Thursday, December 4, 2014

November Budget Recap

So here we go, another month and some more money spent!

Food is always my big budget breaker. But for some reason I didn't do too bad this month. Luckily, we didn't have to pay for Thanksgiving dinner, so that big expense was not in the picture.

For some reason gas and wine are together (necessary evils?). The bf bought a lot of my wine this month, which was super nice and this line does not depict how much I really do drink. As for gas, I visited my family, but my mother proceeded to pay for the small amount I used driving home. And it really does pay having a small fuel efficient car! 

I finally got my hair done, and it feels amazing! Having nice looking hair not only makes you feel better but also makes you look your best. Personal includes a pair of pants that needed to be bought for work and insoles for shoes. 

The hobby line is definitely a kicker! I finally am back into dancing but start up costs are quite a bit. Hopefully it will be less this month, until it's time to pay for classes next month! 

My income for this month was pretty high, considering I took a few days off around Thanksgiving. For rent, I pay the bf a proportion of my income and he uses it for household materials or incidentals and other bills. 

My total spending on the bottom could be lower on incidentals but it's pretty good considering my income. 

The amount put towards loans is a bit upsetting but better than nothing. They are both above the minimum payments, but with over 30k in debt, I really should make the effort of the extra $100 to $200 a month. 

For December, hopefully Christmas does not turn out to be too expensive, even though I've saved some money throughout the year, there is always the unexpected. There are also some pretty big bills coming up in January that need to be saved for (taxes, dance). So here's to making sure the budget keeps on working!  

How was November for you? What are you looking to change in December? 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

So, I Bought A Car... The Numbers...

As a follow up to my last post of buying a car, numbers were promised and here they are!

In total, the total bill for the car came out to be a whopping: $15k.

Yes, $15,000 for a depreciating asset. Kill me now.

Anyway, I put $5k, or a third, as a down payment, bringing my monthly payments to $230. However, minimum payments do not help in paying debts off early. I have started with including an extra hundred dollars every month and will re-evaluate at the end of the year how much more I can add.

As for other expenses, the car being a small one, requires $30 of gas every two weeks. As for repairs and the like, I've already started putting away a small amount of money each week to make sure that when needed it is already there!!!

As for student loans, I've managed to only pay off $3260 these past 14 months (ever since my grace period ended. It's far less than I would like to admit, but my income has recently only increased dramatically and I was more focused on saving rather than paying off debt.

So my total debt is now 10k plus $24,652.22 for a grand total of $34,652.22.

Wow, that's a lot of money... But it only makes my debt journey a bit more interesting... having a car really worth it?! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

So, I Bought A...


Yes, you read that right! This PFer bought a car and not one from Craigslist either!

If this is hurting your brain please turn away now because it isn't going to get any better.

With winter coming and the realization that with a vehicle of some sort, getting from my current job not only would become easier but also finding another position would be much more successful, I decided to put all my savings into a depreciating asset.

Looking online, there was a great deal for what looked like an awesome car. It ended up being sold, and thus my heart broken, but along came another car with another amazing deal. With a lot of persuasion from many sides, a sold sticker was put on with my name! And with lots of paperwork and lots of signatures, I drove it away and have been driving it ever since.

What have been the benefits as of late? TIME! And I really mean that. Not having to spend hours of my time on the bus anymore has given me a freedom to pursue other activities as well as devote more hours to finding a job in my field. No longer am I just reading, but I'm up and about, reconnecting with old friends and finding new ones at that.

Even though I look at having a nice vehicle as a luxury, I've been starting to see it more as a necessity for a professional person. Unless you live in a city or area with great public transportation, the majority of people cannot depend on undependable and often late buses.It makes life that much more stressful and time-consuming.

Nevertheless, what's done is done, and my getting out of debt journey has become a bit harder. Luckily, my rather large down payment definitely put me on a better footing than most. So from now on, there will be gas and any random repairs that the world has waiting for me. In the next part of this I bought A... there will be lots of numbers along with how I'm planning on paying it off early!

Have you ever made a stupid and irrational decision such as this? 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

And Then It Was Fall...

It's finally turned into fall and everyone is looking forward to football, baking and of course, holidays!

And everyone could easily ask, where has she been? Well, lots of places, but really nowhere. I've been reading many of your articles and still practicing many habits of frugality and trying to develop my frugality muscle. 

Life has been quite busy and still I feel stuck on the treadmill. On the job front, even with having taken some time off from blogging to go full force on this super important aspect of my life, there have been very little changes (aka none). It's quite disappointing and it looks like I'll have to take even more drastic measures to see how I can land my first career position. It really is one of the main ways that will not only help me pay off my debt but also make sure I'm not eating cat food at the ripe age of 60.

Hopefully you guys missed me only a bit and I'll be back to updating you guys about my adventures and my debt payoff...which has only gotten larger...

So, what's new with you?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Small Things That Really Pay Off

One of my favorite activities of the week is buying flowers for the home. It's done with quite a bit of care and I'll spread them all around the house in small vases to give some color and life to each room.

Being able to wake up everyday and see them reminds me of the small pleasures in life that really don't cost a lot of money but have big payoffs.

This can go right into any part of your day and your personal finance journey. What is the bright spot in your day? Sometimes it's getting lunch from a nearby restaurant. However, if you get it everyday, it doesn't make it anymore special than a daily routine. Limiting it to only one day a week really livens up that small meal, but also helps divert that money towards goals that you didn't think could be accomplished.

