Friday, October 31, 2008

Let Them Eat (Wedding) Cake Part Two

Right after I got back from the Destination Wedding I attended I did an incomplete post of my time away and all the money I spent. And then I got busy with work and life of course so I left you all in suspense. Also you're probably not gonna like what I have to tell you because I spent a whole lot of money. But life is meant for the living, right? Not the scary zombie brides (Happy Halloween BTW!!!).

Ok so here is it and appropriate to the date, it's pretty scary!!!

As of my last post I was still on Friday and had spent $70 of my own money (see previous post for details).

Saturday I wake up hungover as all hell. I remember a hot tub. I remember the World Series being on really late. I remember deciding I was bored of beer and that it was a good time to switch to liquor. Hanging out with college friends must have made me think I could still drink like I was in college. Sadly friends, that is no longer true.

The Atkins girls had supplied a heartiful sausage breakfast. Eww gross thought hungover Sallie's Niece. When someone volunteered a supermarket run I jumped in to come. I immediately purchased a Starbucks Iced Mocha with whipped cream (a yummy $4), then proceeded to get a roast beef wrapped sandwich, a 12-pack of beer (my contribution to the house), flip flops for dancing (I forgot mine), a nail file (I forgot mine) and a toothbrush (yup forgot that too). All told I spent $35 at the supermarket (including Starbucks).

Back at the house I deposited a crisp $50 bill into my wedding card as a gift to my friend. Then we went to the wedding. Yay it was awesome. So happy for her. The band was great! We danced and partied in a limo. Pretty much your typical expensive best-day-of-your-life kind of thing. Going to a wedding stag sucks though and I'm one of the most independent women I know. I danced awkwardly next to other couples and finally snagged the cousin of the groom as my dancing partner. He was adorably southern and had hair that draped over one eye just so....but I digress.

The day after the wedding was a real Budget Buster. I thought I had secured people to come with me (and drive me) to the touristy things I wanted to do before my flight. I thought wrong. College Friend left for her honeymoon and I was alone in an oceanfront mansion. And bored. I called about ten dolphin tour boat companies and half of them were not operating because it was Sunday. The other half refused to take on just one passenger. Curse you!

I finally found a boat but it wasn't departing for several hours. So I took a cab to requisite touristy resturant ($20). Had lunch and drinks ($25). Bought souvenirs including one Christmas gift ($47). Took another cab to boat tour ($12). Went on boat tour ($15). Sat at a bar in the harbor until it was time for my flight ($10). Took yet another cab to airport ($15). Bought random snacks and magazines ($12).

So yes, I spent almost all of the $200 my Dad gave me plus about $150 of my own dollars. It was the most expensive weekend ever!

I had fun and I'm glad I got to be a part of my friend's wedding and everything. Looking back I should really have rented a car even if it was only for one day because though I was told it was a very small town the cabs were so slow and painfully expensive. I also really should have found a way to get Boyfriend to come with me because being on my own really really sucked.

I don't want to come off as anti-wedding and I know I definitely didn't need to spend as much as I did but the next time I get invited to a Destination Wedding it best be someplace really fun and affordable to get to. Hopefully there will be no more weddings for a while now.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Budget 10/29 - 11/12

I got my reimbursement back from my work trip! $65 - of which $7 was spent on lunch (don't kill me, we have no food at home and it's cold out). The remaining $58 will be folded into my bi-monthly budgeting as follows:

Starting Balance = 1195 (1134 + 58 + 3)

Savings - 50
Rent - 725
Water - 50
Sprint - 65
Utilities - 85 ($40 towards Payment Agreement)
Capital One - 20
Boyfriend - 50
Hobby - 35
Groceries - 50
Misc. - 65

As I recently learned from Landlord, I owe four years of back water bills to the tune of $400. I wanted to pay $100 a month towards this new annoying debt but alas I can't afford to right now.

Sprint's initial bill of $48 must have been a teaser to entice me to switch plans because now it's up to $65 but it is at least marginally cheaper than before.

Utility debt and Boyfriend debt are tied at $245 a piece. I want to pay off Boyfriend by Christmas and assuage myself of Bad Girlfriend Guilt. I also need to get him a small anniversary gift as we are coming up on our first anniversary, yay!!!

Where it Went 10/15 - 10/29

Can you believe I FORGOT it was payday today? Wow. That's pretty amazing. Usually I'm half-starved wondering if I can afford the forty cent office coffee. Thanks Dad!

