Dec 29, 2008

The last year

2008 is almost over. Here's the part where I go: WOW! I can't believe this year is over already, it went so fast! Cliche's, but truth, at least from my perspective. It seems like I just got used to remembering to start putting 08 on my checks instead of 07. I reached all of my financial goals for this year awhile back, and I'm trying to cook up some good ones for 2009. In the meantime, I will serve you another cliche: a "memories" post. Some of my best memories and accomplishments (as well as some random stuff) from the last year include:

-i got (and later left) a new job
-accumulated a grand total of three new scars
-saw a soap lady
-discovered Lost in Paris
-got accepted into grad school
-bought the bassist of Lost in Paris a shot for his birthday
-ran in my first 5K race
-gambled in a casino
-visited a Polish shrine
-performed in my first bellydancing recital
-saw my grandfather for the first time in 15 years
-took a road trip to FL with my best friend
-swam in the Gulf of Mexico
-gave blood for the first time (and almost passed out in the process hehe)
-said goodbye to the place where I worked for the last seven years
-saved over $9,000!
-got something I always wanted :-)
-taught my first ever class!
-voted for Obama
-had 3 flat tires
-realized I am braver than I thought
-finally learned how to cook
-finished my first semester of grad school!!

hopefully next year is just as good (or even better!) :-)

Dec 21, 2008

Philly Reunion

Yesterday I went down to Philly to have a little reunion with all my best friends from Millersville. First, we went to the Flyers game... best game I've seen in a long time. We scored SEVEN goals to the Caps' one, our goalie Nitty made some beautiful saves, and we had a fake hat trick and a real one. Plus it was good "old time hockey"-- there were about two fights a period. It was fun too because we sat in the very last row at the top... the nosebleed section for sure. But at least the tickets were only $45!

After the game we went over to Jacqui's beautiful new apartment (the view out the windows is gorgeous!) and just hung around all night. Our friend was coming home from his grad school in Montreal, so we went to pick him up at the train station around 2am, then picked up Jacqui's roommate in Center City. Can you say clown car? We had seven people stuffed into Jacqui's tiny Jetta... probably the most amusing car ride ever.

Basically, the whole day/night was a blast. Getting so have everyone together again was completely awesome-- it's so good to be around my real friends. Sorry, but my grad school friends just aren't even close to being that great.

Dec 18, 2008

I survived!

I just survived my first semester of grad school!! I am super relieved and super proud. I graded all my students' finals and put in their grades yesterday (and had to turn down a few students who were grovelling for some extra points last-minute). This morning I turned in my last paper, packed up, and drove home. I get to stay home for about three weeks. I am so happy to be home and to have a chance to relax... I need a mental break from school life for awhile. It will be a little weird though, because this is the first break I've had from school where I didn't have to work. I've already got a lot of fun things planned for the break though, so it should be a good one.

Dec 11, 2008

Christmas Shopping- Check!

So all my Christmas shopping is finally finished! I was even full of energy the other night around 11 or so, and wrapped most of the gifts. The only things left are to finish wrapping, mail out cards to the friends I won't get to see, and then kick back and RELAX! I'm not going to share the total "damage," but I will let you know I was WAY under budget, which was nice. The extra money is already spent though... a friend invited me to a Flyers game the weekend I come home for break, which is going to be a bit costly (but completely worth it!).

Dec 4, 2008

Lessons Learned?

Our department is looking for another linguistics professor, and this week we had two guys come and give mock teaching demonstrations and job talks. It's really interesting to be a part of this process and see it from both sides. We have a little bit of a say in who we like and who we want to come here, and it's definitely a learning experience to watch what the candidates have to do. If I go through with the Phd program and try to get a job as a professor, this is the kind of thing I would have to do to get a job. Certainly more stressful than a normal interview!

Oh, and AES put my loan into deferrment AGAIN. Despite my nasty letter telling them never to do that in the future without my prior approval. Apparently my wishes mean nothing. This time I'm done fighting though; I'm so over it (kind of). I'll just keep sending my payments in as usual. *Sigh*

Dec 2, 2008

Christmas Shopping

Well Christmas is coming up, and this holiday seems to be really tough for a lot of my fellow personal-finance bloggers. It's always frustrating trying to balance great gift giving with staying within a budget and feelings of frustration at the commercialization of it all with the urge to find that perfect present that the person will fall in love with.

I really love buying presents for my family and friends, even though I get annoyed at everything Christmas a lot of the time. So far I already found presents for my mom, dad, sister and brother, and spent about $110. I'm really excited about the gifts I got for them, and I think they're pretty creative. I would tell you guys what I bought, but somehow my sister found this blog even though I never told anyone about it, and figured out it was me! I only have a few more presents to get for some friends, and then I can avoid all the stores until after the holiday. I hope to spend no more than $300 total, but I think I'll definitely be under that.

Nov 30, 2008

It's almost December

I'd say that I did pretty well reaching my goals for November.

1) Stop buying superfluous things: YES! (mostly) The only extra things I bought this month that I didn't need were some clothes that I got on clearance at Kohl's, so it only put me back about $20 bucks. Not bad!
2) Try to have money left over at the end of the month: NO I came closer than usual though, and I would have had some cash leftover if I didn't have to fix my flat tires (yes, plural, I had yet another after Friday night...).
3) Read at least three non-school books: YES! I read four!

Nov 29, 2008

ETH

Tonight I went to an Enter the Haggis concert in Philly with a friend. They haven't been in our area in such a long time, so it was cool to see them again. It was a really great show, and they played a bunch of my favorites all right in a row. Of course we were right up in the front row, being the little groupies that we are. Brian was even posing for me to take pictures during the show, which I thought was pretty cool. And the even better part was that my friend paid for my ticket for a Christmas present, so I had the extra money to spend on dinner and drinks. Don't worry, I bought her some as well. :)

Nov 22, 2008

Got a Nail in my Tire

Yesterday I drove more or less the whole way home with a flat tire (in a snow storm too! eeek). It was super low when I started my trip, and I didn't fill it because (yes, this is embarassing) I don't know how. So three and a half hours later, it was flat.

