Thursday, March 31, 2011

The day before pay-day routine

I just took a break to quick check my bank balances. Something I always do the day before pay-day. Actually it's something I do way too much. is amazing, but I find myself checking my accounts way more than necessary! Anyway, some of you may or may not know that this is my first month being debt free except for student loans, which are deferred and don't count! Not that you need a complete run-down of my finances, but this is kinda fun...well, it's fun for me.

I've mentioned a few times that there are days I completely resent my budget. Other days, I remind myself that it's a bit of a lifeline. Either way, it's a necessity for me and it should be a necessity for you! Pretty much every penny I get ends up in a budget category and my budget is fairly reasonable. At least as fair as any grad student budget. So even though I don't always stick to it exactly, I stick to it pretty darn close. Just watching those categories go from green to yellow to red on keeps me on track. This month I had a few unexpected expenses. That meant juggling a few things here and there. There were days I had to practice some serious restraint. In fact, yesterday I ate peanut butter and crackers, a can of pears, and a coke for lunch. That's what I had in my desk! There were times I was totally craving Starbucks or Grey House, but I made coffee in my office instead. This is not a pity party by any means! Everything all worked out in budget land. Barely. When it's all said and done, I have a whoppin' $4.86 left over this month. That will get transferred to the wiggle room account for the future when I just can't resist a yummy coffee!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Weekly Money Check-Up

This is way super late in the game! Here's my response to MyPrettyPennies' weekly money check-up. As usual, I've posted her explanation of the deal followed by my responses.

Weekly Money Check-Up is a fill-in-the blank post once a week. The first four questions are always the same each week and the fifth is always different. Care to participate? Fill in the blanks in the comments section or post it on your blog and link back to here! I usually post it on Mondays, but it can be posted any time of the week. Thanks for participating! :)
1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a hot date at Bourbon Bistro. It was super yummy!
2. Today I feel like a helicopter parent towards money. many times do I need to check my bank accounts to remind myself that there is still money there?
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was live it up at my niece's birthday party!
4. I will consider this week a success if I get 3 conference posters done.
5. The last time I had a good nap was Saturday evening. I pretty much just passed out and it was beautiful!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Here's a good reminder that I am not poor.

Fabulously Broke hit the nail on the head. Please go read her post. Now! I mean right now, go read about what your net worth "should" be. My net worth "should" be $72,000 according to the Millionaire Next Door equation (can't stand that book, by the way). Or, somewhere closer to $7,200 if you use the other calculator listed on her site. The $7,200 takes into account paying off student loans. I've spent my fair share of time rejoicing in my budget, but if I'm completely honest, I resent my budget a lot of the time. I would love to feel like I could spend slightly more on life's conveniences without breaking the bank. Did you see the end of FB's post? The part about comparing your wealth to the rest of the world? If you didn't, you should. It's powerful. I'm not even posting the link, because I'm forcing you to go to FB's blog and find it there. Despite my measly grad student salary, I'm in the top 10% of the world's global rich list. Supposedly there are only about 620 million people who make more money than me. Gulp! Remind me to be thankful for what I have more often! What's your number? After you've read FB's post, and found your spot on the global rich list, post it in the comments section. Let's be thankful together and remember that no matter how bad it is today, it could always be worse.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My budget was my lifeline this morning.

This morning, I was faced with a tough decision. A friend of mine was 1st in line at the Apple store and had a ticket for the iPad she wanted and a ticket for close to the iPad I want. The only thing was that it was the 32GB version, not the 16GB versions. It would have cost $100 (plus tax) more than what I have budgeted. Bottom line...I said no. I would like to think I could have made it work, but extracting $100 from my budget would be hard. As a certain someone said, "you can make $100 go a long way." Does $100 make a big difference to anyone else out there? Turns out $100 is a substantial potion of my budget. If I had to scrounge up $100 in one month, it would basically mean the following:

Zero dollars for impulse buys instead of $25. Nearly impossible for me, by the way.

