Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Yay and Nay Weekend

This weekend had it's financial ups and downs, most events are a mix of both.

First, I paid off my tuition in full. There's $.22 in my savings account! YIKES! But yay it's paid off and I never have to give the U of M any more money!

Second, I got a good amount of hours at Express, which is good even though I'd rather stay in bed. When I'm working, it's keeping me busy so I can't go out and spend more money. However, today we got an extra 45% off at Express so after my shift I got a few things! Guess what. I bought:

Denim capris
2 dresses
leggings
3 tank tops
3 basic t's
a pair of shorts
yoga pants

all for...drum roll please...$120! Considering one of those dresses was originally $70, that's a STEAL!! I had two coupons for $10 and a lot of the tops were BOGO so I'm pretty excited about my completely worthwhile purchase! They're all things I can wear to work (minus the shorts and yoga pants) and things I can wear for spring break (including the shorts and yoga pants).

I did have to make an extra purchase at Target on Saturday since I ran out of razors, face wash and zit cream since my face has broken out from all the sweaty yoga. Boring items but they add up to about $25ish.

However, Jess did send me more money than agreed upon for the calculator (THANKS JESS! You didn't have to do that!) so after I pay for Matt's Valentine's day present, I'll have a little extra money to pay that off.

Keeping track of expenses is really difficult because there's always money coming in or going out! I never just get a couple days off but let's hope I can try soon!

Last but not least, after reading the Sunday paper, I found 15 coupons on things I would already buy! That's $33.40 in savings!! Holy freaking cow! I spent $39 for the subscription for the Strib so I'll easily get my money's worth back in just a few weeks! Thanks Journalism class!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Take that Geek Squad!

After my fiasco with the Geek Squad, I filed a complaint and finally sorted it out with a manager tonight. I didn't get all my money back but they did agree to refunding me $130, which is better than nothing! My Guy is definitely pleased to have more money in his account in the near future and now I just owe him $70. My plan is to have that come from my tax refund so that can get taken care of before I have the $1000 saved up. Apparently one W-2 has arrived but there are a few more to come. Two jobs, school, and loans all require waiting to collect them all like prizes in a cereal box. Oh well, at least I'm not paying H&R Block this year like I did two years ago (granted it was helpful since I had lived in two states that year).

I found a nice little source of income by selling my calculator to Jessie. It was a great win-win because calculators cost $100 and I've had one sitting around since high school that I sold to her for much cheaper. I am using that money to pay for My Guy's Valentine's Day present and I think I'll put the rest towards my hair fund so I can have that money set aside faster. This might lead to a garage sale of sorts this spring to rid myself of non-junk items that I have no use for anymore to rake in a pretty penny and donate the rest to Good Will.

My mom suggested an idea today that I'm pondering. My sister is in the Air Force and has no immediate need for her savings account (which is pretty full). Since I have this small loan with a HUGE interest rate, my mom suggested that I borrow the money from her to put straight towards that loan immediately. Then, I can pay my sister back with a much more reasonable interest rate. I still plan on making the loan a priority and I wouldn't like to borrow money from friends or family but in this situation it would really be helpful.

Last but not least, can I just say how excited I am to have my tuition paid off tomorrow? I'm not excited at the small numbers left in my accounts but I am thrilled to put that behind me so I can focus on other expenses and savings. I think it's been years since I've had such little in my savings because I've always had the security of loans. But now it feels good to depend on myself and force myself into good habits. I have no choice but to succeed in savings at this point.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apparently I'm terrible at math

So last night, I created an Excel spreadsheet to track my budget now that I'm getting the normal sized paychecks. I did the math and things definitely don't add up compared to the original budget I came up with. Between rent, utilities, food and allowance, I'm $69 short each paycheck. There's not much more I can comfortably cut back on so I'll have to dip into my Express paychecks each time to complete the expenses. Then whatever I have left over goes straight to savings I swear! I've put word out that I can pick up extra shifts at Express so hopefully I can get a couple extra hours to put towards savings!

