Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bonus Time!

My company paid out bonuses for 2008 yesterday! After taxes and 401k, mine came to $2,140. Here's how I am dividing it up:

E-Fund = $1,000
Travel Fund = $250
Roth IRA (2008) = $250
Wardrobe Update = $500 (including work attire, running shoes, workout clothes, heels, etc)
Me/Other = $140 (I've been wanting some new earrings, I need to change my license to CA, etc)

I am saving 70% of my bonus and will be spending 30% of it eventually. :)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

To Match or Not...

I'm considering signing up for I had fun dating C recently even though things didn't work out. But that short experience made me realize that dating can be fun and that I would like to do it more often. However, I never know where to meet guys! I go to a lot of places by myself, like the gym, library, grocery store, coffee shop, mall, etc plus the occasional party and to the bars almost every weekend - but I rarely meet guys. Most people I know met their significant others through friends, but I have had no luck there, either. Two close girlfriends of mine have used/are using Match and say they have had decent experience with it, sometimes not finding guys they go "wow!" over, but enough that they will try it again - or stick with it and keep dating.

Basically, I am intrigued by online dating. Online is the new form of everything - so why not this? There is a 3-day free trial that I will use this weekend, and if I am interested enough, I will sign up for 3 months.

The personal finance aspect is the cost. Yes, it's pricey! $35.99 for 1-month. $59.97 for 3-months. I figure 1 month is too short and if I like it, adding on another month would be more than the cost of the 3-months initially. (It's not as expensive as eHarmony, which is $119.85 for 3-months, and Match has better reviews, too.)

I have not mentioned this to any of my friends, so I figure my blog is a good place to talk about it. I'll keep you updated on how it goes! Have any of you ever done this? Or considered doing it?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cutting Benefits... But Not Jobs!

My company's CEO sent out a firm-wide e-mail yesterday. In 2009, some of our "extra" benefits/perks will be cut due to the economic outlook. This includes the $20 monthly gas card each employee was given, the vending machine subsidization (everything was $0.50) and no annual picnic or holiday party. What all the employees are keeping? Jobs, annual increases and bonuses.

I am thankful for my job. And how much the firm values its employees. My company has not laid of a single person and they have no plans to do so. (However, they will not be hiring any additional people for a while - so my old position will be split between a few people in the department.) Bonuses are still being paid out for 2008 (today, actually!) and we will still be getting our annual raises in April. They might be smaller than normal, but that is to be expected. Since I only started in June, so I am elated to be getting any sort of raise, let alone a bonus.

It's a happy Friday! :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Weekend Spending

On Friday, my roommates and I stayed in - we had some drinks and played Wii, which was a blast! On Saturday I ran errands - returned something to Ikea (didn't purchase anything with the store credit yet), picked up some things at Costco and went out to lunch with a friend. On Sunday I went to kickboxing class, made lentil soup from one of my new cookbooks and did some grocery shopping, then caught up on TV from the week before.

$0, I cooked dinner at home and didn't go anywhere

$7.49, sandwich from my favorite spot!
$52.38, Costco (I bought a 6-bottle case of my favorite wine, a frozen all-in-one meal which lasts me 5 meals, and an Acai dietary supplement)

$33.89, Groceries

Total: $93.76

Friday, January 23, 2009

Taxes 101

This is my first year filing taxes! In the past, while I was in college, my parents always took care of doing my taxes since I was a dependent.

But now, my time has come! Today, I received the first of a few tax forms headed my way: my 1099 from Chase (formerly WaMu) for my measly interest that I accrued during 2008. My 1099 forms for my ING accounts will be available online at the end of the month, as will my W-2 from my job. I already contacted my on-campus job where I worked from February-June '08 and that W-2 will be mailed out to me.

I plan on using Free File for my federal return (probably TaxAct, from what I've read) but I can't decide if I should do my state return on my own or pay the $13.95. Hmm.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Weekend Spending

What a long weekend - for good and bad reasons. On Saturday I drove an hour away to visit one of my best friends from college: we went out for lunch, went shopping and cooked at her place for dinner and hung out with her and her fiance's friends til midnight. We also went to Michael's where I used a gift card and bought a calendar, a jarred candle and 3 small chocolates for $3.56! On Sunday I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, ended things with C and went to a friend's birthday dinner at her house. Today I spent the day cleaning (I was supposed to go on a mini road-trip with friends but they decided not to go), finished reading Water for Elephants and made my first meal with my Crock Pot - it turned out alright.

