Tuesday, August 30, 2011

One month from today

My first debt will be paid off!!! My Express card will be down to $0 and I can start the snowball effect.
What a relief.

Here's the plan:
  • My current balance is $263.11. 
  • Since I typically depend on 2 paychecks a month, it's a personal holiday when we get 3 and I come into some extra money. September just happens to be one of those months.
  • I'm going to set aside the usual amount for a payment, which for that card is $51.50. 
  • I'm also going to take the amount that I usually set aside for my Chase credit card and apply it to this card, which is another $40. 
  • Then I typically make a monthly payment of $102 to that card anyway, so that brings the balance down to $69.61. 
  • Since I do not need to set aside money for rent from this extra paycheck, there's an extra $500. I will take the $69.61 (it might be $10 more with interest charges by the end of the month but you get the point) and voila! It's paid off! A concrete balance of $0! 
Starting in October, I can take that $102 and add it to my CCC payment. I will continue to put all extra money towards that debt until THAT one is down to $0 and then the fun will really begin with those bad boy student loans. I don't care how lame I sound, I am FREAKING excited and proud of myself!

I have not received the gift that keeps on giving from my parents for August so there's an additional $75 payment to Chase already!

One thing I have been wondering though is what to do with the extra $420 I have from this bonus paycheck? Tomorrow $75 will be added to my savings account as my monthly transfer so I will finally no longer have only $.88 in there. I do want to beef up my savings but how much should I put in savings and how much should I put towards debt? I'm also starting to look at plane tickets home for Christmas, so that is part of my consideration as well.

What do you think?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Under Pressure!

"Pressure" - Queens

I recently watched the documentary "Maxed Out" thanks to my free trial of Netflix. 

It chronicles how corrupt our country is in regards to how it spends money. It shares secrets about how credit companies can get even more money out of you, it shows government policies that steal from the poor to give to the rich so the rich can continue to give to the government, and it shows the lives of families broken because of chronic debt and bankruptcy. 

Although outdated (2005), these issues are even more relevant today. If you're concerned about debt, even just a little bit, it's worth watching. 

I'm working hard to pay my credit cards off one by one and I've been able to increase payments lately to speed up the process. It's still hard to swallow that a portion (sometimes up to half!) of each payment I make goes straight to interest instead of tackling the principle. It's eye opening to see others in my situation or even worse. 

Watching this movie couldn't have been more relevant for me this week. The restaurant gig is going downhill and has been for some time. The scheduling and management policies are absurd and it's completely unfair to it's waitstaff. My shifts continue to be limited to 1 shift a week even though I was promised it would pick up and I've been tempted to quit because it doesn't seem worth it. Unfortunately, however, it is. 

That one shift a week brings in at least $100, if not more. That's an extra $400 a month to pay my student loans. I depend on that money so I will have to check my attitude at the door and suck it up until I can find something better. It might not be a fun 6-8 hours of my life each week but it comes with the territory of being in such extreme debt.

Watching this movie (and venting/getting advice) made me realize that I can't let debt drown me and I have to work hard at getting out of it. If I take the easy way out, I just make my debt worse and that is not an option for me.

I've never minded working a lot as long as the employers are fair. One day, after all my hard work and debt is paid off, I can hopefully enjoy the luxury of not having to work in conditions I don't like. But until then, I have to refuse to give up. 


Read this on Caitlin's blog today and it's pretty inspiring: 

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick.  Don’t lose faith.  I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.  You’ve got to find what you love.  And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.  Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.  Don’t settle.  As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.  And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.  So keep looking until you find it.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And, most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
– Steve Jobs

Changes are in the works. Stay tuned. 

A rainy weekend

So we had some rain. Sometimes it was pretty windy. Otherwise it was life as usual.

I now have too many candles and too many non-perishable foods but I'll use them all eventually right? As much as I was looking forward to a little bit of excitement around here, I'm glad most people are safe and Irene really wasn't that bad.

I wasn't able to work at the restaurant this weekend, which is a financial bummer but a personal win. I needed a day off desperately. I work next Saturday and Sunday so I'll be plenty busy then. Life at the restaurant has not been so great (minus the money it's been downright terrible) so I'm thinking a change is in order. I will tackle that once I move this week and get more settled in.

