More Bread

This is my quest to get MORE BREAD (ie money), get rid of debt and other random things in my life.

Friday, September 29, 2006

If you're looking for a job, this site might be interesting. Though I'm happily employed, I was curious what would come up. For almost every category I was in the 50% percentile. The only differences were my salary was in the 77 percentile and I don't have profit sharing or a commission.  I have a pretty specialized industry, but if all jobs have just 23 people reporting the data can't be that trustworthy. Anyways, here's the summary.

Your Cash Compensation Summary

# ReportingAverage 10%25%50% 75%90%

23$42,513$30,000$36,000 $42,000$49,500$56,600
Total Cash

23$53,704$35,200$40,000 $53,000$65,750$70,000
Hourly Rate

3$17.48-$15.90 $20.00$20.33-

21$6,624$500$1,200 $5,000$10,000$15,000

15$33,600-$10,500 $15,000$51,500-
Profit Sharing

4$2,500-$2,000 $2,000$2,500-

   Currency: U.S. Dollar (USD)

More ways to Save

This was a post from FreemoneyFinance.

Here's part 3 of our best posts from the "saving money" category here at Free Money Finance.

This time all the posts are from August:

Some great tips!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Where's my money gone?

WARNING: This post on budgeting will be spread over several posts. The first step in making a good budget is figuring out where your money goes. I downloaded the last two months of transactions from my bank and am currently weeding through it to see where my money is going. I broke down each transaction into the following categories:

Food, Gas, Rent, Tickets (or Fun), Beer, CC Debt, and Student Loans, Misc.

I won't tell you how much was spent in each category, because it's not pretty. But mainly because I can't find the spreadsheet I was using yesterday. Anyways, the categories I used are pretty basic. You can get more detailed or broad depending on what you're looking to accomplish. Michael at apparently has sub-sub-categories, so it is possible to go overboard. The trick is to make it work for you.

Once I had my categories and figured out where my money was going and not going, I could focus on where I wanted my money to go. I was putting about $700 towards my combined debts, which was good, but I think can be better. Likewise I spent over $300 drinking with friends, which in a big city isn't that much alcohol but is a lot of money. So next month I'm making a better effort of having friends over instead of going out. Another category that is easy to cut back on is food. You have to eat. But you don't have to eat out. To my defense we had family in town for most of the month, so normally this will be less of an expense. Finally, cutting back on the Tickets category. For us, this means going to less plays and movies. This will be hard since there are many movies and plays we want to see.

I'm in the process of finalizing my budget for October. When I get that nailed down, I will post it along with how I made it. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Free Gas

If you live in the Seattle area, check out this great deal from aol and wamu. During rush hour today only (7-9.30 and 4-7) a gas station in the Queen Anne neighborhood will be giving away free gas, up to $25. Here's more info.

Monday, September 25, 2006

5 "How To" Posts

As promised, here are five posts from problogger's writing How To contest that caught my eye.

1) FMF's post about getting rich in 3 easy steps . It's simple, straightforward and do-able. Spend less than you earn, invest your savings, and do this for a long time. That's the secret.

2) Retire Young and Wealthy's post on... Retiring young and wealthy. Another good post, several good comments as well.

3) Foodphreak tells us how to save money at the grocery store . Too many good tips to list here. Read the post.

4) Blueprint for Financial Prosperity tells us how to make saving a habit . Writing down your goals, tracking your savings and tell others. Great advice

and one non-finance related post

5) Deep Astronomy explains How to destroy the world with a coffee can. Too funny to summarize, just read it.

The actual winners of the contest are listed here. They won some pretty sweet prizes.


I apologize for not updating for almost a week. There was a family issue. But all is well. I intend to get back in the swing of things today. Here's a list of upcoming posts from More Bread:

1) My top 5 "How to" articles on

2) Budgeting or being completely dependant on a sheet of paper

3) $0 dollar stock trades?

4) What's love got to do with it?

5) the Pain of College Plastic

So stay tuned. And have a great week!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Charity- Not just a Girl's Name

Though I did date a girl named Charity, I'm not talking about her. I'm talking about charity; as in giving something away. It might be a foreign concept to some, especially as we focus so much on earning, saving and investing money. But charity doesn't have to be just about money. You can also give away your time and talent, as well as your money.

So why should you give? It will make you feel good about yourself. You'll be helping another human being. You'll make a difference, however small or big. You'll make the world a better place. It helps to put everything in perspective. An act of kindness lasts a lifetime.

OK, ok, you want to give. But how? I'm glad you asked. There are the basic ways like giving to a church, a university, a museum, a food bank, or a homeless shelter. Everyone hears about the million dollar donations to places like these, but these groups need all the help they can get in both time and money.