My dad filled it this morning, and then informed me that there's a nail in it. I panicked for a split second until he said I'd only need a patch, not a whole new tire... phew! This is another close call-- I have had some crazy luck when it comes to flat tires this year!

Nov 21, 2008

Good Day

Today was the first time I bought gas UNDER TWO DOLLARS in over THREE YEARS. It's a monumental day. Gas at home only costs $1.91!

Also, I got a free hug today. There was this guy standing out in front of the hub holding a sign that said free hugs, so I got one. It's funny how something that simple can put you in a good mood. It makes me happy when people do random acts of kindness like that. :-)

Nov 17, 2008

Busy Busy

Sorry I have been a little bit crap about updating, but I am really busy lately. I'm currently in the middle of the last stretch- I have so much to do in the last few weeks before the semester is over. Including this 20+ page monster of a paper about some topic in literary theory & language philosophy. It scares the crap out of me to even think about it at this point, because I have yet to figure out a topic, let alone begin researching. I am heartily anticipating Thanksgiving break, when I get 10 days of luxurious vacation from the craziness that is my life. Unfortunately, most of it will probably be spend doing work, but at least I will be away from classes and my roommates and all the other stresses.

Nov 9, 2008

9-1

Wow, Penn State's loss made front page Yahoo news. Thanks for rubbing it in, Yahoo, it wasn't embarassing enough when it happened. :-(

Nov 5, 2008

We did it!

Congratulations to Obama!!

I went to a party last night with some of the students here, and it was awesome. I love how they do it, with each state's votes coming in one at a time- it makes the night even more exciting. Plus we had toasts for each big state that went blue, with blue jello shots, which was a cool idea.

I am so relieved that he won... it was so cool to watch and be a part of it. I don't know if this usually happens, but I've ever seen so many people start crying from happiness when someone was elected. Both people at the party and on tv were crying (and I'll admit, I got a little bit choked up at times). It was just such an important night for a lot of people, and he brings so much hope with him. I hope he really can help our country and the world, maybe things will finally start going right. Plus it will be cool to tell my kids that I voted for him. :-)

Nov 4, 2008

I just voted :)

Well, I finally got to vote, after a combined total of 3 1/2 hours waiting in line (1 this morning without having time to vote and then 2 1/2 this afternoon)!!! What made it worse was that I had to listen to hours of mind-blowingly ignorant talk from the two boys behind me. I know everyone has the right to vote, but I'm not sure that people with the mentality of a 12 year old should be allowed to help decide the fate of our country. It was hell; I don't even feel excited about having voted anymore. I'm just tired and cold and cranky. Oh well, at least I did my job (and got fed free food in the process). Now I just have to sit back and see what happens!!! I have my fingers crossed...

It's November already, folks...

Here are some goals for November:

1) Stop buying superfluous things: I seem to constantly spend money on things I don’t need. I don’t spend a whole lot at once on big-ticket items, but a bunch of little purchases still adds up. My weaknesses include: clothing, shoes, books and dvds. From here on out I’m going to try my best to stop buying these things. If I want something, I can ask for it for Christmas or just do without. Maybe I will post things here to be more responsible for them and also just to keep better track of how much I’m spending.

2) Try to have money left over at the end of the month: The last two months I’ve been scrounging around for money towards the end of the month. In November I want things to be different. I want to have at least a little bit of money left over so that I can put it towards something useful- saving for a new car, my IRA, or putting it towards my student loan. This kind of ties in with goal numero uno, above.

3) Read at least three non-school books: True, this is not a financial goal, but my personal reading has suffered since school started. I am so bogged down with readings for classes that I hardly do any outside reading anymore. But I’m going to try to read at least three books this month, including at least one nonfiction book. Any recommendations?

Nov 3, 2008

October in Review

Well, since October is now over, I thought it would be good to do a little recap of how well I did in achieving these goals.

1. Don't spend more than $40 a week on entertainment/dining out. YES! This was more or less successful!!

2. Try not to waste so much food. YES! I tried some new recipes, but they were very delicious this time around and so I didn't waste the food. I think maybe I am getting better at guessing what will taste good or what won't.

3. Have some money left over at the end of the month to put into my IRA. ...not really, no. I don't really have any money leftover at all.

Oct 30, 2008

I have converted

I finally converted my rollover IRA into a Roth!!! I figured I would take care of that now, since my numbers are considerably lower than what I started with. And as far as I know, you only have to pay taxes on what you have in the account, not what you originally put into it. I had to open a brand new account and transfer the entire fund over, so I thought they would liquidate it and I would buy into the stock again. But that's not how it works; they just switched the whole thing as is. That's good, because I'll keep exactly the same amount of stock. So now my money can grow and I won't have to pay any taxes on it in 40+ years when I retire!

Oct 29, 2008

Halloween is coming...

This week is like the week from you-know-where, so I can't wait until it's over. But I have a lot to look forward to this weekend, because a) I get paid on Friday b) it's Halloween!!! and c) my best friend is coming up to visit me for the weekend. I'm going to cook her a nice dinner on Friday night so that we can save a little bit of money and not go out for every single meal over the weekend, and she is bringing some pie for dessert. :)

I decided for my Halloween costume this year I'll be Audrey Hepburn a la Breakfast at Tiffany's. I'm so excited to dress up (Halloween is my favorite holiday)! And the good thing is, all I had to buy were gloves ($7), a cigarette holder ($3) and a tiara ($6). The dress and pearls I just borrowed from my mom, so it is an almost-free costume! Now I just need to figure out a good party to go to... literally all dressed up and nowhere to go.

