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.

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