Monthly Archives: June 2006

My (Very Simple) Bill Paying System

I like things that are simple. (So does my wife…That’s why she married me…hehe…DORK!)
So, I have created a super-simple way to manage all of my “online accessible accounts”. Please note: I can access all of my regular, monthly bills, online, except for my local phone bill. Here’s what I do.

First: I use the Firefox browser, which allows me to open multiple browsing tabs. I open all of my accounts at one time, each in its own tab.

Second: I right-click on one of the tabs, and select the “bookmark all open tabs” feature. This allows me to make a bookmark of each of the billing sites.

Third: When the bookmark option folder opens, I create a folder for all of my billing bookmarks to be placed in. I call my bookmark folder “Billing Information”.

Fourth: Now, when I need to find one of my billers, I simply go to my bookmarks, scroll down to my “Billing Information” folder, and pick the biller I want to see.

Fifth: This is my favorite. In Firefox, when you scroll through a bookmarks folder, there is this really cool option to “open in tabs”. I can click this, and ALL of my billing sites open at one time. I use firefox to store my passwords, so I can just go through, click the login button for each site, and, tah-dah, all of my billing information is open. I can click back and forth between my bills and my online bank, between my bank and ING, etc. etc. This way, I know when my bills are due, when they have cleared, and what my current balances are. Plus, if there were to be fraudulent charges, I would be aware of them very, very early in the process. By checking my billing sites DAILY, I am able to stay on top of things. AND, using this very, very simple technique, I can literally check everyone of them in less than 2 minutes.

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Vacation is Over…

I’m back from my vacation! My family and I spent 8 days in St. Augustine, FL, and we had a wonderful time. A tropical storm came through Florida last Monday, but we were unaffected by it. The whether was wonderful all week long, the temps were not too high, no one got sun-burned, and my little boy learned to jump off the side of the pool.

Now, it’s time to get back into the personal finance swing-of-things:

The budget for our vacation worked out perfectly. (We stayed at a BEAUTIFUL condo that one of our friends owns, so that much was FREE!!!) We took 500 dollars in cash, and came home with money to spare. We ate out almost everynight, and we bought groceries twice. All told, the vactaion, with gas, food, etc. costs us less than 700 bucks. So, I was very, very happy.

I’ll be updating the NCN Network site as soon as I finish this post, so please check it out. (I am taking the kids to see the movie “Cars” at 2PM, and I hope to do a podcast sometime this evening.)

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New Savings Goal Attained Plus Emergency Fund Poll and Discussion

I sent in another 2300 dollars this month, for a total of 10, 800 dollars. I will not post this as my official update over at the NCN Network site, just yet. I might have to take a few of these dollars back if a current work program sputters a bit. Either Way, I am at 54 percent of my goal of 20K. I am saving roughly 2600 dollars per month for the year of 2006. Our take-home pay in that same period has been roughly 5200 dollars, give or take a few hundred bucks. So, roughly 1 half of our paychecks go into savings. Yay!!! Once we get the emergency savings taken care of, putting aside 15 to 30 percent for retirement and college funding will be a breeze.

Quick comments driven poll:
Side notes: We bring home roughly 60-70 K. We own two 3 paid-for autos, all of which have over 100,000 miles on them. We do not want to borrow money. We send 5 percent to retirement already. We have 2 small kids, and live in a home provided to me by my job.

How much of an emergency fund should we have?
1. No emergency fund. Just use your credit card if you get in a bind. (Obviously, not my
particular favorite!!)
2. 1000 – 5000 dollars. Just a simple, easy to get to cash cushion is enough. Anything bigger,
and you can borrow to help out. Invest the rest and make more money!!!
3. 5000 – 15000 dollars. Come on, you have a wife and 2 kids. Stuff happens, and you want a pretty big cushion to protect you. This is a good amount for all “normal” life emergencies. (Car breakdown, washing machine breaks, etc.)
4. 15000 – 25000 dollars. Because you have no home of your own, you need to be ready to provide shelter for your family, and you don’t want to get taken in a bad real estate deal. This amount of money buys you time and relieves you from panic and worry. (This is my current plan.)
5 25000 – 100000 dollars. Listen, if you really want to avoid using credit, ever, you need a big, big, big, big, big cash cushion. Low risk, 4 to 8 percent returns are find. This money needs to be SAFE.

Thanks for any and all input.

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