March Recap! ($83,753)

Again, I’ve got an estimated net worth here.  I think I might be being extra-conservative with the estimate, but I’m okay with that.  The honeymoon money is almost spent/moved to another account, so that’s good.  I’ve started to get a little overwhelmed with all things wedding, and realizing the expenses that we’ve yet-to-incur, and what they may be.  I was looking into getting a string quartet/some kind of classical string performance for the ceremony, but I just can’t justify spending $800 on an hour.  iPod Tchaikovsky it is!  At some point I’m going to have to do a few posts about what we’re spending on the wedding, and what we’re prioritizing (and what we’re just plain unwilling to spend money on).

Now for the reason you’re here: March Recap!

Student Loans Principal Year-To-Date:

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Thought #1 is… YAY! This is 30% of the way there, with 25% of the year behind us!  The bad news is, my tax return and my bonus have already happened, so I won’t have these kinds of windfalls for the rest of the year.  But I’ll keep plugging either way, and for now, I’ll be happy about the progress.

I saw another blogger’s post on the monthly interest they’ve paid (who was this?  I would like to give you a shout out!)  Here’s a little bit of a view of mine.  I think in 2013 I was still paying some old accrued interest, but really started paying aggressively around that time, so after that I was just paying the interest that accrued monthly.  It’s not terribly easy to see, but there was a significant drop in October (paying only a partial month’s interest), that’s stabilized right around $380.  Other than monthly variation (months with 31 days, months where the payment date falls on a weekend, so the payment doesn’t go through until Monday) this number should slowly go down every month.  I’ve been guesstimating the interest for my undergraduate loans, but they’re around $10 a month at this point.  My numbers should be pretty exact once the last one is paid off in August (and it WILL be paid off by my 32nd birthday). I’m hoping to see serious changes here once the man in working.  For various reasons (co-signer, low balances, multiple loans, the fact that I’ve had them for TEN YEARS) I’ve been paying off my undergraduate loans first, even though they have the smallest interest rate (3.25).  Starting in August, my extra payments will be going toward my highest interest rate loans (5%).  The difference between the two isn’t huge, but I’ll take it!

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Now for the main event:  My puzzle of total(ish) student loan progress!  My current loan balance is:

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That gives us 46 pieces in the puzzle–16 more than last month!  I’m pretty happy with that–that’s almost 10% of the puzzle!  And, you know, almost $10,000 from the $100,000 I’m counting down from.  16 pieces is probably the most at a time we’re going to see this year.  And I had a 16 piece chunk ready to add on–after the colored pencils are done it’s going to get significantly more difficult.  But, it’s going to be a while before that happens.  For now, here it is:  46 pieces representing $9,200 of payoff since the $100,000 mark.  I feel confident that in May, I’ll get over 50 pieces, for 10% of the puzzle.  10% of $100,000 feels pretty good, I think.

 

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February Goal Recap! ($87,482)

Here’s how I did 2 months into the year.  Just about $1,600 went to principal this month, which brings the total for 2015 to:

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That’s about 14.5% of the way there, with about 16% of the year past us.  I’m okay with that–I should  be able to put an extra $1,000 or so toward debt, not counting the rent money from our tenant that is scheduled to go towards loans alternating months.

For for the total debt payoff goal.  I painted the cardboard backing, so it would be easier to actually see the puzzle.  I didn’t actually have a paintbrush, so I used a paper towel, so please excuse the uneven paint job (but hey! more incentive to cover it up ASAP).  And you can actually see the puzzle against the background.

My total debts are $93,802.  It’s crazy to think about how recently I was celebrating being under $100,000. I’m not making the progress I used to make when I had two jobs, and no housing expenses, but refinancing my big loan to a lower interest rate has definitely made a difference.  Even though I was really close to the $93,800 mark, the puzzle only reflects $94,000 – 30 pieces.  My two undergraduate loans reflect interest when they show up in Mint, but I don’t think the others do, so it might actually be that my debts are a bit higher, but if I keep using Mint eventually the interest amounts will be so low that they don’t matter in the calculation too much (in a few years…)

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So that’s it for my recap!  Hopefully I’ll have plenty more progress to report in March when I finally receive my tax return, and maybe I’ll eventually even get better at budgeting!

September Budget Recap ($94,562)

Let me tell you…I did pretty damn great through 90% of September.  Then it all went to shit.  But I did say I would try to get back into posting more, so here I am, the Prodigal Blogger, returning home to confess my sins.

