Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dream...when you're feelin' blue

Dream when you're feelin' blue
Dream, that's the thing to do
Just watch the smoke rings rise in the air
You'll find you're share of memories there
So dream, when the day is through
Dream and they might come true
Things never are as bad as they seem
So dream, dream, dream

After Friday's loan payment of $46.75, I can't help but feel defeated. After paying off interest, that's only a $35 dent. I rarely get days off and when I do, I volunteer to work and yet I'm able to only make teeny tiny dents in my major loans and it's bumming me out. I know any progress is better than none but when I'm working really hard every day plus school, it's a lot for such a minor reward. I worked until 1am last night and have to go back today but next loan payment will be about the same. I just wish it were a little easier to see the benefit of working this hard.

Sorry for the short post but I have to finish homework and go to work-again. Hopefully I can find a positive attitude somewhere. In the meantime, I'm going to dream...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Update...

With the advice from my uncle and the Utah bff, 50% is just way too much to put into savings each paycheck when I already have an emergency fund complete and loans are just too much of a priority for me. I am going to keep adding 20% to savings and the rest will be a loan payment. I'm pretty excited because I still get to add to savings while making minor MINOR dents in my loan payments. After this payment of $47, I'll be within sight of being under $3000 on this loan. That'll still mean a few more payments until I'm at that point but it's still a nice milestone.

Also, Wednesday is double daze (yes they spell it that way) at Rainbow, so all coupons are worth double their amount. I had a lot of coupons to use but bonehead me forgot a few. It was still nice to see a little extra savings where I can find it. That also means I can make more meals rather than spending so much on fast food. Steak was on sale so we get to live large tonight and have delicious steak and potatoes. YUMMM!!!-yes, definitely deserves three M's.

Last but not least, my hair fund is 100% complete so I'm very excited for my appointment in a week! I also was able to add $20 to my Spring Break fund so I'm more and more prepared for a crazy time! After I paid for my yoga pants from Express, I'm left with $40 allowance for the next two weeks. If I can reduce my spending on fast food, I'll be good to go! Wish me luck!

Is it really only Wednesday?

Yikes, this week has been jam packed and it's only half way finished! Oh well I guess, today is payday and spring break is in less than a month! WAHOO!!

I decided to pick up a closing shift Saturday so that will help my paychecks and keep me out of spending trouble again! After they cut so many shifts during the last pay period, I should definitely take what I can get. I get nervous now when I check to see if the schedule is posted for next week because I don't know now if it's just not posted yet or I'm not scheduled at all. As of last night it wasn't posted so I'm trying to be patient but it's hard not knowing what your income will be.

As I mentioned, they cut a lot of shifts last pay period so when I saw how much I'll receive this Friday, I wasn't too pleased. I like to split my paycheck in half: half to savings, half to checkings. What's in my checkings finishes off whatever amount I need to make my budget work and the rest goes towards a loan payment. With this paycheck however, there is exactly enough going to checkings to make my budget work that there will be no loan payment for me this paycheck. It makes me kind of sad and now I'm wondering if I'm putting too much in my savings? Half a paycheck? Granted a smaller paycheck of the two but still, half is a lot when I have a 12.5% interest rate trying to rape me (sorry for the graphic wording but it's true-I literally rack up $1 a day in interest on that bad boy!). Anyways, what do you guys think? Saving is really important since I do have SO much to save up for and I know it's smart to have at least 10-20% of your paycheck go to your savings but is %50 just not realistic?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Good morning and happy Monday!

So this weekend wasn't the greatest financial weekend of my life but I'm just going to go with the idea that "I lived a little".

I'm in desperate need of some groceries because when I'm on the go or have work breaks, it's usually fast food since I don't have/haven't take then time to make meals. Oops. It's racked up and I'm disappointed about that but I'll do better this week. MG already made me some muffins for breakfast for the week so there's a start!

On top of the terrible eating habits, the BFF came to visit Saturday night and man did we have a good time! We went downtown to the Shout House to meet up with a roommate of mine who was having mother daughter weekend with her bff and their moms. Her mom taught Matt in high school and grew up with her bff. The thing about going on Saturday is it's the only night of the week with no drink specials and a cover charge. Bye bye money. Between two taxi rides, $8 cover charge and drinks at $5 a piece, whoops, there goes $50. And I can't forget to mention I wasn't the only one spending that much. MG and the BFF definitely spent more than that too!

