Friday, February 25, 2011

$200 Weekly Challenge...

Today is Friday and a new $200/week challenge begins.

Here is last week's recap....Total Spent: $176.97!!!

I put all those groceries from last week to use and didn't eat out much at all. I did need a few toiletries but that was it for the week. I just started accruing for auto maintenance so I didn't have enough in savings. Therefore, it came out of my weekly allowance. No biggie. I am glad I had the additional funds and that I was able to refocus and bounce back from last week. =)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fresh Start...

I need a fresh start. I am feeling a bit restless. I need to get some things together so I can really make some progress in all areas of my life...not just my finances.

The last two days have been tough. I haven't been feeling well so I finally made the doctor appointment that I have been putting off for a few months. Why? Well, I have a condition that will require either 6 months of medication (which happens to send me into temporary menopause) or surgery. I will find out next Friday what the doctor will suggest. Since I want to have children one day, I am leaning more towards the aggressive side. I already had the surgery once in the summer of 2005 so I am not afraid but all surgery is not only dangerous but costly. I will keep you guys posted.

I spoke briefly before about getting into shape. Well, I am going to start back on my exercise program that I did in late 2009 before I hurt my knee. It's a 90-day at home workout program that I loved called P90x from Beach Body. It was fun, I could do it at home and it worked. If I need to have surgery probably this summer, then I will want to get into the best physical condition possible.

Here's my plan:

- Drink 64oz of water daily
- Limit soda to one can a day (yesterday I had 3 -- don't judge me!!! lol)
- No dieting but eat more protein and fiber
- Complete the workout plan with a minimum of 3 workouts per week
- Eat breakfast - lately my breakfast is coca cola and a granola bar (maybe)
- Take my multivitamins with a good dose of Vitamin D

My finances are not in bad shape and they're getting better. Today is pay day so I closed the books on February. I landed in the Black again which is not surprise since it was bonus month. I messed up one week but I paid off three debts and I have a little left over which is good because I have to pay the fee to file my taxes and I have to pay upfront for my dental appointment which gets reimbursed at the approved amount.

I will finally be able to breathe after today. I will finally finish these quarterly reports at the office. My nephew turns two this weekend so I know I will be making my way to Toys R Us tonight or tomorrow to get the little guy something. So, that's about it for now.

How is everyone else doing? Let me know. =)

Friday, February 18, 2011

$200 Weekly Challenge...

Today is Friday and a new $200/week challenge begins. Thank goodness because I blew it last week.

Here is last week's recap....Total Spent: $467.74!!!

There isn't a lot of commentary to add other than what I learned last week.

  1. I am an emotional shopper. This isn't a big news flash but I was sick last week and I just didn't care enough when I should always care more.
  2. I didn't plan to be away from home and I was for a few days which means I didn't make or take my lunch with all of groceries that I purchased.
  3. I have to slow down and remember the framework I put in place. I have savings set aside for clothing and gifts. So, I have to remain present in the moment, transfer the funds on my phone, and pay with the right debit card.
  4. I need to only purchase what I NEED at the grocery store. I need to make a list for the week and stick to the list. I got into the store and it was the first time I was out of the house for days and I just wandered around and picked up stuff that I probably won't use for weeks to come. Since I am a single gal, I only need to buy what I need for the week and that's it. It should hardly ever amount to more than $25-$50/week and the high end only if I need toiletries.

I was reading this month's O Magazine issue and it deals with De-Cluttering your life. The particular article was called "The Buying Diet" and it mentioned the grocery store Gruen Transfer where the store creates a quasi hypnotic state and you end up buying more than you intended. Check out the article. It was good and eye opening. The Buying Diet.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Crazy Weekend...

I went bananas this weekend and spent a ton of money!!! I blew the $200 challenge out of the water and not in a good way.

I spent $217 just on groceries. I looked in my fridge and I had my Brita water container, butter, cheese and 2 bottles of almost expired salad dressing. That's it. I even ran out of staples.

So, I went grocery shopping and I got some staples like frozen chicken and fish and little odds and ends to make bringing my lunch and making dinner possible and a little more appealing.

Friday, February 11, 2011

$200 Weekly Challenge...

Today is Friday and a new $200/week challenge begins.

