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Archive for March, 2008

Apartment Troubles & And Some "Interesting" News

March 31st, 2008 at 03:53 pm

Still having trouble with getting an answer out of my old apartment complex. They were supposed to call me today and LEAVE ME A MESSAGE if I didn't answer, with how much I owe them for breaking the lease. I got off at 4:00 and there was no missed call or voicemail. So I tried the call the office, and the phone went straight to their voicemail system. From what I remember living there a month ago, they were open until 5:30 on weekdays???

Needless to say, I am pretty ticked off about this. I am two states away, I need to get this taken care of so 1) I can know exactly how much money it cost & how to budget accordingly and 2) So that I can stop worrying about bills for two apartments. As if I'm not busy enough!

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On another note, I did have time to stop by the bank today and deposit money to cover the $46 fee on my checking account. Although the woman was really nice, I wasn't able to get it taken off. Oh well, it won't happen again.

I also stopped for $20 in gas. Was able to pay cash for all of it out of the money that BF left this weekend. I really needed to stop and get dog food/stamps/envelopes/boxes, but I had some dog food left in another bag, and he is eating it, so that can wait until tomorrow.

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If the bank fees and apartment complex people didn't have me stressed enough, BF called with another interesting little bit of information today. Here's the scoop:

He has two older sisters, one is 24 and one is 26. The 26 year old (I'll call her "S2") has been an emotional and financial rollercoaster the whole time I've known her. She's a nice enough person, and we get along well, and she's SUPER sweet, but she just doesn't have any sense sometimes.

She was married to a guy that their whole family didn't like (not that it matters, but it foreshadowed the future). About a year and a half after I started dating BF, she moved back in with their parents and said she was separated from him. I think many of their problems stemmed from the fact that neither really functioned as an adult, and he was HORRIBLE with money. I'm talking, her car got repossessed, but he had an extra truck and a boat?

Anyway, she ended up going back to the guy, only to move BACK in with BF's parents 3 months later. This time, she says they are getting divorced, but they have to wait until they finish filing bankruptcy. Nobody even knew they were filing bankruptcy, but BF's parents decided to help her get back on her feet, if it meant she would be better off in the long run.

She lived with them for over a year, in which time she had several part time jobs. BF's parents paid for her to take nursing classes, then she quit. They paid $500 for the divorce proceedings so they could get underway. She never paid rent, never bought groceries, etc. She saved $5000 for a downpayment on a car, which BF's dad had to co-sign for of course.

At this point she's been working a full time job at a factory for about 3 months. Her divorce is finally final, but she's been slightly obsessive over other guys during the whole time anyway. She breaks up with one she's been dating for about 4 months, then starts talking about a guy she met at her work, who is "just a friend".

About a month later, BF informs me that the guy is married with two small children. While she still insists they are only friends, she also justifies the time they spend together with "he's planning on divorcing his wife".

A month after that, she is suddenly obsessed with moving out to her own place. Everyone was concerned that she was only doing it to move in with this guys, but she swears she's not.

This all happened as I was getting notified of my job offer. Sure enough, two weeks after she moved out, she told BF that the guy had separated from his wife and was staying with her most of the time. He was even bringing his kids to visit (they're 5 and 3).

So they have been living together for about two months now. BF calls me today and tells me that S2 says, if this guy can get the divorce from his wife final in a month or two, they are going to get married THIS JUNE!!!

This upset me a little, for a few different reasons. Number one, I had defended S2 to BF and his family, saying that she might really just want to be out on her own. Number two, I have never even met this guy, he's still married, and she's only known him about 5 months total. And number three... and this is going to sound completely selfish I know... they are planning this whole shenanigan at the exact same time that I expect BF & I will get engaged.

Even typing that, I feel horrible. But to justify myself a little, I am not the type of person to be the center of attention all the time. I am content to stay in the background and be modest about my achievements or talents.

BUT... after four years of dating BF, we are finally getting engaged. While we are not perfect, we are hard workers, never take a penny from our parents for college or other expenses, and are already hard at work paying down debt to save for our wedding.

It is very disheartening to realize that I will have to "share the spotlight" with S2, as she goes through with this mess. I had planned to ask their other sister to be a bridesmaid, but how exciting will that be for her, when she is going to be maid of honor at her own sister's wedding 6 months before? And how about BF's dad, who he wants to be his best man, how excited will he be to pay for a honeymoon for the FOURTH time, twice in 6 months? And what about when I talk about our wedding details, when theirs is on the forefront?

