Friday, May 31, 2013

What to do?

About two months ago, I sold off some of our mutual funds and individual stock in order to get a healthy balance to invest in a stock. Altogether it was about $4,400. I decided I would find a pretty big company and invest all of that money into it. Yes, I know, very risky. I did my due diligence and found Icahn Enterprises. This is the investment vehicle owned by billionaire Carl Icahn. I figured he would be a pretty safe investment considering he has a lot more money than I do and he does not want to see his money decrease. So I took a shot and I invested in his company at a share price of $67. I was able to get 67 shares at that price. Not to mention, Carl pays his stock owners a $4 dividend on every share.

I followed this stock closely and used stop-losses as it started going higher. It was a very volatile stock trading up or down 1%- 2% a day. Eventually it got to my sell point of $90, then the stock tanked and I sold at $87. So, I made almost $1,300 with that stock. Now I have about $5,700 to invest with. I am not sure what to do. The market seems to be very unstable recently. The Fed can't decide what it is going to do and the market does not seem to like that. Now would certainly not be time to be risky. I need some healthy growth stocks that have had a dividend for quite a while. I am looking at a company like Coke. It is a little on the expensive side with a P/E at 21, but it seems to be going through a pull-back right now. It would certainly be a good entry point.

Another one is Costco. They have been on a tear recently. Their earnings are improving and their P/E is high at 25, but EPS is 4. So the multiple is not bad here.

I also question if I should get in a mutual fund. Tanner was correct about FNMIX. That thing has done nothing but go down since I bought it in February. So, I saved a few months of retirement contributions and purchased FBIOX, which is a mutual fund around health care. It has returned close to 35% this year alone. I wonder if I should put my $5,700  into this mutual fund as well and see what happens. I am definitely looking for risk so that I can see some upside, but do not want to be too crazy.

I would love to hear what you guys think, or if you have had any success recently with investments. I would love to know what you invested in and why. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tax Update

Good Afternoon Everyone!

We got an "Annual Notice of Assessment" from our tax commissioner. This number is fantastic compared with the $5,100 we spent last year. The number came in at $3,394.87! Woo hoo! It looks like our $2,100 mortgage will go away pretty quick. I am faxing in this letter and they will post the changes to the account within 5 business days.

It looks like they honored our homestead exemption like they said they would. Also, our home's value decreased $20,000 to just over $250,000, which is what we paid for it. This I am not happy about, but our local school system has been struggling recently replacing board members and fighting accreditation issues. Moreover, we are not looking to sell at this moment so I won't lose too much sleep over it, but I would like our value to slowly climb back up.

This is extremely relieving. I was literally losing sleep over this payment. It looks like we pay it this month, but next month it should come back down. Now we can focus back on paying down our debt! Right now, we have about $900 waiting to clear and post. Once this is done, I will give you guys an update on the debt total. We are going to fight hard to make it to that 25% mark. When our escrow gets figured out, we should be good-to-go with meeting our goal. According to my calculations, that means we will need to payoff $5,200 worth of loans to reach that mark. This should be feasible considering the summer money we are set to make.

I used the $500 gift card to buy two new tires on the car today. This was overdue and something we definitely needed. That cost was $234. My granddad told me to never skimp on tires, so I have always bought the same tire throughout my ownership of the car. Of course they are the most expensive touring tires, but since we are reliable on this car only, I can't afford not to have the best.

To top off this good day, Chik-fil-a was giving away chicken sandwiches today! I only spent $1.50 on my lunch. I cannot resist the sweet tea. I don't understand why. I guess it is just a southern thing. Any of you have the same problem?

Hope everyone has a great Thursday and weekend! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Internet Searching

While at work on Friday, I happened to get bored and do research. I know you all probably think I am a slacker, but I finished cleaning my room and posting grades on Thursday so that I would not have too much to do on Friday. I decided I would look into student loan forgiveness programs available for teachers. Since I am a science teacher, I should be able to qualify for a lot of them.

I found a program for teachers in low-income schools, or teachers in an area of shortage. I qualify for both of these. I then read further into it and it would only apply to Perkins loans. These loans are loans made specifically through the 4 year school. They have a Perkins loan fund which they will issue to students after completing the FASFA. This fund is replenished by the principle and interest payments made by other borrowers. Lucky for me, I have a Perkins loan through my school and it happens to be the biggest loan I have; roughly $8,300. The program will provide the qualified teachers with 15% forgiveness through the first two years of teaching, then 20% for years 3 and 4, and 30% for year 5. If you are interested in this information, here is the link -

When I saw I was able to receive forgiveness for this much of my loan, I ran to my principal and told him to sign off on my paperwork. I got this in the mail on Friday afternoon. I am hoping to hear back from them soon. I have no reason not to qualify so I am pretty optimistic. I doubt I will hang on to this loan that long, but it will definitely be nice to get some relief at least for two years worth. If I qualify, and I if my assumption is right that they will forgive 30% of my total loan value because I have been teaching two years, then I will see a reduction of $2,493.28 bringing my loan balance to $5,817.65. That would be awesome! I will of course keep you guys updated on this.

We have done well to have some extra money in our checking account to absorb the new mortgage payment coming on June 1. I am not looking forward to this, but it could be worse I guess.

We have another $550 in payments waiting to clear and I am going to pay an additional $350, so another $900 will go to loans. This month we will have paid almost $2,000. That is pretty solid. Come the end of summer I project us to be under $70,000 and right around $67,000 in total debt. I am looking forward to that.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Memorial Day. My family has a lot of vets and I always go pay tribute to them and their service at the North Georgia Cemetery where they are laid to rest. Be sure you thank anyone you know for their service.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


We were denied our request to close our escrow and release the funds. We now have a $2,100 a month mortgage payment for the foreseeable future. This number will go down once November rolls around, but for the next 5 months it is going to suck. There is really no other way to say it. Apparently if you have an FHA loan and do not put down 20% on a home, you are stuck with an escrow until you get 20% paid off. Take home story here, do not buy a home until you have 20%! Why didn't someone tell me that?

