Friday, May 30, 2008

Hitting Home

I hate the complain on this gorgeous Friday afternoon, but come on oil companies - $54 to fill up my 14 gallon tank is outrageous. I have NEVER had to pay more that $50 for a tank of gas. Thank goodness it will basically be sitting in my driveway for the next 7 days while I will be relaxing on the beach in the Bahamas.

Time to Deplete the Travel Fund

The time has come to deplete the travel fund. My bf and I officially leave on Sunday morning at 7:30 to head to the Bahamas. Thus, I will be taking my $500 and some odd dollars with me for our vacation. And you know what, I don't even care that the travel fund will be empty. I am so excited to be able to experience this vacation with my bf and his family that the money means absolutely nothing to me. In fact, this was the whole reason I started a travel fund to begin with - to travel. The best part about it. . . I am not creating more debt to accomplish this trip. I will not be putting another cent on my credit card. I will actually be able to afford the whole thing with CASH.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

10 Tips on How to Make Your Car Last Longer

MSM had a very interesting article on how to get more out the car you currently own, rather than buying a brand new car. The article listed 10 tips on how to make your car last longer. In case you missed the post, I will re-cap what the article said.

1. Change your air filter so that your car breathes easier. While it is typically common knowledge that your car regularly needs to have its oil changed, don't forget the other fluids and filters within your car.

2. Keep your car at the proper coolant level. To prevent your car from over-heating, the car's cooling system is a vital organ. Always make sure there is enough coolant.

3. Keep your tires at the right inflation level. The tires are often the most neglected part of the car. Keeping your tires at the proper inflation level not only saves on gas, but could actually save your life by preventing blow-outs.

4. Get regular check-ups. Take your car to a mechanic and allow that one mechanic to service your car every time.

5. Give your car a check-over. Every so often, the article recommends checking over your car - lifting the hood and looking at fluid levels, hoses, and how the engine is running; making sure that all lights are working; and that your tires are wearing evenly. Looking over your car will allow you to spot a problem before it is too late.

6. Get on a maintenance schedule. Reminder the earlier tip about always seeing the same mechanic. Here is another benefit of that action, the mechanic will know the last time your car was serviced and what was done, and can keep you on a regular maintenance schedule.

7. Keep it clean. Take good overall care of your car. Wash/wax the exterior often, and don't neglect the interior.

8. Drive Safely. Don't gas your engine when taking off or speed along so fast that your must brake hard to stop. Driving safely will not only save you on gas, but keep your car's engine running smoothly.

9. Keep it covered. Try to park in a garage or carport, but at the very least cover your car. You will want to drive your car longer, if it looks better.

10. Pay attention to your gauges. If your car is messing up or is low on fuel, oil, etc. - your car's gauges will most likely tell you. So be sure to pay attention to your gauges.

I found this article to be very interesting and right on point. I definitely plan to make a few adjustments to the way I treat my vehicle. I am in the category of not really checking my tires for the proper inflation level or wear and tear. Additionally, I am sure that my car could use regular check-ups with the same mechanic. Did any of you find the article helpful? In what areas could you improve? Do you have any other tips on how to properly care for your vehicle?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lost Track

Unfortunately, I have been VERY bad at keeping track of my budget this month. I have been out of town every weekend. That has caused me not to keep up with receipts and make sure which categories I am staying within budget. I do know one thing for sure - I have spent $237.08 on gas this month. That is $77.08 over budget.

I know that there has been plenty of talk on the blogs about limiting weekend trips with the rise of gas prices. While I have not been limiting my amount of travel, it has definitely put a kink in my budget. I am having to cut back in other areas (i.e., disconnect cable) in order to pay for the increase. I value the time spent away with my bf more than I do the daily cable.

If you are like me and cannot seem to limit your travel over the weekends, what areas have you found to cut back on in order to afford the gas prices?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

I had the absolute best memorial day/birthday weekend. The bf and I went to Destin and stayed at his parent's condo.

Now, we are off to the Bahamas on Sunday night.

We have been traveling a lot lately, and I feel very fortunate to be making so many fond memories/experiences with the bf. We have been doing very well this 2008 and I couldn't be happier.

My finances have been really coming together this year also. I am working very hard to pay off all credit card debt and starting a Roth IRA for retirement while still saving in an emergency fund. I am hoping to get all credit card debt paid off before my current job ends in July and I start my new job in August. That way, I will have a little leeway in spending.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Up Next on My Wish List

As I discussed in a previous post, my mother bought me two suits for my birthday. One happens to be a tri-colored blue suit. And I have found the perfect pair of heels to go with it. Aren't they adorable? The price tag - not so much.

Starting a Roth IRA

I am 25 years old - heading to 26 on Memorial Day and am just realizing how important retirement is through reading pf blogs. I know, it is pretty pathetic that I currently do not have any money in a Roth IRA. I need to start one, but just feel so ignorant in the area. I know a lot of you pf bloggers have an account with Vanguard or Fidelity. Can someone tell me which company is better to go with? Should I try to manage my Roth IRA by myself through one of those companies or hire a professional?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I paid my cc bills today. I am definitely making progress since I started this blog in March. At the rate things are going, I should have the cc bills paid in full by November 2008. One month early!

