Thursday, March 26, 2009


I have 3 amazing brothers. John. Charlie. Greg.

John is just 2 years younger than me. Apparently when we were super little I stood up for him a lot - I think I even offered to get spanked on his behalf (is this right mom?) - if it's true, I'm was a little crazy. I remember one time we both got soap in our mouths -as in the whole bar had to just sit there - and I actually asked my mom to let John's time expire early and I would continue with the punishment. I think he got soap in his mouth a lot and I just felt bad that it happened again...

Then as we got older, we started to fight more. He'd hit me; I'd antagonize him with my words (probably not in that order). It's sad really. It's also a shame we didn't learn to be friends sooner because let's face it, we would have gotten away with a lot more! Even though John and I fought and I picked on him a lot, there was always this look in his big blue eyes I will never forget; it was a look that told me he was sensitive. Not in a cry baby way, but in a "I really do care about you" way. Why that didn't stop me from being mean, I'll never know. Because really, I cared about him too. I've always loved him.

We started to become friends as we got older though... pretty much when I moved out. John came to visit me a few times when I was living in Montana. He came out for Thanksgiving and we even made our own Thanksgiving dinner! Our friendship was growing strong but life took a neat turn; a turn that happens when you meet the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with. I didn't meet that person. John did. He met Tiff.

I remember when John wanted to ask Tiff to the Christmas Banquet that Montana Bible College was putting on (the school they met at). John liked Tiff a lot, and Tiff knew it. Tiff liked John, and John had no idea. I knew they both liked each other; actually everyone knew it but John. John was afraid that Tiff wouldn't go with him to the Banquet so I had to reassure him that it would go well if he'd just ask her (since I knew she'd say yes). Then once she said yes, I went with John to a flower store and he picked out a corsage for her (awwww)!

And when John was 19 years old, he made the best decision of his life. He married Tiff.

Since then he's made 2 other great decisions: Taylor and Hannah.

John is quite an amazing guy; a godly man. He's a great husband to his wife. He's an amazing daddy. And John has turned out to be quite the handiman - check out John and Tiff's blog to see all the work he's done on their house.

Then there are Charlie and Greg. I remember when my parents went to the doctor's office to find out if my mom was going to be having boy or girl babies. I wanted sisters. John wanted brothers. When my parents came home from the doctor's office, my dad brought me flowers. A consolation to my mom being pregnant with "brothers" and not "sisters." But the flowers represented more than brothers; they also represented the first moment that my dad officially was only ever going to have just one daughter and the bond we'd share from that day forward.

I am glad that my mom had twin boys. Brothers. Before Charlie and Greg were born I remember talking to my mom about their names. Baby A (the baby who was going to be born "first" based on his position in her tummy) was to be named Charlie; Baby B was to be named Greg. My mom asked me if I wanted to switch the names and I said no. It's a good thing because I can't imagine Charlie as a Greg, or Greg as a Charlie (and who knows, maybe my mom really wouldn't have switched the names).

Charlie and Greg had the most "bonus points" of any other kid in the world. They would earn them by doing things for me and John. "Go get the mail for me! 15,000 bonus points if you beat the record of 17 seconds!!" They'd run out the door really fast; bonus points were at stake and they were not about to lose them! And of course, they'd always make it back in 16 seconds! hehe

Charlie and Greg are both in their first year of college and like John, they are amazing young men; young men who are godly and have strong character.

They might disagree, but I'd say my brothers and I are pretty close. We don't talk every day but we certainly are in touch. And when we do talk, it's about things that matter. And sometimes, it's about things that don't matter. And other times, I want to talk to them because I thought of something funny that only my brothers would appreciate or laugh about as much as I did. I would do anything for them.

I can't imagine my life without my brothers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Am I A Runner?

When is someone considered a runner?
Is it after they've ran a certain number of miles? Days? Is it if they intend to keep up the habit forever?

Since, oh let's see, December-ish, I have been working out at the little gym in our office (thanks to the encouragement of 3 of my work friends who invited me to start working out with them). State Farm rents the building and we have access to this gym for free. It doesn't have much, a few treadmills and bikes and a few weights, but hey, it's free.

