Weekly $ Checkup 12.1

  1. The most I’ve spent this last week was – $200 – bf’s Christmas present
  2. Today I am thankful that I am back on my meds (ran out and withdrawals SUCK)
  3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was going to our office Christmas party
  4. I will consider this week a success if I do well on my finals
  5. If I had today off I would probably be hanging out with bf since it’s also his day off.

So lately I’ve been coming into money, which is nice! It’s extra nice because I keep having unfortunate, unexpected money-costing events. So far I’ve gotten my tax refund, Christmas bonus, and paycheck from Sephora. I also now have stolen phone that has to be replaced, a parking ticket, and two driving tickets (I wasn’t speeding, the guy in front of me was. Both got pulled over…guess who got the ticket? The other was outdated inspection sticker. That was legit). BUT. At least it’s all working itself out! Plus I think I finally found a dresser…$20 on Craigslist so cross your fingers!

I also overspent on Christmas.

>.>

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Good-bye 2011

The local news station has proclaimed 2011 to be a “meh” and “off-feeling” year; however, after reflection, it was a pretty good year for me, with only a few bumps.

2011 Year Highlights

Went to Canada! I got to travel to Canada for an internship in June & July. It was my first time leaving the country, my first time seeing real snow, and my first time touching a glacier lake (and seeing an elk!!!)

Intercontinental! Visited a total of 8 states (not including my home state)!

B+ Average! Altogether, I made about a 3.2 GPA this year; I’m pretty satisfied!

BoF was Born! Started Budget or Fudget 😉 (& made new friends) AND started actively tracking my finances 

Car! Got my first car (which has been a bit of a clunker lately, but, irrelevant!)

Career! Kept my job for the year (& got a raise) !!! Got a new job! Plus, I finally decided on a potential career, so now grad applications

2011 Year Bumps

Pets: We lost 2 treasured family pets

Fire: Our family home burned down in Nov. 2010, which isn’t 2011, but many of the repercussions are still being felt.

Injuries: My mom had 3 surgeries on her hands; 2 planned (both hands for carpal tunnel) & 1 unexpected (accident at work). My dad recovered from a combined surgery on his elbow, forearm, and hand. Other members of our family are also sick with chronic illnesses that are not going away.

There were many good things and many bad about this year, but 2012 has the potential to be much better 🙂

So Happy New Year y’all!

Woo hoo! (Actually, I don't really like fireworks. Pretty, but really really loud).

2011 End of the Year Report

To help establish my financial goals for 2012 (which will be an entirely different post), I broke out the bank accounts to see where all of my spending was in 2012. This proved to be more difficult than I thought it would. For one, before I started this blog, I didn’t keep track of my finances at all, so the only records I have are from my bank account (no cash), and I don’t know what I bought while in Canada, just what I spent. I know some of it (from parts of July), but I think for now I’m just cutting my losses. This big spending report includes my spending from my savings account, checking account, and charges to my Discover Card.

I broke my spending up into what I considered my major spending categories.

Basic Overview: 

  • Vending Machines – $136.99
  • McDonald’s – $169.25
  • Academics – $2,124.18
  • Redbox/Netflix – $106.95
  • Campus Convenience Store – $176.09
  • Walmart – $1,918.96
  • Bookstore – $272.88
  • Gas Stations – $698.61
  • Clothes/Haircuts – $724.82
  • Fees & Payments – $1,575.16
  • Eating Out – $1,095.95
  • Miscellaneous/Groceries – $610.64
  • Spent in Canada – $2,778.71
  • Air Travel – $1,061.71
  • Fees & Transfers (from Savings) – $266.99

This puts me spending $13,717.35. My total income (payroll & loans) was $13,149.25. This puts me in the red by $568.10. Now you could be saying, $13,717.35, that’s not a lot of money to spend for an entire year. Well, that’s without spending any money on housing and only a bit on tuition. No, most of this is on useless junk and fast food (no wonder I gained 23 lbs this year).  I took a look at what I spent over $1000 on and here’s what I came up with:

