Thursday, December 31, 2009

Monthly Student Loan Debt Roundup

My last monthly student loan debt roundup of 2009 is upon me and I'm happy to say I cleared over $700 in debt this month. Still seemingly a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of six figure debt but I'm satisfied for now with the progress.

One thing I'm not too thrilled to admit is that I failed to meet one of my 2009 Resolutions of paying off my smallest loan, titled "law school loan." In January when I declared that I would pay it off this year the balance stood at $1932 and today it stands at $1269 despite the fact that I paid more than the amount due and threw a couple of extra payments at it throughout the year. The 8% interest is killer.

Anyway, more beating myself up about failing my resolutions will come later. For now, here are the cold hard facts:

Not a bad month. Here's hoping 2010 brings a lot more progress.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Annual Exam Cost $254!

This post is about women's health so if that doesn't interest you feel free to stop reading...

Recently I had my annual exam and pap smear. This was actually the first time I've ever gone to a private OBGYN practice to have this performed as previously I went to my regular family doctor, the college health center and most recently my local Planned Parenthood. I liked the Planned Parenthood, especially when I didn't have "real" health insurance during law school and it is in walking distance from where I've lived the past 6 years. But I figured it was about time I established a relationship with a local practice because one day I may need care that's more than "preventative" if you catch my drift.

The appointment was fine (as fine as any half hour of your life in which you are prodded in such a personal way) and I paid a $20 co-pay when I left. Today I received a bill in the mail for an additional $10 for charges not covered by my insurance. The statement itself was enlightening.

My doctor's office attempted to bill $210 for the visit alone, of which I paid $20 and the insurance company "adjusted" payment was $56.

The pap smear is billed at $35, of which my insurance paid $27 and I am liable for $8.

The lab work is billed at $9, of which my insurance paid $7 and I am liable for $2.

Total charges = $254
Total paid by insurance = $90
Total paid by me = $30

Damn. Last year at Planned Parenthood, $35 got me my annual and six months of birth control pills. No wonder insurance companies are looking to do away with the annual exam.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Budget 12/23 - 01/05

So I'm kind of stumped making up this budget. There's a few things I need to figure out in the next couple of days/weeks that could alter things but I have to give it my best shot for now.

Still have to get one (or maybe two) small presents before Christmas and want to make a charitable donation before the end of the year.

But here's my budget for the next two weeks and into the new years:

Starting Balance = $1280

Credit Card - 250
Charity - 50
Wedding Savings - 500
Groceries - 75
Christmas - 75
Law School Loan - 54
Perkins Loan - 93
Misc. - 183

Here's hoping the rest of the year goes smoothly!

Where it Went 12/09 - 12/22

Oh my. Two days until Christmas and I am SO busy. I wish I could say it was all holiday fun keeping me occupied lately but mostly it is work. Since I only started this job in April I had no idea how busy things get around this time. Yikes!

So just want to pop in and check on my budget. Something is off since I had $50 extra in my account today even though it looks like I went over budget...but that's okay because I have to turn around and pay my credit card today so that money will soon be out the window.

Anyway, here's where my money went for the past two weeks compared to the budget I set:

Groceries - 100/100
Sallie Mae - 407/407
Defaulted Student Loan - 260/260
Nice Collection Agency - 125/125
Sprint - 74/74
Holiday Shopping & Parties - 200/150+
Misc. - 101/240

A lot of the miscellaneous spending is holiday related but I just lumped it all together for convenience.

And since I got paid today now I get to figure out how the rest of my financial year will go.

I want to post a year end wrap up but that will probably have to wait until after Christmas.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Snag with the mortgage refinance

I posted a few weeks ago about how my fiance and I were looking to refinance the condo.

Well we finally got out appraisal back and the news isn't so hot. Instead of the $155k we were hoping to get, our appraiser valued the condo at $150k. Boo. And so off in my humble opinion. Based on comps and improvements we've made I think our value should be at least $160k.

But the appraiser 1) used comps from older buildings; 2) used comps from our building for units that have not done any remodeling. We have a brand new kitchen and hardwood floors whereas the other units have old kitchens and carpets!

We are in the process of challenging the appraisal but if worst comes to worst we have to come up with close to $5k to cover the closing costs ourselves.

It totally sucks but I know in the long run getting a mortgage rate 2 points less than our current mortgage rate will save us a lot of money.

Updates to come!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Budget 12/09 - 12/22

And finally I have a free moment on this cold snowy day to post my new budget. We finally got some groceries!

I'm happy to report that most of our Christmas shopping has been completed. We managed to snag one present while at the supermarket and my fiance used his Christmas savings to buy most of the rest, minus a present I got for my parents.

Still have a little more to an office grab bag ($20), supplies for the office holiday party, a bottle of wine for a group holiday party, and materials for a Cookie Swap. Don't you just love the holidays?

Anyway, so here's where my money will be going over the next two weeks.

Starting Balance = $1267
Groceries! - 100
Sallie Mae - 407
Defaulted Student Loan - 260
Nice Collection Agency - 125
Sprint - 74
Holiday Shopping & Parties - 200
Misc. - 101

We got some less than good news about our refinance, but I'm waiting on more details before I post about that.

Wedding savings is on hold most likely until the new year due to yet another recent development but some wedding spending will be going on very soon too (time to pay those installment payments!).

For those of you in cold regions of the world, stay warm, and for those of you in the warmer areas, count your blessings!

Where it Went 11/25-12/08

It's snowing! Lots and lots of snow is blanketing my fine city and as someone with a five minute walking commute I can enjoy the good things about snow; i.e. it's pretty, and better than rain. Also it's a Ghost Town at work since everyone with kids or a long commute called out.

I've been slowly getting into the Holiday Spirit, first with Thanksgiving and then last weekend we had another family get together with merriment and hot apple cider. Alas, there are some stressors in my life right now that are interfering with fully embracing the holiday, but today's snow fall has me in a good mood so that's a start.

Credit Card - 200/200
Wedding Savings - 500/500
Wedding Spending - 0/600
Groceries - 75/0
Christmas - 150/156*
Law School Loan - 136/136
Perkins Loan - 93/93
Misc. - 126/280
*Technically I only spent half this amount but one of my siblings owes me the other half.

Once again we failed to do any grocery shopping so both my fiance and I spent money on dining out. This is something we have to work on, even if it's cold out and there's snow on the road.

I bought my wedding dress with money I have been saving for this very purchase. I will pay the remaining balance of $754 in about four months when the dress comes in.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Not For Me

Back in June I posted that several of my coworkers were looking into applying for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. I didn't think that it was the right thing for me to do but it was too complicated for me to figure out at the time so I promised an update at a later time.

After hearing about the program again, I decided to finally make a decision before too much time has passed.