I’ve said it before–so sorry for sounding like a broken record–but I HATE that my budget tracker doesn’t account for the fact that certain bills are paid at certain times of the month.  I’ve spent about 2/3 of my October budget, and it’s currently the 8th.  But I’ve also received my two planned for paychecks for the month, and I’m anxious to reduce my principal as soon into the month as possible.  Pretty much the only month bills I haven’t paid yet are automatic payments that I can’t change.

Anyway, a digression, per usual.  September Budget!

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These are the categories where I went over budget.

Food:  There are two reasons why this is over budget.  Reason #1:  I just noticed a Cumberland Farms purchase for $27 in here.  This is likely for gas, and not for groceries, though I have been known to buy the occasional milk and eggs at Cumby’s which is how I’m guessing it got miscategorized.  I’ve been seeing a bit of funky stuff with the categorization lately.  Reason #2:  $97 at a restaurant in NY, when we went to go visit my sister- and brother-in-law.  We stayed at their house and ate their food, so I thought it would be appropriate to thank them by buying dinner. No regrets.

The Fast Food Part: This is largely buying snacks and/or chocolate milk at the cafeteria at work.  I need to work on this.  I have this budget for lunches at work, but it’s intended to only cover meeting a friend for lunch, and not being too lazy to pack my lunch.*

Utilities:  Real talk: I have no idea how much utilities cost.  I haven’t had to pay them in two and a half years, and when I did have to pay them, I didn’t have to pay for things like a water bill or the sewage commission.  Whatever those things are.  So those are less expected for me. I’ve since adjusted this category up to a more realistic $200.  My cable and internet bill, as well as my cell phone, are not included in this category. Yes, in addition to Netflix, I also pay for cable.  I blame the Bruins on this one.  Bad personal finance blogger.  Bad.

But anyway, in getting internet, we had to get the compatible cable modem thing (I have no idea if it’s a modem or router or what?).  We could rent it for $10 a month, or pay around $100 for it.  Seeing as we signed up for a two year contract, buying it outright seemed the way to go.  So that gets put on our bill in three installments, the last of which is this month.  So my cable bill should go down slightly next month to partially counteract the rest of my expensive utilities.

Entertainment:  This is the usual Netflix $8, and I bought tickets to a show that a friend from school is performing in.  I bought the tickets for the four of us, so I should actually get $75-100 of this back.

Everything Else:  I feel like this should be further broken down someone, but here are the biggies:

$86 – bought flowers for the ladies I used to live with (which I’m not positive they even knew were from me as I got no acknowledgment that I sent them. Kinda really annoying).

$376 – wedding dress.  This shouldn’t count, because I transferred money over, and didn’t take it out of the money I made during the month. But I still spent it.  Bonus:  I had some kind of PayPal balance that covered $15 of the dress. Thanks mystery shopping!

$78 – paint from Sherwin Williams and some screws from Lowe’s — to put on my new license plate.

$23 – said new license plate/DMV fees.

I also took about $100 out of the ATM this month.  Most of which is actually still in my purse.  Some of my coworkers took me out to lunch the day before the man and I made things legal.  I brought money with me so I could at least offer to buy my own lunch–but the company did so I didn’t even need to offer/feel bad that my coworkers were buying me lunch.

Those are the biggies. There’s also $20 here or there (CVS, HomeGoods), but I’ve yet to buy anything too outlandish shopping-wise.

Looking forward (to now?) October is a weird month because I get an extra paycheck. So this will mean an extra loan payment or two, and possibly a puppy, which will mean adoption fees and probably some pretty big vet bills (particular if the lady we get is too young to be spayed already), but the extra check means I’m ready for it.  It will just look like I spent stupid amounts this month.  I also have to pay bar fees and get my hair did.

That’s all I have for this evening, but I really like re-capping, because it forces me to see the mistakes I made in the prior month, in the hopes that I won’t immediately repeat them (and, more so recently, it helps me see that I’m being unrealistic about some things).  I’ll look to post a debt progress update in the next few days.

 

* Sometimes this actually means not having lunch food in the house.  Laziness does not come into play too often anymore as the man usually makes my lunch for me in the morning.  🙂

March Recap! And General Update! ($94,609)

It’s so sad to not see the kind of progress I had in the past.  Maybe it’s not lack of progress–maybe it just hurts to see the big chunk taken out of my net worth from taxes.  I feel like I was really close to breaking out of the ($90)s, but I guess it’s still 10k better than when I started posting it in October.