Anyway, a lot of money was spent at my friend's wedding this past weekend. Fortunately most of it wasn't mine! Therefore, this post is only going to account for the money I budgeted for two weeks ago (aka my own money). I'll post a full mea culpa of the other wedding money soonish.

Here's how I did compared to the Budget I made two weeks ago:

Savings - 50/10
Aunt Sallie Mae - 406/406.96
Defaulted Student Loan - 260/260
Nice Collection Agency - 125/125.81
Wedding Gift - 100/50
Groceries - 40/0
Misc. - 164/200

I don't think I paid for any of our groceries these past two weeks but in my defense we didn't go shopping all that much. I bought a bottle of wine to bring to my weekly friend date ($12). I reduced my wedding gift to $50 and also purchased a $3 card. I went out to a fancy bar for a friend's birthday and exceeded my $20 budget for that night by about $20 - but the duck tacos ($13) I had were most definitely worth it. I went in on pizza and beer with friends last week to the tune of about $20. All in all, this was a very social two weeks for me. But life is short so I lived it up a little! (Also Boyfriend was out of town for a week.)

I will attone for these sins in the next Budget, particuarly the Savings.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We Need a Grocery Budget!!!

I am taking a break from reporting about the out-of-town wedding I attended to discuss a matter that has become of upmost important to me: food.

I've always loved food, don't get me wrong. And I have already learned my lesson about the perils of buying lunch at work. But ever since I started dating Boyfriend I have become alarmingly domesticated. I've been cooking! And not just pasta or scrambled eggs but actual meals. Truth be told before he came around for dinner I mostly ate:
  • Canned soup
  • Ramen noodles
  • Frozen dinners
  • Frozen ravioli
  • Chef Boyardee ravioli
  • Pasta, lots and lots of pasta
  • Mac and cheese out of a box
  • Hot dogs
  • PB & J
In my defense, my Mother is not a great cook and didn't really teach me anything about cooking. At all. So I went straight from her house to college where I had unlimited access to the dining halls. No kidding. They changed our meal plans to unlimited in my junior year. Eat whenever you want! Oh to be a student again....

After college I lived at home and ate Mom's cooking again before finally heading back to law school where I lived in a dorm that had a kitchen but I didn't have time to cook so I survived on tomato soup and hot dogs. Seriously. That's all I ate for one year. But I aced Contracts!

My second year of law school I moved into my first apartment! Independence! A kitchen of my very own. A whole set of used cookware handed down to me with no instructions. I expanded my horizons to the occasional omlette but mostly I stuck to that list above. I've now lived in that apartment for four years and the most elaborate meal I've made there is chilli.

Then I met Boyfriend! We courted - during which time I discover his culinary habits are even worse than mine. Instead of making it a Mac n Cheese night he orders in. Every night! I reaped the benefits of this habit at first. Don't get me wrong. When you're first dating a great guy and he wants to order you a baked ziti dinner for delivery so you have time to, um, watch a movie, you go for it.

Then things really got the kitchen. It started with football season of course. I made for my new Boyfriend the only thing I'd ever really learned how to make: chilli. It took me all day in the Crock Pot but we loved it. A tradition was formed. We started going to the grocery store together and planning meals. We were a couple who cooked for each other. Life was good.

I started taking pictures of the meals I made to email to my Mom to prove that yes I do know how to make pork chops.

Yum, I made this shrimp stir fry a couple of weeks ago. And while yes it's cheaper than going to a restaurant the items you see above were really damned expensive. The shrimp was reasonably priced but when you add in the baby corn plus the scallions plus the snow peas et. al it was probably about a $30 meal. Obviously we can't afford to eat something like that every night.

Boyfriend and I shop for food for his condo together and I want to start chipping in more as I've been kind of lax with my grocery money contributions the past couple of trips. I've been reading a lot about stockpiling staples when they are on sale and I think it's a great idea. However on my limited budget I can't exactly buy much of anything in bulk. Browsing the weekly grocery store flyer I noticed that bread crumbs are 10 for $10. I think that sounds like a fabulous deal. I ain't so sure where we have the room for 10 boxes of bread crumbs though. Oh wait, how about my Really Expensive Storage Facility around the corner?

I think we need to do a little more meal planning so that we can effectively set our grocery budget. We always buy things on sale except for lunch meat and beer but we need to stock up on more of the basics....especially because, guess what, it's snowing in October!! So stay tuned for more on my culinary adventures.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let Them Eat (Wedding) Cake

On Friday The New York Times published an article entitled "How to Take a Cake Knife to Wedding Costs" which detailed ways in which weddings are being scaled back due to the tumultuous state of the economy. Buy a vintage dress. Use an ipod instead of a band or D.J. Try sunflowers in the centerpieces instead of orchards.

