Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Goals

  • Max out Roth IRA
    I am just about to max it out for 2009 and want to do it again in 2010!
  • E-Fund to $15K
    $15K would give me about a 10-month emergency fund.
  • Continue with CFA exams
    I recently took Level I, so we'll see what happens when I get my result in January.
  • Take golf lessons
    This was a 2009 goal that I didn't accomplish. Here's round two! ;)
  • Knit 3 items
    I started learning to knit at the end of 2008, but fell off the bandwagon in 2009. Even if I just knit three basic items like squares or scarves, I am really determined this year!
  • Volunteer
    I volunteered a lot during high school and college. I would really like to start again!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

It's Christmas Eve here on the West Coast. In my family, we open two presents each on Christmas Eve (German tradition) and the remainder plus stockings on Christmas Day. We also had a fantastic Christmas Eve dinner where each person in the family made one dish. My Mom made lava cake for dessert and then we watched a foreign movie. Overall, a fantastic night! :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Early Birthday Present: A Cruise!

I'm taking a birthday vacation in January! It's a 4-night/3-day cruise to Mexico with a few of my best friends and I can't wait!

This was a bit of an impromptu decision over the last month but now it's all finalized. Since the cruise is within a few days of my birthday, my parents have offered to pay for the cost of it as my birthday present! I have more than enough money in my Travel Fund to cover the price ($395) plus all my on-board/in-port purchases, but now I only have to pay for the latter thanks to their generosity! :)

I am doing a high estimate of ~$150 for all my personal expenses. Since food is included while on the ship, this would be for drinks, snacks (though I'll probably bring some), steward tip and whatever I feel like buying/doing during our 1-day stay in Mexico.

I'm so excited!! It's exactly what I need to start off a new year. Bring on 2010! :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Review: 2009 Annual Goals

All the way back in January, I created my 2009 annual goals. I'm excited to see how I did!

  • Increase Net Worth to $15K
    Accomplished! My networth (which I haven't updated in a while, oops) is over $25K due to retirement accounts and my personal savings!
  • Increase E-Fund to $8K
    Accomplished! It's actually over $11K! :)
  • 2009 Roth IRA: Contribute at least $3K
    Accomplished! It will be maxed out to the $5K limit by January 2010, hooray!
  • Take one extra vacation
    Accomplished! I went to NYC twice this year, so technically my second NYC trip was my "other" trip. It was a blast, of course! :)
  • Get back into golf
    Unaccomplished. I went to the driving range frequently but did not play or take lessons. Hopefully I will do this in 2010!
  • Study and sit for CFA Level I (in December '09)
    ACCOMPLISHED! This was my BIG goal of the year, and I can't believe I did it. The exam was draining but rewarding. However, it was all I thought about/stressed about/studied for over at least half of 2009! Now I am just patiently awaiting my result at the end of January...
I am extremely happy with my results. None of the goals were unattainable, and they ranged from professional to personal to monetary. Time to work on my 2010 goals! :)

Christmas Vacation!

I flew home last night for my Christmas vacation. I arrived home to a beautifully decorated house and my family! I am going to have a very lazy but fantastic week with them... some shopping, lots of baking/cooking, lots of movies/TV and just being together! It feels SO nice to not have to study, either!

I am also done with my Christmas shopping! I spent $212.81 on gifts for my family and friends, plus a work Secret Santa event. I could have easily spent more but am very happy with all my purchases! Plus, this completely wipes out my Gift Fund... but hey, that's what it's for!

Now time to finish my delicious homemade mocha (courtesy of Mom), wrap Christmas gifts and write some Christmas cards! :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Price of Car Insurance

I purchased new car insurance a few months ago. As I was going through the sign-up process in-person, I was told I could pay the annual balance in full or pay month-by-month. Being a good personal finance blogger, I asked if there were any extra charges if I paid month-by-month and was told no, that I would only have to pay my full premium and I could get a 7% dividend back at the end of the year if everything is good. So, I paid a 20% downpayment and had officially purchased my very first installment of car insurance!

My first monthly bill came (last month) with no issues. However, this month's included a finance charge of 1.5% of the remaining balance. Huh?! I was never told about any finance charges! If it was a small $2 or $3 fee for the convenience of paying month-by-month online, I would be okay with it. But this was a lot more than that!

I called my insurance company this week and inquired about the charge. After being nice and letting the representative know that I never received any sort of notice or signed any agreement about it (she mentioned I should have signed a "Truth in Lending" form and received a copy of it), she eventually spoke with her supervisor and said if I paid the balance in full, that they would waive the finance charge. She also mentioned that I should call the office where I first signed up for my insurance and let the supervisor there know that I never received the notice. I kept letting her know that I felt misled, and of course thanked her for getting rid of the finance charge! The only problem is that it'll disrupt my cash flow a bit since it's a decent amount. I'm not 25 yet and live in California, so my car insurance is still somewhat pricey even with a clean driving record. But if it saves me a good chunk of money, I'd much rather do it!

How do you pay for your car insurance, in some type of installment or in one lump sum? Does your insurance charge you anything for paying a certain way?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why I Do Not Want To Buy A Home

Recently, Jim at Bargaineering blogged about the reasons why someone shouldn't buy a home within 5 years of graduation.

As I read the post, I thought about my own situation: I graduated from college a year-and-a-half ago, I'm in my 20s, single and debt-free. I found a job with a fantastic company that I love and that continues to treat its employees like gold. Based on the track record of current employees, it would be so easy for me to "put down roots" in my city and buy a place, since I expect to be with the company for a while. There's a first-time homebuyer's tax credit also working in my favor and real estate prices are rather low. However, the reasons that Jim outlined (and some others of my own) are exactly why I have no desire to buy now or in the near future!

  • Loss of Flexibility. My company has a few other offices around the country and around the world, and what if I decide I want take a position at one of those for a few years? Or, if I get a job with another company in another city that would be better for my career? Renting makes it so easy to just get up and go!

  • Home Prices. In my Southern California city, home/condo prices are still VERY expensive, even though they have dropped from their highs a few years ago. I do not have any sort of savings for a downpayment, and a decent place here would require a LOT of money for the downpayment and mortgage.

  • Maintenance. I am not handy. I do repairs, except the occasional lightbulb, and I'm usually too short to even do those! If the toilet breaks or there's a burst pipe... those costs would all be on me, and they would definitely not be cheap and can easily add up! It's so much easier to call the landlord to fix whatever is needed and deal with the responsibility. Some of my maintenance fears would probably disappear if I had a man in my life, though... ;)
I am a very happy renter and plan to stay that way for quite a while longer! I really like the apartment that I am renting now. It's huge and in the safest neighborhood of my city, very walkable, near a library, all grocery stores and a mall!

What are your reasons for not buying a place? Conversely, what are your reasons for buying one or wanting to buy one?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Bonus

My company surprised us a few weeks ago! Our supervisor told us that all employees would be receiving a holiday bonus and an annual bonus! This is very unexpected, as we did not receive raises in the spring and were told that there would be no bonuses for 2009.

Incidental money is fantastic! I feel very lucky to be working for such a fantastic company who truly values their employees. Here is what I will be doing with my net $375 holiday bonus:

  • Roth IRA $200
  • Charity $50
  • Shopping $125
Are you getting any sort of bonus for 2009?


My life is finally back to normal! Last Saturday, I took my big exam. Now I have to wait a few months until I get the results. I feel okay about it, but am very glad for the experience and I definitely learned a lot!

Now I am getting back into a non-studying routine! It feels so nice to come home, be able to watch as much TV as I want, go out with friends, and go to the gym more often! Luckily, my finances did not get out of hand while I was studying, though I will admit I spent a lot more than usual on quick-to-eat frozen food and ate out more often than usual. But it was worth it when I spent almost all of my non-work time studying! ;)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, whether you are with family, friends or both! I am thankful for so many things...

