Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hello 12 hour work days!

Well I started at The Herald last night and I think I'm really going to like it there. It's a good combo of secretarial stuff (I used to be a receptionist and freakishly really enjoy that kind of thing) and editing/newsy stuff so it's a good fit for me. I'll normally be working there M-W 4-7pm after getting to my full-time job at 7am to ensure I still have an 8 hour work day there. 7pm is just early enough where I can still have a whole evening to enjoy but I really do have to learn to get to bed earlier on those days since I'm getting up earlier and I have longer days. I'm excited for this opportunity and I am excited to see where I can take it. They've already asked me to stay later next Tuesday for the elections...'til midnight! Oh hey there 16 hour work day! But as long as I have plenty of coffee, I'm really looking forward to it. It's a decent paying job so I'm happy to get as many hours as I can.

I had a good weekend and didn't spend much. I even included a trip to Target for some household stuff and spent less than $10! I was highly impressed. I could be doing better about cooking my own food but I'm still struggling with the balance between being social and saving money. This weekend will be an expensive one since there's lots going on: Gamecocks game (ticket, drinks, food), Halloween celebrations and going out downtown for a friend's birthday. Oofta. I'll see how it goes but I'm expecting my allowance to be gone after that...bummer.

Good news, however. My loan account is up to $623. That's $123 going towards my second set of payments already, which aren't due until January! And I made a $300 credit card payment yesterday so I've paid well over the minimum payment. It looks like I'll have $144 added in interest though so this might be something I struggle with for a little while until I can get more income. Or should I take that $123 and put it towards my card so the interest is less? Hmm..yeah I probably should. Between The Herald and babysitting it will cover more than my monthly loan payments...at least it should. So I'll keep working at it and do the best I can.

Ok so I did the math...If I put that $123 towards my credit card, it would save me $16 in interest...that's a smart decision right? Yeah, ok, I'll do it. Because not only does it save me interest but it gets me closer to paying off the card (which is still sitting safely in it's hidden spot, far from my wallet and although I instinctively wish I could grab it, I haven't come close!). So minus interest, the bill is only going to go down-thank goodness.

One last thing I'm going to vent about and then I'm done for today: why is food that is bad for you so inexpensive? Yesterday after running to the bank I grabbed a Little Ceaser's pizza for $6. That gave me lunch and a snack before The Herald and it will feed me for the next two days as well. But it's not a well-balanced healthy meal so of course I'm packing on the pounds. Why are carbs and fat so cheap and healthier foods much more expensive and require more preparations? It's not fair to have to choose between being healthy and saving money. If I keep gaining weight I'm going to have to buy new jeans so I might as well have spent some extra money on healthier foods. It's a terrible cycle. This is not a rant about being fat or anything, seriously I swear. I need advice in this department because I can't seem to find a balance.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Show me the money!

Well it turns out more money is coming my way...thank goodness! No one can ever complain about that, right? My loan fund is in good shape so far and I'm doing the best I can with my credit card bill so I'm excited to continue to add to my "savings/loans/credit payments" fund. Is it weird that I want the loan bill to come so the money isn't just sitting there mocking me? I have another month until I can make my first real payment so I guess I'll just have to wait.

I got a call yesterday from my old roommate about our security deposit...finally! Wahoo! Another $366 coming my way :)

Plus I got another babysitting gig for tonight. Short and sweet but hey, I'll take it. Lord knows I'll need the money. I'm also babysitting for the same family tomorrow night so that's also helpful. I promise I'll be social Sat & Sun.

Plus I just finished house/pet sitting for my boss so I'll be getting the check for that soon too.

Plus, my mom is reimbursing me for the flight I booked home for Christmas so that money should be on the way (straight to the credit card but it helps reduce the total...aka less interest for next month's bill!).

I start at the Herald on Monday so that will start another income for me as well.

I got an e-mail today about a babysitting job for Oct. 30th. The Sat. of Halloween. Do I want to be social and have a great time or do I want to be responsible and earn some extra money? I never like to turn down a babysitting job because I'm always afraid they'll never ask me back, but at the same time it's my first Halloween here and with all this extra work, a little fun is deserved. I'm kind of torn right now so give me your votes please!

It kind of sucks that all this extra money is going to boring things, but at the same time I'm proud that I'm being smart with it. I haven't done any crazy spending lately so this extra money is going exactly where it needs to go. One day I'll strike it rich and not worry about it but until then, I'm getting smarter.

