Category Archives: The Loot

Leaving Money On The Table

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I have 2 401Ks, one from my most recent full time employer and one from an employer before that I never bothered to roll over. The total of the two is almost 40K. I need to do something with them.

  • I believe that my current contract firm has a 401K but of course there is no match, however the dollars I put in would be pre-tax.
  • I could roll the whole amount over into an IRA but if I am not mistaken, any contributions I would put in there would be after-tax. That’s a bummer. If you know anything different, please clarify.
  • I could leave them both where they are for the time being until I end up an another perm employer that has a matching  plan.

I’m at a loss. What would you do? Any suggestions?

Vintage

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When I was young(er) and had disposable income that I didn’t know much to do with, I did what a lot of black educated bougie chicks did in the late 90s and early 2000s did: I bought a Coach purse. This was before Coach went down market and slapped their famous and well-known “C” logo on everything from shoes to belts to bucket hats. *sigh* Those were the days…

I may be bougie but I ain’t stupid..my handbags were never purchased full price, always with a coupon and always from the outlet store. How you like me now?? And since two of my bags were the classic Coach full grain leather, I knew they would last a very long time. And they have. But they aren’t really my style anymore. And I have tons of cute, cheap purses that I carry at various times. So I thought I was done with my bag lust. I thought I was cured..

But I was NOT, YA’LL!!! I am still infected with the “want this purse real bad” disease.

And this, is the object of my desire:

Michael Kors Hamilton tote

I. want. that. bag. BAD.

It’s so weird though, I haven’t wanted a purse in so long. But I follow fashion blogger, Economy of Style, and she has the tan colored one and it is BOSS. It’s just the right size and it has a shoulder strap too. It would carry all of my crap with style and grace. But ya’ll….The price tag: $348. (Pause. Take a breath. Let it out, slowly.)

I haven’t paid that much for a purse..in like..EVER.

So, what I thought maybe I would do is sell my Coach bags to help finance the Michael Kors bag. After all, buying vintage is what is on-trend, right?? My bags are in good shape and with a good wipe down with some leather conditioner will be looking brand new(ish).

So here are my Coach bags for your perusal..how do they look to you? How much should I try to sell them for? Where do I sell them at??

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Brown leather shoulder strap bag.

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Black pebbled leather hobo.

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Black microfiber hobo trimmed in leather.

I’m taking all suggestions in the comment section. After all, what’s old is always new again, right?

Swimming With Sharks

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Myron and I enjoy watching Shark Tank on ABC on Friday nights when we are at home. The sharks make dreams come true or crush them under their collective heels. I like the updates on the entrepreneurs too, even the ones who don’t get any money out of their dealings with the sharks.

As for me, I’ve always wanted to own a resume writing and career services business that would help college students market themselves better. I revise folks resumes for fun anyway and am always willing to pass along a lead on a job, so why not?

That got me to thinking, if you had the capital and the product, what type of business would you want to have??  If you have a plan in mind, have you gotten started on making it happen?? Be vague if you need to, but at least share the industry that your dream business is in.

I Have Questions, You Have Answers: Round 6

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  • Do you have a budget?
  • Do you STICK to it?
  • Do you use budgeting software or websites of any kind? (I have a mint.com account)
  • Are you truly finding it useful?
  • Do you have student loan debt? (I won’t ask how much, unless you care to share.)
  • Do you ever think you will pay it all back? (Honestly, for me I don’t think so.)
  • Are you saving money regularly? How often?
  • Are you in a retirement plan at your job? What percentage are you saving?
  • Any major financial goals for the new year?
  • Have you pulled your free credit report for the year??  (I did the other day. It’s a mixed bag.)

You know the drill, hit me in the comments.

Green Is For The Money…

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…and gold is for the honeys…my apologies to Bishop Don Juan for jacking his steelo for my post title..LOL!! I got this question in my Twitter DMs and thought I’d answer it, then put it to the commenters:

At what point do you think people  who are dating should get into discussing intimate financial details???

The answer to this is subjective of course but for me and Myron, we seriously started talking INTIMATE financial details when we got engaged. I didn’t want us to go into our marriage without financial transparency. We discussed debt, credit issues and salaries in great detail. We also discussing whether we would merge accounts (we use the 3 pot method – joint accounts for all money and personal accounts for play money – which we allocate out). We talked about planning for retirement and about insurance (health, life, etc.).

I think dating people don’t necessarily need to lay out all of their financial business. Dating does not equal married, even if you live together. I’ve lived with a man before and didn’t feel the need to tell him all my financials. All he needed to know is that I could cover my part of the rent and the household bills and if I could then I needed to let him know. If you don’t live with someone, you probably don’t need to share much at all.