  • My amazing family! They are so encouraging, supportive and loving. My grandmother died last Friday, and my parents put me on an earlier-than-expected flight home so I could spend time with them just when I needed it the most.
  • My friends! They are so much fun, they keep me laughing and treat me so well! :)
  • My health. I rarely get sick, I eat well and I stay in shape.
  • Personal finance. Without that knowledge, I wouldn't have an emergency fund ($11K!) for peace of mind or already be saving towards my retirement! I'm on the path towards financial security.
  • My job. I am so glad to be employed! My company has been nothing but fantastic and they continue to impress me and treat me well. Case-in-point, it was announced last week that all employees will be receiving a mini "holiday gift" based on tenure (for me, that means ~$500 pre-tax) and an annual bonus for 2009! Yeah, unexpected income!! :)
What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Retail Credit Card

When I went on my shopping spree recently, I did something I never imagined I would do: I opened a retail credit card!

My new Nordstrom card gives me reward points (2 points for each $1 spent with a $20 gift certificate when I reach 2,000 points) and there is no annual fee. The card has increased my credit limit, too! This has been a good way to increase help my lackluster credit since I only have one other credit card with a low limit.

Good thing I know myself well enough that this store credit card will not be dangerous. No debt for me! (But lots of shoes...) :)

Do you have a retail card? Do you actually use it?

Sunday, November 15, 2009


In bullet point form!

  • Studying, studying, studying... I've been doing practice exams and problems. My scores aren't quite where they need to be to pass, but I'm not giving up. 3 weeks to go, I'm hitting it hard!
  • My finances are still doing good. I have almost invested $4,000 into my Roth IRA for 2009! I might even be able to make it to the fully-funded $5K mark. I also treated myself to some much-needed shopping (retail therapy, anyone?!) recently... $280 on 2 new pairs of high heels and 1 pair of rain boots plus $23 on a new sweater. (And I opened a store credit card in the process - but it's where I do 80% of my shopping, no annual fee, rewards and of course I'll pay it off in full each month!)
  • I have a few Christmas presents done... Mom, Dad and roommates. Still need to buy for friends and brother.
  • I had a few car expenses this month for tab renewal and new insurance. Thank goodness for my car fund!
  • The guy I was recently dating for a month pulled the disappearing act on me out of nowhere, just after Halloween. I was really falling for him, so it was (is!) both confusing and depressing. I'm just glad I have my studying and great friends to lean on when my heart is hurting. Sigh. :(
  • I'm going home for Thanksgiving and Christmas! I can't wait to see my parents and my brother soon for extended periods of time. Both breaks will be much needed, though Thanksgiving will mostly be devoted to studying.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Three Paycheck Month!

October is the other three paycheck month of the year! Below is my breakdown of what I am going to do with my extra $1,000.

$375 Emergency Fund
$375 Roth IRA
$50 Gift Fund (trying to boost it up in time for Christmas!)
$50 Travel Fund
$150 Self (new clothes/shoes, books, other splurges!)

What are you doing with your extra paycheck for October?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Getting Closer to the CFA Exam

I have 2 months to go until my CFA Level I exam. I am on track to complete my first review of all the material by end of October, especially if I really get myself into gear on the weekends. Then I'll use November and the few days prior to December 5th for review review review until I can't see straight.

I didn't do October goals because I only really have one goal: STUDYING. It is basically going to be my life for the next 2 months, but I'm okay with that. My savings are all automatic, I always spend less than I earn, my E-fund is at a great place... so I feel fantastic in terms of my finances!

Don't worry, I won't be disappearing completely and I'll still blog when I need a studying break because I do love it! :) I'll just be focusing on my exam - but you can always follow me on Twitter.

Happy October!

Officially Autumn (or, it's October!)

And another month goes by! I had $250 leftover from my September budget. I am putting $100 into my E-fund, $100 into my Roth IRA and $50 into my Gift Fund, since the holiday season is getting closer! Here's my re-cap of my September goals:

1. CFA studying. Pass! I feel like I am doing okay... there is just SO MUCH material! :(
2. Finish my book. Fail. But I'm really close!!
3. Try some new recipes. Pass! As usual, some worked and some didn't. Haha.
4. Renew passport. Pass! I actually received it back today, hooray! Cruise, here I come!!
5. Finish knitting my first scarf! Fail. Studying has been my priority, so my other hobbies get pushed aside :(
6. Spend no more than $400 on vacation. Pass! Well, technically, because even though I did spend over $500, it was mostly from the surprise money my parents gave me! :) I have no idea if I would've spent that much of my own money...maybe.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fun Weekend!

On Friday I had a low-key night in with my roommates and caught up on some TV. On Saturday I got my car washed ($7.95) and then went shopping...I was getting frustrated because I wasn't finding what I wanted, but finally at the last store after almost 2 hours of wandering around the mall, I found a pair of skinny jeans and a cute dress! There was a sale going on, plus the cashier gave me an additional 20% off due to a "friends & family" weekend so my total was $102.23. I splurged using the extra cash I had! That night I went on a date - he paid and I think the meal came out to about $60 including tax and tip. On Sunday I went for frozen yogurt ($2.95), studied, watched TV and went to yoga.

I would say it was a successful and fun weekend! :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday Night Date!

If you follow me on Twitter, you would know that I went on a date last night!

It was a blast! He is funny, outgoing, talkative and intelligent. The sushi was good and the restaurant was awesome. The waiters didn't even care that we sat there talking for over half an hour after we (well, he) had paid for our meal, and we had been there for 3 hours already!

He already brought up going out on another date when he walked me to my car, and said he would call me. I can't wait to hear from him! :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Checking Account Cushion = Extra Cash

I track every single purchase that I make in my budget spreadsheet. At the end of every month, I reconcile my budget and put my leftovers into savings, which is usually my E-fund and Roth IRA.

As of today, I have $995 in my checking account which seems abnormally high! I made sure that my full rent amount for next month is waiting in my brick & mortar savings to be debited and sent to my landlord via automatic bill pay - yes, it's all there. So it wasn't because I missed putting that away. After the rest of my monthly automatic expenses get debited and I pay my roommates for utilities/cable for September and spend about $100 from now til next week's paycheck and save my September monthly leftovers, my checking account will still have $500 in it!

I went back into my spreadsheet and went through each month (different tabs) to see how much I had leftover after putting the leftovers in savings. Sound confusing? Let's say I had $200 leftover for a particular month, which is after all my expenses and savings is done, including $200 to my Roth IRA and $250 to Emergency/Travel/Gift/Car Funds. I would probably split $175 of the remaining $200 between my E-fund and Roth IRA, or whatever I feel like adding to in that particular month. So that leaves me with a $25 cushion. Some months seem random, it looks like I've left as much as $80 unallocated to just sit in my checking account.

I like a cushion, but I don't need THAT much of a cushion! After all, I have $1,000 for random emergencies in my b&m savings which I can access/transfer immediately. Usually I leave around a $250 cushion in my checking account, but it looks like over the past 8 months, I've been leaving enough that it slowly built up to $500!

Now I am trying to figure out what to do with it! After all, October is the other 3-paycheck month of this year and I will be saving almost all of that extra paycheck anyway. Essentially, I am giving myself $250 to play with! I am thinking a new pair of designer jeans and some shoes/accessories, or new workout shirts and a sports bra... I'm not big on gadgets, my camera and iPod work great even though they are both a few years old.

Any suggestions, or should I just go shopping?! :) Happy Friday and enjoy the weekend!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NYC: What I Did & What I Spent!

Disclaimer: I am obsessed/addicted/in love with NYC.

I spent a lot. I ate a lot. I did a lot. I hung out with one of my best friends and her friends, and my parents. I also saw a musical (The Toxic Avenger) with my Mom, which was hilarious and we got front-row seats from the TKTS booth! A big surprise was that my Dad, out of his generosity and ever-giving nature, gave me a check for $500 and told me to go wild! He's not usually one to hand out money like that, especially over the last year where him and my Mom have been a bit more frugal due to the economy and loss in their retirement accounts.

