Sunday, December 16, 2007

Family loans and stress.

My Family hung out yesterday and the first thing my Mom said to me was, "I decided to make that loan from last year a gift so don't worry about paying it back, ok?"

No, Mom, not ok.

Backstory: I borrowed $1500 from the parents last January when I moved into my first apartment. Little did they know, ALL five of my credit cards were maxed out. I also owed another family member $1700, but I paid that back this June.

I have borrowed money from them before, but not this much. I know it's a lousy excuse, but I find it hard to talk with them about payment plans and deadlines because they are really laid back and say, "Oh, just wait til you have it and give it to us all at once. No rush."

I was really just trying to be smart and throw my money at the high interest rate stuff first and then pay them back next summer and add some interest or give them a thank you gift with it also. I'm not sure what my parents are thinking, but I'm guessing that they think I'm in bad shape and I feel like a jerk!

I got my mom to agree to "revisit" the five years!

I'm really uncomfortable with this whole thing and think that maybe I should just pay my family next week, push my credit card payoff back by two months, pick up shifts at the second job, and try to put as few xmas purchases as possible on plastic.

Suggestions? Would you let someone "forgive and forget" a loan?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'm dreaming of a Light Christmas.

Here's the breakdown of my "'Tis better to give than receive"s:


The parents have declined gifts this year. They just want me to pay them back. Ouch.

My siblings and I are all pinching pennies so we've e-mailed each other short lists (with links to online retailers!) of a few gifts under $50 that we'd like. I've got a bro and a sis to shop for- that's $100.

Close friends: Crafts, crafts, crafts. $100 for 6 or so.

Not-so-close friends: We have a Yankee Swap. $25 limit. I hope I find something under $20.

The kids in my life: $30. I only babysit for two, but I really love shopping for them.

Coworker: $15. She loves chocolate. I'm sure I'll get some in return.

That's $265. I'm picking up a shift at the second job tomorrow. And the day after xmas. and hopefully a few more before the new year...

I heart my friends.

A few friends and I gathered (from the various ends of the earth) in NYC for the weekend. It was exactly what I needed (minus the extraordinary hangover). I had good laughs, good food, good culture, and (one too many) good drinks.

At some point during the haze of the weekend, one of my friends looked at me and said, "You look really sucessful." I love those moments, when I'm in my $7 clearance H&M dress and my $50 clearance coat and I feel desperately in need of a haircut I can't afford, and someone says something that makes me feel like I have the whole world fooled.

I told her that I am sucessful, but only in the sense that I'm living super cheap and throwing over 50% of my income at my debt and I can finally breathe when I bust out my check book.

Then I took my $15 Greyhound bus back to my chilly apartment and made myself some ramen.

Friday, December 7, 2007

My self-control is straining to keep me from buying this little number:

Sigh, Elie Tahari at Nordstrom. one hundred and ninety eight dollars. I'd try to get it as a christmas gift, but that would ruin my dreams of wearing it to every holiday party between now and then. I will not buy this. I will not buy this. I will not buy this.

The holidays are coming...

I have a nasty cold. I've spent a bit on tissues and soup, but I'm too sick to buy anything else, so it might be good for my budget!

It's Payday! I had to pay a few bills today, but won't be putting any extra toward the debt until the holidays are over.

My presents are coming along nicely. I'm a bit over budget on some of my projects, but alot of the things I needed to get were for tools that I'll use again and not on materials that I'm giving away.

Debating whether or not to pick up some extra shifts at the second job. I have my eye on a new guy, which might make things easier if I run into the ex. I'm scheduled for the day after Christmas, so if that isn't too awkward, I'll start working on weekends again. I'm so lucky that they are flexible. Of course, they have soo much work and backlog that they can't really turn me away!

Friday, November 23, 2007

November Update

Hi all!

Phew, what a busy couple of weeks. Hopefully things will slow down enough for a few more posts and a few less purchases!

Here's a little update on the tough broad's balance sheet:

I paid off the third credit card, so I currently have $8,654 left to pay off of two cards. I hope to pay off card #4 in January and card #5 (with a $7K balance) by August. I might need to push this back a month for xmas spending, but I *hope* not.

My Retirement account is up to $1,676 and my funds actually went up! I keep hearing bad things but I seem to be doing alright. Clearly I won't be able to max out my Roth this year, but I hope to put at least $1K in there by tax day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Is anyone else really annoyed by the new holiday Sears ads? The new slogan is "Don't just give a gift- Grant a wish!" One of the families gets the dad a whole new workshop full of tools, another gets a little girl a whole new wardrobe. Um, excess, anyone?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

a weekend away = spending, spending, spending

I decided that since I had the weekend free, I should go visit a friend in NYC. But, boy, oh boy, that town is expensive. Here's what I spent all my money on:

Money for bus there and back: $46.50
Metrocard: $10
Food: $45
Drinks: $75 (I got her a few bottles for the liquor cabinet)
Shopping: $15 (book); $4.25 (umbrella); $28 (fabric for quilting); $46 (Sephora cosmetics); $36 (fancy new hat) Shopping Total: $129.25

Grand total: $305.75

I had a great time, and really needed to get out of town, so I think it was worth every penny!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I just finished an extra 3 hours at the second job, and I don't think I'm going back any time soon. I'm backed up at my real job, I'm tired, I'm grumpy,

and to be really honest, my ex works at the second job and I keep running into him and it's really uncomfortable.

