Ten Thoughts of the Morning

1. I had a juicebox and scone for breakfast. I’m sure they were mine, but I can’t remember where they came from for the life of me.

2. I love fall weather.

3. I’m so happy to be wearing a dress and tights.

4. Pandora is wonderful, and I can’t remember the last time that I bought music on iTunes.

5. I really need to get more running in. I am nowhere close to 25 miles.

6. I have to travel again this weekend, which will sadly mean no running and no studying.

7. I’ve been tracking all of my spending for the last few weeks. It’s enlightening; I highly suggest that anyone interested do the same. Plus, it becomes habitual.

8. Yesterday I learned that many of my co-workers don’t balance their checkbooks regularly. It’s good to know that I’m at least a step ahead of some people.

9. Soup is the perfect fall lunch food.

10. I am not ready for winter weather. I’m afraid it’s goin to come long before I am.

October 14, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

No-spend week musings

My eyes are exhausted and my brain is mush, but I am well on my way to making 100 hours of study this month. I feel like I’m still a student and that my work is just my campus job, which is hilarious to me.

As I mentioned a while back, I decided to have two ‘no-spend weeks’, instead of a weekend, because I don’t have a free weekend until December. Well, they’ve been going just fine, I was successful last week and am on track to be so this week as well. But I don’t think that this is something I will ever do again.

Finance and frugality are often compared to dieting/nutrition, and I feel like this no-spend week idea is as unrealistic as a semi-sustained crash diet. For a weekend, no spending is great; it’s like a juice fast to detox your body. But drinking juice for two weeks just so that you fit into your jeans a bit easier, or not spending any money so that you have a few extra dollars in the bank, is less wise. I don’t like the fact that I have a small list of things (necessities) that I need to buy, and will as soon as this is over. I don’t like that I can’t wait to be able to spend again. This whole idea is just too limiting.

Now that I’ve learned that lesson, I’m off to pack my backpack and head to work. Yes, backpack. Okay- maybe I still feel like a student because I haven’t graduated to a big-girl bag. Ah, well. The Northface and I are tight; I’m not planning on switching any time soon!

October 7, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Quick Goals Update

Cross my first goal off of the list! 

I travel often for work and sometimes front the cost of trips and am later reimbursed.  The reimbursements normally take almost a month, but one came especially quickly -and at the same time as a paycheck, so I was able to put the entire reimbursement (which I wasn’t expecting to recieve till much later in the month) plus a bit of my pay towards the class.

Now it’s on to the rest of them- I think I’ll be tackling the clothing switch this week.

October 5, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

October goals

It’s a new month, and I have new goals in mind. October and Breast Cancer Awareness always remind me of the importance of living life to its fullest. Without getting too detailed, I lost an important mentor in my life to breast cancer almost three years ago. Since her death, I wear my pink with pride and remember that ‘it’s not the years in your life, but the life in your years.’

So here you are – my October goals.

1. Pay off half of the Kaplan class. (My debt repayment is taking a short hiatus as I’ve significantly increased what I owe because of this class. But let me tell you, this class is worth every penny.)

2. Run 25 miles. I am a fan of running. I did a fair amount this summer, but I’ve been so busy since I moved that I haven’t been very good about running. And I can feel it. Whenever I do go for a run, it’s like my body says ‘Thank you. Do that more often please.’ I really should listen.

3. Prepare a meal for friends. I am also a fan of cooking and I haven’t done much of that since moving either. It’s just not as much fun to cook for yourself. No one I’ve meet here is keen on eating out, which is fine with me because I have yet to hear of an especially great place here, but sharing a meal is such a ‘friend’ experience and I find it funny that we really haven’t done it yet. Plus I love planning menus. This will be fun!

4. Go through the transition from summer to winter clothing and also get rid of anything that I no longer wear. And by ‘get rid’, I do mean donate.

5. Log 100 hours of Kaplan practice.

6. Find a pair of work-and-winter appropriate shoes. This one is truly a struggle.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

October 2, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Go PINK for October

Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

October 2, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Festively fall

I read lots of blogs, and many of them have nothing to do with frugality or personal finance. If you’re wondering why, it’s because I have other interests besides money, people! I really enjoy reading what I suppose could be grouped as ‘lifestyle’ blogs. Many of these bloggers are closer to me in age and interest than the pf bloggers that I read, so I relate to both sets equally well.

Many of the so-called lifestyle bloggers are talking about decorating their homes for fall. Yesterday, I definitely had a very strong urge to do the same. I really wanted to go purchase a few cute fall decorations for my apartment, with the thought being that now that I am on my own I can start collecting ‘home furnishing’ things like decorations. But wait. I am not supposed to be spending any money- or accumulating a bunch of stuff.

