First Year of Fund Management Experience

I, the family in general, don’t do resolutions. We just never follow through with them for whatever reason. So instead of resolutions, we have little goals. I say little because we like to do baby steps with everything and if it works out great, then we do more the next month, quarter, year, etc.

Up to last year we were a bit careless with our food purchasing and we ate out quite a bit. In the US, it’s not that bad financially. Still more expensive than cooking but a bit reasonable for our pocket book. In the UK, not only are we on just one income, there is an exchange rate difference. When we were in America over the summer break, our eating out total was about $20 for lunch. We are water drinkers and so $20 is for three meals. Jovie doesn’t eat much and the girls would either get an adult meal to share or two kid’s meals. In the UK, a similar lunch would cost £20 or, due to the exchange rate, $30! Imagine how much a dinner out would be!!

That’s why I started to seriously meal plan and amazingly, meal planning has now become a part of my weekly routine. We love it and it has saved us a lot of cash!

Last year I also started to look into our personal finances. We’ve always been good at saving money and like most Americans who have/had a full-time job with benefits, we have 401Ks. But besides our statements, I have no idea what all were involved in it.

So I got to researching. And after a lot of reading, I realized that instead of Edward Jones, I can manage the funds and save the 5.75% upfront cost (front-load) every time we put new money into a fund. Example, if you invest $10,000, $575 of it would go towards fees.

Now, I have nothing bad to say about the Edward Jones guys I have worked with. They both have been lovely lovely people and I highly recommend the Warrensburg, MO office. Without my first Ed Jones man, I wouldn’t have an idea how much to invest and in what. But, after some learning, I decided that I can do it and save the 5.75%.

I don’t want to say I wasn’t afraid, I mean crap, what if we end up losing it all? But I figured that since I’ve always been good in math and there were so many lovely people in different forums that were helpful and successful that I should be ok. I did learn quite a bit and these are the tips I want to share with you in case you want to look into your 401 better or doing it yourself.

    1. Look to see how much fees each fund is costing you. You can see that there is a load of 5.75% (this is one time but it will be charged each time you put new money in) and the yearly expense to own this account is 0.70%. The later expense is the money you’re paying the fund managers to manage this fund. Last year AMCPX’s return was 8.87%. If last year was your first year of investing and you put $10,000 into this fund, your investment return was only 2.42% (8.87-5.75-0.70) for 2014.

      Let’s compare the above to the below fund. FSTMX has no load and the yearly cost to own this account is 0.10%. The fund is an index fund. It basically means you are investing in every big company on the stock market. There is nobody picking and choosing a select few stocks and watching over their development. That’s why the expense is low.NOTE: To learn more about these two types of funds, Google active and/vs passive funds.Last year this fund returned 12.49% and so after fees, last year you would have made 12.34%!! According to Marketwatch’s fees calculator, AMCPX’s fees in 10 years time will cost you around $1,586 vs $157 for FSTMX. If you’re confused why the fee’s not $100 (being 10%), it’s because the fees are based on how much money is in the account and we can only hope that your investment will grow every year :)


    2. Read. A LOT! Read the prospectus too. I know it’s all boring looking but from it you can see where the fund is going, what companies you’re investing in and decide if it’s something you want to keep investing in.There are many many books, websites and online forums. Some books recommended to me and that I’ve read are:
      1. The Boglehead’s Guide to Investing
      2. The Four Pillars of Investing
      3. The Intelligent Asset Allocator Portfolio

      And a few forums that I stalk and sometimes post in:

      1. Boglehead
      2. Morningstar
      3. Mr Money Mustache
      4. Early Retirement

      There are also many tools and resources that you can read online:

      1. Boglehead Wiki
      2. Fidelity’s Learning Center
      3. FIRECalc (FIRE: Financially Independent Retire Early)
    3. Don’t check your investment very often. It can be stressful watching the market go down. The stock market goes up and down every second, it’s just how it rolls, but if you’re still like us and have years to go until retirement, just let the market do its thing.
    4. Don’t time the market. Don’t just want for the market to plunge before buying. Invest regularly and your portfolio will be just fine! BUT, if you happen to be there when the market plunges and you have some extra cash, go for it. We did in 2008 and the handful of stocks that we purchased are doing quite well.
    5. The last tip is for those who have not saved yet for retirement. Even if you’re 40-years-old, start now! Let’s say you have $1,000. With $500/mo, in 25 years, aka age 65, you’ll have about $400k in your account at a 7% return.

      savings_retirement Give up coffee, soda and lunch, you can save even more!