We had been looking for ways to redecorate our home, on the cheap, and wherever we went, we couldn't find exactly the right design that we wanted. With a little TLC invested into the sewing machine, it is up and running and our house is on its way to becoming a home. It's not only the satisfaction we get from seeing them on an everyday basis, but knowing that we made them ourselves.

It can be easy to pick up what you need on the way home from work, but without prior research, it can become a thing that sits in your household because it has served its purpose for one time, or that is no longer liked after a few months. Being able to identify what it is that's really needed or wanted in the moment might take some time, but can provide a lasting and satisfying end result.

What are some small (or big!) things that have had a big payoff for you?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Favorites: Round 3

Ah, the weekend and another week of work starts! The weather has really held out here for the week, so I've spent a lot of time on the patio getting caught up on my reading! This weekend has nothing in store for me because of work, so the usual of farmer's market and relaxing when possible! How about you? Any good Memorial Day plans?

And of course, some great articles from the week!

When I hear others saying that they don't have any money saved, it makes me wonder, what are they actually doing with that money? Over at Making Sense of Cents, Michelle writes a great article on a few of the excuses people use.

Over at Budgets Are Sexy, there' a great discussion on maximizing money to get yourself the most amount of happiness.

What could have your student loan payments gone to and what are they preventing? That's the question at Journey to Saving asks you to ponder as she talks about her life plans.

Laurie at Frugal Farmer tells her story about how eating organic has really changed her health and her life. I'm a really big advocate of eating well for your body and love highlighting stories of people who have found healing through healthy diets.

Hope all of you have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Unexpected Costs of Graduation

Ah, graduation! They come in all sorts from kindergarten all the way to college. It's a great time for all involved, but for any college graduate, it can be a scary time. It's finally time to fly out of that nest and show what you can do as a full fledged adult. There are quite a few expenses that will creep up, but with some planning, can turn out to be steps in the best direction.

The costs of going to or hosting a graduation party. Usually family will pick up these costs, happy to make the day special. But hosting a whole bunch of people for the after party might cost you a pretty penny. Look at doing a pot luck and everyone bring a bottle of something or other. This will help keep costs low but ensure that there is enough for everyone.

Move out day! Hopefully by graduation day the ex-students have plans as to what their next few steps are, especially if they don't have a job lined up. If not, finding a last minute place and a quick way to move might break the bank. Movers definitely don't come cheap and if you are looking at your own place, look at putting down quite a bit of money for first and last months rent along with a security deposit.

The financial costs of finally being on your own. This is the day some parents have been waiting for their entire lifetime. The day they tell their kids that they are no longer on Mommy's and Daddy's payroll. That it's all up to them. It can be a scary thing if the kids don't know, but most parents start leaving hints months before.

For those that are prepared, the most important thing is having a budget all lined up and understanding what is coming in and what is going out. Whether it be a part-time job down the street or their dream job, expenses will start piling up quickly. And the cost of things, especially essentials, will be quite a shock if your not used to it ( I certainly was not completely prepared). And how about those unexpected expenses? Those life moments? That's when an emergency fund comes into play. For a single person just starting out, $1k is definitely enough to get through most of the typical emergencies like car repairs.

Student Loans. They are the most obvious but along with that, usually forgotten until the bill comes in the mail. Even though there is a six month grace period, it's not a time to relax! A few extra payments during this time can shave quite a bit off the years you have to pay.

As you can see, graduation season is chock full of expenses, especially ones that can lead down a road of a lifetime of bad habits or a short term strapped for cash moments. But there are always frugal ways to celebrate any special event!

Can you think of any other graduation costs? And congrats to all those grads out there! 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Favorites: Round 2

Credit: FlyingAppleSaucer

There were so many amazing articles this week that I want to share with you guys! It seems like there is a lot of creativity floating around!

Over at Budgets Are Sexy, a new member of the Money family is being welcomed. Love the naming system!

Who doesn't like a well established daily routine? Over at Mish Lovin' Life, she talks about she's feeling now that she and the bf aren't traveling all over the world at a moments notice.

Deciding what you want to do with your life while still in high school is a truly challenging task. I'm lucky that I had a passion and am working my towards getting there. But Leo does an excellent job of explaining the importance of being prepared for any job in life.

Compromise is something we all have to work on, especially in all parts of our relationship. Over at LiveSimply-LiveWell, we learn how they compromise on the aspect of money and paying down their mortgage.

Ah, work. It's something that we all have a love/hate relationship with, which is exactly what Joshua talks about over at becoming minimalist. Earlier in the week I wrote something about my current feelings about my job and it's sometimes easy to see where working for a living is the perfect term to use.

Along those same lines, over at Fit is the New Poor, Michelle talks about finding out what you don't want in a job is just as important as finding out what you do.

And, because this must be some sort of sign or something, Untemplater discusses those people who are not only burned out from work, don't get paid enough and realize something has to give with their job.

How about when you are working or when you are at home, are you using the time you have productively or flittering it away? Color Me Frugal has some great ideas on how to make you super productive and give you time for all the small stuff that never gets done (because one day, it will have to get done!).

And last but not least, over at Dear Debt, the importance of being ready for whatever life brings you. It's definitely important to always have preparations for every avenue in life you want to go down. Because you might find yourself surprised the moment all the pieces start fitting together.