So, I followed my Dad's instructions. That $500 definitely went wild, and quickly! I spent $100 on a few round of drinks, a new battery for my digital camera and some meals. The remaining $400 all went to (much-needed) new clothes! I bought a new pair of flip flops, a lightweight jacket, a pair of boots (pictured), 3 shirts, 2 belts, a long necklace, a set of bracelets, a lightweight scarf, a new "I <3 New York" t-shirt to replace my old one, a skirt, underwear and 3 bras!

The city is also a big reason why I am a foodie. Here are just a few of the amazing restaurants: DBGB, Porchetta, Momofuku Ssam, Pio Pio, Ippudo, Creperie, Rice to Riches, Tiffin Wallah... :)

I will be taking $52.21 from my Travel Fund. This was for passport photos I had taken, a taxi ride, and some items I bought at Sephora.

I'm lucky (really lucky) to have amazing parents who do enjoy spoiling me on vacations! It's nice to not have to think about money sometimes and just have a fantastic time! :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Catching Up

I'm back from my week-long vacation to NYC! It was fantastic! And I'll admit that I am very obsessed/addicted to that city. Now if only I could live there... ;)

I barely did any studying while I was away and while I don't feel behind, I need to get back on track. Today I will be doing that plus some grocery shopping/cooking (ugh... I miss all the amazing meals and take out already!) and going through my finances from the trip. I'll post more about it once I'm back to reality.

Hope you had a great weekend! Looking forward to what my Google Reader has in store for me...

P.S. Does anyone else get the post-vacation blues? Not a fan :(

Friday, September 11, 2009


Finally! My vacation has arrived... I haven't been on one since April, so this is definitely overdue.

I'm off to NYC for a week! I'm addicted/obsessed with the city. I'll blog all about it when I return.

Have a fantastic weekend! You can still follow me on Twitter, I'll be doing some updates there. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

For My Love of Reading

Last month, one of my goals was to make a new friend. It didn't happen. I realized that I needed to try a new approach! Most people at work keep to themselves or already seem to have their own social circles/cliques and don't seem to want to let new people like myself in, even when I try to make an effort. A lot of my closest friends moved away after graduation and now some that are around work crazy retail hours so it's difficult to get together.

Since I'd previously forayed into the world of online dating, I figured - why not try that medium to make new friends? I went for it and joined a Meetup group! I found a book club in my area and figured that would be a nice one to start out with.

My first meeting was last night and it was a blast! I joined so suddenly that I didn't even get around to reading the book for this month since the meeting was two days after I joined. However, no one seemed to mind and after the first hour of discussion, the conversation ventured to our own lives, what we do, could we relate to the book, etc. Most women were in their mid-late 20s, so I was definitely the youngest at 23. Even though we are all from various places (including someone from France!) and in different careers, we all share a love of reading! I got along with all the girls very well.

I cannot wait until next month's meetup. If you're looking for a new way to meet people, I would highly recommend the site. I definitely plan on trying out a few other ones like a social group or beach yoga! :)

PF side-note: The book club I joined does have a $1 administrative cost per meeting, and I paid $3 for parking since it was downtown. I made sure to eat before-hand and did not order anything to drink even though the location was a wine bar. So for $4 and 2.5 hours, a fantastic time was had!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hello, September!

The past week has been rather hot in my area of California (but no fires nearby, thank goodness) so it certainly doesn't feel like fall yet! I am really excited for this month because 1) it's Labor Day weekend coming up and 2) I am going on vacation in just over a week! I haven't used any vacation time since I went to NYC in April... and that's where I'll be going again, but for eight days instead of five! And so, here are my goals for the month:

1. CFA studying. This will be a continual goal until the December 5th exam!
2. Finish my book. Really, seriously! I should have ample time on my vacation and the plane.
3. Try some new recipes. A girlfriend and I have been exchanging recipes, but I keep forgetting to try hers, so I'll turn it into a goal!
4. Renew passport. I'm not sure how much it will cost, but I am going to Mexico in January and my passport is expiring in November, so I need to get this done ASAP.
5. Finish knitting my first scarf! My Mom sent me a care package last week that included new yarn (I finished my first mini-project a few weeks ago), plus knitting is really relaxing.
6. Spend no more than $400 on vacation. I didn't know what amount to set my vacation budget at... my flight is free thanks to points, but I plan on doing a lot of shopping/dining out/going out with friends! And to be honest, I like allowing myself to spend as I wish on vacation! :)

P.S. How is it September already?!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

August Networth & Budget Leftovers

Oops, forgot to put this in my last post! Anyway, my networth increased by 6.20% in August. This was due to savings and increases in my 401k and Roth IRA.

I had a REALLY good month in terms of my budget! Due to not much spending in "entertainment/fun" and "dining out" plus a few other categories, I had $300 leftover! I put $200 into my Roth IRA and $100 into my E-fund.

Is it bad that I like extra savings on top of what I save automatically every month? ;)

Goodbye, August!

August was a good month! I had fun with friends and did a solid amount of studying. Here's a review of my goals from August:

August Goals
1. CFA studying. Specifically: the FRA topic section. Pass! I finished this section this weekend.
2. Read one book for fun. I have this one on hold at the library! Fail. I did get quite a bit of reading done in my current book, but didn't finish.
3. Try to make one new friend. Somehow! Fail. However... I am going to lunch tomorrow with a co-worker, so hopefully we'll start to be better friends! I also have a few ideas to keep working on this one.
4. Go to gym 2x per week. Pass! This was easy because it's already in my schedule.
5. Buy a rice cooker! Pass! I have used it a few times already and LOVE it!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Coupon + Cooking Class!

I've recently discovered a site called Groupon. It reminds me of, but with different activities at discounts every day, in various cities across the country. My Mom mentioned it to me, after hearing about it on Good Morning America or some other morning news show. Last week, I decided to check it out!

On the day I went to the site, they had a 49% discount for a cooking class in my city! A friend of mine got the same deal, so for $25 each we are going to a 2.5-hour class. Unfortunately, this is not a hands-on class, but one where we get to watch a chef create a 4-course meal. However, we do get appetizers and get to eat the food at the end, plus ask questions/make comments/take notes, etc. I am SO excited and will definitely blog about it after! I think it's a great deal... basically, the same price as going out to a decent meal with friends. :)

(And no, this was not a paid post.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Rice Cooker

I recently purchased a rice cooker! I had been wanting one for a while, since I cook a lot of rice: it's cheap, filling, and goes great with a lot of meals. My parents have a rice cooker, my brother in college has one and one of my best friends has one - and they all swear by it! So, I took the plunge and added another kitchen gadget to my collection. (I already have a food processor and a crock pot.)

I did a bit of research and decided to go with the Rival 6-cup Rice Cooker from Target for $16.99 plus tax. It's absolutely adorable and really small, so it fits easily into a cupboard and barely takes up any counter space! With this specific rice cooker, it's very important to follow the instruction booklet it comes with: you need to use the included "rice scoop" and fill it up to the same "water line" as how many scoops you put in, i.e., 1 scoop = "1" on the water line. (Never try to cook the maximum 3 cups uncooked rice in it because, based on the reviews, it's too much for the little guy to handle and will make a mess on your counter!)

I have used it 3x since I bought it: 2x using only 1 scoop of rice and 1x using 2 scoops. The rice has been perfect each time! I think brown rice might take a bit longer to cook, but I've only used white basmati rice so far. It's perfect for a single person or a couple, because it makes enough to eat plus some leftovers.

It also comes with a vegetable steamer on top (not pictured). I have used it to steam peas, edamame and green beans - all frozen and thrown in the veggie steamer about 5-10 minutes after I started cooking the rice. Next I'll try steaming some potstickers.

It's so easy and I'm very happy with my purchase! :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Proud to Call Myself...

