Friday, July 16, 2010

What a steal!

Wednesday I finally had a night off from working both jobs. I was finally out of bread, eggs and milk so I had to run some errands. I left myself with $6.24 to buy groceries until I get paid next Wednesday.

When I charge items to my debit card, my bank adds an extra dollar to my total and puts it into a savings account. Although I'm sure this is a good thing but when I'm working on a tight budget, every purchase costs more that way. So anyways, I really only had $5.24 to buy these three items and I really wasn't sure if I would do it.

Well, I did!

Do you remember that Spanish grocery store really close to my house that I mentioned? It's fairly in expensive apparently. I got bread, milk and even an 18 pack of eggs all for $5.22! In the same strip mall as the grocery store, there's a Dollar General (there are A LOT of dollar stores around here!) and I figured it was time to finally buy some laundry detergent. I stopped in and $7.50 later I had detergent softener, a cookie sheet and toilet paper! When I moved in, my apartment complex gave me a goodie bag with a roll of toilet paper and I've been living off that ever since. It was finally time to get some more and I got six rolls for $1!

MG sold a couple of my text books back for me and he took my gift card for Corepower Yoga to buy me a set of the Yoga Sculpt DVDs. He sent those to me along with a coupon I had received for $45 towards Express! That package arrived today so I have to get weights to get back into shape! I'm going to do a little bit of comparing online to see if Walmart or Target is better but I can't wait to get started! Sounds like a good way to spend a Friday night :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hard work pays off!

This afternoon I had a call-in shift from 3-8. I've never had a call-in shift before and I must say I'm not a huge fan of not knowing for sure if I will have to come in until 2 hours before the shift. I spent my morning working out and getting some sun reading by the pool so the thought of work didn't sound too appealing. When I called however, my manager says "we definitely need you" so my relaxing day was cut short and I got in work mode. It didnt take too long to get excited for work since I definitely need the money.

This weekend at work they were having a contest which associate could sell the most jeans during the busiest segment (every 2 hours is a new segment). Normally we never get commission so this was a different mindset. It turns out my shift on Saturday had the busiest segment and I tried hard to win. Since it's pretty obvious I won't be shopping for fun anytime soon, I was pretty eager to get a pair of their new jeans. Work has really been encouraging us to buy their new denim line and I didn't want to be a bad employee but there was just no way to afford it, even with the extra discount they're offering on them. While we were closing tonight though, my manager said she had a present for me-a free jeans certificate!! Now I can be current with their clothes and not even spend a dime! Give me a goal and man will I be motivated!

Express also asked me to come in for an hour (yes, 1 hour...) tomorrow night from 9-10 to help them close the store. I am eager to get all the hours I can but I wasn't thrilled about driving home from my day job, driving ALL the way to the mall and ALL the way home again just for a 1 hour shift. So now I'm just going to try to work late at my day job and bring dinner to eat there, relax at a local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble and then head to the mall before they close to pick out my free jeans :) There's no point in wasting gas and nothing too pressing I needs to be done at home so I'm sure there's plenty of exploration I can do in the Charlotte area between jobs.

ALSO! Someone asked me to take their Saturday night shift next weekend. That means I'll babysit in the morning and work Express at night! Yay for money! Also one of my nannying BFF's is driving through Charlotte on her way to her Dad's house in Florida so she'll be staying with me Sunday night! I'm so excited to see a familiar face, especially one I get to see so rarely anyways! I'm saving one of the rare nicer meals I have for when she and her mom visits (that's right, guests get special treatment-sans ramen!) and in the mean time, I've been doing really well at not spending any money. Let's hope I can keep it up this week!

Friday, July 9, 2010

A first time for everything

There's always a first for everything. This doesn't always mean good things and that's the case for my current situation. August will be the first month that I don't pay my entire credit card bill in full by its due date. BUMMER! I'm definitely not pleased but I'm paying as much of the bill as I can and the rest of the bill will be paid asap!

