Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Last Weekend of 2008!

Since I was at home and mostly house-bound due to the extreme snow conditions, I did not spend too much. I went to a party with a friend on Saturday and shopping on Sunday before my flight back to California. I had a wonderful holiday and it's good to be "home," though it's still weird to think of this city as my new home.

$0, I spent the day at home with my family (we were snow-bound almost all week!)

$4.46, 7-11

$63.11, New tote! (I used the rest of my holiday bonus to pay for it and I have $15.28 leftover that will go into my Travel Fund.)

Total: $67.57 (This was all I spent from Friday, December 19th until yesterday!)

Friday, December 26, 2008

2008 In Review

This has by far been an incredible and interesting year!

I spent time in NYC for New Year's (and my last Spring Break) and I took a university course in India for 3 weeks in January. I graduated college, got a job in my industry of choice and started this blog after becoming engrossed in the world of personal finance. I learned to budget on an entry-level salary, got my wisdom teeth pulled, broke up with my boyfriend of 1.5 years and got a promotion. I also went on 2 dates with a new guy.

I watched as the economy (and the financial markets) spiraled downwards. All I can say is, I am glad to be young in such tumultuous times! I have been contributing 6% to my Roth 401k at work to garner the full 3% match since becoming eligible in October. I opened a Roth IRA at Vanguard. I started saving with my very first paycheck and have over $4K in my emergency fund as well as some savings in a travel fund, gift fund and car maintenance fund. I received a holiday bonus at work, of which I saved some and splurged as well.

I am looking forward to 2009: the first week will include the beginnings of my training for my new position and my 23rd birthday! I'm off to Vegas tomorrow for New Year's and the long weekend.

Happy New Year!! :)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas (if you celebrate it) and are enjoying the holiday season. I have had a great and relaxing (if a bit boring!) week with my parents and younger brother. I'm almost finished with my second book as I type this.

Today was fantastic and I received great gifts: clothes, a spice rack, a food processor, 3 cookbooks and a purse, among a few other smaller items like a globe paperweight and a world map with pins for my cubicle. (Sensing a few themes there?!)

I always feel spoiled but my parents always say they want to give more - lol. I'm just happy to know that they are very financially stable and can afford to buy lots of gifts for my brother and I during the holidays.

Merry Christmas! :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bachelorette Party

The first of my very close girlfriends is getting married in June. This morning, I received an e-mail from her sister-in-law who is planning her bachelorette party! I am very excited to be invited and I think it will be a blast, even though I only know the bride-to-be. The plans are to do a wine tasting weekend for 2 nights in May. While I am not a huge wine connoisseur (I drink white zinfandel and the occasional white), I think this would be a lot of fun to have a girl's weekend.

My friend's sister-in-law said that the tentative cost for the weekend would be $200, which would include accomodations, 1 nice dinner and wine-tasting. (My initial reaction is that this approximate price is a bit low... what about the other meals?)

That said, these are the types of trips that my Travel Fund is for! The majority of what is in my TF will be depleted from my upcoming Vegas trip, but each month I save $50 automatically plus I put the occasional extra income or monthly budget leftovers in there as well. I am glad I have been notified so far in advance, so I can plan to save for it, too! :)

Have you ever done a bachelorette party/weekend? Any advice/tips?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Done Christmas Shopping!

I was able to get to the mall this afternoon to finally buy my Christmas present for my Mom. What I got her ended up being on sale and cost me $63. Since I had $90.07 left in my Gift Fund, the remaining $27.07 will be put into my Travel Fund to help with Vegas!

On another travel note, my parents offered to pay for my Vegas flight as my birthday present since I won't be home to celebrate! So, the $190 that I paid for the flight is going straight back into my Travel Fund. Hooray!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Deep Freeze"

At least, that's what the news is calling the storm that is happening in my home state at the moment. I'm glad I arrived when I did on Friday, as the airport has been nothing short of a disaster since Saturday. However, my family and I have been cooped up inside as the roads are now layers of snow upon ice upon snow upon more ice. Dangerous!

The worst part? I was planning on buying my Mom's Christmas present when I got here. I'm hoping the roads are clear before the 24th so I can make a quick trip to the store. (I know exactly what I am getting her and unfortunately it is not available online but it is in stores.)

At least the snow is fun to play in and watch! Plus I'm all cozy with blankets, chai and my family. :)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I am home in the Northwest until the 28th. It's wonderful to be back with my family (including my younger brother, who just returned from a semester abroad in Europe) and our dog. The house is beautifully decorated for Christmas by my Mom and there are all sorts of yummy things to eat. It's nice to get all my favorite meals while I am home!

It's a perfect white winter wonderland here with another snowstorm expected tonight. That means I'll be inside for the entire week, though that will certainly include a few restaurants/bars with old friends - some $ has to be spent, right? ;)

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday wherever you are!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rain in Southern California?

Yes, that is correct! It rained ALL day on Monday and again all day today. (And it's still pouring as I type this.) Being from the Northwest, it's funny how much my California city cannot - in any way/shape/form - handle the rain. It floods, people freak out, people can't drive, etc. It's amusing to me!

Yesterday I went to happy hour with 2 girlfriends to celebrate the fact that they are graduating from college this semester. That was $11. I also got them each a gift, which was a total of $10 and they loved what I got. That came out of my Gift Fund a few weeks ago.

I was also notified that my new department is doing a white elephant gift exchange tomorrow during out team building event that I will be attending as the new hire. So, I made a trip to the store and picked up an amazing, wonderful-smelling mulled cider candle in a glass jar. It cost me $14 (just under the $15 limit) and if worse comes to worse, I will keep it for myself! That is also coming out of my Gift Fund.

Now I only have to purchase a Christmas gift for my Mom. I have $90.07 left to use and will buy something this weekend when I go home from December 19th-28th. :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weekend Spending

A very expensive but incredibly exciting weekend! In case any of you were wondering, my date went really well. We had a ton of fun, dinner was great and then we drove around looking at Christmas lights after. Our 2nd date is on Wednesday. My company's holiday party on Saturday was a blast, I sat with some people from my new department and then played fake poker for an hour and a half. It was a fantastic time and my dress was a hit!

$77.06, Boots (they were about $10 more than expected, but that's alright! I love them!)
$32, Eyebrow waxing + tip

$145, Haircut/highlights + tip (I found my new stylist and I am SO excited! I love my haircut)
$25, Pedicure + tip
$4.18, Lunch

$22, Movie tickets (I paid for my girlfriend for her birthday)
$15, Dinner

Total: $320.24

The haircut and pedicure were both included in my budget for December. Since the price of gas is down (for the time being), I have increased my entertainment and shopping budgets to $75 each instead of $50 - so that helps cover the movie tickets. The boots came out of my holiday bonus. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Suze Says: Do What's Right For YOU!

In the current economic conditions, do you buy or sell? This is the question that lots of people want to know. According to Suze, you need to do what is right for you in this time, in this place, with your situation, with your money. The markets (stocks, real estate, etc) should not dictate what you should do.

Should you buy or sell real estate right now? Especially when prices are so low? It depends on your situation. You should not do it if you really can't afford it. If you CAN afford it, then you should go right ahead!

Should you buy or sell stocks right now? Again, all these decisions are personal. They should not be dependent on ideas that "stocks are very cheap" or other ideas. If you have excess cash that you can afford to put into the markets, then perhaps that is a good idea. However, if your own personal current situation says you shouldn't (debt, etc) - then it's not a good idea.

It comes down to this: you need to figure out what you personally can and cannot afford. (Which you should always figure out before a large monetary expenditure, anyway!)

I am young, I live below my means, so I can afford to invest few hundred dollars into the stock market each month. However, I know that I cannot afford to buy a condo (downpayment, high property taxes, mortgage that is more than my current rent, etc) so therefore it's not the right decision for me right now.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Bonus!

