Friday, March 28, 2008

Is It April Yet?

I always feel antsy about my finances in the last few days of the month.

After I've done my last grocery store trip for the month and I know I don't have any other expenditures to make, I just want the month to be over so that I can make my debt payments and update my net worth. I always wait to do these things until the month is really over because you never know what sorts of emergencies could crop up on the 30th or 31st that could force me to tweak the budget, so I always sort of feel like, "Ugh, is it the 1st yet?" Kinda like a kid saying, "Are we there yet?" on a road trip.

I'm impatient about making progress, and since I've pretty much made all the progress I'm going to make this month, I want to update the numbers, put it behind me with an air of satisfaction, and start fresh with a new month of possibilities.

Is it April yet?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

April Budget Challenge

I've decided to join Krystal and her readers at Give Me Back My Five Bucks for the April Budget Challenge. My goal is to not go over my $20 blow money budget. I added that category in January to give myself a little room to wiggle, mostly for entertainment expenses, but I've gone over budget every month since.

$40 TV on DVD sets are my enemy disguised as my friend. Oh, how I love them. Especially after depriving myself of them from August through December. I still don't own Prison Break Season Two or Heroes Season One. Tragic, I know.

From now on, though, I'm going to have to save up for two months to get them! I'll keep you in the loop as the month goes on, and let you know how I'm doing on this.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Preparing for a Move

I've been considering a job move for the past few months, and I've been trying to plan for it financially so that I don't create any new debt associated with the move. The absolute last thing I need is new debt.

With the job move will most likely come an apartment move. I currently live and work in Orange County, but I'd like to be in LA, so I've been searching for jobs there.

There are tons of ways this could/will affect me financially. First, there's the normal costs of moving, like renting a moving truck and buying things my current roommates have that I don't (like a vacuum cleaner). Plus I'll need a deposit for an apartment; I should get most/all my deposit on my current apartment back, but I may not get it until after I have to pay for the new apartment. Also, I plan on renting a 2BR apartment and finding a roommate, which means I may have to front the whole rent for the first month or two. Finally, I could potentially be with out a paycheck for a few weeks, depending on how the pay schedule works at the new job compared to my current job.

In order to offset some of these costs, I've been beefing up my emergency fund. Instead of the normal $1000, I've got it up to $2400. When I combine that with the $555 I currently pay in rent, and the ~$400 snowball I have from my income each month, I have almost $3400 to cover me until I find a roommate and get my current deposit back. That feels a little too close for comfort, and it really makes me wish I had a fully funded emergency fund, but barring any major disasters, I should be okay.

Thinking about all of this makes me wonder what the heck I was thinking the last time I moved. I packed my car and drove all of my belongings from Seattle to Orange County, without much thought about what I was getting myself into financially. It seems crazy to me now, and I probably racked up some debt in the process, but looking back I'm glad I did it. Like a lot of very expensive things in my life, I'm glad I did it, I just wish I'd done it a little differently.

Anyway, I'll keep updating as I make progress on the job front and the apartment front. :)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tire Crisis Averted

Last Wednesday morning I went out to my car to drive to work and saw that my driver's side rear tire was flat. All I could think was: Crap. That sucks.

I was a little freaked out about the financial implications - I thought I would have to buy a new tire, and I thought I remembered that you can't buy just one new tire because it will make the car unbalanced or something, so I thought I'd have to buy two or four tires. I was trying to figure out where to go to research tires while mentally draining my emergency fund by hundreds of dollars, but I was also trying not to worry about all of that too much yet, so I just got to work putting on the spare.

When I tried to loosen the lug nuts, however, I couldn't. Like, really really could not. At all. I put all my weight on the lug wrench, pushed and pulled in every way I could think of, and none of the lug nuts would budge.

Apparently I am a weakling.

I called my roommate to see if her boyfriend could come over and help me out. She couldn't get a hold of him, so that was not an option at the moment.

The next thing I thought of was to call a tire place and see if I could sweet talk them into sending someone over to help me. Since I thought I'd probably have to get new tires (the thought of repairing the flat one didn't occur to me), I hoped they might help a damsel in distress if they were getting some business out of it.

The first place I called was half helpful. The guy suggested calling a tow truck (which was not helpful because I didn't want to spend the money if I didn't have to), but he also suggested that the tire might be able to be fixed without buying a new one (which was very helpful because I didn't want to spend the money if I didn't have to).

The second place I called was actually where I'd just gotten my oil changed the day before. I'm not sure why I didn't think to call them first, but they were EXTREMELY helpful. They're a small independent shop about six blocks from where I live. They sent a guy over to my house, he put the spare on, I drove to their shop, and they fixed it for me and only charged me $20 for the whole shebang. Wahoo!

Crisis averted.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Catching Up

Since I've been off the radar for a while, I'll give you a little recap of what's been going on.

As you can see from the sidebar, I blew my December Alternative Income goal out of the water. After being determined to make $600, I ended the month at $1,111.17. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. I put a chunk of it in my plane ticket fund, beefed up my emergency fund, paid off the last remnant of my unconsolidated student loan, and even had a little left to pay extra on my credit card.

After being pretty intense in December, I took a little break in January. I did fine, just not fabulous, so the credit card went down slightly.

Then came February. I thought December was good, until February showed up and kicked December's butt. February was an extra check month at my job, so I had an extra $1280 to put on the snowball. I also got my tax refund in February, which was over $3400! With those two things, I knocked out the credit card and the money I owed to my friends and still had $788 to send to my parents. My mom liked February a lot.

I feel really good about things now that my parents are in first position in the snowball. It feels good to be making great strides of progress.

Another thing that happened in February is that I opened my own business. I've never wanted to be a freelancer because I was so terrible with money, but now that I have a handle on that part, freelancing doesn't seem nearly as scary. So far I've gotten two jobs: one for $400 and one for $1500. And that's without doing any marketing. I plan on ramping up my efforts after I take care of my job search.

That's right: I'm on the hunt for a new job. I'm not happy where I am for lots of reasons, so even though I've only been here for seven months, I feel like I need to move on. I recently read 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller (thanks to winning a copy from, and the book had tons of great job hunting advice. Using the book's method, I mailed 15 introduction letters to my target companies yesterday, and I have CVs, resumes, and introduction letters ready to go for 15 more companies. I'm really looking forward to seeing the results pay off, especially in terms of the quality of my job.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Renewed Committment

A big thank you to those of you who have stuck around with me on your feed reader after a three month lack of posts. I got out of the habit of posting and just never picked it back up again. I think part of the problem was that I was putting too much pressure on myself to have great content here. While I would love to wax poetic and give you all great advice about sophisticated financial topics, I simply don't have the expertise or drive it takes to dole all of that out, so I'm not sure why I'd convinced myself that I had to.

I've had a lot of financial successes over the past three months, and there have been many times that I've wanted a place to share them. This blog is the perfect place, and in fact, that's exactly what I created it for.

So today is a new day. A new day for me, a new day for this blog, and a new day on my road to financial freedom. With every new day comes a new opportunity to better than the day before, so today I will start posting again. This time, however, I'll post with a lot less pressure on myself.

I plan on treating this blog much more like a personal financial journal from now on. It will be a place to share the little set backs and successes as well as the big ones, and a place to share daily (or nearly daily) financial happenings in my life. I may occasionally wax poetic about something, but mostly I'll post about what I bought that day, what bills I paid, and how negative or positive I happen to be feeling about my finances that day.

Here we go.