It was a great evening and a rough morning BUT I managed to pick up a shift at Express on Sunday. I dragged my bum into the store and got a solid 6 hour shift in when I definitely could have stayed in bed. I was impressed. I have yet to pick up a shift for next weekend. I know I should but there's a lot of people coming to visit and my house will be a crazy party house. I believe my roomie has 7-8 guys coming to visit so after a late shift at work, I'm going to want to sleep, not come home to a super loud crazy house. BUT if I work, I make money and I occupy my time so I can't spend money. I'm still deciding.

Last (on purpose because maybe you won't read this far down) I broke my lent deal already. I have these yoga pants from Express and they're fantastic for the yoga I do (go figure!). It's hot yoga so they're better than shorts because that way I can hold the moves without my skin rubbing against itself and slipping from all the sweat. Also, when I'm doing yoga a 3-4 times a week with sweat dripping off my eye lashes, that adds up to be a lot of laundry for 1 pair of pants each week. As a result, I bought 2 more pairs. They were buy 1 get 1 half off so with my discount that's $29 and don't worry, they're different colors. I still plan on sticking with no more purchases until Easter but it just made sense on that one. I even had MG approve it-since he grew up Catholic ya know.

Maybe not working this weekend will keep me out of spending trouble after all...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Here comes the bride...(not me though!)

My Utah BFF is getting married in a little over a year!  WAHOO!!  We've already started talking about colors etc which is just so stinking exciting!  But you know what that means, I need to start a savings fund to have money to fly out there, get a dress, buy presents, do the bachelorette party thing, etc.  Good thing I have a year because this is a mega important event!  My current plan is once Spring Break is over, I'll put $20 from each paycheck into an envelope for that.  Come summer or fall, I may be getting weekly paychecks so that might help speed up the savings and ensure I have enough for everything! So excited!

Also, I sold 3 books back yesterday and received a whopping $30.  But that's $30 I'm adding to my allowance to help get through this week.  I went out for a friend's birthday last night and another friend or two is visiting tomorrow night and sometimes that can get pricey.  But I deserve a night or two of fun after all this working!  

Speaking of work, I was able to pick up 1 shift from Express.  I could have taken a Sat. night closing shift but I still haven't decided since my roommates have friends coming to town and that'd be really fun to be included on the night.  We'll see.  Regardless, I'll definitely take that 1 shift and see what else I can grab this weekend while I'm there.  

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Are you kidding me?

We get our schedules for Express Sun-Sat usually that Tues/Wed before, short notice but whatevs. Anyways, the schedule still is blank for me online so I called the store and it says I'm not scheduled at all for the next week. WTF!? So I have this Sunday off, next Fri night off and all day Sat? Seriously? I needed that money! I know for a fact I didn't request off any of those days so I'm REAL annoyed. I know most people would be excited for all that time off but I'm trying to work hard here!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ask and you shall receive

I just got home from night class and my payment is finally posted on the Sallie Mae website! AND what's even better is that the interest really still does say $0.00!!! WAHOO! It's a beautiful sight! What I love even more is that my loan amount went from $4120 to it's current standing of $3,231.00. And in 1 week from Friday I get to make another payment. I'm not sure how much the payment will be exactly since I don't normally calculate how many hours I work in a pay period at Express and it's hard to estimate with taxes etc. but still, any little bit helps so I'm definitely excited! I love being in the swing of my original budget plan!

Seriously Sallie?

Nothing much is new but I have to vent a little:
I made a payment to Sallie Mae over the weekend and it's STILL not posted on their website. Even if I wanted to make a payment before even MORE interest racked up, I couldn't. The period between making a payment and having it register on their website means that I can't even access the "pay now" page. That page breaks down each loan for you to see the exact amounts you still owe and how much of that is interest accrued. All I really want to do at this point is after I make a payment, I want to see how much my loan went down and see a pretty little $0 next to "interest accrued". Even after sucking all my money out of me, they're also sucking any minor rewards out of me too, which is making this loan thing really suck.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I'm no Catholic but...

I'm not exactly a religious person but I know lent is right around the corner (this Wednesday to be exact-I just googled it). I was talking to MG about what I should attempt to give up this year and I thought maybe, just maybe shopping at Express. Regardless of what extra discounts I'm getting and what fantastic new spring items arrive or what steals I find on clearance, I can't buy a thing until Easter. That's extending my goal of Spring Break by almost a month and so far it seems impossible.

