Wednesday, December 31, 2008
In my 2008 Year in Review, I already revealed how I failed at my yearly goals (which weren't set until late May) but how I wasn't too upset about it. I've been trying to compile my goals for 2009 but since my job status is so in flux right now I haven't really gotten around to it.
I'm sure I'll look back at 2008 and miss it - it is the first calendar year I've spent with Boyfriend - but right now I'm a little anxious about 2009. Here's what I hope will happen next year:
1. I will get a new job.
2. I will move in with Boyfriend finally.
3. I will travel (more on this later).
4. I will save up an Emergency Fund.
5. I will continue to contribute to my retirement fund.
6. I will get my wisdom teeth extracted.
Those are not goals, per se, but things that are 99% set in motion already that I hope will go over smoothly in 2009. Once the dust settles and I know which out two or three different job possibilities pan out, I will be able to write some tangible goals.
In the meantime, Boyfriend and I are cooking our Big Ass Turkey for a celebration tonight!
Happy New Year!
Monday, December 29, 2008
Or will I toil away at my once very fulfilling but now completely bogus appointment job that is only guaranteed for the next 92 days?
Friday, December 26, 2008
Starting Balance = 1160 (a little higher than usual since my Hobby Check hasn't cleared yet)
Hobby - 35
Rent - 725
Water - 50
Utilities - 112 (40 towards Payment Agreement)
School Loan - 40
Sprint - 64
Xmas Present - 25
Groceries - 60
Misc. - 49
I may be getting some Christmas cash from the Rents but nothing is certain yet. I had a very nice Christmas with my family, despite that every time my mom gave me a sweater she said it was for my "new job," never mind the fact that 1) I don't have the job yet and 2) the job in question requires me to wear suits every day. Oh family! But hey, new sweaters!
Won't be back to regular blogging until Sunday but until then Happy Holidays all!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
So here's why my money went unless something crazy happens before my paycheck gets direct deposited tomorrow morning:
I got $258 unexpectedly. I spent it. In fact I spent $281 in miscellaneous unbudgeted items including a new suit, a hair cut and Christmas presents which means I am lucky that my Hobby Check always takes weeks to clear and I didn't get an overdraft fee for being $9 over budget. Total Fail.
But c'est le vie. Christmas is finally here and as stressed as I am right now about a lot of things I'm looking forward to spending some time celebrating with my family. Happy Holidays to you all!
Friday, December 19, 2008
Boyfriend and I had already started our Friday celebration early in light of the huge snowstorm so I missed a call on my cell phone. But guess what the happy message left for me said? I have been called in to a second interview on Tuesday with the Big Big Boss. I think (cross fingers) this means I am the final candidate for the position. I should have known my new power suit would bring me luck. Back to celebrating my good fortune!
I pay for the insurance every month so I hoped it wouldn't cause a financial nightmare to get it fixed but it did require me to go to the mall. Here's how I did:
Bus to/from the mall - $2
Cost to fix cell phone - $0 (nice!)
Cost to eat dinner at the mall - $7 (boo)
Brand new black pants suit - $57 (yay!)
Present for myself - $20
The pants suit is really nice and there was such a huge sale that I really can't say I regret getting it. I really needed a nice suit to wear for my interview and my only other pants suit is too tight now. I consider the suit an investment in myself (one that I hope paid off today on my interview!).
The present for myself? Well it's something I've been meaning to get for a long time and I took advantage of the holiday sales to snag a great deal. By the way, being in the mall was kind of surreal. The stores are begging people to come in, I swear. I usually hate the mall but people were so friendly on this visit it made me wish I had more money to spend! Well I guess I did my small part for the economy.
Yesterday at lunch I browsed the holiday fair they have set up at work and found three great presents - one for Boyfriend ($18), my BFF ($20), and my Sister and BIL ($15). Yes, technically these weren't things I was planning on buying without the windfall but it's Christmas and I love giving presents.
Then I decided I should get my hair cut for my interview. It looks great and came to be $40 including tip. After the hair cut I went to the bar and had a gin and tonic ($7) and then stopped by the liquor store and got a bottle of Pinot Grigio ($10). Today, after my interview I went to the grocery store and spent $21 on materials to make Spinach Artichoke dip for a party tonight.
In essence, I have spent that entire windfall in three days. But hopefully I'll be getting a better job any day now. The interview went very well I think. The job is unfortunately not in walking distance to where I live but the bus only took 15 minutes so it's a lot more convenient than the other job I traveled by bus to interview for.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I got an interview for a better job! And
I got an email saying my office is extending all of our employment papers until March 31st!
