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Archive for the ‘budgets’ Category

What’s Next?

A few of you asked what I plan to do now that I am debt free (yay!), and that’s a good question since my focus has been primarily on whacking away debt since starting this blog. Well, first things first, I need to get through March! My monies are slowly dwindling and it’s only the 11th. But after Surviving March, my mission is going to be save, save, save, save, SAVE!

Save for something pretty
I have a “Me Fund” where I am saving for a piece of jewelry at Tiffany’s to remember my journey towards becoming debt free. I’ll let you guys vote on what you think I should buy. :)

Operation: Save for Emergencies!
My next big milestone will be reaching $10,000 in my Emergency Fund. If I save $650 a month, I can reach $10,000 by January 2011. (So exciting!!!)

Save for Car Repairs
I have been slowly adding earned money this month to my Car Repair Fund to help the costs of replacing my car’s clutch a few weeks ago. After it’s back to a normal $500-700 amount, I’ll continue to add $25 a month.

Save for Gifts
I created a Gift Fund, which is just last year’s Christmas fund. I find myself slightly stressed when I hear someone is getting married because I know that month will be expensive, so I am going to give $50 minimum each month to the Gift Fund to have a pool of money to use for birthdays, weddings, and Christmas.

Save for Retirement
I
know I should be giving more than $100 a month to my Roth and 4% of my salary to my 401k… but after a hard internal battle I decided I will feel more comfortable with $10,000 in liquid savings than a really large retirement fund.

Save for a Wedding
I want to pay for my own wedding but this is on pause until I have a fully-funded E-fund.

The Post-Debt Budget

The last few budget items don’t have an amount listed because each month varies so I just make sure to stay with the leftover money in my account.

Any questions? If you were me, would you do something differently? Suggestions welcome!

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Back in October, I came up with two realistic goals to help me meet my savings/debt goals as well as flexibility with unexpected holiday purchases. The goals were: 1) don’t eat out for lunch and 2) don’t buy any clothes until 2010. Well my no-buying clothes goal was sadly broken a few weeks later, but I have done very well with my no-eating-out-for-lunch goal and had my first 2010 meal yesterday.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I paid for my first 2010 meal yesterday. I have eaten out at least once a week this month at Subway, but I don’t count it because I was using a gift card I got from the family I babysit. Yesterday was the first day I actually spent my own money on lunch at the delicioso Chipotle.

It got me thinking though: what if I buy myself gift cards to my favorite restaurants as my “eat-out” budget for the month or the next few months? I rarely eat at fast food places for dinner, but it’s convenient for weekday lunches since we only get a 30-minute break. I could even do this with my clothing budget or buy gift cards for when I go to the movies.

Has anyone bought gift cards for yourself to help keep your budget under control?

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My New Budget

I just received my new paycheck, reflective of my raise (extra $3000/year). After careful polling and questioning, I decided the extra money per month would go to debt and 401(k) contribution of 3%. I was unsure of the taxes, and it looks like my guess of $100 extra per paycheck was pretty accurate.

Before the raise, my monthly paycheck was $2311. This new paycheck  is now at $2407. $100 pre-taxed dollars goes to my 401(k) (which totals to $200 with company contribution). So now I have an increase of $100 to my regular take-home amount.

Here’s an update on my budget:

new budget

Hooray for raises and extra money! :)

Note: These are average payments for bills and represent my share of the total bill after split with my roommate.

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Farewell August!

I have to be honest: I’m very excited about saying goodbye to hot weather, humidity and August! It was a great month, but I absolutely ADORE autumn and am so excited about what the next few months will bring. But before I dive into my future goals, here’s a little recap about this past month.

AUGUST GOALS:
Update resume & portfolio

Fail! Honestly, this will only take me an hour at the most to organize this information. I just need to sit down and do it. I’ll put it on my September goals and make sure it happens.

Spend no more than $54.03 on clothes.
Done! I spent a total of $43.12 on clothes and that included workout clothes, which really shouldn’t count. I can feel the lack of shopping though and think it’s about time to spend some hard-earned money again. Besides fall clothes are my favorite to shop for!

