Monday, June 14, 2010

Reunited and it feels so good!

I love that I've been reunited with my budget. I have created a new Excel spreadsheet (new computer) and I'm trying to format it just like my old one. I have funds for the following items:

Utilities (unknown amount as of now but hopefully I've over guessed)
Car Insurance
Car Maintnence
Health Insurance (although my parents are paying for June/July/August for insurance as my graduation present, it's still good to get used to it)
Health Maintenence (Co-pays for dr. visits and prescriptions I need-or even the $1000 deductible I have)
Emergency Fund

Oofta. I get a $100 allowance from every paycheck and the rest is 100% accounted for. I'll be saving only 8% for now but I'm just following .

When I drew up this new plan, I gave myself $30 for food for the next week. I decided yesterday to go to the grocery store and buy a few things for meals this week. I took some time to make cheese tortellini with meat sauce so I'll have that for my lunches. Not sure if it will last all week or not but it should save me quite a bit compared to last week. I also have some salads with some chicken sandwich meat that I can add to spice it up a bit. Slowly but surely I'm getting back on track and it feels great!

My boss also mentioned that they have more furniture than they know what to do with so I could borrow some for my new apartment! YES! I was just going to be living on a futon, no tables or chairs. I'm glad this will make it a little nicer until MG moves down with all of my couches and bedroom stuff or until I have to move home. Things just keep getting better and better here :)

As I mentioned in my last post, my student loans were going to get some pretty significant payments soon but I take that back. First I have to build up my emergency fund of $1000. So when I normally could make a loan payment of $700 plus dollars, it will take a month and a half to get my emergency fund built. After all that, I won't make a full $700 payment. Since I'm not sure if I'll have a job come Sept. as of now, I want to have some back up money for when those loans start to kick in for real. I will pay $500 per month towards the smallest loan and then keep the rest as a back up plan. That way if I don't have a job, I won't kick off my true loan payments on a very bad note.

That means I'll put $750 towards loans by the time I'll know if I have a job or not, but I'll still have a small back up fund. If it turns out I will for sure be able to continue working here, then I can take that back up fund and make a big loan payment with it and call it a day. But in the mean time, I'm trying to be smart.

Speaking of student loans, since I have all private loans, I never did an exit interview. I'm not sure how Sallie Mae will know that I've graduated and should start owing them money. All of my loan summaries say I don't owe my first payment until at least December of 2011! That clearly isn't right and I'm not sure how to correct it or if I should. Am I responsible for letting them know? Is there a fine if I don't? Or can I just slide by until then? Let me know any advice or knowledge you may have please :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Apartment Hunt is checked off the list!

Wahoo! I will soon be an official resident of Rock Hill, SC!

After some major online research I finally found a great apartment that seemed really nice and still affordable. I had to make sure it wasn't too good to be true so I checked it out today. Man, it's the best! For that quality, it would be WAY out of my price range in Minneapolis or Charlotte but in Rock Hill, it's even better than my budget had hoped for! Yes! After checking it out and being genuinely impressed with both the management and the site, I made sure to look around at a few other places just to make sure that this was THE one. Sure enough, it blew the others out of the water and yet still was cheaper!

Although I have no idea how long I'll be living down here (hopefully a very long time since I just love it!) I have to get a 6 month lease. It would be ideal to have a 3 month lease since I'm here until August for sure but most places don't offer 3 month leases and those that do double the rent so it's really not affordable or worth it for me.

So with a 6 month lease, a really nice pool, work out area and overall community, I'll be paying $565/month. The nice thing is the deposit/application fee is only $125 total for this special they have going on! Since moving down here kind of wiped out my bank accounts, I'm so glad I'll be able to afford that and the first months rent still. Then I'll be getting my last paycheck from my student job and the following week I'll get my first paycheck down here. Things are going to work out just fine.

In a later post I'll be sure to update you with my new budget but I'll tell you one thing, student loans are going to get a good swift kick in the butt REAL soon and I am SO excited! For now I'm off to enjoy a good book :) Have a great evening everyone!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Watch your statements!

