August challenges: Money month!

August is money month for both #1 and #2.  We are going to take care of all of those niggling things that have been getting put aside by life.  We will update you on our progress through August and September posts.

#1 is going hard-core!

  • go through all my TIAA-Cref paperwork, discard the outdated stuff, file the new stuff, and sign up for paperless statements
  • track my spending all month, as suggested by Your Money or Your Life
  • finally get rid of my lingering retirement accounts from 2 employers ago, which have like $87 total, and roll them into my current accounts
  • call my credit card companies and ask them to stop sending me those checks
  • consider how much of my emergency fund I need to have liquid, and possibly invest some
  • only sort of related: back up, patch, and otherwise maintain *all* computers

#2:

  • Sell all individual stocks and sucky mutual funds (except the one).  Reinvest.  Check numbers to see if IRA possible this year.
  • Force Ing to let go.
  • Check out 457 plan.  Decide between it and mortgage prepayment.
  • Make the etrade margin account not a margin account!
  • Look into moving from etrade to vanguard.  Or just open new vanguard account.
  • Call credit card companies and ask them to stop sending checks
  • Figure out how much to deduct for dependent daycare account
  • Cash in last DDA for the year
  • Sign up for annual benefits (easier this year… there are fewer choices…)
  • Are we Roth eligible for this year?

What are we missing?  Are there any money chores we should be considering that we’re forgetting?  This is the last chance until probably next August!

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34 Responses to “August challenges: Money month!”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    My money chores always involve simplifying. I need to get rid of at least 2 accounts, ing, being one of them.

    I’d also like to buy some I bonds, as CD’s are still in the toilet.

    Another one not on your list but on mine is figure out what 529 to transfer my old 529′s into. I don’t like the way the TD ameritrade or Upromise ones are performing, but don’t know where to put them. I’ve decided that Upromise is such a scam. I think I made like $20 in 5 years from buying upromise products but the fund has done abysmally. Probably too many fees. I only have the minimum in there that was needed to open an account, but still $250 has the potential to grow quite a bit in 18 years.

    While you’re calling your credit card companies, you should also call any magazines, mortgage companies, airlines, brokerage houses and tell them not to share your info with “affiliates or 3rd parties”. They also have the ability to sell or share your name and send you stupid offers that you don’t want or need. They are exempt from the spam rule per DMA Choice because you are a current customer.

    Hmm..I think I need to make this my financial month too.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We’re on the Utah plan and very happy with it. It uses Vanguard. Our state doesn’t offer tax breaks to go with.

      I think there are some other plans that are now as good, but UT has consistently been one of the cheapest since they started.

      (We put in $500/month because we’re hoping not to be eligible for financial aid at that point in the future and want DC to be able to go private should ze choose… We will readjust if employment options change. If we have a #2 we probably won’t contribute as much since the plans are fungible and things may change.)

      • Cloud Says:

        My Upromise one IS the Utah one through Vanguard… I’ve been happy with it, too, although I confess I don’t pay that much attention to it right now.

        My chore is to roll my old 401k which is at a crappy place with high fees into an IRA. I’m halfway through that.

        Also, I’m coming up on my 6 month mark at this job, so I finally get to enroll in their 401k.

      • Rebecca Weinberg Says:

        Is $500/month really enough to be able to go private without financial aid?
        And can you explain to me why you wouldn’t need as much if you had a #2?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        $500/month for 18 years invested in a general stock market fund that tilts towards bonds? Yes, it will be maxed out before ze starts college. Plus, presumably we will still be making more than we earn.

        We won’t need LESS money over all with a second, just there is a chance we will need to save less for #2 than for #1 because #1 may end up with academic merit money, or may decide ze prefers a state school. If those things don’t happen, we’ll have several years to up our savings for #2 in the mean time. Or we could take out loans.

        It would be silly to oversave for college in a 529 plan because one would have to take it out with a penalty or give it to another relative. Better to put that money for retirement or mortgage prepayment etc.

    • Debbie M Says:

      I totally agree with considering I-bonds as an alternative to CD’s, at least until November. With a base rate of 0%, that’s not exciting at all long term and should not be reward. But with such a high inflation rate added on this six months, even if the inflation rate is 0% in the next six months and then you cash out ASAP (after one year) and pay the last-3-months-interest penalty, you’ve still come out way ahead.

    • MutantSupermodel Says:

      Oooh I should figure out the 529 thing too. Only has a couple hundred bucks but it’d be interesting to look at. Hmmm

  2. ABDMama Says:

    How do you find/consolidate old retirement accounts? I have a bunch from teaching summer school and have no idea how you even figure out where your money is now.

    • Debbie M Says:

      ABDMama, do they send you statements each year? You could also try calling their HR department.

      You consolidate them by rolling them over into an IRA (though I don’t know if you have to have a separate IRA for each one or not). Pick a new place to have your IRA, and contact them and your old HR department(s) for instructions on what to do. They’ll tell you who to start with and what forms you need, etc.

