Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Budget for November (My very first!)

In reviewing my expenses last month, I found that I spent less than I thought I would on food. Furthermore, my father bought me two tanks of gas and someone else topped off my tank (thirteen dollars worth). So, that will be changed in my budgeting for the month. Hopefully, I'll manage to up my income by four hundred dollars this month as per my goal. I worked fourteen days last month. I'll most likely end up working closer to eighteen, if not nineteen days this month considering Thanksgiving. At my restaurant, that means excruciating long hours and sheer HELL. I'll end up working a six day week. Grawr.

November Budget
Cell= 85.40 (soon to change)
Groceries= 100
Dining Out= 20
Household= 10
Fast Food= 0
Gifts= 120 (to finish Christmas shopping)
Clothes= 25
Auto Insurance= 203.63
Rent= 600
Car Payment= 271
Gas= 90
School Expenses= 15
Credit Card= 427
Emergency Fund= 150

Meal Planning

Cut down on your food costs by planning ahead. By plotting meals, you'll fatten your wallet and whittle your waist. Nancy Zimmerman is offering a twenty five dollar gift card to the person who is able to stick to their meal plan and the rules. For the record, I joined before she offered this! Heh. I'm doing this more for the health aspect than saving money; that will be a lovely side effect.

Rules: Participants can join at any time, although the gift card is only available to those who start on November 1st. Today is your last day to join! Furthermore, meal plans should be posted once a week. Since we are starting on Wednesdays, I'll most likely be posting on Wednesdays (possibly Tuesday).

Participants thus far include Wooly Woman, Laughing at Gilded Butterflies, 365 Days and I Will Be Debt Free, Nancy Zimmerman, and Random Thoughts of a Student of the Environment. Good luck, ladies!

Food Planning- First Week (11/1-11/7)

11/1- Thursday
B: Fruit, Whole Grain Toast, Nonfat Cottage Cheese, Decaf
L: Basil Mozzarella Portabello Caps
D: Leftovers, Italian Basil Salad w/Genoa Salame
S: 2 pc. Sugar Free Candy

11/2- Friday
B: Grape Nuts w/ Nonfat Milk, Decaf
L: Italian Basil Salad w/ Genoa Salame
D: Bunless Pepper Jack Burger with Pico De Gallo, Cabo Salad *
S: Vegetable Soup*

11/3- Saturday
B: Bacon Lettuce Wraps *
L: Artichoke Mushroom Chicken with Steamed Veggies*
D: Tortilla-less Chicken Enchiladas with Pico De Gallo, Green Leaf Salad
S: Chocolate Mousse

11/4- Sunday
B: Fruit, Breakfast Bruschetta
L: Leftovers of Enchiladas
D: Chicken Portabello with Steamed Veggies*
S: Vegetable Soup*

B: Grape Nuts w/Nonfat Milk, Decaf
L: Roast Beef Salad
D: Bunless French Dip with Melted Cheese and Grilled Onions, Green Salad*
S: Turk Creole Soup*

11/6- Tuesday
B: Smoothie, Whole Grain Toast, Nonfat Cottage Cheese,
L: Roast Beef Salad
D: Green Leaf Salad with Tuna
S: Roast Beef Lettuce Wraps, 2pc Sugar Free Candy

11/7- Wednesday
B: Fruit, Whole Grain Toast, Nonfat Cottage Cheese, Decaf
L: Roast beef Salad
D: Eggplant Parmigiana @ dad’s house
S: Decaf Breve Latte w/ Sugarfree Hazelnut (@ Starbuck’s w/little sister), Chocolate Mousse
*These meals are provided by my restaurant since I am in charge of the shift

October Spooky Spending Report (Not too frightful).

This is my first time creating a spending report for the previous month; bear with me on it. I have 310 dollars left over for the month which is going to go towards grocery shopping (starting meal planning tomorrow), emergency fund, and Old Navy card.

I'm going to break this down by amount of money spent and percentage of income it takes up. The main categories are shown first, followed by the actual breakdown. The 17.2% leftover is that remaining 310 dollars.

Food= 8%
Cell Phone= 4.7%
Gifts= 3.5%
Car= 28.5%
Rent= 27.5% (typically higher)
Clothes= 2.6%
School= 1.8%
Credit Card= 4.9% (not counting huge payment this month, see previous entries)

Cell Phone -85.4 =4.7%
Groceries -55.72 =3.1%
Household-10.52 =0.6%
Fast Food-15.31 =0.9%
Dining Out-60.6 =3.4%
Other-1 =0%
Gifts-62.6 =3.5%
Clothes-45.99 =2.6%
Auto Insurance-203.63 =11.3%
Rent-496 =27.5%
Car Payment-271 =15.6%
Gas -28 =1.6%
Car Expenses-34.99 =1.9%
Credit Card-89 =4.9%
School Expenses-31.81 =1.8%

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Week In Review (10/23-10/28)

While I've been using the GnuCash program religiously for tracking all of my finances, I haven't been doing too well on posting here. Look at how much profit I made this week!

