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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy Birthday to Kirby!

Probably like many years of his life, Kirby celebrated his birthday with wintry weather. Even here in South Carolina we get it. It's different here though... the slightest chance of snow, sleet, ice, even cold rain scares South Carolinians. On January 29th, this is what the TV screens in our area looked like! Kirby and I laughed at this... we could barley see Judge Judy's face we had so many advisories! And all we got was cold rain...



We didn't do much on the day of his birthday, but went out to eat, plunged in the ocean (more in the next blog) and hung out together the next day. He started his day with birthday wishes from me as soon as the alarm went off! At school he got birthday wishes on the morning announcements, from his co-workers, and students in the hallway and in class... and even from my kids at NMBP.


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Yesterday, Kirby picked somewhere to go for his birthday dinner. Unfortunately, our favorite Mexican restaurant is closed until next week and so that made Kirby's decision a lot harder. After contemplating several different options... he finally decided to try out a different Mexican restaurant. But it just wasn't the same as Mexico Lindo...


So we paid for our drinks and cheese dip... and left. He went to his next choice, Logan's Steakhouse. Not for the steak... but mostly for the bread. This made him happy!


He ended his birthday weekend off with eating the last of his cupcakes (he had the first few for breakfast and lunch that day) from Cakes by the Sea (where our wedding cake came from).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

rolling at the rink

Couple skate, limbo, backwards skate, 4 corners, hokey pokey... some may remember some of these from the roller skating rink! Recently, Kirby dusted off the ol' roller blades and we took our friends' girls to the roller rink! We had a great time skating, pigging out on nachos, and talking about bread in the car! The "fall down" count wasn't too bad either...

Brinklee-5 Brooke-3 Anna-2 Kirby-0

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Monday, January 11, 2010

3-2-1... HAPPY NEW YEARS!

I guess it's my turn to update the blog.... remember I do more pics, less writing. :)


For New Year's Eve this year, we decided to show Dave and Darlene our favorite place to go and be kids again. Planet Fun has bowling, laser tag, mini-golf, mini-bowling, arcade games, and a nice restaurant. Luckily we were able to get tickets ahead of time- because they had a waiting list for the night. It was a great time! Rather than me explain it, you can see for yourself in the pictures and videos.













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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Make a few phone calls and save some money...

First off, I need to make two disclaimers. #1) I do not claim to be a financial expert by any means, so "enter" this blog post at your own risk. #2) This will not be an entertaining post, but if you read on, you may learn a little bit about your finances and save a few bucks while you're at it. The following is simply a brief rundown of how mine and Anna's financial plan works. There are billions of ways for people to handle their finances, but this is what works for us. My goal in blogging about this is to spark a little interest in anyone out there who may be able to benefit. I do encourage you to read all the way through. At the end of the post you'll see how we saved about $1,800 per year, just by making a few phone calls the other day...

Anna and I are fairly responsible (although not perfect) when it comes to our finances. About a year and a half ago (a few months before getting married) we decided to start things off right and established a firm financial foundation through the help of a finnacial advisor. Our primary goals were to come up with a precise budget, minimize expenses, and maximize contributions to our Roth IRA accounts.

In minimizing expenses, we looked at every possible place our money went. We shopped around for cheaper auto and home insurance, we dissected our spending habits (and realized we were spending way too much on eating out), and we re-financed our home. We now pay our mortgage bi-weekly. Although we're paying more per month than before, our home will be paid off 7-years sooner than it would have been otherwise. Instead of having to pay a mortgage payment during those 7 years, that money (if all goes as planned) will be dumped into our IRA's. I won't get into numbers here, but by doing this, the resulting figures come retirement time are mind-boggling, as opposed to sticking with a 30-year mortgage (and thus not being able to contribute all that extra money into our IRA's).

In regards to other areas of our budget, we have a certain amount we allot each month for groceries, eating out, entertainment, and our own personal wants. We're not always perfect at staying within the budget, but it definitely helps us keep our eye on the ball.

Budgeting like we do enables us to maximize our monthly contribution into our IRA's. That's pretty much the main objective in all this. The more we put in now, the greater the reward come retirement time.

Well, if you're still with me, here comes the part where some of you may get something out of all my blabbering. Despite thinking we were spending as little as possible on our expenses, I decided to call around and shop for auto/home insurance. We ended up saving $975 per year on auto insurance (switched from State Farm to Allstate). While at the Allstate office, I looked into switching our home insurance. They couldn't beat what we were currently paying, BUT, in looking over our current policy, the Allstate agent pointed out some areas that could save us some money. Living next to the coast here in SC, we are required to have Wind and Hail insurance plus Flood insurance, in addition to our homeowner's policy. In looking at our Wind and Hail policy, the agent pointed out our deductible % was lower than the norm, our loss of use value was way higher than it needed to be, plus our dwelling value (cost of replacement) was a bit high. I took this info to our homeowner's insurance agent, had the policy re-written, and ended up saving $800 per year for that!

So, the moral of my long story is... if you want to possibly save a few bucks, take a few minutes and call every reputable insurance provider in your area and look for cheaper insurance. On top of that, look closely at each of your policies. Make sure your deductibles are where you want them and you're not overpaying for things you need, or even paying for things you don't need. If you're not sure, ask around.

Let's say you make the calls, and you find out you can save $240 total per year (which might not sound like a whole lot to some). Now, let's say you take that extra $20 per month you save and contribute that each month to an IRA. In 30 years, you would have contributed $7,200. Your actual IRA balance (at 8.5% estimated annual yield and 4.5% estimated annual inflation) after 30 years would be $33,268. Not too bad for making a few phone calls.

Wanna see how you stack up with your peers? Here's a great article I stumbled upon a year or so ago talking about money in your 30's... http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/RetirementandWills/CreateaPlan/your-30s-dont-get-derailed-by-debt.aspx . It has a great graph depicting net worth averages and how your finances change with age. Here's one for the 20-somethings... http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/CollegeAndFamily/MoneyInYour20s/Your20sSeeHowYourWealthMeasuresUp.aspx . One for the 40's... http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/RetirementandWills/CreateaPlan/MoneyInYour40sItsMakeOrBreak.aspx . One for the 50's... http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/RetirementandWills/CreateaPlan/8MoneyMovesYouMustMakeAt50.aspx . And finally, the 60's... http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/RetirementandWills/CreateaPlan/12StepsYouMustTakeAtAge60.aspx

Again, I'd like to finish by saying I'm not a financial guru. What's most important is that each of us follow a financial plan that works best for us and our families. It's taken me years to figure some of this stuff out, and yet it's still a learning process. If you don't have any type of financial plan or budgeting going on, I encourage you to sit down and start mapping things out. If you already have a plan in place, take a little time and re-evaluate (remember, that's how we just stumbled across the approx. $1,800 per year insurance savings). If nothing else, I hope from reading this, some of you are at least motivated enough to make those phone calls...