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Successful grocery shopping

January 25th, 2006 at 07:54 pm

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 12:34 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 19th, 2006 at 07:55 pm

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 02:44 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 12:03 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 11th, 2006 at 09:16 pm

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 03:58 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 03:42 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 4th, 2006 at 10:20 pm

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 4th, 2006 at 10:07 pm

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)

----------------------------------
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 3rd, 2006 at 08:11 pm

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 1st, 2006 at 07:14 pm

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

Happy New Year . . . almost . . .

December 31st, 2005 at 05:11 pm

What a nice day. My boyfriend and I cleaned the house. I handled the bedroom, living room, and tidied the office a bit (this is an ongoing project), while he did a bunch of dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. We got a new set of dishes from his parents this year (well, new to us) . . . so he put those away too.

Now we're just deciding what to do for New Year's Eve. We had been planning to go to a friend's house and just hang out; however, our friends are sick . . . So, now I think we'll go to an inexpensive dinner (pho, yummy!) and then hang out with another group of friends. Hopefully it shouldn't be to expensive.

I've been thinking about 2006 goals, but I don't have anything firm. I won't wrap up my December numbers until I get paid on the 6th. I should post by then what my goals are Smile

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Spending:

$17.11 groceries

$58.53 left in budget (til 1/5)

Back home . . .

December 30th, 2005 at 04:50 pm

We arrived back home late last night, and returned the rental car today. That was a bit of a funny experience. When we went to pick up the car on Friday, the location we scheduled a pick up was closed! Ugh! So, we called the customer service line and they actually ended up being very helpful. We got a free upgrade and only had to go a few blocks over to another Budget location in order to pick up our car. My half of the rental is $80 (which I have in short term savings), and I only spend $13.03 for gas. We travelled with a friend of ours, and he picked up a couple of the fill-ups as a thank you for the ride. My boyfriend picked up one other fill-up, and I handled the topping off this morning. So, about $100 per person instead of the roughly $290 for a plane ticket (plus transportation to the airport).

Anyway, Christmas was lots of fun. I spent it with my boyfriend's parents and sister and had a good time. There were a few rough moments, but that's kind of to be expected with his family. My boyfriend and his father don't really get along, so at least once per trip there is some sort of blow up. His mom, his sister, and myself just go in the other room and have a cocktail or something Smile We also got to see a lot of old friends, as well as a few friends who moved back home only recently and who I know from Seattle. Lots of spending on going out Smile But oh well . . .

I actually came in under budget as far as Christmas shopping. I'll take the $66 and earmark it for my dental visit in February. I also got some more Christmas cash, which I'm still not sure how I'm going to use. I'll try and use it on something fun though Smile

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Spending/Saving:

$60 to short term save (Christmas money)

12/23
$22 dinner out

12/26
$2 snacks

12/27
$44 drinks out

12/28
$11 cigarettes
$1.50 ATM fee
$7 drinks out

12/29
$10 road snacks

$75.64 left in budget (til 1/5)

Housekeeping . . .

December 22nd, 2005 at 11:05 pm

I finally got motivated to clean up around the house. Finished all the dishes last night and mopped the floor, I also finished some laundry that needed to done before we leave tomorrow.

Work has been crazy this week, and I barely had time to finish all the little things that needed to be done today. I'm going to be gone all the way through January 3rd, which is going to make for a very relaxed holiday. We're leaving tomorrow for my boyfriend's parents. We come back on Thursday and will spend the rest of our time off at home. I won't have internet access while at his parent's house, so I'll use this time to wish everyone a happy holiday Smile

Now for some financial housekeeping before leaving and we'll be all set Smile

I get paid tomorrow, which is nice since I have $27.19 leftover in my budget. For now I'm earmarking it for short term savings. I know in February I have some dental work I need to have done so this will start that fund (should be about $200). On Tuesday I had my last cleaning for the year . . .

Here's the breakdown for the budget (12/23-1/5):

$262.50 half of January rent
$242.45 oil heating bill (once a year expense)
$57.63 regular payment for government student loan
$213.12 spending

Normally I budget $250 for spending (this includes groceries/utilities/play money). I have a lower amount for a couple of reasons. First, I did so well in the last two weeks staying below my normal amount that I want to see if I can do it again Smile Second, since I wasn't really expecting the oil bill I hadn't budgetted it in. Hence a bit lower spending this pay period Smile I'm sad that I won't really be able to put very much extra towards debt this month. I have a small incentive check at the end of the month (should be around $140) which will go partially towards the last of my ER bills and partially towards a bit extra on the student loans.