Once I move I also plan to make the gym a regular hobby again and to continue my avid reading. I might even get a library card but for now, books on Amazon are $4 (used) and that's a decent deal to me.

Ebay items have started to sell and the results are minimal but better than nothing. It clears out some space and puts a few dollars in my bank account. Just in time to blow it at Target for apartment essentials.

Happy Monday everyone, hope you have kicked off your week on the right note!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene

This is a first for me. Hurricane preparation freaks me out but apparently it is happening right now. I bought candles, some food and took out cash, I'm packing a bag and heading to M's apartment, which is not in the mandatory evacuation zone (mine is). The idea of packing a bag with your valuables definitely stops and makes you think. I'm hoping the rest of my stuff is still here when I get back, whenever that may be. Fingers crossed that damage is minimal and everyone stays safe.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If you run out of milk...

...in the middle of making Mac & Cheese again...use water. Especially if you use skim milk, it wont taste much different. The cheese doesn't absorb as well but the taste is in tact, which is much better than using flavored milk.

According to the carton, my milk doesn't expire until the 26th, two days from now. I made sure to smell it just in case and sure enough, sour as a lemon. Nasty.

My roommate had coconut milk (seriously?) but I learned my lesson and tried water instead. Not as great as milk but definitely still enjoyable.

So much for using things in my fridge before I move.

A crazy week at work...

Yesterday we felt an earthquake from Virginia and had to be evacuated. After a weird intercom snafu, the other assistant and I walked UP and down 11 flights of stairs. I didn't make it to the gym after that.

Today we got an e-mail that reads:
"All speakers and strobe lights are going to be tested this afternoon, on each floor and in the stairwells.  It’s going to be noisy so, please bear with us."
 Hmmm music to my ears. 

Moving & Ebay

Next Thursday I will be moving for the 4th time this year. The year before that I moved 3 times. Seriously. I like exploring a new place but this is getting out of hand. I start packing tonight and it just makes me want to go "wahhhhhhh!" I've shrunk the amount of stuff I own with each move but geez, I just don't want to do it all over again.

Have you guys ever noticed that a lot of leases end on the 31st and a lot of leases start on the 1st? Why is that? What is a person supposed to do for those 12 hours in no-man's land? FORTUNATELY the woman I'm subleasing from is being gracious enough to let me move out on the 1st so I can move all at once. I'm going to rent a car and have a workout that will likely make up for the past two months of being lazy. While I have a car rented, I'm DRIVING to TARGET (big deal in NYC!). I'm freakishly excited about this. I get my furniture without paying over $100 in shipping costs and I can afford all the little apartment things that aren't as readily available here.

Lastly, I've been mentioning Ebay. I have more things listed and I will list even more tonight (or tomorrow). Here they are:
Express Patterned Cardigan
Express Purple Hooded Flyaway Cardigan
SO Patterned Tunic
Pink V-Neck Sweater from The Limitted
American Eagle Tan V-Neck Top
All of the Sex and The City DVDS-each season sold separately

More to come but that will do for now. Every item is in great condition and mostly brand new (yes, I know I shouldn't have bought it in the first place!) The money goes to the "Get Katie's Debt Down" fund so it's a great cause! Happy Shopping!

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's not how much you have, it's what you do with it.

My Excel spreadsheets and budgeting have paid off. After last week's fiasco with the leasing company, it was really rewarding to hear M ask me "How can you afford all these big deposits without help? I don't know how you do it!"

Simple, I plan ahead and put in extra work. I work nights and weekends and get creative about buying things. I don't depend on help from anyone and if that means I eat pasta roni for a solid week, so be it.

She makes more than I do and yet she struggled to come up with the money right away (most people would, especially in New York). It's not easy forking over your entire savings but it's a whole lot easier than asking for money from others, at least for me. I feel validated for my hours spent typing in each purchase on my spreadsheet and stressing out about paying all of my expenses because at the end of the month, I can pay my bills ahead of time and maintain a little extra (sometimes!) for larger investments like an apartment deposit.

It was nice to have her look into my world a little bit and realize that it's really hard keeping track of finances, especially when you've never had to.