Oct 28, 2008

Lewis Black, the election and other randomness

Last night I went to see Lewis Black, the comedian. I didn't have any clue at all who he was before I bought the tickets, but a friend wanted to go, so I was in (of course). He turned out to be really funny. I guess he would be really offensive to some people, but I thought he was cool. He said a lot of things about the state of affairs in this country that I really agree with. My favorite was when he said that America threw all reality out the window about 10 years ago. "Who needs drugs nowadays? Just pick up the newspaper and read about the presidential campaign, it's like you're reading a bad novel. It isn't real life- it's surreal." Hear, hear.

Speaking of, can we just get the election over with already?? I am so sick of hearing who is ahead in which states today as opposed to yesterday, what horrible things will happen if the other party wins, and every little detail of what Sarah Palin is doing. I can't wait for election day to come so I can vote and then find out what's what. No more speculation, no more media bombardment-- I will know who my new president is.

In other news, there was apparently a huge riot downtown on Saturday night after the PSU-OSU game... which was epic by the way. I hope you all watched it. I am kind of sad that I missed the riot though. It would have been really interesting to be there and to watch. I had no idea it even happened until today though, when it was the talk of the town.

Oct 22, 2008

AES Success!

My student loan is finally back to normal... after about a month of dilly-dallying on the company's part. And yes, I checked into it and I could still make payments (and did, in fact) while it was in deferrment, but it's the principle of the thing. I was really annoyed that they could just do whatever they wanted with my loan, without even checking with me first. But after the polite-yet-borderline-nasty letter I sent a few weeks ago, I am now officially back in repayment!! Woot!

Oct 21, 2008

Second Teaching Review

Today I had another review of my teaching. I was uber nervous because the first professor who observed my class a few weeks ago basically ripped me apart. She hated my class and the way I teach, which made me really upset. I was worried that I would never get the hang of teaching and that my students would do poorly overall.

Things are looking up now, though. My class had one of the best averages on the departmental midterm, and the professor who reviewed me today had many nice things to say. It was so helpful to hear the things I am doing right; it really improved my confidence and mood towards teaching after getting blasted last time. She said she was impressed about how knowledgeable my students are. She also told me that I have a great rapport with my students and that I am comfortable in front of them, even if things get bumpy during the lesson, which are things you can almost never teach, you just have to have. These compliments are great, because sometimes I feel like I really have no idea what I'm doing and it's obvious. The professor's criticisms were only that I the way I explain things is too metalinguistic and that both my students and I need to use more German in class. I feel that these are good criticisms that I can use to improve in the next few weeks, until she reviews me again.

Oct 14, 2008

Penn State

Today was an absolutely beautiful day. I wandered around campus taking everything in and discovering new places, and I was completely and utterly happy. It was one of the best feelings I've had in awhile. I know I have at least two more years to live here, but I really am going to miss this place when I go.

In other news, not doing so well on the saving money front. I tried to keep my fun spending under $40 a week, but since I had a friend visiting this weekend we went a little buckwild. Now I only have 80 bucks left for the whole month, which includes: food, gas for a trip home this weekend, and fun money. This is so frustrating because somehow this always happens! I need to start keeping better track of my expenses, like I used to do before school started. Oy.

Oct 10, 2008

Ouch!

The stock market? Seriously? I just lost around $300 in 2 weeks, and I know that's paltry compared to what most people have lost. Good thing I don't need that money for another forty years-- I feel bad for the older people who need it soon. In all honesty, I am starting to get pretty nervous about this, especially since people are going absolutely crazy and making everything worse. Have they learned nothing from our country's history? But I guess there's not too much I can do about it, so we'll see how it pans out in the next few months I guess. Hopefully it will at least stabilize soon!

Oct 1, 2008

October Goals

Well, it's October now, and since I overspent hardcore last month, I'm going to set some budget goals for this month. Hopefully this month I can stay on track!

October Goals:
1. Don't spend more than $40 a week on entertainment/dining out. This is a lot of money each week to be spending, but last month I went wayyyy over this. It's depressing, but this month I will do better.
2. Try not to waste food so much. I have been trying a whole bunch of fun new recipes lately, which unfortunately never turn out well. Usually I'll make enough for a whole week of leftovers, but if I don't like the recipe, it doesn't get eaten. I am going to still experiment, but half the recipes so that if I don't like it, I'm not throwing my money away.
3. Have some money left over at the end of the month to put into my IRA. Now that I have my IRA all set up and ready to go, I am excited to start putting more money into it!

It's funny how things work out sometimes

I'm not really sure if this qualifies as bragging, but I finally bought a mutual fund for my IRA. I put the order through Sunday night, and it went through Monday afternoon... after the huge drop. So basically I was able to buy a lot more shares, dirt cheap. That certainly makes me happy! Now all I have to do is sit back, wait, and hope that things with the market get better eventually.

Sep 24, 2008

Angry

Earlier this week I received a notice from AES saying that my loan has been deferred, when I didn't even ask for it to be! When I called to ask who had put that through, they told me it is state law that when they receive enrollment information from a university, the loan has to be deferred. I got a little snippy with the guy on the phone, considering this is my own loan and last time I checked, I am responsible enough to make choices regarding it. He told me I should write a letter asking for the deferment to be taken away, and they should put it back to normal. All I have to say is, they'd better.

This just makes me so angry, because they are obviously just trying to suck as much interest money as possible out of people. If you have the means to pay your bill each month, you should have every right to keep it under a normal status and keep paying it off. There's no reason for them to defer it without even asking. If people need a deferrment, they will ask for it themselves.

