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Old 12-28-2011, 06:15 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggy29
I got the NFL package free this year. I told them I wasn't happy that they didn't sell the "Red Zone Channel" alone like other providers do and such. At first they offered the NFL package for basically half price and I held my ground -- pretty soon they *gave* it to me for this year.

A great place to talk about stuff like this is in the DirecTV forums at http://dbstalk.com -- in the DirecTV forums they often talk about the "CSR Roulette" you need to play to get these deals through the retention department. You learn the "magic words" to get the deal you want, and it often really does work.

And yes, when your contract expires, you WILL have a lot more leverage. I've been a customer with them since 1997 and that has become abundantly obvious to me.
Thanks Ziggy, I will check it out. Even if its just $10 a month reduction, I just want a victory to feel good about myself!
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Old 12-28-2011, 06:16 PM   #22
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1. DD's (twins) graduated with nursing degrees and both are gainfully employed at fine childrens hospitals. Oh, and off my payroll!!! I'm very proud of them.

2. Set up investment accounts for DD's and DS with Vanguard following indexing approaches. Also guided their 403B investment choices. They are all set up and have begun their own savings program and investment accounts. Just wish they had more interest in learning about investing. Maybe with time.

3. One year closer to ER. Did a good job of saving my bonus amounts along with some additional. But know we could do better if we were more frugal. Life will be greatly different in 2012 without 2 less kids to support through college years. That should help us ramp up further savings.

I liked OP's comments about investing in relationships in 2012. A good reminder that in the final analysis those are the things of lasting return. Pun intended.
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Old 12-28-2011, 06:41 PM   #23
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We paid off the mortgage which was absolutely the right thing for us. I also reduced the cable bill by calling and complaining about the fees. Just switched vets in order to reduce pet's medicine expense. Will save a minimum of $122 per month and possibly more.
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Old 12-28-2011, 06:46 PM   #24
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1. DD#1 graduated from college and is now off the payroll, more or less.

2. Refinanced the mortgage for the last time, to a 3%, 5-year home equity loan.

3. Closed out as many scattered investment and IRA accounts as I could, consolidating at Vanguard.
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Old 12-28-2011, 06:50 PM   #25
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Ok Dreamer, tell me what you said to get Direct Tv to come down and how much did you get them down?. I got them to lower my NFL package, but nothing else. My 2 year commitment expires in 2 months so I will get to negotiate from strength then, even though I dont want to change providers.
We've got a great deal with Dish Network for our HD by pushing back like others here. No leverage during our initial 2 year contract, but thereafter.

FWIW, same with Internet for me. I've been with Comcast for at least 5 years. We pay $46/mo for high speed though the prevailing rate here is $59.95/mo. They've notified me they planned to increase my rate several times, but I call and tell them the leave me no choice but to switch to DSL for $35/mo. They note how long I've been a customer and acquiesce every time. Thought it might help.
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Old 12-28-2011, 07:11 PM   #26
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Is the real estate moving very slow down there? Might be a good money move since the houses in MO are cheaper anyways.
Yes, it is. My perception is that the real estate market in my neighborhood was at a standstill and has improved ever-so-slightly to the point at which I would say it is moving very, very slowly.

Ah, but that's ok! There's no rush. We are in houses we like a lot and could happily live in for years, thus in an unusually good situation to wait out the housing crisis. We can wait a few years and think more about whether we really want to do this or not.
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Old 12-28-2011, 07:28 PM   #27
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  1. DD#2 of 3 graduated and got a job teaching 1st grade and we are super proud of her.
  2. DD#3of 3 graduates in 2013, so final college tuition payments should be completed in 2012. Aggressive debt reduction begins and I reset my countdown timer to retirement.
  3. All legal bills from frivolous lawsuit have been paid.
  4. I no longer fear losing my job.....business is much better and I don't really care so much.
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Old 12-28-2011, 07:33 PM   #28
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1. Decided to retire Dec-2012 @56. My response to co-workers when when asked "why?" : "Because I can!"

