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The twins have arrived!

November 26th, 2009 at 10:11 am



Our twins were born by c-section just over a week ago.

Baby girl A was born at 2:10pm, 6 lb 0 oz, 19.3 in
Baby girl B was born at 2:11pm, 5 lb 3 oz, 18.9 in



Not sure what to call them here -- DDa and DDb? DTa and DTb (for dear twin)?

We had a harrowing couple of weeks. DS came down with a severe case of pneumonia and was hospitalized a week before my scheduled c-section date. (The doctor recommended a repeat section for twins, and baby B was breech until the last minute anyway.) He ended up having surgery to insert a chest tube the day before my delivery. I was heartbroken to not be able to stay by his side for the rest of the week.

DH came with me to a different hospital for the birth. Afterward DH and my mother alternated 24 hour shifts with DS, then visited me for a few hours, then went home to sleep. My dad offered to pay for a nurse, so we hired a post-partum doula to stay with me for 12 hours each night in the hospital. She was wonderful, and Dad has offered to keep having her come to our house a few nights a week so we can catch up on our sleep.

DS and I ended up being discharged on the same day. The girls are healthy and DS is steadily regaining his strength. Our little family has so much to be thankful for today!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cost of ER visit

May 6th, 2007 at 06:24 pm

Just got the bill from my ER visit. I was very curious how high it would be since I had both a cat scan and an ultrasound. Here's the breakdown:

CT scan: 4,199
urgent care: 780 (I'm guessing this is the ER doctor's fee)
imaging services: 1,302 (ultrasound)
laboratory: 580 (bloodwork)
pharmacy: 0.26
supplies/devices: 85
treatment/observation room: 60
Total: 6,934.26
Insurance payments: -3,368.89
Copay: $10
Patient responsiblity: $690.91

My health plan says I have to pay 10% of any emergency room visit or hospitalization -- very interesting to find out that this is 10% of the bill the hospital issues rather than 10% of the amount the insurance company has negotiated with the hospital. Looks like the insurance company has negotiated about a 50% discount.

Thank goodness I have insurance -- without it this would be a very major blow. Or what if I had a high-deductible plan with an HSA? This one visit could easily wipe out any savings I had built up. I'm trying to picture myself saying to the ER doctor, "A CT scan is really expensive, do we really have to check for appendicitis? Let's just do an ultrasound first to see if something else is causing the pain."


Health care musings on a trip to the ER

April 12th, 2007 at 09:44 am

After finishing a long walk pushing the jogging stroller a week ago Monday I had sudden sharp pain on the right side of my abdomen. My first thought was ectopic pregnancy, my second was ovarian cyst, and my third was appendicitis. Then I thought, no, it's probably just cramps because I was on my period, so I decided to wait and see instead of going to the doctor. The pain was fairly intense, about a 5 or 6 on this scale: http://shsskip.swan.ac.uk/Information/Mankoski%20Pain%20Scal..., and made me want to double over when I walked across the room. I don't usually get cramps so I called my mom to ask how bad they should be.

On Tuesday the pain was less, maybe a 4, but radiating across my abdomen. Still no other symptoms, so I decided it was probably constipation. My mother saw me double over when I got up from a chair and gently suggested maybe I really should go see a doctor. Tuesday night I noticed that if I pushed on just the right spot, there was a tender spot about the size of my fingertip that was the focus of the pain. I decided I would get it looked at on Wednesday.

So then the internal debate was whether to go see my OB/GYN since my gut feeling told me it was in that area, my primary care doctor because he's a generalist, or urgent care because it could be appendicitis. (An internet search revealed that 50% of the time there are no other symptoms than abdominal pain.) My insurance is PPO and the copay is the same for all three. I finally settled on the primary care doctor.

Wednesday morning I called my primary care, but he was completely booked until late Thursday afternoon. The nurse on the phone was too rushed to give me any advice on whether to wait or not. The pain was down to about a 2, so I was hesitant to go to urgent care. But this was the 3rd day and I'd ruled out the simple explanations. At this point my husband and mother were both urging me to go get this checked out ASAP. My mother said, "you have good insurance that covers this, so just go."