Sep 13, 2008

Financial Goals Review

On Thursday I got my last paycheck from my old job. It was a payout of all of my vacation time, and since I had about 90 hours saved up, it was even bigger than my regular paychecks were! All of that money went right into the Car Repair Fund in my savings account. I finally reached my savings goals on all three of the funds I started out with when I started this blog! In addition, I have $1,000 saved up for a new car, and am consistently working on paying down my student loan. Overall, I'm feeling quite accomplished today. And it's only 10 in the morning!

Sep 5, 2008

My checkbook is suffering!

I have decided that moving to a new town is very dangerous for my checkbook. This town is so awesome, and there's so much to do. I keep seeing all these cool restaurants and bars that I want to try, and I'm meeting and getting to know new people, all of which generally combine to = spending way too much money. Don't get me wrong, it's so much fun, but this kind of lifestyle does not suit a grad student's budget. Not to mention it's been hard on my body to adjust to the new heavy-on-alcohol, light-on-sleep student lifestyle that I've been away from for a year.

Basically my big problem is that this week alone I've spent all my spending money for both this week and next week combined! I know I should start saying no a little more often to balance things out, but it's hard when you are with a new group of people. If you keep saying no, they will stop asking you eventually, which I definitely don't want to happen. Hopefully things will calm down a little bit once the heavy studying kicks in later in the semester.

Sep 3, 2008

Networth

I've been tracking my net worth with NetworthIQ since April of this year, and I'm happy to report that it's gone up about $3,000 since then. I guess that's not too much, but I'm still excited about it. Now my Networth is only negative $4,648, even though I still have about $16,000 of debt left in the form of student loans. I think that's not bad at all. This summer I hope to get an extra job in addition to receiving my stipend, and put big chunks of that money towards my loan and my IRA.

Aug 29, 2008

What a pleasant surprise!

Today I got paid for the month of September, and was pleasantly surprised! My stipend turns out to be about $1200 each month. That is $200 more than I was originally told, and more than I expected! Needless to say, I'm really really excited about this. It makes my budgeting go so much easier, and there *might* even be the possibility of extra cash to throw around. Yay!

And plus, I helped my professor out with some of her research this afternoon and got paid $20 bucks for it! I'm pratically raking in the dough now! :-P

Aug 25, 2008

Thoughts on Teaching

Today was my first day of teaching, and it went surprisingly well! I had pretty much imagined the worst, but it turned out ok I think. It's easier to stand and talk in front of them than I thought-- my only complaint is that they just stare so much. Everything I did, they were staring at me. I guess it's to be expected, but it is a really awkward feeling for me. Overall though, I'm really very proud of myself! This is the scariest thing for me that I've done in a long time, and I did it fairly well. Get this- Im even excited to teach them more tomorrow.

But some of them already dropped my class! I take offense to this- I may not know exactly what I'm doing, but that totally doesn't mean you should drop my class on the first day! I know it happens for many different reasons, and our advisor did tell us not to be upset if many people drop, but still.

Aug 24, 2008

Yay!

I am really stoked that my books for the semester only cost me 125 bucks!! So far, I am a big fan of grad school. :-)

Aug 23, 2008

Long time no see

Hey wow, sorry I have been lame on the updating front recently. I've been super busy this week, moving into my new apartment and going to orientations for grad school 9-5 each day. But now I've settled in mostly, and I really love my apartment and my roommates. Only one complaint- the walls are so thin and the sound carries very easily. But other than that, it's about a million times better than my old apartment at MU. So I'm not complaining.

I'm ready for classes to start on Monday. I have three classes this semester, and I have to teach one section of German 1 as well. I'm soooooo incredibly nervous about teaching, but sometimes I think it might be fun too. This week has been full of mega mood swings, ranging from "I hate my life, what was I thinking" to "hey this could be really awesome." But as of right now, I'm feeling pretty good. I have a plan for the first day, I already saw my classroom and played around in it, and I even looked some of my students up on Facebook to see what they're like. I just have to remember to relax and be confident, which of course is easier said than done...

Aug 16, 2008

Terminated

Well, I am now officially unemployed. Yesterday was my last day at work! It was really nice, they took me out to lunch, gave me a present, and even let me go home early with pay! It is so insanely weird to think that I won't work there anymore- I worked there for seven years (to the day)! I'll admit, I got a little teary eyed when I had to say my goodbyes to everyone. But now starts the new chapter in my life- the grad school chapter. :)

Aug 12, 2008

IRA

I just opened my new IRA account! Since I am leaving my job, I decided to take my 401k with me and put it into an IRA. This way, I can keep adding to it and invest however I want to. I don't have a whole lot of money in it right now, but I think it'll be good to get it in some funds while the stock market is down, so I can get lots of shares on the cheap. Then once all the money rolls over, I want to turn it into a Roth. It was cool-- the guy I called to set all this up was so nice, and he really helped me out with all my questions. Now all I have left to do is fill out the paperwork I got from HR and give that back, to have all my funds emptied out and my 401k closed. I really hope all this goes smoothly!

Aug 11, 2008

Well this doesn't look good

So grad school is starting soon (I move in one week!!) and I’ll be honest- the idea of having to live off of around $1,000 a month scares me. I don’t make much more than that right now, but I have very few expenses that I have to pay- on an average month over half goes to savings. But now I have to pay for everything. I am trying to make a rudimentary budget, and it's not going well at all. I think I'm going to have to dip into my emergency savings for some things, like car insurance, and maybe gas. Which, you know, is awesome- NOT. So this is what I'm planning right now; I have no idea if this is how it's really going to work.

Rent $655 (this includes all utilities which is sweet)
Food $130 (hopefully I can use even less than this!)
Student Loan $150
Fun Money $65

So basically, that leaves about $40-50 for gas and $71 each month for car insurance. I guess this will be coming out of my emergency fund, unless I can find a part-time job or some other form of supplemental income. Oy, this is more depressing than I originally thought...