I knew from hearing a coworker's experience in applying that my job counts as "public service" so that question was resolved.

My next question was "how do I know the loans will really be forgiven after ten years?" Will there be an income cut-off or does my current income qualify me as just broke enough to have the loans forgiven no matter what (after I get married I will have to use our joint income of course). I still can't find an answer to this question, but here's one example I did find:

Example: Jane Justice started out owing $100,000 in qualifying debt at 6.8%
interest and took a full-time public service job with a starting salary of
$40,000 with annual increases of 5%. Jane stayed in public service and paid
$49,132 over 10 years under the IBR plan. The federal government cancels
$118,868, the principal and interest remaining.

From here.

Sounds good, right? Wrong. I pretty much AM Jane Justice...except I make slightly more money, have slightly less "qualifying" debt at a lower interest rate than 6.8%, and anticipate greater salary increases than 5%.

But to qualify for the program you have to pay your loans in one of three ways:

Income Based Repayment (IBR) Plan
Income Contingent Repayment Plan
Standard Repayment Plan
with a 10-year repayment period
Any other Direct Loan Program repayment plan, but only payments that are at least equal to the monthly payment amount that would have been required under the Standard Repayment Plan with a 10-year repayment period may be counted toward the required 120 payments.

From here. I'll let you navigate that mumbo jumbo before I attempt to explain it.

I figured out right away that I didn't qualify for the Income Based Repayment Plan because I made too much money (ha!).

The Income Contingent Repayment Plan was less appealing since it only allows discharge after 25 years and you end up owing taxes on the amount discharged.

I thought maybe the Standard Repayment Plan would work but I still wasn't sure. I tried a few online calculators but it was all confusing and I wanted to hear the news straight from the horse's mouth.

So I called up good old Aunt Sallie Mae and got the skinny:

Yadda yadda you have to apply, yadda yadda we can add your Perkins loan to your payment, yadda yadda.....your payment will increase to $795.30 a month.

Excuse me? I am only paying $406 a month on my federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Throw in the $93 a month I am paying towards the Perkins loan (which will be gone SO much faster than 10 years from now) that amount only totals $499.

"Let me get this straight," I said, "you want me to give you $300 more a month so in ten years if maybe I have stayed a humble public servant the federal government may possibly forgive the rest of my loan?"

Click. Goodbye. At least now I know I made the right decision.

The explanation, apparently, is because I am on the level 30 year payment plan (where I pay the same $406 every month for the next 28.5 years) my payment is lower than it would be if I started paying based on the 25 year plan. But paying $300 more a month sounds like a crap gift to me, right?

And yes, I do realize that technically it would have possibly maybe saved me some money in the end but I plan to be rid of these loans in ten years without Uncle Sam's help thank you very much.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Refinancing the Mortgage....maybe

Remember when my fiance bought our condo? What a scary yet exciting time that was. I didn't think we would have to even think about another closing for several years to come.

With rates at such low levels, however, we are trying to refinance already.

From my post when we first bought the place:

Estimated Monthly Payments
Mortgage = $937.68
Taxes = $175.00
PMI = $61.38

The reality:

Currently Monthly Payments
Mortgage Principal = $146
Extra Payment to Principal* = $102
Mortgage Interest = $828
Escrow** = $256

*My fiance has been sending an additional payment of $102 a month so we can get rid of PMI sooner. Smart guy!

**Escrow includes PMI and taxes. seems we are paying $53 more a month than what we had originally estimated (before our extra payment to the principal). I'm not sure why that is but I suspect our taxes went up. I tried to look up our taxes online but the city's website isn't showing anything under fiance's name or our street address. I'm sure my fiance knows more but he's a busy guy today.

I do know this....our current mortgage rate of 6.75% bugs the hell out of us. With rates being offered under 5% to new buyers and buyers who are at risk of default, it seems like we are missing out. At one point, my fiance thinks that since we have so little equity in the condo and since we have an FHA mortgage already backed by Fannie Mae, that maybe we did qualify for the Making Home Affordable Program.

But like all other real estate questions I've seen, this one is complicated even for my legal trained mind. First, we called our bank and they said not only could we refinance at a lower rate, that there would be no closing costs or an appraisal!

Then, they called back and said there would be closing costs. The next call was to say they no longer offered refinancing on condos (ugh!).

Frustrated but not defeated we shopped around until we found a loan company that would refinance our loan at a better rate....with closing costs and fees of course. And we needed an appraisal.

So the appraisal was today! We cleaned, painted the kitchen (finally!), organized and staged. I hope it went well. It's a little frustrating because someone in our building is trying to sell off his multiple units and has priced them below market. And according to my research, a condo appraisal must use comps from the same building.

The loan company told us the appraised value must be about $1500 more than the purchase price of $152,659 in order to tack on the closing costs to the loan. Otherwise we would have to pay them out of pocket or they might not even give us the refinance.

We will hear back in a few days and then we can figure out what to do next, including plugging in the costs/benefits into this nifty "should I refinance?" calculator I found.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bought my Wedding Dress!

After countless hours searching online, five trips to various bridal salons, two minor meltdowns, and dozens of dresses tried on, I have found THE DRESS.

A lot of brides start thinking about their wedding dress as soon as they get engaged (or even before!) but I was not one of them. This process was long, hard and frustrating. In the end I think I found a beautiful dress I am excited to wear on one of the happiest days of my life to come.

Note: it is not the dress I have included in this post as I don't even have a picture of it yet and I wouldn't want my fiance to see it even if I did. But trust me, it's gorgeous!

So how much did it cost? Under (amended) budget!

When I first was detailing our wedding budget I optimistically (and unrealisticly) estimated I would only need to spend about $500 on my dress (haha, falls down laughing on the floor). Sample sales, David's Bridal's $99 dress sales, used dresses, etc. were on my mind. However, as I learned, finding a dress in my size that wasn't poorly made or wouldn't require costly alterations was going to cost quite a bit more. Therefore, my fiance and I decided to up the budget to $1600.

The base price of my dress is $1100, plus planned alterations of $150 and taxes of $104, the total comes out to be $1354. This does not include other alterations, which have been capped at $300. Hopefully my alterations will not cost the full $300 but even if they did I would end up only slightly over budget. It does make me a little dizzy thinking I have to work a full two weeks just to pay for a dress that I will wear for one day, especially since my second choice dress only cost $550, but I decided it was worth it to have the dress that I loved.
I paid $600 down as a deposit so the store can order the dress, which I will have in (crosses fingers) four months. I can't wait to wear it!

Monthly Student Loan Debt Roundup

I can't believe November is already over and soon 2009 will also be ending. It's been a long, crazy, but wonderful year. (More on that later of course.)

Right now I bring you my monthly student loan debt roundup.