The first day I went I walked on the treadmill; and it had been a while since I walked on a treadmill. I dropped my ipod about 2 times, my book mark about 2 or 3 times and I hit the emergency stop button a few times too. And again, I was WALKING. And probably not very fast either. But I did it. I was on a treadmill. And my friends were a little entertained with all the stopping and dropping (no rolling).

About 2 months ago, my walking turned into walk/running. I would warm up with a 5 minute walk and then run for 2 minutes, walk for 3 minutes, run for 2.... Then one day about 3 or 4 weeks ago I decided to run for 7 minutes (after my warm up walk) and then finish the workout with my 2 minute/3 minute intervals of walk/running.

Over the next few weeks I set new goals. My next goal was to run a mile. Then a mile and a half. And today it was to run 2.5 miles. Only today, instead of running 2.5 miles, I ran 3 miles. Which happens to be .1 (one tenth) of a mile shy of running a 5k. This was good to know: that I can run a 5k. I was good to know because I actually happen to be running in a 5k April 18th. And if that weren't crazy enough (and it IS crazy... for me...), I am doing a 10k in May (that one might be more of a walk/run situation).

Running is so mental. I really think most people are capable of running. Sure, you have to work up to it, but I have learned that I am capable of doing it; it's really just a matter of convincing my mind that it's okay to let my legs keep going despite a little weariness.

So am I a runner? I am not sure if I am a runner yet. Mostly because I haven't been doing it very long, I am not sure I am at a place where I would do it without the support of my friends who go to the gym with me every day, and because I have no idea what the longevity of this new found interest will be (I have good intentions, but don't we all?).

But, I want to be a runner.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Apartment Update

So after thinking of what to say to the apartment manager, planning our speech, gathering information, and waiting until we were no longer so frustrated about the rent situation that we couldn't discuss it cordially, we finally went in to discuss the lease today.

We explained that had we known the rent was going to increase after a 6 month lease expiration, we definitely would have signed the 12 month lease. I told her I had asked and was told we were not going to be faced with a rent increase so soon though.

She said, "Yeah definitely, we can re-write the lease since that is what you were told. We'll slip something under your door after April 1st for you to sign."


Well okay then. That was easy.

Another survey - woot woot!!

50 things u have never been asked (okay, never?? I'm skeptical)...

Anyway, consider yourself tagged if you are reading this and you have a blog.