-----------------------------------------
Spending/Saving:


$27.19 to short term save

$15 cigarettes
$8 stamps
$4 coffee

$186.12 left in budget (til 1/5)

12/20 . . .

December 20th, 2005 at 08:17 pm

I've been so unmotivated over the last few days. I really need to do some laundry and finish the dishes. We're leaving early friday morning for the drive down to my boyfriend's parents, and I would rather not have to worry about laundry the night before Smile Of course, I'll probably put it off . . .

I did sell another book on ebookdrop . . . 3.74 yeah!

Other than not not much going on. It's been incredibly busy at work and I'm just too mentally numb to comment much more. Maybe that's whats up with procrastinating on house work. You know when it's crazy busy and your brain just kind of goes numb? Yeah, I'm feeling that Smile I guess I'll just relax tonight and be motivated tomorrow Wink We'll see how that works . . .

I did stop by the drug store to get some misc toiletries . . . face wash and the like . . . I'll need to bring it a long over Christmas, and I'd rather not run out while there Smile

Spending:

$11.11 drug store

$31.53 left in budget (til 12/23)

12/19 Update . . .

December 19th, 2005 at 08:24 pm

Hmm, I would say it's been busy here, but really I've been lazy Wink I had a nice relaxing weekend just lounging around with my boyfriend. Now we're all rested up to spend a week with his parents. We did go out with friends on Saturday, but only ended up spending $9 since most of the night we were at a work Christmas party. Seems kind of weird - since it wasn't out work - but we know most of the people that work there, and it was very casual - complete with a keg.

On Thursday one of my coworkers was fired. It was sooo hard, HR pretty much just told the manager that we had to let her go because of her outage. I ended up being the nice consolling manager, but we both were in the back crying . . . It was just such a shock, and now I go to work everyday expecting her to be there.

Fridays spending is all out of wack 'cause I was just too tired after all of that to pack a lunch or even care about my spending. I couldn't sleep either, I guess I'm still in shock at how fast it happened.

I mailed all my Christmas packages and last minute cards. Now I'm all set for the holiday, except my bf's sister's present. I'm kind of leaving that up to him since I made some suggestions. He'll have to make the final decision.

It looks like I'll come in under budget, which is nice. Especially since I lowered my normal spending amount from $250 for two weeks to $221 in order to try and make up for some of my doctors bills.

Spending:

12/15
$13.03 cigarettes
$11.17 post office (from Christmas budget)
$2.99 coffee

12/16
$4 coffee
$5 lunch
$4.58 snacks

12/17
$8 drinks

12/18
$22.46 groceries (toiletries/cigarettes/groceries)

12/19
$15 cigarettes

$45.64 left in budget (til 12/23)

ebookdrop update . . .

December 15th, 2005 at 10:36 am

Thanks for the comment, mjrube94. The exciting thing about eBookDrop is that it's based here in Seattle. So, even though the package is mailed media rate it will only have to go a couple zip codes over. I'm not sure how the post office routes packages, if maybe they'll end up going a long way to a central processing center, but hopefully the mailing should be pretty quick.

In fact, the post office box for ebookdrop is in West Seattle (not near where I am), but the label routes the packages through the zip code right next to my work. I'm thinking if I go to that post office (about 15-20 blocks from me rather than the one a block away) that would speed things up too. I'll have to give that a try next time. This time I have to mail other packages and won't have time during my lunch to go down to that post office and wait in line.

In other news, I received a Christmas check from the parents for $200. I haven't really decided what I'll do with it yet . . . it's for myself and my boyfriend (although my mom just wrote it to me, since she knows we don't have a joint account). I'm thinking some will go to savings and some will treat us . . . maybe a dinner out?

ebookdrop . . .

December 14th, 2005 at 10:22 pm

So, motivated by another poster I decided to check out ebookdrop. Between my boyfriend and myself we have TONS of books. Seriously, four floor-to-ceiling Ikea style bookshelves. So, yeah, we don't really need all of these books. Some are ones we want to keep, but I went through and checked the ISBN for a bunch of those "never really liked it" or "will never read it again" type books. Four of them are "wanted" and will be shipped tomorrow . . . total $6.82! I'm very excited.

