Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Net Worth Increases 2.21%

My net worth increased $51.29 in November or 2.21% from the previous month. This was a bit disappointing since I was shooting for 5%. Part of the problem was that I didn't get any auctions up with my antique investments. My uncle has assured me that this misstep will not happen again after explaining that if it did, I would be fussy around him every time he comes to visit.

The advertising revenue fell almost 50% from the month before to $7.52 (it had been $14.09 in October), but I had expected this. With the journal still in its beginning stages, that will fluctuate quite a bit from month to month. I was shooting for $5 and surpassed this.

Upromise added another $3 to my net worth from the bonus links from Kellogg's. I've been told that some of the relatives that have signed up with my account have done them too, but they haven't posted in my account yet.

The rest came from ING interest and bonuses which I can't count on anymore until I get a new account opened.

With the holiday season here, I'll see if I can get some cash gifts from family and friends instead of clothing to pad my savings...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

First Sponsor!

I received my first site sponsor today! While it isn't much (only $6.95 after expenses) it's a big deal to me. If I can keep the sponsor until I enter college, it would add $1500 to my college fund (the advantages of starting early). Now I doubt that I will be able to keep the sponsor for that long, but for now it's a guaranteed monthly income coming in for me. Considering I'm still working on rolling over I say that's pretty good.

Since the sponsor just came, I won't be able to add it to this month's revenue - it will be added beginning next month. That should help me in my goal to earn at least $10 a month from this site through advertising.

ING Bonuses Used

I used up the last of my ING bonuses. Even with the $250 minimum deposit, people have found the $25 bonus is worth opening the account since they don't have to keep it there (no minimums) and there are no fees. That's good news as there hasn't been much of an increase to my net worth (up to $2358.51, +$40.00) this month.

The next step will be convincing mom and dad to open up two more accounts so that I can get some more bonuses. I think that will have to wait until next year, however, when my uncle can nudge them in that direction. They are so busy with taking great care of me (^_^) that they don't have much free time for themselves.

For those looking to begin your baby's college savings, opening an account is a good way to start - you can get the $25 bonus by following these directions and where mine will be as soon as I get those other accounts open.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Mentions and More Babies

Trying to decide what to write about can be half the problem if you decide to begin a journal like this. Jeremy Coenen is trying to decide a direction to go and mentions a number of possibilities related to finance including a nice mention about my site:

Another cool idea a long these lines is starting my son's college/retirement savings fund and tracking his net worth, this is done on a couple other blogs I've run across and is a pretty cool idea. Check out Financial Baby Steps . The only problem with this is that well Jack isn't worth a whole lot at this point in time $242.14 and all of his money is sitting in a boring savings account getting 3.5% interest so he's increasing his net worth at about 71 cents a month. Oh yeah he does also have 2 $50 savings bonds that he received at birth. So there wouldn't be much to update on and I don't plan on contributing a whole lot to his net worth anytime soon as the cash flow meter in the Coenen's household is not exactly off the charts and most of the extra money that comes in will be going to my retirement instead of Jack's college/retirement (sorry Jack - but more on that later).

One thing that I've found is when you make the saving a focus of a journal like this (in my 4 months of experience), you spend more time focusing on ways to increase savings than if you didn't do anything at all. While I haven't spend as much time as I wanted to over the last couple of weeks, I'm so much better off than if I hadn't started at all. My vote is for following Jack, bu then I may be a bit biased there ;)


It's been a busy, busy week plus since my last entry. While I've been enjoying myself lying around, sleeping and all around being a cute baby, I haven't done as well as I should have this past week managing my money (when this happens I always blame it on my uncle since at my age, all I'm supposed to do is lie around, sleep and look cute).

I did sign up for a BabyMint but haven't had a chance to wander around the site much. I'm also wary of asking everyone to sign up for another program. I'll have to weigh the pros and cons of each and commit to one for everyone to use (or get everyone to agree to use the account that best fits them.