$0, I went to lunch with C and ended up with leftovers, then had a low-key night in with my roommates & caught up on some TV

$14.46, Filled up my gas tank (it was half-full)
$15.74, Sushi lunch with my friend
$45.04, New shirt ($11.90, originally $29.99) and new bra ($29.90, originally $52.00)

$0, C paid for the movie and my dinner was free at my friend's house

$0, I stayed at home to clean and cook and read (but really: I moped around as my emotions are getting the best of me due to my break-up with C, since it is losing a friend - even if it was one that I wasn't really into... so yes, I am an emotional person!)

Total: $75.24

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I'm Just Not That Into You...

Dating is certainly a hot topic as of recently.

I've been on a few dates with Nice Boy since we first met at a mutual friend's Christmas party in the beginning of December. Yesterday, I ended it. It was difficult and I feel horrible, as I have always been the one who does the breaking up and it doesn't get any easier - even when you are just dating and haven't defined the relationship, or lackthereof.

However, as I stated last week, I just was not into him. I want the butterflies and the sparks, and while they were there on the first 2 dates - afterwards, it just spiraled quickly downwards as I got to know him. He was very overly affectionate, calling/texting everyday, wanting to see me everyday... (He reminded me a bit of this guy.) While it's all very sweet, it was just too much, too soon. Plus he got me not one but two bouquets of flowers for my birthday and brought me pearl earrings back from his trip to Hawaii. (This was all only after two dates.)

So, I let him know that I was not looking for a relationship/commitment and wanted to be honest with him before things got too far. He still wants to "hang out occasionally, as friends" and he let me know that he will be there for me for me in case I ever need a friend. I could tell he was hurt (I would be!), but I knew that it was the right thing to do. And especially earlier rather than let it drag on.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Roth IRA for 2009?

I am debating whether, in 2009, I should opt to invest in a new fund with Vanguard. I originally went with the 500 Index fund and now would like to invest in either the Total International Stock Index fund or the Small-Cap Index fund to offset the 500 Index. The reason I initially invested in the 500 Index was because I am considering, in the next 5+ years, using some of that money to help with a down payment on a condo. (Hopefully the markets will be back on the upswing by that time so I'll have some potential returns to utilize!)

From Wikipedia: "Up to $10,000 in earnings withdrawals are considered qualified (tax-free) if the money is used to acquire a principal residence. This house must be acquired by the Roth IRA owner, their spouse, or their lineal ancestors and descendants. The owner or qualified relative who receives such a distribution must not have owned a home in the previous 24 months."

Even if I do not decide to use those funds, I am still happy to have picked a broad index fund to begin my investing adventure with. I just want a bit more diversification in this economic climate. If I decide to add a different index fund to my mix for 2009, I will have to wait until I save up the initial $3K minimum to invest!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mileage Reimbursement

From my bank trips for 4Q08 with work, I received $50.89 in mileage reimbursements!

I am rounding it to $51.00 and putting it into my E-fund. My Travel Fund is doing well and my next trips aren't til April (NYC for Easter to visit my parents who live their part of the year, my Dad bought the flight using points cuz he has a bazillion) and May (the bachelorette party) so I figure it's time to keep padding my emergency fund.

Sadly, this will be my last bit of automatic extra income from work since my new position does not include going to the bank. But it does have a higher pay! ;)

Enjoy the three day weekend, I know I will!


There are a few things right now that I am annoyed with:

1. The boy I have been dating. We have next to nothing in common, I'm not that attracted to him and he is basically a puppy dog/is also smothering me. He's just not my type. So, I'm breaking it off with him later this weekend. (We've only been on 4 dates, including today's lackluster lunch date, plus other 2 hang-out sessions...) Time to find other guys to date!

2. Our cable got shut off today. When we moved into the place in August, we were giddy that the cable had not yet been shut off after the previous renters left. We knew it would happen eventually and now, it did. After 6 months. Time to check out bundled deals and see what we can get! (Thank goodness my raise is in effect so I can afford the $10 or so extra per month.)

