sillygoosegirl: (Default)
I don't think Verizon/Frontier actually wants my money. Why else would they make it so difficult for me to pay them?

I've been signed up for automatic payments for the past 4-5 months, but for some reason they haven't been going through. They waited until this had been failing to go through for 4 months before mailing me a notice (yeah, I know, I should have noticed...). When I login to my account, it says that automatic payments are correctly setup. Furthermore, they don't have a place anywhere on the website that actually tells you where you can mail them a check. And it was a pain in the butt to find a phone number to call with questions. Once I called, I spent forever navigating the phone menus before asking for an operator. After I asked for one, the phone system wanted more details about what kind of representative I needed, and then decided that instead of letting me talk to a Verizon/Frontier employee, they should route me to the 3rd party phone payment system where I can pay a fee to pay my bill over the phone. No thanks. So I had to call back and do the some thing again, then get put on hold where instead of playing annoying music, the phone made this really loud annoying buzzing sound. Apparently in order for me to pay by check, they have to take me off paperless billing, which seems pretty stupid.

On the bright side, my credit union's online bill payment system kind of rocks. I think I need to start using that for everything instead of dealing with each individual company's website and unique billing system. Not least because it's really nice to see all those people I pay automatically in one place rather than needing to hunt through statements to figure out who is deducting money from which account each month. Now if only would download pending bill pay transactions...

Dec. 13th, 2009 12:15 am
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
I want to put in a brief plug for It's an online bank account tracking and budgeting tool. I signed up for it so that we would have a way to monitor our accounts on our trip without needing to worry about someone stealing our passwords to our bank accounts. We could also just have it send us email alerts for stuff we think is important, or a weekly or monthly summary... though not sure if we will go that route or just sign in periodically.

However, in addition to our task at hand, it seems to be a really great tool. Unlike the default Quicken graphs, the default Mint graphs actually make sense to me... as in, they are category centric instead of account centric, which is how I like to think about our money. Also, the graphs and drill down are very shiny and very informative. The budgeting tools seem slick and easy. And it also tracks our retirement funds and loans. Sadly, the graphs require Flash 10, which my Nokia doesn't support, so we wont get to make use of the graphs when we are overseas, but I'm pretty sure we'll be using Mint when we get home. It also doesn't track cash spending very well (you can categorize your ATM withdrawals and split them, but not enter your own transactions). On the other hand, I've already pretty much come to terms with the fact that we're too lazy to track cash purchases at this point anyway.
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
PayPal ran my $2.09 purchase as a cash advance. Incurring me a $15.00 cash advance fee, and $1.75 in interest.

ETA: After 25 minutes on hold with PayPal, they've assured me that it wasn't run as a cash advance, and my credit card company was clearly in error. Bah. Now what? Why can't we just all go back to exchanging sheep and chickens face to face like civilized people?


Sep. 1st, 2009 09:23 pm
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
And then there was that time I paid my rent late because my land lord moved to a new address and didn't tell me. Yeah. Seriously. At least we have her telephone number and she isn't going to charge us a late fee for it.

In other news related to money and paying bills, there is a $15 charge on my credit card for CASH EQUIV FEE*FC*. I'm kind of at a loss since this is a card I only ever use online at PayPal (since PayPal wont let Josh and I both hook up the same credit card to different PayPal accounts... grrr). It looks like a fee as if I forgot to pay, or took a cash advance, or something. And while I did forget to pay last month after using it for the first time in like a year, I also remembered before the payment was actually due and have verified that the payment did in fact post a full week before the due date, so there shouldn't be any penalty...

I would whip out Quicken for some clues, but sadly Rose (the computer with the latest copies of the Quicken files) is sadly without power. We haven't been able to find her power cord since Josh kindly brought it to D&D with him last week and left it in the car in case I wanted it. And then either it was swipped out of the car by a theif who was too stupid to steal any of the more attractive electronics, or really he brought it in and it is at Jamie's house. And I can't just login to the US Bank website to check that card (and find out if the one $15 purchase I can think of this month could have extraniously have ended up on the wrong card), since US Bank is keeping me out of their website for my security. Nice.

