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.


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, 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.

($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.


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?

Are You Sure It’s Payday? ($105,257)

Hooray for every other Thursday!

It seems a bit unsatisfying, considering that October was a three payday month for my main gig, so I had a lot of extra money to throw toward my debt last month.  I also got my check from my other job on the same day as my last payday, so it was a huge hit of money.  Now I look back at my blogs from around two weeks ago, and my net worth was higher then than it is now. What gives?

But I realize that I spent a lot of those paychecks–I don’t get to keep all of it.  Or most of it for that matter.  It really reinforces how nice it will be when I’m not spending $2,000 a month on student loans, and I’m not paying over $500 a month in interest.  I don’t think “nice” is the right word.  Amazing?  I was listening to a Dave Ramsey podcast on the train today, and one woman said that she realized she needed to get a hold on her financial situation when she discovered she spent $750 on interest the previous year.  I pay more than that in two months!  How is it that people can deduct interest on million dollar homes…but I make too much to deduct my loan interest!?  (I really realize that “I make too much money to deduct student loan interest” is probably the most obnoxious complaint ever, but I only make as much as I do because I work two jobs, and commute four hours a day to make that happen–because I don’t want to pay student loans for 30 years. Mini-rant over.)

So anyways, the moral of the story is that this paycheck seemed less fulfilling than the last set.  But I am paying another $450 on my federal loan–about $350 of which will go to principal, and $300 on my loans from my school, with around $200 going to principal.  So I can take some comfort in that $550 of that won’t have a negative effect on my net worth.

Other than to pay off my student loans–a long term goal if there ever was one–I don’t really have set goals.  I’m trying to determine some good ideas for shorter term goals.  According to, my debt currently stands at $111,039.  I want to get it under $110,000 by the end of the year, without dipping into–and continuing to add to–my existing (meager) savings (since I’ll likely need a good chunk of come tax time.  But that doesn’t seem terribly aggressive.  That actually seems like a pretty lazy goal.  I have my Vertex24 debt reduction calculator Excel sheet, which says that putting an extra* $700 a month toward my “snowball” will mean my next undergraduate loan (UG2) will be paid off in February, and the one after that (UG3) in June.  So I’m making a six month goal to have both paid off in May.  If I get hired for reals this shouldn’t be a problem–but how easy it would be would depend on the as-yet-unknown pay differential.

And as much as I hate to abandon the snowball when I’ve barely started, I may start trying to save a large chunk of change in anticipating of moving after those two are paid off.  Abandoning the snowball doesn’t mean (shouldn’t mean–please yell at me if this changes) that I’m abandoning my budgeting and attempts at frugality, just a change in where the money’s going. But AGAIN, this is me focusing so much on the longer term.  I should enjoy the small victories of paying off these small undergraduate loans while I can. Right now I can pay off one every four months or so, but once those babies are gone I have much larger chunks to deal with.  Anyway…I’d also like to get my net worth into the negative five figures by June–which sounds like it will be easy, but it will depend on how much of a tax hit I take.  Sigh.

In cheerier news: I looked at the Mint app on my phone when I started writing this, and it’s different!  Apparently there was an update of some kind today, so I’m off to investigate it. I’m really excited for when I get to post my end of month pretty pie chart.  But for now, I give you:  COFFEE!  I’ve now had four straight days of bringing my lunch, and two of coffee.  I’ve spent a whopping $4.76 on coffee this month (With the remainder of the $10 reload sitting on my card).  I used to spend around $80 a month!  Someone give this girl a cookie!



It looks like I was really good in October–really it’s because I reloaded my Starbucks card at the end of September and my mom gave me a $25 card.  I was still way better than I had been (I’m looking at you February and May), but not as good as the chart implies.

* Really more than $700 a month extra.  My minimums on my federal loans are based on 30 year repayment, but I pay based on a 10 year repayment.  I also round all my payments up to be even.

The Price of Inconvenience ($106,753)

I feel like I posted something similar to this before, but not about this specific thing.

My federal loan servicer allows me to reduce my interest rate by a negligible amount by signing up for automatic payments. Back when I was less financially responsible I would definitely not elect for this. I get paid bi-weekly, instead of at fixed times in the month, which I would prefer. And was I really sure that money would be in there on the 21st every month? Without me having to move some of my teeny tiny savings immediately before? But now that I’m more organized with my money, I think it’s okay for me to have my $500 monthly payment taken out on the same day every month, and I’m confident in my ability to plan ahead for it. This won’t prevent me from making the additional $450 in payments that I’ve been making on that particular account; I can still schedule that as a separate payment whenever it’s convenient to do so.