  • Academics – $2,124.18 – This consists of preparation to go to my internship (e.g. passport, $150 to work in Canada, etc) and tuition payments.
  • Walmart – $1,918.96 – This one I’m super ashamed of. Some of this is on groceries naturalich, but most of it is on nonsense (e.g. snackcakes, candy, school supplies, etc)
  • Spent in Canada – $2,778.71 – I don’t know what all of this is for. Some of this was travelling to Banff, some of it was the ticket home (which should go under airfare, but I do what I want 😉 ).
  • Air Travel – $1,061.71 – These were tickets to go to Dallas & Colorado & Canada & fees. Some of these were reimbursed, so that’s included in the income (which is still in the red 😦 )
  • Fees & Payments – $1,575.16 – Oh goodness. Some of these were overdraft charges, and a lot were transfers from accounts & withdrawals
  • Eating Out – $1,095.95 – Pretty self-explanatory. This also includes birthday dinners & V-day dinners. BF & I have a deal: go dutch [unless it’s your birthday].

So now that I have these numbers, I can make a realistic set of goals to help control it for 2012 (goals that you all will see soon).

There is also some spending that won’t be reflected on this within the next few days. I currently have $104.87 in my checking account, $130 in cash, & $100 in my savings account. I will be putting $100 from cash into savings (to bring it up to $200!!) I will keep the remaining $30 to spend in Colorado if necessary (did I mention that I was going to Colorado? I have a business conference the 2nd-7th!). I will put $50 of the $104 in my checking account onto my Discover card as payment (pay what I can when I can), and $30 of that for a shuttle to the airport in Colorado.

This results in $30 in cash, $200 in my savings, and $24 in my checking account  for the end of 2012. I also end this year with a final total of $13,013 in loans (with an additional $536 in interest). I’ll also have $1073.26 on my Discover card.

So (not including my car, which is in the shop right now), I’m at $254 in the green…and $14,622.26 in the red…giving me a net worth of … drumroll please … -$14,368.26. 😦 One positive is that there was a marked decrease in my spending after I started this blog v. before, so hopefully that continues. I don’t think I’ve ever gone so long knowing what was in my accounts haha 🙂 

2011 wasn’t exactly my year, but 2012, you are mine!!!

New Job & Less Loans

This post could be more accurately titled: “How I got lucky and was offered a job that offers free housing (because I am suddenly ineligible for the loans I was using to pay for it,” or, “How $3750 of my student loan debt disappeared in a day.”

Some back story. Beware, this story is full of dumb mistakes and wasteful spending. Read at your own risk.

Warning - Warning - Warning

I was admitted to the institution I am currently attending with a full scholarship and then some (raking in $1500+ a semester in extra cash after housing & tuition & fees are paid off). I ended up squandering that money on Chinese food, digital cameras, a computer, and feeding myself and a lazy boyfriend at fancy restaurants – plus expensive gifts (leather jacket, anyone?). I felt rich and careless…and acted as such. At the end of the day I have nothing to show for this time period. The computer is horrible (I had to replace it), the digital camera just broke, and the majority of it was just squandered away. The summer after my sophomore year I worked and brought in a few thousand dollars…which was spent on Rockband and food (squandering). Next year, same as freshman year. That spring I lost my scholarships and had to take out my first loan. This was June of 2009.

Remarkably (and luckily I might add), I was given a scholarship from my mother’s workplace and continued to receive another that covered my tuition. I could have made it without loans. Alas. Instead of getting and keeping a job, I lived off of loans. Infinite money. Thousands of dollars. This continued until my senior year, when I got my current campus job (which I have been at for 1 year – record for me woot woot!!!). Horror suddenly gripped me as I decided to take a fifth year and go to an internship in Canada. I was suddenly taking out loans to pay for my passport, to pay for my plane ticket, and then, how was I going to pay for next year?!

Loans. And a bit of what I made this summer. I started this blog in July 2011, when I was still in Canada. I had been reading a few personal finance blogs and was about fed up (and completely ashamed) of my bad habits.

So here I am, in my fifth and final year as an undergraduate. I took out $7000 in loans for this year, $3750 a semester. This pays for all of my residential housing (I live on campus as a stipulation of a leadership position I hold), and I still hold one scholarship that pays for my tuition. The rest I cover from my aforementioned job. I was anticipating nearly $17,000 in student loans by the time I graduate (much of that unneeded, but you learn I guess).