I went into work today and was happily surprised to find out that my company gives out holiday bonuses based on years of service! What a generous benefit.

Since I am under the 1-year mark, I received a pre-tax bonus of $500. After taxes and 6% into my 401k (automatic with any direct deposit), it came out to $256.25. Plus, due to some OT I put in, I received an extra $54 on today's paycheck direct deposit, for total extra income this month of $310.25!

$100 has already been sent to savings (split evenly between E-fund and Travel Fund) and the rest of it will be used for frivolous spending that I don't do very often! Which will mean it will help to offset my expensive weekend.

Happy Holidays indeed! :)

Present for Myself?

I put these boots on hold in my size at Macy's today. They are already listed as 40% off plus I would use the 20% "Friends & Family" coupon that is available from Dec 10-15... which would bring the price of the boots down from $150 to $64.65.

I'm going to try them on tomorrow after work. Perhaps a present to myself for the promotion? :)

Busy Weekend Ahead!

I have an incredibly busy, slightly pricey, but extremely fun weekend ahead of me! After OT at work and still figuring out the details on my promotion (I will start the transition on January 5th and my salary increase will go into effect on January 1st)... this will be much needed.

Friday - I have a date! (nervous/excited, I have been single for a few months now and it's been quite some time since I've been on a real date)
Saturday - Company Holiday Party (free dinner, free drink tickets, free fake money to gamble with, etc) & I'm getting my hair cut/highlighted in the morning plus a pedicure :)
Sunday - Dinner/Movie date with a girlfriend whose birthday was last week (I'm paying for the movie)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Interesting Facts

I was tagged by Small Budget, Big Style Chick to list 6 "interesting" facts about myself.

1. I lived in Toronto for the first 10 years of my life.
2. I shop in kid's departments (being a young professional, this is very tough!)
3. I check my e-mail at least 238432905 times a day
4. I've played with the idea of online dating but never actually gone through with it (plus it's $$$)
5. I danced from age 7 til 18... and occasionally still go to hip hop classes (though I have no flexibility whatsoever)
6. My best friends all live in different states from me

& just for kicks... 7. I habitually turn off lights and close any doors that are open

I am going to tag: Penny, Forest on Finance, SavingDiva and Always the Planner. :)

Monday, December 8, 2008


I got a promotion!!

I didn't want to post about this 2 weeks ago when I was first approached about applying for the internal position. It was a quick turn around: I had my 1st-round interview last Thursday (the day after I submitted my application, so I wasn't very prepared as it was a last-minute decision!) and I felt that it went very well. My feelings were confirmed when HR e-mailed me on Friday asking if I could do the 2nd-round interview on Monday - today. I went into the 2nd-round interview this morning feeling good but still nervous.

This afternoon, I noticed the department manager that I had interviewed with go into my current supervisor's office. A few minutes later, the door opens and they invite me in and she offers me the job! Of course, I accept and my current boss jokes about having to say good-bye to me so soon after saying hello, a mere 6 months ago!

This was all VERY unexpected but it is extremely flattering and exciting. The position is fantastic, it is definitely more in the finance/investing side that I know I want to be in - whereas my current position in accounting is not quite what I had hoped for, but in the current economic climate, it's a job. However, I obviously caught someone's attention and I have been trying to put forth the best effort I can - and it's paid off! :)

The starting salary for the new position comes with a pay increase of a little over 5%. (Though HR hasn't completed the paperwork, so I am making a guess that I will start at the bottom of the range they gave me.) I will slowly start the transition in early 2009 because my department is extremely busy right now. Even if I don't really start until February, I couldn't be more elated!


Weekend Spending

I had a great weekend! I went out on Friday to the bars and to a "Tacky Christmas Sweater" party on Saturday night, which was a blast! I spent $0 on Saturday night because it was a house party and someone bought me a drink at the bar we went to later in the evening. :) During the day on Saturday I ran a bunch of errands and on Sunday I put together my new Ikea dresser after sleeping in. (My Mom bought the dresser for me over Thanksgiving weekend while she was in town.)

$0, I drove to the bars so my roommate bought me 1 beer

$15.98, Drugstore.com (using E-bates so I got a $10 sign-up bonus thanks to SavingDiva! Technically that means it only cost me $5.98 and I'll get some cash-back.)
$12.91, Ikea (returned a curtain rod & bought a new one plus some other things)
$9.10, Whole Foods (for a specific shampoo that I use)
$19.02, Trader Joe's

$0, I was lazy!

Total: $57.01

Friday, December 5, 2008

Net Worth

I have been tracking my net worth on NetworthIQ since July. I have added it to my sidebar.

It's all explained in my profile if you're interested. My net worth did increase, but only by a small amount: 0.68%. (I did a lot of spending last month and my retirement accounts are worth less than what I have put in!)


Britney Spears Concert Ticket for April 2009: $82
Driving to LA: ~$25
Parking: ~$10
Food: ~$10

Having a night to remember with my best friends while dancing at the venue? Priceless!

December Goals

Here are my December goals:

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!)
2. Learn to knit.
3. Finish the book I am currently reading.
4. Crunch the numbers to see if using a Flexible Spending Account is worth it for 2009.
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!)
6. Save for Vegas and set my budget - and don't go over!

So far, it's a busy month. I've been putting in overtime at work this week. I am still going to my kickboxing classes 3x a week. I need to figure out what to buy for my family for Christmas, wrap/send others plus cards. I can't WAIT for my Christmas vacation, where I am taking the week of December 22-26 off to fly home to Washington State to be with my family, then a half work week after that due to my Vegas trip! Oh, and then my company's holiday party is on December 13th! Yes, it might be a busy month, but it's an EXCITING month as well! Plus my birthday is the first week of January, so I just love this season. :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

November Budget Remainder

I had $150 leftover from my November budget, thanks to the Thanksgiving weekend and time with my parents.

It is all going into my Travel Fund, which needs to increase for my Vegas trip!

I also updated my sidebars: my E-fund increased by $100, my Roth IRA is getting closer to the maximum and my Travel Fund increased slightly, even after I took out the $190 for my Vegas flight. :)

November Month-End

Review of my November goals:

1. Stay within budget & contribute $200 to my new Roth IRA. - Pass! Thanks to my parents & Thanksgiving!
2. Learn to cook more than one new meal. - Pass! I cooked a new soup and some other meals like chicken a la king and I made popovers. :)
3. Work out 2x per week & try a different class such as pilates or yoga. - 1/2 success. I realized I love my kickboxing classes, so I now go 3x a week to those classes.
4. Purchase Christmas gifts. - Pass! I purchased gifts for my roommates plus 3 other friends. Still have to buy for my family, though...
5. Buy a vacuum and keep the apartment clean(er)... it's rough with a 1,900 sq. ft. townhouse, 3 of us roommates & a constant stream of friends! - Pass! So great and now our apt is nice and clean!
6. Finish a book & start a new one. (I want to spend more time reading instead of watching TV.) - Fail. I continued reading the book I have but did not finish it...

Suze Says: Dollar-Cost Averaging

On Saturday's episode, Suze Orman discussed dollar-cost averaging. Most pf bloggers know that dollar-cost averaging is a great way to invest in the stock market. Suze reiterated how important it is to continue to dollar-cost average even through turbulent markets such as these.

Definition, from Investopedia.com: "The technique of buying a fixed dollar amount of a particular investment on a regular schedule, regardless of the share price. More shares are purchased when prices are low, and fewer shares are bought when prices are high."

Most people use dollar-cost averaging without even thinking about it: 401k elections are taken out with each paycheck, which is automatic dollar-cost averaging!

I dollar-cost average with my 401k and my Roth IRA with bi-weekly contributions of $75 and $100, respectively.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday? Not For Me!

I have never shopped early on Black Friday. My Mom has gone with my brother before for computer-related/electronic items (flash drives, external hard drives, etc.) but I would much rather sleep in. Or catch up on my TV shows I missed from earlier this week - which is what I did this morning while the rest of my family played golf.