The one thing I noticed was that they make receiving money much easier than uPromise - which is a plus since I may not be placing the money into a 529 plan for awhile (if ever - still thinking about that)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Should You Move To Kalamazoo?

Why would you want to consider moving to Kalamazoo? A free college education is a big reason. If you have a child who is pre high school, a move to Kalamazoo could make financial sense in a lot of ways. The more children that you have, the more appealing the offer is. Not all kids get 100% tuition with the exact amount being determined by the number of years the child is in the school system. According to the Kalamazoo public school website:

All students who graduate from Kalamazoo Public Schools and are Kalamazoo residents can get up to 100% of their tuition paid to any Michigan public university or community college. Students must take 12 credit hours or more each semester, unless interrupted for military service, and maintain at least a 2.0 grade-point average.

The percent of tuition paid by the plan depends on the years of attendance in the district, using the following formula:


If you have a child entering the 9th grade next year (assuming tuition of $10,000 a year for ease), a move to Kalamazoo would be worth $26,000 in saved tuition. If you have three children with one going into kindergarten, one into 3rd grade and one into 6th grade, the move would be worth $110,000 in college tuition. To further increase the worth of the tuition payments, they will be to the kids and not the parents meaning that the taxes owed on the gifts will be much less.

In fact, the grant of free tuition will probably be worth a lot more than merely the tuition. Since the announcement, colleges in Michigan have been tumbling over one another trying to lure the students that are receiving the free tuition by offering discounted to free room and board and other incentives to attend their college. They are able to do this because most students receive financial aid of some type when they go to college. Since those from Kalamazoo have their tuition already paid, there is no reason to offer those students financial aid. Therefore the colleges are taking the financial aid portion and moving it toward other benefits increasing the worth of the free tuition offer.

Then all the savings for college made thus far for your children could be earmarked for retirement savings giving you a huge boost in your personal net worth and outlook for retirement. This means that you could start maxing out your retirement funds (401K or IRA) if you haven't been doing so up to this point further increasing your retirement money.

The offer is especially appealing to middle income families that would have a difficult time paying for college, but earn enough that scholarships and grants would be limited for their child.

Of course, there are a lot of other factors involved that come into play when determining whether a move is even feasible. It is, however, certainly worth careful consideration to see if a move makes financial sense.

It also makes sense to keep your eyes on this type of offer. Since the announcement a lot of other small towns have expressed interest in creating a similar system for their school children. While Kalamazoo may not be possible today, another offer in a different town in the future may be.

November Financial Goals Update

I have been quite fussy with my uncle over the last couple of weeks. November is more than half over and I'm well off the pace of meeting all my goals. I figured that being fussy was the only way to get his attention and focus a bit so that we can meet as many of them as possible.

I've already realized at a young age that if you don't remain focused even just a bit on your goals, time can fly by without you making the advances you want. So I'm revisiting the goals with my uncle again so we can refocus a bit more.

My goal is to have $2434.51 by the beginning of December, bu without the ING saving bonuses, this is looking to be a lot harder than last month. I do have some antique cups that my uncle has promised to put on auction next week that will hopefully at least get me close to this goal. It will also mean that I meet my goal of listing at least 5 auctions.

I still need to open the BabyMint account and will shoot for having that open this weekend.

I missed the first Carnival of Personal Finance this month as I didn't have an article to submit, but did make the second one. I will be writing my entry for this week right after posting this.

I'm a couple of sites short on the trading links, but will send out some requests and see if I can fill those up as soon as possible.

Although I don't mind writing for myself and how I'm progressing, it's always much more fun when a lot of people are reading and commenting. I may have to think of some ways to try and raise the profile of my journal. While the main focus is financial, I think this would be of interest to a lot of people with babies and young kids. I may have to begin focusing attempts for those groups to become more aware of what I'm doing.