However, I haven't been able to put any extra money towards my student loan debt. Once my credit cards are paid in full, I am going to have to make the decision on whether I want to start putting the $566 a month towards a new car payment or towards my student loan debt. While I hate to take on more debt, my car is just not practical anymore with gas prices at $4/gallon. Plus, the new job I took that starts in August will require me to drive at a minimum of 40 miles a day. Can you say, OUCH.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New Sub-Accounts

I have decided to add a few more sidebars to help me save. I think that for now I am going to leave all my money in one ING account and keep track of how much is in each category via my sidebars. So, I have a fully funded Emergency Fund of $3000, a Travel Fund with a goal of $2000, and a Gift Fund of $500. That means from now on I will put money in both my travel fund and gift fund until they are fully funded. Then, after all that, I will start a car down-payment fund.

Revamping my Savings Budget

I need to rethink the way that I save my money. I have all of my savings lumped into an ING account conveniently named "Fun in the Sun". However, I need to set up smaller accounts and have a certain amount necessary for each category - Gifts, Travel, Emergency Fund, Car Downpayment, etc. That way I will have an idea of exactly how close I am to reaching a goal and if I can afford something in a particular category.

Any suggestions on how to do this? Do you keep all your money in the ING account, but separate it in your budget spreadsheet or do you open separate ING accounts for every category?

Monday, May 19, 2008


I have a confession to make. I spent some of my stimulus check even though it was ear-marked for debt reduction. I couldn't even make it through the weekend with it in my bank account. Now that is a shame. I tell you what, managing money and working on a budget is no easy task.

As my birthday is approaching, my mother decided to take me clothes shopping. I am badly in need of work clothes since I will be starting a new job in August and the attire is more dressy. Being only 5'0 tall I can hardly ever find clothes in my size that do not need altered. Well, once you add the price of alteration on clothes, they are almost not worth buying. This weekend was a little bit different. I found four suits in a 4 Petite. It was wonderful. Being a Petite, they will not need to be altered. Needless to say, I couldn't pass them up. So my wonderful mother bought two and I used part of my stimulus check to buy the other two. I don't think it was frivolous spending and I am very happy with my purchases. Thus, in the end, I think it was money well spent.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Happy Birthday to ME.

My birthday is still not for a few more days, but my grandparents took me to dinner last night to celebrate. We ate at this wonderful Japanese restaurant. I probably gained five pounds from one meal, but it was completely worth every minute. We had a great time. I am so fortunate to have my grandparents in my life, and to be so close to them.

The night only got better when I opened my birthday gift. My grandparents are the coolest. Want to know what they got me? Well, I will tell you...a Navigon 2100 GPS system for my car. I am super excited and cannot wait to make the three hour trip back home after the weekend to try it out.

Not only will I put the gift to good use, but it is something that I would never have spent the money on for myself. And to me, those are always the best gifts. Something that you long for, but would never make the sacrifice in your budget to buy. It is great to have family that knows you so well.

What are some of the best birthday gifts you have ever received?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Stimulated. . . FINALLY!

Hooray! I got my stimulus check directly deposited into my checking account this morning. I cannot wait to throw the money at my credit card debt, update the sidebars, and see the burden slowly slip away. Although it will all have to wait until after the weekend. I couldn't be happier. I know that Bush wants us to stimulate the economy with the $600, but I cannot bear to do that until all of my credit card debt is GONE forever!

So I guess everyone now knows what I am doing with my stimulus check, what are you doing with yours?

Pampering a Puppy

I am visiting my grandmother for the weekend and we had every intention of taking are two toy dogs to PetCo to have them pampered. According to PetCo's website, a full service bath includes a 15-minute brush out, bath, blow dry, ears cleaned, nails trimmed, anal glands checked, ribbon and fragrance. That sounds perfect . . . until we called for the price - $37. Are you kidding me? $40 to give a puppy a bath and brush his hair. We are not even talking giving the dog a hair cut. They must be out of their minds. I wouldn't even pay $37 to have my own hair cut (coloring is a different story). Needless to say, the puppies will not be pampered as we thought today. They may get a bath and their hair brushed, but it will be done by ME.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Importance of Receipts

After my long vacation (Wednesday - Sunday) I am realizing the importance of receipts. I am having trouble calculating what I actually spent this week because I failed to keep all of my receipts. While I can go back and check my bank statement for most of the expenses, that money in my wallet (that is now mysteriously gone) cannot be totally allocated a particular expense. Once I have the time to rack my brain a little and determine where the money went, I will confess to all of my spending.

How do you keep a tally on all the cash money that leaves your wallet?

