Friday, December 28, 2007

December Damage…

I am almost done assessing the credit card damage done in December. I am waiting for a few price adjustments to return to my credit card but it looks like the total damage for December will be ~ $2k including personal/emotional spending (~$500), monthly utilities (~ $300), Christmas gifts (~ $700) and some needed items for interviewing ($500). I currently have $1500 in my E-fund so I am a little short. I just got paid so the large sums I’ve been paying on my HELOC/credit card will be reduced to $200 in January while I add $500 to my E-fund to pay off my credit card balance. I’ve already moved back to my all cash/debit system that I was on before and I plan on keeping to that system for 2008.

The balance on my HELOC/credit card is $7,700 and will need to be reduced to $0 by April when my private student loan payments kick in. The plan is to reduce the balance to $7,500 at the beginning of January and then pay off another $4,000 at the beginning of February once I receive my paycheck and bonus at the end of January. That should reduce the balance to $3,500. My hope is that the balance will be paid off with my tax return and one more paycheck. Progress may seem slow but as most of you know, I only get paid once a month at the very end of the month.

I will need to replenish my E-Fund as soon as possible and I don’t have a good plan for how I am going to do it. I will come up with one soon.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Annual Bonus…

I got the figure for my annual bonus. It’s just shy of $6,000 so after 401k contributions and taxes, I will receive approximately $3,600. The bonus gets paid out with my monthly paycheck at the end of January. While I would like to replenish my emergency fund, I would also like to reduce my credit card balance as much as possible to eliminate it before April.

Right now, the balance is $7,700. I am going to pay off just $200 with my December paycheck that I received today and I am hoping to pay down $4,000 with my January paycheck and bonus which will reduce the balance to $3,500. If it weren’t for my December spending, I would have been able to put more than $200 towards the debt but it’s important to me that I pay off my December Damage in full (more on that later).

When it’s is all said and done, by the end of March, I will have ZERO crdit card debt and my EF will be empty. My plan is build back up my EF while I forbear my private loans for 6 months until October 2008. This will be easier when I get an attorney position with a higher salary. As of January, I will be moving back to an ALL cash/debit system again.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas...

Wishing you and your family a very Happy Holiday!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Presents…

Well some of the family reneged on the agreement we made to forgo Christmas presents. With everything going on, they felt like the Christmas spirit was being zapped from them and that they would feel better if they could get everyone a little something to open for Christmas. This wouldn’t be such a big deal but I already engaged in some emotional shopping this month.

I decided to purchase $25 gift cards for everyone and I will be personally writing something special in a card thanking them for their love and support this year. It’s not much, but it’s something and everyone will be getting the same $25 Amex gift card so there is no favoritism. Well…my little cousin and my best friend’s daughter both got $50 gift certificates to StrideRite so they can get some new shoes which can be expensive for little kids.

I also lucked up and found some inexpensive gifts for my three neighbors. They are getting a box of mixed Christmas cookies ($4 for 2 boxes) and a 4-piece Christmas mug set ($6 for four mugs). I got them on sale at the store and they are actually pretty cute. It’s just supposed to be a little token and I think they will be pleased for just under $10. The store also had Christmas bags and tissue paper for $1. It was a good day.

For the most part, my emergency fund is gone, gone, gone. As in Bye Bye!!! I feel a little bad about this but at the same time, my parent’s gave me that $2,000 so that I could get something special for myself. So, I got myself a few items of clothing that I can also wear to work and I purchased some Christmas presents. I will work to build my emergency fund up again in the next few months. This will be a lot easier when/if I get the attorney position at the bank.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Too Much Going On…

Ever get the feeling like there is just too much going on? In just the last few days, I received word that my manager’s young son passed away suddenly, my friend and co-worker hauled himself on the first flight out of town because his mom needs immediate heart surgery and my friend’s cousin was just killed in a car accident.

I haven’t had any time off from work since August and we’ve been really busy. I am supposed to have Friday off but I am covering for my co-worker and I am not sure if I will have to scrap my vacation next week to cover him as well if he is unable to return. We had a 4-person analyst team but two weeks ago, one member left to work at a competitor bank and now my co-worker is tending to his mother. That leaves just two of us to handle an entire part of the bank and we are very overwhelmed.

On top of that, I am interviewing, my ex boyfriend of 16 years broke my heart and the thought of spending the holiday without him makes me tear up. I am just so overwhelmed with…everything.

