Thursday, April 29, 2010

Plenty of news-good and bad

Last night around midnight, we found out MG's brother was sent to the ICU with a fever and infection so we packed up quick and drove through the night to be with his family. It's his sister's prom this weekend and obviously there are other distractions so I took her to get her nails done and get shoes for the big day. Yes I've spent extra money on food and gas etc. but in an emergency, it's where my emergency funds kick in. His brother seems to be doing alright although his blood pressure isn't consistent. He should be in the ICU for 7 days and based on his tests we can go from there. Keep him and their family in your prayers please.

I also have good news and bad news. The bad news is I didn't get the reporting job in Arkansas that I applied to a while back. I received a nice rejection letter so apparently I won't be visiting with the Duggar family anytime soon. I've always wanted to see 19 siblings in one room but I guess it'll have to wait.

The good news is that I likely DID potentially get a job in beautiful Charlotte, NC! It's a startup company so I don't know much and can't reveal much since it's all confidential but I'd be doing social media and marketing for the company. We're still waiting on investors to make sure there's money for me to work for them but I'm really hoping all goes well in that department and that I find out soon. If all goes well, I'd be moving to NC in exactly a month! Road Trip!

I couldn't be more excited to have a job in my field with the potential for real growth. I'm still trying to figure out a budget, living situation etc. I will be getting a slight raise from what I'm earning now at my school job but it's definitely not a salaried, high paying job-at least until the company launches obviously. I will try to transfer to an Express store down there to get a second income and hopefully meet people my age. It looks like I will be sticking to a tight budget very similar to what I have now to make sure I can pay my loans, rent etc. I will also be tacking on car insurance, my portion of the family's phone bill and wonderful health insurance. Yikes. This is just another great opportunity to get even smarter about my spending habits and save as much as I can.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bye bye blackberry

When my family switched to Verizon, they had a buy one blackberry, get one free deal. Of course my mom and I jumped at that chance and I have thoroughly enjoyed the benefits of receiving e-mails to my phone, checking facebook and twitter, and of course playing brick breaker. Through a few mishaps (not always my fault) my phone has needed to be replaced a couple times now and my insurance won't claim me anymore. So when the microphone crapped out on me for over a week without me doing anything, I had to call it quits. Since I'm clearly strapped for cash, I opted for the most basic phone and let me tell you, it's bringing me back to my 14-year-old days of my first cell phone. Ok, it's a little nicer than that but the emphasis is on BASIC! That means my data package is gone, saving the phone bill $30/month. When I start paying for my portion of the family's bill, that will be a huge help, although I do longingly look at my phone hoping a facebook application would appear but nope. I'll admit, it is kind of nice being connected only when I want to be and of course the best part is I can actually talk on my own phone again and people can actually hear me. It was a whoppin $50 that will come out of savings but I have some important news that makes this a very necessary purchase...

I have a phone interview today. There's a social media job for a start-up website in North Carolina that has my name written all over it. Trust me, I've lost precious homework time daydreaming about this job and preparing for the phone call today. But I couldn't be more prepared and I'm so excited to at least have some interview practice. What a dream job it would be to get paid to use social media all day! And yes, it would mean moving to North Carolina! And soon! Wish me luck!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Issue resolved

After a brief break from our disagreement, we have a better solution. I'm still not a fan but it makes sense and motivates me. Since I have a terrible habit of spending money I don't have and then paying for it with future payments, it makes it so I can never stick to my allowance because it's always making back payments. MG's goal of the discussion was for me to quit this habit and start fresh. I was doing really well at it when I first started this blog but somehow I got off track and obviously it's not going well. So starting with the next paycheck, I get the full $150 for my allowance and that is all. I am taking it out in cash and if there are things I need to allocate the money to, I will use envelopes hidden in my secret spot so the money is physically out of sight. But when it's gone, it's gone and I can't use money set aside for any other purpose.

But that still leaves my emergency fund low since my allowance won't be paying it back anymore. MG knows how much it kills me to see the interest on my loans jump everyday so in a form of punishment and motivation, instead of making loan payments, I have to put that money towards my E fund. That will definitely motivate me to get all the money back in there asap so I can start paying my loans again AND I won't keep making back payments because my allowance is still in tact. MG agreed that if I cut my Express purchase down to $76, I can afford to keep that within my allowance so it's all good. Whew, glad that's resolved. Money can be so stressful!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Graduation!

