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Archive for January, 2006

Weekend wrap up

January 30th, 2006 at 05:37 pm

Sold another set of books on ebookdrop. Total $9.47.

My total "extra income" that I'll put towards my next student loan payment is $18.66 (10.56 ebookdrop/8.03 grocery coupon and card savings/0.07 interest).

I have a few more ebookdrop payments that are pending, but I'll just use what I've already received when I make a payment tomorrow. Also, my sad little interest amount is just for my normal checking account. I get a free interest bearing checking account as a bank employee, but it earns a very small amount of interest (0.10% I believe).

I went online to see what my end of the month bonus check will come in at. I'll actually receive the deposit tomorrow, but with today off I wanted to do some financial upkeep. I normally receive around $130, but it was much lower this month. Actually pre-tax it was right on target, but they took out $35 in federal taxes! My normal checks only have about $75 in federal taxes taken out, and they're ten times the size of my little bonus check. Not sure what's going on with that . . .

I'll have to take a look and see whether I want to put the money towards my final planned student loan payment or my short-term savings (I should have been able to put it towards both). Hmmm....


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Spending and Savings:

1/25:
$28.21 internet bill

1/26:
$5.07 drug store
$9.16 groceries

$0.69 savings at drug store (to debt)
$2.76 savings at grocery store (to debt)

1/27:
$15.00 cigarettes
$1.00 coffee

$0.07 interest (to debt)

1/30:
$22.68 dinner (pizza)

$38.81 left in budget (til 2/3)

ebookdrop and work incentives

January 26th, 2006 at 06:38 am

I sold another book on ebookdrop for $1.92. I have a few more books I can sell, but I'm waiting to decide whether I really want to get rid of these. I don't really have any plans on reading them again in the near future, but they're part of a series, so I'm not certain.

Also, my work is running an extra incentive program. So far, I've earned $15 (pre tax, will be on February's check I think) and I won the drawing for a $15 Starbucks card (used $3.99 today). I will probably win the drawing this week as well, since I'm the only two entries Smile We'll have drawings once a week for the next 3 weeks. Very exciting.

I've thought about opening an ING account in order the get the $25 bonus. I think I'm going to go ahead and do it, but I'll have to wait a couple weeks. Currently, I don't have the $250 required, but I always set aside $260 for rent from each paycheck. I think I'll use my next paycheck and open an account, and then just transfer the funds back out.

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Savings and Spending:

$15 earned in incentive (pre-tax)
$15 Starbucks card won in incentive

Successful grocery shopping

January 26th, 2006 at 03:54 am

Normally I don't use coupons. We get the paper at my work, so monday morning I'll check for coupons. However, there never seem to be coupons for what I buy. I don't know, maybe since I don't really buy processed foods that makes couponing difficult. This week was different. From now on I'm going to remember to plan some type of Mexican food before the Super Bowl. There were tons of coupons on things I'm planning on using (hot sauce, sour cream, chips, tortillas!).

I bought a huge bag of groceries and only spent $14.68. I've decided that as much as possible, I'm going to use any grocery coupon or store card savings towards my debt reduction. So, when I make my next payment (the 31st) I'll add $4.58. Yeah!

I'm still waiting for my check to make it to T Rowe Price for my IRA, and for my latest ebookdrop check. I signed up to get payment thru paypal with my other ebookdrop sales, but selected the wrong drop down this time.

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Savings and Spending:

1/23:
10.28 phone bill

1/24:
13.03 cigarettes
4.00 coffee
14.68 groceries

4.58 savings from groceries, towards student loan debt Smile

123.31 left in budget, til 2/3

Weekend spending . . .

January 23rd, 2006 at 08:34 pm

I scheduled my extra student loan payment for Monday, and saw my regular student loan payment go through. Very exciting to see the balance going down Smile

I had to work on Saturday, but I have today off. I do have to go into work for a staff meeting, but not until later. Overall it was a nice weekend. We went out yesterday to watch the Seahawks (not a huge football fan, but it was fun to see something happening for the first time). I didn't really plan well, and hadn't eaten before we left, so I ended up eating at the bar. I paid for my boyfriend and myself, so next time we do something it'll be his turn Smile

Other than that, I finished my taxes. Also, I'm just waiting for the final ebookdrop check to arrive so that I can apply those funds to my student loan.

I have to attend a meeting for my boss on Wednesday. She's out of town on that day, and so I'm going to fill in. On friday I got an email with the topics for the meeting and one is the compensation plan for 2006! So now I'm excited because I'll have a lot of the info straight from the source rather than filtered down from my manager. I'm sure they're not going to cover specific raises, but they will cover how our monthly bonuses are effected.

