A Change is Gonna Come ($94,990)

Decisions have been made.  Not all completely by me. I will be leaving my second job sometime this summer. This means I will need to start paying about $1,000 or more in rent and utilities.  This also means about $1,300 or so less money coming in each month…so I’m down about $2,300 every month.  Remember that $2,500 I was paying every month toward my student loans?  Say goodbye to that.  And about $1,000 of that is my minimum payments, so I need keep some of it, and make cuts elsewhere.

It’s looking like I may move with my gentleman friend into an apartment owned by one of our mutual friends.  And my dog is coming (back from my mom’s)!  It’s about a mile from a closer train station, so I’ll save some in my train pass, and parking (by walking or getting dropped off) and gas.  Being closer to family will mean less gas use too driving back and forth for non-work purposes.  I think food needs to be where most of my cuts are made.  And savings.  Sigh.

But my life should get markedly better.  Only two hours instead of four in commute time!  Spending time with the man!  Sleeping in more! Minimal responsibilities when I get home for the night!  Being home means it’s easier to make my own dinners and lunches, and enjoy the company of my friends!  Playing with babies!

It may be rough going for a year or so, but the man should be graduating after a year, then we’ll have a better idea of where we want to settle down more permanently.  After making dents in my student loans for the last year it will be hard to see virtually no progress for a full year, but I’m under the amount I had on initial principal.  And my 2014 tax return should be awesome…in a year…. but now that I have a permanent job, I can certainly get by.  We’ll hope for a bonus next year too.

So expect this blog to move over from big hits to my debts, to attempts to become more frugal so I can keep up with my minimums plusmaybealittlebit.  I’ll be saving the next few months or so, to make sure I have a good buffer for when I have higher expenses, but I’m still hopeful that I can pay off UG3 in a few months (balance $1,112), and hopefully about half of UG4 ($3,318).  Maybe the rest of the undergrad loans can go next year.  I guess we’ll see!

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Before my battery dies! ($95,854)

I don’t have a whole lot to say tonight, but I’ve been pretty lax about posting lately, particularly since the man usually gets here on Friday nights, which is optimal wind-down blog time.

What I wanted to write about, and solicit comments about I guess, is budgeting and re-budgeting.  I generally set a budget at the beginning of the month and don’t readjust.  This month I thought I might try something new, since I blew my clothing/shoes budget this month.  Somanyflipflops.  I also sent more to my student loans than I planned for–I’m thinking this might be my new standard amount going forward.  I kept the net spending amount the same, but I adjusted some budget items down. This included adjusting down my restaurant budget (which I deliberately bumped up this month because I was taking my sister out to dinner, which ended up being lunch and therefore cheaper), so I’m hoping I can stay within that.  My fast food budget isn’t over yet, solely based on the fact that I’ve been too late for my train to buy numerous pretzel.  I still have my alcohol budget (boozebag), which I may use for trivia in the next week or two, or meeting an old coworker for drinks/dinner.  I didn’t adjust the clothing budget for the amount I went over, solely because the overage amount hasn’t quite been established by my friends at the shoe store.  But I do have $200 still left in my “everything else” budget, and I’ve been really good about not going to Wal-Mart and spending $20-$200 on whoevenknowswhat.  So I might reallocate some of that money to the clothing budget.

The point?  Is it acceptable to break the budget, so long as you’re still within the overall budget?  I’m hoping readjusting mid-month will help to better keep track of where I am in relation to the overall goal. Am I supposed to be really strict with myself and be clear on what all of my expenses are for the month?  I think I’m okay with trying this for a month or two, and seeing whether I can stick within the overall budget. We’ll see.

Nighttime Musings ($95,616)

My boyfriend and I went to an open house yesterday.  We had been creeping on some real estate listings and this house was seemingly perfect (though way out of range of anything we’d be able to afford right now).  It did not disappoint.  There were one or two things that I could have nitpicked, but the house was amazing. 

Anyway, in my creeping of real estate listings, I’ve started looking at condos.  There are a few condos that run for around $120,000 or so (there was even one that would have a mortgage smaller than my student loans!).  I am thinking I’m staying for another year and keeping the second job (as much as I feel like my life is on hold), but I’m thinking buying a condo might not be a bad decision toward the end of the year.  I’d hopefully be able to take advantage of low real estate prices, and have a place set up to live when I move (presumably) next May.  We could live there for two or three years, paying about or less than we’d pay for rent, maybe have one baby, then move into something bigger and rent it out (for more than the mortgage). I’d even get some tax deductions in the mix.  Obviously I’d have to consider that it might not always be rented and owning comes with maintenance costs, but it seems like it might be something to really think about.  