I could try to cut the eating out budget from $35 to $25. I've done it before, but it's NOT easy. Turns out, spending time with friends tends to cost money, so I don't think I could go below $25.

I could practice some serious discipline and go without any coffee or soda money. That would be about $15-20.  I'll say $20 even though I try to keep it towards $15.That would also be nearly impossible for me. My will power isn't as great as I'd like it to be!

I could go without any CVS shopping for a month. I'll post about that sometime soon! That's another $10.

That's only $75. The above listed budget cuts would be hard, but do-able. I could make other cuts, but basically I'm not willing to. Those cuts would be what I consider extreme measure to cover a "want." If this $100 was a "need," it would be a different story. Taking extreme measure is what got me out of the hole. I just don't want to make those extreme measures anymore!

Moral of the story? Having a budget helped me a lot in this situation. It was a life line of sorts. The decision was essentially black and white. Even though I was tempted (and trust me...I was seriously tempted!), I know I only have a certain amount budgeted for the iPad. Also, I was forced to see what would have happened if I had made a bad decision to go over budget. I would be in the hole! Bad! I don't want to be there ever again!

So here I am. Practicing being patient. Reviewing my budget for April. Happy to see I didn't go over in March! Oh, and I'm super happy for my friend, Christine, who is probably playing with her shiny new iPad right now! She's the one who has been so thoughtful to send me texts at horrible early hours while she's waiting outside the Apple store. Go Christine! Download a fun app for me!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I liked the idea of linking three topics together through my blog, but it's not working out so hot from a logistical perspective. From now on, I'm going to post everything to my home page. I'll try to figure out an organization scheme to shuttle posts over to their respective section for filing, but I think it will be better to have everything start here.

Another consolidating note...I was talking to an undergrad today and she was telling me about her student loans. Thank goodness I graduated back in the day when you could consolidate your loans at a super low interest rate!

And another consolidating note...I think I'm going to run to my closet and consolidate a bunch of clothes into a bag to give away. I don't even care where the clothes go as long as they are out of my closet!

Then I'm going to consolidate some clothes that I do like into a bag for the weekend! Woo hoo for weekend get-aways!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Drying off the bike

I miss my bike! My bike and I have a strong bond. So strong that a major search effort brought her back to me after she was stolen right off my porch! I can hardly wait to peddle up Chauncey Hill when the weather starts cooperating. Well...make that coast down Chauncey Hill. The peddle up is less than pleasant.

Things I'm looking forward to:
--wearing my super nerdy pink helmet with lights on it
--putting my coffee in the cup holder that my sister got me for Christmas. Oh yeah. That's right. I have a cup holder for my bike.
--not spending so much money on gas. I don't care what the gas mileage calculators say, I'm spending way more than expected for my 2 mile commute each day. I hate paying for gas.
--getting 25 minutes of extra exercise every day

Here is a "fact" that I found about women who commute in a car to work. I found this in Women's Health magazine. Obviously not the most reputable source of health information, but I love reading magazines! Sometimes the "facts" are so goofy! I just have to share this one with you and hope you can laugh with me about it.

"Fact" 24% of female commuters have high cholesterol
24% isn't bad when you think about the general population! Check this out. Info found on the American Heart Association website says:

  • Among non-Hispanic whites age 20 and older, the age-adjusted prevalence of total blood cholesterol levels over 200 mg/dL is 48.7 percent of women.
  • Among non-Hispanic blacks age 20 and older, the age-adjusted prevalence of total blood cholesterol levels over 200 mg/dL is 41.8 percent of women.
  • Among Mexican Americans age 20 and older, the age-adjusted prevalence of total blood cholesterol levels over 200 mg/dL is 49.0 percent of women.

All the age-adjusted nerdy talk isn't so important to understand right now. The take home message is that practically half of women over the age of 20 have high cholesterol. Saying 24% of female commuters have high cholesterol sounds kind of silly when you think about it, doesn't it?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Best Dog Groomer Ever!

