Thursday, September 11, 2014

August = Weddings, Weddings = Expenses

I attended three weddings in August and it was exhausting and EXPENSIVE!  But before I talk about the bad part of celebrating my friends, I'd like to acknowledge that I wouldn't have missed these events for the world.  I shed many tears of joy, drank, danced and was merry!  Weddings really are a wonderful time to reflect on my friendships and the journey of growing up that I've had the pleasure of witnessing.

That being said, all three were out of town which meant gas or flights, hotels, gifts, having to eat out, and inevitable buying of booze for after parties.  I hadn't properly saved for these events because I'd just become flush again post-Brazil so I pulled out the credit card a few times.  It's a hard thing to do these events on the cheap without drawing attention to your financial hardships.  I was lucky and was able to save money by sharing a hotel or minimizing my nights in a hotel on each weekend, but I didn't want to sit out of the after party because of $20.  I've noticed too that I'm much more open about my need to do things on the cheap with certain friends than with my family.  I haven't broken through admitting to my family that I'm having a hard time financially... With my older sister, she's already helping me out by charging me cheap rent for her condo that I live in and with my little sister, I just don't want to admit that she's doing better than I am.  I'm sure every financial blog and book out there would encourage me to disclose and be honest, but I'm not there.  I would rather just fix my problem without having to hear it from my sisters.

In order to avoid those conversations though, I need to fix the problem.  The first week of September has been weird because I'm staying in a friends house and have had standing appointments for brunch or lunch once a weekend, but I think the rest of the month will be much more successful and I'm determined to balance this month's budget!  One day at a time.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I'm Inspired

I heard about this video via another blog last night and it's so inspiring!  I don't necessarily want to sell everything I own and backpack around Australia, but it was a reminder that I have closets full of crap that are the living reminders of the things I've purchased when I didn't have the money.  While I can't get the full value back, I can start to sell this stuff in order to make a dent.

I also recommend that you check out Adam Baker's website Man Vs. Debt.  I can't wait to watch his documentary as well.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

And I'm Back!

I'm such a bad blogger!  I don't even remember why I stopped blogging back in April, but some time off led to me completely forgetting about the blog.

The past few months have not been the best financially and I'm sure that not keeping myself accountable with the blog was a big reason for my lack of success.  I was able to save some money with the Total Money Makeover declaration, but then I started spending on what I can only imagine was stupid stuff since I can't think of it now and then I went to Brazil for 9 days and here I am starting over.

As my Brazil trip was getting closer I started to realize AGAIN how stupid I'd been to not plan ahead and be responsible and really save some money to enjoy during the vacation.  I'm very lucky that my family footed most of our food bills, but I was able to return the favor very few times and came back with barely any souvenirs because of my money problems.  It got so bad I had my credit cards on a tier system of when I could use them on the vacation based on when the payment hit so that there was available funds. 

But I'm back in the country and on the blog and refocused.  I sometimes feel bad about these big moments of re-focus because I feel like I sound like a broken record player and just repeating the same thing over and over, but it's better than ignoring the problem completely.  The key is to keep this focus going which is why I'm writing this confessional now.

I started to re-read the Total Money Makeover and am back on Baby Step #1 which is to save $1,000 as quickly as possible.  Over the past week I've found two ways to make a big dent towards this initial savings and then paying down my debt.  My sister was telling me last week how she's going to start getting her cleaning person to fold their laundry because she's unable to keep up with it.  I offered to take over the job of washing, folding and putting everything away if she'd pay me instead of her cleaning person.  She accepted and we agreed that she'd pay me a weekly amount that I could just deduct from my rent.  I'm so excited for this arrangement!  My rent is almost cut in half so I have $200 each month available to save or pay down my debt!!!  Also, I'm finally at the end of my fancy gym membership so I went and cancelled it.  I have one more payment and then that $138 can be used for a better purpose.

It's good to be back and I hope you're back along the ride with me!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Taking Up An Expensive Sport

I've always thought about signing up for a triathlon.  It involves three sports that I've been fairly good at during some point in my life and since the training is varied I figured it wouldn't put as much strain on my body as the half marathon did.

Part of the reason I signed up was because my company is sponsoring a team which means that they're paying for my registration fee and giving me access to free coaching.  Win!

What I didn't realize until after I signed up was that triathloning is a super expensive sport!!!  Or can be I guess.  Here is a list of the supplies that I didn't think about:
  • training swimsuit (last time I'd swam laps regularly was college and I no longer fit into that swimsuit)
  • swim goggles
  • wetsuit (the ocean is cold and apparently the wetsuit helps with buoyancy)
  • road bike (I only have a 7 speed cruiser which isn't ideal for a fast 18 mile ride on the PCH)
  • helmet (I actually have one of those already!)
  • running shoes (got those as long as they don't need to be replaced in the next six months.. which they probably will)
  • triathlon shorts (these help your ass not get sore on the bike ride)
Holy crap, this could be insanely expensive!!!

