Aug 21, 2009


Ok ok, I feel like some of you might kill me for this, but I took the plunge. Today I bought a new, black Toyota Yaris! It’s got everything I wanted in a car- air conditioning, power everything, cruise control, fold-down seats and a spoiler. I took advantage of the government CARS program, and got an amazing deal on it. With all of the rebates and everything, my car payment will only be $148 a month with NO INTEREST. Hellz yeah!

Here’s the breakdown:
Car Price: $16,500
Clunker Program: -$4,500
Grad School Rebate: -$1,000
Price I Paid: $11,870 (w/ tax and tags)
Down Payment: $3,000
Financed: $8,870 for 60 months with 0% APR

For my down payment, I took all the money out of my New Car Fund, and $1,550 out of my Travel Fund. I have bonds from when I was little that are worth about $1,200 now. I was going to use them for the car, but because they get a higher interest rate (4%) than my money in the bank (1.4%), I’m just going to let them stew for a bit. I'll wait to cash them out until I need them for a trip or something.

I still have my $2,500 EF and $2,300 in the Travel Fund, so I am far from cleaned out. I feel really good about this, and it will be so nice to have a car that will be reliable and in good shape for the next few years . AND I think it’s pretty much a dream come true to get a brand new Toyota for a used-car price!! Not to mention it’s my dream car (the one that’s actually attainable of course). I can't wait to start driving it around!

Aug 18, 2009

Random stuff

I really am too tired to organize my thoughts into a cohesive blog entry today, so just bear with me.

a) I was thinking about it today, and I managed to get all the necessary items to fully furnishe and decorate my room in my new apartment for just over 120 bucks!

b) I sold my second item on Craigslist- a dresser that the old girl left here when she moved out. I got 11 emails within 3 hours... I love selling things in State College! My roommate and I are going out to dinner with the $25.

c) When I moved in, I wasn't aware I had to pay for my parking spot. It's $150 a semester... ouch! :-/ I suppose I should have asked, but at my last apartment it was free so I didn't think of it.

d)I had to buy Skype credit today for the first time in who knows how long. My cell phone is roaming inside the apartment and even outside on the street, so I can only use it for texting. This is pretty lame, but I can't get a new phone just yet.

e) I forgot how glad I am to shop for my own groceries and cook for myself! All summer I just ate whatever my mom would buy at home and packed on the pounds. Now it's time to go back to healthy fun food. :-)

Aug 16, 2009

Moved in!

SO! I'm all moved in to my new apartment! There were even some pleasant surprises waiting for me that the previous roommate had left, like a full length mirror and a lime green desk chair that matches my laptop perfectly! Two things I can check off my "Need to Buy" list.

The only problem is that space is super tight in my room, so I'm still a little unhappy with the layout. Basically my bed is too big for the tiny room that it's in, and I don't have enough closet space. One would think this means I have too many clothes, but I disagree. ;-) I went to Walmart this morning to get some finishing touches: a toothbrush holder for the bathroom, and an over-the-door shoe hanger. My shoe rack won't fit in the closet, and it definitely won't fit at the same time as my hamper. So I'm going to try out one that hangs on the door and see how it goes.

Aug 14, 2009

Back to reality tomorrow

I'm moving back to school tomorrow to get ready for the next semester! We have an orientation week next week and I have to be one of the new girl's "buddies"-- escort her around, answer her questions, go with her to parties. I know, I know, such a hard job. But the week after that is officially when my summer ends. :-( I'm a bit sad because my summer didn't really live up to the expectation I had for it, and now it's over. Although what really does, right?

The good things is, I have my new apartment! I cannot wait to move in, get settled and decorate my new room! I'm a little nervous about getting along with my new roommate though. She decided this summer that she hates having roommates and told me she never liked any of her roommates before. That might be a difficult situation to move into, but I'm hoping she doesn't judge me before we even live together.

Aug 11, 2009

How I Keep Expenses Low While Traveling

Many people have marveled at the fact that I manage to travel so many different places when I am a graduate student (who didn’t pull out any loans). Ergo, I thought I’d give some tips on keeping travel expenses low. Most people probably already do these things, but I’m going to share anyway.

1) Stay at budget hotels, small local hotels or even hostels.
Whenever I plan a trip somewhere, I look for the cheapest accommodations I can that are still a) safe and b) not disgusting. You can save an insane amount of money doing this. For example, on my last trip to TN, we only paid $155 per person on a week's worth of hotel stays!! This is the same as one night in some hotels. Now I know not everyone is like this, but when I am traveling all I really need is a bed and a shower. Websites like can really help when looking for a hotel. But read the reviews with care. Sometimes the hotels are given bad reviews for something that doesn’t matter to you-- it’s all about realizing what aspects of a hotel stay are the most important to you and finding one that fits. I’ve found the best budget hotels are Days Inn and Howard Johnson— really clean beds and bathrooms, free breakfast, and sometimes a pool! I’ve never stayed at a hostel in the US before, but they do have them in some cities

2) Find out the cheapest method of transportation and go with that.
Usually when I travel with my friends, we drive. This isn’t always the best bet though, depending on where you’re going and how much time you have. Sometimes the train has very good deals, and you can see more of the country you’re traveling through. And if you’re in Europe, the train is definitely the way to go. In Germany you can by discount tickets for use in a particular area, or the special weekend ticket that can be used on trains in any part of the country. Also, surprisingly enough, sometimes flying really can be cheaper than driving, even though this seems counter-intuitive.