I've always though about bringing some of the books into a used book store or listing on ebay, but just never was motivated. I guess ebay was just to intimidating (seemed like to much work for such a small profit in this case) and I didn't really want to lug a big bag of books on the bus just to find out some used book store didn't want them (most of these books were bought at a used book store anyway).

I must have entered about 30 ISBN numbers, hopefully some of those will be in demand in the future. I'm excited to see how easy the process is. I have the label printed and the books set aside. My work is always getting shipments, so hopefully I should be able to find a box that'll fit them well. If not, I can always wait a couple days for more boxes to come in Smile It works out especially well since I have to walk down to the post office anyway to mail out Christmas packages.

Wednesday update . . .

December 14th, 2005 at 07:48 pm

I've finally gotten all my Christmas packages wrapped and ready to mail. I will go to the post office tomorrow. We still need to get something for my boyfriend's parents and sister though.

Work today was actually slow (very strange), so I spent time trying to catch up on things. It's always nice when I actually have time to do my job, rather than cover for us being under staffed in another area Smile

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Spending:

$1 coffee
$2 gum/chips
$10.52 soup/toiletries at the drug store

$119.87 left in budget (til 12/23)

Forgotten bill . . .

December 13th, 2005 at 07:28 pm

My boyfriend and I share a rental house that we moved into last November. Our landlord told us the resevoir for the oil furnace will be filled once a year. He paid for it that year but from then on it became our responsibility. However, I completely forgot to factor in the price of a fill up into my budget . . . my half is $240! I'm trying to look at it in the big picture - it works out to about $40 a month. I did some fiddling with my budget for this month, and I'll be fine - I'll just have to put off paying back the emergency fund until my first paycheck in January. I guess it could be a lot worse . . . the only utilities we pay are electricity and our phone (well, I guess and the oil bill too) . . . I'm pretty happy to *not* have to pay garbage and water . . .

Other than that little surprise when I got home, today has been pretty uneventful. I did make one purchase at the drug store, but I was pretty proud of my shopping: 1 box of Christmas cards, my boyfriend's birthday card (I couldn't help it, it was just perfect for him and his birthday is early January), soup for lunch, and padded envelopes for all the gifts going out. All for under $12. Not bad.

I had a craving for coffee this afternoon, but I avoided it and was very proud of myself Smile Funny how the little things really matter in your motivation. Here I am having to pay out $240 I didn't even remember as a bill, but I'm still happy 'cause I didn't cave and buy a $4 coffee. Wink Everyone always says the small things add up, which is true, but for me it's more that the small things keep me motivated each day.

Spending:

$11.14 drug store

$133.39 left in budget til 12/23.

Weekend Christmas shopping

December 12th, 2005 at 03:54 pm

After my update for the final spending from November, I figured I should let everyone know how December is going Smile

It's always weird when I'm still thinking of "November" spending - the money was spent in December, but is from the paycheck in November. I get paid every other week, and I just find it easier to think of my paychecks as the 1st for the month and the 2nd for the month. I then have standard expenses I subtract out of each check - such as the $100 for my private student loan comes out of the 1st paycheck while the $57.63 for my government student loan comes out of the 2nd paycheck. This works out well, but it leaves me entering final "November" spending on December 8 because I end up on a weird cycle for everyday expenses.

Anyway, I was paid on 12/9 . . . here's the breakdown:

$262.50 half of rent (Jan)
$100 regular student loan payment
$204.04 to short term save (to be at goal)
$221 all other spending

Friday I bought my boyfriend's Christmas present. I went with a friend to check out amps at a guitar store. After all my research about guitar amps, I ended up getting my first pick. Total cost for amp and a cord ('cause it would be good to be able to actually plug the guitar in) was $280.68. Not bad. At one point I was leaning towards a $400 amp so it really worked out well. My friend dropped me off at home and ended up taking the amp with him since my boyfriend was home. It can be a bit difficult to sneak in a box that big Smile

After work on Saturday I met up with another friend to do some more Christmas shopping (actually, the amp consultant's girlfriend). I bought presents for everyone on my list, and looked around for something for my boyfriend's sister and parents. Total spent was $141.32, which leaves me with $78 left in my budget for presents. My sister is getting a DVD box set (6 Feet Under from HBO), two of my friends are getting books, and my parents are getting framed pictures. I already have the pictures all printed out, I just needed to pick up some nice frames. My mom is always complaining about not having enough pictures of my boyfriend and myself, so I figured this would be a nice gift. Now we just need to decide on my boyfriend's family and we'll be all ready to go.

