Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Years Resolutions

I know that a lot of people feel New Years Resolutions are one ever fulfills them, but how many people post them on the internet for the whole world to see? (Don't answer that). But I do have quite a few things I want to accomplish this year, and this is the perfect place to write them all down, and maybe remind myself of the direction I want to go this year.

I want a positive Net Worth (I don't want my current positive net worth to sink into a negative)

I think I will be able to easily accomplish this, but I will also need to change my lifestyle even more now. I have been receiving GI Bill payments for going to college, but those are coming to an end in February. It is a significant amount of money that I will no longer be receiving. Also, I will not be accepting my total payout on Unsubsidized Grad Loans, meaning another $4,000 I will not be taking (but also, I will not need to pay out). Also, I will be paying for my summer classes out of pocket. Lastly, I am expecting quite a few medical bills (Dental work and possible Lasik surgery), but I am hoping starting a flexible spending account to offset the cost and spread out the payments. I actually expect my net worth to drop this year, but I am hoping with some sound investment, I will make it out okay.

I want to learn one song on the piano and one song on the guitar

This is a personal goal of mine. I have a piano in my living room that's not getting any love. I have two guitars, one of which was a gift from last year, that has never been tuned. I miss my music. I need to make time in my life for this.

I want to walk my dogs every morning, and spend time training them every night

This is for their health and well being as well as mine. I know this will make them happier dogs, and it will help with my next goal.

I want to loose 20 lbs

Everyone seems to think I don't need to loose any weight (I'm a size 8, btw) and they are kinda right. I don't need to loose this weight, I want to. And maybe, once I loose 10 lbs I will like what I see and stop there. To do this, I plan on eating healthier, making my own lunches and dinners as often as possible (this will help save money too!). As far as a plan for eating, I am considering becoming a vegetarian for health reasons. I don't know that it would help, or just give me too many restrictions causing a melt down on my part, so right now its just a consideration.

I will clean up my home office and spare bedroom

I moved in one year ago and these rooms are still a mess. I would love to have my office all cleaned up and organized. The same goes for the spare bedroom. In order to accomplish both of these, I will need to buy some organizational items, such as shelves or bookcases. This will be a cost that I don't really want to incur, so for the next few months I will be searching the garage sales for some great deals.

I want to be a better law school student

Okay, so this isn't something with an easy fix. I actually don't really know how to be a better student. I've been checking out StudyHacks, and Tim Ferriss' blog (author of The 4-Hour Workweek) and I am hoping to start in a new direction this year.

These aren't really Resolutions, more of a list of things I would like to accomplish:
  • Complete the backyard (including sod in the spring @ $1,000)
  • Paint the bathroom
  • Learn some Spanish (thanks to Rosetta Stone)

More on how to accomplish these goals in a later post....

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cutting out the Coffee Cravings – How I cut down on those delicious but overpriced lattes

The simplest answer would have been – just stop going to Starbucks... but I couldn’t do it. Every time I skipped Starbucks before class I feel prey to the vending machine…with its tiny over-priced vanilla cappuccinos and the $1 bag of M&Ms. It was terrible, and not only for my waistline.

So I came to a resolve, if I couldn’t stay away, I had to spend less. And I did! I never thought I would become a tea drinker, but it happened. I went cold turkey. Well, not really…I drink black tea and green tea, both of which have caffeine. I get my fix, at a lower price point and calorie content…it’s a win-win-win for me!

I started by taking coffee out of the morning equation. For me, it was simply not brewing my daily coffee. Instead, I stocked my desk with tea bags and Splenda. The water cooler has a hot water tap which means….instant caffeine fix, at $0.30 a cup. Once I became accustom to the difference, then the transition at Starbucks was simple. I order a Venti Green Tea now. Instead of $4.00 I pay $1.85 ($2.30 if it’s iced).

The best part? Once I drink the tea, I add more water and microwave until hot and it’s like getting another 20 oz’s for free.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Net Worth - December 2009

Assets $ Diff% Diff
Other Real Estate$0--
Personal Property$0--
Total Assets$164,124--
Debts $ Diff% Diff
Home Mortgage(s)$133,749--
Other Mortgage(s)$0--
Student Loans$20,500--
Credit Card$995--
Car Loans$0--
Total Debts$155,244--
Net Worth$8,880--

Yay! My net worth is UP! 

Not much of a change, but I fell off the spending wagon too, I think I've spent about $400 on my pets between this month and last!!! (They are worth it, I swear)

Oh...and as for my obvious absence from blogging....I'M BACK! 

Thanks for your continued support :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rock Climbing = Stress Relief

Talk about random! I decided that I need to be more active, get some more exercise and meet new people…and I am so tired of the boring gym.

My solution: rock climbing!

I found an indoor wall 3 miles from my house, open in the evenings until late…and I couldn’t be happier. I was scared walking in. I didn’t know what I was walking in to. I didn’t call; I was just going to look around. Two minutes later I was in a harness going over safety with another girl who just randomly happened to be a newbie too. I couldn’t have picked a better time to show up.

We spent about an hour scaling three or four walls and trying to stay away from the big group of people on the difficult walls while we learned the ropes. I was glowing after the first wall, and still truly excited even on the last wall. I knew I had to take it easy though, if I didn’t I would wake up in a world of pain, so an hour was all I attempted, and I totaled maybe five short climbs.

