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December 2004


Can you hear it? It’s the sound of money disappearing from my savings. It’s been going on for many months now. I haven’t been able to save as much as I used to, and I’ve had to dip into my savings more often than I have wanted.

I think the reason for this is twofold. First, I’ve probably been a little too aggressive with my investing strategy based on my income. Considering my fixed expenses, like rent, I probably can’t afford to send 12% of my gross income to my 401(k), plus $250 a month ($333 a month in 2005) to my Roth IRA, plus $800 a month or so into general long-term savings. I’m going to have to rethink that strategy.

The second fold of the aforementioned twofold reason is budgeting. I’m spending too much in general, and I’m going to cut back on some of my expenses. The car has been the largest change in the past year, and I don’t have much choice there. My rent is sky high and in May I might have to consider (gasp) finding a roommate.

I wonder if the market would be right in a few months to buy a duplex and rent out one side while living in the other. Unfortunately, that would require a lot of money up front that I just do not have.

Home Inventory

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Anyone who owns “things” should keep an inventory of all those “things.” I haven’t really updated my inventory in a while, and the beginning of the new year would be a good time to do so. The Insurance Information Institute has a website from where you can download free software to help in your recordkeeping.

Microsoft Money does a horrible job in managing a home inventory. I’ll try out the software offered by I.I.I. and post a review at some point. I like the ability to include photographs and receipts with each item.

ING Moves Up Again

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ING Direct has increased the interest paid to its savings account customers to 2.35%. If you’re not keeping your emergency fund, or any money you’re not investing/gambling with here, you should think about opening an account. If you do want to open an account, I can offer you $25 for doing so through a referral program. You get $25 and I get $10 for each referral. Email me through the link on my sidebar (under Who is Flexo?) and let me know you’d like a referral email to get your $25.

‘Tis The Season

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Jennifer Mulrean over on MSN Money put together a nice article regarding results for a holiday shopping related survey. Here are some interesting tidbits:

* Most respondents are giving gifts to between six and ten people.
* 300 respondents (out of more than 2,000) are giving no gifts.
* A plurality (21%) of respondents are spending between $251 and $500 on gifts and 2.6% are spending more than $5,000.
* 12% said they went into debt for last year’s holiday shopping. The more debt they had, the longer it took to pay it off. Some are still paying it off.
* The most popular category of holiday gifts is clothing.

There are more within the article.

Catching Up

by Luke Landes

There have been many articles I’ve wanted to link to in the past week and a half or so, but I just haven’t really had too much time to do so. Here’s another millionaire in the making story from CNN Money. The couple are avid savers. Of course, the biggest help they have is having ... Continue reading this article…

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Are You Matching Inflation?

by Luke Landes

The “Consumer Price Index” is around 3.2 percent at the moment, although I believe the cost of living has gone up much more for most people, due to prices of things that are not reflected in the CPI. Hopefully, any cost of living adjustments we receive at our jobs will cover at least the Consumer ... Continue reading this article…

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On The Workfront

by Luke Landes

Good news from the office. Due to her blatant stupidity (getting completely plastered then showing up to work… and then getting quite sick), a coworker of mine is not going to be with us after the start of the year. This means I’m getting a new position and a pay increase in January, which will ... Continue reading this article…

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Finance Blogs

by Luke Landes

When I first started this weblog in July, 2003, I had been blogging for years already at a different location. At the time I started Consumerism Commentary, I knew of only one other personal finance blog on the internet, PFBlog. Now, just like all other types, more blogs centered around personal finance have sprung up. ... Continue reading this article…

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Another Young Millionaire

by Luke Landes

Here’s another one of CNN Money’s Millionare stories. Blah blah blah. Guy doesn’t go to college, now he and his wife are making $300,000 in real estate. It would be nice to earn that kind of money… but I just couldn’t bring myself to be a real estate salesman, or any kind of salesman. No ... Continue reading this article…

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Residual Value

by Luke Landes

I like to see this as vindication for my purchase… Honda has been named by the Automotive Lease Guide as being the best brand for residual value for the second year in a row. That means its cars hold its value over time. However, if the results are divided into categories, the Nissan Altima displaced ... Continue reading this article…

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Anxiously Awaiting?

by Luke Landes

Thanks for writing in; I know I’ve been a little slow with November’s financial update. It would be more accurate to say that I haven’t posted it at all yet, which is entirely true. You are anxiously awaiting my monthly update, but you (and I) will be disappointed to see only a minor improvement, if ... Continue reading this article…

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