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.

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!

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.