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It doesn't matter how much you make. Really?

March 31st, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I used to think it doesn't matter how much you make. What matters is how much you save.

Well, it is true to certain extent. Now I know, it is SO MUCH easier to save when making more money.

When I started working for current employer, I was a temp making $14 per hour. Then, I was offered an Executive Assistant job, making $18.5.

I followed all the good finance advice. I packed my lunch and ate at my desk every day. I contributed 20% of my salary to 401K. I cut coupons and looked for deals. I mailed rebates to get free stuff, and get free samples. But our saving didn't grow that much.

I realized I need college degree to be promoted to manager position, I went back to school and got my degree in Business Administration while working full time. It took me 8 years to finish my school work but I received a couple of promotions during those years, one to become a financial analyst when I got my Associates degree, and a manager position when I got my Business degree.

Then, I was offered a director position in Bay Area. Now, my base salary is above 100K and I also receive 15% bonus (this depends on company performance). I still contribute maximum amount to 401K, clip coupons and look for deals.

But what a difference between making 40K a year and 100K plus a year. It is so much more easier to save money and have a nice cushion in cash account.

So, yes, how much you save matters. And, how much you make also matters A LOT - which I didn't know when I wasn't making anything. Now I know.


Getting back to routine

March 23rd, 2012 at 08:47 pm

I was traveling overseas for almost 2 weeks. First few days was my vacation, going back to my home country, then, off to another country for business.

Since those 2 destinations are so close (only 2 hours flight), I normally combine my business trip with vacation. I only pay for the fare difference to stop by my home country. Great deal for me.

Even it was nice to see my old friends and co-workers, being home is the best thing. Actually, I caught cold and wasn't feeling well during my trip. Oh well....

Now I'm back to work and it is nice to be back to my normal routine.

Another nice thing about going on a business trip is expense is paid by my employer. I was on per diem, so free meal, or my co-worker took me out for dinner. Cannot beat that.

Antenna works just fine!

March 3rd, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I wrote before that we cancelled our cable TV. We were paying $95 a month for not much to watch.

My hubby ordered an antenna and installed it. He is no "handy man" for sure, but he managed to install it and connected to our 2 TVs.

Voilā! We are now watching all kinds of channels and the antenna catches some TV stations in Bay Area which is about 100 miles away.

We were like... what were we paying thousands of dollars for???

Paying bills

February 4th, 2012 at 05:34 pm


I paid several utility bills today.

Water bill 95
Garbage collection 78
Garbage disposal 78
HOA 317

Other than that, it was pretty uneventful and beautiful day. I took my dog for a walk and many people were out jogging and walking. It was pretty warm for February and everyone was enjoying this warm weather.

I found two coupons for Kettle potato chips. I went to Walgreens and bought two bags for $1. I love their Jalapeņo flavor. I wish I had more coupons. The expiration date is not till March, so I'm thinking about ordering some from coupon clipping service.

Business trip

January 30th, 2012 at 04:24 pm

I went to Knoxville, Tennessee for business. This was first time for me to visit Tennessee and I had no idea how pretty it is there. I was also surprised to find many nice restaurants there and enjoyed my meals with my co-workers. Since I was on my business trip for 3 days, these 3 days are pretty much NSD. I get meal allowance that covered my lunch and dinner.

Come to think of it, tomorrow is the last day of January. Time to review how I did the first month of this year.

Pay day and NSD

January 20th, 2012 at 08:27 pm

It is pay day, and NSD.

The weather was pretty nasty today. It's raining and windy. Fortunately, I was working from home today and totally enjoyed it. I love the power of internet that enable us to work from home.

HCE

January 20th, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I received a letter today from my company. I'm now in the category of "HCE - Highly Compensated Employee" and can contribute only up to 10% of my annual salary to 401K.

10% of my annual salary is less than max of 2012 ($17,000)

Crap. Really?

My co-worker told me about this a couple of years ago, and I didn't even care because I was making waaaay less than HCE category.

But my promotion and job change to high cost of living area (salary is adjusted upwards to adjust the cost of living) pushed me into HCE.

I really don't feel like I am making a lot, but I guess I do.

