Saturday, February 27, 2010

Expensive Day...

As I reported, my garbage disposal died last week. I went to Home Depot today and purchased a new one. I didn't get the most expensive disposal but it still hit me for $120 including tax. My boyfriend or brother in law will install it for me next week.

I also spent almost $70 on my nephew's birthday gift today. My sister mentioned last night that they needed to buy new forward facing car seats since my nephew is now 1 years old and around 20 lbs. So, I decided to get them a $50 Visa Gift Card and I got him just a touch n feel book from Toys R Us so he had something to tear into. He had a nice birthday. I don't buy my nephew a lot of stuff at all like clothes and toys on a regular basis. So, if the gift card will help purchase a good car seat to keep him safe, then I am happy to contribute. My sister and brother-in-law each have a car seat in their cars and they never ask me for anything.

I did however spend way more than planned.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Free Food...

I opened the door to my neighbor with pudding in hand for my condo meeting. She asked me if that was dinner. I said I might make a grilled cheese sandwich later. Needless to say, after the meeting, she went upstairs and brought me down a plate of chicken and noodles. Yummo!!! She's much older and married and I'm young and living solo so I think she feels like she needs to look after me which is just cute. Nevertheless, that was one less ramen noodle and grilled cheese dinner. =)

I joined my sister and brother in law for dinner tonight and he picked up the tab. I just wanted a chance to see my nephew on his birthday but I got dinner and company out of the deal for free. Score!!!

Finding My Purpose…

Lately I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go right back to sleep. I sit there and try to figure out my purpose in this life. I am convinced that my purpose is not to just work to pay bills. I find that I don’t have the desire to spend money like I used to in the past. I’ve become more of a homebody because leaving the house means spending money which unfortunately means I just have to work that much longer and harder. I’m tired.

I am 32 and would love a family of my own. I have the cutest little nephew and when I spend time with him, I smile and laugh and find joy in simple things like banging on Tupperware. I’ve got a boyfriend of a year and a half but we’re both not in the best financial condition. You know my finances…just click on the net worth chart to the right. Umm…definitely not ideal.

My boyfriend and I met just after he purchased his own condo in August 2008. He got laid off that December and was unemployed for 6 months. His former employer eventually filed for bankruptcy and liquidated. So…not ideal for him either. It is going to take him some time to fully get back on his feet but he is not a lazy man by any measure and he is much more disciplined with his money. He joined the Army Reserves to pay for grad school so I know he only has a fraction of my student loan debt. He should be in pretty good financial condition in another year and he is employed with a very solid company. The only concern I have is that he may be under water with his condo. It’s plenty spacious though with 3 bedrooms and 3 baths so he could get pretty good rental rates and/or if things work out, there is plenty of room for me there in the short-term.

I often panic and wonder what I really have to offer? I am 32 and my net worth is in the tanker. I do have my own condo with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths and I have a lot of potential. But...I often wonder if this man really wants to gamble with potential? He knows I have another mortgage in student loans and credit card debt but he doesn’t know the full extent. He also knows that I am trying to land a higher paying position and he is very supportive and encouraging.

Last night my Dad was holding my nephew and asked me when I was going to give him a playmate. He said…you’re getting old now. What could I really say in rebuttal? I want kids but 1) there is an order to things in my opinion and I would like to get married first and 2) I can’t afford a child even though I know the child would be welcomed into the most loving of families. My Dad said they would help (can you smell desperation for grandkids) but I pointed to my nephew and said love and enjoy him. And to your other daughter Dad…she has a husband AND dual income. =)

Tax Return and TGIF…

I am so grateful that it’s Friday. Today is my Nephew’s 1st Birthday. We are going to celebrate this weekend and give him lots of hugs and kisses. I am going to get him a small toy for his birthday for maybe $20. I re-gifted a $100 gift card that I had left from Christmas to help pay for his party. My sister and brother-in-law were really grateful and I am happy that I contribute even a little bit. It’s not a major party or anything. He just loves Mickey Mouse so that is the theme. The little guy has been such a blessing to the family.

Other than celebrating my nephew this weekend, I don’t have a lot of other plans that require money. I received my State Tax Return for $141 in the mail last night and my Federal Tax Return for $3,670 which was direct deposited today. I went in and made an immediate transfer of $3,000 to HSBC and I will deposit the $141 into my Savings Account at Bank of America. I will keep the rest in my Checking Account with my Employer where I pay all of my Bills and any Irregular Expenses. That account now holds ~ $1,000.

I have 3 savings accounts. One at HSBC with $10,000, one at Chase with $2,000 and I have a savings account with Bank of America that will now have $150. I utilize Bank of America’s Keep the Change Program where my purchases in my Checking Account are rounded off and deposited into Savings. I mostly use Cash and Bank of America for my personal spending.

