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Archive for December, 2009

2010 Goal Setting

December 31st, 2009 at 08:43 am

With everything that has been going on in our lives I have lost a clear overview of where we are exactly financially and have not had much times to set some goals for 2010. I did set goals for 2008 and 2009 and I certainly saw the benefit of tracking our progress and working towards achieving them. However with the big move in 2009 I stopped tracking things so closely as of course we took a huge financial hit to get here. We do still have a semblance of an emergency fund in place and I am amazed at how quickly we have been able to put a life together in Florida, so I am happy we took the hit and so far it is paying off (knock on wood nothing will change).

2010 is a new year with new opportunities and challenges, so I am going to lay out some general goals and define them as our situation becomes more stable. It is always good to lay a foundation you can build on.

1) Hurry up and get us on a health plan ASAP.

2) Put together an overall view of where we are financially by updating our networth report.

3) Complete the monthly budget document I have started working on and ensure there is a comprehensive overview of our cash flow.

4) Build up 3 months of emergency fund here in florida.

5) Investigate IRA option for me and my husband and open up one for each of us before the end of March.

6) Look into options for purchasing a second car (first car was purchased in September. It is a second car paid for in cash in full). Our lack of much credit history and funds may delay this one for quite some time.

7) Make extra payments to husband's student loan.

8) Obtain (secured) credit cards for both to start building credit history.

9) Investigate the best way to file taxes. As we have only recently move to Florida we need to file taxes in the country we lived in for most of 2009 and in Florida. This may mean that we are eligible for some refunds, but I will need to check.

10) Change husband's address with all pension companies in old country.

That is a basis foundation for us to get started on in the oh ten. Looks like we have our work cut out for us, but considering what we achieved in oh nine, I am confident we can make it happen. :-)

Have a great 2010 everybody!

How to Choose a Health Insurance Plan

December 29th, 2009 at 09:34 am

I am currently trying to find my way through the maze of health insurance plans on offer here in Florida. There are quite a few things that vary between each plan and the deductibles here are much higher than I am used to having, but then so are the monthly payments. I used to pay 200 a month and have a deductible of 150 per year before the insurance would cover all remaining costs (socialist health care system). So I thought I could ask from some help from some people in the know about what information is important to look at when you are investigating which health care plan to take. So I am asking the savings advice readers for some help on what things you would recommend I look at when researching our health care plan?

My husband is 33 and I am 27. He smokes but is trying to quit, we are both a little overweight and I have some minor allergies to certain fabric softners. That is all, so I believe we are resonably healthy. I would like to aim for monthly payments of around 200 a month for both of us with a deductible as low as possible (looks to be around 2500). However I do want to make sure we are covered for any emergencies as as though we are reasonably healthy right now, you never know what will happen ( and knock on wood that nothing does happen). I understand this is very general, but as I said earlier, I am just starting my research and I am a bit lost.

Also I need to investigate if dental and vision are worth it.

Arrived in Florida in Time for Thanksgiving

December 22nd, 2009 at 08:42 am

Much has happened in the time between my last entry and I have found out much about myself. I realise that when my finances feel out of my hands, I have an urge to not follow them too closely as it creates more stress than necessary. My husband managed to find a job here in Florida and started working in it 1 and half months after he arrived. I think that must be some sort of record given the current unemployment in our area is 12% and rising. I am incredibly proud of him.

In making our decision not to bring the furniture we had with us, I ended up having to sell as much as I could a donate the rest. This was a loss but as we had planned to move for a long time, most of the stuff we had was acquired with the knowledge we would be immigrating in mind, so it was not a horrendous loss. I did manage to sell most of our electronical devices which cost more than the furniture, but it was a good lesson in the depreciation of value of your items and I also learned that it is better to sell as you go along rather than to hoard old things which you no longer require when you are forced to do so. When you can sell things at your own leisure you can ensure you get an acceptable price, rather than accepting the money offered because you have to get rid of the item.

Once I sold off all the things I could not bring with me, I also needed to ensure our appartment was clean to hand over and then got on a flight to come join my husband. Oh, but before I get to that point, I also needed to ensure all those companies I needed to communicate my new address to were informed. If I did not recieve a bill correctly or a retirement account statement regularly, who knows what state our financial affairs may be in after several months.

Joining my husband here in Florida was fantastic. We had been apart for just over 3 months and that has been the longest seperation we have ever had through our relationship. I know many couples go through much longer seperations, under much more stressful situations. However, to know it happens and to actually experience it is 2 different things. My heart goes out to those couples who are going through periods of seperation, especially those miltary couples.

So I arrived the weekend before Thanksgiving and we celebrated our first one in the US together. It was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed becoming acquainted with the new home my husband prepared for me and exploring our new neighbourhood. He had purchased furniture for our apartment and I loved every piece of it. In fact the furniture here is so nice I have not regretted once having to leave behind the furniture we had before. I feel that furniture was very student like and we now have invested in some grown up furniture which could be with us for the new decade or more. We have an apartment for the first time, which I could see us bring kids into. Although we are still young and we need to settle before we do any other life changing move.

I have started to job hunt and have had some interest. Thank goodness! I was very scared to start looking for work here as it is very different to my home country. I having been looking for an analyst position in the Tampa area. I have my fingers crossed that something might come up soon. I'll keep you updated on the search. I have found that posting my resume on monster.com and careerbuilder.com has not been very fruitful, so I have made it might job to apply for 2 or 3 positions from those website a day and then to search around for other company websites with job postings or smaller job boards in the area. As I said this tactic has resulted in a few companies calling with some interested, but also A LOT of rejection emails. I am not used to the amount of rejection, but I guess if I am going to live here I will need to start developing a tougher skin.

So so far, so good. I have not touched much on our finances in this post, because I think I'll only be ready to post on those in the New Year. We are living off of my husband's income for now, with some money still in our emergency fund. Not where I want to be but we knew when we started on this journey that it we would take a huge hit to savings. I will be working on a financial plan for 2010 to get us back on track. I am think our priorities will be to maintain our costs as low as possible, to increase emergency fund to about 9 months, start a car fund up just in case the used car we brought needs to be maintined/replaced and ensure we have some pension fund savings in place so that it does not fall to the wayside.