However, I will be going this afternoon to do some poking around and to see if I can find anything that's left over. Enjoy the rest of the long weekend! :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!
There is so much to be thankful for this year. I am most thankful for my family, my friends, my health and my job - on top of many other things. Truly blessed. Have a wonderful day with your friends and family, wherever you are and whatever you are doing. :)


I booked my flight to Vegas for New Year's Eve! I am going December 31-January 4 with two girlfriends. My flight, which I purchased a few days ago, came out to $190 round-trip. I will have free accommodations on the Strip through one of my friends, which will certainly help decrease the total cost.

This will be my first "real" vacation which will all be paid out of my own pocket. (I am spending this Thanksgiving weekend with my parents who are visiting me in Southern California and then I will be going home to see them and my brother over Christmas, where my parents paid for the flight.) The cost of this Vegas flight will almost deplete my Travel Fund, however my leftover budget money from this month and December will go towards pushing it up for that long weekend.

A few pf bloggers recently went to Vegas and this will be my 3rd time. (I went in high school with my family and in college for 2 days over Spring Break - however I ended up with food poisoning so that particular time was a wash.) I am definitely looking forward it and crossing my fingers that I don't get sick. It will be a blast!

So far, the cheapest NYE options are Fremont Street ( thousands of people, a few live bands and the light show) for $40 or hanging out on the Strip for $0. I am estimating a budget of $400 to cover taxis, food, alcohol and entertainment. I do not gamble but might play some fun slots for $10 or $20 max and I do not plan on doing any shopping. But we'll see! :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

$2.50 Gone...

I bought a large pomegranate (my favorite fruit) last weekend for $2.50.

However, I didn't know that you are supposed to keep them in the refrigerator. When I cut it open tonight, the seeds were incredibly dark (instead of a ruby-red color) and there was some mold on one part. :(

End of Another Weekend

Another fun weekend. Bars on Friday night, driving range on Saturday with my old roommate, low-key movie night on Saturday night and kickboxing/cooking today. It was by far one of my cheapest weekends in a long time!

Bars, $9

Groceries, $11.54 ($7.05 of this was on my Ralph's gift card)

Groceries, $11.28 (I bought a pie for my roommates and I made this soup - it's delicious and most of it is being frozen for lunch this week)

Total: $31.82

"People First"

People first, then money, then things. - Suze Orman

At the beginning of 2008, my Mom mentioned that I should watch "The Suze Orman Show" on CNBC. I had never heard of it, so I gave it a try on a Saturday night after one of my finance professors had also recommended it.

And I've been hooked ever since! Suze gives fantastic advice. She is straight to the point, offers lots of insight and covers a variety of topics--all of which are PF-related. Of course, the "Can I Afford It?" segment is my favorite.

I would love to be a guest on her show one day! :) I truly believe the above quote as well, which is her end-of-the-show tagline and I try to follow it in my own life.

Starting next week, I will begin a "Suze Says" post on Sundays or Mondays with a piece of financial advice from her weekend show.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Balancing Act

It's difficult to balance being a 22-year-old on a budget while trying to sustain a good social life.

Especially being single and living with roommates who would rather spend a night at the bars than a night in watching a movie or having drinks at home.

Especially when most all of my friends earn higher incomes than me... and sometimes significantly more so.

I generally do not spend much money out at the bars (1-2 drinks per night/occasionally buying a drink for a friend) and go out either once per weekend or every other weekend. I let my friends know that I can't afford much and most of the time I will offer to drive in order to save money.

But then there's going out to restaurants, seeing movies, shopping with girlfriends and other fun things that can quickly add up! I allocate $50/month to Entertainment - which encompasses most of the aforementioned activities - and $50/month to Shopping, which usually doesn't get used so it gets saved for when I do purchase clothes/shoes.

I would love to be able to go out to the bars and spend $20-$30 per night drinking with friends, or go to a movie and then a bar, or a restaurant and a movie, et. al., every weekend - but I and my budget just can't do it... Well, I could - but I would have to forgo saving.

It's difficult. I make compromises, I give in at times and I put my foot down at others - but I definitely can't wait to have more disposable income.

How do you balance a budget with your social life?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Downtown for Dinner!

Watermelon martini + Ginger-crusted salmon with wasabi mashed potatoes and snow peas/carrots = a lovely 2.5-hour dinner with a friend from out-of-town :)

Cost: $40 (of course, friendship is priceless!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Thanksgiving Gift

Last week's paycheck included a $30 gift card. We normally get a monthly Shell gas station gift card for $20, so I was confused as to what this one was. On Friday, though, our department's administrative assistant handed them out: $30 to Ralph's grocery store, as a Thanksgiving present!

Most of it will be used for normal groceries but some of it will go towards a mini-Thanksgiving my roommates and I want to have this weekend. Hooray! :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend Spending

I did a lot of fun things this weekend. Went to dinner with my roommates, saw the new James Bond movie and went out on Saturday night. However, my clothing purchases made it a fairly pricey weekend! I had not purchased clothing for myself since May--if you don't count shoes, that is. Here's what I spent:

Dinner, $11
Movie, Free (I used an AMC pass I had!)

Groceries, $16.90
Marshall's, $12.91 (I bought a muffin pan and a set of ramekins)
Bars, $21 (I bought drinks for my roommates and 1 for myself)

Black pants for work, $45.26
Holiday Party/New Year's Dress, $104.25

Total: $211.32

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Perfect Weather = Even MORE Shopping?!

I spent this afternoon in lovely 85-degree-and-perfect-blue-sky weather at the outdoor mall.

I purchased a new pair of black pants for work and a holiday party dress. Since the store was having a 25% off everything sale today, the damage done by the dress was $104.25. Not bad for a fantastic item that I will surely wear many times! I am just glad that this boot was not available in my size, as my bank account really would have hated me...

I bit the bullet and strayed from my obsession with little black dresses. I went with a little pink dress this time!

Friday, November 14, 2008

More Shopping!

I decided that I needed to replace my basic black heels. So, I purchased these ones from Amazon! I am so excited. Total damage: $83.90. (Worth it, as shoes last me 4+ years!)

Yesterday I went to Marshall's and purchased a set of 6 martini glasses for $10. They have already come in handy for this yummy cocktail! (A set of 4 similar ones at Target was $15.)

Tonight will be dinner and a movie with my roommates. The movie will be free, since I remembered I still have 2 AMC movie passes left! (I was given 4 of them and a $50 gift certificate to The Melting Pot as a parting gift from my 3-year on-campus job in June. I planning on using that for my birthday in January!)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

MySurvey Check!

I received a MySurvey check for $10 in the mail today! I redeemed it beginning of October and forgot about it, so it's a nice surprise. It is going into my Travel Fund.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

10 Must-Haves

I am going to respond to Penny's question about 10 Must-Haves, in no particular order except #1.

1. My Family/Friends - My Mom is my best friend and my Dad introduced me to the joys of traveling and turned me into a foodie. My friends keep me grounded and make sure I have fun!

2. Internet - I am addicted to e-mail, reading blogs, catching up on TV shows, chatting with friends, Facebook, etc. (I could manage without a cell phone. I think.)

3. Excel - So I can keep my personal finances in order!

4. Good Food - This includes cooking and restaurants. Mostly ethnic food!!

5. Travel - I love to travel. I wouldn't be who I am today without my study-abroad experience or the fact that my parents had taken me to 16 different countries by the time I was 15. :)

6. Laptop - Without my laptop, I wouldn't be able to use the Internet or Excel or do online banking...

7. Online Banking - Seriously. Enough said!

8. Comfy Pants - I love to be comfortable! :)

9. Make-up - It feels good to look presentable.

10. Contacts & Car - Tie (so, technically, 11 must-haves!) because without my contacts I couldn't see and without my car I couldn't get to work as public transportation is next to nil where I live.

