January Goals Update- I have bronchitis edition

Well, to be more specific, I have bronchitis plus fluid in my lungs PLUS a bacterial infection but I don’t think anyone is really counting. Since it’s the end of the month and the beginning of a new one, I wanted to dust off the blog and revisit my goals as well as give some, updates?, of what I’ve been thinking lately. Since I’m all hyped up on Nyquil and might as well.

  • Make $500 in side income. ( continue with part-time job hustle and work harder for social media client.) PASS!
  • Turn in all work reimbursements. PASS!
  • Be caught up in all data for my day job. FAIL!
  • Save $300 in my e-fund. ( H will be here starting in February for a month so I think I am okay not saving in my travel fund this month) PASS!
  • Read 5 books. FAIL!
  • Stay organized and make a calendar for all of my assignments this semester. FAIL
  • Continue to declutter and pack if possible. ( Top of closet, dresser and boxes in garage!) PASS! 
  • Lose 6 lbs ( walk 30 minutes everyday and eat lo-carb no sugar like I am suppose to according to my doctor.) PASS!
  • Post here at MSL eight times. Anything you’d like to see?  FAIL!

Thoughts?

I passed the majority of my goals which is a huge plus but I didn’t pass all of them. I think I have all the time in the world to do everything and then when I can’t accomplish everything I want to, I end up crying to my therapist and my boyfriend.I felt really good coming home earlier this month from vacation and then I saw an unexpected letter regarding a legal issue that has been hanging over my head for the past three years. I don’t feel comfortable going into a lot of detail except that the news I received has ended in endless nights of unrest, digestion issues, crying fits and other related symptoms of stress. It has seriously effected everything although I try my hardest not to let it.

I just feel like every time I get things settled and feel comfortable to take on more or work on something additional, something falls and I end up with a minor setback. And maybe this isn’t anything more than what being an actual adult entails at the end of the day. But also? I am doing a lot at this time in my life. And I’ve had to really evaluate what I wish to keep pursuing and what at this time can be let go. And as stressed out as I may seem to be, I have to stay positive and grateful because I have some amazing things in my life right now that don’t deserve to be NOT enjoyed. I’ve had some amazing opportunities fall into my lap lately because of where I put my time and energy to last semester and I may say, it served me well. Things I never knew were options were offered and I don’t think the shock of it has fully hit me yet.

I was offered an opportunity to go study abroad in Israel this summer! It just so happens that it aligns when I’ll be off from school for the summer and from work. So, although I may have bit my fingers and wondered how I’ll finance it, I decided to go ahead and accept! Not only will I get six college credits but I’ll have the chance of a lifetime to visit Israel, the holy land. I can’t wait to visit the Dead Sea and most importantly, the Wailing Wall. My principal at school told me it’s the closest place to Heaven on Earth and I am looking forward to placing a note in the wall. I wanted to work on my faith again this year and after I announced it to the universe, this opportunity came into my inbox via email. Lord, I am listening!

I’m also considering graduate school after receiving an email based on my academic excellence from last semester. I was contacting to meet with the department to see research options available for fellowships and assistant possessions that allow living stipends. Again, I never really considered graduate school based on the cost and told the universe the only way I would attend would be if I could receive a fellowship and a living stipend so the universe must want me to know this is an option after all.

And last but not least, I moved last weekend into my very own apartment! As in BY MYSELF! I’ve never lived alone and for some reason never thought I could. I was never comfortable with the idea of living on my own and had always lived with others via boyfriends or roommates since I was 21. I decided to move out for various reasons but the main reason is for me to prove to myself I can. I know it sounds silly but I doubt myself for various reasons in everything from relationships to school to professionally. I can be irrational and cry at the drop of a hat. I have abandonment issues and hate doing everything and anything by myself. Really, it’s kinda sad. I get lonely often and sad. But, I need to learn how to be comfortable alone. I need to learn to do things on my own. Because I’m 29 and I may never have this opportunity again so I wanted to go for it. I signed the lease for a year and I also allowed myself to adopt a new cat! A cat ( and any animal) is a huge financial commitment but so is living on your own and I don’t think I’ll ever feel ready so I decided just to go for it. He’s coming home on Wednesday. 🙂

What has the new year brought you?

