Budget Bust ($103,729)

I CANNOT WAIT until this month is over. Did I even have a budget? Am I sure?

I’m over budget this month by about $800, and I just scheduled a $500 loan payment which will mean I’m over by $1,300 when the month ends. Yikes. I know some of this was Christmas expenses, but I also spent quite a bit on myself this month. I’m bidding on a purse on eBay too–my max bid is about $100 more than my current bid and I’m pretty sure my boyfriend judged me when he saw, but I have had my current tote since…2007? So I can certainly justify a new one (err…2). I can’t wait until January so the slate can be wiped relatively clean.

I have hoping to stalk eBay for some suit finds–I’ve been wearing a lot of dresses which are more casual than I’d like–I need some pant suits to get me through the winter. More spending.

On a happy note, Christmas yielded $100+ in Starbucks cards. I’m planning on buying some more coffee from amazon in January in the hopes that I can make this last–instead of falling back into the daily Starbucks routine.

The “new” job pays me every two weeks–one day after I’m currently getting paid. Because it’s salaried, I also think there’s no lag in payment–I get paid on Friday for working up to and including Friday. I’ll also get a small paycheck on the 9th as my final paycheck in the “old” job. Hopefully that additional smallish paycheck will mean more saving/loan payments in January.

I’ll be making more money, but I’m looking to put 12% into my 401(k)–to maximize the match. As much as this sucks from a debt paydown perspective, it’s not money that I currently have, so I hope to not miss it too much. I guess we’ll see.

A Christmas Miracle! ($104,496)

On Friday I went into work like any other day. My boss’ boss asked her to come over for a brief conversation. After a few minutes she asked me to join them. All of the fancy budget/staffing meeting for 2014 aren’t happening until at least the middle of next month, so I thought they might tell me I had no shot at a full time position, and they wanted to let me know now, instead of hearing about down the line.

Instead I was informed that HR would be contacting me, as there is a rush to hire me before year end. I assume if I get in before 2014 it requires less approval or something? Either way, I am elated! So I fill out my official application, and get to work on my background check stuff before I leave, and today I got the word on my proposed title (which I’m very happy with) and salary (which I’d like to negotiate a little). So when I get home I’ll be doing some research on comparable positions and salaries.

This means a definite end point to my second job (I’m thinking one more school year), and more money to put toward my debt in the next year. It also means the awesome things that many of my friends take for granted like vacation and holiday pay, better medical and dental insurance, life insurance, etc. I’m even excited about having my transportation expenses taken out of my paycheck pre-tax! I don’t care if that’s really dorky!

It probably also means a fancy new purse. And, slightly more responsibly, UG2 and UG3 paid off in April.

Is it weird that I think I’m being rewarded because I’ve been more responsible with my money lately? Because I kinda feel that way.

Glee! ($104,392)

Not like the TV show…but like wicked happiness!

I realized when checking to see if they posted my payment, that my “Law School Loans” (one from the school and one a Perkins loan, both through one servicer) had a balance of $22,025 or so.  That’s so close to a total of $5,000 paid off on those loans in two years!  So I scheduled a payment for the 20th (I can only schedule payments on four certain days of the month–I can do an immediate payment but it means paying a processing fee).  I’ve been carrying this one as $22,900 on Mint.com, but on the first of the year I’ll move it over to $22,000 and start anew.  Part of me thinks $5,000 is a lot, but I also realize I have about 8 more years in my payment plan if I were paying only the minimum. I also have to consider that this is only one of my servicers.  If I paid another $2,500 off in 2014 on this loan alone, $6,000 on another, and $9,000 on the last set…holy crap, that’s $17,500!

I’ve got about $110,000 in debt going into the new year.  How much can I pay off in 2014?  What’s realistic?  What’s a reachable stretch goal?  This is all dependent on whether I get an official full time job, and if so, when?  If I’m concentrating 100% on debt payoff in 2014, I think a decent goal would be to get under $90,000–hopefully I’ll start seeing bigger chunks of the same payments going toward principal instead of wasteful interest.  My goal may change based upon my living situation, but the net worth I’m targeting should be about the same (around ($85,000)).

Hopefully this milestone will help me stay relatively on track for the rest of December!  Bring on the Christmas money!

