12.31.2010

How Much is the Stuff in Your Purse Worth?

I got this from Fabulously Broke's website. I always enjoy those "What's in My Bag" posts, videos and threads so I thought I would share the contents of my bag and how much everything amounts to on a daily basis! It's kinda scary thinking about how much I actually carry around with me everyday. The BF only carries his Balenciaga wallet.... guys have it so easy!

The Breakdown
  • Bag: This changes a lot but I switch between my Balenciaga 09 black RH city ($1000) to my Louis Vuitton Galliera ($900) to my Chanel Diamond Stitch Tote ($2000) - *cringe* my bags themselves are worth a LOT of money. If any of them were ever stolen I would cry, especially since I got these at "good" prices. You wouldn't want to know their retail prices...
  • Chanel Black Caviar Wallet: $500
  • 2 Balenciaga Coin Purses: one in Framboise (pink) and one in Turquoise. I got them for about $200 each (again a great deal)
  • Cell Phone: I've mentioned that I got an HTC EVO 4G this past July and I paid $200 for it. This phone is my life - internet, GPS, wifi, email, organizer, calendar, etc.
  • iPod Touch: I always carry this since I need to listen to music at work and it also has some apps that aren't available on the Android market that I can't live without. Paid $200 for it when it first came out.
  • Make-Up: I carry a bunch of make-up in one of my Bal coin purses, but mostly I'm a lipgloss/lipstick fiend. I have to carry 4-5 different shades (nude, baby pink, etc). About $30 worth of make-up in my bag at all times.
  • Ibuprofen: Need it for that time of the month and for whenever a headache strikes, $5
  • Dr. Scholl's gel insoles: Just in case I am wearing flats..they hurt my feet badly. $10
  • Carmex: $2 Can't live without this stuff!
  • Dolce & Gabbana perfume: My absolute favorite scent. I have a bigger bottle at home but I got this from my mom since she knows I love it so much. $25
  • Gum: $2
  • GAP knit scarf: $20
  • Rayban Sunglasses: $100
TOTALS:
If I wear the LV bag: $2,394.00
If I wear my Balenciaga bag: $2,494.00
If I wear my Chanel bag: $3,494.00

Yikes!!! That's a lot of money I'm "carrying". I think this is a lesson that I need to be ultra careful when I'm out and about and to never leave my purse in my car. I'd love to hear how much you all carry on a daily basis too.

12.30.2010

2010: It's a Wrap!

I decided to take a break from laying on my bed watching YouTube videos to post my 2010 wrap-up. Today was my last day of work for the year (day off tomorrow woohoo!) and you better believe that I am staying up as late as I can today, because I normally have to sleep early and wake up at 5:45am for work. Now onward and out!

In a Nutshell: 2010 was Good to Me (but I coulda been better)
  • Fell in love with pilates
  • Had about 15 job interviews
  • Started my first full-time job in May :)
  • Bought 3 Balenciaga bags
  • Bought 2 LV bags
  • Bought 1 Chanel bag (Can you tell I'm a bag addict? I blame my mom)
  • Sold said 2 Bal bags and 1 LV bag
  • Opened up an e-fund
  • Paid off $12,000 of consumer debt in 6 months (stupid irresponsible past self!)
  • Started my 401K
  • Finally bought a phone that has internet (I love you HTC EVO 4G!)
  • Budgeted for the first time in my life
  • Finally used my Mint.com account and tracked my spending
  • Celebrated 5 years with my wonderful boyfriend
  • Received a promise ring from said boyfriend for my 23rd birthday
  • Was a bridesmaid in my best friend's wedding!
  • Coordinated an alumni basketball tournament
  • Learned how to stop impulsive shopping
  • Spent as much time as I could with my entire family
I am truly grateful and blessed to have experienced another year in my life. I have had nothing but good people and great times this year and I am looking forward to next year and blogging along the way. This blog has whipped my butt into awesome financial shape and I can't believe it's only been 3 months! If I don't blog again tomorrow... I wish you all a happy new year! Stay safe!


PS. I got my boots from my last post! It's *loveeeeee*. The Clarks Artisan line is simply amazing, as always. I love love love my boots and they were worth every penny. This is the feeling you should get when you buy items. These boots will last me years and I will suck the life outta them (just like my old Clarks boots!) I'll take a pic for you guys tomorrow :)

12.29.2010

New Boots!

I caaaaved.... I finally bought new boots!!! They're by Clarks and they're called "Gallery Brush". I briefly thought about not mentioning it on this blog but it's not necessarily a bad thing. This is who I am and I'm pretty sure this blog would be boring if I didn't discuss other interests on here. It's all about balance people! (Can you tell I've been reading Amber's blog?) I'm taking care of everything I need to take care of (in terms of saving money) and I've been wanting to buy better quality boots for awhile now. After all, this blog isn't called "From Shopping to Saving" for nothing, those are two of my conflicting interests :)


I bought them off Endless.com and they came out to $130 after using the remaining $9 of my Amazon gift card in addition to $20 off with a price match. To top it all off, I get free overnight shipping. I already have a pair of Clarks boots and they are amazing. The leather quality, comfort and style are definitely worth the $100 I paid for them last year but they are so simple. This time I wanted boots that were more edgy. I wish the heel was higher on these boots but I work in a semi-conservative office and since I will be wearing them the most at work, the heel height should suffice.

I'll post my review once I get them tomorrow... maybe even an outfit post!