Well, good news is I can still contribute 10% of my salary. I should be happy about that.

Free lunch today

January 12th, 2012 at 09:26 pm

My boss asked me to review some document and I was stuck in a conference call from 9 to 3. Good news is he ordered lunch for us who were working on this project. I didn't bring lunch today, so I had to buy something if he didn't offer lunch.

Anyway, I normally have "emergency food" in my drawer such as can of soup, or cup noodle or something so that when I forget to bring lunch or didn't have time to prepare anything, I have something to fill my stomach.

My company is moving to new office and it will be "New Office Concept" = we don't have our own desk. Yup, it is first come first served type of office and I don't have my own drawer anymore.

This sucks. I need to find place to stash my emergency food.

At the same time, it is an opportunity to work from home more often. Some people are totally against this new office concept, but I am actually fine with it. I don't have much attachment to my cubicle anyway. I'm more excited about being able to work from home more often and new office location is little closer to my condo.

Is economy getting better?

January 10th, 2012 at 10:28 am

I work in Silicon Valley and it seems that economy is picking up around here. One of my co-workers mentioned companies cannot find office space and going even outside of San Jose.

Actually, we lease our office space form Google and they're kicking us out as they're expanding like crazy. Our CFO told us we found the office space about a mile from here. He thought it was too expensive so he was looking around more, but couldn't find anything else that are cheaper. So, he came back to the original location, only to find out the price went up LOL But this time, he agreed to sign the lease contract knowing nothing else is available for the price range he had in his mind.

Now, that's in Silicon Valley.

In Sacramento, one of my neighbors posted in her FB page her company is growing (she works for an insurance company) and hiring people. When I go to the shopping mall in suburb of Sacramento, it is always packed.

I wonder if economy is finally getting better, or is it just regional thing. Do you feel it in your area?

Importance of making things visible

January 8th, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I organized my drawer yesterday, and thought about how important it is to make things visible.

It was a drawer for my clothes and I found things I was looking for while I was organizing things in it. After the organizaiton, I now can see everything in this drawer so that I won't waste my time or money thinking I don't have certain items that I actually have.

The same principle applies to our savings and debt. I haven't done it for a while, but I will write down all the savings and debt we have and understand where we stand.

Anyhow, it is a great coupon day today. There are 4 inserts and some great coupons. I found BOGO coupon for shower gel my hubby uses and CVS is having a deal, buy 3 get $4 in extra bucks. So, I went and bought 3. Final price after extra bucks including tax is $4.5. Not too bad.

I thought about buying some more newspapers, then, decided to order coupons from coupon clipping service. It will be cheaper and I can get more coupons I actually will use.

NSD

January 4th, 2012 at 07:33 pm

I ended up having NSD today. I was going to stop by Japanese market to buy a bento box for dinner, but my soon to be roommate was coming to get a key for the condo. So, I came home straight from work. I had some frozen dinners in my freezer and I ate it for dinner.

Here's a little Background about the condo......

We live in Sacramento and I was offered a job that I couldn't say no.... So, I took the job in November 2010. The thing is... it is in Bay Area, 140 miles away from my home.

So, I rented an apartment and was doing weekly commute between Sacramento and Bay Area. Coming down to Bay Area on Monday morning and go back to Sac on Friday afternoon.

Then, my hubby started to spend more time in Bay Area as his company has HQ in Bay Area as well. We needed a place we could take our dog with us. So, we bought a condo. Why not rent? Rent in Bay Area is sooooo expensive and it is almost better to buy if one can afford it. 1 Br 1 Bath apartment can cost $1,500 around here and it is getting worse as high tech industry is picking up.

So, here we are. We have two mortgages (sigh.....). Good thing about Bay Area is there are plenty of young professionals who need place to live. So, finding a roommate is not that hard. Could we do without roommate? (The purpose of having a roommate is of course reduce our mortgage payment) Maybe. But we're not here on weekends and I travel quite often. So, why rent extra room that sits empty and it generates $900 per month. Some people may prefer complete privacy, but hey, I'm too cheap and go for the money.