I think I'll be happier if I get some sleep, avoid jerks, and keep an eye on the money going out instead of trying to get more coming in.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

I'm so tired.

It's been a really tough week. I worked last weekend and all week and then 12-hour days Saturday and today. Yesterday I got home at 7:30 and slept right through until 9. And after another day of work I'm ready for more sleep. I'll be back at it tomorrow at 8 am.

I've been spending a bit more than I'd like, but on a few things that I've had my eye on for awhile. I got one of those laptop cooling pads, which actually works. I can't wait until Friday, when I get to pay off my third credit card!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More In, More Out

I worked sixteen hours over the weekend, but then I went out and partied hard for Halloween, and I think I barely broke even. Sometime last week I stopped tracking my daily spending. Yikes.

Last night I was walking to a bus stop and passed a video store going out of business. I got 10 DVDs for $23, 8 of which will be xmas gifts. Yay!

Friday, October 26, 2007


It's payday! Not a particularly fun one, though. I just transferred most of it out for the monthly bills so that all of the next paycheck can go to paying off another credit card. It should be a quiet two weeks, and I have a ton of shifts at the second job, so I'll be too tired to spend money.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Let's Go Red Sox!

I'm saving up for Jacoby Ellsbury. How much do you think he costs?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Scared Straight

Well, it only took a birthday-present purchase and some automatic bill withdrawls to get me nervous about my bank account balance and kill any urge to spend! I feel that "living paycheck to paycheck" feeling! I get paid on Thursday and Friday (love that second job), so I'll be fine. At least I'm dreaming about all the bills I can pay and not dreaming about new purchases.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Itch to Shop

Well, I didn't win the Wii. So sad.

My bank account is pretty low right now, since I paid off that credit card last week. For the first few days, it made me nervous, but now, suddenly, I have an urge to spend. I've been checking out airline prices (why not go visit that friend in Hawaii...), looking on eBay for Cherner armchairs (they'd look so much better than these IKEA chairs, and I'd save $600...), and, of course, the cashmere sweaters from J. Crew are calling to me. I haven't purchased any unnecesary items since the middle of September, and I think I'm feeling shopper's withdrawl!

I think I might go pick out a sweater that I'll buy (if I still want it) next payday, just to fend off the craving, or maybe some Pinkberry. One just opened down the street and it's been calling to me also. Or should I just go cold turkey?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Wii Success Story

J.D. at Get Rich Slowly is giving away a Wii. This would make an excellent Christmas gift for my kid brother. So here's my Personal Finance Success Story.

I came from a very modest background, and started working my first job the week I turned sixteen. I paid for my own stuff, even things like my prom dress. I worked my way through college, with the help of scholarships and loans.

One day I was at a baseball game, and I filled out the credit card application to get a free t-shirt. Yep, I'm that idiot.

One card soon became two, then three, then four, then five, then six (for the balance transfer rate!). I graduated from college with five of those cards just about maxed out. I would have maxed out the sixth, but it was a card for a store I didn't live near! Hey, I thought, I'll just pay them off when I get a real job!

I took me seven months to find a "real" job, then I settled into a new apartment, bought some furniture, new clothes for work, and started planning a vacation or two. Six months into my new job, I realized that my general expenses had just ballooned to match my new salary. My student loan payments began and I didn't really know how much debt I had.

I could have just kept spending and making minimum payments, but I knew that in the back of my head, I would always have a nagging feeling that it could all come crashing down. I knew that eventually, I'd like to be able to buy a house, have kids, and not be worried about money all the time. So I decided to grow up.

I listed all my debts, including student loans, and they totalled $39K, $14,500 in credit cards at interest rates of up to 29.99%. Yikes.

Back in June, I started this blog. I made a budget. I stuck to it. Since then, I have paid off over $5,000 in credit card debt, bringing three of my six cards to a zero balance. I have a fully funded emergency fund, and I'm working a second job to max out my Roth IRA by the end of the year (keep your fingers crossed).

I'm not out of the woods yet. I hope to pay off the credit card debt by August 2008, and move on to the student loans after that. But I feel like a success everytime I see those zeroes on my credit card statements, everytime I walk by (or even through) a store without buying something I don't need, and each week when I put that tiny second-job paycheck towards my retirement.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Three great things happened to me today:

1. I didn't spend any money!

2. I got flowers for no reason!

3. I did laundry (looong overdue) and found fifteen dollars in a pant pocket!

Hooray for Wednesday!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Did anyone else see this supercute article about the New York Times taking care of stray cats in Bagdad?

Nine Lives: What cats know about war
ugh. I paid off the credit card and in the few days it took to process, they decided to charge me the monthly interest! Jerks. I'm going to call and see if they can take it off the account.

I only spent $57.75 of my $150 allowance last week! Yea! Maybe I'm getting better.

Lots of bloggers are talking about going green today, so I thought I share the ways I'm being nice to my planet:

1. I'm a crazy recycler. Not just newspapers and bottles, but every scrap of paper and ever single container, and plastic wrap and aluminum foil. I have more recycling than trash and you should too. I don't have a food compost though, since I'm in the city and short on space.

2. Conserve water. I take short showers, and I don't wash my hair everyday, so half of them are extra short. I shut of the water when I'm brushing my teeth. One thing I hate is that my faucet takes a long time to warm up, so I try to wash my hands, brush my teeth and then wash my face all at the same time so that I won't be sudsing my face with freezing water!