This weekend we altered our plans to accommodate our bank accounts and it was still really nice. Take out and a Mad Men marathon is much more affordable than going out on the town. I also ended up working both Saturday and Sunday and I doubt I would have had the energy to party anyway. I did end up making over $200 between the two shifts so that always helps. I can now afford my furniture and moving expenses and put whatever is left towards paying off my debt. This week I work Friday and Sunday evening and looking forward to it!

Now that restaurant shifts are picking up more, I am starting to be able to make bigger payments to my credit cards and it's a great feeling. I just love the empowering feeling of making that balance go down!

Another source of income I recently found is selling stuff on ebay. I have only sold one item so far but for shoes I would normally give away or throw away, I now have $12.53! It's great timing while I'm moving because it's fewer things I need to pack as well. I'm off to post a few things now in fact. Once everything is up I will post all of my listings for you!

Also coming soon: a review on Netflix vs. Blockbuster and a discussion about not having cable.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The best part about not having money is...

...you can't spend it!

M is keeping my money to pay the leasing company another check on Friday so my bank account is still very low. I did, however, update my spreadsheet to see how everything would look once I've dotted my i's and crossed my t's with securing this apartment and things are looking pretty decent. I think/hope I did it correctly.

I have money to cover my September loans and I've started a fund for my moving expenses. Since I don't have to start putting money towards October loans until the 25th, the restaurant money is going towards moving expenses/furniture. So far I can afford a rental car for moving day (plus the $35 fee for not being 25 to rent the car :/ ) and an air mattress that I will be using as my bed.
Pure Comfort Queen Air Bed from Target- $70
I don't plan on buying a real bed until it becomes absolutely imperative because I won't live here forever, they're a pain to move and completely out of my price range at the moment.  Beds are for rich people.

When I get paid again this Friday I'll have money for a bookshelf and a dresser, which is all the furniture I'll need for a while I think.
Sorry it's blurry. On sale this week at Target for $13! 

I'd probably get 2 of these, $50 each.
I cheap nightstand would be nice too, I suppose.

I don't know what color furniture I'll get. I have a black and white comforter so really black, white or tan would work fine. Any pros and cons of any color you can think of?

In the meantime, I'm off to put more stuff I never use on ebay. I'll have a whole post on auction items, just in case maybe you want to bid! It's going to a great cause ;) My first item (a pair of never-worn heels) is currently selling for $2! Here's hoping it goes up in the next 6 days!

On another note, it's a fellow blogger's blogger anniversary...a few days late. He's a fellow Minnesotan blogger so he definitely deserves a shout out from me! Happy Anniversary Simple Dude!  I am a proud Simpleton. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Weekend Recap

I skipped brunch and saw The Help instead. The book is better but the movie ain't bad. I think my teeth need a break from popcorn for a while though. Plus, no one needs to spend $8 on popcorn when making it yourself is nearly free!

I got drenched grocery shopping on the way home. I realized I can spend about $15-$25 a week at the grocery store and be pretty happy. That usually also leaves me with a few extra items to use for future meals (i.e. bbq sauce or butter etc.) or in case of emergencies. I can stretch it even more on the weeks I really need to. The meals aren't always balanced or the most nutritional but I try my best. When I do go out to eat with friends, that's when I buy the healthier options (usually) like salads, chicken & broccoli etc.

I plan on making Penne alla Vodka with chicken and broccoli tonight for some meals for the week

I have become sick of the usual meat sauce and pasta meals I've been making so I'm hoping this spices things up a bit. I defrosted some chicken I bought on sale a while back, I'm using my frozen broccoli, pasta is really cheap and a jar of vodka sauce was $2.99.

M finally returned to NY last night so I went to her place for dinner and conversation. I ordered a salad (see above) but really I should have brought some Ramen. It's so hard to pay $12 for a salad...and that's cheap in New York. 

This morning we signed the lease. Here's how it went down:

Leasing agent "Once you sign everything we need your deposit check." Excuse me?
Me "I gave you that check last week with our application!" --panicked that the money was lost somewhere!
LA "Oh right. Well we use that as your first month's rent so you still need to pay us the $2000 deposit today."
Oh hell no! Who does he think we are?! He's seen our application, he knows how much we make.
Me "So we don't pay this month's rent on the 1st? You need it well before the month starts?"
LA "Yes."
Me & M "Well, we don't have that money just yet since we don't get paid again until Friday and we just cleared our accounts getting you the deposit. Can we pay you Friday?"
LA "Let me check."...big sigh..."Yes, I guess that's fine."