Aug 5, 2008

New ING Fund

Well, nothing too drastic happened, but I revamped some of my money goals (you can see the new and improved versions on the side). Considering I drive a beater, I want to buy a new car in the next few years. I would prefer to pay for it mostly in cash, so I started a "New Car Fund" with my ING account. So far I only put in $1,000, but I hope to get about ten before I buy the car. I'm looking towards a Yaris or a Versa, so hopefully I'm not dreaming too big. I'm not sure how long it will take me to bank $10,000 since I'll be in grad school for the next two to five years, but we'll see. Plus, if it's earning such high interest, the money will grow much faster than if I keep it in my bank at home.

Aug 4, 2008

Roommates

Well, I emailed my roommate (the one moving in on the 18th) and asked her if I could stay overnight as her guest instead of at the hotel. She says that's totally fine (if she said no, frankly I'd be a little nervous about being her roommate!), and is going to call me when she gets the keys and all to let me in. Hopefully it's early enough that I can throw some of my stuff in the apartment, so it's not sitting in my car all day and overnight.

One thing did bother me slightly though- she asked if I am bringing a car to campus, because she is not. She said she just joined Sam's Club and wants to make trips there, but has no car. I didn't think of this before, but I really hope that I am not the only roommate with a car and that she doesn't ask me to drive her there alllll the time. That would be really annoying, not to mention it would blow my already tight budget!

Aug 1, 2008

Roommates & Housing Rant

I found out who my roommates are for grad school last week, and since then we've all been emailing back and forth to see who has what stuff for the apartment. It's a grad student apartment through the university, so it's all furnished- we just have to bring things like kitchen & bathroom supplies, cleaning things, etc. So far it seems like between the four of us, we have everything covered and won't need to buy anything, which is good. They also seem pretty cool, so I'm excited to meet them.

The thing that's getting me is that I have to be at school on August 18th for, but the housing officer told me I cannot move in on that day (the lease doesn't start until Aug 23rd). She said my room won't be ready yet, and she told me to get a hotel for that night and move in the next morning- which in the town where my school is, is not cheap. But when emailing with my roommates, I found out the one girl is allowed to move in on the 18th! I called housing yesterday just to check that there wasn't any mixup, and they confirmed that she will be moving in, but I still cannot. I realize that there is someone living in my room now, and not in hers, and my room needs to be cleaned first. But seriously, I don't see how checking in late the night before is going to be any different from checking in first thing the next morning. Check-in goes until 10pm- who is going to be cleaning my room at ten at night? Plus even if my room isn't totally clean by then, it's going to be my apartment, why can't I just come check in that night and sleep on the couch or something? I don't mind leaving my things in the car until the morning. I just want to avoid spending $80 on one night in a motel, when my extra rent for the whole week is only $88!

Jul 30, 2008

To defer or not to defer?

As most of you know, I will be starting grad school next month (actually in less than three weeks!!). This gives me the option of deferring my student loan payments until I graduate, which will be either in two or five years, depending. But deferment seems to have some major flaws. These are my options:

a) I can defer and postpone all interest payments, which they will later tack on to the principal of the loan! Needless to say, deferring without paying interest is not an option for me at all- I could end up owing over $23,000 as principal by the time I graduated!!

b) I can defer and still make interest payments, which would run roughly $300 every quarter. I would have to save $100 each month to be able to afford paying off the interest payments, and my principal would stay at roughly $16,000.

c) I can keep right on making payments to the loan, and keep chipping away at my principal. Right now, my payment is only $150 every month.

So looking at it this way, the winner is: C!! I just have to move some things around within my budget to find an extra $50 every month. Hopefully, by the time I graduate, I will have paid off a fairly good chunk of my loan. :)

Jul 28, 2008

Flat tire?!

Saturday afternoon I was driving out to Lancaster to visit some college friends. It was a beautiful day- windows down, radio up, sunglasses on, dance moves stellar. Suddenly a blaring horn brings me back to reality. A man in the car next to me was pointing frantically at the front of my car. Seriously freaked me out, I pulled off at the first exit (which was Reading- not where I wanted to be at all). I jumped out of the car only to be faced with a small nightmare- a flat tire!! On a tire that I just bought recently! Needless to say, I was pretty pissed off.

But then, my fortunes changed. A good samaritan came up to me and offered to change my tire. Then he went above and beyond and filled my old tire back up, checked where the leak was, and determined it was only coming out of the stem! There were no holes or rips in my semi brand new tire at all! It was what I like to think of as a small miracle, and I only had to pay $20 to repair it.

Thank you to random helpful strangers (and my Lancaster friends for helping me put the fixed tire back on).

Jul 26, 2008

Beach again!

I just got back from my family vacation at the beach. It was so much fun, and it was really nice to relax and not have to work (or do anything really). Plus, I absolutely love the beach! We did all kinds of cool things too, besides fry on the beach- wing night, bbq's, shopping, and going to see Dark Knight. That's the second time I've seen it actually, and I do recommend it. The movie is everything amazing- intense, scary, funny, etc. And Christian Bale makes one dashing Bruce Wayne.

Anyways, now that I'm done with my Batman lovefest, it's time to break down the finances for my vacation. It's not looking good- I spent about 80 bucks total. My parents paid for everything else, which was nice (and one of the perks of a family vacation!), but I found all kinds of pretty/unique/heavily desired items to decorate my new apartment with. You can tell I'm getting old when I get excited about house decorations and kitchen tools. I feel kind of bad spending so much in one shot, but I need to decorate my new grad apartment with something. So now I have some very special touches that will take the apartment from boring to awesome!

Jul 16, 2008

I think they're after my job...