Not to further overuse this image, but truth.

Then, new job offer! I was offered a job last Friday as a resident assistant, a job I had applied for in March…one of the perks of this job is that it pays for your housing!!! Woot! I now didn’t need my loans for the spring semester ($3750). I planned to cancel them. Planned a dance. Party. Celebration. But. Apparently I was not the only one to reach this conclusion, although the federal government reached it by other means.

I am apparently not making satisfactory academic progress. Not that I’m graduating in May mind you. Really, what it boils down to is that one of their requirements is you complete your degree within 133% of the credit hours of your degree, a cap of about 160 hours. As of last semester, I hit 164, for a lot of reasons. Mainly because I switched majors, went to summer school for 3 summers (taking many hours), and took the max nearly every semester. So, even if I wanted to keep my loans, I wouldn’t be allowed to. No looking back now.

I just think, of how lucky I am, because I’m not sure what I would have done without that new job. Tis the seasons indeed. This drop in my debt has made my goal of paying of my student loans by the time I graduate from graduate school (May 2014) a complete reality. Although this has really been a blessing in disguise (as much as it would have been a horror story otherwise), I’m really thankful for all of you out there that are helping me budget along. I’m a completely different spender (in that I know there’s no magic “free” money) now, and although I look back with shame, I learned a lot.

So for those of you making those bad choices, stop! And for those of you rectifying your decisions, congratulations and hats off to you!

-L.

 

Link Love – December Ed.

Here’s some December Link Love! Ch-ch-check ’em out!!!

Happy Blogger-versary! “Celebrate the SPF 1 year anniversary giveaway at Sustainable Personal Finance where you can win an iPad 2 package (co-sponsored by Prairie Eco Thrifter), a bunch of green tech gizmos and cash.”
– Sustainable Personal Finance & Prairie Eco Thrifter

Make your own Detergent! “What do you think? Is 33 minutes of your time worth saving $23.88 a year? (Or $191.04 over the life of the ingredients I invested in last year?)”
Girl with the Red Balloon 

25 Free Finance Tools: “Budgeting money is stressful for most but this is even truer for college students. Luckily, the Internet is loaded with free tools and apps to get you started on securing your financial future.”
Grad Money Matters

Bottoms up! “And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works.” (taxes explained via beer)
Fabulously Broke 

Do’s & Don’ts! “Maybe that’s the thing. Maybe I’m a weirdo, and everyone else starts blogging so that NO ONE will ever read what they have to say. And if that’s the case, I’ll give you 10 ways to make sure you never gain a single reader, other than maybe your mom. Or the crazy stalker that’s trying to hunt you down and steal locks of your hair to make a voodoo doll.”
So Over Debt

13 Stats! Women & Finances – Educate yourself! 🙂
Smart Money Chicks

You can do it! “Six months ago today, I started blogging (again) at Blonde on a Budget. My first post was one of the toughest I have ever written, but I was right about one thing: the feeling of being maxed out is something I will never forget.”
Blonde on  a Budget

Bucket List! Really makes you think, what’s on your financial bucket list?
Fabulously Fru-girl

Cooking for One [2,3,…]

Many times, cooking for many is a great thing. You make more, the ingredients are cheaper (or you use all of them before they go bad), and you’ll probably have leftovers. You get great company, and then you can hang out and enjoy yourselves like you’re on a fast track to a laugh track.

If I'm lucky, I get to be Kramer.

So…I think this assumes that you and those you hang out with eat the same thing. No. That never happens. Ever. (okay sometimes, if you’re lucky) So here’s the rundown with my roommates/bf:

  • bf – Does not eat vegetables, Indian food, Greek food, onions, and doesn’t care for steak (& other red meat)
  • roommate #1 – eats everything in the world. twice.
  • roommate #2 – eats lunchables and Greek food
  • roommate #3 – won’t eat it unless it says organic or fat-free

Because the roommates have meal plans, I primarily stick with bf when it comes to meal planning. This is simple sometimes, like when we go to a restaurant or buy our own meals (Spaghetti-Os & Franks v. New England Clam Chowder), but other times…it’s hard. Especially the no onions/vegetables part. So is eating together even more expensive? Sometimes. But what it means is that over the course of the last four years, we’ve discovered some “No-Fail” couple dinners for picky eaters that are also frugal:

  1. Tacos– Super simple. 1lb of ground beef (or turkey if you’re into that). 1 pack of shells with seasoning. Cheese for him, tomatos/lettuce/onions for her, and Voila! It’s assemble your own to high heaven. Plus, you can totally put the leftovers away and have taco salad for lunch the next day!