I encourage you to find some creative ways to give. For example, maybe you believe in a particular cause. Why not volunteer for an organization? Feel strongly about education? Raise money for a scholarship. (I once climbed a mountain to help raise funds). Want a more tangible experience? Try Habitat for Humanity. Want an international experience, check out Crooked Trails. Care about the environment? Don't have a lot of time; how about 15 minutes? None of these fit what you're looking for, then start your own charity.

There are many ways to give and many organizations that need your help. Don't blindly give away your time and money. Make sure your giving is being used appropriately. Do some research, then give generously and often. It'll make a world of difference. For you and everyone.

[ed. note: I should add that this post was included in the "How To.." writing project. There are over 150 How To posts in just two days. Later I'll post the top five that I like.]

Monday, September 18, 2006

Savings vs. Debt

Should I start an emergency fund or pay down some credit card debt? This is something I keep going back and forth about. I closed a checking account at US bank today because I recently got married and are combining our accounts at WAMU. They have free checking and a way better savings rate (as of this post the rate is now 5%). I have about $6k in credit card debt and am bringing over about $600. Do I use that $600 to start an emergency fund, or do I pay off part of the debt? At 5% interest I'll make about $30 in interest on the $600but pay considerably more in interest on the debt over the year. I like the idea of having an emergency fund in case something happens, but is the comfort in knowing that money is there worth holding my credit card debt a little longer??? 

Have any thoughts?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Net Worth Formula

Yesterday, JLP on wrote about a net worth formula from the book The Millionaire Next Door. This is one of the books I'm pretty sure is floating around my house and plan to review. The formula basically works like this:
Multiply your age by your pretax income from all sources (except inheritances).

Divide that number by 10 to arrive at what your net worth should be.

So for me, it'd be 24 (my age) multiplied by $50k (roughly what I will make this year) divided by 10, which gives me a target net worth of $120,000. Unfortuantely, I currently have more debt than equity so my true networth is a negative number. But as I commented on JLP's site, this gives me a target to aim for.

Debt Graph

Thanks to No Credit Network that provided this graph of my debt. I started with $7000, have paid off $1000, leaving....$6000. Yeah, we can all do math. :)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Financial Books

I've read quite a few books dealing with finances over the years, but it always helps to reread them. So I'm going to read and then review all the books I have/can get my hands on. If someone has a book that they want to read but don't have time, and if I do, post a comment suggesting it, I'll read it and post a review.


There's a great site called NetworthIQ that helps you calculate your networth. Mine has a long way to go before I'll be happy with it. But here it is.

1 Down, 3 to Go!

I made the final payment on one of my credit cards today!!! That leaves three cards left to payoff. I'm using a snowball effect to pay off my debt. It takes some organization but isn't too painful.  1) I ranked all of my credit cards by interest rate, highest to lowest.  2) Continued to pay the minimum balance on each. 3) I put any extra money towards the card on the top of the list. 4) after paying off the highest interest card, I focus on the next highest interest card. The snowball effect is that any money that was going towards to the first card now goes to the second card in addition to the minimum payment for the second I was already paying. This way I still pay the same amount each more towards my credit card debt, it's just allocated differently.

Here is an overly simple example. Suppose I paid $1 on each of my four cards for a total of $4 per month. After paying off Card #1, I would pay $2 on one of the cards and $1 on the other two. I'm still paying $4 each month. After I paid off the second card, I'd pay $3 on the third card and $1 on the last one. And so on. (I told you it was a simple example).

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

How I waste money

I received my utilities bill in the mail yesterday and noticed something interesting. We used 13 CCF (ccf  = 100 cubic feet or 748 gallons) of water but our sewer bill shows only 12 CCF going down the drain. Where did 100 cubic feet of water go??? I gave up watering the lawn and we rarely wash our cars. That's almost 94 gallons a week that we are not putting in the sewer system. I'm not sure if this is good, bad, or not worth wasting a post on. If anyone has an idea of where this water might be going I'd appreciate your insight.

This got me thinking about others things I do to waste money: Buying Lunch, Coffee/candy, Going to a movie, out to drinks with friends.

Buying lunch is at the top of the list. Being downtown, buying lunch means at least $6 but usually closer to $8-$10. I try to limit this by bringing my lunch most times, though usually once a week I have to buy it. The best way to guarantee I bring my lunch to work is to make it the night before. Then I just have to make sure I grab it from the fridge.

Another waste is coffee ($4). Seattle is the coffee capital of the world, so it's hard to pass up a cup of Joe every now and then. Thankfully, for health reasons, I limit my cups to about once a week. Buying snacks and candy are an easy way to spend a buck here or there but will add up over time. This can be overcome by drinking the coffee provided by my company, not as good but free, and bringing snacks from home. I can put them in the lunch bag the night before.