My guy did point out that I will be getting a tax return in a month or two and that made me SO happy! Last year my tax return was in the ballpark of $1300 so if it were to be about the same this year, I'd just cry tears of joy! I would save $300 and put $1000 towards the loan with that sky high interest rate. That would cut it by 1/4, which would definitely save some money in the long run! I'm going to try waiting to pay off loans til I'm a little better situated but the idea of knocking 1/4 off that loan is SO enticing! Hurry up W-2's!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The day I've been waiting for!

Hooray! It's the eve of the big payday I've been talking about since I started this blog! It's been so hard to budget with my paychecks being so strange but now they should all be on track and my plan will go swimmingly! I did the math and once all expenses from my budget are out, I'll have $275 of that left over for a cushion. My other paychecks should get me through but incase there are other smaller paychecks, this one will carry over. I do have to take $14 of that to put towards my bank minimum but come Friday, I'll have tuition paid off completely and the minimum amount in my savings account. WAHOO! I can finally start building that up and be on my way to conquering my loans!

I forgot to mention in my last post about coupons that I managed to use 7 coupons on the grocery list I had already written up. I now get the Strib, which comes with weekly ads. I usually shop at Rainbow but when Cub has the better deal, I'll definitely go hunting. Cub had coupons, plus there was those coupon booklets that happened to have things on my list so it worked out nicely. It is a little extra work to shop at 2 places but definitely worth the over $10 I saved. Granted, it was Matt's turn to buy the groceries but it doesn't hurt saving him some money and it helped me get into the habit of finding some bargins.

On a more sour note, the coupon for Punch Pizza didn't work. By the time I finished yoga last night, they were out of dough so it was a no-go. However, I made much anticipated pork chops in the crock pot tonight so I'm hoping that's delicious. Pork chops were on sale at Cub and after making stew last week, the only ingredient I needed was a $.98 can of cream of mushroom soup. Perfect! It's crazy how little I go out to eat now. I really do miss it but I've been able to cut back a lot of expenses and probably eat a little healthier too. I really should compare my Jan bank statements to my Oct-Dec to see the big differences!

Monday, January 25, 2010

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

So (almost) everything I wrote in the last post has changed. I got a letter from my loan company giving the details of my most recent loan that just got disbursed. The interest rates on my other loans are between 5.25-6.75%, this loan, 12.75%!!!!!! YIKES! Granted, it is my smallest loan, the interest is still really really going to kill me unless I get that paid off pronto! As much as I'd like to give me a little room to relax, knowing that there's that much money waiting to screw me over makes it hard not to stress!

In attempts to be more of a saver, I found more coupons! Punch Pizza was giving away free pizza tonight as consolation for the Vikings terrible loss last night. The goal was to have free dinner but the line went around the corner and in this weather, there's just no way. So after yoga tonight, we're heading over there and will have a nice bedtime snack and delicious leftovers tomorrow. YAY all things free!

On that note, as well as with the advice of an adviser, I will be graduating in May for sure. No more extra majors or minors and I will get involved in politics on my own if I want to. More loans are NOT an option and I have to be available to work if a job happens to come a knockin'.

Stress be-gone

This budget is just WAY too tight. I work and work and there's such little room for fun! I can't be so strict because it's been taking it's toll. As a result, I did buy a thing or two (or five) at the mall on Saturday. All week, I've been wanting to wear my black leggings but I have brown boots and a lot of outfits just didn't work. I allowed myself to go on a hunt for black boots and got more. At payless I found a great pair of boots but it's buy one get one so I easily found another pair of boots (gray and shorter) for 1/2 off. YAY! The two pairs together cost less than my brown boots alone. Then I had some store credit from the GAP leftover from Christmas so I stopped by the clearance section and found two tops that I just love! I spent a little over the store credit but it's worth it because both are unlike any typical tops I have now. Last but not least, I was working on Sat and people kept coming through my line buying 11.99 jeans! It was driving me nuts over these great deals. I ended up finding my exact size (which is rare for clearance because I need a long) so I had to buy them. I tried them on after work and the longs were too long! I assumed the regulars would fit so I grabbed them and bought them without trying them on. CRAP, bad idea. They are wear-able but I like my jeans on the longer side than just barely touching the floor. I'm super paranoid about unintentional, unfashionable high waters so I'm not 100% satisfied with them. I can still return them and I think I just might. They no longer have the longs in stock so I'm SOL. I also paid for drinks at the bar that night but it was 8$ for 4 drinks so can't complain too much.