So there you have it. I am not in "Bad" shape. My Emergency fund of $2,000 is funded. My $10,000 short-term savings account has been fully funded. The only way I see myself funding my $20,000 long term savings goal is with income from a higher paying job, annual bonuses and/or additional law income. Going forward, I need every extra penny for debt reduction.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Need a Vacation…

Oh my goodness, Chitown needs a vacation. I cannot take it any longer. I haven’t gone on a vacation since I went to Jamaica with my Mom in July 2008. I am slowing losing my sanity.

My finances are in the toilet…Well not really. Everything is paid and on time but it seems like I live just to work and pay bills these days…Enough said.

Last year in June, my Dad suffered a massive heart attack and was literally on life support for 48 hours. Miraculously he is doing much better and cannot wait to golf this Summer.

My grandmother developed a severe case of Alzheimers and the disease is progressing very quickly. She lives with my parents and just woke up one day in October and started the most bizarre behavior. Since she is the oldest living person in our family at 87, we didn’t recognize the early signs like hiding things.

My Mom is having a hard time caring for her because it is a full time job. She is torn about putting her into a Home because she loves her so much but she is not trained to handle her care. The nice homes cost a fortune and I feel guilty about not being in a position to help out with the cost. We won’t just put here any where because the place is affordable. She is loved more than you can imagine and we have to know she will be tenderly cared for as if she was at home. Her social security and pension is minimal so the family would need to supplement the cost.

My parents are retired and my Mom takes care of my Grandma full time. My Dad works part-time just to pay for his health insurance which is almost $1,300 for the two of them. Ridiculous. With being on a fixed income and the increase in medical expenses from my Dad's heart attack, my parents don’t have a lot of extra money.

These are just more factors that fuel my fire to find a better paying position.

$60 Condo Assessment Increase...

So it's official. After the condo meeting last night, my assessments are increasing $60 to $285/month beginning April 1st. It wouldn't be so bad if they included water, heat or anything of the sort. Just ground maintenance, snow removal and garbage/recycle disposal. So that means that I will be forced to eat a few more ramen noodle meals in the near future.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Garbage Disposal is Dead...

My garbage disposal died last week…just took one last breath and died. I thought it might just need a little break but's dearly departed. It is probably the original disposal. I’ve been living in my unit for 7 years.

So, I am going to price them this weekend. Based on Home Depot’s website, I am thinking that it will cost between $100-$200. My brother-in-law is pretty awesome. He is willing to install it for me.

Thankfully, I get get my once a monthly salary deposit on Thursday. Just one more thing…

Daily spending report: $23

$3 - Lunch
$20 - Taxi

Trying to land a new job is expensive. I work downtown Chicago. I had a networking dinner last night so I drove to work but instead of taking my car out of the garage, I took a taxi to the restaurant. Valet dowtown or another lot could have cost me just as much.  

I pay $188 for 10 parking passes at a downtown Chicago garage using my employee discount. Otherwise it would cost me $31/day to park on the occasional days when I have to stay after work. Since I ran out of passes this month, that $188 was an extra expense I had to bear. I usually drive in to work no more than 4-5 times a month so I find that I need to purchase passes about every quarter. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chase Cancelled My Checking Account...

I logged into online banking this morning and Chase cancelled my checking account due to inactivity. I swear I used the account within the last 6 months but they cancelled it anyway.

Chase is not my primary bank but I kept a checking account with them along with my local emergency fund since they're pretty much everywhere in Chicago. Now, I feel like I am at a disadvantage because I cannot easily transfer savings to checking in the case of an emergency to use my debit card. So, I am thinking that I may just transfer my $2,000 Emergency Fund to Bank of America.

I will be happy to rid myself of Chase completely once I pay off my $22k credit card balance. This may add fuel to my fire to try to eliminate this debt sooner rather than later.

Condo Assessment Increase…

Can Chitown get a break????????

My condo assessments are increasing at least $30/month beginning April 1st. They may increase $60+/month due to my neighbors vacating their unit and subsequently declaring bankruptcy. We haven’t received any assessments since April 2009. So my monthly assessment of $225 will probably increase to approximately $285 by April 1st. Ugh!!! Our association is so convoluted. We have one main association and then I think 8 different associations for each building. So we collect monthly assessments from each unit owner and then write one check for the entire building to the mail association. My condo association consists of 8 units.

Since we didn’t get income from the unit for almost a year, our reserves are low. So, not only should each of the unit owners pay $30/month to cover the one unit until we receive payment, we really need to put up an additional $15-20/unit to put our reserves back to a reasonable level.

Our association of 8 units is meeting this Wednesday at my home and then the main association meeting is a few weeks away. Oh boy!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Daily Spending…

So last week I spent way too much on food. I realized that I was buying both breakfast and lunch out of pure laziness. I was buying yogurt parfaits from the cafeteria at $3.33 a pop for breakfast. Then I was spending ~ $10/day on lunch and going with my coworkers on their afternoon run to Starbucks and occasionally indulging there as well.

Last week I spent $95 on food & dining. I would like to keep this at $50/week maximum. I would really like to keep it down to about $30/week. I am a single gal and I don’t really cook. I tend to spend a mint in the grocery store so I try to stay out of there as much as possible. I have staples at home and tend to buy lunch but make some kind of dinner at home or I eat at my parent’s house when I go over to visit.

I spent the sum total of $5.00 today. $1.00 for parking and $3.10 to be exact on chili from the cafeteria to go along with the chicken breast I made last night. I also brought some yogurt from home for breakfast. I am making dinner tonight so I don’t have any plans to spend any more money today. If my coworkers go out for coffee. I will go for the walk but I won’t get anything. I’ve done this before so they won’t look at me all strange and make me feel cheap. Starbucks is super expensive.

Weekly Spending Report – 2/15/10 to 2/21/10

Total Amount: $439

$150 – Professional Fees (Tax Preparation)
$100 – Business (Law Fees)
$95 – Food & Dining
$80 – Gifts (Dad’s 62nd Birthday)
$13 – Grocery
$1 – Transportation

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I am going to put it out there to my 400+ friends on Facebook that I do real estate closings on the side. Hopefully I can generate some additional income throughout the year. 

I want to eventually become a Banking/Finance associate at a firm. I should be able to leverage off my 10+ years of Banking experience in large corporate, middle market, small business and loan workout.

We'll see. Other than paying for the professional writing course, I am trying to make it another no spend day. My tax refund is $3,600 so I am going to put $3,000 into savings and use the $600 to pay for the course which costs $595. 

I should have my return direct deposited within the next 2 weeks.     

Saturday, February 20, 2010

No Money Day...

I didn't spend any money today. Gold star for Chitown. =)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Looking for a Blogger Like Me…

Anyone know of another blogger trying to fight off he debt monkey? As you can see from my blog roll, I read a lot of PF Blogs but none of the writers are like myself.

Can anyone direct me to someone also trying to get debt free and achieve a positive net worth?

Thanks a lot!!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

2009 Tax Return...

I finally filed my 2009 taxes and I will receive a decent return. I will get back a little more than I expected so I am going to be able to fulfill my $10,000 short-term savings goal. I currently have $7,000 in short-term savings with HSBC. I will transfer another $3,000 once I receive my return and keep the entire $10,000 balance out of reach. I also have $2,000 in an Emergency Fund at a local bank.

I don’t have a clue right now how I am going to fulfill my $20,000 long-term savings goal but once the $10,000 short-term goal is met, I am going to shift my focus completely to debt reduction.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Painfully Slow Process…

Getting this debt monkey off my back has been a painfully slow process but I have a goal to improve my net worth each month. Unfortunately, I also have a mental block. I am having trouble with slow progress even though I know slow and steady wins the race. Often times I try too hard to push progress that all I do is end up doing more damage. So, I am going to make a constant effort to be content in the short-term with making progress (even if it’s small) and recognizing the small victories.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cost of Continuing Legal Education…

Well I have been out of law school for 2 years now and working in a non traditional position at a Bank. Since I do not work for a firm per se, I have to pay for my own continuing legal education. A partner at a firm that I work with, strongly suggested that I take a writing course to keep my skills sharp. He says it is one of the biggest criticisms for attorneys that have been out of the practice of law for some time. The class that he suggested that I take starts in March and costs $595. Ouch!

It was not just a mere suggestion either…it was a strong suggestion, particularly since I am trying to network and find a position and he is assisting. He’s asked me about the course several times and I have to bite the bullet and register. I don’t want to give any impression that I am not willing to put in the work when he is sticking his neck out for me in terms of making connections.

I am troubled that so early in the year, I already have to hit my savings for almost $600. Time to file my tax return...

Monday, February 08, 2010

What I Want…

I am going to write here what I really want….My Dream List.

  • Associate position in a mid to large size Chicago firm.
  • Minimum base salary of $125,000.
  • Budget that works within the 60/40 formula.
  • Contribute a minimum of 10% to retirement savings.
  • Zero credit card and student loan debt.
  • Free of student loan debt by age 40 (currently 32).
  • Minimum of one year of living expenses in an emergency fund.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

2010 is my year...

Well, 2010 is my year to get it all together. I am making some good connections and I hope to land a law position within the next 12-24 months. My current job is stable.

  • Current base salary is $72k.
  • All CC debt is consolidated at 3% until 1/2011.
  • All private student loans are in repayment.
  • 1/2 of my federal loans are in repayment.
  • The remaining 1/2 goes into repayment in June 2010.
  • I have savings from my annual bonus.

Goals for 2010:

  • Use only cash and debit cards.
  • Live below my means and within my budget.
  • No more debt and no credit card use.
  • Continue networking to land law position.
  • Work to find avenues to increase my income.
  • Use savings and not credit for emergencies.

Monday, February 01, 2010

February 2009 versus February 2010…

I just looked back at my sole post for February 2009 when I reported that I was credit card free. I am just so disappointed. I refinanced my home for no good reason only to run up my credit card debt again. Ugh!!! I will make this right.