My graduation dress is bought! Here's the belt that goes with it! That means graduation is getting really close and I can't be more relieved! I had a $15 off coupon plus my 30% discount which helped with the price.

As I've mentioned, next Sunday is extra discount day at work. There is a long list of items I've been eying up for weeks now but refused to buy until I could get 45% off. I made an online shopping cart and have slowly but surely removed items throughout the week to make it a more affordable trip. The basket is down to $76 and MG and I are in a big disagreement about it. Let me explain.

Now that I don't have to put money aside for rent for these summer months and utilities is almost cut in half, I have $160 of extra money each paycheck. I decided that my allowance would get $50 (although I'm still putting $50 into my emergency fund until it's all paid back!) and that leaves me with $110 left for savings and loan payments. Makes sense right? He thinks I should follow Dave Ramsey verbatim So if I want to make a purchase of $119 next week, MG is saying I can't because I'd be using future money to pay for that purchase. I get it and all, it's just really annoying because I cut my purchase down from $400 to $76-that's a LOT of stuff to get rid of with 45% off! When I work as much as I do and I'm still saving and making loan payments and everything, I think I should be able to do what I want without a lecture.

He says he's just trying to help but why wouldn't I buy this stuff when I get 45% off rather than when I get 30%? UGHHHHHHH. That's all I have to say about that.

This blog is really paying off

I'm pretty surprised at how many people are reading this blog but I really appreciate it because it's paying off financially! I had a crappy day on Saturday and I wanted to do some retail therapy after work. I tried on a few (really cute) things but luckily for me, J was working the dressing room and confirmed that the items were cute. THEN she tells me to give her all of the items because I don't need to buy any of it because she's been reading my blog!! Ha! I have a conscious everywhere I go now reminding me not to spend! And she was right, I didn't need any of it.

MG and I grocery shopped on Friday and mad did we stock up. I made a list, prepared the coupons and two hours later our cabinets are full and bank accounts are smaller. MG used his graduation present of the grocery gift card from my folks and I had about $90 allocated for groceries. Let me tell you, both of those are gone now :( But while we were in line and I handed the cashier my big stack of coupons, the guy behind me asked, "where'd you get those!? That's a lot of money to save!" And we racked up a gas reward of $.30 off gas/gallon. It's kind of scary because if I ever overspent my allowance, I would take money from my food budget but now that it's all spent, it's not an option. Yikes.

This weekend I was pretty good about not spending money though. I did buy beer for the weekend-MG had lots of friends coming to town for Spring Jam-but I got the cheap kind of course. I had to buy lunch at work yesterday and Mesa pizza on the way home from the bars last night but I didn't spend a dime on drinks Fri. or Sat. night. Overall, I have $15 in tact for the next week and a half. This is possible but will take work.

I will end this on a bright note though. I updated my budget this afternoon and started to freak out a little bit about having the bare minimum in my account. Then genius MG pointed out that from now on, my rent is taken care of so that frees up a huge portion of my paychecks! HUGE! $187.5 will not be put aside each paycheck for rent and can now go towards savings and loan payments. I am still trying to figure out how to best spend that money but it's exciting to see the savings starting to grow already!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Comfort Food

Pizza is my comfort food. It always has been and likely always will be. Today was a rough day for many reasons for both MG and I so when MG got home from work, I ordered pizza from Dominos. I know I should probably save the money but it will last us a couple meals and sometimes you just have to give in a little.

Work is cutting hours so I have a couple short shifts and all of next Friday off. WAHOO! I was just complaining about how I never have a day off. It'd be great to get the extra hours (trust me!) but it would also be nice to actually have a full day of pure job applications, especially now that I have a newly updated resume. Most people see a day off as time to relax. I see it as free time to do other work. Story of my life. But truly necessary since I've been neglecting job applications for a little while now-but for good reason. If my homework isn't finished (and done well!), I can't graduate. If I don't graduate, I'm spending more money on school. If I spend more money on school, that means more loans. Ultimately, it would be a disaster.