On my way home from visiting family over Thanksgiving, I passed by many cars jammed with college students (and their stuff) heading back to campus and thought to myself "enjoy it now!" when contemplating the fact that I am still paying for the education I recieved as a freshman. And with only a few more weeks until my 30th birthday, my goal of paying off freshman year before I turn 30 is about $5,000 off (or about 3 years away at the current rate of payment).

But in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I remain thankful for my education, as well as my family, my fiance, our home, my career, and of course my furry friend.

Here are the numbers:

Private Undergrad Loan I must have messed up the totals last month when I reported them late so it shows no change.

And even though I managed to accidentally pay too much to Law School Loan, it and my Perkins loan do not reflect the amount of interest that has accrued this month as the website wasn't finished computing their totals. Hopefully that's an accident that can happen again as it will help me knock out my highest interest robbed-on-the-side-of-the-road loan at 8% so graciously given to me by my law school.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Budget 11/25 - 12/08

Three more paychecks until the holiday that shall not be named. I'm not so worried though. No one in our families expects us to give expensive gifts this year as we are saving for the wedding. smart fiance has amassed himself a Christmas fund by saving a little every month all year long like I told myself I would do almost a year ago.

The next money failure I'm about to report is actually a happy accident.

Since I paid off my laptop I decided I wanted to start snowballing the $43 payments I was making towards my highest interest student loan. So today I logged into my account to do just that, except when I computed the total I confused the amount I usually pay ($54; the minimum is $40) with the amount I usually pay to my Perkins loan ($93), since they are serviced by the same lender. As I result, I ended up sending $136 to the loan ($93 + $43). Yes I didn't do it deliberately but I'm still glad I did. This is also my smallest loan (~$1400) and I really hope I can knock it all out soon.

So here's my budget for the next two weeks, in which we actually purchase and use groceries, and I just may buy a present or two.

Starting Balance = $1280
Credit Card - 200
Wedding Savings - 500*
Groceries - 75
Christmas - 150
Law School Loan - 136
Perkins Loan - 93
Misc. - 126

*I already made this transfer so I will not fall short of my wedding savings goal once again!

They Increased My Credit Limit!!!

As I've mentioned before, I have been charging small amounts on my credit card and paying the balance in full each month in an effort to try and get the card company to raise my limit, thus improving my credit score. It's been a little over six months since I finally paid off the whole balance for the first time, a balance that I at one point had let climb up to $650 including late charges and fees on a card with a $500 credit limit. This was during my ostrich phase before I started the blog.

I log in to make my monthly payment today and voila, I see that I now have a credit limit of $5,500!!!
I have mixed feelings about this new development. I am very excited that in all this time of thinking about my money and trying to make up for past mistakes while being treated like a deadbeat by my own bank, debt collectors, student loan servicers, etc. that someone on the outside, i.e. "the man" has taken notice and had a little faith in me.

On the other hand...I know this wasn't an altruistic move on the part of the credit card company. They assume that since I have been charging a few things and then paying for them that given more credit I will charge more things. And frankly, I'm a little nervous about that too. Sure, I have been an authorized user on my fiance's Emergency Credit Card for months now with a similar balance and never ran amok, but it feels a little different when it's just "my card," you know? I am being completely honest here so take it easy on me.

Anyway, I am excited about this news and dedicated to not let it tempt me to spend. Wish me luck!

Where it Went 11/11 - 11/24

Sorry for the lack of posts. I was dealing with an unexpected health problem that is now (mostly) resolved. And then work/life got in the way a bit. But of course, payday always reminds me to be accountable to myself, my readers and my budget.

It was a spendy two weeks in addition to the $50 in health care costs I incurred (2 $20 co-pays, $8 in prescriptions, and $3 on the bus to the doctor, and yes I realize that totals $51 but I like round numbers). Mailed out our Save the Dates for the wedding. Went out to the movies with friends once and the bar three times.

Another budget buster was our inability to grocery shop which means I purchased about 9 lunches in ten work days and more than a few slices of pizza. Bad S.N., very bad. After the holiday we will remedy that problem.

So here's where my money has gone over the past two weeks compared to the budget I set:

Wedding Savings - 220/40
Wedding Spending - 0/30
Sallie Mae - 407/407
Defaulted Student Loan - 260/260
Nice Collection Agency - 125/125
Sprint - 74/74
Groceries - 75/0
Healthcare - 0/50
Beauty - 0/20
Misc. - 119/180

I still haven't done any Christmas shopping, haven't found my wedding dress and need to be saving more for the wedding. To tell you the truth, I am pretty overwhelmed right now and I hope it gets better soon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Budget 11/11 - 11/24

Time for a new budget! Need to catch up on my wedding savings a bit as December and January means we need to deplete most of the money we've saved so far paying installments to the photographer and band.

I've said it before and I'll say it again (at least for the next 8 months) but I can't wait until (saving for) the wedding is over! Soon enough I guess.

Without, further ado, here is my budget for the next two weeks. You'll notice it includes absolutely no Christmas shopping. I'm sort of in denial. :-0

Starting Balance = $1280

Wedding Savings - 220
Sallie Mae - 407
Defaulted Student Loan - 260
Nice Collection Agency - 125
Sprint - 74
Groceries - 75
Misc. - 119

And that's how the cookie crumbles.

I should note that I thought my payments to "Nice Collection Agency" were almost done by now but a recent statement from them indicated otherwise. I need to figure out what the balance is so I can nip that payment in the bud and free up another $125 a month towards other goals.

Where it Went 10/28 - 11/10

I had the day off work today (thank you Veterans!) so I'm posting my budget a bit late. But alas, here it is, time to face up with all the $$$ I spent in Sin City.

So here's how I did with my budget the past two weeks compared to my projections:


Credit Card - 100/100
Groceries - 75/0
Dentist - 25/25
Perkins Loan - 93/93
Law School Loan - 54/54
Laptop - 43/43
Vegas - 200/460
Wedding - 500/380
Misc. - 165/160

So yeah, Vegas was expensive. Where were all the cheap buffets and free entertainment I've heard about? Who knows. I had a good time, but my fiance was so busy with work that it was a lot of wandering around by myself. After a while I just felt guilty about spending money so I hung around the (very cool) hotel. I'm glad we got our flights and room for free because everything else in Vegas was pretty expensive.

And for the record I only bet about $10 on the slot machines as I don't care for gambling.

The good news is about $150 of the money I spent in Vegas was on clothes and a cute new clutch so at least that money wasn't simply wasted.

No more vacations for a while....well, for a short while at least. I love to travel but next time I will wait for a trip where my fiance doesn't have to work.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Monthly Student Loan Debt Roundup!