Hope you guys have a wonderful weekend! It's the beginning of the work week for me, so I'll be plugging away and earning the bacon. There are lots of little projects around the house keeping us busy, but slowly it's becoming a wonderful haven for us both. There are also the first few signs of something growing in the garden (other than weeds) so it's all starting to look promising!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What Do You Work For?

Hello everyone! It's been awhile, but here I am, not swallowed by the world yet! The change in schedule has left my body a bit worn and tired, but finally there is some relief! My body has started adapting and I'm finally coming into a normal sleep pattern.

Lately, as I spend many of my summer nights at work, it's left me questioning why some of us work and what are we working for. A fellow coworker works three jobs, but she does it for mainly financial reasons. Mainly, people there work that one job and go home to their families, enjoying the time and days off that they have.

As for me, I'm kind of left holding the bag.

Financially, it feels great working two jobs and having the money coming in to not only pay off those student loans, but to save for those future goals.

Emotionally, it's also a great experience to meet new people, learn from them, and create new experiences. Being able to go to work fulfills me and gives me a sense of accomplishment that I probably would not find anywhere else. That yours truly is a useful member of society.

However, there are days where I feel kind of blah. Working in an office and find myself wondering what I could have been doing if I wasn't in that office. There really was no time for daydreaming at my other job because it was much more fast paced and along with that, there was a new experience everyday.

And some sort of answer started to take shape. I love keeping busy and learning new things, it's part of my nature. I work not because of the money, but for the actual experience of working. It would be hard for me to spend all my time at home, doing things that I only find pleasure in because my time is more limited now than before. It's like having too much cake and realizing that you are eating to eat it and not to actually enjoy it.

The newness of the job is definitely wearing away, but it's a learning experience that I can appreciate and understand. Knowing what type of work I want to do in the future and for what reasons will help me lead a more fulfilled life.

So, what do you work for?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Weeding Out Those Expenses

Ah, even though spring is in the air, I really haven't taken advantage of it due to juggling two jobs. Again, my budget has gone out the door, and a few overdue gifts probably pushed me over the limit this month. But now that regular paychecks are underway, paying the bills should become much easier, along with keeping track of my spending!

Hope you guys have been getting out and about and working on those gardens! Now that spring is in full force, it's the perfect time to start weeding out that small plot of land and planting those seeds. Along those same lines, it's the perfect time to consider weeding out your budget. There might be some expenses that are no longer relevant, or there might be some that have gotten wildly out of control.

Evaluating your budget before the summer gets in full force allows your to know where you stand before going on vacations. Hopefully you have been saving money all year long for these trips, but perhaps you still haven't set up your budget for eating and souvenirs. If you find yourself overspending month after month on pleasures in the here and now, you won't have enough to splurge on that restaurant that is a must try. It's also never to early to start thinking about Christmas spending at the end of the year!

As for me, I've definitely been looking at my budget and seeing where I can and need to cut back. Now that my job has no places for me to easily eat out at, my snacks budget is almost non-existent. However the bf and I will not be taking any vacations this year, so we are more likely going to have date nights and spend a bit more exploring restaurants in the area. Making sure that weeds don't grow over the important parts is what makes gardening and budgeting worthwhile!

What are the areas in your budget that need to be looked at? Do you know which areas you can readily cut down or need to increase? 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Projects That Pay Off

It's easy to go to stores and buy whatever but it takes imagination and creativity to do these things at home. There are tons of projects out there that are not only on the easier side, but also can save you a bunch of cash! Here are a few that I've personally started working on:

Handmade napkins: Not only are paper napkins bad for the environment, they can be a huge waste of money if used on a daily basis. Paper napkins are definitely great for the messy stuff, such as wings, but for every day use, cloth napkins do just as well, and sometimes even better. If you have a sewing machine, they make for a great afternoon project that will not only save you money but add character to your dining room decor.

Cushions: These things are severely overpriced at any store! It's basically a big square that has stuffing in the middle! And if you are like me, you can never find just the right pattern! Again, another great afternoon project that can spice up any room in your home!

Blankets: What's a great way to spend a No Spend Day? Knitting and watching tv reruns! When you are working on a long project the actual progress can make you want to stay home and get as far as possible! There are many free patterns on the internet, and if you don't know the difference between a crochet hook and a knitting needle, Youtube has great videos that will take you step by step.

Artwork: It can be a great family project on a rainy afternoon that might produce some masterpieces. This can be a free for-all, or perhaps, finding inspiration from Picasso. Afterwards,, spend some time looking around the house for the perfect place to hang them all up! This will showcase the families artistic abilities.

Setting up a Clothesline: This might take a bit of a handyman, but an earth friendly project it is! You don't need to hang everything outside, but a few pieces can lower your dryer use and save you a few bucks.     And don't you just love that summer air scent?

Most of these projects require upfront costs that can vary. Such as what happens when you don't have a sewing machine. But alternatives can be done, such as hand sewing. The best thing is that in the long run, you'll have something that was made with lots of love and care and customized just for you!

And with many of these projects, there are varying levels of difficulty. You can make them as easy or hard as you want them to be, and can spend as much time on them as you wish.

What are some other projects that pay off? 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Guess What?! and Spending Report!

So, the reason I've been a bit away is that this girl got a job! Yes, I know, exciting, and they wanted me to start ASAP, so it's been a roller coaster ride of having no days off and adjusting to a different environment.