I know this sounds bad. BF doesn't understand why it matters to me, and I don't know how to make him see that I've been planning and dreaming about this for my whole life. We've done all the right things, we're responsible, we're in love, and when our moment comes... we have to share it?

Thoughts will be appreciated... don't be too harsh on me Smile

One card paid off... and *trying* to pay more!

March 30th, 2008 at 04:41 pm

After posting my summary for the last half of March, I am feeling a little more at peace with myself. Not really because the budget was great, because I only started really tracking the expenses on March 16th when I started this blog. But seeing my debt get reduced by quite a bit since I started has been a tremendous psychological help. I am trying to stick to the practice of snowballing my debt, and I think it will work.

That said, I am proud to announce that when my FFB Credit Card receives the check that I am mailing tomorrow, it will officially be paid off! It was the smallest of my cards with a balance of $2,280.78, but it is so NICE to know that it's going to be gone. Plus, they didn't offer a way to pay online without a $9 fee, so that will eliminate one more stamp & bill to pay every month.

Now I only have two cards left to pay on, and I am focusing on the Discover Card next. It has the lowest balance left, and they both offer easy payments online. I've updated all of the amounts in My Debt Tracker if anyone is interested!

I called my apartment complex (again) today to find out exactly how much I need to send them a check for. I was told that I'd need to call back at the end of March to get the amount of my last month's water bill, as well as the exact amount I'd owe for breaking the lease. I called a week ago (as I posted in my blog I believe), and was told the property manager was with someone, that she was the person who would need to help me, and that they would have her call me back. Never got a call. So today, I called 30 minutes after the office opened and spoke to someone, who said the property manager only works the first Sunday of the month. I explained what I was hoping to find out, she said she could do that for me, give her 30 minutes because she was in an appointment and she'd call me back. Two hours go by, still haven't heard from her.

I called back, and was told that she was just calling me at the exact same moment (what a coincidence). Then she told me that she'd only been there 3 weeks, but from what she understood, breaking the lease required 30 days notice, which I had already done, and then 2 months worth of rent. Since I was paying $489/month, that would total $978.

BUT... then she said she wasn't positive, so she would check with the property manager tomorrow and one of them would give me a call and let me know. I told her to leave me a voicemail if I didn't answer because I had to work.

My question is, what incentive is there for them to put me off like this? Maybe it is just a coincidence that I am not getting an answer, but it seems fishy to me. I am two states away, and I just want to pay them what I owe!

I would love to think that she's right, and that I'll only have to pay the $978. That would be about $1,000 LESS than I expected, and all of that could go to either my credit card debt or savings. However, I don't think that is the case.

When I called prior to making my decision to take this job, the person that used to work there (that I signed my lease with) gave more detail:

2 Month's Rent
+ Specials or Discounts I Had Received
+ Last Water Bill
+ Damages That I Caused To Anything

I know I didn't cause any damages, but I'm always nervous that they are going to try and pin something on me. I was receiving a special on the rent, which was $489 instead of $540/month. I received that special for January-March, and I got half of December's rent free when I moved in. So if I add up all the discounts I had received, that is:

$540-$489= $51 * 3 Months = $153
$540/2=$270
Total: $423

I also had my pet deposit on a payment plan, and had only paid $50 of the $200 it was supposed to be. Also, I think they would calculate the "2 months rent" based on $540/month, not the $489 she was talking about. That is an extra $102.

If they end up charging me for the rest of the pet deposit, and the discounts, that's an extra $828 on top of what she told me today. Plus the water bill, which should be no more than $30.

So we're talking [$978 + water] versus [$1,806 + water]. It sure would be nice to know the exact amount so that I can get on with the rest of my budgeting!!!

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Alright, done with the rant. I'll give them until tomorrow, and if I haven't heard from them when I get off at 4, then I won't be so nice.

(half of) March Summary

March 30th, 2008 at 10:59 am

I decided to go ahead and summarize my March income/expenses today, and I am just going to start my "April" tracking on March 31st. Smile

This will actually only be a summary from the time that I started this blog on March 16th. Even so, I really think it's going to help me see where I am spending money and if I'm keeping to my allowances for each category. I have a feeling I will be making some adjustments & new allowances after this.

Also, I am going to go ahead and pay my credit cards, which are due around the 12th of April, so that I can update My Debt Tracker for the month's end. If I end up having anything extra for My Savings Tracker, I'll update that as well.