I pulled up my insurance website, and the most convenient urgent care in their network was located at a nearby hospital. When I got there, it turned out that the urgent care and ER were basically the same department -- I wouldn't have gone there if I'd known it was an ER, because I don't want to be one of those people who clog up the ER unnecessarily. There was only one other person in the waiting area, though, so I decided to stay. I only waited about 15 minutes to see the triage nurse, and maybe another 15 to see a doctor. I told him I felt a little silly being there given the level of pain, and that I'd come because I couldn't get into the primary care doc that day. The doctor said the primary care doc would've sent me to urgent care anyway to check for appendicitis, so I had done the right thing.

It turns out that the current standard of care for even a possibility of appendicitis is an abdominal cat scan, so that was the next order of business. Appearantly due to the cat scans they are now catching it so early that the surgeons have a hard time deciding whether or not to operate, or to give antibiotics a try. The cat scan would also check for ovarian cysts and kidney stones -- 3 diagnosis for the price of one, so to speak. The doctor also performed a pelvic exam, and I had a pregnancy test just to triple confirm I wasn't pregnant before the cat scan.

The cat scan ruled out appendicitis, but showed an ovarian cyst, so I was then sent for an ultrasound. The final diagnosis was a hemorragic (ie bleeding) ovarian cyst. It appeared to be in the process of healing itself, so I was told to go for a followup with my OB/GYN in two weeks.

I received excellent care throughout, but am curious to find out what the final bill will be, both what is billed to the insurance and what will be my out-of-pocket. We pay $200/month for insurance through my husband's employer. I think it is an 80/20 plan, with maximum out of pocket either $3,000 or $5,000. It's a lot of money but our emergency fund will cover it with no problem.

As a health care consumer, it really shows some of the difficulties with how to contain health care spending costs. I'm an educated person who enjoys reading about medical stuff, but couldn't easily determine whether I should be going to urgent care or not. Once there, I have to rely on the doctor to tell me whether I really need a cat scan, or an ultrasound, or whether just a physical examination will do. The doctor and hospital have to worry about malpractice, and so will tend to do more tests rather than less. There's no way to shop around and compare the quality and cost of different doctors, urgent care centers, or cat scan facilities. Because insurance is obtained through an employer who offers limited options, the insurance company won't lose me as a customer if I'm not happy with their handling of my claims. If I were in a HSA plan, who's to say I wouldn't drain it with this visit and then get in a car accident before I'd had time to build the savings back up?

Dad was right...

February 23rd, 2007 at 04:28 pm

...at least financially.

In my senior year at college, I was both job-hunting and applying for PhD programs in computer engineering (a cross between hardware and software). I hadn't really decided what I was going to do when my dad and I went out for a walk. His advice was that if I started working straight away, and put $2,000 a year into an IRA until I was 30 and then stopped, I would have more money when I retired at 65 than if I waited and put $2,000 per year into the IRA from age 30 to 65. I was 22 and figured most PhD programs take about 6 years. My parents have always made disparaging remarks about "professional students" so it was pretty clear what his recommendation was.

I ended up receiving a killer scholarship -- admission to a top program, $18,000 stipend per year (that's about $25,000 in today's dollars), and guaranteed summer jobs at Xerox -- but turned it down. I didn't want to be a professor, didn't feel like I had the inventiveness to come up with an original research idea, and was sick of school. I went to work, signed up for the 401k as soon as I was eligible, and maxed it out at 15% until I married at age 30, then cut back to 10% until I stopped working when my son was born a few months before I turned 35.