But as promised (even though it's a day late), my spending since the beginning of April:

Food: 11 (Some random bits and pieces we needed for a recipe)
Food Out: 71 (Dinner out to celebrate getting a job along and the first day, not too bad!)
Transportation: 7
Home Supplies: 82 (Went a bit too crazy here, supplies for crafts project along with the garden)
Wine: 20 ( Almost a need)
Health: 10 (Refill on medication)
Books: 13 (Great for the time in between work and getting home!)
Personal: 23 (A new perfume and stuff for a new job!)

Seems like I definitely went way over my budget, considering that I'm not going to get paid for a bit. But, after over a year of searching, it was great celebrating with two nights out to eat. And with spring coming along quickly, all these project supplies are definitely going to add. But the best thing is that they will save the household money in the long run. This will definitely be a post hopefully up by the end of the week.

Hope you guys had a happy Hump Day!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Deteriorating Budget

So, if any of you are so observant, you probably noticed that I did not post a monthly recap of my spending last month nor will I be putting one up for this month. And you may ask, why is that? WELL, let's just say there really are no numbers to post...

Last month was one of my best months in terms of earning a living off of waitressing, but it was also pretty hectic. There wasn't a lot of time after coming home from work and getting ready for the next day. My priorities came to be work, getting food, and making sure my uniform was decent.

And because the habit dissipated last month, this month it was also non-existent. I'm still paying off my student loans and saving for retirement,  but I cannot tell you how much was spent on groceries or hair care or anything else.

It's pretty easy to put things off, and budgeting is something that you think you have control of after awhile, and then you completely forget that there even was a budget. You start spending all your money on things that seem important, when in reality, looking back in your budget will show you you've already maxed out that category last week.

So what will I'll doing differently next month to make sure I'm keeping myself on track?

1. I'm hoping to track and post my spending and savings budget weekly here. I started this blog with a purpose and it was mainly to document my student loan repayment process. But that doesn't mean that it can't serve double duty.

2. Getting back into the habit of writing everything down, no matter how tired I am. I've already gotten back into saving all my receipts and putting my income and my expenses into my designated notebook. So, once April comes around, the habit is already there.

Have you ever fallen off the bandwagon of sticking to your budget? How hard was it to get back on? 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Getting More Time Out of the Day

Credit: Photo by Robbert van der Steeg

It almost seems impossible right? There are only 24 hours in a day, how can you extract more time if you aren't a magician?

It's not impossible, nor is it magic, it's all about organizing your day better to run as efficiently as possible. I sometimes see families who are running from one place to the other, only finding that they have to go back to the grocery store for the 6th time that week. Not having a plan for your day can cause you lots of stress but also destroy your budget!

My simplified list includes these steps:

1. Wake up early (or try to). This gives me time before I really have to get going to stop, stretch and just enjoy the moment. I'm waking up slowly but surely and preparing my mind for the day.

2. Identify the main task for the day. For most people and most days, this is work. But for those who don't work (lucky) or if it's a day off, figuring out the important task can be tricky. It might be making a whole bunch of meals for the rest of the week, or finally tackling that project that is long overdue. Whatever it is, make sure it's the first thing on your list and you devote yourself to getting it accomplished (or to an appropriate stopping point).

3. Make a list of the things that need to be accomplished today. Now that the main task is identified, write down the other, smaller tasks that also need to be done. These can be done during breaks, or after the long day of work. Usually these are things that I've pushed off too much and need to be done, such as calling back the doctor's or depositing a check at the bank.

4. Throughout the day, making sure that my to do list is truly getting accomplished. One thing that easily happens is you know what the main task is, but you keep on pushing it further and further into the day. It's finally after lunch and you want to do the easy tasks. Keep in mind what you truly need to accomplish and dive head first into the task.

5. Unwind and prepare for tomorrow. My days do not start without at least some plans in place for the next day. It might be getting more done on a project, or just tying up some loose ends from the day before. And just like in the morning, I take a few minutes to unwind my thoughts and allow myself to fall asleep peacefully, knowing that the day is truly done.

What these steps allow me to do is plan my spending around my main activities. If work is my main attraction, I know that I'll either have to bring snacks for the day, or will have to buy something to eat. If I'm at home for the day, that means I'll probably be making something to eat or having leftovers for lunch.

Weekends are when most of the household spending occurs. A grocery list is usually laid out on the table throughout the week, gathering up items that need to be bought next time around. Also, tasks that will require a tool or object that is not in the household are listed on the back. It's almost a running tally of what will be spent. We will also plan our driving based on where we need to go and what needs to be picked up. Sometimes we will hold off on grocery shopping till later in the week because we will be in that part of the neighborhood on a certain day.

I can also plan No Spend Days (NSDs) around my plans. If I know that I'm planning on going out with friends one night, and to lunch later in the week, my NSDs are fit in between these two events, not leaving me to feel guilty about going out.

This system isn't perfect, nor is it for everyone, but it really helps me focus on what needs to be done and keeps my budget in check (or what's left of my budget...).

What are your solutions for organizing your day and making it efficient? 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Turnover Tuesday...

You finally got through Monday. Perhaps you didn't have much motivation. Perhaps you forgot to try and find some to start the new week. Maybe to you it looks like the situation will never change.

Today, I want you to turn over a leaf. Whether it be a new one, or one that you keep on touching but have never seen the other side.

Whether it be in attitude, perspective or something else. Perhaps you have been doing the same old same old for awhile, paying off those loans and not feeling like your making any progress. Well, get a new view on the situation and realize, that you are farther along than you were a week, a month and a year ago.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Favorites

What's up with all this snow! There are plenty of people (including myself that are greatly looking forward to the end of this winter and the beginning of a warm and hopefully not as dramatic spring! For those of you who are already enjoying the warm weather, I definitely am jealous!