On a totally unrelated note, I called my dermatologist today to negotiate lowering my bill. I went for a brief visit in October for a cyst and was charged $300 for JUST the office visit (which lasted about 5 mins by the way). The shot she gave me costed an additional $200. This all went towards my deductible so I "have" to pay it, but I was quoted $100 when I first called asking how much a visit costed for new patients. When I called today, the billing person said that the $300 is for new patients because it takes longer to know their history. They need to get their stories straight! I'm going to fight tooth and nail for this, even with my insurance company, because it's not right. I went there just to get a shot, why would they need to charge me as a "level 4" patient at $300 for an office visit. So ludicrous!!! The billing lady said she would request that the physician lower my bill... we'll see what happens.

12.28.2010

2011 Goals

Setting goals for the entire year always intimidates me. I've always set realistic goals for myself in the past, but never any financial goals. Since 2011 will be the first year that I will be having a full-time income (being optimistic that I don't lose my job), I would like to focus more on financial goals than on personal goals as I have done in the past.


2011 Financial Goals


1. Max out Roth IRA
I don't know if I will be able to max it out for the 2010 tax year since I only have until May, but I want to max it out for sure for the 2011 tax year. I've missed out on the power of compound interest for 23 years and I don't want to miss out anymore!

2. Finance a vacation in cash.
This is an absolute must this year. I want to go on vacation with the BF totally on cash this year. It doesn't have to be a long or expensive vacation, but even a nice weekend getaway paid strictly with cash would feel great knowing that I don't have to make payments on a CC later. When we go on vacation, we like to really treat ourselves and do away with a frugal budget, so I will have to save about $5,000 for a trip to Hawaii.

3. Buy my first property as an investment.
Living rent-free with the BF's parents is a HUGE benefit. I get to save and save, but the BF and I are always on the look out for investment opportunities. We are planning to buy our first condo together but we will be renting it out to let it pay for itself for a year or two.

4. Contribute as much as possible to my 401K and force the BF to start one.
I'm not sure if I will be able to max out my 401k since I have other savings goals that I would like to meet before maxing it out. Another huge goal of mine is to force the BF to start a 401k. He's already 30 and he doesn't have one yet, only particularly because he started working late and he has other priorities in regards to saving. I know what other PF bloggers would say to this, I've bombarded him with the same financial tunes that you all would say.... compound interest is key! You don't need a lot of money to start contributing! $10 a month is all I ask! I'm pretty sure by the end of 2011 he will be contributing to one.

5. Never pay interest on my credit card again.
This is more like a life goal rather than a 2011 goal, but I really want to never pay interest on my credit card again. I've paid my fair share of interest already! This means no more impulse purchases and no more buying things I do not need. If I don't have the cash for it, I don't need it at that very moment. Now that I have an emergency fund, I don't need to use my credit card for "emergencies".

6. Save, save and save!
I have lots and lots of savings goals for 2011. I want to build my emergency fund up to AT LEAST $5,000 at all times, but I'm pushing for $10,000. I also want to contribute about $50 a month for Christmas gifts in December ($600 total). In addition I have a Travel Fund that I want to build up to $5,000 (this will include trips and airplane tickets to fly back home).


2011 Personal Goals


1. Start going to the gym again.
I have always been a hardcore gym person. I love running, the treadmill, spinning, pilates, yoga, cardio classes, elliptical, and doing weights and machines. I started 2010 very strong in the gym department and absolutely loved how pilates toned me up. When I moved in May to another city for a new job, I let my fitness goals/life slip away and I haven't been consistent with working out. I've been sporadically running outside here and there but I really need to get motivated again.

2. Study for the LSAT and take the test.
I've been procrastinating big time on this one. I was scheduled to take the LSAT in 2009 as well as 2010 but situations have always come up that made me reschedule. I've taken Testmasters and a bunch of practice tests. I haven't been able to get my score where I've wanted it to be, but in order to do this I need to study my butt off. I need to find the time to study each night.

Well that's pretty much it. I'm not too ambitious when it comes to personal goals. I usually only set one or two personal goals and stick with them. With my financial goals, it's looking pretty ambitious right now but I have my mind set on achieving them. 2011 will be a good year.


What are your 2011 goals? Did you stick with your 2010 goals?

12.27.2010

Weekly Spending Recap 12/20-12/26

Weekly Spending Recap Monday 12/20 - Sunday 12/26


Monday
Gas $31.85
Gap (gifts for BF) $121.78
ING Direct Referral +10


Tuesday
Groceries $9.59


Wednesday
Gifts $61.24


Thursday
Dinner $17.81
Jewelry $56


Friday
+30 xmas gift from cousin
+100 xmas gift from mom
+50 xmas gift from grandma
+200 bday gift from stepdad
No spend day!


Saturday
No spend day!


Sunday
Forever 21 $36

This week wasn't too bad but I really sucked at my Christmas gift budget this year. It's not my fault I have such a huge family! Next year I will tone it down a bit and start collecting gifts year round as well as saving up each month for it. I had a nice time visiting family at home but the bad news is my sickness is still here and I'm not getting better. I don't really have too much to write right now since I'm coughing my lungs out and I have a sinus infection. I need to take my drowsy medicine so I can hit the sheets and hopefully go to work tomorrow. I've already missed 3 days of work due to being ill and I need to get back and do some work.

