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Archive for February, 2008

February Survey Total

February 29th, 2008 at 10:39 pm

February was slightly light on the survey income. Thanks to flu season, the office has been very busy and I didn't have time to do some of the call-in surveys that I do. I did all of the online ones, though, except for those that I didn't qualify for. There were a couple this month on topics that I really no nothing about so I couldn't do those or qualify for them.

Anyway, my total for February was $475 which is still just fine by me. I'm certainly not complaining. I'd be very happy to average that amount monthly.

I saved 30 cents tonight

February 29th, 2008 at 02:52 am

Yes, I'm serious. Since we had the whole thread about picking up pennies, I think this fits right in. We went to the pet store to buy some stuff for our hermit crab. One item was a new shell. The shelf tag indicated that the shells were $2.49. But the individual bags with the shells were marked $2.79. I'm sure a lot of people wouldn't have even noticed the discrepancy, but we did. I took the item over to an employee and explained the problem. She walked over to the display and confirmed what I was saying. Then she found the manager who met me at the register and did a price adjustment.

A lot of people (though maybe not those around here) might think we went to a lot of trouble to save 30 cents (plus tax), but I think mindset is the key to financial success. Frugality is a state of mind as much as it is a lifestyle.

Waiting to do my taxes...

February 28th, 2008 at 12:16 am

I use an accountant to do my taxes. I know some of you feel that's a waste, but it is something that I just don't feel comfortable tackling on my own. Our return is reasonably complex. Also, I do get a significantly discounted rate because my cousin is my accountant and my father and his father started the firm that he and his brother now run.

Anyway, I have an appointment with him for March 13th so I'm kind of in financial limbo right now. I've been letting some surplus money accumulate in the checking account because I know we will owe money but I don't know how much.

Last year, we got a $1,500 state refund but owed $3,000 to federal, so a net payment of $1,500. As usual, our situation changed during the year. My wife left her job in February and didn't work again until June or July when she took a part-time position. So our income was down about $15,000 for 2007 compared to 2006. My self-employment income (surveys and ebay) was up for 2007 as were some investment returns. So I'm waiting to see how it all plays out and what we end up owing.

I've started our 2008 Roth contributions, but until I know how much cash I need to come up with for taxes, I don't want to tie up too much in the Roth. As soon as taxes are settled, I can really start attacking the Roths. I like to have them fully funded by June 30th.

Ebay is the place to be

February 25th, 2008 at 08:33 pm

I've heard a lot of ebay-bashing lately on a couple of different forums due to the fee changes and feedback changes. People are saying they will stop selling on ebay and switch to Craigslist or have a yard sale or just give the stuff away and take a tax deduction.

I've been selling on ebay since 1997 so I've seen lots of changes over the years, but I still think they've got the best deal in town.

I had taken a break from ebay for a while, but started selling again at the end of December. Since then, I've listed 25 items. 22 have sold, so an 88% success rate. Last week, I was 5 for 5 with all items selling.

I listed another 5 items last nite. I had 1 watcher within 15 minutes. By this morning, I had 1 item with a bid and a total of 7 watchers on 4 of 5 items. By this afternoon, I had 3 bids on 2 items and still had 7 watchers. So odds are good that at least 4 items will sell this week.

I don't know of any other venue where I can get that kind of exposure and that type of response to selling my stuff. Yes, fees have gradually increased and it isn't as lucrative as it once was, but it still beats everything else out there.

Weekend review

February 24th, 2008 at 11:57 pm

As per my last post, my wife and I returned to my college this weekend to attend the dedication of the theater lobby in memory of my former theater professor and director.

A large contingent of my college theater friends were able to attend, about 16 of us all together. It was really wonderful to see everyone and spend some time together catching up on each other's lives. It has been way too long since we got together.

After the show last night, one couple set a date for a party at their house on July 5th, so we are all looking forward to that and more time to spend together with old friends. Keep in mind that we graduated college between 1984 and 1987 so we all go back quite a few years at this point.

Financially, the weekend wasn't too bad. The hotel last night was $105 and included breakfast this morning (7 of us met for breakfast since we were all staying in the same hotel). DW and I spent about $15 for lunch yesterday afternoon. We all went out last night after the show. That was another $20. Add in gas and tolls for about another $20. So I guess the whole weekend ran us about $160 and it was worth every penny to see everyone.