Lots of mental (and a few real) middle fingers may or may not have been involved.

AND to top it off the first month's rent is a certified check, not a regular check. So even if we had the money to pay it today, they never told us about it so we would have gone all the way there, had to go all the way back to our bank and then all the way back to their office. Seriously. Do they hate us?

So just as M's money from the first check gets deposited back in my account, the majority of it will come out again. Tonight I plan on sitting down with my spread sheet and organizing all my funds. With all these money transfers, it's gotten a little out of control and I need to know where I stand. I hope it's not awful but there will be an update either way.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Note to self:

Almond milk makes mac & cheese taste very weird.

I ate a granola bar at work tonight so I would be able to tide myself over to eat when I got home. I was looking forward to some mac & cheese when I realized my milk was bad. It claims it doesn't expire until Monday but it most definitely wreaked. I was already in the middle of making it so I tried to be resourceful and use some of my roommate's almond milk.

How different can it be, right? Let me tell you, it's VERY different! And not in a good way. It now tastes like vanilla and I don't appreciate a cheesy vanilla combo, especially after a long shift at work.

My guess is this applies to coconut, rice and hemp milk as well. Just for future reference...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Retail Therapy

Today I would really like to do some retail therapy. I would like to wander the streets of New York and hop into any store with a cute window display and try on clothes to my hearts content. If there are good deals, I would like to purchase whatever I please with my long lost friend "Mr. Credit Card". It's almost a 100% guarantee that I will feel better.

Today that is not an option. I stopped by the restaurant to get my paycheck last night. I had no intentions of going crazy with spending or anything but just wanted maybe an extra $20 for the weekend's activities. The paychecks hadn't arrived and there was no word as to when they might show up. Really? Super duper.

I was down to my last $20. I did end up meeting up with co-workers. I got 1 beer and when they all got ice cream sandwiches, I got a cookie. Still spent $11! I went home to make my own dinner instead of being tempted to join my co-worker for Chipotle. Brunch plans are canceled tomorrow as well.

So I have $9 until I get reimbursed from M for the apartment deposit and to get my paycheck from the restaurant. Not exactly possible for retail therapy. I don't think I could even find something at Good Will right now.

So I guess I'll just have to clean for now. It's probably a good way for me to learn how to handle frustrations without shopping, but it's a lot less fun.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Difficult Decisions

I suddenly have a few offers to make plans this weekend.

1) I can go with my coworkers tonight to The Highline
"The Lot is a temporary public plaza below the High Line with free events, family activities, an outdoor bar, food trucks and more for the summer of 2011." Yum. Plus, I don't have a lot of work friends yet so it would be nice to try to be social.

2) I want to see this: 

I have two free mornings (well, one now since I passed on seeing it today) to see it where it would only be $6. Next weekend I don't have a free morning since I work.

3) My old friend from Sweeden is in town and would like to go out tonight. She is only here a brief time and I have never been able to go out with her fun self.

4) Brunch with my NY girls. It has been weeks since we've done that and there is much to catch up on.

Now since M is not back with a big ol' check with my money, I have $20 left until Monday. There is absolutely no way I can do all of these things with $20 and it's breaking my heart. I would do all of these things in a heart beat otherwise.

So here's my plan. Go to highline tonight and don't eat or drink. I'll walk around, see what it's all about, enjoy chatting with my co-workers and enjoy being out and about in NYC. I don't know if it's possible to bring my own water bottle but I'll try.

I might meet up with my Sweedish friend after and only drink diet cokes. Typically these are free at bars. If not, I'll drink water. I'll come home early, as much as I wish I could stay and have a fun night. 

I will wait to see The Help until I have a free weekend. I WISH I could see it sooner, I really really do. But $6 is over 1/4 of my money.

I will go to brunch Sunday morning, which is a fixed price of $17 for a meal and unlimited drinks. And that will be my weekend.

I'll enjoy reading outside in the park, cleaning, purging and organizing my room for my move and cooking my own food. I hate this big time.

However, I COULD go to the restaurant today, pick up my paycheck and cash it so I have money for everything...tempting.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Strand and the not running

Yesterday I went to Strand bookstore. 