What are your 10 must-haves?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Needs vs Wants

There are some things that I need:

  • A new pair of black pointed-toe heels (my old ones are looking very worn and they are 4 years old...plus I wear these almost daily to work - I could get them repaired, but it would cost around $30 which is a little less than 1/2 the cost of a new pair for me)
  • At least 1 new pair of pants for work (I currently have 3 that I rotate through, plus 2 skirts and a few dresses - however it is too cold for those now and the pants are 5 years old!)
And there are some things that I want:
  • Some new work shirts (I mostly wear cardigans and light sweaters since our office is really cold, but I'd love some dressier/more professional items)
  • New earrings (I found small studs that I want at Macy's, 2 pairs for $40 - all my other earrings are hoops)
  • A new purse!!!
  • Holiday Party dress (I have 1 or 2 options in my closet... but what girl doesn't love new dresses?!)
  • New work-out pants

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Only 2.5 weeks til Thanksgiving!!

I had a great weekend! Spent time with my roommates, friends and myself - including going to my intense but awesome kickboxing class at the gym, doing some reading and cooking*. :) Here's what I spent:

Wal-Mart, $5.90
Groceries, $6.22
Lunch with a friend, $6.45
Curry Pies from a local market, $10
Nordstrom for a new blush, $19.04
Alcohol, $21.91 (I made this martini for myself & friends, which comes out to $1.18 per drink... so much nicer/cheaper to stay in than go out to the over-priced bars. Plus it was delicious!)

Total: $69.52

*Though sometimes I wish I wasn't single!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

(Late) Weekend Spending for Nov 1!

I know it's Thursday, but... here's last weekend's spending breakdown:

Pizza, $15.00
Brunch, $10.00
Groceries, $81.25
Amazon.com, $128.41

  • $40.97 on Christmas gifts for my roommates (this will come out of my Gift Fund)
  • $17.49 on my very first chef's knife (thanks to Kris for the link!)
  • $69.95 on a vacuum cleaner (how can I say no to over 1,000 reviews on Amazon?!)
(I ended up spending $0 on Halloween because I drove to the bars, so my drinks were purchased for me by my friends!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

October Budget Leftover

I had $200 leftover from my November budget.

Instead of putting it into my E-fund like usual, I decided to put it towards my Roth IRA.

It's a great time to buy for the long-term, so I can't justify putting any extra money anywhere else at the moment!

NYTimes - Your Money Article

I thought this article from the NYTimes' "Your Money" section rings very true.

It makes me proud to be a PF blogger, to have a community of bloggers/readers that provide constant support and an overwhelming amount of advice! :) We make a fantastic club.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Time for Change...

As a permanent resident of the USA, I did not vote in today's election. (I am a Canadian citizen.)

However, all I can say that this is certainly a historical time in the United States and, I believe, a good change for both the United States as well as for the world.

Congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama. I look forward to what the next 4 years will bring.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November Goals!

For November:

1. Stay within budget & contribute $200 to my new Roth IRA.
2. Learn to cook more than one new meal.
3. Work out 2x per week & try a different class such as pilates or yoga.
4. Purchase Christmas gifts.
5. Buy a vacuum and keep the apartment clean(er)... it's rough with a 1,900 sq. ft. townhouse, 3 of us roommates & a constant stream of friends!
6. Finish a book & start a new one. (I want to spend more time reading instead of watching TV.)

October Month-End

Time to re-visit those October goals!

1. Settle into my budget. Pass.
2. Work out 2x per week. Almost - I worked out 2x per week & joined a gym, but had a cold from last Sunday through Thursday so I didn't work out this week. But I would have!
3. Learn to cook one new meal. Pass - More than one! :)
4. Sell old TV on CraigsList. Fail - I put it on CL but had 2 buyers fall through. I re-posted it yesterday at a slightly lower value.
5. Start to purchase Christmas gifts Fail - I did not purchase any gifts, but I found exactly what I am getting my roommates. Just have to buy them!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, all! Enjoy the weekend and have fun/be safe tonight!

I wore my Halloween outfit to work (cavewoman) and got a lot of compliments on it. I've worn it once before and it's fun. I also had to go to the gas station and the bank after work, so I got strange looks and some laughs. :)

Tonight I am going out with my roommates and some friends to one of the local popular bar areas. I'm excited that Halloween falls on a Friday! I'm also driving, so hopefully that will save me some money - but I'll budget $30 anyway. ;) More posts this weekend.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Money Maus Budget

Below is my standard monthly budget. My take home pay is about $1,900 a month after taxes, health insurance and my Roth 401k contributions are taken out.

: $812.50
Utilities: $50
Internet: $16.65
Groceries: $150
Dining Out: $150
Gas: $125
Entertainment: $50
Shopping: $50
Toiletries: $20
Charity: $25
Other/Misc: $30
Savings: $200
Roth IRA: $200

Monday, October 27, 2008

Under the Weather

I was not feeling good yesterday at all. I seem to have picked up some sort of head cold/congestion. I went to bed early last night at 9pm and woke up at 6am when my alarm went off. Feeling slightly better, I had a shower and went to work - but didn't make it through the day. After 5 hours I left and went home. Thank goodness I have some sick time! Slept from 1pm-4pm, took some TheraFlu ($8.07 at the drugstore!) and now I'm feeling a bit better. Still have a stuffed-up nose.

In a short re-cap, my weekend was fun. Went out on Friday/Saturday night with the roommates, spent $31 at the bars on Saturday (purchased 2 drinks for friends), went to a work-out class on Saturday morning and spent all of Sunday being sick/doing laundry/cooking. I did spent $6.67 on a few groceries on Sunday - zucchini and ice cream. My roommate J bought a pumpkin and I gutted it and baked the seeds with some nutmeg & cinnamon, while he carved it. (Doesn't look exactly like that... but close enough, lol.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pizza Delivery

One of my roommates (T) had his sister, brother-in-law and 7-month-old nephew stop by tonight for dinner. We decided on pizza since it would be easy and we could do delivery. Then we decided to do Round Table since they were closest in proximity.

So, we ordered 2 large specialty pizzas from Round Table and the total was...


Outrageous! For TWO large specialty pizzas?! There were no prices listed online and my roommate didn't bother to ask when he called. The pizzas were $11.00 each for a large, and then they charged us for Every. Single. Topping. (There was sausage on both and that was listed as $4.00 per pizza.) Don't you only get charged for each individual topping if you create your own pizza? Not if you order one straight off the menu?

Ridiculous. I don't even know what to say.

Oh wait... how about a $5 pizza from Little Caesars instead?!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

On Heels!

I love heels. More specifically, 3.5"+ heels, since I am very short. Here are my favorites that I currently own:

For the past few months, I had been dying to own a pair of fancy heels, ones that would be appropriate for parties, going out and perhaps the occasional date. Something other than just a pointed-toe, since I own a few of those already and they are my favorite. I finally found a pair that I wanted: BCBGirls "Famous" sandal. However, it was NOWHERE to be found in a size 5, online or at a store. Last week, when I read Well-Heeled's shoe posts, it inspired me to keep looking for them. Lo-and-behold, they were on sale at Amazon! With one left in a size 5! I immediately ordered them, spending $76.97. They arrived yesterday. What do you think? (I'm in love! They go perfect with my little black dresses. And yes, those are my feet. I am not the best photographer, though...) :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Big Day!

I officially opened my Roth IRA with Vanguard!* I did not think this would occur until at least the beginning of 2009, but I had $2,000 saved up and my parents gave me the $1,000 difference to make the minimum initial investment of $3,000. Another small step towards retirement by way of an index mutual fund! This means I have completed one of my main goals for the year.

I also purchased my 2-year membership to 24 Hour Fitness, which is scheduled to arrived on Friday. (My 7-day free trial expires on Saturday.) Total cost: $298.99. I am so excited for this and I hope the other classes I try this week are as fun as the kickboxing one I took last Sunday.