Mini college reunion tomorrow

February 23rd, 2008 at 02:11 am

Ok, not a class reunion, but a friends reunion, which is far better. In college, I was active in the theater department. Almost all of my college friends are fellow theater people. For many years after college, we continued to get together socially a few times each year. In recent years, though, with jobs and kids, it hasn't happened. I haven't seen most of these people for a few years.

Anyway, tomorrow evening the school is dedicating the theater lobby in memory of our former director (who we all worked under). They are having a reception and ceremony, followed by a show. Almost the whole group of my friends will be there. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone.

Another $570 to the Roths

February 21st, 2008 at 02:55 am

I just sent $570 to my wife's Roth. I send a certain amount of each paycheck to our Roths, alternating between mine and hers with each check. I like to have the Roths fully funded by June 30th each year. Actually, at the rate I'm going, I won't hit that, but I can already see some surplus building in our account so I'll probably make an extra contribution within the next couple of weeks to keep on track for that deadline.

ebay sales 5 for 5 this week

February 18th, 2008 at 05:15 pm

My latest auctions ended last night and 5 of 5 sold for a total of $39.97. Not too shabby and that's 5 more things not taking up space in our home. That makes 22 sales so far since I started selling again at the end of December. Total sales have been $171.85. And, more importantly, 22 items are gone from the house.

I actually didn't list anything last night. We had been up since 3am to get my daughter to her ski trip and then we were in Atlantic City all day. I was exhausted and was in bed just after 9:00 which left no time for ebay stuff. I'll prepare auctions during the week and list again next Sunday.

Odds and Ends

February 17th, 2008 at 12:38 am

I realized it has been a week since my last post. Not a whole lot has happened financially, though earlier tonight I transferred $1,000 from the money market in one of my Vanguard IRA accounts to purchase more shares of the international fund. I've been gradually doing that and had forgotten the past couple of months. I want to build up my international exposure which is much too low currently.

DW and I are going to Atlantic City tomorrow. DD is going on the youth group ski trip - her first time. She'll be snowboarding, not skiing. Hopefully, she'll let the instructor work with her and take instruction well (not always her best attribute). I'm looking forward to the day as I haven't been to the casino since the day after Thanksgiving. We're also meeting friends for lunch while we're there. They spend most weekends down there.

Our portfolio has recovered a bit from it's low point a couple of weeks ago. I'm hoping that the market will stabilize, though I'm still taking advantage of buying opportunities so staying flat isn't such a bad thing.

I'm still doing my doctor surveys - just did one tonight for $100 and got a check for $30 on Thursday from one I did last month.

Haven't done my taxes yet. I've pretty much got all the paperwork together. I just need to tally up my ebay sales for the year. Then I'll give my accountant/cousin a call to make an appointment.

Speaking of ebay, I have continued to list 5 items/week except for the week before and week of the Superbowl. Of my current auctions, 3 have bids and 1 other has 4 watchers so will probably sell. Only one looks like it may go unsold as it has no bids or watchers. They all end tomorrow evening.

I guess that's all for now.

10-12 Fewer Checks to Write

February 9th, 2008 at 07:07 pm

I do most banking online, but for some reason, I have continued making our Roth contributions to Vanguard by mailing in checks with the little deposit slip things that you tear off the bottom of the statement.

It finally occurred to me that I could probably do it online. So I just logged in to my Vanguard account and, sure enough, I was able to make a purchase toward my 2008 Roth by a simple electronic transfer from my bank.

I usually add to our Roths every 2 weeks after depositing my paycheck. Last year, it took 8 deposits to fully fund both accounts. Since the max is higher this year, I figure it will take 10-12 deposits so I will have that many fewer checks to write and mail. Very simple and safer too.

January Survey Total

February 1st, 2008 at 01:20 pm

Quick recap - I'm a physician and get frequent invites to do online, telephone or in-person surveys.

For January 2008, I collected $670 in survey income. So I will certainly keep plugging along and doing these surveys. I earned about $5,400 in 2007 this way. At the rate I'm going, 2008 will hopefully be even better.