Monday, March 31, 2008

March update

With March officially ending today... it is time to review my budget and goals. I did fairly well sticking to my budget (minus the few setbacks from the last weekend). I was on target on everything except a few categories. I went over my grocery budget by $4.77; my eat-out budget by $28.83; my gas budget by $24.56; and my misc budget. I came to the conclusion that I need to further define my budget because anytime I didn't have a category I placed the money spent in my misc budget. Needless to say, I went WAY over budget in that category. Thankfully, I was under budget on a few categories so I had the money in the account for my misc budget.

I am on track for my goals, but think I am going to change things up a little bit. On the first of every month, I am going to deposit $900 in my ING account, on the 20th I am going to withdraw $566, and then when the money is in my account I am going to pay my cc bill with the $566. This way, I will make my final payment into my ING account to reach $6000 in December, but my cc will be paid off beforehand. Once my cc is paid off, I am going to snowball the $566 into my student loan payment. I know that may people have mixed feelings about paying extra on their student loans, but with $107,000 worth...every penny counts. I just really want to be under $100,000 by Dec. 31, 2008.

Also, this month I think that I am going to participate in Krystal's (at give me back my five dollars) challenge. I think that I am really going to stick to the $100 eat-out budget. There is no way I should be spending more than that in a month. Got to cut somewhere and this is my downfall.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Turn For The Worst

Upon until yesterday I was actually doing pretty well with my budget. Of course, I had gone off track a little with the gas and misc expenses portion of my budget, but this was the first month so I knew there was going to be some discrepancies. But, yesterday I blew it.

After my interview yesterday morning (which I hope went rather well), I had the rest of the day off. That turned out to be a problem. First, I decided to go to blockbuster and rent a few movies. That is not bad because I have (equivalent to Netflix), so the rentals didn't cost me a penny. Then, I got the phone call from the bf. I have asked him for a new cell phone for my birthday. Mind you that my birthday is not until May, but he has been doing research. My cell phone is three years old and on its last leg. If you put the phone down too hard on the table, it turns itself is barely holding a charge, and the camera doesn't work. I disgress. So, the bf called and asked me to go to the AT&T store and play with some of the phones that he has picked out. Again, I was able to get out of the store for nothing.

However, I was out and enjoying the sun and shopping. I decided to stop a walgreens. I walked out of walgreens having spent $13.00 that I didn't need to. I bought finger nail polish and a new dog bed for my puppy.

That is not the end of it. The bf friend got off work and we decided to talk the dogs to the lake. It was absolutely beautiful outside. We ended up staying longer than we expected and then we were both hungry and neither felt like cooking. You guessed it...we went out to eat. We ended up spending an additional $35.60 that we didn't intend on spending this weekend.

I guess every weekend cannot go as planned. You live and you learn. Thank goodness payday is Monday. Onto a new month and hopefully a better budget. As of right now, there aren't any unexpected expenses due. But we do have a couple expensive weekends planned. I think that I am going to have to start putting more into my misc fund. The fund I use for weekend plans. I am just not able to make it on $70.50. That would require us to stay home almost every weekend. Although that may be ideal, it is just not practical for the two of us.

Hope everyone enjoys their weekend!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Getting anxious about the start of a new month

I just starting budgeting and writing this blog this month. Therefore, my saving meters have not really made any progress. So, with the start of next month comes excitement. And also decisions. As I was driving to my tennis match last night, I started thinking. . . . how actually should I allocate my money every month and am I making the most of my money. Here are my two thoughts.

First, I am hoping to increase my "fun in the sun"/emergency fund to $6000 by the end of the year. That means with 9 months left I need to make contributions around $334/per month. Currently, I am contributing $500/per month. My thought is this. . . should I only be making the $334/per month contribution and applying the additionally $166 towards paying off my credit cards?

Second, along the same lines is this thought. . . should I actually deposit $900 at the beginning of every month into my ING/"fun in the sun" account and withdrawing the $400 or maybe $566 amount around the 20th of every month to make my credit card payments by the 26th?

Or should I just continue to contribute the $500 per month until I reach my $6000 goal and then start snowflaking the $500 per month contribution into my credit cards?

