Grocery Lists ($100,026)*

As I had hoped, I limited myself to 4 (okay really 5) trips to the grocery store this month, going only once a week. The first three times I brought a list with me, and only bought things on the list (admittedly, one of those things was often “snacky thing for work”). I spent about $75 each time, including the time I stocked up on paper towels. On Saturday I made a semi-planned stop at Whole Foods–I was by my old apartment an hour and a half away, and there is one right there. I had planned on stopping at the one closer to my house, but since we were there…long story short I like their California rolls (the closest I’m likely ever getting to liking sushi), and they make them fresh in the store unlike the WF by me. So in addition to my intended purchase of bags and bags of frozen strawberries, I bought some sushi dinner.

My last grocery trip of the month was on Monday night. I had a lot going on this weekend and was unable to plan for a real grocery shopping. In desperation (needing bananas to go in my smoothie with all those strawberries), I stopped sans list…and spent $100. I still looked at the circular in advance during the day, but there was no real meal planning.

The good news is I’m exactly at my $300 budget for groceries this month, and won’t be stopping again until at least Saturday. Hopefully I’ll be a little under budget in February.

* One small complaint: this includes both the vested and unvested portions of my 401(k)–I’d prefer to only see the vested, and am debating whether I should remove it from Mint entirely.

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Five Figures!

My net worth shows on Mint as ($100,286), but the over $300 in my 401(k) has registered yet–so that puts me in the five figures (negative)!

Admittedly, when I pay beginning of the month bills, go food shopping and get charged daily interest on student loans it will bring me right back over again, but I’ll take this small victory while I can. Hopefully in another month or so this change will be permanent–at least until April 15 when I have to file my taxes.

My paycheck reflected almost all of my deductions this time. This included my 401(k), health, dental and vision insurance, and HSA savings. The only thing it didn’t include was my commuter deductions, but I knew I’d miss the cutoff for getting my February pass because my first paycheck was too late in the month. My total take home in my main bank account was about $100 more than my old “full” 80 hour paycheck used to be–and will end up being a little less once my commuter deductions are through, and I’ll have a separate (non-taxed) account from which to buy my pass and pay for parking when needed.

It will still be a few months before I’m comfortable saying that I’m completely out of the negative sox figures, but for now I’ll enjoy my first glimpse into it!

Debt Progress – January

I tried to make a new page that I could update on a monthly basis with my debt progress but, while I could figure out how to make the page, I couldn’t figure out how to make it show up on my blog.  So I guess in addition to my monthly spending recap, I’ll post a monthly debt progress. Here’s what I have so far:

The Pretty Bar Graph:

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The Hard Numbers:

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My debt is down over $3,500 since September 1st–should be even better in February!

Taxes–The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat ($101,980)

Since I started posting my net worth it’s gone up by about $7,000–decent?

Actual purpose of this post: back in the day, when I was a more responsible blogger/frequent poster, I mentioned the hit I took on taxes last year, and the hit I expected to take this year. Lo and behold I received my second W-2 yesterday, so I input both of them, so I’d know how much I’d need to start squirreling away over the next three months–I expected the damage to be about $3,000+. Survey TurboTax says… Under $2,000!

Paying at all is admittedly not exciting, but I suppose I’m glad I didn’t give the government a tax free loan all year? I did give such loans to two states, so I’ll be getting back around $600. Net damage under $1,500? I’ll take it. Heck, I have that in my bank account now.

Not all news is good news though. With all my debt paydown efforts, three 1098s (I think there’s one more out there) indicate I’ve paid $5,030 in interest this year. It’s good to know that this number will be smaller this year, as more and more of my payments go to principal each month (see here…), but it’s still a disheartening small number. But here’s the most disheartening part:

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So yeah…

No Net Worth Today…

I don’t have a net worth update tonight.  My loan is showing up as paid, but I don’t think the money is out of my account yet, and a very large credit card charge hasn’t reared its ugly head yet.  And I’m too tired (and it’s too close to my bed time) for me to make the necessary mental adjustments. 

I don’t have much to say tonight, but I don’t get to post from a computer as often as I’d like, which means less opportunities for pretty Mint.com pictures.