So yesterday I was playing with an Excel spreadsheet, trying to figure out what my Target Savings Goal should be. I was having trouble because the calculations from the Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Rich assumed you are starting from $0, and they referenced clunky future value tables in the back of the book. Plus I didn't like the numbers that came out because it would really pinch to save that much. So to account for the money we already have invested, I had to figure out how to use the FV, PV, and PMT functions in Excel. I plugged the numbers in -- 10% return, $320k today, 29 years till age 65 -- and kept coming up with either negative numbers or really large values. Finally I used the numbers from our mortgage to figure out where I needed to enter positive or negative values into the functions and what the results mean. As unbelievable as it sounds, in order to have $2 million at age 65, I actually have to take out $20k per year! If I just leave it alone, I will have $5 million at age 65. I am dumbfounded. It brings into question whether I should push so hard to get our savings back to 10% or go take more vacations now.

I said Dad was right about the financial aspect of my career decision. I'm not as certain about the non-financial aspects. Frankly, I'm bored to tears with software now. Just thinking about coding again depresses me. Although I don't really regret not getting the PhD, I think if I had I might have more interesting work to go back to. I suppose I could go do one now, but it doesn't seem right to me to ask DH to support me through both SAHM years and a PhD program -- better for us to find a business we can do together.

Financial Housekeeping for 2007

February 17th, 2007 at 08:04 am

There's a lot of financial housekeeping that I've procrastinated on for a long time, and it's time to get into gear and knock it out already! I've decided to add the following goals to my blog profile -- I love the feeling of crossing something off a list so writing it down should help motivate me!

[ ] update wills
[ ] invest IRA rollover money
[ ] stock basis into Quicken
[ ] annual review with broker
[ ] review life and disability insurance
[ ] review phone & cell phone plans

It's terrible that DS is almost 1.5 years old and we still haven't updated our wills. DH actually doesn't have one, I put one in place for myself before we married, but named my father as executor and guardian if DH also died. My parents have since divorced, and we want my mother to be guardian, so this needs to get fixed ASAP!!! I used a lawyer last time who was very sloppy -- his first draft had tons of misspellings and wrong names, and if I hadn't had to pay half the fee upfront I would've fired him. This lawyer was recommended by my broker, must've been a client because he certainly wasn't any good. DH wants to just use a software will package we picked up ages ago...and now I can't find it. Grrrr...maybe I'll go check out www.legalzoom.com that is heavily advertised around here.

With Quicken I need to buy the 2007 version (I got a notice that downloads won't be supported for the 2004 version anymore) and just start over. When we switched from Etrade to Scottrade I don't think the basis information for about 3 stocks followed, so I need to go find the old statements and enter everything in. I'm thinking I'll just let the brokerage track all the mutual fund basis, but it might be fun to download all the investment info into Quicken and play with the analysis tools. I won't bother with downloading my checking and savings accounts into Quicken this time -- Quicken's budgeting just sucks and I'll stick with envelope software.

Between us, DH and I have worked for 7 companies in the last 4 years. We rolled over the 401k for all but DH's current employer into IRA accounts, and have about $70k sitting in money markets within the IRAs that need to get invested. It's about $10k in mine and $60k in his -- I had resolved that I was going to understand my current portfolio before investing my $10k, while he's felt that the market was just too high and he's been in such a crunch at work that he hasn't had time to decide what to do. It's not good that the money is just sitting there, so it's time to really figure out what to do.

For life and disability insurance, I plan to get 5 quotes. The hard part is deciding how much coverage to take out. Currently we have $500k life on DH and none on me -- at a minimum we need to take out at least enough on me to cover daycare. I don't know if we have any long-term disability at all, maybe $100k through DH's employer if we're lucky. This is one area where it's frustrating to be the at-home spouse who takes care of these things -- I have no direct access to the benefits information at DH's company, and have to rely on asking him to contact people and bring info home. When he worked for large companies this stuff was all online, but his current company is very small and poorly managed -- I'm not sure if they even have a dedicated HR person. DH's current project has been a nightmare for the last 3 months, and he's currently working 12 and 16 hour days, so dealing with benefits is not really on his radar. Plus as soon as this project is over he's planning on getting his resume out there and finding somewhere else to work, so hopefully it will be a moot point soon. I'm guessing the best deal for LTD will be through his professional association, but unfortuately their quotes are all over the phone and not online, so it's time-consuming to figure out the best deal on coverage.