I planned to publish my monthly student loan debt roundup on Halloween, complete with a scary pumpkin and something about how "spooky" it all was. Alas Halloween brought wedding dress shopping, partying and packing for our flight to Vegas and it never got done.

So here it is 8 days late, but the totals are from today, meaning miraculously more debt looks like it's been "paid off" since the lenders have yet to compute this month's interest. Frankly the math of it confuses me every month but as long as the totals continue to go done a bit each month I am satisfied (for now).

One of my 2009 goals was to eliminate the smallest loan, which is also the one with the highest interest, but even though I increased the payment I haven't been able to meet this goal and save for the wedding. I think I am going to start sending my recent raise towards this loan from now on. Stay tuned for next month's update which hopefully will be on time!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thirteen Years in the Workforce?

I got my Social Security annual statement and it's the first year that I've been pretty excited about the results. It's funny looking back at my teenage earnings, summer and after school jobs, when compared to my three years of post-law school salaries.

What is not included in this statement are all the "under the table" jobs I've had over the course of my life, mostly babysitting jobs, and (I think) my work study as both an undergrad and law student. My first job was when I was 12 years old. I pushed a boy in a baby carriage for one hour a day over the summer, while his mother, a friend of my mother's, took a tennis class. That boy is now in college. Yikes I'm getting old!

I also got a sizable grant from my law school to do work for the school, which doesn't seem to be included in this statement either. Most of this grant went towards my tuition but the remainder I used to pay living expenses.

Anyway, here it is, a snapshot of 13 years of what the Social Security Administration considers my lifetime income:

1995: $942
1996: $904
1997: $1,974
1998: $3,250
1999: $3,350
2000: $6,210
2001: $7,112
2002: $0
2003: $13,707
2004: $0
2005: $5,000
2006: $8,084
2007: $38,680
2008: $42,634

Wow, finally my earnings don't seem so pathetic. I look forward to the day when my latest earnings seem as meager to me as my earlier earnings do now.

And, just for historical purposes, the statement includes my "estimated benefits" if I were to continue working until my full retirement age of 67 with my current earnings, I would earn a monthly benefit of $1,568 a month. If I continue working to age 70, my benefits would increase to $1,944 a month, whereas retiring at 62 I would only earn $1,102 a month.

I have been working long enough to be eligible for disability benefits of $976 a month.

The SSA also threw in a nifty little insert for young workers to learn about saving. That was nice of them, if not a little intimidating. If you're a young worker in the U.S. I bet you'll see yours soon, if not you can read it here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Budget 10/28 - 11/10

I finally got my COLA!!! Woohoo, $34 more after tax. I'm excited, particularly since I was hit today with an unexpected $25 fee to have my cavity filled with a white filling instead of a silver one.

As for the remaining $14 I don't have much of a plan for. I have a feeling this will be a spendy two weeks because....

I'm going to Vegas!

No, not to get married, unfortunately (wouldn't that be so much easier?). My fiance has a business trip and I'm tagging along. Everything is mostly free since the hotel and flight is paid for. Yet I am going to need to amuse myself during the day while he is busy.

More on that later. Here is my "rough" budget for the next two weeks.

Starting Balance = $1280

Credit Card - 100*
Groceries - 75
Dentist - 25
Perkins Loan - 93
Law School Loan - 54
Laptop - 43**
Vegas - 200
Wedding - 500
Misc. - 165

*I have been putting a few things here and there on the credit card and then paying it off every month but I should stop doing this soon as it gets way too tempting. I thought maybe they would increase my measly $500 credit limit if I did this but it ain't working.

**Now paid off!

I have the feeling I'm forgetting something. But this seems to be right. I will be posting more about Vegas on a budget soon. And don't worry, I don't gamble! I've just never been and I'm excited to go.

457 Gains 40% This Year!

Seriously, I'm not a math person. My 457 quarterly report came in and I just kind of stared at it for a while. But the one figure that stood out to me was that my account had earned a rate of return of more than 40% for the calendar year.

I guess what they say about investing in a down market is true.

Anyway, I still see my retirement savings as kind of lacking since I'm pushing 30....but if I play my cards right I will also have my pension to fall back on (not that I'd ever rely on just that but it's good to know). I keep telling myself I didn't enter the workforce until 26 so it's really the best I can do right now.
But anyway, remember a little over a year ago when I posted this? I only had $611 in my 457. And now here's what it says:

Woohoo for growth! Hopefully this will keep up. My fiance says it's time to diversify. I need to look more into that.

I Paid Off My Laptop!


Notice the sidebar update. I have just finished paying off my new laptop courtesy of Best Buy's 0% financing, which is still in effect.

There was a bunch of negative comments when I first made the purchase. And I admit, it's best to save up for big purchases, but sometimes life just throws a curve ball at you. I am working on building my emergency savings in addition to the wedding savings but really the 0% interest offer really helped out a lot.

Is this a lesson that credit can be used responsibly? I hope so. I'm just glad it's paid off so I can free up another $75 a month towards other goals.

Where it Went 10/14 - 10/27

Man am I busy these days! Wedding planning, dieting, working out, work, life, etc. I have to get my wisdom teeth removed. We're going to Vegas! Oh lots and lots of things going on that I can (and hopefully will) write about.

But for's where my money went for the past two weeks compared to the budget I set:


Friend's Birthday Party - 110/120
Sallie Mae - 407/407
Defaulted Student Loan - 260/260
Nice Collection Agency - 125/125
Sprint - 73/73
Groceries - 75/75
Misc. - 193/220
Clothes - 0/100

Ok so I got some clothes but that is more of a neccessity then a luxury as I got rid of a lot of stuff that didn't fit me anymore. And I had to buy some "accessories" to try on wedding dresses, which was a major FAIL by the way.

I got the heels on a few of my shoes reinforced, which hopefully will end up saving me money in the end.

I got a Halloween costume.

That's about it.

Look for a post on the evil evil wedding gown industry in the near future!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Part Time Blogging and Unemployment Benefits

This article from Forbes caught my eye and I figured would interest many of my readers:
Does writing a blog constitute work? That appears to be the position of the New York Department of Labor, which recently declared a laid-off attorney ineligible for unemployment benefits because she was bringing in $1.30 a day from blog ads.
It seems this woman, a 2008 law school graduate, was laid off from a New York firm after only six months on the job, moved to St. Louis and started a blog about restaurant deals. She was collecting unemployment from New York State when she received her first check from Google AdSense for $100. Like any good lawyer, she thought New York would like to know about this financial development. Nope. First they reduced her benefits by $100 and then they stopped them entirely while they determined whether she was unemployed.

The good news is as of yesterday the situation was remedied. I'm thinking the attention from Forbes might have helped. Ruling that the blog was more of an online portfolio for the blogger to search for work and the income residual, New York restored her unemployment benefits.