Back to work

January 3rd, 2012 at 07:25 am

Today is my first day back to work in 2012. I came to office in 7 in the morning to get started. People around here normally don't come in until 9. It is my quiet alone time to get things done.

I used my Starbucks reward coupon to get a Triple Venti Caramel Macchiato. That is $5 cup of coffee that I got for free.

We had pizza last night and I brought left over for lunch. Today may be my first NSD this year, too. Woo hoo Smile

Happy New Year

January 1st, 2012 at 04:26 pm

I hope everyone had a nice New Year's day. Mine was busy busy busy, but good.

We went to our friend's for New Year's Eve party. It was a lot of fun with a lot of people. We came home after the count down.

I went to gym this morning and burned 500 calories. After that, I checked store flyers and coupons. P&G insert has $2 off Tide coupon this week and Safeway is selling 100 oz Tide for $9.99 when you buy 2. I managed to get 2 coupons, so I bought 2 for $7.99 each.

I have one more day off tomorrow, and will be going back to work on Tuesday.

Last minute run to use up my FSA

December 27th, 2011 at 01:57 pm

I have two doctor's app today.

One for vision and one for regular physical. I took my daughter to check her vision as well.

My vision got slightly worse, but still not at the level I need glasses. I still got a pair of sunglasses with prescribed lenses since it was within coverage. I only paid $25 ($10 copay to exam and $15 for lenses) for the exam and a pair of brand name sun glasses.

My daughter also got a new pair of glasses as her vision has changed. She picked more expensive frames and got special coating for lenses. The final price for the glasses and exam was $116.

I had $176.6 left to spend and the cost of vision exams and glasses were $141.2 that leaves me $35. I have a couple of receipt from Kaiser that should fulfill $35.

My $1,000 FSA fund is now fully utilized.

White sale

December 26th, 2011 at 08:35 pm

We will have a guest from Thursday, and we needed a twin size comforter for our guest bed. So, here I went to JC Penny. I bought a comforter, sheets set, and a nice warm blanket. Everything was 50% off.

I also found a electric blanket. Original price $120 and it was 60% off and I had a $10 off coupon. I couldn't resist and bought it for myself.

I will sleep well tonight for sure : )


Claiming money for FSA

December 22nd, 2011 at 01:23 pm

It is December and I am claiming money I spent on medical related stuff.

I have $1,000 in FSA account and claimed $823.40. I need to look for receipts to claim the rest of the money that is $176.60.

I also made an appointment for vision exam for me and my daughter so that I won't waste my FSA money. Hopefully, I can find enough qualified receipt to claim this money.

Time to think about next year.....

December 21st, 2011 at 06:11 pm

I have been out of this blog for a while as many things happened during last 13 months.

I was offered a job in Bay Area that I could not resist.... So, I took it and started weekend commute between Sacramento and Bay Area. It is 140 miles one way and I'm getting used to this. It is only once a week drive anyway.

Then, we bought a condo in Bay Area. I was looking for a nice apartment, but couldn't find anything nice and reasonable. One bedroom apartment for $1500? I almost sign the contract and realized.... wait! It is as much as my mortgage in Sacramento house! Since my hubby is a vet, we took advantage of VA and managed to buy a condo.

Now, I'm deeper in debt with another mortgage and motivated to be more frugal.

Since I was busy with my new job, I didn't have much time to stock pile, either. I just found out I'm running out of shampoo from my stock pile!! Unthinkable!! I need to PAY for shampoo??? Nooooo!!!!

Time to tighten the belt and hunt for deals. Back to my cheap self.

I'm glad I asked

January 4th, 2010 at 09:16 am

We re-did our curtains and it was over $400 for all the rods, balances, and panels. When we were paying for items, I told her I had some coupons but forgot to bring them. She told me she will adjust the price as long as I have receipts.

I went home and looked for coupons, but I could only find two. I needed more than two because I bought total of 12 items and coupons are good for single items. (it's 20% off coupon for single item.)

So, I posted a message in Facebook, asking my friends if they have any they can give me. Well, I got some responses and scored 10 total!!

I went back to the store and asked for price adjustment, and got about $80 back.

Yes, it is so worth to ask for help. The power of networking.....

