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Archive for October, 2012

Busy weekend coming to a close

October 29th, 2012 at 12:06 am

I feel like this weekend went by in a whirlwind. Friday night didn't end up doing much. The BF and I went out to dinner, then I was so exhausted when we got back to his place that I fell asleep... at 9:30. ha. We were supposed to go out with friends and I am so happy those plans never really came to fruition. Considering I slept a full 12 hours, I needed to catch up on the Z's.

Yesterday we went with a friend to figure out the Halloween costume situation. This is always my favorite holiday, and I've been a bit bummed because I didn't have the time to pour into a really snazzy costume. I love to sew and Halloween is usually my time to shine. I did not, however, want to spend a lot of money on anything. The end result was a $1 pair of fairy wings from the thrift store, roughly 4 yards of green tulle, and some random flowers and ribbon at the craft store. I was Poison Ivy a few years ago and reused the same green leotard and green tights. Voila. Tinkerbell. I think I spent about $11 total... and putting together the "tutu" was pretty painless.

The three of us went out to the bar and had a few drinks. BF went at Bob Ross and he quickly became one of the most popular people there. haha. Who doesn't love happy little trees?

Had a bit of a spendy weekend, however. Bought BF and I dinner yesterday, a round of drinks at the bar. Today I went to Giant Eagle and picked up a few things-- cat food, conditioner, a few other things. No terribly frivolous purchases, but at the end of the day spent $35. I'm still under budget, by about $70 (I think. I didn't save my bar receipt and it hasn't hit my account yet). I'm going to definitely adjust my budget a bit next month to account for more grocery money. I certainly don't regret any of the money I've spent in the last week, but it's tough seeing it go. haha. I consider that a good thing.

I finished up with my first round of getting paid to wash laundry. He needs to pick it up and pay me, but it was pretty painless. I looked at some of the rates per pound that people pay, and calculated it out. I'm charging him $1/pound, then additional per load because my apt has coin operated. All in all, I'm making $30 and that's not bad in my opinion for a little bit of work. In the following weeks I'll just be washing it with my own laundry because there wont be quite so much volume. This kid clearly went a few weeks. haha.

In other financial news, I've negotiated rates for a project I'm taking on-- a strategic communications plan, website development, and social media account setup and training. I'm terrible about selling myself short, and because I would still consider myself to be an amateur graphic designer, I tend to sell even shorter. Originally talked about $15/hr. For someone who has to this point never worked a big girl job, this sounds like a lot. I'm still stuck in college employment and internship mode. I figured I would value myself a bit more and went $20/hr, which they agreed to. I still feel like it's a success, despite knowing what some people charge for these kinds of services. It's for a nonprofit, so I feel better not charging them like crazy. At the same time, though, I really need to get a feel for my worth in this business at some point that's fair to my skill level and creative talent.

Baby steps.

At any rate, I hope you all had a fantastic weekend and enjoy the rest of this Halloween season! BF and I will be carving pumpkins Tuesday night. Pretty pumped! Cheers!

Midterms Done!

October 25th, 2012 at 02:44 am

So this past weekend and beginning of this week were spent struggling to finish two midterms. I'm happy to say the second one was turned in this afternoon Smile

Work has calmed down considerably. I'm no longer harboring that panicked feeling that I'm not going to get everything done in time. It was almost awkward being able to work at a relatively "leisurely" pace today. It's refreshing and my head feels in a better place (despite the drain caused by these tests).

Spending has been minimal for the last couple of days. Paid my recurring spotify bill and monthly donation to the Human Rights Campaign. I also had to write a $25 check to the university for my graduation application. Wasn't anticipating that one, but ah well. I'm still very much under budget.

This weekend will be a busy one. Going out with friends to celebrate Halloween Friday night. Saturday I'll be taking part in "Make a Difference Day" with the BF, volunteering somewhere in the area... though I'm not sure which project he decided on. I let him choose Smile After volunteering, we'll be carving pumpkins together then going out again Saturday night dressed up, though that will be far more low-key.

