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.


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:

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 7.39.09 PM

The Hard Numbers:

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 7.39.22 PM

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:

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 9.53.50 PM

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 pictures.


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!

Working (?) From Home ($102,535)

I’ll be working from home today*. Because the roads around my house don’t appear to be plowed, and it took me FIVE HOURS to get to my train station last night (and another 30 minutes for the drive home from the train station, but that time was completely reasonable).  The drive home would probably have been a little easier if I had done it at 6:00 like I was scheduled to, and not 9:00 since it actually started snowing again in that time.  Anyway, the train website says trains are delayed 15-20 minutes today…and since that’s what it said for most of last night I’m not trusting those jackals.

I did get some good news when I arrived at the train station last night though–apparently parking will remain free for another six months!  I’ll update my budget when I get some kind of reliable confirmation that this is, in fact, the case, but hooray for continuing to save $80 a month!  Hopefully they’ll keep this going for as long as I live two hours (not five, but two) from my job.

I paid $1,000 or so on UG2, my smallest remaining loan.  It’s down to $636!  So next month that will be wiped out on schedule.  I do need to start saving for tax time, as well as putting money away generally this month.  According to my paydown calculator, UG3 is scheduled to be paid off in June.  This does not account for (1) the fact that I’m now making more money, or (2) the fact that May has three paydays, so my goal is for UG3 to be gone in the beginning of May.  I’m not sure if I threw this out there before, but my calculator projects UG4 to be paid in October and UG5 in March 2015–my goal is for all of these bad boys to be paid in 2014. If I tackle my highest-rate, highest balance federal loans next I’d be concentrating on them from April 2015 to July 2018–that’s a long time with no payoffs.  Serious sad face.

Lastly, I updated my Law School loans, that don’t feed into Mint. Hence the increase in net worth.  I had been carrying them at ($22,900), but moved them up to ($22,000) since I got just under this number before the year ended.  Like I alluded to above, I think I might save these two for last since they have a lower interest rate than the federal loans.

I’m off to nap for a half hour before I have to start getting to work. 

* Don’t worry–I’m not blogging while I should be working–I don’t generally start for another hour or so.

December Recap! ($103,396)

Ugh!  I did an extraordinarily bad job budgeting this month. Or, rather, staying within said budget.  Here’s my spending breakdown from the month (ALL THE PRETTY COLORS!):


Education and Fees & Charges are (rightfully) big chunks of this not-so-tasty pie, but they should account for over half–they don’t.  I spent a tiny bit less on principal and a tiny bit more on interest this month–should just be reflective of when the payment was made in the month (I wish I got paid semi-monthly instead of bi-weekly, so these could always be the same):

Principal Payments:


Interest Payments:


That makes “Shopping”, “Kids”, “Personal Care” “Auto and Transport” and “Other” the big spending categories.  Some of the shopping was Christmas presents, but, um, not most of it.  I bought $160 Uggs at the beginning of the month (I love them, but I don’t know if I love them $160 worth), and about $150 at Old Navy that was for myself.  Damn you Black Friday.  Toward the end of the month I spent $325 on eBay–I bought two purses to celebrate the new job.  I’m also thinking about buying a Spin bike, but if that’s all I do for celebratory purchases, and don’t inflate my lifestyle too much, I’ll consider this a victory.

I spent $600 at Babies R Us.  The stroller and pack-and-play my sister registered for were both on sale, and didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to save over $200 (again–Damn you Black Friday!).  I would have spent this money (and more on the shower and smaller baby gifts) eventually, but wasn’t planning for it in December.

The $120 on getting my hair did [BLONDER — and way shorter] was planned, but sadly fell in with a month of crazy spending.

I spent way more on parking than usual this month–for two reasons.  Reason numero uno:  bought a book of five parking passes for $100 at the new work building.  Because $20 a day in the city is a bargain when I need to drive in.  See: the day I spent $35 on parking when I went in late for a doctor’s appointment last month. I also went out to watch a football game with a friend on Sunday and spent $40 on parking.  I hadn’t seen her in a while, and I’d cancelled on her the previous weekend–but if I’d realized I’d have to spend $40 to park initially, I wouldn’t have made that plan. Lesson learned.

Most of the transactions in the $500 or so in “Other” were planned: life insurance, credit report, phone, (2) TiVo.  It also includes about $80 in Christmas presents…for my dog.  And a doctor’s visit co-pay.  Lastly, it includes $120 at staples, $80 of which is for the biggest piece of crap filing cabinet on the planet. Which is getting returned.

So the budget page looks something like this:


This actually doesn’t even capture the “Everything Else” category, which is over by about $1,400… Yeah. Though a small point in my defense: about $200 of my food and other random costs were reimbursed from job two.

January should bring more income and–hopefully–less irresponsible spending on my part.  To be continued I guess.