10/26- Friday
Tips: +120.00
Check: +190.81

Total: +310.81

10/27- Saturday
-31.33 - gifts for best friend's baby shower

Total: -31.33

10/28- Sunday
-15.00 -dining out

Tips: +115.00

Total: +100.00

10/29 - Monday
Tips: +55.00

Total: +55.00

Weekly Statement:
Expenses: -82.10
Income: +521.81

Total: +439.71

Monday, October 29, 2007

Midnight Review of the Carnival of Personal Finance

It's nearly midnight and I should be asleep. Seeing as that is not happening, I hopped on over to this week's Personal Finance Carnival at Millionare Mommy Next Door. Take a look under Frugality and lo' and behold, there's my article on saving money with a Student ID! My very first Carnival post! You should vote for it so I can get a free bag of candy. :-D

Vixen's Picks:

My absolute favorite is
The Anatomy of Crazy Bosses over at The Baglady. My GM certainly is the Paranoid Delusional. She even has that bipolar trait.

Need help prioritizing? Check out
10 Thoughts on Setting Finanical Priorities over at Kim Staudenraus.

Financial Incentives To Being Healthy at I've Paid For This Twice Already provided some interesting insights on the direction health insurance is heading.

Definetly related to each other: The near crisis in
A Contingency Plan at the Captain's wouldn't have been needed if he read Easy Ways to Get an Emergency Fund Started over at Green Panda Treehouse.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

10 Ways to Take Advantage of Being a Student

With the exception of ridiculous tuition fees, being a student has quite a few perks:

Gym Membership- Never in your life will you pay so little to belong to a gym. Many campuses offer flat fees for unlimited usage of the school gym for the semester. Depending on the school, some campuses even offer free personalized exercise plans. Introductions to the gym and how to use the equipment are also offered if not required to join.

Library- This happens to be the service I take advantage of the most. There are thousands upon thousands of books at your fingertips. Not to mention online databases with access to scholarly journals. The best advantage with the school library is that many allow you to renew your books online. Don't waste your money on buying books for your classes; check them out from the library and save yourself several hundred dollars a semester.

Consumer Purchases- Take advantage of discounts given to students.
Apple offers discounts for not only students, but faculty of schools as well. Just hit in your school zip code and select the institution you go to.

Local restaurants- While I've yet to see big-name chains offering discounts to students, privately-owned restaurants near campuses seem to always have some sort of student discount going on. Next time you go to have a taco at the taqueria down the street, see if they run any 'Buy one, get one free' promotions.

Transportation- Buy your bus pass or Metrolink pass through the college. No need in paying extra. Also look into weekend discounts if you are just looking into using the Metro for an excursion.

Auto insurance- If you have over a 3.0 GPA, most auto insurances offer a 'Good Student' discount. I save 10% on mine through this (forty dollar saving a year).

Movies- While moves are overpriced, it's fun to go once a while. Students normally save two dollars off the standard ticket price with their I.D.

Museums- A student I.D. can grant you free access into the most underrated places in the city. Museums are great for roaming about hours on end with friends, checking out art and other priceless exhibits. It also makes for a great date location. Look up your local museums and see if any give free admittance to students; some only do it once a week or month.

Theme Parks- I've never taken advantage of this promotion because going to theme parks are extremely expensive. Regardless, the student center always has fliers with coupons for local theme parks.

Health Services- Need condoms? Need cough drops? Need to get tested? Most campuses offer these services completely free of charge. You can even get checked out for a doctor for far less than it would run you to go to a real one (well, if you don't have insurance). I once had an inflamed spider bite and they gave me topical cream for free to help the inflammation. My campus even offers free counseling by licensed psychologists if you are having emotional issues.

Go out there, do a little research and put that student I.D. to good use!

Someone Pinch Me.

Look who won over at The Digerati Life! This must be a good luck week for me (with the exception of this horrid midterm I'm working on). This is the second time in a week that I've won something from a PF Blog. Oy!

Now, I just need to finish the post that I'm going to submit for the carnival. With all this good luck, hopefully I will be selected.

Friday, October 26, 2007

November Goals

1. I'm doing meal planning along with Wooly Woman for the month of November. I've already started writing out lists of possible meal ideas. Fortunately for me, my food costs are cut by the fact that I work in a restaurant and takes some (not all!) of the planning out of meal. Although, figuring out how to take food to school makes it hard.

2. Increase my income 400 dollars over last month by working four days more than I did last month. I definetly didn't work enough this month.

3. Finish Christmas shopping and do it for less than 150 dollars. I already have quite a few gifts for people. I'm hoping to come in under budget.

4. Pay off Old Navy card (roughly 350 dollars). That will bring my debt down to just the Wells Fargo card, which also happens to be my lowest bill.

5. Lose seven pounds by the sixth and fifteen by November 23rd (I started on Oct. 23rd). On a side note for anyone curious, I tend to follow Suzanne Somers. I love her dieting plan; it's ridiculously easy and healthy.

