Halfway to Payday ($106,095)

I’m halfway to another payday.  I feel like as the month ended I thought “where did all that extra paycheck money go?”  Turns out, I think it’s still in my checking account.  I moved over about $375 to my savings account at the beginning of the month–maybe I should have moved more?

I had to pay for parking today, which was unfortunate.  The good news is that I wasn’t as late to work as I thought I might be today, and when I got out of my doctor’s appointment I realized that I’d be taking the same train whether I went to my old train station, or if I went to one slightly more towards the city.  The farther station would have meant more gas money and more traffic on the way home.  Going to my old train station also meant cheap gas!  I wasn’t really in need of a fill up, but gas there is about 30 cents cheaper than gas near my house, so if I’m in the area I take full advantage.

I made a genius decision, which thus far has been notsomuch genius.  I had this brilliant idea to split up my loan payments on Mint into principal and interest payments, this way i can eventually graph how my interest payments are going down, and see that the same payment is having more impact.  Whatever I did, I ended up doing something to my payments to make it seem like they were money coming in and not money going out.  Wouldn’t that be nice.  Anyway, what I eventually ended up doing was making a new category in Fees and Charges for student loan interest, and when I make my payments I’ll split them between this new category and the Education/Student Loan category I had been using. The bad news is that whatever I did totally messed with October, and I’m past where I want to put effort into fixing it (especially since I already took the magical screenshot in my October recap post). Attempting to mess with the Mint website on my phone was also extremely frustrating, and train time is my main money obsessing time.  The good news is I think I’m now all set for November–I just have to wait until payday to put this plan into action by making more payments.  

Outgoing Cash:

Today I bought gas for cheap, and if I stay in my part of the state this weekend, I shouldn’t need to get gas at all next week.  I don’t have plans to do otherwise this weekend, but I might try to arrange some kind of bowling excursion with my sister the following weekend.  Bowling is cheap, right?  This week I’ve bought 0 lunches (and have sufficient food for lunch tomorrow), and 0 coffees (made my own Monday through Wednesday and, because I was going into work late, went without one today–GASP!)  In terms of monthly progress, I’m under budget so far on food (thought not by a lot, due to eating out on Saturday night), a little over on gas (but with a full tank), and shouldn’t spend more than a few bucks or less on movies/tv entertainment.  I also have decided to try not use my iTunes budget until the end of the month–if I need to squeeze somewhere it’s probably going to be there.

When I was in college I used to see how many days I could go in a semester without skipping a class.  I knew that once I skipped one, it was all downhill for the rest of the semester–such a dedicated student I was!  See!? We need a sarcasm font.  Anyway…I’m kind of seeing how much I can do of the same with coffee and lunch–I’ve only really been keeping track since Monday (though I know I didn’t buy either on Friday and maybe Thursday), but let’s see how far I can go.

Stronger?

Lastly, I attempted Day whatever of this plank challenge business.  We’re now increasing in 30 second increments.  This is not fair–30 seconds was like what we started with.  I tried today’s 3 minutes and 30 seconds this morning and went down at about 3:10.  But this is not the first time I’ve tried in the morning, and went back when I got home from work (or a party at 11:30pm) to try again, and each time I’ve made on the second (or third ) try. Tonight I lasted even longer than I needed thanks to some early 90s hip hop.  There’s some kind of lesson here. I think the lesson is that you’re more likely to succeed if you embrace your terrible taste in music.

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There is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch ($105,955)

I responsibly brought my lunch to work today, but it turns out it was someone’s last day in my department, so almost everyone was going out to lunch. I hit the ATM on the walk over, but when it was check time a company card came out. Sweet! The best part is I don’t have to take time tomorrow morning to make lunch because it’s already in the fridge at work. Actually the free lunch was the best part; this is the second best part.

I intended to return something at Walmart tonight after work, but I forgot it at home. “It” is two packs of light bulbs that I paid approximately $5 for. This is a negligible amount, but I feel like I frequently leave money on the table. I bought a dress as a possible wedding outfit, and didn’t get around to returning it until after the refund period. Now I have a paper merchandise credit for $25 that I probably won’t use before I misplace it. (And if I do use it, will I successfully spend only $25, or will I end up spending $50?). I also have a dress I bought on eBay that I could have returned, but never got around to packing it and taking it to the post office. So now if I want to recoup that money I have to re-list it or otherwise sell it myself. There’s another $25 I could have saved or put toward debt (or bought Wendy’s…I kid, I kid…kinda). Anyway, it’s not like I don’t pass the Walmart everyday, so I have an opportunity to try again tomorrow, but I’d like to be more conscious of these opportunities to avoid wasting money.

