Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Budget 3/31 - 4/13

Sadly, it looks like I will fall short of my March Savings Madness goal of saving $2000 this month for the wedding. With an addition of $580 this pay period I will have transferred $1710 in the month of march. What's breaking the budget is buying a month of personal training for $280. But there's no use getting down about it now, I made the decision to really focus on my fitness goals, so focus I will.

I hope to post some pros/cons of working with a personal trainer after I have a few more sessions. One obvious con is the cost involved but the pros so far have been knowing there's someone who believes I can meet my goals and really pushes me to get there. I hope in the end, my improved health and self-esteem will be worth the money. And seriously folks, I'd appreciate it if you kept your snarky comments to yourself today...I've grappled with this decision for some time and I have made up my mind to spend the money.

Also my $184 state tax refund never showed up, despite the fact that I filed in early February. As of today when I checked the status online, it's scheduled to arrive on April 13th but it says that the amount has been adjusted. I wonder what happened? Did I screw up my taxes? Stay tuned.

So here's my new budget for the next two weeks...

Starting Balance = $1286*

Personal Training - 280
Perkins Loan - 93
Law School Loan - 80
Groceries - 75
Health - 45
Wedding Savings - 580
Misc. - 163**

*Paycheck is slightly bigger because I received a meal reimbursement, which is all well and fine, except that I was taxed on it....even after being taxed on the meals it covers. Where's the fairness in that?

**Includes $10 towards Administrative Professionals Day and maybe a new outfit for Easter.

Monthly Student Loan Debt Roundup

It's the end of March so you know what that means.....time for my monthly student loan debt roundup!

The only thing to note this month is apparently two of my loans (with the same lender) went up instead of down since I just paid them today and it takes the system six days for the payment to kick in. Boo, I don't like to see numbers going the wrong way...especially since I paid double the minimum payment on one of those loans!!!

Oh well, here are the numbers. Almost below $130k, woo hoo! I really want to celebrate when I hit the below six figure mark but maybe I should celebrate smaller goals along the way too. The $120s aren't far away!

Where it Went 3/17 - 3/30

Rain rain go away! I can't wait until tomorrow when April officially begins because I'm sick of the weather in the Northeast. Cold and rainy day after day.

Good things happened in March though! I am hoping to meet my March Savings Madness challenge later on this afternoon. And this was made possible by the three paycheck month and my bringing in $500 of additional income!

And I've been busy as a bee, working, planning for the wedding, and I started seeing a personal trainer to help motivate my workout goals. I was on the fence about actually paying for this service, but after a couple of session I am really hooked. I have been doing a lot of things half-heartedly and meeting with the trainer is setting me up to be much more accountable to myself.

But more on that later. For now, here is how I did on my budget compared to my projections the past two weeks. Nothing too exciting happened. Our grocery bill has slowly creeped up now that we're making an effort to eat healthier, but we're actively looking for ways to cut costs in that department.

Credit Card - 165/165
Sprint - 76/76
Healthcare - 105/100*
Groceries - 75/100
Gift - 40/0
Wedding Savings - 1170/1130
Misc. - 130/180

*Includes $60 towards personal training.

So I have to save an additional $870 to meet my $2000 savings goals. I don't know if I can do it. I need to flex the numbers a bit but stay tuned for my new budget coming up soon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Budget 3/17 - 3/30

In the next two weeks I will be hoping to find my Pot of Gold! And I that March is a 3 Paycheck Month and I should be coming into at least $500 in additional cash from an outside job that I am doing next week. Maybe even my state tax return will show up!

So here's my budget for the next two weeks. My paycheck has been "reduced" by $14 since I upped my 457 contribution to 8%. I'm sure I'll be thanking myself for that in 30 years.

I spent some time online getting my cell phone bill reduced since there was a random charge on it that I did not authorize. Success! Got my money back!

Interesting tidbit about today - it is the one year anniversary of my interview for my current job. Amazing how time flies! And there is exactly 4 months until our wedding!

Starting Balance = $1261
Credit Card - 165
Sprint - 76
Healthcare - 105
Groceries - 75
Gift - 40
Wedding Savings - 1170*
Misc. - 130

*Includes $500 in expected additional money.

Have to go out of town (again) next weekend for a family event. Here's hoping I can keep my costs down this time!

Where it Went 3/03 - 3/16

Hello there and a Happy St. Patrick's Day! Here's hoping my Irish blood will bring me some luck soon as I'm currently behind on my March Savings Madness by $32 and with New York State (and several others apparently) holding on to their refunds I may even get further behind before this month is out.

It has been a good couple of weeks in terms of personal development. I started working out more and eating healthier. This new development came with a higher grocery bill but I've been researching ways to eat healthy for less and hopefully will have some new tips to share soon. And the new Spring weather headed my way meant adding some new clothes in my still pretty basic wardrobe. So all in all, I'm slightly over budget.

Here are the numbers compared to the budget I set two weeks ago:

Credit Card - 120/120
Wedding Savings - 100/68
Groceries - 75/120
Sallie Mae - 407/407
Defaulted Student Loan - 260/260
Nice Collection Agency - 125/76*
Healthcare - 70/40**
Misc. - 118/195

*I don't know why this payment was lower. Maybe as I get closer to paying off that account (yay!) the payments get lower. I need to look into that because I would really like to free up that monthly line.