Saving and Spending:

1/20:
$15 cigarettes

1/22:
$37.19 lunch/drinks
$10.86 cigarettes

$169.88 left in budget, til 2/3

Roth IRA and spending plan

January 20th, 2006 at 03:55 am

Payday is tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to making another student loan payment Smile I am over budget this pay period, but only by $8.76 so that's not too bad.

Here's how the last two weeks went:

Must Haves (goal 50% or 402.36)
~ Actual: 45.7% or 367.50

Save (goal 30% or 241.42)
~ Actual: 24.6% or 197.94

Wants (goal 20% or 160.94)
~ Actual: 30.8% or 248.04 Frown

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Here's the plan for the next two weeks:

~262.50 half of Feb. rent
~160.54 extra student loan payment (extra 0.54 from paypal confirmation of my account)
~57.63 regular student loan payment
~66.47 to retirement savings (I opened a Roth IRA!!)
~232.93 spending budget

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Also, since I opened an IRA with T Rowe Price, I'll be moving around my short-term (aka "freedom fund") and long-term savings in order to make the first contribution . . .

~34.53 use of short-term savings
~899.00 use of long-term savings

This will leave me with just $31 in my long-term savings (aka the emergency fund). I'm not sure how I feel about this yet. My first goal had been setting up $1000 in an emergency fund and then paying off debt. Now my emergency fund has morphed into a retirement fund. I feel like I should build it back up, but I don't want to stop debt payments. The reason I opened an IRA now is to take advantage of the savers credit (which I won't qualify for next year). I get 10% of my IRA contribution back as a tax credit, which I plan to use for debt payment. I think for now I'll see about slowly adding to my emergency fund, and just continue with my planned debt payments.

Back to work . . .

January 18th, 2006 at 10:44 pm

Back from visiting the parents . . . I worked yesterday, but I have today off since I work on Saturday. I'm spending time catching up on financial stuff and relaxing. The visit with the parents was nice, and I got to see a friend of mine who was visiting her parents, but 3 days is just not long enough when you factor in drive time.

We ended up spending more than we had thought on a rental car because we upgraded in order to have snow tires (of course only the nicer cars come with either all weather or snow tires). It was worth it for the peace of mind, and we did hit some nasty weather on the pass. It will lower my short-term savings, but should leave me alright budget wise. I had budgeted for about $50 of my short-term savings (for my half, splitting with my boyfriend), it ended up costing about $80.

I'm slightly overbudget on spending, and I probably need to go grocery shopping tomorrow. Overall not too bad, but not great. Also, I've been researching companies for an IRA. So far Fidelity and T Rowe Price are at the top of the list, but I still need to do more research on what options I have to invest my money once I open an IRA.

I receive my $25 bonus for my HSBC account. Turn around time was pretty fast (the opening deposit occurred on the 9th, the bonus was in on the 17th), but I still haven't called to link external accounts.

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Spending and Saving:

Sat, 1/14:
35.65 gas for rental car

Sun, 1/15:
no spending

Mon, 1/16:
13.00 lunch at Subway (on drive home)

Tues, 1/17:
5.00 groceries (soup for lunches, on sale for 4/5.00 instead of 1/2.89)
15.92 cigarettes

-3.50 in the budget (til 1/19)

3 Day Weekend

January 14th, 2006 at 08:03 am

Tomorrow morning we head out to visit my parents for the long weekend. It should be nice and relaxing. I also get to see a friend that will be in town, so that's an extra bonus.

This week has been okay, but I bought lunch on Thursday and overall did bad on miscellaneous spending. Oh well, I didn't make any big purchases, just snacks and coffee at work and that sort of thing Smile Work has been crazy this week and I'm looking forward to the weekend off Smile

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Spending and Saving:

1/12
2.79 chips for lunch
5.00 lunch (sandwich)
6.00 cigarettes

1/13:
5.00 cigarettes
2.45 snacks

66.07 left in budget (til 1/19)

The Saver's Credit . . .

January 12th, 2006 at 05:16 am

Today is my boyfriend's birthday. 34, Woo hoo! He has to work until midnight tonight, so we opened presents and went out to dinner last night. We had pho, which is inexpensive, and which we had both been craving. I bought him some DVDs (using Border's buy 3 get 1, and watching for DVDs already on sale). He was very excited. I finished off our collection of a couple BBC comedies - Coupling and Red Dwarf. I used the last of the Christmas money to buy his gifts.