I didn't get to read it until today though, as Friday I was on a $505 plane ride to a Destination Wedding!

The article goes on to make an interesting observation about what it's like to throw a big wedding in this day and age:
“Most successful men with daughters in their 20s set aside funds for the big day,” said Mr. Gruber, the photographer. “The money for her wedding is still there. Today it is a matter of perception: ‘Can I have the wedding I have always envisioned for my daughter, or is it insensitive to spend that kind of money right now?’ ”
Is it tasteless to spend $20,000+ on a wedding when people are worried about losing it all? I can now give you my personal perspective, having witnessed the elaborate wedding my parents threw for my sister in August as well as traveling to a destination wedding this past weekend.

Here's the scoop: College Friend and her (now) husband come from the same town. Connected through friends after college and now belong to the same cute little circle of friends that are all drinking the Marriage Kool Aid. Despite being two years my junior all her other friends seem to be married or engaged. Except me! Yes, that's right, Sallie's Niece went from being a strong accomplished young woman to Sad Old Maid in the matter of hours.

I arrived Friday night to discover that, without Boyfriend, I was the only person sleeping alone in the Beach House - except for the college-age Sister of the groom. Further than that, everyone in the house was either married or engaged - save for the brother of the bride who has seemingly forgotten about the night we shared in a sleeping bag six years ago - and his airhead girlfriend who desperately wants to be engaged to him. And guess who I get assigned to share a room with?

But, alas, this is a blog about money so I shall stick to the facts. Unfortunately the debit transactions weren't online yet but a lot of money was spent. My Dad ended up giving me $200 for the trip instead of $100 and despite the lofty ambitions I initially had for that money when I first learned it was coming, I can now confess that most of it is now gone. And you know why? Because going to a wedding by yourself sucks, that's why.

I enjoyed getting to spend time with my friends - the one getting married - and our former roommate who is now married to a guy we all knew in college. And the house we stayed in was pretty awesome - you know, your typical ten bedroom oceanfront mansion - seen one, seen them all. It rents for $9000 a week in the off-season if you're interested (nice view eh?)

I hate to be judgmental, I really do, and maybe it was just because I was seeing her for the first time in a few years but holy crap my friend has changed. I mean, even having her wedding someplace where it costs people lots of money to get there (as opposed to the town where she and all of her friends live) was odd for me considering we always preferred the low-key life in college. Also she is super skinny, a feat I discovered she achieved through the Atkin's diet. All of her friends do Atkin's. It's a little disturbing if you ask me. Late Friday night found them dipping pear slices into peanut butter. Saturday morning we woke up hungover as all hell to be treated to sausage links....and nothing else. Screw you Doctor Atkins!

Let me just take a minute to say that this is the friend that introduced me to Ani DiFranco. Who never shaved her legs because she resented the fact that she was expected to. We didn't wear any makeup and we hated sorority-type girls in college.

The whole experience really tested my opinion of wedding and marriage and the whole shebang.
But enough about that. Onto the accounting. Friday I spent about $70 - owing to the fact that I knew my friend was still at the wedding rehearsal when my plane got in and so I decided to just take a cab to a bar instead of bothering her when she was busy. There I proceeded to have a Bloody Mary and a beer (thanks Dad!). I then took another cab to the Beach House. $26+$20+11 = 57 + breakfast at the airport + assorted sundries.

To Be Continued.......

I'm Back From the Wedding!

I arrived back last night from a wonderful wedding weekend courtesy of my friend who decided to get herself hitched and invite me along as well as the Extra Paycheck that helped me buy the airfare and my Dad who decided to bankroll my dolphin-watching ambitions.

I have SO much more to say about the weekend and my experiences but, unfortunately, they don't pay me to blog.

Stay tuned for a full accounting (hint: it's not pretty).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wedding Budget Update

So crisis averted I guess. Called my mom to talk about my dress and travel plans, etc. when all of a sudden a voice in the background says "does Sallie's Niece want some money for her trip?"

Dun dun dun.....Dad to the rescue!!! First thing tomorrow I will have $100 sitting pretty in the bank.

I've been bailed out just like the banks.

Sure I could have said no but he wants me to enjoy myself and frankly I would be a whole less stressed if I know this weekend was going to run smoothly. Also if I had planned my wardrobe weeks in advance but that's a whole other story.

