Friday, June 25, 2010

$80 Challenge Update...

It's going to be hard for me to make it on $80/week. I am not saying it is impossible people...just hard. I think I can do $100/week. I am at $124 so far and I will track through Saturday. Here is the breakdown.

Food & Dining: $91
Personal Care: $23
Grocery & Household: $10

July Goals and Budget…

I get paid next Tuesday for July. Below is my budget. It's going to be super tight for the month and you will see that the part-time job came just in time.


Bring my lunch 3 times a week.
Call State Farm to increase my car deductible from $250 to $500.
Workout 3 times a week.

Expense Breakdown/Explanation:

Includes Cable, Cell Phone, House Phone, Internet, Home Security andGym Membership. At&t, the security company and LA Fitness automatically charge my credit card each month so I have been lumping the $45 gym membership into this category. The budgeted amount this month also includes my Quarterly Water Bill. Going forward, I will accrue or escrow $40 in a seperate account for this bill on a monthly basis.

Transportation: Transportation includes the train, 10 parking passes, gas/fuel and parking lot fees at the train. I work downtown about 45 minutes from home on the train and about an hour drive in the car. I attend after work events and now I have the part-time job. After 6:30, the train runs every hour and makes every flag stop so the commute can be in excess of an hour on the train. Since my schedule at my part-time job ends at 8:15 during the week, I don't have time to catch the 8:20 train and would have to wait an hour for the next train at 9:20pm only to get home after 10:30pm at night. I cannot do this for two several reasons. 1) It is not safe for me to ride the train that late at night by myself, 2) it is not safe for me to walk to my my car in the parking lot that late at night, and 3) I would be dead tired for the next day at work since it's already a long day working two jobs. By driving, I get home by 9pm. I am on the schedule 2-3 times a week in the evening so I am now purchasing ten discounted passes at $125/month instead of every other month.

Business: I worked a couple of years ago for an attorney downtown doing part-time legal work. She suggested that I set up a company to track my revenue and expenses related to the work that I performed. So, I still have to pay for my professional liability insurance ($106), business website/email ($40/quarter) and efax service ($12/month). I also pay my professional membership fees through the company. Since I am open to performing additional work, I continue to keep the efax service ($12/month) and the business email ($40/quarter) since it's tied to a domain should I ever decide to put up a website. The benefit is that I get to write off those expenses which also boosts my tax return each year. I also charged that CLE writing class and the annual filing report so the excess of the $200/month after the monthly expenses goes to reduce the balance on my business credit card. The class was $600 and the annual filing fee was $250 so the balance on the card is $900 right now. I am chipping away at the balance and I hope some business comes my way which will allow me to pay it off in full.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bring Your Lunch Challenge...

Okay...who wants to participate with me in a Bring Your Lunch to Work Challenge next week?

I also am soliciting lunch ideas before I go grocery shopping this weekend. =)

$80 Challenge....

I am not doing too good with my $80 challenge. I just started yesterday and as of right now, I am at $35. If I counted the $25 Father's Day gift from Sunday, then my total would be $60 (ouch!!!).
  1. I got bit by some awful mosquitos on Sunday. The bites are horrible and itchy. I took Zyrtec, bought Bennadryl cream (didn't work) and then I had to buy some Hyrdocortizone cream today after I went to the pharmacist looking for any help. I also called my doctor just in case. I have over 15 bites on my legs and no matter how much I scratch (I know I am not supposed to), they itch worse. I hope this hyrocortizone cream helps but both creams hit me for $10.
  2. I don't have any ready to go groceries at home like sandwich meat, bread, etc. Everything that I have in the house requries cooking a meal and I haven't been home since Wednesday of last week for more than just time to sleep. I know I need to buy some groceries but I hate going into the grocery store since I spend so much moola. I am going to wait until next week so that I can participate in the Bring My Lunch Challenge. =)

So...$45 left. The challenge goes through Saturday and begins again on Sunday.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Do any of you use the allowance system? Do you allow a certain amount of money per week? I am thinking about trying this method and allowing myself $80/week or $320/month to start and see how it goes. In a perfect world, I would like $200/week or $800/month. I am going to try this out for a week and see how I do. I am going to take out $80 in cash and try to make it last through Sunday. Wish me luck!!!