1, What color is your toothbrush? Pink!! Oh and white.
2, Name one person who made you smile today: haha my coworker this morning who brought something to work that you normally don't bring to work
3, What were you doing at 8 am this morning? At work. At Lisa's cube.
4, What were you doing 45 minutes ago? Talking with my apartment manager about our lease terms
5, What is your favorite candy bar? If I was forced to pick a candy bar, I'd go with Snickers, but candy in general I'd go with mini M&M's
6, Have you ever been to a strip club? um, no.
7. What is the last thing you said aloud? "From one extreme to another" (regarding our normally hot apartment that is currently a little cold)
8. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Just chocolate. Oh wait, Chocolate Fudge from Baskin Robbins! mmmmm
9, What was the last thing you had to drink? Cherry Coke Zero! With ice cubes. In my SF insulated cup!
10, Do you like your wallet? Yes, it has enough pockets for my stuff, it's pink, and currently, it has stamps in it, which I haven't had since I moved here since I am not sure where the post office is but luckily my coworker went to the post office the other day and she picked some up for me! hooray!!!
11, What was the last thing you ate? A piece of gum; wintergreen flava
12, Have you bought any new clothing items this week? Nope... can't afford anything new right now. I did obtain a FREE shirt though... it says "state farm" on it! woot woot!!
13, The last sporting event you watched? Part of the Final 4 college hockey game on Friday night
14, What is your favorite flavor of popcorn? Movie theatre popcorn w/extra butter (and just a few napkins- I don't eat those, I use them)
15, Who is the last person you sent a text message too? Greg-zilla
16, Ever go camping? Um, Yeah. Love it! Unless it's cold out.
17, Do you take vitamins daily? Nope, not the pill kind anyway. I technically have them in food everyday though.
18, Do you go to church every Sunday? I try to.
19, Do you have a tan? I have a little tan left over from my trip to St. John last month (and maybe from the tanning bed before I went?)
20, Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza? uh, no! I like pizza way better than cat. thanks.
21, Do you drink your soda with a straw? well, it depends. If I am at a restaurant I like to have a straw but if it's in a can, I don't. If it was in a can and I pour it into a cup, I don't need a straw either. If the straw is swirly, I will take it anytime whether I am drinking soda or milk or water.
22, What did your last text message say? "haha okay"
23, What are you doing tomorrow? Working and hopefully donating plasma!
25, Look to your left, what do you see? My dresser, closet, and laundry basket and a book called "everybody poops" <-- it's true btw
26, What color is your watch? um... aren't watches obsolete? Seriously. I couldn't stand having one on my wrist anyway... I use my cell phone.
27, What do you think of when you hear Australia? Kangeroos and I also picture what the country looks like in my head. Not from an "overhead" angle though... I picture it from MN looking east down to Australia...
29, Do you go in at a fast food place or just hit the drive thru? Well, the only fast food place I eat at around here is probably Subway and there is no drive thru.
30. What is your favorite numbers? 7 - if I have to pick one.
31, Who's the last person you talked to on the phone? A lady at the doctor office.
32, Any plans today? Today is mostly over, but let's see, I am going to Bible Study tonight... Oh and I am going to have taco soup for dinner. If I am not too tired after bible study, I am going to watch 24, too!
33, How many states have you lived in? 3 (CA, MN, MT)
34, Biggest annoyance right now? I am avoiding this question on the basis of "don't know where to start"
35, Last song listened to? I can't remember
36,Can you say the alphabet backwards? I could try but I would definitely mess up after Y.
37, Do you have a maid service clean your house? No, but I used to pay Rachel $20 to clean my bathroom when I lived in CA. Um, Rach, I miss you!
38, Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time? In the summer I am constantly in flip flops.
39, Are you jealous of anyone? I am jealous that all my friends still play poker on Saturdays and I am still not there to play with them.
40, Is anyone jealous of you? I hear that Charlie and Greg are jealous of my amazing "midget" one-liners... word on the street...
41, Do you love anyone? Of course. Lots of people in many ways. And I didn't know it was possible to love someone so deeply until I met Taylor and Hannah.
42, Do any of your friends have children? Yes, cute ones too! (feel free to text me pics of them anytime)
43, What do you usually do during the day? Work, run, work some more, hang out, facebook, blog...
44, Do you hate anyone that you know right now? Nope, I honestly don't hate anyone.
45, Do you use the word 'hello' daily? yeah, or some other form of "hello"
46, What color is your car? Silverish
47, Do you like cats? yeah, but I can't eat a whole one by myself.
48. Are you thinking about someone right now? No, I am thinking of answers to this survey.
49, Have you ever been to Six Flags? Yep. A little over-rated.
50, How did you get your worst scar? Well, I have this hole in my stomach from where the umbilical cord was attached from when I was in the womb... it's gnarly.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Advice please!


My roommate and I sit down with our property managers in November to sign our lease. Collectively, rent is $1,000 per month. To my surprise, we are given the option of a 6 month or 12 month lease (we thought it was a 12 month lease and we were prepared to sign a 12 month lease). Naturally, I asked, "Well, besides the term length, what is the difference? Does rent go month to month after that? Will our rate increase?" The Property manager responded with, "You would sign another lease at that point and rent would not increase."

My roommate and I looked at each other and came to the same conclusion: 6 month lease. Why not have less of a commitment for no extra risk (just in case... we figured we'd be here way longer but you never know what might happen)?

We signed the 6 month lease, which goes through May 31st.

Fast forward to March 15th....

We come home to a letter slipped under our door that reads, "The market value of your unit has increased to $1,150 per month, but we'd like to keep you in your unit for $1,100 per month."

Okay, I have many problems with this scenario.

