Net Worth: End of May Update

Good morning to the west coast! I’m just back from what should be the most expensive component of my California trip — a few days in San Francisco where I ate out pretty much every meal, went to several events requiring tickets, and did some shopping (little presents for my various hosts, and a hat and tshirt for myself.) All things considered it could’ve been worse than it turned out to be; the eating out was constant, but none of it was in sit-down restaurants — a few dollars for a taco here, $10 for a sandwich there, $3 for coffee here…. It definitely added up, but put together it was still less than two or three sit-down meals.

Next year if I do this again, I will, my hand to God, have it all saved up for in advance!

Anyway, even though we still have a couple of days to go before the end of May, nothing should change between now and Saturday, so I’m going to go ahead and do a net worth update.

I put $2608 towards my remaining student loan in May, leaving it sitting, currently, at $2499.86. (It’ll grow by about $12 over the course of the month.) Woo! I am on track to pay it off with my last big paycheck from my current job, so the end-of-June update ought to be pretty damn exciting.

I also paid $450.00 to my credit card (towards dealing with various moving/travel expenses.)

Now, as to spending….deep breath and in we go:

“Auto and Transport”: $1528. This includes gas, car insurance, public transportation costs in San Francisco…and also the majority of the costs of my move.

“Food and dining”: $402. This isn’t as bad as I expected it to be given how much eating out I’ve done this month. On the other hand I’ve bought zero groceries and also eaten quite a bit at the expense of various parents and friends which is free for me, except the time I spend doing dishes!

Clothing and books: $79.44. A hat, a tshirt, a book. I also bought some e-books but they don’t seem to have been actually charged to my card yet so I guess I’ll count them next month instead.

Tickets: $177.50

Gifts: $34.23

Personal care: $197.05. This includes medical expenses (therapy; eye infection) and pharmacy stuff. And some waxing 🙂

Cash spending: $123 (including an ATM fee at the San Francisco airport, grrrrr)

Misc other: $274.13. Postage, moving supplies, utilities and phone bill (two months’ worth actually because of an odd schedule). Oh, God, and also an embarrassing taxi ride in NY; I didn’t leave myself enough time in the morning to get to the airport by less expensive shuttle bus and ended up having to take a cab. I don’t even want to think about that one.

Totals:

Spending:
Money applied to debt: $3058.00
Money spent on everything else: $2815.35

Grand total of spending: $5873.35 — or roughly $800 more than my paycheck+reimbursements. [The move is partially funded by my new employers and I should actually get another $350 from them eventually, which will help a little bit with paying down the credit card.]

  Debt
 -$4668, a change of +$2166 from the end of April

[Not included in the above, because I’m doing all this off budget, is the side hustling and Roth IRA shares I did this month. But for the record, my May side hustling income comes to $415, and that is partly reflected in the net worth total below, although it’s a little complicated since some of that money has not yet arrived in an account that ‘shows’ on mint.]

Net worth total: 
-$954, a change of +$2389 from the end of April

Positive net worth is so close I can practically taste it! Should happen by the end of June unless something really drastic happens.

Being There: A Single Finances Post

So, I’m the middle of a trip to California that I sandwiched between the two parts of my move. I’m here mostly because my best friend is here, along with her husband, her dog, and her daughter — my goddaughter, who is not quite 3 and a half.

The baby was born while I was in graduate school all the way across the country, and as far as I know, for the foreseeable future we’ll live many many miles apart. Being 35 and not interested in signing up for solo parenting, I’ll most likely never have children of my own; although she’s not my child, she’s more to me than just the random child of a random friend, in all sorts of ways.

Given the projected state of my finances (I’ll make a low salary until the end, unless something changes radically in academia), I can’t expect to do much for her in the way of financial help. (Although right now she’d be the beneficiary of half my tiny IRA if I died, with my brother down for the other half.)