After racking my brain for a few days now about what costume to go with, I feel like I've come up with something that is almost zero cost and can be thrown together very quickly: Clue Characters. Thinking we just may pick up a candlestick, some rope, etc, and dress up. I'm sure we could find creative ways to play out the characters a bit more. Halloween is by far my favorite holiday, and I usually go all out, but this year I just haven't had the time to sew a costume and plan properly. Ah well. I'm much more interested in carving pumpkins and spending time out with the BF Smile

Reading over volunteering opportunities got me really inspired to do more. I love getting involved in general, and though I constantly make excuses about how busy I am, I'm going to make time to volunteer more. It's important enough to devote even just a few hours a month. I found this great organization in the area called Junior Achievement, which partners with area schools and has volunteers come in and teach financial literacy to kids. I contacted them and am set up to do the orientation in a couple of weeks. The idea of visiting a 3rd grade class 5 times to teach is thrilling. I'm very excited about it... but I wont be doing it until April. I indicated my availability to be for the spring semester, but I think I may look into starting earlier, or maybe finding a tutoring opportunity for low-income kids. I really do love working with kids. It's so energizing.

In odd financial news, the BF's friend is one of those 27 year old men that still has yet to do a single load of laundry himself and just moved into a situation where his mother (and ex girlfriend) are not able to do it for him on the regular. Though on principle I feel like I should encourage him to just do it himself because it's pathetic he's never touched a washing machine, the entrepreneurial spirit in me figures that I'd rather capitalize on the patheticness of the situation. He's dropping his clothes off tomorrow and I'm going to graciously wash them for some fee that we're going to negotiate. Bless the lazy single men of America. More dollars will be headed toward chipping away at that hefty student debt pile. Maybe he'll need someone to clean his new apartment, too... haha.

I think that's about it! Waking up early to work out then heading into the office. Hope you all have a fantastic night!

A New Week

October 22nd, 2012 at 12:25 pm

So I don't have *too* much in the way of news or updates. The month is coming to a close, and it's amazing to think of how fast it's gone by. This past week was a whirlwind, and the weekend seemed just as busy. Had a wedding I went to with the BF Saturday night. Yesterday I was just exhausted from running around all week, being out of town, etc. I had a midterm I really needed to get done, but I woke up early this morning to get it finished. I currently have one question to go (needed a break).

I'm still way under budget. I'm now just slightly over my food budget, but I got quite a bit at ALDI this week. They had all of these fancy italian sauces and pastas. I stocked up. Cooked dinner for me, BF, and his roomate. Have leftovers of that and Friday's meal for the next couple of days. I'll cook tomorrow, and have a bunch of soup to bring for lunches at work. Will not be grocery shopping til November.

I'm way under on my entertainment and car allowances. Turns out I've only spent $20 on gas so far this month. Really shows how much I save by taking public transit all the time, particularly because I get to for free! Granted, November will include repairs and an oil change... so I'm sure I'll more than make up for it. I do have $130 tucked away in my savings account for those, and I'll incorporate more into the budget to get that taken care of.

I'm really excited for the last day of the month so I can throw some money toward this student debt. It'll be interesting to see if I can reach my goal for the first of the year. I want to start working toward it. heh.

Halloween is coming up this weekend, and I have no clue what I'm doing or what I'm dressing up as. I'm usually all over this holiday, as it's my favorite, but I've just been so busy lately that I haven't had the time to put anything together. Part of me is sad about this, but I'm sure I'll figure something out last minute.

At any rate, break time is over. Time to finish this exam! Hope you all have a lovely day!

Post-Trip Exhaustion

October 18th, 2012 at 08:34 pm

This week has felt like an eternity!

I've returned from my trip to Boston. The meeting went fantastically. I am, however, absolutely exhausted. Very long days, very busy, on my feet practically all three days. Got some phenomenal shots and got to see some really well-known figures speak. It was exciting, but I'm elated it's all over. For those of us planning the trip and getting it underway, it's a relief to not have to think about it much anymore.

I ended up spending barely any money. Really, just Dunkin Donuts in the airport on the way there, a bottle of wine ($6, nothing crazy), and some nail polish and lipgloss... All of my meals were covered, and I didn't have to pay a dime for the flight or hotel room. I did have to make sure I put everything into my app to update. I'm still way under budget for the month- particularly because I sold yet another textbook Friday. I should be getting my deposit from Amazon shortly.

Looking out now, I should have at least a couple of hundred dollars extra from the budget to throw at that loan. We wont know until the very last day of the month, though.

Grocery shopping tomorrow! And working on midterms. And a wedding Saturday. Busy times, these.

Hope you all enjoy your weekend and I'll leave you with a photo I took of David Gergen at our reception Monday night!