A good day in the world of personal finance for me. I am excited about my new investments: equities and my personal health/well-being. :)

*Per one of my previous posts, I did a bit more research and found out that if I invest in open-ended mutual funds and not individual securities, I am allowed to open an account at Vanguard. What a relief!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

24 Hour Fitness

I have been keeping up with my weekly work-out routine. I had written a post a few months ago on working out. The apartment we live in now is right across the street from a mall in which there is a 24 Hour Fitness. Last week, I found a fantastic deal through Costco where a 2-year membership to 24 Hour costs $289.99 (+ $9.00 s/h), which comes out to approximately $12.45 per month! (Of course, it is all paid up front. But compared to the $40/month plus $30 initiation fee that the club would charge, this is a phenomenal deal.)

Since I am more interested in exercise classes than actually using the machines at the gym, I went online and got a 7-day free pass to that 24 Hour Fitness across the street. I used my pass this morning and took a Turbo Kick Box class at 10am. It was a very intense, extremely fast but an amazing workout. The instructor was very encouraging and the class was packed. I really enjoyed it, and I plan on trying a few other classes this week to make the most of my free pass. Based on this kickboxing class alone, however, I am going to purchase the 2-year membership from Costco. I am the type of person that will definitely use it and not let it go to waste! I look forward to trying out other classes like hip hop, pilates and maybe yoga. :)

October is Halfway Done...

This weekend I spent a lot of time simply hanging out with my roommates. I caught up on some TV and watched a few new shoes online (like The Ex List) and also watched Iron Man which I liked. Did some window-shopping at the mall and found great gifts for my roommates, however, I will buy them online where I am sure they are cheaper! Here's my spending breakdown:

Friday, $5.05 - A new nail polish.
Saturday, $25.27 - I took a friend to lunch for their birthday.
Sunday, $21.21 - A few groceries.

Total: $51.53

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Extra Paycheck!

Since October is a 3-paycheck month, I just transferred my entire 2nd paycheck ($932.87) into my emergency fund!

I'll update the side-bar at the end of the month. Hooray for saving!

Friday, October 17, 2008

For My Love of Ice Cream (or, FroYo!)

I love ice cream. I always keep some ice cream in the fridge (generic mint chocolate chip - it's the best!) but sometimes, just sometimes, I get a craving for something else.

Enter an ice cream substitute: frozen yogurt! FroYo places are extremely abundant in my warm city and I've started to really enjoy them. Earlier this week, one of my roommates and his girlfriend took me to a froyo place down the road from our apartment that I had never noticed before. They told me prior to getting there that one of the flavors was pomegranate. (Which is one of my favorite fruits - and it's in season right now!)

When I got there, however, they had my other favorite fruit as a flavor choice: lychee!

My roommate was nice and bought the froyo for me on that first trip. Last night, I had a craving since the flavor was absolutely AMAZING. So, I went back and bought a large lychee froyo. It cost me $5, which was including tip. Mmm... :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Poverty

Today is Blog Action Day and the theme is poverty.

Being well-traveled, I have seen poverty at its worst: in South Africa, Brazil, India and Burma. It is a shock to the system when encountered in real life. To this day I want to help all the children, the men, the women and the elderly that I have seen. Especially when they look at your with their sad eyes, tug at your shirt... It makes you realize how lucky youare to have the basic, essential necessities: clean water, food and shelter. The majority of people in the world do not even have 1 or 2 of those things and it is truly and utterly depressing. An imprint has been left on my heart from my travels and encounters with poverty.

Since I cannot give my time to help those in dire need in other countries, I offer monetary support. I give a (small) monthly donation to Direct Relief International and am in the process of researching other charities which support the international causes I believe in.

Give to those in need.
Whether it is $5 or $500, a few hours or a few weeks, or even just your thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Another Survey Check

My $10 survey check from Your2Cents arrived today! I am depositing it into my Travel Fund. :)

Vacuum Cleaner

I need to buy a vacuum cleaner.

Our entire apartment (3-story townhouse) is completely carpeted and it is getting rather filthy. I've been putting off buying one since a) I do not know anything about vacuum cleaners except how to use them and b) it is a fairly expensive purchase.

My budget is $150. I would rather buy a reliable brand and get a few more years of use out of it than get a $50 one and have it break/not work after a year or two.

I am looking for something that is bag-less, works extremely well on carpet and has an attachable piece for stairs. (We have a lot of those.)

Do you have any suggestions?

Monday, October 13, 2008

We, The Savers

ING Direct is running a campaign entitled "We, The Savers."

They have a website dedicated to the campaign that lists 10 steps of financial independence. (#1, 7 and 9 mean the most to me.) I signed the declaration and earned myself a free bumper sticker that says "I SAVE" in ING Direct's traditional orange/white colors!

I think the bumper sticker is very cute and once it arrives, I will be placing it in my room to remind myself what I am trying to do: to save money and be in control of my financial life/future! :)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Good Weekend Fun

Another fun weekend! Out to the bars on Friday with my roommates, a visit from an old roommate and great friend on Saturday and some TV catch-up plus cooking on Sunday. :)

Friday at the bars, $4 (I drove, so I only purchased 1 drink.)
Saturday, $26.50 (A pretzel for $1.50 and a not-very-good-food-but-great-company dinner with my friend.)
Sunday, $40.93 (Groceries... I have a small addiction to the grocery store!)

Total: $71.43

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mileage Reimbursement

I received a mileage reimbursement from work. That $71.96 is being rounded to an even $75 and being sent to my Gift Fund, giving me a total of $250. Now it's time to start looking into Christmas gifts!

On another note... my savings rate for ING Direct dropped from 3.00% to 2.75% with the interest rate cute, and my WaMu/Chase Online Savings rate dropped from 4.00% to 3.00%. Makes me want to move all my savings into my WaMu account, but I do love my ING sub-accounts!

Weathering the Storm

In discussion of today's market events with my roommates, one of them stated that he moved all of his 401(k) from stocks into a money-market fund. I understand moving some money, but ALL? Especially when you are in your early 20s and have many years to reap the benefits back, and then some? (To be honest, I thought my very intelligent roommate had more sense than that.)

Like so many people, my roommate is an emotional investor. However, when you have time on your side, you should try as hard as possible to NOT let your emotions lead you. To the best of your ability.

As this article from the NYTimes so aptly states, it is not a good idea to try to be a market timer. Which is exactly what my 24-year-old roommate is trying to do. He said he would just switch his money back into stocks when they start to go up again - but, it is very difficult to realized when that will be. If he could accurately do that, he would have moved his money a year ago. What if stocks post huge gains tomorrow?

I am just starting to invest. I realize that, yes, I will lose value initially. The markets do not go up forever, they do tumble, and sometimes by a lot. However, they also post amazing gains and, in the long-run, have always provided wonderful returns.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Vanguard On Hold

I work for a private investment firm/money manager. I knew I most likely would not be able to have a personal trading account, so today I contacted our compliance department to see what my options are. (I would like to open a Roth IRA, and had planned to do so at Vanguard.)

I received a response stating that, as an employee, I can only open an account at one of the following designated brokerage firms:

TD Ameritrade
Charles Schwab
Merrill Lynch
Morgan Stanley

I tried to do some research on the sites, however there seems to be WAY more information than I want/need. I looked specifically for no-load, low-cost index funds and Charles Schwab seems to have a few (SchwabFunds) that hover around the 0.50% expense ratio. I might be able to get some sort of "special" or "discount" by stating that I am an employee of my specific firm, but I am not certain of that. I am disappointed that my no-load, low-cost Roth IRA with Vanguard has been tossed out the window while I work at my current company. I am a huge fan of Vanguard/Fidelity and heard their praises sung all during college, as well as in the pf blogosphere! My current income is low and as such, I am looking for very low costs for investing. (My 401k is through my firm and all fees are waived.)