I’ll be completely honest and say that I don’t do a great job of keeping up with Baxter’s grooming routine. He spends a lot of time looking like a Muppet (see left). He looks sharp when he's been groomed though for sure (see right). Getting him groomed is pretty expensive. Usually costs between $45 and $50. I don’t even spend that on my own hair! Maybe I should, but I don’t. The February weekly coupon circular had a $10 off coupon for this place called AJ’s Mutts and Cuts. I drove past the place and although it’s in an odd location, the shop looks like it could be on Main Street. Last week I couldn’t take it anymore, and took Baxter in. Turns out her husband is a grad student! Obviously that’s fantastic motivation for me to support her small business. I’d much rather supplement the income of a grad student and his wife than supplement the revenue of PetSmart. When I went to pick up Baxter he was running around the shop with her dog. He seemed un-phased by the grooming ordeal. Then get this…

Yesterday I got home and Baxter had mail! There were even stickers on the envelope. Inside was a lovely note card with a hand-written note thanking us for supporting her in her first year as a small business owner plus a coupon for next time. I could hardly believe it! Not a pre-printed post card, but hand written piece of snail mail! If you’re in the Lafayette area and need to have your dog groomed or bathed, please go support Baxter’s new friend at AJ’s Mutts and Cuts. Tell her Baxter sent you! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Revisited

I know Thanksgiving was several months ago, but in this fast paced, advertising crazed world of ours I think it's important to revisit thankfulness more than we do. I'll be the first to admit that I want an iPad, but do not need an iPad. I have plenty of other wants and sometimes my wants get the best of me. My friend and I were just talking yesterday about how we get inspired by bloggers who seem to have it all together and then realize that a) our lives are not the same as theirs and b) they don't have it all together!  I focus so much on saving for the future, budgeting for things i want, and resisting everyday impulses. In the midst of all that I often forget that I have a very full and happy life just as it is now.

In the last week, these are the things that I have been thankful for:
1. I'm starting to look at Australia travel guides! Mom and I will be heading that way together this summer. I have a conference there, she's always wanted to go there and boom! There you go...we're going!
2. I get along with my family ridiculously well. I mean really...I don't know too many people who can travel with their mother without bracing for frustration. My brother and sister and I get along really well too. We always have! I love their spouses too. Don't even get me started on my nieces and nephews! It just couldn't be much better!
3. A certain someone lives in the same country as me. Need I say more?
4. I have a 3 year old lap top that works really well. Occasionally the CD drive acts up, but all in all it's a great computer. I don't have to worry about buying a new one any time soon. (knock on wood)
5. My laundry pile is a constant reminder that I have a lot of clothes!

6. I have the most amazing friends ever.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Saving Money Backfired on Me...kinda

Well, remember the new running shoes I got? The ones that were supposed to give me wings? The ones I got a super great deal on? They're killing the muscle to the outside of my shin and making my ankles hurt in a really weird way. I caved and went to Tri-n-Run to get help. Umm...they are some of the nicest people ever! I thought maybe I just needed some different inserts, but no. The shoes I bought are over-supportive for my neutral feet. The reasons my ankles hurt is because I'm basically running on the outsides of my feet. Thankfully I was able to return the original shoes. Whew. I was prepared to drop $100 or more on a pair of shoes at Tri-n-Run, but I got a different pair of Brooks that were last year's model and they gave me 20% off! I ended up paying $84 with tax. Only $10 more than the last pair I bought, so not too bad. My new shes are cuter than the last pair. I'm more of an orange and pink girl anyway!