6. Exercise two-three times a week. This will be by FAR the hardest goal. The only way I like exercising is if I'm at a gym. Le sigh. I need to find a motivation for exercising.

7. Find a cheaper cell phone plan. I'm paying eighty five dollars a month right now and I always (without fail) have extra minutes left over that get put in rollover. I have eleven thousand (!!!) rollover minutes. It's ridiculous. Roughly a year ago when I bought the phone, I was more likely to use those sort of minutes. I'm too busy now though.

Major tracking update.

I've been skimping a bit on the daily tracking wagon. Tsk tsk.

10-23- Tuesday
-9.33- groceries
-8.00- gas

Total: -17.33

10-24- Wednesday

10-25- Thursday
-18.44- groceries

With all that grocery shopping, I'm aiming not to need to buy anymore until next week. The items in the second group were a tad more expensive (such as a pound of fair trade decaf coffee and sugar free candy).

I've been coming up with a goals list for November. I'm quite thrilled over them.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thanks for the free bottle of perfume!

With the recent onslaught of contests, I've definetly entered a few. The odds of winning one are really high when they are based off comments. That said, I just got an email requesting my address for the free bottle of M by Mariah Carey that I won over at The Budget Fashionista! Thank you very much!

While I consider Mariah Carey a poor product of media and what happens when a star breaks, free perfume is always appreciated. Thank you again.

On a side note, anyone care to inform me on how to include links in my posts without doing the whole bit? Or a link to an easy page on basic html? Eh? I offer eternal love. :-D

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Possible Carnival Post.

I'm contemplating submitting a post for the next PF Carnival. I'm putting in serious effort to make a post that is on par with other writers. Truth be told, I don't think I measure up. Grawr.

I'm leaving the house soon to go pick up my little sister. We are going out with our eldest cousin to celebrate her engagement (that equals me paying for my sister and I). Fortunately, my cousin said we can pick where to go for dinner. Normally, she has expensive tastes. Since the ball is in my court, I'll pick something that's nice but isn't going to empty my coffers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Week In Review (10/15-10/22)

Like last week, this was another week where I was in the green in regards to income versus expenses. I'm slightly amazed considering I only worked three days. Unfortunately, I have another three day week coming up due to a baby shower.

Expenses: -104.80
Income: +237.00

Overall: +132.20

Needless Library Fees

Officially, I receive the dunce award. I have close to thirty books checked out from my school library at the moment. They are spread out among InterLibrary Loans and ones from the campus. Well, I knew that several were due back today. They are ILL books so I can't renew them. I've been keeping my books either at the boyfriend's or in the trunk of my car so that I have them on hand. When I got to school today, I realized I had taken all of the books out of my trunk when I was cleaning the car out. Grawr. Stupidity on my part.

According to the school's policy, it's only a 25 cent charge per day on the books. There is two do back today; two tomorrow. While the fee for the school is minimal, I'm not sure if it is more expensive since they are from other libraries. I'm assuming it's not worth my time to drive all the way back home and waste all that gas. I'd go through nearly a quarter tank between driving out here and driving back.

Income versus Expenses.

I haven't spent a penny since Friday (at least not of my own money). That's three days without spending any money. I realize that in reality, I don't spend excessive amounts of money. While in most people's cases, they need to lower their expenses; I need to up my income. Due to being sick and a babyshower this week, I'm working three days a week for the past few weeks! I should be working four! That isn't to say there isn't room for me to cut spending out; I'm completely aware of that. It's just, my spending isn't as bad as I thought it was. I'm use to working six days a week, possibly five; school is really changing things.

I started compiling a list of goals for November last night. It looks like a good set and I can't wait to get started on it.

I also started an eat healthier regimen today and plan to participate in another blog group's November Meal Planning. It's better for the body and the budget. Why start on a Tuesday, on a seemingly unimportant day? Well, there is something going on two months from today and my goal is to lose twenty pounds. Actually, I want to lose thirty, but twenty is much more realistic.

10-22- Sunday
Tips: +110.00

10-23- Monday
Tips: +96.00

Monday, October 22, 2007

Early Mid-life Crisis.

I've been freaking out a little for the past two days. I'm not sure if I'm picking the right career path. I've had a strong sense of what I wanted to do for years; suddenly, I'm questioning it all.

I've already finished city college (community, junior, etc.) and am at a university working on my B.A. I'm majoring in Latin American Studies with most likely a minor in Chicano Studies. I love my classes. I love everything I'm learning. I'm passionate about helping people. I plan on getting a Ph.D in Cultural Anthropology and living down in Central or South America. I want to work for either the UN, an embassy or a non-profit organization. I know what I'm getting myself into. The chances of me dieing before I hit thirty is a possibility. My involvement in war zones and poverty-stricken areas will be strong. None of this is a deterrment. My sister is. I can't imagine living far away from my sister. It already kills me to see her once a week. Because of this, I'm looking at the possibility of going for a Ph.D in Ethnic Relations. There are some local schools with excellent programs (USC and UCLA).