Preparing for my Trip

October 12th, 2012 at 11:03 pm

I cant believe I leave for Boston in less than 2 days! We've all been killing ourselves at work for this national meeting and I'm finally at the point where all of my projects are essentially done or (very) under control. From here on out it's packing and tying up loose ends. Very nice to not feel overwhelmed and I'm very proud of myself for taking control of my schedule this week.

I got my new camera lens yesterday. Work paid for it, because I'm going to be taking the majority of the photographs next week. It was only $100 and I wish I would have went with the pricier one in retrospect, but I was trying to do right by the organization and my photographer friend said the next step up was only marginally better in terms of quality. Either way, I want to do a little reading and tinkering in the next couple of days. This will be the first event I photograph on any scale.

I'm really excited, though. There are a great spread of speakers showing up, nationally and in some cases internationally renowned. One of my personal heroes-- Ed Glaeser-- is a keynote speaker, and the chance to get to meet him is really exciting! Looking forward to meeting and taking photos of people I really respect. I've also never been to Boston, and we're doing a tour of Fenway park, a harbor boat cruise, and a few other really cool things. There will be mayors and the Gov of Mass. It's all very overwhelming and exciting and holy crap what in the world am I going to wear? haha.

That's actually been a big thought on my mind. I want to look nice, of course, but I'm also going to be on my feet for many hours a day and don't want my feet to kill. Always fun. I will be heading to Target tomorrow to grab a neutral cardigan. My budget is way capable of handling it.

It's been a very low spend week. I did buy lunch for the BF and I today, but I've still got plenty left in my budget for groceries and eating out at restaurants. I've spent absolutely zero of my "going out" budget. Apparently I've been really boring this month Smile haha.

Tonight I'm getting things ready for my trip and doing some homework. I have midterms coming up and a few papers I really need to get some headway on.

At any rate, I should get to work on all this! Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

Day 2 of Schedule Revamp

October 10th, 2012 at 12:17 am

So my newly reconfigured schedule is going really well. I've been pretty on for both days, and they've both been incredibly productive. I've spent very limited time on social media sites, which has helped immensely. I woke up at 7am Monday to work out at home, did some arms. This morning I woke up at 6:30 and hit the gym with a friend, as he gets unlimited guest passes at his gym! Now I can run and use cardio machines for free even as it gets colder Smile I can use the rec on campus, but fitting it into my daytime schedule is way more difficult. I'd rather work out in the early mornings.

Scheduled break times I think are really helping me stay on my game. Whether that's just taking 30 minutes to read or write in my journal or run an errand, it gets my mind off work momentarily and gives me the opportunity to refresh.

I threw some food in the crock pot around lunchtime, and finished everything up here a bit ago with the BF. He's taking the Jeopardy Test right now, so I scheduled that time to toodle on the interwebz for a minute. After he's done we're going to watch the second Sherlock Holmes movie and relax. We grabbed a bottle of wine from the store, and I'm looking forward to having a glass and having a nice night in.

The rest of the week will still be busy. I have a lot of powerpoint presentations to design, packing for Boston, and class for the next two days. I feel like I'm off to a good start, though, and looking forward to crossing more items off my to-do list.

As for spending today, all I had was shipping for a book I sold. I filled out the paperwork to get on the payroll at work (I've been paid through the university up to this point), and I ordered the new lens for my camera-- which work paid for as well, because I'll be taking photos at our meeting next week. So much to do!

Hope you're all having a splendid week!

Getting a Raise (sort of)!

October 8th, 2012 at 03:50 pm

I have a little extra time here for the next 20 minutes or so, so I figured I'd check in... particularly because I got some great news yesterday.

When I was hired on for this job, my boss basically said he'd be paying me for 20 hours/week through the university as per my GA contract. He encouraged me to work more than that, but said I was only obligated to work 20.

I've been working a whole lot more than 20 hours a week.

Because they pay my tuition, I wasn't particularly angry about it, but working 30-40 hours per week doesn't really leave a whole lot of time open to pick up any side jobs (or keep up with my school work). I have a lot of people asking me to pick up projects with them as a contractor, but not too much time to do so. I'm trying to work my schedule to change part of that... but over the weekend my boss sent an email saying that I've been doing a great job, and offered to pay me for 30 hours per week (essentially to make up for the stressful workload. ha).