**Update: I am going to inquire if I can specifically invest in Vanguard mutual funds, as they are 3rd-party mutual fund accounts. I am also going to see if I can allot a voluntary contribution to my 401(k) plan if I really cannot open an account with Vanguard.

What would you do in my situation? Do any of you have accounts (specifically, Roth IRAs) with the above firms, and would you recommend them?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Stock Market

The markets tumbled again today. We are living in tumultuous times. Everything seems to be having an effect on everything else.

When I got home, I logged in to my 401(k) provider's website and was happy to see that my first (Roth) contribution of $76.18 is now officially in the stock market!

This is the start of my long investing relationship with the markets. I am getting in at a very low point. Let's see what happens.

There's a lot more to come. I look forward to the near future as I continue to contribute to my 401(k) and when I open my Roth IRA.

New Hobby

Slowly I have been spending more and more time cooking. I have an obsession with food - mostly with eating it, and now I am attempting to cook it. (My love of food was increased to incredible heights during the summer of 2007 when I lived in NYC. I basically ate my way through the city - from hot dogs to pizza to dessert, but almost always mostly ethnic foods. Every single type of cuisine you could imagine, and even some you might have never even heard of!)

Cooking is extremely fun, rewarding and frustrating all in one. This weekend I made two soups (paired perfectly with some naan) and a very time-consuming (but hearty and filling) shepherd's pie. Now I have lots of leftovers for the rest of the week!

I have a few other recipes planned for later this week/weekend, once I am out of leftovers. In case you are curious, I use AllRecipes.com and Cheap Healthy Good (Kris - you're awesome!) as my main sources of inspiration. Recently, I stumbled upon a BBC show entitled "Chinese Food Made Easy" and have tried one of the recipes from the website - and it is an absolute winner!

My male roommates approved of all the food, too, which makes me extremely ecstatic because this is my new hobby. :)

Do you have any recipes that you like to make?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Homecoming Weekend

This weekend was Homecoming at my alma mater. I went to a yummy (free!) breakfast with some old friends and had a good time. I also went out to the bars with my roommates on Friday night and then I spent all of Sunday cooking! Overall a both fun and relaxing weekend.

Friday night at the bars, $21 (This is why I don't go out very often! It can add up... and I know I got away cheap.)
Groceries, $52.50 (I think I bought all the produce in the store, lol.)

Total: $73.50

Friday, October 3, 2008


I just reconciled my final numbers from September and I had $100 leftover from my budget!

Instead of putting it towards my E-fund (which already got an extra $200 boost this month), it will be going into my Gift Fund. The Christmas season is only a few months away and I have not purchased a single gift yet for family or friends! With this $100 addition, I have $175 so far to spend on gifts. Now I need to figure out what to buy!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Too Hot!

Not only did the air conditioning fail at work for the first half of the day this morning, but it is currently 91 degrees... in October?!

I do live in a Southern California city known for its sunshine - but this is nuts! I was all ready to work out when I got home this afternoon, but I've decided to finish reading one of my library books and eat some ice cream instead.

I still have tomorrow and Friday to get in another workout. :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Down the Savings Path I Go!

I have updated my savings sidebars! Slowly but surely they increase... :)

I have also increased my emergency fund goal from $3,000 to $5,000. If/when an emergency occurs, $5K would keep me going for 4 months. That comes out to around $1,250/month which would cover all the basic necessities: rent, utilities, food and gas. (Plus a few non-necessities such as toiletries/household items.)

Currently, I have 2.5 months saved up! Hopefully I can reach the $5K mark by early 2009 (January/February) and hopefully by the end of 2009 I can get to $10,000.

Monday, September 29, 2008

And so it goes....

The market tumbled heavily today. The largest single-day point drop ever, 777.68 points down.

The bail-out plan is a catch-22: If it doesn't happen, the economy will plummet even more. It will be ever harder, perhaps nigh on impossible, for people to get loans - student/auto/business. If it does happen, we are basically giving in to the greed of Wall Street and banks, telling them "it's okay that you messed up, we'll just bail you out." It's taking away the idea of a free market, which should be able to correct itself.

So, here we go... it's not over yet.

September Month-End / October Goals

How did I do in September?

1. Stay within September budget, not including remaining security deposit. Pass!
2. Save $400 towards E-fund/Roth IRA fund/other sub-accounts. Pass! (And then some - with my extra $200.)
3. Work out 2x per week. Pass! (This is the first month where I can say I actually did this successfully!)
4. Learn to cook one new meal. Pass! (I made an Asian-style burrito/wrap that I'll post about later.)
5. Join a local alumni chapter and/or a charitable organization. Fail. (I will be going to an alumni breakfast event this coming Saturday, though! I might wait a while before actually joining something and incurring the costs for it...)
6. Finish reading A Random Walk Down Wall Street. Pass! (I finished it and will also finish an interesting anthology called "Wall Street Noir" that I found on accident at the library. Next is "Saving Fish from Drowning" by Amy Tan.)

Now, onto October...
1. Settle into my budget (each paycheck now has 6% taken out after-tax for my Roth 401(k) contribution, starting October 3rd!)
2. Work out 2x per week.
3. Learn to cook one new meal (I like this goal a lot!)
4. Sell old TV on CraigsList
5. Start to purchase Christmas gifts (I currently have $75 in my Gift Fund)

Here we are, in the last quarter of 2008!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I enjoy reading reviews on Yelp and trying to find new places to go, whether it is for restaurants or specialty stores or what have you.

I did a search for "oil change" in my zip code since I like to keep my car running well. I found a place that has 6 reviews (all 5 stars!), a family-owned small auto repair shop. I just called to make an appointment and see their pricing - an oil change for my Honda Civic is $12.99! Plus tax, that should come to an even $14. I almost can't believe how good of a deal this is. I had budgeted $35 since I usually take my car to Jiffy Lube... this will be a great find if all goes well on Saturday! :)

**Update: I just got back from getting my oil changed. The family-run shop ended up not working out, unfortunately. I arrived and there was zero parking, I got in line and stood there for 15 minutes without being acknowledged - so I walked out and went to the Jiffy Lube next door. I was served right away and it took less than 15 minutes. Still, instead of only costing $14... I paid $38.54. I wasn't harassed about changing my air filter and the employees were very nice. I feel better about my car now and am happy with the fast service. Even if the price is horrific.

Another Survey!

I just redeemed my first $10 check from Your2Cents! I have enjoyed doing surveys through them as well as MySurvey. I have given up on the other survey sites I was a member of because I was not getting requests very often and they did not seem as legitimate. I wish I could become a member of Pinecone Research, though!

When my $10 check arrives, it will go into my Travel fund. :)

An EXTRA $200? Oops!

Hmm. I just noticed that, somehow, an extra $200 was transferred into my ING savings account from my checking account. Not really sure how this happened - I must have accidentally transferred funds in addition to my usual bi-weekly recurring transfer. I'm still confused even though I tried to figure it out.

Oh well! I will leave it - I can deal with it in my budget at the moment.

I did go back and delete all my automatic transfers to/from both accounts and set them up again. I double-checked and now everything looks like it should be back to normal! No more "accidental" transfers. Ha.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


So, what did I do today? I splurged. Right after work, I went to Nordstrom and bought myself a pair of new jeans. Did I need them? Not really. Did I want them? Of course!! Now I have 4 great pairs of jeans and 1 lack-luster one. (Quality is much better than quantity when it comes to jeans for myself.)

Hooray for the occasional splurge that puts a smile on my face!! :)

And since I'm being honest: $107.75 was the total cost. (Yes, I have a small affinity for designer jeans. What pricey items do you have an affinity towards?)

Wall Street + the Economy

In lieu of what is still transpiring on Wall Street, I thought this article rang true concerning any/all investors.