Monday Morning You Sure Look Fine ($105,916)

(I was shocked at how light out it was when I left the house this morning, and it’s put me in a good mood. I’m sure I won’t feel so great about it when it’s pitch black when I leave work.)

It looks like my foray into the $(105)s will be short-lived.

I went to dinner with my man friend on Saturday night, and spent a little over $30. I’m not upset about actually paying to go out to dinner, because 95 percent of the time I see him we just hang out on my couch. I think we’re both kind of good with that, but I know he wants to occasionally do date-like things.

On Sunday we went to Walmart where I ended up doing all of my food shopping. Total spent was $37 and change–and will feed me for the rest of the week (along with my leftover dinner). I then had a marathon cooking session, where I made cookies, shepherd’s pie for lunch and dinner this week, and budget bytes’ black bean quesadillas . I don’t know how accurate the spice prices are for where live (though Job Lot has a lot of spices cheap), but the quesadillas are super easy and cheap, and I made two batches to freeze for whenever I’m feeling too lazy to make something. I made a batch a month or two ago and it lasted about three days–there was a lot of laziness that week.

I’m also getting a $45 refund in my account this week. If I can couple two refunds with not buying food I might actually be able to stay under budget and save the $500+ I was hoping this month.

I haven’t written about much other than money, but I’ve done every day up to yesterday of this 30 day plank challenge. It is not easy, but I’m trying to stick to it. I went outside for something on Saturday and was amazed at how beautiful it was out, and thought “I should go for a run.” Now I haven’t actually made it to the running stage yet, but maybe if it’s nice again this weekend it will happen? I’m debating adding a campus gym membership, but I’m thinking I might just end up wasting my money–kind of the opposite of what I’m trying to do here. Sigh.

October Recap! ($105,805)

I’ve been blogging for like a month now.  Is that right?

October Recap

First, my Mint says that my net worth is in the ($104)s.  Sometimes my loan posts the payment before my checking account shows the money coming out, so it looks like I have more money than I do–in this case to the tune of my $975 payment.

Next things next: my spending for October.  This month includes a lot of money spent on personal care, including getting my hair did.  I also bought $30 worth of body wash (that I could only found online in a six-pack…so I won’t be needing to buy that again for another three years or so).  I also paid my bar dues. The “other” slice of the pie includes $100 in events for this month and October ($45 of which I better be getting a refund on), $35 in library late fees (since I did return my actual books on time, and I’m pretty much only borrowing Kindle books, I don’t expect to see another one of these any time soon), my $30 in freecreditreport and life insurance, $97 in phone bills, and about $40 in TV expenses (including two months of TiVo).

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Total auto expenses (gas, train pass, parking, and insurance) were $603 last month.  Hopefully October had more driving than November will, and gas prices will continue to go down (cross your fingers, toes and any other available appendages). The previous month was $737, but I think there’s even more room for improvement here.

I spent $392 on food!  Compared to $596 the previous month.  I think it’s probably actually a little more, if I were to properly categorize a few that Mint didn’t recognize, but that’s also probably true from September.  Either way–this is a SERIOUS improvement.

And now–the big daddy: $2,402 on student loans.  This included paying off Undergraduate Loan #1.  I definitely won’t match this figure in November, because I had an extra paycheck in October, but it should be at least $2,000 for the month.  My net worth has changed about $3,000 since a month ago.  It’s like I’ve spent more of my money on things that maintain my net worth (paying down loans), and less on throwaway meals.  Hooray!

Other Non-Recap Stuff!

I discovered a similar blog a little over a month ago, which is what got me going on blogging, and helped light a little bit of a fire under me saving/spending/debt-paying-wise.  This particular blog monitored her daily spending, and she also gave props to other bloggers that she was following.  I checked out a bunch of them and, unfortunately (for me) most of them weren’t really blogging anymore. I think for many of them it was because they had met their debt-paying goals (super awesome for them!).

I have since found a bunch of other blogs through just searching through wordpress, many of which I’ve started following (and poring through archives).  A lot of them I feel like I’m learning from, especially where I think the people are in similar situations as me.  I can’t really get behind a blog where the writer says “I’m $50,000 in debt…I used $40,000 in savings, and sold off my three extra cars and now I’m freeee!”  Awesome for them, but some of us don’t have extra cars or five figures in savings.  But for all of those who are slowing chipping away using only your salary and expense-cutting, keep on doing what you’re doing and blogging about your successes and setbacks–it’s helpful to know that there are others in the same boat as me.