Sigh. At least I got paid today, otherwise it would be all bad news and I'd be afraid to touch anything financial for fear of totally blowing it up.
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
So, um, yeah. The IRS doesn't believe in negative numbers, right? So like if I subtract line 4 from line 3 and get a negative number, I should enter 0. Even though, for once, they neglected to say so. Because otherwise "Deduction for Exemptions Worksheet -- Line 26" suggests that we are entitled to a higher exemption that we would have been if we'd earned less... and generally it doesn't work that way.
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
Our lock on our front door has been very stiff and hard to unlock since we moved in. Basically, it catches about 1/4 inch from unlocked, and it's really hard to get it that last 1/4 inch. It's a bit easier on the inside though, because you have more leverage. Shortly after we moved in, Josh put some WD40 on the shaft and in the keyhole, and that helped, but it was still difficult. Last Friday night, we ended up going in through the garage it was so stiff. I decided we should just replace the lock, but I didn't know how hard that would be. So I grabbed a screw driver and started taking the lock apart to see. Turns out, there's not much to disassembling a lock, but once we had it open and started fiddling with it, we could see where it was catching! We lathered it up good with the WD40 and put it back together. Now the lock works like a dream! Last night, coming home with my hands full, I was able to unlock and open the door with one hand!!!!! Ah, life's little pleasures...

Run down of my full day yesterday )


Jul. 27th, 2008 09:09 pm
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
My parents talked me into buying Quicken instead of continuing to make my own financial database in Access. Overall, it seems really nice. And when I was looking through it with my folks, it looked like the reports were really nice. So after I got home today I spent an appauling number of hours entering in all our data from the past year (aside from a little bit of data on two accounts for January, I got it all done). However, now that I actually have my own data in the system, I'm seeing that I'm not really liking the reports after all. You see, Quicken (and much of the rest of the world) has a very strange concept of what a "bill" is. Somehow Quicken thinks that the credit card payments count as "bills" (I consider them transfers and thought I had them entered as such), yet somehow "rent" is not a bill. WTF? Thus, a lot of the reports aren't seeming very useful. Actually, none of the reports I've found look useful at all yet. Ugh. Not upset about the $30, but I'm going to be super upset about all the hours if this program doesn't have useful reports. :-(

Also, in the pie charts, it shows that half or more of the money we *spend* goes *to* Epic by way of our paychecks. Something is clearly confused. This was why I was going to make my own freaking program.
sillygoosegirl: (Fairy - Forget-me-not)
With every attempt to make our finances simpler, I just end up making them more complicated. Why oh why oh why? :-(
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
This is why, every now and then, you want to go through all those important papers and sort them into a filing cabinet. Obscure reason #137:

Me: Hey, dear, isn't this an original of one of your time cards?
Josh: Looks that way.
Me: Doesn't that mean there was a week somewhere back there that you didn't get paid for?
Josh: Yep.

I thought we had a bit less money in the account than I expected, but I had chocked it up to moving and the Mexico trip being more expensive than anticipated... I mean, such things always are, right?

Also, this is like reason #2 why I like direct deposit (not losing paychecks), only a close second to reason #1 why I like direct deposit (not going to the credit union).

On a completely different note, we are getting a face cord of firewood delivered tomorrow at 9am. So we're actually going to be able to use our wood burning fireplace finally. YAY!
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
So last year's budget spreadsheet was a bust. If any of you tried it, you found out that I didn't fully debug it. Plus, there were too many little sheets, hard to keep track of things, and a pain to correlate with statements since we never knew which category each purchase belonged to based on the info in the credit card statement.

This year I am trying a different approach. I've learned how to use the auto-filtering feature, and now I'm taking an approach where I have one (1) sheet that is a log of all purchases. Each purchase has it's own line with such useful information as the date, store, description, budget category, sub category, type (ie sub sub category), amount, payment method, and status (cleared this month, cleared before, not yet cleared).