De-Motivated ($104,234)

I’m not sure if I’ve been slacking on posting because I’ve been slacking on my budget, or if I’ve been slacking on my budget because I’ve been slacking on posting. We have a classic “chicken or the egg” situation here.

This month I spend almost $600 on non-Christmas gifts.  All in baby gifts for my future nephew.  It’s money that I would have spent eventually, though I probably shouldn’t have spent it right now. I got an email that they had some things 50% off, and I figured I’d check the registry to see if there was anything there on crazy sale, and I got over $100 off on one of the big items they registered for, something to go with it, and another registry item that was on sale.  

I’ve also been doing more spending than usual on myself.  I don’t know if this means I have to be less stingy in other months to prevent myself from large chunks of purchasing a month or two down the road, or if I should plan for quarterly or semi-annual clothing splurges.  Most of what I bought is clothing that can be worn to work–which I do need more of–along with a needed scarf for myself and some gifts for the boy.  I’m a little nervous about the gift giving thing.  I’m worried my gifts are too practical and come off as less “thoughtful,” and that he’s going to come up with something super sweet that I can’t match with “Here’s some socks I got you.”

I’ve done virtually no food shopping for myself this month.  So far I’ve managed to avoid spending money on lunches, but I haven’t been able to avoid the delicious pretzel cart, and I’ve bought coffee more times than I’d like to share.  I did spend $100 on an ice cream party, along with several other purchases that are reimbursable, so I’ll be depositing that $200 check today.  Christmas related expenses I still have are: one more small gift for the boy, some stocking stuffers, money for my parents’ presents from me and my sister, and some Christmas gathering food.

The good news is that with all this money going out, I have had some carry-over in my checking account from being so disciplined in prior months.  So I’m hoping I can still send my usual amount to my federal student loan (even though it routinely says I have nothing due).  Though I have spent a lot of money, I only have another $100 or so in fixed expenses yet to be charged for the month–I just have to be disciplined about not spending on needless food purchases.

The bad news: I’ve spend $3,428 so far this month, with a budget of $3,935.  That’s without a $300 student loan payment posting (I’m guessing on Monday), and includes the spending I was reimbursed.  Doesn’t leave much more room for the above spending, or unavoidable purchases like food (at the grocery store, and not from the pretzel card), so that savings that is hoped for each month won’t be happening this month.

This week has been really crazy for my second job, with the semester ending and some related and unrelated issues.  But all of that ail be completely over on Saturday, so hopefully I’ll get some rest in the four weeks I have off.  I’m hoping this will also mean more time for cleaning my apartment and cooking meals in advance, but we’ll see how that goes.

All-Around Slacking ($103,921)

I’ve been slacking on the posting and I’ve been slacking on the budget.  This weekend I bought myself dinner on Friday (2 for 1 calzones for me and my boyfriend) and Chinese food last night. The good news is that the Chinese food adventure yielded leftovers which I’ll be having for lunch tomorrow.  The bad news is I’ve pretty much slacked on every other money-based avenue so far this month.  Two purchased lunches, numerous purchased snacks.  Did a very small Whole Foods shopping tonight, but that isn’t a full grocery shop–basically I just picked up $16 worth of smoothie ingredients.

My second job has been a huge time and energy and emotional drain in the past few weeks, particularly this past week.  I have to do some coordination for next semester, as well as deal with some personal student issues.  I also had two three-hour commutes this week.  Basically I’ve been in no mood to food shop or be a general member of society (seriously, boyfriend and I watched almost the entire first season of 30 Rock on my couch yesterday–I regret nothing).  I have an ice cream party planned for tomorrow which I am ill-prepared for. Normally I just get the ice cream the night of, and get the other supplies in advance.  Because I’ll be in a rush to get home, that means no grocery shopping for myself tomorrow.  I also need to find a time to go to the mall…I need to go to one of those Christmas type stores where they have ornaments and stockings, because I’m doing an ornament exchange, and need to get a stocking for the man [Note to self:  write post about the expensiveness of having a boyfriend].  I did buy him two smallish Christmas gifts that I think he’ll like, and know the last gift thing I’m getting him, so then I’ll just have his stocking to take care of.  I haven’t even thought about gifts for my parents, aside from setting money aside in the budget for it.  I guess I’ll call my sister on this at some point this week.