First: We ASKED if rent was going to go up and they said no. We were absolutely willing and ready to sign a 12 month lease but opted for the 6 month due to the "just in case" reason.

Second: There is NO way market value of our unit has increased over 10% (although I do feel special they only want to charge us $100 more rather than $150 more *sarcastic*). And actually my roommate contacted the county and discovered that the value of our apartment complex has actually decreased in market value by more than $200,000 (from 2008 to 2009)!

Third: Part of the lease contract is that we have to provide a 60 day notice of intent to vacate. No problem. But what is super frustrating is that they gave us this letter only 15 days before we have to make the decision on whether or not to leave this unit because as of March 31st, it will be 60 days until the expiration of our lease. They should have given us more notice instead of springing this on us.

Those are the 3 arguements we intend to present to them when we go and fight this increase. Anyone have any other ideas? I/we can't afford to pay more; it's not realistic and in all reality... a mortgage would cost less (if I go buy a house) in this economy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

TTD: Pass 'Property Loss Adjusting' test... check!!!

On Friday (the 13th!!!) I passed my Property Loss Adjusting Course. Hooray! This whole experience has been about way more than the test. I have learned a lot and my blog is the perfect place for me to reflect on what I've learned (or re-learned)...

First, do something right the first time around and it will save you a lot of trouble later on. I knew going into my first test (back in December) that I was going to need a lot more preparation to pass than what I had done. I basically read through chapter outlines and took a few practice tests. This approach was extremely effective in college. But not-so-much this time. Having implemented this dire plan, it was no surprise that I failed the test... and I certainly deserved to fail. And, in order to retake the test, I had to pay for it myself (over $200 - aka incentive).

Next lesson I learned was that sometimes in life you have to sacrifice doing fun things to do things that are not fun. I realize this is a lesson we all know and I am no exception. I knew this full well. In order for me to pass this test, I was going to have to read the book; and not just "read" it but actually read it to comprehend it. And I knew that, at times, it means re-reading paragraphs when my mind wondered or I lost focus as I was reading. I spent many nights reading my book and an entire weekend reading it (I literally didn't cross the threshold of my front door from Friday night till Monday morning). I was so dedicated that I actually haven't watched 24 (one of my favorite shows) for a few weeks (I plan on catching up soon)!

And not so surprisingly it was reiterated to me that sacrificing fun for un-fun things can be rewarding since I passed (and even though it felt like I barely passed, I actually did better than I thought).

I also learned that I work better with accountibility and encouragement. Well, I kind of already knew this from college days, but this test was definitely a reminder that it's nice to have friends proding me along and holding me accountable to the goals I was striving to acheive. In a way, if I failed this test again, I was not just letting me down, but those around me who knew I was capable of passing even when I wasn't sure that I was. Maybe that is crazy, but we all have different ways that the "fire under our butt" gets lit... and for me, encouragement is that way.

The most shocking thing I learned, and one of the most nerdy things about me, is that at the end of this whole experience, I actually am happy to have learned the material. It's nice to have knowledge about stuff and even though I will lose a lot of what I learned (because that just tends to happen), I will retain some of it. There were even nights where I was studying, and had I not been so stressed because of the time crunch, I was actually kind of enjoying it (keep that on the DL...).

What's next? Liability. I start preparing for that one in April and I will definitely be reading the book and and studying for it this time. My test will be in June.

You know that place between wanting to do what's fun
and wanting to do what's necessary?
I'm There!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


This was a Facebook Survey but thought it would be fun to do this as a blog...

I am tagging everyone who reads this because I'm hoping you'll fill this out about yourself - even if you have it on facebook, I am still tagging you to "blogspot" it! =)

Let others know a little more about yourself, re-post this as your namefollowed by "ology".