Pay $500 to debt.
Done! As of today, I have $5300 left to go! And soon that number will be down even more. Love it!

Snowflake any extra money to savings.
Ehh… I made an extra $225 but only $75 of it was put towards my Emergency Fund. It’s really awesome to see these extra tiny jobs that add up to a lot! Without this money, my month would certainly be a lot more stressful and my budget a lot tighter.

Spend only $55 on gifts.
Done! For some reason I always spend so much on others, but I only paid for a wedding gift that was on sale for $35 this month. Hooray!

Give the blog a little face-lift.
Done! I changed the theme. Stay tuned for more changes!

Possibly buy an airplane ticket to visit BFF in Atlanta(?)
Done! I’m heading to Atlanta in October to visit my best friend. It’s also the next time I’ll see J. It’s also the week after this formidable half marathon is finished, so I’m super excited about this trip.

Figure out a way to pay for said airplane ticket(?)
Done! Used the extra money I earned. The ticket was $150, which was used all from extra income that I made (minus the $75 that went to the E-fund).

Continue following running training schedule. And work up to Saturday runs of: 6, 7, 8, and 9 miles.
Fail. I ran a 6-mile, two 7-mile runs, and one 8-mile walk/run. I definitely need to step it up in September.

Start & finish the Twilight series.
Fail. Honestly, I am okay with failing this goal. I finished the first Twilight book… and I didn’t really like it! I know everyone else loves it, but it just seemed like the story was… “OMG I hate this town. OMG Edward is so hot. OMG Edward likes me! OMG Edward is a vampire. OMG Edward is my savior! OMG Edward, bite me!!” (Spoiler alert?)

Accomplish almost everything else on my Warm Weather Goals.
Fail. This month I made watermelon cookies, played in an outdoor sport, and grew an herb garden. But technically this list lasts until Labor Day, so I do have a few extra days to accomplish some more.

AUGUST BUDGET:
As you can tell from all of my weekly and weekend spending reports, I stayed within my budget. As for the “categories” of each budget, I was over by $46 in gas (because of the unexpected love vacay), I was over by $21 in dining (because of the traveling), and over by $0.44 in entertainment (no stressing here-saw two great movies). To make up for that, I was under budget in groceries, gifts and overestimated how much my electric bill would cost at the beginning.

All in all, August was a great month! Really awesome net worth details to come….

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First off: Thanks to all for the kind response to my good news yesterday! I know it can sometimes be difficult to celebrate in others’ blessings, especially in this tough economy, so I appreciate all of the kind words. :)

I had NO idea this was happening. I really am not sure yet how I feel since my workload will almost double in the next few months. But I am excited about the challenge that this new work will bring!

Of course, the first thing I thought of when I heard “raise” was how in the world I will allocate this extra money coming in. And that’s where I’ll need your help! I feel like I am helpless to make decisions without my trusty PF bloggers backing it up. ;) I did some math and will be getting about $185 extra  in take home  pay a month. This will not be shown on my next paycheck, but the one I receive at the very end of September.

So here are the choices I’ve come up with. Vote on what YOU would do or give me another option.

OPTIONS:

A. Save towards my Emergency Fund.
Currently I am saving only when I get extra income or gifts–an average of $70 a month. This will increase to approximately $260 per month and $3020 in a year. With $2200 already in the account, I’ll be closer to my $6,000 goal in one year and certainly have the security that comes with more savings.

B. Put it towards debt.
If I put the entire amount towards debt, then I will increase my monthly payment from $500 to $685. This will allow me to pay off the debt in eight months rather than one year.

C. Contribute 5% to my 401(k)
Right now I am not contributing anything to my 401(k), aside from the base 3% that my employer contributes. This will bring no change to my monthly budget, but increase my net worth and of course benefit Future Me.

D. Contribute towards my Roth IRA
Currently I contribute $100 a month to my Roth IRA. If this is the option, I would increase my monthly amount to $285. Similar to Option C, this would not affect my savings or debt-paying goals, but certainly help later with compounded interest.