Our cell phone contract is up in April or May. I can't find out the exact month because the contract is in DH's name and the company won't disclose any information to me. Grrrr. All future things like this are going in my name as the primary! We only use about 200-300 minutes per month and are paying about $78 after all is said and done. I need to figure out whether it's cheaper to have two phones on a shared monthly plan or to do two pre-paid plans.

Philosophical Differences

February 6th, 2007 at 03:59 am

DH and I are mostly on the same page financially, but there are a few areas where we’ve got philosophical differences. We agree on never carrying a credit card balance, on putting 20% down on a home, that money that’s been invested is basically locked away, and that it’s good to have an emergency fund in case he gets laid off.

Cars are one area of disagreement. I was taught to look for a car that was 2-3 years old and 20k – 30k miles, while he and his family believe in buying new. I hate car loans while he believes anything under 2% is a great deal and should be taken advantage of. Having a really “nice” car gives him a lot of pleasure. He cares about horsepower, I care about trunk space. He’d like to get new cars every 5 years; I’d like to make them last at least 10. (To be fair, I have to admit that I only kept my last two cars for 5 years each, although they did both hit 100k miles.) When I got pregnant, we bought a new SUV for me, with all the latest side airbags and so forth. A year later, we bought him a new car. We compromised in that I agreed to take a $7k loan at 1.9% in order to get the car he really wanted without dipping into our emergency fund or selling off investments. I remind myself that it’s only costing us $300 over the life of the loan, and I’d gladly spend $300 on a present for him.

When we met, I was putting 15% into 401k and he was putting in only up to the company match, maybe 6%. We compromised at 10% each for a few years, but had to cut back when we went to one income. Currently we don’t like the funds in his 401k and his company doesn’t match, so we are prioritizing contributing to the ROTH IRA first.

Gifts are another area where we differ. His family is very generous with presents, and DH is naturally generous as well. I probably tend to be a bit on the cheap side. With friends birthday parties and the like I sometimes worry that giving too expensive of a gift will make the other person uncomfortable, as they may feel under pressure to reciprocate. In our budget I’ve just allocated an envelope for gifts and funded it according to how much we spent the previous year rather than trying to bring the amount down.

Traveling is very important to DH. I love it too, but don’t mind giving it up for a few years so I can be a SAHM. I think the cutback in traveling is what pinches the most about not having two incomes. DH really wanted to set up a trip to Hawaii this year, but unfortunately we don’t have the money right now, and have some higher priority items to save for first. He talks a lot about the places he’d like for us to go see, and I have to be careful not to squash his daydreams.

I like to get down and dirty with the numbers on our spending. For years I would periodically download all our transactions into Quicken, make lots of graphs, set up a budget, and contemplate the results. Quicken is impossible for truly tracking and sticking to a budget, however, and I am much happier since switching to an envelope system. I make up spreadsheets with our mutual funds and net worth, and puzzle over what I should understand as a result. I sometimes get too caught up in getting all the little details recorded accurately rather than in comprehending the big picture. DH, on the other hand, is more intuitive. He will look at our bank balance, mentally subtract the large upcoming payments like property taxes, and quickly make a judgment on whether we can afford a big purchase. He’s usually right, too!

Speaking of big purchases, I have to be pushed to spend money even on things that really enhance our lives. We spent a lot of money on remodeling the kitchen and bathrooms, and have gotten a lot of pleasure out of them – very worth the money, but without DH’s influence I would’ve held back.

The first time I read The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Rich, I got a bit depressed for a few days because we weren’t saving my calculated Target Savings Goal each month (and I didn’t realize that our investments were returning as much as they are.) We had a big conversation about whether it was worth being super frugal now in order to retire very wealthy 20 or 30 years from now. We decided to go for more of a balance – spend some and enjoy life a bit today, while still saving enough for a comfortable (but possibly not wealthy) retirement.