Setting Goals- Part One

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January is one of my favorite times of the year. I usually get gloomy during the holidays but January always manages to pull me out of my funk. A fresh new start for goals I want to complete, life changes I want to make and a new planner with cute pens to organize my life. What? A girl has gotta have her Erin Condren planner, what can I say.

This year, I wanted to share tips that I’m using to help ensure my 2015 goals come to fruition and make this the most successful year yet. By using the SMART technique I’m already having more progress then I had anticipated.

Have you ever heard of SMART Goals before? Up until two years ago, I hadn’t. At first, I saw it during my initial training for my current organization. I may or may not have been paying attention at first but afterwards, I thought it was actually a good concept. What exactly does SMART stand for?
  • Specific- Make your goal as specific as you can. Saying I want to lose 30lbs is a great goal, especially if it will benefit your health like most weight loss usually does. But, how are you going to get there? “I want to lose 30lbs by eating more veggies and walking 10,000 steps a day” is definitely more specific. And it may actually be one of my goals so no judging. 🙂 Being as specific as possible will give you enough details to help you come up with a valuable plan to achieve your goal.
  • Measurable- Can I measure my goal in outcomes? A goal like losing weight is definitely measurable because either the scale is lower or it isn’t. Counting your steps along with your veggie intake is also something that can be measured.
  • Achievable- Is this goal something you can achieve? Big goals definitely keep us going and I am one of the biggest dreamers you’ll ever meet. But it’s sometimes best to make sure your goal is something that can be achieved within a reasonable amount of time to ensure your momentum will stay until the goal is complete. What reasonable steps can you take to achieve your goal in a timely manner?
  • Realistic- Is your goal something that is realistic for you? As much as we may feel the need for a stretch goal, it’s also important to make sure our goal is something that can be realistically completed for our current stage in life. This doesn’t mean be negative at all but optimistic about where you are and what you can accomplish. Losing weight is a realistic goal and so is developing healthy habits. But losing 50 instead of 30lbs is something that definitely needs to be looked at realistic. As much as it’s important to stretch ourselves out of our comfort zone, it’s still important not to set ourselves up for failure.
  • Time Bound- Goals are dreams with deadlines. Sure it would be great to lose weight or write that book you’ve been putting off. Taking up a new hobby sounds great! So does spending time with people you care about. Okay, great. Let’s give that goal a timeline. As for losing weight, you may say “This month, I will lose three lbs.” By giving it a deadline, you now know you have exactly one month to achieve this task. Giving yourself a deadline allows you to utilize your time better to align with your goals and priorities. Last year I decided to cancel my cable subscription in order to concentrate on my upcoming school year and read more. I was not only able to finish 68 books this year but I also made the Deans list after my first semester back at school in four years. Prioritizing your time towards your goals really helps and makes them achievable.

What technique do you currently use for starting ( and finishing) goals. Stay tuned for part two in my series in goal setting where I provide a few more tips and suggestions into making 2015 your year!

NoSpendVer Wrap Up!