The credit cards are definitely at a higher interest rate than I am earning on my ING account. So, the faster I pay them off, the better I will be. I think that I am going to pay with my budget a little during the month of April and see what I can come up with. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The week started off with a bang and will hopefully end that way!

This week has been VERY busy and it is only Wednesday. Monday I had a lunch interview with two gentlemen at the firm in Gulfport that I went down to interview with a couple of weeks ago. These two men would be who I would directly work for so it was enlightening to speak with them. Both guys seems really nice and people that I would enjoy working with. It was also a plus that they drove to Jackson to interview me instead of me making the 3 hour trip back to Gulfport.

Then on Tuesday I had another interview. This interview was actually in Clinton, MS - about 15 miles from where I live. I wasn't as impressed with this job. While it is a government job, the facilites were horrible. The place was run down with people working all in one room at tables. Additionally, they are looking to hire someone immediately and I am not available until August. Needless to say, I don' t think this is the job for me. But, I would never have know if I didn't go on the interview.

On other news for the week:
I have gone over budget in gas this month by$24.56. I was praying that I would be able to keep this section under budget. It just didn't happen. I had to drive to Gulfport for the interview and make the 3 1/2 hour trip home for Easter. All in all, I did good in that category considering. I will have to try next month to really not drive as much.

I have also now sold 7 DVDS and 1 book for a total of $37.13. All of this money is being placed in a camera fund.

Last night the bf and I and some friends went and watched a baseball game. Ole Miss and Southern Miss were playing as Trustmark Park. It was a lot of fun! But kinda expensive. Beer gets you everytime. That means that this weekend is probably going to be one spent at home planting flowers, cleaning house, and watching movies...not out! That is okay though. We had a blast last night.

And last but not least, I have another job interview on Friday! This job is in Jackson working for a law firm. I am really excited about this opportunity and will let everyone know how it went. Keep your fingers crossed and all prayers are welcomed. Life decisions are stressful.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Weekend Recap

Last week on Monday, the boss came in and let all of us off for Good Friday. That was great news for me because that meant that I got to make the drive to my parents house a day earlier and spend more time with them. My little brother was in town with my niece who is 2 1/2 years old and a complete handful. But, I love to spend any minute I can with her because they live 9 hours from me and 6 from my parents. So, Thursday evening after work, I hopped into the car and headed west.

Before leaving for the weekend, I made a call to my mother to inquire as to the price of gas. Her report $3.04. I decided that I would wait to get to her house before filling up even though it was only $3.05 here. BIG mistake. By the time that I arrived at her house, gas prices had jumped to $3.18. WOW. I refuse to pay that! I decided to proceed a little further to my dad's house which is about another hour west. Better choice. Gas was $3.08. 10 cents less so I filled up for a grand total of $43.95.

Since my parents pretty much pay for everything while I am in town, I got off pretty cheap. I had to mail my first DVD sold on which cost me $1.81. I bought the bf meat pies for $9.66 and some candy and a card for our anniversary at Walgreens for $8.23.

Thus, I spent $63.65 for the weekend. I am still underbudget so far for the month of March, but I am going to have to be very frugal for the rest of the week and next weekend. When there are 5 weekends in a month, money gets tight.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

DVD Sold

I sold the first DVD of many listed on Ebay last night. Black Hawk Down went to the lucky winner. It turned out to be a great deal for both of us. I was able to de-clutter my house, make a little extra money, and pat myself on the back for selling my first item and the lucky winner got a DVD that has been watched only once and in excellent condition. I really hope that more and more start to sell over the next couple of days. The more I sell, the more I am going to list.

The bf and I have also decided what we are going to do with the money we make off Ebay. We are going to buy ourselves a new ditigal camera. We had a great camera, but seemed to have misplaced it around New Year's. It was a Canon SD850IS. We will probably re-purchase the same camera since we both loved it, but neither have the money to do so right now. I wish we could just fine our other one. I am sure that it will turn up as soon as we make another purchase. Ha. Isn't how things like that always work.