Anyway, this weekend will be filled with lots of work, and during the off times, lots of reading and knitting. They are some the activities I'm really focusing on making time for in my life. They are some of the small and simple things that truly make my life enjoyable. I'm also trying to work on some skills that will make me seem a bit more marketable. Well, that should keep me busy enough till Monday!

And now for some great posts! It's been awhile since I've done one of these, so if the post looks a bit older, sorry about that, it's still pretty good in my opinion!

Laurie over at the Frugal Farmer wrote about saving money on groceries. It's really easy to skip making dinner most nights, and buying lunch every day, but in reality it's a huge waste of money! Being able to extract all your meals from food you bought in one grocery shopping is tricky but not impossible!

Over at livesimply-livewell, a great post on how wealth is now looked at poorly is definitely worth your time. A lot of people feel that if you are wealthy, you have obtained it by means that exploit the rest of the population. In reality, there are many out there who have worked hard for their millions and truly deserve to keep their fortune.

And last but not least over at 1500 days, his anti-rant is all about getting stuff done on your own and how worthwhile it really is.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Motivation Monday

Yesterday was all about belief and today, just because it rhymes, I want to write about motivation! (Motivational Monday, that sounds like a fun recurring series!).

Mondays for the most part throughout my school and college career were rough. The start of the new week was making sure that all my homework assigned on Friday was turned in within the first five minutes of the start of the class. Most days, I dreaded going back to the same old routine.

Now, it's not all the same (when you work mainly weekends, Monday is like the end) but it's the beginning of something new. In a way, I've made it something to look forward to, not something to dread.

What is it that motivates me every Monday? It's the desire to be closer to my goals than yesterday. I always try and incorporate two or more goals per day in my daily routines. Sometimes I'll be tempted to eat out, and I'll try to encourage myself to have a no spend day and stick to my monthly budget. Other times, it's the motivation to sit down and read a few pages of my book, or work on my current knitting project.

I have to wonder what motivates people in life, other than money? What really gets you going? Is it seeing injustice in the world, or around the block? Is it knowing that your workplace or perhaps your peers can be better than they are?

 It's hard to keep on going, day in and day out, and think that things can't get better. But the people who have inspired me the most in life are the ones who had seemingly limitless amounts of motivation, not from external sources only, but from internal. They always found a way to keep on going, getting through every Monday that appeared before them, whether they had their homework done or not. Usually it was due to wanting to do better, knowing that all the resources were there for the taking.

So, my hope is that others find motivation every Monday to get one step closer to their ideal life.

Who or what gives you motivation in life? 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Power of Belief

For me, belief is not all about religion, it has its own part, but it's only a portion of something much bigger. Synonyms for belief can range from hope to acceptance, from being able to trust completely to not at all. Belief is a very personal thing that we might not readily share with others because we worry they may ridicule us (in the worse case scenario) or we feel we will look like a fool.

Day to day, I see a lot of people in my age range going through their daily routines without a care in the world. Perhaps they are unfazed by the passage of time, seeing that they have many more hours and years coming their way. But they seem to not have a care for anything except getting through today.

My question is what about tomorrow? How about ten years down the road? What truly keeps you going? What makes you get out of bed?

The belief does not have to be in a higher power or being, it can be belief in yourself. That you of all people are capable of more than you can imagine. That your daily routine can be completely different if you take a different route today than yesterday.

Yes, I am a deeply religious person, but I also have a strong belief in myself as a person. It's what gets me through the journey of finding a job, paying off my student loans, and crafting the life I hope for. There are days where the journey will be difficult or hard, and it makes me realize that knowing everything will turn out alright is good enough for me to keep going down that route.

Do you have a belief system and how does it guide you (or help you get through) every day? 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Oh those winter days! They seem super long while waiting for the warm spring days to arrive. But having something in the works will make it go by that much quicker!

1. Find a local museum. They are usually great ways to pass the day away from home. Sometimes they can even be free or reduced admission after certain hours. Boost your knowledge about random subjects and appreciate abstract art after only a few hours!

2. Start planning a garden or two! And it doesn't even have to be anything big! Perhaps a few plotted plants to add decor to a room. Or a few herbs to add spice to your cooking. Now's the time to think about what to plant once the first thaw is over.

3. Find your creative side! Perhaps learning a new craft or finding some projects to spruce up the house will take your mind off the chilly weather. Come spring time, you'll have a fun and fabulous home to show off.

This winter might almost be done, even though you don't think so! But soon you'll be wanting for all the heat to go away!

What are some things you enjoy doing during the long winter months?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Is Overtime Worth the Time?

The past week was full of hustle and bustle and lots of work! Many of us were working long days and many days, sometimes for over 10 hours! And if you know anything about restaurant work, it's all about moving around and little down time!

So, with all these hours worked, and all this money in hand, it made me question, was it all worth it?

I'm all for side hustles and also working extra hours when you can. But it makes me wonder about those people who constantly work extra hours, not just because they want to pay off debt, or need to, but because they want to.

What are they trying to escape, or better yet, what are they trying to get at?

Some people want to have lots of money to have it, but does it really make you feel all that better? I'd be so burnt out and stressed out I wouldn't even want to spend any money for fear of going on a rampage with it at the mall and spending it all.