3. Walk. I live in an urban area, so I usually just walk everywhere. If I'm not walking, I take public transportation. Saves money and the environment.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Woo Hoo!

All morning I've been walking around thinking "There was something I was supposed to so today... Hmmm...".

Then I remembered. I got paid today. I need to pay off that $1300 balance on the card with the crazy interest rate.

So I did.

Credit card #2 is paid in full!

Two down, three to go!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Blog Roll

I updated my Blogroll to include all the commenters who have blogs. Let me know if I missed you.

If you read this site, and have a blog, let me know! I'll be happy to add ya!

And thanks for reading! It's so nice and so helpful to have the support!
Well, another day, and on to better news!

I made $471 extra last month at the second job and babysitting!

I didn't spend any money yesterday or today, and I made a batch of brownies to bring to a friend's place tonight (usually I'd pick something up on my way).

I've been practicing my stitches on the sewing machine, and I think I'm ready to start getting crafty. Christmas should be great!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I took a long, hard look at my monthly spending today. It's not good. Here's a break down of my variable expenses (sorry if the categories are weird or vague, they work for me):

Cable/phone/internet: 116
Cell phone: 50
Social (aka drinking): 112
Groceries: 85
Eating out: 28
Shopping: 137
Misc: 45
Gifts: 350

So, I think I've determined that I'm too nice to people. And that I'm too nice to my employer.

Half of that is for two birthdays. I mentioned one, and the gift for him wasn't crazy, but then he got Baseball tickets from someone else and took me to the game, so I felt obligated to buy all the snacks and drinks at the game, and then pay for eating out after (which I included here).

I also included the meals I purchased for volunteers at work that are friends of mine that I recruited to help. I work at a non-profit, and I was doing a nice thing for the job, but my friends just got a meal out of it and I just got a bill. I won't be doing that again. Ouch.

I know that October won't be much better. My best friend's birthday is at the end of the month, and I agreed to co-host a Halloween party at my friend's apartment.

I'm also putting myself on a "One Miller High Life Per Night" socializing budget. I'm not an alcoholic! I swear!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Workplace deals!

I work at a huge company. This can have its drawbacks, but they do offer some great company perks. Today I looked into the company's partnership with my wireless carrier. After ten minutes and a few confusing web pages, I was signed up to save an extra 17% on my cell phone plan! That's $6.80 a month or $81.60 a year!

I didn't know about the cell phone discount, so I thought I'd post it. Here are some other good deals I get. Maybe a reader with check out the list, and get inspired to call their HR department. Who knows what saving we could be missing out on!

Public Transportation monthy pass: Regular $59 I pay: $29.50 (pre-tax!)
Gym Membership (4 locations): $24 a year
Health, Dental and Long Term Disability Insurance: $22.63 a week
401(k): Automatic 5%, no matching required!
Basic Life Insurance ($50,000?): free

We also have discounted events, but I'm too far in debt to check those listings!

Do you get any special work perks that aren't listed that I should ask my employer about?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

When will it end?

I've noticed recently that I even though I have a good plan for getting rid of debt, and I'm taking all the right steps to get rid of it, I'm still constantly worried about debt.

I have a great emergency fund (that's actually up to $650 now), and all the bills are current (even though that was never an issue before). One credit card is paid in full, a second will be at $0 later this month. But now that I'm reading lots and lots about financial responsibility, I feel so behind. First I have to get rid of the credit card debt, then pay off the family loan, then the student loans. Then I have to think about home ownership, and by then I might need to purchase a car and want to go back to school.

AHHH! It's all so scary!

I need to just chill, right?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Beauty: it ain't for me

Krystal over at Give Me Back My Five Bucks just got laid off. Yet she's still leaving encouraging comments on my (and I'm sure other) blog(s). She's amazing. She posted her make-up breakdown, and others are following suit, so so will I.

Here's the thing: I don't know the first thing about beauty products.

The only product I can whole-heartedly endorse is Smoooch by Benefit. My lips get dry really easy, and I love this stuff. But I hear they might have questionable ethics, so beware.

I buy St. Ives Apricot Scrub: $3.49. Before that I used Biore which cost a bit more.

I've got a tube of Great Lash mascara (about $5), a starter kit from Bare Escentuals powders that will last me years (but $60), random $1 brown eyeliner, and a tube of Maybelline tint lipcolor (also $5).

I used to work at a drugstore, and bought lots of sale make-up, but never wore any of it, so I just gave up. Someone got me a sephora gift card about a year ago, which covered the Bare Essentials and some multipurpose "MD Skincare" moisturizer/spf serum that I'm sure has gone bad by now.

Basically, my skin is a mess, which may be contributing to my current "single" status. Luckily, I have an ace up my sleeve, in the form of a friend who works at the Aveda make-up counter, and turns me into a beauty whenever I'm in a panic!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Attacking credit card #2: balance vs. interest rate

It's October 4th and all my bills are paid! I'll get paid again on October 12th, and most, if not all, of that paycheck will be going towards debt. I paid off my first credit card based on the lowest balance, because I thought I needed the motivation, but now that I'm moving forward, I think I need to be smart and pay off the one with the highest interest rate. The next smallest balance is $800, which I could easily pay off next pay day. But I also have a card with a balance of $1300 and the highest interest rate, a full 7% more than the $800 card! So I think I'm going to pay off that (hopefully by the 26th pay day) and then I should be able to get rid of the $800 card in November. I didn't think I'd have them both paid off until December, so I'll be a month ahead! I'm not expecting to have a crazy Christmas, but it will be comforting to know I have some funds if I need them, without extending my debt reduction plan!