3rd Year Anniversary

Tomorrow is the bf and mine 3rd year anniversary. We decided to celebrate it today since we will be involved in Easter activities all weekend. We went to lunch instead of dinner so that we could skip the appetizers, alcohol, and dessert. We wound up paying $30 for lunch. I also decided that the bf deserved a massage as our anniversary gift. He loves back rubs and is always coming about his back. I went to go pick up the gift certificate and to my surprise it was $20 less than I expected. They had a special going for first timers. All in all, we had a great anniversary and still saved money.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Two Interviews and a Lunch

As I sit hear, I am grinning from ear to ear. Within the past 30 minutes I have had two phone calls asking for job interviews. One is actually with the law firm that I interviewed with last Tuesday. They wanted to schedule a second lunch, but this time in Jackson. Hooray! This is a PF blog so I will start off by saying that is great news for me. I will not have to make the drive to Gulfport ($40 saved in gas) and I am going to lunch (free). But, what I am really excited about is the second interview in general. The budgeting portion of the interview is not even entering my mind. In fact, I would have GLADLY driven my happy butt back to Gulfport for a 30 minute lunch. The thing that speaks volumes to me is that they are driving HERE. They are making the 3 hour trip to come and interview me. Plus, I GOT the 2nd interview. Can you tell that I am excited????

The second interview is also exciting. It is at a state agency here in Jackson. That is thrilling for me because as my previous post suggests the bf is probably not interested in moving to Gulfport for another year. That would mean that we would be separated for at least a year if I take the job in Gulfport, but could go on a merry way if I get a job in Jackson.

The point being is that I may have options. And options are better than no bites at all. I am really looking forward to my second interview and my interview at the state agency. I pray to God everyday that I know that right decision when I am faced with it and no that he will guide me along the way.

Today is a great day!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Weekly Grocery Shopping vs. Monthly Grocery Shopping

The bf and I try to sit down at the beginning of every month, make a grocery list for the entire month , and head out to get everything. Then the plan for the remainder of the month is to stop by the grocery store weekly for any small item that we might need. The whole reasoning behind our madness is that we can buy meat in bulk. The bf cannot go a meal without meat. And meat is expensive. So this way, we can go to Sams and get a month's worth of meat at a lower cost per pound. But recently, I have been rethinking this idea. I wonder if it would be better to sit down at the beginning of every week and just make a grocery list for that week. Here are the reasons:

1. There won't be so much food leftover in the freezer/cabinets that goes unused for month's.

2. Each weekly grocery bill will be lower and can be easily calculated to see how much money can be spent towards the end of the month.

3. We can tell how much food we really need per week

How do each of you grocery shop? For the month, for the week, kinda both? I am really trying to pinch the pennies in this area of my budget. We spend a lot of money on food every month and just can't seem to cut back. And we do try to buy cheaper things and in bulk. We cook a lot of pasta, rice, and beans. All of which are fairly inexpensive. We have also started eating leftovers or smartones for lunch everyday instead of going out.

Up at Last

A few days ago I committed myself to selling $100 worth on Ebay or the like. Well, last night I actually put several things on I listed a couple of law school books, a couple of personal pleasure reading books, and a couple of DVDs. While none of them are big ticket items; thus, requiring me to sell a lot more little items to reach my $100/year goal, it is definitely a start. As time passes and I am able to unload some of my personal items on the internet maybe I will be able to find more and more items to list. Books will probably be a big thing that I tend to sell. I love to read, but never seem to read the same book more than once. So, there really is no point in keeping them around.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Boston Butt

It's Monday and everyone knows what that means, it is time to decide what to pack all week long for lunches. My game plan this week is Boston Butt. A lady at my work was selling Boston Butt's for a fund raiser at her child's school. And you guessed it, I bought one. The Boston Butt was cooked, hot, and ready to go. The bf pulled it all apart and put in in several ziplock bags. Half went into the freezer and half we are eating on all week for lunches. It is delicious and super easy. Hey, you can't beat that!

Not to mention, that our monthly food budget is running low and we still have almost two weeks left in March. When the month is coming to an end and you are running low on money, what are some the things that you do to make it through?

Friday, March 14, 2008


When I first opened my ING account on Jan 4, 2007 with an initial deposit of $250, so the sweet bf could get a referral, I was earning approximately 4.5% in interest. WOW, I thought. This is incredible. So, I quickly set up my monthly draft of $250 and the account grew and grew! Now, even with upping my monthly deposit to $500 a month I am still not earning as much in interest because of the decline in interst rates. Currently, it is at 3.1% and I fear for further declinement. I know that I should not complain because some is better than none, but I wish it would go back up to 4.5%. Those were the days.
Last year I earned $180.17 in interest and I was hoping to double that amount in interest this year. I will keep everyone informed as time progresses if I am able to meet this goal with declining interest rates. Why cannot everyone put more money into the ecomony (while I continue to save) and get us out of this "soon to be called" recession.