Time to work on the carnival of personal finance post...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Kid Bank

If you're kids are a little older than I am and are beginning to understand the concept of money (something I hope to be doing soon), I think that you should encourage them to be entrepreneurs. Not only will this teach them basics about money and business at an early age, it will also make it a lot more likely that they can fund their own college education instead of relying on your bank account.

The Kid Bank offers low-interest business loans to children 18 years old and younger. In order to get the loan, you and the child need to complete an application, including the project description, references and a business plan. You also have to figure out projected income and expenses.

The interest rate is "2% below the national rate" and repayment is structured on the projected income. This is a wonderful way to teach kids hands-on about money and business. It's a wonderful opportunity to help your child take a hobby or interest and turn it into a money making venture - something that will be a valuable lesson for his or her entire life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

American Express $50 Mercury Milan Test Drive

Gift Card Challenge: If you happen to frequent one of the places that is offering the free gift card, then take the money that the gift card is worth and place it into your child's education fund. If you don't usually spend money there, then get the gift card anyway and enjoy a treat on me for visiting my journal (^_^)

Another free gift card offer so you can put the savings into your child's college fund. I haven't been able to confirm this one because I'm not old enough to drive (or even walk for that matter), but it comes from a reliable source. Better yet, it hasn't been placed in the freebies area, so you have a good chance of getting it if you act quickly. Here are the details

$50 AMEX Card Mercury Milan Test Drive

Get this by requesting a brochure snail mail from the Milan site. Click "request brochure", not "test drive". Fill in your info and select you are considering a new car in under 3 months. Be sure to request the Milan brochure if there is a choice.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Personal Finance Carnival Is Saved

A big thank you to Flexo over at Consumerism Commentary for saving this week's Carnival of Personal Finance. The person who was supposed to host it never did and he took over to get all the submitted articles up. Mine was for the Affinity Bank 10% Interest Bank Account for kids. There is a lot of good personal finance reading over there if you have some extra time this week.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Free College For Kids In Kalamazoo

If I was a bit older and living in Kalamazoo, I probably wouldn't need to be writing this journal (but I probably would with the emphasis on saving for a house and retirement rather than college). I came across an article in the Detroit Free Press that says that every student in the Kalamazoo school district will have their college paid for them from a anonymous donor

WOW! I bet the parents and kids living in Kalamazoo are happy today. The parents that had been saving for college have a double bonus - not only will their child get to go to college for free, they just had a significant increase in their retirement savings.

I especially liked the fact that the free college money goes to anyone who graduates no matter how well they did in high school.

To qualify for four years of free tuition, students just need to be enrolled in Kalamazoo Public Schools and graduate, be accepted at a Michigan public university or community college, maintain steady progress toward a degree and maintain a 2.0 grade-point average.

In my opinion, it's a wonderful gesture and I hope that all the kids in that school district take advantage of the wonderful opportunity that has been given to them.

Affinity Bank 10% Interest For Kids

This offer is one that I will start bugging mom and dad about right away. Affinity Bank has a special account called the "Kids Only Savings Account" - and this account offers 10% (that's not a typo!)APY interest rate on all balances up to and including $500. That means that if I put the maximum $500 into the account now, it will earn me $900 in interest by the time I'm ready to go to college. Finding a guaranteed interest rate of 10% is a dream come true!

The on catch is that one of my parents has to open up an account there, but they do offer a free checking account with a minimum $100 balance. The checking account doesn't earn any interest, so in reality the earnings on the $500 + $100 needed for my parent's account would be 8.33% and not 10%. Still, 8.33% is not something that I will turn my back on (well, at least when I get better at rolling over on my own).

For others that are interested:

The Kids Only account is restricted to children under 16 years (but if you sign up before 16 years of age, you can keep the account until you7re 18 years old). The minimum deposit on the account to begin the account is $1.00. Balances that exceed $500 will be paid the bank's regular savings rates which is 0.50%. Children that open an account also receive a free Piggy Bank (and I would love to have a new piggy bank!!!).

