Tuesday, June 10, 2008

See, I Didn't Forget You!

Wow, it really has been a long time since I last posted. It seems like just yesterday that I had posted 5 times in a single afternoon. Ahhh, the power of focus!

I have truly been remiss these last 2 weeks. I apologize again. However, its spring! I've been working to maximize my fun factor this summer. DC Carnival is coming up, and some really good parties with it. I plan to hit a bunch of amusement parks and ride roller coasters until I can't stand. I'm going to hang out with my second cousin and his family who I have ignored for years even though they live a short distance from me. Projekt Revolution is also coming to town a short time after my birthday, and since I missed Linkin Park earlier this year, I will not miss this! Finally, I plan to save enough dough to make it back to Trinidad for Carnival next year!

Anyway, I'll quickly go over the latest. Look for some posts in the near future which examine some of these at length.

On the real estate partnership front, it looks like we have an offer for one of our houses. I couldn't be happier about that, if it keeps me from having to liquidate my investment account to put money into the company. We'll see. The guy should be e-mailing over the contract later today.

By the end of this week, my $20,000 savings goal will be accomplished. I'm now thinking of other ways to increase my savings, and this promotion that JLP mentions over on his blog sounds cool. I might just enter it just because. As for saving, I think I've mentioned that I Direct Deposit funds into my savings account, about $150 per paycheck now. That's only been reduced so I can focus on paying down my credit card (and start getting my points).

Anyway, I do play those savings games with myself. The ones I've played for as long as I can recall involve saving any bills of a certain denomination that land in my wallet. For a long time, that was $1 bills. Maybe 18 months ago or so, I upgraded to $5 bills, and I don't see myself going to $10 bills anytime soon. Those fives are pretty hard to keep, but it does reduce the impetus to spend. I think I had $15 in change left over from this past Saturday when I went to the Capital Jazz Festival, and all of it was in fives. Added to the $100 I did not spend, that will be a nice bump when I deposit it later this week. (I took $200 out of the bank for the festival, and the remainder became my spending money for the week.)

I also save change religiously. I started that as a kid. My father would tell, if not force, me to deposit coins into a jar that he kept in his closet. At some point, we would have a father-son bonding session by counting and wrapping all of the change. Since my father wasn't the most emotionally expressive of chaps, this really was a highlight for me, just being able to spend time with him while I got a lesson in saving (unbeknown to me). Now, I do the same thing using an empty Whitman's sampler box. All savings get transferred to my savings account; none of it is ever used for spending. Besides, I build large cushions into my budget, so that I should never go over my monthly spending limit in any category. Anything extra is for saving.

My next plan will be to transfer the delta between my monthly budget limits and my actual spending into my savings account. I've usually just let those amounts sit in my checking account, or spent them without thinking. However, I want to make my saving more active. Passive saving is easy and find and I highly recommend it to all, but I think of how much I haven't saved that I could have if I had started this plan sooner. Oh well, such is life.

I'm also in the market for a new living space. My lease is up at the end of August, and I have found 2 prospective apartments. The cost difference is only $56 between the two, but once is brand new and the other is quite a bit older. Since I do work out almost daily and I relish the convenience of a fitness center on the property, I'm trying to get a feel for how the older place will renovate theirs. $56 per month is not hugely significant, but I am willing to sacrifice that money for convenience and modern equipment. I really want to get back to my workout routine from when I lived in Orange County, CA. Back then, thanks to my man G, I started working out a few times a week. That grew into an obsession, and I'd workout for 90 minutes before work, then 90 minutes in the afternoon before returning to the office to hack until 11 or 12. After doing 2 hours of cardio plus some running or practicing shots on the basketball court, then some light weights EVERY DAY, I made some serious strides in my fitness. It only took 2 months of that routine to show a difference, but I didn't measure my progress since I found out that I absolutely LOVED it just as a personal challenge. Go figure. The kid who rarely exercised growing up (out of fear on his parents' part that he might induce his own death vis-a-vis a massive Sickle Cell crisis) loves exercising.

Anyway, I digress. Continuing on...

So I expect to save between $300 and $400 a month in rent while at the same time reducing my commute distance. How's that for a plan? I'm soooo looking forward to it. Right now, I think I'll take 1/3 of those funds and increase my monthly savings, divide 1/3 over the various categories of my spending plan, and use the remaining 1/3 to pay down my credit card debt that much faster.

As I said, I look forward to espousing on some of these ideas a bit more extensively in the future. I'm also planning to talk a bit more about financial technology, and hopefully I'll be able to rub brains with some of the better bloggers/thinkers on the subject. I definitely see my career turning in that direction. Of course I'll keep you posted on that. There should also be some progress on the investing front, such as getting that option trading sorted out, and formalizing my analysis. I've been rather haphazard about analyzing my trades, doing research, and generally learning more about investing, trading, and finance. That has to come to an end, and I hope you'll join me for the adventure.

So much for quick, eh? Ah well. You know I love you all!

Until next time, y'all...

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