Even so, like Stacking Pennies, I am nervous - what will the outcome be? What will it do to the economy in the short-, medium- and long-term?

All the questions and more will be answered soon enough.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Weekend into a New Season.

Happy Fall! Even though where I live in Southern California, it certainly does not feel like the seasons have officially changed yet - it's still in the 70's every day! :) Here is my weekend spending breakdown:

Wal-Mart, $40.71 (Over half of this was for 12 CFL lightbulbs - our apartment easily has over 20+ lights and my roommates tend to leave lights on fairly often. Also some toiletries.)
Lunch on Saturday, $4.50
Groceries, $52.37 (This will last me the rest of September and probably a bit into October - I am still under my $150 monthly grocery budget!)
Gas, $40.29

Total: $137.87

Overall, a low-key weekend. I did a lot of cooking, watched a few movies, did some reading and a LOT of cleaning! Everything that I spent this weekend was budgeted for, and it looks like I will be coming under budget again this month.

I am looking forward to October since it is a 3-paycheck month, I have a mini weekend trip planned AND it will officially be my first NORMAL month in terms of budgeting - no security deposit to pay and my Roth 401(k) contribution will be taken out as well!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Furry Friends

My Mom called me in tears today. Our 12-year-old dog had an ear infection last week and is now deaf. He usually barks at everything - from the doorbell ringing to any of us saying certain names that he knows to the garage opening. Now, he does not react to ANY of it. He isn't barking anymore, either. He tries, obviously can't hear himself and then stops. It's really upsetting, especially as my family lives in a different state and I won't get to see my dog until Christmas. My poor puppy.

Of course, this is also understandable. He is 12. It's just very sad to have him go through this. I know he won't be the same barking, lively dog that he's always been when I see him at Christmas. It makes me so upset to think that in the course of 3 days, he went completely deaf. :(

My parents never got pet insurance, and my Mom told me that if I ever get a dog that it IS worth it, especially when they get older and have so many issues. Pet insurance is definitely something I would look into if/when I get a pet - though more than anything I would want to be able to stay at home with the dog and be there for it!

Survey Check

Hooray! I received my $15 survey check and $50 gift card this week. My $15 survey check is going towards my Travel Fund. I have spent $6.44 of my $50 gift card to World Market - most of it will go towards kitchen/cooking items!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Long-Term for a Reason

The markets are down by incredible amounts. Banks are failing. Large corporations are failing. Unemployment is extremely high.

Yes, the economy is in a downturn and has been for about the last year--this is a recession.

The company I work has a vision, and that vision is long term. Which is exactly what people need to be thinking about in tumultuous times like these - yet most do not, which causes panic.

In discussion with one of the partners in the firm today, we came to the conclusion that the majority of this market crash stems from one word: greed. Wall Street just became too greedy. It started with the credit crunch (mortgage lenders giving loans to anyway, including those who simply could not afford it and thus causing the defaults) and then escalated to the banks and corporations which invested in those asset-backed securities in order to turn a profit.

It is not very comfortable to be starting my career and post-college life in such strange times. But then I keep telling myself, that's exactly what this is. A strange time. The markets cannot keep going up forever, at some point they must decline - otherwise, inflation would be unbelievable. Just as the markets have done in years past, they will adjust. It might take a few months or a few years, but it will stabilize again.

Similar market tumbles have occurred before (1973, 1987, 2000, 2008) and they will continue to occur. It cannot be avoided. Who knows what will cause the next crash or when it will be - but all I know is that I am in this for the long term.

Just keep looking at the horizon!

An Increase...

...in my line of credit! I now have $750 available to my name.

Two weeks ago I called my credit card company to see about increasing my credit line. An automated message told me that it could not be increased at this time and that a live customer rep would relay the exact same message. This past weekend, I received a letter from the company stating that the reason my credit line could not be increased was due to the fact that my account is too new. (It was opened mid-June.)

When I did a routine checking of my accounts tonight, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my line of credit had increased from $500 to $750! I realize that this is not a lot in the world of credit, but to me it is. I feel like I am also taking steps in the right direction by paying off my card every month - which I am sure is what helped me get the $250 increase with my mere 3 months of credit history.

I still wish I had a rewards credit card. However, that will come in time - a goal for 2009, perhaps! Small steps in the world of personal finance.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A(nother!) Non-Frugal Weekend

I certainly helped the economy this past weekend. This weekend completely trumps last weekend. Here's my spending breakdown:

Brunch - $10
Groceries - $26.71
Party Supplies - $56.85 (This was my 1/3 of all our combined expenses for a fantastic themed party that my roommates & I threw - I enjoy having the occasional party instead of going out to bars every weekend.)
New TV (!) - $525.19

I am sure everyone who reads this blog is thinking "WHAT?!" but...I love TV. I watch too many shows to list (Prison Break, 24, Lost, Heroes, CSI, Bones, etc etc) and my 4-year-old 13" VHS Toshiba was not cutting it anymore. Having 2 male roommates means there is almost always sports on TV and I am not a sports fan. I am extremely happy to have a larger, nicer TV in my room where I can retreat to and watch the Travel Channel, HGTV, Bravo and Food Network. I am very happy, as the new TV is also aesthetically pleasing - I have a bit of a interior design spark from my mother. :)

(Don't worry, I paid cash and it was purchased with some leftover money from my college years - I did not use my savings. This was also a purchase that I did some research on and consulted friends about who know a lot of the topic.)

What would life be like without those big purchases that put a smile on your face? Have you made any similar purchases that make you happy?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On Starting My Nest Egg

As of today, I am eligible to take part in my company's Profit Sharing and 401(k) plans. At 22, I was certainly the youngest person the the small new-hire retirement meeting this afternoon, however I am very excited to start (slowly) contributing to my future! In the personal finance world, it is never too early to start young.

Profit Sharing Plan: 15% of gross income automatically invested per year

401(k): Traditional/Roth options, maximum company match of 3% if you invest 6%, all company-managed funds with average annual returns from 10-15% (though we all know that past performance is not indicative of future results) and no fees/expenses

Starting with my first paycheck in October, I will be contributing 6% of my income to the Roth 401(k) in order to receive the full match. I look forward to investing at a very low-point in the markets when everything is very cheap/"at the bottom", and seeing where it takes me over the next 1, 3, 5, 10 years. My portfolio will begin in 100% equities, though I have not yet figured out my allocation of that between the fund options.

I am young, healthy, debt-free and saving for retirement!

*Note that both plans have vesting periods of 6 years, however I hope/plan to stay with this company until at least then.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Pricey Weekend!

Why is it that the weekends always go by so fast and the weeks much slower - at least most of the time?? I had a very fun weekend with friends and a lot of "me" time on Saturday. This has by FAR been my most expensive weekend since I started working full-time in June, but too be honest I don't think it was that much. (I can justify it by saying that I have had many inexpensive weekends, though!)

Dinner/drinks at amazing local pizza joint (inc a drink for a friend/old roommate) on Friday, $20
Haircut + tip, $60
Car wash, $7.95
Pedicure + tip, $26
Lunch at Nordstrom Cafe on Saturday, $7
Eyebrow waxing + tip, $18.22 (I used the remainder on a gift card, otherwise this would have been $35*.)
Dinner/drinks at a local bar on Saturday, $18
Groceries, $23.42

Total: $180.59

*Yes, it's a lot for an eyebrow waxing. However, I am very picky about how my eyebrows are done and I only trust the women at a particular place. The woman who did my brows this time spent 20 minutes on them, which is almost unheard of and she was extremely thorough. For my petite brows, it is completely worth it. This is one of my splurges! :)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

August Month-End (Part II)

I finally went through and reconciled my budget from August, and I was able to add $350 to my E-fund! Of it, $300 came from budgeted leftovers and I threw in an additional $50 just because. (Thanks to the cushion I keep in my checking account.)