Then there comes the questioning. It comes in the form of another area I love: wine and good food. Everyone in my life thinks I should go into culinary arts or become a sommelier. Truth be told, I'm already involved with the wine industry. I've made friends with proprieters of wine businesses; I love the community. No one treats me as though I'm some idealistic kid; I get treated as an equal. My memory is excellent and taste buds are keen. I've gone on interviews for upscale fine-dining establishments. Supposedly, the managers were blown away with my wine knowledge. Unfortunately, they all say I'm too young (which is a complete paradox to the way I'm treated by actual wine merchants). I love exploring with pairing, reading up more information and tasting new things. I love the new experiences and people I come across.

The biggest difference between these two fields comes down to knowing how to get where I want. I've been focusing on Latin America for years and still don't know what I'll end up doing. People ask what I'm going to specifically do down in Latin America and I merely tell them that I'll go where I can. On the other hand, I know how to move up in the wine industry. It's all about networking and I already have my foot in the door.

I'm utterly torn.

I want to help people and I feel as though a part of my life won't be complete if I don't. Forever will I feel a burden on my conscience that I didn't use my intellect for the greater good of humanity.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Cost of Illness (and a cheap alternative to fast food).

Monday will mark two weeks of being sick with a cold/congestion/sore throat/everything-but-the-sink. If you work in an office, having a cold only affects your coworkers. I waitress. My cold is seriously unsanitary in the workplace. Even with constant hand-washing, I'm sure some of my germs have been launched airborne.

I went home early today... again. That's the second time this week. I need to get better. I HAVE to get better. This is starting to cost me some serious dinero. By not working today, I lost out on 120 dollars in tips and seven to eight hours wage. Furthermore, this is affecting the income/expenses tracking I've been doing. I need to have a rough view of what I make each month. I don't get sick often. We're talking once a year, maybe twice if I'm unlucky. But, when I do, it's like my immunity system took a trip to hell.

On the upside, my houseowner's daughter needed someone to babysit her daughter last minute. She gave me twenty dollars for lunch and told me to keep the rest. Seven dollars got spent on lunch for the both of us (with leftovers) and the rest is going to go towards gas.

How did lunch end up that cheap? Well, the adorable little girl wanted chicken strips, fries and soda. Fast food is soooooo expensive. My alternative was the grocery store. We bought half a pound of chicken strips, half a pound of potato wedges and strawberries. We have juice at home, so we skipped the soda. I have never seen this child eat fruit or vegetables. She ate half of a chicken strip, one potato wedge and half the container of strawberries (mind you, this was a larger carton)! It was adorable to watch juice running down her chin while she bit into those succulent strawberries. The kid acted as though it was candy. Seven dollars bought lunch for the both of us and I have leftovers for tomorrow.

The Joys of Money and Waitressing.

It's 12:30am and I just got home from work. I have to be back in ten hours. Grawr.

I typically make a hundred a night; tonight I did 1,000 dollars in sale; that would translate to 150 dollars... but of course not! I have 93 in my pocket after tipping the busboys. I basically ended up forty dollars short of what I should have made. There was a glitch that happened earlier today that I think caused the shortage. I brought it up tonight and the manager said to check back in the morning. I have to wait until they run all the reports and see if extra cash ends up in either the cashier's drawer or the manager's drawer. I'm a little irked. It was a long night and I earned every damn penny.

I thought I would have been home an hour ago. I had plans to laundry and such. I just want to crawl in to my bed at this point.

10-19- Friday
-85.40 -cellphone

Subtotal: -85.40

Tips: +93.00

Total: +7.60

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Good and the Bad.

The good: The CapitolOne card is paid off in full. That was my highest interest card, second-highest balance and the one I tended to always be a day late on. I'm not counting it in this month's expenses/income because it came out of the financial aid money and the purpose of daily tracking is to find out what a typical month looks like for me so that I can create a budget. I will count it in my three month total though.

The bad: All the electricity went out in my house last night and no one discovered it until this morning (house owner is out of town and I was at the boyfriend's). The person who discovered it grabbed nearly everything out of the fridge and freezer. There are still some things in the freezer that were mine that I won't be eating. All vegetarian products. Besides that, the only thing she left in the fridge that was mine was lettuce and asparagus which is still good. There is an electrician here now, but not sure how much it will cost. This is one of those times I'm glad I don't have my own place. I don't have to foot this bill.

The good: I cleaned out my bins and shelf in the fridge. I also realized that I failed to mention that I cleaned out my pantry last week. I discovered lots of food I didn't realize I had and tossed the stuff that was bad. I'm currently eating popcorn I didn't know I had. Furthermore, I've started cleaning out my bedroom. Normally, I keep it quite tidy... but with the onslaught of starting my upper-division courses and practically living at the boyfriend's, it has turned into a chaos zone.