    Unrelated, but I can't get over how gross this looks. Thoughts?

  2. Homemade Chicken Soup – made this recipe up yesterday (we’ve both been sick, so it seemed appropriate). I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen him go back for thirds on anything I’ve cooked. Essentially: boiled 2 chicken thighs for an hour in water with garlic and hot sauce. Took ’em out, deboned them. Added the meat and a container of 99% fat free chicken stock to the pot (after pouring out the water) and added fresh water (to kind of keep it from being too chicken-y). Brought to a boil. Added Tony’s, garlic powder, hot sauce, black pepper, salt, and 2 pats of butter. Poured in a ton of those No Yolk noodles (as long as they’re covered by stock/water, it doesn’t matter how many). Boiled it for 12 minutes and done! I cooked a container of onions/veggies separately to add to my bowl. It cost approximately $7 to make, and will last for at least 2 days for both of us ($2 noodles, $3 chicken, $2 chicken stock).
  3. Crack Dip – Okay, this one isn’t so frugal…rehab is getting expensive… 😛 Just kidding. It’s a recipe he found. Apparently it’s “crack dip” because it’s so addictive. It is a little more to make (honestly probably about $15 total), but it’ll last 2-3 days for ~3 people. It’s essentially buffalo chicken dip. I’d suggest going with the last update of the recipe and not even touching any sauce that isn’t buffalo (none of that hot barbecue sauce). Recipe.

    Yummy hands! I mean, dip! It's with crackers here, but I use tortilla chips (better).

  4. Croissant Sandwiches – There’s probably a better name for this, but I don’t know it. You basically take a can of croissants, a pack of lunch meat (preferably chicken – in case you can’t tell, we’re chicken people), and cheese (we like sliced & Swiss). You unwrap the croissants and rewrap them around the lunch meat and cheese, and then throw ’em on a cookie sheet. Bake ’em for the suggested amount of time on the croissants and then you have a bunch of “sandwiches.” They’re really good, but this, of all of them, will make you feel like your life may end soon if you eat too many. Cost: $2 croissants, $2 cheese (will have leftovers), $3 lunchmeat (will have leftovers). Total cost for this: $5 (not including what you have leftover of course!)

If you try any of these, let me know what you think! And feel free to share recipes that don’t require an arm, a leg, and a pound of truffles! This pretty much boils down to that when you spend a lot of time with people, you can gauge what they will and won’t eat, and from that you can come up with frugal, not so frugal, but always delicious recipes that will satiate both of you and answer that age-old question of “so what do you want to eat tonight?”

Wishlist – December 2011

December 2011 Wishlist

  • Kindle Fire: Books, web-browsing, Netflix, Hulu, Android Aps…at $200…I’m in love. Maybe Santa will see that I’ve been pretty okay this year? Maybe? Or maybe a sale…
  • Electric Kettle: I’ve been drinking a lot more tea lately, and it gets tiring to microwave it cup by cup (I never drink it fast enough to brew an entire pitcher – I have a teacup with a strainer in it). I had an electric kettle in Canada, which was pretty handy.
  • Graduate: I know this isn’t really a “thing,” but I am so ready for May 19, 2012.
  • Boots: I’d like a good pair of brown boots (I really dig flat boots, but they’re kind of hard to find).
  • Puppy: Look how cute! I want a puppy (although A. My apartment complex will not allow it and B. I cannot afford it right now).

This is actually one of my shorter lists haha! I actually don’t have too many things on my want list. I got my bicycle for my birthday (one of my big wants). The more I read the news, the more I read magazines, and the more I see of what the world lacks, the less I want. Not only does it make me feel guilty to want more-more-more, but I live a little more simply now, which I guess makes my needs smaller. I suppose I could have added knitting needles (maybe in January). I’m pretty loaded on projects already!!!

-L.