Not much spending other than the Christmas presents. We had friends over for dinner on Saturday (we used pantry/fridge items, they brought wine). Sunday I got really motivated to clean the house. I ended up scrubbing the bathroom, finishing up all the dishes, and vacuuming and mopping the living room and kitchen. It doesn't really seem like a ton of work, but I did a very thorough cleaning (into all the little corners). It felt good afterward Smile

Spending:

12/9:
$4 coffee
$10 cigarettes

12/10:
$4 coffee

12/12:

$15 cigarettes
$43.47 electricity bill


$144.53 left in budget (til 12/23) - $14.45 per day

Final November Spending . . .

December 11th, 2005 at 02:24 pm

I finally had time to update all of my November numbers. Overall I think things are okay, but the plane tickets for my uncles funeral kind of threw things for a loop.

----------------------------------
Spending:

Must Haves:
$525 Rent
$11 Phone bill
$236.03 (way over in this category from last month)
$157.63 Regular loan payments

$929.66 or 53% - a bit over, goal is 50% but not bad for a rough month

Save:
$82.56 Short Term Save
$286.69 Long Term payback (from ER visit)

$369.25 or 21% - under in this category, should be more like 30%

Wants:
$46.38 Work Snacks/Coffee
$137.29 Cigarettes
$208.01 Misc. (including plane tickets)
$26.90 Dinner/Entertainment
$28.21 Cable internet

$446.79 or 26% - over, but primarily due to plane tickets for the funeral
----------------------------------

Savings:

$603.51 Short Term Savings (need another 68.99 to be at goal)
$802.79 Emergency Fund/Long Term Savings (need 197.21 to be at goal)
- my ER bills have finally come in, and been paid
$2300.37 401K (up $304.18 from 11/1)
----------------------------------
Debt:

$2925.57 Private Student Loan 1 (decreased by $36.88)
$3380.14 Private Student Loan 2 (decreased by $26.62)
$8392.28 Gov. Student Loan (decreased by $34.38)
-----------------------------------

Debt reduction for November seems kind of small, but my main goal was to pay back my Emergency fund. I had to use it for an ER visit, but it should be paid back by the end of December.

Starting December 1, I'm now vested in my employeers pension plan. I haven't really decided how to add that in to my number, but I guess it should be included. I'm only 25% vested, so the total vested balance is $270.


I'll update with my new paycheck (12/9) and Christmas shopping from over the weekend later. I think this post is long enough Smile

Long time since an update . . .

December 7th, 2005 at 09:48 pm

It's been a long time since an update. Things have been a bit hectic here, my uncle passed away and I had to head home on short notice. It was a bit rough, as his passing was completely unexpected, but it was good that I was able fly home and be there with my family.

It just got back this morning, and rushed to work. I haven't input my numbers into my spreadsheet to see my breakdown, but I know I'm a bit over budget because of the last minute plane fare. I think looking at rough estimates I should still be fine. I have tomorrow off, so I think I'll just rest and go through the budget sometime tomorrow.

Spending:

12/1:
$13.03 cigarettes
$9.34 groceries (veggies)
$4 coffee

12/2:
$127.80 plane ticket
$9 lunch at the airport

12/3 and 12/4:
$41 misc. spending (groceries, snacks for people, gas)

12/5:
$15 cigarettes

12/6:
$2 coffee

12/7:
$4 coffee/snacks at airport

Over $135.05 in budget (til paycheck, 12/9)

Forgot . . .

November 30th, 2005 at 09:53 pm

So I figured since it's the last day of the month I'll review my goals. I won't have my final spending numbers for November for another week and a half. I get paid every other friday, so my second paycheck in November will cover me through December 9th. However, since I now have a record of all the income of November I figured I should check and see how I did on my goals:

- Stay within my budget for everyday expenses Try to cut where possible.

