Friday, January 30, 2009

Thinking About The Wedding...

I have been engaged for less than a week and already I am intimidated with wedding planning. It's funny because Boyfriend and I already planned our entire hypothetical wedding months ago (before the engagement) and now I am nervous about putting that plan into action....for fear that the offbeat venue won't be available or that our families wouldn't want to travel to our city.

So far our families have been very excited about anything wedding-related. I still feel like it's a little premature to plan something that won't take place for over a year and a half - even though just about everyone else in the wedding industry thinks differently. I guess I'm also still feeling insecure about my job and that's making it hard to think about bouquets and the color of table linens.

I have been doing a lot of research into wedding planning and have decided to prioritize what's important to us for The Big Day since that will guide how we structure our budget. Here's my preliminary list in order of importance:
  1. Boyfriend is there
  2. Good food
  3. Live band
  4. Great photographer
  5. Outdoor cocktail hour
And somewhere at the bottom of the list is "inviting everyone and their mom" as well as things like cake, limousines, bridesmaid dresses, and favors. I would say honeymoon would be at the top of the list but hopefully we can swing that on travel rewards.

If we follow the business model laid out by my parents for my sister's wedding, then Boyfriend and I are on the hook for the band, invitations, flowers, my dress and photography. My estimated budget for these items are as follows:

Band - $1200
Invites - $200
Flowers - $800
My dress - no more than $500
Photography - $2500

Thus, we only need to save up about $5k in the next 1.5 years to have the wedding of our dreams, assuming Mom and Dad pay for the caterer and the church. If not, we're gonna invite everyone to a pig roast in someone's backyard and that will be that.

At the end of the day, while I suspect I will enjoy many aspects of wedding planning, I'm just excited to be spending the rest of my life with Boyfriend!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

We Got Engaged!!!!

I'm back from a wonderful, magical, romantic trip to Lake Tahoe and have some excellent news to report:

Boyfriend asked me to marry him and I said yes!

Even though I was fairly certain this moment was coming soon as we had talked and talked about marriage and the future, it was still such an overwhelming feeling to have him ask me to marry him. I'm not usually into traditional gender roles so much but having him get down on one knee...aww gosh.

I called my parents right away (1:30 a.m. their time!) and they were very excited! Now friends of theirs are already chomping at the bit to hear wedding plans. Sigh. Can't we just enjoy this time for a while? Freeze this period so the actual hard part of wedding planning doesn't have to happen right-this-minute?

We have tentatively talked about getting hitched in July of 2010. Part of me wanted to just do it in Nevada where all you needed was $50 and photo i.d. but alas Boyfriend nixed that plan. I guess I have to think of a new name for him on the blog, yikes!

Stay tuned for more details of our trip!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Budget 1/21 - 2/03

Ugh. My utilities are costing me an arm and a leg this month! I can't wait to ditch my apartment. I have my thermostat set at only 60 degrees yet I still have to pay $50 for heat because of the damned cold weather and the high price of gas. I looked back at last year's numbers and it looks like January is always the most expensive month so hopefully things will get better next month.

Anyhow, here's my budget for the next two weeks. I'm going to Lake Tahoe next week! Plane ticket and hotel were free. Lift ticket, meals and miscellaneous are courtesy of Boyfriend's bonus.

Starting Balance = $1139

Dentist - 25 (overdue, will mail today!)
Rent - 725
Water - 50 (still owe $300, ugh)
Sprint - 64
Utilities - 156 (including $40 towards Payment Agreement)
School Loan - 54 (upping payment according to 2009 Resolutions)
Misc. - 65

I'm very excited for our trip! Dog sledding here we come!

Where It Went 1/07-1/20

Happy Birthday to me (again)! Looking back on the past budgeting period, turning 29 made me a Spendy McSpenderson all of a sudden, but things can get back to normal now I promise. A few things happened over the course of the past two weeks that threw a (happy) kink in my financial plans.

First, I got birthday cash and Boyfriend got a bonus that he decided to use on our vacation.

Then, I decided to donate $10 to charity in the memory of a lost friend.

After deciding not to budget $100 for my Tahoe trip, I paid an additional $20 on my credit card and put $50 in my Emergency Fund. (Sorry readers, I said I was going to put the full $100 but I failed. Sigh.)

