Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Moving is expensive

There are a lot of positive things about upgrading from a studio rental to a one bedroom condo that I actually own. But, there is also an added cost to the upgrade -- and I am not just talking about the massive cost of the renovations that are going to start this month.

Paying for movers, some additional furniture, and rugs are going to be the biggest costs for me. I've got the money, because I've been saving a little extra each month to pay for it. Why is it that even when I have the money to buy things, it sometimes feels bad to part with that cash?

I'm going to try not to buy too much new stuff for my new place, because, well, I've been living just fine with the stuff I have right now, in most respects. And I was able to pack it all up in relatively little time, which I think means that my de-cluttering has been working! I do want some new things though, to really make my new place home, and I am not afraid to splurge and get things I really like if it is within my budget.

I was going to continue this blog post by talking about the new chairs I wanted to buy for my living room, and I was going to ask all of my readers (I think there are at least 5 of you now!) which chairs they liked best.


As I was browsing online, I saw these chairs from Target, and I knew I had to have them. They are almost the exact same pattern of a larger chair (too large for my small space) that I saw a few weekend ago while out buying renovation-type stuff. So, I ordered two of them. Bad, impulse purchasing, I know! But, they were 15% off, the shipping was free and I can return them to any Target store within the next 3 months and get my money back. If I hate them in person or they don't go with what I already have, I will be doing just that.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Workout update -- week 1

I only got in two workouts last week. But, I did have packing and moving as a little bit of an excuse. And packing burns calories, right?

On the bright side, I've roped BF into doing the Couch to 5K program with me. It will be my 3rd time doing the program, and BF's first. He's way more in shape than me right now, so it will be a piece of cake for him. It's really quite sweet of him to do it with me. He knows that I am more motivated with a buddy.

I wish I was one of those natural runners. You know, the kind that can pick up and run 10 miles even though they haven't put their running shoes on since last winter? But, alas, I am not. If I get out the habit, I have to start from scratch.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How did I get here?

Amazingly, I wasn't always a money-savvy budgeter that lived within her means.

When I first graduated from college I took a job where I made so little money, my rent was more than 50% of my take home pay -- and this was renting a room in a 2 bedroom apartment that I shared with a somewhat nutty roommate in a not-so-nice part of town.

You probably think I was eating ramen every night and watching TV at home with bunny ears on it? Well, that's what I *should* have been doing. But I wasn't. Instead I was eating out, buying LOTS of beers, traveling to see colleges friends who had dispersed around the country and adding to my wardrobe like it was going out of style. Where did I get all this money from? Yes, dear readers, I was lured by the evil credit card.

After I was let go from my job after 9 months or so, did I buckle down and live within my means? No. I had some contract positions where I continued to make very little money, and continued to spend on my credit cards.

After a couple years, I looked at my many credit card statements (if you have a lot of cards, you can somehow convince yourself the debt isn't as bad as it really is) and realized I was in way over my head. I got an OK-paying job at that point, but it wasn't nearly enough to make more than the minimum payments. I owed the equivalent of a really nice new car to Mr. Visa, Master Card and American Express.

Enter, stage left, my awesome family -- always ready to help out a child in need. They lent me the money to pay off my debt, and I have been paying them back ever since. Slowly. They insist that they don't care the rate at which it is paid back, as long as I pay it back sometime. I'm really lucky, aren't I?

The good thing that came out of all of this is that I really learned my lesson from all of this. I now have a budget that I stick to no matter what. I have an emergency fund to sustain me if I should ever lose my job again. I still use credit cards (for the airline miles - again with the travel obsession), but I pay them off in full every month. Actually, I pay them off many times throughout the month, because it makes me feel better.

When I look back at the old me, I am pretty proud of the way I work my finances now. I've come a long way.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Detour - Weight loss

Remember when I said this blog wasn't going to be all about money? Well, the detours start now.

I weighed myself this weekend. And it wasn't good. My highest weight ever, in fact.

Clearly, a change needs to be made.

I've never been a skinny girl, and really, I don't want to be. If you check out the weight loss ticker I just added to the bottom of this blog, even when I hit my goal weight I will be overweight for my height. But, I will be happy, because that is a weight that I am comfortable at, and I know I can maintain, since I have in the past. It will put me in a size clothing I am comfortable with.

The weight loss plan is going to be phased in, with mini-goals and all that jazz.