The question now becomes: do I up the wedding gift back to my intended $100 or take a dolphin tour? I don't know. I think I'll stick to the $50 plan and then get my parents a souvenir. Or something for Boyfriend. Or maybe even me!

And yes, dear readers, I do feel a little ashamed to admit to you all that I am 28 years old and I'm taking money from my parents but I'm being honest. They like to help me out and sometimes you just gotta let em. Now I won't feel like it's a major crisis if someone wants to go out to a bar or restaurant while we are away. I can even rent a bike. Or see some dolphins.

Wedding Budget

So I've decided to stop stressing the wedding. It should be a blast. It's about 42 degrees here right now and 60 degrees at the wedding destination so that will be a welcome change. Also I get to hang out with two of my best friends from college who I regretably haven't seen as much as I would like in the past couple of years. I get to visit a cool location, stay at an fabulous house and party all weekend.

Part of my stress involves the fact that I will be alone. Boyfriend didn't want to make the trip with me understandably but I have never been to a wedding by myself. I've flown by myself a couple of times so I'm not really worried about that. It's just navigating a new place is always a challenge on your own. I plan to just hop in a cab as soon as I get out of the airport and travel to the house ($20 max).

I can't imagine anyone wanting to leave the beach house that night after the rehearsal dinner so there should be (cross fingers) no bar tabs to deal with. The wedding doesn't start until 5 on Saturday so there is some possibility of sightseeing but hopefully I can tag along with someone who rented a car. I also know from personal experience that the physical act of getting a bridal party ready for a wedding can take all friggen morning and early afternoon so maybe there won't be any time for sightseeing. Since I'm not in the wedding party I may want to escape the madness Saturday morning however. One option is a bike rental ($10) or just walking down the beach.

After the wedding the plan is to go back to the beach house (free transportation!) so I can escape bar tabs once again presumably. Sunday is pretty much open. I would like to do some sightseeing and there is a two hour dolphin tour ($40) which would be awesome but not something I want to do by myself. I really wish Boyfriend was coming. Sigh. Can probably get a ride back to airport with someone at the house but if not that's another $20.

So in total:

Cabs - $20-40
Sightseeing - $10-40
Gift - $55 (including card)
Tips - $5
Snacks - $10

So that's about $150, i.e. every last cent in my checking account. Sigh. But that's a worst case scenario budget. I'm going to try to buy a soda before boarding the plane so that will save me a marginal amount over the $5 US Airways wants to charge me to drink one of theirs. I'll also buy snacks at the drug store tonight.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Help Me Decide What to Give For A Wedding Gift

Miraculously I still have $150 in Checking, $50 in Savings and $0 cash on hand. I have yet to purchase the $100 Gift Card I intended to give as a wedding present.

Part of me is saying just stop being cheap and go buy it. It's not your friend's fault that you have so little money. She is important to you and you should honor your friendship with an appropriate gift. Also to not give a gift is so tacky. She even invited you to stay in the totally awesome beach house for free!

But part of me is saying, woah, you already gave her engagement presents ($80) and purchased a plane ticket ($505) to attend this wedding. You are giving up one of your vacation days at work and will spend about 12 hours all told in air travel over the course of one weekend to visit a destination that is on just about no one's list of places to go to in October.

So I'm going to put up a poll - the first on this blog - soliciting advice. Here's a little more detail - friends/roomies in college, very close but have not seen each other in several years. Lives in a destination I could easily get to for less than $100 but is having her wedding in a remote location. What is the "appropriate" gift for me to give?

When voting I would ask you to not necessarily take into account my dismal financial condition but mostly what you yourself would give for this occasion. Or if your opinion is based solely on your evaluation of my budget please indicate as such in the comments.

Thanks and hurry up because I leave Friday morning!

BTW: I am still predicting I will need only $50 for the weekend because the beach house is six miles from the airport so at a rate of $3.00 per mile I can get there for less than $20. All meals and alcohol are covered. No hair or makeup for me this time (not a bridesmaid).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Six Financial Milestones Before Turning 30

From MSN Money, here are six financial milestones the "experts" agree we should achieve before we reach our 30th birthdays:

1. Scale back the credit cards

The average credit card debt among 25- to 34-year-olds was $5,200 in 2004,
according to credit card research firm That is on top of the
average $19,200 in student-loan debt carried by recent undergraduates.
2. Own a home -- or have a plan.

Young Fisher says that homeownership should be a top priority for those who rent. "Start saving for a down payment," she says. "If you find something you love, or a change of life comes along (like a baby or a relocation) and you don't have any money, you're going to borrow or get an interest-only mortgage -- which is ridiculous."