We’ve been looking at houses, and generally where we’re going to live when I move out of my current place.  My commuting costs will go down a little.  I’ll have to pay for parking daily again–but I can opt for a monthly pass, and all of it will be pretax either way.  If we don’t find something really cheap and livable I may move in with my sister for a few months, or may just look for an apartment.  The issue is that most apartments are going to cost me the same amount as a mortgage, which is completely crazy.  No decisions made at this point.

March was pretty good.  The budget came apart toward the end of the month as I was driving to the farther train station pretty much every day, in preparation for the arrival of my nephew. That weekend also involved a bunch of eating out (dinner, breakfast waiting on visiting hours, hospital snacks), and not doing the food shopping/planning that I had gotten pretty good about.

 

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So there’s my spending pie for the month.  Over half of my spending on principal payments, and another chunk on interest.  Those ratios are going to go down a lot.  The spending on transportation was higher than usual because of the amount of gas and parking, and the food spending was more than I would like. I really have to stay disciplined come May.

I say come May because April is turning into a very expensive month.  Some of that is concert tickets–I’ll get $100 of it back, but I’ve spent about 2/3 of my gas budget less than halfway into the month.  I’m making minimum student loan payments, so that I can add as much as possible to savings in the next few months before I move.  I’ve spent a lot on fast food–not being home means no time for cooking. My Amazon Prime membership renewed, which I wasn’t really planning for, and I had to buy a shower gift.  I also have to get my car re-inspected this month.

Plus the taxes.  Oh the taxes!  I had to pay for Turbotax prep for two states, and the federal.  When I don’t have two jobs, the amount I have withheld should cover things more sufficiently, so I think I’ll avoid this pain next year.  Here’s hoping.

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?

January Recap! ($98,670)

Still/back under $100,000!  And I did pretty great this month, if I do say so myself.  This is largely due to an extra paycheck because of the (in name and salary only) job switch.

The pretty picture:

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Student Loans!

I paid off $2,567 in PRINCIPAL this month.  All of the “Fees and Charges” pie is interest paid on loans.  I think this is smaller than usual because of the timing of my payments vs. the payments last month.

I spent $632 on auto/transport this month.  Some awesome things about February:  my auto insurance is split into 10 monthly payments, so I don’t have a payment next month; there’s $84 I don’t have to pay.  It’s a mutual insurance company, which means I’m also expecting a dividend payment of about $150 or so.  My employer also just announced a discount program on car insurance, so I may look into that to save more money (though a friend of mine is my insurance broker, so I may stay where I am, and I kind of like the dividend thing).  I am getting rid of my towing plan–only $20 annual, but I have AAA, so I don’t need it anymore.  Knock on wood, but it’s also been MONTHS since I locked myself out of my still-running car (yes, I’ve done this more than once).  February will also be the last month that my train pass will have to be purchased completely with after-tax dollars.  Probably another $20 in savings each month.  Lastly, I drove to the farther train station much more than usual this month, resulting in more gas and parking spending, which I hopefully won’t repeat in February.

Food: $429 this month, about $300 in groceries.  This is probably the smallest amount I’ve ever spent in this category.  I need to reign in my pretzel purchases (maybe with more snacks for the train), but I won’t beat myself up too much.

It’s pretty rare that I have a separate pie slice for health and fitness.  This is from a doctor’s bill at the beginning of the month, and a prescription that I’ve submitted a reimbursement for (I didn’t have the account number information for my new health/prescription plans).  I have another doctor’s bill that I’ll be paying in early February from the same appointment (one for lab testing and one for the appointment and procedure itself), so the budget there will also be unusually high.

The “Other” and “Shopping” categories are what I really want to work on next month.  I spent $45 at Walmart in the middle of the month, and have no idea what I bought.  None.  I do know that it wasn’t groceries, though I sometimes do my grocery shopping there.  I spent another $40 on Amazon (light bulbs, a lint lizard that I haven’t tried yet, but is pretty necessary for some spaces in the house, and a paper towel holder to mount on my island).  But seriously, what did I buy at Walmart?  OH! I bought an over-the-toilet storage unit for some additional much needed storage space in my newly-organized apartment.  I feel better now.  The phone bill and my Netflix/TiVo are monthly bills, but tickets to a Red Sox game, and a paint your own pottery night added an extra $120 this month.  I might be spending a big chunk on some concert tickets this month, so this category probably won’t be going down too much in February.

In summary, I’m pretty happy with this month’s spending and debt progress.  I’ve already scheduled a loan payment for February, and I’m hoping that moving the money out of my account early in the month will prevent me from spending.  I’ll post more on the February budget this week!

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!):

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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:

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Interest Payments:

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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:

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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.