January 2013 Recap

So January is officially over. We are 8% of the way through the year already! How did that even happen??? So I started the year with a lot of goals, and I’m going to be doing a little wrap-up of progress on each so that I stay on track, or at least am aware I’m not doing it (which to be honest is more of a problem than just not wanting to).

physically fit

  1. I know every penny I spent this month (I even went in and split transactions where needed and wrote in what I spent cash on – I feel fancy!)
  2. I created a standardized budget to use from February on that I think will work for me!
  3. I paid my roommate $700 of the $730 I owe him

physically ffit

  1. I’ve been working out 2-3 times a week (yoga, jogging/walking 4 miles/Wii Fit)
  2. I lost 11 lbs total this month! (1/1/13: 199; 1/31/13: 188)

pphysically ffit

  1. I found a way to finish my psychology minor that will cost me approximately $225 less in tuition/fees (if approved). I can take the last class as an independent/distance learning course on my own time for $445 versus at the university for $678.
  2. I read two and a half books this month! I know that should have been a higher number, but c’est la vie! I was thinking of adding a books page to do brief reviews…
    01/17 – The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
    01/24 – The Stranger by Albert Camus
    Current – The Great Gatsby by Scott F. Fitzgerald

I’d say it was a pretty successful month goal-wise. I know there’s tons more to do, but a lot of things (e.g. having an EF, saving for things) take time.

But what about my budget? 

I would say it’s not as awful as it could have been, but I could have done better. BUT, this month I tried to be very cognizant of every penny I spent. I have to be in February – my car insurance is due before my first paycheck of March >:| (which I suppose I want to work up from living paycheck to paycheck anyway, right?)

jan

Total Income: $1071.69 & Total Spent: $1273.94 for net spending of -$202.25.

Whomp Whomp Whomp. 

  • Rent – $700 – I now only owe my roommate February’s rent + $30. Yay! [I’m not one of those people who spent all their money on frivolous things and then went “Oh well no rent for you!” My parents sort of pigeon-holed me into having to go to school last semester and it was tuition or rent. Luckily I live with my best friend who was super understanding and knew I was working and trusted that I would pay him back, which I am]. 
  • Groceries – $191.05 – This is pretty much ridiculous. I group eating out into this as well, which is why it’s this high (I know some people have separate budgets, but I think food is food).
  • Auto – $68.71 – This is for gas to go to work, to visit my parents/brother once (about a 120 mile drive), and oil to change my oil
  • Electricity – $65.62 – Pretty normal and self-explanatory. My roommate and I keep a giant Excel spreadsheet. I pay the electric bill in full (it’s in my name) and he takes his portion out of the rent I owe (the lease is in his name)
  • Discover – $228.59 – This is payment to my card (plus $28.59 in interest that they charged at the end of the month that ended up overdrafting my card. I completely forgot that was even a thing). Lot of good putting money on it did me.
  • Miscellaneous – $46.99 – This would be getting a new license (lost my wallet in December), lotion, payment protection fee from Discover, and a trip to Goodwill

Reflection: 

So how could I have not overspent this month? Well. For one I could have not eaten out as much. I could have also cancelled the payment protection fee (which I keep meaning to do but it’s hard to find where on the website and I really don’t want to call (is it worth $17 to call? Probably)). I could have not gone home until February. Those three things alone would have probably kept me in the black for this month. This is better than other months (like where I overspent by almost $600 in December), but I just have to keep striving to be better.

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Hidden Tools: Labor Market Information

Just in advance, I’m pretty sure this post will be useless to any non-US readers as far as applicable information, but if you’re still curious as to what I do to bring in the metaphorical bacon #toopoorforbacon, carry on.

So some background information: What do I do? Well, I design courses for different subjects dealing with employment for the state. This includes stuff like safety, being a good supervisor, how to use a procurement card, etc. The most recent project I’ve been assigned involves Labor Market Information. As I sat there during the client’s presentation, I was in awe and wonder at the sheer amount of information that was available to literally anyone with internet access. Statistics and projections for virtually any occupation in any industry for the next ten years, wages of those same statistics and projections, education levels required, whether it’s declining or hot stuff.

