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March Spending Plan

February 29th, 2008 at 05:20 am

I forgot to post my Febuary Spending Plan but here's my March Plan. When I get time maybe I'll post my Feb Plan with all my updated unforseen expenses. I was sick for the last half of Feb so my pay will be down a bit in March.

Wk 1 March 1-7
Rent $462.5
Apt Bills $0 (will update when I get info)

Wk 2 March 8-14
CFI $235 (mail March 8)

Wk 3 March 15-21
AT CC $115 (March 19) Final PMT
Car $261 (March 19)

Wk 4 March 22-31
BCBS $163.84 (March 28)
Roth IRA $400 (March 25)
NPR $25 (March 26)

My Car Loan

January 24th, 2008 at 05:27 pm

I have only 7 payments left on my car loan!! I am so excited about this. I had no idea I was this close to paying it off. June is now my target date to finish paying this. I had to rearrange my debt schedule but it actually works out better.

I have one last payment for my CC in March and that's all done with, so I'll just take the payments I've been making to the CC and just add it to my car loan payments. That and any tax rebates or extra income will go directly to paying this bad boy off.

I can't believe I am right around the corner to paying off my CC and paying off my car! After those I have my college loans to kill off.

Health Insurance

January 24th, 2008 at 05:17 pm

After years of having no coverage I finally can check one thing off my to do list. Starting February 1st, I will be insured with Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC. I got it in case of any emergencies and the monthly premium is $163.84, which isn't too bad. I'm glad I ponied up and did this, I've been having some terrible nightmares of going into more debt because of being in the hospital, even though I'm a very healthy girl.



Feeling Upset and Stupid About My Bank

January 9th, 2008 at 07:17 pm

I have been working very hard with my money situation. I've been keeping a spending plan, growing my savings, and planning a bit for my retirement. I've even started chipping away at my debt-- using the debt snowball method, and saving for a future vacation (in September) and yet I still feel like I'm failing... case in point: I have thrown at least a couple hundred dollars down the drain over the past two years!

Many factors have contributed to this, two big ones-- myself and my bank.

I opened my first bank account when I was 16, I just got my first job and needed a simple checking account so my dad and I opened a "Student Account" with both him and I as account holders. The big point about this account was that it was free. No minimums, no fees, and overdraft protection, being a kid this was important. This was also back in 1998 so I've had the account now for 9 and a half years.

Now fast-forward past my college years full of typical money mishandling and you'll see me, starting to keep a good budget and making sure I have a cushion in my checking for "just in case." This month that cushion is especially important because my paycheck is less than it usually is due to the holidays and me not working. I've kept an eye on myself, promising not to spend a dime of this cushion so I could get through January without any hiccups (this has been hard) So when I checked out my account figures this morning and noticed my cushion was cut by a THIRD! I knew there had to be a problem. I havent used my debit card and no checks have gone through yet so there's no way money could be missing from my total.

When I log in to my checking account I am automatically sent to my statement page that would normally list all my debits and credits. But since today is a new month for my account there was nothing listed there- no transactions have gone through. So some kind of transaction must have gone through since the last time I checked my account at 9pm Tuesday and this morning. So I click through my menus to get the screen I saw yesterday and there and behold at the very bottom of my screen is a little $14 service charge. Fourteen Dollars.

I cannot believe they would charge me $14 to have a checking account with them. Wasn't this suppose to be free? What happened? I couldnt even find out online if I've been charged this every month.

So I called my bank and talked to a nice lady and it turns out that when an account holder turns 23 it is automatically changed into a "Regular Checking" account. I'm now 25.

I never noticed. Never. And it's all my fault, mainly because I've never been so diligent when it comes to checking my account before. Plus, they hid it between statements. If I had been using my debit card like normal there's so many ways I could chalk up that $14 to-- maybe it was a couple of bar tips, or tax on something I didn't calculate...?

But here's the kicker: It's not $14 every month. The actual service charge is $8, just for having an account. And then the lady on the phone informed me that every time I use my debit card they charge me $0.30 cents! and if I use my debit card and my pin number it's another $0.30 cents. I had to ask her to repeat that twice. I thought I was going to cry.