What is your salad dressing of choice?
ranch - the homemade kind, not the store bought stuff.
What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
Red Robin - hands down
What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of?
taco soup - and I typically do eat it every day and not get sick of it. lol - I could also eat homemade bread and butter...
What are your pizza toppings of choice?
cheese - just cheese
What do you like to put on your toast?
butter or peanut butter.
How many televisions are in your house?
What color cell phone do you have?
Are you right-handed or left-handed?
right handed, but I can write pretty well with my left hand
Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
um, one time I ripped a wart off... besides that, I had my adnoids removed (not sure if I spelled adnoids correctly...)
What is the last heavy item you lifted?
probably not one specific thing... let's see, my insurance book was a "heavy" burden I carried around... does that count?
Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
I don't think so... one time I had the wind knocked out of me... but that isn't the question... lol
If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
um, never.
If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
I wouldnt change my name - that would be weird. Unless you are talking about last names... maybe I will do that someday but right now I don't have any specific name I hope to change it to...
Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?
I sure as heck with give it my darndest try!!!
How many pairs of flip flops do you own?
Wow, I don't feel like counting them all so we are going to go with a lot!!! They are my favorite shoe in the whole wide world!!!
Last time you had a run-in with the cops?
Um, in December when I was looking at Christmas lights with a few friends. Got pulled over for speeding. Didn't get a ticket though. Woot Woot!!!
Last person you talked to?
The amazing person who gave birth to me!
Winter for hockey and broomball... and summer for the hot temps and being able to go outside without wearing a coat.
Christmas probably - but really, I like any holiday because for me they mean getting to see the fam.
Day of the week?
I don't really have a favorite day of the week. Oh wait, scratch that! Any day I can sleep in or take a nap... that is a good day!
No favorite month. I like many different months for many reasons and I can't boil it down to one particular fav...
Missing someone?
forever and always
a little tired, with a dollup of happy, sprinkled with a little stress and worry.
What are you listening to?
"One step forward and two steps back, no matter what I do your always mad...."
"Not Meant to be" by Theory of a Dead Man
um, not watching anything unless you count me watching the letters appear as i type them?
Worrying about?
OMG, don't even get me started. (If only the wart I ripped off by myself was my worry wart!!!)
First place you went this morning?
definitely the bathroom!
What's the last movie you saw?
uhhhhhh... *thinking*..... I believe Slumdog Millionaire was the last movie I saw.
Do you smile often?
I hope so....
Sleeping Alone Tonight?
Just me and my baby (that is the name of my teddy bear- yes I still have a teddy bear)
Do you always answer your phone?
nope. nope. For a plethora of reasons... the most common being I simply am unavailable.
Its four in the morning and you get a text message, who is it?
Probably the one and only Rachel Michelle Smith.... my redheaded, beautifully singing, cat loving, New Mexican, shoe loving, refuse-to-post-on-her-blog-without-my-proding friend!
If you could change your eye color what would it be?
green. But I am secure in my poop brown color.
What flavor do you add to your drink at Sonic?
Cherry 7-up. I LOVE their ice cubletes!!!
Do you own a digital camera?
ya mon!!!!
Have you ever had a pet fish?
OMG yes! When i was in college I put 8 fish in a one gallon tank. Bad idea. They all died, one at a time, and eventually I just left them in their because I was tired of scooping out the dead fish. Then, when they were all dead, I just threw the whole fish tank away!
Favorite Christmas song?
Honestly, I don't love Christmas music, but I definitely love "Carol of the Bells" - LOVE IT!
What's on your wish list for your birthday?
um, to not be depressed about turning 28 (I realize this is not "old" and I know people will tell me that I am still young, which I recognize; my response is "it's all relative" and while I am not "old" I am still not thrilled about turning a year "older" - glad we could have that convo)