Anyways, it's payday week. Tomorrow my allowance is renewed as well as all other funds. Too bad half my allowance is going to my emergency fund. Sadly necessary. But come Friday, my Express paycheck will be fairly decent-roughly $200. That puts $40 into savings, $68 towards my budget and a loan payment of $92! YAY! At least $12 of that loan payment is to pay off interest, which makes a $70-80 dent in the loan's principle. Slowly but surely, slowly but surely.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Confessions of a Spendaholic

I have a very big confession to make and trust me, it's not an easy one. I'm hoping you appreciate my honesty instead of judge but to each is own. I dipped into my emergency fund.

It wasn't exactly an emergency, it could have been avoided and according to Dave Ramsey, I should have budgeted for this. That's why this is a confession and I'm not proud. My credit card bill is due in a week or two and even if I put all of my allowance towards the bill, it wouldn't pay it off. I can't afford to have bad credit so I had to fall back on an old habit and use my emergency fund to cover it.

I will be taking from my allowance each paycheck to put that money back but it will take a while.

It wasn't even because I shopped too much this time. It was my parking ticket, MG's grad present, and little things that added up to much more than I expected. This will make any bigger purchases much harder to make because my allowance will be going towards this as well. I should have been smarter because I'm on my last set of contacts and CUSA is coming up as well as my extra discount at Express. Also, there's a tiff with the roomies about when to pay the utilities. They're always paid on time but one roomie was collecting our money after she paid it so eventually we'll have to pay twice to be caught up. Others were uncomfortable about that so now we have to payments right in a row. I don't normally care when I pay things as long as it gets paid on time, but I just made a payment so my budget won't allow for another one so quickly-just because they're bigger payments from the winter weather. Come summer, it'd be easier to catch up. Crap.

I'll make it all work somehow of course, it's just a sucky situation to always be so low on money even when I work every single day. It's not sustainable.

It's too early!

MG and I accidentally watched a two hour episode of LOST last night-after we already watched one episode and acknowledged we should go to sleep but the suspense of another episode tempted us. Little did we know it would keep us up until 1:30am! Now yes, we are college kids and yes, this behavior should seem normal. But MG had to be at work by 7:30! Ooops! That means he dropped me off at work even earlier, not even 12 hours since I was working my other job. I'm on a streak of not having a day off-today is day 11. This is feasible but when I think of my next day off, it's not until graduation weekend...a little under 4 weeks from now!! Offta. Gotta love paychecks and loan payments!

On two positive notes, I forgot to mention two great things in my last post. 1-My uncle helped me tweak my resume with some great tips. Hopefully this bad boy will land me a gig somewhere with decent pay! Thanks uncle! 2-At work on Friday night, I was training for that promotion position and it turns out my boss was evaluating me. At the end of the night she gave me a nearly perfect score and said "I wish we could have more Katie's on the floor!" Now, this is not to brag or anything. The only point of this anecdote is that it might mean I could get the promotion-whenever they actually give one! I really like running the fitting rooms and making a few more dollars an hour would be fantastic in terms of loan payments. **fingers crossed**

Speaking of this job, the temptation to buy all their clothes is getting worse. I know a 45% discount is coming up soon, which immediately sparks in my head all the things I want to buy. Last night I racked up a list that would cost me $400 after the discount-I'm serious. I KNOW I don't need ANY of these things but for whatever reason it's really hard to tell myself no. I made an online shopping bag of everything I wanted and MG walked me through each item (there were 18!). I was able to remove 10 items for sure from the bag and I've already thought of a few more that I really could do without. He's helping me be more strict with my Express spending, especially the impulse buys in order to stick within my allowance and make sure it's a feasible purchase-ideally on something I actually have a need for (not a shirt that I have identical ones in my closet already in the exact same color-and yes, that does happen, I'll admit it.) The discount should be the 1st weekend in May so hopefully this preparation has prepared me for a much more logical purchase. Thanks MG!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stuck inside

I hope all of you have enjoyed this fantastic weather all weekend (if you live in MN of course!) because I sure haven't been able to. I have been really good about working on homework and working. Oh well, graduating and working are both pretty crucial to my life and the outdoors will have to wait til this summer I guess.