The second job is covering most of my variable expenses. I'm working 14 hours for them this week ($140) plus babysitting Saturday ($60). My bank balance makes me so happy!

I'm trying to find ways to limit my spending. I think I might only take as much as I need for the day and leave all other money and debit card at home. Or maybe keep an emergency credit card in a sealed envelope. I can't be trusted. Not yet, at least!

Bank of America, what happened?

Yep, I use Bank of America. I never really had a problem with them. Until this week.

Bank of America is like a giant state college. If you just want to drift through, you'll be fine. But if you need any kind of special help, you're screwed. And I, dear friends, got screwed.

On Sunday I bought 3 pairs of theatre tickets, resulting in three charges of identical amounts. Bank of America's computers computed this and thought, "That tiny theatre must be trying to rip of The Tough Broad! We must stop them!" and put a hold on my account. I called BoA, and they said, "Oh, whoopsie, we let one of the transactions clear, but the other two we denied. You'll have to call the merchant and have them process it again." So I e-mail the theatre twice, attaching the original confirmation e-mails for the tickets that were denied, and said, "Hey, if you want money, please process again. My bank sucks." And the theatre wrote back and said, "no, we got the money, just bring your e-mail confirmation to the door." BUT THEY DIDN'T GET MY MONEY!

I'm really worried because the show is in February! I bought them this early because I wanted great seats. Now I'm worried that by the time they figure this mess out, they're going to give my tickets away, and I'm going to get to the theatre and be turned away. If I'm going to spend my hard earned money on something, I need it to work out!

Today I checked my online banking, and noticed that the one pair of tickets BoA had ok'ed had magically disappeared from my account, and the funds added back to my balance. WTF? So I called them again. Now I have a headache.

They claim that the theatre never processed the payment or "requested the funds" or something. Sure, whatever.

Then the lady said that the other person I spoke with should have told me that when the theatre tries to process payment, they can only do one per day. I think that's kind of important information, don't you?

THEN, she was kind enough to tell me that apparently, when I took out my $100 on Monday afternoon for my weekly spending money, I typed in the wrong PIN on the first try, so after I got it right and took out the weekly allowance, they FROZE my account entirely. Hmm, maybe that's why the theatre hasn't gotten its money? Perhaps!

And then she asked in the nicest of tones, "Would you like me to take the hold off the account?"

I need a new bank.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Oh well...

As CRAZY as it is that I can't keep my budget under $100 a week, it's true. I'm running more like $150 a week. I know I live in a city center and things cost more, but my goodness! I can only imagine what it was before I started tracking it.

My debt is going down though! Credit cards are currently at $10908 and I'll be under 10K by the end of the month!

I'm considering asking my parents for a short term loan of 5k to avoid some of this interest. I don't think I'd be comfortable asking for more than 5K, or borrowing it for more than a year. Does anyone have any experience or tips for me when it comes to borrowing from family?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Budget Overrun!

Yikes! I kind of forgot that someone special had a big birthday this weekend! After the gift, the card, the tissue paper, the cake and the dinner out, I spent $70!

That put me about $40 over for the week. But I only started with $70, so I only ran $10 over budget (for this week). I started with $70 because, as I mentioned, I bought a new $30 cell phone.

So the question is:

Do I hold myself to my budget and only give myself $60 for next week? Do I decide that my budget of $100 was too modest and raise it to $150?

No and no. I'm just going to start over tomorrow and give myself the $100, and hopefully I won't have another unexpected money situation next week. I think it would be demoralizing to start the week behind, again, and too hasty to just raise my budget since I've only be trying it for two weeks.

I made an extra $145 this weekend ($90 from second job, $55 from babysitting), and my bills are paid. The debt is going down, so I'm going to try to not be hard on myself and also try harder to stick to the budget!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Well, I didn't spend any money Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday! Today I spent $1.75 on some produce from the farmer's market, and tonight I'm going out with some friends. I have a good excuse to stop at one drink, though, since I'm working tomorrow morning at Job #2.

I got a call from one of the local charities, and they'll be picking up any clothing I don't want next Thursday. I totally have too many clothes, so this weekend my little apartment will be filled with three mountains of fabric: Keep it, Sell it, or Give it Away.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Budgeting going well!

I've only spent $56.35 so far this week, and that includes a $17 grocery bill and a $30 phone. I haven't spent a dime in the last two days! I'll get paid for 11 hours at the second job tomorrow, and I'll be working 12 hours at the second job this week. Plus, I'm babysitting Saturday night, which usually gets me $60-$80. All together, that's an extra $300! Yea!

I tried to forecast my spending through April, to see if opening up a Roth IRA is a good idea. If I keep working at the second job, it might be do-able, but tight, and I'll have to keep Christmas spending to a minimum, which is tough because I come from a big family that tends to go overboard on gifts. I really want to be rid of the Credit Card debt by July 2008, and kill the student loan debt by October 2009. I'd really like to contribute to the Roth, though, especially since I plan on going back to school full time in 2010, and I know it will be nearly impossible to max it out while I'm a student.