Can you do push ups?
I can do "girl" pushups for sure. I can maybe bust out a real pushup (or at least half - the half where you go down towards the earth - the coming back up half is where I get hung up every time)
Can you do a chin up?
lol, nope. And I never will be able to.
Does the future make you more nervous or excited?
sigh. To answer this question, I'd have to have it narrowed down to categories (ie: career, finances, love, family, etc).
Do you have any saved texts?
haha, yeah, I have a few... Some with nice words, some with cute kids, and others, well lets just say that it involves a Midget hand (don't ask... I won't tell)
Do you have an accent?
I doubt it!
What is the last song to make you cry?
Honestly, a country song about a girl who (in the three verses) learns to ride a bike, gets married and is at her dad'd death bed and then each time she tells her dad that he can let go because she will be okay. *tear* I "heart" my dad so much!!!
Plans tonight?
sleep without feeling guilty for not staying up a few extra minutes to read about insurance!!!
Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom?
yep- probably haven't but there have been moments...
Name 3 things you bought yesterday.
1. train ticket into chicago, 2.white mocha from starbucks, 3. ticket to go to the top of the Sears Tower
Have you ever been given roses?
yes, yes I have.
Current Worry?
*sigh* too many to name, so we'll go with "I am constantly worried about dying too young and without having eveything I need resolved to be resolved."
Current hate right now?
I hate losing control of certain things in my life that I feel like I should have a good handle on.
Met someone who changed your life?
Yes. Definitely.
What song represents you?
It depends on the time in my life; the most recent song I felt I could identify with was by Missy Higgins and it's called "Where I stood"
Would you go back in time if you were given the chance?
I just addressed this exact same questions earlier this evening. It's hard to say "yes" to this question because it's inevitable that, if I could go back in time, one little thing I might do differently could alter the course of my life and I might not be where I am right now. So, I am going to go with "no."
Have you ever dated someone longer than a year?
This is complicated. But No.
Do you have any tattoos/piercings?
tatoos: nope. Piercings: not any more.
Will you be in a relationship 4 months from now?
okay, seriously? How would I know this? If I were to answer this based on statistics: no.
Does anyone love you?
I'm going to take a gander on this and say at the very least, my mother does. lol... yeah, I have been told recently that I am loved.
Would you be a pirate?
If there were "good" prirates, heck yeah (as long as I didn't have to commit to being one for life)
What songs do you sing in the shower?
whatever is playing on the radio... I might sing along, I might not.
Ever had someone sing to you?
"To me"? uh not sure. At me, yes. Or within ear shot, yes. Oh wait, the happy birthday song, duh. Eveyone should be able to say yes to this question. For the record, for all my friends and family out there reading this (if you've made it this far in the note)... I hate being sung happy birthday too. I appreciate the intentions, but it's more embarassing and horrifying to me than anything else I could imagine... ok not that bad, but should you feel inclined to wish me happiness on my day of birth, a simple and spoken, "happy birthday" accompanied with a smile would mean the world to me!
When did you last cry?
Oh, well, I almost cried a bunch last week (stress), but the last time I cried was probably talking to a friend at their cube about life, love and the pursuit of happiness. It wasn't "bawling" but tears were shed and lips were quivering. It was a moment....
Do you like to cuddle?
With my nieces!!!
Have you held hands with anyone today?
Who was the last person you took a picture of?
Tracy at the zoo (I was in the picture with her)
What kind of music did you listen to in elementary school?
I am ashamed to admit that Amy Grant was my music of choice in my elementary days.
Are most of the friends in your life new or old?
I have both old and new friend in my life and I love them all so much!
Do you like pulpy orange juice?
no! Pulp free please. And if you are taking requests, make that Pulp-free, extra calcium Simply Orange OJ! thanks.
What is something your friends make fun of you for?
Recently, for having to pee about 10-12 times yesterday.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pet Peeves