I know what you're thinking, I've made new purchases every weekend in the month of February so far and have spent over $200 at Express alone so I'm due for a good break but it's not that easy! I've never gone the whole time of lent without the intended item so I'm not making any promises but I really am going to do my best to resist all temptations. Lent has always been like a new years resolution for me but since this year I've kept this budgeting/smart money resolution so maybe I can stick to this too. What do you think? Can I really pull this off?

Now, Fat Tuesday is the time to binge on anything you're giving up for lent. I don't have that privilege since I practically binged the whole month of Feb so far. So lent for me started yesterday. Feb 14-April 4. 48 days! Close to 2 months! YIKES!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Success!

Man, this "being smart about money" thing is HARD! I bought a pair of shorts from Express two weeks ago and I tried them on recently and there's no way they're going to fit well for spring break. So I decided to exchange them for a few other things I had my eye on but it turns out I had my eye on more items than what I paid for the shorts. I was able to veto one item but that left me with two items I would have to pay for after the exchange. I had two cute tops, a different pair of shorts and a pair of Capri dress pants. After ending up in near tears deciding what to do, I DID IT! I got the two tops and ditched the bottoms and called it a day. I only had to pay a $3 difference, which is good enough. Both the bottoms were on clearance and fit well so they were excellent deals but I just couldn't keep spending more money at Express when I have no allowance left for over a week. Spring Break is in 1 month and I'm not going to buy any more clothes, shoes or accessories until after I get back.

However, it does feel GREAT that I made a big loan payment on Saturday! With my federal tax return, I was able to make a payment of $833.10! And when I went to make a payment, I had already accrued almost $2 since the last time I made a payment earlier this week! It's so exciting to see that number go down faster than it's going up.

At this point, I've caught up with my budget and am onto a more normal paycheck schedule. That means every two weeks I can make a loan payment and add to my savings-such a rewarding feeling.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Jackpot!

So today is Express payday! I went to check my account and update my budget only to discover my BIG tax return had arrived! Wahoo!! It was such a surprise to see such a high number in my account! I'm not sure when but sometime soon I'm going to Rosemount to open an account! I'm so excited! I went to SallieMae.com to make a bigger loan payment but I guess they have a system upgrade going on so there's lots of technical difficulties and I won't be able to make a payment until it's working correctly again. They really just want to have more interest accrue before I can pay them! I'll get them one day when I have it all paid off much faster than they expected! Take that 12.75% interest rate!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oh Happy Day!

Yesterday was a success of sorts.

Ya know how I was complaining about how I'm bad at math so I kept screwing up my budget etc? Well MG took a look at my Excel spreadsheet, worked his magic and arranged it so it does the math for me and he formatted it so I can easily see the specific things I'm budgeting for (rent, utilities, food etc.) It's so spiffy and I'm very excited! This will save me a lot of busy work and time stressing over how my budget all the sudden doesn't add up! YES! THANKS MG!

ALSO! I made my first loan payment yesterday! Since I had my tax return money from state in my account, I figured I'd get a head start on those darn loans! It was only $109 but that pays for the interest that has accrued on that account so far ($43 since Jan!) plus starts working on the fees charged for taking it out (an extra $120!). Once I get my federal return, I'll make another, much bigger payment! yes!

I did go out to eat twice yesterday and I bought Amanda flowers for V-day so my allowance is already slightly low but I'll make it work I swear. I just have to be smart about it.

Lastly, here's some exciting news! As we speak, MG is at a 2nd interview for a full-time job starting in May! It's for First Investors and although it's commission based, any income is very exciting! It's located in Edina but their headquarters is in NJ about 30 min from where I'd nanny. I have no clue if he'd be able to transfer eventually or not but that'd be perfect :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My emergency plan!

So I recently mentioned my emergency money plan (see my last post). However, that has slightly changed because Jessie gave me an excellent idea (see our comments about two blogs back). Since we both love the idea of money being out of sight out of mind, we're going to open a savings account with a bank other than our own. That way we won't think about it and we won't have access to that money unless we make the trek all the way there, aka in an emergency.

After a little bit of research, I've decided on Rosemount National Bank. It's the bank I first used when I started earning money so it's close to my heart. Plus, a lot of other more commercial banks require a checking account in addition to your savings, which I don't need. Conveniently, RNB has a minimum balance of $1000 if I want to upgrade to a money market savings account so I can get more interest than I would with a more normal account. Since I am not a fan of minimums, I don't like that I'm so close to the minimum account balance. It's triggered me to try to add to that account when I can. Like my dad used to tell me, "you're never going to look back on putting money aside for savings and say 'Damn! I wish I wouldn't have done that!'"