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On October 20th, I embarked on a 60 day no spend challenge with Janine of My Pennies My Thoughts & Sofia from Caviar & Quarters to help get my mindless spending under control before the new year and save as much as possible to move into my new apartment. Along with saving $1,200 for my apartment, I also wanted to save an additional $400 for a retainer I had initially assumed I’d be getting at the end of December. Total to save? $1,600. And after spending my Christmas Break with H on the east coast, I’m finally ready to share!
Total saved? $1605, which means that I passed my exceeded my savings goal by an extra $5. Woot woot! This was definitely no easy task for me for various reasons.
  • Christmas! Christmas comes every year and this was no exception. Every year I take an annual girls trip to LA, specifically Universal Studios for Grinchmas. I already had my pass paid for because I bought an annual pass last year so all I had to worry about was food and gas, easy enough for me! I also had to buy gifts for H and a few small things for people I work with, including my participation in a Secret Santa at school.
  • Health: I was attacked by a spider ( eep!) which isn’t anything new since I’ve been getting bite all summer by creepy crawlers due to the crazy monsoon weather we had. And, I have the worst reactions to any kind of bug bite. I swell and pop Benadryl and use ice packs. But, I had an even worse reaction when I was bite by something in November which landed me in urgent care. I also ended up needing ANOTHER root canal. I had one back in August and needed another one. My dentist thinks I may have had trauma when I was younger but since I have no one to ask, I’ll just have to believe him. The root canal set me back $630 and I’ll need a cap later this year. I also needed to refill my expensive asthma meds and pay for my annual checkup.
  • Stress related to school: Right before Thanksgiving, I had a breakdown. Balancing work and school full-time left me in a state of overwhelming exhaustion and I cried for hours in my room. Between finding out I needed a root canal, not getting enough sleep and running myself into the ground, I couldn’t take anymore. I’m only human like everyone else and doing everything on my own is extremely hard sometimes.
    Anxiety and depression don’t help at all and even though I am doing a lot better than I ever have before in regards to my mental health, sometimes I feel I still have so much left to do. And since money is such an emotional part of my being, it’s easy to throw money at problems in hopes they’ll go away. Towards the end of the semester, I had no problem buying dinner for myself so I had one less thing to worry about. I didn’t have the problem of worry about dinner anymore but I had less to save as a result.
    This challenge helped me realize that I have come very far in regards to some areas of my financial journey. In the past, I had a shopping addiction. I tried to fill things I was missing in my life with possessions and although I am still drawn to shiny things, especially Michael Kors, I no longer spend money I don’t have on belongings which is a huge leap for me. I don’t go impulse shopping and I work really hard to keep my clutter at bay. By not allowing anything beautiful and useful in my home, I tend not to buy things just because.
    I’ve also made huge strides by cooking at home and from scratch for the past two years. I started religiously meal planning in 2008 along with packing my lunches but still relied heavily on prepared and  packaged meals to get me through the week. Now, I cook everything from a recipe and it tastes 100 times better than stuff from a can or the freezer. However, I still eat out too much for my liking. It’s so easy to meet a friend and catch up over lunch or dinner. It’s easy to order take out when it’s just you and you can’t be bothered to cook. And I’ll admit sometimes, I’m either craving it or they just make it better! My Starbucks habit is a lot better and I have an efficient system with my Keruig but I still crave fancy designer lattes like no ones business.
    Going forward, I’ll be tracking my daily spending to help stay on track with my budget. I am moving into my first apartment by myself soon and will be 100% responsible for everything. It’s a huge step for me since I’ve never lived alone and I want to save as much as I can, even after the move in is complete. I want my spending to align with my values and although I enjoy a good meal and fancy coffee, my values are security, making sure my education is on track and making my new digs into the home I’ve never had.

December Recap & January Goals

December this year was a fantastic way to close out 2014 for me. Despite having dental and health issues that hit my emergency fund a bit hard, I was still able to keep maintain my apartment savings which really leaves me feeling relieved. Moving on out on my own is such a nerve wracking thing to me for some reason so I want as much money in the bank as possible. This is hard when I’m pressed for time between a full-time job and a full-time class load and numerous things come up frequently but all I can do is keep on keeping on, right?

Some of my highlights this month were:

  • Passing all of my classes at ASU, three A’s a and a B baby!
  • Having my annual girls trip with my best friend to Grinchmas.
  • Exchanging gifts with my oldest friend for Christmas via sweet care packages for Christmas.
  • Spending two weeks with H and celebrating our first Christmas together. I was extremely spoiled for Christmas but the highlight was seeing Michael C. Hall on Broadway as Hedwig in “Hedwig & The Angry Inch.” I was even able to snag some up close photos and an autograph!
  • Two week break off from work AND school! #teacherlife

Although I’m still in New Jersey for another week or so, I will be hitting the ground running like I usually do after a break from reality. January will be a busy month for me. Not only do I hope to plan writing here more now that I have a vision for this site and some more free time from prior commitments, I will be starting school again. If I thought last semester was rough, this semester I’ll be taking an additional class to graduate a semester sooner and saving myself $6,000. I’ll also be moving out next month so I need to finish decluttering, organizing and pack. I was able to get rid of three boxes of personal items but I still haven’t gone through my closet shelves or my boxes in the garage.