I'm very excited that no matter what I will have a job in 2009, even more excited at the prospect of it being a better job. Now I officially have three irons on the fire and I'm feeling good as we go into the holidays.
The interview is on Friday so I'll report back with details. In the meantime, my co-workers, many who have absolutely NO backup plan, are very excited.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
This is my highest interest debt and if I don't get laid off I hope to have it knocked out by next February. Now my goal is even closer in sight!
I also realized that it costs about $30 to take the bus back home for Christmas if I intent to leave Tuesday like I planned. And where is that money going to come from? I suppose I could charge it since I just paid extra to my credit card but that wasn't my first choice option. Or I could wait to take the bus until I get paid on Wednesday, a.k.a. Christmas Eve, but that wasn't my first choice option either. Believe me, the bus is already crowded enough on a regular day.
Alas it seems that Santa Claus has solved my problems for me because I checked my mail today and received a $258 check! Now this is where the story gets a little hairy - exactly two Christmases ago I got a call from a telemarketer asking me if I wanted a free vacation. She said I had a week to cancel the "vacation club membership" but that the vacation coupons were mine to keep! Long story really short, I got ripped off. I took my complaint to the BBB, my bank, the Florida Attorney General, you name it. And now I finally get my money back! [Word to the wise: don't be an idiot and give your bank account number over the phone.]
Now, I can't go all crazy with this check since a) I don't know how long it will take to clear my account and b) I still have the following un-budgeted items to pay for:
- Hobby Christmas party BYO and optional grab bag item ($10 + cost of beer)
- Ghetto Christmas Office Pizza Party ($5)
- Boyfriend's Condo Party Optional Gab Bag ($10?)
- Bus home for Christmas $30
- My share of joint gifts with Boyfriend ($60)
- Professional Association annual dues ($50)
- Might as well pay the dentist finally ($25)
Friday, December 12, 2008
- Create an Emergency Fund of $700.
- Increase salary to $55,000.
- Start Health Savings Account.
- Make regular contributions to Roth IRA.
Which brings me to my Emergency Fund. This is a major fail but it's still a goal I'm very committed to and will carry over to 2009. Since I started paying my Student Loans and contributing to my retirement fund this year I have been really unable to find a regular amount every pay period to put in my Emergency Fund. I've started a fund but it's pretty much empty right now. With the potential job insecurity looming I have realized that even $700 in an Emergency Fund would be woefully inadequate since I would have to make up a deficit between my anticipated Unemployment Benefits and my current fixed expenses.
Instead of an Emergency Fund thus far I've created an Emergency Plan which is to dump my apartment once and for all. Even though it's right down the block from Boyfriend's condo and is beautifully decorated to my taste, I spend less than two hours a week there to the tune of $865 a month (rent + overdue water + utilities + overdue utilities). Yikes! If I don't get laid off I still plan on dumping the apartment within the next six months. Bye bye hot pink bedroom. I will miss you!
And for regular OMG-I'm-Stuck-On-The-Side-Of-The-Road-With-No-Money emergencies - which would be rare I hope since I don't even have a car - Boyfriend has recently made me an Authorized User on one of his credit cards which is kinda cool since I'm working on paying off my credit card right now and my $30 available credit wouldn't really cover any true emergency. It may even improve my credit score through a concept called piggy-backing.
As for a Health Savings Account, this is no longer my goal because I was confused and thought I needed one when I, in fact, needed to open an Flex Spending Account. Unfortunately I intentionally missed the enrollment deadline for 2009 since there's a pretty good chance I won't be at my office for much of 2009. I guess this will turn out to be a 2010 goal. Doh! Luckily my health insurance is pretty rad and I have very low out-of-pocket costs. And my pharmacist just told me I can save $10 a month by switching to a generic prescription! [BTW: talk to pharmacists, they're not just cashiers who give you meds, they're really smart and helpful!]
Finally, I did not contribute one dime all year to my Roth I.R.A. Last time I looked at it I had about $12 in it. Instead I started contributing 7% of my salary in a 457 Retirement Plan. Despite the fact that I made this decision a month before The Downturn I have accumulated $998 in this account since July. Sweet! My friends think I'm stupid to put money in my 457 instead of a Roth I.R.A. because of the tax advantages but the first rule of investing is Know Thyself and I know that in December of 2007 I dumped my entire $600 in Roth funds to pay for (gasp) Christmas presents. As much as I'd like to think I've grown in 2008, making my retirement funds inacecssible is the best option for me right now.