I still haven't figured out what I'm telling my apartment complex about renewing my lease....I'm not a big fan of things being up in the air but I think I've been handling it pretty well so far...I have one more week to figure it out...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Good afternoon!

Well it's been a few days and really there's not much new to report. My loan fund is slowly increasing which makes me happy :) I also got another part time job (only 8-10 hours a week but hey, it's money) at the local newspaper so I'm excited to be doing something I really enjoy. I start Monday so I'll be sure to tell you how it goes!

House sitting has been going well but I've been slacking on cooking and bringing my meals so far this week. I haven't spent too much money or anything drastic but I could be doing better. I have a little bit of time tonight so maybe I'll figure that out.

I feel like I've been pretty busy lately but I honestly don't know where all my time has gone. No complaints though, it's almost Nov! (And I laid out on the porch this past weekend...I love this southern weather!!)

Oh and I was able to get my BC for free this month (thanks Amelia!) so I took the money I would normally spend on that and paid my minimum payment on my credit card. I do plan on paying off more of the card than that but for now, it's a start to keep me out of credit trouble. Also, I was convinced I didn't pay my entire bill last month and I was dreading to see how much interest would be added to my card but it turns out I must have paid it all off since there were no interest fees in sight. Whew!

Also, I have officially cancelled my subscriptions to both Blockbuster and Netflix. A)I hardly used them anymore and B) clearly I have more important things in my life that require that money each month...duh.

I have been babysitting more lately and I'm definitely happy about that. Honestly it's not even about the money, I really enjoy hanging out and being a goon with the kids. Sadly, the family I frequently sit for cancelled a few upcoming dates so hopefully I hear from them again soon to schedule alternative times. I sure hope I didn't do anything wrong to make them not want me back :( I'm trying not to take it personally.

Anyway, I babysit again this Friday for another family so my loan fund will continue to grow bit by bit. Otherwise I have no other plans for this weekend so hopefully I can find some inexpensive things to do. Still have half of my allowance left, which is good since I'm half way through the pay period.

Happy Hump Day Everyone!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A little bit stronger

Life is hard sometimes. I've been having a bit of a quarter life crisis lately and man, college doesn't prepare anyone for that. Between work, relationships (all-not just love) and money, it's hard to find an area that is going really well. I am doing my best to do whatever I can to improve these areas but sometimes some of this stuff is out of my control. Sara Evans' song "A little bit stronger" is on repeat until further notice. I know it's a love song but I think it applies to a lot of issues going on with me right now.

Anyway, it's been half a week since payday and my financial life is still going well (as well as it can). I have been eating the food I have (or enjoying other people's cooking :) ) rather than going out to eat. It's not only a healthier option but my debit card has been enjoying a break too. Both my Express card and credit card are out of my wallet for good. They're also enjoying a nice long rest.

I get $100 allowance for every payday. Sometimes that's nearly gone by the first weekend but I'm happy to report that's definitely not the case for me. I made one trip to Caribou Coffee today because if you wear pink (and duh, that's half of my closet!) you get 1/2 off any drink. Since there's conveniently a location about a mile away from where I'm house sitting, I enjoyed the GORGEOUS weather and took a nice walk for a delicious carmel cooler. YUM!

I brought a bunch of my own food to where I'm house sitting so I don't need to buy more groceries and I avoid ordering pizza etc. and so far it's worked really well. I'm off to go babysit right now and their family just booked me for a few more dates already. I'm excited to report how well it will help my loan fund.

Oh and how could I forget, GO GAMECOCKS! Big game tonight! :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

French Toast and Cheeseburgers

There is a cafe down the hall at work and they just got new management and cooks. Yesterday morning as I walked to the bathroom, the most delicious smell of french toast filled the air and man it was hard to resist! Instead I went back to my desk and poured myself a bowl of off-brand fruit loops (I won't go into detail but the off-brand variety includes a dye that has some funky side effects but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to take to save money...look how hard core I am!) and poured myself a cup of free work coffee.

Later that day, I'm in my boss' office having a pretty serious discussion when the most fantastic smell of what was probably the best burger in the world came wafting through the vents. I literally burst out mid-sentence "I WANT A CHEESEBURGER!! DOES ANYONE ELSE SMELL THAT?!" All I got was weird looks since apparently I was the only one smelling it but man, I would have sold my soul to the devil for a juicy cheeseburger at that moment. But instead, I walked to the break room and heated up my third day of lasagna without a complaint....

