Thursday, August 31, 2006

Good Old September...

Thank goodness August is over. It was a horrible financial month. Unexpected or irregular expenses ranged from an impromptu trip to Cleveland, payoff off my vacation to Punta Cana that I never took, Spring tuition, and the unnecessary purchase of career suits. Consequently, I have moved to a cash only/ debit card system. No more credit cards!!!

During the Month of August, I did the following prep work:

* Opened a Bank of America “Keep the Change” checking and savings account
* Opened an ING Direct account and set up automatic monthly deposits of $100 -- Also received a $25 bonus
* Opened a ShareBuilder account and set up automatic monthly investments of $100 -- Also received a $50 bonus
* Set up $25 automatic savings transfer to BofA savings to avoid the monthly fee

Here is my new monthly budget breakdown. It is going to be tight given my busy life of working full-time and going to law school part-time, but I am going to do my best to make it work. I am going to transfer my financial aid money, with the exception of $2K into my ING Account so that I only use the funds if absolutely necessary. I will have the 2K as a buffer for unexpected expenses. I am also expecting another $900 in tuition reimbursement this month, which I will likely also transfer to ING or open a HSBC account. I wish there was a bonus for that Bank...I would definitely open it then.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Opened a ShareBuilder Account…

I opened a ShareBuilder account to take advantage of the $50 promotion. I used promotion code ENTERTAIN50. ShareBuilder said that the $50 will be deposited 4 weeks after my first investment, which is scheduled for the first Tuesday of September. I elected to do the Free One-Month trial to get a free trade and then I will change to the Basic $4 Account.

For now, I also elected to transfer $100/month to fund my account. I used the ShareBuilder financial model to assess my risk tolerance and I came out with a Moderate profile. As of right now, my funds will be invested into two ETF funds…

What do you think?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Back from Ohio...

My interview in Ohio went well....Okay. Basically the firm looked interested in hiring me into their Summer Associate program but only if I could then go on and clerk for the next year until I took the bar exam the following July in 2008. As it stands, I was already prepared to take the bar exam in July of 2007 and was looking for an entry level associate position to commence in the Fall of 2007.

The way a lot of mid-size/large law firms work, is that they hire so many law students to become summer associates at their firm during the summer. If the law student performs well and demonstrates the potential to be a solid attorney, then they are extended a job offer to join the firm after taking the bar exam.

Unfortunately for me, I never completed a summer associate position because I was a full-time worker and part-time student. I am regretting that decision right now but it was never a given that I would have been extended an offer for a summer associate position. Now, I am working to secure a job for next year.

One thing that I am very willing to do since I am not nearing the end of law school and a career change, is to leave my current employment situation and complete a summer associate position if the firm would also allow me to clerk in their offices during the next year. I may be able to secure a judicial clerkship as well.

So much to much hustling...but anything worth having, is worth working for.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Going to Ohio...

Oh my...I am off to Ohio for a job interview on Saturday. It was last minute but oh is a job prospect and I have to make every effort to take responsibility for my career. I placed the airfare and hotel room on my credit card to get the rewards but have the funds to pay it off in full. In fact, I already transferred the funds into a separate account to make sure that happens.

The bad thing??????

$350.00 that I did NOT plan to spend this weekend but the reward can possibly be much, much sweeter!!!

Wish me GOOD luck!!!!

Sticking to a Budget…

This is my question…

How do you handle unexpected expenses when you are sticking to a tight budget?

It seems like something is always coming up, a wedding, birthday, license plate renewal, and of course…Christmas! How do you plan for these expenses and how to you simply decide that you cannot afford it?

For me, the answer has always been the dreaded CREDIT CARD! That was my solution. I would just put it all on the credit card and worry about it later because I never wanted to feel like I couldn’t do something for someone or take care of business when necessary.

What happened? Over $20,000 in credit card debt!!! (Ouch)

I feel bad. One of my friends is getting married Labor Day weekend and the only reason that I'm not going is because I know I can't afford to go. I would feel like I had to write out a check for $100/$150 for me and then double it if I brought a guest and I just couldn’t do it. I hope it won’t always be like this.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

No More Credit Cards…

September will mark the first month that I don’t use credit cards. I am a bit leery about my plan but I will try it out nonetheless. I still have to pay for books and I will have to do that sometime this week. It should be to the tune of approximately $500. My net worth is going to take a mighty big hit this month with a tuition payment of about $11,500.