**I still didn't send in my annual dental deductible. I hate mailing bills and I am completely out of checks.

Miscellaneous spending includes a bus, train and subway tickets since I went into NYC for a while before visiting my fiance's family. There was some wedding spending but that came out of the Wedding Savings. I hope after this month we will be well on our way to paying for our wedding in cash!

Since today is Extra Paycheck Day (March is a 3 paycheck month) I'm hoping to catch up a little bit.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Financial Goals for 2010

I've been thinking a lot about planning our lives after the wedding and wanted to make a "Bucket List" of sorts. I've been adding to it in my head for days now...and it was getting a little intimidating. So, first, I thought I would list my immediate financial goals for 2010 - better late than never, right?

1. Get married without going into debt. There is a finite deadline on this goal - a hopefully beautiful Saturday in July and we're pretty confident we can pull it off with our combined savings.

2. Increase 457 Fund contributions. Check! After reading again and again that you should have one year's salary in your retirement funds by age 30 and feeling woefully inadequate at 30 years, 3 months and only around $10,000 saved, I bit the bullet and upped my contributions from 7 to 8%. It only means a $9 biweekly paycheck impact which I can handle.

3. Max out Roth IRA. After the wedding I will start funneling $400 a month towards this goal plus occasional snowflakes so that I can accomplish this goal by April 2011.

4. Buy back pension credits. As I've mentioned before, I have to buy eight months of credits into the pension system because I joined late. It's only going to be a couple hundred dollars and I will start this process right after the wedding as well. This way, I will be set to vest in my pension in August 2011.

5. Eliminate law school loan. This was one of my 2009 resolutions and I'm sad to say it hasn't happened yet, but now I've added the progress bar to the blog and have a plan to knock out the loan by November using some of the money currently going towards Wedding Savings (the rest is going to the Roth IRA).

In short, the rest of 2010 is going to be a great financial year for me. I'm going to marry a great guy, beef up my retirement savings, and start snowballing my student loan debt. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Budget 3/03 - 3/16

This budget is sort of annoying. I am anxious to put my March Savings Madness into effect, but I have to be patient because I have a lot of bills to take care of first.

Well technically, my monthly payment to Sallie Mae won't be debited until the 17th - my next payday, but I can't risk moving the money to the wedding savings before that happens. Oh well, the money is "saved" in my head.

Here's my budget for the next two weeks, before the March Savings Madness truly begins:

Starting Balance = $1275

Credit Card - 120
Wedding Savings - 100
Groceries - 75
Sallie Mae - 407
Defaulted Student Loan - 260
Nice Collection Agency - 125
Healthcare - 70*
Misc. - 118

*This amount reflects the $25 deductible I apparently owe to my dental insurance, which is lame since I ask every time at the dentist if I owe anything and haven't been there this calendar year. Oh well.

Oh and if you click through, please note that I have started updating my sidebars after several requests. I added my next debt I'm focusing on (my smallest and highest interest student loan). I am going to add savings goals next, stay tuned!

Where it Went 2/17 - 3/02

I am happy to report that this past budgeting period was very successful. $100 in wedding spending on our Pre-Cana course and $500 in wedding savings, all the while being on target in every other category. As I've learned, if you transfer the savings out of your account immediately, you're pretty much forced to be on budget...because you have nothing left. Genius!

The Pre-Cana (marriage preparation) course went really well. It gave us a lot of food for thought in terms of planning our future together. Most of it was stuff we had already talked about but it was a good refresher nonetheless.

So here's how I did on the budget I set out two weeks ago:

Pre-Cana - 100/100
Groceries - 75/100
Wedding Savings - 500/500
Credit Card - 150/150
Sprint - 84/84
Law School Loan - 80/80
Perkins Loan - 93/93
Health - 65/40
Misc. - 163/160

We booked our flights to Hawaii for our honeymoon! Well, part of our flights at least. Now we have to make some decisions, save up some cash, and plan out the trip. I'm excited.

Stay tuned for my next budget - when I'm actually more awake and dressed. Right now I've been up for hours because I couldn't sleep.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March Savings Madness

Wow, it's March! Which means the wedding is only a little over 4 months away. Yowser! My fiance and I sat down and wrote out the remains of what we need to pay for and how we're doing in our current wedding savings and it's time to step it up.

Which brings me to the March Savings Madness.

In the month of March, I, Sallie's Niece, will save $2000 for the wedding.

You may be saying "but Sallie, you only get net $2400 a month and have $925 in monthly debt obligations, however will you accomplish this goal?"

Well, a few ways:
  • I still haven't gotten my state tax refund, which brings me to a tax related conspiracy theory but I'll save that for another day. Assuming it comes this month that's $184 towards my goal.
  • It's a three paycheck month! So I can divert almost $1000 of the "extra" paycheck towards the wedding savings.
  • I got some extra work! Almost a year ago, I wrote about a court case I was assigned to, which sadly only netted me $50 at the time. Well it's finally ready to go to court so I get the remaining $500 of my statutory fee!

Plus my regular savings and a bit of belt tightening, I am confident I can reach this goal. Wish me luck everyone!