A final point I almost forgot -- investing! I favor buy-and-hold (to a point that is detrimental as I've missed out on selling declining stocks) very long-term investing, loaded mutual funds (Dad's influence there), and using a full-service broker. DH trades individual stocks through a discount broker, looking to make a profit within a couple of years. When we first met he talked about the ups and downs of the stock market so much it drove me crazy, as I really had no interest in individual stocks (and my eyes still glaze over). He hasn't been trading stocks much since we married -- I'm afraid I've really discouraged him by not wanting to join him in it.

Blew it on the 2006 W-4

February 2nd, 2007 at 09:27 am

2006 was the first time I decided to adjust our withholding so that we would have more money coming in each month and not get such a big refund at tax time. It's kind of complicated for us because I have to take into account dividends, capital gains distributions on the mutual funds, capital gains/losses of any stock sale, and an unpredictable AMT recapture credit. So I was very keen to do our taxes this year and see how I did.

Looks like I blew it. We're going to owe about $1380 on federal and $840 on state. We won't have to dip into the emergency fund, but it does almost wipe out the funds from an envelope I call "Basic Savings" -- I guess you could consider it our baby emergency fund rather than the emergency fund we'd dip into if DH got laid off. It also means that now we really really have to live within the budget I set up in Mvelopes -- I'd hoped to have a few more months to fine-tune it.

When working on the W-4 I correctly anticipated about $6k in dividends, but I'm not sure about the $13k in capital gains distributions. And I completely forgot about $15k in profit from where our broker advised us to sell one mutual fund and redistribute the money to some other funds. I can't remember why we did this, maybe it wasn't performing that well. I've decided I need to keep a notebook where I write down the reason for each purchase or sale. I have about $600k spread across 11 different mutual funds (within the same fund family) and I really couldn't tell you why. Luckily I was conservative on the AMT recapture, predicting $850 when we got back $2500, and we had a capital loss carryover of $10k, or we would've ended up owing a lot more!

I don't trust TurboTax's W-4 page -- it told me to take something like 12 deductions in 2006! I can't remember if we did that for any lenght of time, but at the end of the year DH's paystub shows that we were taking 6 deductions and still ended up owing money. TurboTax is telling me to take 12 deductions for 2007 as well...something's not right. There's a withholding calculator on the IRS website that I trust a lot more:
http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96196,00.html
and it has us at 5 deductions.


Contemplating our house

February 2nd, 2007 at 09:02 am

Real estate here in California has had an amazing run over the last 10 years. I bought my first house, a 1170 sq ft townhouse, in 1998 for $189k, and sold it 4 years later for $369k -- a profit of about $160k after paying the real estate commission. At the time, we considered keeping it as a rental property, but were nervous about carrying two mortgages. Too bad we didn't -- those townhouses were selling for $600k just a couple of years later!

Our current house is 1900 sq ft, 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath. It has a large yard (for California) and is in a very special location -- our back yard borders a large canyon, probably a quater mile across, that is protected by the city as a nature corridor. We fell in love with the view and went $70k above our intended budget to buy the place for $520k in 2002. We thought we were at the top of the real estate bubble then, but closing prices on this model have gone up over $200k since then. (They've fallen $20k since the peak a year ago. Not sure how much more they'll fall, but I don't think they will go back down to the price we bought at.) With the downpayment and the principal we've payed off, we're sitting on about $300k of equity.

Interest rates have been in our favor as well. We started off with a 30 year fixed at 7.0%, and refinanced twice in the first year as they kept falling and falling. In the end we decided to go for a 10/1 ARM that is fixed at 5.125% for the first 10 years. I figured that the longest my parents had ever lived in one house was 9 years, so it was worth the risk of taking the ARM to get the low rate. This decision has been a major factor in allowing me to be a SAHM.

After reading a few posts on EnoughWealth's blog, I'm wondering if we should consider doing some "gearing" -- taking a home equity loan and using the money to invest in either mutual funds or rental properties. The biggest problem I can see is that servicing the debt could really put a squeeze on our cash flow.