This is probably because I justified it with the fact that I had just grocery shopped the night before and now that I have my George Foreman back, I decided to buy hamburger stuff. So when I got this great whiff, I thought about my purchase and decided I was going to make my own juicy lucy this weekend! YUM :) I'm pretty excited for dinner tonight now.

Speaking of grocery shopping...I'm doing a great job realizing the food I have and buying only what I need to make complete meals out of said food. As a result, I have plenty of meals lined up for the next week and I am still well within my limits of my grocery fund. Nice! Good thing I have plenty of time this weekend because it looks like I'll be doing lots of cooking.

Babysitting got cancelled for Saturday...bummer. However, I did get a few more jobs lined up for the up coming weeks and I'm looking forward to those. Also, it turns out I'm making nearly a week's pay for house/pet sitting this week...woah! Talk about boosting the loan fund. Within the next week, I should be darn close to the total amount I need for all of my first loan payments. Once that's settled, I can start saving for the next month. That will buy me some time until I can land a better paying gig. Good thing I have all weekend to continue my search.

Also, since I'm house sitting this weekend and will be away from my work out machines at my apartment, I decided to get a free week trial at Bally Total Fitness, which is close to my boss' house. Since I don't have plans anyway (man do I sound like a loser!), squeezing in a few good workouts sounds like a good idea. Eating inexpensively can usually mean it's unhealthy too and boy has that taken it's toll on me the last four months. I'm working on it...

Another thing I've been working on is conserving utilities. It hasn't been hard to do since I've been gone so much recently BUT it's the lowest it's ever been and I still haven't been uncomfortable. It's very comforting to know that I can easily afford my utility bills with my current budget...it's the little things.

P.S. Babysitting is actually back on for tomorrow night :) My bank account will be even more of a happy camper. I love when more of my checking account transactions are deposits than withdrawals and so far this week, that's the case :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy Payday

Well it's one of my favorite days of the week when I can add money to my budget. Since I was out last week for a day visiting my sister, I was short a few hours so the paycheck is not as much as normal but clearly it still helps. It also helps that most of my funds are sitting pretty considering they got an extra boost from that extra paycheck in Sept.

After all my mandatory funds have been filled, the extra money goes into my loan fund, not credit card payments anymore (although don't worry, I still WILL pay more than the minimum each month no matter what!). My loan fund is now up to $115.82. That's enough for one full loan payment and a decent dent in another. I'm getting there!

I babysit tonight, house/pet sit for my boss for a whole week starting tomorrow and I just snagged a babysitting job for Saturday night and 100% of that money will go into my loan fund as well. I don't expect it to get up to the $506.38 I will need by my loans' due date (Dec. 3) but it will be a good start and I still have 1.5 months to get it there.

I'm still eagerly searching for more part-time work so I can guarantee I have the money I need for loan payments each month (plus a little extra for savings would be nice...). After repeated scheduling errors, I no longer work at Express. The hassle just wasn't worth such little pay and it wasn't going to work out. I plan on spending a lot of time this weekend figuring out my options and really digging into this job search. At least now I'm open for babysitting jobs on week nights and weekends-much more fun and pays much better. I just need to get more jobs lined up :)

P.S. I'm still doing well on making my own meals and packing food so I don't spend any money. Since today is payday, I'll be meal planning and grocery shopping tonight hopefully so I can keep it up! It feels good to behave financially!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Late weekend wrap-up

New Mexico was a great time with my mom and sister. My abs are still sore from laughing so hard I cried...that happened countless times so I'm sure you can imagine.  Minus two purchases, I stayed within my limit of $55. I did pay $30 to do a spontaneous Race for the Cure 5K (great cause and I've always wanted to do a 5K...although I walked a lot of it...altitude + asthma sucks for my lungs but I tried!). Anyway, I even turned down getting my nails done because of my 5K registration fee. We even went to two different malls and the only thing I bought was a birthday present for a friend. Multiple times I picked up items, walked around the store with them and then gave them up before I got to the register. I was proud of myself but really, I had no choice. All in all, my budget is still in tact.

When I got home last night, I dove right back into penny pincher mode. I've had a frozen lasagna in my freezer for weeks now so I stayed up late to cook that for my meals for the week. I thought it would work out nicely since I was staying up to watch the Vikings game anyway...what a BAD idea that was! Ask anyone that knows me, I HATE Brett Favre. Always have, always will, and yes, even when he did do well for our team last year, I still hated him! Last night's game put the nail in the coffin of me EVER liking him. Man was I livid. Anyway, So I whipped out my tupperware and have lots of lasagna. I'm even eating it right now on my lunch break. I stopped at the grocery store this morning to get some milk so I can have cereal for breakfast so I won't need to spend a dime on food this week.