Also, I looked over my taxes for this year and figured that I qualify for the "savers credit." I barely got under the income requirement, and only did because of my 401k contributions and deducting student loan interest (the max your adjusted gross income can be is 25,000/yr if single). This means that I can take a percentage of retirement contributions as a tax credit. I made about $1,100 in contributions to my 401k, and even though they are taken out pretax they still qualify for a credit to my taxes. That means an extra $110 in refund Smile

Now I'm debating opening a Roth IRA with my emergency fund in order to max out the tax credit. I would end up getting about 90 dollars extra in my refund, and I probably won't qualify for the credit next year since my income has increased. I just have to decide if I really want to deplete my emergency fund and start a Roth IRA earlier than I had planned. I had thought I would probably start one next year once my private student loans are paid off. Also, I'll have to find somewhere to start it where I don't have to contribute a set amount each month in order to qualify for opening an account. I think I'll talk to one of the financial consultants at my work (I work at a bank) and see if he has any options to open an IRA for around $1000. Everywhere I've looked online either has a higher minimum to open or requires contributions each month.

Other than that, things have been pretty slow around here. My boyfriend and I are heading to my parents' house this weekend. We had to rent a car again (his is still not reliable enough for the 5 hours each way, and the mountain pass). I had some expired coupons, but one of the codes still worked so the rental was 20% off. Kind of sad that we had to rent again, but overall it's cheaper than having a second car Smile Sometimes you just have to look on the bright side . . .

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Spending and Savings:

1/9:
6.00 cigarettes
4.00 coffee

1/10:
11.00 birthday dinner
6.63 cigarettes/snacks

1/11:
2.00 soda

$87.31 left in budget (til 1/19)

2006 Goals and weekend spending

January 8th, 2006 at 11:58 pm

It's been a nice weekend so far. I had to work yesterday, but it went by quickly. My boyfriend and I went out to dinner with some friends last night. Yumm, sushi! Smile It was an expensive night out, but worth it Smile and not that common.

Also, today I finalized my goals for 2006:

~ Net worth to positive.
~ Private Student Loans 1 and 2 paid off (goal of May and November)
~ Government Student Loan to under $7,000
~ $430 extra each month to debt payment.
~ $110 each month to short-term savings.
~ Any tax returns/bonuses/extra to debt payment.
~ Continue 5% contributions to 401k.
~ Look into IRA for 2007.

Most of the goals center around paying off or paying down my student loans. Also, I want to continue to put money into short-term savings in order to plan for various expenses (holidays, birthdays, trips, medical bills, etc.). I've done this for most of the last half of 2005, and it's nice to have a fund so that I don't have to use credit cards or dip into my emergency fund. I can actually plan for these expenses Smile

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Saving and Spending:

1/6:
14.13 cigarettes
7.00 drinks

1/7:
31.35 dinner out
34.91 drinks

$117.94 left in budget (til 1/19)

Friday off . . .

January 6th, 2006 at 11:42 pm

I have today off from work, which is very nice Smile I have to work tomorrow though Frown Today I'm just catching up on housework and reading. A nice relaxing day . . . Although, I did go out to lunch with a friend of mine. I haven't seen her for a bit (conflicting schedules) so it was nice to be able to sit down and chat.

And I got paid today . . .

$262.50 half of February rent
$100.00 regular student loan payment
$160.00 extra student loan payment
$32.94 short term save
$250.00 spending budget

I'm very excited that I can finally start paying extra on my student loans again. With the oil bill and my medical bills I had to put that off for a couple months.

Also, today I signed up for an HSBC account. With the bonus and the higher interest rate (4.25 vs. Emigrant Direct's 4.00) I figured it was worth it. We'll see how the sign up process goes. I opened the account with just $5 to make sure everything starts out okay.

I also paid my dental bill from December ($83.23). I put the bill on my credit card in order to get cash back. Right now the money is in my short term savings account (at my local bank), and I'll transfer it out and pay the credit card once the charge hits my account.

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Savings and Spending

$28.21 cable internet bill
$6 coffee and lunch
$6 cigarettes
$5 to long term savings (HSBC new account)

$204.33 left in budget (til 1/19)

2005 Totals . . .

January 5th, 2006 at 06:20 am

After a bit of a rough November and December, it was nice to see my yearly totals. Here are the numbers for change from 2004 to 2005.