As for my personal finances…let’s just say there is some emotional shopping that is on my credit card at the moment and some much needed purchases like shirts to go under my suits and new winter boots which I haven’t purchased in over 8 years. Right now, the balance is over $1,000 and that just makes me want to crawl into a hole.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Interviews Concluded…

Well my interviews are finally over. I had one more today which was actually very encouraging. Two of the advantages that I have are eight years of banking experience and I also know how the bank operates. My clear weakness is the lack of direct legal experience but unless you have specific banking knowledge, other candidates with legal experience will face other but similar challenges.

Actually, another advantage that I have is that I may come cheaper than outside candidates who already work for firms earning significantly higher salaries. I won’t know anything for at least six weeks. Legal will be bringing in candidates in January after the holidays for additional interviews.

At this point, I am definitely aiming and hoping for the junior position. It would mean a nice bump in salary. I am hoping at least a minimum of $90k. With that salary, I will be able to pay both principal and interest on my student loans, save and invest long-term and increase my retirement savings to 10%. In addition, I have a pension which will provide a little more retirement cushion.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Employee Share Purchase Plan…

I cancelled my contribution for my employer’s share purchase plan. Last year, I contributed the amount of my raise (2%) to the plan. Going forward in 2008, I am going to need all the extra money that I can get when I begin repaying my student loans.

On another note, my spending this month got out of control. I will post about that soon.

Monday, December 17, 2007


My interviews got rescheduled for today. I actually have another interview tomorrow and Wednesday. Since I am already employed in the same building and it’s the holiday season, they were able to spread it out. I have a weird feeling about the interviews. I got the impression that they were pleased with my work experience but not pleased that I wouldn’t be able to hit the ground running. I am not sure what they really expect. I just graduated from law school in May and I just got sworn in last month. While I won’t be able to head a project right away, I can certainly contribute. Plus, I don’t care who you are, if you aren’t already working in the organization, you aren’t going to hit the ground running. You have to get acclimated to the organization and how it works. While I already knew that I wasn’t qualified for the senior position, I am still hopeful that they will consider me for the junior position.

This is my last ditch effort to remain with the bank. If they do not offer me the position, I will begin applying heavily elsewhere.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


It looks like I may get an interview in the Legal Department within the next few weeks. With the holidays looming, scheduling may be difficult but I am hopeful that it will happen soon. I am ready to make my transition out of my current job and finally earn a better salary.

***Update. They called and I have an interview on Tuesday. =)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Automating Bills and Savings…

Currently, I pay my mortgage each month by logging in to the company’s website. I am thinking about automating my payments with the company’s Pay/12 program where they automatically deduct my payment and any additional principal I designate from my checking/savings account each month. So long as the payment date that I select falls within the first and the sixth day of the month, there is no fee for this service. Since I get paid once a month on the next to last day business day, this wouldn’t be a problem for me. Also, I am planning to remain with my company and practice law so my pay schedule won’t change.

I am trying to automate as much as possible. My 401k contributions of 5% are automatically deducted. I use my bank’s bill pay service to automatically pay my condo assessments, car insurance and electric bill. All of my AT&T services are charged to my credit card in addition to my home security system and I pay the balance off in full each month. Once my student loans enter into repayment, I will also allow them to automatically deduct my payments so that I can receive a .25% interest rate reduction.

What do you automate?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Charitable Giving…

As many of you know, I am in a lot of debt…over $200k in fact. Every once in a while, I get something in the mail from organizations such as St. Judes, the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society. I send them $10, $20 or whatever I can spare.

Recently I was introduced to World Vision and now I contribute $35 per month to help a child in need. I call him Mr. Wilson and he is a beautiful little boy in Africa. World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.

Please check out the website and decide for yourself if you would like to bring joy to a child in need.

World Vision

Potential Attorney Position…

I just wanted to give an update and let everyone know that I posted for two attorney positions in my place of work. One position is junior to the other but based on the job description provided, I am definitely qualified for the junior position. The more senior position asks for an experienced attorney with 8 years of banking knowledge and the junior position did not call for an experienced attorney but 4 years of banking knowledge. This is my 8th year with the bank so I sort of fall in between. I have been networking like crazy so I hope that I get an interview within the next few weeks and move into the legal department some time in January. Things are slow during the holidays.

Both positions are higher job grades so that certainly will mean a nice salary boost. In my posting, I asked for low six figures, recognizing that with my already low salary and move within the company, they may have come in way lower than would appeal to me for the long haul. If they come anywhere close to six figures for the lower position, I will be pleased because I know that there is a more senior position that I can eventually move into with just a little more experience. Also, at 30, I would be pretty young to have an in house position already so that means that I have a lot of growth potential not only with my company but also in the legal world which places great value on legal experience.