One of my very first posts when I started this blog was about cooking. (Food is a passion of mine, though I don't think I write about it enough!) Over the years, I have turned into a foodie but had never really been much of a cook, as I stated. Now that it's been a year since I really took a stab at cooking, I can happily say that I have improved! I have acquired a few cookbooks and tried a lot of recipes. And I'm also the proud owner of various kitchen gadgets, including a crock pot, food processor and my newly acquired rice cooker! :)

Some recipes have been flops, but others have made it into my rotation. These three are my favorite because are awesome as leftovers:

There are also a few from my recipe books that I mix and match. For instance, earlier this week I used my rice cooker for the first time to make plain basmati rice. It comes with a veggie steamer on top, so I added some frozen green beans while the rice cooked. Then I quickly made some tilapia fillets in a pan and a really easy red curry sauce. The result was absolutely delicious! (And, as I love, gave me leftovers.)

Recently, I've been on a fish kick - maybe because it's summer, it's not really expensive and it's healthy! I buy mine individually frozen, which just makes life easier: tilapia, mahi mahi or salmon. It cooks in minutes, I can drown them in spices and fry them slightly with some flour to make all sorts of aromatic and yummy combinations!

However, I know I still have far to go. I always have to follow a recipe unless it's one of my staple meals or something easy that I'm just tossing together. Need to be more adventurous! Also, I have cooked for my roommates and ex-boyfriends, but I have never thrown a big dinner party with appetizers, entrees and desserts. (I am definitely not a baker.) Hmm... maybe that's something I should strive towards! :)

One of the best things about cooking? In pf terms, it can be very cheap! As a single person, my monthly grocery bill rarely tops $125. Good for myself and my budget!

Leave your own recipes and thoughts in the comments - or feel free to e-mail me!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Frugal vs Poor

My younger brother has been going through some financial issues with his best friend. His best friend, J, is frugal. Now, we all know there is nothing wrong with that! However, he is not completely open and honest about it. (Is that a guy thing, since it has to do with money?)

When they go out with friends, J only drinks water unless someone buys him a drink. He never reciprocates on other nights. At the apartment, J drinks the beer that my brother buys... and never purchases any himself. When my brother makes dinner, J will eat it. If he's not offered any, he eats oatmeal. When my brother says it's J's turn to make dinner, he says he will just make oatmeal or macaroni and cheese. He hardly buys any groceries and is constantly living off of my brother. Ironically, it is J that currently has a paid summer job while my brother is doing an unpaid internship. (Luckily my parents are okay with that and are supporting him - plus they are living rent-free in an apartment that my parents have!)

As I'm typing this, I'm realizing that J isn't just frugal... he is poor. Yet he goes to a private university. Apparently he had an RA job last year (free lodging and food) but we don't seem to know why he doesn't have that job anymore - especially if it seems like he can't afford anything, wouldn't you want to stay in a position like that just for incredible benefits?

I also wonder, where does the money from his paid summer job go? Is he saving it to pay for tuition? Why can't he admit that he can't afford even ONE drink out, let along groceries - which are a necessity? My brother just doesn't know what to do, as this is his best friend. He's tried talking to him, but J refuses to discuss it.

What a sad predicament to be in! Have you ever had any friends like this? What do you suggest?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Unemployed Friends

Well, it was bound to happen. Today I found out that two of my close friends have been laid off from their respective companies. One of them is my best friend, but he's lucky in that his parents can support him. (He's going to grad school in the spring anyway.) The other moved home after graduation last year, so I know she's alright for the moment, too. I still feel bad for them - finding a job in this economy is difficult.

But it's still scary and unpredictable out there! I'm so thankful that my company has still not done any layoffs. (Yet.)


I had a great weekend! On Friday night I went out with one of my roommates and a friend. I drove, so I didn't buy any drinks but still had a blast with them. On Saturday, one of my college roommates/best friends came down to visit. We went to lunch, window-shopped at the mall, got frozen yogurt, went to a used bookstore and cooked dinner at home. I really enjoy girl time with her and am so glad we can stay connected and see each other every once in a while! :) On Sunday I went to brunch with the roommates, ran some errands and went to yoga - my brain and hormones were out-of-whack so I didn't get in any studying.


$7.38, Lunch
$3.50, Book
$3.31, Frozen Yogurt

$10, Brunch
$9.54, Groceries
$18.37, Rice cooker

Total: $52.10

Friday, August 7, 2009


Studying has taken over most of my time! I go to the library 3x a week and Starbucks about 2x. Surprisingly, I'm enjoying it. I really like the challenge and it's keeping my mind in great shape :) (Don't worry - I won't stop blogging, it just might be more infrequent!)

This weekend I have a girlfriend visiting me from Saturday to Sunday! We're planning on going out for an easy hike, grabbing some dinner and she might join me at yoga on Sunday morning. :)

My spending is going well. Nothing excessive so far! I did spend all my clothing budget last month on this jacket (hooray for the price adjustment!) and it arrived earlier this week - I am in love!! :) Last weekend I spent around $100, all on groceries and some supplies for the apartment. I do a lot of batch cooking and bought all the things I needed to make a lot of simple meals for the month - it'll help me while I'm studying so I don't have to think/worry about dinner!

I woke up this morning not feeling well, so I'm taking my first sick day of the year. I'm feeling a little better after getting more sleep, but I don't have the energy to get ready and go to work. Luckily I don't have any deadlines, plus 90% of the department (including both my boss and team leader) is out today anyway so it would have been a very slow day.

And really, I need to fix/update my blog. I tried last weekend and failed. Here goes round two this weekend! :)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

E-Fund Update

If you haven't noticed, I updated my sidebars. The most changed item was my E-fund! I moved some money around from my B&M savings account, which has basically been sitting there as a "backup" in case I needed it... but realized that it had too much money sitting there earning almost no interest! So, I funneled most of it (about $2,500) into my E-fund! Since, technically, that's what it's for, anyway.

Since it's actually in my E-fund now, I adjusted my E-fund goal from $8K all the way up to $12K. This will be an on-going goal, not just for this year!

Welcome August: Networth, Goals & July Review

My networth increase by 6% this month, mostly thanks to the markets! I, however, did a lot of spending. My largest over expenditure, by far, was food. Groceries and dining out came to a combined $283! My January-June average was $172, so this was over $100 more than normal! I had $75 leftover from my monthly budget, of which I put $50 in my Roth IRA and $25 into my E-fund.

July Goals
1. Continue CFA studying.
I am really getting into my studying now, and actually enjoying it! (Is that sad?) It's overwhelming, but it keeps me busy.
2. Figure out rent situation for August.
Pass! We decided to stay in our current place for another 9 months. Moving is a hassle!
3. Review/adjust annual goals.
Pass! I did this recently and I am doing surprisingly well!
4. Book flight/finalize trip to NYC in September.
Pass! My Dad offered to fly me there on airline points, and I will be going from September 12-19. I can't wait, since I haven't taken any vacation since April!

August Goals
1. CFA studying. Specifically: the FRA topic section.
2. Read one book for fun. I have this one on hold at the library!
3. Try to make one new friend. Somehow!
4. Go to gym 2x per week.
5. Buy a rice cooker!

A Splurge + Price Adjustment!

I mentioned that I splurged on a new jacket/blazer recently. Well, a few days ago I happened upon the same exact jacket... on the clearance portion of the website I ordered it from! I checked out the "help" section of the company's website and found out that I could possibly get a price adjustment if the item was marked down within 14 days of my order.

I was a little unsure, as I had place the order on July 9th but it didn't ship until July 28th, as it was backordered originally. I e-mailed customer service two days ago and this morning received a confirmation that I would receive a $70.10 price adjustment, credited directly onto the card I purchased it with!

I could not be more excited. The jacket started at $120, plus tax and shipping (which was outrageous), came to $146.81. With the price adjustment, I would only be paying $76.71 total! (It was on clearance for $50. Technically, I should probably receive an additional credit since the shipping would be less...) All I did was send an e-mail, ask for a price adjustment and it was granted! A little inquisitiveness and luck can go far sometimes.

Now that's customer service! :)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

July Spending Overload

I've done quite a bit of spending this month! There was an extra $37.31 on groceries for July 4th. There has been a lot of spending on friendships. (And more tomorrow - I'm going to happy hour with my roommates!) I normally spend about $75 on dining out in an average month, but have spent over $100 this month. I've also spent more on groceries than usual (due to my break-up... I keep buying comfort food!), including $42.65 at Costco for some frozen items, 2 flats of cherries and a flat of blackberries.

