Monday, June 30, 2008

SideBar Updates

I took the chance to update my sidebars this afternoon. My financial goals for the year are looking great. As soon as my emergency fund is complete, I need to really work on increasing my student loan payments each month to reach my $10,000 goal. This goal is not to eliminate $10,000 worth of debt (practically unaccomplishable for me right now), but to pay $10,000 on my student loans of which about $300 a month actually goes toward the principle. My sidebars are updated as follows:

$723 towards student loan repayment. (I have traditionally been paying $807 each month to student loan debt; however, with the feds dropping the rates and having private, unconsolidated loans, my monthly payment went down at least for now. So my goal is to eliminate all private, unconsolidated loans FIRST.)

$715 towards my emergency fund

$100 towards my travel fund

$85 towards my gift/Christmas fund. (I actually have a couple of gifts to buy this month. It is my niece's 3rd birthday and my step-mother's birthday. I am hoping to work the gifts in my budget for the month without taking any money out of my gift fund. I am not sure it is possible though.)

Menu Monday

This is a short week. Fourth of July is this Friday and the bf and I both have the day off. We are headed to Destin for a long weekend. I only have to plan meals through Wednesday evening. Hooray! Up this week is:

Monday - Leftover Pork Tenderloin, Twice Baked Potatoes, and Spaghetti Squash
Tuesday - Spaghetti, Marinara Bread sticks
Wednesday - Baked Chicken, Rice, Veggies

As you can tell over the past several Monday's post, we eat a lot of the same meals and always either have hamburger meat, chicken, or shrimp. I am looking to expand my recipe collection and try some new things. What are some easy recipes that you all cook?

Engagement Party

This was a relatively inexpensive weekend. When I say inexpensive, I don't mean that I didn't spend any money, I mean that for what I did, it wasn't that expensive. I went out of town to an engagement party. So, there was the cost of the hotel, gas, meals out, and drinks. Overall, I think that I spent roughly $125.00.

Last night, the bf and I grilled out at the house. We had pork tenderloin, twice baked potatoes, and spaghetti squash. It was fabulous and the best part is there are plenty of leftovers to get us through the beginning of the week. We are headed to the beach on Thursday evening, so I only have to meal plan through Wednesday night.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I learned a valuable lesson today, CVS quickly runs out of their advertised items. I decided today was going to be the first day that I signed up for a CVS ECB card and start collections ECB's, but guess what - every item that I was going to get (toilet paper and ALL washer detergent) were already out. I am thinking that the trick is to go either Sunday, the day the CVS deals appear in the paper, or early Monday so as not to miss the sale item. I will give it another go on Sunday and let you all know how I did.

No News

I guess no news is good news on the financial front. I had a no spend day yesterday and plan on having the same today. The only necessary expense coming up for Friday is getting my oil changed. I was supposed to do that last weekend, but with all the shopping I did it didn't get done. No excuses this Friday. It is a must.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Free Lunch

Remember how I told you that my job ends July 31st and that I had to find another job because I was only employed under a two year contract as a law clerk? Well, each Justice has two law clerks. So the other law clerk in my suite's last day is June 30th because she started a month before I did. That means that our suite is going out to eat for lunch today to wish her a farewell and it is taken care of by the office. Good food, good company, and for a good price (free)!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cocktail Attire

This upcoming weekend the bf and I are attending an engagement party out of town. We had originally planned to stay the weekend, but how cancelled our reservation for Friday night and decided to drive up Saturday morning. This leaves us with only the expense of one night's stay. $100 saved!

However, the engagement party requires cocktail attire, and I have nothing to wear. I may be able to put something together out of my closet, but I just don't want to. I am going to have to resist the urge this week to go shopping.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Menu Monday

This week the bf and I are going to try really hard to eat what we already have at the house and spend less than $30 total at the grocery store. This week's menu consist of:

Monday - Hot dogs and french fries
Tuesday - Chicken Piccata
Wednesday - Tilipia with garlic butter sauce, rice and veggies
Thursday - Tacos
Friday - Chicken Fajitas

Saturday we are going to an engagement party out of town.