===INCOME===
{Salary + Overtime}: $1,626.55
{Signing Bonus}: $2,952.50
{Ebay - After Shipping}: $34.13
{Cash From BF}: $150
{Cash From Gran}: $20
{Easter From Mom}: $100
TOTAL = $4,883.18

===EXPENSES===
{Gas}: $145.01
{Food}: $25.15
{Pet Supplies}: $33.00
{Utilities}: $12.82
{Cell Phone}: $187.99
{Other Life Ins}: $28.02
{Personal Loan}: $113.61
{Household Supplies}: $13.15
{Clothing}: $10.00
{Graduation}: $195.00
{Cigarettes}: $7.94
{FFB Credit Card}: $2,280.78
{Discover Card}: $105.00
{State Farm CC}: $115.00
{Personal Loan}: $113.61
{Ex-Boss}: $635

I am waiting on a call from my old apartment complex to see how much I owe them, and then I might see if I can allocate any to my Wedding Fund or IRA.

FreeCreditReport.Com Does Not Make Me Happy

March 29th, 2008 at 03:27 pm

I paid a stupid tax today. I had checked my credit score last week, and instead of paying the $5.95 for a one time score, I decided to enroll in the "7 day free trial" for free, and then cancel it before I had to pay. Why pay $5.95 when you can pay nothing, right?

Well, I can't really say what happened between the time that I made that decision and today when I checked my bank account, but perhaps it was all the excitement of BF coming to visit. Some how, some way, I started thinking the "trial period" was a MONTH instead of a WEEK. Needless to say, when I was logging into my new checking account today (the one that I haven't deposited money into because I'm having a heck of a time trying to get checks for it), I was VERY surprised to see that I had a NEGATIVE balance!!!

FreeCreditReport had charged 14.95 to my banking account, and then because I didn't have any deposited in there to cover it, I was charged a $35 overdraft fee. Hence the negative balance of $44.96.

At first I was ticked off because I thought I had been charged prematurely for the credit reporting, but then when I checked the site, I realized that it was only a WEEK free trial. So, it is my fault and my fault only.

So for this time, I will chalk it up to a VERY expensive credit score/report. If there is a positive to come from it, maybe it is that now I will be forced to make a stop at a local BBT branch and deposit some of the cash that BF gave me today. Maybe I will also get the checks situation straightened out.

And I did cancel the credit reporting membership effective today, so that is taken care of at least.

I have just started reading the Fly Lady website, and I am excited about starting that. Even though it really has nothing specifically to do with what happened to me today, it does focus on organization, and a "chaos" free life. Sounds good to me. I've got to get organized and stop costing myself money!

BF Left... Back to Blogging!

March 29th, 2008 at 12:44 pm

Well, I had an excellent visit with my BF the past few days. He was able to make it up on Wednesday night about 8:30, which worked out well because that's just about the time I was getting home from work that day. This might be a weird choice of words, but it was really "refreshing" to be with him again! We have never gone longer than a day or two without seeing each other, even when we lived in different towns, and it had been a whole month this time. So yea, I love him Smile

The bad news is that I was so excited Wednesday that I forgot to stick to my "no eating out" rule (or at least that's my excuse), and I spent $3 on breakfast at McDonald's. BF paid for dinner Wednesday night, so I don't have to count that in my spending. Then Thursday, he paid for breakfast when we went to Wally World, but I did end up buying a new collar & harness for the puppy. The good news is that I still had money on my Walmart giftcard to pay for it.

Thursday night I cooked his favorite meal (salmon patties), which turned out pretty decent. I had to work on Friday, so I just grabbed a bagel & cream cheese before we left the house, and BF brought me lunch at work. Friday night, he cooked chicken & potatos, which was AWESOME (so much better than my salmon patties), and the best part was that we already had the groceries to make it.

He left early this morning as I left for work, and I have to admit that so far, it hasn't been as bad as I was thinking it would be. In my mind, I had worked it up so much that I thought it would be even worse this time than when he had to leave the first time. Although today is only the first day, I think it's going to be a little better this time. Plus, I know when he comes back in a month, he's coming back to stay! No more boring nights or days off alone!

Because I was in such a hurry this morning to leave before he did (it was a psychological thing, lol), I didn't have time to eat breakfast. When my coworkers were taking orders for someone going to get breakfast, I caved again. Another $3 to McDonalds.