Another sheet has all those recurring expenses that happen every month and I don't want to have to write down or find to copy and paste each month: rent, utilities, car insurance, student loan payments, etc. It's the same as the one above, but only has the regular bills in it.

For reconciling with statements, I can filter by "not yet cleared", and "payment method", so I'm only looking at uncleared purchases made with the account at hand. Further, I can filter by date and store if I need to.

For giving myself a nice overview of spending, I can then generate reports based on the data I have. Using the wonderful =ProductSum() function, I can find out how much I spent in a given category, sub category, etc in a given time period. I can categorize a purchase of winter bike clothing under "transportation", still be able to find it when I reconcile receipts, and furthermore have it come out of the "transportation" budget, but still contribute to the total if I was to ask the question, "just how much have we spent on clothes this year?" I am working up a single sheet of common information I think I will want to see graphed or tabulated, so we can see how we are doing and stuff.

Furthermore, I am thinking of adding 3 more sheets which will help us keep track of how much money we have/owe in each of our accounts. One of them would record transfers (paying the statement balance at the end of the month on a credit card is a transfer from checking to that card account). Another would allow us to define allocations so we could say, "We're setting aside our extra $50 of 'entertainment money' to spend on season tickets to the theater next fall." And then actually have a record of making that "transfer", how much is saved up so far for the particular thing, and what the total "available" money in checking (or savings) is since we'd be treating the "allocated" money like an uncleared check. The final sheet would have all the running "available balance" records for all accounts, and hopefully also keep track of what the balance should be in each account, given what has cleared or not... to verify that everything is really and truly reconciled the way it should be. I'm still not at all sure what these last 3 sheets will look like, but the ideas are forming.

And before you ask me why I don't just get an off-the-shelf program to do this... well, my way is more fun and if I ever get it working right, it'll be exactly what I want. Besides Excel is fun crack. So :-P
sillygoosegirl: (Default)

I feel re-balanced.  Retirement accounts for 2 people at 2 institutions result in interesting packing problems.  Related, Josh starts work on Monday and we've already "spent" almost half of what he will make.  Fortunately we are spending it on retirement, so it's all good.  :-) 

sillygoosegirl: (Default)
My insurance does not play well with my pharmacy. We're on a high deductible insurance plan this year, with a employer sponsored Health Reimbursement Account. I don't know if it will work out to a good deal in the end (though it will if we stay healthy), but it's got simplicity going for it. So the long and short of what matters for this post is that the first $1500 Josh and I spend on prescriptions, office visits, etc, this will come out of the Health Reimbursement Account, and we wont need to hand over a penny. Five weeks ago I picked up my first round of birth control under this new system. It was great, I handed her my health insurance card, she ran it, she handed me my prescription and she said, "You owe us... never mind... wow, nice insurance!" I'm on auto refills (get a phone call when it's time to pick it up), so I proceeded to forget about the whole thing for a little while.

Then it got to be last week, and I was thinking... "Surely it's time for me to get my call from Walgreens... maybe I missed it?" "Nope, no message on my voice mail." Then it gets to be time to open my next package and I go to the drawer where I keep it. It's empty. Huh? We check the credit card bill and find no record of an appropriate transaction for 2 months. Huh? Then we remember our new insurance and log onto their website. It shows my prescription being refilled and paid for last Monday. Huh? Did I pick it up Monday and then completely forget about it, AND fail to put it away, AND fail to leave it out anywhere obvious, AND fail to find it when we cleaned up this weekend? So then we try to figure out how to log onto Verizon to see if maybe I did get that call and completely forgot about it. Eventually we managed to log onto the Verizon website (for the first time ever) and discover that because we're not primary on the account, we can't see the call log (either that or we can't find it because we just can't find it). Then eventually we decide that even though our local Walgreens is closed, maybe we can call a 24-hour Walgreens location and ask about the status of my prescription. Turns out we can. It's at the closed Walgreens, 1/2 mile away, been waiting for me since Monday. Lovely. Further looking through my cell phone history shows that I've gotten hardly any calls in the past month, and none of them have been from Walgreens.