I also bought a new jacket that I had been pining over for the past few months. Since it was unavailable in stores, it came to $146.81 after tax and shipping. This was an unplanned purchase, however I rarely spend my clothing budget so I am very excited for it to arrive next week! (Luckily I had set aside for my car trouble!)

Yet... I don't care about all this spending! I tend to come under my monthly budget every month, which includes a fair amount of savings already. So, it's actually nice to have a more carefree, I-don't-care-what-I-spend month... knowing that it's deserved and that I still won't be completely blowing my budget. :)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Annual Goal Review

Since it's halfway through 2009, I wanted to see how I'm doing on my annual goals that I made back in January.

Goal: Increase Net Worth to $15K
Progress: Apparently this was easier than expected! My networth is currently at $22K. Let's just hope it can stay above the $15K mark, barring any unforeseen emergencies or stock market plunges during the rest of the year.

Goal: Increase E-fund to $8K
Progress: My E-fund is at just over $7K and there are still 5 months left in the year! Definitely on track for getting right around the $8K mark, which would give me a 6-month E-fund based on my average monthly expenses only.

Goal: Contribute at least $3K to 2009 Roth IRA
So far, I have contributed $2,150. I contribute $200 a month plus some of any monthly budget leftovers. I am on track to contribute $3K for 2009... perhaps I should bump this up to $4K?

Goal: Take one extra vacation
Progress: Well, I took a trip to NYC in April. I have another trip planned there in September and then I will be going home to the Northwest for Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, I am planning on taking a cruise to Mexico with friends in January! That will be my "extra" trip, even though it will technically be in 2010. :)

Goal: Get back into golf
Progress: I have been going to the driving range fairly frequently, once a week or every two weeks. I've started pricing out some group lesson packages and would still like to do that!

Goal: Study and sit for CFA Level I in December '09
Progress: I registered a few months ago and am in the process of studying! It is overwhelming but I tried to start early and am getting into a good routine now. As the exam gets closer, studying will become my life!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Personal Finance Mad Lib

There's a really fun personal finance mad lib created by Punch Debt In The Face going around the blogosphere, so I thought I would join in!

Hi, my name is Money Maus. I currently have $14 dollars in my wallet. When I started managing my finances I was worth $4K, and now have a net worth of $22K. I currently work in finance and have been doing it for 1 year. I make roughly $35K per year. I want to have $2MM+ waiting for me when it comes time to retire. Aside from learning about finances, I really enjoy text messages. I think the world would be a better place if greed didn't exist. I had chicken/ravioli/broccoli for dinner last night and it was scrumptious. I have had 4 significant others over the course of my lifetime (counting awkward middle school relationships and relationships that lasted 4 months or less). One thing that makes me different is my petite size. Now that I'm done with this mad lib, I think I'm going to go to sleep.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

No Price on Friendship!

In the past week, I have spent time with quite a few friends. Some I hadn't seen in a few weeks, a few months, and even one in two-and-a-half years! And I've spent a bit more money than usual doing so - but you can't put a price on friendship. :)

Last Friday, I went to lunch with one of my current roommates, $5.75. In the evening, I went out with my old roommates and we had a blast. I spent $6. On Saturday I drove up to visit a friend in a different town. We went for sushi ($10) and frozen yogurt ($4.02). In the evening, we met went bar hopping with her and her husband's friends, $11. Last night I went out with two friends for sushi (again!) and drinks, $24.31.

It's already been an expensive month, especially with July 4th - but I have definitely needed all the time with my friends. And I'm looking forward to more of that time this weekend! :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Car Trouble!

I had a fantastic weekend but it ended with a little bit of car trouble. On Sunday around noon, my car battery completely died! I was in a large parking lot and luckily I have AAA, so I called them and they were able to jump-start my car... but not 5 minutes later, at a stoplight on the busiest street in the area, my car died in the middle of the road! The car locked up so the good samaritans who tried to help me couldn't put it in neutral to push it to the side of the road. Eventually I was able to get it towed to a Firestone where they ran an electrical test and confirmed that yes, it was indeed my battery.

$148.73 and a few hours later, my car is fixed and happy! (Thank goodness for my car fund, too.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Post-Break Up Update

The weekend was really difficult. I basically holed myself up, let myself grieve for the loss of my relationship with K, then got very angry and today am starting to find peace. Slowly.

I threw away the toothbrush he left here and moved the few pictures of him/us into a folder of a folder. I've told all my closest friends about what happened. And everyone has told me I am better off. Which I know I am. But still, as with anything difficult, there's a process of going through all the emotions. (And to be honest, this is the first time I've had my heart legitimately broken. It's a horrible feeling!)

I spent $4.18 for dinner at In-N-Out on Friday with two friends, $37.87 on groceries (including my favorite ice cream and a $5-per-lb. bag of my favorite cherries), $13 on a few items at the pharmacy and $16.95 on a yoga mat that I have already used once.

And readers, thank you! All your kind comments have been nothing short of amazing! :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Break Up

I broke up with K.

We had been dating for 4 months, and for the last 1.5 months he pulled away and I saw his true colors. In the end, he turned into a complete jerk and I realized it is better for me to be alone than to be together with him and unhappy almost all the time. The first 2.5 months of our relationship were amazing, but the constant tears, fights/arguments and lack of communication for the last 1.5 months has been too much to handle.

I know this is good for me - once I get over the heart break... :(

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy (Late) 4th of July + Long Weekend Spending!

Hope you all had a fun and safe 4th! I had a great time with friends. We had an all-day BBQ/beach fest yesterday and it was a blast - especially the food and drinks! I ended up only getting slightly sunburned on spots I missed and met some new people that I got along with, which is always fun. However, I managed to spend a fair amount of money this weekend, especially since I had a half-day on Thursday which didn't help matters! Now I have pulled pork cooking in my crock pot (using my Mom's recipe!) and am doing some studying.

Thursday (half-day)
$20.97, Costco (party food, K spent over $100 total)
$7.70, Frozen yogurt
$13.50, Dinner with roommates

$16.34, Groceries (mostly party food)

$8.50, brunch at a food stall (didn't have breakfast and the BBQ wasn't until 1pm)

$30.70, Groceries (finally - for myself!)
$33.53, gas
$3.74, laundry detergent (on sale plus $2-off coupon)

Total: $134.98

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It's July: Goals, Networth & Budget Leftovers

Where did the time go? Wow - July already! My networth actually decreased slightly, as the markets didn't go up. Here's a review of my June goals and a list of my July ones. I had $200 leftover from my June budget, so I put $100 into my E-fund and $100 into my Roth IRA. :)

June Goals

1. Get first ever credit report! Pass! I pulled my Experian credit report, which was basically but it was good to do!
2. Try more recipes. Pass!
3. Plan a trip for later this year - either home, to NYC or perhaps something else entirely! Half-pass... I've requested a week off in September to go to NYC.
4. Sign up for summer golf lessons, with a budget of ~$200. Fail.
5. Celebrate: One-year of being at my company and one-year of blogging! Pass! Had drinks with my roommates about my 1-year of employment - they don't know about the blog!
6. Review/Adjust annual goals. Fail.

July Goals
1. Continue CFA studying.
2. Figure out rent situation for August.
3. Review/adjust annual goals.
4. Book flight/finalize trip to NYC in September.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Emergency Fund: What To Use It For?

Some recent events - like my car being towed and getting locked out of my apartment - have had me thinking what my emergency fund is really for. Obviously, yes, anything that constitutes (in my opinion) as an emergency; any unexpected, rare, sudden occurrence.

For instance, if May had not been a 3-paycheck month, I would have had to take the towing fees out of my emergency fund. If one of my roommates had not been coming home soon when I was locked out, I would have called a locksmith and would have paid for that out of my emergency fund. Luckily, I have not yet had to dip into the fund to pay for anything!