A bad habit that I have is that I spoil my boyfriend a lot. I like to see him happy and sometimes I buy him things that I know he would love. We've been together for 5 years and I love him to death. I bought him some new sweaters from GAP since he wears a bunch of old clothes all the time (he's a MAJOR saver). Tuesday was when I left work because I got sick so I went to Vons to buy tea, crackers and honey for my sore throat. The dinner on Thursday was for my brother and myself - I needed some hot soup for my throat. On Sunday, all of my cousins and I went to the mall and did some damage... it was worth it hanging out with all of them, we've needed some bonding time. I miss them all so much!

12.24.2010

Happy Christmas Eve!

I can't believe I'm blogging right now because I've come down with some weird combination of the flu/cold. I've had the fever, chills, coughing up blood, body aches and I've lost my voice completely. I came down with the illness on Tuesday and I haven't been able to completely rest until yesterday because I had to pack and take my scheduled flight back home. I really hope I get better before I have to go back to work on Monday. This is definitely not how I envisioned my little Christmas vacation!

Anyway, my budget for the month is totally in the red and I'm surprisingly not being too concerned about it. Maybe I mentally prepared myself for December and the heavy spending it would come with. Or maybe I'm just really sick and not caring too much about it since my health is a bit more important right now.

The good news is I was one of the winners from Bridget's giveaway I blogged about before! I'm super excited to get Gail vaz Oxlade's new book, Easy Money. I enjoy reading Gail's blog and have been wanting to read one of her books for awhile now but I just haven't gotten to it (I have an entire personal finance book wishlist on Amazon!)


I hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas!

12.21.2010

Personal Tips on Money Saving

I figured I should write a post on what helps me save money since I save about 80% of my monthly income. I know there are huge factors that play into this due to the fact that I do not make "hefty" rent payments, I don't have a mortgage yet, I don't have any loans or car payments, and I don't have any kids. I just honestly don't make that much so to make up for it, I have to save as much as I can so in the future I will be able to afford everything I will need.

There are some huge penny pinchers out there that need to be frugal at every living moment. If you can cut the bigger costs out of your spending, you can eat up little ones. I'm not one to say "don't go to Starbucks" or "eat out only once a month" because that won't work for me. We should be able to enjoy ourselves, we are human after all. I just think cutting out the BIG costs will help you quicker and it will be easier too.

Obviously these tips are not for everyone since they are tailored to my life, but I thought it would be interesting to share!

1. Avoid shopping when you are bored.
This was the major reason I spent so much and racked up credit debt in the past. Shopping online when I was bored, stressed, sick, couldn't sleep, drunk was a fun hobby. It's an expensive way to spend your time and do NOT shop when you are bored. There were times when I even forgot that I bought things until they showed up at my doorstep.

2. Make a list before hitting the grocery store.
I know I am completely guilty of mindless grocery shopping, especially when I'm hungry. I'm not saying you shouldn't buy something that's not on your list, because there are times when you will see something you may need. The BF and I used to mindlessly look at yummy stuff and decide we wanted it, but never ended up making it.

3. Track your spending.
This may seem like a no-brainer for some people, especially the PF blogger community, but this has put my spending into a new perspective for me. I have been able to cut costs where they should be cut and where I would have more wiggle room to spend. Use Mint.com, it's my lifesaving app/website/tracking tool.

4. Budget for yourself.
Budgeting doesn't sound fun, and it's not fun setting limits on your spending. After tracking your spending for a month or so, sit down and look at what you have been spending on. See where you can cut back and where you absolutely can't. It will be easier to set realistic budgets than pretending to be the most frugal person on earth in one day. For myself, I keep my food (eating out/groceries) budget higher than entertainment and shopping.

5. Live beneath your means.
This is probably the #1 way to save money for me. When I was paying off credit card debt, the money I was making wasn't mine so it went straight to Citibank. When I didn't have to make any more payments, I put the money straight to savings. I knew how to live without 80% of my paycheck so why should I start spending it now?

6. Cook ahead of time and freeze your meals.
This works really well if you are like me - lazy. There are times when I'm in a really productive mood (weekends) and there are times when I'm not (weekdays). Cooking for the week and then freezing your food for the week will help you have a hearty and healthy home-cooked meal without all the labor/cleaning the night before. You will also avoid the vending machine and going out to eat for lunch. You can make soups, lasagna, pasta, etc.

12.20.2010

Weekly Spending Recap 12/13/2010-12/19/2010

Weekly Spending Recap 12/13/10-12/19/10

Monday
Gas $31.95
Ebay Fee $4.95

Tuesday
Groceries $10.50

Wednesday
Food for Less $14.81

Thursday
Food $7.07

Friday
CC balance $212
Cell phone bill $71
Transfer to savings $550
ATM Withdrawal $140 ($90 was spent at the gem fair)

Saturday
Coffee and Dessert $10
Gift +$200

Sunday
Lunch for 2 $13.03
Express $40
H&M $70
= $362 (not counting bills and gift)

The numbers this week make me cringe but it was honestly all worth it. The items at Food for Less were to make my famous brickle bars for my coworkers, BF’s coworkers, family and friends. On Thursday, I had a great time at my cousin’s house and we had a huge crab feast for dinner. The least I could do was to buy my aunt her favorite snacks at this market. 

On Friday I paid a bunch of bills off and transferred money to savings. The ATM withdrawal was supposed to cover “rent” for the month to BF’s mom ($100), but instead we spent it at the gem fair! It was so much fun and I bought jewelry for my grandma and some family members. I also bought BF’s mom some crystals. We had a great time! 

On Saturday I drove to meet up with my dad, stepmom and stepsister and we shopped til we dropped. They spoil me too much and we had a wonderful lunch, fancy steak dinner and they bought me clothes. I also received $200 in cash for Christmas, which I later spent on clothes at the mall on Sunday. I still have $120 cash in my wallet as emergency cash only. 

