Jan 30, 2011

Update much?

So... I am a horrible blogger. But it's not my fault, I swear! We're not even into the fourth week of school yet and already I've had one presentation, three papers due, and hundreds of pages of reading (150 this weekend alone!). I'm in way over my head already, and I'm so scared of what's to come. I feel like having a nervous breakdown every weekend that I spend 20 hours working and 0 hours playing.

Since we've last spoken, I've managed to rack up $50 of parking tickets (including two in the span of five minutes... must be a new record!), survived (?) a $35 cut to my paycheck, and had my Comcast bill DOUBLED (do you all hate Comcast as much as I do?? Argh!). Needless to say, my financials are not great for January.

Oh, and I might be living in Germany next spring. Which makes for a hell of a lot of drama in finding a new place to live, because my landlords now won't let me sublet anymore.

Hmmm I feel like this post is really schizophrenic. Don't worry, I'll sit down and write a real post sometime soon. Things are just really stressful all of a sudden and there's a lot to think / worry about. But I am still alive.

Jan 5, 2011

Happy 2011!

Thank goodness that those 00 glasses are finally out! Also, how weird is it that it's 2011 now? Eek! Well anyway, new year new goals, and here are mine:

1. Save enough for the trips I have planned this year.
Realistically: California for my friend’s wedding, Austin for another conference (the funds from the dept won’t cover the whole thing because I’m flying), and a road trip to Boston.
Dream List: Those + a road trip to Minnesota and getting to Seattle.
For the realistic list, I’m estimating around $1,700. That includes travel AND wedding expenses, minus our conference travel stipend.
2. Pay down student loan debt to 14,500.
Seems I’ve had this goal since I started the blog.
3. Save $150 for future car repairs
I’m going to need new brakes and tires in about another 3? 4? years, so I’d better start saving a little now.

1. Travel to at least FIVE new places
Since this goal worked out so well last year, I decided to up the ante a bit. :)
2. Get a new tattoo
3. Try THREE of Julia Child’s recipes
The boy got me her cookbook for Christmas, and I've been drooling over all the cool stuff in there. I found some so far that don't seem too complicated!
4. Work out at least twice a week
This would be a huge improvement, since I stopped working out altogether. The only exercise I get is my 1/2 hour walk to and from school everyday.
5. Read more books / watch more movies in German
I need to start practicing with the language again, I'm getting a bit rusty!

1. Choose a dissertation topic
2. Pass my comps in the Fall
3. Publish a paper
I've got one in the works, I just need to fix it a bit and rerun the stats on it.
4. Do an internship in the summer

Dec 29, 2010

2010 goal recap!

Hi everyone, I hope you had a great holiday with friends and family! Well it's the end of the year (already?) and I must say it was a great one. I’m not sure about success on the financial front, but I got to live in a new country for a bit, see and do tons of awesome things, improve my teaching, and check lots of things of my life’s “to do” list.

1. Pay student loan down to 14,500
NO. Started at $15,391, Currently at 14,999. GROSS. Don’t really want to talk about this (except for one little thing-- under 15 yay!).
2. Get EF up to $2,000 (and keep it there!)
SORT OF? So in June I had $250 in the EF, now I have $1,800. I guess this goal is half complete—I got it up high enough, but still had the crazy fluctuation that I always do.
3. Put $1,500 more into my Travel Fund
CHECK (ISH). Not really, because I actually emptied the fund to go to Italy, but I did use about $1,500 for that trip in the summer months... does that count?

1. Travel to at least THREE new places
CHECK!!! I traveled to approximately 15 new places, in three countries! Or maybe more!! Probably my most successful goal. :-)
2. Get a new tattoo
NO. I just haven’t had the money for it. I picked a design though, and a place. Now I just need to scrape up some money, though I’m not sure where from.
3. Read 35 books
NO. I got 22. I was busy this year, and also over the summer, which is usually when I read the most and catch up.
4. Keep my relationship with the boy healthy and happy
5. Try out 20 new recipes
CHECK. I tried more than 20, with some great ones and some big failures.
6. Only buy (and wear) clothes that I absolutely love
CHECK. I think I’ve gotten better at this overall. I also discovered the magic of clothes from Express... which gives me a YES in a love department, but not necessarily always in the wallet department.
7. Volunteer this summer.
NO. I went to Italy, so I didn't have the free time that I thought I would.

1. Eat at least one fruit and vegetable per day
CHECK on the fruit part, NO on the veggie part.
2. Start using organic body products
CHECK. I switched over in late February and now use organic everything. My acne is WAY better, but not totally gone yet. But still, I’m thankful that it’s not so bad as it used to be! If any of you guys have bad acne and nothing seems to work, give this a try!

1. Put more effort into teaching
CHECK. I have been trying to think of more creative activities and getting tips from other teachers. I still don’t really like teaching that much though, so it might be time to start thinking of a new career path.
2. Attend my first conference
CHECK! I went to GLAC like I wanted, and got some great feedback on my very first paper.