My uncle will be passing along the message to my parents to open the account asap and as soon as that is done, I will take some of the money I have and place it into that account.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Someone Younger Than Me?!?

I came across a site where the owner seems to be younger than even me! One Month Old Baby Begins Saving For College. It seems to be currently under construction with the only post being about me, but I hope to see it come to life in the near future. It would be great to have some others my age along for the ride!

Free Gift Cards

For all the parents that visit here, I'm going to make a suggestion. From time to time I hear about free gift cards from my uncle. Usually you need to fill out a short survey and in return for your help, they send you a gift card. When I hear about free gift cards in the future, I will list them. If you happen to frequent one of the places that is offering the free gift card, then take the money that the gift card is worth and place it into your child's education fund. If you don't usually spend money there, then get the gift card anyway and enjoy a treat on me for visiting my journal (^_^)

Starbucks $5 Gift Card (this survey has ended so I took out the link): Take a short survey. use code 07761 or 01899 (it worked when I tried it, but I don't know how long the codes will be good for)

$10 BestBuy Gift Card (this survey has ended so I took out the link): Complete a marketing survey

If you get coffee at Starbucks and shop at BestBuy, you can add $15 to your child's college account.

*These surveys for Gift Cards usually end quickly because of the number of people that want to get the freebie so you have to move on them quickly.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Teach Your Baby The Value of Saving Money

I came across this interesting article about helping babies learn about money

I like the hands on approach that he describes and the emphasis of making it a fun experience. I hope that my parents will do the same for me when I get a bit older and have a bit more coordination.

Free Upromise Money From Kellogg's

Thanks to a post at Saving Advice my Upromise account is $3.00 richer. It seems that Kellogg's is running a campaign and by using a special URL you can have $1.00 deposited into your Upromise account. There are three of these URLs meaning that you can get $3.00 for your account if you're already a member.

you can earn $3 if you are a member by going to these URLs when signed into your account:

When you do, press the "redeem your code" link and it will automatically fill in a code for you. Hit "submit" and you will be entered into a sweepstakes and have $1 placed into your Upormise account.

Even if you're not currently a Upromise member, this might be the right time to sign up as there is a code for a $5.00 sign up bonus (I wish I had known about this as the code I used was only worth $3.00)

If you are not a current member, you can sign up and use code "BN5" when you do - this will give you a $5 bonus for just signing up. Once signed up, you can use the above codes so you can earn $8 right away.

I will be emailing all the people that I asked to sign up to help me and ask them to also use the code. If it works for all of them too, then I can earn a bit more money without anyone having to buy anything which would make me smile and gurgle for the rest of the week.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Finding Other Advertising Income Sources

I have decided to try and generate a little more earned income by offering adverting on my site. I really don't expect much to come of it now, but I hope that as my blog becomes more popular there will be other websites that will want to advertise and help me with my savings.

I'm also discussing with my uncle to possibly place an auction up to sell some space on the site. While there would be a risk of losing a minimum amount of money for listing the offer, it could generate some long term income if I can find a couple of sponsors.

At this point I know that every little bit of income that I can generate will have a long time to compound which is to my advantage. Even if I can get one or two ads that only pay $5 a month, that would double what I'm currently earning from the site and could add over $100 to my savings over a year period. Now all I have to do is find some sites that feel sponsoring me would be in their benefit.

Happy 4 Months To Me!

Time flies when you're having fun! Today I turned 4 months old (no birthday cake, but nana is coming up to visit me, so I'm excited!), and 25% older than I was just 31 days ago. I'm not sure how much I have wizened during this time, but I'm still a happy baby. In another 2 months I'll be 1/2 year old. While this might seem like a big deal to most of my colleagues writing about financial matters, 2 months will add a significant amount of time to the percentage I've been here.