3) Bring friends!
This is great because it’s not only much more fun, but you can also split costs on things like gas, parking, cabs and hotel rooms. Just make sure you bring friends who are not super big spenders, because they might tempt you to spend more than what you can afford on food, entertainment and accommodation. And I've found it's harder to say no when you're "on vacation."

4) If you are a student, bring your ID with you!
You might be amazed at the discounts you can get with a student ID. Sometimes they are as good or even better than the senior citizen discounts. This is especially true if you go to Europe, since almost everywhere you go will have some sort of student discount. All those little discounts can add up, so you can use that money towards a better purpose, like dinner!

5) Try to get away from super-touristy areas.
Now I know that if you are going to a place for the first time, you want to see the things that you've heard about. I do the same thing! But if you are looking for good food or other activities, wander away from the touristy areas. You will get similar thrills with a smaller price tag. This espeically goes for restaurants, which will jack their prices through the roof if they are in a super touristy area(Times Square, anyone?).

6) Don't buy overpriced souvenirs (they are just junk!).
This kind of goes with the above tip, considering any touristy area will have a plethora of stores where all kinds of crap is sold. Even if something seems cool, ask yourself whether it's really necessary, or if Mom really needs another mug. I'm not sure about your families, but my family doesn't want any of this stuff, and they don't appreciate these types of things when I do cave and buy one or two. Save your money and take pictures, write your memories in a journal, or if you must collect something, try something cheap like postcards.

Aug 9, 2009

Craigslist Games

So I got a guy who called right away asking to buy my mini fridge, and now he's playing games with me. First he made a big fuss about whether it works or not (why would I sell a broken fridge?) and then asked me if I could bring the fridge to HIM. I told him I would do that, since I was going up to the area on Saturday anyway. Saturday morning rolls around, I call him asking him for his address and what time would be a good time to meet, and I don't get a call back until Sunday night??? Apparently he went to NYC for the weekend?? This might have been some good info to tell me earlier... And he still wants to meet to buy it. I'm pretty peeved. I know he doesn't know me, but some courtesy would be nice!

Aug 8, 2009

Trip Finances

So... I have two secrets to tell about my TN trip. Not terribly juicy ones though, so don't get too excited.

Secret #1: I went over budget. :-( Not by too much, only about $30. The gas, parking/cabs, and hotel expenses were exactly as much as I estimated them to be ($75, $50, and $155 respectively), but the spending money I had for entertainment and food was where I went over. I budgeted $325 and spent $355. But man, I didn't realize how many tours and things we would go on, and they were each between 10-15 bucks a pop! I didn't spend too much on food and drinks though, which helped balance it out. Only going over by 30 bucks is no big disaster and everything would be just peachy except for...

Secret #2: I FREAKING GOT PULLED OVER IN VIRGINIA!!! I know when I went there for the weekend in June I said I liked Virginia... well now I changed my mind. I was only going 78 in a 65 on I-81, which isn't even 15 over the speed limit! AND it's not like I was speeding past the other people on the highway or anything, I was going right with traffic! I am super mad at this ticket. Not mad at myself, but mad at the cop. I really feel like I was targeted because I'm out of state. Plus he set the court date for Sept. 16, which is during school so I can't try to fight it and get the points taken away. Argh. So that adds another $126 to my trip expenses. A completely unnecessary $126, if you ask me. Hopefully my insurance won't go up because of it.

Aug 7, 2009

Tennessee Rocks my Socks

Hey y'all! I'm back from Tennessee! All I have to say is, I *heart* the south. Seriously. The accents, the food... *sigh.* I got to do soooo many insanely awesome things on this trip! Our first stop was in Memphis, which was great. Probably my favorite city out of the two (between that and Nashville- we didn't see much of Knoxville). Although the frozen drinks on Beale St. were kind of a bad idea. But we ate BBQ and fried chicken, saw some great live bands, stood in the studio where Elvis and Johnny Cash got their starts, watched the sun set over the Mississippi, visited the Jungle room, and met the owner of Silky's bar (he insulted me, but that's another story).

Nashville was fun too, but it has such a different vibe than Memphis, which was interesting to observe. I'm not a country music fan at all, so Nashville wasn't as exciting to me as Memphis was, but it was really freaking cool to stand on the stage at the Ryman where Johnny Cash used to perform. Plus we went to a dueling piano bar, which I've always wanted to see. And in Nashville I GOT TO PLAY ELVIS' FAVORITE PIANO! The one he recorded so many of his songs with!! Really one of the coolest things EVER. I almost died of excitement and I'm not even a huge Elvis fan... those people would probably hyperventilate or have seizures or something.

But alas, my Tennessee Tour has come to an end. I just got back home, and PA seems so blah compared to how vibrant and different cities in the South are.