But what I can do is to be there, as much as I can. Laundry, diaper changes, going to the beach with her, reading books, putting her to bed when her parents are at work, cooking, dishes, taking her to the park…. I’ve done all that and more in the last few years. And it’s all free, except for my plane tickets. It’s the kind of investment I can make — so I do.

Waiting for Guffman

It’s time for the monthly ritual of sitting around waiting for my paycheck to hit! This time’s a little better because, while I normally get paid on the 25th, the 25th is on the weekend, so payroll goes out on the 23rd. It turns out this means they actually send direct deposits out on the 22nd. I split direct deposit this month, with 1/3 of my money going to one account and 2/3 to another. (Complicated, but it’s because of a rewards thing.) And one account actually got paid already! But the money’s apparently in limbo on its way to the other one.

Sooooo…. I made a student loan payment. $1447! God, that feels good. Only another $3553 to go (plus interest, blah blah.) Too bad the current amount sitting on my credit card is exactly the amount I’m putting towards student loans this month. There’s something poetically hilarious about that.

I am a person who has had a retirement account for two months

This is the two month anniversary of my taking the *enormous* step of moving some money from savings (accessible) to savings (non-accessible, which means they won’t get spent). As I wrote a few days later, this was something I hadn’t felt so bad about not doing — until all of a sudden I felt really, really bad about it.

I feel like a different person than I did at the start of the panic attack that impelled all of this change. I’m still plenty worried about my income (present and future) and I’ve taken only small steps towards reining in daily spending, but I have taken those steps and once my complicated multi-state move is over and I start my new job, I’m going to take more. I’m excited to see what happens next.

The week that was: expensive travel edition!

This week/weekend was very, very busy: I moved out of my apartment ($$$$$$$$$$$$) and returned to Very Large and Very Expensive Grad School City to walk across a couple of stages in fancy robes and shake various hands. It was a lot of fun, but it reminded me why I’m pretty glad to no longer live in VLaVEGSC, even though it is fun to visit. In four days I’ve packed in a museum visit (free!), spent hours on public transportation (not free!), and, uh, a large amount of money on food. (Though to be fair I didn’t normally eat out three meals a day when I lived here.)

Blogging is going to continue to be pretty light this week as I’m still traveling, but here’s the wince-inducing weekly update:

*First, the good news, to make myself feel better: I put together $250 and bought another round of Roth IRA shares! I’m up to $620 in Roth funds since late April, go me.

*Uh, now the bad news (everything else):

Moving expenses: $1225 (OW)

Public transportation: $30.50

Gas: $54.08

Food: $131 [not as bad as I thought; I guess my parents ended up paying for a lot of stuff this week. As usual, this doesn’t include cash spent on coffee and the like, which would probably add another $20-ish]

Student loan payment: $108

Personal care: $128.75. This included a haircut, some waxing (I am in VLaVEGSC after all — catching up on stuff I haven’t done in nine months), some drugstore purchases, and expenses related to an eye infection I picked up yesterday. Who doesn’t love wandering around looking for an optometrist who’s open and taking drop-ins on Sunday morning? Thank the lord for Orthodox Jews; I found one who’s closed Friday after sundown and all day Saturday, but opens Sunday morning. And he only charged me $30 for the visit, plus I paid another $16 for antibiotic eye drops. Fingers crossed that they work and I won’t have to visit someone else in CA.

Weekly total: $1677.33. Eesh. Without the moving expenses, that’s $452, which is better but not great. I do, blessedly, get paid at the end of this week, so I’m looking forward to a huge student loan payment and to making a small dent in the credit card debt as well.

ugh life is expensive

Part 1 of the move happened yesterday, so a big chunk of change (hundreds and hundreds and HUNDREDS of dollars) landed on my CC. Ouch. I knew it was coming and was able to budget for some of it, but not all. I’m too early in my journey to have had time to save up for it properly. It is what it is, but it’s hard to swallow when I’m envisioning having to spend a lot of the rest of the year paying it down instead of redirecting that money to savings or whatever.

