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Visual Budgeting

January 8th, 2010 at 05:49 pm

I have be playing around with some ideas to build a budget in excel which can show in various graphical representations how the budget is broken down. I am wondering if anyone here would be interested in such things and if so what they would want included in the file?

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.

Irresistable Introductions

August 16th, 2009 at 02:20 am

In Arabian Nights, Aladdin and his mother are allowed to enter the court of the Emperor because they offer irressistable introductions of jewels,pearls and gold. I am happy that this is a community of frugal people and that such a grand gesture would probably be frowned upon and scrutinized. So instead I offer my story and my financial information.

We are a young couple, looking for new opportunities to have a simple yet full life. My husband and I decided we wanted to move to Florida some months ago and we have been saving up to have a moving fund. He recently quit his job and has now moved to Florida. I am still working and will hopefully keep my job until he finds something (Some of you may have already read my post asking about jobs in the forum).

As we have chosen to live a frugal life, my salary covers all my living expenses plus a little more. This has allowed me to keep our apartment and everything else going while he has enough money to sustain him for a year while hunting for a job. As the job market in Tampa is quiet bad at the moment, we have allowed for a long job search. I am confident he should find something as he works in customer service which is a field which always has openings even in a down market. He is also a reliable worker with steady experience in this area and as long as he is not too fussy about his salary, I'm sure he can find something.

In the meantime, I am cleaning up our things and preparing myself for the big move once the time is right. Our apartment requires a few repairs before our landlord investigates it and as I am a recovering hoarder I am finally clearing out everything I've collected since I was a little kid until now with the rule that if I have not used it in the last year, it is going out.

Financially, we are so used to keeping a close eye on all our money and saving as much as we can to see our savings grow, that I am struggling a little with the idea that our savings are now going to drop due to all the costs of the move. It is shocking just how expensive a move can be. So I may let my constant money watching go for a little while just in an attempt to reduce the stress. I trust my husband will watch his spending and we have an agreed cut off point which if reached, he will return home and pick up things here (this is an extreme measure of course but in this economy we would rather be safe than sorry).

We also have students loans which we want to pay off before we buy a house, a house down payment to save up for but thankfully we do not carry a CC debt. We'll need to improve our credit scores before we buy a house, however buying is maybe 2 years away from now, so we have time.

Well, that's all for now folks!
Thanks for tuning in.