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!

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