My friend recently pointed out that I should check the terms on my student loans to see if they're really all over the period of 20 years. It turns out two of them are only for 15...only. But still, that's 5 years I could be putting that money towards something else (like my other loans because duh, I'm doing the snowball effect! Thanks Dave Ramsey!)

Lastly, I just got a message this morning that there might be a cheaper place for me to live when my lease is up! It would be $500 total a month, and that includes utilities!! That would save me $225 a month! Umm yes please! I've gotten really accustomed to living on my own and having my own space to do whatever I want...yes, I dance around in my underwear at 1am sometimes...but I love these girls and it would be nice to have company to come home to every day. Nothing is for sure or set in stone but definitely something to think about.

And umm...the GAMECOCKS WON!! Fantastic weekend! Hope you all had a great weekend too!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Official Student Loan Report

The time has come the walrus said...
...to pay my student loans.

I've mentioned that the due date is coming up and the bills have arrived so here's the monthly payment break down:
Loan #1: $41.23
Loan #2: $128.14
Loan #3: $168.55
Loan #4: $168.76
Total: $506.68/month for the next 20 years............

As of tomorrow I have $36.93 set aside for loans. I know it's not a lot yet (and frustratingly low considering I could have done a lot better but the past is the past and I'm starting fresh so I am maintaining a positive attitude!) but it's almost enough for the payment of loan #1, which is a start. I'll keep this progress updated because I'm a little kid that needs a chart to track my progress for all to see for all you curious, inquiring folks. Enjoy!

It was a short break

Well after a lot of hard work, a readjusted mindset and a few strokes of luck, I'm back. I won't go into detail on where I went or why right now but I'm back and that's what matters.

New York was fantastic. Much more expensive than I planned (surprise surprise...sorry credit card...) but a great trip. It took a lot of train rides but I was able to see everyone and it felt great to be back in such familiar areas.

Since I've been back, I have spent less than $5 on anything less than gas and my cable bill. It hasn't even been difficult, I just have had to make smarter choices. When my friends are going out to dinner, I go home instead. It's worked out well because I've been so busy I haven't had much opportunity to spend money even if I wanted too.

I'm heading to New Mexico tonight to visit my sister with my mom. I have $50 to spend for the next 4 days and I will limit myself to that. When I get back Monday night, it's back to a really busy schedule and then payday is that Thursday (Monday is a holiday so payday gets bumped back). The funds for gas and groceries are still in tact and I have food at home that should last me so I should be ok.

I have two shifts at Express next week that I will finally be able to go to (no matter how hectic the week is already turning out to be), I am babysitting Wednesday night and I have just been asked to pet sit for my boss for a whole week starting mid-week next week (Goodbye social life!). Starting with my paycheck tomorrow from Express, all of this money will be saved for my first loan payments. I will have to save for that and set aside enough for at least my minimum credit card payments with all extra money that comes my way from now on.

I know I always say "slowly but surely" and give all this false hope that I'll get back on track but then I find a shinny pair of shoes and my intentions are shot to hell. But honestly, I have no choice. I'm reverting back to my college kid days where I put off an assignment (savings/loan payments etc.) until I have no choice but to work on it 'til it gets done just in time. Not a great habit but since I have no choice for the next few months, maybe that will transfer into better spending habits for me.

I can't wait to see my mom and sister again! It's been months since I've seen both. We're going to see the hot air balloon festival, travel up a mountain and see the air force base where my sister lives. Let's see how far my $50 can stretch me :) Have a great weekend everyone.