For now, I'm going to try to get away with buying as little as possible.  My first purchase today was the swimsuit and goggles which I need to help me start swimming.  I'm also looking at taking a swim class and the pool fees will definitely add up.

Luckily besides the swimming I can do the rest of the training at my gym so at least there's not that additional cost.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Falling Off The Wagon

Between a weekend in Vegas that ended up being more expensive than I expected (shocker) and then another unexpected weekend away I have officially fallen off the Total Money Makeover wagon.

It's really amazing how as soon as I pulled out the credit card to pay for "necessities" to tide me over until payday I was going out every night and buying expensive dinners.  I can't let this cycle keep happening.  The rest of the month needs to be super disciplined both money and nutrition/exercise wise.  I'm hoping that I can still end the month off strong!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Total Money Makeover: Baby Step #1

I purchased this book because it's been on my radar for a long time and it was just listed as Amazon's top selling financial book of all time.  I figured that was a sign and that I should finally check it out.

I like him so far!  I appreciate that he sounds so inspired by the families who have found success with his program and wants me to be inspired and motivated by them too.  I also like that he acknowledges that someone reading his book has probably read more material and have made efforts to get control of their personal finances and debt and (like weight loss) it's not the lack of knowledge that holds people back from reaching their goals.  It's all about actually holding yourself accountable and doing the hard work.  I love how he keeps saying that common sense isn't so common anymore.. I don't know if it's common sense, but the ability to avoid consequences.

Step One: Save $1000.00
His first action step is to make a budget and he offers a pretty good budget to copy from.  I'm reading this on my kindle and I always hate when I read books with any graphics or sidebars because it gets really confusing or unreadable on the kindle so luckily his worksheets were readily available online.  He seems to be a big advocate of the cash diet for certain spending areas.  I actually really like this idea.  I already have all of my bills and debt payments on automatic payment so that just leaves my food and miscellaneous spending to fall under the cash diet.  I'll take out a certain amount at the beginning of the month and then can only overspend in certain areas if I borrow from others which will maintain a $0 balance budget.  The $0 he asks for is so that every dollar is accounted for not necessarily that you should spend everything that's leftover.  There's a plan for every extra dollar and for now that money is going towards my savings in order to achieve the first "baby step" of the Total Money Makeover which is to save $1000.  It's an arbitrary number, but enough to cover most real emergencies that might come up.  He asks that you do whatever you have to do to save this amount as quickly as humanly possible.  I'm hoping that I'll have this amount saved within a few weeks.  I just went to Vegas for the weekend and spent a little more than I'd hoped, but even with that I should be able to get to the $1000 quickly thanks to some house sitting money I have coming in next week.

I like that I only have one focus right now.  I can handle that!  I'm also glad that this first step was already in line with what I was trying to do before starting the Total Money Makeover.  With my last strategy of switching my savings to my Capital One 360 savings account I haven't touched my savings in over a week!  I'm super excited about my progress and looking forward to picking up the book again as soon as this step is done.  I didn't want to read ahead and not be able to put the advice into immediate action so for now the book is on hold while I quickly accumulate my savings!

I'll keep you updated!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cash Only

I've been toying around with the idea of a cash only diet.  I've made some progress with my spending/debt cycle, but I'm worried that I've started an entirely new bad cycle.  Per Learnvest's advice, I put my tax refund into a savings account in order to have a buffer to stop my debt cycle.  They were right, I definitely stopped using my credit cards because I had cash on hand for unexpected expenses.  The problem is that my savings has turned into a draw down account every week where I transfer money while in line at the store from my savings to my checking account in order to cover whatever it is that I'm buying.  Kinda defeats the purpose!

There's a couple things that need to happen. 
  1. I'm going to transfer my savings from my regular bank savings account to my ING (suck it Capital One 360, it'll always be ING) savings account which takes a few days to transfer money so I won't see my savings as easily accessible/spendable anymore. 
  2. Cash only for my weekly expenses.  All of my bills are on auto-pay so I'm really just talking about my food/gas/shopping money.  I usually attempt to budget for $100 per week which is just a number I came up with out of nowhere.  It'll be interesting to see if I can actually buy gas, food, and random necessities for that amount or if it's been unrealistic the whole time.  Food wise I only have one dinner out planned and I've pre-purchased two salads for lunch and froze three portioned out meals so there isn't a lot of food to buy this week.
Even while keeping track of my expenses on a manual app I always forget to input purchases as they happen which is what leaves me scrambling to buffer my account with on-the-go transfers.  That has to stop.  Hopefully these two steps will really help!