I'm glad the situation worked out for her. It sucks she was laid off so soon from graduating law school. I have heard so many similar stories of lawyers who graduated in the class of 2008 and 2009 either being laid off or unable to find work. I can't imagine having to pay back these kind of student loans and not having a job. Well actually I can imagine it, but it wouldn't be good.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Budget 10/14 - 10/27

My friends are starting to turn 30! I guess this should come as no surprise as my own thirtieth is just around the corner. And, like the celebration of other milestones, this one comes with a price. Not that I mind SO's just one more thing to budget for.

So this weekend we are hitting the town with a friend. Renting a limo and going bar hopping. I'm excited to celebrate with my friend but I always regret leaving my night in the hands of other people. First, it's hard to control what you will spend when every move is dictated by others. Second, this group of friends loves to stay out late and I just can't party like I used to. Oh who am I kidding? I haven't been able to stay up late for about a decade.

I'm going to pay for my share and my fiance's share of the limo, about $85, and my fiance will pay for our drinks. I don't think there's a dinner involved (phew!) but I also want to get a small gift. So my total will come out to be $110.

And here's where the rest of my paycheck will be going over the next two weeks:

Starting Balance = $1246

Birthday - 110
Sallie Mae - 407
Defaulted Student Loan - 260
Nice Collection Agency - 125
Sprint - 73
Groceries - 75
Misc. - 193

Out of miscellaneous I may finally get a hair cut and buy some new pants. And to get wildly optimistic I may buy an early Christmas present.

Easy come, easy go. The good news is this will be the last paycheck before my raise kicks in!

Where it Went 9/30 - 10/13

I am happy to announce that over on Her Every Cent Counts, I was listed as one of the Top 100 Female Personal Finance Bloggers! Check out the list, you will probably find a few new blogs to add to your reading list.

And now time for some accountability. Here's where my money went over the past two weeks. Nothing too exciting. Mostly saving for the wedding. Two family birthdays and traveling to a friend's wedding. Really want a hair cut and some new work clothes but haven't had the time nor the money to get them.

These are the numbers compared to the projections:

Ticket - 135/135
Credit Card - 100/100
Groceries - 75/70
Perkins Loan - 93/93
Law School Loan - 54/54
Gifts - 75/100
Wedding - 500/400
Laptop - 0/75
Misc. - 214/240

I think I only have about $50 more to pay on my laptop so I may take care of that today.

I am also traveling with my fiance to a business/pleasure trip at the beginning of November so I want to put aside a little cash. I'll pontificate on all this for a few hours before I post my next budget.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Six Months at the New Job!

Today marks six months since I took my new job. I wouldn't say the time has flied by but I'm happy nontheless to reach this milestone, especially since it comes with a pay increase!

When I first got the job they told me my new salary would be $47,500 but that statement turned out to be slightly off. My starting salary was $47,000, which was $3400 more than I was making when I left my old job. Now with a 3% cost-of-living increase, my salary is $48,410. Overall this represents an increase of $6,410 more than I was making when I started my old job in May of 2008 and $9,077 more than when I started my first job after law school in September of 2006.

And luckily due to the way things work in my position, my salary will continue to rise in the years to come. After I have been here for two years (18 months to go!) I will earn around $55,000. I can't wait until my salary is more than $50,000. Even though it's close now, being in the 50's just seems like a lot more money than the 40's. Do you know what I mean?

It feels great to be in a job where I have some security with (almost) guaranteed pay increases on the horizon.

Thanks to the handy calculators at Paycheck City, I was able to figure out that this raise amounts to about $30 more per paycheck. Sure that seems like a small amount, but it also means I will be contributing $100 more per year to my 457 retirement plan.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Budget 9/30 - 10/13

Figuring out this budget was harder than usual as the Extra Paycheck meant I have already paid all of the bills that come at the end of the month and I'll get paid again before the litany of bills that are due on/around the 15th are due. But I guess that's a good problem to have.

I decided to pay my two smaller student loans again even though they're not due for several weeks. That way I have two less bills to pay with the next paycheck. I am also shopping for a present for my little sister's 17th birthday. I like buying her gifts because she's such a great kid.

So here's where money will be going for the next two weeks when I swear I really will pay the old ticket (fourth times a charm?).

Starting Balance = 1246

Ticket - 135
Credit Card - 100
Groceries - 75
Perkins Loan - 93
Law School Loan - 54
Gift - 75
Wedding - 500
Misc. - 214

Some of the money out of miscellaneous I may use to mail out the Save the Dates for our wedding.

Hey, speaking of weddings, Stacking Pennies and I are both thinking about wearing blue shoes under our dress. (Granted I haven't even looked at dresses yet but that's a whole other story.) What do you think?

Monthly Student Loan Debt Roundup

Howdy Debt Cowboys! It's time for my monthly student loan debt roundup! Nearly $700 worth of debt was cleared in September of 2009 from my rather large and scary student loan debt. The total is not as much as it was in August, which is odd since I paid the same amount on all of the loans that I usually pay....AND Aunt Sallie Mae told me signing up for automatic bill pay would mean I paid more of the principal.

Anyone have an expensive Math degree and think they can solve the riddle? Compare this post to last months and tell my why the Stafford loan principal didn't go down as much. August may have been a weird fluke I guess since July's total show the Stafford loans going down the same amount and I hadn't started automatic bill pay before that.

So that's where I stand right now, just chugging away with my expensive brain.

Where it Went 9/16 - 9/29

I won the office football pool! I know most of my readers frown on gambling and I generally don't like it myself but office pools are kind of fun and I love having a reason to read up on football. And since I correctly guessed all thirteen games this week (and the score of the Monday night game!!!) I was declared the winner! Sure it's only $16 but it will pretty much subsidize my weekly $2 buy-ins for the rest of the season. And maybe, just maybe, I will win the grand prize too. Anyone got any picks for Week 4?

Anyway, back to budgeting. I once again managed to not send in my friggen late ticket money. I don't know why. I have just been pretty bad keeping myself accountable lately. I took my fiance out on a date and that came to about $70. I spent $40 on an Avon order I placed with a co-worker. It all adds up I guess. (All of this spending is labeled under miscellaneous in the budget breakdown.)

Luckily today is payday and I get a fresh start. I will have a little more money to throw into Wedding Savings as well as the ticket due to the Extra Paycheck Month. So here's where my money went for the past budgeting period:

Sallie Mae - 406/406
Perkins loan - 93/93
School loan - 54/54
Sprint - 73/73
Old ticket - 135/0
Laptop - 75/75
Groceries - 75/70
Wedding - 200/200
Misc. - 135/240

So stay tuned because I have my Monthly Student Loan Debt Roundup coming up, my new budget, and a friend's financial dilemma to ponder.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My Fitness Splurge: Balance Ball Chair

As I posted last, I've been on a mission to shed some pounds for the wedding and just be in better shape over all. It's a new mission but I've already seen some progress and I feel great. (Okay the whole drinking 8 glasses of water a day thing isn't awesome, but I digress.)