As you will notice, I have increased my E-fund savings goal from $2,500 to an even $3,000. From my calculations, I believe the least I could live on per month would be $1,250... which would pay for the basic necessities of food/rent/utilities/gas. If I can meet this $3k goal by the end of the year, I would have just under 2.5 months of expenses saved up! It's certainly not a lot, but it's something and it is certainly a good start. :)

I still can't believe it's September! It is very strange to not be in college and going to class... though it's also nice to be earning money and starting my career. Where has 2008 gone?!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

On Libraries

On my half-day last Friday, I decided to go to the library down the road from the apartment. I applied for a library card and wandered through all the books and came out with 2 DVDs and 2 books. (Their DVD collection is quite expansive, as is the TV show selection.)

It was all free! I had not been to a library in a while and was pleasantly surprised to find this one very modern and up-to-date, even with its rather small selection of books. (It's a small local branch.) Also, I've already put a few books on hold and all my notifications for upcoming due dates are e-mailed to me! It is fantastic to live so close to such an amazing resource. I know the library will become one of my favorite places as I start to increase my reading habits again. :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

September Goals

This is another weird month in terms of spending for me. I owe the rest of the security deposit plus my roommates and I are planning a party, so we'll see how that works out at the end of the month! I am also doing some personal things such as getting a haircut ($50+tip), pedicure ($23+tip) and eyebrow waxing ($30+tip). However, all of these costs have been budgeted for in prior months and gone unused, so now I can't wait!

Side-tracked. Onto my goals for September:

1. Stay within September budget, not including remaining security deposit.
2. Save $400 towards E-fund/Roth IRA fund/other sub-accounts.
3. Work out 2x per week.
4. Learn to cook one new meal.
5. Join a local alumni chapter and/or a charitable organization
6. Finish reading A Random Walk Down Wall Street

Can you believe it's already September??

Labor Day Spending... or not?

This is what happens when my parents (or, in this case, just my Mom) come to visit me. They pay for everything. This weekend, my Mom wouldn't let me use my money - but I did drive her everywhere!

In terms of shopping, we bought a lot of stuff for the apartment. A bazillion cleaning supplies, 2 lamps, some pictures and a side table from Ikea and Target. For my room, we bought a shoe rack, an alarm clock and... a bed! I am really excited - it arrives tomorrow, along with our new (working!) dishwasher. Finally. I also purchased new makeup from Nordstrom - using my giftcards, the total came to $62.35 and I still have $14.92 left! All in all, a great weekend. Even if I didn't buy any clothes or shoes.

I love my parents. "We just hope you do this for your children one day. You want to give them everything and pay for everything because they are your life!" :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

August Month-End (Part I)

Let's see how I did with my goals for the month of August:

1. Keep moving expenses under $100. Goal met! On the day of the move itself, I spent $63.25 and since then I paid my share of the start-up costs for cable/internet which came to $30.10 for a total of $93.35.
2. Stay within August budget, not including moving expenses. Goal met! This will be discussed in an upcoming post.
3. Work out 3x per week. 1/2 success. I worked out 4x last week and 3x the week before using my own DVDs. If I don't do this the second I come home, it won't get done... like today.
4. Save $400 towards E-fund/Roth IRA fund/other sub-accounts. Goal met! This will be discussed in an upcoming post.
5. Spend more time with friends. Goal met! I spent many nights with my roommates and some of our mutual friends, I had a friend who works nearby over for drinks one night and I went out to dinner with another friend. I would like to do better, though!

Now it's time to reconcile my budget from August and think about September! How did you fair with your August goals?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Labor Day Weekend!

Today was a half-day at work for me - I only had to work 4 hours and the other 4 are paid. Hooray! (This is because I work at a financial firm so whenever the stock market has an early closure, so do we - and then some since we are on the west coast!)

I have lots of shopping plans for this weekend. My Mom is coming into town tomorrow until Tuesday, so we will do what we do best - shop and eat! We already have plans for dinner at our favorite (expensive) restaurant near where I live, plus we will take a break for lunch at Nordstrom Cafe while we are shopping and whatever else suits our fancy. Mmm...

Onto the personal finance aspect of this weekend. My Mom is amazing and always generous when she sees me, so I am sure she will be covering all my meals/drinks/coffee for the 3 days she is here. A lot of the actual shopping will be covered by me. However, I have been planning for this! I have 2 Nordstrom's gift cards amounting to about $100 and I have $100 budgeted from July and August for shopping which I have not used. What do I need? New (better) make-up and more work clothing, especially a pair of pants - preferably grey. And some items for the apartment such as standing lamps for my bedroom and the living room. What do I want? A new pair of pointed high heels and a new purse!

August goals wrap-up and September goals will be posted about later this weekend. I hope you all enjoy the holiday!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Every Little Bit Helps

I just redeemed my first check from taking surveys! I will be getting $15 in the near future. I also am getting closer to two more cash-outs of $5 each from other survey sites.

And an online shopping site that I used to spend a bit of time on is letting me redeem points on there for a $50 gift card to Cost Plus World Market! There is one down the road from me, so I am going to use the money to purchase some more kitchen supplies, such as glassware and barware or perhaps some cooking items.

I can't wait until these small items come in! Hopefully they will become more frequent in the future. I still haven't decided what to do with the survey money - I am thinking my Travel Fund. :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Another Weekend Gone By!

It's Sunday night and I am going through what I spent. I went out to a fun dinner downtown on Friday, saw seals at a local cove today (free!) and did a bunch of chores/errands. How much did I spend?

Dinner & a drink @ Hard Rock Cafe on Friday, $23
Groceries to last me through the next week, $27.97
Movie, $9.50

Total: $60.47

My weekend was fairly low-key except Friday night when I went out to dinner. I watched some TV, did some budgeting, set up online bill pay, hung out with roommates/friends and washed a LOT of dishes by hand. (We are still waiting for a replacement dishwasher from our landlord since the current one was broken upon move-in... it's 20 years old!) I am really looking forward to next weekend - it's Labor Day weekend which means a 3.5 days off AND my Mom is coming into town to visit! :) How was your weekend?

Monday, August 18, 2008

What's in my Wallet?

(Sorry for the lack of posts recently - we're FINALLY all moved in to the new place, with internet/cable/utilities set up and *almost* completely settled.)

I've seen this on a few other blogs, and I think it's a really cute idea!

My wallet is my most recent large purchase, and one my first purchases on my credit card. It is a Michael Kors, and I absolutely love it! I use it a lot just by itself when I'm going out. So, what's inside of it?

The front compartment has 2 slots to it and 1 zippered area for change. The front slot is for all my bills (currently $10) and the back slot holds my receipts and a few checks. I am a receipt horder, but I have been getting into the habit of cleaning it out once a week, keeping the important ones in my mini filing cabinet.

The back compartment contains all my cards. My license is the blacked-out portion and it's still from my home state... I really should update it soon since then I can make use of the near-by library! My most-used card is my WaMu Gold Debit Card. It comes with PayPass, which I have only used once at a local 7-11 but it's pretty neat and the card gives me $0.03 back per purchase, up to $250 per year. (After doing some calculations, that means I would have to use it 23 times per day to receive the maximum return, lol.) My other cards are:

  • CapitalOne Platinum Credit Card
  • Health Insurance HMO Card
  • Costco Membership Card
  • AAA Membership Card
  • Starbucks Card x2 (one might be empty... shows how much I use them!)
  • AMC MovieWatcher Card (still says I am a student, love the discount!)
  • Nordstrom Gift Card x2 (from returns I've made recently)
  • Coach Gift Card (Christmas present)
  • Victoria's Secret Gift Card (maybe $1 and some cents left on it)
The flaps in the same card-holder area continue a few business cards of acquaintances and friends, my old student I.D. card, my old debit card and my Sephora rewards card. What's in your wallet? :)

  © Blogger template 'Isolation' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP