February 2013 Recap

The shortest month of the year is gone! I’m a little sad, but at the same time relieved. Mardi Gras is done with, Valentine’s Day is done with, bf’s birthday is done with (I promise I’m not the Grinch), and now we’re 16% of the way through the year! So what kind of progress have I made on my goals?

physically fit

  1. Pay my roommate the remaining $421.10 I owe him
  2. Save $460 for my car insurance (due in March) – I later lowered this to $300 (based on anticipated income), but I actually saved $400 and will pay the remaining amount the eighth!
  3. Don’t spend ANY $$$ on eating out or vending machines – I spent very little? 🙂 I spent $10.99 taking bf out for yogurt and $9 on food at work (both the last week of February). The latter was because I had only had yogurt the day before and was starting to get sick from low blood sugar. 
  4. Don’t use my Discover Card AT ALL – Welll…sort of? I used it twice, once to buy baking things for Valentine’s Day and once to buy a loaf of bread, but both times I paid back that amount as soon as I got paid, so although I did use it, I paid it off during the month, which I hear is how these things are supposed to work.
  5. Begin researching Morningstar for creating a portfolio – NOPE.
  6. Stay within my set monthly budget – I did for most everything except miscellaneous expenses. There were a lot more “holiday-esque” celebrations this month than I anticipated.

physically ffit

  1. Lose 10 lbs – Almost! 02/01/13 – 188, 02/28/13 – 179.6, aka a net loss of 8.4 lbs
  2. Log into My Fitness Pal every day – Yes!
  3. Work out every day – Ha. Ha. Ha. No.

pphysically ffit

  1. Write 13 blog posts (minimum) – Eh. No. But I didn’t do badly either? I hit 9, or roughly 75% of that goal.
  2. Read 8 books – NOPE. I intended to, I really did, but I wanted to finish Catch 22 so badly…but I hate it so much. I think I’m throwing in the towel for now on finishing it.
  3. Work with BF to learn to read sheet music – I’d say there was a little bit of victory here. When I went to church with him I could at least follow the pitch of the hymns I didn’t know.

Looking at that, it doesn’t seem like I actually got a lot done, but I’m very satisfied. Only eating out twice (and spending $20 vs. $150) on that this month is a really big accomplishment for me, as well as seeing a weight starting with 17_ for the first time since 2008. And I made progress on most of the ones I didn’t outright accomplish. Reasons for that are mostly work-related, in that we have a huge deadline coming up so there’s been a lot of coming early and staying late and sleeping 15 hours from exhaustion every day.

So what about my budget? 

I did a lot better this month than in January. I tracked my spending very carefully, and although there was a hiccup literally on the last day of the month with card interest and fees tipping my expenses to be a little more than my income, I would say that February blew January out of the water in regard to spending. 

Feb2013

Total Income: $1475.08 & Total Spent: $1442.88 for net difference of +$32.20.

Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! 

Except not really. Discover charged interest (which I had forgotten to take into account in my budget), as well as a Protection Plan Fee. So when I take into account that expense (even though I didn’t spend it, it’s still on my card and therefore I count it as an expense), my total spent is $1489.10 for a net difference of -$14.02. Although I am in no way pleased that number is still negative, it’s still a drastic difference from the -$202.25 from last month. In fact, it’s a 93% improvement! #smallvictories