I then made a list of what I would personally use my E-fund for:

  • Job loss
  • Medical expenses
  • Taxes (if owe any)
  • Other: out-of-city/state moving expenses, major car repair (if car fund doesn't cover it), plane ticket to wherever in case of a family emergency/death
I am sure I am missing any sort of incidents, because who knows what could happen - but these are the "big ticket" items I could come up with.

Is there anything else you would add? What have you used your emergency fund for?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekend Spending

I already gave a brief rundown of what my weekend plans were, and ended up following them - mostly. I did go shopping on Saturday after staying in on Friday, and then went to the driving range after my mini shopping excursion. It was by far the most gorgeous weekend we've had in two months thanks to May gray and June gloom, so I got a bit of sun on my arms where I forgot to apply sunscreen. On Sunday I went to the gym in the morning and then studied the rest of the day. (Oh, and watched some episodes of season 2 of Gossip Girl that I borrowed from a friend... it's an addicting guilty pleasure!) :)

$5.75, Lunch with roommate

$25, sandals on sale (used a Macy's gift card)
$21.63, pair of white shorts (perfect for July 4th!)
$8.10, sandwich for lunch (took the leftovers home for dinner)
$9.18, a lot of fruit at the grocery store!

$0, stayed home!

Total: $69.66

Saturday, June 27, 2009

This Weekend

Sorry for my lack of posts recently! I even forgot to do my usual weekend spending one from last week, oops. (I have been focusing on studying this week.)

K has been out of town on business since Tuesday and won't return until Thursday, which helps with my chance to study. I took last night off and read some more in the latest book my Mom sent me, watched TV and basically did nothing/relaxed. Today, once I finish catching up on blog reading from this week, I am going to the mall to do some shopping! I've been keeping my eye on these sandals and am looking for a few new clothing items - both for work and casual wear.

I then plan to go to the driving range that is in the vicinity of the mall (with a driving range card that I found from a few years ago, which still has money on it and is still valid!) and after that, I will come home and spend the rest of the night studying. On Sunday I am going to the gym in the morning, study all afternoon and go to the driving range with a friend in the evening.

It will be a good weekend! :) Hope you enjoy yours.

A Lot of Studying

I have mentioned previously that I signed up for the CFA Level I exam in December 2009. It is directly related to my career path and is a graduate-level, independent study exam, though 3-day seminars and 16-week courses are available. I am lucky enough that my employer covers the registration costs of the each of the three exams as well as additional study materials. A lot of individuals in my industry are looking towards this instead of an MBA, though having both is even better, of course!

I have been trying to put in a lot of study time. 250+ hours of study are recommended, an average of 15 hours per week for 4 months. Luckily I started early and have time on my side and am about to complete a second topic area of study. However, it is an extremely overwhelming amount of information. Most of it will be brand new material, but a lot of it also comes from my Finance degree and Accounting minor background, which certainly does help. And some days I just don't have the brain capacity to study, or I get distracted by doing things with friends.

The studying will be a long, stressful, trying time over the next months until the exam at the beginning of December. I have always been a hard worker and diligent studier, I just know I have to buckle down and learn all the material. In the end, whatever the result, it will be worth it - for I truly enjoying increasing my knowledge.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Designer Jeans

One of my lovely readers suggested I do a post about designer jeans after I mentioned them in my tagged post. As I have stated, I own 4 pairs:

Out of them, 1 pair of 7's was a Christmas present and the other 3 pairs I have bought for myself, 1 per year over the last 3 years. Since I am petite enough to fit into kid's clothing, it actually makes the jeans fairly cheaper than the regular women's sized ones. Including taxes, I have never paid more than $110 for any pair of designer jeans so I have spent just over $300 total on my jeans.

As for my favorite pair, that would be my 7's. I really like dark denim and the fact that they have some "stretch" to them. The Hudson's are my second favorite and the True Religion's my third, since both do not have the extra "stretch" that I love like the 7's do.

Of course, they are all fantastic and I wear them constantly! :) Though now I wonder if I could ever go back to regular, non-designer jeans... I think I've spoiled myself!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Why a Duplicate Key is a Good Idea

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you would know that last night I managed to lock myself out of my apartment. For 2.5 hours. Without my cell phone or shoes!

I was taking the trash into the garage where our bins are, and the door that leads into the garage always swings shut but it's NEVER locked. Well, guess what? It was locked this time and I didn't know! (One of the roommates had been locking the door because one of our garage doors is broken, which I didn't know either, and can just be lifted open so anyone could essentially get into our apartment.)

When it rains, it pours: My one roommate is out of state on vacation til this weekend and the other was on a business day-trip about 2 hours away. I was able to finally get in contact with him via a neighbor's cell phone (after calling my Mom to get his number, since I didn't know it off the top of my head) and he was stuck in traffic, but headed back. On top of all that, we did have another key outside, but our landlord had asked for it back, so my roommate put it in an envelope. But never mailed it. So it, too, was in the apartment!

I am going to buy a magnetized key holder to put somewhere on my car and get my key duplicated in case this ever happens again. It was frustrating and annoying, since I couldn't do any reading. Luckily the stove wasn't on and my crock pot was on the "warm" setting. Lesson learned, and now looking back, kind of funny!

Do you keep a duplicate key somewhere?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tagged, Once Again!

I was tagged by Sunflowers @ The Debt Chronicles! Good thing, too, as I have been trying to think of something to blog about recently. Also, I'm just going to list the 7 facts and not tag anyone back - especially since I can never follow all the on-going tagging! :)

Seven Facts

  1. I have an obsession with designer jeans ever since I bought my first pair 4 years ago (and they still look as good as new!)... I own 4 pairs.
  2. I love text messages! Good thing I have unlimited texts through Verizon!
  3. I am under 5' tall (short?)
  4. My favorite foods are Indian and Thai (mutter paneer and pad see eew, respectively)
  5. I do not include my car ('02 Civic) in my net worth
  6. I love the cardio kickboxing classes at my gym and would be willing to pay a LOT more than I do now just to keep going to them
  7. I wear my heart on my sleeve -- which gets me into trouble sometimes!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekend Spending

I had a decent weekend! Friday I ran some errands and then had a low-key night in. On Saturday I went to a friend's party with my roommate, his gf and K. On Sunday, K and I went to lunch (he paid) and ice cream (I paid), then watched a movie and later in the evening I went to a friend's place for some girl talk and wine. :)

$44.82, Prescriptions & vitamins at Target/Costco

$0 (Gotta love No Spend Days!!)

$7.44, Ice cream with K
$4.01, Father's Day card

Total: $56.27

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Employed for One Year!

I have officially been employed for one year! I can't believe it's come by so quickly and I have my first year in the workforce under my belt.

Especially in this economy, I am very glad to have my job.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Too Many Appointments!

I managed to schedule a lot of appointments this week. It's messed up my work schedule so I'm doing make-up time and then taking time off for my appointments, which has meant long days.

It also means two co-pays of $10 each and an unknown amount. One of the appointments is a one-time-only deal and I was told that it should be covered under my insurance... so hopefully I don't receive a huge bill for it!

It'll be interesting to put a bunch of co-pays into my budget, but I always keep a bit of a buffer so I know I should be fine. Plus, my E-fund is always there if it does turn out to be a larger-than-expected expense!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Running Around (and a Wedding!)

I ran around like the wind after work yesterday. I had a Dr.'s appointment, then needed to get some bloodwork done at the nearby lab. Yuck - I hate needles, but luckily it was a complete breeze and they were so quick I didn't have to pay the $1 parking fee due to the "grace period" for short visits! $10 co-pay. I then made it on-time to my hair appointment. $60 (including tip) and it looks fantastic!

Stopped by Target on the way home and picked up various items including a picture frame for a friend's graduation present ($9.99) and some wood salad spoons ($3.19) as a little something extra for my friend's wedding this afternoon. Also some cosmetics, ice cream and 2 frozen pizzas ($3.33 each!) as I was way too lazy to try to make dinner at 8pm, especially since I had a low-key night in - roommates are both out of town and K is coming back from his business trip this morning. Target total was $30.54, some of which will be coming out of my gift fund. Total spent on Friday: $100.54.

