Posts Tagged personal finance

Grill… check. Electric bicycle? Maybe

(Image lost in the Great Update of 2009)

In my mind, practically all the reasons you’d want to own a house instead of rent an apartment lie in the back yard: a grill, a small garden, and space for a dog to run around during the day. With it being Memorial Day weekend, I couldn’t wait any longer to knock item #1 off my list. I’m from Atlanta, birthplace of the Big Green Egg–and my dad has had one for probably 10 years now. They’re expensive, but they pretty much blow all the other grills I’ve seen out of the water. I was lucky to find a BGE store locally (the aptly named Eggs by the Bay). The BGE corporate website listed a few distributors that were closer to my new house in Redwood City, but for me it was worth it to drive a little further to give a sale to a small business. The extra driving was rewarded, incidentally. The owner had the large Egg I wanted, but but not the large-sized table for it. He was nice enough to loan me a nest (basically metal legs for the grill) until he could get the table in–plus a few days to allow me to paint and lacquer the new table. I sincerely doubt that any large specialty retailer would’ve been willing to do the same. The Eggs by the Bay store is actually having a sale later in the summer for gently used demo eggs (basically used for their one-day barbecue festival), but forgoing any grilling for an entire month+ just to save $100 or so wasn’t quite worth it for me. Besides, my economic stimulus check was burning a hole in my pocket (though that only covered about half of it…). Read the rest of this entry »

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Games and Taxes (Tax Year Resolutions?)

I Want You To Pay Your TaxesAfter scrimping a bit for the last month or so (and getting a nice fat refund check from Uncle Sam via direct deposit), I sent off $4000 to my Roth IRA as my 2007 contribution this morning. As far as I can tell, I’m completely done with my 2007 taxes now. Besides having income in both Georgia (while in grad school) and California, I can pretty much say that will be my last “tame” tax year. Income from Filler didn’t start rolling in until January of this year, but things should be pretty interesting this time next year. The IRS wants receipts for everything, but I’m wondering just how much they’ve done to catch up to the digital age. I can certainly prove exactly how much has come in via bank statements and PayPal transfer logs, but tracking digital expenses (for various hosting services, sound effects, etc…) might prove to be another animal altogether. Read the rest of this entry »

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Will Design Games For Car

Almost the same day I sprained my ankle, I noticed my car acting a little funny. Last Tuesday, I took it in to get the transmission and the breaks looked at… and the diagnosis wasn’t good. Well, sort of. There was definitely something wrong with the transmission, and it would’ve been another $680 to pull the transmission out just to finish diagnosing what’s wrong with it. I didn’t think the whole car was worth $680, so I decided it was better spent adding to the down payment on the next one. I took most of the money I’ve made off of Filler so far–and some that it hasn’t made yet–and put five grand down on a new ’08 Honda Element EX. That’s what emergency funds are for, right? Read the rest of this entry »

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Goodbye 2007, Hello 2008

It was a pretty busy year–I finished my Master’s thesis, graduated, moved to California, and started a new job. I got my passport and went to Greece for two weeks. I released one (albeit not very entertaining) game, learned a load about the flash game business in general, and won a BarCamp application contest (for Bike vs Car). I took up biking to work,went kayaking a lot, fishing a couple of times, hiking a lot, and camping a lot–and I’m actually in better shape now than I was a year ago at this time. I consolidated my student loans, opened an IRA, started putting a little money onto Prosper, and just yesterday opened a high-interest savings account at WaMu. Though it’s not a new development, she’d kick me if I didn’t mention that I have a fantastic girlfriend.

In short, I lead a pretty charmed life. I was trying to think up resolutions yesterday and all I could think of was to keep on doing what I’m doing. After sleeping on it, I figured I could enumerate that a little better. So here are some concrete goals for 2008:

  • Finish paying down my college credit card (high interest), which is still sitting at around $1800.
  • Put as much into my Roth IRA as possible before April
  • Max out the full amount for next year.
  • Put $100 a month into Prosper
  • Bike to work at least two days a week on average (but aim for three)
  • Catch a fish in California
  • Release six flash games (including the one I’m hoping to publish later in January)
  • Work on a design document for my first downloadable game (more on that later)

I could do a whole other set of goals for Piqqem, but I’ll leave that for the bosses and just focus on making my stuff work great (though we’ll be having a planning meeting sometime after everyone on the team gets back to California).