3. Have skills.

Even for those who do not consider themselves entrepreneurs, most workers should expect multiple changes in employers and job titles throughout their careers. "By time you're 30, you should develop a set of marketable skills," says Gregg Fisher, 35, founder of Gerstein Fisher, a New York financial-planning firm. "Try to bring something new to the table."

The model of working for the same company for 30 years and retiring with a gold watch is now two generations out of date, says Fisher, who founded his firm -- which serves mostly clients under age 45 -- at age 21.

Today's workers must differentiate themselves in order to survive and thrive, Fisher says. "Everyone's really self-employed. If you work for a company, you just have one client," he says. "If they fire you, you're out of business."

4. Give money away.

Establish a regular charitable giving plan, says Scott Hanson, founder of financial-planning firm Hanson McClain and the author of the recently published "Money Matters: Essential Tips & Tools for Building Financial Peace of Mind."

"I think it's financially healthy to give," says Hanson, who also co-hosts a financial call-in show out of Sacramento, Calif. In talking to clients and callers, he's come to believe that we are an emotionally deprived nation that spends to feel good. When we feel down, we head to the mall.

5. Know thyself.

Introspection is not just for middle-aged guys with ponytails living on a cliff in Japan. Having a firm grasp on your priorities and values is one critical component of a healthy financial life.

6. Know smart people.

It is important to have strong advisers in your life, Young Fisher says. Knowing a good tax preparer, financial adviser, attorney and insurance agent can save you untold amounts of money and stress. "When you do need someone, get someone good," she says.

So how am I shaping up to meet those goals? I have only a short time (okay about 14 months) until my 30th birthday and I'm hoping that 30 really is the new 20 because damn it sounds SO OLD.

#1 - Scale back on credit cards - Done. Actually I've never really had a problem with credit cards. I only have one right now. It had a credit limit of only $500 and it's pretty much maxed out right now but I hope to pay it off within this calendar year and then only use it for emergencies. I am also paying off a credit card that I used for only one semester when I studied away from my college and racked up about $1800 in debt. So at least I'm below average in this respect.

#2 - Own a home or have a plan - Sorta? I totally had a plan to buy my own house in a crummy neighborhood for less than $80k a while back. I was going to fix it up and lay low while I waited for the neighborhood to gentrify and hope I didn't get shot. But it didn't happen. I met Boyfriend and he bought a condo all on his own with the stated intention that "one day" we will live there together. I hope that this plan works out but if not I am fine renting at least until my collections are paid off. Is this a plan? I think so. Okay, then done!

#3 - Have skills - Done! I have mad skills. So many skills in fact that I can no longer list all the unpaid internships I have done in my life on one page. I spent about $140k to get these skills so I'm fairly certain I've done all I can in that respect. And the fact about not being able to work for the same company for 30 years? Hahaha, I actually can and probably will work for the same "company" for that long. Gotta love the public sector.

#4 - Give Money Away - Not Done - I only rarely engage in charitable giving, mostly alumni giving. This is something I want to improve. I've signed up at like three different places to do pro bono work and no one has called me yet. Sigh.

#5 - Know Thyself - Done - The article made this sound touchy-feely but I believe it's an important point. For example, I know I value my work-life balance and therefore feel wouldn't feel comfortable taking a job that compromised it. This shall be an even more important factor once I have kids - which I also know I want one day.

#6 - Know Smart People - Done - I know more lawyers than I care to count. I know lots of powerful people too. But those aren't the people I think you really should know. I think it's more important to find a good doctor (done), a decent auto mechanic (done but no longer relevant), and someone you know will answer their phone in the middle of the night if you need to talk (done). I also know a librarian who erases my fines and people who will lend me their large SUV.

So how are you under 30s doing with this list? What about those of you that have passed 30 - did you meet these goals?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Not Much to Say Today

My office is still cold.

And I'm still poor.

Boyfriend is out of town so I get to catch up on girly shows, play with the cat and read chick lit.

