Monthly Archives: March 2014

March

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Up until now, it was kind of fun to do the end-of-the-month reflections to see what kind of progress I’ve made. But for March? I’m kind of embarrassed. I pretty much blew every single category in my budget except for rent. What happened? I lived. I did fun stuff! I traveled! I caught up with friends over brunch and dinner! I bought myself some spring clothes because I’m so damn tired of cold weather! 

Yes, living came at a cost but I think this was an atypical month. For example, I went to New Orleans for a friend’s bachelorette party. That’s not something I do regularly! Even though I spent a lot on booze and sugary fried food and appropriately-themed party decorations, I had such a good time and am so glad I went. I don’t get to see my California friends regularly and being able to spend an entire weekend with them was worth more than the cost of the entire trip.

As much as I want to say that I’m going to live a monk’s life in April and cut out everything unnecessary, I know that will just make me miserable. It sucks thinking about money all. the. damn. time. It’s exhausting. So for April, I’m going to spend less money on the boring stuff (snacks or lunch during the work week) so I won’t feel as guilty spending money on the fun stuff (new sandals and a great new nail polish color). 

February Reflections

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I kind of dig these end of the month posts. While the daily financial decisions I make may not seem like much at the time, at the end of the month, it’s cool to see some results, especially since I accomplished every goal I set out for myself in January! Here’s what happened in February:

  • Savings: I was able to put away $1,119 into the emergency fund! The bulk of this came from a portion of my tax refund. Still, I’m seeing progress from my weekly $2 incremental savings plan. It works like this: the first week of 2014, I put $2 into my savings account. The next week, I put $4. Every week after that I add on another $2. It doesn’t seem like a lot but at the end of 2014, this method should leave me with $2,756! 
  • IRA: My $100/month auto payment kicked in this month. I also added another $50 for the month.
  • Student loans: I made an extra payment of $1,000 (again, thanks to my tax refund) and was pleased to see that most of the payment went towards paying down the principal, not the interest.
  • Eating out: At the end of January, I set a goal to spend $200 or less on eating out. I only went $3 over this target! 

This month, I also experimented with charging everything to my credit card and paying off the balance in full at the end of the month. 

  • Pros: I earned two miles per $1 spent so I am getting closer to being able to fund one roundtrip airplane ticket using this rewards system
  • Cons: Unlike using my debit card, it’s sometimes hard to estimate how much money I actually have in my checking account relative to the balance on my credit card. I get paid biweekly so when I was only using my debit card, it was easy to see how much I could afford to spend every 2 weeks. The credit card allows me to spread out my purchases so I’m sure I have been spending more than I theoretically should be relative to my biweekly paycheck. This makes it a little difficult to gauge how much I have “left over” every month that I could put towards savings or an additional loan payment. Hopefully I’ll get better at this. Another con is that I lose out on Bank of America’s “Keep the Change” program. When I used my debit card, Bank of America would round up every purchase to the next dollar and that amount would be automatically deposited to my savings account. For example, a purchase of $5.25 would lead to an automatic deposit of $0.75 to my savings account. 

I’m really jazzed about achieving all my February goals and want to set some for March to see if I can repeat. 

  • Eating out: I’m going to try again for less than $200. This could be difficult since I’ll be spending 3 days in New Orleans this month, but if I go over, well, it will have been for the experience. If nothing else this will motivate me to avoid the $7 here, $10 there eating out pitfalls.
  • Groceries: $200/month. The haul from last week’s Trader Joe’s run hasn’t run out yet and I’m trying to stretch it out at least one more week.
  • Extra loan payment: I’m going to try to contribute at least $25-50 extra each month going forward

March is looking up!