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To Roth or not to Roth?

Even though there’s only two of us here at work (well, actually our first of two interns started yesterday… but they only work 20 hours a week), our acting CEO has asked if we want him to set up a 401k.  I’d already gotten the ball rolling on a Roth IRA over at Zecco (paperwork filed at least), so unless he implements some sort of match program I guess I’ll just stick with that.  In the meantime, I thought I’d give my first impressions of Zecco. Read the rest of this entry »

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The $500/month Rule

Growing up, I feel like my parents did at least an okay job of preparing me to manage my money (though they were certainly guilty of carrying credit card debt). Really all you need to know is “Spend less than you make.” One thing that they never told me about, though, is something I’ve dubbed the $500/month rule. Maybe it only applies to the first year of employment (I’m now just over 6 months in on my first year). Maybe I’m a fluke. Whatever the case may be, I always seem to have at least $500 of “one-time-only” expenses pop up every month. Read the rest of this entry »

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Prosper

I’m not much of a blog-reader myself, though I’ve been trying to get into the habit of it for work purposes (gotta keep an eye out for competition!). One that I’ve started reading pretty often is Lazy Man & Money. Like the author, I’m lazy. And I like money. Today he was talking about something I hadn’t heard of: Prosper. The site (and concept behind it) is really interesting to me, because I proposed the exact same thing to my accountant dad as a business idea almost three years ago (I don’t know how long they’ve been around). His response was, “Nah, that would never work.”

I’m glad to see that someone thought it would work. The interface is pretty clunky, and they were asking me for bank account details before they even really told me how the site works (which has got to turn a lot of people off…). I filled everything in just to see what kind of interest rates I might expect… they gave me a B grade, which isn’t so bad. Most of my credit card debt is sitting at a fixed 9.9% from a balance transfer, so I wouldn’t be doing any better by using their estimated 12-13% for a small loan. I’ve still got around $2000 on an 18% card, though, but I’m not entirely sure I want to bother with setting up yet another “credit” source to pay it off (especially since I’m planning on having it paid down in a few months anyway).

It’s a cool idea, though. I remember seeing something awhile back where individuals could fund small business loans to third-world entrepreneurs (where $250 might be enough to start a business). Prosper strikes me as the free-market, 1st-world version of that. The thing seems most useful for small amounts, though (like: “I need $500 to fix my car.”). I wonder if anyone is using it for small business loans, or if that would need an entirely different setup.

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More Fun With Credit Cards

Just when I think I’m getting the hang of the whole credit card thing…

Back in June, I got a Circuit City card (well, really it’s a Chase Card) for a promotional purchase (an HDTV). Knowing full well that most cards apply payments to promotional balances instead of interest-carrying balances, I wanted to do some checking before ever using the card on a “normal” purchase. If the repayment order stood, my plan was to never use the card again (at least until the promotional period ended in January of 2009). So, before making my first payment, I gave the Chase customer service a call. Read the rest of this entry »

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A big fat check for $0.25 and piece of mind.

Hopefully this will be the last of my moving woes… My bank account with Wachovia (which doesn’t operate anywhere near the bay) was still active. I decided to give it a few weeks to make sure that everything on it had absolutely cleared, then make a payment with everything left in the account (leaving $0.25) onto one of my credit cards. As soon as that payment went through, the plan was to then close the account. I remembered my plan last Monday, after the account had been dormant for about two weeks. I made a big payment to one of my credit cards… and waited. I called on Wednesday to close my account, but the Wachovia guy showed that the transfer was still pending. I called back on Friday, only to be told that there was a hold on my account and that my balance was negative. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dimewise

I stumbled across this site earlier and thought it was a bit more similar to what I want to build. The transaction page (just going off the demo video) is a simpler, though–transactions can only have one category. I definitely want to support multiple tags per entry.

I’ve also been thinking about other ways to do the tagging. Read the rest of this entry »

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