So here's the numbers, how I did on my Budget laid out two weeks ago:

Boyfriend - 40/40
Emergency Fund - 25/75
Aunt Sallie - 406/406.96
Defaulted Student Loan - 260/260
Nice Collection Agency - 125/125.81
Credit Card - 15/35
Hobby - 70/35*
Groceries - 50/54.41
Tahoe Fund - 100/0
Misc. - 56/128

* - I decided to take a break from my hobby for a while and thus didn't pay the monthly dues. I also treated myself to a movie on MLK day since I had the day off. At the mall I made a small purchase ($15) I will explain in a later post. The rest of miscellaneous was likely spent on lunches out as I had far too many during this budgeting period.

In addition to the above (and because I have two separate accounts), my $100 birthday money was spent in the following way:

New Ski pants - 32
Bodega and booze - 59

So yes, lots of spending occured but I'm happy that I was able to knock off more credit card debt and boost my Emergency Fund a bit during the past two weeks.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

5 More Rent Payments!

I've posted before about my plan to live in sin. It's something I think about every time I have to pay my rent, my utilities, etc. I cannot wait until the glorious day that I can bid farewell to my renting days. Right now the plan is to make this move on June 1st. Sometimes it seems like SO far away - and so much money - but I know this isn't a move to be taken lightly.

But since I love thinking about the future and crunching numbers, here they are:

Rent - 725/400
Utilities - 80/0

Of course by then my overdue utilities (around $180) and my overdue water ($300) will be paid off so I can ditch those additional expenses. At the very least I will have an additional $400 a month towards saving/debt.

If I get laid off, however, this plan will be put into effect in April, cuz losing your job is a really legitimate reason to break your lease. But for reasons that will be discussed later, I am pretty sure I'll be starting a new job within the next month or so.

Where will my extra $400 go? Definitely towards the Emergency Fund at first. I want this sucker to be big enough to pay for a deposit on a new place if I decide I no longer want to live with Boyfriend (not likely, but hey, gotta plan for every contingency). After I reach $2000 in this fund, I will move onto my other goals outlined in my 2009 resolutions.

I'm feeling very optimistic about this change. It helps to be in love so that whenever things get rough you know someone has your back. And Boyfriend and I are very copacetic when it comes to finances. He is a frequent (if silent) reader of the blog and ha himself become pretty obsessed with personal finance, tracking every little thing on Quicken. Hey, who urged him to buy a condo in the first place?

A new expense I will have to budget for is securing a storage facility for my stuff. I have an expensive mattress, a very nice kitchen table, two t.v.s and other stuff that will ultimately be used if Boyfriend and I decide to upgrade to a bigger place in the years to come.

Stay tuned for tales of cohabitation.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Giving Back

When I was 16 I made a really good friend through one of my clubs in high school. She was a freshman and I was a sophomore and though it wasn't exactly cool to befriend younger kids in high school I liked her a lot. She was extremely motivated to become an active member of the club and we worked together a lot. She was literally the nicest girl I had ever met. Even though she had leukemia and had lost all of her hair to chemo she had a wonderful way of looking at life. A lot of guys liked her because she was so spunky.

We hung out occasionally as time went by. She wasn't in my group of friends but I saw her a lot at school and in our club. When she didn't come back to school immediately after Christmas break in my junior year (her sophomore year) I didn't think much of it. A couple of weeks later she died. She didn't even get to turn 16.

I've thought about this friend a lot over the years. What college would she have gone to? Would she have become a doctor like she dreamed? Would she end up with that cute junior who had a crush on her. I know it's cliche but she was such a wonderful person and it's a real shame her life had to end so soon.

A friend on facebook announced today that she was running a half marathon in my late friend's honor. I immediately decided to donate $10 to the cause of finding a cure for Childhood Leukemia. I wish I could give more to charity but I'm glad I am able to do a small part to honor this amazing person I was lucky to know.

Welcome to Freshman Year (Of My Student Loans)!

Been meaning to look into this for a while...especially since reading Shtinky's post on finally being above water on her student loans. I actually figured out how much money I borrowed for college and when it will be paid back. (I know how much I borrowed for law school since I had to fill out that paperwork myself).

I went to a fairly prestigous liberal arts college which in my humble opinion was worth every dime. I feel fortunate every day for my wonderful four years of education. I knew back when I was applying to colleges that this particular college was very expensive but my parents wanted me to get a great education (having both gone to commuter colleges themselves). And off I went.

