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Farewell Gruntina!

January 22nd, 2009 at 05:33 pm

When I joined this site, I went through a divorce and had 60k worth of debts. I worked three jobs to expedite the debt payments and pretty much had major set-backs in life which I still feel some sort of resentments. I paid off my debts early of last year but it was not a victory dance for me but rather a bittersweet moment of moving on.

What does this have to do with Gruntina? I was given Runt as a nick name growing up. I was the baby of the family with a disability from being borne three months too early. But the name was not in insult but a joke since I did really well and was the only one who went to a university and so on. So basically I was everything opposite of a runt. When I left home I became Grunt, G for grown-up hence Grunt.

I called myself Gruntina (There is no resemblance of Tina in my real name as I only added that to Grunt to make the name more feminine). Gruntina was very fitting for someone who rolled up her sleeves to pay back every penny of the debts the hard way. This journey of paying off debts was completely filled with grunting!

Now that I am happily married to a gentleman and on stable grounds in life where I can slowly begin to dream again, Gruntina does not fit me anymore nor do I wish care to carry the negative stigma this name now has.

So farewell to Gruntina!
Going forward, you can find me under my new name Phenomenal Woman!

Company Stock

January 5th, 2009 at 04:07 pm

It is well known that it is not a good idea to invest in stock of the company you work for.

What if your company's stock is #1 in it's type of category globally? Would this make a difference when purchasing stocks?

2009 Goals

January 2nd, 2009 at 11:51 am

My goals I want to achieve in 2009: It ranges from financial to non-financials and big goals to teeny ones.

1. Start the $20 challenge and be proactive on my savings and tracking.

2. Be a better friend and family. I do not write letters or give out birthdays cards. It’s pretty emotional for me since I alone moved far away from everyone and feel greatly overwhelmed with how many people I need to write to. So I have not written in years but I now realize that is hurting them more than I realize. This got to change.

3. Complete a minimum of 5 courses (with passing grades) for the BA or MBA degree goal. I have registered for 3 courses so far for the winter and spring semester.

4. Making sure the kitchen is clean every night before I go to bed and empty out the dishwasher every morning so dirty dishes goes straight to the dishwasher instead of the sink.

5. Take plenty of pictures with my new camera. I have had not a camera for the last few years and the only pictures I have of my husband and I is our wedding pictures.

6. TTCing now! I hope to conceive this year. I feel like I am missing someone in my life and hope for a baby.

Now on the $20 challenge

January 1st, 2009 at 02:24 pm

I been on this site since August 2006, it's about time I join the $20 challenge.

My goal is actually huge and will take a matter of years to achieve. I figure the 20 dollars challenge will get me started on my goal with motivation and support and is a good way to track my savings.

I would like to save 50,000 dollars (yes I mean fifty thousand dollars!!!!)for home renovation. This one will take years but is what is needed to fix my house in order to sell it or make the living situation better. I have a house that is around 80-90 years old in the mountains and is in dire need of some foundation work, driveway/patio and some sort of indoor heating system (now using firewood burning fireplace as main source, the other fireplace has propane set up but cost around $500 a month to use so we are not going that route). I am living in the mountain which means having no access to the natural gas pipelines that are available for city dwellers.

How I will save?

I plan add to the savings of the left over of the spending allowance that has not been used for the month, any changes that I find, monetary gifts, rebates, and try to come up with earning money outside of my main income.

I will open an online savings account to put this savings in so I am not as easily tempted to dip in. I have a bad habit of dipping into my savings account for any immediate wants that comes my way and that got to change.

Right now I have 300 dollars from Christmas and need to open an online account.

Savings balance as of Jan 1, 2008:

Need Help with Retirement Allocations

October 7th, 2008 at 09:50 am

About 5 years ago I started my 401k (Fidelity through my employer with company match of .40) I used a chart to select my allocation that is semi-aggressive. I chose this as I was younger than 30 at that time and had some time on my side before retirement. Since then, I have not touched my allocations.

To be honest, I do not fully understand my 401k and plan to change that. I need your input to better my understanding. I cannot help but to think I am not doing the best for myself.

This is what I have in my 401k now (Please note that it is a combo of a traditional 401k and Roth 401k)
Assets: 70% Domestic Equities, 10.5% Foreign Equities, 13.5% Bonds, 5% Short Term, and 1% ‘Others”.
To be more specific: 30% FID Equity income, 23% FID CAP Appreciation, 18% Alger midcap, 16% TRP SM CAP Stock, and 13.5 % VANG TOT BD MKT INST.

Any help is appreciated and I do have other choices available.

Update - DH and Roth IRA

September 21st, 2008 at 10:39 am

DH officially now has a Roth IRA account! Since I am more technical savvy one, I went online to enroll him.

Wow! It was so easy to do. It took me 20 minutes max. Fidelity site was very clear and straightforward. Since my husband does not deal with losing money very well, I had him set up with the conservative package for now.

I think we will have a good balance. I am semi-aggressive with my 401k accounts (both Roth and Trad).