All in all, I had great times with family this week and the spending was well worth it. I feel a bit guilty for spending $110 at the mall on Sunday but I needed to rebuy my favorite jeans (dog peed on them and stained them) and I used a coupon at Express to buy $130 worth of items for only $40. I might return a knit top that I bought at H&M since I don’t absolutely need it. 

Also, an update on my last post about wanting boots. I've decided to put that off for a bit since I spent money on clothes. Maybe if I am feeling spendy after Christmas I will buy some but for now I am content with my current boot collection!

12.17.2010

Giveaway at Hithatsmybike's Blog

If you haven't read Bridget's personal finance blog, you need to get to it RIGHT NOW! She's a heck of a writer and I love each and every post. She has inspired me to want more out of life than material goods and to keep saving. Currently she is having a giveaway that you should join! Who wouldn't want Gail Vaz-Oxlade's new book?!

20 Financial Milestones for your 20's

I thought I would share these 20 Financial Milestones for your 20's from Me in Millions blog. Since I just turned 23 it would be nice if I completed at least half of these milestones up to this point!

# 1 – Finance a dream vacation…in cash
I haven't been able to do this yet since I just started my first full-time job but I definitely want to do this in the near future. I have a savings fund specifically for that purpose, a trip to Hawaii with the family and BF would be nice, especially paying it off with cash!

# 2 – Pay off your student loans - CHECK!
I've never had student loans thanks to my parents for fully funding my college education. If I go to law school I will definitely have to take a loan out though.

# 3 – Automate paying your credit card bill in full
I don't automate my credit card because I like to manually do this. If you will, I do it the old school way where I log on to my credit card each month and pay the balance in full. This is totally new to me though because I just paid off my credit card debt last month.

# 4 – Get rid of all bad debt - CHECK!
My only debt was my credit card debt and I paid the last of it off last month.

# 5 – Build an adequate emergency fund
I'm currently working on this. I only have about $1,100 in my e-fund at the moment but I want to build it up to $10,000.

# 6 – Make your first, and last, investment mistake
I just started investing so who knows...I may have already committed my first investment mistake without knowing it. OR, I hope I never have to make one! I'm beginning to become a bigger risk taker when it comes to investments. It must be the influence of the BF.

# 7 – Develop a statement of cash flows- CHECK!
Each paycheck I know exactly what goes in and out of my accounts in terms of money. My mom is an accountant so that's possibly where I get my "question every transaction" mentality. Every penny counts!

# 8 & 9 Max out a Roth & Contribute to your 401(k) - In progress and CHECK!
I'm hoping to max out my roth this year but I started a bit late in the year to max it out completely by May 2011. Who knows, I may be ambitious and put $3,500 in there instead of putting all the extra money in savings. I already contribute to my 401k and get employer contributions.

# 10 – Get a degree or certification that increases your earning power- CHECK!
I have a B.S. in Business and I'm studying for the LSAT so I can go to law school.

# 11 – Take a career risk
I literally just started my career and have been on this path since my 2nd year of college. I'm not sure if I want to take a career risk just yet but possibly by the end of my 20's I will feel more comfortable with taking one.

# 12 – Negotiate something - CHECK!
This is a bit vague, obviously we have all negotiated something in our lives. Since we are talking about financial milestones though, I have negotiated getting overdraft fees and late fees taken off my checking and credit card accounts. I have also negotiated increasing my line of credit and lowering cell phone bills, utility bills, etc. Every time it has worked.. I love negotiating!

# 13 – Earn your first side grand- CHECK!
I have sold a bunch of items on ebay and through friends and have made over $1k this year.

# 14 – Start a sub-savings account for an upcoming financial goal - CHECK!
I have a travel fund sub-savings account.

# 15 – Set a target retirement date- CHECK!
Technically I have 2 target retirement funds - one at 2050 and one at 2045. Ideally I would like to retire sooner but who knows, I love to work and I don't think I will retire just because I can.

# 16 – Monitor your credit- CHECK!
I do and will continue to do so. Credit is extremely important and I would not want to let mine slip. Currently it's sitting at 755.

# 17 – Say no to a financial salesman- CHECK!

# 18 – Give just enough to make it hurt 
I haven't given enough to make it hurt.........yet!

2 Milestones for the Over Achiever

# 19 – Invest $1 for every $1 you spend- in progress
I'm working on this. Ultimately I want to invest a lot more but I just don't have as much funds. Right now I'm putting more money away in savings than investments but if we are talking about saving $1 for every $1 I spend then I have achieved that plus more!

# 20 – Start a 529 College Savings Plan
I've been needing to look into this... will do that today!

So I have completed 11 of these milestones... yay!

I would love to hear everyone else's response. Just let me know in the comments or put it on your blog!

12.16.2010

Thursday Madness

Doesn't this picture scare you? This is how I feel about buying people gifts on Christmas!

So.. quick question to everyone. If you are saving over $2,000 a month, would you still splurge and buy yourself some boots for $72? Speaking hypothetically here. The weird thing is that I feel guilty for even THINKING about buying myself something. I know I should be looking into buying experiences and not material goods, but I am definitely the type of person that appreciates a good pair of shoes over a 5-star restaurant.

And one day... I will have a PINK Christmas tree...

12.14.2010

Christmas Tunes Compilation



In a previous post I had mentioned I am a Christmas music psycho and listen to music at any time of year because I truly enjoy it. When November rolls around I get excited to actually listen to Christmas songs outside of my iPod so people don't think I'm weird.