I still wanted it to feel like fall in my apartment. So, I went outside and took a few pictures of the trees changing colors and picked up some leaves. Leaves are now artfully arranged around my apartment (dried and de-bugged; don’t worry!) and if any of these pictures turns out particularly good, I’ll print it out and hang it somewhere in the kitchen. I also lit a pumpkin candle that someone gave me as a gift last year. Ahh, fall.

Mission accomplished.

September 29, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

What the heck do you eat?

I get that question a lot, actually. I’ve mentioned it to many people (in real-life, as well as blog land) that I spend as little a very small amount on food each week. They are always curious as to how that translates into actual meals. As a result of this question, I’ve posted below some of the things that I purchased and my meals for the week. First, a note about my meal plans. Yes, I realize that many would see this as boring and repetitive. I do, too. It’s the downside of buying and preparing food for one. I’ve not yet found a solution for cost-effective variety and that doesn’t create much waste. I absolutely hate food waste. Seriously, it really bothers me – but that is not what this post is about. My current solution to the repetitiveness of the day-to-day is to have very varied meals from week to week.

And a second note about this plan. You’ll notice that there is little preparation involved. In case you’re curious as to why, please refer to the open letter to Kaplan. That is what takes up all of my time, and I’d much rather spend it with exam practice and review than with making meals for the next few weeks. Normally, I could devote some of the weekend to meal prep, but I will be traveling these next two weekends for work, so that’s out of the question. This weekend I’ll be gone by Friday afternoon, hence no plan for dinner.

Breakfasts:
M – granola and yogurt (leftover from last week); coffee
Tu-F – toasted onion bagels with butter; tea

Lunch:
M – veggies and hummus, cheese, grapes
Tu-F – pita and hummus, grapes

Dinner
M – canned veggie soup, pita bread
Tu- veggie and rice stir-fry
W- rice and beans
Th- canned lentil soup, pita bread

I snack on either dried fruit or almonds, and I have big bags of each that I’m working my way through slowly, from a shopping trip a few weeks ago.

This is an atypical week, especially because of travel, but I’ve only spent about $20 on food. I’ve forgotten exactly, but here are the approximations. The soups were 2 for $3, the bagels 2 for $4 (so I have extra in the freezer), hummus $4, grapes $3, pita bread $1.50, and $4 for carrots, a green pepper, and a cucumber.

So, there’s your answer. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

September 29, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

No-spend weeks

Try as he might, I will not let the little bugger that is my Kaplan class get in the way of my writing. No way.

I have been reading up on a lot of interesting things lately about no-spend weekends. I think these are a great idea, with one caveat. I travel or schmooze often on the weekends as a part of my job, so a true no-spend weekend would not be possible to undertake until late December. Yes, you read that right. I am hoping that I have some time to catch my breath in the next few months!

So instead, I am thinking of trying two no-spend weeks, with the weekends excluded. It is not that I plan on going crazy on the weekends, but rather I wouldn’t be able to be true to my promise.

Here’s my plan: I will grocery shop tonight (Sunday) and next Sunday for the few things that I’ll need to replenish- like milk. I can, and will, walk to work every day, meaning that I won’t need to buy gas. No lunches or sodas or vending machine trips allowed. No extra trips to the grocery store for food ‘just because’ I want to make something specific.

Such is my mission, I choose to accept it, and I will be back to let you know how it goes!

September 27, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Dear Kaplan

Dear Kaplan,

You better be worth so much of my hard-earned money. For $1200 (mixed in with some serious study time) your test prep better get me into my grad school of choice. I don’t know if you realize how much I am giving up to be with you, but in case you were wondering – it’s basically months and months of fun money. Fun money that included things like brie cheese and artisanal breads and the occasional Dunkin Donuts bagel and cream cheese. (Yes, Kaplan – I really enjoy breads and dairy. Thanks for judging. We’re moving along now.)

So Kaplan, this is just a warning that I’ve got my eye on you. I’m not going to fall for your silly games. I’ll go all in with your system, but I’m going to expect results in return. Show me those results, or you’ll have one unhappy, freezing, and bitter New England customer come December.

With love.

September 23, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Checking in…

It is never a good sign when your dashboard shows you nothing but ‘older posts’. I sincerely apologize to any readers that I have left. Thanks for sticking with my slacker self. I hope to make it worth your effort.

Really nothing much has been happening money-wise for me, which is mostly what motivates me to write. I am still working out minor kinks to my budget, so I am waiting a while before posting that.

I’ve paid off one store card completely (yay!) and will have paid off the other one at the beginning of next month. Then everything is going towards my one main credit card. I have about four months of an emergency fund saved up – but I also have an especially stable job so that is slightly less of a worry for me. Only slightly.

Life is good in this new town of mine. I feel like I am finally starting to connect with people and have a chance for somewhat of a social life. (Sidenote-that came out far more pathetic than I meant it to.) I don’t live in an especially youthful town, so it was hard at first to meet and connect with people my own age.

I hope things are well with all of you!

September 23, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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