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Archive for the ‘Making money’ Category

Is it any wonder today’s investors are confused?  These two headlines ran on MSN/Yahoo within 12 hours of each other:

Dow off 237 as financial stocks crumble
Stocks head for higher open

Okay, I can understand that. Financial stocks are weakening, but there was some optimism as the market opened this morning. Optimism is good – our country literally runs on optimism.

Later today, these two Yahoo news pieces ran 5 minutes apart:
Dow, S&P turn negative on oil, financials
Stocks higher despite worries about financials

Can you see the short term investors pulling their hair out? What is it – higher or lower?  Red ink or black?

I just wanted to point out the insanity of today’s marketplace. If we try to overanalyse the situation, we might just catch ourselves selling valuable stocks on a bad tip or media lead.

At the age of 23, this is my portfolio’s first true bear market. It’s scary, and I don’t like it.  I’ve lost more than $1,000 in the past six months – about 15 percent of my retirement portfolio.  My financial adviser’s advice?  Sit tight. It hurts, but there are no bulls without bears.

Until that bull comes charging back into our stock market, I just tell myself that I’m buying lots of stocks on sale. I like sales, right?  I’ll stick to my large-mid-small cap indexes, and hopefully ride out this mess with a profit in the end.

In the meantime, I think I’ll just stop reading the daily stock updates. How much value can they hold for a long-term investor?  Not much.

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I’ve been trying to get a part time job with our local newspaper, copy editing the paper.  I do some freelance work for them, and they like my writing style.  I enjoy the atmosphere – it’s friendly and welcoming.

The managing editor is very eager to get a copy editor on board, even if it’s only part time.  (I’m not ready to give up my freelance gigs – the tax benefits are great, and I love the flexibility.)  But while he is in charge of hiring/firing, he needs the go-ahead from upper management to create a new position. Surprise – they’re not hiring right now due to economic conditions.

The local community college is offering an online editing class for $100. The managing editor is encouraging me to take this class, hoping that the extra background will be enough to talk his boss into hiring me. I have an editing background from college, but no formal education outside of a journalism degree.

$100 is a lot of money in our monthly budget.  We do have more than six months expenses in an emergency fund, though.  I’m thinking about borrowing from Peter, hoping that Paul whips out the checkbook and hires me after I finish the class.

It’s been over a year since I finished college, and I’m suddenly itching to take another college course.  At the very least, it’s a business write-off. What would you do in this situation?  Would you fund the class out of your efund?  Would you “find” the money in the budget, scrimping on retirement savings? 

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As I discussed yesterday, our income-to-spending ratio is about equal: We spend nearly every dollar that we bring in, although we do budget a few dollars for retirement and extra debt payment.

For a recap, our income each month:

Husband’s salary: $1793

My minimum income: $600

Total income: $2393

There have been a lot of blog discussions lately on the “spend less than you earn” OR “earn more than you spend” philosophies. In our case, earning more than we spend is the key to making our budget work.

Before I gave my 2-weeks notice at the retail job, we sat down and figured out how much money we spend. (It’s about $2,385, including the mortgage and necessities.) Then we added our income, and saw that our income and expenses are pretty darn close. We can make it work, but there might be some tight months.

The great thing about being a freelancer writer is that I can always ask for more work. If my income for the month is falling short of what we’re spending, I can increase my workload. I consider myself fortunate that we have such flexibility.

That being said, I’ve already asked for a bigger workload. My goal for the next few months is to make $800-1,000 monthly, although if I fall short of that goal the bills will still get paid.

My long-term goal is to be making $1,500 per month by the end of 2008. Meeting that goal will take some hard work, and I’ll have to reach out of my comfort zone in terms of selling stories and larger workloads.  But if I can meet my goals and use our money to tackle debt and improve our long-term lifestyle, it will be well worth it!

Do your income and expenses mesh well together?  If not, what are you going to do about it? 

 

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I mentioned before that I work part-time in retail to help pay the bills. To be more specific, I work one day a week as a pharmacy tech. I’ve had this job since high school and college.

The part-time job has been working well. But things have started to change, and it was time to reevaluate our choices.  My job was super close to college, but about 25 miles away from home.  Now that I’m out of college, my round trip commute was 50 miles.

Then we moved a bit further away – almost 10 miles. Now my commute is up to 70 miles round trip. With the price of gas and tolls, each work day costs about $10.

Contrary to popular belief, pharm techs don’t make a lot of money.  After taxes and commuting, I was bringing home about $35 per week – $3.89 an hour.  I’ve looked at transferring to a more local pharmacy, but none of them are hiring.

My retail job was also cutting into the freelance newspaper assignments that I could cover. It seemed that every available assignment was during that one day I worked away from home, so I lost a few assignments each month to my $35 retail job.

We finally did some soul searching, and crunched the numbers. It does not make financial sense to continue working. We make enough money to pay the bills without this job, and the $35 pay doesn’t justify the miles I’m putting on my car each week. If we run into money trouble down the road, I can always find another retail job. I’m sure I can match $3.89 an hour!

The exciting news now is: I’m going to be writing full time!

My first order of business is to thoroughly examine our bi-weekly budget. Together, we’ll go through each item (groceries, gas, debt) to see where my family (and yours!) can cut back. Any new-found money will be snowflaked into the mortgage.

Stay tuned. This is going to be exciting!

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