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?