1 Million Dollars

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Disability Insurance

Everyone who has a job and needs the income should have disability insurance, but it can be very expensive. Disability insurance pays about 60% of your wage if you are injured and cannot work. Some pay only if you are unable to work any job, other will pay if you cannot work in your current position. The real kicker is that if you buy disability insurance not through your employer it costs about two to three percent of your salary. Now if you are like me, you are sitting there going "ouch". I'm suppose to save 10-20% of my salary, now you saw I have to give up another 2-3% for disability insurance? And we are not even counting in taxes here.

But disability insurance is important and worth the cost. What are you going to do if you can't work? What can you do if your job requires you to talk and you have lost your voice? Or what about loosing a hand? Do you think you could do your current job if you lost a body part or were in a wheelchair? The only benefit on buying disability insurance not through your employer is it is not taxable earnings but if your buy disability insurance pretax, through your employer, it will be taxable earnings.

My fiance and I have been looking for disability insurance for him for a few months but again, it is very expensive. We could only find disability insurance costing 3% of his salary. We had decided to wait to the wedding and then just bite the bullet and get it. A month ago we were at a home show and MetLife had a booth there. Since I am an eternal optimist, I thought lets see if they have a lower price. We just finished the paperwork and MetLife gave a quote that is under 2% of his salary. What seemed to make a difference with them is that my fiance is a researcher and paid by the government and that is something MetLife considers. Also, his lifestyle and job are not risky and I believe someone with a risky lifestyle would pay more. With that combination MetLife made us an amazing offer. I honestly was shocked on how low the price was. We went home and I read over every little bit of the paperwork and it seems legitimate.

Side note, I make no money off this post.

Because of the savings, my fiance and I are now able to afford life insurance as well and may also be able to put more into our retirement accounts.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Reminder-Lack of Coupons

Because of Easter Sunday there should be no coupons this Sunday. For some reason on holidays newspapers do not include coupons. I do not understand why coupons are not included but they are not. You can get online coupons through mypoints at http://www.mypoints.com/emp/u/centers/couponCenter.vm, also when you use the coupons on mypoint you will earn 10 points per coupon.

It does appear that next Sunday, May 1st, 2011, should have double the amount of coupons that we normally get.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cash Payments, ER and Getting a Discount by Just Asking

A month ago I had to work a very early shift at work, starting at 6:30 in the morning and we were not able to get lunch until 12:30. Now, to some that may not be a big deal but I eat every three to four hours so by six hours I was not feeling well. I went down to eat and yet I did not start feeling any better. I went back to work and then just started shaking and was afraid I would fall.

Now you may be wondering, what does this have to do with personal finance? Well, my boss told me to go to the emergency room but I told I could not afford it (my copay is $200) and she told me worker's comp would take care of it. After resting for a bit, I still felt bad but I did not think I needed to go but she insisted and I did not feel up to arguing. That was a mistake. My employer did not cover it because it was not an injury even though the doctor believes I started feeling sick based on not eating.

Now comes the kicker, because I did not tell my insurance (again, because I thought work would pay the bill) they would not cover it. The bill came to me and it was $275. I had always heard that hospital bills are negotiable but because I had amazing insurance I had no experience with it. I called the billing department and left a message and within a few days got a call lowering my bill $100 and allowing me to pay $10/month. Now I only owe $175 and because I will not be charged interest I have decided to take the entire 18 months to pay the bill off. I had some money put aside for health costs but had two other health bills so that fund is low. By calling and asking I will not have to dip into my EF or derail some of my other goals.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Financial Independence

My definition of financial independence is enough income producing assets to pay my bills without having a job. Right now the net income I need is about $24,000 per year but that would increase if my fiance lost his job, because we get health insurance through his job. The additional cost of insurance would be about $500 per month so $6000 per year. This means my goal, at this time, is to get enough income producing assets to make $30,000 per year.

So far my investment income from 401ks, Roth IRAs, Traditional IRA and taxable accounts give me less than $300 per year. This assume about a three percent withdrawal which should last me indefinitely. My rental should bring me $525 per month, which is about $6300 per year at best, more likely to be about $5250 because of vacancies. Obviously I am no where near financially independent.

But what could make me financially independent? I could buy more duplexs/rentals or I could put more in my investment accounts, or I could pay down the debt we owe. I should do all of them, but I do not have the money currently to do so.

This is when one must decide what minigoal will help achieve the goal the best. In my case, we were looking at buying a second duplex but with my other, nonfinancial goals, that did not seem to be a good idea at this time. Paying down debt, at this time would not change my monthly payments for quite sometime therefore I decided against prepaying my loans. However, in the end getting rid of my debts will remove $4595.76 of expenses from my annual budget. This amounts to 15% of the budget. That is major and I think I should pay down the debt but I do not think it will be as immediately helpful as my other option. Therefore I will be putting more in my investment accounts. As of next month I will be increasing our contributions to our Roth IRAs. I am still deciding how much to increase by, but it will be increased by at least $150/month.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Goal, true goals, not wishes, are a great thing to have. Goals help us achieve what we truly want and stop life from passing us by. But what are goals? Are goals wants? Yes they can be, but not entirely. Goals are defined wants. I want to be able to retire, my goal is to have four million dollars in investments and 10 duplexes. I want to be debt free but if I want to get through graduate school, I need to take student loans out for a couple years. Which is more important? By defining your goals you determine what is possible, what is most important and most importantly, how you are going to reach your goal.

The first part of having goals if defining them. Goals are not just financial, I have personal and professional goals as well. Professionally my goal is to get a professorship and get paid to do research in my own lab. Personally, my goals include such things as getting married, having children and making connections in the community. And, of course, financially, I plan to become financially independent.