And like all new endeavors this one has presented me with temptation to spend money. Sure you don't need to spend any money to lose weight. I could run up and down the street with two cans of Campbell's Soup in my hands if I wanted to, but I find that signing up for gym classes keeps me motivated. Also Spark People is awesome, check it out if you need some motivation and advice for free!

But I ended up treating myself to a bit of a splurge that I already think was worth the investment. For $78 (plus free shipping!) I got a Balance Ball Chair for my desk at work. I saw this on a website months ago and was intrigued. You know those inflatable exercise balls that are all the rage? Well imagine sitting on one all day. I just started using it today and I love it! I may have started a trend at my office. Sure you feel a little silly sitting on a bouncy ball (in a frame) but it forces you to sit up straight, strengthening your back and core muscles. Note: there is more impressive terminology elsewhere on the web, I'm a fitness newb. Anyone else out there try this chair?

So yes, it does seem like a gimmicky thing to spend money on but I can do exercises at my desk when I'm not working and hopefully it will also help with my posture.

Has anyone else noticed how the more activities you do, the more stuff you want? Next up will be new workout clothes when I lose a few more pounds.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wedding/Life/Fitness Update

First of all, where did everyone go?

I logged into my Google Analytics today for the first time in a long time and saw much to my dismay that I have experienced a 99% page view decrease in the past month. Seriously I hope something is just wonky with my code but if you are still reading please let me know!!!!

Anyway, maybe it's my fault. I haven't had too many interesting blog posts in a while. Life has been pretty busy and my finances are (thankfully) pretty static. No overdrafts, no fear of losing my job, no crazy collection agencies coming after me. Yay! I still would like to be making more progress but am glad to marvel at the baby steps along the way.

Of course the wedding planning has taken a lot of my focus and that is intrinsically linked to my finances. We are on track to make payments of about $2000 split between December and January. I don't know the exact amount. I should check. See, I need my readers to keep me accountable!!!

The other area of my life that I am concentrating on right now is my physical fitness. Right now it's not so good. I've put on weight over the past year or so and it's really depressing me. But...I am turning a bad situation into a good one. I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted and not work out and still be in good shape. That fantasy world is no longer with me but losing it has meant I have gained an understanding of what my body needs and DOES NOT need.

So I joined a gym class, signed up for Spark People (a great site!), and have been working overtime in the gym. I'm counting my calories and drinking 8 glasses of water a day. After all, do I want to spend $4000 on wedding pictures I never want to look at? Heck no!

Sorry I've been a bad blogger but if you're still with me stay tuned because I have lots to say about wedding planning and working out!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Budget 9/16 - 9/29

So I have already announced I plan to save $800 from this paycheck for the wedding. Can it be done? Actually, I don't know what I was smoking when I posted that. With the $406 payment due to Aunt Sallie Mae tomorrow, I only have $840 left from this paycheck. But I plan to save as much as possible. Here is my (very late I'm sorry) budget for the next two weeks:

Starting Balance = $1246

Sallie Mae - 406
Perkins loan - 93
School loan - 54
Sprint - 73
Old ticket - 135
Laptop - 75
Groceries - 75
Wedding - 200
Misc. - 135

I guess every little bit counts but this isn't the first time I've overestimated the impact of the Extra Paycheck. I have to stop doing that. Yes there's more money coming in this month but really if you're just shifting payments around it doesn't make much of a difference. Oh well.

Anyway there should be a few miscellaneous expenses in the next couple of weeks that I can post about. I also want to share some wedding plans/ideas soon.

Where it Went 9/02 - 9/15

I'm gonna pay my traffic ticket, I swear. I just keep forgetting to do it and spending the money elsewhere. One of these days I'll get to drive my shiny new car.

My budget estimate of two weeks ago was off due to the fact that I forgot it was Extra Paycheck Time. Then I had to get new contact lenses. I also spent more than I planned at the music festival. Oh well, I didn't end up doing too badly and luckily the extra paycheck is giving me a bit of a fresh start.

So here's how I did on my budget compared to my plan:

Sallie Mae - 407/0 (it's not due yet!)
Defaulted Student Loan - 260/260
Nice Collection Agency - 125/125
Driving Ticket - 135/0 :-(
Office Picnic - 34/34
Groceries - 75/70
Festival - 100/200
Misc. - 111/100
Contact Lenses and glasses - 0/226

I ended up with about $75 left over which I am saving for Christmas spending. Stay tuned for my new budget. I seem to be crazy busy today!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Finally Got New Contact Lenses

Yesterday morning I wake up to discover my very last pair of contact lenses had dried up. As I had previously written, my fiance and I had been sharing lenses for a while and even though my crappy vision plan said I was eligible for a new benefit as of January this year, I put off the visit for as long as possible. The reason: all the hidden out of pocket expenses they hit you with.

Luckily the extra paycheck has afforded me some extra cash and I was able to walk out the door with a year's supply of contact lenses, new glasses, and a bonus pair of sunglasses! The total: $225.

I expected to pay $200 so it was just a little higher than I predicted (feared). If I had been able to find glasses that were entirely covered by my plan benefit of $120 I would have been closer to the total. Alas they don't sell many glasses that don't look really really stupid for less than $120. Even though I got the more expensive frames I didn't opt for the extra anti-glare coating that would have cost $45 more. Out of pocket cost = $35.

The contact lenses were the biggest cost. I debated only getting a six month supply but the discount for buying a whole year's worth lured me in. Also one less thing to worry about paying for six months from now. My plan pays $120 after a $40 copay, so really $80, which would have only gotten me 1.5 boxes per eye (and they don't sell half boxes). So I paid more to save more. Out of pocket cost = $180.

The eye exam was free. They tried to convince me to get some high tech x-ray picture of my eye taken for $30 but the model picture alone was enough to scare me away from doing that. Out of pocket cost = $0.

The sunglasses were a cool bonus as I was in need of a good pair. They're non-prescription and the tech convinced me to get them since my insurance would cover it. I only had to pay the taxes on them. Out of pocket cost = $3.

Paying for stuff like contact lenses sucks but ,today I am seeing very clearly out of my fresh new lenses so in the end it was worth it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's Extra Paycheck Time Already!

Woohoo!!! Right after writing up my budget yesterday I looked at a calendar and realized there were 5 Wednesdays in September this year and thus I had arrived magically in a 3 paycheck month without even realizing it. Previous 3 paycheck months I had waited anxiously for, so it is, I think, a positive sign that this one snuck up on me. I've extolled on the virtues of the Extra Paycheck before (and have heard the response of how it's not really extra money but we won't go there right now).

