to go with me. The simple pleasures. Yesterday was a hard day for a few reasons and it was a test that I flunked. However, I feel like a winner today. I learnt some hard lessons (this is not work related), but I am going to put my new information to some good use. I am disgustingly healthy, I’ve got an even healthier husband with a penchant, healthy family … I never thought I would say it, but I am content. I am 23 years old and that’s an eternity in comparison to peers from my motherland. However, to each his own. As I pray and bless my peers, I am praying and blessing myself too. Praying and striving for clarity and direction. Speaking of which, I had been toying with the idea of getting certified in one of the clinical laboratory sciences. Then, I sat down and thought of what those jobs involved and as much as I like the idea, I decided that I would be better off pursuing a different line of education. Taking this alternate route does not entirely close the door to any of the clinical laboratory sciences, but at this moment, it’s off the table. Which actually opens up a bunch of options to me seeing as Georgia does not have a good variety of the clinical laboratory sciences anyway.

Going back to school is very much on the mind although it will be for a shorter program like a Masters degree program or something. I’m just considering my options at this point and will need to make up my mind before the year is out if I am going to be a competitive applicant for the 2009/2010 school year. My general GRE scores were decent, but I am toying with taking the subject GRE test which will be a major undertaking, but I think I could do it if I started studying like right now. 🙂 Anyhow, I’m not looking forward to the application fees and such so I will need to do some research and apply to a select handful. Just thinking out loud.