I needed to get a book for my book club meeting next week and A) it was too late to order it inexpensively online and B) Barnes & Noble is out of my price range these days. The Strand is pretty famous in New York for it's "18 Miles of new, used and discounted books". Here is some history from their website:
"In 1927, Ben Bass opened Strand Book Store on Fourth Avenue, home of New York’s legendary Book Row. Named after the famous publishing street in London, the Strand was one of 48 bookstores on Book Row, which started in the 1890’s and ran from Union Square to Astor Place. Today, the Strand is the sole survivor."
I will definitely be taking some of my old books here before I move in a few weeks; earn some cash, save some space! I did eventually find the book I was looking for but while I wandered the store, I mysteriously ended up with a handful of books. I never know how that happens! I slowly started eliminating titles from my pile and texting myself the book information to save for a later purchase or even maybe a library rental. Then there were three:

This Is Where I leave You is my book club selection, so I had to get it. It took a very serious mental pliers to pry the other books out of my hands and place them back on the shelves, but I did it and I immediately had to leave the store.

I walked around the area for a while and despite a full 45 min of window shopping, I wasn't tempted to buy anything. I found plenty I wanted, but nothing I was willing to give up the last dime in my checking account for. It felt great.

One thing that hasn't felt great is skipping the gym. I've been either too busy or too lazy to get my butt there and now it's been so long I'm completely out of habit. I'm making a vow to change that this weekend, starting tonight. I need to get serious about running again and I need to get back in shape since all the cheap meals I'm eating lately aren't exactly diet friendly.  Although I might look like this on the treadmill today:
Hey! She's wearing the same outfit as me too! ...joking, I promise!
at least it's something and I'm finally getting some use out of my $19.99 a month!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Buy off brand...for real

I'm serious.

I've done a pretty good job of using the foods in my cabinets lately, even if it's not what I'm in the mood for. My shelves aren't completely empty but it was time to get some more groceries to make some legit meals.

It had been a while since I've made sandwiches so I thought that'd be a good idea. I keep peanut butter at work for my morning apples, so for the next two days of lunches I'll bring bread and jelly for some good ol' pb & j's. The store brand loaf of bread was $1.25 for a fairly long loaf and the jelly was $1.29. Great deal compared to normal brands that cost anywhere between $2.50-$5 and jelly could cost up to $4.99!

To continue to use my loaf of bread, I bought a few things to make glorified grilled cheese for my dinners. An off brand of "I can't believe it's not butter" cost $1.69 and the real deal cost $5.

A bag of Kraft shredded mozzarella cheese cost $5 (I'm not making this up, most things cost $5 in that store!) but an off brand was $2. I got some peperoni to go in the sandwiches and a bag of baby carrots to complete the meals.

With all those ingredients, it's $.94 a sandwich....yup, I counted the slices of bread in my loaf. $2-$3 per meal is not too shabby at all for the next few days. If I would have bought name brand items, each sandwich would have cost $1.79 and I would have spent an extra $8 on groceries. There are so many things I would rather do with $8, like go see The Help :)

I have yet to find a grocery product that should not be purchased off brand. Can you think of any?

Good Influences

I used to have a co-worker that introduced me to the addiction that was Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee. We would go a few times a week. And sometimes we'd even go out to lunch together. I knew I shouldn't spend the money but I also was eager to make friends and fit in at the office. But then she got a new job and I continued to go. I looked forward to hiring someone else so I would have a DD and lunch buddy once again.

She started Monday and she doesn't want to go. She brings her lunches and uses the company coffee every day. Good for her. And good for me. I would have gone to get coffee every day this week, especially with late nights at the restaurant but nope, apparently peer pressure has an impact (I avoid saying "effect" because I admittedly don't know the difference between affect and effect and I don't like sounding stupid. Anyone want to tell me what the right word is here?) on me.

Maybe she is like this just until she gets her first paycheck but I'm kind of hoping she stays that way so I am influenced to make smarter decisions too.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My favorite cheap meal

I know I talk about Ramen a lot but my favorite cheap pasta meal is a tie between Pasta Roni and Kraft Mac & Cheese. Tonight I made this Pasta Roni, stirred in a can of salmon and threw in some frozen broccoli. Easy as pie, very inexpensive and adds veggies and protein to a typical pasta dish.

But to be honest, my favorite cheap meal is $.99 pizza slices.