And I am going back….very soon!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dog Training - Day 1 - Teaching how to Teach

The first thing that was stressed to us is actually to make the dogs feel comfortable with the space they are training in. Surprisingly, this is done by having the dogs potty (yes, I said potty!) in the training area (the front lawn, in case you were wondering). To continue working on their “confidence” my homework for the week is to get them to potty in strange places and on the leash.

We also worked on getting the dogs to sit instead of jump on us. We have to actually entice them to jump on us, and when they sit they get treated. Eventually it will work into a treat only if they sit with no jumping before they sit. We also worked on the down and sit commands, and on how to break a dog of its ‘fixation’ by using touch (cats are usually fixations).

Apparently there are three ‘stages’ to dog training (I call them stages at least): teach, train and proof, and proof is using training in real world situations. The first stage, teach, will last a few more weeks, probably into week 5 or so.

I am still not impressed by the dog trainer’s professionalism. He was 40 minutes late starting the session...But, it really seems like he knows what he is talking about, we completed two hours of ‘teaching’, and he is fair. See, the last time we tried an expensive dog trainer, we were not prepared for the extent of training necessary. We didn’t have the time and we didn’t realize the commitment needed. My mother and I dropped close to $800 on that training, and after the first session asked to put training on hold so we could better prepare.

By the time we called back, many months later, we were told that we were too late, our money was non refundable, and even though we only had one lesson they would not continue training or give us our money back. The worst part was being told this was in the contract we signed. Sadly, I spoke with the trainer who had no problem putting our training hold back then, but that trainer was no longer with the company, which sounds like the real problem with the refund.

Total Cost: $87 per session ($350 for two dogs, four-two-hour-long sessions)

- I can control Nickel when he revs up to attack another dog; I know how to correct this
- I know how to use a corrective touch

- Potty in strange places
- Sit opposed to Jump
- Down to Stand to Down (looks like doggy yoga)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Still leaking money....

I realized last month that my biggest spending leak is in food. Okay…so maybe I’ve known for a while that this was a problem, whatever, at least I’m doing something about it. Right? So instead of just idly tracking this budget and watching it as it crosses over into the red each month, I decided to try going cash only for food expenses. This actually worked, for the first few weeks….and then I realized my trips through drive thru windows went up. I guess this had an opposite effect on me, when I have cash I want to spend it.

So, now I am trying to reign in this spending with new rules…no more drive thru windows. If I have to get out of my car then there is less of a chance I will stop for fast food, and more of a chance I will run into a grocery store instead. At least that’s what I am hoping. I will still try using cash only and see how it works out.

My budget for food is still really high. I need to lower that number as well...but that will come later, one step at a time for now.

But then again, maybe I am going about this all wrong. Can I really modify my behavior by enacting rules against myself? What do you think?

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Long and Un-Eventful Weekend

I didn't much of anything I set out to do this weekend...and I managed to spend a lot of money in the process.

Saturday my parents and I went to a City Wide Garage Sale. It was not as fun as I thought it would be. I found a few things for myself, and a few things to sell online, nothing that great thought. I took my mom out to dinner on Saturday, and paid for drinks with a friend later that night. I ended up staying in Sunday battling what may have turned into a migraine (no, not just a hangover).

I also set myself up for a much needed massage. I am considering going back to monthly massages again. As much as I try to put it in the WANT category and dismiss it, It always ends up back in the NEED category when the headaches and pain start back up. So now I have some juggling to do with my budget.

I have been eating out too much again. I found myself using my credit card for some meals over the weekend. (It gets paid off weekly, don't fret). That means I am off budget on food this month, since I couldn't pay for it with my Food Budget Cash.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Link Fest

This is my first round up of articles from the past few weeks!


Trent at The Simple Dollar answers a readers question: Is this all there is?

Man vs Debt shows us How not to suck at blogging!

WiseBread shows us how to shop Craigslist for a slammin deal!

Lazy Man and Money writes about the price placebo effect....I know I've fallen victim to this!

Budgets are Sexy outlined the ways the internet has transformed banking

Dumb Little Man teaches us how to control constant worrying

Generation X Finance shares tips on plugging money leaks

Monday, October 5, 2009

How do I balance saving for the future and having a life right now?

Recently I have been struggling with savings, spending, what I want vs. what I need, and basically all of the principles and methods of building wealth. I am not having a hard time with saving money…actually the amount I am saving each month is increasing, even thought I have had to make some big purchases lately. I am struggling with spending money on myself.

I found out last week about a concert this Friday that I would love to go to. I have the money to afford it in savings, it wont be that expensive….maybe $150 with the cost of food and transportation. So why have I been struggling for the past week to make the decision to spend a little on a concert I would love to see? I would have jumped at this opportunity a few years back, paid with a credit card and taken the day off work. Now, I have the money in savings and I don’t have to take the day off, just go after work….but I’m still stuck.

I’ve been thinking the idea over, and decided to get it down in words….what the heck is my problem? What am I afraid of? I am afraid it will be a waste of money…that I will hate the concert or not have a good time then I will regret spending the money on it. That fear is overriding the fear that I will regret going in the first place. So how do I make it over this hurdle?

Has spending money on yourself ever caused an internal conflict for you?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Net Worth October 2009

Assets $ Diff% Diff
Other Real Estate$0--
Personal Property$0--
Total Assets$161,529--
Debts $ Diff% Diff
Home Mortgage(s)$134,004--
Other Mortgage(s)$0--
Student Loans$21,267--
Credit Card$268--
Car Loans$0--
Total Debts$155,539--
Net Worth$5,990--


Not bad...not that great either, but I will take it! Check me out at NetWorthIQ.