There wouldn't ever be a certain amount that would make me feel perfectly comfortable enough to cut back. If you are used to a certain level of pay, why would you ever want to see it go down? Especially for a silly reason as work life balance...

It's great being able to say I have extra money in the bank, but boy, I don't want to see another week like that for a few months, at least. I'm so thankful that the long week is over and it's back to normal at work. It makes me appreciate days off and being able to do other things besides plopping down in front of the TV!

Would you be willing to put in constant long hours for great pay and sacrifice any form of social and possibly family life? Would you ever be willing to work just for the money?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow Day!!!

What does a Snow Day mean to you?

For me it's a large breakfast, coffee, juice, lots of Netflix and reading.

For all the folks out there who have to go to work, I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart. Enjoy your time there as best you can.

For all of those who are staying home, perhaps today's the day to either catch up on those small tasks you have been meaning to do or take the day off to sleep and watch all the TV possible (or read, or color...).

And those who have to work at home, make it fun! Wear pajama's all day or perhaps drink hot chocolate or tea all day long. Make it the work environment you always wanted!

Well, got to get started on that Netflix! So many series and so little time. Well besides the hour long nap in my future!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine's Day and Update On Those Goals!!!

Can you believe it's already the 12th of February? The month is almost halfway done with! Where is it all going?

Valentine's Day is only two days away, so hopefully you guys already have plans figured out! Most people will spend tons of money on overpriced chocolates and flowers and then a big, over the top dinner. Because love really has no price, I told the bf going for a nice brunch was fine with me. No flowers or cards please (maybe candy, but the half off kind the next day!).

As for exercising, even though my goal was 4 times a week, I decided (and with great enthusiasm) to go ahead and try to attempt Mr. and Mrs.1500's challenge for February. And guess what? I think I'm on pace to make it! Each day I actually run makes it that much easier for me the next day. The only downside is that my metabolism has been ramping up and so have my snacks...(well my budget for that was blown a long time ago anyway...)

My reading list was growing for awhile and I wasn't keeping up with all the books I had taken out from the library. But luckily I'm back at it! My goal is to finish a few more by the end of the week and have some easy reads lined up for next week. This will give me time also to research some autobiographies that I would want to read by the end of the year!

As for food, we have been back to an eating whatever there is diet. Which isn't the best either. Luckily there's lots of lettuce, but there's also lots of lettuce. Let's see what happens when we go grocery shopping this weekend...

I've definitely been better at getting tasks completed instead of pushing them off. I'm holding myself accountable and bringing back my planner has helped a ton! Now, I have to get to work on posting at least 3 times a week! Perhaps that's the next thing to get scheduled in the planner!

As for relaxing and enjoying my required one day a week of not working, it's been refreshing! Working is nice, but having the day to work on my arts and crafts and catch up with friends has really revived me. Life doesn't feel so banal and tiresome when I get home to something handmade by me.

How are all of you doing on your goals for the year? Any plans for Valentine's Day?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

One of Those Long Days...

This is a bit of a rant/personal post, so if you're not into that, tune in another time for another interesting post!

Anyway, I woke up in a pretty sad mood today and it was probably from the thoughts I was having the night before.

It's been over a year since I graduated from college with two degrees, and from the hundreds of applications I've filled out over weeks and months, really nothing has come through for me. I've had amazing people in my life who have gone above and beyond and put in good words for me or helped me get my foot in the door. But it looks like I shot myself in the foot with my educational background...

You would that someone with a graduate degree and a known work ethic of an ox would actually be getting somewhere a year out of school, but here I am, waiting tables and doing whatever else is needed that day. And no, I did not get a whatever degree, I actually went to school with a field in mind which I thought had many job opportunities. For me, science has always been a great love but it also seemed like a wide open and growing field...

Most days, I remind myself how lucky I am to even have an education and that I was able to get a job that helps pay for my expenses, loans and lots of wine. Also, that I was able to graduate with such a small amount of student loans and not have to burden my now future self with a huge monthly payment. But besides the money, I've made great friends who have taught me so much about life and have given me great memories. It's always an interesting day at work and it's something I never knew I could be good at, and luckily for me, can be a side hustle I can use for years to come.

Along with that, the bf has been super supportive of me from the beginning. He is always there to offer suggestions and comfort me after the rejection letter comes in. He has the enthusiasm I need.

But there are days like today, where I wonder what went wrong and why is it that not only myself, but others like me can't get jobs that are fulfilling and actually help us get to a better place. There must be something out there that is preventing us from getting to that next step. I hope that I can look back on this part of my life as a little detour and not a total derailment.

Again, this won't be a usual thing, just wanted to get it off my chest, and I already feel a bit better!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Oh Those Expenses....January 2014

Because I'm not really into that thing called football, I'd rather be here getting ahead on some stuff. Not only was the day productively spent by catching up on some laundry (and TV of course) but a good chunk of time on reading all those books that are about to expire! No special snacks need to be made or rowdy people to attend to (and clean up after). It's just a quiet day overall.

Anyway, I have decided to bring back the expense report. The reason being is that the past few months I didn't feel as accountable for my spending because it wasn't out for the world to see. But at the end of the month, every other category was way over budget. Knowing that others will see my progress makes me want to try my best each day!

One thing you'll notice is I really don't have a savings category...

It's not that I don't save, there is no specific amount I wish to set aside each month. For me, student loan repayment and retirement savings are the two most important categories at the moment. However, I did set up a separate savings account for travel purposes and it's actually quite nice!