Our debt payments will obviously slow down and I do not think we will be able to hit that 25% mark. As bad as I want it, I just don't see how it will happen. 

I have some payments waiting to be cleared out. We paid about $800 to principal this month and once the accounts reflect that, I will update the totals again. 

I read the greatest article this morning about a family that paid off their mortgage in less than 5 years. Pretty incredible article that details how they did it. It provides me with some encouragement and new ideas. Maybe it will provide some of you the encouragement to kick that small credit card bill or put you on a path to being debt-free. Here is the article is you would like to read it

Hope everyone has a great day. Last day of school with the kids today! And, faculty bowling after work! Woo-hoo!! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Debt Totals Updated

Our loans finally updated our $700 payment! It took nearly a month, but here we are. We are now 19% paid off. That is not too bad considering we started 9 months ago. I just paid an additional $595 plus our monthly payment of $353. So, we have $900 going to loans this week. I am starting to collect some tutoring checks as well, so that total will start decreasing rapidly in the next two months. Our goal is to be 25% paid by October. It is hard, but I know we can keep at it. We have been doing a relatively good job at keeping on track except for December.

More to come soon in a future update.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I won!

There was a local contest for teachers who work in our community for a chance to win a $500 gift card to the mall here in Atlanta. Some of the students' parents nominated me and I was selected as a finalist for the award. Then, whoever had the most votes would win and it turns out that was me! Woo hoo! I am really not sure what to do with this. I am not the person that buys clothes except at Goodwill because they are too much anywhere else. I have been wanting a Tony Gonzalez jersey, so I may indulge myself that, but I am out of options after that. I will certainly let you guys know what I decide.

On another note, I am really looking forward to this summer. I think being a counselor at the local nature center will prove to be extremely fun and rewarding. Not to mention the extra money that will come with it. It looks like it will be a busy summer, but we will certainly enjoy it and enjoy the lower student loans.

Hope everyone finishes their weeks strong!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Some Summer Money

So, I found out this week that I will be able to lead a couple weeks of summer camps at the local nature center. They pay $600 for the week and I will only work from 9:30-3:30. Not too bad. That will amount to $1200. There is a possibility that I will be able to work another week as well.

In addition, I will be doing some tutoring for students to prepare them for high school biology. It is pretty tough at the local high school, so some of the parents asked if I would lead the summer tutoring and I absolutely agreed. Since this is my first year, I figured I would charge $150 per student for 16 hours of tutoring. I am looking to have around 10 students, but could grow up to 20 students. So that should amount to $1,500 in extra income.

My wife will be working as a nanny for a family that we love. She will only work two days a week for a total of 8 hours, but that is about $100 a week, so $800 in extra income.

Altogether, we should be looking at about $3,500 in extra income, which will all go to the student loans. Lastly, my wife will get paid twice in August due to some contract changes at her school, so we will pay all of that to a loan as well. It looks like we will be able to pay off about $6,000 in total in student loans this summer. That is almost 10% of our loans! Not too bad. I am really looking forward to paying that off.

Once I update out debt totals, we should be about 20% of the way done! Woo hoo! I would like to be at 30% paid off by the time September rolls around. Hopefully we can make it!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Quick Posting

I have been bit by the poison ivy bug! Last time I caught poison ivy, I was about a day away from going to the emergency room. I have been taking my antihistamines that I need in order to survive. I think I am highly allergic to it.

On another note, some of our payments have gone through for loans. We are waiting for the 10th and the 21st for the rest to be paid. I am hesitant to pay extra with a $2100 mortgage payment screaming at me due on 6/1. I am really anxious about this and lose sleep about it.

We went to Chipotle yesterday for the teacher appreciation day! We ate at the restaurant for under $8! Woo hoo! I really wish we had discipline with the sweet tea that they brew up there. It is impossible to resist it, so we always get the sweet tea. If you are from the south, you will understand!

Hopefully next time I update, I am poison ivy free!

Hope every one has a strong finish to their week! 12 days until school is out! Pumped!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Rainy Blues

I don't think it has stopped raining in about 12 hours. It is a constant fall with a few rolls of thunder every now and then.

So, we got home yesterday after having a pretty good day at work until we opened our mailbox. Inside of it was a letter from Franklin-American Mortgage. Not the bank we applied for a mortgage with but bought our mortgage from our previous bank. Inside of the envelope read that we were short on our escrow and they bank did not anticipate our increased taxes and hazard insurance year-over-year. They said our new mortgage payment would be $2,120, which is almost $400 more than what we currently pay which is $1,754. Ridiculous! I called them and they apologized for making a mistake on the calculations and not charging us a balanced amount each month to cover the escrow's expenses. Ugh! How can they anticipate an average family can afford to spend an additional $400 month?! Not too many people can do that, including us.

We are drafting a letter to send to them to close our escrow and release the balance to us. I thought an escrow was a good idea when we bought the house, but it turns out it is not. I would like to have control over our payments and savings so that we can accrue interest and pay the bills ourselves. Our financial planner warned us about this, but we did not listen. Sorry if you are reading this! Should have listened to you!

Hopefully this will be taken care of by the end of the month. If not, we will have to pay that ridiculous high mortgage payment. I will not look forward to that. More importantly, we will not be able to pay much extra on our loans.

Hope you all are having a good weekend!