Tuesday, October 31, 2006

October 2006 Recap…

I am beginning to loathe these recaps but only because of MY bad financial behavior. I can deal with large expenses like tuition payments, new tires for my car or something like that but it’s my discretionary spending that is out of control. It is this blog that lets me know just how much!!!

Okay, here goes…


  • Blew through cash reserves
  • 401k rocked this month
  • Car value holding steady
  • Still trying to deposit $100/month into savings
  • Student loan interest is killing me
  • Probably need to revalue my condo - neighbor sold 2bd/2ba for $155, I have a 3bd/2ba
  • Opened WaMu high interest bearing online savings account – 5% current APR
  • Withdrew ShareBuilder bonuses and transferred to ING – Moving ING funds to WaMu on November

Major Expenses:

  • Quarterly Water Bill - $110
  • Bar/Bri Prep Program - $170
  • Car Tires and Brake Repair - $870

Next Month:

  • Watch discretionary spending closely
  • Move $2-3K into WaMu savings account – waiting for checks and debit card
  • Pay for my trip to my sister’s wedding – need to get this secured and out of the way
  • Pay for passport
  • Pay $250 deductible for car repair

Monday, October 23, 2006

Neighbor Sold Condo…

Good news. My neighbor sold his 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo for $155k…100% of the asking price.

I have a 3 bedroom, 2 bath that I purchased for $129k almost 3.5 years ago and he purchased 6 months after me. I currently value my condo at $150k so I think that after I sell my place, I can definitely net at least $50k in equity since my mortgage balance is down to $98.6k and I don’t plan to move for another 3 years. This money can go towards a new home purchase or the pay down of my student loans. Oh yeah!!!

New WaMu Account…

Jonathan over at MyMoneyBlog gave a review of his experience with Washington Mutual’s new Free Checking and 5% APY Online Savings Account. You can check it out here.

Working downtown in Chicago, there are a lot of WaMu braches and there are several that are near my home outside of the city. Like all other online savings account, the APY is subject to change but the account is fee free and I am able to access my funds a lot easier because there are so many braches nearby. I am going to probably switch to using this rather than HSBC but I will see how I like the account first.

Some other benefits…

The WaMu Free Checking account has:
  • No minimum balance or direct deposit requirements
  • Open with $1- Free basic checks for life
  • No ATM fees on their end
  • Free Gold Debit MasterCard® with Rewards—earn cash back on purchases!
  • One free overdraft per year- Free outgoing wire transfers

The Statement Savings account has:

  • A competitive 5.00% APY on all balances (rate only available online)
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Open with $1- Instant transfer to/from the Free Checking
*** The process of opening the account was so easy and smooth. Very pleased so far.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

When it Rains, it Pours…

Last night I got into a car accident after getting out of class. I just pulled out of the parking lot about 30 seconds before it happened. A woman made an improper turn and sideswiped my car on the passenger side. There is quite a bit of damage and she did not have her insurance card on her but indicated that it was at home. She said she would call me with the information. We’ll see. We did call the police just in case and waited for about an hour in the rain before the officer got there. I was a little worried that the woman would drive away because after she hit me, it didn’t seem like she was going to stop. Rain in Chicago means there are probably accidents like the one I had all over town, so I cannot blame the officer for taking a long time to get there.

So, all in all, I will have to pay my insurance deductible to get the work started on my car and get a rental but my car is drivable…just embarrassingly damaged. Besides, I don’t really blame the woman too much because she just moved here from the South and is unfamiliar with how fast Chicago moves and the sheer amount of one-way streets in Downtown Chicago. If you are new here, it can be very difficult.

The most important thing is that nobody got hurt. The car can be fixed but people are not replaceable and I am grateful that it wasn’t worse.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Waiting Period for Purchases…

Tricia over at Blogging Away Debt (great blog by the way) uses a 90-day rule when making purchases. In the end, waiting the 90-days kept her from purchasing a new LCD TV. I like the idea a lot especially since I am a serious impulse buyer.

So here goes…I am going to try a 30-day waiting period. Hopefully, I will be able to increase this to 60 days and eventually 90 days. In the end, I can try to save for whatever it is that I want during this waiting period.

I mulled the purchase of my new PDA/Cell phone for about 6 months before I purchased it and I am very happy with it. But by waiting the whole 90 days, I could have easily set aside $100/ month for the purchase and it wouldn’t have hit my pockets so hard. Plus, you never know if the urge to buy whatever will go away, if you will find something else that’s cheaper or if the item will go on sale.

Thanks Tricia!!!

Monday, October 16, 2006

October Update…

October is turning out to be a costly month for me as well where bills/expenses exceed income and I SPEND TOO MUCH!

Monthly Income: $3,130 – After 5% 401k contribution

Savings: $300

Regular Bills/Expenses: $2,250

Discretionary Spending: $915

Irregular Expenses: $1,150

  • Quarterly Water Bill - $110
  • Bar/Bri Prep Program - $170
  • Car Tires and Brake Repair - $870

Deficit: $1,485

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

September Recap...

September was a better month. I moved to a cash only system and steered away from the use of credit cards. It was a lot less stressful and I could feel the pain of my cash balances declining throughout the month. Irregular expenses and purchases hit me hard in September and they are hitting me hard in October as well. I can say that all October irregular expenses thus far have been necessary expenses and not discretionary like my new PDA/Cell Phone that I purchased in September. I purchased it so that I can keep up with all my appointments/interviews, work meetings, school projects, exams, and assignments due.

Irregular Expenses: ~ $1,300 (OUCH!!!). I don’t have to tell you that this completely threw my budget out the window. Luckily, I got $900 extra in September in tuition reimbursement that helped out a lot.

Interview Expenses: $330
Law School MPRE Exam: $60
Car Repairs: $260
New PDA/Cell Phone: $380 - $100 Mail in Rebate so $280
New Computer Battery: $80
Garage Door Repair: $100
Birthday Gifts: $100

Discretionary Spending: ~ $1200. Once again, I spent way too much but I know it would have been worse using my CC. Not so much on clothing or anything like that, just eating out and entertainment spending. This spending would be in line with a salary in the $135k range, not my $54k salary.

Savings: I transferred $4,000 of my Savings into ING and have since transferred the funds back to my checking account. MY HSBC account is now up, running, and set to go and I just need to call and have them fax me the beneficiary form so I can fill it out and fax it back. Then I will transfer the $4K back and out of “harms way.”

Investments: I invested another $100 with Sharebuilder and that account is building nicely. We have to start somewhere right? In October, I deposited another $100 and should get the $50 and $25 bonuses in the coming weeks to add to my accounts as well.

Retirement: My 401k performed much better and almost doubled my contributions for the month. Oh yeah! My friend is a financial advisor so he did a new asset allocation for me and it is working out well.

Debt: Student loan interest continues to stack up and capitalize. I am grateful that this is my last year of law school so I can start paying some of this debt off soon.

General comments: Overall, a slight dip in net worth but nothing like last month. It will suffer another dip in January with my last tuition bill but from there on, it should be smooth sailing to financial freedom. I am still interviewing and have another interview this week. I am waiting to hear back from 2 firms that I interviewed with in September. Both are long shots but I am just as deserving as the next, hungry for the opportunity, and know that I can do a great job for whoever hires me. What is meant to be will be, I just have to continue to put my best foot forward.