I had a really nice lunch/dinner with my mom Friday afternoon before work. We ate at Noodles, which I miss terribly. It's right across from my work but I refuse to have it for lunch because I can make my lunch for a lot cheaper. Bummer though because it's delicious! Anyways, she gave me mine and MG's grad presents while we ate, which were gas and grocery gift cards. I know right, college grads plan backpacking trips through Europe but all we really need is gas and groceries. Sad and boring but very true and we really appreciate the extra help! Thanks mom! Afterward she took me to Express so I could show her the graduation dress I plan to buy and she ended up buying me a few tops which was nice of her! Thanks again Mom!

I worked Friday and Saturday night and I'm getting ready for work again after this post. Normally on a Saturday closers don't get out until well after midnight and if you're closing you know they won't cut your shift early. So last night I expected to get some extra hours but while I was on my break my manager told me I got to leave at 9! WOAH! Caught me totally off guard. She was going to cut a different co-worker but she's pregnant and asked if she could stay. Fair enough. While the money would have been nice, it was nice to have a night to relax! MG and I had a mini marathon of LOST and I got a ton of sleep! Such a needed night after this past week and all the homework due this week! So my loan payment won't be $100 like I had hoped but it'll still be decent so I can't complain to much. Sometimes you have to trade money for relaxation to gain sanity.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's free and easy to save a life-DO IT!

So MG's brother has Leukemia and his youngest brother's bone marrow transplant did not work. The cells were too similar so now they are looking to the national registry. Out of 9 million donors, not a single donor matches. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE visit this link and find a donation center near you.

All it takes is a cheek swab and who knows, you could be the 1 in 9 million donor to save Brandon's life.

Thanks everyone!

Social Life =T-8 days

The push for graduation is getting stronger and stronger. One month from tomorrow I will be sporting my cap and gown and never have homework, tests, or classes ever again. In the meantime, this past week and next week are insane with mandatory class attendance and major papers and projects due. Besides work, I will be doing homework ALL weekend. Luckily, a week from tomorrow kicks off Spring Jam and the major homework will be behind me! I also came up with a great work schedule for Spring Jam weekend so I can have fun and still get some hours in.

Since I'm going to be antisocial this weekend anyways, I volunteered to switch shifts with MT (another chronic Express shopper :)) so I'll be closing both Friday and Saturday night. That actually adds a couple extra hours of work and a bigger chunk of time to get homework done so it worked out nicely. After doing the math for this pay period, I should be able to make a $117 loan payment, which is very exciting. After paying off roughly $17 in interest, that hacks away $100 of the loan's principal. After that, I'll only need one more payment to get under $3000. Wahoo-what a milestone (sounds ridiculous but it's kind of exciting getting over $1000 paid off in a couple months on a college budget).

One little anecdote before I go, I have finally added up how much I've spent at Express since I've started. $2061 in 9 months. Crap. At least $500 of this is for others but still, that's a scary number. Another thing to consider is the majority of these expenses were before I started my new year budget but that could have paid a big chunk of the current loan I'm working on. My next goal is to figure out the best way to budget for Express spending but that won't be conquered until I get this month's credit card paid off...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Challenge averted

I always start out so well but once I start spending, it's hard to stop. Especially with this crazy week of school (3 papers due tomorrow, 1 due Friday, a soundslide project Tues, and 2 papers in 1 week from Thurs) I've spent money on coffee in between classes and I ate fast food twice. UGH. It's coming out of my food money (it is food after all) but still, it's supposed to be for groceries. When life gets busy, sometimes you just need a little break so I gave it to myself. My goal is to get back on track today though, I shouldn't need to spend a dime. I have breakfast here at work and more delicious Pad Thai for lunch and we have a pork roast defrosting as we speak for dinner.

But with all this school stress, I haven't had a minute to be job hunting. That's going to hurt if I put it til the last second because I don't want to put my godmother in a bind if i find a job right before I'm set to go nanny. Overall, life is STRESSFUL! Groupon even has a great deal on a massage and I can't even buy it because I have $3 left to spend for 1 week.