Anyways, you may be thinking where I have all this extra money. Although I still plan on being strict with my spending and stick with the plan, I can't be so rigid that there is no breathing room for the occasional purchases. I know I have the allowance but right now it's covering a lot of expenses so we'll see. Next sunday I get an additional 15% at Express so I know there's a thing or two I will be purchasing but that's from my allowance and the plan will be implemented. I will put most into savings but I have limitted permision to dip into that for the occasional reward. I work way too hard to not enjoy life just a little bit sometimes, right?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Stretched to the limit and this is where I'll stay

Well well well, just when I think my finances will be dull for a while, things get a little crazy right away.  First of all, I spent the $20 already buying Dominos and wine because with a schedule like mine, I needed a little splurge.  It helped too!  Definitely worth it.  Otherwise, I've been good about eating my own meals etc.  One of my communications assignments is to sit at a fast-food restaurant for 1/2 an hour to observe the organization.  I just might have to get a meal there so they don't think I'm a stalker, so I'm going to pick something I've really been wanting!  

So this is where things get crazy: Geek Squad STILL has my laptop.  They said it'd be ready yesterday.  I called them to find out the status and they said my computer needs to be completely reinstalled and I need restoring discs from Toshiba (my computer brand).  I already paid them a bunch of money so this is just annoying!  They said I would lose all my files (which they promised I wouldn't when I brought it in) so if I want to back anything up onto MY OWN hard drive, I have to pay them $99!  So between paying for the discs and that, I'm paying them close to $400!!  I don't have that just lying around and I know Matt said he'd pay some but that's NOT where I wanted to put my money when I finally get some.  NO!  I'm frankly quite pissed about that.  Now I wont have any money for any anti-virus protection because I have to spend it all on the discs.  School is in full swing and I need my laptop back!!  I told them I needed it for Tuesday at the latest and it is Friday-a full week after I brought it in.  I hate Geek Squad!

Ah..that vent felt great!  Anyways, one more crazy thing to throw your way.  So in a couple of my classes, I'm learning more and more about global news and global politics.  This topic never interested me before because I didn't understand it but NOW, it's like a light-bulb turned on and I am inspired and motivated to learn more.  As a result, I have been thinking about tacking on another major or minor in Poli-Sci.  I really enjoy journalism but I'm unsure of it's future and of how successful I can really be unless I'm a big shot, which is nearly impossible for me-not in my nature.  So if I added this, I could maybe get the best of both worlds.  A minor would take one semester and a major would take two.  It's really not bad when you think about it but I don't have any extra money for more tuition!  I could easily live at home and commute to save money on rent but I'd still need loans for tuition-another $6000-$12000!  GRR!  I figure if I want to really do it, now's the time.  But are there any cheaper options to get the same background and experience in the subject??  I'm looking into my options but it sounds so interesting!  

I can never just stand still and neutral, new things always arise!  Gotta love it! 




Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Distractions are my best friend

Today was the first day starting my last semester of school! With full-time class and two 20-hour/week jobs and my internship, I'm slightly overwhelmed with how hectic life will be! I have to add the fact that I have to take time to make meals rather than grab something on the go to save money. On the flip side, I'm busy all day so I stop thinking about money as much. Although I have a plan, I can't help but be impatient to see my savings start to grow and my hard work pay off. I found an extra $20 for allowance so I have that as a back up for my next week but I'm still anxious to have more money in my account (not to spend but to just make progress on this budget).

I found out today that getting highlights in my hair will cost about $70 plus tip. I have 4 more paychecks to put aside ideally $20 so I'll make it for sure by March.

It's doubtful there will be much to write about financially on a daily basis at this point and with the addition of homework, I may not have time to write daily anymore but when there are updates, I'll be sure to post them!

