Aug 28, 2010

Fall Semester Budget

Well September is almost here, and now that I got my paycheck for it, I'm starting to think about budgets. Here is what I'm planning for this semester:

Monthly Income: $1,245 (the real total once insurance is taken out)
Rent: 360
Cable & Internet: 30
Electricity: 10
Food: 130
Car Payment: 150
Gas: 40
Loan Payment: 120
Fun & Entertainment: 140
Miscellaneous: 55
SAVE: 210

As far as the saved money goes, I set up automatic payments of $100 to go directly to my Travel Fund (to go to CA for my friend's wedding). I have to save $60 for my car insurance bill coming up in December, and I'll save about $50 a month for Christmas until I get to my goal of $275. After that, I'll save the extra for books and parking for next semester.

AND since I got lots of extra money this month, I put that away for Christmas too. So right now I have $77 saved for Christmas, $120 for my friend's wedding, and $60 for car insurance!

Aug 27, 2010

False Alarms

I had two false alarms of happiness today:
1) Rumor had it that we were getting a pay raise this year, even though our contracts said the same amount when we signed back in May. Cut to today, and our paychecks were SEVENTY DOLLARS more than usual!! Pure ecstasy! But the hitch is... the idiots forgot to take out our health insurance costs. So, I guess the news is still half good because I’ll still be getting about $20 more each month. But you know, twenty bucks ain't no seventy.
2) Amazon sells groceries! I was super hella excited about this, because even though I love the grocery store, if I can save money I’ll do whatever it takes. But you know what? I am never gonna get through 6 jars of peanut butter, 27 boxes of mac n cheese, or 10 boxes of the same flavor cereal. I guess this is geared much more towards people who have families. Poor me, with only one person to eat all the food, has no use for pounds and pounds of it, even if it is cheap from Amazon.

Aug 24, 2010

No Books!

So today was the second day of school, and guess what?! I don’t need to buy a single book for school this semester!!! All of my classes are using articles as required reading, which I can read online or print out for soooo much cheaper than buying a book! I’m so psyched, this is the first semester ever where I didn’t have to pay for books!

Aug 22, 2010

Kicking of the Christmas season in style…

Ok, I know it’s insanely early, but I just bought my first Christmas present of the season! I only bought it this early because it was a one-of-a-kind from Etsy, and it was perfect for my brother. I bought him a bowl made out of a Simon and Garfunkel record. He is moving into a new apartment (we hope?) relatively soon, and I thought this would be something cool and funky to use in his new place. He loves weird artsy stuff, and loves Simon and Garfunkel too, so it seemed the perfect fit. Also, it only cost me $14 including shipping, so I think it’s a win-win situation!

Aug 19, 2010

My first cash-only month?

You know, after seeing the train wreck that was my annual credit card summary, I’m even more tempted to try a cash-only month. I have always thought about doing it, but lacked any kind of push. And plus… all that CHANGE. But really, having a credit card does make spending too easy. I mean, so what if I don’t have the money in my wallet right now, I have the money to pay the credit card bill somewhere in one of my bank accounts. But then my savings go backwards instead of doing their job! So I think in September I’m gonna try out my very first cash-only month! Have any of you guys done this before? Were you successful?

Aug 15, 2010

Trying for some extra income

Way back when, when I was kinda sorta seeing this South American guy, he gave me a whole big package of books and computer games to learn Spanish. And now... I'm selling it. Dude did me wrong and took away any desire I had to learn Spanish. I put an ad up on Craigslist this morning, with pretty pics and everything. I know it probably won't get as many bites as selling furniture would, but I'm still trying. Hopefully I can get at least a bit of cash from this, and get rid of extra crap at the same time! Ahhh, Craigslist really is a wonderful thing. :)

Oh, and if any of you guys want to learn Spanish, let me know... ;-)

Aug 14, 2010

The Scholarship has Landed!!

Our summer scholarship is FINALLY in!!! It took sooooo long because of some stupid glitch in the system. I mean it’s supposed to be for summer living expenses, since we don't get paid in the summer, and it usually comes in late June or early July. And the summer is over already! I mean for pete's sake, we're getting our first paycheck for the fall in another 15 days. It really is ridiculous. A lot of the other people teach over the summer, but since I don’t I’ve been completely flat broke since I got back from Italy. But anyway, it's in now (PHEW), and I’m raking in the dough!! I also got my security deposit back from my last apartment, so I have $4,065 to contend with. This is my breakdown-
$1081- check to my parents for the money I’ve borrowed from them
$2000- to my EF
$200- getting new contacts
$784- bills, furniture, etc. for the rest of Aug
It's kind of boring, I'd like to be able to splurge on a little something for myself, or use part to pay down my loans, but at least I can totally refund my EF!