Job update: No job so far. I received a rejection call and rejection letter from 2 employers I interviewed with at the Job Fair. One firm even spelled my name wrong. Addressed me as Mr. Chitown instead of Ms. Chitown. Small mistake but still a slight smack in the face when you are already rejecting me. What does that mean? More motivation to get a better job at a better firm and make an even larger contribution to the practice of law.

Hope everyone is well!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

On Vacation...

I am on vacation this week and it is the first time without work and school since March. I really needed this break. The Job Fair on Friday went well. I went in with the attitude that I have nothing to lose and that managed to soften my nerves.

I am working out a financial plan for the rest of the year right now. I established automatic savings with ING to deposit $100/month and will look sometime at the beginning of the year to double that amount.

For now I just want my CC/HELOC paid off by the end of February, to land a good paying job for next year, to work out a feasible budget that does not include credit cards, and to start my new job in September with $20k in savings. I know it is ambitious, but with my bonus, tax return, and tuition reimbursement, I should manage. We’ll see.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Interviews Tomorrow…

Tomorrow is the Job Fair and I have 3 interviews. I am a tad bit nervous and I have been researching the employers like crazy to find out as much as possible. Please wish me good luck!!!

Last night I went over to school to participate in a Mock Interview. It went well although my interviewer did say that she could tell I was nervous. Other than that, she said that I came across very professional, eloquent, and polished. (Thumbs up!) She just said to go into the interviews as if I have nothing to lose. Great advice. =)

So, that’s it…I pray everything goes well and that I am fortunate enough to get a call back, a second interview and a job offer.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Productive Morning…

I got 2 of my goals for the month accomplished today! I set up my Bank of America accounts to take advantage of the Keep the Change program and signed up with ING with an initial deposit of $250 to get the $25 bonus. Oh yeah!

No more credit card use for me. I am done, done, done!

I am on vacation next week from work and that’s where I will jump start making lunches and dinner again and eating out less. (Hopefully…I am on vacation.) I am going to hold of on the Sharebuilder account for now and just focus on trying to deposit $50-$100 into my ING account every month until I can get use to this whole budget/cash thing.

Hope everyone is well. I just wanted to post on my progress!!!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Best Friend’s Wedding is Over…

My best friend’s wedding was this weekend and went off with minimal hitches. She looked beautiful and we had a great time. Despite my shoes hurting after one hour, I smiled the entire time. LOL

Now it is time to regroup the finances. I took Sunday just to relax, read a little for enjoyment and visit with my parents for dinner. But now I am back to business. This Friday I have a Job Fair to attend and I have 3 interviews with a mid-size firm, a small firm, and a corporation. Wish me good luck!!! I really hope that something positive comes out of these interviews so I don’t have to relocate. My heart and soul rests in Chicago.

For now, I don’t anticipate any additional large expenses for the remainder of the year. Of course I am excluding Christmas. Next year will be a busy year for my family with my graduation, my mom’s retirement from teaching, and my sister’s wedding. Plus, I turn 30 next year, so I know I am going to want a bash for that big and special occasion. Did I just say 30????????? (Chitowngirl shakes her head in disbelief!)

Hope everyone is well. Thanks for checking in on me. Cheers!!!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

My Credit Card Use…

Well, I HAVE to refrain from using my credit cards unless there is an emergency. I just don’t have the willpower and continue to use them recklessly. My CC bill is due in about a week and that will be the end of that. I do have my regular bills charged to one CC and will continue that method of payment, but I do not carry that card in my wallet.

As I finish my last year of law school, budgeting is even more a priority. I will have to begin repaying my private student loans 9 months after graduation and my federal consolidated loan goes into repayment immediately. Since this is my last year of law school, I have a small window of time to establish better spending habits.

I am still going to open an ING account and a Sharebuilder account and I want to deposit $50 in each account when I get paid (once a month). While I agree that the Bank of America Keep the Change Program is not entirely attractive given the low interest rate on the savings account, I think I will go ahead and open an account. Anything transferred in the savings account will get swept into a higher interest bearing account at the beginning of the month, when I make my new $50 contribution.

I just need to get better hold on my spending NOW!