My goals this month are:

  • Make $500 in side income. ( continue with part-time job hustle and work harder for social media client.)
  • Turn in all work reimbursements.
  • Be caught up in all data for my day job.
  • Save $300 in my e-fund. ( H will be here starting in February for a month so I think I am okay not saving in my travel fund this month)
  • Read 5 books.
  • Stay organized and make a calendar for all of my assignments this semester.
  • Continue to declutter and pack if possible. ( Top of closet, dresser and boxes in garage!)
  • Lose 6 lbs ( walk 30 minutes everyday and eat lo-carb no sugar like I am suppose to according to my doctor.)
  • Post here at MSL eight times. Anything you’d like to especially see?

That is more than enough to keep me busy for the entire month. What do you have planned for yours?

2015 Books- A Year In Review

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This year, I was able to accomplish reading 64 books and we are only in mid-December so I might finish more. I have a five hour plane ride in my near future this Friday as well as two weeks off from teaching and ASU. While I’ll be visiting my boyfriend and partaking in holiday fun, I still plan on reading when I can so I might knock out three more books by month’s end.

I saw Leslie and Briana do a book’s recap and while it has nothing to do with finance, I wanted to do one here. Okay, scratch that. Reading has a lot to do with finance. The more educated you are, the better life decisions you are able to make. Better life decisions you make, the more money you can possibly bring in as well as save. And we all want to save, right? Right!

I went ahead and divided my books by fiction and non-fiction. The ones in bold are my favorites and ones I would recommend to anyone. Thursday, I’ll be sharing tips to getting your reading on and how to make time, so be sure to check back soon!

Fiction

Stolen by Lucy Christopher
Notes from the Internet Apocalypse by Wayne Gladstone
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #1) by Jenny Han*
Among the Hidden (Shadow Children, #1) by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Palo Alto by James Franco
The Normal Heart & The Destiny of Me by Larry Kramer
American Woman by Robert Pobi
Among the Impostors (Shadow Children, #2) by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Psychos: A White Girl Problems Book by Babe Walker
The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh
Among the Betrayed (Shadow Children, #3) by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Among the Barons (Shadow Children, #4) by Margaret Peterson Haddix
If I Stay (If I Stay, #1) by Gayle Forman
Among the Brave (Shadow Children, #5) by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #1) by Stephen King
Street Pharm by Allison van Diepen
The Fever by Megan Abbott
Among the Enemy (Shadow Children, #6) by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Revival by Stephen King
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Non-Fiction

Love Him Or Leave Him, But Don’t Get Stuck With The Check by Loni Love
Spelling It Like It Is by Tori Spelling
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Miguel Ruiz
White Whine: A Study of First-World Problems by Streeter Seidell
Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman
The Love Playbook: Rules for Love, Sex, and Happiness by La La Anthony
The EveryGirl’s Guide to Life by Maria Menounos
Make Every Man Want You by Marie Forleo
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change by Adam Braun
Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea Handler
You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself by David McRaney
Our Purpose: The Nobel Peace Prize Lecture 2007 by Al Gore
Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt
A Freewheelin’ Time: Greenwich Village in the Sixties, Bob Dylan and Me by Suze Rotolo
Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry by Helaine Olen
Brunette Ambition by Lea Michele
False Conviction: Innocence, Guilt & Science by Jim Dwyer
Good Advice from Bad People: Selected Wisdom from Murderers, Stock Swindlers, and Lance Armstrong by Zac Bissonnette
And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts
The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless Versus the Rest of Us by Martha Stout
7 Skills To Make Mill$ by Brooks Harper
The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren by Gerald Brittle
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home by Sheri Booker
The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan
168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community by Mary Pipher
Bunny Tales: Behind Closed Doors at the Playboy Mansion by Izabella St. James
North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both by Cea Sunrise Person
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
Confessions of a Professional Blogger: How I Make Money as an Online Writer by Miranda Marquit
Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) by Christian Rudder
Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek
The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau
Normally, This Would be Cause for Concern: Tales of Calamity and Unrelenting Awkwardness by Danielle Fishel
Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker
Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas Within Your Organization by Kevin C. Desouza
The Effective Public Manager: Achieving Success in a Changing Government by Steven Cohen

Although my to-read list has over 700 books on it, I love recommendations if you have one! What was your favorite book this year?