Aug 12, 2010

I've Joined the Savers

I finally did something I should have done a long time ago. And, admittedly, I only did it for the chance at winning a $5,000 or even $50,000 prize! No shame here, folks. I set up an automatic transfer to my ING account each month. So now, $100 will go into my Travel Fund while I sleep. :-) I’m taking Ramit’s advice on this and hoping that automation works better for me than manually putting money in myself each month. Cuz I need that money by next summer for my friend’s wedding- no ifs, ands or buts about it! AND, perchance I'll win the prize money too! (Haha I wish)

Aug 9, 2010

This is Ridiculous

You know, credit card annual summaries are both really nifty and REALLY SCARY. On one hand, it’s kinda fun and cool to see your expenses all broken down by category, and remember what you did over the past year. But then... I SPENT $6,221.30 ON ONE CREDIT CARD LAST YEAR. And no, I’m not joking. That’s the actual number. It makes you shudder, doesn’t it? It gets worse when you realize that that’s almost HALF of my annual income. I spent $555 on gas, $140 on tolls, $1,544.65 on “merchandise” (thank god this includes groceries!). It’s like a train wreck… I just can’t stop looking. Ok, so in my defense, I charge EVERYTHING to get the points (like seriously... there are a number of $1 charges on here) and pay off my bill in full each month. But still... six thousand dollars??!!

Aug 7, 2010

My New and Improved Apartment!

Remember when my roommate kicked me out in favor of her boyfriend? Well, I’m all moved in to my NEW apartment, which is simultaneously brand new and exactly the same! I only moved two doors down in the same complex, so I have the exact same apartment with a flipped layout. Which really blows your mind, by the way.

But it's still so different. The last roomie had tons of fancy things, mostly because of her parent’s shiny little credit card sitting in her wallet. I got used to the life of luxury there. If I wanted a fancy cedar wine rack, it was there. Extra-sharp Henkels knives? Done. Turkish rug in the living room? No problem!

Now, L and I have an empty apartment. We are house poor, as my mother would say. Our bedrooms are all done up, decorated and furnished, but the downstairs is literally a ghost town. We have a dining room table, 2 lawn chairs, and a TV on the floor. Oh, and an empty bookshelf. But you know what? I don’t miss all that fancy like I thought I would. I love my new apartment, because it’s more mine than the last one ever was. Every time I’m in it, I like it more and more. I mean, eventually our situation will change as we find some second-hand furniture to fill it up, but I really don’t mind sitting on the lawn chairs for now. :-)

Aug 4, 2010

Post-Italy $$$

Ok, now that my gushing over Italy is finished, it’s time to talk finances. I did a really bad PF thing. I literally have NO money right now (please see sidebars for more info). I spent basically exactly what was in my budget, which left my bank accounts more or less at 0. I did that because we get a really large scholarship in the summers, and it’s supposed to be in by mid-July. But, go figure, it STILL hasn’t gone through. I expected to have it by the time I got back to pay for my life in August, and I don’t. It’s insanely stressful and a bit embarrassing because I’ve been leeching off of my parents until the money comes in. Thank God they are willing to help me out! And don’t worry, it’s not free. I’ll pay them back once the money comes in.

But anyway, since all of my bank accounts are now drained, it’s time to set some new financial goals! Everyone’s favorite... yay!
1. Replenish my EF - I should be able to fill it out to 2,000 again with the rest of the scholarship money.
2. Save up money for future car repair – In about 3 more years, I’ll need tires, brakes, etc. Better to start squirreling away some small amounts now than have to shell it all out at once later.
3. Save $1,700 in my Travel Fund by next summer – Next summer, I’m going to be a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding in CA, which means lots of costs for a dress, gifts, flight(s?), etc. I also am planning on going to another GLAC conference, which is in Austin, TX next spring, and doing a road trip to visit my BFF in Boston in June.

Aug 3, 2010

I'm baaaaack!

Hey everybody, remember me?? Probably not at this point! Well, I'm back from Italy now, and sorta uber depressed about it. I come back from sunny Italian beaches, great food and amazing adventures to boring old central PA. And it's cold and cloudy to boot... sigh.

Being in Italy was amazing though. I know it's cliche to say it, but I can't even really describe it to people who've never experienced it. I mean, Southern Italy can be really really frustrating sometimes, which I think people don't expect. There's a lot of corruption and inefficiency, it's dirty and hot and smelly, there are no toilet seats, and nothing ever gets done when people say it will be. Not to mention the infestation of roaches in our apartment! (I lost count after we killed 25 of them.) But then at the same time, it is so incredibly beautiful that you don't mind anymore. I saw more beautiful places there than I've ever seen in my life, seriously. I never completely got over it.

And I had SO many cool adventures. I cliff jumped at a topless beach in Tropea, got stung by a jellyfish (which turned into a battle scar, it's pretty cool), went to a goat farm and ate freshly-made ricotta, snorkeled off the coast of Sicily, saw a saint's day festival, bathed in a smelly sulfur mud bath next to a volcano (and reeked for three days after), got lost in an old-fashioned fisherman's village, tried every regional specialty that I could, bought my food at a loud crazy street market, and relaxed on the beach almost every day. It really was una esperienza indimenticabile! :-)