I would be expected to work at least 30 hours, but of course I work that already. So of course I'm open to that setup! I'm essentially getting a 50% raise. So I can add about $400 to my monthly income. Seems like paying off that loan by the end of the year is going to be easier than I thought Smile

Just wanted to share the good news!

Today's spending will be minimal since I went grocery shopping last night-- $30 for the week, but I should have stuff leftover for next week. Really just have to cover the cost of mailing this book out, and I'm set. My schedule is packed tight with work, homework, yoga, and relaxation time. I woke up at 7am this morning and worked out for a half an hour. I'm feeling good as a result. Just have to keep on this schedule. Speaking of which, I should get going Smile

Hope you all have a great day!

Rethinking Time Management

October 7th, 2012 at 08:04 pm

So one thing I'm really good at doing is running myself ragged at work. I let it get in the way of everything, and give myself little time to breathe or recharge. It lasts for about a month or so, but when I hit my breaking point I end up very unproductive for weeks after. I'm in the recovery mode of that breakdown right now, with only a week before I'm on a flight for Boston for our National Meeting. Needless to say, this is a time where I really need to be on my game.

Over the weekend I had drill and spent most of yesterday sitting around waiting to shoot my weapon on the range. I had my phone with me and decided to download a book (because I have all of this Apple credit). I got one titled "What the Most Successful People do Before Breakfast" by Laura Vanderkam. I got through it really quickly, and felt pretty energized about revamping my mornings. She mentioned her other book, "168 Hours" along the way, and I ended up downloading that one right after I finished the first.

I think she has a really great outlook on time management, and made me rethink the way I handle mine. Making time for things like working out, relaxing, and spending time with the BF are really important. Making better use of my time at work is even more important. The best takeaway I gained from it is that there is no such thing as "not having enough time." We all have the same amount of time. We choose what is important enough to be included in our schedule. There are no excuses.

The good news is that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to "what is important." Paying our bills is obviously important. It's not necessarily a bad thing if we want to prioritize one thing over another. The idea is to keep our core competencies and goals in mind when budgeting our time. And we do budget our time, whether we think of it that way or not.

I'm in the process of not only budgeting my money right now, but also trying to rethink how I approach time management, and where I need to budget those precious minutes.

I will be the first to admit that I spend a lot of my time wasting time on the internet. I check my email likely a hundred times a day. I know I'm not all that productive in the evenings, that I have very little energy because I don't give myself breaks, and I should be working out regularly because it increases my energy levels and relieves stress. So we're going to work on all that.

She suggests getting up at 6am at the latest. I cannot do that. haha. I mean, I can do that. But we'll see how I operate when waking up at 7am first. We're going to use babysteps here.

I'm going to try scheduling time to do the social media thing. No more creeping on Facebook for several hours. Not checking my email more than 3 times a day. I created a schedule for the week, covering all 168 hours (split into half hours). I'm going to work out every morning (though only totaling 4 hours for the week). I'm also going to do 2 30-min yoga sessions.

The last important choice I made was to incorporate some relaxation time every few hours of my workday. I'm hoping that making these changes will increase my productivity at work and release some of the pressure on my brain and body.

So let's hope it all works out! Smile

As for money updates: Very low-spend weekend. Didn't spend anything Friday night or all day yesterday. Could have went off post last night, but I was exhausted and just wanted to relax in my room. On my way home this morning I stopped to get gas: $20.04. That's all I've spent on that this week. I also grabbed a coffee for a dollar, and paid for me and BF's lunch at Dunkin Donuts, $11.

My car started making these scraping noises as I was braking. I'm pretty sure that means I'm replacing my brake pads and rotors here very soon. I need an oil change as well. Thankfully I don't have any amount of distance to drive til next month. The 2-minute drive to the train station is nothing. So I'll be waiting at least a couple of weeks to get that taken care of. I may just wait it out til the beginning of next month. We shall see.

Tonight I plan on cooking at home, doing some cleaning, laundry, and getting prepared for the week ahead. It's my weekly icrecream date day with the BF, but he'll pay for that (particularly if I cook!). I'll be grocery shopping tomorrow, so I'll also be making out my grocery list. Think I may watch a movie or something tonight, but I'm planning on getting to bed early. Want to get a good start tomorrow!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Plotting the Rest of the Month

October 5th, 2012 at 07:17 pm

Now that I've made my goal for the month, I'm geared up to tackle the next one. I got paid today, so my first instinct is to throw it all at debt. But of course I cant do that. lol. I have to start thinking about what expenses I need to cover for the rest of the month, and then how much I'll be able to put toward that pesky loan.