PIxQR

I am going to be developing scenarios for different users. The example the client gave was a high schooler using the search tool to find out what specific industry would pay the most for the skill set he wishes to possess (e.g. “I’m interested in construction, which area of industry uses that occupation? Which ones pay the most?”), because to be honest, we’re all about that money right?

I suppose it just got me to thinking about tools and statistics that are out there for employment that are underused because of general lack of awareness, and how I could use that since I haven’t graduated into the official workforce yet. I literally spent hours just flipping through different careers and different areas of growth. It’s a great way to see what the job market will be for what you want to do in your region. If you are interested, peruse some of the data of your state’s Labor Market Information area. It’s really eye-opening, and every state’s is different.

Do y’all know of any underutilized, “hidden tools” that are out there for employment?

Volunteering: Long-Distance

One of my major new year resolutions this year was to volunteer a minimum of once a week. Because some weeks do not lend themselves to going out & walking dogs, I decided that I could do online volunteering…during whatever busy week the future might hold. Well, that week turned out to be this one. I have been at a business conference for a corporation that is being held in Boulder, CO (~1300 miles away) since Monday & won’t leave until tomorrow, leaving little time for in-person volunteering. So how could I help out some initiative via online methods?

True Story

Thanks to Erin (@dogatemywallet), I now have a resource! You must create a profile and set your interests (so that they can better recommend opportunities), but there are no charges or minimum requirements (i.e. you aren’t required to do X events a month). They show needs for data entry, web design, logo design, brain-storming, & a plethora of other opportunities. From my experience with it these last few days, many of the people looking for help are nonprofit organizations who may not have the resources to hire someone. I first suggested a name for an organization (not chosen) & then  moved to an ambitious transfer of a smaller website over to wordpress. I’m still working on it, but it’s proven to be a little more than I thought it would; however, through doing these things, I am helping a non-profit & completing my New Year Resolution.

So if part of your new year resolutions or even just general lifestyle lends to this type of action (or if you want to give back but are really busy), check out Sparked! I’m going to be looking for other online resources as well, but this is a great starting point.

January 2012 Budget

Walking in a Winter Wonderland of Debt Repayment

I’m both intimidated & excited by the amount of spending present here. The former because I’m afraid my income for Jan ’12 will not be sufficient and the latter because the spending primarily consists of EF-building & debt repayment. I anticipate an income of ~$90 from my job at the end of the month, & ~$100 from baby-sitting for bf’s nieces. This leaves me with ~$525 to pay (of $715). I am not sure what the stipend for my new job looks like; we have training relatively soon that will tell me. If it is not sufficient, to the plasma/consignment shop I go! Because I’m a little worried about being able to afford it,  I have my budget items ranked by importance 🙂 I know this isn’t how a budget traditionally functions; however, although all of these items are important, not all of them are urgent, and I have to keep that in mind.

  1. $195GRE Testing Fees – Taking this in January; honestly, it will probably get put in the credit card & then this money will get added to my credit card payment. This also includes my fee to apply for graduate school (in my mind the 2 fees are so tied together they’re one).
  2. $150Credit Card Payments – To lower my carrying balance to $1000. Goal is to have it to zero by May ’12. APR is 0% right now, so all should be good 🙂
  3. $150Savings Deposit – Part of my goal to bring EF up to $2000 by the end of ’12
  4. $60Food & Dining – Way lower because I have a meal plan this semester!
  5. $140Student Loan Interest – This is ~14% of the interest I currently owe + how much interest is accrued per month (so that it doesn’t accrue half of what I pay again).
  6. $20Hobbies – This is to pay for a deal at Yoga Bliss that aligns with one of my 10 New Year Resolutions; it’s a 10 sessions for $20 within 30 days. I am not sure what the timeline of the deal is (by when it should be purchased), so this could potentially be pushed back to February or even March (or never & I could just pay the cost up front later, but I’d rather not).