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, 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 — some from amazon and ebay.

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 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> 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; 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!

The Stupidity Tax

I forget where I got this term from, but it is meaningful in my life. It’s the phrase I use when I wind up paying a fee I shouldn’t have, or paying more for something than I should have because I didn’t do enough research.

In this case it’s (ANOTHER) $20 parking ticket. I just had one last week! They’re both from forgetting to check the street cleaning signs to see where I could/couldn’t park. I did this twice when I first moved here, and then vowed “never again” — and kept that vow until last week when I didn’t check, and today when I didn’t check. I guess I’ve had a lot on my mind, but I’m just so mad at myself for being so flaky. This is $40 I definitely could have spent in better ways.

Including the $20 bill I dropped somewhere on the ground at the farmer’s market earlier this year, I think this brings the stupidity tax total for the year to $60 (two parking tickets, one lost $20). I suppose in the grand scheme of things it could be worse, but…still.

The worst is that I know they do not need to “street clean” this often and it’s not even clear they *do* street cleaning. I think it’s mostly a convenient way to raise a lot of revenue that the city then doesn’t have to get from other sources who would be even less happy about it (businesses, income taxes.) This way the burden falls most heavily not on the richest, but on the dumbest.

Including yours truly, I guess. Sigh.

Weekly update: false uglification

The numbers look sooooo bad right now on mint, but they will improve a lot by early next week (probably Monday.)

Spending, April 20-26:

Travel: $31.50 for a ticket to be used during my CA trip; $138 for plane tickets

Food: $75 — again a bit of a guess, since there was some cash for coffee etc here and there. Didn’t have to buy groceries this week so this was all meals out, drinks at a conference. They do add up, huh.

Phone: $178.62. This is literally for the phone, plus a month of the plan.

Car insurance: $53.50

Gas: $118.12 (reimbursable) (Most of this is for a conference I’m attending, a 10-hour drive away from home; this is a TON of gas, way more than I usually get in month.)

Stupidity tax: $20 (parking ticket)

Student loan payment: $2418.88 (KILLING IT, this student loan is no more — soon to be followed by its brother. Or, well, within the next few months anyway.)

Weekly total (without the student loan payment: $614.74, of which $116 is reimbursible, making the real total $498. This still seems like a lot — except for the week I pay rent, I feel like my weekly expenses should rarely be more than a couple hundred bucks — but maybe not. Maybe there’s always something; food is a constant, but something else, a utility bill, something I need to buy, is always coming up.

Payday at last

Of course it’s all going right back out the door 🙂

But the first thing I did this morning when I woke up was head over to student loan lender #1 and click on “Pay off loan.” I’ll give numbers in the weekly and monthly update, but this is just a short little note of cheering!

Also: I looked at the old repayment schedule. If I’d taken ten years to pay it off, I would’ve paid about $4000 in interest over the life of the loan. Instead, by paying it off almost a year to the day after graduation, I’ve paid around $300. (Have to add up the exact amounts; again, will do that later.)

So striking.

Single and sighing

This article is geared towards Canadians, but I still found it interesting: “Going It Alone: Retirement for Singles” (2011).

There were a few things in it that made me think about my own situation:

(1) It confirms my sense that there are tradeoffs involved. I pay higher tax rates and have higher housing costs than if I were splitting a 1-bedroom apartment. On the other hand, I’m not paying for children, and I bet that will easily save me the $250,000 the article mentions over the course of a lifetime. I could see how it could be more — you need a bigger housing situation, medical care, school stuff, clothes, food, and then eventually college plus, if they’re anything like I am myself, they then need financial help while they figure out what they’re doing in their adult lives!

(2) It reminded me that nothing is certain. The sisters they interviewed had both been married; then one was divorced and one was widowed and they were right back where they started! Even if I were married, the odds would have to be at least 50-50 that the other person would die before me.

(3) Yeah, I have to seriously get going on this savings thing. I feel (and am) so far behind.

A new goal for 2014: Side Hustling My Way to Retirement

I’m in a little bit of a panic about retirement. I’m way behind where I should be at 35! If I had a guarantee of a steady income for a while to come, I could relax. But I don’t; I have a guarantee of two more years, at a rate of pay significantly below my rate this year. And I’m actually looking at a lifestyle crunch, because while my student loans will be paid off, that’s all I did this year: pay my loans and live. I only managed to save a couple thousand on top of that. So it’s a damn good thing my cost of living is going to drop in Indiana, because my pay will be dropping and I need to get really really serious about this retirement thing.

I’m starting a 401(k) at my new job in July, and I’m going to have $1000 a month held out of a (gross) $4000 paycheck, which is, I know, a lot, but seems necessary because I’m playing so much catch-up. I’m not sure exactly what my take-home will be like, but I’m guessing it’ll be around $2000, once the 401(k), taxes, health insurance, etc, are removed. I’ll have monthly fixed expenses (rent, utilities, phone, car insurance, grocery budget) of $650. That leaves a lot of discretionary income to save for travel, future housing costs (down payment fund), medical expenses, gas/car stuff, clothing, and just plain fun…except that if I’m going to fully fund a Roth IRA for 2014, I’d need to keep back $900, which would leave me with only $450 for all those savings goals plus slush/fun money. Not a lot.