It looks like we will only need a few items to make our meals complete. We need hamburger buns for bbq sandwiches for lunch along with chips, sour cream for the tacos, and tortilla shells for the fajitas. Other than those few items, we have everything else.


I failed miserably at my June goal to have one no-spend weekend. Not only did I spend, I spent a lot.

Friday Night
bottle of wine - $14.96

Saturday Afternoon
Belk - $40.93
Bath & Body Works - $20.29
I actually caught a great sale. I got 4 body washes, and 4 lotions at $2.37 each, regularly $9.50. So I got 8 items for the price of 2.
Borders - 19.52
Pet Smart - $12.08

Sunday Afternoon/Night
Raising Canes - $13.61 - Lunch for the bf and I.
Nagoya - $17.06 - Dinner with the roommate.

Total for the supposedly no-spend weekend: $138.45

Credit Card Debt-Free

I did it, I paid off my credit cards (well my only credit card that was carrying a balance). I had to take the money from my emergency fund, but it is paid in full. And I feel great about it.

My sidebars have been updated. Not only was I able to pay off my credit card debt, but I still have $826.40 in my emergency fund, $100 in my travel fund, and $85 in my gift fund. I am going to work really hard over the next couple of months and try to rebuild my emergency fund back to $3000 while still contributing $100 a month to travel and $85 a month to gifts. I am going to need the gift money for Christmas shopping and the bf and I love to travel, so I am sure that money will come in handy.

I am shouting at the top of my lungs "I AM CREDIT CARD DEBT FREE."

Friday, June 20, 2008

First Lunch

Today is the first day that I have eaten lunch out. I spent $11.00 at a hibachi grill with my administrative assistant. We had an excellent time and I am really proud of myself for eating in so much. In fact, this is the first money out of my $100 eating out fund for this month and it is already the 20th of June. It feels great to be sticking to a budget!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Applying for a Second Job

The law school that I attended is looking for an adjunct teacher to teach a small group class. The class with only meet once and then the adjunct with conduct one-on-one advisory sessions (it is a paper writing class) with each student to discuss their paper and give there corrected draft back for their final edits. I am going to apply for this position today. I like that the class can work around my schedule and that it will be a little extra money for Christmas time. I believe the payment is deposited into your checking account 10 days before Christmas which is a super bonus! Plus, it is a resume builder. (Although I am hoping not to have to use my resume anytime soon seeing as how I will start a new job in August).

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ta Da

I finally figured it out. would not let me publish my net worth on my blog unless I made my net worth public. Go figure.

The net worth is up and running and will continue to be red until I reach a positive net worth. With a negative net worth of $92,063, I think that it box will be red for quite awhile. Those dang student loans. I digress.

Question for the Experts

I took the time today to calculate my net worth using Can someone please explain to me on how I get my net worth graph on my blogger website. Thanks if advance.

Grocery Shopping

The bf and I had a rather inexpensive stop at the grocery store last night. This week I worked really hard at planning our weekly menu with items that were on sale at Kroger. My portion of the grocery bill for the week was $25.30. We bought:

green onions - 50 cents a bunch
strawberries - $2.50
grapes - $1.29 a pound
chicken - $1.79 a pound
Ragu - 3/$5
Fettuccine noodles
frozen french fries
grated Parmesan cheese - $4.99 (a little more expensive than I would have liked)
light cream cheese spread
premium beef hot dogs - 2/$5
wheat hot dog buns - $1.89
4 cheese rolls - $3.49
chicken broth - .69 cents
Tilipia - $6.99 a pound
instant grits
lemon juice - $1
chili sauce

That gives us enough chicken for six meals, tilipia, and hot dogs. We bought enough hamburger meat last week to make five meals. So the next few trips to the grocery store should be even less than the $50/$25 a person we have been trying to stay under. So far, so good, for this month. Too bad it isn't always this easy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Easy Shrimp Skillet