What is your pet peeve?

This is your chance to tell the world what bugs the heck out of you!
Put as many or as few as you want.
You can even post anonymously if you really want to lay it all out there!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Property Loss Adjusting

Why am going to blog about a really boring topic?

Because until Friday, March 13th it is the only thing I am living and breathing as I will either be a) reading my Property Loss Adjusting textbook, b) feeling guilty about not reading my Property Loss Adjusting text book, or c) since there always has to be a 3rd reason I decided to blog about my Property Loss Adjusting textbook.

Believe me, you don't have to read this post. This one is for me. And it's going to be a poem.

I shall call it:

Ode to My Property Loss Adjusting Textbook

On a cold rainy day you showed up at my cube,
Ready to teach me all that was glorious and new.
You stared at me daily, waiting for attention,
but I got wrapped up in life and began to neglect you.

Everyone else's new books got read,
but to me, my book, you were deader than dead.
I shunned and despised you, made your heart bleed
'till I realized the truth: to pass the test, it was you I did need.

I picked you up and then put you back down.
Time had been wasted and it was too late now.
I took the test and as expected I didn't pass.
I let you down, and me down, and I let out a gasp.

After this failure my future looked grim,
If I wanted to move on, I had to try the test again.
This time, because of my procrastination and failure,
the financial burden of testing was now on my shoulders.

I set my test date and set out to study,
and made a reading plan with the help of a buddy.
I didn't stay on target of my great reading plan,
And with one week till the test, I am having to cram.

Property Loss Adjusting text book, why do you loathe me?
I don't want to die young. Can't you see?
I am trying to learn what you have to say,
But estimates are not exactly the highlight of my day.

Let's spend the week together, my precious book,
Every moment of every hour, at you I will look.
Just put up with me for a few more days.
And on March 13th, we can part ways.

This is a picture of my book.
This picture give you an idea of how big it is (see chapstick for size perspective)
And this is how thick the book is (again, chapstick for perspective)

Disclaimer: For real, as hard as this book is to read and as much as it has cured my recent insomnia, it actually has a lot of valuable information in it. It is just not as entertaining to read as a novel.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pre-Retirement Seminar

Today I attended a Pre-Retirement Seminar at work. It was an all day meeting and well worth the time. There was a lot of information presented, some of it was relevant for me today, and other bits of info will not be relevant to me for a while. I thought I would make a list of a few things that I thought were really good "take-aways". Some of these things you will have heard, maybe all of them, but either way, here is my list:

- The first debt you should pay off is the one with the highest interest rate, not the one with the lowest balance.

- If you own a home and like to "double up" on payments, you are better off putting the "extra" payment into an account that makes some kind of interest. Then when your account has the same amount of money that you owe on your home, you can pay it all off. You will STILL pay off your house early, but now, you've made interest on that money.

- Roth IRA's are not exactly "tax-free" as they seem. You put money into them AFTER you pay your taxes so when you take the money out, it's tax free. When you put money into a "tax-deferred" 401k, it's BEFORE you pay taxes but you have to pay taxes when you take the money out. Ok, most of you already knew that. Here is the new thing I learned. You pick what type of stocks your Roth IRA's and 401k's are in. So if you put them in the same type of stocks, they grow at the same rate. **If you are in the same tax bracket when you invest your money as when you take your money out at retirement, YOU END UP WITH THE SAME AMOUNT - it doesn't matter if you did the "tax-free" Roth IRA or the "tax-deferred" 401k. Now this next thing is important: there is a good chance you will be in a lower tax bracket AFTER you retire and if so, you will actually pay less taxes on the 401k than the Roth IRA. Something to consider.

- Stocks are not as "risky" as people think when it comes to long-term investing. When looking at stock growth in 25 year increments at any time in history the stock growth rate was 8% at it's lowest and 13% at it's highest. That means that if you are investing long term, you can expect to at least make 8% on the money you invest in stocks - even in this economy. (Can I just add that I just did "spell check" because I thought I spelled 'increments' wrong but I totally spelled it correctly! One point for me).

- We "waste" the most money on little purchases, not big ones.

- It really is more economical and cost effective to buy a used car instead of a new one (there is a whole break-down that I am not going to type up. You will have to either a) trust me or b) ask me to mail you a copy of the break down - if I can find it)

Those are the main things that stuck out to me. Now, I am ready to take on the world!

I should probably say the speaker was from Ernst & Young.

Snowman Humor

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jessica's Practical Tip #4

Remember the tip about the toaster?

Same theory applies for the dryer! =) Except instead of checking to see if it's plugged in, make sure you push "start."

Test this theory if you put your clothes in the dryer and then a little while later you think to yourself, "Gee, the dryer sure got done quickly."

You just might find that you missed that critical step. And I guarentee that your clothes will dry much quicker if you hit "start" than if you don't.

No need to thank me. My tips are always free of charge.