Maybe it pays to be financially irresponsible...?

I don't know much about the stock market. My uncle has explained it in theory but without actual money to invest, I was unable to relate. I don't even come close to having money to pay off my debt let alone invest. I have been jealous of those that can use their money to make more money but as of the stock market downfall yesterday, I'm thankful.

"If you had bought $1000 of shares in Delta one year ago, you would have $49 today! If you had bought $1000 of shares in AIG one year ago, you would have $33 today. If you had bought $1000 of shares in Lehman Brothers one year ago, you would have $0 today. But, if you had bought $1000 worth of beer one year ago, drank it all, then turned in your cans for a recycling refund, you would have $214! Based on the above, the best plan is to drink heavily and recycle! It is called the 401-Keg!" --Found this on someone's Facebook yesterday. I'm not an advocate for spending that much money on beer but of course recycling is great!

Sorry, stock marketers, for your huge losses yesterday :( I have a feeling things are only going to get tougher for the economy for a while. Not sure what that means for my big life plans.

Dear Mint.com

You know you need coffee when you start typing this blog post in your browser before you even get to your blog page. Definitely just happened.


Dear Mint.com,
I really do appreciate your services as an overview of how crappy my financial situation is. It's a decent reminder that I should not go out to lunch. I even appreciate your feature where you contact me if a large purchase has been made in case of fraud. However, it hurts my heart a little bit when you remind me on a regular basis that my rent check is a "large purchase". Yes, I know rent is out of control high. I do not need a concerned reminder every month.

I know this is an issue of my own doing, because let's be real, you and I both should be concerned about how much I'm paying for rent and I should probably move elsewhere. But until I move, I sure hope I can adjust these settings so I don't feel defeated on a regular basis.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Thank you?

"Your new balance is $86.22. Congratulations on your new apartment!" -- my banker today after I took out money for our deposit. Ouch.

That was a doozy

7 tables in 5 hours...walked away with $42. Basically chump change but it's money so I'll take it.

Work shift #3 in a row tomorrow night!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ask and you shall receive

Work last night was pretty decent for being a summer Saturday night. I don't know where most people disappear to but it sure isn't the New York bars. They're probably frolicking in the Hamptons...although surely most New Yorkers can't afford that.

One girl couldn't make it in so I had the floor to myself. Thank goodness! I got my paycheck and it was $96 instead of $45, there I go again with my fuzzy math.

Anyway, by about 8pm all the tables I had were finishing up and I figured the night would chalk up to chump change. We had one reservation booked for 8:30 but that was it. They called to see if they could change their reservation from 3 people to 5. Please do! I joked to the bus boy that I wish they would have changed it to 10. Sure enough, around 10 o'clock a party of 11 came in to eat. Score! Another party of 8 came just for drinks but they were too big of a party to sit at the bar so I got to wait on them too. The night ended up raking in $141 in tips for me. I'll take it!

We got new uniforms, which is just a black shit with the restaurant's name on it. Unfortunately they are trying to sell our sex appeal (whatever that is) so even a medium is too tight, is low cut and rides up and the sleeves hardly cover my shoulders. I didn't realize I signed up to work at Hooters. Oh well, as long as I'm not running around in booty shorts, I'll make it work.

I'm only scheduled for next Saturday night but this morning I got a call asking if I could come in tonight and maybe cover a few shifts this week for a girl who has a family emergency. Sure thing boss! I'll find out tonight what other shifts they need from me but I'm happy to work any of them.

Maybe life will get busier and finances will get better sooner than I thought! fingers crossed!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

15 Things Friday...the Saturday edition

This will be randomly out of order so bare with me!