2. Reworked the finance plan to include budget & cash flow for 5 timeframes: current, retired <59.5, retired 59.5 - 62, 62 - 65, and >65. This was very enlightening and helped me make the decision in #1.

3. Went through the spending side of the cash flow statement and trimmed some fat: got rid og Free Credit Report (don't ask ...), dumped ATT Mobility for Consumer Cellular, etc. Will take a closer look at the "discretionary spending" segment next year.
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Old 12-28-2011, 07:39 PM   #29
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Sl;owly getting rid of my 4-6k dividend income(DRIP widows and orphans stocks) as age 68 approaches mandatory 70 1/2 RMD and expect tax icreases in the future on div.'s.

Buying Vanguard Total World Index ETF, VT with my medicine (aka mad money to keep hormones in check).

Geaux Saints.

heh heh heh - football and a few good stocks - and popcorn. Retirement is life cycle VG Target Retirement.
So how are you going to handle going from DRIP/dividends to a total return approach? Collect VT lots and sell off specific lots as needed?

DW has her IRA in Wellesley & VG Star funds, pretty easy for her to drawdown. My 401k/IRA is 2/3 indexed but that third is a collection of dividend stocks, foreign funds, REITs, foreign bonds and a couple brilliant guesses on my part (MGM:face palm . Someday I need to draw down the 401l/IRA and I have no idea how that will go. Funds left unexpended for the year need to go somewhere so I have been buying a dividend paying stock or EFT maybe a couple times a year. Once I have a collection of them I will have to figure out what to do with them. A VG total world fund or ETF may be a good idea. Let me know how it goes for you.
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Old 12-28-2011, 08:04 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midpack
We've got a great deal with Dish Network for our HD by pushing back like others here. No leverage during our initial 2 year contract, but thereafter.

FWIW, same with Internet for me. I've been with Comcast for at least 5 years. We pay $46/mo for high speed though the prevailing rate here is $59.95/mo. They've notified me they planned to increase my rate several times, but I call and tell them the leave me no choice but to switch to DSL for $35/mo. They note how long I've been a customer and acquiesce every time. Thought it might help.
You got me thinking about internet, too. I looked online for my dsl plan and its 19.95 for 12 months, then reverts to regular rate of $38. I pay $43. Im getting ripped off as I am paying $5 more than I should be. I know its just $5 , its just the principal Im getting screwed, so some unlucky service agent is going to hear from me tommorrow!
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Old 12-28-2011, 08:30 PM   #31
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2011 was a good year!
1) DW secured lower stress position at work- basically a lateral move but a slight increase in pay.
2) Negotiated a new compensation plan at work that resulted in an immediate 20% pay raise and the potential to double my pay in 4 years. Using extra cash to increase retirement and college savings.
3) Last payment made on orthodontics for son #1 (zero % interest but still a payment I didn't like).

On the other end of the spectrum, I still have Netflix.
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:26 PM   #32
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1. Joined this community

2. Refied. Rates have dropped since and I will refi again as soon as possible in 2012.

3. Provided face capital to a small business.

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Old 12-28-2011, 09:50 PM   #33
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1. Last son graduated from college and got a job. Yay!
2. Only daughter got engaged and will be married next May!
(So much for saving on college tuition. Now we have wedding tuition).
3. Move some funds into tax free bond funds and some closed end funds with
"tax free" distributions that performed well in 2011.
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:55 PM   #34
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Shift cash to short-term bond funds and stable value funds.
+1. I decided that my conservative short-term bond VBISX position was so darn close to cash that I would move my holding into my cash allocation. Which means I'll be buying more of my intermediate bond funds to complete my bond allocation.

Unfortunately I don't have a stable value fund option for the rest of my cash!