Conclusion: I need more income, and that income needs to not disappear into the black hole of the slush fund. It needs to go directly into a savings account that I use to buy Roth shares whenever it hits a certain amount, say, $250.

So, here’s a goal for the remaining 7 months in 2014: $5500 in extra income, all of which will be directly routed to the brand-new savings account I just set up, no excuses, no exceptions!

Other income I intend to route this way, if I can pick up any of this:
–interest from savings accounts (not likely to be much, but still….)
–author royalties
–honoraria for speeches (I’ll be lucky if I can land one of these this year, but….)
–ebay and amazon and craigslist
–freelance editing (I hope this will be my main source; I need to start getting some gigs though)
–babysitting? tutoring?
–promotions, like “open a new credit card or checking account”

I’m starting it out with $68.96 I just made through a combination of ebay and Only $5411 to go!

It’s Sort of Fun To Talk About Spending: A Weekly Update

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m sort of obsessed right now by money. This hopefully will not last forever — I would like to get back to thinking about other things — but there you go. Right now it is actually fun to look at my account and my bank account and everything and just see, you know, what did I spend? Where did it go? So I decided that I’d do a weekly spending update. I don’t know how much I’ll really learn from this but…why not, basically 🙂

So, April 13-19, how’d we do?

Food: $125 [This is a bit of a guess; my transactions on groceries, two meals out, and so on, added up to $75. But I know for a fact I spent $25 yesterday in cash at the farmer’s market and another $16 in cash for dinner out, and I also spent some money on coffee and so on in cash throughout the week. Oh my God, I *have* to get my food costs under control, because this is a very typical week, frankly — which means I could easily be spending more like $500 a month. On food. For one person. Well, I guess this is what they mean by a wake-up call.]

Car: $96.18. This was an expensive week; gas, but also $35 to my EZ-Pass account and $27 to get the oil changed.

Travel: $219.13. Round trip tickets to California (I also used points, so this is not nearly as high as it could be, but still.)

Reimbursable: $155 for a conference registration and $573 for moving costs.

Student Loan: $88.34. This is the minimum payment on my Sallie Mae loan, which I’m making monthly while throwing huge amounts of money at the Great Lakes loan which has a higher interest rate.

Federal Taxes: $8.00 [seriously]

Other: well, it hasn’t actually been charged yet, but I bought a new phone. My cell phone bill has been bothering me for a while; I have an ancient (4 year old at least) flip phone, but I pay $55 a month for talk and text, and that just seems HUGE. So I decided to try Republic Wireless, a company where you use wifi for calls and texts when you can, and 3G when you can’t. It’s $10 a month but you have to buy the phone. So I was waiting until they released a cheaper phone, which they did on Thursday; it’ll be $150 out of pocket but with no plan or whatever, and obviously if it works I’ll be back in the black after just a few months because the plan is so much cheaper. It has a 30-day money back guarantee, so I’m going to keep my old phone/plan until I find out if this new one really works.

So I guess I won’t count that in my total because (a) it hasn’t even been charged to my card yet and (b) I’m not sure if I’m really keeping it.

This means my expenses for the week were…holy shit…$1264, of which $728 is reimbursable, meaning that I have to pay for $536 of it (plus the phone eventually.) Wow.

On the upside, even though I have more plane tickets to buy, next week pretty much *has* to be cheaper! Nowhere to go but up!

Waiting for payday

Right now, I’m having some psychological trouble — we get paid once a month, and literally since the end of last month I’ve been counting the minutes until I get paid *this* month, so I can throw a lot of money at the student loan. I just want it GONE, and it can’t be until I get three more paychecks.

This is weird, because, like, in the meantime I’m supposed to be living my life — doing my job, not just waiting for a check to come in! It’s been hard to focus on anything but my net worth this month, though.

(Although that is not going to look pretty at the end of April, for two reasons: I decided it was silly to count my car, since that just doesn’t seem to qualify as an asset. It’s not like I’m going to sell it, after all. So I took it off And second, I just put a ton of stuff on my credit card: I had to book movers, and nearly all of that will be reimbursable, but in the meantime it’s going to sit on my card (which luckily has an 0% rate for the next year) and look ugly, until at least the end of July. And also I bought plane tickets for my May/June expedition to the West Coast, so there was a bigger expense than I usually have in a month, here. We should be in positive territory anyway by the end of the summer — debt paid off, moving expenses reimbursed, plane tickets paid down — but things are going to be weird for a while.)

But, psychologically, I’m going to have to get over just sitting around waiting to get paid, or realistically, I won’t get paid for much longer!