3. My credit limit. It's only $750 because I got my FIRST credit card in June 2008. (The limit started at $500 but was increased to the current amount in August.) Now that I want to register for an industry exam, the ONLY form of payment they take is credit card and you can only pay online. There is a note on the payment page that specifically states to not use a debit card. And my credit limit isn't high enough to cover the total cost. I called my credit card company to see if they could increase the limit but it's a no-go.

Lame on all three accounts!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

December Net Worth

My net worth increased in December, and by quite a bit! 9.85%, to be exact, thanks to my long Christmas vacation at home which saved me a lot in my budget, plus some gifting from my parents.

If you want more details, you can check out my NetworthIQ profile.

Loose Change

I used to collect quarters when I had to do my laundry at a laundromat. I found that little baggie when I was cleaning out one of my drawers recently. Counting it up, I had $8.

I keep some quarters at work. Our vending machines are subsidized to $0.50 for everything, so when I feel like a snack and haven't brought one from home, I don't mind using a few quarters now and then!

I also have a small tin that I use to collect my loose change. About once a month (or more often if I remember), I empty most of my change into the tin. Now that it's 2009, I want to collect my change more aggressively and use it for Christmas gifts at the end of the year (you can get gift cards/certificates from CoinStar machines and bypass the counting fee) or into one of my savings funds. :)

What do you with your loose change?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Winter Clearance = Major Bargains!

I decided to poke around the mall today. Every place is trying to get rid of all their winter items, including one of my favorite stores. And what deals they were having!

I purchased a lovely blue v-neck sweater for $15.90 and a pair of dark brown cords for $9.90. (Original prices were $44 and $50, respectively.) Both are items that I can certainly wear to work, though the pants are slightly more dressed-down than what I usually wear. However, they fit perfectly and I definitely could not beat that price! The total with tax (and after a $0.42 credit from a leftover gift card) came to $27.37.

I am a happy camper! :)

Weekend Spending Report

Late, as usual. But better than never, right? ;) I went out on Friday for a late birthday celebration. (I had gone on a 3rd date for my actual birthday to The Melting Pot. Love that place! I'll post about the guy situation soon.) I also ran some errands but generally just relaxed, caught up on TV and hung out with my roommates.

$0, It was my "birthday" (2 days after the actual day) & my roommates/friends bought me drinks at the bar! :)

$9, Brunch
$75.38, Groceries

$0, I spent a VERY lazy day at home - slept in, skipped kickboxing (oops!) & did some cooking from my new cookbooks

Total: $84.38

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2009 Annual Goals (and, how much I save!)

Since I started my blog in the middle of 2008, I did not post about any annual goals. Since it is 2009, I thought I would start of the year right and make some! Here are my goals for 2009:

  • Increase Net Worth to $15K
  • Increase E-Fund to $8K
  • 2009 Roth IRA: Contribute at least $3K (I don't believe I can max it out...)
  • Take one extra vacation (I am already planning for Vegas again and a trip to NYC, so this would be something else entirely)
  • Get back into golf (lessons & perhaps playing on a semi-regular basis)
  • Study and sit for CFA Level I (in December '09)
In terms of saving, I automatically put away $400 each month into savings ($200 towards Roth IRA and $200 towards other savings such as E-fund, travel fund, gift fund, car maintenance fund - and this is after $150/month goes into my Roth 401k) and usually have at least $200 leftover from my monthly budget. That's $750/month almost automatically, not including the 2 extra paychecks each year!

I am also getting a slight pay increase with my promotion that has already gone into effect plus I am eligible for a merit increase in April and my company might still give out a small annual bonus in March. (Plus the holiday bonus in December) Hopefully with all that extra income and the occasional survey checks - and perhaps some 2009 gift exclusion income from my parents - I will be able to reach some/all of these goals!

Pinecone Research

A few weeks ago, I noticed that Pinecone Research was open to new members. I signed up and was accepted as a panelist! I have done some basic questionnaires but also 1 survey since becoming a member, and I received my very first Pinecone Research survey check for $3 last week. I deposited it into my Travel Fund. :)

Vegas Trip!

I went to Vegas with one of my best girlfriends from December 31st-January 4th. We had an absolute BLAST and I cannot wait to go again sometime this year!