In the next couple of days I will come up with new financial goals for 2009 that are hopefully more informed and easily attainable.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
2 cans tomato Sauce @ $1 each
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Water - 50/50
Credit Card - 20/0
Sprint - 65/64
Utilities - 105/105
Monday, December 8, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
But first, what if you decided my parents were filthy, old money, Bart Bass on Gossip Girls, rich? What would that mean for me? I have about $100 in my bank account right now to last me until next Wednesday. Hardly enough money to buy a drink at The Plaza. And sure I get a couple of handouts once in a while, but if you are interested in trading a father who gives you a hundred dollars a month versus one who lets you make your own relationship decisions, then give me your address and I'll gladly trade with you.
Yet, I live in a low cost of living area so my salary of $43,600 is well above the median household income for my city - $33,000. But I never feel rich because I am paying off so much debt. If and when I move in officially with Boyfriend, our household income will be over $130,000 and we will be statistically speaking quite rich. We probably won't feel rich then either because we will both be saving and paying off debt.
MSN Money did an article today on how to tell if you are rich. Because of the reaction to my post I tried to see if my parents could officially be categorized as "rich." The closest city listed on the chart was New York City, where the average household income is $240,000. My parents live in a suburb of New York City and I don't know how much their income is. My Dad is self-employed and therefore his income varies greatly from year to year. My Mom's salary is public information, as is mine, and it is about $100,000. They also pay about $25,000 a year in property tax. Rental income brings in about $20,000-$30,000. Hypothetically, let's say they make a combined $350,000 a year. This would only make them "rich" in NYC if they had no kids. Yet they have two living at home.
In short, my parents are well off but not crazy OMG rich. You may think differently if you spend time with them. They like nice things and were delighted to throw my sister a 200 person wedding. They belong to a private club and have hired help clean the house, landscape and do home improvement tasks. Growing up I had nannies, yes nannies, but in my Mother's defense, she was getting her Master's Degree at the time.
Yet I worry about my parent's finances. They have taken a huge hit in their retirement accounts with only five years to go before retirement. My little sister is expected to start college in a year and a half and we never qualify for financial aid. Most of my parents' wealth is tied up in real estate that is declining in value and they have expressed no desire to ever leave our mammoth house behind.
Bottom line, no matter how much money my parents have, I'm just as poor as a church mouse and though my Dad is paying $303 a month now towards one of my student loans, there's no chance I will get a $50,000 windfall like Her over at Make Love Not Debt towards paying back my loans. But stick with me and I will pay back my student loans (largely) by myself. Probably then I'll have to start a new blog about how "rich" I am.
What about you guys? Anyone else rich on paper but not in reality?
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Confession: my parents are pretty rich. Not in a "everyone that lives in America is richer than most of the world" rich but "holy crap, that's your house?" rich. For those of you that have been reading this blog for a while you may have already guessed that. Why else would my Dad constantly give me small sums of money so that he could continue to pass judgment on my life? How did I get so awful with money in the first place and end up in this mess? I don't think growing up I ever felt "rich," however, since I was surrounded by equally if not richer folk.
So with that important piece of background information, I bring you my Thanksgiving holiday redux. Boyfriend and I spent our first Thanksgiving together (last year we were dating but he was out of the country). Miles were driven, cats were traumatized, a ten year high school reunion was attended, and the George Washington Bridge was crossed three times in as many days.
This Thanksgiving was the first time I didn't spend the entire holiday with my own family and therefore the first time I realized just how different the holiday can be with other families. As embarrassing as it sounds, I grew incredibly homesick when I realized that there were no mini-quiches, linen napkins, chandeliers and mulled cider. Instead I was treated to folding chairs and homemade pie. Boyfriend and I even went out for dinner on Wednesday with his parents and they made him split the bill! That sort of thing would never happen in my family.
After visiting Boyfriend's parents we visited my family and learned that talking about money is now apparently allowed despite its previous ban in polite conversation. Here is what I learned:
- My mom claims to have lost "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in her retirement accounts. I asked her if she was exaggerating but she insisted she wasn't.
- My sister and her new husband are leaving NYC to live in the suburbs in an apartment owned by my parents for next to nothing. This is quite possibly the only financially responsible move my sister has ever made.
- A friend (age 30) was laid off from her job in the financial sector.
- Another friend (age 31) was laid off from her dot com job, despite spending $35k to get pregnant (it worked!) and now is forced to put her apartment on the market.
- A friend's mother who works for the financial industry has stored $10,000 under her mattress in case of emergencies. This is no joke. She's the richest woman I know and if she's this scared then holy crap!
- My brother works retail and unfortunately they are cutting his hours.
That was my Thanksgiving. My parents warned it would be a "lean Christmas" but I don't believe them. I don't need any presents but I can't imagine my mom not buying tons of things anyway. Sigh.