However, you can note how a person handles their money; if you are observant enough. Listen to their conversation. Are they always talking about being broke and you know that based on their profession that they probably make a decent living?? When you are at their home, are there pink notices laying around?? Are there calls from bill collectors that they quickly shut down? Are they always just a little short toward the end of the month??  If they are a parent, are they dodging calls about child support from the other parent? Those may be things that you may need to file away in your mental Rolodex.

Now I don’t think that you should totally dump a person because of less that stellar financial habits: I have forgotten to pay the light bill before and been sitting in the dark and I have student loans that I’ll be paying off until I am 98.75 years old. But there is only so much you can discuss while simply dating a person. Your mileage may vary, of course.

The floor is now open, commenters. What say ya’ll??

Adventures in Wifedom: Volume 2

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Like most folks in these recessionary times, I am trying to watch all our hard-earned pennies. Since I am the CFO of the family, I make the bills get paid, the lights stay on and we don’t get evicted from the house. I bought my townhouse in 2006 and even then it was over 20 years old. The dwelling itself is in pretty good condition and my ever-increasing maintenance fees keep the property well maintained.

However, the appliances are old and original to the place, even though they work just fine. So as such, I didn’t really put too much thought into replacing them. I figured I’d get around to it at some point. But then I got married.

 The one appliance that has been the bane of my existence, even pre-husband is my air conditioning unit. I have patched it up for the last 5 years, at least once a year, for various ailments because I simply couple not afford to ante up the cash for a new one. Well, it got the last laugh on us on Friday. It gave up the ghost, went quietly into that good night, and died an undignified death.

 I called my A/C guy and his diagnosis was grim: We needed a new outside unit or else  it was going to be hot in therre for the both of us! Ya’ll do recall that I live in Houston, Texas right???

 I got the cold shakes as I wrote (the very large check) to replace the unit and Myron and I have been cold chillin’ ever since Friday evening. I’m thankful for our dual income household right about now. I probably would have needed to lean on my parents for a little additional help if I was single.

 What was the first major financial crisis that you had to tackle with your spouse or S/O or as a single person?

Money Talks

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One of the most frustrating things about planning a wedding is trying to cut costs. Weddings are expensive, even on a small scale for the average bride. There is also a lot of judgement and sometimes shame surrounding the topic of money, in particular in dealing with weddings because couples want to have a nice wedding day without wanting to appear to have spent too lavishly or too cheaply.

We also live in an instant gratification society and when you are looking in wedding magazines and on the internet for inspiration, it can be discouraging to see all the beautiful weddings featured and then realize you can’t afford a lot of the items featured, even if you DIY a lot of the details. And if you are aren’t particularly crafty (like me), having to come out-of-pocket for the little details that make your wedding special, can start to add up.

Which is why I think that’s important to talk about wedding budgets to show that you can have a nice time at a decent price, even in a city as large as Houston. Mr. Google says that the average cost of a wedding here is from 17K-28K. WTF??? If I had 28K, I wouldn’t be spending it all on a wedding, that’s for sure.

I had a mental budget of 10K, all inclusive. I deliberately looked for venues where I could do a ceremony and reception at the same place. I deliberately sought out venues where I wouldn’t have to deal with multiple vendors for food, alcohol, chair rentals, linens, etc.

Here are our final numbers, exclusive of wedding rings and our mini-honeymoon.

Category Budget Actual Variance
Venue 5,295 (5,295) 0
Flowers 175 (141) 34
Dress 739 (739) 0
DJ 500 (500) 0
Photos 600 (600) 0
Cake 535 (535) 0
Alcohol 500 (176) 324
Invitations/Photobooks 400 (400) 0
Misc. 475 (636) (161)
Gifts (bridesmaids, hostesses, parents) 300 (78) 222
Totals 9,519 (9,099) 419

We were extremely pleased with how the wedding turned out BUT we were extremely blessed with lots of contributions from family and friends. Myron and I actually only had out of pocket costs of $4464.00. The remainder ($4645.00) was gifts to us from parents, family and friends. For example, my aunt gave me $500.00 toward my dress and one of our groomsmen gifted us our DJ. My sorority sister works at Anheuser-Busch and was able to get us 10 cases of beer for free. One of our twitter friends designed my invites for free and printed address labels for me.  I selected a venue that was already very aestically pleasing and didn’t require a lot of extra decorations. I didn’t do wedding favors. I used artificial flowers. All of those choices saved us a LOT of money.