Weekend Plans

YAY! It is Friday. And the weekend almost begins. My best friend from law school (let us call her A) is coming in for the weekend with her finance for the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Jackson, MS. They are arriving sometime late tonight and not leaving until Sunday. I am excited about having company and really excited that it is A. She was definitely my rock during law school and we accomplished our goals together. What a savior! That being said, here is how I planned for her visit on a budget. The bf and I went to the grocery store to get breakfast supplies, as we will need to base for the long day at the parade. We got
2 cans of Grand's biscuits - 88 cents each
2 packages of Jim Dean's sausage - 1.99 each
2 containers of OJ - 2/$4
Grapes - 99 cents/lb.
We are planning on having sausage biscuits, grapes, and oj for breakfast. After the parade I think that we are just going to order pizza for everyone. So, all in all, we will still get by on our grocery budget for the month, even with company.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


The bf and I gave in and decided to go to lunch today. We have been doing rather well and have not eaten out since March 1, 2008, but we both needed a little break from at-home eating. We decided to go to Newk's Restaurant, and it was well worth it. I can now go another almost two weeks without eating out. It was exactly what I needed. I figure that is why I put $100 in an eat-out budget every month for times like these.

Job Interview #1

As of yet, I have not properly explained my current job situation. I am currently clerking for a judge and have been doing so for almost the past two years. In fact, my two years ends on July 31, 2008. That means that I am actively searching for the "perfect" job. That is not as easy as it sounds. Before I ever started sending out cover letters and resumes, the bf and I sat down for a serious life-changing talk. Do we move???? I am at the perfect time in my career to make a move and the bf is too. The bf wants to open his own law firm and I just want to practice for an established law firm. So we made the joint decision to move about three hours south of where we are currently located in Jackson, MS to a city called Gulfport. Gulfport is on the Mississippi Coast and is absolutely beautiful. I couldn't complain when he wanted to live on the water. I am originally from Louisiana. That being said, I don't have a preference.

The decision was made that we would move to Gulfport and I relentlessly started doing research on the law firms located in Gulfport, choosing the ones in which I thought that I might like to work, and sending out cover letters and resumes. Then the big blow comes, one of the guys that the bf is setting up his law firm with recently got engaged and the guy doesn't know if "they" want to move to Gulfport. "They" are not getting married until January. The bf wants to wait until after January to move now because he is still hoping that he can start his own firm. But, I have ONLY sent out resumes to Gulfport. What do I do? Do I keep searching for a job in Gulfport, do I start to look in Jackson?

I have decided to look in both. I don't particularly want to stay in Jackson if I will be constantly looking for a job in Gulfport because we will be moving there in the new year, but I don't want to move to Gulfport without the bf since he is the one with friends there and wanted to move there. All that being said, to state that I actually had an interview in Gulfport yesterday (because of course, that is where all my resumes were sent). The firm was wonderful. They are a regional firm with offices in four states, but only have about 20 lawyers in their Gulfport office. I really like working with a somewhat smaller law firm, but with resources of a larger law firm. It seems to be the best of both worlds. The interview went smoothly and I look forward to hearing back from them. While I am taking it one step at a time waiting to see what offers I may receive before making my final decision of staying in Jackson or moving to Gulfport, it is still nerve racking making life decisions. Whoo.