Here today, gone tomorrow

So that $200 quickly found a place to be and is out of my hands once again. Since my computer recently was deeply infected with so many viruses, I need to purchase updated anti-virus software, ($70 for a 2-year subscription). I mentioned earlier I had a purchase from Target and minor credit card expenses so that got paid ($22). I put $20 towards my spring break spending fund (A trip to South Padre Island! The hotel is paid for and we're taking my parents van so I've been setting aside money for gas, food and going out. I probably shouldn't have booked this trip but it's my last spring break and I did it before this new budget so oh well! I don't feel guilty!)

And the rest was allowance since I was pretty depleted after Saturday. With that allowance I put $20 towards a hair fund (should be ready by spring break!) and another $20 towards the spring break fund, which left me with a $38 allowance. Normally I could make that last a while but a I had to make a few purchases-I swear necessities. It was my turn to buy paper towels so I stocked up on those ($15!) and had to get some school supplies. Just like that my $38 was down to #3 :( Bummer. If I can hold out until a week from tomorrow, I get my full $100 allowance again and I'll be 100% on track with my budget! Lucky for me, that should be easy because I made some delicious meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner and with my school/work/internship schedule, I won't have time to go anywhere!

On a happy note, I was able to save myself a bunch of money! I had bought a external hard drive for a class years ago but it was for the school's macs. Since I have a PC, I couldn't figure out how to convert it to save my files once I was finished with it for school. I thought I'd have to go buy another one ($100) but Geek Squad converted it for me for free! They still have my computer but once I get it back and fingers crossed my files are in tact, I can back myself up finally! Thanks Geeks!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

$7 beer?!

So in an earlier post, I mentioned Saturday night with my bff. I had plans to pay for her dinner, but she refused to let me! I tried but she wouldn't let me! So I got us both a beer for the concert and YIKES! Two beers cost as much as dinner: 2 slices of pizza, a beer, and two sodas! So my allowance is down to $6. I do have $18 allowance from my latest paycheck but that's not even enough to take out of an ATM. With my parent's donation, I will take some out so these two weeks are manageable, but I have yet to decide the exact amount yet. We went to target for a few necessities that went on my card and I'll have to pay it off with my next allowance so I can use some extra allowance to pay that off immediately.

Classes start on Tuesday, and my schedule will be NUTS! To combat the convenient habit of eating fast food, I will spend tomorrow making meals for the week. I'm going to make muffins for breakfast ($2.50 for 24 muffins! Definitely saving money by making them myself!), tortellini with meat sauce for lunches at work, and beef stew for a dinner or two. Delicious!

It's always something

Of course, it's Murphy's Law that what can go wrong will go wrong. After that last post, I was all excited but of course the next day my computer got a virus, which costs $200 to clear it off. Since school starts Tuesday, I can't be out of a computer so of course I had to fork it over.

Where did I get the money, you might ask? My guy came to the rescue! This is not just a free gift, however. He knows how hard I've been working with this budget and knows how much I stress about money so since he happened to receive a couple thousand dollars of financial aid that same day, he helped me out. He told me to pay him back once I've got my budget going.

There's a book that inspired the urge to get my finances in order and start paying off debt. It's called the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. I first borrowed it from my guy's parents and it was really inspiring see how simple it could be to get out of debt. I got my own copy for Christmas and it helped me jump start my plan. There are two good tips that I've gotten out of it so far: $1000 emergency fund and the snowball effect.

1st, when you're working towards getting out of debt, you need to have $1000 as an emergency fund so when something goes wrong, you don't have to get into more debt as a result. Once you have the emergency fund, start with the smallest loan and put the most money towards that (make your regular payments to any other debt bills too and the extra goes towards your smallest loan). That will make a snowball effect because once your smallest loan goes away, you can apply that money to the next smallest and getting out of debt goes faster and faster.

That was important information. Rather than working on my loans right away, I've decided to work on the emergency fund first. MG said once I get that saved, I can pay him back for this computer emergency. Then even well before I have to start making loan payments, I can start putting money towards the smallest loan and start the snowball effect.