I learned a good lesson today that really everyone should know. Since I've been kinda crazy about money since I've started this blog, it's pretty normal for me to check my bank statements. It does get old and feels pointless when everything always matches up but today, that habit has paid off:

MG and I planned on staying in a hotel this past Saturday, our first night in Charlotte. I would be staying with my boss until I found my own place but I wasn't sure what time I'd get in and didn't want to interrupt whatever they might be doing at whatever time I might have arrived. Also, MG was leaving the next day to return home so I wanted to ensure we'd have plenty of time together. So we researched a few places through Expedia since that's where I had booked his flight home and they had given me a 10% discount on a hotel with that flight purchase. We decided to stay at the Hyatt-City Park around here. When I got to the hotel to check in, I had to swipe my credit card that I had used to make the reservation and the bill was about $10 cheaper than what I had paid on Expedia but I didn't think much of it. On my way out of work today, I checked my bank and credit card statements and it showed a charge for the room from they Hyatt, in addition to the charge from Expedia. Since clearly I didn't want to pay double for that room, I had to figure out how to handle it. Do I contact someone at Expedia or the Hyatt? Luckily, my first call was to the Hyatt and they very quickly looked up my bill and said they would remove their charge and call to let me know it had been removed. THANKS! What great service.

Anyways, two lessons learned from this experience actually:
1-Regularly check your bank statements to avoid incorrect charges and unnecessary spending.
2-Despite Expedia giving me a "10% discount", it would have been even cheaper to book through the hotel itself. I'm not saying this is true for all hotels or all travel service websites but it is definitely something I will consider when booking my next hotel! You could even use Expedia's search engine to find well-reviewed hotels and then book through the hotel's individual site-or at least compare the rates between the two.

In other news, I kept my promise to stop at a grocery store to pick up a few items to avoid over spending at random restaurants. I accidentally found a Harris Teeter grocery store when I got lost on my way home from work so I stopped in. I didn't want to take up my boss' fridge or freezer with my items so I selected wisely. I got a pack of diet-coke, creamer and sugar for coffee so I can drink it at work for free, I bought some pre-made muffins for breakfasts and two tuna salad lunch packs. I didn't have to buy my breakfast this morning and didn't need to buy a drink with the chicken wrap I bought today. I also ate dinner here at the house with my boss' family (delicious steak, potatoes and broccoli! yum!). I will take some time this weekend to make tortellini with meat sauce so I can bring my lunches to work all next week and save some major money there as well. Slowly but surely I'll get back on track with this budget and hopefully be able to start making loan payments again soon!

Now I'm off to enjoy an episode of LOST-MG and I watch it on our own and skype together to get reactions :) It's turned into quite the great cyber date. Man I love free technology!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Good Morning Charlotte!

I'm rather surprised at how well I'm doing on getting up for work on time, even leaving room to actually shower in the morning and looking presentable. Gone are the days that I value sleep more than looks and I roll out of bed and am out the door in 10 min. tops. There is one consequence to getting up before 7am everyday, however. Coffee-and lots of it. I've made a terrible habit of stopping for coffee before work. Today I even got an extra shot of espresso. Who do I think I am? A wealthy person? I guess so, but it's pretty obvious I'm not. I'm going to really have to start bringing my own coffee...I just wish it was easier for me to make a delicious iced white mocha. If you have any tips/recipes, feel free to share them here!

I've also been rather lately on getting some groceries so I've spent far too much on food. My boss is introducing me to a few journalism people my age tonight but I swear I will make time to grab a few things. I can't keep up my habits! I'll admit it is fun to try all the new food places around here but I have to keep in mind that I'm still a poor college kid, just without the homework now. I think it will also help when I know what my rent and monthly expenses will be.

Speaking of, I'm still on the hunt for apartments. I think I'll be running around town this weekend to explore a few places and hopefully find one I like. I can move in at the start of July and be good to go. Definitely excited but kind of nervous! Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have arrived

I made it! Wahoo! It was a rather long car ride but smooth sailings and great company :) We stopped near Perdue University in Indiana on Friday night at an Econolodge. Although it's unnecessary, I fully admit I'm a snob when it comes to hotels. I love the big cushy beds and the nice tv and furnishings, even when you spend no time in the room besides sleeping. MG convinced me it would be fine and he was right. No cushy bed (actually a rather old and dirty comforter) but it did it's job and only cost me 50 bucks. MG paid for gas the whole way since I paid for hotels and his plane ticket home. Not sure how much gas ended up costing but Mapquest estimated about $150 and my car gets 30 miles/gallon so not too shabby!

I love it here so far! Such a beautiful city and the people are really great! I'll have to get some groceries so I don't have to eat out everyday for most meals but it's kind of fun exploring all the new places to eat. I found a great deli for lunch today. I spent a little more than I wanted ($8) but I will eventually start coming up with a better meal plan. I am buying my breakfast and lunch for work tomorrow as well but I will try not to spend too much. Although staying at my boss' house is really a nice place and great setup for me, I am looking forward to getting my own groceries and cooking my own meals to save some money. That won't happen until after CUSA but I will try to be smart until then. If you happen to have any suggestions, feel free to offer any advice!