The other issue with our house is that the local schools are only average. I recently looked at the published test scores for our local elementary. The 2nd graders did great, but then the test scores for that same group of kids was lower for each succeeding year. Not encouraging. Of course we knew the district wasn't the best in the region when we bought the place, but we figured we'd have years to make a decision about either moving or paying for private school. At this point, it might be cheaper to pay for private school than to pay for a higher mortgage and property taxes if we moved to a similar house in a better district. I'll have to go back to work for us to afford either option. We do have a choice lottery within the district, so I'll also be looking to see if any of the other elementary schools are better. The houses on the other side of the canyon are in a much better district, the California rating index is a full 100 points higher, but the house prices are easily $500k more than ours.

As for the house itself, when we were looking we really wanted about 2200 sq ft but compromised for the view. Ideally I'd like one more bedroom, a kitchen table separate from the dining room, and a slightly larger living room. I guess it's human nature to always want just a little bit more than you've got. When we have a 2nd child, the current guest bedroom will become his or her room, and we just have to figure out what to do with the queen guest bed (the room is 10x10, so a queen doesn't leave much room for a kid to play.) I really love the bedframe, so I don't want to sell it. I'd like the office bedroom to be a combination exercise/playroom, although today it's too cluttered up with outgrown baby equipment, computers & printers, and bookcases to be useful. (Houses don't have basements in this area, so you end up storing stuff in either a bedroom or the garage. I really miss having a basement!) We might add a murphy bed so it can double as the guest room, although I'm worried about losing a couple of feet for the murphy. The room itself has 3 windows along the hallway so we'd need blinds to use it as a bedroom.

x-post from Consider starting your teenager in a Mutual Fund

February 2nd, 2007 at 09:01 am

Lots of people open children's savings accounts to help teach their kids about saving, but how many teach their kids about investing from an early age?

When I was 13, my dad made a career change to become a stockbroker. After going through his training, he decided he wanted my brother and I to each have a mutual fund. My parents contributed the minimum amount to purchase American Mutual Fund for each of us ($250 -- still the minimum today!). In the early years, he encouraged us to put money we received as presents and for good grades into the fund. When I worked as a waitress in high school, I often saved part of my tips and wages and put it in the fund (not all of it, I was a teenager after all!) By the time I graduated from high school, the fund was worth $3,970. When I graduated from college, it was worth $7,494.

Here's a summary of my contributions from age 13 to 22:
1984 250
1985 150
1986 2,036 (I think 1,000 of this was transferred from my saving acct.)
1987 614
1988 0
1989 310 -- HS graduation
1990 150
1991 200
1992 0
1993 550 -- college graduation
total: 4,260

I briefly considered cashing out some of the shares after graduation to fund a roadtrip around the US, but my parents discouraged cashing it in. Luckily I had enough cash on hand from summer jobs to take the trip.

After I got my first real job, my dad often encouraged me to contribute $50 to the fund every month. There were a couple years I was pretty good about doing this, but mostly I just got busy and forgot. I wish I'd known about setting up automatic deductions from my checking acct back in 1993!

I'm missing some of my records, but I think I contributed around 300-600 every year from 1194-1998. I don't think I've added to this particular fund since 2001, when it was worth $27,115. Today it's worth $38,496.

In hindsight, I didn't learn much about choosing investments from this experience, but having the fund and being encouraged to contribute to it regularly went a long way in impressing the importance of saving and investing in my mind. Plus I have a big chunk of cash that I would not have had otherwise. Smile

So I would urge all of you who have teenagers to scrounge up $250, and consider starting their investing education today.

We hit the million mark!