I've begun on my goals for this month, but still have a long way to go. I'll get to work on them as soon as I finish celebrating (^_^)

Still At The Bottom Of The Heap

Personal Finance Advice has listed how all those writing about personal finances fared in October. I was in the positive unlike some of the others, but that still wasn't enough to lift me out of the basement when it comes to net worth. Still, time is on my side and I hope to move out of the basement one of these days. Here is a look at the net worth of those listed:

1. NCYMoney $684,000.00
2. Boston Gal’s Open Wallet $355,799.35
3. PFBlog $353,676.00
4. My Open Wallet $244,664.51
5. 2 Million $194,868.05
6. Clutter 2 Cash $185,212.00
7. MMB’s Personal Finance Journal $180.198.72
8. Capital Ideas $123,542.00
9. My Money Blog $83,262.00
10. Debt Free $65,418.00
11. New Age PF $63,162.57
12. Consumerism Commentary $36,241.76
13. Alpha Guy $29,051.00
14. Million Dollar Goal $18,777.47
15. Personal Finance Progress $11,231.00
16. Financial Baby Steps $2,318.51

As you can see, I'm the only one that still has a 4 digit net worth. I will be working hard over the coming months to try and join the 5 digit net worth club. While I know my baby steps will pay off in the long run, it is still motivation for me to move up the ladder a bit as soon as possible.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

November Goals

I fell short on a couple of my October goals, but overall I came out well for the month.

I had hoped to increase my current savings by 5% to a total of $2251.90 by the beginning of November. I managed to increase my savings by more than 10% so I exceeded the goal by quite a lot. I would like to increase the savings by another 5% during November if possible. My current total is $2318.51 so I need to add another $116 to my total for $2434.51 by the beginning of December.

I wanted to open a Upromise and BabyMint account, but only got around to opening up the Upromise account. I will set a goal of opening up the BabyMint account this month. I would also like to get a few more of my relatives to sign up on the Upromise account to help me build my savings.

I wanted to submit posts to the carnival of Personal Finance each week and I managed to do so 3 of the 4 weeks. I will set a goal of submitting to each week again this month to help promote my writing. I wanted to trade links with 5 other financial sites and managed to only do so with 4. I will try to increase that to 10 by the end of November.

I would also like to get a bit more active in reselling the antiques I'm investing in since the holiday season is coming up and when prices can be much higher than at other times of the year. I want to list at least 5 auctions this month from my investments.

Again, I think that all these goals are reasonable and will work hard to achieving them.

ING Savings Account

The ING savings account treated me very well over the month. With bonuses and interest, my college savings grew from $100 to $271.73 or by $171.73. Unfortunately, I don't think that I'll be able to get anywhere near that amount this month since the bonus links I have are down to the last few. It was great while it lasted, but i will have to find a different source of income to make up for that in the coming months.

I will continue to keep money in this account for now. While the 3.4% interest isn't the best of the online banks, it will be a good place to park the money for now in case my uncle needs it for investing later on. depending on what the I-bond does next April, I may move some of it in there at that time.

Upromise 529 College Savings

I took a look at the Upromise account that I opened up and it has done virtually nothing. I have a couple of relatives signed up, but the account doesn't show any income from them over the past month. The only credit that is shown is the $3.00 sign up bonus I received. While I won't turn my back on the money (it's difficult to do, but I am learning to turn over), I'm a little disappointed that it isn't a bit more. We'll see after a few more months whether or not this system will be any good.

Financial Advertising Revenue - October 2005

I've been a bit grumpy at my uncle over the past week because he's been busy with friends visiting and hasn't been able to help me with my saving as much as I wanted. I guess that he deserves a break every once in awhile, but I'm glad to see he's back and we can refocus on my saving. He has quite a bit to update and has said to make sure he gets it all recorded and not to confuse himself or me, he'll do it in a number of posts today.

I had a much better month with the financial revenue generated than last month, but I don't expect that I will be able to keep this pace up (although I hope I eventually build up to it) Advertising on the site brought in $14.09 for October which would put me on pace to add more than $3000 to my college savings, but again, I don't think I can sustain that pace at this time. I think I'll shoot for $5 in advertising revenue again this month.