Working out on a regular basis is step 1. I know I feel better when I do it, but sometimes I just don't do it. I'd like to say I am going to work out 5x a week right now, which will be my final goal, but I don't want to set myself up for failure right away. So, I'm going to go with 3x a week. I'd like to run twice a week, lift weights twice a week and do yoga three times a week. But at this point, I'll take any movement at all, as long as it's 3x a week.

Step 2 is walking more, including walking home from work more, at least 1x a week. This walking is in addition to my 3x a week workouts. I just got these fab new "tone your ass and calves" shoes from (don't worry, they were totally within my budget, unlike their more expensive Sketchers counterparts) and I think walking 2.9 miles should have some fitness benefit, right? Plus it saves me almost $2 when I do it.

Step 3 is tracking my calories with Ideally, I'd be doing this every day, but for now, 5x a week (letting myself be lax on the weekends) will do. I really eat quite well, in the sense that I don't eat fast food and love veggies and fruits. I just eat too much, plain and simple.

Losing weight is a long process for me. Last time I did it, it took me a year and a half to lose 25 lbs. I'm used to it, so I don't complain... much.

I'm not going to beat myself up too much about gaining all this weight, because this past year has probably been the hardest of my life, and well, shit happens.

But it is never too late to turn it around, of course.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Budget

At first I was going to get into specifics (ie, I spend $75 to get my hair cut every 3 months), but then I realized that it might be easier to deal with percentages.

I'm basing this budget on my take home pay after taxes and retirement savings (which we can chat about at a later date, it is one of my budget flaws) are taken out. The percentages might not add up to exactly 100%, because I rounded up.

DC is a pretty high cost of living area, and well, I live pretty well for the small amount of money I make. I had a bad patch when I first graduated college, where I was living beyond my means, which I am sure I'll discuss at some later date. I love that I can live within my budget but still live like I want to.

Housing: 30%
This include mortgage, taxes, home insurance, condo fees. Condo fees include almost all my utilities except cable, phone and internet.
Entertainment/Eating out: 16%
This includes pretty much any time I grab and sandwich at lunch, go out for a drink with friends, go to a concert or go camping for the weekend. Part of this money (27% of it, actually) goes into a joint account my boyfriend (hereafter referred to as BF) and I share. Much of our "entertainment" is done together.
Groceries: 10%
Part of this (44%) also goes into the joint account with the BF. We spend a lot of time together and live *really* close to each other, so we share a lot of groceries. This also includes household cleaning supplies.
Travel savings: 10%
This might be a lot for some people, but traveling is a priority for me. Please feel free to begin lecturing now. :)
Transportation: 9%
This includes my public transport commuting costs each day, as well as car insurance, gas and a little bit of money each month that goes into my savings to pay for potential repairs. The car is paid off.
Debt: 5%
This is a 0% loan from my Father, for money I spent (that I didn't have) before I understood what a budget was.
Beauty, fitness and personal care: 4%
This include my gym membership, haircuts, makeup, etc.
Clothes/dry cleaning: 4%
This also includes shoes. :)
Utilities not included in my condo fee: 4%
This includes a portion of my cell phone bill (work pays for some) and my cable/internet.
Health care: 3%
This covers what my employer doesn't.
Misc Savings: 3%
This is not much, I know, but I already have a pretty robust emergency fund in case I need it. And, when I don't spend all of my budget each month, half of the overage goes into my savings account.

In the next few months, this may be changing a little bit, but not too much. I'm getting a teeny tiny raise and probably switching car/home insurance companies to save a few bucks.

When I have a new budget, I'll re-post.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

An Introduction

I should admit to you, that this isn't my first blog. I've had others, and people even read them, but none of them were about money.

To be honest, though, I am not sure this blog is going to be 100% about money. That might get boring. Not that the rest of my life is soap opera material, or anything.

I started this blog because I am starting a new chapter in my life -- a new chapter as a homeowner. Well, partial homeowner. My salary and lifestyle are such that while I qualified for a decent-sized mortgage, I can't actually afford the whole payment without being house poor. Enter Mom and Dad, who are now co-owners of my new property. Think that co-owning property with your parents when you are in your early 30's is lame? Trying living alone in DC while working for a poor non-profit and then get back to me regarding my lameness. If you still think I am lame after that, that's OK, because I'm really happy with the arrangement. I get a great condo, and my parents get a great investment.

I like to contemplate and analyze money, my spending habits, DC real estate and such things, so I thought a blog would be a perfect place to do all that.

Stay tuned, relevant stats coming up.

Weight Loss Ticker