Despite taking a break at the end of the month, I did pretty well in terms of income and not going way over budget!

The rent is not actual rent but what I pay the bf to cover bills (electric, internet, etc.) under his name.

Groceries was on the smaller side this  month because the bf took care of most it. It made me feel kind of bad because I eat tons of fresh fruit, making the bill pretty high. My goal is to then make sure that I pay for most of the groceries this month!

Snacks were a bit out of control for some reason. I'm going to try and make sure that for February there are snacks in my work bag. Perhaps instant oatmeal and fruit bars?

Two things I forgot to include: Craft supplies for a project I just started which came out to be about $28. Also my vacation and the money I spent getting to places and eating. The whole trip came out to be about: $350. Not too shabby I must say. The reason it's not included is because some of the money came from the new savings fund set up for travel, but also some money that I found a few days before my departure. All in all, it really didn't come out of my budget!

How did you guys do in January? 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Pessimistic View on Finances

Some people are realists, others optimists, and the rest, pessimists.

I tend to fall in the last category for when I view my finances. For some reason, being able to prepare for the worst and finding out the best makes me feel better. Especially at the end of the month. My conversations with myself usually consist of:

Me; I probably only made $3 in tips (probably not...)
Me: I probably spent $100 in wine (probably true...)
Me: I suck at budgeting, I don't know where I put all my money...

(Looks at finished calculations)

Me; OH! I did accurately estimate my wine intake (too much), entertainment (too much) and debt repayment(...).... 

At the end of the month, I feel like I know where cuts need to be made and where certain areas can be increased or decreased. It's not a perfect system, but knowing that I'm doing my best makes me feel proud. Knowing that a large portion of my income goes towards retirement savings and student loans makes me feel better about eating out.

I believe that a lot of 20 year olds are really optimistic about their finances because they feel like they can just barely get through each day. They have a roof over their head and a crappy car that gets them wherever they need and want to go for the time being. It's not that that's bad, but they tend to overlook their loans as something for when they have a better job and a better salary. And retirement is something for when they really have a job that MAKES them save money.

But my question is what happens when you are in your 30's and are still scraping by? Does that still make you feel good about yourself? Or do you see others doing just a bit better, saving more, getting in a vacation or two every now and then, and feel like you are falling behind?

The habits for me are created right now when I have the tightest of budgets and the least amount of wiggle room. I'd rather feel like I'm falling behind in my 20's and catching up later in life rather than feeling like I'm doing okay every single year. I know I won't have a crystal ball into everyone's finances, but at least at 30, it'll feel like all these years saving and scrimping really did count for something. 

How do you feel like you are doing in your finance attitude? Has it changed as the years have gone by? 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Why I (Somewhat) Like Sick Days...

On Saturday, there was this overall feeling of 'I'm coming down with something but I can't put my hand on it feeling'. Now, that I'm in bed, and can say it's a cold/possible flu, all the warning signs were there from the beginning! Anyway, besides eating soup and getting lots of rest, I decided to log on and write about why I kind of like sick days.

First, they (for the most part) become no spend days. Not that I try and find something to buy everyday, but I do tend to spend money when I'm out and about. Being home with little to no energy means I am making use of the food and objects I have at home. And if money is spent, it's all for the sake of getting better!

Second, I have an excuse (mainly for myself) for lying around and not doing anything. Most days I'm pushing myself to get this and that done, but today, it's all about resting and getting better. Tomorrow is another day to get it all accomplished.

Third, I get to catch up on all my reading. There are always a few books that I'm working on, and even with setting aside some reading time each day, it's never enough. So, I can dedicate hours and hours to finishing all those books that I've been dying to know how they end.

Even though you might be lying on your bed or couch, feeling miserable, try and find something good out of it all. Maybe you get to finally watch the full season of that show you've been dying to catch up on. Or you get the sleep you've been missing out on the past few weeks! Today is the day!

What do you enjoy doing on sick days?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What Does It All Mean?

January is all about starting anew. Some of the questions I've been asking myself are what does it mean to be frugal, a minimalist, a personal finance blogger.

What does it mean to be frugal? For me, it's about spending my money wisely on the things that are truly important to me. My budget is not there for show and tell, but to be put to actual use. To weed out all those fake needs that the world says make a person happy. It allows me to live the life I want to, but also to save for the future I don't know about.

What does it mean to be a minimalist? For me, it's about choosing the things I want in my home to serve a purpose. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to the point where everything is not only useful but also beautiful, but I know with some time and effort, I'll slowly replace the utilitarian aspects with those that are a blend of the bf and I's style. It's being able to focus on the home aspect, and not all the clutter that can accumulate. To spend time doing things we enjoy in a place we love.

What does it mean to be a personal finance blogger? Not only is it to share, my experiences and my thoughts, but to open myself up to a large and wonderful community. To not only hear feedback, but also to obtain support along this journey of becoming debt free.

It's important for me, and possibly for you, to ask these questions every now and then. It helps me re-evaluate what my priorities in life are and why I do them on an everyday basis. These were the first three that came to my mind because they are a bit against the grain to most people in my everyday life. So, these are the ones that I keep thinking and reaffirming.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What's In A Home?

Image Courtesy of  Sira Anamwong/

Today has been a super relaxing day for me. Yesterday, I was able to take care of a few tasks, which left me today to do whatever it is I wanted. With my goal to try and watch less TV, I decided to catch up on a few books and pamper myself!