Audrey
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Old 12-29-2011, 09:13 AM   #35
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1. Major modifications to 401k holdings by consolidating to all low fee index Vanguard funds and established 65/35 split.
2. DD#1 is out of college -> one less on the payroll.
3. Established goal to save additional $300k to pay cash for farm/ranch property for retirement and income.
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Old 12-29-2011, 10:16 AM   #36
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1. Finally (almost) aligned my assets with my planned asset allocation. It has taken some time as I needed to move out of some mutual funds and sell a few things, and I wanted to work it out to minimize taxes. I think when I do my rebalancing in January it will be complete.
2. Moved to a higher-deductible, lower premium health plan.
3. Relaxed a little and did a bit of discretionary spending. That felt good since I had been so uptight with money since leaving megacorp 4+ years ago.
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Old 12-29-2011, 10:19 AM   #37
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Bought a long term care policy for DW and I.

Looks like 2011 expenses will come in almost 10% under budget.

Was able to fully fund catchup 401K contributions that I hit 50 which brought my AGI down just under the limit to was able fully fund Roth IRA .
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Old 12-29-2011, 12:00 PM   #38
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Ok Dreamer, tell me what you said to get Direct Tv to come down and how much did you get them down?. I got them to lower my NFL package, but nothing else. My 2 year commitment expires in 2 months so I will get to negotiate from strength then, even though I dont want to change providers.
I called and asked them what had to be done if we were ending our service with them. Did they come and take the satellite dish or did we mail it back to them? He told me that it would just stay at the house, but wait a minute, why was I asking these questions. I told him that my DH had stopped working this year and that we were looking to lower our monthly expenses (both statements were true). He asked me what channels we watched and I made sure to tell him channels in the expanded service. He said that we needed the package that we had, but we were valuable customers (over 2 years) and he could give me credit since our bill is automatic to our credit card (it had always been like that). He also, said that he could give us a 12 mos credit for our HD. I am not at home now, but if I remember correctly, our bill was $80 something dollars and it took it down to I believe $63.00. It lowered it $20.00 something dollars per month, just by making the phone call and nothing changed at all. Good luck.

I need to do this a little more myself. I have had the same car and house insurance since the 1980's and I should check and see if I could do better. I need to move a couple of very small mutual funds to Vanguard. I have a landline phone that has unlimited long distance calling on it and it might be better to drop the unlimited long distance calling and just pay for the long distance calls I make. I could even use my DH's cell phone after 7:00 pm or on weekends for free, but I really don't like cell phones that much. I could try to convince my DH to give up his cell for a Trac phone. He hardly talks on it at all. We paid for the Prepaid Tuition Plan for our DD when she was a child. We have been paying for her college by credit card each month (paying the credit card bill in full each month), but I need to send in for reimbursement for a few years of college expenses. I see that I have been very lazy and need to get on the ball!
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Old 12-29-2011, 12:32 PM   #39
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I bought my first house. Not a short-term financial advantage, but payment and utilities are lower than expected, and I think it will only take a few years before the monthly bills are lower than what my old apartment will be charging. Not to mention in theory I will someday have equity and an appreciating asset.

I learned to cook chili (REWahoo's objections to adding beans notwithstanding) and after a few months in the house started actually using the kitchen. Who would've known that's cheaper than dining out?

I started chain-drinking home-brewed iced tea instead of chain-drinking soda.

I switch to Netflix streaming-only plan from a 2-blu-ray plan shortly before they forced everyone's hand. I resisted getting cable or satellite TV.
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Old 12-29-2011, 01:06 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midpack
We've got a great deal with Dish Network for our HD by pushing back like others here. No leverage during our initial 2 year contract, but thereafter.

FWIW, same with Internet for me. I've been with Comcast for at least 5 years. We pay $46/mo for high speed though the prevailing rate here is $59.95/mo. They've notified me they planned to increase my rate several times, but I call and tell them the leave me no choice but to switch to DSL for $35/mo. They note how long I've been a customer and acquiesce every time. Thought it might help.
Thanks for the tip Midpack. Got my internet reduced from $43 to $33 today. Although it took a couple of customer service transfers from probably India until I could strike a deal with a customer service agent I could understand what they were saying. $10 isnt going to change my life, but its the principal of the matter that I won. Another small victory for the common man!
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