In April I started my new job and used the extra paycheck to update my wardrobe, bolster my savings and go to DisneyWorld. Six months before that, I used a extra paycheck to attend a destination wedding.

This time a lot of the money will be saved up for our wedding, which is a good thing because the money just doesn't want to save itself.

I am also going to save some money for Christmas! Christmas is coming whether I like it or not. I've blogged about how I really should set aside a little each month for Christmas. I even made this one of my 2009 Resolutions. So I am transferring $200 to my Other Checking Account where it will be hang out until I start looking for gifts. I think my fiance and I will buy gifts for most of our families together this year but I can't very well make him buy his own gift. He, on the other hand, has been saving for Christmas all year (atta boy!).

So here's my Extra Paycheck Plan:

9/02 paycheck

$100 - credit card (I keep putting a little on this card and paying it off)
$200 - Christmas savings

9/16 paycheck

$800 - wedding

9/30 paycheck

$800 - wedding

So that's my current plan. We have a couple of installments to pay to our wedding vendors in the months of December and January so I am glad the three paycheck month came now so I can plan ahead.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Missing my Engagement Ring

Hey check out my new engagement ring. It cost me $9 at the mall. I guess I didn't really need it but I had talked about getting a fake engagement ring for when we travel abroad so now I have one to act as a place holder for while my ring is in the repair shop. Yup my real engagement ring is in the shop.

It started out a uneventful day at the mall where my fiance and I had planned to use free movie tickets to see a show. On the way there I figured we should take a gander at the wedding rings at one of the jewelery shops. The saleslady was nice and let us try on a bunch of rings even though we told her we were just browsing. She complimented my ring and offered to clean it for me for free. Then she put it under the microscope and realized the stone (i.e. the heirloom diamond) was loose. My fiance could see it shifting around as she poked it without even looking under the microscope.

So we are having the setting fixed, tightened, whatever they do in such a circumstance. We couldn't go back to where he bought the ring (out of state) so we let the chain store at the mall send it away for us. I almost had a panic attack when I saw my ring go into a little paper envelope. I guess I never knew how much I loved the ring until it wasn't on my finger anymore.

The good news (and I'm sure I'll appreciate this when the ring has been safely returned to me) is that the repair is only going to cost $25 and then it comes with a lifetime warranty (meaning they will fix the setting for me indefinitely).

In the meantime the search remains for the ring wedding ring to go with my engagement ring. We will probably return to the store when he bought it because I can't seem to find anything that matches my ring quite right. I have been looking at the chain jewelry stores online mostly (though we are going to pick it out in person). Our budget for my ring is about $800. This ring at Kay's looks almost exactly like what I want, except it must look really different in person because I've never seen something like that for $500 on any of browsing sessions.

But back to the engagement ring (which should be here in a little over a week now), the woman at the jewelry store suggested I have the ring taken in every six months to have it cleaned and the setting checked. Is this something I should have known about? Do you take your ring into the store and if so, how often?

Budget 9/02 - 9/15

A lot less wiggle room for me to get in trouble with in this budget. I am going to send a money order to the city court and get the process of renewing my license rolling. And I need to pay $34 ($17 each) for my fiance and I to attend my office picnic. Seems like a waste to me to pay $17 to eat corn on the cob and chat awkwardly with people who don't work in my division (or worse, the ones that do!) but I don't want to seem like I'm not a team person AND if you attend you get the day off. And I'm taking the fiance since he's dragged me to enough of his work functions.

So here's my budget for the next two weeks. We're going to a festival over Labor Day weekend so I've made sure to include sufficient walking around/buying a churro money:

Starting Balance = $1246

Sallie Mae - 407
Defaulted Student Loan - 260
Nice Collection Agency - 125
Driving Ticket - 135
Office Picnic - 34
Groceries - 75
Festival - 100
Misc. - 111

Bye bye money. I'm looking forward to the festival. I didn't spend so much at the last one we attended but then again we were in a camper as opposed to a tent so we had more supplies with us. I'll try not to spend too much but I'd rather be pessimistic this time instead of underestimating my spending again. Anything I manage not to spend I can throw towards the wedding savings.

Where it Went 8/19 - 9/01

So tallying up this past budgeting period was a a little intimidating, but the news wasn't so bad. I did spend a lot of cash on dining out, wine and clothes. I was still able to meet my Wedding Savings goal (yay) but didn't end up getting the new contact lenses I need, the haircare I sort of need, or the driver's license I probably need. But spending money on food and wine is easy. Actually making an appointment and rearranging your day in order to spend money is less so. I must strive to do better.

But today is payday, a glorious day that I swear never to take for granted, that allows me a time once every two weeks to reexamine my goals (and my bills). So here's why my money went over the last two weeks compared to the budget I set:

Capital One - 100/100
Perkins loan - 93/93
School loan - 54/54
Sprint - 73/73
License renewal - 50/0
Wedding - 400/457
Laptop - 100/100
Contacts - 120/0
Beauty - 80/20
Groceries - 75/0
Misc. - 100/320
Clothes - 0/120

Since I didn't go food shopping before my fiance left town I ate out quite a bit (yummy Indian food). I also went out to the bar a few times with friends after work (I was lonely). And we went to a concert and I paid for the food and drinks. So...yeah, I spent more than I planned but less than I could have if I decided to be really bad. I am sad the summer is ending but at least it means less incentive to run around in the warm weather on a spending spree.

I tried to renew my license and found out I owe a fine. I haven't paid it yet.

I saved $400 for the wedding and spent $57 on Save the Dates to mail to our family and friends so they know in advance to book their travel accomodations for our summer 2010 wedding.

Stay tuned for my new budget.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Laptop Almost Paid Off

Back in May I got my shiny new laptop courtesy of a Six Month no interest financing through Best Buy and I am happy to report that with 2.5 months left to go before the offer runs out, it is nearly paid off.

I added the remaining amount ($117) to a Short Term Debt ticker on the side of my blog (better late then ever!).

Just wanted to post this update because I got mixed opinions on the wisdom of financing the computer rather than saving up the money myself. And looking back, I would do the same thing again. Yes, generally I don't think it's wise to buy something you can't afford, but I needed a way to keep up with work and keep in contact with my traveling fiance. I could have paid off the entire amount before now (and could do so now) but that would detract from my Wedding Savings goals. So why not use the 0% interest card to my advantage?