Here is a positive note to the weekend though. My gracious parents wanted to try to help me out some by giving me $200. I'm not sure what to put that towards yet, since there are so many areas that need it but I'm sure I'll figure it out soon.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hooray

There is a cause to celebrate! Lenka showed me this website that helps students save money on textbooks (and it's legit, it won't send me the wrong edition etc. and cause issues like other sites I have tried). I went on today and WOW! I saved over $100! I had a couple books purchased already from the bookstore but needed one or two more still, which I hadn't added to my tuition total. After checking out the site, I'm sold. By returning the books I bought and replacing them with ALL of the books I need, I will save a total of $75! sweet. And free shipping.

An added bonus? I'm renting the books so I don't have to deal with selling them back for next to nothing AND when you purchase your rentals through the site, it tells you how many trees you're saving by renting rather than buying. I saved 3 trees and chose to have them planted in Guatemala. Neato!

With that money, I can easily catch up on my savings with my next paycheck and have enough for about $88 in savings (after the minimum!) and I'll make my first loan payment of about $88! I'm so excited! I know $88 won't make a dent in my massive amount of loans but every dollar helps and the faster the better.

These two weeks really need to hurry up!

Watch out starbucks!

I was dragging a bit yesterday due to these long work days. I did not get Starbucks but I did find that the Holiday gas station (oddly enough, they have a store minus the gas at the MOA) has DELICIOUS cappuccinos for much much cheaper than Starbucks. I have had them before for free with this discount gas coupon and I was a big fan but I never realized the actual price. A 20 oz. (basically a venti) at Holiday was $1.32!! A venti at Starbucks is nearly $5! Even a small at starbucks is over $3. Sorry starbucks, although your croissants are to die for and I do love your coffee and hot chocolate, you just lost a customer, at least for the time being.

I deserve a freakin gold medal for self-restraint! I didn't buy the sweater! I didn't buy a single item of clothing, even though the spring collection came out. With spring break right around the corner, everything looked appealing, yet I just kept working. KUDOS TO ME!

Even after work, I was starving and wanted Subway more than anything (if i see another pizza roll before Sat. at the earliest, I'm going to throw up). But then I thought to myself, no. Save it for Saturday night.

What's Saturday night you might ask? My bff got us tickets to the Brad Paisley concert for Christmas and Sat is when the event is going down. I am taking her to Cossettas before and I'm sure an adult beverage or two will also be consumed that evening. As a result, that 24$ of mine that is left is precious, every penny of it. It'll be interesting to see if I can pull it off with only spending that much but I'm up for the challenge!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Do you know the muffin man?

Every morning when I arrive at work, I have been having a muffin for breakfast. I get 4 big delicious muffins for $3.50 and it gets me through the week. My guy pointed out yesterday though that I could bake my own for much cheaper and get many more than four. So once this batch is up (Friday), I will start being the muffin (wo)man. Each week, Im going to bake muffins to bring for breakfast. That wont add to my allowance but it will add to my $150 allocated for groceries each month, so I can spend the extra money on something else. I have my eye on those boneless honey bbq chicken wings anytizers- YUM!

Today is payday and I've had a thought in my head all morning. Jessie (one of my closest friends) once said on Facebook: Why is it that when payday comes, all my money is already going to pay off things that I can't even enjoy it?-not a direct quote I swear. I've been thinking that all morning, and I know the exact reason. I know that in two weeks time, I won't have this issue but for now it is just a major bummer (salute).

So for now, until school starts on Tuesday, I'm working my little(not so little) booty off. Today is day two of working 15 hours a day between both jobs. I don't do this usually but on break I have to take advantage of any extra income. I work during the day full-time hours at SFR and then close at Express. Repeat today. I'm really resisting the urge for Starbucks but seriously, I think I deserve it. I know I can make coffee at home for free and it still tastes good but it's much harder to take on the go to work when your car is FREEZING from this winter weather. It's much easier to just buy it before my shift when I get to work. We'll see if I give in later today I guess.

One last thing. A few posts back, I complained about wanting to shop. Well I'm resisting the urge as much as possible, by buying 1 thing. Here's the catch. There are a lot of things on sale for $19.50, one of which is a sweater I've been eying for a while now. With my discount that's $13.65. And! Since I'm a card member, they sent me a $10 off any purchase coupon! So this sweater EXPRESS: LONG-SLEEVE OPEN CARDIGAN will cost me $3.65. Take a look. I think it's totally worth it!