I was also thinking why our marriage and our finance relationship are working out so great. We love each other and want the best. I also notice we often do not compromise, but rather find the win-win solution so we both each can feel good on an individual basis and combined basis. It also helps that we do not fight. If I ever raise a voice at my DH, I am sure he would pass out. If he ever raises his voice, I am sure he will pass out as well! Hee Hee! This does not mean we never disagree with each other. We can talk things out. We do not need a formal sit together time/place to talk things out because we are like best friends who talks all the time.

I did talk him into the Roth IRA but not to force him to do so. By listening, I know he had fears that he wanted to overcome and I was giving him a jump start. Listening is the key to understanding the other persons and what their needs are. I showed him different retirement options that he was not aware of and in a language he could understand. Slowly he opened up to them. He feels good now that he has an official retirement vehicle and not be left out. He has hope for financial security in the future. I do not know what he would do without me! Lol!

Made a deal with the DH - Roth IRA!!!

September 19th, 2008 at 10:06 am

After a lot of convincing, fluttering eyelashes and "I love you" notes, my husband is letting me open a Roth IRA for him. This was something he was against for some time.

I never opened an IRA account and need some help in this area.

Right now I have both Roth 401(k) and Traditional 401(k) under Fidelity through my employer.

This might be a silly question here -Does it matter where I open an account for my husband? I was thinking under Fidelity IRA since that is where I already have my funds to keep everything streamed lined when it comes to personal finance organization? Or should I do it through our Credit Union or Vanguard?

Any tips on what to look for? Thanks

School: I got my work cut out for me!

September 7th, 2008 at 08:55 am

After last week of my first days on two courses, I realize that my work is cut out for me.

While I am still very excited to have the opportunity to pursue a Business degree, a part of me is worried about the challenges that I will have.

I love the English professor. She actually retired 5 years ago and now teaches 3 courses a semester purely out of the passion to teach and passion on the subject. The SF Bay Area is very rich with culture, history, minority writers who are now are in the spotlight as they speak for all that has happened in the last 20 years that made the Bay Area the way it is now... Even though this is an advance English course and we should know our grammar by now, she has a TA who wants to become an English Professor. He is going to be tough on our grammar. (I need all the help I can get!!! as the last English course I took was several years ago). I am excited as this is perfect for me to improve on my documents and business emails at work. It also means I am going to have a lot of growing pains as well because grammar is my weakness. The instructor made it clear that she going to be tough on our grammar and will be writing plenty of I love you notes on our papers because this is the last chance ever to get an opportunity to get help and improve our writing skills to set us for life!

The first day for the Intro to American Business course put me in a tizzy! Full three hours to the last minute of several group activities, going over tons of subject in a fast pace and writing assignments with no slow going breaks. I was hoping that since I work for a top business that I would know a lot but to my finding... I am knowledgeable on Global Business and not American Business. I realize I have so much to learn. The hardest part is that I have projects, meetings, discussion group and reporting all day at work and to do it again for 3 straight hours after work is well tiring! I feel like my brain just does not want to function and I am wormed out.

My "older" aged body is clearly telling me that I do not have the energy of my youth. I work from 8am to 5pm then have a two hour break until my classes that starts from 7pm to 10pm (Wed and Thurs). I live an hour away from work so it does not make sense for me to come home in the two hour breaks. During that time, I can stay longer at my desk at work to study or take advantage of the work gym.

But man! Getting home around 11ish at night and try to wake up at 5:30am?!?! I am not even human when I wake up! Long gone are those the days I used to sleep a couple of hours per night and still have energy to last me through the day!

While I do have a "kitchen" minus the stove/oven at work, I am finding its a challenge to come up with both lunch and dinner on the nights I have classes. Lunch was easy as I would cook for 4 the night before and bring left over for lunch. Its hard for me to come up with a dinner plan for 10! For wed and Thurs each, 4 meals for 2(lunch and dinner) and then 2 meals for 2 (lunch) on Fridays.

So what I can make before Tuesday that will satisfy all of our meals? Please do not tell me to eat the same thing for 6 meals in a row! I can handle 2 maybe 3 dinners of the same thing in a row... but 6? Yikes.

Now my husband is very supportive and does take turns with the cooking (he is a wonderful cook). However I do not want him to think I expect him to stay home and cook for me while I am in school. He should have time to do his own thing and sometimes have dinner with our neighbors (he cuts down their dead trees in his spare time for our firewood).

Any ideas?

Stepping into the next level of my career/dreams

August 30th, 2008 at 08:27 am

(This is incredibly long, sorry!)

Next week I start school with the goal of getting my MBA in Business! (Specialty is pending)

I am so excited as it is one of my personal dream to get a degree. However it was my life's journey that chosen my major.

Some of you might remember or not but I have wanted to become an Occupational Therapist for many years and was accepted by a University for the program 3 times. I still get chills when I walk by the OT department in the hospitals or on campus and the like. This is my dream job!

So how did I get from having a goal to become an OT into one who is pursuing a Business degree?