Last Christmas – Ashley Tisdale
Santa Claus is Coming to Town – B2K
I Won’t Be Home for Christmas – Blink 182
Santa Baby – Britney Spears
Last Christmas – Cascada
This Christmas – Chris Brown
This Christmas – Christina Aguilera
The Christmas Song (Remix) – Christina Aguilera
The Christmas Song – Destiny’s Child
This Christmas – Destiny’s Child
Last Christmas – Hilary Duff
Rockin Around the Christmas Tree – Jessica Simpson
Let it Snow – Jessica Simpson
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Jessica Simpson
Baby it’s Cold Outside – Jessica Simpson
My Grown Up Christmas List – Kelly Clarkson
Santa Baby – Kylie Minogue
All I Want for Christmas is You – My Chemical Romance
Under My Tree – NSYNC
I Never Knew the Meaning of Christmas – NSYNC
I Guess It’s Christmas Time – NYSNC
The First Noel – NYSNC
Kiss Me at Midnight – NYSNC
Merry Christmas Happy Holidays – NSYNC
You Don’t Have to be Alone – NSYNC
Santa Baby – The Pussycat Dolls
12 Days of Christmas – Relient K
We Wish You a Merry Christmas – Relient K
My Christmas List – A Simple Plan
Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
All I Want for Christmas is You – Mariah Carey

12.13.2010

Weekly Money Check-Up 12/13/2010

My Pretty Pennies' Weekly Money Check-Up

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on investments, at $300. My investments are automatically deducted each month at $300 (after-tax). Besides that, I spent $54 on MAC make-up!

2. Today I feel OCD about money– I'm watching every penny like a hawk and since I get 3 paychecks this month, I'm trying to put as much away as I can into savings and into my Roth.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was watch Harry Potter with the BF! For my birthday in November, my coworkers gave me an AMC gift card, which we used to watch our free movie and buy licorice. While in line, we also received free movie tickets to a screening of Something Borrowed this Wednesday (one of my favorite books).

4. I will consider this week a success if I wrap all my gifts and bake and wrap all the Christmas treats I plan to make.

5. My favorite holiday treat is anything! I honestly love all the decorations and music more than any holiday food.

Checking In

This weekend wasn't too bad, but I totally sucked at maintaining my gift budget for the entire month. I already increased it and so in total I spent $682.00 on gifts. This includes about 35 people so that isn't too bad. I'm just glad I am done with Christmas shopping and the fun part has begun - wrapping and giving the gifts!

Weekend Round-Up

Roth IRA - $300
Sephora - $40
MAC make-up - $54
Gifts (2 geeksoaps, see pic on left) - $11.68
Groceries - $12.89
Sat. Lunch for 2 - $26.55
Gifts (Wal-Mart) - $58.29



= $203.41 (not counting the $300 for investments)


Isn't that Nintendo cartridge soap awesome? I bought 2 for my little brother and future brother-in-law. Anyway, I honestly can't wait to start saving again next paycheck. Since I no longer have to buy gifts, I'll just throw it all into savings. Also I know I spent a lot on MAC make-up but I actually saved. A friend's friend was selling MAC make-up for 39.25% off retail price AND tax-free (brand new)! You don't understand, tax is 8.75% here and so my friend bought some items that I've been wanting to buy, but I've never had the guts to spend more than $20 at MAC before. If anyone's interested I got the 129 brush, phloof and satin taupe eyeshadows, and pink swoon blush! Isn't it gorgeous?

Anyway, I spent sort of a lot on myself this month including 2 items at Sephora because I bought some gifts there and I had a coupon for $15 off a minimum order of $40. That's it, no more spending for me this month!

Anyone else end up buying some things for themselves while Christmas shopping?

12.08.2010

Funneling Money

It's no secret that "out of sight, out of mind" really works when you want to save money. For myself, personally, I spend money if I see it readily available and just sitting in my checking account. This is why I need to funnel all my money into different accounts so that I don't spend it all!

Here's a visual of where my money goes after each paycheck.


This way I don't feel guilty after I see the final number in my checking account. I also spend an unhealthy amount of time looking at my budget and tracking all my expenses.

12.07.2010

December Goals

I know a few PF bloggers like to discuss monthly goals and I think that's a great way to stay on top of personal finance and life in general. Although it's already the 7th of the month, here are my monthly goals:
  • Go running at least 4 times a week
  • Try CorePower Yoga's 1 week free trial
  • Relayer hair (trivial but it's been 6 months!)
  • Finish 2 books I'm reading
  • Transfer another $900 to my e-fund
EDIT: 12/30/2010 I totally totally forgot about this post haha! I majorly failed in almost everything. I don't think I should post monthly goals because I crack under pressure. I didn't go running at least 4x a week because 1) I got sick for 2 weeks this month and 2) It was raining a lot and I haven't started my gym membership yet. Obvs I didn't do the CorePower Yoga thing either! I managed to complete one goal because I scheduled a haircut for tomorrow and I DID transfer over $900 to my e-fund! I transferred $900 and tomorrow I am transferring $1500 to it. So yay!

12.06.2010

December's Crazy Start

This weekend was super super spendy. I feel like I spent so much this past weekend and I'm *still* not done Christmas shopping. I spent so much this weekend but none of it was on myself.