I just might buy it tonight when I work...tune in to see the results!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Barely squeaking by

As I've mentioned before, this week I will receive 2 paychecks for less than their normal amount. This is the last week that will happen (besides the week I'm gone for spring break) and man does that make me happy! In the mean time, here's the break down:

Im only going to have $335, when rent is $388. If I split my express paycheck between checking and savings (since both are in dire need!), that should add about $75 to each account. $335 + $75 = 410. 22 dollars left after rent. That will be there for emergency allowance if necessary. I still have my $26 in tact as well but come on, two more weeks is a LONG time!

Tuition needs to be paid and after digging into my savings (for the last time I hope) to pay off my credit card from left over 2009 expenses, I'm still short on tuition and won't meet the minimum for my account even if I had all of tuition covered. I need $206 to cover the last bit of tuition and to have the min. balance. If I put the other $75 from my Express check towards that, it's reduced to $131. After one more paycheck or two, that will be taken care of. And once it is, I can finally start on building up a savings/making loan payments.

I was all excited to start saving right away but it's always something. You're killing me smalls.

Monday, January 11, 2010

$26

Im down to $26. I spent a dollar for lunch today because I didnt have lunch prepared. I'm sure I could have made a sandwich this morning but I don't like to wake up any earlier than I have to. I went the whole weekend without spending a dime though so I'm pretty happy about that.

We're making pizza casserole tonight so I can use that for lunches this week. It's much tastier than hamburger helper so I'm pumped. We had to swing by the grocery store to grab spaghetti noodels for the casserole and we grabbed a few extra things with good deals so $11 was spent (on my giftcard). I have $96 left on that card so it should last for one more biweekly purchase.

I sold some books back and guess how much I got for 2 books!? $48! I was actually pretty happy (even though I paid way more for them!) considering I've gotten only $3 back for a book before. I just put that into the bank to put towards my upcoming rent payment. It's very exciting finding extra money.

Another random note, with the new year behind us, I received a letter from one of my student loan companies. They just wanted to inform me of my new loan interest rate for 2010 (it's the same) and how much interest I've accrued since I took out the loan last Feb. It's over $1000!! YIKES! It hasn't even been a full year!! That's even more of a motivator to start making payments asap! Crap.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

$7 a month

A few posts ago, I wrote about an article by Suze Orman. She suggests going through your past 3 bank statements and credit card statements to track your spending. You should highlight all the "wants" and total that for each month. If you're looking for extra cash, it's clear what "wants" you can cut back on with those statements in front of you.

There was a significant portion on both statements spent on food. So far I've been trying to cut back on that (as you've probably read). There was one monthly charge on my credit card for $7 for a card upgrade. I called the company to see what that upgrade really does for me and after realizing I never use any of the benefits of it, I cancelled it. That's 84 dollars a year I'm not wasting anymore!

Kudos to me!

I hate my job!

Ok...I don't really hate it but it's a terrible place to work for someone who can't be spending money. There's a massive clearance sale, as well as major discount sales at Express. This has been going on since Christmas ended but there's still a plethora of clothes I would love to buy for much cheaper than normal. Every single time I go into work, I spend hours looking at all the clothes and accessories I want and figuring out how much it would cost with my discount.

I'm being optimistic in thinking I will have a professional job after school. So when I see all these clothes I could wear in an office, I want to buy them when they're cheap and stock up for when I need a professional wardrobe.

There's also a lot of cute clothes I would want to buy and when I finally have money they will all be sold and a new set of probably equally cute clothes, but not the style I have in mind currently, will replace the old and be full price. Shirts that are normally anywhere from $30-$50, are now $6.99. Worth it? I think so! Jeans are $13.99. Seriously!

Not to sound like an ad for Express at all, but I need to figure out how to buy at least a couple items at these prices before they're gone! If you agree, give me a good excuse (or two) to encourage me (or discourage me if you disagree...I guess) because I need permission to let loose a little.

Friday, January 8, 2010

I've joined the coupon clipper club

Tonight is a splurge. I don't work tonight (very rare for a Friday) so I asked my guy on a date. Just my luck, one of my new favorite sites Groupon.com sent me an e-mail earlier this week with an excellent coupon to use for this date.