I don't need rock bottom to bounce.

I was reading the most recent Women in Red article over at, and Dunleavy mentioned people "hitting the wall". She says that often times people need to hit rock bottom to bounce back. I'm sure that's how it starts for a lot of people, but that's not how it was for me.

My debt accrued in college. Lots of it is student loan debt, which I'm ok with. But alot of it is credit card debt. I worked at least 10 hours a week while I was in school, and up to 40 at some points. I worked full time whenever possible during the summer. I commuted to school, and paid for my own books, transportation, and supplies. Although I lived at home, I usually bought my own food. I love to travel, so a chunk of my debt is from that, and I purchased a laptop. Everything else seemed important at the time- clothes, food, ect. As my years at college progressed, I kept charging when I needed to, and worked enough to pay the minimums. My cards were never in collections, but occasionally I would be unorganized and not pay my bills on time. I've only been over 30 days late once on one card. Still, you only need to be one day late on one card to see your interest rates go through the roof. One day, during the summer before my last year of school, I got an offer for a high-limit credit card with a 0% balance transfer offer. Great, I thought, I'll have more money to pay this off, since I'm working all summer, and I'll save on interest! But that didn't happen. The balances continued to rise, and I continued to just make minimums. When I graduated, I owed more than 75% of the credit available on all four of my cards.

I got out of school, got a job, and settled into a new apartment. I knew I needed to tackle the credit card debt. It had been bugging me for over a year when I made the balance transfer. Now I had a comfortable salary. Once I was settled into the new job and the new place, I started making a budget and seeing how much I'd be able to pay off each month towards the balance. The more I think about it, the more determined I am to get rid of debt. It will never be easier than now. I don't have kids. I don't have a mortgage. I don't mind living like a college student.

I could have just continued to pay minimums. I could have bought a new car, or all new clothes. I haven't hit bottom yet, and I never want to. But I'd like to think I'm just as serious as anyone who has hit bottom. I eat ramen, I don't shop, and I'm going to be debt free.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I hate interest.

The interest on my accounts posted yesterday, and as much as I feared it, I decided to see how much I was giving away to the credit card companies. It's at least $247 a month. Ouch.

I can't wait until interest is working for me and not the other way around.

Monday, September 17, 2007

About Retirement

I started my current job back in December, and I hadn't figured out how to log into my retirement information until today! I had to get through 3 different sets of log-ins! And call a customer care line for help! And reset passwords that I don't remember setting the first time! My Goodness! I can't complain though, because I have great benefits and my employer automatically starts a 401(k) and funds it 5% without any contributions from me.

So I finally logged in and changed my fund to a 2050 target retirement, transferring a lovely $1275.15 of free money into some aggressive territory.

I also signed a new cellphone contract. I'm on the cheapest plan now, which really isn't cheap at all, but I'll be saving about $15/month. I did get a shiny new phone. Not a iPhone, but it did set me back $30. Now my weekly budget is down to $70! I think I'll be ok, because I'm going to some Grad School Fairs this week, and they tend to have tons of free food.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I'm becoming a little obsessed with signing on to my credit card's website just to see the $0.00. So wonderful!

My weekly spending amount seems to be a good guess so far. I have $1.83 left and one day to go. Sunday isn't really an expensive day for me, and I bought some groceries yesterday, so I should be just fine. I might buy myself some chocolate with the nickles of dimes I have left.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Wall Street Journal has a super cute article on kids collecting art:

Small Collectors

I have to admit that a significant chunk of my credit card debt came from buying art, and while I shouldn't have bought something I couldn't afford, I still love the art. Which is actually kind of bad, because the work is now worth more than what I paid plus the horrid cc interest, but I can't bear to sell it.

Anyways, I'm glad these kids have the parents with money who encourage them to buy unique items that (hopefully) appreciate in value and not just more crap.


It's pay day and I just paid off a credit card in full! One down, four (bigger ones) to go!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The New Budgeting System

As I mentioned, I'll be picking up at least 8 hours at the second job every week for the next couple of months, and I'd really like to use that money and Only that money for all my variable expenses. It should work out to around $100 a week, which I think might be a little high for the usuals. However, I want this money to also be used for some of the bigger expenses I have such as day trips, haircuts and clothing purchases.

I took out $100 from the checking account on Monday to see how it would work out. This week has been easy so far, since the kitchen is still stocked from last week, but I do have a lunch meeting tomorrow, plans for drinks tomorrow night, and dinner with co-workers Friday night. I hope I can stick with my budget and cut down on this expensive eating out!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

One of the non-profits I volunteer for took this poor girl out to lunch today! And it was a huge plate of food so it will feed me for dinner too. Yum. And just at the right time, because I had to pay a $500 student loan bill. Ouch.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I was itching to do some shopping today, so I went on a Staples catalog binge for my office. Is that cheating? :)

Every Penny Counts!

My Credit Card balance is under $12K! I know it's a little early in the month and I shouldn't talk until the interest is posted, but I think it's great! I'm going to pay 1K of principle every month if it kills me. I need this cc debt gone in a year! I picked up eight hours every Saturday in September and October at the second job, and I'm going to try to live off that for all my expenses that don't come in the mail! I also going to try to pick up more hours and put the extra right to the debt. Woohoo!