On the financial side, I spent $30.65 in gas driving to Gulfport and back. I was lucky enough that my roommate let me borrow her car which gets 34 miles per gallon instead of driving my own car which gets about 15 miles per gallon. The only other money I spent was $14.49 at a little fruit stand on the side of the road. It was too good to pass up!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Delightful Dishes

Almost every PF Blog that I read has been doing some sort of weekly lunch/dinner challange. I have decided to jump on the wagon. The bf and I set down last night and planned our entire week (excluding the weekend because we are having company) with what we were going to have for dinner. We came up with five pretty good meals and none of them will require us to get anything extra at the grocery store. This should be a big help on saving for the weekend. We are eating
Monday - Chili (The best part about this is that it is already previously been made and I only have to take it out of the freezer. Bingo!)
Tuesday - Chicken Stir-fry
Wednesday - Spaghetti
Thursday - Grilled Chicken with Veggies
Friday - Shrimp
While we didn't pin-point what we were going to eat for lunch, we are hoping to have some leftovers that we can eat and we have about seven smart-ones in the freezer. I am going on an interview for a new job on Tuesday and the company is taking me to lunch so that is at least one day I don't have to worry about what I am going to eat. I believe we can definitely make it through Friday without getting anything else from the store.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


The bf currently has several things listed on Ebay ranging from shoes, golf bag, dog crate to car floor mats. And it got me thinking. . . .what can I sell for a little extra moolah? The problem is I never know what to sell. It isn't like I don't have things I can part with, it is I think if I don't want when who will. That is why I am going to set a goal to try and sell at least $100 worth of stuff on Ebay for 2008. I know that it isn't a lot of extra cash, but it is start.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Tax Refund - Part II

I decided to put my tax refund towards credit card debt. Besides the fact that credit card debt is the logical thing to do, I thought that is would be the most satisfying thing to do in my situation. Applying the amount towards credit card debt puts me closer to my goal of paying my credit cards off by Dec. 2008, and once my credit cards are paid off the $400 a month that I have allocated putting towards them can then be funneled into my student loan debt repayment plan.

Saturday Mornings (without commitments)

Today has been a wonderful Saturday morning. Since the majority of my weekends are compacted full of the things that I don't have time to take care of during the week, or are spent traveling with the bf, this Saturday morning is special. I am actually at home, drinking coffee, without a commitment in the world. I was signed up to play in a tennis tournament all weekend, but it was cancelled due to the minimal snow we got in Mississippi last night. ($25 saved) Mississippi doesn't reguraly see snow, so the whole state basically shuts down at the first drop. It is pretty funny if you think about it.

A quick run-down of last night. The bf and I stayed in and made shrimp etoufee without buying a single thing from the grocery store. Thus, we have eaten EVERY meal this week at home and on budget. We then watched a movie (we have the Blockbuster version of Netflix, so the $20 is built into the budget every month and saves us a lot of money in the long haul). That means $0 spent for Friday evening. I want to keep up the momentum! I suggested that we again eat in tonight and have a few friends over to play games. I know that sounds kinda cheesy, but it actually is a lot of fun. We get to hang out with the people we care about the most, and save money. The beer is cheaper, and there is no unexpected bar tab. Unless something changes drastically tonight, we again will be on target in our budget.

We are having a few out of town friends coming to stay with us next weekend for the annual St. Paddy's Day Parade. That weekend we are playing on spending more money than usual on showing our friends a good time and treating them to a few things over the weekend. We go and visit them a lot in Alabama and they always treat us. So, this time it is on us. This weekend at home is going to put a little padding in our budget that we can use next weekend. I just hope that it is going to be enough.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Tax Refund

I would like to start off this post by saying - I always wondered how bloggers had enough information to write about to keep posting daily without running out of ideas, but now I totally get it. That being said, I got my federal tax refund back today! While it is only $1374.00 - that is going to make a dent in some debt that I have. Now, the big question??? What debt to I apply it to. I know that traditional logic says that I should apply it to credit card debt because it is at the highest interest rate, but I was thinking about applying it to my student loans. Here is my logic - I have a little over $107,000 worth of student loan debt. (You didn't read it wrong...$107,000). So, while it is at a lower interest rate, it still accrues more interest a month than my credit card debt (a little under $5000) because there is more principal. Also, I was thinking that if I didn't accelerate my student loan due date, then my student loan payment every month may decrease as a result and free up a little extra money each month to apply towards my credit card debt. What does everyone else think? Should I still apply it towards my credit card debt or actually go against traditional logic and apply it towards my student loan debt?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Car Dilemma

With gas prices skyrocketing, I am faced with a car dilemma. I am currently driving a 2002 Ford Mustand GT. This is highly impractical with the state that our ecomony is in. Gas prices are over $3 a gallon and continuing to climb. So, what are my options? I can either keep complaining while I sink hundreds of dollars a month into my gas tank, or I can buy a car for the trade-in value of mine. I am not looking to purchase a new car, or make monthly car, I need a reliable, used, gas-efficient vehicle. Any suggestions?