So we have something new at work now- a log of calls and packages received. I have to tally every call i get during my afternoon shift (4-6p), and every package that comes in for one of the residents. The CEO says that this is because of something which was brought up at the board meeting, but won't say exactly what. In my opinion, I think it's because they are trying to cut corners, possibly by getting rid of my job. Or at least the evening part and making it part time. Because seriously, my job is by far the easiest in the place, and involves the least amount of work. I try to make myself as useful as possible, but I still end up doing almost nothing all day.

All of this isn't exactly tragic for me, because I'll be leaving in under a month (already!) to go to grad school. It might just be a good thing I'm leaving when I am. But it is still a little disturbing to think that if they hire someone else after me, and they are looking to get rid of my position, then that person will have to go through some major drama...

Jul 14, 2008

I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance...

... by switching to Geico! Ok, ok, I'm sorry- I couldn't resist. But it really is true this time. I will save about $200 every six months on my premium, while getting the exact same coverage as my old company. For someone who will soon have to live off a grad student's budget, this really is music to my ears. That money can be put to use for better things, like groceries or books (ugh, I can't believe I'll soon be back to blowing all my money on books again).

Although, on a slightly sadder note, last night was the first time in my life that I ever bought gas over $4 a gallon. I was actually quite proud of the fact that I had avoided it until now, but I know I can't avoid it forever.

Jul 6, 2008

Shopping

Today I went to the mall, primarily to shop for my two friend's birthday gifts (their birthdays are this week). I set a goal of $20 gifts for each of them, which ended up working out perfectly. It took me such a long time to find good presents, especially since I get so picky when chosing presents for my friends. I always want to find that perfect gift. And I did today! For my one friend I got a cute pair of flats and some earrings, and for the other I bought a top and some lotion. I'm totally grateful for all the summer sales that were going on, since I could get them a few good presents instead of just one. So that's the good news. The bad... I also bought a shirt and some earrings for myself. This is kind of what always happens when I go shopping for someone else, but I only let myself get one shirt and said no to all the others. But now I am so tired, it's been a really long time since I spent so much time at a mall!

Jul 2, 2008

June is over...

I think I'm still in shock that June is already over. My summer is passing way too quick, and it's a little depressing. *sigh* Ah well, at least June was a good month budget wise!

Income: $1,300 expected/$1,330 actual

Expenses:
Loan Payment $155/$155
Gas $135/$159 -- I budgeted a little extra after last months gas fiasco, but still went over. But it's alright, at least I didn't double my expected amount!
Cell Phone $25/$25
Fun Money $45/$42 -- Yesss, under!
Dining Out Challenge $75/$72 -- Also under!
Netflix $15/$15
Misc. $50/$70 -- I couldn't resist VS's semi-annual sale. Plus I needed to buy supplies for the tree I bought in FL.

Savings:
$750/$792 -- I split the dough evenly between my emergency and car repair funds. :)

Jun 30, 2008

June Goals in Review

So now that June is apparently over already, we can see how many of my goals I actually accomplished.

-Walk to work at least 10 times NO
I was off to a great start, but between rainy days and days so hot I was drenched by the time I got to work, I stopped. I just don’t enjoy becoming a grease slick/sweating pig before I even get to work.

-Save as much money as possible on my car insurance YES
I got a great quote from Geico, that will save me $200 every six months. I still have to call again to restart it, but they said they will save my quote and info until then.

-Stick to my budget for my Florida trip YES
Granted, I only came in about $20 under budget, but it was still under!! And seriously, it was soooo completely worth the money.

-June Dining Out Challenge YES
I came in just under, at $72 out of $75. I wasn't sure if I would do it, but it worked out just fine.

I'd say June was a pretty good month!

Jun 27, 2008

Real Life can be a Drag

So I’ve been shopping around for car insurance lately, and I found that I can get a great premium with Geico—two hundred dollars less than what I pay now! I called to set up service and all, but then cancelled because I still have a month left on my current insurance and they wanted to start it now. They told me I can just call up when I’m ready and they will save my policy info.

So I come back from vacation and I have a letter from PennDot telling me that since I am now “uninsured,” they will withdraw my registration if I don’t show proof of insurance in three weeks time! I still have insurance! I’m pretty peeved since Geico went and tattled on me for no reason. My insurance hasn’t lapsed, I’m still covered with my current company (which is the whole reason I cancelled with Geico in the first place), and now I have to go through this whole big long process for nothing. Ugh I hate when things are complicated that don't even need to be.

Jun 26, 2008

I Love Florida <3

Well, I'm officially back from vacation. The best vacation ever, I might add. We had the best time- beautiful beaches, fun bars, amazing restaurants, and crazy wildlife. I fell in love with St. Petersburg during this trip- someday I want to live there. Seriously- after grad school, I'm so there. It is a great city with a town-like atmosphere, wonderful weather, crazy fun people, and tons of things to do!

As far as the budget goes, I did better than I thought. Not spectacular, but at least under budget!
Hotels: $142
Gas: $150
Food/Entertainment/Souvenirs: $263
Clothes: $33
Total: $588

Ok, I know I shouldn't have bought clothes, but I really didn't anticipate how many times a day I would have to change due to humidity, freak rainstorms, etc. I only bought two tops and a pair of underwear though, so it's all good.

So basically I'm really proud of myself because I got a whole week's vacation in Florida for under $600! Plus we even threw in a few extra activities that weren't expected, like a visit to the Dali Museum and a mini-trip to Savannah on the way back home. And I got the best souvenir- a crape myrtle tree that is now living in my back yard. :)

Jun 15, 2008

Florida, here I come!

In just 2 days (!!!), I will be going on a road trip to Florida with my best friend from college. I'm so excited! We’ve been planning this trip for awhile, and I figured I will just use my reimbursement check from the government to pay for it, plus a little from my travel fund. The good thing is that we will be spending part of the time with her brother who lives there, so we can save some money on the hotel. Plus, he'll show us around to the best bars and restaurants that aren't expensive tourist traps.