      • Cloud Says:

        You can roll them all into one IRA. You can also roll into your current 401k, which makes sense if your current 401k is fee-free (not all are- it depends on what your company has set up).

        If they aren’t sending you statements and you haven’t moved around a bunch…. are you sure you vested in the plans? If you contributed money, you can always get that back out (I think). But if you didn’t vest, you don’t get any money your employer paid in. (Disclaimer: I am no expert on non-401k retirement plans, since I’ve never had such a thing.)

  3. Debbie M Says:

    I’m also tracking my spending next month. Pretty much exactly like in YMOYL – asking myself how much use or enjoyment I got out of each of those purchases. I soooo want to quit. Being realistic, I’m hoping to request to switch to half time next year. I can probably barely afford it if I stop contributing toward retirement savings (besides the pension plan) and my renovation fund but I’d really rather contribute something. I’m teaching myself to realize things like “working half time would keep me healthier than a gym membership would” and “working half time would help me do the dishes better than a dishwasher would.”

    “Call credit card companies and ask them to stop sending checks” – You can do that? I mean, and they might actually stop sending checks afterwords? I’m adding that to my list.

    I switched my auto-deposits from one 403b company to another; I really should transfer all the other stuff and close down my first account.

    “Check out 457 plan. Decide between it and mortgage prepayment.” – Remember, you can always do some of each. I think of the 457 plans as being the perfect place for an unemployment insurance fund. You can spend all that money as soon as you don’t have that job anymore, regardless of how old you are. (Last I heard, anyway.)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We’re already doing both 403(b) and mortgage prepayment. This is in addition to maxing out our 403(b). But it’s easier to get the 457 back… actually, there’s going to be a post about this next week, so that excitement can wait. :)

  4. Debbie M Says:

    And now for the question you actually asked. Here are some other possibilities for financial chores (in case 6 – 10 in one month isn’t enough already):
    * Look into I-bonds and Smarty Pig (for safe not-quite-as-low-interest ways to save).
    * Shop around for insurance, telecommunications, and other monthly-charge things.
    * Try a new recipe or perfect an old one (can save money over eating out).
    * Try mending something (can save you from having to buy a replacement).
    * Stock up on office supplies during the back-to-school sales.
    * Google thrift stores in your town.
    * Double-check that you have all the info on your beneficiaries for your accounts and that your will is up to date.
    * Try to guess which appliance is likely to break down next, research what the best replacement would be and start watching for sales.
    * Try to think of some way to prepare now for a crunch time later (so you won’t be as tempted by expensive quick fixes).

  5. MutantSupermodel Says:

    Hmmmm maybe do a review of any long-term, mid-term, and short-term savings goals? See if they still hold water, if they’re on target, or if you need new ones?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yes, August is a good month to re-evaluate priorities. My partner has been here with me about a month (YAY!) so we are working out our finances in the new living situation.

  6. FrauTech Says:

    I just bought some I-Bonds a few weeks ago. True, the fixed rate is 0% right now but they also add an “inflation rate” to that which is 2.3%. A lot better than the < 1% I'm getting through ING (why is everyone bailing on them all of a sudden, the new ownership?). I'm keeping ING for short term (next several years) liquid assets, but have decided to diversify my savings a little into i-bonds and will be picking them up periodically assuming there is still someone to buy from this time next week.

    Also on my list:
    -Cancel a credit card I'm not using anymore, before they charge me any sneaky fees.
    -Just started investing in a Roth 401k that my company just opened up in addition to the normal 401k.
    -Just started using a credit card for everything rather than debit for better fraud protection.

  7. Linda Says:

    Have you already double-checked the insurance coverage you have on home and car and adjusted your deductibles? My car is 10 years old and I realized that my deductible was much too low for such an old vehicle that I rarely drive. I adjusted the deductible to $2,000. (Since I also had to bump up my Bodily Injury limit in order to meet the terms for an umbrella policy I recently added, though, I didn’t save money overall in my budget, unfortunately.)

    Another thing you can do is document all the accounts, passwords, etc. you have and put them in a safe place. It’s not exactly a financial task, but closely related.

  8. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    Buy some f*cken expensive useless sh*tte you want.

  9. Coquo ergo sum Says:

    Good luck convincing the credit card companies to stop sending checks! My partner laughs at me when i receive them, for I take a Sharpie pen and write “VOID” on each one, before destroying them.

  10. Spanish Prof Says:

    FrauTech said: “A lot better than the < 1% I'm getting through ING (why is everyone bailing on them all of a sudden, the new ownership?)" I repeat her answer, what is wrong with ING besides mediocre rates at best? I'm not very good at the finance stuff, but I have an online savings account with them and would like to know that it won't go bankrupt or something

  11. Carnival of Personal Finance – Plutus Awards Edition Says:

    [...] from Nicole and Maggie: Grumpy Rumblings presents August challenges: Money month!, and says, “August is money month at Grumpy Rumblings. We’re getting a hold of our [...]


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