Monday, June 30, 2008


Thanks to Stephanie for giving me my first tag! :) Here it is.

1. What were you doing 10 years ago?
I was 12 years old and it was the summer between 6th and 7th grade. I took dance classes and went to summer camp outside of my hometown of Toronto with old friends. Ah, those were the days!

2. Five items on today’s “to do” list:
1. Transfer money from checking account to savings account
2. Do the dishes
3. Take my car through the car wash (I have a free wash!)
4. Create & update folders in my mini filing cabinet
5. Make July 4th plans!

3. What snacks do you enjoy?
Ice cream, grapes, chips & edamame... I am a constant snacker lol

4. What would you do if you were a billionaire?
That's a LOT of money. I would certainly put a lot of it away to be completely secure in retirement. I would use the rest of it to buy a fantastic house, donate a lot to charity and then TRAVEL THE WORLD!! :)

5. Where would you live?
Great question. Where wouldn't I live is more like it... I love NYC so an apartment there and a place in Seattle. I would love to have a place in Thailand or Vietnam. Maybe South Africa so I can be closer to my extended family.

I am going to tag SavingDiva and Small Budget Big Style Chick.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

On Priorities

Today I read a few forums and some websites regarding finance/investing. It seems that there is an unwritten consensus on the priorities of investing, which are as follows:

1. Invest in a 401(k)/403(b) up to the company match
2. Max out a Roth IRA
3. Max out 401(k)/493(b)
4. Taxable investing

Of those, I know that my goals for the year are #1 and #2 - the other two are certainly not in my income range right now! However, in terms of the 401(k) company match, the full 3% has a vesting period of 6 years, with 0% vested in years 0 to 1. I would still like to contribute some to the 401(k) once I become eligible to sign up on 10/1. As such, I will put my focus on maxing out a Roth IRA.

Do you follow this unwritten investment priority list? What are your investment priorities?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

On Brick & Mortars

My new debit card never arrived. I am currently still banking with my local bank in my Seattle area hometown - though now I am *thisclose* to switching to a bank in California, but am waiting until I move to a new apartment in August. When I went to the local branch today, I found out that my new debit card was sent to a temporary address my parents had for a while in NYC. However, my parents informed me that they NEVER changed their billing address at all, and had an argument with our bank about the subject over 3 weeks ago. How did our local bank figure out that my parents had a temporary address? All they were doing was having their mail forwarded from their Seattle address to their NYC address for a few months. Their Seattle address was still their billing address, they had no desire or intention to change it! As such, both my younger brother and I have had occasional issues regarding our debit cards not working recently - mine with paying rent and iTunes, his with Ticketmaster.

My debit card expires on Monday, 6/30. Today I pulled out $100 in cash (more than I should need for the week) as a precaution - my new debit card is scheduled to arrive at my California address no later than the end of the week. I still have checks which I can use, but it's frustrating nonetheless!

Do you have any suggestions on B&M banks? I am considering using WaMu's Free Checking Account first, with BofA/Wachovia second and either an ING or HSBC online checking account last - though I am not comfortable enough with doing all my banking online just yet. One month to do all my research!

On Simple Things

Tonight I had dinner with a very close friend from high school. We had a good time at my hometown's local bar, eating and having drinks and catching up. It's funny where life takes you - he landed a job in his field of engineering and we talked about graduating from college, no more classes/exams/papers (at least til grad school for me!), and starting off our new lives in our respective cities.

It was one of those carefree times where we just enjoyed the company and laughed about now having to sit in cubicles for 40 hrs/week. And the tab only came to $25!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"Money Maus" or, About this Blog!

Some of my readers might be wondering where the name of my blog came from. Well, ever since I was a child, my Mom always called me Maus. 'Maus' is German for 'mouse' and yes, it's pronounced exactly the same! This is because I have always been small/petite and at 22, I am full-grown at 4'10"... Since this is a pf blog, I added 'money' onto the nickname and thus came up with my blog title. :)

Blog changes: You'll notice I got rid of the previous layout and changed up the colors on this one. (FYI, my favorite color is blue.) Plus, I started playing around with widgets and created the "Emergency Fund" progress bar in the right-hand column, as well as adding more PF blog links and the RSS feeds! This is all thanks to my copious amounts of down-time as I recover from getting my wisdom teeth out yesterday morning.

I've also spent most of today reading A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel and many other pf blogs I've come across. I'll write a review of the book in the next few weeks when I finish it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

At Home

I am currently in my hometown until June 29th. It's nice to be home, relax and spend time with my parents and brother before really getting into the working world (even if I am also home to get my wisdom teeth out!). What's also great about going home is that it means not spending a lot of money! My parents are kind enough to pay for all my food, I get my Mom's wonderful home-cooking plus 2 of my all-time favorite restaurants are here: a phenomenal Thai restaurant and a Australian pie store - mmm, curry pies!