I signed some financial aid papers I think but hey it was over ten years ago so my memory is a little fuzzy. Now ten years later I find out what I was on the hook for!

In 1998, my freshman year, the tution, room and board and fees at my college cost $29,450. That seems like a bargain now considering the tuition, room and board now cost over $45k! And according to Aunt Sallie, I only took out $2,625 in student loans to pay for this year. Wow. Remind me to be nicer to my parents!

So you'd think I would be done paying back Freshman Year by now, right? Wrong. Since I ran and hid from Aunt Sallie for 272 days I accrued $4,330.46 in capitalized interest. Meaning my original balance of $$72,735.68 has increased to a current payoff of $76,243.81 (including monthly interest). Thus, in order to pay off freshman year I need to bring my principal loan balance down to $70,110.

Ah Freshman year. Dining hall food, dormcest, R.A.s, everything was new. Hopefully I'll pay you off before I turn 30!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Didn't Get the Job

I finally found out that I didn't get the State job I interviewed for. Fail. Eh, it's okay. Although it would have been a lot more money potentially, the work wasn't as tailored to my experience as I originally thought it was. It sucks that budget cuts means waiting longer on the eligible list but I'm confident something else will come up eventually.

In the meantime I am supposed to be interviewing soon for a potentially sexy job which is a lot more in line with my experience. It's taking lots of finesse and maneuvering to be considered so I am crossing my fingers (yet again) that I will be successful.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Birthday And Boyfriend Bonus

Happy Birthday to me! I'm 29! My parents gave me $100! And the news gets even better because Boyfriend also found out he got a $2000 work bonus. Woo-hoo! It comes out to $1400 after taxes and Boyfriend in his extreme benevolence has decided to use the funds to pay for our upcoming Tahoe vacation! And the money that's left over we would save for our Orlando vacation too - now set for February!

We are very fortunate that Boyfriend has been able to accumulate so many frequent flier points and hotel rewards. And even more fortunate that now we have a giant wad of cash to spend on our trips. Thankfully, despite the fact that most companies are cutting back, Boyfriend's business is booming. All these perks don't come without a price of course. When I first met Boyfriend and he explained that he would be traveling for large extent of time I was a little worried. But we've made it work. So I consider it our reward for toughing it out that we get to take a couple of vacations.

In light of the good news, we've decided I would devote the $100 I had allocated towards our trip to my Emergency Fund. $126 down, $1874 to go!

With the money my parents gave me I'm going to look for a new pair of ski pants (hopefully on sale). I can't wait for my first experience skiing out West!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Where My Money Went in 2008 (Since March)

I already did my 2008 Year In Review and I'm looking forward to a much much better 2009 financially (even despite current job insecurity) but I thought it would be a great time to review where exactly my money has gone since I signed up for online banking. Figures are only available from March 19th on.

Between March 19th and December 31, 2008 I earned $23,459.64. Plus $600 in President Bush Money, for a grand total of $24,059.64 after taxes. Not bad.

I spent $6,884.50 in rent. Can't wait until I move in with Boyfriend officially and get to ditch my landlord!

Student loans took $4,935.68 of my money, which is kinda crazy considering I didn't start paying them until May. This includes the money I am paying towards Defaulted Student Loan.

I took out $3,601.50 in cash, which seems like a lot, but I use cash for everything.

I repaid $2,775.00 in loans, a vast majority of them being Payday Loans. Yikes, what a friggen nightmare that was!

I paid $1,836.20 towards credit card debt, most of it going to my long delinquent credit card account, aka Nice Collection Agency.

I paid $1,244.11 in Utilities for this time period, including money towards paying off Overdue Utilities (almost done with!).

Between the Evil Overdraft Monster, returned check fees and "regional ATM withdrawal fees" I managed to hand my bank $1,029.45 during this same time period. Yup. Gulp. Never ever again!

I spent $1,066.00 on travel, most of it to attend an out-of-town wedding. I have no regrets - I love to travel!

I spent $825.53 on my cell phone, which seems like an awful lot, but this number includes money I owed Sprint prior to March 19th (because I used to pay my bill late all the time). Now I am paying Sprint only around $60 a month after I changed my plan.

I bought $458.50 in gifts (at least!) owing to the fact that I had two weddings to attend this year.

I spent $285.91 on groceries (maybe a little more out of cash too) but don't worry, I didn't starve. Need to chip in more towards our joint grocery budget.