Well, I am probably going to be over budget by about $60 this month. Most of that is due to high grocery spending from a stock up run to Costco and expenses surrounding my urgent care visit such as $30 in prescriptions (misc. expenses in my tracking). As of today I'm still right around my normal budget categories: Must Haves: 50.1%, Save 28.9%, Wants 16.8% (goal is 50/30/20). Looking at my spreadsheet groceries and misc. are really the only categories that have increased from last month. Some are down, like work snacks (coffee and snacks at work) and entertainment and eating out. We'll see how the total numbers come out in another week and a half Smile

- Put $450 extra towards student loans to stay on track for 4/2006 and 9/2006 payoff.

This didn't happen at ALL. I ended up having some medical expenses that I will have to use my emergency fund for (I still haven't gotten all the bills). $286.69 this month went towards emergency fund payback rather than debt reduction. I still have $322.71 that I need to pay back into the emergency fund. I also needed to bring my short term savings up (Christmas gifts, Christmas travel) and added $217.61 to that this month. I plugged in the new numbers to the debt snowball spreadsheet, and I'll now pay off my two private loans in May '06 and October '06.

- Put additional needed to make short term savings goal (about $75)

This was sort of met, I actually put more into short term savings, but at the expense of debt reduction. I realized I hadn't factored in all gifts and travel expenses needed, and so had to up the amount I contributed.

- Allow my crazy budgeting/limiting of spending self to make at least one purchase on myself (not something I HAVE to buy, just something I want) I seriously can't remember the last time I allowed myself to make a purchase just because I wanted something. Sometimes you just have to splurge.

Well, this was half and half as far as success goes. I did purchase a new hardcover book this month, but honestly I probably would have bought it whether I made this goal or not, so I'm not certain if it should count Smile I did browse for a while trying to find something to use my Banana Republic gift card on, but I wasn't really in the mood to shop. Also, my mom sent me a package today with a new coat (thrift store find that was just a bit too small for her), some socks, and a hat. So although I didn't splerge on myself, it feel like it was a good month Smile

Christmas spending plans

November 30th, 2005 at 06:25 pm

It's been a pretty slow week so far. Work has been busy but not crazy, so the time has gone by quickly. I got my end of the month incentive check today, and will be using $60 for spending money until next paycheck. I had planned on using all of it for savings, but I went a bit over budget this month.

I've narrowed my boyfriends Christmas gift down to two options. I'm buying him a little practice guitar amp. One is $400 (which would pretty much be my whole Christmas budget) and the other is about $240. Previously I had a different one in mind (see post below), but it doesn't really come highly recommended so I did a little more research and decided on another option - of course the one that's $400 Wink Now I just need to decide between the two.

I don't really want to base my decision completely on money, but right now the cheaper one is the frontrunner (mainly for other reasons). However, in anticipation of *possibly* going over my Christmas budget, I'll move money from my incentive check into my savings account rather than use it to pay back my emergency fund. After going over the numbers, I'm still on track to pay back my emergency fund in December, but won't be able to make as large of an extra student loan payment.

Spending/Savings:

11/27:
$11 phone bill
$28.21 internet bill

11/28:
$5 coffee and snacks at work

11/29:
$13.03 cigarettes
$4 coffee

11/30 (incentive check):
$60 to spending budget
$113.42 to short term savings (Christmas fund now at $500, Dentist in Dec at $90, and Xmas travel at 13.51)

I think I need about $90 for my half of a rental car for Christmas travel, other than that all of my short term savings categories are where I want them to be Smile I may still be under budget for Christmas spending, but I haven't made all of my gift decisions yet.

$72.46 left in budget (til 12/9)

Weekend wrap-up

November 27th, 2005 at 01:05 pm

So far a pretty relaxing weekend. Yesterday my boyfriend and I spent some time with another couple. I went out and did some Christmas shopping (which ended up just being Christmas browsing) with the girl, while the boys hung out at home. We got together and had dinner at their house afterward, so the only thing spent was a cigarette and mixers purchase.

It was kind of weird, this is the same couple that we went out with on Friday night. It's not like I know their financial info, but the whole time they were talking about a car they're buying and their various trips. I got a bit of Jones' envy I guess. I had to remind myself that things are going well for us, we just have chosen not to spend money on big ticket type items.

I think their talk stemmed from them being competitive. Everytime money comes up with this couple, they talk about their jobs and stock options and whatnot. It was the first time they've seen our new couch that we bought a couple months ago. I think there was a bit of talk because of that (it's a really nice brown leather couch, but we saved and bought it on sale). Of course the first thing they ask us is how much we paid, and then they go on to talk about their new car. Sometimes I don't really understand that competitive side of money.

