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Bye March; Hi April!

Ahhh… a new month is upon us. That means new paycheck, new goals, a fresh start. I love it. :)

March Goals:

  • Become debt free!!!!!!!
  • Go to the gym 12 times
  • Cook something new
  • Figure out new budget
  • Update blogroll

Of course not going to the gym would be the one goal I fail at this month. Everything else was pretty standard, although I’m seriously disappointed with my March budget. But more on that in a later post.

April Goals:

  • Reach $10,000 in net worth (dare I try?!)
  • Go to the gym 12 times
  • Only spend $100 in groceries
  • Don’t use credit card or savings for any living expenses. (Sadly it happened in March)
  • Attend the Cherry Blossom Festival
  • Have a fabulous time at my friend’s bachlorette weekend.

Here’s to a happy and productive April!

Kitchen Inventory

{photo above is not my pantry… but isn’t it pretty?}

As I mentioned in yesterday’s miscellaneous ramble, I’m not going to buy any groceries until I finish off my freezer/refrigerator/pantry. Well, I am giving myself $100 for groceries, but only if I buy something to pair with an item listed below. I spent waaaaaaaay too much on food in March, so this is my attempt to make up for it.

Originally posted 3/30/10
List updated 4/7/10
April Grocery Budget: $87.92 left

Freezer:

  • Green beans
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Chicken
  • Vegetable stir fry mix
  • French fries
  • Bacon
  • Fruit popsicles
  • Italian Ice
  • Turkey

Refrigerator:

  • Cacciatore sauce
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Blue cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Hummus
  • Bread
  • Eggs
  • Egg whites
  • Milk
  • Orange Juice
  • Lettuce

Pantry:

  • Peanut butter
  • Cliff bar
  • 2 cans of chicken soup
  • Can of black beans
  • Can of chili beans
  • Can of corn
  • Pop tart
  • Bag of rice
  • Hot chocolate packets
  • Salsa
  • Chips
  • Baking mix
  • Oatmeal packets
  • Cereal
  • Pasta
  • Pizza sauce
  • Wheat thins

There’s a few other little items I didn’t add like mustard, flour, dressings, etc., but that’s standard stuff I try to always have on hand. I’ll update on my meal plans and how this list stands in the weeks to come.

Anyone else want to join me in finishing off their kitchen inventory this April?

Monday Miscellaneous

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  • This past weekend I went home for my friend’s bridal shower and it made me want to be engaged so I can register for pretty home things. Over coffee this morning, I found myself at the Pottery Barn website… you know, just to look around.
  • Every Monday for the last three weeks we’ve had very Mondayesque weather: drizzly, misty, chilly. However, we are suppose to have 80-degree weather this weekend. Is it sad I’m wishing away today, tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday already?
  • I’m very happy that Duke University made it to the Final Four. :)
  • Last week I bought a dress at Target that I wore for Saturday’s bridal shower. My sisters told me it looked like I was wearing an apron, so I returned it today. I feel slightly dishonest, but not enough because I only wore it once and am very thankful to have $21.19 back in my account.
  • On that note, I saw The Blind Side this weekend (loved it) and learned that if you if don’t love it in the store, you’ll never wear it. Good advice, Sandra Bullock.
  • I mailed in my state taxes over a month ago and have been impatiently waiting for my owed $158. Last Wednesday I received a letter from them saying I forgot to include my W2 form. How does one forget to put their W2 slip in there?!
  • I’m not going to buy any groceries this week–or month, depending on how long it takes me to eat all of the food in my fridge, freezer and pantry.
  • I am itching for a good novel to read. Does anyone have a book recommendation that includes the following:
    –little violence, crudity, sadness;
    –lots of subtle humor, everyday simplicity, happy ending?

{via}

The other day a reader emailed me this:

i would love for you to do a post on what you think about real estate – your blog seems to announce that you do not ever want to be in debt, and i was wondering what your future plans for renting/buying are!

That is an excellent question. Honestly I haven’t put too much thought into it because I probably won’t buy a house for years. My financial priorities go like this:

  1. Save $10,000 in an Emergency Fund (circa Dec 2010)
  2. Max out Retirement Accounts (2011 and on)
  3. Save for a Wedding (2011)
  4. Save for a New car (2011/2012)
  5. Save for a House Deposit (2012-??)

Man! That seems like a loooong time! :( Perhaps I can knock out the first goals faster than expected? Hmm. But back to the question at hand: While I am very much against debt, I do plan to take out a mortgage when I buy a house. I’d love to buy a home with cash only (can you imagine?!) but realistically that probably won’t happen unless I win the lottery or marry rich.

I’ve got a little time before I will be saving for the deposit, but here are my debt-free thoughts on mortgages for when that time comes.

1. Rent Cheap
A lot of people have the mentality that renting is wasting money because you are throwing away cash that could be put towards equity. Well, that is technically true, but it can be a dangerous mentality if it rushes you into buying a house you can’t afford. It is, however, a good motivator to save faster and the easiest way to save faster is to rent cheap. I think that monthly housing costs should be no more than 35% of your paycheck. My rent right now is 26% of my paycheck (33% if you count bills) and I hope to stay around that no matter where I live. You don’t have to live in the ghetto to rent cheap, but some ways to save on rent include splitting rent with a roommate, renting away from city life (make sure to factor transportation costs), and sacrificing amenities like washer/dryer, dishwasher, etc. That topic really could be a whole post in itself.