I transferred $204 to savings but then I transferred most of it back. Savings fail. Must do better.

I spent at least $131.78 on health care including doctor copays and prescriptions. Probably more but I didn't keep good records this year. Wanted to start a FSA but now it's too late (unless I get a new job!). Oh well.

I bought $41.08 in clothes. I bet it was more than that but that's the money I know was spent on clothes because that's what I labeled it in my online banking. The rest came out of cash.

All told, between March 19, 2008 and December 31, 2008 I spent $938.69 more than I earned. Total Fail. Will definitely do better in 2009 as there's no way I can be that irresponsible again!

1 Down, 108 To Go!

My first book review is up at my book blog! Check it out if you are interested and feel free to recommend some good reads as I'm headed to the library today!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Budget 1/07 - 1/20

Another payday, another budget. Luckily my birthday is coming up very soon so I may get some checks in the mail (crosses fingers). Without taking those into consideration, here is my budget for the next two weeks:

Starting Balance = $1147

Boyfriend - 40 (to pay off Emergency Credit Card)
Emergency Fund - 25
Aunt Sallie - 406
Defaulted Student Loan - 260
Nice Collection Agency - 125
Credit Card - 15
Hobby - 70 (two months)
Groceries - 50
Tahoe Fund - 100
Misc. - 56

I'm going to set aside $100 now for my Tahoe Trip so that I will have some money for fun activities on the trip. I still have one more paycheck before we leave so hopefully I will manage to leave with at least $200 in spending cash.

We need to buy groceries as I've been eating turkey and other assorted party leftovers for the last week straight.

I need to pay Boyfriend the money I charges on his Emergency Credit Card because late night G&Ts are NOT an emergency. I also paid the minimum to my credit card before it was due just to get it out of the way.

Thank you all for all your suggestions about Lake Tahoe! I'm very excited to go! We're going to try dog sledding and other fun in the snow activities. The resort we're staying at (on the NV side) has lots of cozy fireplaces and an indoor/outdoor heated pool as well. I can't wait!

Where It Went 12/24 - 1/06

I'm sick! And work is stressing me out otherwise I'd have taken the day off to recover. But at least it's payday. Here's where my money has gone over the past two weeks compared to the Budget I laid out for it:


Hobby - 35/0 (still not cashed)
Rent - 725/725
Water - 50/0
Utilities - 112/112.43
School Loan - 40/40
Sprint - 64/63.98
Xmas Present - 25/40
Groceries - 60/0
Misc. - 49/110
Clothes - 0/50

If that were the entire picture it wouldn't be so bad. But, alas, I didn't get any money from my parents as I was expecting for Christmas. That didn't stop me from hitting up the after the holiday outlet sales where I spent my grocery money AND put $17 on my credit card. Fail. I did, however, get some great deals.

I also put $30 in party supplies for our New Year's bash on the credit card. I'm glad the holidays are over! The worst fail of all, is when I got into a huge drunken argument with Boyfriend, stormed out of the apartment and proceeded to charge $30 at the bar on Boyfriend's Emergency Credit Card! Major fail.

And now, back to being sick....

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I Need a Vacation!

Sorry I've been largely M.I.A. in the new year. Work has been a total disaster and unfortunately I still haven't head back from the potential new job. Sigh.

But onto happier news, remember how I was considering using Boyfriend's frequent flier points to travel to Reno? Well this plan has become a reality - except even better! Due to Boyfriend also acquiring lots of hotel loyalty points as well, we get to stay not in the Biggest Little City of the World, but the ultra chic and romantic Lake Tahoe.

We're going in just a couple of weeks and since air fare and hotel are free we hope to have a fun and frugal adventure. Well sure, an afternoon skiing at Heavenly will set us back and the casinos will surely tempt Boyfriend (not me - I hate gambling!) but all told, it will be a fun couple of days where we can escape our daily stress.

Hopefully I'll have exciting career news soon but in the meantime, I'm looking forward to my vacation.

Friday, January 2, 2009

My Resolutions For 2009!