Oh...and I never finished my 10 days of blogging. Mostly because I don't have a confession to share, which is Day 10. I haven't thought of a good one that doesn't bare my entire soul to the world (which I'm not willing to do today). While I'm typing this, however, I thought of one very relevant to today and not at all soul baring. This is my confession (to the tune of Usher's ditty):
I've been flying on air planes since I was mere months old thanks to my mother's employment with Northwest. We had lots of family to visit so I quickly became accustomed to frequently flying, even though I was often air sick. One thing that distracted me during the ill feeling of taking off and landing was looking out the window and trying to predict the correct number to countdown from so when I got to zero we would either be off the ground or I would feel the bump of the wheels slam the pavement. Upon first glance I would determine how far away I thought we were and then pick a number-usually no more than 10-and I would play a game with myself to see if I could time it correctly. It's silly but I still do it today. I did it on my flights last week and I will do it again this weekend on all four flights (stupid layovers). Quirky but definitely a part of me that most people don't know.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hibernation

A lot of areas of my life are completely up in the air right now with absolutely no guarantee of stability anytime soon. I won't go into a lot of detail on most of these issues and considering how stressed and truly scared I am about it all, it's probably best that I wait to blog about it until I calm down. That being said, I'm not sure when I'll be back on here. Wish me luck because I sure need it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'm patting myself on the back

I was asked to go to dinner tonight with a group of girls. Since I'm always trying to make new friends and be social because I still feel like the "new girl" sometimes, normally I jump right on the fun wagon. I turned it down tonight though so I could save some money. I may meet up with them later but I'll at least eat the food I have instead of waste my money. I don't plan on being a lonely spinster all the time but I really am making this a priority.

Apparently it's October!

Where has the time gone?! I can't believe I've been on my own down here for four months now!! I feel like just yesterday I was finishing up finals with a broken foot and now I'm a koozie-usin', ya'll sayin', Duke's mayonnaise usin' southerner with an entirely different life that I never could have expected even six months ago. Wow. It shocks me nearly every day how much life has changed and I couldn't be happier.

Today will be a great day and it will continue all the way until Monday! Then I turn right around and leave Thursday for another fabulous get-away weekend! Sometimes I can't believe how much life rocks right now! Yes, money is an issue but I'm trying. I ate dinner at a friend's house last night, ate a very filling (and healthy) breakfast that I made myself and brought food for lunch and snacks. I even planned ahead and brought stuff for meals for Monday since I'm going straight from the airport to work. It takes a little extra effort but it's going to be so worth it to hold on to my money for once...or at least put my money where it belongs (savings, loans, bills etc...not fast food, bars, the mall!).

With the credit card payment I talked about yesterday, my Express card is 100% paid off (the purchase was from over a month ago I swear!) and I'll be making a payment of $323 to my credit card. Besides the recent flight purchases, I haven't put much on the card at all besides stupid tiny things like Starbucks etc. (which I have vowed to stop! Duh, didn't you read yesterday's post?) So it will be under control with some hard work. Since I have two full months to stock pile some money to prepare for these student loans, I should have my credit card paid off and some money set aside so I can stay afloat with loan payments until I can get a higher paying part-time job. I'm determined to make this work.

All morning at work I am anxiously waiting to hear the doorbell ring from the UPS man. My wonderful mom (I'm not southern enough to ever call her "mama"...or maybe she's not southern enough to ever be a "mama"...either way, she'll always be mom or ma) has boxed up and shipped me 5 boxes of my things from home! Clothes, my George Forman and skillet, boots, and more! It's going to feel like Christmas!! Couldn't be better timing either because there's a TINY chill in the air (nothing like in Minnesota but down here apparently this is what fall feels like) and I'll need some fall clothes for my trip to NY where it actually is chilly.

I'm hoping the majority of the money I spend this weekend is limited to train tickets to and from all of my destinations and buying koozies for souvenirs (how expensive can those be right?). I know a day in the city can really add up but if I do it right I can pull it off without breaking the bank (good thing street vendor hot dogs are a nice $2 meal :) How I've missed those!!)

As I'm typing this, Pandora played me a fabulous song that I'll share with ya'll to hopefully smack a smile on your face so I'm not the only happy one around here. I've always loved this song but I just love Beyonce's version. I have replayed it maybe 20 times already. Hope you're smiling now if you weren't already! If you don't like that one, try a little bit of Amos, he is the ultimate best. He instantly makes my heart happy no matter how I felt prior to listening to him. I have yet to hear a bad Amos Lee song.

It's the last two days of this 10 posts in 10 days deal so here's day nine:
2 words that describe your life right now...
1. New-I'm constantly learning about new things or new vocabulary or going places I've never been or meeting new people now that I'm down south. I think it'll be a long time until I get bored around here!
2. Fortunate- I have been given a lot of great opportunities the past four months, have fantastic people in my life and I get to travel and see a lot of the people I miss this month. I've had a lot of time for myself, to do what I want and to figure out who I am. It's not all easy, that's for sure, but I am definitely one lucky kid.