  • Rent (& internet) – $496 – I am officially caught up on rent with my roommate! Yay!
  • Groceries – $108.8 – Exactly $19.99 of this was eating out. $10.99 was from treating bf to froyo on his birthday, and $9 was the cafeteria at work. The rest actually from a grocery store (and not even the deli part 😛 )
  • Auto – $73.12 – Gas is getting more expensive. Also I’ve been visiting bf’s family a little more often, so it’s a little more gas.
  • Electricity – $61.48 – A little lower than last month.
  • Discover – $73 – This was the $49 minimum payment plus the $24 payment to pull me back under my limit (which had happened because I forgot how interest worked because I’m silly).
  • Miscellaneous – $174.13 – This was VERY high this month, but that would be because it includes a trip to the doctor’s office, my mom’s birthday present, bf’s birthday present, Valentine’s Day stuff, etc. February is an awful month for gifts! Some of this was also stuff like cat litter (boring).
  • Savings/Specialty – $432.20 – $400 of this was car insurance (surpassing my goal of putting $300 toward the total $480 this month) and $32.20 is still sitting in my bank account…although honestly it will probably go to gas for the next two weeks instead of my savings account.
  • Fees – $46.22 – This would be the payment protection plan and interest that I didn’t even remember existed. Because I miss the forest for the trees sometimes.

Reflection: 

If I had anticipated the interest, I would have spent less on bf’s present and made sure to have a back-up lunch at work, which would have kept me in the green. But now I know and can adjust accordingly. I wasn’t as frugal as I could have been, but I hit a point about 75% through the month where it was really difficult to keep depriving myself, and honestly, I don’t think I can sustainably do that. Being out of debt and saving up for tuition asap is very important to me; however, to constantly have to say no to everything is really too much. What good is 2013 if all my memories are of me hiding out in my room looking at spreadsheets? Nada.

So was February Fierce? Yes.

bf & the Beast

I’ve been cautiously toying with the idea of exposing the bf to Budget or Fudget. He’s aware it exists and that he’s been mentioned in it, but to my knowledge he hasn’t actually seen the site aside from brief glances at the WP app on my phone. I know from personal experience and reading around that financial viewpoints and situations can make or break a relationship. I haven’t been dishonest…I’ve mentioned that I am paying off my credit card and have student loans…but I haven’t gone into much more detail than that. By being more open with my little blue piggy bank, I’m being a lot more open with my financial situation.

What I imagine BF's reaction will be to reading my spending summaries.

What I imagine BF’s reaction will be to reading my spending summaries.

My limited knowledge of his own finances goes like this: he has no debt and has savings for a house and for emergencies, he budgets, and his networth is steadily increasing.

Exactly what I want  financially in a partner. 

I look at my own financial situation, and to be honest, I’m embarrassed. I look back at my sordid history with money. A history of spend-spend-spend and unnecessary loans and credit card debt. What would he say if he knew that my networth was sitting at -$16,590? That I have $14,212 in student loans, $1880 in CC debt, and still owe my university $498?

I went on a financial hiatus for a while, but this has become a huge part of my life again. When I stay in budget, I want to celebrate. Every time I pay a bill, every time I put money toward my Discover card, it’s a small victory for me. In addition to this, I really have very little disposable income leftover after all of my major expenses have been taken care of, which means that eating out a lot (something it’s becoming readily apparent that he enjoys) is not a truly viable option for me in the near future, if I am to pay for myself. And the sidenote there is that bf pays for things, which makes me feel a little weird. It was a major point of contention in my last relationship – when he paid for things he felt taken advantage of, so I ended up paying for a good bit of everything (ironic, right?), and of course going dutch often. bf says it’s not a problem, but I’m so aware of the havoc eating out 2-3x a week would (and has) wrought on my own finances, much less when you’re paying for two, so it’s hard for me to fathom that it wouldn’t even be a concern for someone else. I’ve suggested we cook a few times, but for this month, even groceries are a precious commodity.

11453529-groceries

I suppose I have to accept that if it’s something he wants to do, and he says it doesn’t bother him, then it probably doesn’t.

But back to the topic at hand. Is five months too quick to roll over and expose the soft underbelly that is the reality of my financial situation? I know that I’m not bankrupt (or close), I’m capable of paying my bills (and on time), and that I have a plan to get out of debt by the end of 2014; however, that doesn’t always cushion the sticker value shock. He knows I plan to save up a nest egg, that I’m going to start a Roth IRA in October, that I do budget, and I do know some things.