We've been talking about going to the 5-8 Club for a while now, and I got this coupon saying that a $15 meal is only $7 with this coupon. I paid Groupon for it earlier in the week-check out the website to see how it works-so it has already been taken out of my allowance. Since a delicious Juicy Lucy is only $5 a person, we could order a pop or appetizer and still make it out of there with just a tip! Awesome deal for an awesome meal.

I know it's only been a day or two, but my $27 is still in tact, which is a huge accomplishment. I wanted to start my morning with Starbucks, but substituted it for free Swiss Miss at work. I wanted fast food for lunch on my way to work but I still have hamburger helper (1 more serving!) left in the fridge and a tuna salad snack pack in my desk. It's not easy having self-control! Tonight's date will be a great reward for my first full week of solid and successful efforts!

Another reason to thank Oprah

F-R-E-E THAT SPELLS FREE
CREDIT REPORT DOT COM BABY!

Remember that jingle? How could you forget? Anyways, thanks to an O article by Suze Orman, she says credit reports are free but credit scores are not. But it is important to know your score for multiple reasons. If it's good, you need to keep it good and learn how different life decisions (buying a car, house, getting a loan, etc.) can happen based on your score. If it's poor, you have time to improve it before you need to make these big purchases.

If I learned anything from my parents about money (besides their spending habits!), it's to pay your credit card off, on time, every month, no matter what. So regardless of how much I put on my card, I would dig into my savings to make sure it's paid off every month. As a result, there is definitely a positive side to my savings being low right now. I HAVE GREAT CREDIT!

I am in no position to buy a car, house, or even get out another loan. However, I can keep the score up and even raise it by keeping up with this new budget of mine to start paying loans and keep my credit payments low and paid in full. Great motivation for days I'm sick of making crappy meals or I have to say no to cute clothes...hopefully!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The hardest part is yet to come

Good afternoon readers (or cyberspace if no one reads this)!

So last night was a success of spending only $4 (thanks to my guy). It turns out the specials were nothing special because their online ad was wrong. So we went home to play games for free instead after one round and some appetizers.

I do have a conundrum, however. My cash allowance is down to $27 and with 1 more holiday vacation paycheck coming next week, it will not get replenished until the following paycheck-unless I dip into my express paycheck, which still won't be too much since I need to make sure rent is paid before I get to spend money on fun stuff.

Mission: make $27 last for 2.5 weeks. Mission impossible. There's not too much I need to spend it on during that time but there are a few events that may require some dough.

As a result of my above statement, I'm back to having my hamburger helper for lunch and today I won't complain. I also have tastey leftovers of parmesan crusted chicken and pasta for dinner tonight.

Cost of today: 0$

On a side note, my roots are growing out. I know when my finances are in such a dire state, this should be the least of my concerns but after a while I will start to look trashy (if I don't already). I can't even begin to set aside money for new highlights until 2 paychecks from now and even then it will be weeks until I have enough. I've tried going brunette with a box because it's cheaper and lasts longer but it's not a great look for me. So sorry for all who see me on a regular basis, I am well aware of this issue and it will be fixed in due time but it can't be a high priority yet. Thanks for your understanding.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ah ha moment!

Well today was a breakthrough. Magazine articles and weight loss plans etc. preach to eat a certain amount and then just wait until you feel full because you have to let it hit you. I have always disliked this plan because if I'm hungry, I dont want to wait to feel full again so I eat plenty with no time to let the calories sink in. Well, with this new budget and forcing myself to order smaller meals, I actually had to do this plan and it worked! By the time I got back to work from Noodles, I was actually pretty full and still haven't needed any food 2 hours later. Not bad, not bad at all.

The small order of stroganoff (no mushrooms) was not as satisfying, especially with not adding meat, but it was definitely better than my hamburger helper so I won't complain. I tried lemon in my water but it turns out I like plain water better. It wasn't ideal but it was a success in saving money!

Tonight is a double date at Downtime. Lots of specials but I probably shouldn't be spending any money after two meals out. I've worked more than full-time this week between the two jobs though so some fun is deserved, right?