On a side note…

My boyfriend stepped up for me big time this weekend! He knows money is tight and he finally received his tax return. Not only did he take me out to dinner and a show on Thursday to see the Conan O’Brien writers, he also purchased joint gifts for his Stepfather, my Dad and my Brother-in-Law for Father’s Day. I only had to spend $25 for a gift card to the local golf course for my Dad. I am so thankful!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Starting Fresh….

I am starting fresh next month. I did not track all of my spending this month which is why you haven’t seen any of my fancy little charts. I still think I will be able to put together a monthly recap.

Below is my budget based on my new part-time job. July will be a little different since I have to pay my annual home insurance premium and quarterly water bill. The budget above factors in an accrued amount for that going forward so I won't get hit with it all at once. With 12 hours per week, I should net approximately $400/month. I also think I have some ability to pick up additional hours but I don’t want to burn out too quickly. I am coming up on reporting month at work and we usually already work a least 50 hours per week.

I am going to focus again on bringing my lunch and/or keeping purchased meals under $10/day. I keep realizing that buying groceries is not relating to any reduction in dining expenses so I am going to minimize grocery/household shopping to pretty much just necessities.

I built in higher transportation. I assumed the need to purchase 10 discounted parking passes each month since I will be working until 9pm-10pm some nights at the part-time job.

Let me know your thoughts. Thanks!


My Sister introduced me to something called a No Chip Manicure from OPI. I tried it once and cannot wait until I am able to regularly pay for this luxury. Manicured nails for up to 2 weeks would just be wonderful. I looked at the chipped polish on my nails and thought briefly about going today to get one. Then I calculated how many hours I would have to work to pay for it and decided against it. I just grabbed the nail polish remover that I keep in my desk drawer, walked to the bathroom and took off my polish. I will probably paint them later myself.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Part-time Job & Roommate Update…

Well, I started the part-time job yesterday. I went in for all day training on the company, sales training and of course they trained us on the register. There were two new full-time associates, four new part-time associates and one new on-call associate in the training. They were all really nice people with their own tale of how they came to join the company. All in all, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity. The new position will add about $300-$400 per month to my cash flow after taxes. This job is a blessing to supplement my income and help me stay within budget.

I am still pursuing the roommate angle but there are no new developments. If I am able to get a roommate then that income will go directly towards debt repayment.

The woman who came to look at my place on Saturday loved it but was looking for a place with more light (I have western exposure). Also, since I only have one garage space, she would be giving up her current garage space where she is renting now. I cannot do anything about the western exposure and lack of morning sunlight but I do get a nice amount of afternoon sunlight. Unfortunately she came on a day when it was gloomy and storming. I told her that she is more than welcome to use my garage space when I am not home which is 2-3 times per week. Her concern is shoveling show at 4:30 in the morning when she heads to work. I cannot blame her since it was also my concern as a single woman. I moved there specifically because it was the only condo complex with an attached garage and it’s an extremely rare find.

So that’s it for now.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Quick Update....

I got the position with Macys but it's a part-time position instead of the on call position and it's at one of the vendors. I will be working about 12 hours a week on weeknights and weekends. They're starting me out at $10.75/hour with 3% commission. I took it and will probably go for training next Tuesday.

Second, I got an inquiry on my listing with the roommate site. The woman and I exchanged a few emails and she may come to see my place on Saturday.

That's about it. Have a great weekend. Go Blackhawks!!! :-)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Condo Value…

Please see my net worth chart to the right. I decided to revalue my condo at cost. There are two 3bd/2ba units on the market in my complex for $139,900.

I purchased my condo for $130,000 in 2003. It appraised for $165,000 in November 2008 but due to market conditions as well as a limited market for conventional financing since my complex is not FHA approved, I suspected the value would decline.

I think the conservative value is best. At least I am not underwater after the refinance.

Spending Report...

Happy Friday!!! I could scream and jump up and down because I am so glad it's Friday.

I lost my monthly metra train pass and it’s only the 4th of June!!! That sucker costs $130 so I am going to go home and search every inch of my condo and my car. Ugh!!!

My grandmother is in the hospital for the next 3 days for psych evaluation. She was basically kicked out of the nursing home last night. She was staying there for a week in respa care to give my mom a much needed break. Who knew alzheimers could be so nasty and turn a gentle person into the meanest person?!?! They definitely don’t show that side of alzheimers on television so I feel like I was duped. I thought she would just forget everyone and draw, paint or just stare and watch television for the rest of her days. Not the screaming and hollering that she does all day long. Goodness!!!

