Feb 28, 2009

I'm mad at ING

Oh, and apparently my ING Online account has dropped the interest rate to almost HALF of what it was when I signed up?!!! It's down to 1.8% now. I know banks are hurting, but it annoys me that it's always the customers who end up getting gypped, while the bank owners still get their vacations and jets. Plus, what is the point of having my money there if they're not making good on their promises??

February Food Challenge Recap

So remember I was doing the February Food Challenge from Krystal at Give me Back my Five Bucks? Setting a budget for grocery shopping for February? Well my goal was to keep my food budget under $130 for food for myself for the month. Usually I got at least a little bit over that, especially since I try to cook real food instead of eating processed food all the time.

But this month, I made it JUST under! I spent $129.12 for the month on food for myself. It was a bit of a stretch towards the end of the month, but it actually worked out really well. I know I can stick to it this month too, since I'll be home for spring break for a week and won't have to buy quite so much food.

Feb 25, 2009

Cheap, easy money

One great thing about going to a big research university? Getting paid for participating in experiments. Now I'm not talking the creepy, what-will-they-inject-me-with-today type of experiments. I participate in the easy ones-- experiments for my professors and also fellow grad students. I have to do things like read texts and sentences in German and answer questions... and I get paid for it. It's really a sweet deal. An hour or so of my time, and I'm 15-20 bucks richer than I was when I woke up in the morning. And sometimes they're even fun! Maybe I could branch out to other departments and see if I could earn a little more secondary income.

Feb 20, 2009

Credit Card Mess

I signed into my credit card online account today to check my balance, and they had a message on the front page. Apparently, my account was “compromised” in some way, so they are shutting it down and issuing me a new credit card number. This is the second time this has happened to me. The last time was with my bank card though- someone hacked into an account somewhere and got my number, so I had to get a new one. But there weren’t any unauthorized purchases or any money missing, so it wasn’t that bad. And so far, there isn’t any funny business going on with my credit card *knock on wood*. I guess they do this as a preventative measure before anything really bad happens, but it’s all just a little bit scary. And since it’s already happened to me twice, I have to wonder if it’s something I’m doing wrong that’s putting my accounts at risk?

Feb 18, 2009

Scaled-back Spring Break Plans

I've decided that since I'm going to (hopefully) be doing a lot of traveling this summer and next, Miami and South Carolina are out for spring break this year. My spring break is going to be one spent relaxing at home with the family. The other night I was talking to my little sister though, and since she has spring break the same week, we decided to take a day trip together to NY. I've been there a million times in the past few years, but she was only there once when she was little. It should be really cool. The only thing on our agenda so far is to go to Anthony Bourdain's restaurant, because, let's face it, we are both just a little bit obsessed with him. He doesn't cook there anymore, but all the recipes are still his, which is awesome. And if he actually stopped in that day and we got to meet him, I'm pretty sure we would both die of excitement. Other than that though, I'm still not sure what we'll do.

Feb 13, 2009

New Apartment

Well kids, I found a new apartment to live in next year!! One of the girls in the German department got her acceptance letter to study abroad in Kiel next year. She wants to keep her apartment... I was looking for a cheaper apartment... you could say it was the perfect match. So I'm going to live in her apartment next year while she's gone. We just have to find a roommate to take the other room, and then the rent will only be $350 a month per person (uh-maze-ing!)!!

The other day I took a tour of her apartment, and it's awesome. It's very roomy with an upstairs and downstairs, it has beautiful wood floors, and she is keeping all her furniture there. This is very lucky for me because I don't own a single piece of furniture. And she has really nice furniture too- brand new couch, high def TV, queen sized bed. Plus the apartment is close to campus and downtown, so I can keep walking everywhere like I do now. Overall this seems like the perfect situation. :-)

There is only one small problem though- she has so many plants and fish! My two greatest talents in life seem to be killing plants and killing fish. She says it’s OK if they die, but I think she is just saying that to calm me down. Hopefully the roommate is better at keeping things alive than I am!

Feb 9, 2009

Spring Break

I just got invited by two different girls to go on trips with them for spring break, within the course of an hour. One asked me to Hilton Head, SC and one asked me to Miami!! I want to go soooo badly, it would be so much fun to go there with my new friends. Plus I've never been anywhere for spring break, so I feel like I should go just to experience it. And technically I do have the money for it, since I have my Travel Fund. I do have a lot of big(ish) trips planned for this summer though, so I feel like I should save it. Also, my mom expects me home on spring break, and she will probably get really upset if I don't come home. I think it's safe to say that I have myself a conundrum here. Oh what to do, what to do?

Feb 4, 2009

Taxes are done!!

Instead of being a good grad student last night and reading Heinrich von Ofterdingen like I was supposed to, I spent about three hours organizing and filing my taxes. It was pretty complicated this year because I had to pay taxes on the money I converted in my IRA, plus I had student loan interest deductions. Usually I just file the 1040EZ and get on with my life, but this year I wasn't allowed to, and had to jump to a 1040A.

I was trying to root through all the paperwork myself, and did a fairly good job of it, but I was still nervous about doing something wrong. So I ended up caving and using TurboTax's online program. I found out about it by accident, but it will help you do your taxes completely free if you made under $30,000 last year. Basically their program got the same answer that I did doing it myself, which means I was doing something right. But the cool thing is it found a deduction for me that I didn't even know about! So I mailed in all of my tax stuff today, now I can just sit back and wait for the money to come. Pretty sweet. :)

And on a side note, I made $24,000 this year! I know that is a paltry amount to some people, but I have never made so much money in one year before, so I am pretty impressed with myself.

Feb 3, 2009

Price Gouging at it's finest

As you may recall, this year I am living in university housing for grad students with three other girls. The apartment is alright, very dorm-like, but considering the dump that I lived in during my undergrad, I like this place. The only downside is that the rent is a little steep-- $655 a month. Considering I only get paid around $1,000 each month for my stipend, money has been (and still is) pretty tight.

I was originally planning on living here again next year with one of my current roommates and friends of hers, because they want to stay. But today I got an email explaining that they are raising the price to $700 a month next year!! Let's take a minute to review- that's $700 PER PERSON for a small four bedroom apartment. That’s $2,800 a month they’re raking in!! What annoys me the most is that I could get my own apartment completely for myself somewhere else, for less than what they are asking. I mean, $655 a month is already expensive, but it was convenient to move in here when I didn't know anyone or anything in the town. But there's no way I can afford more than that. Looks like I'm going to be apartment hunting in the next few weeks...