Athena

2015 Goals!

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Yes, I am fully aware that we are still in 2014. We have 3 1/2 weeks left actually. But, this year I didn’t make any goals because I had a power word “mindfulness” and although it served me well, I missed making goals and tracking my progress. I didn’t make any goals because I was in such a state of awkwardness that it felt really hard on me to decide which way to go in my life. I had just ended a relationship and moved for my fourth time in less than two years.

However, I think 2014 turned out way better than I had anticipated. I started school again after I was finally considered a resident and recently completed my first semester at ASU full time in addition to working 40+ hours a week. I have spent the past year living with a roommate on my own and I am currently in the stages of moving to my very first apartment all by myself. I started therapy regularly and have been working through my anxiety and depression more than ever before. And I have a new guy who is just adorable.

After so much change in 2014, I want to say I’m hoping for a quiet year to kick butt on my goals. If I have proven anything to myself, it’s that I can live on my own and not die. I can go to school and work and still kick butt. It’s okay to admit I don’t have all the answers and it’s okay to say I need help sometimes and cry. So, with that in mind, I am going to make some strong goals for 2015 because I am a strong woman. I am gonna be reaching for the stars so I can at least land on the moon. You feel me?

1. Regularly make $1,000 in side income. I currently average $4-500 a month in side income through a few streams but I have been wanted to hit $1,000 for ions. I know $4-500 isn’t anything to sneeze at but in order to make my goals realities and still continue to do fun things like travel, I need to make more money.

2. Save a $3,000 emergency fund. My emergency fund consistently overs around $500-$1,000 depending on emergencies that happen through out the year, usually dental work and car repairs. I am hoping that I can get it to $3,000 this year to make some progress on my goal of having $10,000 in an e-fund ( see my five year plan here.) I have a plan to be done saving this amount by October through automatic withdraws from my checking but I plan on throwing some extra money at it as I can. This is my number one priority this year!

3. Save + spend $2,000 in dental work. My braces are coming off soon and I know already off the top of my head I am going to need four crowns so I would like to get this done once my orthodontist gives me the go ahead. I’m already looking at needing some dental work this month in December but I’m not putting that towards this goal.

4. Visit H four times. It’s expensive being in a long distance relationship, especially when your honey lives all the way across the country. We are actually pretty fortunate with how often we get to see each other and H is actually going to come for longer stays once I have my own apartment. He still has some prior commitments keeping him on the east coast for awhile and I plan to visit him when I can since I teach and I’m in school myself.

5. Lose 30lbs. I lost 20 lbs back in 2012 and have wanted to lose 30 more since. I have a really good four months of non-stop fitness and lost 5-10lbs of it but then gain it back. >_< I want to lose 30 in honor of my 30th birthday coming up this year so I am going to work really hard on this. I technically have eight months to lose the weight so that’s a little under 4lbs a month. I know I can definitely do that if I eat healthy and exercise longer than four months.

6. Pass all classes at ASU. I have exactly three more semesters at ASU if I play my cards right and then I will have my bachelors in criminology. It’s extremely hard going to school full-time and working full-time but that’s the cards I was dealt and therefore, I need to rock it. It’s hard to stay on top of extra income because studying comes before anything else but I need to pass all of my classes.

7. Read 52 books. This year I read 63 books bypassing my original goal of 52. I was really worried when school started because I feared I wouldn’t be able to read as much and I’m technically not during the semester since I need to read so much for my classes. However, I gave up cable last summer and besides stealing H’s Comcast account for a show here and there, I don’t miss it at all. Instead of mindless TV watching after class, I read my library books. I hope to read 52 more books this year even though my Goodreads list grows at an alarming rate.