I'm so excited to start my big girl job tomorrow! It's not exactly a big girl salary but it is a full-time job and that's all that matters! I'm so thankful I was given this opportunity and I really hope it takes off running and becomes a much bigger venture! I'm proud that although I do have 3 years of student loan debt, it's gotten me to this point and is all paying off. Now I'll just have to start at Express to really get my feet off the ground financially. My first day is June 29th! Very exciting.

In the mean time, I have to add y'all to my vocabulary and figure out how to get my hair to cooperate in this humidity. Otherwise, no complaints and I couldn't be happier (well only if MG were able to stay down here with me!).

Oh and btw-I did re-subscribe to Netflix. I have my nights free and so much to catch up on since I used to be so busy with school. It turns out I can stream LOST instantly so MG and I will definitely be having skype dates while we watch together AND I'll finally get into The Golden Girls and Mad Men and I'll actually see Avatar for the first time. If you have any suggestions, shoot them my way. I got the 2-disc package for $13.99. I know this is definitely a WANT rather than a NEED but I'm considering it my early birthday present to myself. I deserve a reward for entering the real world in a city where I don't know anyone right?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Money in and money out-like always

I've collected all these checks I have to deposit over the past few weeks from graduation, rent etc. which totaled $1100. Not too shabby. A big chunk of this, however, is going to credit card bills that have MG's flight back from NC, my trip home for CUSA etc. on it. I wish I could say I'll have most of this left over for savings etc. but the more I look at the numbers, the more it looks like it will just go towards paying stuff off. I do want to set a little bit aside for my parents' birthday presents and to make a donation for the bone marrow donor foundation. I became a donor but it costs their foundation $65 to send me a registration kit to get on the list. I want to make a donation so they can keep sending kits to others so fewer families have to go through what MG's family did. Anyways, this extra money will at least help me maintain what I have in savings for once I'm down in NC-roughly $1100 also.

I can't wait to get down there and start with a steady income and be able to officially set up a budget according to Dave Ramsey. I used to tailor his suggestions for while I was in college but now I can really dive in and get started with another emergency fund and the snowball effect! Also, I figured out my computer situation. Work will be providing me with a company-owned computer for work/personal use-how helpful! That will give me time to build up a savings fund to own my own one day. It worked out so nicely.

Anyways, for now we're low on groceries so I've had too much fast food lately but I've been so busy packing and working that it will just have to do for now. I'll get into a better routine starting Monday! Can't wait!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Farewell MOA Express and other things

I worked my last shift at Express last night (in MN at least). I will definitely miss that place! I only worked half of my shift since my foot gets too sore for a full closing shift but we did get time-and-a-half, which is always a great bonus (thanks troops!). My adventures at the Charlotte Express won't begin until after CUSA so my foot will be totally healed and I won't have to request any time off for a while but once I start, I plan to go gang busters earning lots of money (and avoiding spending it on clothes at all costs!).

Now it's confession time: With some major Memorial Day sales, I did spend some of my graduation money on clothes. Since the majority of that nearly $500 (thanks everyone!) will be put to smart use (loans, rent, savings etc.), I figured I deserved to spend just a little on something fun. On the bright side, I did get rid of 3 big bins/bags of my closet to Good Will (or MG's sister lol). I did a great job of being brutal with my clothes and getting rid of them if I haven't worn it in the last year or maybe even at all (yes, really). MG's sister took a big pile of them and I got $10 out of the deal. I also got rid of most of my books since I got the Nook. My friend wanted to buy a few from me so I made another $15. I'm trying to turn an old habit around so I will try to be more frugal and practical with my purchasing habits. That is my new resolution for my new move-who says resolutions only have to be made in January?

Now it's time for some great news! I found a subleaser!! I got a message Thursday night explaining that this guy was in a bind and needed to move in on Saturday. Considering my room was no where near ready, I got my butt in gear and got all of my stuff moved to the living room (sorry roommates!) asap. There's no way I could pass up the chance to get my room rented out so it was totally worth all that hard work with no air conditioning. He seems like a good guy for the house so I'm SO SO SO thankful that it came through and it relieved me of such a financial burden! He even gave me a refund on June rent already.

Everything is kind of on hold budget wise until I know what my rent will be like but I've been doing a good job of holding on to it. Here's a sign that I'm getting a little smarter with my money: Old me would see all this money lying around and no immediate use for it so I would spend it some how. New me doesn't want to. I love little milestones like this!