The damage:

Gas: $30.82
Friday Lunch: $6.75
Friday Dinner: $7.88
USPS: $8.25
Bath & Body Works: $58.44, +36
H&M: $38.01, +38.01
Sizzler: $42.61
Michael's: $14.37
Dad's Gift: $9.00
Henry's: $31.11
Macy's: $115 (credit card)
Urban Decay:  $26.10 (paypal balance)
Ebay: $27.99 (paypal balance)

=$416.33 total, $342.32 after all returns,
and $173.23 out of pocket since some went to CC and out of paypal balance.

I admit I didn't need the Friday lunch but I was starving at work. The downside? It was horrible. I had a chicken pesto panini, and the bread was so soggy that it disintegrated into a watery mess as I picked it up. The macaroni salad it came with tasted so acidic my stomach hurt after. Don't you wish you could get refunds on food you already ate?

I hit the mall early Saturday morning to get some Christmas shopping done and bought a lot of crap from Bath & Body Works and a gift at H&M. The verdict: I returned some stuff at Bath & Body that night since I decided to make those homemade bath salts I discussed (which is what I spent at Michael's and some stuff at Henry's). In addition I think I am going to return the cardigan from H&M since I bought my friend something that she really wanted at Urban Decay instead. The $9.00 was for my stepdad's gift and at Macy's I bought my dad's birthday & Christmas gifts. On Saturday, I took the BF's parents out to eat and they wanted Sizzler (this was long overdue!). Finally, on Sunday I bought some groceries at Henry's as well as some oils I needed for the bath salts. The $27.99 from Ebay was for a gift for my sister.

So as you can see... I am completely SPENT OUT. Thank goodness for my Mint app on my phone. I was able to track all my spending and gauge that at Macy's I should use my CC since I still needed to pad my checking acct for the week since I had initiated a huge transfer to my savings and roth IRA this week.

I feel a bit better knowing I only spent under $200 out of pocket this weekend, but now I have about $200 on my credit card which will need to be paid next week! :(

12.04.2010

DIY Christmas Gifts

If you are feeling crafty this season, and have lots of people to gift this year - try these DIY Christmas gifts. I'm going to try these this weekend. There are lots of gals in my family and I am sure they will appreciate these homemade gifts.

 "AS YOU PLEASE" BATH SALTS


3 cups sea or Epsom salt (or, try raw or granulated sugar)
1 cup almond, jojoba, or light olive oil
Essential oils and scents like peppermint oil, vanilla, cinnamon, honey, etc.
Jars
Ribbon

Just mix all of these ingredients together for a skin-smoothing, exfoliating body scrub. Show your friend or family member that you care by including her favorite scent. Package your mixture in a pretty tub or mason jar tied around with a ribbon and sweet card.

BATH FIZZIES (reminds me of bath bombs from LUSH!)


Makes 1 dozen (use 2 fizzies per bath)

Supplies:
1/2 cup citric acid (can be found at a specialty food shop, some wine stores, or online)
1 cup baking soda
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
About 6 drops food coloring
10 to 15 drops essential oil(s)

Special equipment:
2-ounce travel-size spray bottle, plastic pipette, silicone ice-cube tray, storage jars

To make a real luxury gift without breaking the bank, try making these Martha Stewart-approved bath fizzies.

Stir citric acid, baking soda, and cornstarch in a glass measuring cup. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve or a flour sifter into a mixing bowl. Stir in sugar. Then, fill the travel-size spray bottle with water and add food coloring. Spritz the mixture lightly (it should become damp but not fizzy) until you can pack it with your hands.

Using the plastic pipette, add oil, one drop at a time, until the scent is as strong as you want it to be. Mix ingredients until color is even throughout, either by using a metal spoon or your hands. Mixture will begin to dry out; when this happens, spritz until it’s packable again.

Spoon into ice-cube tray, pressing firmly. Let dry at room temperature overnight. Pop out of tray gently. Transfer to jars.

Show off the fizzies in glass jars with screw tops, the kind used for storing sugar and flour. Make sure to pack each type of fizzy in a separate jar so the scents won't meld. Write the name of the scent on a vellum tag (choose a shade that matches the fizzies), and punch a hole in the top. Thread the tag with ribbon, and tie it around the jar.

Find more DIY Christmas gifts at Learnvest!

12.03.2010

Friday + Payday = Happy Me!

Happy Friday! When I started my first full-time job this year, Fridays suddenly became the one thing to look forward to at the end of each grueling work week. I now understand why everyone is much happier on a Friday...2 blissful days follow this day to do whatever the heck we please.

Not to mention today is payday and I just transferred $900 to my emergency fund. Go me! I am such a cheerleader for myself and I apologize for that (I was a cheerleader in high school though..) but I needed to make up for last month since I didn't transfer anything to my e-fund.

On another note, I did something sheepish. I could have avoided it but it slipped right by me. Remember how I went on a little shopping escapade at Express last weekend? Well, that $117 on my credit card was HIT with a finance charge of almost $10! Are you kidding me? That sucks. I was going to pay it off before the dang fee was to be tacked on, but I totally forgot that my statement closes each 3rd of the month. *forehead slap* That will be a lesson learned to watch my CC account more closely.

<---- THIS is what costed me that finance charge. I know, you're shaking your head at me for spending $98 on this thing. IT'S NOT EVEN REAL SUEDE. I already made the decision to return it tomorrow. The other $21 at Express was spent on a cute knit sweater (the London sweater if you are interested) and I am definitely keeping that.

Was there ever a time where you paid interest as it went undetected beyond your radar?