Any landlords or homeowners have any advice?

February Recap! ($97,418)

I think this is the latest I’ve ever been with my monthly recap.  I’m usually so excited to post it, and get started on the next month’s budget.  This is actually still the case, but I was occupied with the man friend this weekend, and stuck at work late last night–getting me home right around my bed time.  Hence no recap, but better late than never, right?

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Boom! Over $1,900 in student loan PRINCIPAL payments in February!  Next month my auto and transport expense will be way down–it will only be gas and (if necessary) parking.  My paycheck should reflect my commuter rail deduction this Friday, since I had money on my computer card to buy my pass this month.  A lot of money will probably go to food this month, since I took my boyfriend out to dinner on Sunday night, and am hoping to take my sister to dinner before she has her baby.

Other than my good progress on student loans, I was pretty bad with the staying within budget thing.  I spent a lot on “other” and paid for a 2013 doctor’s visit.  The good news is I’ve planned for my hair expense this weekend, so I’m more prepared for my “other.”

My other budget overages:

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The food and dining overage is mostly the coffee shop budget bust.  I’m calling the restaurants overage offset by being under budget on alcohol and groceries.  But There’s 5% cash back on Starbucks purchases, so I loaded my card with $50 twice.  I’m justifying this with the extra points, and will probably reload before the quarter is up, but starting in April I need to work on making my own coffee way more often.

Additional iTunes purchases–I’ve increased this budget for March, and accepted that I’m not staying within $10.  We’ll see if $15 satisfies my need for new 80s music.

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Student loan interest is kind of a crapshoot–how much I pay can really vary depending on when in the month I make my payments.  Daily interest on $70,000 can make for a lot of variation.  The budget underage on gas probably has a little to do with a combination of a short month and timing of gas purchases.  Kind of a similar deal for parking in that I happened to not have to drive up as often–though this is partially due to finding another free parking train station.  In April I’m having $20 put on a debit card pre-tax to pay for parking on an as-needed basis.  This one won’t be a monthly deduction, but I’ll have another $20 deducted when the balance starts to get low.

I didn’t need Proactiv because my skin is clear!  I’m sorry–that was a blatant lie, I just tend to get billed three out of every five months because of my current delivery schedule.  Clear skin–ha!  Also, do people judge me for having an alcohol budget?  It really actually means trivia, which is more of an entertainment expense. Whatever.

I’m getting two TiVo charges this month, apparently. Hence the big buffer in the Movies & TV category.  I also haven’t rented an Amazon movie in a while.

My clothing budget was two pairs of work pants from eBay.  Money well spent. This month’s clothing budget is already blown on two pairs of shoes and five (FIVE!) pairs of J.Crew flip flops.  They’re $22 flip flops, on sale for $12. So I bought three pairs for me and two for my sister–because two separate people paying $8 shipping charges on flip flops is ridiculous. She’ll probably pay me back, but I’m fine with gifting the $25. I’m so charitable.  J.Crew wedge flip flops are kind of my thing.  I hope no one tells me that I’m not a lifeguard anymore and I have to wear adult shoes sometimes…

As for the March Budget, I haven’t broken out my federal loan payment into principal and interest yet (because they refuse to post my payment), but I’ve made $1,750 in payments out of $1804 principal and $676 interest payments budgeted for the month.  Instead of $2,480 my total payments this month will probably be $2,600.  I’m not mad, but I am going to try to stay under $4,000 in spending the month (my actual Mint budget is $3,963).  Or rather, if I go over, I only want it to be because of additional loan payments, and not because of additional spending.  I’m hoping for an expense reimbursement and an insurance dividend this month–both of which I’m hoping to send on UG3.

Goal Tracking (from 2/14/2014 post)

  • May 5: Pay off UG3 (current balance $2,557) – Current balance of $1,110 — Planning on paying off with my April payment
  • June 15: Debt Balance under $100,000 (current balance, about $106,000) — Now I’m around $104,000.  Still waiting for my federal payment to post and my updated balance on UG3 to be reflected.  If I’m paying off another $1,600 in April and have an extra paycheck in May I think this is easily doable, possibly even before May is over.
  • July 31: Pay off UG4 (current balance $3,346) — If I maintain my payment from this month through the summer I’ll pay this one off with a payment of around $100 in July.
  • November 30:  Pay of UG5 (current balance $4,963) — I think getting this taken care of in October is a better stretch goal.

That’s all I’ve got for you tonight–sorry it’s so disorganized and incoherent.  Better my blog posts than my finances, right?