To make a long story short, I have been in and out of school for 9 years and completing all the general courses, got an AS in natural science, almost completed an art major in graphic designs (yes, changes of field switching is one of my quirks) the only thing to take to get my degree is a specific field.

I never knew about OT until I moved to California 9 years ago. That field is the perfect match of my combination of past education in art, science, and working experiences with people who have variety of disabilities.

I was on a roll into this program and due to my unfortunate situation of entering into a marriage that was doomed for 5 years of domestic violence, depressions which resulted in a divorce I was happily to take but ended up with 65K debts. I had no job and needed to make money to survive and pay off the debts.

I landed a job through a high tech company as entry level data processor via network of a friend and got a position through an Agency that services the adults with disabilities. I worked roughly 80 hours a week to make ends meet and school was out of the picture.

It took me a good 4ish years after hard work and dedication to paying off the debts, empowering myself to building myself to be confident in myself and being able to smell the roses again. I also married prince charming.

Now things are settled and I owe a lot of my stability through those years to my job in HR for a high tech company that I am forever grateful. They believed in me and were flexible with me. I had highs and lows and severe depressions from those years which often would not be tolerated by many employers.

I grew up believing that I could never work in an "office" and here I am moving up and doing many challenging things in HR! I no longer do the data entry work but now doing reporting and programs related work. I learned that I am good at this and do want to give back to my employer. I now have 7 years of experiences and going to school in business will solidify my career, provide growth on the job and help land me another job in the case of lay-offs.

I will be moving up from my current position and not having to start over from square one! If you listen, life can give you good surprises.

Now I did apply for the OT program and got accepted. It is a rigorous program where I would need to quit my day job and pay for tuition out of pocket. It would take me 2 years to get my masters if I had gone in this path. I couldn't take myself to do this. One, I am finally earning money where not every cents goes to debts and now have a retirement fund and savings that I contribute to. I do not want to stop this and go through a tough time financially. I am also age 32 and have the possibility that I want to try for children sometimes soon. I had to go through a process of grieving to let go of this dream.

A big bonus: this company offers the tuition and book reimbursement program. So I pay for tuitions and books at the beginning of each semester and when I turn in my passing grade, I get reimbursed as an incentive. The major must correlate with my current position.

My first day of the intro to American Business and advance English is on Wednesday of next week! Yay! Wish me luck into completing this program and to finally land either a BA or MBA degree.

My retirement planning confession

July 25th, 2008 at 06:45 pm

I have a confession!

While my husband is happy that I manage the finance for our family and pretty open to all of the ideas and methods that I have learned on this site. There is one thing he has asked me not to do.

Retirement vehicle! He wishes his income not to be in one. Ever since he started retirement vehicles, he pretty much loses his money in the 10 year span he was contributing. He is socking away money in a high yield savings account and the like now. He is pretty firm on his stand there and in some ways he might be right because he will always gain whether it is little or not.

In the meantime, I want to be able to max as much as I can each year to make sure we have enough to retire on together. Its not a fun thought with the way the economy is going and my 401k rate of return is in the negatives. I have matching contribution while he has none. I am sure glad it is not the other way around.

To do or not to do?

July 22nd, 2008 at 09:41 am

Frustration had been festering in my mind and emotions lately.

I either blame it on the stress at my job (more like not enjoying what I do like I used to rather than can not keep up), having migraines, or living so far away from everything.

I took a few days off from work on FTO hours to rest and calm down so nothing gets vented in the wrong way.

The truth to the above 3 things are:
1. I have a wonderful job and healthy environment with my boss and co-workers. I do have the ability to request for an update or be more creative on how I do my work.
2. Migraines are going to be a part of my life no matter what I do. Adapting to better eating, exercising and sleep habit may help and need to work on these things.
3. I live in Paradise so the long commute is worth it. Sometimes it is hard to leave Paradise to into the city to work but work enables me to have Paradise.

I found out the true reasons for my frustrations. For many years now I have to work really hard to get my head out of the water. For almost 5 years I had at least two jobs (often 3) to pay off a 60k debts. I didn't make much money at any of these jobs!!!

Even before that I had to find a way to pay for my college education to finish school and living expenses on my own.

Now I am back in school to get a Business Degree for my current job. (my company reimburse tuition and books fees)

I am now 32 years old and have lived states away from my family for about 15 years now. I now have a wonderful prince charming as my husband.

The thing is that I want to have children but also be a stay at home mom. I do not have a lot of savings because I have only begun to save after I paid off my large debts almost a year ago. It will be super tight to live on my husband's income. I am about to give in to that change of lifestyle because I fought so hard to get out of debts by working so much. I missed out on friendships and family for so long its now what I am craving. Sometimes I just want to throw in the towel of trying to be financially successful with savings and retirements and so on but I feel so empty in that area because it is taking me a long time with so much effort. I am not happy staying that way. It almost actually makes more sense for me to be a SAHM because I do have to commute far and that would not allow me much time to see my future babies.

Sorry for the long vent. Sometimes I just want to make things happen instead of letting my circumstances dictate how I do things.