  1. I think M and I found an apartment. The rooms are big but it's a pretty typical NYC apartment. I called 7 places this week and not one of them returned my call. We put the deposit down on Monday so fingers crossed that it's still available. 
  2. Credit check fees are really stupid. "Please pay me so I ca see where you stand financially". Well, sir, if I pay you, I will not be in a great place financially so really you're making this worse than it should be. 
  3. When you rent an apartment in NYC, they want you to give them a kidney before they agree that you're a legit candidate to rent they're 5 x 5 crawl space with mice. Really? I need to dig up W-2's, pay stubs from all my jobs, my tax return, a letter from my employer, a letter from my landlord, $100 cash for credit checks AND $1000 deposit. Good God. You must have good credit and you must earn 40 times your rent. If these were gorgeous, fabulous apartments, fine, I get it. But trust me, they are tiny shit holes so please Mr. Landlord, don't act like your shit don't stink!
  4. M left for home yesterday and left me with a check for $1000 so I can get a certified bank check and put the deposit down for our apartment. From the time I left the leasing agency to the time I got to work, I lost her check. I. FREAKED. OUT. I had images of some freak running around NYC with a $1000 check trying to cash it and completely screw us out of money that we barely had. Then I'd have to pull $1000 out of no where to pay her back. Fortunately, X knocked some sense into me and told me to tell M to cancel it. Duh. It costs $35 to cancel a check. What are these financial institutions trying to do to us? At least $35 is better than $1000 by a landslide. 
  5. Since I lost M's check and she will be gone until next week, I have to pay the deposit myself and she will pay me back. Fortunately yesterday was payday and I'll have just enough to pay everything. That means funds are really low until I get her money. This will get interesting real quickly. Fortunately I was able to grocery shop with $8.78 last week so I have enough to get by for the week. At least I should. 
  6. I said "no" last night. I was supposed to get drinks with a friend but with that morning's financial adventures I told her I'd have to pass. When I got home from work I got an invite to dinner and Crazy, Stupid Love. I SO wanted to go. But I said no. I got some work done, watched a movie and went to bed. Not an ideal Friday night but I didn't die. I do want to see this movie and maybe I'll even go tomorrow morning before noon when it's $6. 
  7. I work tonight. I'm pretty excited to make some money and see the schedule for next week. I know it's likely that I'll only have one shift next week but it's still nice to get an idea. Since the shifts here have been so inconsistent I am trying to not depend on this money but take what I get as unexpected extra help. I'll take what I can get and just keep praying that shifts pick up with football season.
  8. Thanks to Cely I have been informed that one of my poor foods is apparently as toxic as a cigarette. Hot dogs have always been awesome in my book. I mean, I know they're not great for you but toxic?! That's going to put all the hot dog carts in NYC out of business and it's really going to put a kink my list of poor meals. 
  9. I have next Friday off. What should I do?
  10. My mom started a personal consulting business and I'm helping her with social media. It's pretty interesting and gives me even more reason to be on blogs, facebook and twitter...uh oh! 
  11. I have a new addiction to Kraft mac & cheese. It is the ultimate comfort food, especially the shapes. If only it were good for me! 
  12. I haven't been to the gym much lately. This is terrible news and that stops tomorrow. I'm going. And I'm going next week too. Just because I'm broke doesnt mean I have to stay inside all the time since I already pay to go to the gym.
  13. We wont have cable at the new apartment. I'm debating getting Netflix or Blockbuster. Did you know Netflix changed their plan and the most you can rent at a time is 1 disc and it's still $15? Yes, you can stream unlimited but the choices aren't that great. I think I'll go with Blockbuster if the restaurant job picks up. 
  14. I need to read more. I love reading while I wait for the subway etc. but when I'm lounging at home, I rarely do. I have a long list of great books to read so I need to trade some computer time with reading. 
  15. Target is having a sale on furniture this week. It sucks that I need furniture yet can't afford to buy it right now, even when it's on sale. So when I can afford it I'll have to pay full price. Bummer. 
That's all for now. Lunch time (pancakes or spaghetti?) and off to retrieve my phone charger before work. Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Happy Friday

Today is Friday right? It sure feels like a crazy stressful Monday. I don't even know how that happens.

I will have a detailed post soon about lots of stuff (15 things Friday?) but for now, I will keep it upbeat and leave you with a very "Friday" song. It should get your toes tappin' and make you a little bit excited to be leaving work. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

You learn something new every day

Money is pretty tight around here, but I have all I need and I'm going to work hard to keep it that way. One of my strategies is to find cheaper food alternatives so I don't get bored or feel deprived with the same cheap meals day in and day out.

The other night, I had my first bowl of ramen noodles because I had to. It wasn't even bad (albeit not good for you). I was chatting with M and we generated a list of things to add to ramen to keep things interesting and to get other forms of nutrients. We came up with stirring in veggies such as peas or carrots, cut up hot dogs and scrambled eggs. I'm sure I will find many more possibilities.