I suppose another aspect of this is that he is a few years older than me. I know this shouldn’t be important, but I feel even more pressure to get my finances in order as quickly as I possibly could so I that I don’t feel like I’m even further behind on this whole having my life together thing 😉 

What do y’all think?

What are your own experiences with money & relationships? Would you want full or partial financial disclosure with your partner? When do you think it’s appropriate to have “the talk”?

Weekly $ Checkup 2.4

  1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on the electric bill – $61.48. I pay the bill, and it’s deducted from my portion of the rent (so it’s all balanced).
  2. Today I am thankful that I finally have post ideas to work on.
  3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was painting a birthday present for my mom with bf’s mom and sister. Lots of girl time, which I haven’t been getting a lot of lately.
  4. I will consider this week a success if I get the package I’m expecting in 4 days instead of 10! Also if I can figure out how to better manage my stress!
  5. If I had today off I would work on new blog posts, knit the fingerless gloves I’m working on, organize my desk, catch up on blogs, and about a billion other things. Oh and start working on my 3-year plan.
DON__T_PANIC_by_VigilantMeadow

I need to plaster this to my eyeballs.

Source. Also read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy if you haven’t already.

Weekly $ Checkup 2.3

  1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on Valentine’s Day stuff – $35. I wanted to be completely frugal and not spend anything, but I ended up making bf a delicious (read: 780c/slice) sour-cream chocolate cake with peanut butter cream cheese frosting and a chocolate-peanut butter glaze among other things. This wasn’t too terrible for my budget since my mom surprise deposited $30 into my account, and I pawned some electronics.
  2. Today I am thankful that I’ve finally finished eating my V-Day cookies so their deliciousness won’t stare me into the face every day.
  3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was catching up on Grey’s Anatomy (yeah yeah, whatever).
  4. I will consider this week a success if I figure out what to do for bf’s birthday since there is no way I’m finishing his present by then.
  5. If I had today off I would work on the present in question! Or laundry. Or finally finish Catch 22 (worst book ever). Chores. I would do chores.
It certainly is.

It certainly is.

Gift Horse

We all know that saying right? Looking a gift horse in the mouth?

horse-mouth-260x300

Look at those beautiful chompers…

For those of you who don’t know, one of the ways to check the value of a horse back in the day was to check the health of its teeth. And when you get a gift, the first thing you do should not be to check how valuable it is (kinda rude, amirite?). But I was put in that situation recently.

I’ve been investigating additional ways to supplement my income, and one that occurred to me (and ended up panning out) was checking out studies that need volunteers at the big research center in my city. I filled out the online screening forms and got a call back! A call back for the most promising study (read: $1400 over 7 months for 21 clinic visits). Perfect!  The over-the-phone screening went swell, and now I’m scheduled for a physical…that I’m not sure I’m going to keep.

Am I crazy? 

No. Not really. Come to find out, it’s a body fat study. To compare women’s body types. That’s all fine and dandy. I can handle a fat biopsy. I can handle an MRI. But additional restrictions of this study are:

  1. No prescription medication
    So much for the birth control I was prescribed right? Oh, and not to mention that every once in a while I have depression medication to take. I’m off it right now, but that isn’t necessarily permanent.
  2. No fluctuating weight
    Do you remember my goals? They really fall into three categories, one of which is being physically fit. So instead of continuing on the path to lose the remaining 47 lbs to get to my target weight, I’d have to be happy with where I am for the next 7+ months. By now, logging everything I eat and working out often has become second nature. Eating within my target calorie range is second nature. I would have to start breaking those habits.

So at this point, is $1400 ($400 after the first third and a lump $1000 at the end) over the course of seven months, worth not taking birth control, not taking depression meds, or even having to drop out if I were to get sick and need to take antibiotics? Or just not take them? Is it worth eating 600 more calories a day and not exercising consistently? As I was telling BF about this and mentioned I felt like I was looking a gift horse in the mouth, he had the following words of wisdom:

“I know, but there are other ways to save money and be healthy.”