12.02.2010

Weekly Money Check-Up 12/2/2010

Weekly Money Check-Up a la My Pretty Pennies

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on myself and my best friend's wedding gift. I bought new skincare for about $123 but I know it will last for a long time. My best friend's wedding gift(s) were about $150 total but it was worth it and she deserved it. I wish I could have spent more because I've known her my entire life and I love her to death!

2. Today I feel obsessive with money because it’s a new month and my budgets are all in the clear and tomorrow is payday :) Also my dad gave me some money that will be going straight to savings. I watch my money on my phone through all sorts of widgets and I get pretty darn obsessive about it.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was move the flat screen TV downstairs on Thanksgiving, hook up my laptop to it and watched a movie with the entire family in our PJs with tons of blankets, popcorn, a couple heaters and a fire in the fireplace! It was the best...

4. I will consider this week a success if I finish my xmas shopping and return my $98 jacket from Express! Also I want to take BF's parents out for dinner, it's been long overdue and they are so gracious for letting me stay at their home rent-free.

5. My favorite holiday song is Santa Baby! I have a whole playlist for Christmas songs on my iTunes, I will share the entire list here if anyone is interested! They're mostly newer renditions of Xmas classics.

11.30.2010

November 2010 Budget Recap

Woohoo it's the last day of November! This month has been eventful to say the least - I celebrated my birthday and took a trip home for Thanksgiving. Financially, I've completed some important milestones for myself, specifically opening up an IRA account.

Instead of posting my weekly spending recap, I've decided to post my November budget to show you all how I did this month. I've been waiting all month to post my budget but towards the end, I wasn't feeling too happy about it due to all the end-of-the-month spending.



What really did me in was the GIFT budget. I obviously didn't save up the entire year like most PF bloggers, but I did manage to spread it across a couple paychecks. I still have 2 more gifts to buy but the heavy lifting has already been done (or should I say spending?). SO obviously that gift budget is skewing my spending for the month. I don't usually spend $887 monthly as I wish (though that would be nice right now). I also exceeded the gas budget because of the long 8 hour drive to and from my hometown.


Ta-da, the whole shabang. Like I said in my last blog post, I splurged on skincare products this month and the uncategorized $140 was an ATM withdrawal, which I used at home. The fees were from my CC and that will be nonexistent since I'm CC-fee-free! The $63 for business services is from shipping items that I've sold online... also hoping to minimize this category.

I know you're hoping I didn't just spend all month right? Seriously, who does that? Every other Friday, I contribute 5% of my paycheck to my 401K, and I receive 3% employer contributions. $300 went to my Roth IRA this month and $100 went to my savings (I'll be transferring $600 later this week, but that doesn't count right...that would make it part of December). I still have about $90 in my checking account and $80 in my paypal account just as padding... maybe I will buy lunch some time this week! :)

How did you do this month? How do you reward yourself for sticking to your budget?

11.29.2010

The Damage

Short vacations are difficult... especially around the holidays and when visiting family. I was kinda bad this past weekend. My mom is a bad influence...she dragged me to the mall on Saturday before the wedding. I spent $117.88 at Express but I used 2 coupons for $40 off and $10 off. On the drive up, I bought a pair of comfy flats at Target for $14.99. For gas, I spent about $65 for the entire weekend, but luckily my mom paid for a tank of gas when I got home. Also I spent $123.39 on a few skincare products from a line called Swedish Skin. Considering that each product was about $20, I don't think that was too bad. I've been needing new skin care products and I have never splurged on anything like this before. I feel a bit guilty for spending so much but I know I will be able to pay off that $117.88 on my credit card this next week. For everything else, I used cash and it feels nice to be able to just pay for things and not worry about them later (a la credit card). Plus I will be sending money to my savings account right away. Considering that I just spent $241.27 on myself this past weekend, I need to remember that number and not let it get out of hand again. That's what happened last time - I would never calculate the actual damage done and would think I could spend because I had the money.

Well I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving! Mine went by SO quickly.. my BFF's wedding was amazing and so much fun.. great food, people and dancing! I loved seeing my family this weekend but I am glad the long drive is over. I got back super late last night and got to work bright and early today. Happy Monday!

11.23.2010

Goal Achieved!

This past weekend I made the final payment on my credit card! It feels great and I can't believe I did it this quickly. I am officially debt-free. I wasn't aware of how much I was throwing down the drain on useless crap. The ticker says I only paid off $3292 of debt but that's because I didn't create that goal on Mint.com until about 4 months ago. Seeing that ticker and that goal glare at me in my face, taunting me with its evil ways, I wanted to complete the goal as quickly as possible. All in all I actually paid off about $12,000 on this same credit card since this past May 2010. Every time the balance went down, I kept spending more so I always carried a balance of $2-3k. Something clicked on my 23rd birthday and I just didn't want to do this anymore. If I can do it, anyone can! Just keep throwing your money at your debt. I don't have any car or school loans so I was able to do this quickly, but the 21% interest rate is horrible and I paid SO much on interest it's embarrassing.

My next goal is to pad up the emergency savings. What motivates me the most is the Jul 05 2012 estimated completion date. It sounds SO far away but I know that it can and will be completed before then!

11.22.2010

Weekly Spending Recap 11/15-11/21

This past week was rather spend-y but most of it went towards gifts. It's funny, when I spend loads of money on myself and my shameless vanity (clothes, shoes, bags) I feel horribly guilty and selfish. I really love finding gifts for people (hardcore gift giver) and so I ended up spending a lot this past weekend. I know I said I would stick to a $100 budget for my best friend's wedding gift, but I got such a great deal on a 14-piece bedsheet set ($79, originally $300) and just in case she totally hates it, a cute hamper from her wedding registry ($30). I had to pay for express shipping to get it in time for the weekend, but it was worth it - originally $37, I had a coupon code for free standard shipping, which took off $16.50. Without further ado... recap below:

Monday
$10.50 Post office
+$140 Sold a bag
$11.96 Lunch
$27.19 AE (mom's gift)

Tuesday
No spend day!