I went grocery shopping last night with my list of cheap foods and came across a question, are frozen or canned vegetables better for you? They're typically the same price so if I'm going to stir them into Ramen or other meals, I might as well get the healthier option.

So I did some research when I got home and discovered that frozen is much better for you, according to Fit Sugar.  Canned are more convenient because they don't need to thaw, they last longer and don't take up room in our tiny freezer. But frozen don't have tons of preservatives.

Now I will learn the best way to prepare frozen veggies, since fresh will almost always not be an option for a while. And hey, the article even says that frozen is sometimes better than fresh!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I need to move

This post could have many other titles, such as:
The night I ate Ramen
My trip home

I had one more surprise visit home this past weekend. My sister is in the Air Force and was home for the first time since November and it was the only time all year our whole family would be together. It was great to have lots of quality family time and get out of the brutal city for a while. I have pictures but I'll make that another post because right now I have bigger fish to fry.

One of the most eye opening parts of being home was the cost of living. My dad and I went to Perkins one morning for breakfast. My platter of bacon, eggs and a belgin waffle cost $4.99. My jaw dropped to the ground. In New York my orange juice alone would cost $4.99 if not more. As my dad pointed out, I'm living in a Mercedes world when I can barely afford my old '95 Saturn. He's very right.

It crossed my mind in the past 24 hours that I could drop everything and by the end of the month move home. I could stop living out of my means and work to pay off some debt, build some savings and be in a much better financial situation with my parents support. It's been stressful to say the least.

Originally I thought I would be here for a year lease starting Sept. 1 and then I would move on since I know New York is not for me. At this point though, I will completely drown in a year. I will be so far in debt I doubt I could work my way out and I wouldn't have much to show for it. So after a few long talks with the parents and deciding that giving up at the end of the month would be a little too harsh, I'm giving it 6 more months.

It wont be an easy 6 months, I know that going into it. But I'm not finished with my New York adventure and I owe it to myself to try. This blog will definitely benefit from the next 6 months as far as content goes because of my serious need to save money.

Starting tonight, August 2, 2011, I have $15 in my checking account, $17 cash and $1000.88 in savings. I have almost all of my September bills paid/accounted for except for part of one student loan. Not super but if I try hard I can make it. Tomorrow, M and I are going to start constructing a newer, cheaper lifestyle and plan for the next 6 months. We are going to start trying to find an apartment that's in our price range or maybe we'll find a third roommate to make it cheaper. That $1000 in savings is being saved for the deposit of wherever we find. I'm going to do some research to find another job, maybe something I can do online in the evenings so I can work it around my waitressing job. I have plenty of time just hanging out so I might as well be productive with it. I'm going to be smarter about my meals, grocery shopping and any purchases I might need (which really shouldn't be much, I have more than I think I do. There is a big difference between want and need and I'm still learning). I'm going to work hard, take advantage of what income I can get and just learn to live with less.

Today my flight arrived around 1pm (long story) and I went straight to work. Instead of buying lunch on the way I finished the bag of chips I had brought on the plane and I luckily found a tray of leftover breakfast pastries and swiped half a muffin. I was meeting with M tonight to discuss my financial situation. We typically would meet for dinner but we couldn't spend money so we made dinner at her house. I brought a pack of Ramen (another long story for a new post soon) I happened to have at my desk and she made eggs and we had a good productive conversation. It's nice having someone in a similar boat, as you as much as I dont wish financial stress to anyone.

When I got home tonight I used only what I had in my cupboards. I had some spaghetti left and ingredients to make a new batch of meat sauce so I took the time to whip that up. I am pleased with myself for working with what I have and just learning to do without. Tomorrow I will not get Dunkin Donuts, in fact I wont get it all week again. It's a want, not a need and I can/will survive without it.

I get paid on Friday and I want to have a game plan of what to do with my extra $189 for spending money. I want to stretch it to really get the most out of it without feeling deprived. I want to save some, get enough groceries, be somewhat social and most of all not be completely broke at the end of the two weeks. That amount needs to become routine and I need to learn how.

As a side note, M found out she owes taxes (file taxes online people!) so she will be doing a guest post soon since she is starting to see what it's like to be financially stressed and learning how to be frugal. She says her main goal is to be funny and I know she won't disappoint.