Following a particular budget is rather challenging. I thought that it was going to be easy, but boy was a WRONG. Each month I find myself going over in a different category. Where is the balance? This month, I am definitely feeling the gas prices. And still wanting that stimulus check. How can I stimulate the economy if the government doesn't give me my money?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Feeling left behind

Krystal @ Give me back my five bucks had a post recently that really touched base with me. I too tend to feel left behind compared to some of my friends. Every couple that the bf and I hang out with are all married, own their own house, and at least contemplating having children. While not all of my college friends are in that situation, most of them don't live in the same vicinity.

I have had a steady job for the past two years and still do not have a down-payment for a house, or even a car loan. I am still driving the car I had in college (7 years old) and renting a duplex with no immediate plans to move. While I am in a serious relationship, we are not engaged and that nixes even the thought of children. Sometimes I just wonder what my life would be like if I had all of those things. But, I have made the decisions not to do some of those things because I would rather be debt free before taking on more obligations. Who knows, those friends may be over their heads and barely making it. The grass always looks greener on the other side!

Comcast Cable

The decision has been made to cut off the Comcast Cable. I did give C R's phone number so that they could work everything out instead of me being in the middle. I think that was the best solution. However, R and I decided to go ahead and disconnect the cable. R is graduating from law school this semester and will be studying for the bar exam. That will leave her with little to no time to watch television. And me, well I watch most of my shows at the bf's house or choose not to watch television at all. I would much rather being playing with my puppies, reading a book, or spending quality time with the bf.

So, for at least the next three months we will be without television. Then, once R finishes with the bar exam we will re-evaluate the situation and decide if we want to re-connect the cable. Hopefully, at a better rate.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Changing Roommates

Changing roommates is really starting to wear on me. My old roommate (C) is officially moved out of our place and with some of my stuff. Almost everyday I have to call or text message her about belongings of mine that she has taken to her new home. I am sure that it was not intentional (or she claims that it is not), but it is still frustrating. I didn't realize that I should have stayed in town this weekend instead of visiting my family to make sure that she only took out what was hers. And the worst part, she probably has more stuff of mine that I just don't use as frequently and realize that she has taken.

The other problem is bills. She signed a lease until August 31, 2008. I found another friend of mine that would be willing to sub-lease from her until the lease expires and she can sign a new lease, but truthfully that friend is really helping her out. We got a cable bill in yesterday which covers the month of May and C has asked that R (the soon-to-be new roommate) pay the bill since she will technically be in the house for the month of May. This is really frustrating to me because I cannot afford the bills by myself, but I don't feel that I should ask R to pay the cable bill until next month. Plus, I refuse to pay more than my portion when I am upholding my lease obligations until it expires.

What is the best way to approach C?

I don't want to ruin our friendship, but this is really starting to stress me out. I live on a very strict budget. Also, I don't think that I should be the go-through person. I believe that C should contact R and they can come to some kind of agreement about the rent/bills etc.

May Challenge

Last month I signed up for Krystal's May Challenge @ to spend no more than $250 on groceries and dining out. I have done really well so far only spending $9.29 the first week. However, the challenge is going to get a little more difficult as the month progresses. I am leaving to go out of town tonight until Sunday. That is going to be a lot of eating out. We all know that money will certainly be dealt out this week. Hopefully, I can make some right choices that don't cost me the challenge. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Jury Duty

This morning I reported to jury duty. After a painful three hours the judge finally instructed us that due to unforeseen circumstances all the trials had been postponed and we were dismissed. At least I get paid for my day and have the afternoon off. Cannot beat that!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Switching Roommates

I have currently lived at the same address for almost two years now (will be two years in August) and have lived with the same roommate the entire time. She is a really great friend of mine and college sorority sister. She is also getting married in October and her and her finance closed on a house this past Wednesday. That means she is moving out and another roommate is moving in. I am really nervous about this situation. I lived by myself all through college and law school and C (my current roommate) is the only roommate I have ever had. This situation worked great for both of us. That brings me to the question - should I sign a six month lease with the new roommate or a year lease?

I would love to sign a year lease because that guarantees that the rent does not increase during that time, but I don't want to be stuck in a situation where I hate my new roommate. My new roommate (R) is also a friend. We met in law school and she is just graduating and accepting her first job. I believe we will be fine, but I don't know for certain.

Additionally, C was the owner of the washer/dryer so now R and I must buy a new one. We have found one used for $250 with a $20 delivery/installation fee and a 30 day-warranty. Is this a good deal? R and I have come to an agreement that we will split the cost of the washer/dryer and if I happen to move out in a year to get married to the bf (who already owns his house and washer/dryer) she will purchase my half from me (I am sure for a little less since we will have used them for a year).

Any advice on roommates and household items???

I am a little overwhelmed by all of the changes occurring in my life. A new job, new roommate, and deciding to stay in Jackson. Whew. I thank the Lord above that everything is working out perfectly. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, May 1, 2008


I am slowly, but surely figuring out the "blogging world." I have recently added feedburner to my page and permitted you, my lovely readers, a link to subscribe. I would really appreciate those of you who read my blog to subscribe as a reader.