However, I have made one rather large purchase thus far, in the form of a new wallet by Michael Kors. The price? $161.38, including tax. I absolutely love it - genuine leather and a beautiful baby blue color. It's simple but durable and it fits all the receipts I horde! I also went to Victoria's Secret to buy some new underwear (to the tune of 5 for $25) and lo-and-behold, my VS giftcard that had been in my wallet for nigh on 2 years happened to have $30 on it. Therefore, I didn't have to shell out any more money on that shopping trip! And successful trip it was. Now, about that gorgeous B. Makowsky purse I saw... ;)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

2008 Grads

I have recently read (and been directed to) an article for those recent 2008 graduates who have entered/are entering the workforce. It's from the New York Times: "A Primer for Young People." The piece certainly reiterates what many pf bloggers say about personal finances - start early in retirement savings, etc etc. And, of course, we have to be happy that we even HAVE jobs in the current market!

Beginning of July, I will be signing up for my company's HMO health insurance plan. The PPO plan is much more costly, and since I am young/healthy, I will be going with the cheaper option that still provides great coverage. There is also a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) benefit, and I will be using this, too - yay for pre-tax health money!

In terms of retirement, my 90-day introductory period is up on September 8th, 2008 and you can bet I am looking forward to that! I will then be meeting with the retirement coordinator in the HR department to learn about the company's profit-sharing plan and 401(k) - there is a Roth option, hooray! What I do know so far is that for both the profit-sharing and 401(k) plans, there is a vesting period of 6 years which starts with 20% vested in year 2 and increases by the same amount until 100% is reached in year 6. Also, the 401(k) offers a 50% match on up to 6% that I contribute. Is it September 8th yet?? ;)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Short Update

The pieces of my personal finances are slowly coming together:

1. First Credit Card! I received it yesterday, and it came with a $500 limit which is more than I expected, especially having no credit history.

2. First Credit Card "Purchase" - actually a donation to charity for $50. (The donation was to Myanmar, which is where I would like to continue to give money. I have been to the country and the people there are truly amazing and gentle but unfortunately under a ridiculously sadistic and greedy junta, not to mention the added strife/poverty from the cyclone.)

3. My emergency fund now contains $330, which will be increasing when I deposit a $50 check from my German professor for graduation. I will be putting $100 per month into it initially, starting in July when my paychecks are regular - I started my full-time job last Wednesday (6/11) but already had a flight booked home to Seattle, 6/18-6/29, to get all 4 of my wisdom teeth removed. (Thank goodness I am still on my parents' insurance for the procedure!)

Those starting points above actually hit on 2 out of 3 of my initial goals of donating to charity AND opening an ING Direct Savings account to slowly start my emergency fund. There was also the unofficial "I-need-to-build-credit-but-am-scared-of-credit-cards" tidbit. Time to start working on goal #3 from below!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

My father is an amazing man. He loves his job, golf, travel, food, car racing and - most importantly - family! I could not have asked for a more wonderful, loving, and supporting father. 18 years of primary school, 4 years of expensive college, my car, my AMAZING study abroad experience and of course all the other expenses along the way - thank you. I know I was probably a pricey daughter, especially with my expensive hobbies such as travel and golf (though those are his doing!) and wanting to go to a solid university - but my Dad knows that I appreciate every little bit, even as he and my Mom continue to help me out as I make my transition from college to the real world and try to get on my own two feet. I know he is proud of me, and I strive to make him even prouder everyday - especially with all the financial advice he has given me recently.

Thanks, Dad. I love you. :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Benefits of Benefits

I never really understood how much benefits can truly make an impact on your life. I found out today that my company provides each employee a $20 Shell gas card every month! That's $240 per year, tax free. With gas prices at-or-above $4.50 in my city, and my commute now 20 miles each way, that $20/month will help out. They also provide complimentary bagels and pastries in the small on-site cafeteria - which means free breakfast for me, as I love bagels! (Plus all the green tea I can drink, especially since I am not a coffee/lots-of-caffeine fan, though I enjoy the occasional Starbucks.)

Also, the company also provides a "Readership" program where you can check-out books on various subjects, such as leadership, management and finance. I was happy to find out that a few books in their solid selection are on my "To Read" list! Much easier than a trip to the local library, too. :)

I received a free lunch for being the new hire in my department - and since I am short/petite, I do not eat a lot, so a large lunch means leftovers which means dinner! Thus, I got through my first day of work without spending a penny. I will officially begin my budget once I get my first paycheck at the end of the month and start truly figuring out my finances, which I am certainly looking forward to doing - and of course I will be blogging about it!