Do you know how many times I use my debit card? Who knows how much money they've made off of my ignorance? Shouldn't I have known about this account change and these fee charges?

BTW, Every time I wrote a check it was 0.40 cents!

Anyways, I wouldn't have known ALL of this if I didn't call the bank and ask what the charges were, if it was a mistake and to see if they could reimburse me.

The lady asked me if I would like a "Free Checking" account. I said "well, yes, I believe I would!"

Now I have to find out if it will hurt my credit to close an account I've had for 9 years! TWO of which has screwed me out of at least a couple hundred dollars!

BTW I gave blood today.

January's Spending

January 5th, 2008 at 12:38 pm

I know it's the fifth but it's never too late to draw up a budget for the month, right?


Apt rent = $462.50
Phone bill = $20
Electric = $49.45
Cable/Internet = $41.33
Holiday Trip = $50
-------------------------
623.28
- 45 for what BF owed me
-------
578.28 --PAID 5 Jan 08

College Loans = $235 --Due 7 Jan 08
Car = $261 --Due 19 Jan 08
AT CC = $20 --Due 19 Jan 08
--------------------------
$516

It's easier with these bills a little spread out in January, but this coming pay day (11 Jan 08) is going to hurt because of all those days off from the holiday.

Also for line AT CC, I had planned to pay off this credit sooner than later but since this coming pay check is half of what I usually get I'm going to hold off and use what ever is left over in January to pay it off and only pay the minimum + 60% = $20 when it's due. Leaving the total left to pay off $220.

After bills I will have a little over $120 in my account from my Jan 11th pay check, and then after the neek week of bills I'll have roughly $340 left in checking until my next full pay check on the 25th. I think that's a good cushion.

Things I promise myself not to do during January: spending money at the bar or out on food... ok well I will atleast try to do this. I do promise not to go out for lunch. I will have to go food shopping but I wont buy things I dont need.

Once the 25th comes I plan to put $400 in my Roth and $200 in my iGO savings.

My goals are to put $4000 in my IRA before April 15th and have $10,000 in my emeregency fund by the end of 2009. Since savings acct rates are lower than what I want I'm going to put more money towards paying down my high interest loan debt.

I plan to complete my 2007 tax return as early as possible. One reason is because I dont want to be doing it at the last minute AGAIN, and another is because it's my money and it's not generating interest for me. Depending on how large my return is, I want to use more than half of it for my high interest loan, the rest for my Roth.

I hope my cushion holds out.

Spending Log for New Years Trip

January 3rd, 2008 at 12:28 pm

So New Year's was a blast!! I had saved quite a bit in case I went overload with spending and I sorta did...

$65.12 - CVS
$15 - breakfast for Ben and I
$60 - Gifts from Dogfish Head Brewery
$27.07 - Food Lion (dramamine, snacks)
$8 - Starbucks (needed coffee badly)
$35 - Target (food for rest of week)


I have no idea why I spent 65 dollars at CVS in DC, it was 3 in the morning and after a night of drinking I realized I forgot my hair straightener and my contact solution stuff. It's good though because my straightener was 4-5 years old and barely worked right.

Total = $210.19

Left in Checking = $958.60

Spending and Saving

December 28th, 2007 at 07:17 am

I went back to Target to return a shower curtain and spent 47.14, of course part of it was buying another shower curtain (which will be returned AGAIN because it just doesn't go with the bathroom) and then of course we went to Subway and that was 10.66.... While what I got at Target was nescessary, going to Subway wasn't. When I was spending the money I kept telling myself it was okay because tomorrow is pay day... Now I know it wasn't just okay. I've been working overtime, about 21 hours, just so I could catch up with the time I have off from xmas and new year's (I only get paid for the time I am at work) So today's check is cushioned but the next pay will only be about $800 which will suck. So I need to reign in my extracurricular spending, whic will be hard since I'm going to DC tomorrow, so I will stay a float for the first two weeks of January. I've been saving by not eating out but that money saved shouldnt just be spent pointlessly, I could have made a sandwich at home at a tenth of the cost.