Going out to movies ($20 for 2 tix) isn't cheap, especially when we LOVE to see movies. We've tried to cut back by limiting to one movie a month. Another way to appease our movie hunger is (or Netflix). For a monthly fee, we get unlimited rentals (3 at a time) mailed to us and once a week free in-store rental. This costs about the same as going to a movie once which is how we justify it.

Going out to drinks with friends is a great social time. There's just one problem. Alcohol cost too damn much. I won't say how much we spend when we go out, but it is just ridiculous. The way to get around this is simple: Don't go. It takes discipline, something I have yet to learn in this area. Have friends over for cocktails, dinner, game night, movie night, etc. The trick is to create a fun time that isn't at bar.

I could go on about other ways I waste money, but this post is already too long.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Saving Money

Found a website called the dollar stretcher ( Interesting collection of articles but there are lots of ads on the site. Found an article about 10 ways to save money. You can read it here. It suggests getting rid of stuff you don't need (ie cable, landline phone, mag. subscriptions, etc.) I do most of that already.

Here's a brief look into my life. We get the basic basic cable which is channels 2 thru 31 for about $13 a month. We don't have Tivo, since there's not that much on the channels we get. We haven't had a landline for six months since the only person calling me were telemarketers, my mom and a guy in prison (seriously). We try to eat in most of the week. We are systematically inviting our friends over for dinner, mostly to force ourselves to not go out. The only subscriptions we have are to Reader's Digest and the Financial Times; RD was a birthday gift from my grandparents and the FT is something I can't live without, and actually read every day. Our only true splurge is the high-speed Internet. Never considered getting rid of it and am not going to now, so don't ask.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Free TV Episode premiered it's movie/tv distribution system called amazonUnbox yesterday. You have to download their video player. It looks like once you download movies/tv shows you can transfer them to other devices. I haven't tried this yet as the free (more about that later) episode of Ink I'm downloading isn't finished. I chose Ink because I've never seen it and it looked interesting. Once it is completely downloaded, I plan to put it on my iPod. Downloading a 43 minute tv episode is taking about two hours. Therefore I'm assuming a full two hour movie will download in 4+ hours. I'm anxious to see if the quality of the download.

Ok, now for the free part. Amazon is giving a $1.99 rebate on any purchase of a tv episode or movie. Movies cost about $9.99 but tv episodes cost $1.99. Therefore, if you find a show you like, you can get a free episode. The rebate is instantaneous. Restrictions apply.

Update: Two hours to downlaod the episode. The image quality is great. Apparently a video iPod is not copmliant with Unbox. Bummer. The show was just ok.

Mystery Shopper

I have never done any mystery shopping before, but I signed up for one service called GAPbuster. So far so good. I got an email today that says I was accepted. I have to do an online orientation and then I can get assignments. I haven't done the orientation yet, so I haven't received any assignments but it looks like they do lots of McDonalds, Radioshacks, etc. This is just another way to get more extra income. I've heard both good and bad stories about mystery shopping, but not having experience with it, I thought I'd give it a try.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

About Me

I realized I haven't really said much about who I am. I live in Seattle, I've been married for a little over a year, am employed full-time, recently graduated from a local university (in 2004) and have over $30,000 in debt. Most of that is from school loans but there is some credit card debt ($6k) in there as well. In a later post, I'll break it out for everyone as well as describe my plan(s) to get rid of it. My goal is to have all of the cc debt paid off in 6 months. This is pretty aggressive, about a grand a month. With sacrifice I beleive we can make it happen. Unfortunately, my wife and I are good about passing up on some things but bad about over-indulging in others, like my near-obession with Prost. Maybe I'll dedicate a whole post to Prost and all its greatness later. We don't have any kids yet, maybe in a few years, but we do have a cat. That's all for now.

check card FOUND!

After a quick search of my shorts I found the missing check card in a pocket. All is right in the world.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The tragedy of alcohol.

I lost my check card. I realized it was gone when I went to lunch today and it wasn't there. I'm not sure where I left it, but I've narrowed it down to two locations. Either it is at Prost, my favorite german themed pub, where I went last night, or it's in the pocket of my shorts which I wore to Prost. I distinctly remember paying the bill. I think I then either left my card on the bar (hopefully not!) or stuck it in my pocket, instead of my wallet where I usually keep it. I don't know what I was thinking. Since I'm still at work there isn't much I can do now. I've called Prost but they didn't answer the phone. So I have to wait till I get home to check the pocket then if it's not there head over to Prost to ask them :( I will keep you posted.

Ted Murphy

So this guy named Ted Murphy started this company that puts ads on blogs . I did a little reserach and I'm pretty sure he's 15. Looks like he might be the next Internet whiz kid millionaire. But what do I know? I'll keep you posted on any new Ted Murphy developments.


After freaking out about my lack of bread(money), I decided to make some changes. This will be where I talk about my quest for MORE BREAD.