Four more days until my trip and I have $150 in Checking, $50 in Savings, $20 cash on hand. Wouldn't be so bad if I had already bought the $100 gift card for my friend's wedding present. I guess I'm going to really see if I can go out of town on $50 or less.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Excuse Me, Mister Scrooge

I'm SO COLD!!!!!!!! I had been counting down the days until October 15th when my office was going to turn the heat on. And guess what, my radiator is blowing out cool air! I thought perhaps this was a malfunction and asked around. Nope. The "heat" is set to 73 degrees and therefore only blows out cold air. If I'm cold I was directed to use this space heater. Which smells really bad. Here's a picture of it placed two feet away from my desk. The last time I turned mine on it shorted a fuse and caused ten people's computers to crash. I don't care though. I'm cold! I'm sure New York State taxpayers are happy we're saving money though!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Budget 10/15-10/29

Almost didn't want to post this Budget as it in no way resembles the ambitious goals I set out for myself in the Extra Paycheck Debt Payoff Plan but I find myself totally incapable to see beyond a two week time period and thus frequently forget about expenses. Today is officially "extra paycheck" day but it doesn't feel that way since I bought a plane ticket a month ago, thus using the first paycheck of the month to pay my rent instead of the second and now need to use this "extra paycheck" to pay for the things that the first paycheck usually covers. And so it goes...

This Extra Paycheck is at least helping me set things back on track again. From now on the first paycheck goes to student loans and Nice Collection Agency and the second goes to rent, utilities, credit card. Or so I hope.

So here's my very tentative budget for the next two weeks which includes me flying to an out-of town wedding. If you harken back to the last wedding I attended you may recall how viciously out of sync I was budget wise for this experience. Therefore I'm going to suspend extra debt payoffs until after the wedding next weekend so I don't come up short again. Here it goes:

Starting Balance = $1135

Savings - 50 (must start saving reguarly
Aunt Sallie Mae - 406
Defaulted Student Loan - 260
Nice Collection Agency - 125
Wedding Gift - 100
Groceries - 40
Misc. - 164

I'm finding it hard to calculate how much I may end up spending during the wedding. I have free accomodation at a pretty awesome beach house (see the pic). The rehearsal dinner, wedding, and brunch the next day ensure I will have food/drink the whole time. The only thing I can imagine paying for are cabs and snacks to/from the airport. Thus, I should be able to spend less than $40 the whole weekend, right? Wish me luck!

I also have to buy a bottle of wine tonight for my weekly movie date with a friend (approx $10) and have plans to meet up with a friend for a drink on her birthday on Friday (no more than $20). Boyfriend is going away next week so I need to officially buy all my sandwich supplies lest I want to survive on PB&Js.

I am looking forward to the wedding despite its obvious drain on my budget.

Landlord: "By the way, you owe me $400"

Despite my complaints and my desire to save up a Scumbag Landlord Fund before I potentially move into Boyfriend's Condo, my Landlord is better than a lot of others I've read about. I've pretty much resigned myself to losing my deposit because I used to smoke against his wishes and the explicit notice he added to my lease. But I've lived there for 5 years so the $775 I put down only boils down to about $155 a year lost. And if truth be told, it was my Dad's money anyway.

All in all he's been understanding, tolerant, and very quick whenever there was a problem. My apartment is nice and since I've been there so long my rent is slightly below market for its size.

Yesterday I called my Landlord to let him know my heat wasn't working. Don't worry, dear readers, I rarely sleep at my place anyway and I knew what the problem was. He called back an hour later to say the problem had been solved (amazing, right?) and then he laid this bomb on me:

I owe 4 years of water service in the amount of $400!!!

I would like to claim total ignorance or blame it completely on my Landlord but I simply can't. The first year I moved in he charged me a fee of $100 for water for the year. The next year there was a note on my lease saying I owed $100again but he didn't ask for it. So I didn't pay. The same thing went on for the subsequent years. I think he may have said something once like "you owe me money for this year's water" but it's not like he sent a bill or anything. We communicate only by phone and on the first of every month I post my rent check on my door in an envelope.

I wasn't dodging this expense, really, I just forgot. And I guess he forgot to remind me. My knowledge of the law makes me think he probably couldn't collect all of this money from me in court owing to the Statute of Limitations but I'm not gonna be that guy, you know?

I wanna say Damn the Man and hate on my Landlord like English Major's Money is rightfully doing after being screwed out of her $1800 deposit (yikes girl move upstate!) but really it's just a situation that sucks and is adding to my general frustration today.

He said we can work out a payment plan. Woo-hoo, another payment plan.

Well isn't this depressing? Why don't you check out quite possibly the funniest depictions of landlords ever created to cheer yourself up now?

Gotta love that Pearl.

Where it Went 10/01-10/14

The past two weeks have involved a lot of travel which is unusual. First I went home to celebrate my little sis's Sweet Sixteen. Then I found myself agreeing to a 4 day/3 night business trip partly because I wanted to get out of Dodge. That resulted in draining all of my money. Then Boyfriend's parents came to town and I had Monday off of work - which is lucky because I didn't need to spend any money for 4 days as a result.