E. A mixture of All?
Save $100. Pay $50 to debt. Put $35 to my Roth IRA. Or another mixture of the extra money?

F. Add the $185 to my Clothing budget and spend it frivolously every month.
Ahem. I can tell you guys right now this is not what I am going to do. But perhaps I can get enough readers to convince me it’s the right thing?! I would certainly enjoy using this allowance for shoes and jackets and skirts….

So, what would YOU do if you were in my place?

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There’s always something…

Confession: I’ve never had a perfect month of budgeting.

I usually create my budget a week before the month begins anticipating what expenses will come up based on my calendar and current needs/wants. But there’s always always something that comes up unexpected or unplanned mid-way through the month that brings a kink to the “First Edition Budget” I create. Sometimes it’s because of emergencies and sometimes it’s me just having fun.

This Year’s Unexpected Expenses:

January: Well, ok. Bad first example. I didn’t have anything unexpected, except paying $200 towards Christmas expenses I was in debt for.

February: NYC trip for $150

March: Brake pads for $134

April: Bridal shower & gifts for $350

May: A $79 car repair and $78  half marathon registration fee

June: The $200 net book

July: My $90 running shoes

Now we get to August. My little unexpected expense this month is a plane ticket to Atlanta, GA for October. I wanted to give myself a little treat for completing the Half Marathon (the pride of finishing isn’t enough), so I planned a trip to visit my best friend always down in HOTlanta for the weekend after the race. I bought it yesterday for $149 and I’m pleased with the price and landing times.

Some months I get upset about not planning for the unexpected. I see car repairs and sometimes even gifts as an inconvenience and nuisance to ruining my budget. But the thing is, that’s life! The key about these expenses is having enough flexibility in your budget to tweak it. For example, if I knew I wasn’t babysitting five times this month, I’m not sure if I would have bought the ticket. Or if I have an emergency, I may take that money out of my clothes budget. It’s important to give yourself enough wiggle room to plan for unexpected emergencies and spontaneous splurges. Because… there’s always something that comes up!

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July Recap

GOALS:
Pay $500 to debt. CHECK!

I love watching the balance decrease each month. Slowly and steadily I am inching closer to paying off this bad boy.

Save $100 to Roth IRA CHECK!
Done! I am eager for this to get a little larger so that the interest can accumulate faster now that the market is doing a bit better.

Contribute any extra income towards the Christmas Fund FAIL.
I completely forgot about contributing more towards this. Oh well, I put any extra income towards my Emergency Fund, which I think it smarter anyway.

Follow running schedule: three times a week minimum FAIL-ISH?
Overall I’m pleased with my running schedule, but I didn’t kick it into gear until half way through the month.

Start a sports league in DC CHECK!
Oh yes oh yes. I joined my very first adult sports league with some friends in Washington DC. I won’t tell you which sport or where we play, but let’s just say so far I’m having a blast.

Accomplish three things off my Warm Weather Goals CHECK!
–Planned a trip to Annapolis
–Saw the fireworks on the mall
–Joined the DC sports league
–Went to the Air and Space Museum, American History Museum, & the Natural History Museum. I felt like a tourist! :P
–Sadly, I did not lose 10 pounds by my BFF’s wedding. :( I was down by 5 pounds so that’s better than nothing I suppose.

Increase net worth by $600 CHECK!
Cha-ching! You’ll see more about this later.. ;)

Have an awesome time at A’s wedding! CHECK!
And then some! I had a fantastic time and the wedding was gorgeous. One of the best parts? I can wear the bridesmaid dress again. If you’re a bride and want a good suggestion, this is the one that A chose from David’s Bridal in black.

BUDGET:
I spent too much on:
–Gas (all those trips)
–Gifts (all those friends)
–Auto Expense (car inspection)
–Hobbies (new running shoes)

I was under budget on:
–Groceries & Dining (yay! rarely happens)
–Personal Care (mani/pedi paid by mother of bride)
–Entertainment (harry potter didn’t cost as much as I expected)

I ended up with a balance of $0.88 at the end of the month=under budget!!! Let’s hope August is just as good to me.

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