$200 for Pet Health

So my sister's pet guinea pig has an eye infection and we brought him into a vet this past weekend. The visit set us back $200. We thought it was just a routine check-up which is $65 with prescribed medicine another $40 but the vet recommend us to check his teeth to see if the eye infection is caused by his cavities.

The darn piggie won't allow them to check so we had to sedate him which cost another $70. Once sedated, they were able to examine the teeth and concluded that it was not the cause. So they prescribed him additional medication for another $25.

All in all, this visit was $200 for just a guinea pig. Pets are expensive.

I'm thinking of buying pet insurance for him. Do you think this is a good idea?


2009 Tax Return

So I got a phone call from my tax accountant that he was done with our 2009 Income Tax. Both DH and I dutifully drove down to meet our accountant and signed documentations to prepare our filing.

Usually around Mid-March, we should have our return money in the bank by now. But this year, we got a bit lazy and procrastinated.

You're probably thinking why in the world would we let the government hold onto our money interest free? We knew we were getting a nice return but just didn't know how much.

Low and behold it was nice to see that we were getting back $15K from Federal and $5K from the State of California. Well this return is justifiable since we paid close to $80K in tax withholding in 2009. Moreover, we were able to claim the interest of our two mortgage.

I already have $7K of this return money earmarked to pay off the lingering debt of $12K.

Husband also decided to give $5K of this return to his mom. She has fallen on some tough times and he wanted to help out.


Costco Auto Program

It's been so long since my last blog. Been inundated with work and personal events.

I have convinced husband to buy a new car. He's been driving his toyota camry for 7 years. He purchased it used with close to 80K miles and clocked in another 120K since.

With our jobs being stable and many car dealerships hoping to revive their business amidst this see-sawing economy, there are some great deals to be had.

A friend refered us to a Costco Auto Program. This program is offered to card members. Costco is similar to Sam's Club where you can buy items in bulks for cheap.

With this program, it's said you can get below invoice pricing on selected vehicles at participating dealerships. All you need to do is provide them with your membership number and the car of your choice.

We then proceeded to give this a try. We put in our card number and the vehicle we wanted. Hours later, the dealership contacted us via email and gave us a quote of $4000 below the MSRP price.

This sounds too good to be true. We'll take this current quote with a grain of salt while still trying to get multiple quotes from other dealerships that are not participated in this program. We're in no rush so we have time and negotiation on our side.

What's the best car deal you've gotten and what was your haggling experience like?

State with the most Millionaires

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I hope everyone has a bit of green on. If not, here's a little cyber pinch sent your way. I of course put on a cute green shirt along with some greenish eyeshadow.

Since it's St. Paddy's Day and the mood is green, let's talk about MONEY-honey-MONEY. A survey came out and reported a significant decline to the number of millionaires in America. Specifically from 5,607,989 in 2008 to 5,139,385 in 2009. But if you're one of them rich folks that's able to hold onto your ranking, kudos to you! Why? Because you're in the top 4.46%!

Keep in mind this excludes real estates. So that's very impressive!

As you know, I'm HOUSE rich but CASH poor. So I'm definitely not even close to being a millionaire. Surprisingly California is not #1 on the list but #9. It said that CA has the most millionaires but because our state has so many households, this dragged down our ranking. Can you guess which state is #1?

For more fun reading click here: The Richest States in America.


Warren Buffett

Talk about living below one's mean.

The "Oracle of Omaha" Mr. Warren Buffet has been doing that for 52 years. That's almost half a century despite the fact that he's a billionaire, with 9 zeros.

Warren Buffett epitomizes living modestly in today's tough economic climate. Despite a $47 billion fortune, the legendary investor and the world's 3rd richest man lives in the same five-bedroom, gray stucco house he bought in Omaha, Nebraska's Happy Hollow suburb in 1958 for $31,500.

This folksiness is in line with his famous investing philosophy. "If you don't feel comfortable owning something for 10 years," he once told a reporter, "then don't own it for 10 minutes."

Few billionaires are as frugal. Even in these tough times, modesty is a relative term among the super rich.



The rain has drifted back into the city. I hope the bag of donations I left on the curbside for pickup this morning is not too drenched let alone stolen! You see, I had placed a barbegue gas grill last summer in front of our house for a disposable pick-up. Little did I know that my unwanted item was another man's treasure. Someone had stolen my grill the day before my scheduled pickup.

Our semi-annual donation drive is in full effect today. I love these events and think it's such great charity work. Not only are we able to give items we no longer need away to someone that has better use of it, the company comes over to our house to pick these up. Talk about saving time, effort, and gas.

My bag of goodies included a brand new mini sized portable grill, a semi worn pair of tennis shoe, a brand new video game pad, and some worn clothings.

Retail price for all these would be in the few hundreds. Instead of cashing in on these items on eBay or Craigslist, I thought it would be a good cause to just donate it off free of cost to a person in need.

I believe there are also tax write-off for such contributions.


Trading compliance checklist

Just got out of a mandatory meeting with our compliance department. The meeting was surprisingly long and very mundane. This clearly shows why I do not have a personal stock trading account. You see, our company is very stringent with the way their employee handles their own investment accounts. Every quarter, we have to disclose information about our assets.

