Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sending My Money to Orangeburg

So I have an ING Electric Orange account. I have a few ING savings accounts that I sink funds into. I love how they let you open multiple savings accounts and nickname them what you want to call them. I like to name them like cute little places that my savings dollars can go to, some go to 'The Money Park', which is my general savings account, some of them are unfortunate enough that through no fault of their own, they go to the 'IRA Prison', where they await processing until they go off to be sequestered away from everything for the next 30 or 40 years.

Currently however, and somewhat ironically, most of my current savings dollars are stuck in Orangeburg. Orangeburg is a real bad place for a dollar to be, full of uncertainty of the possibility of being uprooted at any moment. It was named after the pipe material that constitutes my sewage tap. It turns out that way back in the 1950's, you know that grand utopia the neo-cons are trying to get us back to, there was a shortage of piping materials because all of the good stuff had been used in the wars and PVC hadn't been invented yet.

So some genius thought up this great idea that you could just take a bunch of paper, and basically roll it up, and coat it with tar, and THEN USE THE RESULT AS A PIPE MATERIAL. Crazy as it sounds the stuff last for 30 or 40 years. All of which is not really a such a big deal, except that some was used in my house. And Orangeburg was last used in the 70's.

Combine all that with the fact that it runs underneath my concrete driveway and you have the makings for a serious financial crisis in the making. It certainly is a liability as far as should I need to sell the house.

I just don't want to replace it before I have to.

My wife takes the opposite stance that it should be taken care of before it causes an inconvenience. A rather smelly and expensive inconvenience. There is much wisdom in considering that position. And no small percentage of that wisdom comes from the fact that it is simply my wife's opinion.

But the quandary is that fixing it outright would drain our emergency reserves when it is not quite yet an emergency. This is a foreseeable expense and could be planned for, until of course it actually became an emergency.

So I've started this savings account called Orangeburg. My dollars go there to await the day they get called upon to replace my sewer pipe. On that day, I am afraid, many will be lost. But with the ING accounts, I can set up an automatic draft to round up and conscript some of them each month that are currently wondering around without a purpose, until one day their time will come.

It will not be the most glorious way for one of my dollars to go out. But it will have to be done. Better that it earns me money now, than cost me money later. At least that's what I got to tell myself.

Hopefully I will believe it.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Phone Call From Paul Merriman!

I normally wouldn't post about something while I am still at work but I couldn't help myself today. I am so psyched. My phone rang a few minutes ago, and though there was an unfamiliar number on the caller ID, the voice on the phone was VERY familiar, at least to me. It was none other than author and financial counselor Paul Merriman!

On his FundAdvice site, I had asked him about if I should work my existing American Funds Simple-IRA choices into a properly diversified portfolio, as he recommends what that should be. I didn't know whether to balance the American Funds to try to match a "whole market" allocation and then do the model T. Rowe Price portfolio in my Roth, or whether to use the American Funds as the Large Cap Value component of a broader portfolio and use the Roth for "filling in" the missing parts with TRP funds. I didn't really expect an answer and even went and analyzed what I thought I should do.

Like I said, I didn't think I would actually get a direct answer from him, but then my phone rang and there he was. I was real nervous cause I've been listening to him and reading his articles and most of all, I really didn't want to sound like an idiot. He was very nice and asked me to clarify my question a little.

His advice was use the TRP Roth to get exposure to the asset classes that American Funds lacks. This would be stuff like small cap value and growth, emerging markets, etc. He also recommended I quit paying the extra money on my house in order to get my Roth up to full allocation. I didn't have time to explain my reasons for not doing so already, but sheepishly said that I just hadn't bothered to change my automatic draft yet, to which he told me that a couple hours work now could mean a big difference down the road.

What I thought was cool, was just that he seemed really interested in what I had done and what I was planning financial-wise. Of course, that is his chosen profession, but he was very gracious to be that way with a non-paying advice seeker. He was just a great guy all around it seemed like. But to me, it was like talking to a Rock Star, geek that I am. (Kind of like the time I met a guy who had worked and hung out with Grady Booch. If you have to ask, you probably wouldn't understand.)

It was perhaps the greatest five or so minutes I ever spent on the phone, at least with someone I'd never met before. I would love to attend one of his workshops. I was considering it before, but I will definitely be buying his book "Live it Up Without Outliving Your Money". I guess I'm easy that way. :-)

Now if I can only get that Roth IRA up to snuff.