The bad: Browsing through the mail, I found that I got an evelope from Wells Fargo thanking me for joining their rewards program... I never did that. Wtf? As long as there is no yearly fee, I don't care. But, I didn't sign up for this service. It makes me fearful that someone stole my identity; who would sign up for a rewards program with that info though?

Unexpected Charges.

How we all love unexpected charges on bills! I went to pay my Cingular cell bill online just now and noticed that it was ten dollars more than normal. After careful perusal, I noticed there was some sort of download fee. I'm not one of those people who downloads the latest ringtones or anything of that sort. I promptly called the help number and was only on hold for maybe two minutes (points in Cingular's favor). Unfortunately, the girl helping me sounded like SHE wanted to kill me and I was making her life completely miserable. I'm sure she's having a bad day. The call took less than five minutes. End result: The charge was sent back to the company that made it and it will take 1 to 2 business days for it to be removed off the bill.

I'm rather satisfied. In other news, I spent more than I should have yesterday.

10-18- Thursday
1.35 - school expense (new catalogue for quarter)
2.65- groceries
15.00 - going out (celebration for my perfect score on the midterm exam)

Total: -19.00

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Personal Success Story.

Over at Get Rich Slowly (I don't know how to do links; someone care to enlighten me?), J.D. has been running daily contests. Today is the last day to submit your financial success story to be qualified for the Wii. Head on over and check his blog out. It's quite swell, to be honest.

I've been thinking about this for a couple days now; mentally, I've been stewing over what I thought was my biggest success economically. All my achievments are always intrisically connected to some form of independence. That's when it hit me: my biggest financial success has been attaining independence!

At nineteen, I was living at my mother's house and didn't exactly enjoy the living conditions. To be honest, I was rather depressed and miserable with the relationship (that isn't to say she isn't an amazing person). At one point, I nearly moved out overnight due to some big hoopla. My mother and I discussed things; I told her that I'd give it another six months of living there. Towards the end of that six months, I knew I was still dissatisfied with the conditions. I sat down and drew up what I thought my expenses and income were (waitressing creates a variable income). Based off that, I began looking at my options. I thoroughly looked at EVERY aspect. Many of my coworkers wanted to move out and I had a lot of opportunities in that regard. I was mature enough though to realize that there were far too many negatives to living with someone in my age range. Furthermore, I didn't have a car and needed to stay local to be able to commute to work easily.

At twenty, I moved out. After weighing my options, I had decided to rent a room from a house. I looked at several places and finally found the perfect one. Renting a room from a house is ideal when you are young. Appliances such as a refrigerator and microwave are already provided. In my situation, utilities and cable were included too. Since we couldn't get the wireless working, the houseowner even let me use her computer often times to access online bills and school work. The situation worked out perfectly and I was genuinely happy. I had done my research, weighed out all the economic factors, and reaped the benefits.

I'm twenty-one now and I've lived in this house for a little over a year. I'm still impossibly happy. During this time, I saved up enough for a downpayment on a car AND got an awesome deal. It took me a long time to buy a car, but when I did, I found the perfect one for me. Once again, I utilized those research skills and the desire to be frugal, to attain more independence.

Borrowing Textbooks vs. Purchasing

Oh man, the sweet flavor of Starbucks! Even better is that I didn't pay for it. If for some reason my mother ever discovers this blog, thanks for giving me that leftover gift card! I think the last time I had it was about a month ago.

Anyhow, on to the gist of this post: borrowing textbooks versus purchasing.

In the past, I have always bought all my textbooks. Now that I'm at the Cal State level and quite frugal, it's a different story. This quarter I was required to purchase readers for two of my classes. There was no way around it. For my other class, we have a total of four books for a mere eleven weeks. Ridiculous to buy that many books for such a limited timespan. Two weeks of usage per book. I don't think so!

I found that my library only has two of the books on hold. Fine, I borrowed the first book. A little over a week ago, I got an inter-library loan for a book this campus doesn't have. Here lies the problem, the book hasn't come in yet! I'm stuck without a book for the class and I don't know when it will get here. I've used inter-library loans for nearly fifteen other books (research projects) this quarter and they have all taken a week. This one is over that already.

Luck has been on my side though: the bookstore doesn't have the book either. Half the class doesn't have the books! At least I'm not the only one. It seems there were ordering errors with the bookstore and only half the amount of textbooks were ordered. The teacher is being quite forgiving about the whole matter and is irritated with the bookstore rather than us.

The moral: Borrowing your textbooks save quite a bit of money. The first one alone would have cost me forty dollars. If the library doesn't have the book you are looking for, order way ahead of time to be on the safe side.

**OMFG** Escuse the blasphemy, but I just ran into someone from the class here in the library tech lab and he has a copy of the book. I'll just run off now and do my reading...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

No spend. No happy.