Thank You Gifts…

While my family isn’t engaging in gift giving this holiday season, I have a ton of thank you gifts to buy for people who have helped me out over the last few years with law school and also for my family who went in together for my Birthday Weekend. They can’t be simple tokens of my appreciation because these people have made a huge difference in my life and made it possible for me to be where I am now. I am going to have to put some thought into the gifts but I do want them to be special. No matter what, it is important to stop and say THANK YOU!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Birthday Weekend…

I had an awesome birthday! I was feeling a little down about not having a legal position yet and the demise of my relationship that when people asked about my birthday plans, I didn’t have an answer. I just wasn’t excited. Well…my sister and brother-in-law changed all of that.

My sister asked me to promise to give her my full cooperation and so I did…reluctantly. She said to be ready at 10 am on Saturday and to dress warm. Those of you who are familiar with Chicago are aware that the weather can be unpredictable. Saturday was no exception. It ended up snowing and raining and everything settled into a sheet of ice. So, my sister picked me up promptly at 10 am and we were off. I did pretty good…I made it halfway into the city before I asked her where we were going. Of course she wouldn’t tell me but she pulled out a red envelope which to my delight was what she called “Chitown Mail” like “Tyra Mail” on America’s Next Top Model. Too Cute!!! On the card was a clue to our destination that I could not guess for the life of me. She just laughed at me and told me to relax. The rest of the day unfolded with 4 more surprises, each accompanied with a card containing clues to each destination. I was so tickled. Nobody has every done something so special for me.

All in all, I left the house on Saturday and returned home after midnight. The day included lunch, a four hour trip to the spa, shopping, dinner where my parents and brother-in-law surprised me by showing up and hiding behind their menus, and a trip to a jazz club. For the most part, my sister wanted everything to be something I never did before and I had an absolute blast.

During our time on Saturday, I told my sister that my best friend forgot about my birthday and was actually scheduling my birthday on her crackberry (blackberry) while we were at lunch. Well, I ate my words when my sister told me to be dressed and ready to go on Sunday at noon. I was waiting in my condo foyer when who drives up…my best friend. Can you say, EAT MY WORDS!!! I was so delighted. She also wouldn’t tell me where we were going so I immediately knew she was in cahoots with my sister. We work about a block away from each other and often meet for lunch so when we started heading downtown on Sunday, I was thinking…We can’t be going downtown for lunch!!!! We made small talk in the car but I wanted to know so badly where we were going but I knew if I asked, I wouldn't get a peep out of her. So, when we got downtown and drove by the crazy Bears Fans tailgating at Soldier Field, my mind was racing trying to think of what we were going to do. When we turned onto Randolph Street and passed Macy’s (Marshall Fields) on State, I blurted out…ARE WE GOING TO SEE WICKED????? Then my best friend handed me my clue complete with a red envelope and my tickets to WICKED!!! I was sooo excited!!! I wanted to see it so bad but never really had anyone to go with or for that matter, the time…can you say BAR EXAM!!! Anyway, the play was awesome, so witty and funny and nothing like what I expected since I didn’t read the book.

Then my birthday ended in traditional fashion. A homemade dinner, surrounded by family and my favorite, CHEESECAKE!!!

I am 30 and I am going to love it!!!

*** Funny note. My sister is so cute but she has a terrible sense of direction. Therefore, I often had to help her navigate downtown. Oh but she is a smart cookie and a teacher too…she made sure she didn’t leave any identifying information on each of the Mapquest sheets. A smart cookie indeed and since everything was new to me, I didn’t have a clue where we were going. My brother-in-law did a lot of the planning with my sister. He is very outgoing which is refreshing. I have the best sister and brother-in-law!!!!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Credit Card Balance Reduced…

I paid down my credit card/heloc balance today by $900. The balance now stands at $7,700. I am still on my quest to pay it off by April 2008. My emergency fund is still in tact and I should have enough cash flow to get through the month. Additionally, the charges I put on my credit card due to lack of cash flow in November have also been paid in full.

I am not going to reach my goal of $30k in my 401k for the year but I am going to come close if the market would just cooperate. =) I get paid once more at the end of December.

On a great note....Yesterday was my grandmother's 85th Birthday!!!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

30th Birthday...

Today is my 30th Birthday!!!

I had the most amazing birthday weekend.

I will post about it soon. =)