2. Save 20% Down Payment
Mortgage lenders vary on the amount of cash they require for down payments, but I plan to save for a 20% deposit when I buy.  It is so hard to imagine saving that much money! But like I said in an earlier post, buying a house really intimidates me, so I want to make sure I have enough money up front to cover house expenses as well as a good deposit. This amount depends on the location, but for example, if I buy a house that is $250,000, I plan to save $50,000 to put down. (Yowser!! That’s a ton of money! Hopefully by then I’ll have a husband to help me save.)

3. Buy a house with a 15-year mortgage
I am sure many may disagree with me, but I plan to buy a house with a 15-year mortgage rather than a 30-year. The amount of interest saved between those 15 years is huge! The payments each month may be significantly larger, but if I’m unable to afford them with a 15-year mortgage, then the house is either too expensive or I’m not ready to buy one. If I purchase a home at the age 30 then I could be 100% debt-free by the age of 45 as opposed to 60. Can you imagine not having any housing payments at the age of 45?! That would be AMAZING!


So those are my very high-level thoughts on real estate. Dave Ramsey is my go-to man for most of my real estate questions and advice, so I encourage anyone looking to buy a house to check out his website. I don’t agree 100% with everything he says, but I did follow his example for this one. :)

What about you? What are your thoughts on buying a house?
If any of you are saving for a house, do you have a different strategy? If any of you have bought a house, would you recommend a different approach? Suggestions welcome!

I have come to realize that when I don’t update my spending reports every week, I am less conscious of my money, and things tend to get out of hand. Like seriously out of hand. I am ashamed to say this, but I overdrafted my account for the first time in years the other day. The cause? A check. We lost our mail key and had to get a new lock so I had to write a check for $46 to get it replaced. That was three weeks ago and I (stupidly) forgot to factor that into my budget and therefore my account overdrafted. Dumb dumb dumb. Thank goodness for savings.

Anyhoo. I’m not going to count myself a failure yet, just make it through the next week as frugal as possible (while traveling) and simply try better for April. If you’re not really sure what I mean, here’s what I’ve spent in the last two weeks. I was clearly out of control!

Beginning Balance:  $263.52

dining:
-$9.67 dinner out
-$7.31 panera for lunch
-$9.94 brunch
-$16 brunch, again!
-$47.49 thai restaurant
-$7.31 panera for lunch
-$10.66 chickfila for me & roommate
-$1.69 drink somewhere

groceries & gasoline:
-$30.42 gasoline
-$32.00 gasoline
-$5.62 groceries
-$13.94 groceries
-$32.06 gasoline
-$17.53 groceries
-$24.63 groceries
-$14.46 groceries
-$15 metro

gifts:
-$25 charity donation
-$29.68 william sonoma for wedding shower gift
-$3.70 card for wedding shower

me things:
-$14.41 facewash
-$21.19 dress at target for wedding shower this weekend
-$68.99 banana republic (I know, it’s alot but I bought a really nice dress for some events I have this summer)

savings:
-$45 transfer to car repair

really annoying expenses:
-$46 check for mail key replacement
-$10 overdraft fee (ack!!!!)

income:
+$240.27 babysitting, cash from friends for dinner
+$100 overdraft savings

Ending Balance: $44.05


Yeeps! It’s clear I spend way too much on food, including dining and groceries, but some of those restaurants I put on my credit card and was reimbursed by friends with cash. Still, I need to be better with meal planning. There’s no excuse for this an overdraft (!!), except a few babysitting jobs I was counting on were canceled ($150) and my roommate owes me some money for bills and dinner (~$80). Plus I didn’t use all of my savings to pay for my $600 car repairs at the beginning of the month. Anyway, I will continue to update my spending reports on here because obviously I need that in order to stay on track!

Naw, I kid. I’ve been on Facebook since 2004 but this is a new step for my little blog because now you can find My Pretty Pennies on there! What what! Welcome to 2010, MPP.

Please feel free to add me as your friend, write on my wall, send me delightful photos or links or whatever. Can’t wait to “meet” some of you!

Happy First Day of Spring

{via}

Saturday morning is my favorite time of the week. I always thought Friday evening was, but I find myself so tired after a whole week’s work that I am rather useless on Fridays. Saturday mornings, however, I slowly wake up, make a homemade breakfast and drink cups of delicious coffee while I prepare for my day of nothing. :)

Actually, I have a lot I want to accomplish today. I have three weekend trips planned in the next month and I feel the need to organize my life in preparation for a busy month. Here’s my weekend to do list:

  • Make a meal list & go grocery shopping
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Watch a lot of college basketball (even though my bracket is screwed)
  • Do some major housekeeping
  • Wrap presents for next week’s wedding shower
  • Go out with friends to a Jazz bar
  • Calculate all expenses and report on blog (whoops, a bit behind!)
  • Organize my room and pack books to take home
  • Buy plane ticket for bachlorette party weekend

Hope everyone has a lovely first day of spring! :)