Any creative topping ideas for my ice cream party? Besides Baileys?  Suggestions of favorite studying snacks? 

($103,299) But really like ($104,100)?

Why will my Monday purchases not post to my credit card?  

Yeah, that’s right, I spent a crap-ton of money on Monday.  On my credit card.  Okay, I did that last part for the points or rewards or whatever.  I’m trying to show activity on my credit cards–I have the money sitting in my account to pay the minute I get a statement.

So the credit card part is fine.  The actual spending itself? Eh.  I did get a small Christmas gift for my boyfriend, but mostly I bought Uggs for myself.  I justified this by telling myself that I’ve spent very little on myself in the last few months.  Really it means I have to be super vigilant about not buying lunch (oh hey, guess what I’m doing tomorrow?) and going out to dinner/need to be good about planning meals.  I do not look forward to this at all as I’ve been having an extremely blah week.  I’m a little sick, and I skipped coffee on Monday and Tuesday, both of which contributed to me practically falling asleep at my desk at work each day.  So I haven’t felt really productive, which makes me very uneasy, given I’m trying to show that my work warrants a full time position.  I know that I’m doing things, but I’m not always positive the things that I’m doing are adding value.  Basically it’s just stress that I’m not good enough, which is exacerbated by the temporary nature of my position.  Hopefully, I only have to worry about this temporary status for another month, but there are days when it really wears on me (“Hey are you going to this event” (that all employees were invited to) “Umm I’m not invited to that…”)

But hey! I just noticed that my total debt is under $110,000!  It will be back over once those charges post, but should be back under before the year is out. Small goal accomplished!

November Recap! ($103,196)

I can’t believe it’s December already!

November Spending Breakdown

Image Image

I spent a total of $3,742.66 last month.  I am pretty darn impressed with myself. A whopping $1,519.45 went to student loan PRINCIPAL payments.  I split all of my student loan payments into principal and interest.  All of the “Fees & Charges” in the ugly orange-ish slice of pie are student loan interest.  One set of loans doesn’t show this nicely, so it’s approximated based on the interest that was accrued in my last statement, but this set accrues the lowest interest anyway, so any inaccuracy isn’t affecting the total too much.

I’ll be interested to see how much this horrible interest amount changes as the months go on.  Hopefully paying extra on principal will help bring this number down!  I hate throwing away $700 a month!

I spent a lot on transportation this month.  This included purchasing a AAA membership.  My old car insurance had roadside assistance.  I reviewed my insurance paperwork and discovered that my current policy only appears to have towing with a $50 deductible.  So I’ll be removing that, and seeing what other discounts I can get with the AAA membership.  I was really hoping I could get a discount on my phone plan, but it looks like it only applies to new plans (Signing up for Sprint?  Get a AAA membership first–it could pay for itself).  The rest is my train pass – $335 – gas and insurance.  I did pretty decent with gas this month, and hopefully prices will continue to go down!  Only one more month of free parking at the more expensive train.  I’ll probably stick with it, even though it’s more expensive, because the gas savings are pretty significant.

I did well on damn near everything else this month.  I did some necessary work clothes shopping on eBay this month, and was very happy with my purchases, and especially the price I paid for them.  I don’t expect to do any more shopping for myself in December, but I might start creeping on some auctions again in January.

Here is the bar graph of my spending in the last six months.  My attempts to split my student loan payments into principal and interest in October were a big fail.  As a result my spending in October is extremely inaccurate, and should be ignored.

Image

But seriously, November was a small improvement over September, when I spent a total of $3,910–and that was only paying an extra $400 or so on one set of loans, as opposed to the $725 extra in November.  We’re just going to pretend July and August didn’t happen at all.

Not Eating Out!

I definitely have decreased the amount of money spent on food in the last two months, especially take-out/delivery/buying lunch.  For Thanksgiving, I visited my dad for breakfast in the morning, and had the turkey with my boyfriend’s family.  We (he) also made a turkey at my place yesterday so that I would have my own set of leftovers–which means I won’t be buying lunch or dinner, at least at the beginning of the week.  And really, I had no idea how to make a turkey, and now I have a better idea at least.  Mostly I know that if we ever have to host Thanksgiving, he has a pretty good idea what he’s doing.

Did you all have a good Thanksgiving?  Any suggestions for how to avoid breaking the bank on the December holidays?