Also, I was thinking about my $700 in unusual expenses, and realized that if I can have $700 in unusual expenses, maybe I shouldn't have such a small emergency fund. A big chunk of this ($400) is for a class I want to take for career development. In my opinion, it's a must, and the regular cost is $4000, but my work is paying 90%. It's a great deal, but $400 is alot of money for me right now. The other half is the balance on some furniture that I purchased shortly after moving into my apartment. It's less than $300, but I figure the class will have some extra expenses for course packets and such. But anyway, back the topic of emergency funds. I think maybe I should try paying a little over a thousand toward credit cards (1K plus the accumulated interest) each month. Then I'll see how much is left over to put towards the EF, and maybe make a new goal of $1-1.5K.

I was really hoping I could put some money towards a Roth IRA this year, but now I'm not sure that it will happen. I think the credit cards are more important. I am contributing 5% of pre-tax income to a 401(k), so at least I'm doing something.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Tracy over at My Money Story has a great question: How do you say no when your friends invite you out for money-draining activites like going out for dinner?

Well, some friends are close enough to be honest with. Others get bogus excuses. Often, though, I try to compromise. I'd invite the friends over to my house for a home-cooked meal ("You have to try this great casserole I just learned to make!"), suggest a more reasonable place in the area ("You've got to try this new place we found that has Great food (and is So reasonable)!"), or tell them that you already ate and offer to meet for dessert, coffee or drinks.

I don't tell my friends how far in debt I am, or how much of it is high-interest credit cards, but I drop hints like "Can't hang out tomorrow, I'm working at the second job to pay off those student loans!". I work almost every single day, so they know that I'm concerned about money (and also think I'm a workaholic). They don't seem to mind hanging around my house or getting ice cream instead of a four-course meal. I also have pot lucks and craft nights. If my friends insist on going somewhere expensive, I'll try to get someone to split an entree and just get water to drink, or just order a side dish (easy to get away with because I'm a vegetarian).

The road out of debt is a long one, and the friends you keep through the process are the ones who appreciate your company, not the money-draining activities you can do together. Remember that after the debt is gone, you'll probably want to put all that money that was going to debt towards saving that you haven't been able to do earlier. I just remind myself that being financially stable is a life-long goal. And the good friends in life would rather see you getting to a better place financially than out playing putt-putt golf.

Off to work...

I was bored this evening and started checking out online retailers. Bad news. It turns out that Agent Provacateur is having a sale, and two of the bras that I've been lusting after were available in my size at deep discounts! Oh no. I did some nail biting, took a walk, and then call my second-job boss to see if I could work ten hours this weekend. She said yes, and I busted out the check card. I got my two bras for $87, regularly $147. The ten hours of work will more than cover the $87, and I'll be sassier than ever. But still broke.

Things that make me giggle

Thursday, September 6, 2007

I got paid from the second job today, and paid another $300 on the targeted credit card. But then I did some budgeting and realized that I have about $700 in unusual expenses coming up. Arg. I just want to get one of these cards paid off! I know the balances are coming down, but I'd really like to have a ZERO next to one of them. My per diem boss is trying to get a permanent 10-hour position approved for me, and if I get it, I'd really like to try to use that income for all my variable expenses. Not only would it be extra income, but I might try putting it into an entirely separate account so I'm not tempted to overspend.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

September Update

I was feeling a bit down on my progress, so I went back to my original debt spreadsheet and ran some numbers. I started out with $14,271 in credit card debt in June, and I am now down to (drumroll please...) $12,065.76! I paid off $2,205.76 in three months! And although I haven't paid off any of the family loan, I have been up to date on all my student loans, and I built up a $500 emergency fund.

I feel pretty great right now. I know I have a long way to go, but I feel like I'm off to a great start.
I'm done with my crazy 80 hour workweeks, and now I just have to wait for the money to roll in. I have one week's extra pay tagged for some career development, and the rest is going to the bills. When all the money comes through, I'll finally be able to pay off one of the five credit cards Completely! One down, four to go!

Today, I went to the library to get a book on my craft projects (Quilting for Dummies) and also picked up Jean Chatzky's "Pay it Down". So far it's not too fantastic, but it does have a good section on why people over spend that I may be posting in strategic places around the house.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Well, I need to swap my cable box for the cheaper one this week. Maybe I'll do it after I post! The rates went up and I can no longer justify my bad tv habit. My cell phone plan is also up, so I get a free new phone, and the chance to pick a cheaper plan. Woohoo!

In other news, Bank of America has a new online budgeting feature that I actually like. Except, of course, that it makes me realize how much I spend on silly things.

I have ambitios debt-be-gone plans for September, including:

1. Trying the paper envelopes budgeting system.
2. Cutting back the cable!
3. Cutting back on the cell phone plan!
4. Not going into the pharmacy! I know I spend alot on lotions and potions everytime I go in, so I'm just going to stop going, and buy what I need at the grocery store or equivelent.
5. Continue cooking for myself. This has been a rollercoaster of a process, but I just finagled some extra freezer room, so I'll be Casserole Central soon!

The numbers are going down on my monthly statements, but not as fast as I'd like them to. It's time to get serious!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Well, I think I have a few partners-in-crime for my projects to make more affordable and adorable christmas gifts! Some friends were over last night and we're gonna try to coordinate schedules and talents to make dreams come true.