Also, the bf seems to think that I will find the best deal on Ebay. Has anyone every bought a car off Ebay? Did the transaction go smoothly and would you do it again? It makes me extremely nervous to purchase a huge ticket item, such as a car, on the web. But, hey, people buy houses everyday off the internet without even seeing them.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Money, Money, MONEY

A few tips I have found after endlessly searching PF blogs on how to really pinch the pennies. I am going to try to do several of these things throughout the month of March and will keep everyone updated on what really works for me.
1. Make a grocery list. Do NOT go to the grocery store without spending the time it takes to make a list of lunches/dinners you will be eating for the week and all of the ingredients needed to make those meals. Then stick to the list. Don't buy anything extra no matter how great it looks once you are in the store. Without a list, I tend to over shop. I buy what I think I 'might' want to eat for the week instead of what I am actually going to eat. Thus, things start to go bad before I eat them, which wastes money.
2. Buy meat in bulk. Go to Sam's (or the equivalent in your hometown) and buy meat, particularly chicken, in bulk. I buy chicken, hamburger meat, and fish in bulk and then when I get home I separate them into individual bags which can be easily removed from the freezer and thawed. Not only does this allow me to only buy meat once a month, but it saves extra time and money.
3. Pack lunch for work. Going out to lunch everyday can put a huge damper on your budget. Even cheap lunches add up.
4.Refrain from going out for drinks (even if you are going to just have one). Whether it is coffee, tea, or alcohol, going out to have a drink provides temptation. Try to find free activities to do with friends.
5. Save change. Every penny counts.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The First Step

After carefully declaring my 2008 goals in yesterday's post, I started doing a little excel spreadsheet calculations (although I cannot figure out how to insert the excel spreadsheet into my blog...sorry for the mess below). Here is what I have come up with. Please let me know where I can pinch the pennies in my budget to increase my savings power.

Fixed: Per Month: Per Year:
Rent 425 5100
Student Loan 807 9684
ING 500 6000
Comcast 60 720
Credit Cards 400 4800
Prescriptions 50 600
Utilities 100 1200
City Services 27.5 330
Groceries 200 2400
Eating Out 100 1200
Misc. 70.5 846
Gas 160 1920
Total: 2900 34800

While $2900 a month does not seem like budgeting, I am forced to spend that much because of the amount of student loan debt that I have collected over the three years of law school.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Hello Bloggers

Everyone - please bear with me. I am BRAND SPANKIN NEW at this blogging thing. So, if there is anything that you don't like or something that you love - either way, let me know. That being said, I shall start my first post.

With a new year (although it is already March) I have decided to start new goals for 2008. The thing about goals is that you must set them to be attainable. That in and of itself is not an easy task. I want to say that I will save $50,000 towards a down payment on a house, or will put $30,000 towards my retirement, but that is not all going to happen in 2008. And since I have never actually set real-life money goals, I am going to take baby steps in 2008. That being said, I am writing them down and declaring them as I type. My goals for 2008 include:

1. Reducing student loan debt - $10,000. As most of you can imagine. Student loan debt begins to pile up. Especially if you went to a private graduate school, such as myself. While you are given plenty of time to re-pay your student loan debt, I just cannot see only making minimum payments and eating all of the interest. So. . . I am going start putting more money towards student loan debt.

2. Pay off credit card debt.

3. Fun in the Sun (travel budget) - My bf and I take many trips in a year, and to say the least this is where the majority of our money is spent. Thus, my first goal for 2008 is to save $3000 before taking another trip. This $3000 can either stay in a saving account for a future investment or be spent to take a trip, but it should first be saved. (While many of you may see this as crazy - why would I save to travel with so many other expenses, what I can say is this...sometimes you just have to do what makes you happy. To save any money this year is going to be a hard strain, and I think that if I am able to save $10,000 towards student loans and pay off my credit card debt plus save $3,000 - I DESERVE a vaction).

If I stay on a tight budget, I believe that I can meet my 2008 goals. Any tips on how best to pinch pennies, let me know.