As for how I am enjoying my partially owned computer? So far so good. It's a little heavier than I would like but then again I don't trust (and cannot afford) those light-as-a-feather versions. Also I don't ever take it out of the apartment, so I'm just talking about the weight on my lap, a minor inconvenience. I dislike Windows Vista but you get used to it after a while. I'm glad to have it though as wedding planning on the internet is a fun way to spend your summer nights when the fiance is away and there's nothing on t.v.

Monthly Student Loan Debt Roundup

Woohoo August is almost over already and I am free of over $750 in student loan debt! Sure it may seem like a small amount when compared to the still astronomical amount I have left but I'll take it. I've created a Google spreadsheet that should hopefully make the chart more readable from now on.

At this rate I should have all of my loans paid off in 15 years. I am actually aiming to do it in ten. Thanks for reading. I can use all the encouragement I can get!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

$135 and My Suspended License

So remember how I said I was going to renew my driver's license so that I could finally get behind the wheel of our shiny new car?

Well I finally braved the lines at the DMV on the one night the office is open past 5 and got the bad news. My license was suspended for failure to appear in Traffic Court. Failure to appear? How could that happen? The answer in brief: my parents suck.

I haven't had a car of my own in years. I really didn't need one and couldn't afford to replace the car my parents gave me for law school after it died (aka the world's worst car). But once while I was home visiting my parents I borrowed their car to run and errand (for them mind you) and got pulled over and issued a ticket for having an expired registration. Mind you it was my parent's expired registration. I gave them the ticket and was assured they would "take care of it."

I guess when they said they would take care of it that meant not only would they not send in the ticket they would not notify me when a second notice was sent home (the outdated address on my driver's license). So now I can't renew my license until I pay the fine. The damage: $135.

My fiance thinks I should make them pay the fine but really I don't want to get in an argument about it. They should have paid the ticket but I should have 1) updated my address on my license when I moved out and 2) realized that the ticket was in my name (in my defense, the cop told me the ticket wouldn't go on my record if my parent's just renewed their registration).

So that is definitely a Budget Buster. I haven't sent in the money order yet but I'll get around to it. The guy at the DMV said I will probably have to come back in TWO TIMES. Awesome.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Budget 8/19 - 9/02

I can't believe September is almost here. It's been a fun summer but it seemed to fly by so fast. Hopefully the next 11 months will fly by soon so that we can enjoy this wedding we're saving for. Believe me, some days I just want to run down to City Hall!

Anyway, I have some spending I've been putting off and some of it can't be put off any longer, namely new contact licenses, getting my hair cut and renewing my driver's license. I could use some new clothes for work but I'm not going to buy too much stuff yet. Anyway, with that in mind, here is my budget for the next two weeks:

Starting Balance = $1259
Capital One - 100 (still paying for all the fun I had in June)
93 - Perkins loan
54 - School loan
Sprint - 73
License renewal - 50
Wedding - 400
Laptop - 100
Contacts - 120?
Beauty - 80
Groceries - 75
Misc. - 100

I don't think the contact lenses will cost me that much but I should be prepared to spend it anyway just in case. My vision insurance has switched since the last time I got contacts so who knows what they'll try to pull now. The "free" eye exam is a bit fat lie in my experience.

Where it Went 8/05 - 8/18

Today has been incredibly busy for a change so I am just getting around to my budget post now, forgive the delay. As I predicted it was hella annoying having 3 big bills to pay all during the same two week period. Plus I got a letter in the mail saying I was overdue to the utility company! FML. This was news to me as I logged into my account after I moved and terminated my service and had a $0 balance. I even updated my address just in case. Usually I would get an email telling me a bill is due so receiving an overdue letter was not expected.

My fiance had to make up some of the wedding savings this month as I was pretty close to being broke. I will probably need to move the Sallie Mae payment to a different day of the month so I will report back on how that goes. In the meantime, here is how I did with my budget:

Wedding - 200/50
Sallie Mae - 406/406
Defaulted Student Loan - 260/260
Nice Collection Agency - 125/0 (not yet posted)
Credit Card - 100/100
Groceries - 75/60
Utilities - 0/45
Misc. - 80/100

We are still trying to figure out plans for our rehearsal dinner so I'm going to have to step up the wedding savings. I will find out the account balance and add a ticker to encourage myself.

As always, I will post a new budget very soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We Bought a New (Used) Car

One of the most popular mantras in personal finance is to drive your car until it dies...which is what, unfortunately, ended up happening to my fiance's car. It wasn't SO unexpected. The car had stalled a few times recently and had been emitting a less than pleasant smell. Also the air conditioning has been broken the entire time I've been dating him which...well, isn't so pleasant in the humid Northeast summertime.

To add insult to injury, the insides of both driver side doors had started to give way, making it nearly impossible to open the door. Several weeks ago someone had also broken his side view mirror in a parking lot.

Yet we hoped we could make the car last a few more months, especially since we didn't use the car everyday. But as the saying goes, "you make plans and God laughs." So we hit the Internet, the newspaper and the street in search of a newer car.

I'll spare you the automotive mumbo jumbo and skip to the chase: we got a beautiful 2008 Hyundai Sonata Limited. Didn't qualify for Cash for Clunkers sadly enough. With a $500 down payment and $500 credit for our "trade in" (which was dead in the parking lot of the auto mechanic at that point) we financed the remaining $15,000 at 7.99%, a rate that's a pretty standard right now for used cars.

As much as it sucks to introduce a new monthly payment into our lives (my fiance hasn't had one in years and I've never had a car loan) I am a big fan of the new car. I've only been allowed to drive it around a parking lot until I get around to renewing my driver's license but it drives really well and I know it's a car we will have for a long time. What this means, however, that now more than ever, the onus for saving for the wedding is on me. And I'm up for the challenge. I see it as my way of contributing financially to our lives.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Budget 8/05 - 8/18

I'm not too excited about this budget. I mentioned in an earlier post how I decided to automate some of my student loans so now I will be paying Aunt Sallie Mae again with this paycheck...even though I just paid her! One of my readers mentioned I could call and get them to change the date on the payment but I haven't tried that yet...and my payment is already scheduled for the 17th. Frustrating because I already have two automated payments scheduled for the 15th of the month. I mean, I'll live and everything but it's not going to be a good two weeks for the wedding fund. :-(

So here's my budget. I also have a rant about friends and money which I'll save for a new post tomorrow.

Starting Balance* = 1246

Wedding - 200
Sallie Mae - 406
Defaulted Student Loan - 260
Nice Collection Agency - 125
Credit Card - 100
Groceries - 75
Misc. - 80

Must must get back on the brown bagging bandwagon. Also my mea culpa of the day is I managed to charge some things on my credit card lately that I didn't pay back right away and now it's time to pay the piper. It could be worse I least my credit limit is so low. :-)

So yes I will have to find a way to make up for the wedding fund savings deficit later in the month. I think I'm going to try to sell some of my old law books online.