So in total, from Wednesday to today, here is the spending:

Wednesday: $3 Breakfast (cash)
Thursday: $7 dog collar (gift card)
$8 dog harness (gift card)
Friday: $0
Today: $3 Breakfast (cash)

I do have to say though, BF insisted that I take $150 cash this morning before he left, "just in case" I needed anything that I couldn't write a check for. He's so good to me Big Grin I told him I didn't need it, and my plan is to still have most of it when he gets back, when we can either put it in the Wedding Fund or pay off that much more debt. We'll see though, I may have some expenses that I don't see coming right now.

Expenses... and BF visiting tomorrow!!!

March 25th, 2008 at 08:30 pm

Well, I had to work today as usual. With driving comes the expense of gas, which cost me $10.01 this morning and $40.00 as I filled up this evening. Hopefully that last bit will last me a while!

The most exciting thing about today is that my boyfriend is visiting tomorrow night! I have to work until 7:30, and so by the time I get home, he will probably only be about an hour behind me. Anyway, it will be the first time I've seen him in about a month, and we've never gone that long apart, so I am SUPER excited. So excited that I decided to make his favorite dinner for him either tomorrow night, or the night after if we don't have time tomorrow.

Of course, I didn't have the ingredients on hand, so I had to make a trip to Walmart. I decided to go ahead and do some grocery shopping while I was there, hence saving some future gas money, if I saw any decent prices.

Here is the run down:

Box of Fish Sticks (44): $2.63
2 Potpies: $.62 each
2 Boxes of Mushroom Bites: $1.25 each
3 Frozen Dinners: $.98 each
1 Frozen Dinner: $.78
Box of Saltine Crackers: $.96
2 Cans of Salmon: $1.82 each
Chocolate Milk Mix: $2.32
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: $1.72
Ketchup: $.96
Can of Biscuits: $1.34
Half Gallon of Milk: $1.84
{FOOD TOTAL} $22.87

Bottle of Fabric Freshener: $1.27
Bottle of Carpet Cleaner: $3.38
(2) 10 Pks of Clothes Hangers: $1.17
White Posterboard: $.38
Pack of 24 Crayons: $.72
Pajama Set: $9.97
{OTHER TOTAL} $19.15 (tax included)

GRAND TOTAL: $42.02

The best part is, I had a gift card left from my birthday that covered it all, and I still have about $150 left on it! (It was a nice gift card lol) I am going to try and save at least $100 on it until BF moves in, in case he has trouble finding a job for a while then we can at least have that to fall back on.

That's all that I spent today, and I think the food will last me for at least about a week. Now I just have to find time to finish laundry, cleaning, and putting away groceries so that I can go to bed!

Ebay & Today

March 24th, 2008 at 03:41 pm

I could've posted this yesterday, but I forgot! When I was going about listing a few random items on Ebay (mostly stuff I got for Christmas that I'll never use/wear) to see if they would sell, I checked my Paypal account and realized that I had $34.13 left in there that I had never transferred to my bank account when I sold a textbook last month. I have no idea how I forgot about it, but it was a nice surprise!

I have two other books that I might try to sell. I usually wait until early January or late August, so that people are needing them for classes, but I guess I might as well try now, before they're obsolete!

As far as spending goes, I didn't eat out again today (I'm really on a roll with this), but I did buy two packs of cigarettes on my lunch break. It's kind of weird to even put that down as an expense, because I'm not really even a "smoker", so it's weird to even think about them as an expense. I usually only smoke sporadically when I'm around my brother, etc., but since I have a 40 minute drive to and from work, and I'm by myself except for the dog & cat, I have started out of boredom I guess. I go through about a pack every two weeks, so the two packs I bought today should last about a month. That should be about the same time my BF is moving in, so then I won't be bored anymore! Ha!

Anyway, the cigarettes were $7.94 with tax, and I paid cash. I also had to get gas this morning, which I used my debit card for, and it was $15.

I also got my signing bonus today!!! Apparently they didn't want to direct deposit it like they did my other two paychecks, so I had a paper check waiting in my manager's office. The total amount is $2,952.50, which is about what I had expected.

The mail brought my health/prescription cards today, and those are effective the 1st of April, so I should be set there!

So mostly good news, but I do have one nagging little issue going on. My new checking account, which I had opened online before I moved (in the hopes that it would actually be up and running when I got here) is getting so freaking complicated. It seems like opening a checking account would be one of the simpler things that banks do, but apparently not!

First of all, when I submitted our account application online (a month ago), I was told that I would receive notification via email in a few days to let me know it had been accepted & opened. This was true, a few days later I got the email thanking me for opening the account, and telling me that we would be receiving a "welcome kit" in the next few days with our account documents. Fast forward a few days and I am already moved, and a few days after that I get the paperwork in the mail, but it has a signature document in it that we (me & my BF) are both supposed to sign and apparently mail back in.