This is the budget I have laid out for the trip:

-Hotel in SC (one night driving down, one night driving home): $100/2= $50
-Hotel in FL (3 nights): $180/2 = $90
-Gas and tolls: $170
-Food and Entertainment: $300

All of that added up is about $610 for the week. I hope that we don’t get carried away and spend too much over that. I think that we can do it though, since neither of us are too keen on spending lots of money right now. I know I just have to remember to think, instead of just spending like crazy and worrying about it later. That's what I tend to do when I travel- the whole “experience is worth the price” idea. Which is partly true, but that doesn’t mean I can forget everything and go around dropping big bucks on things just because I’m not at home.

See you when I get back!

Jun 9, 2008

30 Days

Yesterday, in order to beat the heat and not spend money, I watched the whole first season of 30 Days. It's a documentary-style tv show by Morgan Spurlock that takes ordinary people and puts them inside of someone else's life for 30 days. At first I thought it might be boring, but boy was I wrong! It's one of the most interesting tv shows I've seen in a while, and it actually has substance to boot.

One of the most interesting episodes was where Morgan and his fiance had to live working minimum wage jobs for a month. They were pretty bad off, especially considering neither of them were used to watching their cash flow. They had to work hard jobs with lots of physical labor, they lived in an apartment where a crack house used to be, they didn't have furniture, and they ended up about $1,000 in the hole by the end of the month. It really put things in perspective for me- I may whine about not having and/or making as much money as I want to, but I really don't have it bad at all! I mean, the types of jobs they had to take were ones that most people did in high school, but some people never get to move on- that's their life. I feel lucky to have a college degree and the opportunity for grad school. I'll have so many more options to support myself- I won't be cornered into working a minimum wage job.

Jun 8, 2008

Car Insurance is Frustrating

So it's that time of year again- the time to pay my car insurance premiums for the next six months. Right now I have car insurance through Progressive, since last summer when I was shopping around for my own policy, it was the cheapest by far. It's still not that cheap though, and since I am going away to school and money is going to be extremely tight, I’m looking around again.

I researched a little and got two quotes from Geico and Allstate that are only $450 for 6 months! Plus, I have a letter with some code that lets me get 20% off of Liberty Mutual premiums since I'm an alumni of my college. That would be amazing to get either one of these deals, but I have a feeling that a) I messed up somewhere on the online quotes or b) the coupon might be a scam or only for a year or something. It seems too good to be true, to have a quote about $200 less than what I pay now.

So I guess for now I think I will stick with Progressive until they give me my bill to see if it goes down. My dad said his went down $100 last year, so hopefully mine will go down a little too. If not though, I’m going to call around and see if the cheaper insurance offers will really work out.

Jun 4, 2008

June Goals

So June is off to a good start so far! I know it's only been four days, but still... I'm excited about doing well this month. Plus I have some fun things planned! Anyway, since it seems that the secret to success sometimes lies in baby steps, here are some baby goals that I can hopefully achieve in June.

-Walk to work at least 10 times
(I will be off for a week for my vacation and will only work 15 days this month)
-Save as much money as possible on my car insurance (My 6-month premium is due this month- I'll have to shop around some and see what deals I can find, because I think I pay too much)
-Stick to my budget for my Florida trip ($550)
-June Dining Out Challenge ($75)

So far, so good... I've already walked to work twice (today it rained) and barely chipped into my dining out money. Hopefully I can keep up the good work! :)

Jun 1, 2008

SATC!

So it’s the first day of a new month, and already I have spent money! Gah. It was well worth it though- I went out to see Sex and the City with my girls. The movie was awesome, but really heavy and sad at parts. We all spent about half of the movie either crying or trying not to cry, no lie. But on the money front it was good- I suggested to go to the matinee so that we wouldn’t have to pay an outrageous price. Plus we went to Wawa first to stock up on snacks and snuck them into the theater. So overall, I spent $6.75 on the ticket, $2.20 on some toasted ravs from Wawa, and had a blast of an afternoon.

May 29, 2008

May Budget Recap

Hey everybody! It's budget review time, get excited! This is how my budget broke down this month... This was the first time I had a real budget, taking every penny into account. I had some slip-ups, but overall I think it went alright.

Income: $1,300 expected/$1,413 actual

Expenses:
Loan Payment
$155/$160 -- I threw in a little extra this month.
Car Repair $500/$160 -- Way under!!
Dentist $200/$147
Gas $100/$200 -- Yes, I’m aware this is completely ridiculous. I took way too many trips this month, which doesn't make a good pair with rising gas prices. I’m going to try and cut back next month.
Cell Phone $25/$25

Fun Money $120/$135 -- I know this is an excuse, but a friend invited me to dinner last night and I couldn’t say no! I only ordered an appetizer and water to save money, though.
Netflix $15/$15
Misc. $50/$73 -- I bought: hair dye, some vitamins, face wash, a face mask, envelopes to sell books on half.com, a car air freshener, and a dvd that was on sale. Aka, too much stuff.

I also had a few unexpected expenses this month:
Bellydancing Recital $15 -- I wasn't aware that I needed to pay this fee to participate in the recital!
2 5K Race Sponsorships $30 -- It's hard to say no to people hitting me up for money...
Haircut $17

Savings:
$135/$436 -- Yay! This one is really exciting- I split it between both my emergency and car repair funds so that they are now both even at $1,125.

In case you are wondering, I don't have to pay rent or any utilities because I live at home. My parents never asked me to pay for rent or food or anything like that, probably because I'm only home for a short while until I go back to school. Also, I don't have any dental insurance, which is why I had to pay for the cleaning. I had it for awhile, but it was very expensive and it is cheaper for me just to pay for the 2 yearly appointments. And I didn't include my stimulus check in the income because I am using it for a trip to Florida in a few weeks (very irresponsible...).

