Archive for July, 2006

Extras

I’m still working out the ins and out of the banking bit. Bank of America has been the most recommended bank, but they require direct deposit on their free account or there’s a $5.95 monthly charge. Currently my paycheck goes straight into my ING Direct account which earns 4.35% as opposed to 0% with Bank of America. They do have a $50 signing bonus though which would make up for quite a bit of lost interest.

I suppose I am going to have to be moving money once a month in any case. Either into checking to pay my bills or out to a higher interest savings account. ING has an automatic deduction, so I could just set that up. Honestly, with a third of my paycheck going into my IRA, joining a gym, moving to a new house and starting to take the metro to work; my savings capacity is severely diminished. I probably ought to just switch and go with Bank of America.

BB&T is still in slight consideration since they have a free checking account with no strings. Also, while I was poking around today, I found their check card has a deal with Visa Extras. Once I’ve signed up, for every dollar I spend, I earn points. I was perusing the catalog and, had I signed up initially, I could be well on my way to a $100 Lobster Gram gift certificate. Alas.

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Banks

So, I dislike my bank. When I got to the States, I needed to move fast to start my new job, so I went with BB&T because my parents used them and they had branches in Tennessee and D.C. So far though, I’d estimate I’ve paid them at least $100 in fees, and I’m tired of them.

When I opened my account with them, I decided to put $5000 in one of their CDs. I knew that I was going to be moving and that my finances were uncertain. When I explained this to the guy opening the account and asked about transferring money in and out of the CD, he told me I could to so once a month without penalty. Once I got to D.C. I had to take some of it out to cover my security deposit and was promptly penalized.

About a month later I deposited my paycheck in an ATM. It turns out that the checks weren’t signed. So, the bank removed that amount from my account. They didn’t however remove the hold that had been placed on that amount, so effectively withdrew those checks twice, overdrawing my account. After going to the bank twice and getting the amount straightened out, I asked them to remove the $100+ in overdraft fees since they had overdrawn my account, not me. I called them twice and they kept saying they were doing it and finally they removed about $50 of them. I just didn’t have the energy to keep calling them.

I’ve never been in there and it taken less that fifteen minutes to do anything. I went it to close my CD yesterday and after almost 45 minutes and a lengthy phone conversation, one of the managers managed to get it closed.

I’m just tired of it and want a new bank. My money is currently broken down into four main categories:

  • Checking: Money for monthly expenses. All I need here is a check card of some sort and online bill payment. I didn’t ever get a checkbook for my account because my address keeps changing and the only check I have to write is for rent. The one thing BB&T has done right is making it easy to get a check sent to him.
  • Emergency Funds: This is a chunk of change for dealing with something like a car accident or chipped tooth or whatever. It needs to be accessible within three or four days. For this I’ve got a savings account at ING Direct named “BB&T Sucks” that’s earning 4.35%.
  • Retirement: MPP does a SIMPLE IRA through American Funds. I’m withholding almost 20% at this point. I’m trying to push my income as close to the $30,000 jump from 15% to 25% as possible.
  • Investing: This is still theoretical because I’ve been upping my IRA withholding to compensate for extra money I have. (I’m actually withholding 30% currently, but that will average out to 20% by the end of the year.) In a month or two though, I’d like to put a couple thousand dollars in something, probably an index fund.

So, does anyone have a bank they’ve been really happy with? Branches in Tennessee and D.C. would be nice. Not sucking would be awesome.

(If anyone ever decides to open an ING account, let me know. For a referral, I get $10 and you get $25.)

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Three Little Words

I got to DC almost exactly six months ago. In my first couple weeks of house hunting, I saw this really cool place that I really liked. I was saddened not to have gotten in, but the message informing me of that fact was interesting. It was one of the housemates telling me that she’d pulled for me hard, but it didn’t work out. What made it interesting was the undercurrent of flirtation. So, I responded with something peppy, brushed off the rejection and dropped a few questions. A conversation ensued and soon I found myself in a relationship.

I liked this girl quite a bit. She was smart, candid, adventurous and sexual. We had a really good time together seeing the city getting to know each other. I won’t say it was a storybook romance, but it really was about as free and open as I have felt in a relationship.

Round about three months our intimacy and familiarity had continued to the point that I started having the impulse to tell her that I loved her. I’ve never been the first one to do this and honestly Africa left me a little jaded. When the feeling would come up I’d just sort of enjoy the feeling, but never say the words. I figured that was what was important and that the words were just secondary.

But they’re not, of course. If the words didn’t matter it wouldn’t be hard to say them. What I didn’t realize until the feelings started to change is that I wasn’t just deciding not to say, “I love you:” I was deciding to play it safe and not make myself vulnerable to this other person.

The image that comes to mind now is a little fetus growing in its mother’s womb. As time goes on legs and arms and eyes and a nose grow. Sometimes though something goes wrong. Maybe mommy smokes or some of her chromosomes don’t line up like they do in most people. For whatever reason something gets off in the development process. Maybe one of the arms comes in crooked or whatever. As time goes on these little problems effect later things until eventually the sick little baby just quietly passes away.

The image is a little dramatic, but that’s what I keep seeing. Not because I want to compare my relationship to a miscarriage, but rather to something delicate and growing and, I’m afraid, having been dealt a fatal blow through a bad decision.

Because I like talking to her and doing things with her and generally being her boyfriend. How I feel affection for her has changed though. I feel like I’ve got a really good friend that I have sex with, but I’m not sure that I’ve got a lover. While I certainly enjoy having a good friend to have sex with, it matters to me that the relationship has the potential of going somewhere. I’m old and I want kids. Every decision is going to take me closer or farther away from the life I want to be living after another thirty years. While this is fun in the here and now, I just can’t weigh that against what I feel like I’m giving up on.

So, we’re going to have a talk. We’ll see how that goes.

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