One thing I try and do is make sure to take a few minutes after doing some things online and before plopping down for a reading session is to tidy - up the house. Usually (well, maybe every now and then) it takes about 30 minutes to tidy up the entire place.

This got me thinking about what my favorite aspect of our home is. Even though there are lots of changes we would like to make in the future, it's a really great size for the two of us.

It might be that we are minimalists at heart and hate bringing stuff in (because that means it needs to be cleaned and put away some place) but also we enjoy what we have and talk about what else we want to bring into the home. Being able to keep our home clean, and have the time to do whatever activity is calling to us that day is what I absolutely love.

How about you? What's one aspect of your home that you completely adore and couldn't live without? 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

For the Love of Clothing...

Clothes are something that we all need (well, most would subscribe to this idea), and yet most people go overboard so that their closets are stuffed to the brim. Most people don't even budget, they see something they like, and poof, the credit card comes out!

This past year, I noticed that my budget for clothes was maintained, however, I really didn't buy any 'fun clothes'. Which is okay by me because I have enough clothes at the moment. However, my mom was nice enough that when I went home, took me shopping and bought me lots of great new items that are high quality and should last me quite some time. They are also of the big kid variety, and make me look more like an adult and less like a 20 - something away from campus. She also bought me a few more clothes for my job.

With that, one thing I realized I need to do this year is set aside a budget for work clothes and everyday items. At my current job, I have to wear a uniform with clothes that I would probably never wear in real life. And with how often they are worn and need to get washed, they wear out a lot quicker and need to be replaced every few months. And even better, all these clothes are tax deductible, which makes it even more important that I keep everything up to date and all receipts right in place!

The interesting thing about clothes I find is that because they are a necessity, you need a line for it in your budget. However, clothes are so cheap at some places, and stores for them are all over the place, they can easily become a want. It's great to be able to show off your figure, but it's also great to have some money in the bank.

As much as people hate it, having a budget reminds you where your priorities are. If you have the money to dress like a celebrity, go ahead. But if you don't, check to see the status of your current clothes and how far they can get you. If you don't have great quality clothes, perhaps replacing your favorites with higher quality ones as they wear out can be your next goal.

One of my favorite tricks is if you notice that some of your day wear is becoming a bit more worn, why not make it into sleeping wear? Only you and your family are probably going to see the worn patches and you'll probably be sleeping in them most of the time anyway.

Any other great tips on how to save money on clothing?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Feeling Guilty About Purchases?! Where's that Budget?!

There are times when my friends (and even myself till around middle of last year) would complain they felt guilty about buying something small or going out to eat spontaneously.

My one response to them (in my head) is where's your budget?! 

A budget is amazing because it tells you where your money(or almost all your money) should be going. Your budget lets you know how much money you allocate towards household expenses, groceries, etc. It should be telling you what each dollar you bring in is going to do FOR YOU! 

So when an unexpected dinner date comes up, I always ask myself, how's my budget looking. If it's the end of the month and I have been too busy to go out at all, I'm willing to hop on board. But if I've been to one too many happy hours, I'll more than likely skip it.

Never should a budget be so constricting that you don't have fun every now and then. That's not a well planned out budget. Make sure that you put in categories that not only fit your lifestyle but also will make you happy at the end of the day, the week and the month. 

So, how's your budget looking? 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Why Don't 20-something's Save for Retirement?

Sometimes I'll end up talking with friends about finances, and they will comment on how there is no way for them to save not only for tomorrow expenses, but also for far off in the future. It seems too difficult with so many pressing bills and all the loans that are coming their way. Usually though, we'll be eating some small appetizers and drinking a beverage or two, and I wonder what if this meeting had never happened and the money spent was put into the bank...

It's great to take advantage of life, especially in your 20's when you might not have as many responsibilities. However, now is the best time to actually start setting aside some money. Being able to set aside even a small amount makes it a habit that you get used to after awhile. And before you know it, it is a super easy habit and a small fortune is yours.

It's sometimes hard to save for those unexpected or once a year expenses, but retirement? That's something that's way far off that really has no tangibility to it. Saving for something that you really have no understanding about how it will be when you get there is even harder.

But those 20 dollars you spent on a movie and maybe dessert afterwards can go towards a retirement account that you contribute to on a weekly basis. It's only 20 dollars! Not an arm and a leg. And the best part about saving in your 20's is that you have the power of time and compound interest. The money has time to grow above and beyond these small amounts into something that can help you survive for a year or two once in your 60's.

What's worse is when I hear of my friends who have had jobs since they graduated (lucky...) and still have not set up their 401k! What is this?! Throwing free money out the window is right!

So what are a few steps that you can take today?!

  • Sign up for your employer's 401k. If you are confused, there is always HR or find out who in your company is responsible for this area. 
  • Open a Roth IRA, especially if your employer does not have a retirement vehicle. There are many places where you can open the IRA, make sure that it suits you and especially make sure the fees aren't exorbitant! 
  • Set aside a small amount to be taken out automatically with each paycheck. Start at something that is reasonable for YOU! Not something that other people have told you or say is law. If $50 is a great start every other paycheck, go ahead. You can always increase it or decrease it but make sure it's consistent. 
  • Set it and forget it! The best part is that once it's going, and everything is invested wisely, you'll find that your money will work for you!
Your 20's should be about enjoying life, but don't forget about how you will enjoy those later years too! 

Your future self will thank you immensely.