Welcome to Financially Yucky Guy’s Blog

Hello and welcome to my blog.

I was seeing myself on paper through someone’s eyes the other day and I looked hideous. It’s amazing how opposite I am on paper to the way I feel about myself or how others see me. It felt like walking by the mirror and not holding your stomach in to see the real you.

So, I decided to document (via this blog) and hold myself accountable and possibly have people motivate me to get out of my financial mess. I was inspired by mymoneyblog.com. He started that just to stay motivated. Anyway, I’m going to keep it anonymous so I can be more open about my financial details. I live in SoCal, I’m an actor and sometime investor.

In a nutshell, I’ve been in a financial slump pretty much most of my life. I haven’t made much money, but I’ve lived a colorful life which I don’t regret at all. However, I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive, so my main goal now is to set my finances straight: 1) get out of nearly $14K debt and 2) have a passive income of double my monthly expenses (currently about $1400/month).

Ok, here are my numbers:

LIABILITIES:

Chase CC: $150 balance; 16%; $1500 limit; $35 annual fee
BofA CC: $8,536 @ 16.24%; $115.52 interest/mo; $1,386.21 interest/yr
$493 @ 24.24%; $9.96 interest/mo $119.50 interest/yr
I had a really good rate initially at 3.99%, but a few overdrafts from my checking killed it. I guess I thought an increase in interest rate was better than bouncing a check. Not so smart now.
Wamu Credit Card (CC): $0 balance; $2500 limit; not sure of the current rate

I got my Chase card to get miles and hope to use it to travel “free” once I get the discipline to pay off the my debt. I might end up canceling it just because of the $35/yr. I got rid of my Bank of America checking and ‘keep the change’ savings rate b/c I was so sick of their fees. Since I don’t have direct deposit, they were charging me $6/mo of the past several years (7 or more?). that adds up to nearly $500 in fees. I can’t believe I let that happen. But that’s one of the reasons why I did this, so some of you friendly readers can kick my butt and keep me in check.

Monthly expenses (will update periodically):
Health Insurance $117
Car Ins $100
Phone Mobile $60 (1000 anytime, unlimited nights, 300 txt msgs)
Movie rental $9
Cable modem (split) $23
Groceries $100
Dining out $100
Auto Gas $100
HOA 1 $194
HOA 2 $15
Prop Tax $110
Utilities $40
Gym $6
Misc $60
Webhosting $8
Acting submission site $6
Property mgr $130

ASSETS:

$1300/mo rental income
$3050 in mutual funds in stock trading account
$2265 in cash balance in stock trading account
$5,461.13 mutual funds – Roth-IRA
$100 Wamu 5% savings account (it’s below 5% now)
$500 HSBC 5% savings account (it’s below 5% now)

I set up a rental property under my parents name which they have allowed me to use for the time being. The property is paid off and since my parents couldn’t get a loan b/c they own several houses (not necessarily the best locations, so they haven’t appreciated as much as my selection) so they paid the whole thing cash from stock market money just before it crashed in 2000. Talk about crystal ball investing. We got the property for about $120K, its market value is about $250 currently. I’ve been trying to get them to leverage the equity and buy a 4-plex somewhere in the Midwest with a nice cash flow. But that’s a topic I’ll get to later.

As most actors, I made about $3300 this year. The average for actors in the screen actors guild (SAG) is about $7K/yr, so I’m in the 50th percentile. Yeah, really low. You gotta love it, or there’s no point in doing this for money. I did some other projects here and to get some extra cash to pay the bills. But it’s been a hand-to-mouth existence for a while. However, the passive income is a mindset I keep arguing with my wife who is also an actor that is not too common. That $1100/mo didn’t just fall into my lap. I had read “Rich Dad Poor Dad” back in ’02 and it changed my whole way of thinking. I only put money into things that would pay me back. That’s how I got this rental unit to work. It took a lot of effort, but now it’s almost a cash cow. However, I don’t want to rest on my laurels. I want to keep building it, but not at the expense of giving up my artistic endeavors. I’m not going to go into the reason for choosing this over getting a job that would easily pay me $50K/year with my science degree from a high-ranking university.

My wife and I split all our expenses in half. She makes about $2k/mo, but works. I also write.

GOALS:

By the end of this week (12/28/07):
1. Figure out the rates and transfer charges for my other cards
2. Transfer bofa cc to other cards
3. I have to check to see if my trading account (TDAmeritrade) charges a fee if it drops below a minimum. I know you have to have $2K to open an account. If not, then I will sell the stocks and use that to pay off some of the $9K debt.
What really bugs me is that I did that about 8 years ago – sold my stocks and paid off the debt and was completely free and clear and it built up again to $18K, which is now down to $13K. However, I have not been using the credit card for the past year except for the Chase CC.

A few tips that have helped me financially:
I was saving 10% of every income into my savings and built up to $2K in savings, but it got depleted – gotta find the source of that depletion. It’s usually property tax or something that hits me big or a hospital bill – I didn’t have health insurance and had to pay a $500 emergency room bill. I got to get back on that track again.

I set my homepage on my browser to wamu.com so I am more likely to keep track of my checking account balance. I do ignore it, but the little voice is a bit louder now b/c I see it all the time.

I decluttered by getting rid of all the junk in my life. It was more from an efficiency point of view, but it has helped me financially in that I don’t want junk around. Now when I see shiny things at the mall, I see them for what they really are: dust-collectors in the back of a closet that you have no use for.

I’m starting this blog. Let’s see how it keeps me accountable (pun intended).

PITFALLS:

I stopped my movie rental thing, but then ended up seeing more movies in the theater for the two months I did it. I have to watch movies. It’s part of my job description.
I think my biggest pitfall –esp during this holiday season is buying food gifts when we go for dinner. We can just show up empty handed. So we usually get a $6-$10 bottle of wine. However, today, we got a $25 cake. Yeah, that was not a good choice, but time to learn and move on.

Please post your suggestions and comments below. Any off-topic comment will be deleted. Why not put your financial goals in the comment?

Financially Yours,
Guy

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