Keep in mind that my BF is now TWO states away. Needless to say, he gave me permission to sign his name & I mailed it back in. Prior to this, I had tried to call the 24 Hour phone support number they have to ask where we were in the process of actually being able to use the account. Unfortunately, you cannot access anything to do with your account unless you have a "security code" attached to your SS#. If you don't have a security code (which I didn't of course), you had to request one, and then they tell you it will arrive in 7-10 days!!! So I requested the code, and meanwhile mailed the signature paper off.

A few days later, me & BF both received our debit cards, and called to activate them. I tried to get online and check the balance, since I had received a notice that they had posted my opening deposit of $50, and it kept telling me that I already had an online account. I finally ended up calling the online support number (different from the 24 phone support), and she told me that I had a username & my password was the last 5 of my social. Could someone not have told me this, either over email or in the series of documents I was sent?

So I check the balance and it says that I have a $20 debit for gas (which was fine), and then a $1 debit three days later for "credit card...." The more I think about it, the more I wonder if I am getting charged to use my debit card???

I haven't used the card for anything else, but the second charge was 3 days after my gas purchase? I would call about it, but I haven't received my security code yet!

Now on to the next issue... checks. Apparently we are not getting any with our new account, nor are we getting a check register or deposit slips. No problem, I think, I will just order my own. I go to Walmart check printing online, and I find some simple inexpensive checks that will cost about $7, try to order them, and it asks for information off an EXISTING check. So I decide to try and order through BBT, even if it might be a little more expensive. I go to the online site for ordering through the bank, and picked out a style that I didn't particularly like because there was very little selection. I get almost all the way through the ordering process for one box of checks before it tells me the price. $29 for one box, of about 100 less checks than the Walmart site!

Long story short, I refused to do that. I plan on calling them (as soon as I can figure out how to actually speak to someone) and ask about both the $1 charges and the check ordering process.

Until then, I am not going to deposit my signing bonus into that account, not if it costs me $1 every time I use my debit card to spend my OWN money. I also need to close out my old checking account, which now has a balance of about $3,500, before my BF moves up here, but I don't want to do it now because of how complicated it's all been!

Eh. This is what I get for trying to be prepared and open an account before I actually needed it.

Well, enough of my rant, I am going to see if I can actually get something productive done tonight. Smile

Easter & Eating Out

March 23rd, 2008 at 12:08 pm

Today marks the end of a whole week of NOT eating out! I was going to go get breakfast this morning, with a sweet tea from McDonalds (my fave), but then I decided that I wanted to complete a whole week of my goal.

So I ate oatmeal for breakfast, and decided to make myself lunch, even if it was just me and the pets. I ended up with a concoction of chicken breast cut into chunks, a chopped up red apple (skin still on), small pieces of spaghetti, and a little vegetable oil & curry powder. I wasn't sure how it was gonna turn out, but it was actually pretty decent! Plus, I had everything already in the fridge to make it, so I didn't have to buy anything.

There was enough left for me to take to work tomorrow, now I just have to find something to go with it...

Now if I can just finish cleaning and doing laundry, I will feel pretty good about starting a new week.

I have to go in early tomorrow, which means I don't have to close. I like the early shift better, except when the alarm goes off at 6 AM! My only fear is that my car won't start again. The first time it happened was about 2 weeks ago, it wouldn't even try to start for about 10 minutes, and then finally it tried, I slammed on the gas, and it started. I ended up being about 25 minutes late for work (but I had called to let them know). I thought it might be dirty fuel injectors again, because the only time I've ever had a problem with it not starting was when the "check engine" light would come on and I'd have to put fuel injector cleaner in with the gas, and then it was fine. But now the engine light isn't on, so I don't know.

Anyway, I went that day before work and filled up with gas, and then put the injector cleaner in there. It started fine the rest of the day, and hasn't faltered since, until yesterday. Once again, I went out to go to work and it didn't even try to start the first few times. It's like the battery is dead or something, but I just got a new one about six months ago, and it's not even really cold here now?

Normally I wouldn't worry about it so much, but because I'm two states away from my family & boyfriend, and 40 minutes away from my work, I honestly don't know what I'd do if it just quit on me. It's a '99 model Toyota, and has always been very dependable, so I REALLY hope it's not going to be a downhill spiral from here. I really can't afford a car payment right now! Here's hoping the problem will be solved...

Bored.