8. Move into my new apartment! I should be moving into my apartment in February and I am so excited! The apartment I put a deposit on is in the Melrose district in Phoenix and it’s super cute. It will be the first time I am living alone (EVER) so I am excited and a bit nervous. I know I will do just fine but it’s still scary to me. I have been saving all of my pennies that were possible and I’m ready to decorate to my hearts content. I’ve been trying to get rid as much as I can before the move so I can have a fresh new start!

So there you have it. All of my goals for the new year! I am excited to track my progress because it can only go up from here!

What do you have on your goals list?

 

NoSpendVer Update #2

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Hello MSL readers! Another month is in the books and we only have one left for 2014, can anyone else agree with me that this year has gone by way too fast?

Even though I am currently on a no spend challenge, I was still able to enjoy myself and try new things. I took a self-defense class with a local SWAT captain for one of my classes and really enjoyed myself. I felt so empowered afterwards and recommend it to anyone, especially young women.

I also got to partake in a dinner cruise around the San Diego Harbor w/ my boyfriend and his family during Thanksgiving break. I had never been on a dinner cruise and it was beautiful! We enjoyed a full three course meal, drinks & salsa dancing. The lights of the city were the perfect backdrop and although it was chilly, it was beautiful and fun.

Time for the updates! Last time I updated you, I had almost $700 towards my goal saved. Now, I have added an additional $500 so I have officially hit my apartment goal! However, that $400 I was going to save towards my retainer? Let’s just say I’ll be throwing it towards another dental emergency. Sigh. I am so upset and so mad that I have put so much money into my teeth and I feel like I’m not getting anywhere sometimes. I know it’s great that I have the money so I can take care of myself but seriously. It sucks.

I’ll be continuing on with NoSpendVer despite a few expenses coming up. My friend is getting married so I’ll be putting some money aside for her in a card, which I need to buy. I’ll also be taking my yearly girls trip to LA for Grinchmas & going to NJ for my Christmas break to spend the holidays with my boyfriend. I shouldn’t be spending too much on these trips as my flights and admission have been taken care of. I’m staying with my friends and boyfriend while away so no accommodations for me!

Along with trying to hustle money along for my root canal,my goals are to spend some of my free time on break from school working out and organizing. I’ll be organizing pretty much all of my life in preparation for the new year. In February I’m moving and I don’t want to move any clutter if I can absolutely help it. I wanted to organize 20 minutes a day but I won’t be home for about 17 days of the month so that might be pointless. I guess I could double up and do a marathon session or two but we’ll see.

How’s your budget going?

 

NoSpendVer Check In!

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Hey guys! I hope you had a great weekend! I spent the weekend studying, taking myself out to dinner and making sure to enjoy dessert and running a 5K for my friend with cancer who I work with! We made a team of 20 people to show support. Go big or go home, right?

It’s time to do a NoSpendVer challenge check in! After being motivated by everyone else’s shopping ban around the pf blogosphere, a few other bloggers and I decided to do one together. It’s more effective in groups, no? 😉 Please check out Sophia and Janine’s blogs when you get a chance to check out their updates and NoSpendVer goals.

I posted about this project on my other blog but basically, the ground rules were simple. No excess spending on anything stupid, not needed or not in the budget. We were allowed a $20 allowance to hang out with friends and not go stir crazy because two months is a loooonnggg time. But, I was feeling motivated and I earmarked two big goals for myself. Goal one was to save $1,200 for my new apartment and goal two was to save $400 towards my retainer since my braces are coming off. As of right now, I am about $700 towards my goals! Things of note?

1. My braces are finally paid off! That’s a $5,120 debt paid off in 20 months!I made my very last braces payment last month so this paycheck I had $210 that I normally didn’t have left over after payday! I won’t have this $210 once I move into my new apartment since I am adding about $500 or so to living costs, but I am happy I do now and I put it aside instead of spending it. Speaking of spending it….

2. I have been monitoring my spending like a hawk. Well, with the exception of the last five days. The only spending I have done is grocery shopping for all of my meals, things I absolutely need at Target, gas and my $20 allowance. Well, until about five days ago anyways. I will be totally honest and admit that I am starting to crash and burn with my schedule during the week. We only have three weeks left in the semester but I am exhausted by the time Friday rolls around and have had a few episodes of crying from stress and wondering when on Earth I was going to get everything done. Some days, I leave the house at 7:30am and don’t get home until 9:30pm, which results in a 14 hour day. And in an effort to save money, I was packing breakfast, lunch and dinners. I was really diligent too about this until a few days again when my food went bad and I had to eat out.