Last year I learned quite a bit on how to read our investments, moved funds to a different companies and made big decisions on fund allocations. This year I want to read more book and just be a bit more clever with the whole thing so that I can participate and understand what some of those folks are talking about in forums. Despite my lack of knowledge, I feel confident that I made the right decision for us and except for the first month where I moved from Edward Jones to Fidelity and Vanguard, it’s not that time consuming. I use Personal Capital to keep track of everything (online and iPhone app), it’s similar to Mint. I like Mint for banking and Personal Capital for Investments. Another great website and app is SigFig. I really like the user interface but SigFig wasn’t being friendly with TSP, the government 401k managers, and so I abandoned it.

If you are still paying off debt or not very good at managing your money, I highly recommend this software called You Need a Budget. It’s not a cheap software but they do go on sale a few times a year and usually a 10% discount year round. But even at full price, it’s worth the money! Give the software a go and see what you think!

Take care!!

FREE Organizing/Calendar Printables

This year I have the ultimate goal of getting all sorts of things organized. I have things in different rooms that need to be be out of this house, I have baby toys in Jovie’s room still, clothes in my closet that I haven’t looked at since we moved here and I really want to be able to budget better, manage the home better and not faff about so much or be so last minute. While I haven’t missed any important deadline, often times I’d have to be up until 5 a.m. to complete them.

So, to help me accomplish this oh so big goal, I need a few organizing tools – digital and paper. I downloaded Any.Do app on my phone to remind me of what I need to do and I write everything in my Google Calendar. This way it’s synced up to my computer and iPad. For my finances, I have HomeBudget (which I bought since I love it so much and need the advance features). I love it because I can add dollars and pounds expenses and accounts in one app.

If it was just me, myself and I, I can do with just those three apps above. But I live with my husband and an older very active child. Also, I think it’d be nice if Jovie, who can read simple things, see when her birthday is and that there’s a gigantic princess sticker stuck on her special day — kid is sticker crazy and her goal in life is to be a princess!

To help me I went online. I want to go the inexpensive route <– budgeting goal! And I found sooooooooooo many wonderful, customizable, calendars and planners!

Here I will just highlight some of my favorites. For more, you can check out my Pinterest board.

Sara Woodrow. Ahhh… if only I can draw like her. Sooooooooooo pretty! And yes, her work will be displayed in our house. I <3!!


I Heart Nap Time. LOTS of fabulous ideas for families and if you’re not a regular reader, I encourage you to do so. But the below will be our family paper planner. I have paper, a printer (although kind of low on ink) and a binder!


Vintage Glama. If you want a one year calendar (which you can Copic, ha!), this may fit your need. Isn’t it pretty? I love the leafy and floral swirls.


Els Brige. If you’re feeling MORE creative, you can download this calendar, stamp, glue, paint, etc on one side and then bind all the pages together. How FANTASTIC, huh? This actually may inspire me to do something for M! But we’ll see, I have other crap to do before that happens!

Crafty Desk Calendar


No Editing Collage Printing


From your mobile.

Project Life-ers, Instagramers or mini scrapbookers who want to print their mobile phone photos easily will need one (or both) of these phone apps! Available for Apple, Android and Windows mobiles.

I have two photo collage app on my phone. One is free, with add-on purchase option, and the other is £.69/$.99 and it comes with all sorts of fun things. The best part is, BOTH have templates for 4×6 prints! Which basically means, I can (if I have a wireless printer) print directly from my phone. I also know that some places, like Costco or Shutterfly (and many others), have the option to print directly from your phone! Sweet, huh?

At home I have a Canon Selphy ES30 (next month Canon is releasing their latest model, the CP-910, and it will have a square template for Instagram kind of pics). It’s probably considered ancient by today’s standards but it still works great. The lack of wireless sometimes make me want to upgrade but for the time being, it’s ok.

Since I use my iPhone a lot to take daily photos. I downloaded Pic Stitch (I still haven’t upgraded) and just splurged on PicFrame (choose the 3:4 ratio to print almost perfectly on a Selphy) mostly because the frames are super cute and I can do heart shapes etc — ok, completely cheesy and worthless reason but for $.99, I deserve it {::WINK}.

