Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dream Time

Well, lately I posted my debt free goal. Now I want to dream a little further.
My daughter always asks me this impossible questions like , what would you do with 100 million lempiras ? (about 5 million dollars). She knows the first part of my answer already which is "pay all the money I owe!!
So this time when they are away with their mom visiting friends I'm take a few minutes to dream. What if I had a very large sum of money ? or how much money would I like to have?
I would like enough that I could enjoy my work freely. I don't want to hang around my house but I wouldn't want to be at work from 8am to 9pm as I am right now. I would like to work some 20 to 30 hours a week. Then spend the rest of the time helping others help themselves. Learning new stuff and making sure my girls would be ready to live their lives as good people and good profesionals, no really big nest egg for them. Then I would like to be able to retire from my dayjob and work as a consultant until the time I have to leave this earth.
Well, they are comming back now ..so time to get back to reality.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Debt Free Goal

I haven't thought the details of this yet, however I wanted you to know about it.
My first debt free goal, meaning something I want to do when I have paid all my debts, is to take flying lessons and get a private pilots license.
I've always han a passion for airplanes, airlines, flying, airports, and the technology surrounding them. From the simple small planes that are used for instruction to the massive Airbus A380, I enjoy watching most of them. Some time ago I was a "virtual pilot" in a "virtual airline" and using my flight simulator I took "virtual flights" and earned "virtual money". I really enjoyed it until I started having money issues and couldn't spend enough time sitting in a chair watching virtual world go by the virtual windows of my virtual airplane.
Now at most I read airline articles here and there and visit my local airport or hear Air Traffic Control frequency on my radio or online. However deep inside me is that urge to climb onboard an airplane and fly it. I may or may not enjoy it, as it's different to be flying in a smooth passenger jetliner than on a small instruction airplane, but I have to do it at least once.
Flying is definitely not cheap, and I would be scared if it were. So unless I really have money to spend on it I can't take flying lessons. I think that's a pretty good motivating goal for me. If only my wife would appreciate it too I would help a lot.
Anyway, I'm going to get me a tiny airplane model and hang it from my rear view mirror to remind me of my goal.
Enjoy the weekend.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Straight Talk , unlimited cellphone service

So I was reading this sunday all my twitter posts and as I follow some debt payment, and frugal living posts I came across a post that say "cellphone service for teens". and pointed to www.straighttalk.com
So I read on and was skeptic of what I was reading. Unlimited minutes, unlimited text message and unlimited data access for $45 a month with no contracts! Sounds too good to be true. I spent $30 on two weeks of cellphone service last time I was in Phoenix and I was holding myself back. Specially on the inbound calls because I knew those are charged to me to, unlike here in Honduras.
So I dug up more and read reviews and it is true unlimited use. I texted my sister in the US and asked her what was her usually monthly cellphone bill and she said it was about $150. I told her about this service and I hope she takes it and saves $100 for something else.
Unfortunately there is no such thing in Honduras. However I thought it would be good for you guys to know about this, because if you are looking to lower your cellphone bill to a fixed amount and not be tied to a contract, I think this is right for you. from what I know most companies charge $1 a day for unlimited calls within their network, that's already $30 a month, add calls to landlines, other mobile operators, text message (to and from twitter obviously, hehe), you would end up with about $45 at least.
If you don't think you call or text or go online from your phone that much, they also have a $30 plan for 1000 minutes, 1000 text messages and 30mb of transfered data. Oh but what I'm saying, just go there and read and if it helps your budget them i'm glad I was able to help. Just don't look for fancy phones on their lineup, but in my case I wouldn't care.
I would hope there was such a plan here, but there isn't. My plan is the best one I could have. I can call all the member of my plan for free up to 10 minutes per call. If I only call them them I pay NOTHING every month. However calling anyone outside the plan, either same cellphone company, other or landlines implies charges. Lower rates for same company numbers, more for other mobile operators and landlines. Less during nights and weekend and more during days.
Also for $5 each month I can add three numbers that I can call for free for up to 10 minutes per call. Obviously those numbers shouldn't already be in my plan and have to be on the same cellphone company as I am. and for $7 more I can have nights and weekends free calls to all numbers, once again on the same cellphone company. Plus $15 for the internet service of up to 1Gb of transfered data means that I could look at a $27 bill each month if I only called those numbers and didn't text more than 200 messages each month. So it's no surprise that my regular cellphone bill is about $50. My wife's is a bit more because she keeps talking over the 10 minute limit and charges start to apply.
Oh and I have two phones, one on a family plan and one on a work plan, because each one has free calls only to it's members. Too complicated, right? Before each call I have to ask myself if i'm calling relatives, am I calling coworkers? am I calling one of the three numbers on my 0 rate group? can it wait till night? is it a weekend? am I sending too many text messages? am I boring you?
I would love the unlimited plan from straight talk. Even at $50 I would drop one phone and use a single one for all my calls, then again I guess I would need an extra battery to get thru the day!
Let me know what you think