This may sound strange but I'm actually excited to find out my work schedule today. I'm usually always curious but lately I've gotten more hours, which means bigger paychecks, which means bigger loan payments! Hopefully it's good :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cheaper is not always better

Yesterday I made muffins to bring to work for my breakfasts all week. Normally I buy Betty Crocker, which makes 12 muffins-always more than enough to last the week. MG and I realized that Pilsburry was a little bit less expensive so we figured, "what's the difference? It can't hurt to use a different brand to save a dime." Well, there's a big difference. They taste the same but that package only makes six regular sized muffins. Six. With a 10 cent difference you can have 6 more muffins. There's no question about what I'll be buying next time.

I also made Thai food yesterday for my lunches at work this week. I'm pretty excited because a)Pad Thai is delicious and b)That means I'll be excited to eat lunch at work meaning I won't be spending money on food this week. Wahoo. I even realized I had more coffee creamer than I thought so I'll have free coffee to get me through all week (and trust me, I'll need it with graduation right around the corner!)

I also worked a whole 18 hours this weekend. Lately they've cut at least one of my shifts early or I haven't worked a whole weekend with Spring Break and Easter etc. so I wasn't used to that many hours but it felt great realizing it's all leading to a bigger loan payment. Who can complain about that? It's a challenge though because it's the big spring clearance sale so jeans are $23.99 (originally $88!) and shirts are only $7.99. On Friday I did get 2 pairs of jeans and 2 tops but I'm returning the jeans because quite frankly, I don't need them! MG came up with a project for me that I'm a little nervous about. Remember when I went through all my credit card and bank statements to see what I spent most of my money on? Well he thinks it'd be a good idea to see how much I've spent at Express since I've started working there. I think if it reaches a certain amount, I will get rid of my Express card or freeze it in a block of ice or something because if I'm trying to save, Express isn't helping.

My no spending challenge ended on Friday night when I spent $20 on gas. I did buy a round of drinks on Sat. night too, which cost me $11. Lastly, I was rushing to work on Sun. and forgot any form of caffeine and a snack for closing. I'm down to $3 for eight days. Technically, I can use what I have and make it through. Next weekend when I'm not working I'll be homeworking at the library so that'll keep me out of spending trouble and I bought enough snacks and stuff for meals to last on my breaks at work so really, I should be fine. Day one of eight starts now!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Day 3

Good morning!
It is Day 3 of my no-spending challenge and so far so good! It has become almost automatic for me to be prepared with meals or some sort of food to eat (popcorn for breakfast has happened), or to just wait until I get home to grab food rather than eating fast food. It's been pretty successful and it hasn't bothered me at all that I can't spend it. I think it helps that it's in two $20 bills so I can't just use a dollar for a vending machine or something like that. I'm sure I'll spend $5 tomorrow night to get into a party (plus maybe another $5 if we go anywhere else) since the BFF is visiting but that still leaves me with $30 for a week and a half. No prob.

I also realized that I don't need to take the 20% of my Express paycheck that normally is direct deposited into my savings to make my budget work. That means $25.31 is going into my savings! I decided that with that money, I'd make a loan payment to get rid of the interest: $13.31 and save the rest. That way when I have a bigger loan payment to make, it won't be consumed by interest and can actually make a dent in the loan itself. I feel like I'm getting back on track and it feels great!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Summer plans

I finally figured out the best solution to saving money this summer as far as my living situation goes. It's a little cramped but here it goes: My parents said they'd contribute $200/month to my rent if I stayed on campus. Yes, living at home is cheaper but the commute would waste 2 hours of my day and precious gas money plus there's the hassle of moving etc. So then MG and I were talking and since we already spend most of our time in his room anyways, we're going to consolidate into his room, split his rent and sublease my room. When we split his rent, that leaves us at about $200/month each including utilities and with the $200/month from the rents, that leaves me with a free summer of living and no commute. Perfect. Now MG's room is pretty small but I think we can make it work and with both of us gone working all the time, we won't have too much time to go nuts in close quarters. Mostly, we're both just really excited to be saving as much as we can and use that 2 hours a day we would waste on commute and spend it job hunting.