Anyway…I was at the hospital for several hours last night with my mom, dad and sister. This trip to the hospital may expedite her placement into a home. People…LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE!!! I don’t know all the nuances about the insurance but I sure wish my grandmother had it so that we had more flexibility in choosing the facility or even the possibility of keeping her at home with a full-time caretaker.

On to the next…here is my spending report and budget for June.

I had a cookout for Memorial Day. I originally planned to share the expense with my boyfriend but he hit a bad bump over railroad tracks that caused major damage to his car over the weekend. It cost him almost $1,000. Needless to say, he couldn’t share in the expense as planned.

This is also the first month that I am actually trying to budget in a draw from my savings. My parents offered to help and give me $300/month. We’ll see. My Dad actually came to the cookout and everything. He had a good time.

I don't have anything planned for the rest of the month other than Father's Day. There is a golf course nearby that is offering dinner, two rounds of golf and a bucket of balls at the range for $75. Coincidentally, this is also the golf course where my friend had her wedding a few weeks ago. This Father's Day deal may be my Dad's father's day gift since he likes the course. My sister may get it for my brother-in-law so we may just split the cost and get them both the same thing and spend $75 instead of $50/person. They love to golf together so it's perfect.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Stock Sale...

I sold ~ 22 shares of company stock in my ESPP. It should net me approximately $1,300 to help replenish my efund. I just did standard mail so I should get a check in about a week. I didn't liquidate my Sharebuilder Account. It is still valued around $250.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Interview for Part-time Job…

I had the interview with Macy’s yesterday. The position was an “on call” position in small fragrances. I will tell you what I told my reader Aaren. The position is not suited for me and I am not suited for the position. BUT…I didn’t turn it down. I will find out one way or the other next week. First, they would like someone with more flexibility so that if a full-time or part-time worker calls off, they can call you and ask you to work. You never know when they will call so there is no guaranteed money or schedule involved. Second, I don’t like perfume. It gives me a headache. I am the woman who says no thanks and holds my breath through the perfume section. I don’t take any samples and I happily go to Bath & Body and buy the fruity splashes. Cheaper and no headaches.

There were about four other women who looked like they were there to interview for the same position. They also looked like they didn’t have an office to go back to like I did, so an on call position or any position would be great. I realized how grateful I am for my full-time salaried position (with benefits). I may be underpaid and underemployed but I am still gainfully employed nonetheless.

I sabotaged myself in May. No doubt. I try too hard to please people and I end up with the shorter end of the stick. I know this has to stop but I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that I AM making progress. I am paying all of my bills on time and my debt is going down. I also have excellent credit scores so I am not shirking my responsibilities.

I work hard and sometimes I play too hard. Some people think this blog is about being frugal but it about financial independence and finding the balance on the road to financial freedom. Therefore, when I achieve it, I won’t ever retreat back into financial despair. Let’s be honest, I am 32 years old and it is going to take me 10+ years to pay all of these loans off short of a miracle. I am NOT going to sacrifice everything for the next 10+ years of my life and not live in the process. That may be for some people but that is not for me.

I have cut back on some things and I am looking for ways to eat and entertain for less. I subscribed to Groupon and another service. I bought two Groupons so far that are good for a year. The one Groupon cost me $20 and it includes 2 rounds of bowling and shoes for 4 people. The second Groupon cost me $30 and it is good for food and drinks worth $75 at one of my favorite restaurants. I included the amounts in my current expenses but I still have the Groupons for future dining/entertainment. Again, finding the balance between what I want and what I can afford.

I blew it in May. I make no excuses. I have to admit that some of the comments made me wince and for a while and I was discouraged to blog but I am going to get back on the financial wagon. I know I deserved some of the comments so I hope you’re still there along the road to support me. Thanks for all of your comments and encouragement.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

May 2010 Racap...

Here is my recap for May. I am not going into a lot of detail. It was just bad.

My Emergency Fund is gone and it was not all spent on true Emergencies.

I bought 10 more parking passes in May. They reduced the price from $18.75/pass to $12.50/pass. Finally, a break.

Miscellaneous spending was the budget breaker. Below is complete detail.