Today is looking like a no-spend day, although not by choice! I had only a slice of toast today and was waiting for my boyfriend to get home at his normal time of between 2:30 and 3pm. He ended up not home until a little after 4pm due to a meeting he neglected to mention. Starving at that point, I suggested we go out to dinner. I had decked myself out in more make-up than I normally put on (he's one of the few men who likes when women get dolled up). Now, I'd like to mention that we rarely go out. We're talking once a month here, maybe twice. I've been in the house all day studying and was waiting for him to get home to eat. He ended up not wanting to go to dinner; he already ate a bunch at the meeting. Le sigh.

I feel bad that I'm so bummed out over this. I shouldn't be reacting like this. In reality, I shouldn't be spending the money anyhow. But, I really, really, really, really wanted to get out of the house. He offered that we could go after his homeowner's meeting, but I doubt he'll want to. Instead, I made myself a salad of lettuce, tomato, lemon and pepper. The fridge is rather bare. We just came upstairs to watch a movie and what is he doing? Eating Reese's he stashed in the freezer.


10 Tips for the Commuting Student

The second-highest cost of living in Southern California is the commute and all things auto related (the first being housing). Furthermore, if you are under twenty five, the auto insurance industry takes you for everything you're worth. Worse if you are a male.

If you are a fellow commuter, student or not, these helpful suggestions are for you.

1. Time your classes according to traffic. Why take classes from 9am until 4pm? You'll be leaving to school during morning rush hour and coming home during another rush. It's pointless time spent in bumper to bumper traffic on the freeway. I scheduled my classes this semester from 1:30pm 'till 10pm. I hit zero traffic and cut my driving time down significantly. Plus, you eliminate sudden stops and accelerations that burn excess fuel.

2. Bring water or another beverage. You'll be less tempted to stop at a fast food joint or gas station to pick up a drink if you get thirsty on the drive.

3. Fill up at the cheapest gas station. This is one of those common sense measures. Avoid gas stations that are right off the freeway or near the campus. They always overcharge. I actually don't fill up near my house; I've found a gas station near my boyfriend's house that tends to be five to ten cents cheaper than other local stations.

4. Preventive maintenance goes a long way. Keep the tires filled up properly so that the treads don't wear out (or burn extra fuel). Make sure the gas cap is screwed on tight (gas evaporates). Get the oil changed on time.

5. Know your route and alternatives. If there is an accident on the freeway (which there always seems to be in Southern California), it is in your best interest to either get off the freeway or hop on another one. Taking the streets is usually much quicker than horrendous traffic. Mapquest is awesome in that regard.

6. Place items in the trunk. This saves you money by keeping your possessions from getting stolen. College campuses are prone to car theft. Protect your assets by keeping them in the trunk instead of in plain view on the back seat. Don't tempt would-be burglars. A coworker of mine had her front passenger seat window bashed in because she left a messenger bag on the seat.

7. Look into public transportation. Life without a car payment, auto insurance, maintenance fees and gas is much cheaper. If you can go without a car, then by all means, do so. Furthermore, as a student, most campuses offer discounts on bus passes and metro fares. Even if you do have a car, the metro can save you on time and money; the cost of a parking permit alone is ridiculous. I personally attempted to align my classes this quarter so that I could do so. Keyword: attempted.

8. Bring lunch/snacks with you in backpack rather than leave in car. I've learned this one myself. Otherwise, you are more likely to buy food on campus. Who really wants to walk all the way back through those impossibly large parking lots?

9. Carpool. For two semesters, I carpooled with my best friend. It worked out perfectly. Think about it: half the cost of gas, someone to chat with in the car, time to catch up without taking time out of your schedule, and half the price of a parking permit.

10. Buy a parking permit. As much as I think things are ridiculously overpriced, it's more economical to buy one than to pay per day. At my campus, it is six dollars a day to park versus eighty four dollars for a quarter. At six dollars a day, twice a week, for eleven weeks, it comes out to be a hundred and thirty two dollars. That's only if you come on the days you have classes. I save nearly fifty dollars buy purchasing a parking permit.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Week In Recap (10/8-10/14)

This week was far superior to the last. Now, this isn't counting my financial aid money or what was preportioned ahead of time out of that. I want to get a look at my typical finances. Huge financial aid contributions aren't in that arena.

Expenses: -91.44

Income: +641.63

Net: +550.19

In the GREEN. :-D

As for today...

10-16- Tuesday
-.40 - school supply

Subtotal: -.40

Embarassing Disclosure, pt. II.

As promised, here are the stats on my credit cards**. Ugh. It's pretty horrid. Actually, quite horrid.

*Amount due/Interest Rate/Total Line*

Capitol One
Predicted: 480/24%/500
Actual: 540.65/25.9%/500

Old Navy
Predicted: 350/20%/900
Actual: 361.97/21%/900

Wells Fargo:
Predicted: 1050/15%/1100
Actual: 1086.78/16.7%/1100

The plan of action:

-Make sure I start paying my bills ON TIME. My worst attribute is consistently being a day to two days late on payments. I never remember bills are due until the day of. With my Wells Fargo, I can go to an ATM an instantly remedy the problem. The other two I pay online and it takes a day or two to process. Then, because my limits are near the max, the incurred late fee causes an overdraft fee.
-Pay off the highest interest card first (Capitol One). This also happens to be card I tend to pay late most consistently.
-Stick to not using cards. About a month and a half ago, I discontinued using credit cards. They are on a shelf at home.
-Next, pay off Old Navy card, and finally Wells Fargo.