I may or may not get a windfall that would help — trying to sublet my old apartment right now. If that works I’ll get a month’s rent “free” (it’s budgeted, so if I don’t have to pay it it just frees that money up to be redirected to the CC.) Keep your fingers crossed.

OK, enough of that, off to have tea with a friend and stop worrying for a few hours.

Weekend update

Things are liable to stay light around here for a week or two — moving and traveling. But I’ve stopped long enough to look at “the week that was.”

According to mint.com, over the last week I spent:

$103 on utilities (cell phone, electric)

$66 on food (restaurants, groceries)

$60 in medical (woo! This is because my insurance is paying for most of therapy, after all — I was super worried it would be out of pocket, but instead it’s just a co-pay)

$44 on moving supplies (tape, packing paper)

$17 on gas

For a total of $290. This is good — I need some cheap weeks after all the expensive ones recently (and the expensive ones that are coming up as I go on my big west coast swing.)

I also did something exciting: I bought the first $250 of my side-hustling-Roth shares. On top of that, I’m only $20 away from being able to buy the second $250 worth! And I only started on April 22. Most of this has been from usertesting.com — some from amazon and ebay.

Moving — frugally

Things have been quiet on the internet the last few days; it’s grading season, and also, as an itinerant academic, I’m packing to move, for the umpteenth time since I graduated from college.

I actually really don’t want to count the number up. It has to average out to close to once a year. And it’s been a lot of years.

At this point I have it down to a science; I started doing some light packing a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t get really serious until a couple of days ago, and I should be mostly done packing tomorrow, although I’ll also do a little bit at the absolute last minute — clothes, sheets, tools, cleaning supplies. Also on the list for tomorrow: run by Goodwill to drop off a couple of boxes, and pick up my dry cleaning so it doesn’t get left behind!

I suppose the most important part of moving frugally is choosing your moving company (whether that’s your buddies and a Uhaul, or whether it’s professionals.) But I don’t have a lot of great advice on that. Instead, what I’m interested in right now is the “hidden costs.”

The upside of moving a lot is that I have not accumulated Stuff. I’m not really a Stuff person anyway — I’d probably weed every year or two no matter what, as part of spring cleaning. The thought of living with boxes of unused Stuff in the hallways or even the basement/attic really freaks me out.

But the downside to my aggressive weeding is that it can really burn me on the other end of a move. For example, last year I had a storage unit for about nine months while I was living in various spare rooms (long story.) When I moved out of my previous apartment, I sold or gave away a lot of furniture I didn’t think I was going to want: kitchen table and chairs, armchair, futon, twin bed. That made it easy to store everything else, sure. But when I got here, I ended up spending a month (and probably $1000) replacing things. If I’d just stored all of that furniture, it wouldn’t have been exactly what I wanted, but it would have been there (and free!). Oh well. So, this time, I’m taking everything, even though it’s going to be another storage unit situation since I’ll be living with a friend for at least the first six months. I need the storage unit anyway; might as well pack it full.

The other thing that always has bitten me on moves in the past is food. I tend to keep a pretty full pantry; dry goods, beans, different kinds of vinegars and oils, spices, nuts in the freezer, pickles and capers and mustards in the fridge. Then there’s cleaning supplies — I’ve tossed them rather than taking them with me more often than not, because they’re heavy and awkward and I don’t want them spilling in the truck. And I always seem to end up, after any given move, spending a few hundred dollars to replace things.