I've been super busy, and I can't seem to get around to make lunches for work. All my salad fixin's are going bad! Arg!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Yikes, I spent alot of money today. First, it was five bucks for a bagel and a drink for breakfast, then my cell phone bill (two months for $100) then $70 on a pair of jeans. Next, to the craft store to spend $35 on supplies for a project that I'll get $50 back on. Then, to the market and $38 on food. Eeep.

I debated for some time about the jeans, but they are the same brand, cut and wash of jeans that I have been wearing for the past three years, and this will be my fourth pair (I've actually worn holes in delicate places of all three other pairs, that's how much I love wearing jeans), so I am confident that my cost per wear will make up for the large price tag.

But, today I also got a case of free beer and a free TiVO box. It'll be a long time before I can use that TiVo, though!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The best things in life are free

I love finding a song in my musical library that has been around for years and I never really appreciated, and then one day, you hear it at the right time (early morning) with the right weather (oppressively hot with an occasional life-saving breeze) and you become suddenly obsessed with this magical little tune, and wonder why you never realized how fantastic it was earlier.

This time it's Gordon Downie's "Lofty Pines":

"Je suis nee pour la chaleur,"
she said, in her Manhattan French.
"On ne peut rien faire de la chaleur,"
We'll just have to take that chance.
We've got world enough and time,
dreaming of the Lofty Pines...
Well, my second-job boss nixed my overtime for this upcoming week, so I get today off. Sunday is a nice day to have off, a good day to get organized and relax before the week starts all over again. I've been checking out my expenses and trying to see where my trouble spots are. I'm still spending too much on drinks and snacks at the second job, even though I bring food and tea bags. I need to get tougher on myself!

I also decided that I can't buy magazines anymore. I was such a sucker for them whenever I was travelling or babysitting, and I have a huge stack that must have cost me $300. I should tally up all the cover prices. I decided it's enough, and, in true debtor fashion (no pun intended), bought the largest Vogue ever as my last magazine. It's 840 pages! It's heavy enough to knock someone out! I'm recycling all the other magazines and just putting this in its place, as a reminder that i'm not buying these anymore. And it only cost me $4.99. Before you yell at me, I worked eight hours of overtime yesterday and then five babysitting for a total of 12 hours and $230 dollars. So let me be.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

When it rains, it pours! I got calls from two of the organizations I volunteer for asking if I had ANY time to work on some critical things this week. I'm juggling alot and I'm not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Usually volunteer work is really gratifying, but this week it's just really inconvienient. It's making me think maybe I should scale back some of this stuff, at least until I'm on more solid financial footing.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The work begins...

My weekend was lost to two long shifts at the second job, although I did have dinner with a friend Saturday which was nice (and almost free, since I brought a $3 dessert of M&M's and fruit!). I bought food at work both days. Bad, bad, bad. But I went to the market today and got the goods for sandwiches and salads to last me through the week, and if I get bored with those, I'll bring in leftovers.

When I got home tonight, I did some serious internet searching on what to say when I call my credit card companies to lower my interest rates, and broke down and paid to check my credit score. Good news, though! It went up 27 points since I checked it last year! It may not seem like alot, but my fair/good credit score was really making me self-conscious about calling up the companies, so it's helping me feel much better!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Tough Workaholic

Well, turns out I'll be working more than 80 hours for the next two weeks! Yikes! I picked up an extra 16 hours of overtime for this week and 8 for next so that's 40 regular, and between 48 and 56 at the second job, plus I put in 51 hours last week. A friend is coming in at the beginning of next month, so I'll spend a few days with her and get a bunch more hours in September when she leaves.

Unfortunately, some home maintenance that I thought would cost around $300 actually turned out to be $600. So some of this extra work will be going towards that little bill.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hi There

I'm back! Did you miss me?

I went on a nice, long, frugal vacation, which was immediately followed by a nice, long, seven-day 103 degree fever and stomach virus. A round of IV fluids, antibiotics, tylenol and immodium cocktails and I'm (almost) back to normal! Phew!

I must say, I adore my health insurance. The whole mess cost me under $50 (plus the cost of Gatorade).

I've been a little distracted, obviously, but I get paid tomorrow and will be sending all of it along to my debtors...

Good thing I'm feeling better, because I'll be working 80-work-weeks until the end of August to raise some funds. Focus, focus! I can't wait for the relief of being debt-free!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The tale of loose pockets.

Yesterday at work, my last five bucks for the week fell out of my pants and disappeared into the office chaos. I was really annoyed, and walked around the corner to the atm to get some lunch money. Grumble, grumble.

Then I noticed that the mexican chain restaurant had flyered the place with ads. In one corner, they had left a stack of five dollar gifts certificates! I grabbed about a dozen of them, and got myself a huge bowl of nachos for 13 cents! and for lunch today, I got a big bowl of gumbo for 51 cents! I'm heading by the atm soon to see if there are any more, and I'll be eating cheap for most of August!