I also immediately transferred $200 into my savings account this morning, I'm trying to pay myself first. This is my second attempt at paying myself first, this time I did 18% of my pay check. I also opened a Roth IRA with $200.

Shopping and Spending...

December 26th, 2007 at 07:23 am

So that little shopping trip I had planned went way over budget! Let's see:

At Target for various things around the apt, (shower curtain, mattress pad, some food, etc) Total= $95.11.

Next I went to the mall and visited Aveda and Bath and Body Works. For gifts, at Aveda I spent $9.61 and at B+B Works I spent $12.81. Total= $22.42.

Then I went to Whole Foods for more food items, like a little chicken, specialty beer, and cheese. Total= $34.39

Of course no spending day is complete without a trip to the bar. I decided I would treat the boyfriend to some beers since he's been so great and maybe it was my turn to pay, so we went to a bar at Brightleaf in Durham. Total= $25.19, including tip.

That was all on Monday!

On Christmas, since we were bored, we went to the movies and saw National Treasure. Total= $13.50 for two tickets.

Top that off with a monthly donation to WUNC, my NPR station, Total= $10.

95.11
9.61
12.81
34.39
25.19
13.50
10.00
200.61

Left in Checking = $430.85

Next Pay Day 28 Dec 07

Things I need to do
1. Make a weekly budget and keep to it
2. Add whatever is left over in checking to iGO savings on the 28th.



Roth IRA

December 23rd, 2007 at 04:21 pm

I think I'm going to go with Fidelity Investments' SmartStart Roth.

Does anyone have other suggestions or personal reviews of Fidelity?

I want to open it before the year ends so I can contribute $4000 by April 15th and then $5000 for 2008.

Spending

December 23rd, 2007 at 03:55 pm

I had a bunch of no spend days this week! Let's see, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday were all no spend days. Saturday could have been a no spend day but I had to pay Wachovia my car loan installment, $300.

It's been pretty hard not to spend more, since it's the holidays and I live across the street from one of the biggest shopping malls in the area, I really want to just jump in the fray and starting shopping.

Money things coming up:

I have to go grocery shopping for some food for our little christmas day dinner. Since Hanukkah is all over and we have off on Tuesday anyways I thought we might as well cook ourselves our own little feast, maybe roast a little chicken, make some mashed potatoes, it's either that or go out.

We also have our trip for New Years next week. We're heading up to DC for the weekend and then up to Delaware-- we're going to Dogfish Head Brewery, to ring in the new year so it should be fun. The hotel in DC is covered by Mariott points and I think the boyfriend is paying for our half of the hotel in Delaware, we're going with another couple so it helps offsets costs. But I'm sure I'll pay my share of food and drinks.

I think those are the only big spending things coming up.

In checking: $631.46

My Food Plan

December 19th, 2007 at 04:48 pm

My food plan is quite perfect for me. I live with my boyfriend and I cook as much as possible for the both of us. When we first moved in together, back in June, it was hard to figure out how to make the food part work. He had been living by himself for about 3 years and I had been living with a roommate who had no common culinary interests with me so we both in our own ways got used to living off of mac and cheese, or going out. I could never get the hang of cooking just for myself.

So what we have ended up doing is trading off on the shopping trips. On week 1, I will go shopping on and pay for it out of my pocket, and (theoretically...) on week 2 my boyfriend will come along with me as I buy what we need and will pay the bill when we are done. And so forth. Really it's easier for us this way because we share everything! I'll plan the menus for the upcoming days and just get what we need. It's ended up that my boyfriend will just forgo coming with me and will just pay me back later, which is great for me because it's tons less stressful without him hovering over me saying, "Do we really need that?" or "What's that really for?" and it ends up being relatively even, about $60 or 70 comes out of my pocket for food every other week, and that includes lunch! With just the two of us, I can make a little more for leftovers.

The most important part of this shopping is to never go without a list! We have set up a revolving list on Google Docs as a spreadsheet that we both share and through out the week either one of us can add stuff to it that we want or the apartment needs. Then before I head out I just print it and go. Nothing that's extreme ever gets added. But I can say, every once and while I'll notice "ice cream sandwiches" have been added... Smile

So far this week...