Last night's easy shrimp skillet was excellent. Not only was it easy to make, but it tasted delicious. I got the recipe off of Here it is:

1 Tbsp. oil
2 cups sliced zucchini (about 2 small)
1/2 lb. frozen large shrimp, thawed
1 cup (about 1/2 of 14-1/2-oz. can) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 Tbsp. KRAFT Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing
1/2 cup ATHENOS Traditional Crumbled Feta Cheese
1 cup uncooked instant white rice, prepared as directed on package
HEAT oil in nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add zucchini; cook 1 min. Add shrimp; cook until shrimp turn pink, stirring occasionally.
STIR in tomatoes with their liquid and the dressing. Cook on low heat until heated through. Sprinkle with cheese.
SPOON over cooked rice. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

I left out the parsley and used Gorgonzola cheese instead of feta cheese because that it what I had at the house. I will definitely cook this recipe again!

Monday, June 16, 2008

This Weeks Menu

On the menu this week is:

Monday - Easy Shrimp Dinner
Tuesday - Spaghetti with 4 cheese Texas toast
Wednesday - Hot dogs and french fries
Thursday - Fettuccine Alfredo
Friday - Southern Shrimp and Grits
Saturday - Going over to old roommates new house for dinner

I am really trying to plan out my weekly meals and go to the grocery store once a week. I am hoping this helps my budget. My usual routine was to just go to the grocery store and try to put together enough stuff to last at least two weeks if not the whole month. Not only did I waste a lot of food this way, but I tended to buy things that I still have yet to used in an actual meal. And I had to make several trips to the grocery store every week to pick up items that I had forgotten. My new plan is to make a weekly menu and only buy what is necessary for that menu. This plan has worked much better over the past few weeks. I am actually eating everything in my fridge and not over-spending.

Weekend Spending

This weekend was a wonderful weekend. My father and step-mother came into town and we had the best time. It was a little sad when they left on Sunday because I already miss them so much. How did I do with spending this weekend? Really well. My father wouldn't let me pay for as much as I had planned. Go figure. I should have expected this, but I really wanted to treat him. Here is the run down:

Friday night dinner - free. The bf's father treated us all (the bf, this mother, my father, my step-mother, and me) to dinner on Friday night.

$25.00 on concert ticket. My father paid for the tickets for him and my step-mother. That meant that I was only responsible for mine. Well, my roommate's boss gave her tickets for the weekend and she decided not to go on Saturday so that meant that the bf and I each had free tickets for Saturday and only had to buy Friday night's tickets at $25.

Saturday morning breakfast - father treated.

Saturday night dinner - father treated.

$5 on a slice of pizza at festival. Since we ate an early dinner to have time to make it to the festival, I was hungry by late evening and had to get a slice of pizza out there.

That means out of the $200+ that I had budgeted for the weekend, I only spent $30.00. I have to say a pretty nice surprise!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Elimination of Debt

I am officially going to take the plunge and do it. I am going to deplete as much of my emergency fund as I need to and pay OFF my credit cards. I have been contemplating this for awhile now, but I kept saving because I wasn't sure if I was going to have employment once my judicial clerkship ended. Well, I have found a job that starts the day after this one stops. As such, I think that it is time to let go of the money, pay off my debts, and then start rebuilding my emergency fund. In the long run, I think that I will be more satisfied knowing that the only debt I owe is on my student loans.

What's the plan after the debt is repaid?