EDIT: I will post more about other benefits as they begin applying to me - most occur after my 90-day introductory period and some begin July 1st.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Industry Specifics

Starting next week, I will be working in the financial industry! My job will not be high-paying (at $33K/yr) and my position is a very entry-level one. It is designed for someone without any true work experience (though I have had 4 summer internships at a highly-regarded financial firm) and for someone who wants to get their foot in the door. As posted below, I was very disappointed in the salary offer, which they would not budge on after I attempted to negotiate. However, today I have learned a few pieces of information that make me feel much better to even have a job in the industry:

1. My father, who has worked in the financial industry for 20+ years, told me that his department at his firm is hiring a summer intern. One of the candidates has a Finance degree from a well-known (but not top-tier) university on the West Coast. He was planning on graduating this past spring (like I just did!), but he cannot get into the industry and thus has decided to stay on in school for one more semester. He had an internship lined up with a large investment bank, but they canceled the internship noting "economic downturn." He then found an internship with a large financial institution, which also canceled on him a month later. Now the young man is remaining in college for another semester, until December, so he does not have to be unemployed.

2. A good friend of mine who lives in NYC offered to help me with my job hunt. I passed my resume along to him and today touched base to catch up and thank him, but letting him know that I had accepted an offer. He told me that 6 of the 9 friends in the financial industry to whom he passed my resume along to had been laid-off. And to my knowledge, they all had been working in the industry for at least 2 to 3 years!

Unfortunately, those seem to be the cards that life is handing out at the moment. Good luck to all those who are still trying to find a job. Especially in finance! I am counting my blessings.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Stepping Stones

I had a 1st-round interview on Monday, a callback 30 minutes after it for a 2nd-round, the 2nd-round interview on Wednesday and received a verbal offer that same afternoon. They called me today to ask if I could give them an answer tomorrow (!), after I receive the offer letter... I have never been a good decision-maker, and even less so when there are time constraints. I tried to negotiate extending my decision until next Wednesday, and eventually I agreed to notify them on Monday.

Though the annual salary is lower than I was expecting (it is in the low $30K's), the benefits package is fantastic and the people I would be working with are very personable, fun and hard-working. The corporate culture is exactly what I am looking for in a company. Also, all the higher-level employees I interviewed with expressed to me that this is an entry-level position, a "stepping-stone" to get into the industry, the company and eventually move up and across departments if I desire (which I do). There is no way that I am going to let this opportunity pass - even though the cost of living in my city is high, it is not as bad as New York City or Los Angeles - and it is most certainly do-able with my standard of living. I am excited to start earning my new salary, working in a new environment and learning a lot! And, of course, start the personal finance that comes along with it...!! :)

Side note on PF: I did attempt to negotiate on the salary. Since they originally told me the range is "low-to-mid 30's" and they offered me the lower end of that, I asked if it was negotiable for $2K higher. I was extremely nervous in even attempting this, but at least I tried!(They didn't budge, so I'll be accepting the original offer on Monday after I review the letter.) -- But still, I couldn't be more thrilled!!

Monday, June 2, 2008


After taking a fantastic "Personal Finance" course as part of my Finance major at my now alma mater, I became hooked on the subject matter. I turned towards the Internet to continue my education on personal finance and, lo-and-behold, I came upon the wonderful community of personal finance blogs! So, for the past month or so, I have spent many days just reading the wealth (no pun intended!) of information from various perspectives of those who are also attempting to navigate this topic within their own lives. As a brand-new college grad who is still in the job-hunt process, I have slowly started to put into perspective everything I learned in the course. Add this to what I have been reading about real-world experiences via blogs and it certainly makes for a good basis. Thus, I wanted to become a part of it!

As stated previously, I have a degree in Finance (cum laude) from a private university. My parents have always been my rock, both emotionally and financially. My dad works in finance and has been a huge influence in my choice of major and future career path, and he could not have been more proud when I began calling him weekly to update him on what I was learning in my Personal Finance course. I have been blessed enough that he has made enough money to pay for my college education, such that I graduated without any debt. Always having been extremely open with my parents about money, and they to me, I feel like I have learned a fair amount but I have a long way to go - especially once I land a full-time job and therefore start down my own financial road. This leads to my "Current Net Worth." In my checking account, from prior summer internships and an on-campus job, I have cash in the amount of $3,931 (in a checking account) but I also have my car, valued at $10,000 according to Kelly Blue Book - though obviously this is a depreciating asset!

I am extremely happy and blessed to know that I am not coming out of my expensive university with any debt, let alone thousands like the majority of my friends have. But, I realize that now I need to start getting my finances in order, instead of having too much money sitting in my checking account, where it could be earning interest in a high-yield savings account...

This leads me to quickly run down my goals for the rest of 2008 (until I land a full-time job and can change those goals accordingly):

1.) Donate to charity
2.) Open an ING Direct Orange Savings Account
3.) Open a Roth IRA (either Vanguard or Fidelity)

This has been a very long and involved post, I know. I can ramble and write a lot when I truly enjoy a subject! :) Anyway, welcome to my blog!

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