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.