Her family is Filipino and a lot of her extended family lives in Vegas. Since her aunt gambles a lot (and gets her friends/family to gamble under her name as well), the aunt has VIP status and consistently gets rooms and buffets comped but never uses them. Therefore, our 4 nights in Vegas were completely free. Her uncle refuses to let us, two short/petite girls, take cabs on the Strip - so he drove us to/from the clubs all weekend, with no care in the world that we would leave stumble out at 3:30am or later! They were so accommodating and generous, making a few meals for us and having their neighbor (who works in the Rio, where we stayed in the suite room for 2 nights) bring us a full breakfast for 2 mornings. I also came away with a free Rio margarita glass. :)

We did Vegas how we liked it: partying/dancing until the early hours of the morning, sleeping for the majority of the day, walking around the Strip in search of food in the late afternoon/early evening, occasionally meeting up with friends who were also in Vegas for the weekend and meeting lots of guys at the bars/clubs. (Being 2 single young women instead of a larger group definitely helped there, too. That's how we got into Tao for free and avoided the $20 cover on Saturday night: 2 guys needed 2 girls to get in faster!)

How much did I gamble? A whopping $1 when we emerged from Rain at the Palms and were waiting for her uncle. All my money went towards some drinks (avg price of $14, including tip), some meals, our VIP status for the Palms where could walk straight into the clubs for 2 nights at only $16 each and the tips in the rooms plus the Carnival World Buffet dinner tip at the Rio that her aunt and uncle took us to one night. All in all, I spent $150 which left me over with $250, which is already back into my Travel Fund! Of course, I wrote her aunt/uncle a thank you card and left some chocolate with them. The best part? They wanted me to stay an EXTRA night (darn work!) and said I am welcome back whenever, with or without my girlfriend. It was a real vacation and I loved every second of it. Now it's back to reality!

Dear Vegas - What an adventure! Thanks for the memories. See you again soon. ;)

December Month-End

I had $275 leftover from my December budget! This was mostly due to the fact that I was home over Christmas for 10 days. I put $75 into my E-fund and $200 towards my Roth IRA, for 2008.

December Goals Review & January Goals

It's almost mid-January, I know, but here we go!

December goals review:

1. Purchase remaining Christmas gifts (my parents, my brother, a few friends) and Christmas cards with the $270 I have left in my Gift Fund (Anything leftover will go to the Travel Fund!)
Pass! - I did great with this! Even with some additional gifts for gift exchanges at work, I still have $63.53 left in this account. However, I have decided not to put it into my Travel Fund and keep it in my Gift Fund to help with birthday presents, wedding gifts and anything else that might come up this year.
2. Learn to knit. Half success - I started to learn to knit over Christmas with my Mom, but now that I'm back in California I haven't found the time and feel a bit lost without her sitting next to me. Hmm, perhaps I should look into taking a class?
3. Finish the book I am currently reading. Pass! I finished 3 books over Christmas break alone. :)
4. Crunch the numbers to see if using a Flexible Spending Account is worth it for 2009. Pass! I did some number crunching with my Dad and I do not believe it is worth it for me in my current situation, especially since I am in a low tax bracket.
5. Try to keep dining out to below $100 (I did this in November even though it wasn't an official goal - this time I want to try to make it happen!) Pass! I only spent $22.94 on dining out in December, mostly due to the fact that I was home for 10 days. :)
6. Save for Vegas and set my budget - and don't go over! Pass! I took out $400 for my long weekend in Vegas and I came back with $250. It went directly back into my Travel Fund - perhaps for future Vegas trips?! ;)

January Goals
1. Review my budget and adjust accordingly with my pay increase, most likely allocating a bit more to savings each month
2. Keep reading/knitting/working out
3. Get renter's insurance (my roommates & I keep putting this off)
4. Get my license changed to California
5. Figure out what I need done on my Civic for the 60K service & estimate costs
6. Learn to use my new food processor and my crockpot that I received for Christmas and my birthday

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2009! I am still recovering from my incredibly fun and very out-of-control Vegas weekend, plus I am now splitting my time between 2 departments with my (long) job transition. (It's extremely busy; I've already put in a bunch of OT and it's only Tuesday!)

I will *try* get back to regular postings later this weekend/this weekend, though it's my birthday tomorrow and I plan on celebrating this weekend with friends. A quick pf update: I do know that I have at least $200 leftover from last month's budget and as well as $200 leftover from Vegas - both of which I will post about soon. :)

Anyway, I hope you all had a fantastic New Year's and are looking forward to 2009 as much as I am!

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