I spent a long time yesterday reading the resolutions from many of my blogging compadres and it made mine feel a tad inadequate. Beachgirl, for example, posted 109 resolutions for 2009. Wow. I'm not too keen on the word "resolution" and as I've explained, it's sort of hard to post financial resolutions/goals when so much could happen in the next several weeks that would impact these goals. But I decided to buck up and post some goals to keep my honest. Here they are:

  1. Save up a $2000 Emergency Fund
  2. Eliminate Law School Loan (Current Balance = $1932)
  3. Save up a Christmas Fund of $300.
  4. Save $1000 for Special Event* in 2010.
  5. Continue to save 10% of my salary for retirement.**
  6. Pay off all short term debt - don't acquire new debt.
Last year started out disastrously (payday loans, overdraft fees, etc.). Then I started the blog, started budgeting, started paying Aunt Sallie and it's been pretty much just keeping my head above water since then. In 2009 I need to step it up and achieve some fiscal responsibility. The Emergency Fund is of course the most important and I don't care if I fail at everything else if I can get this one goal accomplished. Ideally, I should be saving $167 each month in order to reach this goal. This probably won't happen until at least February so don't hold your breath.

Second, my law school in an act of extreme benevolence decided to give me a $2000 loan in my third year of school. For this they are charging me a whopping 8% interest. If I stick to their payment plan of $40 a month, I will only reduce this debt by $72. Yes, you read that right friends. This loan has got to go bye bye. Starting immediately I will increase my payment to $54 a month, which would put me on track to pay the entire balance in 3 years and 5 months (instead of 8 years) and will throw any additional money (I'm looking at you, Extra Paycheck) in order to achieve this goal.

Christmas didn't bankrupt me this year, yay! But it still wasn't planned for in advance and I incurred even more debt ($60) to Boyfriend for our joint gifts. Next year I will be prepared by saving a mere $25 a month.

Special Event* to be named later though you may be able to guess the nature of this event. Sigh. Why did I have to fall in love? Not gonna start this goal until after the move. If I move in May as planned, I would need to save $142 a month.

There's an asterisk next to my goal of saving 10% for retirement since I am currently only voluntarily saving 7% of my salary and the other 3% is saved for me by my pension. If I lose my job, I will roll over this money to a Roth IRA. If I stay a public employee it will stay as is. If I join the private sector I may decide something else entirely.

And lastly, I will pay off all my Short Term Debt (why, oh why did I choose that name for this category?) in 2009. This includes Boyfriend (who has to give me a full accurate accounting please), overdue water ($300), overdue utilities ($125), Friend C ($60), and Capital One ($400). Getting rid of these debts will let me breathe a little easier ($105 in regular payments gone) and focus on the rest of my goals. Also Nice Collection Agency will be paid in full early into 2010 (currently paying $125).

And onto personal goals, which I'm fairly excited to write about:
  1. Read 109 books
  2. Get wisdom teeth extracted
  3. Simplify my life
  4. Move!
  5. Be a better friend
  6. Learn how to use eye liner
You read that right, I've resolved to read 109 books in 2009. In fact, I am happy to announce that I have created a new blog solely devoted to books. Check it out! I will be posting under my alter ego, Reading Diva. The blog will have a frugal theme as well - I will not spend money acquiring new books. This is actually a resolution I made several years ago when I realized how much money I was spending on books. I'm excited to have a new topic to write about since I don't always have something personal finance related to say and entries saying "hi, I'm still broke" may get a little boring.

And sadly, yes, I will enter my 29th year of life without being able to use eye liner. I'm not a big makeup person to begin with but this is something I need to learn!

I'll have to write separate posts on "simplifying my life" and moving but here they are, my ambitious and maybe slightly crazy 2009 goals. Wish me luck! Now I've got a lot of reading to do.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I didn't even realize that I had tomorrow off from work (gotta love the Government) so my New Year's has been very happy thus far. Boyfriend and I hosted an awesome party last night featuring the world's biggest Turkey:

Look at that beauty. We will have leftovers well into 2009 - and that's after feeding 8 people. A great night was had...with lots of Rock Band, Dick Clark and overall fun.

I spent a lot of time today thinking of resolutions and will be posting a big announcement tomorrow during my day off. The rest of tonight will be devoted to Boyfriend and Bowl games (lovely).

In blogging news, I have just been featured on FiLife, which is pretty rad. One of my resolutions this year should be reaching a larger audience though my group of 54 subscribers and an average daily readership of 100+ has been great company thus far. I'm a glass-half-full kind gal and although I'm a little worried about how some career changes will play out in the next several months, I'm confident that 2009 will be a good year. Or it could be a complete train wreck, who knows, keep reading!

In the meantime, yummy leftovers...