But living paycheck to paycheck is getting really frustrating I gotta admit. I suppose it's better than living from bank overdraft to bank overdraft like I had been before. I am just getting really anxious for some progress and don't know when I will see it. The Extra Paycheck Debt Payoff Plan is, of course, not going according to plan unfortunately.

Anyway, enough complaining for now, here's where my money went compared to the Budget I made two weeks ago:

Rent - 725/725
Utilities - 92/90.62
Hobby Fee - 70/70
Travel - 80/35
Gift - 40/45
Boyfriend - 50/50
Groceries - 40/0
Misc. - 38/120

Travel is less than budgeted because they insisted on giving me the Student Fare even though I'm not a student and my Dad paid for my ticket back home.

Miscellaneous mostly refers to the work trip and I will see about $70 of this money back eventually - it would be more but I lost some of my receipts!

I got my little sister two DVDs and a pair of earrings. She loved them. She's really into 80's movies that me and my Older Sis grew up on. Funny eh?

Hobby debt paid off and now I will only be budgeting $35 a month for it. I am justifying this expense because I desperately need to exercise more and also because I saved money on my Sprint bill.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Student Loans Are The Devil!

So there I am doing mental arithmetic last night in bed, trying to plan my next budget when I noticed something fairly disturbing. I am currently paying two student loans on my own right now, monthly totals are as follows:

  • Aunt Sallie Mae - $406

  • Defaulted Loan - $260

I added them up and realized I am paying $666 a month in student loans!!!

Are student loans "the devil?" AND damn, that's a lot of money. Oh well. Maybe I should up the amount I'm paying to $667 as to be less creepy? I'm not a suspicious person but it was too funny not to share this realization!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Boyfriend Got a Raise!

What a happy Friday it is indeed! Boyfriend has been waiting to hear about a raise for a while now from his company and it finally came through! I didn't ask him if I could post it (so I won't) but I will tell you that our combined income is now $135,600! We're rich!!!

Well, no, there is no "we" to our money. Yet. And I'm still quite broke and will be until next Wednesday when the glorious Extra Paycheck comes. And combined we have a gigantic amount of debt (including his recently purchased condo) but I'm so proud of him. He hasn't had a raise in three years whereas I am guaranteed at least a COLA every year - though this year's COLA was 3% and inflation was 5% so I effectively make less money now.

On my own career development front, I didn't get the Bus Job - screw commuting anyway - but I did get another recruitment notice from an interesting prospect (in walking distance of course). Will post more details when they become available.

Have a great weekend. We'll be celebrating and entertaining Boyfriend's Parents who are visiting the condo for the first time!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I'm Back AND I'm Broke!

There are some things you can't measure with money. Like the valuable bonding time I gained with colleagues this week. Or the reputation as a "team player" I have likely earned for "volunteering" to go on an extended work trip. And the excellent professional connection I made this week. Or the fact that it's 3:30 and I'm sitting in the condo watching t.v. when everyone else is in the office.

Unfortunately there are some things you can measure with money. Like the fact that due to the work trip I now have none. Sigh. I tried, dear readers, but peer pressure and the promise of a $40 a day food voucher have rendered me temporarily penniless. Luckily I will eventually see most of the money I spent this week returned to me in the form of a travel reimbursement, but not for a couple of weeks I suspect.

BTW car drivers - apparently you can make BANK by signing up to go on a work trip if you play your cards right. My coworker/roommate is going to be reimbursed at something like $0.85 a mile - far above what it actually cost to drive her car. Unfortunately I don't have a car so I don't get to share in the booty.

In short, the trip was not the mini-vacation I imagined it to be and I can finally believe Boyfriend when he urges me not to be jealous of his travel to interesting locales. Sight-seeing was limited to a secret lunch trip I orchestrated and dinners were had at mostly chain restaurants. We didn't even SEE the city we were supposedly visiting as our work was done in the 'burbs. Alas, it was for "the greater good" of my office and I'm glad I went.

But don't expect me to "volunteer" again any time soon.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Work Trip = Living Large on $40 a Day

By the time this post appears I will be on my way to a fairly unexpected work trip - three days and nights in one of America's most depressed cities, yay!!! I'm actually looking forward to it though. I never get to go out of town for work and Boyfriend gets to go away all the time. The work on the condo is still not done so the past several weeks have been devoted to that and being away is my own selfish way of getting away from it all. I will miss Boyfriend and my cat of course, but opting to go on this trip earns me more than a few valuable Brownie Points at work.