I'm supposed to....

December 30th, 2009 at 10:15 pm

studying for GMAT. I originally scheduled GMAT back in July, then, I realzied I wasn't ready. I paid extra $50 to reschedule, and the new date is Jan. 9. Yes, it's around the corner, and I feel I'm so not ready.

I should have been studying for the test, but I have a hard time motivating myself for some reason. I have (or I should say I had) two weeks off, so, should have plenty of time studying.

Instead, I'm internet surfing and playing scrubble on Facebook. Sheeesh...

One thing is that this test is about testing my overall skills and knowledge, so, other than knowing strategy of taking the test, there's no one specific area to study. I need to know basic of math and English, and who knows what they will ask.

I've been doing English sentence correction problems and doing poorly. That leads to no motivation cycle. Grrrr.

Well, good news is, I won't die doing poorly on this test and I can take it again as long as I pay for it. Also, the school I will apply is not accepting any students in 2010 anyway (the deadline for fall 2010 was Nov!!), so there's no hurry doing this. I ended up taking it now because I went ahead and applied for the test last May, right before I graduated = I was still academically motivated lol

Anyhow, I will take the test anyway and see what happens. If I score good enough, one less thing to worry about in 2010.

DH's new glasses

December 20th, 2009 at 09:28 am

DH needed new reading glasses. We originally had an appointment at Wal Mart vision center, but they screwed up the date. So, I cancelled it and made another appointment with an eye doc at the shopping mall.

It was a very fancy eye wear store, and has the latest exam equipments. I found this place from DH's vision insurance website (VSP). I was surprised how great the coverage is.

Co-pay for exam is $10, and co-pay for lenses is also $10. We upgraded the quality of lenses, so our co-pay was $25. Still a great deal. DH has a frame that he loves and insisted he wants to use it, so we didn't buy new frame. Frame is covered up to $130. We ended up paying total $35 for his new glasses : ) (It would be close to $400 without insurance.)

Actually, I don't mind paying more because I still have some money I need to use in my FSA account. Oh well...

We also got 30% discount on sunglasses he wanted. I told him I will buy them as a Christmas gift. The original price was $180 but with 30% off, it was $126.

Unfortunately, my employer dropped VSP and changed to United Health or something for vision. DH and I cover each other for dental (we have double coverage) but not vision. I should have DH's vision insurance cover me and DD next year so we can use this store as well.

Some thoughts about healthcare

September 10th, 2009 at 04:28 pm

I heard the President's speech about the healthcare reform last night. I'm from a country with government health care. So, I will share my experience what it's like.

First of all, it is NOT free. Everybody pays in, just like SSN tax we pay. And, just like SSN, employers pay 50% and employees' share is 50%. I don't remember how much I was paying, but it depends on how much people make. People pay more if they make mroe, and people pay less if they make less.

There is one government agency, and it administers all health issues. And here's what people get.

- When kids are in school: A group of doctors and nurses come to school once a year. It is called physical check up day and everyone participates. Each student have "health record book" and it has record of results from annual check up day from K - 12. Nurses measure students' height, weight, check their basic health condition, anything critical for children's health. This check up includes dental and vision. If the student show any kind of warning signal, a doctor will write up a letter and it will be sent to parents so that the parents will make an appointment with their doctor. This annual health check up is done no charge to students.

- After people get jobs: Grown up version of annual physical check up is provided by companies. Again, a group of nurses and doctors come to our office once a year and give us physical check up, including measuring blood pressure, taking x-ray, etc. People over 30 years old are sent to stomach cancer screening (because Japan has high stomach cancer rate), and people over 35 years old are sent to what they call "Human doc" for very thorough physical. This is part of employees' benefit, thus, no charge.

- For housewives and self-employed: Local government (such as cities and towns) have medical office where similar service are offered to people who cannot take advantage of employees' benefits like above. These local medical offices also provide parenthood classes for pregnant women and their husbands, and issue "Mother and child" book so that we can keep health record of both mother and the baby.