As I've recently mentioned, my credit card bill is pretty high. I make payments whenever I can but as I've also mentioned, this week's paycheck is half of what it should be. I'm just really hoping the interest from not paying it in full doesn't drown me. Looks like I'm going to be eating ramen for a little (or maybe a lot) longer than expected.

My Express money and any babysitting money I get is going to the card so hopefully I can get as many shifts as possible. I did land a babysitting job for next Sat. morning and I'm really looking forward to meeting their family!

In other job news...MG has an interview lined up for his visit here in 2 weeks! It's not in the actuary field that he got his degree in but it's a start. It's for a warehouse company and comes with great benefits and it would definitely help us with expenses and start working on a savings and loan payments! AND that means he could maybe move down here a little earlier! YAY! Cross your fingers for him!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Back in middle school again

I just printed off a bunch of flyers for babysitting, house sitting and/or pet sitting and went door-to-door with them at my apartment complex. I'm hoping I get at least a few calls or e-mails from interested people since Express isn't scheduling me much (I make more babysitting anyways!). My boss even sent out an e-mail to her friends with my flyer so that might bring in a few interested people as well.

I also made a comment about babysitting on my facebook status and one of my friends commented that her cousin just moved down to Charlotte with her three boys and definitely needs a sitter. Yes! Her cousin even called me tonight seeing what my availability was for this weekend. She'll call back to let me know which evening she needs me but I'm definitely excited to have that potential. Even if I work two hours I'll earn the money back that I spent on the flyers but I'm sure hoping that over time I can create a decent savings with this side job.

I wish I had more hours at Express but next week I'm only scheduled for a call-in shift on Sunday and a closing shift on Tuesday night. Not exactly ideal so I'm doing what I can to find other options through babysitting etc. Cross your fingers for me please! I need all the work I can get!

Financial rough patch...what else is new?

So as I mentioned in my last post, my paycheck tomorrow will be only half of what it should be since I was home for a week of that pay period. As much fun as my trip home was, OUCH! It's a pretty big blow financially-and yes, I'm realizing this now. Of course.

Anyways, I have money to pay 1/2 the rent (1/2 comes from each paycheck), I'll put what's hopefully enough towards utilities and the rest is gas money to get to and from work for the next 2 weeks-I'm hoping only $50 but I have a feeling things will come up. Yikes.

That said, after my last post I went the grocery store trying to find foods that would make meals enough to last me the next 2 weeks (plus this week so far). Guess who found the dollar store? That's right, me. And I actually found a few things I actually needed for far less. I'm not proud to say I legitimately shopped there but it's true. I found boxes of noodles for $.85! I ended up with a fairly long receipt $11 later.

It didn't complete my grocery shopping for the next 2 weeks though so I decided to try one of the two other grocery stores practically in my backyard. First I tried the closest one but I eventually walked out. There wasn't anything exactly wrong with it but most things were Spanish brands and I was looking for a little more familiarity. I headed down the street to Bi Lo, which was right up my alley. I got myself a discount card (which even gives gas discounts-perfect!) and they had some great deals! Buy 2 Digiorno pizzas and get: a box of pizza rolls, a Pepridge Farm cake, loaf of garlic bread AND a 6-pack of Mountain Dew FREE! Umm..yes please! I also got some Ragu (no more Prego for me-and hey, Ragu has a full serving of veggies in it!) and ground beef (I can't find ground turkey anywhere!) to go with my dollar store noodles and some BBQ sauce and Chicken in case I eventually get sick of Italian food (which everyone knows I will).

I cooked up some noodles and meat sauce for my work meals. I think it'll last me for the next 2. I just have to be smart about portions and not wasting food. Wish me luck! This is actually worse than college kid living! But it takes dedication getting on track and I'm willing to do it!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th Everyone! Yes, I'm a day late but I do hope everyone had a great time! It was my first weekend in my new apartment and at first I was a little sad I'd be all alone for the holiday. I was wrong since I actually ended up having a great time!