January 29th, 2007 at 02:37 pm

Hooray! When our year-end brokerage statement arrived I was excited to notice that the sum of our non-retirement assets (stock, mutual funds, checking and savings accounts) are within $2k of equalling the balance on our mortgage. It's just so cool to think that in theory we could cash everything in and pay off the mortgage -- not that I plan to, as I believe in letting those investments grow. So I pulled up the networth screen to enjoy the feeling, and realized I had never entered our home as an asset, only the liability of the mortgage. When I added a reasonable estimate of our home equity based on recent sales of the same model house in my neighborhood, the bottom-line networth topped $1,000,000! We're technically millionaires! Smile

Now this may not last, as home prices have been dropping a bit lately, so I expect to dip back under the $1M mark again. But it's a great feeling while it lasts. Our networth is basically 1/3 home equity, 1/3 IRA/ROTH, and 1/3 liquid assets.

I've been doing some calculations based on The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Rich. We need to increase our savings by $200/month to hit our Target Savings Goal, which is the requirement for meeting Wealth Level One. On the other hand, last year the non-retirement funds generated 2 times the Target Savings Goal in returns, so that puts us in the middle of Wealth Level Two. My goal is to reach Wealth Level Three so that we can afford to do a lot of travelling.

The Generational Wealth Effect

January 16th, 2007 at 03:23 pm

My financial situation is a living example of the generational wealth effect, whereby the financial successes of one generation gives the next generation an easier start in life. I owe a great debt of gratitude to my parents, grandparents, and even my great-grandparents for my start in life.

Family lore as told to me by my maternal grandfather:

"Your great-great grandpa [this would be his wife's grandfather] was a very successful farmer. He had 4 sons, and gave each of them $5,000. [I'm not clear if this was an inheritance or money to start out in life. In either case this would've been around 1900, so $5,000 was a huge sum of money.] 3 of the boys ran through all their money very quickly, but your great-grandpa was tighter than bark on a tree. He saved all his money and worked hard all his life. He gave your grandmother and I the downpayment for our first home, and your mother and father the downpayment for their first home. Even though he lived to be 90, the money he left us made a big difference when I retired."

Another bit of family lore was told to me when my family were celebrating my college graduation. My parents married at the end of their junior year in college (although they didn't tell their parents at the time, I'm sure everyone knew the story when I arrived six months later.) At the wedding, my mom's father went over to my dad's father and said, "You know, I'd really like to see my daughter finish school." My dad's father replied, "Well then, let's put them through." And the two fathers shook hands on it.

As a result, my parents started life with no debts -- they even got a used car for a graduation present. I'm sure this made it a lot easier for them to put my brother and I through college, and we also each received a used car as a graduation present, and $20k toward the downpayment when we bought our first homes.

Without a doubt, this debt-free start in life made it a lot easier to start investing as soon as I started working, and I plan to do the same for my children.

Introducing Myself

January 15th, 2007 at 03:12 pm

Hello and welcome to my blog! It's the first blog I've ever created, so please forgive my inevitable newbie netiquette missteps.

As I said in my bio, I am a 36, an "on sabbatical" software engineer, SAHM to a toddler, and married to another engineer. We live in southern CA and are fortunate in having a high income, no student loans, no credit card debt, and a solid mutual fund portfolio.

So why am I here on SavingAdvice.com?

We made a fairly painless transition from two incomes down to one (since our salaries at the time were equal this was a 50% cut for our family), but I found that we were now spending most of what DH makes and decided it was time to start budgeting. Quicken's budget tracking just wasn't working for me, and in the process of searching for a better system I found SavingAdvice and Mvelopes. The community seemed so interesting that I decided to stick around. I'm hoping that there are other people here that are beyond the debt-elimination stage and are actively building wealth that I can learn from.

DH changed jobs and we finally got around to rolling over 401k's from about 4 different companies. My IRA's are with a full-service broker while his are with a discount broker, and as I contemplated this large chunk of money that needs to be invested I realized that despite having a father who is a stockbroker, I really don't understand much about how to choose the right mutual funds. I've started reading books on personal finance and investing in the hopes of educating myself.

So my purpose in writing this blog is to motivate myself to stay the course with the budget and the investing, and also to share interesting books or ideas that I discover along the way.