And I looked at my phone for a while before responding with “Yeah…” Because the answer really is that simple. There are other ways to save money and be healthy. There are other studies to look at, there are other jobs I could take. There are other ways I could cut back and save. Yeah, an extra month of pay would be fantastic, but I have other things I want and need to accomplish, and I have the drive to accomplish them at this point in my life.

I’m not this person anymore (excuse the French):

b2U69Py

I can’t just put my life on hold for seven months. So I’ll take the wise words that never would have occurred to me to heart: there are other ways to save money and be healthy.

Weekly $ Checkup 2.2

  1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on rent – $400. Self-explanatory.
  2. Today I am thankful that I’m achieving things.
  3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was watching X-Men with bf. 
  4. I will consider this week a success if I enjoy this year’s Valentine’s Day (I’ve been dumped ‘today’ the last two years in a row).
  5. If I had today off I would sit around crocheting & knitting. And guess what? I do have today off! It’s Mardi Gras!

And those things are less money-oriented…so how about that budget? I’m on a biweekly pay schedule, so twice a month I get to see my bank account go up into the triple digits and then back down to the singles (which will hopefully stop soon). So far I’ve stuck to my goals of not spending any money eating out/vending machines and not using my Discover Card at all. In fact, I even took it out of my wallet and hid it from myself.

February

My phone bill ended up being $6 more than I planned because in order to set-up auto-payments (and get $5 off every month) you need an online account. So when I went to create one, it didn’t work out because my number is associated with my mom’s account because she paid for the first month and the phone (for Christmas!). So I’ll have to talk to her about that next month. $14 in unexpected miscellaneous payments because we had to get cat litter (we buy it in bulk), and $25 for co-pay because I went to the doctor. Everything else is pretty much as expected, including my minimum Discover Card payment ($49).

From going to the doctor on Monday, I missed 2 hours of work, but I’m lucky that I have insurance and am able to afford it (and I’ve been procrastinating since October). Just a check-up, so no worries! I’m going to try to work extra next week so I can make up for those two hours. I also want to try to work extra so I can take off early for Valentine’s Day, so we’ll see!

Happy Fat Tuesday y’all! I may be the most boring Louisianian in the world today, but here’s a little taste of what I’m missing for y’all:

Pretty much everywhere right now.

Pretty much everywhere right now.

Weekly $ Checkup 2.1

The last Weekly $ Checkup I did was back in November of 2011…a long time ago. But I do remember that it gave me a lot to reflect on throughout the week. And you may ask, “On a Tuesday? Really?” but because 2013 started on a Tuesday, that’s the “schedule” I’ve been keeping. Tuesdays are when I do my weigh-ins (to see if I’m on track), check my book checklist, etc.; essentially Tuesdays are the new Sunday for me. But I do remember that I originally found this idea via Shoes & Savings who originally got it from My Pretty Pennies.

  1. The most I’ ve spent this last week was on gasoline – $16.03. That is actually the entirety of my spending so far this month with the vending machine/eating out ban.
  2. Today I am thankful that I have a job and a great support structure, and I’m thankful I’ve started (and kept) focusing on the important things to me in life (finances, health, family, friends, love).
  3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was spending a Saturday watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race with my roommate, our old roommate and her current roommate and current boyfriend while photoshopping their graduation portraits (taken a year late) into two categories: hilariously ridiculous or amazingly oohh they should use that for advertisements!
  4. I will consider this week a success if I finish Catch 22 (awful so far) and spend my paycheck exactly how I plan to.
  5. If I had today off I would crochet a million granny squares to finish a birthday gift.
This scavenger hunt is getting boring. Let's go work on the treehouse!

We’re all on the search for happiness…just not all of us so literally…

Source (go now)