Here is last week's recap....Total Spent: $202.92!!! =)

I admit that I did not go grocery shopping at all this week. With the day ski trip last Saturday, the Superbowl in Sunday and working late nights this week, it didn't happen. On the flip side, I don't think it made a huge deal in the overall numbers for the week. Last week's food and groceries totaled $64 and the week before that it was $80.

I really came in at $175.81 for the week. The gloves that I bought to go skiing should have come out of my clothing/shopping fund but I was rushing and forgot to transfer funds on my iPhone with ING so I just used my regular debit card. I could of transferred the $28 dollars back into my account but I just bit the cost out of my weekly budget and kept it moving.

Another good week!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chitown Down...

I caught a cold. Darn!!! The sniffling, the blowing, the sneezing and the coughing...Arghh!!!! Thank goodness this work week is almost over.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Gifts and Snowball...

Just a random thought...I am looking at my budget and trying to figure out how I can put an extra $50 towards debt repayment. I already have an extra $50 snowball budgeted. The first six months out of the year are filled with birthdays and holidays. Not to mention little things that come up like showers and house warmings.

February - BFF Son, BFF, Dad, Godfather, Nephew
March - Mom, BFF, Assistant
May - Cousin, Mother's Day
June - BFF, Father's Day

After June, I think I will be able to adjust my gift budget to $50/month and put an additional $50 towards debt.

*** Side Note: I adjusted the starting balances on the graphs to the right to show my progress since I began this journey last year.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Getting Fit...

So, I am going to try to get fit and trim this year once and for all. I am going to try to be as zealous with my health as I am with my finances.

How do you guys feel if I incorporate a little of my GET FIT journey into this financial journey? I think it would be fun to see how it ties together with my expenses. =)

Who wants to join me?

Monday, February 07, 2011

Grocery Shopping...

I am going to the grocery store this evening. I spent $10 on lunch today and I keep thinking that $10-$15 in simple groceries would last me few days. So...going to Aldi this evening. =)

Ski Trip...

I had a really fun time on the ski trip to Lake Geneva on Saturday. I spent about $22 for the entire day which wasn't bad at all. We stopped at an outlet mall and I just didn't feel like shopping even though I had about $150 in savings for clothing and $60 in gift cards. I just didn't feel like spending any money. The money I spend was just for lunch and dinner. That's it.

I did have to run to Sports Authority the night before and get some hand sleeves to go under my ski gloves. I was rushing so I forgot to get on my phone and make an online transfer with ING to pay for it out of my accrual account for clothing/shopping so it came out of my $200 for the week. The sleeves were only $28 so it wasn't a budget buster but I definitely needed to keep my hands warm and dry out on the slopes.

I left the house around 7:30 am Saturday morning and I arrived home around 1:00 am Sunday morning so I was super tired to say the least but I had a great time. I didn't grocery shop or anything this weekend so I am winging it. I have $70 remaining to last me though Thursday and it shouldn't be a problem.

Friday, February 04, 2011

$200 Weekly Challenge...

Today is Friday and a new $200/week challenge begins.

Here is last week's recap....Total Spent: $201.95!!! =)

I use an iPhone app called iReconcile to track my expenses and I love it!!! I figured out how to snap this photo of the report it gives me each week. =)

I went over just slightly. I had a couple of bucks in my wallet and I gave them to two homeless people this week. It's hard to see people standing out on the street in this crazy freezing Chicago weather. That just tipped me over the threshold but overall it didn't break the budget.

For personal care, I got my first pedicure since November and my feet said THANK YOU!

For entertainment, I purchased Groupons for paint ball to be used at a later date. My brother in law got two as well so we are going to get a group of 4 together for 3 hours of unlimited play. Different, Cheap and Fun!!!

Not bad for a week of spending. =)

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Credit Scores & Snowball...

If you look to the right, you will notice that I changed the order of my debt repayment. Going back to Dave Ramsey's book, he said you can change the order if there is a difference in the interest rate but a small difference in the amount owed. I have three Private student loans all within a $1,000 of my Federal student loan. So, I moved those before my federal loan. The Federal loan has a fixed interest rate and it is very important to me that I tackle as much Private variable loan debt before interest rates trend back up.

While I am on this debt repayment journey, my credit scores are a good indication of how I am performing. One of these days, my score will be virtually zero because I will be debt free and I won't have a need for debt.

My scores are awesome!!!

798 - Grade C - TransUnion
810 - Grade B - Equifax
920 - Grade A - Experian

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Snow Day...