But here’s the thing: you can’t sign up for automatic payments online; you have to print out the form and mail it in. What year is this? I printed it out at least two weeks ago, but haven’t gotten around to mailing it in. I finally decided to sacrifice one of my fancy résumé envelopes to get it out of my purse. I know that the rate reduction will only be about 20 bucks a year, but it’s basically free money, and every little bit helps. And it’s not like I’ve been sending out printed résumés (or emailing them for that matter) anyway.

This is my third day this week bringing lunch. I’m getting kind of sick of chicken chili already, but what can you do? There’s also a possibility that I’ll need to go out to lunch today because we have someone visiting from another office. With two company-purchased meals in the last three weeks I would definitely expect to have to pay my own way this time.

I bought coffee yesterday, but only put $10 on my Starbucks card, instead of my usual $25 reload. And I only bought because I didn’t have any more milk. (Excuses, excuses…) I felt bad when I got there–I haven’t seen my Starbucks friends in so long–surely they’ve been concerned by my absence? This is 100% all in my head.

I knew I had another coffee on the card this morning, and debated buying again, but I was good and saved it. I also bought more coffee on Amazon earlier this week so I won’t be in any danger of running out, so I really can’t justify another Starbucks purchase quite yet.

I’m basically where I should be at this point in the month in terms of my (very conservative) food and drink budget. Let’s hope this trend continues through the rest of the month. Tomorrow is another payday and I’m looking forward to scheduling more debt payments. The sooner I send it to my servicers, the less likely I am to spend it on Starbucks…

Monday Morning You Sure Look Fine ($105,916)

(I was shocked at how light out it was when I left the house this morning, and it’s put me in a good mood. I’m sure I won’t feel so great about it when it’s pitch black when I leave work.)

It looks like my foray into the $(105)s will be short-lived.

I went to dinner with my man friend on Saturday night, and spent a little over $30. I’m not upset about actually paying to go out to dinner, because 95 percent of the time I see him we just hang out on my couch. I think we’re both kind of good with that, but I know he wants to occasionally do date-like things.

On Sunday we went to Walmart where I ended up doing all of my food shopping. Total spent was $37 and change–and will feed me for the rest of the week (along with my leftover dinner). I then had a marathon cooking session, where I made cookies, shepherd’s pie for lunch and dinner this week, and budget bytes’ black bean quesadillas . I don’t know how accurate the spice prices are for where live (though Job Lot has a lot of spices cheap), but the quesadillas are super easy and cheap, and I made two batches to freeze for whenever I’m feeling too lazy to make something. I made a batch a month or two ago and it lasted about three days–there was a lot of laziness that week.

I’m also getting a $45 refund in my account this week. If I can couple two refunds with not buying food I might actually be able to stay under budget and save the $500+ I was hoping this month.

I haven’t written about much other than money, but I’ve done every day up to yesterday of this 30 day plank challenge. It is not easy, but I’m trying to stick to it. I went outside for something on Saturday and was amazed at how beautiful it was out, and thought “I should go for a run.” Now I haven’t actually made it to the running stage yet, but maybe if it’s nice again this weekend it will happen? I’m debating adding a campus gym membership, but I’m thinking I might just end up wasting my money–kind of the opposite of what I’m trying to do here. Sigh.

A Little Proud? ($108,194)

I really wanted to get home tonight.  My library books were due back today, and I didn’t want to pay $35 in late fees again.  Not that one day would be $35, but it’s money I don’t need to lose. Respecting your money or something like that.  I also really really wanted Wendy’s (I wanted Wendy’s last night, went out of my way to get it, and it was closed!)

But alas, I went to the library, dropped off my books, went home, ate my leftover calzone.

On another note, most of the difference from yesterday’s post is my monthly TiVo charge (I don’t pay for rent or cable, so I pay about $23 each month for a combination of TiVo and Netflix).  I don’t know why sometimes the charge shows up on the prior month, but it messes with my budget.  I have money in my account if it comes out early or late–I just want it to be in the same place every month.