**According to last month's statements. I've already made payments to Old Navy and Wells Fargo this month.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sick, once again (wtf??).

If you've been reading, you know that I've been fighting off being sick for like a week. Well, today definetly goes down as the worst day. I actually thought I had gotten better by Wednesday and Thursday. After closing Friday night and opening Saturday morning, it was back in full force. Followed by closing last night, I ended up having to leave work early today. I felt utterly miserable. Fortunately, we were dead slow; I wouldn't have made much in tips anyhow.

10-15- Monday
-.25 - eating out (cup of hot water for my Emergen-C)
-70.00 (credit card payment)

Subtotal: -70.25

Tips: +34.00

Total: -36.25

Embarassing Disclosure.

Thanks again for all the advice on what I should do with the remainder of my financial aid. I never even thought about the fact that FAFSA looks at my savings.

Here's the embarassing part, I couldn't offhand tell you what the balances are on the three cards I have, nor could I tell you what the interest rate is on all of them. I have a vague general idea, but part of my purpose with creating this blog is to sort out all the odds and ends that I never thought of before. I have work looming within the next hour, but tomorrow (along with studying for a midterm that is that day) I will find out my balances and interest rates. It isn't that I don't look at my bills; I just have never stopped to really remember any of the information.

To test what knowledge I do have, here is the balances/IR/max balance possible that I think I remember are on those cards:

Capitol One: 480/24%/500
Old Navy: 350/20%/900
Wells Fargo: 1050/15%/1100

My worst habit when it comes to credit cards is that I always manage to pay them A DAY LATE. I'll pay them online like a day in advance, yet they don't show until the day after. Erg. I really, really, really, really, really, really, need to improve on paying my credit card bills on time.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

What should I do with my financial aid money?

I spent money today, but it came out of money that had been earmarked in advance it. There were a few necessities that I've been needing to buy and have been unable to out of lack of funds. Rather, it hasn't been a lack of funds, but that I didn't want to spend any money until I knew I was completely in the green. Thus, I'm not counting that money as being taken out of this month's income/expenses.

I go to deposit my financial aid check tomorrow. Woot. I'm debating exactly how to portion it. I want to do half in savings for an emergency sort of fund and half to pay off my highest interest credit card. I'm playing with roughly 800 dollars. Opinions?

10-14- Sunday
Tips: +126.00

Total: +126.00

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Two In A Row.

Yesterday and today were two completely 'no spend' days. Of course, that will be ended tomorrow.

10-12- Friday
Paycheck: +215.63
Tips: +104.00

Total: +319.63

10-13- Saturday
Tips: +123.00

Total: +123.00

Friday, October 12, 2007

Crazy Cats.

My man's cats are going crazy. They are hissing at each other. Hmph. Yesterday's expenses also included having to buy a pack of pencils and a scantron.

10-11- Thursday
-2.62 - school expenses

Total: -27.23

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Week in Recap (10/1-10/7)

As a disclaimer, my biggest expenses are in the first week of the month: rent, car payment and auto insurance. Hence, the first week is always scary. Plus, I worked one day less than I usually do.

Expenses: -1,020.86
Income: +345.00

Net for this week: -675.86



I really need to work on this whole packing a lunch bit. With the best of intentions, I had already mentally prepared a lunch in my mind based on the meager amount of food in my boyfriend's fridge. Due to reasons that shall be undisclosed, I got distracted at B's house and ended up running to school in quite the rush. Grr. Money spent uselessly.

10-11- Thursday
-5.61 - eating out

Edit: Also, I payed the minimum on my Old Navy card today. I'm going to pay the minimums this month and then next month when I draw up the budget, I'll figure out which card to eliminate first.

-19.00 - credit card

Subtotal: -24.61

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wonderful day.

I spent zero dollars today. Also, I got free dinner and a free tank of gas. Always wonderful. :-D

I still need to figure out my expenses/income for last week. There's a midterm looming over my head though and I need to study. Le sigh.

Forgetful me.

I went grocery shopping earlier this week but stupidly forgot to bring any food over to my boyfriend's house. Hence, I'm left with none of my groceries to bring to school. Fortunately, I only ended up spending five dollars.

10-09- Tuesday
-5.08 - fast food

Total: -5.08

I need to create a total expenses/income for last week. I'll do it tonight when I get home from having dinner with my family.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Grocery Mishap.

That was odd. I just typed up an entire post and it got deleted. Grrr.