Sometimes loosing five bucks can save you $50!
hmm, yesterday was pay day, by my tax exemption change didn't go through. Oh well. I'll be travelling for the next couple of weeks and I'm so nervous about my spending! I'm putting myself on a strict budget and will not give in to temptation! I'm also bringing a really full bag so I'm not tempted to fill it up! If something is so fantastic that I must have, I'm going to have to lug it to a post office and ship it to myself. When I get back, it'll likely be 70-hour work weeks through september, and then I'll try to cut back to 55. I need to put a dent in this debt to keep myself motivated!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tax Man

I've been reading lots of blogs that talk about tax withholdings and how to not let the IRS keep your money longer than you have to. I always claimed zero to make sure that I don't have to pay uncle sam at the end of the year, but I'm going to try claiming one and see how much more I get in my check. I'll get paid on Friday, but the change might not have proceeded by then. I'll be holding my breath to see what the new number is!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I was a little worried that my brother's visit would throw my budget off, but he actually arrived with a late graduation present of cash! We went shopping and I spent about half of it on a watch, which will be a nice reminder of his generosity and also keep me from being late. The other half is marked for savings, but I wouldn't be adverse to spending it in his company over the next few days.

My job should slow down after next week and be slow through the middle of September, so I'll be ramping up the hours at the second job. Money, money, money...

Monday, July 9, 2007

I had to work late at work today, and I wasn't expecting it. I went over to the Whole Foods on the corner at 7:30 to grab some food to keep me going, and got robbed! They charged me $10 for a side of mashed potatoes, a side of caprese and a peach! Gahhh! I won't be doing that again...

On a happy note, my big brother is coming into town this weekend! He's one of my financial heroes. Two years older, just school debt and a mortgage, and making six figures. He plays hard and saves hard. I can't wait to see him.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The New To-Do List

Things I can do that don't cost money:

1. Volunteer.
2. Finish knitting that scarf that I've been working on for years.
3. Start sewing the quilt I've been meaning to make from my favorite old t-shirts.
4. Study for the class I'm taking this summer.
5. Go to the gym.
6. Go to the library.
7. Go to the aquarium (I've got some passes).
8. Read the books that I spent money on, yet never read.
9. Do laundry, the dishes or just clean in general.
10. Go visit my mom. She even feeds me.
11. Keep an eye on my retirement account.
12. Clean out my inbox.
13. Play board games or soccer or guitar hero with my friends.

I don't need to spend money on movies or clothes or other things to entertain me. I have lots of things on my to-do list.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Got paid Friday, so the Emergency Fund is now up to $500. Woohoo! My monthly fixed expenses are about $1,000, so I think that $500 is enough of a buffer to keep me from adding more debt in a pinch.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

check up on expenses

I've been really good about spending lately (mostly because I don't have any money in my checking account). Aside from bills, I've spent:

$10 on groceries
$15 on a birthday gift for a dear friend
$24 on my gym membership (For the entire year! I love my job perks!)

No too bad, right?


I got paid from my part time job early, so I moved money back into my savings account that I took our earlier in the week. On Friday, when I get paid from the regular job, I should be able to raise my emergency fund to the $500 mark. Yippee!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

More Money

After paying all my bills, I had about $14 in my checking account until payday this Friday. So I was delighted when I got a call to babysit! Not only did I have a great time playing at the park with a five year old, but I got paid $65 to do it!

After the parents came back, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few necessities, and I found an unclaimed CoinStar ticket for $18.06. So I picked up about $29.50 worth of stuff, saved $7 in sale prices and coupons, $18 with the CoinStar slip, and paid only $4.50. Hurray for food.

I'm planning on seeing a movie with friends tomorrow, but I'll be sneaking in snacks and trying not to spend any other money. Then it should be smooth sailing through the rest of the week. I got an invitation to leave town for the weekend, but I think I might cancel, so that I don't spend more cash. So sad.

Friday, June 29, 2007

good news?

My boss at one of my per diem gigs offered me a permanent 20hours/week position with "great flexibility" today. I'm nervous about taking on 60 hours a week, mostly because I'm afraid my productivity will drop. Then again, it would be around $10,000 a year in take home pay, and that would go a long way in paying off the bills. Decisions, decisions...

My couch is not a happy place

I just cancelled my Nexflix and now I'm on the phone with my cable company to get rid of the premium channels. Cable should just be cancelled, but I'm not sure I can handle the shock, so I'm trying to step down slowly.

Little by little

I made an extra 250 this week (50 from the part time job, and 200 that I loaned to someone back in April). It's all going toward credit card #1. Little by little.

I'm working an extra 4 hours today, 6 hours tomorrow, and hopefully 8 hours on Sunday. Monday is going to hurt!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Grocery Shopping

I'm rediscovering the joys of ramen noodles. They were on sale for the low price of $.125, so I bought 12. I'm guessing to be about 20% salt by the time I'm debt-free. At least it's farmer's market season, so I can get low cost greens like bok choy and swiss chard. I still buy fruit on sale from the supermarket, though, since it's almost as good and much cheaper.

I do find it hard to get cheap protein. I'm a vegetarian, and I like the Boca/Morningstar Farm/Gardenburger stuff, but it's so pricey. I try to get it on sale, but a girl's gotta get her protein!

Hello, I'm the tough broad, but you can call be "Broke"

Hi Everyone. I'm 25, make 50K a year, and I'm 39K in debt. To break it down, 23K in student loan debt, 1,500 borrowed from the parents in January, and 14,500 in hideous Credit Cards.

If I make 50 Grand a year, I should be able to pay off the credit cards in a year, right? Well, I'm gonna try! That represents a full time job, and a part time job, plus some consulting work. I also volunteer, and I don't want to give that up, so I'm going to be hard-pressed to work more. Also, after the tax man, It's really more like 30,000. So I'll have to start budgeting like mad.

Here I go!