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!


lol. I’m feeling a little too upbeat. I woke up a little too early for a Saturday and spent about 30 mins at working doing some routine work. Then, M & I went to do some personal/family business. We finally mailed off the form 8453-OL that is needed to make filing your tax return legal in the eyes of the IRS. I had been meaning to get stamps to get it mailed out before the week was up, but then I got up this morning and realized that TaxACT had told us to file in 3 business days! Well, they apparently send you a warning letter and if you still don’t send them the needed form, you may be barred from e-filing. Oh, the horror. Needless to say, that was on the to-do list today. Also cashed a check I had held on for to for awhile. I was nervous this time around because of the bad experience I had with a check (from a bank, nonetheless. The evil Bank of America) that bounced. So, I’m hoping to high heavens that this check is good because I really don’t feel like spending hours n the phone with customer service reps. Haven’t gone grocery shopping yet. If there’s anything that M hates, that’s it. I work like a dog all week and my weekends are essentially my downtime or break (most of the time). He gets his breaks during the week days. However, he stayed up super late last night and I knew I’d have a rebellion on my hands. I didn’t want to push my luck. 😀 Aaand, I generally vegged out in front of my computer. Sorry M. lol. I was supposed to go for a walk because the temp was gorgeous. However, the lazy side of me won out.  My time in front of the computer was rather productive though! I found out that our Georgia state refund had hit already! That was pretty damned quick. I wish our federal would be that quick, but I can wait another week or so. We’ve got big and responsible plans for that. It’s not a whole lot, but it’ll take care of our super-secret project for one. And it’ll take a bite out of credit card #2. Oh, did I mention I requested for an increase and got it? I did that mostly to look good and now, I’m tempted to do another increase just to see if I can. I’m getting greedy. Again, just want to stress the obvious that you do not get the increase in order to up your spending. I’m doing that to present the appearance to those who pull my credit that I’ve got a low debt to credit ratio. 🙂

I’m getting antsy about my site again. I love WordPress because it’s simple, but I’m bored. I tried my hand at Drupal, but quickly got tired of needing a damned module for almost everything even though the modules that could be found were super-cool. If there is a way to port (smoothly) from WordPress to Drupal, I’ll do it as a test and if I like it enough, I’ll switch back to drupal.