May 27, 2008

Baseball Game

The Phillies game was last night, and it was so awesome! I don't really like baseball all that much, but going to a game is so much better than watching it on tv. They did all kinds of fun things, I got to see Jamie Moyer pitch, and plus the Phillies beat the Rockies 20-5!!! Plus, I'm proud to say I mostly stuck to my budget. I spent $43 total, which is just as much as I had left for the month. Here's how it broke down:
$35- Ticket
$2- Tolls
$2- 2 Hot Dogs (dollar dog night!)
$4- Water
Luckily my friend paid the $11 for parking (!) since I drove us down. I think the prices for food and drinks there are ridiculous, but it's mostly my own fault since I bought a bottle of water to bring in but then forgot it in the car. But overall, everything was so worth it... I had so much fun!

May 25, 2008

Not as stimulating as I had hoped...

My stimulus check came in the mail yesterday, and I was highly disappointed. It wasn’t $600 like they said, and I was annoyed that they lied about it- everybody gets $600! yay! I must have missed some small print somewhere along the line. For awhile I made a big stink (mostly just to my family and other unfortunates who would listen to me), but then I sat down and realized that I didn’t even pay $600 in tax this year. I got back exactly the amount that I paid. I guess it makes sense that they wouldn't pay me the full $600 because then they really would be giving me free money, not just the illusion of free money. So yeah, I guess I should feel like a winner since I didn’t pay the IRS anything this year... woot…

May 22, 2008

Payday

It's payday today. :) I got my last check for May, and it was a couple dollars more than the first one, which is nice. Mostly I have everything for the month paid, except for my dentist appointment tomorrow, so I think most of it will go to savings! Anyway, I'll give you all the run-down of my budget at the end of the month, so we can see how well I did.

One thing I did notice though, is that I have wayyyyy too much vacation time. Right now I have 127 hours, which is enough for three whole weeks of vacation! The stash will take a big dent from my two week-long vacations (one in June and one in July), but I'm still not sure if I can use it all before August. I earn 11 hours each paycheck, which is kind of ridiculous, and we can only cash out up to 80 hours when we leave. I'm a little nervous to schedule too much time off, (even though it is my time to use), but I guess I'd better start taking some vacation days!

May 20, 2008

Car Inspection

My car went in for inspection today. I was both dreading finding out what crazy things would be wrong with it this time, and really excited to have some things fixed. I had a veritable laundry list of tiny problems that the car has been giving me (power steering, windshield wipers, etc.). But... when they called me with the estimate they said there was nothing wrong! I hate how my car acts up all the time when I drive it, but whenever I try to explain it to someone else, it acts perfectly fine. My dad tells me I'm imagining things, but I'd like to think since I drive it all the time, there's at least a small chance I know what I'm talking about.

The good news is that the inspection only cost me $88! That is by far the cheapest inspection I've ever had. I had budgeted around $500 for car repairs this month so I wouldn't have to bust into the repair fund. But my dad helped me out a lot, and last weekend we did a tune-up and an oil change together. That saved me so much money since I didn't take it in- I only had to spend $72 on the actual parts. So I got lucky this time around, and that leaves me an extra $340 to save this month! :)

May 17, 2008

Cancelled Plans

After dinner today I was going through my budget for May and got a little bummed out. I was going to go to this food & wine festival next weekend, but now I'm pretty sure I can't afford to (without blowing my budget apart anyway). It's a 2 hour drive (in a gas guzzler) plus a 17 dollar ticket for the day, not to mention all the tasty food I would be tempted to buy. I only have about 45 dollars left for my "fun money" this month, which I need to save for the Phillies game that my friends and I are going to on Memorial Day. So I think I'm going to skip the festival this year, even though I think it would be really awesome. Maybe if I plan a little better next year, I can go then.

May 16, 2008

My Short Term Financial Goals

Last post I said I would give you a little bit more info about my finances, so here goes. For the past year I’ve been working full time and saving all the money I possibly could for grad school. Since I was insanely lucky and managed to get an assistantship that comes with a tuition waiver and a monthly stipend, I won’t need that money for living expenses while at school and can now use it for other things. This is how I plan to split up the money:

1) Emergency Fund of $2,000- Right now I’m close to halfway there! I plan to use this money if something unexpected comes up during grad school, since my budget will be ├╝ber tight.

2) Car Repair Fund of $2,000- My car is a ’96 and seems to be breaking a lot lately (I paid just under $3,000 in repairs last summer alone!), so this account will be for various repairs that I’m sure will be coming up in the future. And if I don’t need it after all, then I will have a little stashed for a new car sometime down the road!

3) Travel Fund of $5,000- I already have accomplished this goal, and have the money in an ING savings account. Travel is very important to me, and I have some big travel plans in the future, which is why the number is so big.

As far as these goals go, I hope to have them all accomplished by the end of August of this year ('08). Wish me luck!

May 15, 2008

New to the Game

Well, I have finally taken the plunge. Lately I've been reading a lot of different PF blogs and have become inspired to start my own. This is a place where I can keep track of my both my financial and personal goals (and hopefully get some support along the way).

Hmm a little bit about me...
a) I'm a 24 year-old grad student currently doing the schooling thing full-time
b) I love with anything to do with languages and linguistics (ask me about anything German!)
c) I come complete with all the usual student loan debt and the less-than-glamourous salary
d) Traveling might just be my one true obsession.
e) I'm trying to live a fun and full life on a grad student's budget.

Overall, I think I do a pretty good job of budgeting and saving already, but it will be good get my plans and ideas in order so that I can make them happen more easily.