This time, I vowed it would be different, and a couple of things are making that possible. First of all, I had to go to New City for a conference two weeks ago. So I packed the car with all this food that I would have worried would spoil or spill if it went with the other stuff and took nine days on the road. Flour, sugar, vinegars and oils, spices, beans, etc etc etc. I even took the refridgerated stuff, although I didn’t think the frozen stuff would make it through a full day’s driving, so alas, I did end up throwing out two packs of cranberries, a bunch of frozen lemon juice, and — tragedy — some homemade chicken stock that I never got around to using. Seriously, I bet being aggressive about saving rather than tossing partly-used food items is going to end up saving me hundreds of dollars when I finally get to New City again in mid-June. I’m sure I’ll make a stock-up trip to the grocery store anyway, but I’m going to compare my credit card bills from last year to my credit card bill from this year to find out how dramatic the difference is.

Second, I have a car. It’s not as big as I wish it was. But even though I also have to put a lot of office boxes into it, it should still be able to hold a few leftover food items and the cleaning supplies, along with a few fragile/precious things I don’t want the movers touching. This is the first time I’ve ever moved with a car and it’s lowering my stress levels, definitely.

Weekend Update

I’ve entered the part of the month where I have no money in the checking account because it’s all been routed away. It’s psychologically unsettling to have my balance this low even though I know I’m not in danger of an overdraft. (Also, I’m waiting on a reimbursement check and that will sure help ease the ol’ troubled mind if it shows up on Monday or Tuesday, as I expect it to do.)

Side hustle news: sold a pair of hiking boots on ebay for $20 net; didn’t sell any of my more expensive clothing/shoe items though (they’re relisted.) Did more usertesting.com quick hits.

Saving money and budgeting news: I won a free copy of some fun budgeting software, You Need a Budget! I’m happy to own it; it’s a big step up over the excel spreadsheets I’d been playing around with. If anyone’s interested, you can get $6 off by following my referral link.

And I joined the Modest Money list of top finance blogs. I’m pretty far down the list <g>

ModestMoney.com Top Finance Blogs
I’m really glad I guest-posted last week; it feels much less lonely over here with a few commenters 🙂 It’s good to feel like I have some accountability.

And with that, to the weekly numbers (at least via mint.com; I’m not in a position yet to implement to the penny cash tracking, which I’m going to start once my move is finished.)

Spending, April 27-May 3:

Rent/internet: $765

Car related stuff: $286 — gas and tolls from the conference I was at, pretty much. Also my car insurance payment.

Utilities: $20

“Other”: $168. Combo of groceries, moving supplies, what-not-all.

Total: $1260. Not that bad — counting the rent it’s not a big place….

Oof. I couldn’t sleep much last night, stress about work stuff, and now I literally can’t keep my eyes open. This isn’t the world’s most interesting post but I’m too tired to be clever!

On a more cheerful note

My side hustling plan is off to a decent start! So far I have:

(1) made $355.79 from a combination of selling things on amazon and ebay, watching usertesting.com like a hawk, and skimming a little more than $100 off last month’s paycheck. I did that last accidentally, by the way, through double-transferring money from my checking account to the new savings account I set up to fund Roth shares. I am not a financial master of the universe. But having made the transfer I decided to let it stand, rather than pulling it back and using it for cash spending, so even though it is technically from my paycheck, I’m calling it a side hustle I pulled on myself.

(2) Talked to a friend of mine about booking me for a paid lecture in the fall (I am not sure how much this will be, maybe no more than a couple hundred dollars, but every little bit counts.)

(3) Mentioned to a few friends, in a casual and low-key way thus far, that I am looking for writing, editing, and, what the hell, pet- and baby-sitting work. By the way! Anyone reading this: I am looking for writing and editing work! Feel free to get in touch 🙂

(4) Signed up for a new checking/savings account that theoretically will give me $20 a month — apparently in perpetuity — for using direct deposit and billpay. By the end of this year, if this works, that would be $140. Again, repeat after me: every little bit counts.

I am not getting too excited yet, because I still have, uh, $5144.21 to go on my “fund the Roth using extra income” plan, and obviously I’m going to have to acquire more lucrative part-time work than I’ve done so far. But setting the goal and already making some progress feels good; I’m going to buy in $250 increments so I can do the first lot as soon as the money’s available in my savings account.