My friend's wedding day has finally arrived and I can't wait! The weather is gorgeous and it will be a blast. I also have not been to a wedding since I was 12, and then I didn't even know the couple. I am so excited!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sidebar Updates

I've updated my sidebars. I am easily within reach of the $8,000 in my E-fund! And hopefully soon I'll be using more of the money in my Travel Fund... Though that could be easily wiped out with a plane ticket or two!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Net Worth for May

I updated my net worth for May. It increased by 12%, thanks to my retirement accounts and my extra paycheck in May!

One Year Blogiversary!

Today is officially my one-year blogiversary! It really surprises me that it's been a whole year since I graduated, landed a job, and started down the path of personal finance. I have created my own net worth and learned a lot along the way!

One year ago, my goals were simple: donate to charity, open an ING savings account and open a Roth IRA. I have done all three (I contribute $25 monthly to a rotation of 3 different charities, including my alma mater) and even maxed out my Roth IRA for 2008! I absolutely love my ING savings account... especially the sub-accounts.

One of the biggest events, both personally and financially, was my promotion. It has been exciting and enjoyable - and it occurred so quickly that it truly surprised me! However, it also makes me respect the company I work for in seeing my potential, and that I hope I can be here a long time. I did my taxes for the very first time (using TaxACT) and I also started dating K in March!

I have felt welcome in the pf (and general blog) community and continue to read all of yours daily as inspiration. Here's to another great year of blogging and personal finance! :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

(Almost) Halfway Through the Year!

It's officially June and almost halfway through 2009. Wow! I feel like so much has happened, yet not enough - and that it's going by WAY too quickly! How did I do with my May goals and what will I try to accomplish in June?

May Goals
1. Begin studying for CFA Level I. Pass! I started May 3rd and have been putting in a few hours a week. The exam is in December, so I feel comfortable just easing into the studying. Just need to keep it up!
2. Add $20 prescription and $30 Blackberry Data Plan into budget. Pass! Was able to fit these in without much adjustment, since I had some wiggle room in my budget anyway.
3. Take my car in. Really... Pass! Well, it went in for a tire rotation and 14-point oil change/checkup at the local EZ Lube ($40 with coupon, would have cost $60+ without!) - they made some recommendations, but I discussed with the men in my life who said those are unnecessary at the moment. Hooray!
4. Go out more often with friends! But keeping "Entertainment" spending at $75 max. Pass! I went out with my roommates once, out with my best friend and her bf once, went to a grad/pool party and spent less than $50 on all of it! (Also thanks to some free movie tickets I had.)
5. Use Crock Pot for new, quick and easy meals. Pass! I made this, this and this. I would highly recommend the first two! :)
6. Look into taking ballroom dance lessons with K who keeps mentioning it! Fail. The subject has come up, but we keep procrastinating on actually doing it. And we didn't even make it to yoga!

June Goals
1. Get first ever credit report!
2. Try more recipes.
3. Plan a trip for later this year - either home, to NYC or perhaps something else entirely!
4. Sign up for summer golf lessons, with a budget of ~$200.
5. Celebrate: One-year of being at my company and one-year of blogging!
6. Review/Adjust annual goals.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quick Update

Just a quick update. I didn't get around to doing my usual weekend spending recap, but I definitely spent at least $150 over Memorial Day weekend! $60 of that was towards my car for an oil change, tire rotation and a new air filter (paid for out of my Car Fund!), $25 on some new earrings and just a lot of little things here and there: $9 at the bar, $15 on groceries, $50 on a wedding gift for my friend, etc.

I had a good weekend: the No Doubt concert was FANTASTIC (so much energy! and they played my 3 favorite songs!), went on a long hike with K and went out with some friends on Sunday night. This week I've been running around doing a bunch of things and yesterday I dealt with the HOA about my towing incident. Bottom line with that, they are going to "review" it and let me know if I'll get reimbursed...which makes me think it'll be HIGHLY unlikely. So, thank goodness for my 3rd paycheck of May tomorrow!

I've been putting of studying for the industry exam I am taking in December so I'm dedicating tonight (after the gym/dinner) and tomorrow to catching up some. I've been trying to study for at least 1 hour per night, 4x per week - taking Tuesday, Friday and Saturday off.

Happy almost Friday!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Care Package + Long Weekend!

My Mom surprised me with a care package this week! She sends me one every few months and I am always surprised at what I get. This time I got an adorable summer purse (with a bazillion pockets, which I love!), a new mascara and two items she knitted for me: another sweater, this time in teal, and some fingerless gloves for my freezing office. This is why I love my Mom! :)

I have a 3.5 day weekend (my office gives us half days on any day prior to a holiday) and I have a lot planned: shopping with some girlfriends, No Doubt concert tonight, a movie or two with K since I have some free passes, going out a night or two, and a lot of errands.

I'll post my errand list to see how much I actually get done:

  • Take pants to tailor
  • Take car to the shop for oil change/tire rotation
  • Organize dresser & take old items to Goodwill (including shoes)
  • Hair appointment (really just a bang trim)
  • Buy wedding present for my friend (gift card plus something small attached)
  • Pick up necklace I bought at Nordstrom
  • Check out Target for new earrings
Happy Memorial Day! Have fun!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Three Paycheck Month!

May is one of two 3-paycheck months of the year! Here is how I am budgeting the extra $1,000 coming in:

Towing Fees* = $263
E-Fund = $300
Roth IRA = $300
Myself = $137

*I am hoping to get this reimbursed by the HOA/security company as it was an unlawful tow. In the event that it does get reimbursed, it will go towards savings in some form.

Weekend Spending Report

I spent very little this weekend. It was a somewhat of a stressful weekend for personal reasons and ended up being low-key because of that. I did make a fantastic crock pot meal on Sunday! :)

$0, I didn't do anything

$22, Star Trek movie tix (I used a $25 Amex Gift Card I got from work!)

$11.83, Groceries

Total: $33.83

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Savings Changes!

I am making a few adjustments to my savings goals after looking over my budget today. The economy is still not great, people are still losing jobs and this recession might go on for longer than people think! (Or shorter - let's be optimistic!)

Instead of $75/month to Travel, I am decreasing it back down to $50/month.
Instead of $50/month to Car Maintenance, I am decreasing it back down to $25/month.
Instead of $100/month to my E-fund, I am increasing it up to $150/month.

My travel fund is still doing very well, though I might be using it to buy some plane tickets soon! (Once I figure out my travel plans for the rest of the year, that is...)

My car fund has $350 in it right now, which I believe is sufficient for the 60K tune-up I need to get done and other on-going maintenance like oil changes. I have been looking at prices for the 60K and I know some people who can help me get a decent deal and not get over-charged, which is my fear!

I want my emergency fund to keep going until it's at a level I am comfortable with. Yes, I realize that over $6K is a fantastic place - but I want it to get to $10K to feel totally okay! That would be 8 months of my bare-bones budget, with no savings or little extras. Once it reaches around $8-10K, I'll allocate the monthly savings to something else... perhaps a down payment fund? :)

Have you made any changes in your savings habits recently?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Weekend Spending

This was a fairly low-key weekend. I spent all of it at K's. On Friday, we made dinner and watched The Count of Monte Cristo, which we both hadn't seen in a few years. On Saturday we hung around at his place, watched part of an air show in our area and ran some errands. We had plans to go out with friends that night, but they had to cancel at the last minute. On Sunday we went to brunch and bought more fish for his new fish tank! I also finished off a Starbucks card that I had, since we went twice that weekend. :)

$0, K paid for some groceries


$13.10, Groceries

$15.77, Brunch (since K pays most of the the time, I offered to get this)

Total: $48.87

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Car Got Towed :(

Sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning, my car was towed from the lot of our complex. I have a valid resident sticker and am allowed to park wherever I want: guest or resident spot. I have never been issued a warning before about parking in a guest spot, which I have done on occasion when there are no other spots available when I arrived home - and that is what happened on Monday night.