I think the lessons a couple can learn from us is to research a lot of venues, limit your guest list, and don’t be too proud to accept help if folks offer.  The people that love and support you really will move mountains for you if they can.

I’ll be glad to answer any questions in the comments and hopefully by talking about this subject, someone can be helped and not discouraged from having a wedding if they really want one.

The Day After

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All the hard work was worth it. The wedding was wonderful! I had 2 great wedding coordinators, everyone loved the food, the decor was loverly, my bridesmaids looked HOT and the groomsmen were so dapper.

And my HUSBAND looked good enough to eat!

Thanks to you all for coming along on the ride with us. But never fear, I plan to keep right on blogging!

Here are a few non-pro pics of us. I’ll be back later on in the week with some more snaps!

All About The Benjamins, Pt. 2

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Where them dollars at?????

The gigantic elephant in the room when it comes to wedding planning is the wedding budget. There is a lot of judgment around how much couples spend on their weddings. It seems that you get either judged for spending way too much or there is shame about not having enough to spend in the first place. I was just reading a discussion on WeddingBee about wedding budgets that generated over 80(!) comments. When I did a casual search of average wedding costs for the Houston area, my head nearly popped off. Needless to say, I consider myself a budget bride because we certainly could not afford to pay 17K (the low end of the average for Houston) for anybody’s wedding.

I haven’t talked much about how much our wedding is going to cost so far. But I plan to.  I’m an accountant by profession so please believe I have my spreadsheet set up and am tracking the wedding costs. I will show it two ways: 1) show the actual expense vs budget and 2) show the expense with contributions from family, friends etc vs budget.  We will not be going into debt to pay for the wedding but our savings will probably take a nice hit. I hope that by being transparent I can help someone with their planning.

Since I am getting toward the end of this race to the wedding day, I just wanted to briefly mention a few things that I have gathered about trying to rein in your budget and keep it on track.

  1. If people offer to help you, LET THEM. Now is not the time to be a martyr. LOL!  My aunt pretty much bought my wedding dress, my twitter friend designed my invites and our DJ is being gifted by a groomsman.
  2. Keep in mind if family (in particular the parentals) offer money to help, that you will need to consider their input. My parents gave us a cash gift and Myron’s parents are paying the cake vendor.
  3. Compare vendors carefully. Break down the cost per person and see if you really get your money’s worth. I have a spreadsheet of vendor comparisons that I used to help me make the decision. Look at all the services provided for the money. Price check. Ask for discounts.
  4. Once you select a vendor, have your list of questions ready. There are vendor checklists on sites like The Knot. If you can’t bring in your own alcohol, you better know that before you sign on the dotted line. Don’t let them pressure you into signing a contract you don’t understand. It’s perfectly fine to look it over and bring it back the next day.
  5. By the same token, don’t look at too many vendors. You will get overwhelmed and your feelings will be hurt if you look at a bunch of venues that are pretty but ultimately you can’t afford. I think I looked at around 8 total.
  6. Consider the all-in-one. Think seriously about having your ceremony and reception at the same place. We thought about switching from my initial desire of the all-in-one concept to having the church and reception deal. The church alone was $1200 (for members!) and would have required decorations. Yeah, no. Back to the original plan.
  7. Cut out the ceremony all together. Go to the courthouse and have a reception for family and friends.
  8. See what you can DIY. I have previously stated that I am not a crafty chick and I continue not to be. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it because if you are crafty, you can save a lot of money on wedding doo-dads. There are tons of tutorials on wedding blogs and on YouTube that can show you how to make everything from wedding invitations to bouquets to place cards.
  9. Decide what is important. Some of the easier cuts you can make that save money are Save The Dates and favors and er..um..ahem, GUESTS. We aren’t doing them (the favors and save the dates that is). I doubt they will be missed and if someone misses them, oh well.
  10. Keep it all in perspective. I don’t remember all the details of about linens and the food of the weddings that I have attended but I always remember the smiles of the happy couple. (I’m preaching to myself on this one. *grins*)

Thoughts from the comments??

Wedding Survival Guide

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I’ve been reading this for the last hour or so and thought I would share as well. I am well into the final stages of planning now but thought that some of these tips would be good for the person who is just starting to plan. There is no reason to pay full price for anything even though the word “wedding” jacks up the price tag for stuff.

I do plan to break down our final budget after everything is said and done and I have not done a lot of DIY stuff at all.

Click here to go the article. CBS Money Watch did an excellent job.