Below are the two printouts using PicFrame (top) and PicStitch (bottom). You can’t really tell the difference, huh? Maybe on the bottom right corners but it could also be because the paper came in crooked. Either way, both photos are usable.

Sample Pic Sample Pic

And this was how the photo looked on the Selphy monitor. I didn’t do any adjusting. Just select and print.


The below was the reason why I spent $.99 on PicFrame. SUCKER!! Ha ha! But don’t you LOVE the rounded corners AND the stripes?


Oh, there’s more! You can add cute little washi tape notes too with PicFrame. COMPLETELY SOLD! Best $.99 purchase this year!


Last, how it all looks all trimmed inside a Project Life sleeve. Three photos in one print without any editing!

Project Life

My husband won’t get my enthusiasm surrounding these two apps and their abilities to help me print and display cute photos. But that’s why I have this blog and other photo enthusiast friends.

Ta ta for now!

This entry was posted in Tips.

Project Life 2014 – Tools and Freebies

WPlus9 December

Anybody working on a Project Life album this year? I am!! I downloaded the Photo 365 app on my iPhone and HOPEFULLY by doing this, I can photograph and/or write about each day of 2014! I will also use InstaWeather’s photo feature to document the current day’s weather (only if I think it’s significant, e.g. first day of snow, super sunny day, extreme wind). I was a bit rubbish last year but it was mostly due to not starting at the beginning AND not having anything in stock. I know, I know, not an excuse to not finish but that’s just the way I am. I have to have the right tool(s) or I won’t feel as motivated.

Here’s a sample of what the Photo 365 and InstaWeather photo apps look (PS: The below are images for Photo 365 and InstaWeather’s website):

Project365 app InstaWeather

SO, while I have all sorts of stuff now (tools to keep track of photos and memories and paper goodies), my January PL kit club stuff doesn’t come until close to the end of the month. To compensate, I did some Googling and Pinteresting and came up with the following.

Hope what I found will be useful for you too, either now or later down the road. Best of all, they’re FREE!

Hello 2014 PL Freebie

Caylee Grey Hello 2014

Hello 2014 PL Freebie

And Sew We Craft 2014 download

PL 2014


Dunia Design PL 2014 inserts

PL 2014 Die-cut download — PNG files but there are directions on how to trace and cut in Silhouette on the blog post!

Now, just in case you all think I’ve gone 100% into sewing dollies, I want to also share this card I made for WPlus9 using their latest December release. A pretty Valentine card. I still do really love layers and I hope it shows here!

That’s it for today! I am going to do some PL work and find more projects to sew — going to the fabric shop this weekend! Whoohoo!!

Until next time!!


Tut: Pinterest Pin It Using iPod/iPad/iPhone

This is a tutorial on how to install the Pinterest “Pin It” bookmarklet on your iPad (iPhone/Pod) Safari web browser.

What is Pinterest? It’s an organizational tool that lets you share all the pretty findings with all Pinterest members (who follows you). It’s really fun and I use mine to gather ideas for my current and future home decorating needs, travel ideas, color combos, things I want to buy for myself or the family, etc. Very fun and if not careful can take up a lot of your precious time!

The last few months I haven’t been pinning much. Long story but basically I’ve been without a laptop and when I do sit in front of a computer (desktop) it has been to either grade, learn/research, edit pics and blog. Just not comfy sitting on this chair of mine. A few weeks ago I picked up a new toy and between the apps and me messing around with the iPad I found that I can do this: Pinning directly from Safari on to Pinterest. No apps needed. I like this better than using the app (the app doesn’t let me pin new things). Because of this I’ve been regularly pinning again.

So how do you do it? Well first, if you have any sort of iDevice (iPod, iPhone or iPad) with Safari installed and JavaScript enabled (you go into your Safari Settings to check this and to turn it on/off — you NEED this ON) you can do this little trick. If you are on a different operating system this method should work IF the browser supports JavaScript and has a regular browser bookmarking feature (not the one that shows up on another page). I learned this method from Read it Later‘s how to install a bookmarklet tutorial. After successfully adding the bookmarklet my little brain went: Ooooh, if I can do this for Read it Later I should be able to do it for all other bookmarklet. After some Googling I found Pinterest’s blog and yup, they said you can.

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