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I’m so very happy with my month so far–hopefully that isn’t spoken too soon.  I’m over my $0 budget on coffee shops this month–I went to Dunkin prior to a house thing, to the tune of $5 and change.  Not a life ender or a budget killer for that matter.  I haven’t made $1,200 in planned student loan payments yet–I believe one is pending for tomorrow and the other for Wednesday.  There’s one more for tomorrow that kills my second undergraduate loan. This is already showing up as paid in my loan tracking, but not in my bank account.  That bit is a little over $600.  Moral of the story:  I expect “education” to take up 75% of the pie by month-end. (Here’s the educational lesson kids, don’t take out loans to go to law school)

There’s a lot of spending here on “health and fitness.”  I don’t have new insurance cards yet, and instead of getting harassed when my old insurance backdates its cancellation, I told the man at the Consumer Value Store to treat it as though I didn’t have insurance.  It took him a really long time to understand this concept. So once I get the new insurance information I’ll be the one doing the harassing, about getting reimbursed.

Things are going swimmingly on the food front.  I have a two leftover mac and cheese meals, and three chicken stew meals in the fridge.  I’m planning on work lunch (maybe paid for, maybe not) on Tuesday and going out for trivia with the manfriend on Tuesday and Wednesday.  But so far I’ve spent $0 in my Restaurants and Alcohol/Bars budgets, so I should still be within budget after the week.  I’m hoping to bring plenty of snacks and food with me for my commute home, so I don’t feel the need to order a full meal while we’re at trivia. We’ve got more dinner plans on Monday, but that’s to use a long-held gift card.  (Free food!)  So far I’ve spent less than $130 on groceries this month.  I will be buying more milk from Cumbies on my way home tomorrow, but other than that I’m holding strong to my once-a-week grocery shopping commitment.

I’m too tired for further thought tonight.  If only I could find a way to be too tired to spend money.  Good night all, and happy budgeting!

Good News/Bad News ($101,050)*

* First, I should preface that my net worth here is a guesstimate–I have a $585 credit card charge that hasn’t posted yet, and it feels disingenuous to exclude it. It would be a different story if it was $50, but it’s not. The charge is for my sister’s baby shower, and almost exactly offsets the extra paycheck for working four short days as a temp.

Next, the bad news: none of my discretionary deductions came out of my first paycheck at the official job. This means no 401(k) contribution (yet) so that account will stay at $0. It’s also means no money in my HSA, and potential for additional catch-up deductions in my next paycheck. I hate how long it’s taken to get everything set up here.

Now for the good news: my paycheck was about $400 more than I was hoping it would be with all my planned-for deductions. What to do with that extra money…? PAY OFF UG2! I scheduled a payment for Monday for $638, which should kill that loan, and leave me with a measly 7 student loans open! I’m really hoping that clearing this amount out of my bank account will mean less wasteful spending for the rest of the month.

What do you do with extra money when you don’t have debt?

Groceries and Gas ($103,023)

I feel very accomplished this morning!
Yesterday, the man and I had a meeting to attend at 11. Before we left the house I attempted to look at the Stop&Shop circular, see what was on sale, and write a grocery list. I decided to make meatloaf and potatoes for dinner, and some quesadillas to keep in my freezer. I made a list of all of the ingredients I would need, and–here’s the key part–actually checked to see what I already had in my cupboards! I am usually pretty terrible at this, and because we had to rush out of the house I wasn’t as disciplined with checking what I have for lunch supplies, but this is a start.

Two things about the Stop&Shop circular: 1) it had a coupon–get 300 additional gas points if you spend $50. 2) it had a special where if you bought five items in a group, you’d get another 400 has points. Most of the items were expensive ($10 face wash? Not today.), but one item had dual benefits of being really cheap and being something I need often/is non-perishable. So I stocked up, and saved $0.70 a gallon when I went to the gas station right outside the store. Did I mention my gas light was on, and I saved over $9? Planning victory!

I did buy extra salad dressing, which I apparently didn’t need, and one item I forgot to put on the list but did intend to get. But I really only made one impulse purchase–paper towels that were on sale to ensure we made it over the $50 minimum for the gas points. And I would have needed those soon anyway.

I’ve been reading a kindle book (from the library) about how to save money on groceries. Checking the various circulars was one major point they made, as well as planning with a list. They also talk a lot about minimizing the number of times you go to the grocery store. I’m going to try to make it without going for the rest of the week–we’ll see how strong my willpower is.

Lastly, I’ve been complaining a lot lately about the messy state of my apartment. I basically have a full apartment worth of stuff jammed into my two room apartment. So the man helped me clean and organize my room on Saturday. It took all day, but all of my closets are organized and the room itself is neat. The bathroom is next on his list (at any given time I have about five different shampoos in my shower, and another few in the linen closet), then the kitchen/living room. Organizing the food is his main priority out there–which will hopefully make shopping my kitchen easier, and save me even more money. This doesn’t mean I won’t complain the whole time.

I haven’t gotten through the whole book yet, but I’d love to hear creative ways to save on food. The more ideas I have, the better!