March 22nd, 2008 at 05:31 pm

Okay, for those of you that commented on my post about paying debt versus saving for a wedding, I really appreciate it! We are still not completely sure what our plan will be, mostly because there are so many variables still to work themselves out. Like what type of job he'll be able to get when he moves up here, exactly how much I'll have left of my bonus to pay on my credit cards, etc.

We actually haven't even decided what time of year we're going to get married. There are times when I think I want to wait about a year and a half after we're engaged, so that it is during the Fall and we have time to save & plan, especially since I will have to move again before then, and I have no real idea where I will be. But then there are other times when I am almost overwhelmed with the feeling of just getting engaged, that I can't imagine waiting any longer than I must to be married! Times like that, I just want to rush everything to Fall of this year!

I think the whole being away from him (for three weeks now) has really affected me that way. I keep telling myself that this is a small amount of time to wait, compared to the rest of our lives that we'll be spending together. But it seems like it just drags on!

In another area, I have the day off of work tomorrow, which is nice. Even though I normally have Sundays off, I think I will get a day of overtime pay this week because of the holiday & the fact that I'm still working 5 days. THe depressing part is that it will be the first Easter I haven't spent with my boyfriend and family, watching my siblings & cousins hunt for eggs and eating a big dinner at my grandmother's. As of right now, my Easter plans include cooking myself the best meal I've had in a while, cleaning the apartment, and celebrating Easter with the dog & cat. Smile

On the horizon, D (my boyfriend) is coming to visit on Thursday and staying through Saturday morning, so that gives me a little something to look forward to.

Oh, and I had another NSD today. Every little bit helps, right?

Bills To Pay

March 21st, 2008 at 08:39 pm

I just balanced my old checking account, and paid my electric bill online. Actually, I enrolled in the online billing, but they couldn't upload this month's statement. It still gave me the option to pay it online, which I did, but I just hope it doesn't get screwed up somehow. I need to make a note and check it in a few days.

Electric Bill = $12.82 (part of a month)
"Other" Life Insurance = $28.02
Cell Phone = $187.99

The Life Insurance is usually $14.01, but in the midst of moving the last bill was late, so I paid them both at the same time. The same thing happened with the cell phone bill.

I am trying to make sure I have everything in for this month. I've paid all 3 credit cards, my electric bill for both my new apartment, I got my first month's rent free here so didn't need to pay that, and my car/renters/life insurance is paid.

I think the only things I have left are my personal loan, which my brother deposits money into my account for usually, and finding out how much I owe my old apartment complex for my last water bill and breaking the lease. Oh, and I will have to pay this month's electric bill for there, which shouldn't be much, and I'd like to go ahead and send my ex-boss what I owe her ($638).

Okay... I think I have a handle on it now. Things will be much simpler when I only have one apartment to worry about!!!

Another NSD Yesterday, Pay Day Today!

March 21st, 2008 at 02:54 pm

Forgot to add yesterday that it was another No Spend Day! It wasn't too hard because it was my day off, but I did have to resist the temptation to sneak off to Walmart or run to McDonalds.

I am really impressed with myself and my goal of cutting back on the amount of money I spend on eating out (especially lunch while I'm at work). Starting on Monday, I haven't eaten out once this week! Thanks to bringing my own lunch, and some free food at work, I have saved probably $20.

In other news, I finally got my debit card for my BBT account, and my boyfriend got his too, so I think it's finally opened! I am debating now on whether I should order checks, depending on how much they cost. I really only use them to mail a few bills, but I guess I should have some just in case, before I close my other checking account.

Today I stopped to get gas so that I wouldn't have to in the morning before work, and that was $20. At least I could use my debit card and not have to worry about putting more on the credit cards! So far that is the only expense I've had, but I do have a few bills I need to pay online or put in the mail tonight. I'll have to update later when I figure out what those are.

I left a message for my old apartment manager this afternoon, she is supposed to be getting back to me on the total amount of my last month's water bill, and the total amount I'll have to pay for breaking the lease. I have been estimating $2,000, but it would be great if it was less!

Another good thing happened today, I got my first paycheck from my new job! Actually I just saw that it was deposited into my old checking account. I had about $525 for the first week, and then about $1050 for the two weeks after that. I still haven't seen the signing bonus I am supposed to get "the first full pay period" after I started. I assumed the first full pay period would be considered the full two weeks that they paid me for. Apparently not though, I guess I need to call or ask someone about that.