December 19th, 2007 at 04:27 pm

It's half way through the week and so far I've spent only 17.54. (Monday and Tuesday were no spend days)

At work for the holidays we participated in a White Elephant game so I brought a Starbucks mug and filled it with Italian chocolate. My boss ended up with it and she loves it so I guess it's worth it. I, on the other hand, ended up with a trio of trivets from Southern Living, unbelievably perfect for my apartment! So in the end I guess it was worth the $17.54.

Checking is now down to 931.46.

Weekend Spending

December 16th, 2007 at 06:49 pm

This weekend had some non-avoidable spending. Starting with Friday, $35 dollars in gas. 12 gallons in my car will last 14 days, which isn't too bad. I usually only drive to and from work. I also spent $45 on medicine Saturday, totally unavoidable. And today I spent $48.05 on food and baking supplies.

For eating this week, I have lunch planned for every day this week, yay for brown bagging. And dinner for each night is planned and waiting to be cooked. Definitely won't need to go out.

Which leaves $949 in my checking until next pay day.

Gas = $35
Meds= $45
Food= $48.05
-------
$128.05 in Expenses

College Loans

December 16th, 2007 at 09:45 am

Thank you everyone for all your great comments and suggestions.

I've dug up my college loan information and it's not the end of the world. I have three loans, one with an interest rate of 7.2% and two with a rate of 2.8%. The first one has a balance of $3,000 and the second two have balances of $19,000 and $17,800.

If I have children, I'm definitely going to plan their college fund before they are born, it's just not worth it to be this much in debt and only be 25! 529, anyone?

I think I can pull off paying the 7.2% interest rate loan fairly quickly, since that's way higher than my savings acct rate of 4.9%. And I'll keep chipping off the higher balances.



My Money Enlightenment

December 15th, 2007 at 08:13 am

Saving more than $100 has been a foreign concept to me. I don't know how and I don't know why but I do know that had to stop.

I have one last credit card that is about to be completely paid off, which I am very proud of. One last payment and it's all done. I'm fairly sure I'll be staying away from high interest credit cards for a long time— if I do attempt to go down the credit card road it won't be for another year and it will be mainly for a rewards program and will get paid off every week. But that's a plan I'm not even going to attempt for another 12 months.

No, my immediate plan is to save. Like I said, saving never really sunk in before while I was growing up. Sure, I saved up for speakers or the Spice Girls CD when I was a kid, but saving for the future, HA!

Now that I'm living on my own, have a full time job, and no kids, I started to notice a sizeable amount of cash left over in my checking acct after paying all my bills. For a moment I thought about going shopping but then I heard about high-yield savings accounts. So I researched it.

And researched it and started reading about personal finance and that lead me to realize that I've been wasted money that could have helped me in the future. This was my enlightenment towards money!

So I've opened a savings account at iGObanking and have funded it with $515 and plan to contribute about $250 from each pa check to reach a goal of 6 months worth of expenses or about $10,000.

My other goal is to pay off my debt, which isn't as bad as you would think. I have just a little bit left to pay off my credit card which of course is a store CC, to Ann Taylor, so it is completely impractical.

I have a car loan which is $261 a month. Again it is completely impractical, I'm not sure what the terms are, what the rate is, and how much is left. Purchasing the car in 2004 was never really thought through like it should have—why bother when the bank just gives you money! So now I have to figure out how much is left and how quickly I can get it taken care of.

I also have my college loans to pay off. Currently I can't admit how much I owe, I just can't wrap my head around it. So I'll need some time I think. I've been making the monthly payments of $174 which I think is good. I've been doing that on time for about 6 months, since it started to come in.

So these are my goals for 2008.
1. Fund an emergency fund of $10,000
2. Reduce debt. Seek out car loan debt, pay it off as much as possible.
3. Figure out how to reduce college loan, pay off as much as possible and realize that it's not the end of the world. It can be done.
4. Live below my means.

And most importantly, create a spending log. The reason for this blog is to log my spending. At least for now the majority of my posts will be for a spending log, cause I really need to track what and where I'm spending and figure out what I can reduce and use that savings to conquer my debt.

I think this can be done.