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

March 31st, 2012 at 07:48 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.

Cashed in

March 27th, 2012 at 01:36 am

I received a statement from Citi card and there it was! 50,000 points.

I ordered Best Buy gift card. I'm planning to buy iPad with the GC.

Thanks, Citi!

Getting back to routine

March 24th, 2012 at 03:47 am

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 08:06 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???

Free trip to Salt Lake

February 21st, 2012 at 05:04 am

I used miles that came with Chase Untied credit card and went to Salt Lake City where my daughter goes to school.

I checked three airports, San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Jose and the only airport that has direct flight to SLC was SFO. Also, they required the least amount of miles, only 20,000 miles round trip.

It was a nice trip and I liked SLC. I stayed with my daughter at her apartment, bought her some clothes and household goods, and took her out to dinner while I was there.

The airfare would have been around $400, and I could spend this money to spoil my child instead of paying for my ticket.

She texted me later after I left saying "Thank you for spoiling me." I texted her back "You're welcome. That's what moms do."

Paying bills

February 5th, 2012 at 01:34 am

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 31st, 2012 at 12:24 am

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 21st, 2012 at 04:27 am

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.


January 20th, 2012 at 08:00 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.

Finally, 50K miles posted

January 17th, 2012 at 09:22 pm

I applied for United mileage credit card so that I get 50,000 bonus miles. After several weeks of waiting, it's finally posted to my United Mileage Plus account. Yay!

I have total of 100K miles now and thinking about how I can use them. I can visit my daughter who is in Salt Lake City, or my husband and I can fly for Vegas or somewhere fun.

Planning free stuff is always fun : )

Free Southbeach diet snack bar

January 15th, 2012 at 11:02 pm

I went to Walgreen's this morning to get some Southbeach diet snack bars. They're sale for $5.99 and they give you $6 register rewards.

I thought they were gone by the time I get there, but surprisingly, they have a ton of stock. I think people didn't even know they were free after RR because this store does not put out the sign for them.

Anyhow, I got 5 boxes and used some of RR to get VIVA papertowl and Lysol wipes.

I also stopped by CVS and got 3 greeting cards. You can get $3 extra bucks when you buy 3 greeting cards including .99 cents cards. So, free greeting cards if you buy three .99 cards.

Free lunch today

January 13th, 2012 at 05:26 am

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.

How easy it is to spend $$......

January 12th, 2012 at 02:53 am

As I posted before, I received my Citi credit card. I've been using this card for all the purchases I make since I received it in order to get 500 reward points. (I need to charge $2,500 in 3 months.)

Today, I charged our car insurance which is close to $900 for 6 months. Charge on this card is already more than $1,000.

And, I have this card for like.... less than a week. Wow...

It amazes me how easy it is to spend money if I'm not careful, or even when I'm careful.

Good news is, most of the charges I made is things I buy anyways, such as household goods like bathroom tissue and laundry detergent. So, I'm not spending on things I don't need.

I think I will receive 500 points earlier than I expected.

Is economy getting better?

January 10th, 2012 at 06:28 pm

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 08:20 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.

Citi card arrived!

January 7th, 2012 at 04:48 pm

I applied for Citi thank you card and just received it. I will get 500 points if I spend $2,500 in three months.

My plan is to pay some of our utilities and car insurance with the card. Car insurance is due soon and I will charge 6 months premium which is about $900. (We have 3 cars including my DD who is 20 and the premium for her is high.)

I can charge our cell phone and grocery, too. I need to keep track of what I charge to this card. Once I get the points, I will move on and cancel this card.

Needless to say, we have enough to pay off the balance so that we won't pay any interest.

Cable TV cancelled

January 6th, 2012 at 03:50 pm

We reviewed our monthly expense and decided to cut back on some things.

First, we cancelled landline. $33 per month savings.
Then, we raised our deductible of home insurance. Approx. $400 savings per year.

The latest one is cable TV. We were paying $95 and I hardly watch TV. My husband watches it but he was complaining about the quality of channels, too many re-runs, commercials, etc.