I sold yet another book on Amazon today, and my payments for the last 3 should come in on the 14th. Drill pay this month will be a bit more than usual because it's a day longer than usual. All that being said, I know I have a little bit of extra cash to work with. At the same time, I don't want to leave myself with zero money for food. lol. I added in that extra income and adjusted my budget for the extra payment to my EF this month and it matches almost perfectly. So I'm not entirely sure how much I'll be able to put toward debt until next month unless I come up under budget in a few areas- and I could. But I still don't expect to be able to throw more than $50-100 toward debt this month. But we'll see! Another income source could come my way I don't know about yet Smile

I put an extra $100 away in my savings for car repair savings. I know that thing is going to need some work before long, so I may as well start stashing some money now. That was budgeted for, though. I made my internet payment today as well.

Grabbed a coffee and a couple of wakeup wraps at Dunkin Donuts today for breakfast. $5.57. That's the first time this week I've spent money on food. I consider that a huge victory for me. There have been weeks in the last few months where I've eaten out for almost every meal...

At any rate, time to get my apartment in order and packed for this weekend. I'll be at drill, so meals are all free there Smile Woo!

Everyone have an awesome day.

Hit my October Goal Already!

October 4th, 2012 at 12:57 pm

So yesterday my GI Bill money hit the account, and I moved a few hundred dollars into my savings account to add to my EF. But then I realized I'm getting my paycheck tomorrow, have over $100 on the way from the books I sold on Amazon, and will get a bigger than normal drill pay this month because it's longer than our usual 2-day.

So I said what the hey, let's just round it off. I made another $230 contribution and there it was. I had $1,000 in my savings account.

It's only the 4th of the month and I've hit my goal Smile

It feels good to have a little money in savings. It also feels good to know I can start jumping on my debt payments as well. I feel like my goal to have that loan paid off by the end of the year will be no problem.

It feels good to be on track and in control of my finances. I thought pulling together that kind of money would take a while... because I've had such trouble saving up any amount of money in the past. But really I just made a few changes, looked for a way to generate a little more income this month, and BAM. There it is. I like this game. haha.

I really haven't spent any extra money this week. I've spent $0 on food at restaurants. That's a huge deal. Not one cup of Starbucks coffee has been purchased. Not one lunch. Not one dinner. That has freed up quite a bit of money.

This weekend I'll be at drill, which means all of my meals are covered and I wont really have money to go out. I need to be hiding in the barracks when I'm not busy, anyway, doing schoolwork. I have a lot of reading to catch up on.

The only expenses I see coming up are my trip to Boston and Halloween. My flight and hotel room are covered by work (it's for our yearly conference), but food and whatnot there I'm assuming I will have to cover. I have no idea what I'm doing for Halloween, but I can usually keep it pretty cheap. An oil change is the only other special expense I can think of for this month. Oh, and soccer fees.

But anyhoo. Back to today. Excited to hit that goal, and looking forward to hitting more!

Cheers, everyone!

Lost my last entry. Ugh.

October 2nd, 2012 at 02:54 pm

Well, I wrote out a long post, but then it somehow got deleted. grr.

So to give you a much shorter update:

Called PNC and got that money credited to my CC from IKEA moved to my savings account. Emergency fund is now up to $469.14. Sold yet another book, which makes 3 now. Mailing those out today, and money will be added again to the EF. I feel like I'm going to hit this goal in no time.

Paid gas bill today, and I'll be mailing out my rent check as well. Yesterday was a NSD, which was nice. Brought coffee and lunch from home. Get free dinners on Monday night classes (a perk of the dean teaching your class).

I'll be getting my paycheck and GI bill this week, so I may actually be able to round out this EF in the next couple of weeks. That would be really nice!

Taking the day off work. I've reached my breaking point in the last week, and need to re-prioritize a bit and make sure I'm maintaining my sanity. Not the easiest thing in the world for me to do, but at this point I'm not doing myself any favors by running into the ground.

It's the 3 year anniversary of me and BF's first date. Tonight we're recreating it by watching Zombieland and getting Steak and Shake. Yum Smile Hope you all have a fantastic day!