Savings:
$2490.79 401k (up $2663.01 from 2004)
$900.00 Long Term Savings (up $900 Wink )
$363.59 Short Term Savings (up $190.38)
$282.87 Vested Pension balance (just vested this December)

Total Savings Increase: $4036.26

Debt:
$2890.00 Private Student Loan 1 (decreased by $1049.91)
$3320.07 Private Student Loan 2 (decreased by $394.06)
$8392.28 Government Student Loan (decreased by $411.01)
$0 Credit Cards (decreased by $1090.82)

Total Debt Reduction: $2945.80


Yeah! This year is all about paying off my private student loans Smile I'll update with my 2006 goals later, I think this post is probably long enough . . .

December Review . . .

January 5th, 2006 at 06:07 am

So, I finally have my December totals . . .

Spending for December wasn't too bad. What really threw me off was an oil heat bill that I wasn't expecting. That brought my "wants" up to a pretty high percentage. Overall though, not bad. I did actually come in under budget (by $2.26). This was especially good because I budgeted less for spending in December.

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Spending

Must Haves:

$525 Rent
$10.28 Phone bill
$43.47 Electricty
$242.45 Oil heat
$24.57 Groceries (crazy!)
$79.33 Medical bill
$157.63 Regular student loan payments

Total $1082 or 65% (should be at 50%, with out the oil bill I would have been at 51%)

Save:

$248.22 Short Term Save

$248.22 or 15% (way to low, goal is 30%)

Wants:

$45.57 Work Snacks/Coffee
$110.03 Cigarettes
$79.81 Misc.
$91.00 Dinner/Entertainment

$326.41 or 20% (right at goal Smile )

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Savings

Short Term Savings (down $300 because of planned Christmas spending)
Long Term Savings (up $97.21 because of Christmas cash)
401K (up $190.42)
Pension (just vested 12/1/05 at $282.87)

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Debt

Private Student Loan 1 (decreased by $35.57)
Private Student Loan 2 (decreased by $33.45)
Government Student Loan (payment for December hasn't posted)



Back to work . . .

January 4th, 2006 at 04:11 am

Today was my first day back since last Thursday. Ugh! I couldn't sleep last night (completely unrelated to work, I just wasn't tired). I probably got around 3 hours of sleep total, which is not the best way to start a work week Wink Also, work was crazy busy today. I had a lot of things I needed to do that had piled up while I was gone. Everything was put off until tomorrow. Oh well, hopefully tomorrow will be slow. Annoyingly, in my sleep deprived state this morning I forgot my lunch. I'm always sad when that happens.

Last post I forgot to mention my last paycheck of 2005. I get a monthly incentive check (around $100, but lately it's been more like $150). This month was a bit low, and went primarily towards the last of my medical bills. Some went into short term savings.

I sold another book on ebookdrop. $1.04 more towards debt reduction Smile

I'll post my final numbers for December and for 2005 in a couple days. For now, things are looking alright. 2005 was a pretty successful year. At the start of the year I had zero in an emergency fund, less than two hundred in my 401k, and about $1000 in CC debt (which had only been there a few weeks, and was paid off in February, darn dentist sometimes sneaks up on you). Now I have $800ish in my emergency fund, nearly $2500 in my 401k, and zero credit card debt. My student loans went down quite a bit too, which is nice Smile

Also, I'm getting a lot better at planning for larger expenses. For me, credit card debt never go to far out of hand, but it was always a fluctuating thing. I would be fine for a few months, and then bam! it was Christmas time and I hadn't saved, or I hadn't planned for dental work, or whatever. Now, I'm trying to plan for these expenses and save up.

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Savings and Spending

12/30:
$79.33 medical bill (paid from incentive check)
$16.99 short term savings (left over incentive check)

1/2:
$13 cigarettes
$10.28 phone bill

1/3:
$1.04 earned on ebookdrop
$7 lunch at work

$6.25 left in budget (til 1/5)

Lazy sunday . . .

January 2nd, 2006 at 03:14 am

Last night was fun and not to expensive Smile Always a good combination. We ended up meeting up with some friends and then going to another friend's house to see the fire works at midnight.

I don't have final numbers for 2005 yet (I'll tally everything up when I get paid on Friday), but it looks like it was a pretty successful year. December was a bit weird, but overall I think I did well. I managed to pay a large unexpected bill and still stay in budget. I actually spent less than I thought I was going to for Christmas, and I put all cash received for Christmas into short term savings.

Spending:

$12 cigarettes
$10 dinner out