First, I am going to snowball the money I usually pay on credit cards every month and rebuild my emergency fund back to $3000.00. Once that task is complete, I am going to snowball the money to my student loans. Some of my student loans are at 8% interest because they are private loans; thus, I want to eliminate that debt next. After that, I will have to re-evaluate my situation and determine if I want to continuing tackling my student loans or want to build a bigger emergency fund or exactly what my next goal will be.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Father's Day Weekend

This weekend is going to be expensive. Sunday is father's day and my father is coming to visit for the entire weekend. Which means that I am treating him all weekend. We are attending a mini music festival, Jubilee Jam, which is our annual father's day weekend activity. We both really enjoy music and take every opportunity to listen to music live. Tickets for the weekend are $40 in advance (this is a little misleading because with all fees attached they are actually $46.50 with cash or $48.90 if paid by credit card) and $50 for a weekend pass at the gate. I have not decided which tickets I am going to purchase yet. With gas prices at $3.87, by the time that I went to the bank to withdraw the money and went to the ticketmaster office in my area, I will have sent the money saved on gas. On the other hand, it sure would be nice to have the tickets on hand and not have to wait in line to get in the gate.

Tickets - $100.00.

Next, I must budget in food and drinks for the weekend. We are planning on eating both days before going to the festival so that should save us a little money. But drinks at the festival are going to be rather expensive and with it being at least 92 degrees outside we are going to be thirsty. Thus, for Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast/lunch/dinner and Sunday breakfast I am going to try and stay within $100.00 and budget $25 for drinks at the festival.

Food/drinks - $125.00

I already bought his father's day gift, a shirt, while in the Bahamas so that money is being taken out of my travel fund. So, the grand total for the weekend - $225.00

I will let everyone know how I do on Monday!

No Vet Bill

G seems to be doing much better. I went home for lunch yesterday to check on him and possibly take him to the vet and G seemed just fine. I decided that I would wait a little while longer before taking him. G made it through the entire night without getting sick again. So, I think he is over it. I am hoping whatever made his stomach upset was just re-transitioning back to his normal food. I will continue to monitor him over the next couple of days, but hopefully I am saved of having to pay an unexpected vet bill. Thank goodness for emergency funds! However, I am extremely glad that I wasn't required to use it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Unexpected Vet Expenses

Last week while I was in the Bahamas I had to board my 5 lb puppy (G) at the vet's office. Since I received G as a birthday gift from my bf on June 1, 2007, it was time for his yearly vaccinations while he was being boarded. So when I returned from my trip, I owed the vet $175 for his services (7 days of boarding + shots).

As if that didn't hurt the budget bad enough, G has been sick the entire time since I picked him up. As soon as I got him home on Sunday, I laid down some food and he ate the entire bowl like he was starving to death. I filled the bowl back up and he again wiped it clean. I decided not to give him any more, since he usually has a bowl of food down all day and eats a few bites here and there. Then the mess started. G has had the runs every about two hours for the past three days. I have had to bathe him a minimum of 12 times because his hair is long and it gets all in it. Needless to say, it is disgusting.

Well, after another long night of getting up every two hours, taking G outside to use the restroom, giving him a bath, and getting back to sleep, I decided to call the vet this morning. I thought that he would feel better by now, but he hasn't. They want me to bring him in this afternoon at lunch because he risks the chance of becoming dehydrated. Looks like an unexpected vet expenses is going to clear my bank account this month.

All for the love of dogs.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

This Weeks Menu

I went to the grocery store yesterday for the first time this month and dropped $74.70. This is food for the bf and I throughout the week for breakfast/lunch/and dinner. For breakfast we will be having:

bagels with cream cheese, cereal with organic milk, strawberries and peaches.

For lunch we will be eating - smart ones (I know that a lot of you stay away from processed foods. And I wish that we could. Smart ones always just seem like our best option unless we have enough leftovers for lunch.)

And for dinner we will be eating:

Tuesday- Zatarain's dirty rice with Jimmy Dean's sausage and bell peppers
Wednesday- Baked chicken, yellow rice, and veggies
Thursday- Shrimp pasta with zucchini, squash, and feta cheese

I only made a menu through Thursday because my parents will be coming in town this weekend and we will be eating out with them. However, I did buy 5 packages of hamburger meat for the remainder of the month.