setting goals

November and December are hectic. November was hectic because if you watched news for a few minutes you probably found out that we elected a new president amidst a political crisis that we've had since june 28th. So there was a lot of tension in the air about election day. Was there going to be bombs, riots and clashes with police or was it going to be peaceful? was there going to be a great turnout of people voting or would most stay home fearing the violence. Well, it was definitely the most peaceful day in recent months and turnout was great. So that was kind a sigh of relief.
Now that things are more calm people are focusing on normal things. Here in Honduras we get what is called "aguinaldo". That is basically an extra month's pay. Imagine getting one full month of pay on Dec 5, and then your regular paycheks on the day you usually get paid. That and other things make for December a very hectic month. People run around with money trying to spend it all on gifts, food etc.
I already spent 50% of mine by paying september and october of my girls school. The rest of it I have to use to pay for November and December AND buy them clothes and guy supplies for meals on Christmas eve and New Years eve. It's a tradition that there is a lot of food cooked those days so that the next days the cooks can rest and eat with the family.
I tried as much as I could to hold on to the rest of my Aguinaldo, but I found myself paying for a few extras, like chicken from Popeyes, which is about 80lps more expensive than chicken from Pollo Campero. Little things that after a while my mind said stop! Then my wife got sick, again, with migranes, again. I had to buy her some medication and now I have to submit a ton of insurance paperwork with the hopes that some of tha that money will be reimbursed, I hope a stamp or a signature won't make them reject my claim.
The topic of this post came to be because in December, due to that money in the account plus the regular paychecks from my both jobs and other small incomes (coop profit distribution, overtime pay etc), I find myself with money that has no budget, with many things to do urgently and little time to go to banks. That is the recipe for disarter as I try to buy my way out of problems, like gifts or foods and being unable to take the time to go to the bank that always has long lines so I could deposit my money in my emergency fund and freedom accounts. Sure I could do it online but it's 20lps per transfer and for some reason those 20lps seem more real than the 15 lps I have to pay at the "convenient" ATM across the street, rather than the "free" ATM about a mile away after a busy intersection with traffic lights.
I guess these are hard decisions to make for something that is about $1 worth. Do I drive up there and spend time and fuel to get a free withdrawl? or pay 15 lps just walking across the street?
So I figure it would help me focus if I have goals. I mean being debt free is a goal, or is it not? I don't have a mortage because I don't have a house of my own so eventually I could owe nothing if I continue my plan. However I worry that once i'm debt free all that extra money will find a way out of my hands if I don't have goals for it. But what goals should I have? to free up my June and December bonuses by paying for my girls' school with my freed up salary? replacing my old car that goes in the shop frequently with a newer more reliable, comfortable, safer car? buying a house? doing all? doing something else? I haven't had a chance to think about it.
And what trigger it all? well the extra money this month was part of it, but the other was that i'm less that $100 away from paying up my dollar debt to my platinum credit card. That money in my budget will move to the next smallest amount, which is my cellphone credit card. that should take a few months , hopefully 10 or less and then on to the next one..and so on. As you can remember I have two credit cards on a payment schedule so I can't pay more to them than what is already set. So those will end in 18 and 24 months regardless, if I stick to the payment plan. I can see myself saying "ok i'm done paying, please cancel this credit card". It's easy to do that here, there is no negative aspect of canceling a credit card on your credit record (or so I think, I haven't ask for a loan in a while). I can see myself living with two cards instead of six that I have right now. Are those goals too?
Anyway. I feel I have too much money in my regular account, and even though I will pay 20lps for the transfer i'm going to transfer it right now and avoid the temptation of having them within easy reach.
Let me know what you think.