So I guess either Walgreens was having a glitch on Monday, or Verizon was, or Walgreens got their entire payment from Lumenos, and therefore didn't bother placing a call to me because I didn't owe them any money, and therefore they didn't care if I came down to get my prescription. Any which way, I'm rather annoyed at the mix up and having quite a significant part of my evening dealing with this, and I think I will switch to prescriptions by mail for the future... which we discovered info about while trying to figure out whether or not I was going crazy on this whole thing of thinking I had not picked up my prescription. It's cheaper anyhow.
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
I was just noticing that Gwen's (friend from grade school) wedding is a week from Saturday, according to the save the date card. I was hoping to get to go to it, hoping to find the money in the budget, but I'm thinking at this point... tickets will be too expensive. I'm also noticing that it is 9 days before the wedding and I have yet to receive the promised invitation. There's no registry and wedding website in the "universal" TheKnot search engine. I'm guessing that means there's some good gossip I'm missing out on. And now I'm feeling a little bad about missing Summer's wedding (which was two weeks ago Sunday--Summer was a good friend from my childhood too, my "twin", except for the part where she was always prettier, if you use your imagination, you can still see the resemblance). I figured since I definitely couldn't afford both, if I did go to one, it would be the one the bride and groom had been kind enough to schedule for a Saturday. Oh well, at least I don't have to go through an agonizing decision on this one?
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
If I was really diligent and tracked my time this year the way I tracked my spending last year, if I would find myself able to feel good about it in the same way? It's an interesting idea. Trouble is... time is always going by every second of every day, where as I'm not always spending money...
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
My budget spreadsheet is available for interested parties...

Hopefully it wont be too obscure to figure out how to use...

Maybe another day I will figure out how to convince it that it isn't actually 10 MB...
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
...and we are off by $20 and some change. Which is well well well under the uncertainty of things like "cash on hand" and where we are month as far as the checking account is concerned. So yay! Go us!

I'm working up our spread sheet for this year and pretty much done with it actually. If any of you in LJ-land are interested in making use of it for tracking your expenses or making up your own template, let me know and I'll see about posting it somewhere.

2 things

Dec. 1st, 2006 08:43 am
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
Doubly glad to have been on a train today after seeing all the cars stuck in the snow along the side of the road. On my way to the train station, another pedestrian and I helped push a strangers car back onto the road... and fortunately my train was late so I still caught it.

Today, like every Friday, is pay day. After upping my 401(k) contributions to the 75% maximum for the end of the year (we've decided that we are for real not buying a place to live any time soon), and setting Roth IRA contributions to the amount to fill next year's IRAs in 52 weeks, the direct deposit to our credit union accounts was $8.68. Somehow, this really amuses me. I'm seriously bummed out that the amount isn't about $8 or $9 higher however--Josh needs to go on my health insurance next week, and I think that's going to cost around $17 per pay period, so it's going to screw up the direct deposits and require the writing and sending of paper checks. I didn't think this was going to happen, though I suppose I should have guessed that social security taxes are still assessed on 401(k) contributions... it doesn't make sense to allow people to defer those taxes.
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
Josh: We have about a thousand dollar bill here.
Mary: We must be rich.
Josh: A thousand and a couple dollar bill isn't worth nearly as much as an exactly 1000 dollar bill.
Mary: Would you like 2 $501s or 3 $334s for that?
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
Wow... average electricity bill for the last 11 months: $36. Standard deviation, around $2. July's electricity bill? $79.16. Wow. I have to agree with Josh though... $44 well spent.
sillygoosegirl: (Default)
You know what really bugs me? The "can't afford" excuse. I get so tired of hearing it, and so often it seems to me that it's just so not true.

Read more... )


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