- When you get sick, you can go to any doctor you want. There's no such thing that you need to choose your doctor. If you get sick when you're traveling and found a doctor by shopping mall, you can walk in and receive a treatment by showing your insurance card. The cost is the same no matter where you go. Different doctor may prescribe different medicine, but the difference of amount is nothing to fuss about. When I went to see a doctor when I got sick, the most I paid was like $10 or so.

- My cost of hospitalization when I had C-section was about $3,000. (well, it was like 18 years ago... but still...) It was a private hospital. I had my own room, three gourmet meals provided every day, my own shower, and I was there for 10 days. (Normally, people stay in hospital about 4 to 5 days for normal delivery.)

I won't say their system is perfect. There are problems including rising cost due to fast pace of graying society. However, I've never heard anyone filing bankruptcy due to medical bill. And, people live for a long time over there.

Sold folding chairs

September 9th, 2009 at 03:42 pm

As I mentioned in my previous post, my co-worker said she wanted folding chairs for camping.

I bought four of them at $3 each yesterday at CVS. I asked her this morning "Do you want to buy folding chair? They're $3 each."

She couldn't believe how cheap they were and was pretty happy about my offer. The regular price of these chair was $25. She was so happy that she saved so much money, and I told her to go out to dinner with the saving Smile

Well, I'm happy too that I didn't have to store them in our garage, and got $12 back.


Thoughts about frugality

September 1st, 2009 at 10:00 pm

BA's post about celebrating frugality made me think about being frugal.

I guess I'm frugal..... at least compared to some people.

I save 20% of my salary to 401K, invest $200 to Sharebuilder, do not carry CC balance, clip coupons, send out rebates, and always looking for deals.

On the other hand, I carry LV purse (which I debated for five years to buy it, saved money and paid cash for it) and have other name brand stuff.

Oh, and I take vacations in places like Hawaii.

Why I save 20% of my salary to 401K? Well, I think the answer now is "Because I can". I've been working for the same company for 10 years, and got a couple of promotions. I always try to contribute 20% of my salary since I started working in the U.S. However, it wasn't that easy when I was making around 40K or so. I still managed to save about 15% every year. Over the years, it got easier because my salary increased. It's so nice that I have some spending money even after saving 20% to 401K. Oh, and another reason is that I am not counting on SS Smile I know the system will be there somehow, but who knows how much I can get out of SS in 20 years. I'd rather be prepared.

Why I clip coupons and hunt deals? I guess the answer is "Because I like it". DH and I make decent salary and our household income is little over 100K. I know it's not a lot (especially in CA), but we can live pretty comfortable without being so tight about money. But, I just cannot waste our hard earned money. We do not have rich relatives and everything we have is bought with the money we earned. So, when I know I can buy a box of cereal for 10 cents, why do I want to pay $4 for it? I'd rather save the difference and buy DH his favorite steak. He works hard, and he deserves it.

Well, I guess my life style does not make sense to some people lol I have bunch of coupons in my LV purse, and pay 10 cents for cereals but pay $10 for a piece of meat. But I have my own reasons why I spend our money that way.

I guess I can call myself frugal : )

My friend and divorce

August 17th, 2009 at 02:22 pm

One of my friends is getting a divorce. She's been married for 17 years and has two boys. Her husband is a friend of ours, too. And he's a great guy who worshiped his wife.... until he found out his wife wasn't faithful to him.

I think the husband wanted to do over, and was willing to forgive his wife. But the wife said she doesn't love him anymore and wants to get a divorce. In their case, I'm feeling sorry for the husband. He's so screwed.

His wife never worked, and doesn't have a college degree. So, she knows she won't be able to get a high paying job. Thus, she wants him to pay her spousal support in addition to child support.

I had lunch with her with other friends and a couple of her comments kind of touched my nerve.

Me: "My co-worker was paying his ex-wife $700 for spousal support."
My friend: "That's it??"

Well.... do you know how hard it is to earn $700???

Me: "Do you have your own bank account?"
My friend: "With what money can I open a bank account?"

Well.... it doesn't cost $100k to open it. All you need is... maybe... $20??

So, here she is, doesn't even have her own bank account (to me it means no independence whatsoever), and pissed off a guy whom she will totally be dependent on financially, and complaining that the only job she can find is a kind that pays $10 an hour. Well.... you need to start somewhere.....