Also, when I checked the mail today, I had an Easter card from my grandmother (my dad's mom), with a $20 bill inside. Usually she just gets us one of those little boxes of candy for Easter, so I was surprised. I have the feeling she did it because I am two states away and I won't get to go home for the holiday. It's a nice little extra either way.

Confused... reduce credit cards or save for wedding?

March 20th, 2008 at 09:21 am

Okay, so I am at a crossroads with my financial plan for this year. I just started a new job, where I make $11,000 more in salary a year (plus overtime) than the job I was going to take right out of college, but the cost of living is also more here.

If any of you have looked at income and then the expenses I have, then you'll know that I don't have alot of money to spare these days. Now there is one more complicating factor.

I expect to be engaged within the next 2 months (it's an odd situation, I've been dating him for 4 years, I know he has been saving for a ring, and he's planning to move in with me in a month). I never thought I would actually see the engagement coming, but that's the way it has worked out!

So this brings to mind the question of how we are going to pay for a wedding/honeymoon. I am fiercely independent (have been since I started working at 16), so I refuse to go the traditional route and expect my parents to pay for the wedding. Honestly, my parents couldn't do that anyway, and I would rather know that I paid for it myself. My boyfriend's family will probably offer to pay for our honeymoon, since they paid for his two older sisters' weddings, but I don't think it's fair to let them pay for the honeymoon if my parents aren't paying for the wedding.

However, I know they (especially my mom because I'm her only daughter) will insist on helping some way. If it unfolds the way I think it will, we will probably let my parents pay for the limo & my brothers tuxes, while his parents can pay for part of the catering, etc.

We are not really hard to please, but I have no experience with wedding costs. I would think that we can have the wedding & reception for about $15k-$20k, and the honeymoon for probably $2k. I really have no idea, so theses are estimates!

I don't want to have a riduculously expensive wedding, but I also don't want to look back later and wish that we had splurged a little more, since it is only once in a lifetime (or it had better be, wink wink), and you can't have a re-do later when we have more money!

Okay, that went a little longer than I had planned, but the question I have been getting to is this: Should we be focused on paying as much of our debt off as possible, or should we be paying enough to stay current until the wedding is over, using the rest to save towards the wedding costs?

If it helps, here is a breakdown of our income & debt right now:

*Me*
Credit Card Debt: $12,000
Personal Loan: $850

*Him*
Student Loans: $4,000
Car Loan: $6,000
Credit Card Debt: $300

I would estimate that once our finances are combined, we will have about $300 a month to use for either paying off more debt or saving. This does not include what I have automatically taken out for my 401K.

Should I pay off as much as I can, and then get a fixed personal loan for the wedding expenses, or start saving for the wedding and wait until afterwards to start really working on the debt?

ANY HELP WOULD BE APPRECIATED! Sorry for such a long, rambling post Smile

No Spend Day! :)

March 19th, 2008 at 05:41 pm

So, I think today was what I've seen posted on other blogs as a "no spend day". I didn't have to get gas, so there was no expense there.

The dog woke me up extra early this morning, so I used to time to make something different to take for lunch. I ended up having mini pizzas (tortillas with pizza sauce, pepperonis, and shredded cheese melted between them & cut into wedges) and celery with cream cheese. We also ended up having a meeting at work, so there was food there as well.

I am kind of excited about the little changes that I've been trying to make. Even if I only look at the last 3 days, I have saved probably between $10 and $15 by taking my lunch and not eating out. Add to that the $2 or $3 I would have spent stopping for cappuccinos on the way home, and it starts to add up!

If only I had something I could work on when I'm off work that would create some money. I used to dog & house sit for neighbors, but it's hard to do when you are in a new place and don't feel comfortable volunteering for that!

More Gas and Turkey Sandwiches

March 18th, 2008 at 07:47 pm

So I stuck to the whole not eating out for lunch thing again today. I took a turkey sandwich again, but then one of our vendors brought pizza, so I actually didn't eat the sandwich until later anyway. I am definitely going to have to take something else tomorrow though... the turkey sandwich is getting old.

So the only money that I spent today was another $40 on gas, $18 on dog food/cat food/cat litter, and $4 on paper towels.

I've found that keeping this blog and tracking my expenses really helps to keep me honest about where my money is going to begin with. It also helps me resist those evening cravings for a cappuccino on the way home! Big Grin

Controlling The LiTtLe Things

March 17th, 2008 at 03:04 pm

I have come to the realization that most of my money mistakes come from little things, not big ones. I'm not the type of person that buys big screen TV's or a new car every other year. Most of the time, it's the random trip to Wal-Mart where I spend $16 at a time. Might not sound like a lot, but when it is once or twice a week for things that I might not necessarily need, it adds up.