Monday, June 9, 2008

June Goals

I understand that we are already in the second week of June, but my trip to the Bahamas prevented me from declaring my June Goals any sooner. So here they are:

1. Have one no-spend weekend. (The third weekend of June seems to be the only weekend that I can accomplish this. The second weekend of June happens to be Father's Day and my father is coming in town to visit and the last weekend of June I have an out-of-town engagement party to attend.)

2. Start replinshing my travel fund. (*complete - I deposited $100 into my travel fund. I wish I could contribute more but credit card reduction is more important right now.)

3. Start a gift fund for Christmas gifts. (*complete - I deposited $85 into my new established gift fund. My goal is to be at $500 before Christmas.)

4. Conserve as much gas as possible. (With gas prices increasing, I am going to try to make a conscience effort to plan all errands together and save gas.)

This list is short and sweet. As I have kinda fallen off the budgeting bandwagon from being out of town all the time, I have decided to take baby-steps to get me back in the game.

Job Update

About 5 weeks ago I accepted my next job. The job search was a long and difficult process and required a great deal of soul-searching. As my current job comes to an end on July 31, I had no other option than to get back in the market and find future employment. While it was stressful, it was exciting at the same time. I was searching for a job that meet all of my specifications in a life-long career. Since I don't plan on switching jobs anytime soon (especially in our economic state), I had to find that perfect job. The right people, the right pay, the right environment. I must report I believe I found that perfect job without compromising a thing.* And that is a great feeling.

Well, my future employer called me today to see if I could possibly start earlier. Apparently he is super busy and could really use the help. Of course, he realizes that I have a commitment to my current employer and it is not mandatory that I start sooner, but it would be nice. There are several benefits to starting earlier. I could knock-out my six month probation period, I could start building my clientele, I could learn the work environment, and I could prove that I am the woman for the job. However, while all of this seems ideal - what do I do about my current employer? Should I just mention the situation to him and see what he says? Should I go about my daily grind and put in my seven more weeks? Should I feel guilty I want to leave and start my new job?

Don't get me wrong. I love my current job. And, but for, the job only be for two years, I would be happy to stay here long-term. That is just not an option. So, it is not like I want to leave my current job, I know that I must leave and I am ready to get that transition underway. I guess it is the unknown on the other side that has be a tad bit curious.

*I say I didn't compromise a thing and by that I mean things that are important to me. Of course there were several compromises - one being on whether to move to the Coast for a job or stay in my current location to be with the bf. There was the compromise over pay - straight salary or salary plus commission. Etc. With every decision there are always compromises.

Feel free to tell me about any situation that you may have experienced that is similar and what you decided to do.

Getting Back on Track

The bf and I made it back from 7 days in the Bahamas with his family late yesterday afternoon. I have to admit, it was the best vacation that I have ever taken. The most relaxing part was not having to make any decisions and just being able to go with the flow of things. It did take all of my travel fund, but it was worth every penny. The Bahamas is absolutely the most beautiful place. If you haven't been and ever get the opportunity to go - DO NOT miss the trip.

While there we ate some of the best food. We went to the only 5 star restaurant on the island, tried the local cuisine (conch), and even cooked out one night. We went snorkeling, visited Atlantis, and soaked up the sun on the beach. We were there for their Labor Day - June 6th and got to attend a parade. We even shopped a little downtown. It is hard to believe that the week is already over. I guess the saying is true - Time flys when you are having fun!

I wholeheartedly agree with all the pf bloggers who have mentioned that spending their money on experiences rather than things means more to them. I wouldn't give up this experience or memory with my bf for anything. This is a trip we will cherish for the rest of our lives.

With that week behind me, it is time to get back on track with my budget. As I explained in an earlier post, I am not very good as keeping receipts on vacation. And this vacation was not any different. However, because the money came out of my travel fund and not my monthly budget - it does not make any difference. Starting today, I am going to keep track of the rest of the month. NO excuses.

Also, now that I am back I hope to make more regular posts.