I am snowed in today so I get to work from home. Yeah Chitown!

I've never seen so much snow in my life. They let us go a little early yesterday and by the time I got home at 6pm, I almost got stuck in my driveway trying to pull into the garage. I knew the Weather Folks got it right this time.

There was an SUV stuck in the snow on the street outside my bedroom window last night for over 2 hours. I don't own a shovel since I live in a condo and we have snow removal service so I was useless to him. All I kept hearing is him going back and forth with spinning wheels. I did call the non emergency number to try to get him some help but I am sure they were busy with a lot of calls last night. The blizzard dropped over 18 inches of snow overnight.

Finally, I woke up to more noise outside my window and there was the same SUV and a construction truck, not a snowplow, moving the snow on the street. All I could think was WOW!!! If an SUV can get stuck, my car doesn't stand a chance. I emailed my Boss this morning to tell him I would be working from home and he replied back "Smart Move, I am leaning towards the same thing!"

So, here I am at home. I am thankful that I have a home, heat, job, money in the bank to pay my bills and food in my fridge. I am thankful that I am safe.

Mixed Chicks Hair Products...

In May of last year I stopped going to get my hair done on a regular basis. Prior to May, I was down to every other week or $100/month. The previous year, I was going every week for $200/month. The heat was starting to damage my hair and my stylist had to chop it to my shoulders. It's probably halfway down my back when I wear it straight now.

I went natural in May and I have been able to save a lot of money. Part of the decision to go natural was that I FINALLY found a product that I could use on my hair that worked. What do I mean by work? Well, I have very curly hair and I would have to use a shampoo, conditioner, curly product, gel and maybe a hairspray to keep my hair from frizzing. Then came my Sister's suggestion that I try Mixed Chicks and well, it changed my life. I finally have that wash and go hair and I don't have to spend all day in the mirror styling and I don't have to buy a million products to keep my hair from frizzing. Just a shampoo, deep conditioner and leave-in conditioner does the trick. I go to my stylist about every 8-12 weeks to get my ends trimmed and the last time I went she was very pleased with the condition of my hair.

Thing is...the products are fairly expensive and you can only really get them online unless you can search and find a salon that carries it. The best thing about the company is that they offer free shipping on orders over $100 and they are super quick with getting the product from California to Chicago. With standard shipping, I can get my product in a week. I love that!

$50 - Leave-In Conditioner (1L)
$45 - Deep Conditioner (1L)
$40 - Shampoo (1L)

So, I ran out of product and finally made a purchase. The total cost was $165.50. I used some of the leftover money from my Bonus. I purchased two bottles of the leave-in conditioner and one large bottle each of the shampoo and deep conditioner.

After trying a sample first, I purchased the Liter of the shampoo and deep conditioner in June of last year so it lasted me 7-8 months. I purchased two Liters of the leave-in-conditioner which I use daily in August so those lasted roughly 5-6 months. So while the products are a bit expensive they last a long time. I was able to get the free shipping and I found a coupon code online for 10% off. By going natural with my hair, I have been able to save over $2,000 per year. Well worth it!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

January 2011 Recap...

Bare with me guys and gals. This is my first attempt at zero budgeting and I am sure I got a lot of it wrong. This is also my first time using this budget worksheet that I found online. I tweaked it a bit and it's kind of cool. If you see italics, these are the categories I have deemed "ACCRUAL" meaning that I save the money in separate ING Accounts whether I spend the money this month or not. This was suggested by Dave Ramsey for expenses that are irregular in nature but can blow your budget wide open.

A lot of money flowed through my accounts this month. I added a comment column to the right to add some additional explanation. Please let me know if you have trouble viewing the image of the spreadsheet. It's rather large and I may need to figure out another way. I am open to suggestions so just inbox me or comment. Thanks a lot.

I guess the important things to note is that I stayed within budget for the month and I paid off my Capital One Personal Credit Card. When you only get paid once a month, it is hard to budget variable expenses throughout the month so I came up with a $200/week challenge. I ration to myself every Friday, $200 to budget through the weekend and the following week. The challenge gives me something to look forward to because I really get excited when Friday comes around again. The challenge also gives me something to focus on to see if I am making any measurable progress towards spending within my means. I did pretty good with the challenge in January.

* I added in my Capital One Business Card to my credit card balance.