My first debt is paid off!

So I filed my taxes on Thursday and I already got my state return back today! WAHOO! It's much less than my federal, only $390 but hey, I'll take it! I took the amount I get for myself ($282) out already and here's how it broke down:

$70 to My Guy (MG from now on) from the whole Geek Squad disaster.
$100 for Spring Break Fund
$83.99 for this past weekend's Express purchases
$20 for my hair fund (I just need to cover tip and it's finished!)

Totaling $272.99, leaving me $9 to just hang out in my account. I am going to dinner with a classmate to discuss politics and maybe getting involved somehow on Wed. so I can use it there (of course, I can never just let it sit there for long!!). But 1 dinner is MUCH cheaper than a whole 'nother semester or two to get formally educated on my options.

On another note, tomorrow is payday so I get my allowance refilled. Sadly, $35 of that goes to my credit card because I had to buy a thing or two for the super bowl party Amanda and I had. Although I get an $8 rebate from the Sunday ads, it won't come for a while. Oh well, I just need to pay $10 more for hair so that'll free up an extra $10. I still have a gas gift card to last me through this paycheck at least so there's more money I won't need to take out of my allowance. My goal for the next allowance is to not have ANYTHING on my credit card so the allowance really is all mine for the whole two weeks.

Last but not least, Friday I get my Express paycheck of $216. After I refund myself for the Express purchase I made on the original 45%-off weekend, I'll have $82 dollars to add to my savings account. It's much more comforting having more than $1 in your savings! I've decided to put my emergency fund in my savings account as well so I can get interest on it. I will just have to consider the minimum balance to be $1,100 rather than just the $100. I feel more secure financially already :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bye bye hood of my car

Good morning and happy Monday...kinda. Matt took me to work this morning and with the snow and icy roads and very stupid inconsiderate city buses, he got in an accident. The bus was fine, don't worry. But the hood of my car is all bent up and looks like a hot mess. We're not sure of the total damages but there will be a pretty penny or two to pay for this. Bummer.

Otherwise, a great weekend. I got a lot of hours in at Express (even though it meant working til 1:30am on Sat.) I did end up spending $90 at Express but I got a lot of great deals again and I had $112 sitting around so I'll put the $22 towards my hair rather than the full $50. It's progress right? So here's what I bought with $90 at Express:

2 sweaters
Capris
a skirt
jean shorts
sandals

Not a bad deal considering at full price, most of those things are $50-60 each! Plus, I'm thinking of it as an investment. There's a potential promotion opportunity at Express and I'm training for it now. If I look fashionable at work (aka a good role model for other associates AND making the brand come to life for the customers) I'm more likely to get the promotion! I could use the extra $2.20 per hour if I'm going to be there already anyways! I was training on Sunday and LOVED it! It's just dealing with the customers more in the fitting rooms and making sure they have great outfits to buy! It's always fun to dress people up and spend other people's money so I might as well get paid for it! Fingers crossed!

Oh, and I spent some time with my parents on Sunday and my dad bought me a few nice things :) I got new windshield wipers, oil for my car, water and sports bras. Sounds dinky but it's all things I would normally buy and now I don't have to. Thanks dad!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Drum roll please.....

Ok, so after much more input than I expected (thanks everyone!), I've decided how to use this mega tax return. I'm sticking to Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover plan and putting the whole $1000 aside as if it doesn't exist. Then I will tackle a big loan payment and the rest will go to me. The money is due in on Feb. 19 so I'm pretty excited.

I would just like to point out that before this new years resolution and my change of heart about my spending habits, I would NOT have been so smart with my money. I would have given myself permission to take half-ish of that just for myself/spending and then saved the other half and eventually that savings would go to paying off my credit card bills if I was short. It's crazy that although it's only about a month ago, I can't believe how DUMB I was!!

Now, after giving myself only $282 of that mega return, I think I deserve to use it! I'll give my guy the $70 I owe him and I'll put $100 into my Spring Break spending envelope and that leaves me with $112 I can spend. I know I said "no-spend" February but the extra discount at Express apparently applies this weekend as well and I can't let that completely pass me by. I'll see what that gets me but I swear I won't spend over $112.