But I cannot just jump from this point to my goals. I need minigoals along the path to help me stay focused and to continue getting me toward the main goal. For example, to reach my main professional goal to become a professor and get my own lab I need to get into the master's program and then into a PhD program. Along the way I need to publish at least two papers and get one grant that I can use as a post-doctoral fellow. During, my post-doctoral fellowship I need to publish at least one more article and get one more grant. This path, should get me a professor position at a university. However, determining this path does not mean there will not be detours but by having goals and minigoals I increase my chances to achieve my goals. I must note that my goal of becoming a professor will require many years and some money to pay for tuition which will affect my other goals. It may even make it harder to achieve my other goals.

Next post I will go in depth regarding my goal of financial independence. I'll talk about where I compromised on that goal for other goals and where I made the choices to make myself be independent in the future.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Update on grocery savings plan March

Considering I decided to cut down my grocery bills during the middle of March, I did pretty well overall for the month of March. My goal for the average weekly spending on groceries was $50 and I spent $50.40. An extra .40 is not much, so I am very pleased but .40/week is still $20.80/year and I have better places for that money so I am going to continue this plan and see if I can't even get under $50 average for the year. Because so far I am already over this goal I will have to cut down below $50/week to make my yearly goal. So far my average for this year is $53.71 and to get the average down to $50/week I will need to average $48.76/week from now on.

I do not expect to cut my spending down to $48.76 next week or even next month but I do plan on trying my hardest to reach this goal and you never know, maybe I will. Slow and steady works much better than extreme frugality and then splurging.
The ladies over on the WIR grocery board have been so nice and other blogs have been a great time saver as well as money saver. I do believe that with their help, by the end of the year I will be able to report on average spending of less than $50/week.

Also, my fiance and I will be preparing our garden both this weekend and next. We will be planting lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, basil, red onions and jalapenos. We already have two blackberry bushes that we started last year. Though we consider the garden expenses part of our food budget we expect to save some money by gardening.

Is anyone else changing their lifestyle to save money? What about reaching out to others to save money? To get our budget down to what I want we will have to do both. Strange enough, I think both the lifestyle change and reaching out to others will be good for us, not just monetarily but socially and emotionally as well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Off Topic: Hi visitors from Get Rich Slowly

I commented on an article on Get Rich Slowly (one of my favorite blogs) written by Donna Freedman (one of my favorite authors) and posted a link to an article I wrote about something similar for college students. Wow, the amount of people from Get Rich Slowly was amazing for a small time blogger like me.

This is the post from Donna on Get Rich Slowly http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2011/04/11/use-a-financial-fire-drill-to-prepare-for-the-worst-before-it-happens/
and my post here
I would love to hear from those who traveled over here (and my small but loyal readership) about what they think of the two articles. What do you see as similar, and what do you see as different, between the two articles? Do you agree with the points or not AND why?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Groupon and upromise

Upromise is now offering rewards for shopping at groupon, the cash back amount is 8% for now. That is four time the amount of cash back you would get from ebates for the same purchase. The cash back amount may change in future and that is why I always check ebates, upromise and bondrewards before I decide which to use for cash back. Also, often these companies will allow double cash back on certain stores, sign up and check on eye on your inbox to find out which stores.

Also, I have a Sallie Mae saving account which transfer an amount over ten dollars from upromise into the savings account and I get a ten percent bonus from those transfers every February. So for now I definitely will be using upromise when I shop on groupon.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Update on the millionaire goal- April

As of April 1, 2011 I have $9337 in my investment account. I am $663 short of having $10,000, my first step in my millionaire goal. This month I will be depositing $68.30 into T Rowe Price but then will be rolling the Roth over to Fidelity and increasing the deposit to $218.30. This income will come from our rental, $200 and the 2% reduction in social security $18.30.
The remain $50 I will now be putting into savings until we save enough for disability/life insurance. By doing price quotes it looks like disability insurance will be $600/year and life insurance will be $100/year. We are still deciding which to do first, given that we cannot afford both.
It looks like I should have $10,000 (if the markets cooperate)by July of this year. My next minigoal will then be $25,000 where I can stop investing in target date funds and diversify myself using mutual funds.

The Ultimate Blog Party 2011

The Ultimate Blog Party has come around again, time for me to check out some cool new blogs and see if I want to add them to my daily check list (slidebar).
My only sadness with this, is I lost google adsense last year by joining the Blog Party because I had missed that joining was against their rules. Since then I have not found another advertiser for my site. Maybe someone from the Blog Party could give me some advice.
But on to the fun, I am hoping to get gift cards from the blog party to put towards the needs of my hypothetical child. I am getting married in may and my fiance and I plan to start trying for a child after that. I am very excited yet scared. This blog party I plan to start looking for advice on my future, not just the moneyside but how parents have been juggling everything.
My fiance and I have not decided if I will be a SAHM or work, it depends if I get into grad school or not and we find that out next march. For now I will work and be taking classes, though I plan to take some time off when our (future) child is born.
The sites that are doing the giveaways I like are A Review And Giveaway, sweepingme, TotallyDesperateMom, MomStart and Periwinkle Papillon. If I get one of these I would save between $50-$100 on needs for our future child.
I want to send out a special thanks to 4 hats and frugal for getting me started with UBP in 2010, you are amazing! She is reason I know about UBP and everyone should check out her site.
My blog is about saving money. From student loans to deals, I have it all, this is perfect place to learn how to be frugal. I focus on the frugal college student but parents will find it fun and helpful as well. My blog shows what to look for in student loans, how to find deals and how to become a frugal saver, who sooner or later will become a millionaire. So come and explore around, and let me know what else you would like to see.