Since my food went bad, I haven’t been able to pack my dinners and as a result, have been stopping by Panera Bread on my way to school for a bowl of soup before class and to study when my roommate was having friends over. At $8 a pop for soup, a cookie and a soda, it’s not cost effective and I know I am wasting money. But, I am trying to cut myself some slack this week and give myself a hug.

3. I need to remember I get my energy from others and to leave the house once in awhile.

Between my NoSpendVer and nonstop homework, I’ve pretty much been a hermit. Like, people ask me what’s wrong when they hear I am spending the fifth weekend in a row at home because it’s unheard of and I used to cry and throw pity parties because I couldn’t go out. Now, I’m so content staying at home with my stack of books from the library, Netflix and my sweatpants. By the end of the week I’m just so exhausted, all I want to do is sleep. But, as much as it’s been doing my wallet good, my depression and energy levels have been through the roof.

I get my energy from other people because I’m an extrovert. I am who I am and although I don’t necessarily need to spend tons of money hanging with others, I still need to be observant and remind myself to get out of my house every so often, put real clothes on and interact with actual people. So far, I’ve been making an effort to go to happy hour again with friends since it fits in my budget and hanging out with others for board game nights. We usually do pot luck style so a $5 pie for dessert can usually be snuck in and enjoyed while I try to kick people’s butts in Trivial Pursuit.

All in all, I am feeling really good about my money lately. How have you guys been? Anyone else currently on a shopping ban?

 

My Financial Goals For The Next Five Years

Athena in Philadelphia 004 (1)

 

I know for some it’s really hard to think long term, myself included! A lot can happen in five years. In less than five years, I’ve moved several times, including a different state, graduated school and re-enrolled to continue on with my education at another. I’ve had three different jobs and now make the most money I ever have in my life which is a good thing. But, at the same time, without a vision, you don’t know what to do or even what to work. Telling yourself to “save money’ is good but it’s not good enough. In a further blog post, we’ll be talking about how to set financial plans for yourself but for now, I’d like to take the time to discuss what I would like to accomplish for myself. Perhaps you can get a new idea or consider things outside your comfort zone!