That's not to say that I don't splurge every now and then. I have a rather expensive phone that I probably didn't really need. However, it has come in very handy since I've moved, and I had to replace my old phone anyway. I guess the key is to keep the small expenses down and the splurges very rare.

Another of my weaknesses is fast food. Because I live by myself with only the pets right now, it's hard to get motivated to spend time on making dinner. However, I am happy to say that today, I took a sandwich & apple for my lunch at work, so that I wouldn't be tempted to buy fast food. Tonight, I resisted the urge to stop on the ride home, and am currently eating chips & salsa (I will probably fix something more substantial later).

So the only money I ended up spending today was $20 for gas, which I ended up putting on the credit card because the gas station didn't take checks and couldn't accept a $100 bill.

The good news is that I got my debit card for my new checking account today, so hopefully I can begin the process of transferring the money from my old checking into my new, and then have a debit card to use for purchases! YAY!

Graduation Stuff... Bleh.

March 16th, 2008 at 03:38 pm

Okay, so I just realized that I hadn't ordered my graduation cap/gown or invitations yet. It's kind of weird to be graduating college in May, when I was officially done in December (but they only do the whole ceremony once a year, so hey). Anyway, I got online to see if I could order from there (because I'm two states away from the school I'll be graduating from), and luckily I was able to order everything from the bookstore there. It should be shipped to my parent's address (not sure how I would get a box here).

The bad news is that it was $195 on my FFB credit card. I would have used my checking account, but I have no debit card for it, and they couldn't do a check for online ordering. Since alot of people will send me graduation money when they get the announcements, maybe I will be able to recoup some of the money!

That reminds me of some more info that I wanted to add into the equation:

As far as bank accounts, I have a few.

"Hometown" Checking Acct: ~$2,800
BBT Joint Checking: $50
Roth IRA: ~$450

The Hometown account is in my home state, and as soon as the BBT account is officially open and I have checks for it, I will transfer all of my money from the Hometown account into the BBT account. I have stopped the automatic deposit into the Roth IRA for now, because my new job is deducting my 401K. I also have about $200 in cash right now, which I will use for expenses until my checking account money is transferred here.

In case anyone is wondering why I have a joint checking account, my boyfriend is also on it. He is moving to this state to join me in about a month and a half now, at which point we'll both be using the same account. (It's one of the only banks with branches in both states!) Right now, if I want to buy something, I have a choice between writing a check from my Hometown account (if the place accepts checks), or using my Discover Card or FFB Card. I do not have my State Farm credit card with me, or a debit card for the Hometown acct.

So I guess my goals for now are:
1) Check the status of BBT acct & order checks for it (hopefully using the money that's already deposited into the acct).
2) Finish my first project for my new job and submit it.
3) Balance my Hometown acct checkbook.
4) Pay my cell phone bill.

The Situation

March 16th, 2008 at 12:53 pm

I guess I should begin by outlining my current financial situation.

*INCOME*
My Current Salary: $36,000 (Yearly)
or ~$2,220/Month (After Taxes)
Signing Bonus (One-Time): ~$3,000

*ESTIMATED MONTHLY EXPENSES*
Rent: $875
Utilities: ~$100
Gas: ~$400
Cell Phone: ~$100
Internet: ~$55
Car Insurance: $55
Renters Insurance: $7
Life Insurance: $33
Other Life Insurance: $60
Groceries: ~$150
Pet Supplies: ~$50
Health/Dental/Vision Insurance: ~$130
401K Contributions: ~$85

=== +$120 For Debt Payments ===


*DEBT*
State Farm Credit Card: $6,473.54
FFB Credit Card: $2,042.62
Discover Credit Card: $2,043.69
Owed To Former Employer: $638.00
Owed To Former Apartment Complex: ~$2,000
Bank Loan: $803.56

=== Notes ===
The "Bank Loan" is actually my brother's expense, but I put it on here because the loan is in my name, so if by chance he couldn't come up with the money for the payment, I would pay it myself. Some of the amounts are estimated because the exact cost will be unknown until I get my first paycheck or the last day of the billing cycle closes, etc. Once these one-time payments get out of the way, I can budget more accurately.

As for the debt payments, I will have an estimated $120 (maybe more) to put towards them every month. The State Farm Credit Card will need about $90, The Discover Card about $15, and the FFB Credit Card about $15. That equals exactly the $120, which means I need to pay down these credit cards as quickly as possible!