Cost of today: $9

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

No more hamburger helper!

Matt (my guy) and I went grocery shopping on Saturday and I actually made a shopping list and went through the ads to find the best deals. I spent only $92 for the two of us for two weeks (we take turns buying groceries every 2 weeks) and thanks to my parents I was able to use my grocery gift card from Christmas. However, being cheap comes at a cost. I have to carefully plan my meals to make them last and it's not always the food I'm craving. I grew up with fast food, frozen pizzas etc. so that's what I usually crave. But now it's a hamburger helper for lunch at work for a couple of days in a row until it's gone and pizza rolls for every meal break at Express. Yum.

I did splurge and go out to dinner tonight with two girlfriends at LeAnn Chins. It was DELICIOUS! I would normally get the two entrees with rice and cream cheese puffs and a pop but tonight I was much better! I got the Imperial meal, so one entree, rice, cream cheese puffs and water. I'm still full and have a bit left over for a snack tomorrow and spent much less. That's very encouraging!

Since it is winter break I'm trying to catch up with friends a little more, which results in meeting over a meal. I'm doing my best to keep it as inexpensive as possible so that probably means I'll eat a little less-wouldn't hurt me either! Tomorrow is Noodles with Casey and my plan is to order a small instead of the regular and order water instead of pop. Lucky for me, water is free and much healthier so I'm killing two birds with one stone. Maybe this money thing won't be so bad after all. Let's see if I'm singing the same tune tomorrow.

Cost of today: $5

So here's the deal

Jan. 1st, 2010 kicked off my self-made budget and so far, IT'S HARD!

Here's the breakdown:
My campus job will pay all my living expenses (if I do it right)-rent, utilities, food from the grocery store, and I get a $100 cash allowance each paycheck to cover any fast food, gas, entertainment, basic necessities etc. Then my weekend job will be split in two-half will be for savings and half will make a loan payment.

The hard part is gaining momentum-my current paychecks are from my holiday vacation so for the first couple weeks it will be hard to make rent and I'll have to dip into my weekend paycheck, which wont be that much either. I have all the money needed to pay spring tuition, which is due in a few weeks but that would deplete my savings to $11, and there's a $100 min. on that account so I'll have to wait to pay tuition until I can build up some savings. What is the point of an account minimum anyways? If anyone can explain that to me, please do!

I am back to work full-time at my school job (SFR) and I've picked up extra shifts at my weekend job (Express) until school begins again so once that money comes in things can be more on track. Until then, things are even tighter than what my budget is supposed to be and it's a terrible adjustment.

Getting serious about money-again

As a graduating college student, I am financially stressed pretty much all the time. Between putting myself through school, $62,000 in student loans (before interest), an unpaid internship, gas, rent, utility bills, and WORST of all, my passion for shopping/spending, there's lots of room for stress. I do work two jobs to total almost 40 hours a week but it's barely enough with my spending habits. This blog is to mark my progress, full-disclosure, between now and becoming a non-broke (maybe even wealthy? I can dream) adult.

Since I started making my own money at age 15, I was never good at saving it. I would fulfill any craving I had for either clothes, food, entertainment etc. The idea of saving for college hardly crossed my mind, even though I knew my parents weren't paying for it nor even co-signing any loans I may need.

Even when I was offered a job to nanny in New Jersey full-time before starting college, in order to save some money (and gain life experience), I couldn't save for the life of me. I went on weekend trips to NY, DC, Maine or Boston (worth it), spent hundreds of dollars making a scrapbook (worth it), visited Barnes and Noble WAY too much, or bought way too much yarn to for my newly acquired skill of crocheting.

Regardless, I started school a year later with nothing in the bank and a very expensive apartment. I worked weekends but that money never seemed to stick around long and after a mishap with SallieMae, I took out way more loans than I needed. I even opened a CD to gain interest on the extra money and "make it last" but I was back to broke before I knew it. I got a job on campus, which kept me busy but somehow still broke. I've moved to a cheaper house every year and every year I get a little bit smarter with my money but it's still out of hand. As graduation nears this May and no million dollar job offer (or any job for that matter) coming my way, this calls for drastic measures.