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September 2004

Annual Fee?!

This article was written by in Investing. 2 comments.

My previously-mediocre-but-not-horrible discount brokerage firm decided to start charging an annual fee… a fee higer than some full-service brokerages. I’m high-tailing it out of there ASAP, and I’m looking to do it without any tax implications. Although, even if I have to sell, the tax burden shouldn’t be too bad.

So, with the several thousand dollars in that account, I’m most likely looking at Scottrade. They have no annual fees and seem to be generally non-evil.

Currently, the entirety of my brokerage account is invested in AIVSX, American Funds’ “Investment Company of America” fund, which seems to do a good job of matching the S&P 500, but not much else. It also has a pretty ugly 5.25% up-front load fee, which pisses me off about as much—or more—than annual fees. In effect, every time I bought shares of this fund, I paid 5.25% higher than the market price per share, with the extra going to the broker. That also means that (put simply) if the fund was getting a 10% yield, it was only a 4.75% improvement over what I paid.

Fees like this on the smaller investors, like me, bug me to no end. It’s obvious the brokerage firms prefer the clients with large sums to invest. They are the people who make the brokers rich. The brokers should accept that (instead of giving the top investors breaks) and leave the little guys alone.

Financial Update – September

This article was written by in Monthly Update. Comments Off

I’ve decided to change my accounting technique, so I’ll include some past numbers to show any increases or decreases. For instance, I’m no longer including my “home inventory” and I’ve stopped including what amount I’ve had for “cash on hand,” since those calculations are most likely inaccurate.

  09/23/2004 08/23/2004 07/23/2004
Savings/Checking: $ 9,432 $ 8,369 $ 10,837
Other Assets: $ 15,457 $ 15,493 $ 18,644
Taxable Investments: $ 3,179 $ 3,128 $ 3,086
401k (Pre-Tax): $ 11,211 $ 10,276 $ 9,815
Roth IRA: $ 3,734 $ 3,418 $ 3,126
Credit Cards: ($ 1,815) ($ 548) ($ 1,891)
Car Loan 2.00%: ($ 11,781) ($ 12,057) ($ 15,478)
Student Loan 2.82%: ($ 6,266) ($ 6,323) ($ 6,323)
TOTAL $ 23,152 $ 21,759 $ 21,817

From the looks of things, my net worth is still improving, but onliy slightly. I’ve had a decreasing amount of cash. I currently shovel 20% of my gross income directly into the 401(k) and $125 twice a month into the Roth IRA. The IRA will max out at $3,000 for this year’s contributions. An additional $400 or so of each paycheck is distributed directly to ING Direct savings accounts to be earmarked for special uses, such as car payments and a relocation fund.

Random Acts

This article was written by in Consumer. Comments Off

Do you perform random acts of money kindness? Have you ever been the recipient of something unexpected? Besides always tipping generously at restaurants, I try to help people out when they’re in dire need. I’m going to try to keep that article in mind and do more when I can.

Monthly Update?

This article was written by in Administration. Comments Off

Some readers have been curious about my monthly status. Some are concerned because I haven’t been posting regular updates over the last few months. Here’s the issue, for some background…

In March, I decided to leave my corporate job to teach in a high school. This is what my college education was geared to, and a position opened up that was perfect for me. I was hired on a contract through June, with the “highest possibility” of being rehired for the fall. I eventually picked up a new car to get myself around, since public transportation was no longer an option.

I convinced the corporation to keep me on the payroll; they still needed help I could give over my vacations. That’s exactly what I did over spring break. I made some extra money at my old corporate job part time.

The summer came, and I was informed that there was going to be restructuring in the district’s arts department, and since I was the latest to be hired, they couldn’t bring me back for the fall. I went back to the corporate job as soon as possible, while I continued searching for a new teaching job.

Technically, I was making more as a teacher. It was pretty close, since I had overtime and bonuses as part of the corporation, and if I had been rehired as a teacher for the fall, I would have had stipends on top of my already-higher base salary. But I wasn’t rehired…

I may have an opportunity to teach this fall. The base salary of both this new school and my corporate job are the same, but my corporate job pays more when bonuses and overtime are factored in.

My salary over the past few months has been in flux. I’m not sure that I want to go back into teaching, especially into a position that’s not just right for me. But I’m sort of in limbo working at the corporation, and I feel like I need to find something new if I am to stay here.

On top of this, I’ve been considering going to law school. Doing so would of course send me so far into debt I’m a little worried what will happen. At 28, I feel like I’ve already lost too much valuable time without a clear direction.

In the mean time, I haven’t been able to save as much as I would have hoped. I promise to post an update soon.