Wednesday
$45.81 BF's mom's gift
$6.65 Post office
$140 Sold a bag

Thursday
$10.49 Post office

Friday
$2.18 Lunch (McD's)
+$200 Sprint rebate
$100 Living expenses

Saturday
$13 Lunch for BF & me
$143.42 Wedding gift

Sunday
$20 Petsmart
$27.34 Ulta (make-up)
$6.63 Bruno Mars CD on iTunes

= -$54.80

Haha I ended up with more money than I had in the bank after all that spending. I was trying to be really frugal. I didn't exceed my Christmas gift budget yet, but I still have a handful more to get.

11.19.2010

Absolute Minimum Challenge!

In an effort to live below my means and to really buckle up on saving, I'm creating an absolute minimum challenge for myself these next two weeks. I'm only doing it for the next two weeks because I get paid every other Friday and the system starts all over again.

Total Income for 2 weeks:
  • $1871.12
Expenses for 2 weeks:
  • $72 cell phone bill
  • $650 credit card payment
  • $100 BFF's wedding gift
  • $100 BF's mom (living expenses)
  • $60 food/entertainment
  • $100 trip/fun expenses
  • $60 gas
Other:
  • 5% pre-tax 401k
  • $600 to savings

= $99.12 until December 3rd, 2010

This wouldn't be too bad normally, but the BF and I are going on a trip to visit my family 8 hours away for Thanksgiving weekend, not to mention my BFF's wedding next Saturday. My parents usually fill up a gas tank for me and pay for our food expenses while we're there so I'm not worried about that. I just hope I don't go all out and try to get my hair, nails and make-up done. Planning to do it all myself or have my BFF's sister in law do it for me. The catch is that I won't be transferring the $600 to savings until I get back, but as long as I know my savings goal for these 2 weeks, I won't be spending money. I'm also trying to avoid Black Friday!

11.18.2010

Controlling the Urge

I'm not gonna lie. I'm having serious withdrawals right now. I used to shop freely every week, packages were coming in every other day or so. It was that bad and I knew it had to stop but just like a smoker craves cigarettes, I miss shopping. Online shopping was (is) my weakness. Everything looks so shiny, new, perfect and meant for me. You know what I mean... you click on it, zoom in and out, picture yourself wearing those new shoes or sweater, etc and promise yourself you will wear it with everything in your closet to maximize the cost per wear. But that's when it goes downhill and $20 turns into $50, $50 into $100 and before you know it you've spent thousands. Don't even get me started on bags. I was addicted to Balenciaga, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Those cravings and urges are not easy to satiate until you get it in your hand. Yet, it doesn't end there, you keep wanting more.

How many bags do we really need? How many pairs of shoes, lipglosses/lipsticks, blushes, blazers, jeans, rings, and tops will we actually use in our life? Just last night I was wanting to buy all these tops and pants for work but within 15 minutes I closed out of everything and felt really good that I didn't cave. I would much rather save than spend on things I don't need. This is my blog and I created it for these moments when I forget what I'm saving for. I want to have savings, buy a house, and be financially secure. That credit card debt is almost gone and I don't
want to see it skyrocket again.

How do you control those shopping urges?!

11.17.2010

Breakfast


I've been good at not spending this week (though it's only Wednesday). I have been too lazy to bring lunch to work so on Monday I spent $1.40 on a coke and snickers. I know, I'm so healthy. On the plus side, I've been eating at home for dinner and trying to eat breakfast. Waffles and nutella are really good!

I'd love to hear your easy breakfast ideas! Cheap and time-saving is a plus!

11.15.2010

Weekly Spending Recap 11/8 - 11/14

Monday
$4.56 McDonald's
$7.60 Panera Bread 
Tuesday
$27.29 Gas
$9.01 Henry's
Wednesday
+57.96 Sold a bag
Thursday
$23.90 Gift
$95 Gift
$13.95 Shipping
Friday
$14.01 Dinner
$27.19 Gift
Saturday
$8.88 Lunch
Sunday
$3.49 Frozen waffles
+$33.68 Sold shoes

= $143.24 Total

This doesn't include paying for credit card and transferring money to savings. That will be a separate blog post! This past week was great in terms of spending, especially on the weekend. I bought a lot of Christmas gifts but that's better for me since I'm spreading it all out and getting it out of the way. Last night I had a dream that I wasn't contributing enough into my 401k to receive my employer's contributions... talk about a nightmare, haha! I have the weirdest dreams. Anyway I love that it's the 15th and my budget is looking great (will post that at the end of the month).


I wanted to show my progress ever since starting this blog. I didn't want to show anyone my spending habits but compared to last month, I am doing very well and I WILL keep it up! Look my shopping category is negative this month! :)

Yesterday, I opened up my Roth IRA with T. Rowe Price. I like their website functionality (on android too) as well as the simplicity of signing up. I chose the retirement fund 2050 and a health sciences fund for starters. I'm in the biotech industry so I've been watching it. My contributions will start in December. This month is too hectic, I need to get my x-mas shopping finished and my BFF is getting married at the end of this month (wedding present + all that jazz).
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