Anyhow, my post was over the fact that on Sunday, I had been charged 2.99 a pound for the Roma Tomatoes I had bought instead of the sale price of eighty eight cents. It wasn't worth my time to drive back to the grocery store and receive thirty five cents back (I was rang up fifty one cents when it should have been sixteen or so cents). I ended up calling the grocery store and talking to the supervisor. I very politely and saccharine sweetly informed her that her checkers may possibly be ringing up the tomatoes incorrectly. I didn't want my money back, but I wanted to make sure that others weren't overpaying as well.

On a side note, the girl who rang me up was really rude. I resisted telling the supervisor that.

Horribly Sick!

I am so, so very sick today. I have quite the head cold and am attempting to fight it off with a mixture of Emergen-C, Airborn, and advil.

I haven't gotten the chance to update the last few days due to leaving my laptop at my man's house.

10-07- Sunday
-14.14 - groceries
-10.00 - going out

Subtotal: -24.14

Tips: +130.00

Total: +105.86

10-08- Monday
-34.99 - car expenses (oil change, car wash, vacuumed)

Subtotal: -34.99

Tips: +73.00

Total: +38.01

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Huge hit.

My legs are killing me from work today. Things were quite hectic. Furthermore, I take my break before my shift*... so seven to eight hours on my feet straight. :-/

10-6- Saturday
-496.00 - rent** - check
-271.?? - car payment - check
-20.00 - gas - gas
Subtotal: -787.??
+120.00 - tips

Total: -667.??

*I actually take my break before the shift for financial reasons. As a waitress, taking a half hour away from your tables and entrusting them to someone else is always risky. Especially when you know you give better service than the other person. Also, this means an extra half hour on the clock for me. More $$.
**Usually, it is six hundred. It's less for this month because I advanced money to the lady I rent from this month.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Uneventful Day.

Today included thorough reading of other financial blogs, laundry and going over to my mother's for a family event.

Tonight is my last night of housesitting for my boyfriend (thank god). I'll be saving considerable amounts of gas after this.

I spent zero dollars today. Didja' hear that? Zero.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Impending Debt

I'm rather happy that I only had one expense today. I bring snacks and whatnots with me to school, but I'm there from 12 to 10pm. Hence, I like to grab some real food at some point. Bean, rice and cheese burritos are only 1.09. I then proceed to load them up with the pico de gallo, cilantro and avocado salsa that is at the salsa bar. Mmmm.

On a VERY good note, my financial aid finally went through and the check gets sent on the tenth. I don't qualify for grants and hence my money is in the form of student loans. Fortunately, I did my GEs and lower division courses at a city college. Furthermore, I'm going to a State University and the cost is reasonable.

I retract that statement. The fact that I'm going to be five grand in debt by May of next year freaks me out. Even better, I will be ten grand in debt by May of 2009.

10-04- Thursday
2.36 - fast food (dinner at school)
Total: -2.36

First Tracking Report

I lied. Only a little though. Obviously the spending for the past few days weren't posted this morning; they are being posted now during a break between classes.

10-01- Monday
3.29 - groceries (tuna, lettuce, bagel, cream cheese) - debit
1.62 - newspaper - cash
1.00 - fee for - debit
8.90 - stamps - debit
Subtotal: -14.81
Tips: +95.00
Total: +80.19

10-02- Tuesday
7.87 - groceries (crystal light, water, snacks for school) - debit
2.26 - fast food on campus- cash
Total: -10.13

10-03- Wednesday
16.65 - dining out (took little sister to lunch) - cash
3.70 - coffee - debit
31.27 - books/Christmas gifts
45.99 - clothes
203.63 - auto insurance
Total: -301.24

Reflection: As I stated in my previous post, I am chronicling my normal spending habits. At the end of the month I will create a budget. Regardless, I still try to save money as that is part of my normal spending habits. For example, the books/Christmas gifts purchased yesterday were a steal. I got 9 books (!) for nearly 32 dollars. Furthermore, those nine books stretched to include eight people. Seven of which aren't receiving any further gifts.

Also, as I've been reading other people's blogs, I noticed that there is quite a bit of mention about auto insurance being cheaper when you pay in full. Out of curiosity, I looked up the fees I am incurring by splitting my six month insurance into four payments. I found that I'm being billed a four dollar fee each time! Oy! That's sixteen dollars in surcharges!


A bit about me:

I'm a 21 year old server (waitress) living in Southern California. I live on my own and also go to school full time. I'm a Latin American Studies major with an ultimate goal of a PhD in Cultural Anthropology. While I'm considerably thriftier than other kids my age, I want to start saving so that I have a comfortable padding in case of any emergencies. Furthermore, I want to learn about 401ks, mutual funds, and get involved NOW. The key to life is preventive maintenance. I don't want to wait until I'm thirtysomething to start saving for retirement (the same goes for preventive care regarding wrinkles).

With all these things said, I started on the first of this month a list of all my expenses. I will post it first thing in the morning. I plan on tracking my normal spending habits for a few weeks if not a month, and then figuring out a budget and how to save. I'll also be chronicling my net worth, how I save money, articles and all those other pertinent bits.

Have fun watching my journey.