This is industry policy when working for an investment firm. We are under strict provision from the SEC which is a group that regulates the stock market and prevent corporate abuses relating to the offering and sale of securities and corporate reporting. Our compliance group is the middleman between us and the SEC making sure everything is handled and reported diligently.

Every investment company have this requirement whether they are extremely strict having to know every detail information or rather lenient having to know only minor info. In my case, you can tell it's the former. Failure to comply to such reporting can result in termination of my employment and serious monetary fines.

Here are some key points, but the list goes beyond this repertoire. Therefore, this is a reason why I do not have a brokerage account with securities other than a 401K. I just feel this isn't worth my time for now atleast to go through this checklist of reporting every 3 months.


February 2010 Net Worth Update

I've been so busy during weekdays and weekends that I have yet to post my February 2010 Net Worth update until now. Luckily, I was able to jot down my ending values as of 1/31/10 from my financial statements and online accounts.

Savings/Checking +5,931.96
Nothing much going on here. Just both of our net income for the month contributed into this account along with expenses that were paid for.

Beehives' 401K +$27,178.51
This was a big month for us. DH got a nice profit sharing and company match in February. Both our investments were up and our contribution amount remains at 15% each from our paycheck. I wish we could report a monthly uptick in the 10s of thousands but February will be the only month out of the year with a such high increase.

Mrs. & Mr. Bee Luxmobile -$97
Nothing much going on here either. According to KBB, both of our cars depreciated by $97 total which is not too shabby.

Primary & Rental property
The values remain the same.

Credit Card Debts
None since it's always paid off in full. I believe we spent clost to $2000 in total this month.

Misc. Debt
Unchanged. We plan to pay off $3000-$5000 real soon in the next 2-3 months. In hopes to bring this figure down.

This is how much we are only able to pay into our principal each month. On the other hand, the interest on our mortgage run close to $1500 which is taking out of our savings/checking tab.


preview to my annual review

I had a one-on-one monthly meeting with my manager. To my surprise towards the end of my meeting, he mentioned that he is preparing to write-up our yearly review. I joked and mentioned to him that our company must be doing well since they offered us a 1% profit sharing match to our annual salary.

He responded by saying we are indeed profitable this year and hinted to me that a raise might be in the horizon. You see, last year he had lobbied for a raise for me but due to the state of the faltering economy, our upper management rejected the idea to give me more money. So this year, he did drop some hints that he had requested a raise of more than 3% for me.

It made my day to know that the company had a good year and that I might see an increase in my next paycheck. More to come.....

paying down credit cards and not the Mortgage

Here's an interesting article detailing the fact that many U.S. consumers are skipping payments to their mortgage just to use the funds available to pay off their credit card.

U.S. consumers are starting to look like a frugal, debt-fearing lot as they pay down billions of dollars in credit-card obligations. But an alarming trend is emerging: A small but growing number of people are skipping mortgage payments in favor of paying their credit-card bills.

In an unprecedented shift, for some consumers having a credit card in good standing appears to have taken priority over having a roof over one's head, experts said.

While overall consumer debt rose unexpectedly in January, consumers continued to pay off their credit cards that month -- a record 16th straight month of lower credit-card debt -- with such debt dropping about $1.7 billion to $864.4 billion, according to the Federal Reserve on Friday. For further reading, click here.


Company Profit Sharing

So I came into work today and logged into my company's email account. To my surprised, I saw something flash before me about our Employer Discretionary Profit Sharing Contribution. Like a bee in a honeycomb I was so excited. I knew it was free money honey but just didn't know how much.

Our company use to have a pension plan where they would contribute a 3% match to our annual salary. But this plan has now been frozen due to the economic situation. So seeing this was a huge surprise.

Nonetheless before opening the email to continue my pleasant reading, I thought my profit sharing would be atleast 3% or better to make up for the lost in pension.

I opened the email and read the following:

I’m pleased to announce that the Board and senior management team have approved an Employer Discretionary Profit Sharing Contribution (“Profit Sharing Contribution”) to your ABC Company 401(k) Plan account. Despite the challenges of 2009, your hard work helped make it a year of great achievement, and the Profit Sharing Contribution recognizes your efforts.

Here is when my jaw dropped:

You will receive a Profit Sharing Contribution of 1% of your eligible pay.

Really! That was sure a buzz kill... 1%. All I'm getting is a paltry 1% match to my annual salary for this profit sharing. I didn't know whether I should be happy or nonchalent. I understand that 1% is alot considering the size of my company and the number of staff employed. We have a little bit over 250,000 employees so the payout can easily run up into the millions.

But when comparing my company's sudden profit sharing to my husband's company profit sharing, I was downright ambarassed. I don't have the exact percentage, but DH company profit sharing this year was almost 35% of his salary. Then again, DH company size of 3,000 is not as big as mine. So there's more cheese to go around, but I'm just getting the crumbs.

Again, this is discretionary. They have the right not to profit share. I know there are companies out there that don't even offer a company profit sharing plan.

Am I just being plain right ungrateful? Does your company give our such perks?