Isn't she adorable? And isn't that just the nicest looking hard wood floor you've ever seen? Well hopefully by the time I come home everything will be more settled. I certainly know the cat will appreciate it.

So here I am, hitting the open road on a work trip. I'm supposed to have free Internet at my hotel room but I can't guarantee I'll be able to post for the next several days. The great thing about the trip, however, is that I was informed that I'll be granted a $40 a day food voucher! Forty bucks a day! Are you kidding me? That's the total amount I budgeted for myself for a two week period of groceries, sweet! I am going to live it large for the next three days, that's for certain!

I will have to share a room with a co-worker though. Is that weird? Like a grown-up sleepover? Yikes, wish me luck!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dreaming of Retirement

Everyone is panicking about the Stock Market!!! Except for me. I hadn't really jumped into the whole retirement savings scheme until (gasp) two months ago when I opened up my 457 Retirement Plan. I was curious to see how it was doing so (like many people across the country) I took a look:

I only "lost" $56.98 so I'm not too concerned. I am happy that I have accumulated so much in such a short time without really feeling an effect on my bottom line. Hopefully I can keep this up for the next 30 years of so. Sigh...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Budget 10/01 - 10-14

Once upon a time there was a girl whose family was so preoccupied with her older sister's wedding that they completely forgot her sixteenth birthday. Nope, we're not talking about Molly Ringwald here. My Little Sister is turning Sweet Sixteen this weekend and I almost totally forgot about it!

Although it's definitely going to through a small wrench in my Extra Paycheck Debt Payoff Plan I need to travel home this weekend to celebrate this momentous occasion. Little Sister and I are very close - she's an amazing kid and I'm so happy to see her growing up into a admirable young woman. Yet blowing out the candles on special occasion means 1) a present and 2) bus fare - things not originally contemplated by my Extra Paycheck Debt Payoff Plan.

I'm such a moron, really. Why can't I think ahead and plan for things that are going to cost money? Ugh! Must resolve to improve on this front.

So here's my Budget for the next two weeks, which may or may not have to be altered due to a potential Out of Town Work Trip:

Starting Balance = 1135

Rent - 725
Utilities - 92 (including 40 towards the Payment Agreement)
Hobby Fee - 70
Travel - 80
Gift - 40
Boyfriend - 50
Groceries - 40
Misc. - 38

And that's how the cookie crumbles. The gift I have tentatively picked out may not cost $40 but I'm leaving myself a cushion there, albeit a small one. My hobby debt is finally paid off so I can begin participating again today (yay!). Boyfriend has been very patient with me but I want to pay him back ASAP. Utility debt getting smaller - will attack that after I pay off the Credit Card. I can usually count on my Dad to give me enough cash to cover one of my bus fares when I leave home but it's not guaranteed. Can't wait to get rid of all the Short Term Debt (which, looking back, was a really bad name choice) so I can start to focus on other debts.

In the meantime, what do sixteen year old girls like? I have a couple ideas but could use more.

Where it Went 9/17 - 9/30

October at last! Time to start the much-anticipated Extra Paycheck Debt Payoff Plan! But first, an evaluation of where my money has gone the past two weeks, compared to the Budget I made. I kept on telling myself to just persevere during the past week when I was really really broke (see my $1.02 bank balance) and to believe in the Extra Paycheck Debt Payoff Plan. But buying a plane ticket and entertaining two sets of friends back-to-back was pretty draining. Friends are just so damned expensive sometimes. Here's how it went:


Aunt Sallie Mae - 406/406.96
Sprint - 48/48.29
Capital One - 20/15
Air Fare - 520/505
Groceries - 40/20
Entertainment, Misc. - 100/164

Entertainment was annoyingly high owing to a $75 dinner with Out of Town friend on top of a casual dinner the night before of about $30 and a sixer of beer I bought at an overpriced bodega for $12. It was nice she came to visit, don't get me wrong, but I wasn't sorry to see her go either! I pretty much had to live like a miser during the second week of the pay period, but it's okay because I got a free David Sedaris ticket!

The second Budget Buster was of course the air fare to Out of Town Wedding. I am so glad to be able to attend this wedding but at the same time feel just a little bit annoyed my friend is holding it in a place so far off the air travel radar that prices are more than what I would pay to go to a the Carri bean, Mexico, Jamaica or some other place I would love to fly to in October.

Oh well, the deed is done and frankly a few months ago I would never have been able to envision a time where I could afford a $500 plane ticket so I'm a little proud that I pulled it off. Baby steps...