So, he called the cable company and told them we will cancel it. Guess what? They kept offering him lower rate and the lowest they offered was $22 per month for next 6 months and they will even give us $50 rebate!

He didn't take the offer and went ahead and cancelled it. But, we were amazed how low they were willing to go in order to keep their account. At the same time, I was kind of upset that how much they were charging us for so long for so much!!

Anyhow, it is $95 per month savings.

Total savings so far
Landline $396
Home insurance $400
Cable $1140 (Wow!)
Total annual savings $1,936


January 5th, 2012 at 03:33 am

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 03:25 pm

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

Redeeming rewards

January 2nd, 2012 at 05:14 pm

My points with Chase Freedom was almost 20,000 and I was thinking about redeeming points.

I was going through their reward website and noticed some gift cards are 10% off. I redeemed $100 Kohl's GC, $50 Macy's GC, and $50 Banana Republic GC for 18,000 points.

I'm thinking about cancelling Freedom card and switch to United (it's Chase anyway....) to earn some miles. I will keep looking for good credit card deals and try to maximize the benefits they offer.

Happy New Year

January 2nd, 2012 at 12:26 am

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.

Unexpected income

December 31st, 2011 at 06:46 am

I was checking my bank account balance as usual and noticed the amount was larger than I expected. Then, I realized my incentive was paid out from my previous dept.

I was managing a project in my previous dept. and we were incentivized by project milestone. I left the organization about a year ago (but I still work for the same company in different dept.) and I heard from my ex co-worker that our project reached a milestone to pay out incentive.

Of course, it was nice surprise for me. I was not planning this income at all, so it will go straight to my EF.

Landline cancelled....

December 28th, 2011 at 06:09 pm

I called a phone company and cancelled our landline.

We all have cell phones and hardly use our landline. For some strange reason, maybe it is called a peace of mind, I've been procrastinating to cancel it. But I finally did it.

We were paying about $30 per month, so this is about $360 savings per year.

Last minute run to use up my FSA

December 27th, 2011 at 09:57 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 27th, 2011 at 04:35 am

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 : )

Shopping with DD

December 24th, 2011 at 02:00 am

My DD came home for Christmas and my husband and I took her shopping at Outlet. She found a jacket she was looking for. According to her, it was exactly what she was looking for.

We also bought her a couple of pairs of pants, a skirt, and a nice coat.

This outlet offer free membership in their website that members can receive extra discount with coupons, but I didn't print out these coupons because I didn't know which store she wanted to go. I stopped by the information center and asked them about the coupons, then they told me to go to the website with out smart phone and show the store cleark coupon code.

We did with my husband's iphone, and it worked and we received extra 15% discount at a couple of stores.

It never hurts to ask.

Claiming money for FSA

December 22nd, 2011 at 09:23 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 22nd, 2011 at 02:11 am

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.

Pepsi deal at Walgreen's

January 21st, 2010 at 03:54 pm

Walgreen's is having a sale for Pepsi products. And there's a Pepsi rebate to double dip.

I bought 4 bags of potato chips, three 12 pack Pepsi, and one 2 litter Mountain Dew. Paid $20.25, got $10 catalina back. Then, I'm sending my $7.50 rebate in. Final price $2.75. Getting ready for Super Bowl Day.

Here's a link for the rebate. There are four types of rebate, and I used the one says $7.50.

Editting my categories

January 20th, 2010 at 11:55 pm

I haven't changed my categories for a while. Yeah, I had 2008 Resolution. Oh boy, it's like 2 years ago. Time to change my side bar.

I deleted "2008 Resolution" (about time...) and "School". I graduated last year and don't really need it for now....

Aaaand, new category was added for 2010. "Decluttering in 2010"!!

Yes, my new year's resolution is to get rid of 6 things every day.

My goal is to get rid of 2010 unnecessary items this year. 2010 divided by 365 days is 5.5. So, I figured if I get rid of 6 things per day, I will reach my goal.

I went through my desk and closet and got rid of two or three garbage bag full of stuff last week. And I threw away some old paperwork from 2001 (!!) two nights ago. I should easily reach January goal of getting rid of 186 items.

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