The good news was that I've narrowed down my boyfriend's Christmas present. He's getting a guitar amp, but since I don't really know anything about amps I've been doing a lot of research and also consulting with friends that do. The couple that we hung out with yesterday gave me some good advice, and I've narrowed it down to two different amps. One has all the bells and whistles and the other is just a nice little amp. My boyfriend says he doesn't want all the effects, but I'm not certain if that's because he thinks it'll cost a lot more and not be worth the money or if he knows he won't use them. The two have the same basic set up, and are similar in price (only about a $50 difference), but I'm still debating. I'll have to do some research about the two companies to see if one tends to be better made than the other.


Spending:

11/26:
$17.81 cigarettes and mixers

$67.69 left in budget

Thanksgiving wrap up

November 26th, 2005 at 12:38 pm

We had a nice and mellow Thanksgiving. I had to work the day after and neither of us have family in the immediate area, so it was just my boyfriend and myself. We made turkey breast and all the fixings to go with it. We have leftovers for a while! Smile

I was paid yesterday, here's the breakdown:

$262.50 half of rent
$57.63 regular gov student loan payment
$193.07 emergency fund pay back
$250.00 spending ($81 of which is already spent Frown so actual spending money for two weeks is $169)

I have a second doctors bill that I'll have to use my emergency fund for. So, as of now the total I'll need to pay back (after I actually get the bills) is $714.37. I've put back $286.66, so I have $427.71 left to go. My plan is to have it all paid back by December 23 (second payday in Dec.).

So far I've only received one of the bills, and I put that on my rewards credit card (credit cards can be used for medical bills! scary). I'll pay it off when the bill comes in a couple weeks. That way I'll be getting a percentage from the credit card company, and my money will be earning interest longer in my savings account. I think I'll do this for all the medical bills Smile

Last night we went out with friends, and it ended up being waaay more expensive than I thought. We went to a place I wasn't familiar with (their choice). We should have known it was going to be expensive, these are the friends that meet for drinks and dinner about every other night and have no problem coming away with a bill of $80 to $100 for just the two of them. So, $60.51 was down the drain. Oh well, we did have fun, it's just we could have had the same amount of fun at a less expensive place.

Spending:

$60.51 drinks/appetizers

$14.00 surprise cupcakes for coworkers (we had to work the day after thanksgiving, I figured everyone need a little sugar)

$2.99 drup store (bag of chips for lunches)


$91.50 left in budget (or $7.03 per day)

Thanks for the comments . . .

November 22nd, 2005 at 09:46 pm

Thanks to baselle and jodi m for the nice comments. You'd think judging by my previous post that I hate customers or at least my job. Neither is true, sometimes it's just frustrating Smile I think mandatory customer service work is a great idea Wink

So, after my venting, I sat down and had dinner (left overs), prepped lunch for work tomorrow (sandwiches) and did a bunch of dishes from last night and tonight. Now I'm about to sit down and watch Threshold. All in all a very exciting evening Smile

11/22 Update

November 22nd, 2005 at 06:50 pm

Hmmm, feels like it's been a while since I posted. It's been waaay too busy at work. What is it about the holiday season that makes people be so mean to customer service workers? Seriously, customers have been driving me crazy lately! I mean, I know everyone is starting to get stressed out about the holidays, but seriously I would like to help you if you would just stop screaming at me!! Sometimes I wonder if people ever think, "You know, maybe I shouldn't scream at this nice girl behind the counter, she didn't mess up my account, and if I'm nice and tell her the problem, things will be fixed that much faster." I don't think it even crosses their mind . . . Eh, I guess the people that are nice make up for it, but still.

So, other than that things have been alright. We're planning a pretty low key Thanksgiving. I only have Thursday off (who says bankers have great hours?), so we're having dinner with some friends. We're in charge of the stuffing and dessert. I'm thinking pumpkin pie, but since I've never made pumpkin pie we'll see.

Spending has been not so hot, but still close to my new goal . . .


Spending:

11/21

13.03 cigarettes

11/22

3.00 snacks at work -- did I say someone screamed at me for a half hour? yeah, stress snacks Smile


-$48.32 in budget (til this Friday)

(new goal: stay within $40) - well, I'll take $9 over . . . just have to be more careful with the next two weeks


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