By the end of the summer (well, beginning of August if I leave for NJ) I will have paid off $1000 of this pain in the ass loan and will have at least $1000 saved for future loan payments, a place to live once we move out etc. That's only with the accounting job so if I include Express, it will be even more. I have a conundrum however. If I am earning all this money, is it better to put it towards loans right away or to keep some so when I actually receive bills I have the money to pay it off? I feel like I need to find a happy medium of that so I can reduce the amount I'll pay but I can also keep up with the payments when they become mandatory. Tough call. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ramen

I purchased Ramen today. A six-pack even. We bought other groceries of course (everything on sale or with a coupon) but Ramen is a sign that we're REALLY saving as much as possible. If anyone has suggestions on how to spice up Ramen or make it more filling, PLEASE let me know!

I'm excited though because I just got next week's Express schedule and I have plenty of hours. I did the math for that pay period all ready and I'll have about 25 hours. This means I can complete my budget, put $36.50 in savings and make a loan payment of $84. YES! That means I can actually pay off all the interest and get rid of some of the actual balance. YES! I know this is over two weeks away but I'm already excited to make a dent with savings and loans! I just need to make sure that with all the hours I'm spending at Express I don't buy a THING!

Pay Day

It's payday again! hooray! Although, yes, this is the paycheck that's much smaller thanks to my escapade to South Padre but totally worth it. I normally require $405/paycheck to make ends meet for the month but that's not happening with this one. Surprisingly though, everything will work out. It hasn't been my turn to by groceries for a while so I've had money set aside for that and the utility bills will be much less now that we've been able to turn off the heat for about a month now so I can easily make ends meet despite the smaller paychecks. What a relief! The only bummer is that there will be no savings deposit and no loan payment for this pay period. I'm very glad I made a loan payment last paycheck because my interest is much more manageable at this point. In 2 weeks from now, it will be an uncomfortable number but more manageable than it could have been.

Now remember when I wrote about how credit cards are bad etc? Well after looking at the bills, they still are. I haven't used them in a while but the balance is still there. So my allowance just got cut in half so I could put $50 towards my Express card. I'm putting $10 for CUSA and that leaves me with $40 for 2 weeks. We still have a little bit left on a gas gift card so I think I can do it. Every other Wed, I have to give myself a new challenge and every week I usually fail in some way but this pay period, I'm determined to make that $40 last and maybe even have a little left over at the end to put towards my credit cards. Wouldn't that be great? Besides grocery shopping tonight, Day 1 of no unnecessary spending starts NOW!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Welcome back

Easter weekend was so enjoyable. Both sets of Matt's family came to visit and it was relaxing and nice to have so much family around. Another enjoyable aspect of the weekend was not spending a dime. We didn't go out at all so it was an easy way to save money :) I even applied to a reporting job out there and it pays really well. My hopes aren't up but it would be a huge relief. Even to get an interview ANYWHERE would help! MG has also been applying to jobs up the wazoo and although we both know there's still time for someone to offer either of us a job, we're starting to lose hope that all this work is actually worth something. MG did, however, get an e-mail this weekend from a job in Denver asking for more information from him. YAY! It was a long, taxing document of question after question but if it's job potential, it's worth it! It just gets difficult when you're also balancing homework and part-time jobs. Oofta! We're exhausted!

Friday, April 2, 2010

It's been a while

Yup, it's been a couple of days. The thing is, nothing exciting has been happening financially. Still no word on the job front so it's very likely I'll be headed to NJ for the year. That will result in at least $5000 put towards loans as mandatory payments and an extra $10000 to save for a house down payment or to put some extra towards loans. Also, if I have a part time job while the kids are in school or something, that will all go to student loans so I'm really hoping to make a big dent.

Otherwise, my allowance has been lasting me up until this point and nothing too major has happened. I take that back. I did purchase a graduation present for Matt. I don't exactly have the money but I'll be paying it off with chunks of my allowance. It cost about $80 but it was a fantastic deal and I know he'll really appreciate it. We're going to WI for Easter weekend so I shouldn't need to spend much there. Then I just have until Wed. for payday. Not bad. I'm just bummed I can't make a loan payment this paycheck :( Major bummer.

I quit my internship this week. I wasn't learning anything new anymore and it was getting to be more and more work with absolutely no pay, which I can't afford anymore. It's helped my resume but I can move on now. I can use that time to job hunt, put in some extra work hours or just relax and enjoy the rest of my senior year.

Happy Easter everyone!