The towing fee was $263, plus I was 2.5 hours late to work. So frustrating. I discussed the situation with my landlord, the HOA and the security company which authorized the tow all day yesterday. I was supposed to be warned 24 hours prior to a tow, and the security company said they warned me on April 30th, but the tow was on May 4th and I was out of town all weekend! Basically, it was an improper tow as I never received a warning slip - or I would not have parked in a guest spot! It makes no sense at all.

I am presenting my case to the HOA board on May 27th to (hopefully) get my fees reimbursed. Worst comes to worst, this is a 3 paycheck month so the towing fees will be covered out from that and I'll have less to allocate to savings - but at least I won't have to dip into my E-fund!

May Goals, April Review & Month-End

April Month-End
I had $250 leftover from my April budget, so I am putting $200 into my Roth IRA and $50 into my E-fund. Here is my review of my April goals:

April Review
1. Do more outdoor activities - preferably free/low-cost ones! PASS! K and I went hiking twice and a few strolls around town. I'm really enjoying it!
2. Gifts: My brother's 21st birthday present & my girlfriend's bachelorette present. PASS! I spent $71 on those 2 gifts.
3. Finish 1 book. Really! Fail. Again. Though I am really enjoying my new book.
4. Start studying for December CFA Level I. Fail. I decided to start in May instead of April. Though I now have all my study materials!
5. Take car in for 60K mileage (and try to keep cost around $200) Fail. Though I did wash it by hand...
6. Get renter's insurance. Seriously!! Fail. Again. Ugh, I am taking this off my list.
7. Enjoy my vacation to NYC and try to keep spending around ~$300. PASS! I only spent $84. The clothing ($218) came from my bonus. Total was $302.

May Goals
1. Begin studying for CFA Level I.
2. Add $20 prescription and $30 Blackberry Data Plan into budget.
3. Take my car in. Really...
4. Go out more often with friends! But keeping "Entertainment" spending at $75 max.
5. Use Crock Pot for new, quick and easy meals.
6. Look into taking ballroom dance lessons with K who keeps mentioning it!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Net Worth & Side Bar Updates

I have updated my net worth and savings sidebars for April. My net worth is still increasing - but this was mostly due to my retirement accounts this month, as my cash actually decreased since I finally finished spending my bonus money!

Travel Expenses!

I absolutely loved my mini weekend getaway for my girlfriend's bachelorette party! The wine tasting was a blast - and so were all the board games and girltalk. :) Here's what I spent and how much is coming out of my Travel Fund in May to cover it:

Accommodations, $135
Gas, $13.19
Groceries, $6
Wine Tasting, $16
Dinner, $38

Total: $208.19

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Going Wine Tasting!

Remember the bachelorette party I was invited to a while back? Well, it's this weekend!

A lot of the girls who were invited ended up canceling last minute. So, instead of 15 girls for a wine-tasting getaway, it will be 5. Which also (unfortunately) means that the accommodation price has increased a lot. I had expected about $200 total for the entire weekend, but now it will be more like $250-$300. Accommodations alone per person are $135. Then there's the wine tasting (~$50) and one nice dinner (~$40) on Saturday plus any other costs such grocery store food (we're only eating out for that one meal I believe, so ~$15). Her bachelorette gift for $30 already came from my Gift Fund. Plus I'll be bringing my own bottle of wine to share from home!

Based on those numbers, I am hoping to come in at under $250 for the weekend, which still isn't bad! I'm just glad I don't have to fly anywhere and it's only a 45 minute drive from where I live. :)

However, it is my very first bachelorette party so I'm extremely excited and I believe a small group will be great. I can't wait to see my girlfriend and have a lot of fun! My trusty Travel Fund will cover all the expenses.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Extra Income!

I received two Pinecone Research checks this month for $3 each. I also received mileage reimbursement from 1Q09 at work for $9.90.

I am putting $10 of it into my Gift Fund!

Weekend Spending

Basically, I had one of the most amazing weekends of my life. As usual, I spent all weekend with K. On Friday we went out with a few of my friends for a birthday celebration and had a blast! That night, K said he would like it if I would call him my boyfriend! So, it's official, we are together instead of just dating. :) On Saturday we went to brunch and then on a 3-hour hike in a local state park and along a long stretch of beach. My legs and feet were so tired and sore the next day! But it was a blast. On Sunday after brunch we drove our cars to his place and washed them by hand - music turned up loud, in the sunshine, and having a great time together. I couldn't be happier right now!

$25.79, Gas
$0, Bars (K paid!)

$0, Brunch (K paid)

$11.98, Brunch
$41.54, Birthday present for my brother

Total: $79.31

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Welcome to the world of Blackberry...

Yes, that's right. After 2 years with my wonderful LG VX6800, I am finally getting a Blackberry!

I am getting a Curve. I am still on the Family Plan with my parents, but now I will be paying $30 per month for the unlimited data plan. (My parents will pay for the voice portion as part of their plan.) This will fit in fine with my budget. :) The phone itself is free, as we had a $100 credit towards a new phone with Verizon for being loyal customers. (My Mom and younger brother are also getting new phones, but they chose different free/cheap phones.)

It's arriving tomorrow and I couldn't be more excited!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I joined Twitter yesterday! You can follow me here.

What's funny is I used Twitter over a year ago. I got bored with it as hardly any of my friends used it. Now I'm excited to start it up again as a somewhat anonymous blogger. :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Spending

Hot weekend. It was in the high 80's every day! I spent almost the entire weekend with K. On Friday we went for a (simple) hike in a local state park/beach area - I think this is going to become a weekly occurrence. On Saturday, he made a delicious breakfast and then we ran some errands and took a long walk on the beach. On Sunday we went to brunch then watched a movie at his place - thank goodness for a/c! That night I went to the Britney Spears concert with some friends and had a blast. (I will admit that I like her performances. I saw her 7 years ago and she was fantastic then and great now.) ;)

$73.41, Shopping (I bought a new tank top & a bathing suit - love them both!! K paid for groceries for dinner)

$6.35, Coffee for K & an Italian soda for me
$11.60, Groceries

$30.54, Brunch
$26.84, Target (prescription re-fill & some groceries)
$10, my share of parking & gas for the concert

Total: $158.74


I ate, shopped and spent time with my parents/friends who live in the city during my NYC vacation. I spent more on clothes than I did on anything else during my trip! I bought a new pair of work out pants, a new pair of wedge heels for spring/summer that I absolutely adore, 1 pair of pants and 2 cardigans for work. Here's my spending breakdown from my wonderful Easter vacation to NYC!

Clothes: $218
Gifts: $30
Food: $24 (I got away with so little because my parents live in NYC for part of the year, so I was able to stay with them and they paid for the majority of my food! So lucky. I offered to pay on numerous occasions, but they wouldn't let me.)
Alcohol: $30 (1 round of drinks at a bar with 2 friends)

Total: $302

I can't believe how little I spent! I know this isn't an ordinary vacation since I had no flight or accommodation costs. I am taking $84 from my Travel Fund to cover the non-clothing expenses of my trip. (The clothing is being covered by the clothing allocation of my bonus.)

We'll see how I fare on wherever I go next! :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I had a great long weekend in NYC and am still recovering.

I had over 250 e-mails to sort through at work this morning.

I still have over 120+ blog posts in Google Reader to catch up on.

And of course I have to sort through my finances to figure out what I spent! I'll have some longer posts soon.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easter Vacation!

I am off to New York City tomorrow until Tuesday! I am using 2 days of vacation next week and will not blog until I return. I have a very fun weekend ahead with lots of dinners, drinks, seeing friends and perhaps a play or musical.

All of my money for the trip will come from my Travel Fund. My accommodation is free and my flight was using points, so it only cost me $10 in taxes/fees when I bought it a few months ago.

I am not setting myself a budget since my Travel Fund is flush right now - and I would love to do some shopping and splurging!

Happy Easter, if you celebrate it. :)

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