Looking back on these goals, I accomplished most of them! But it's a little frustrating, because for some reason I'm not pleased with it. I don't feel that nice sense of accomplishment, and I'm having trouble getting excited about 2011. I have some goals in the works though, so maybe making my new list will help me feel better about the upcoming year.

How did you guys do on your goals this year?

Dec 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hi everyone, I hope you had a Merry Christmas and lots of fun with family and friends. For those who don't celebrate, I hope you had a nice long weekend! :-)

My Christmas was nice, we had a little bit of drama and worrying yesterday because of the snow storm, but it turned out alright. We had everyone over our house this year, and though I hate to say it, I'm sort of glad it's over. I haven't had a chance to relax during my break yet because of all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, and wrapping that I had to help my mom with. She worked all week long and didn't have time, so I was the Christmas slave. But now it's all done and I can relax, read, and enjoy my new gifts! I got lots of new stuff for my apartment this year-- I was like little Sally Homemaker or something. The boy and my mom both bought me cookbooks, I got some Pyrex mixing bowls (which I've been wanting for so long!!), a cupcake pan/carrier, a new bookcase, a toolbox and an external hard drive. I actually got a lot of surprises this year, which is not usually the case.

As far as I could tell, everyone in my family liked the presents I gave them too. I don't usually spend too much every year, usually between 25-50 for each person. This year I got my dad a headlamp (he has been asking for it for months), my mom an Underarmor baseball hat she can wear while exercising (another request), my grandma a purse, my sister the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe, and my brother a hand crafted bowl made out of a Simon & Garfunkel record. For the boy I bought NBA Jam for Christmas, and this card game called Munchkin for his birthday present. And I think they were all happy with them. :-)

Dec 23, 2010

Bridesmaid Dress Shopping!

Next summer, I’ll be a bridesmaid in one of my best friend’s weddings, and the wedding is in LA. I've never been in a wedding before, so I'm really excited! We went bridesmaid dress shopping together yesterday, and I found a dress in under a half hour! We were limited by the fabric/color choices, also by the vast amount of ugly dresses. But we had it narrowed down to two good ones:

I LOVED the flower one, and was hoping she’d like it too. It's just so cute, and so me. But it was sort of awkward for a bit there, because I couldn’t tell which she liked better. She didn’t seem so sure about it, and I didn’t want to pressure her. Because, let's face it, her wedding day shouldn't be about me! But it was definitely the most flattering out of the ones I tried on. And thankfully in the car she was like “Oh I’m glad you picked the flower one, I didn’t really like the strapless one.” She apparently thought I liked the plain one better, so was trying not to pressure ME! Haha.

But- you'd better sit down for this one- sucker cost me $190!! I was expecting (for some reason) a dress to be about $125 or something like that. It’s not a huge problem, and I’m definitely glad I got the chance to pick my own dress style and all. I am just surprised once again by how much I underestimated the cost of something big. And I still have to buy shoes, get my hair done, etc. Eek!

Have you guys ever been in a wedding far away? I've never done it before, so how much should I estimate to spend on all of this? I don't want to underestimate again!

Dec 20, 2010

Credit Card Churning Craziness

Ever heard of credit card churning? Well, you can accuse me of living under a rock, but I never did. But man, last night a whole new world opened up in front of me. Credit card churning! Basically it's opening up new credit card accounts to get the bonus offers and then canceling, only to open a new account a few weeks later and get the bonus again. And some people do this with as much as 10-15 cards a year... I love it. I don't know why I do, because as a PF blogger I should be vomiting in my mouth at the sound of it. But it's absolutely fascinating to me the things crazy people will do.

I was inspired (ok, ok, not really, I was already planning this for a few weeks) to try it a bit myself. I applied for a United Airlines Visa from Chase. You get 30,000 miles for signing up, and the annual fee is waived for the first year. That's enough points for one free domestic round trip flight, or two tickets and I'd pay a little on each. I was checking around on the internet to see if there were any restrictions to using the points and canceling it before the year is up to avoid the fee. Looks like it'll be ok, and from what I've read, it seems like my credit score will only take a minimal hit, if any.

I mean, 10-15 new cards and cancellations each year is WAY too much risk for me, but... a *little bit* of risk sounds great if it benefits me. :)

Dec 19, 2010

Ready for Christmas!

Wow! I definitely didn't realize that Christmas was coming up in a week! This is great news! I'm ready-- all presents are bought and all presents are wrapped. I didn't have so many people to buy for this year-- just my grandma, mom, dad, sister, brother, boyfriend and two friends. I spent $173 on presents in total, and sixteen on random stuff like cards, candy, bows, tinsel, and all that other fun stuff. Not too bad, and definitely less than I've spent in other years. I think the sales just keep getting better and better each year.

I didn’t quite reach my savings goal for Christmas, but I did manage to get about $200 out of the proposed $250. And as luck would have it, I didn't need that extra $50. So my EF is still all nice and intact! :)

Now to just sit back, relax and wait for the fun to begin!

What all do you still need to do before the holidays? Are you excited?!