They live in a beautiful house that cost them $1M when they moved in a couple of years ago. Of course, it is upside down now, approx. $200K. Her husband doesn't want to sell the house because he knows he cannot sell it for what he wants. He is so angry at her now that I really cannot blame him. He always treated her like a princess, as far as I know.

They're going through mediation now but not sure how much they will agree on stuff like house and spousal support. I just hope she is making a right choice for her.


Operation Backpack

July 16th, 2009 at 02:07 pm

I am a big believer in education. So, I jumped on when I saw a campaign ad for "Operation Backpack". (OperationBackpackSac.org) This is to donate a new backpack with school supplies to school age children. Stores are having back to school sale and I love shopping. Perfect win-win for me!!

I went Longs/CVS and got free school supplies. Then, I went to Target and got cheap color pencils, markers, etc. (They're like 50 cents each!!) I also bought a backpack at Target for $9.99 that came with a lunch pail. Yay!!

The backpack was pretty full after I put all the school supplies. I hope a boy (I made an assumption from the color or back pack and school supplies I bought - mostly blue and green) who receives this backpack will be happy.

Happy 4th of July!

July 4th, 2009 at 02:10 pm

My friend threw a party last night. I brought my homemade potstickers as requested and they were gone in 10 minutes. I should have made more, but I brought about 40 of them. I need to double my batch next year.

I went to Rite Aid for free pads. Stay Free products are BOGO and I had 10 BOGO q's. Since I went to the end of sale cycle, I only could find a dozen of them. But it's OK. Got a dozen packages of pads and paid .33 each (sales tax). This purchase also counts towards rebate.

I also bought new Purex laundry detergent. It's a sheet and works as both detergent and softner. They were BOGO at Walgreens and $2 q's were out. I paid $2.5 per package that has 20 sheets in it. It comes to 12.5 cents per load. I was curious to see how well this product works. I did about 5 loads and so far so good.

Profile update

July 1st, 2009 at 08:44 pm

I realized my profile was outdated, so I updated it. It seems that nothing is happening but there are some changes in life.

First big change is that I'm not a student anymore. I've been saying "I work full-time and going to school" for last 8 years. Not anymore. That's a huge change for me. Another change is my job. I was working as a financial analyst for a small dept. (sale of about $10M) I got a promotion in April and now work as a project controller, managing projects that are $180M and $90M respectively. The job itself is pretty much the same, but the numbers got much bigger.

It's a lot of fun and I love what I do : )

Plan for weekend

June 26th, 2009 at 03:51 pm

It will be very hot here this weekend.... like 105 degrees. We're planning to go to Folsom lake to stay cool. There will be so many people there.

My DD's friends are coming along. I will be making some sandwiches and fruits salad for them.

Not sure what I'll do on Sunday. It will be another hot day. Maybe I should go to gym and work out a little. I've been lazy and haven't been working out these days.

Other things I can do is clipping coupons and decluttering my closet. My neighborhood is planning a large neighborhood garage sale in July, so I should look for something I can sell.

Governor's visit

June 23rd, 2009 at 02:54 pm

Our governor visited my company today. Yes, it is the governator. He looked exactly like in pictures and movies. (Sometimes, these movie stars look very different in real life....) And, to my surprise, he was a very good speaker as well. And he did say "I'll be back" at the end of his speech.


Slacking off.....

June 22nd, 2009 at 07:10 pm

I've been in a slacking mood since my graduation in May.

I gave myself a trip to Hawaii with my DD. Well, Hawaiian airline had a great price (less than $400 round trip per person) and I get to stay at my friend's house and she drives me anywhere I wish to go. So, the only big expense I had was an airfare for two ($800), no cost for hotels and local transportation. Yes, I know, lucky me.

We left on June 5 and came back on 11th. So, I've been back for more than a week.

I haven't touched coupons.... Ahhh!! What's wrong with me!

Maybe I have enough stockpile for things I need. But still, I have no motivation to be frugal these days and spending more than I normally do.

OK, this needs to stop soon.

I promise I will clip coupons after finish writing this entry : )


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