Jan 26, 2010

Taxes are done, biyotches!

I just filed my federal taxes!! WOOT! I am such a nerd, I really love doing taxes. But I am not alone in my nerdyness- we got our W-2's today and everyone in the office was starting to file their taxes right away. Or maybe that's not nerdom, it's just being broke, haha. But I just finished mine, and it looks like my refund will be $1,322!!! That's more than I've ever gotten before, usually I hover around $500-600. So this is definitely awesome. I also e-filed for the first time ever, and so I should have the money direct deposited to me in like 3 weeks or so!! :-D

Jan 22, 2010

Dreaming of Italy... omg

...but the plans have changed. I went to the info session last night... and I decided the Todi program isn't really for me. The town looks amazing, and the trips they have planned are awesome too, but there are some things that turn me off a bit. For instance, you have to live with a family, and they said that many of the families own and operate farms outside of town. I'm def not interested in a farm... PA has enough of those. Also, you have to take studio art classes, and classes go from morning until 6pm every day. Then there are activities with the group almost every weekend, so I feel like I wouldn't get enough flexibility and time on my own to enjoy the place. Not sure I'd like to be stuck with giant groups of 20-year-olds all day and night.

But, luck was with me, because I talked to the language coordinator afterwards, and they offer another program in the south of Italy, in Reggio di Calabria. It's right on the tip of the toe of the boot, right next to Sicily. I would take a language and a culture class, and that's it. The program trips go to Sicily and different islands in the Mediterranean, and also to see old Greek and Roman ruins. Plus I'll get an apartment in the city, and there is a lot more free time to explore the area on your own. I feel like this is a much better fit for me. ESPECIALLY when you see pictures! Basically, I must live there. I've always been insanely jealous of people who live on the coast along the Mediterranean, and now I might get to be one for a few months!

Jan 21, 2010

TGI Thursday!

I have a feeling this semester is going to be wonderful... three day weekends every single weekend. Thursdays are my last day of classes!! :-)

In other news, I decided (on a whim kind of) that I want to study Italian in Italy this summer. I've always wanted to live in Italy, because really, what country could be more perfect?? Our school has a summer program in Todi, which is in Umbria and is completely gorgeous. I talked to the higher-ups, and it sounds like my tuition would be covered!! All I would have to pay for is the program fee, which is around $3,000. I know it's steep for just under two months, but that's for your room, all meals, and also weekend excursions. And really, I know I won't regret it... studying abroad as an undergrad was one of the best things I ever did. Anyways, there is going to be an information session tonight, so I'll find out more then. I so hope this works out!!

Jan 15, 2010

$1,000 NSF Prize!

Have I ever mentioned how much I love free money?? Cuz... I do! Remember how I applied for an NSF grant back in November? Well our graduate school offers anyone who even APPLIES for the grant $1,000. It doesn't matter whether you win or lose! And, lucky me, I finally got the $1,000! It'll deposit in my account on Monday, but I already have grand plans for it. A little is going into my IRA, a little is going towards paying off my student loan, and the rest I'm going to save for a trip to Germany (I hope!!!!) this summer to visit friends in Marburg... back to the town I used to call home! I'm not gonna lie though, I am super tempted to buy some new clothes... but I think I'm gonna have to resist this time around. Sometimes, it's all about priorities.

Jan 10, 2010

2010 here I come!

So, I know my 2010 goals are fashionably late, but I have been creating this list for awhile now and it's just now finally finished. It is my honor to present my list of goals for 2010!

1. Pay student loan down to 14,500
This one is going to be SUPER hard, since I'm at 15,391 currently. I’ll have to scrape to find some money to go towards this.
2. Get EF up to $2,000 (and keep it there!)
Usually my EF fluctuates like crazy, but this time I really want to keep it steady.
3. Put $1,500 more into my Travel Fund

1. Travel to at least THREE new places
...and don't go in the red while doing it!!
2. Get a new tattoo
I’ve been hankering for a new tattoo for a long time, so this will be my year.
3. Read 35 books
I slacked off on my reading like crazy this year, and I want to get back into the habit.
4. Keep my relationship with the boy healthy and happy
I want to keep our relationship amazing way past the “honeymoon stage”.
5. Try out 20 new recipes
6. Only buy (and wear) clothes that I absolutely love
This can also be considered a financial goal, to avoid buying clothes that I don't feel great wearing (and therefore wasting my money).
7. Volunteer this summer.
This summer I'll have loads of extra time, and I want to be productive with that extra time.

1. Eat at least one fruit and vegetable per day
Something which I really do not do and need to start doing. 'Nuff said.
2. Start using organic body products
I have had pretty bad acne for years now, and I read before how some of the chemicals used in shampoos and body washes can aggravate acne. So this year I’m going to go all organic and natural when it comes to these products (lotion too!)

1. Put more effort into teaching
Teaching is not a favorite activity of mine, but I think maybe if I put more effort into it, I might like it more. We’ll see.
2. Attend my first conference
Hoping to get accepted into GLAC in Milwaukee this spring (which will also help me reach my traveling goal!)

And there we are. Wish me luck!

How did I do in 2009?

Well, speaking frankly, 2009 was a pretty shitty year for me. A lot of personal and family problems and hurdles to overcome, so I'm def not sad to see it go. I'm so hoping that the next year will be better. But first, I should review the goals I made last year at this time, and finally put 2009 to rest.

Goal 1. Learn to live within my grad student budget: I think I have more or less been able to do this well. I rarely have to dip into my EF for everyday-type expenses anymore. Having my rent cut by almost 300 bucks really helps with this.
Goal 2. Add an extra $1,000 to my Travel Fund: No... big fail on this one. I actually took money OUT to help pay for my new car. Which brings me to...
Goal 3. Bring my New Car Fund up to $3,000: Again, no. But I did buy my new car, so that means this fund is now more or less obsolete. I gotta think of something new to start saving for now.
Goal 4. Refund my Emergency Fund: Well, yes and no. When the Thompson scholarship came in this summer, I filled the EF back out to a good level... and then drained it again buying furniture for my new place, paying car insurance bills, and doctor appointment bills that my insurance won't cover. So now it's back at dangerously low levels again.

Well, the goals I made for myself didn't quite pan out, but then again, I'm not too depressed about it. A lot can happen in a year. I mean, in January I never thought in a million years I'd get to buy a new car, so all the planning I did then didn't quite map up to real life. It's not going to stop me from making new goals though for this year!

Jan 7, 2010

Back from MN!

Just got back from my vacation to Minnesota yesterday, and damn, it looks like I got back just in time!! I mean, it was basically a frozen wasteland as it is, -27 degrees some days! It was a bit of a bummer to be stuck inside a lot, since I wanted to go ice skating and sledding and other cool wintery outside things, but the weather just did not cooperate at all. It was still fun and still worth it though! I got to meet the boy's crazy parents and friends (and grandparents and aunts and uncles...), see a new place, and experience cold like I've never felt before (hah!). My favorite parts: riding on the roller coasters inside the Mall of America (something that's been on my "to-do" list for years!!!!) and New Years Eve. We had the best of both worlds for New Years-- watched the ball drop on TV from the nice cozy couch and then went out for the second New Years since it's an hour behind the east coast. We saw this really awesome rock band, and it wasn't too crowded so we could actually dance and goof off. It was really perfect. :-)

As far as expenses go, I did really well. I got $120 cash for Christmas and just used that for my expenses on the trip, and still came ten bucks under! I'm super pumped about this-- it means I don't have to take any money out of my Travel Fund to pay for the trip (besides the $200 I took out way back to pay for the plane ticket in the first place)! Victory is mine! ;-)