Hmm..maybe I'll put $50 towards getting my hair done and that will complete the amount I need to get that done and I will no longer have to dip into my allowance each paycheck to save for it.

So that leaves me with $60 for an Express trip...I guess we'll find out this weekend if I use it or not.

Thanks for bearing with that thinking through typing! I'm sure I just rambled on but it's just my way of processing how to handle the money. Part of the money makeover is that every dollar coming in should be accounted for because if it's not, it will be spent unwisely. So far so good!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hard work has paid off BIG TIME!!

First off, I have 6 followers! I expected my mom and maybe Jessie at most so this is very exciting! Thanks readers!

So, I have BIG NEWS!! BIG!! I did my taxes last night and HOLY COW!! I got $2282 back between federal and state! Paying for school and working two jobs has REALLY paid off big time! So here's the down low: The Total Money Makeover says I should have $1000 in emergency savings. They're right, I should. But with a loan that has a 12.75% interest rate, it makes me want to put more money towards that. It would make sense to put $1000 towards each (loan and the emergency fund) and then using the rest to put towards spring break, paying my guy back for my computer fix, and the rest into back up spending. BUT the idea of $1000 just sitting there when this interest rate is killing me and my future fund is at $.22 so I feel like there's smarter places to put it. Or maybe I don't need all $1000 there, even $500 would be a good emergency fund. What do you guys think?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Jobs and Banks

So since May 16th is creeping up on me slowly but surely, I've been looking into jobs more and more seriously. I applied to three places yesterday and I've already received one rejection. Add that to the other rejections I've received prior to that and I've got a whole lot of nothing. Sounds pretty typical for all college grads but that's still not exactly comforting. Today, however, I found a backup.

The nanny position I had in New Jersey will be available again in August. Although it might seem like an easy fall back, it actually would make a lot of sense. Even if I upgraded to be the editor of the magazine I intern for, I'd make roughly $11,000/year. As a nanny, I'd early roughly $17,000 with no rent, utilities, food payments included for a year. Since it is just a 1-year contract, it would buy me some time to wait for the market to bounce back and if there are job interviews on the east coast, I could much more easily get to them. Additionally, if I do want to pursue magazines (or even a different field), I could take on a part-time unpaid internship in the city since the kids will be in school all day. Sounds like a great idea if nothing better shows up in the meantime. I would just have to make smarter decisions about my money this time around so I could put that money towards significant loan payments and put some money aside for the real world. I just need to figure out where my guy would fit in! :( Thoughts?

For the time being, I am pleased to announce that although I'm definitely still bad at math, I'm now on the other side of this weakness. Even after all expenses considered, my account has more money in it than I have budgeted. I've triple checked my accounts to make sure I wasn't missing anything but I'm up, which I can't complain about! My goal is to keep my credit card balance in check and keep the rest for future necessity. Wahoo!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sports Bra Slip Up

So "no-spend February" might get broken just once. I'm now doing Yoga 4 times a week and need some fresh sports bras so I don't have to do laundry twice a week. I would only buy 1 more but that's $14 I said I wouldn't spend. UGH! I'm not sure what to do about that.

On another short note, I'm going on a field trip to the Hennepin County Library today to get myself a library card and rent some books! I got a few suggestions I'm excited about and rather than buying it and reading it once, I'm going to rent for free! I'm glad I have to ride the bus (minimum parking unless I pay for a ramp) because not only do I save money on parking but on gas too. I hope it's a successful trip so it's easy to go back multiple times.

I'm putting some of my $34 worth of coupons to use tonight too. There's some great deals at Rainbow so with coupons added on, it's definitely worth shopping on a non-grocery shopping week. It will make my stock up purchase much less next week.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy February!

The new month kicks off a little something I like to call no shopping month! Granted it is the shortest month of the year, I won't spend a dime on anything besides the necessities and some entertainment. That SHOULD leave some extra dough laying around for either Spring Break or savings. Beautiful.

Here's an exciting tidbit that boosts my checking account:
I put the Spring Break hotel on my Visa and then everyone wrote me checks. I had to pay the deposit which is more than my share before I could get the checks from everyone. Then I got the checks and forgot to reimburse myself on my extra share of the deposit. So now they charged me the remaining balance and it turns out I have $94 that I forgot about! How exciting.

I'm going to put that straight to my Express card so my $120 shopping spree is reduced to $26 and I won't have to dip into my next Express paycheck so much to cover the rest. I love when extra money pops up and makes everything all work out. This month is off to a great start!