  1. Goal Number One- Graduate with my bachelors in Criminology from ASU. This may even be considered an educational goal as well, but bachelor degrees anywhere in the country as super expensive since student loans flow like wine. I’m not complaining since I’m one of those drinking the student loan wine and without being eligible for student loans and taking them, I wouldn’t have went to school in the first place or have my current position helping disadvantaged youth. I’ll be looking to finish my degree after three more semesters and then continuing the public service loan forgiveness program.
  2. Goal Number Two- Move into my very own apartment. I’ve never lived alone (eep!) in all of my life, I’ve always lived with family, roommates or a significant other. I know I’m not alone, especially those from metropolitan cities such as NYC where it’s extremely hard to live alone. Although I do enjoy living with my roommate, her boyfriend will be moving in soon and I’d like to be out by that time to give them their privacy. I was really tempted just to get another roommate but I decided to get my own apartment while I could somewhat afford it on my own with ease. Everyday I want to move into a different apartment but hopefully I can narrow it down to one I like and can live in until I graduate school.
  3. Goal Three- Establish an emergency fund of $5,000 and then $10,000. I currently have a baby e-fund that has served me well and I’ve worked hard to keep current but I’d like to have more in the bank. I’ll go into detail about why I need a larger one but it comes down to having not great health and not a lot of family support. I don’t feel that $1,000 is enough to get me through everything so I’d like to increase it.
  4. Goal Four- Start regularly contributing to retirement. I haven’t contributed regularly into any retirement accounts for almost two years and I’d like to start again, especially since I don’t want to eat cat food well into my old age.
  5. Goal Five- Enroll and make progress in the public service loan forgiveness program. Since my current career goal is to continue to move up the ladder in the non-profit sector, and eventually being an executive director of one, it would be a great idea to enroll in the public forgiveness program. I think it’s great that the government is acknowledging the low pay but great work the public sector is both known for and I also think it’s great now teachers, public sector workers AND non-profit professionals can benefit from this program!
  6. Goal Six- Get a pet. People don’t usually consider this a financial goal BUT smart savvy latinas and other millennials should! Pets are expensive and not only that, but a huge responsibility. I plan on getting a cat myself since I travel a lot and that is a possible 16 year commitment right there. Since I’ll be living in an apartment, a cat is a wonderful pet option and it would be wonderful to have someone to come home to since I’ll be living by myself. I just hope I get lucky and get a cat who likes to cuddle!
  7. Goal Seven- Save up a moving fund and move OR start saving up for a ranch home. After I graduate with my bachelors, I’m not sure what the future holds for me. I currently LOVE my current position at my non-profit and I love my company so I’m currently not looking for anything else at the moment. I have a great benefits package ( 10 weeks paid PTO? I’ll take it!) and my company is very flexible with my current full time school schedule so it would definitely be silly to. But I would like to earn more and move up once I graduate school and I’m really interested in moving to the east coast to see what opportunities I could find, mainly in NYC, for my criminology degree I’d have. My current boyfriend lives in New Jersey and it would be nice to live by him as well. For some reason though, if I decide to stay in Phoenix afterwards, I’d like to start looking into real estate, specifically ranch homes. I love older ranch homes and my new apartment I’m considering will be in the same area I’d be looking to buy if I stay. If I fall in love with the neighborhood, I’d like to be able to put a down deposit on a home to start building equity in my net worth. Either decision I make would require at least a decent amount in savings, so this is something I’ll be starting to save up for with my tax return.

Now that I’ve share all of my financial goals for the next five years, I’d love to hear some of yours! What are you most excited for? Trying to accomplish? Dreaming about?

 

Budget Basics: Needs vs Wants

budget basics

 

After you’ve decided to venture into the world of budgeting, you be asking yourself, how do I determine one? What needs to be in my budget anyways? Are there some sort of categories I need to be following? Although these are all great questions, and have great and beneficial answers, the one question we’ll be answering is what needs to be in your budget, through the example of needs vs wants.

What’s a Need? What’s a Want? 

In life, there are needs and wants. A need could easily be classified as something simply as, what do you need in order to survive? For you to be a functioning member of society, and a capable adult, what are some of the basics that you need? For most of us, our needs can be categorized for easily:

  • Shelter ( You need a place to sleep.)
  • Food ( You need food to work, sleep and I don’t know, live?)
  • Transportation ( You need to be able to get to and from work and school)
  • Clothing/ Hygiene ( You need protection from the elements and it’s illegal to walk around naked. 🙂 )
  • Utilities ( You need to have running water,electricity to cook and see at night and gas to perhaps heat your living space or cook as well.)
  • Prescriptions ( You need to be able to maintain your health and take medications as prescribed to you for ailments and health issues.)

You need other things as well, such as love and happiness, a sense of belonging, etc, but for now we’ll just focus on these things in our budget. Now, what’s a want?

  • Entertainment
  • Smartphones
  • Internet
  • Excessive shopping for fun ( extra clothes, accessories, shoes)
  • Household items that are non-essential ( throw pillows, candles, etc)
  • Alcohol
  • Eating out
  • Take out coffee
  • Electronics
  • Makeup
  • Travel
  • Anything else NOT ESSENTIAL to your survival.

Now, we are not saying that wants do not belong in your budget. Far from it. As a matter of fact, I always make sure there is plenty of room in my budget for wants, most specifically, travel and entertainment. But wants should definitely not take up more than 25% of your budget, nor should they stop you from making financial goals for yourself and making progress on them.

Needs should also not stop you from making financial headway on your goals either. You need shelter, but you don’t need to live in the fanciest place with no roommates either. You need food, but you do not need to eat out everyday. And you need to be able to get to and from work, but you most certainly do not need a fancy SUV with rims.

What are some of your needs? What are some of your wants?