Friday I really enjoyed setting up my apartment. I had $150 to spend at Target and $40 to get some groceries with. I ended up only spending $139 at Target and have most things I need. I didn't overspend so I'm pretty happy with myself -- although I wish I would have paid $5 more for bedsheets to get sheets a little nicer than cheap hotel sheets. I decided to try out the Food Lion grocery store and it was alright. My groceries have to last me until Thurs when I get paid so I tried to get items that would make multiple meals but I didn't do a good job prioritizing the items in my cart though because I reached $40 way too quickly. Since I had an extra $10 left from my Target money I put that towards groceries too. I ended up with bottled water, diet coke, bogo hot dogs and buns, ketchup, ramen, mac and cheese, pasta roni, pb & j, bread, pancake mix and syrup, cereal and milk.

My only problem is, I meant to get stuff for a meal I can take for lunches and dinners while I'm working. Tues and Thurs this week I work during the day and go straight to Express for a closing shift. If I brought tupperware meals I can save some money so I have decided to give myself a little extra money to get stuff to make a meal or two. That extra $20 is coming from that $300 I was going to make a credit card payment with. I paid $280 instead and that will do for now.

Saturday night a friend I met through a volunteering committee came over for pizza and an Office marathon. We got delicious pizza and crazy bread for $8 from Little Ceasers and she brought over these awesomely decorated cupcakes! Very inexpensive night but lots of laughs!

Yesterday a co-worker of mine asked if I wanted to go out on the lake with his friends. I never like being the new kid in a big group of people but it ended up being SO MUCH FUN! The weather was perfect and his friends were really cool. It felt like home being out on the lake and everyone was fascinated by my accent lol. I only spent $2 on dinner so definitely an inexpensive day.

My goal is to get through this week by spending as little as possible. I have $26 left in my allowance and that should last me until at least Thurs. Here's the kicker though: My paycheck will only be half it's normal amount because I was gone for a full week for CUSA. I still have to do the math to figure out what that means budget wise but things are going to be pretty tight for a while. Good thing I bought ramen!

Friday, July 2, 2010

I'm Back!

After much delay with travel and starting job #2, I've clearly been slacking in the writing department. As you will soon learn it is a direct correlation to my poor spending habits. The less I write, the more I spend and stray from budget. But here's the thing, most of that time I didn't even have a set budget. I didn't know how much my paychecks would be, utilities etc. But I've cleaned up my Excel budget, got a new bank account (still have the old) and now trying to do some major damage control.

My credit card bill has magically (or so I'd like to think) sky rocketed to just over $1000. I had to buy new contacts, I had two flights and two hotels on there, my parents' fathers/mothers/both birthdays/anniversary present (a wii-totally worth it by the way!) and misc. expenses from transitioning down here. I haven't been able to stock up on groceries in a LONG time because I don't want to take over my boss' kitchen where I was staying-LOTS of fast food :( All in all, things have gotten out of control. Not to mention there have been no savings and no loan payments all summer. Not cool.

That will all change this weekend, however. I moved into my new place last night! I still have one more trip to make from my boss' place but it's livable. I've never had my own place before so it's pretty neat. The best part is that I can start making my own food and save a LOT of money that way. Since I'm the only one there I can also control the utilities. I don't mind a warm room so I'll keep the AC low and try to use appliances sparingly to save on the energy bill. I did get a target gift card and money for my birthday to use for my place so this weekend I'll go get the necessary items. The biggest issue is that I don't have a microwave. I do plan on making big batches of meals and heating up leftovers to last me for days-I realized though that I'll have to use the oven for now. Normally that's not too big of a hassle but now that I'm working both jobs, I don't exactly have all the time in the world. Any advice on where to get a decent, working microwave for cheap?

Anyways, I'll be sure to update more regularly from now on. Here's one quick update on the credit card bill before I go:

I did just get $300 for graduation from extended family so that will put a dent in the bill. It's not due until Aug. 4th so I have a little time but yikes! It should now be down to $684 with that payment. Now that I've started at Express too (my availability is literally everyday so I'll work as much as they let me!), all that money will go to the bill 'til it's paid off. Then I can even start to think about rebuilding my emergency fund and then tackle loans. It will be a slow but sure process and I plan on working as much as possible to get back on track and to be in better financial standings. Wish me luck!