On another note Baxter rocked 2 runs with me last night and this morning! He's getting so good at pacing and not marking every single tree. I think we'll get up to a solid 3 miles together here soon. Well, maybe. If you look at him passed out after our run, it's hard to be convinced! I'm up to 7 miles on my longest run with Marsha and Kristin. I like the mid-week long runs instead of weekends. Weekends are too crazy to have to schedule in a long run. I'm not THAT disciplined! But at least Marsha pushes me and makes me prove to myself that I am physically capable of running longer and longer distances. Only about 7 weeks till show time! Ack!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Less than 1.5 million

Yay! Things are looking up! Now there are only 1.5 million blogs ranked higher than mine. Progress, people...progress.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Blog Roll is Growing

The world of blogs is pretty interesting. I have no idea who stumbles across my blog. If you do stumble across my blog and want to leave a comment, that would rock my world! I usually stumble across a blog through a series of blog roll clicks. If I’m reading a blog I like, I look to see the list of blogs that writer likes. I’ve been following Couponing to Disney for several months now. She posts great deals, coupon matches for various stores, etc. One day she posted that a friend of hers was having a baby and needed some serious prayer. So of course I clicked on her friend’s blog and I’ve been following amazing life story of a little guy named Mason at Jelly Chronicles ever since he was born. Talk about a little fighter. One day, Mason’s mommy had her blog roll up, so I clicked on a few. One linked to another to another and then to Gavin Owens. For whatever reason, I instantly felt connected to the blog author. Weird, right? Because if you read her blog, and trust me you will be completely inspired by the love that pours out of this young woman, you will see that our lives are not so similar.  She’s amazing! She inspires me in a big way. I mean, she’ll let you know she isn’t perfect. But truth of the matter is, she’s frickin’ amazing! Her whole family is amazing! Just look at all her pictures and you’ll see love oozing out of them. So now I have another blog that I follow and glean inspiration from. That’s just the way it rolls in the blog world. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


If you're looking for a way to help out the folks experiencing devastation in Japan and other Asian countries that aren't the focus of the news stories right now, here's a neat way to clean out your closet a bit and put it to good use. Soles4Souls is a cool organization that gives shoes to those who need them. One of my favorite things about the organization is the way they help domestically as well as internationally. They plan to set aside 100,000 pair of sturdy shoes for Tsunami victims. As you can imagine, safe, study shoes are need to navigate the debris left behind! Any new or gently used shoes are welcome though. From the FAQ section, I found out that Soles4Souls accepts all types of shoes: athletic, running, dress, sandals, pumps, heels, work boots, cleats, dance, flip flops. You can go the the location finder to see if there is a donation site near you. Cool, right? I'm sure between me and my mom, we have more than one or two pair we could part with.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My GAP adventure cost me $13.

Yesterday was a good day in the shopping life of yours truly. I had a $50 gift card to the GAP family of stores PLUS my $25 off a $50 purchase code that I advertised the other day. I got a pair of fantastic jeans on clearance for $51. Jeans that fit are not easy to find. I'm not sure who they are designed for, but it's not me. These jeans are....well...tight. Gap jeans tend to stretch a lot and then I'm always really disappointed when my jeans are sagging off my butt. I outsmarted them by buying jeans I can barely breath in! They should fit perfect after a wear or two. I'll have to break them in by wearing them for the first few hours of the day and take them off as soon as I eat something! I also got a running skirt (yup...running skirt!) on clearance for $20 and a pair of running shorts for $16 both with an extra 30% off. Lastly, I got a little running arm band wallet thing for $3. I can use the arm band wallet thing soon, but the running shorts are going to have to wait till these legs have seen some sun! The grand total was $13 and change! Woohoo! Did anyone else get to use the GAP code?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

This could be me!

This could easily be me. I am equally ridiculous about wanting an iPad2. Except for the part where he already has an iPad and I don't.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Does anyone want free Purex Crystals?

We have 1 winner from the previous Purex Crystals give away! Kevin...thank for being my only commenter. You win! Maybe you will be almost excited to do laundry. If anyone else wants to get almost excited about doing laundry, here is your chance to redeem yourself! Leave a comment on this post. Could be a question you'd like to see answered on any section of my blog, or a comment about something you liked, or a snide remark. Anything! Blogs need comments to get better rankings, so I'm practically begging for comments at this point. Currently there are over 2 million blogs that are ranked higher than mine. I will pick 2 more random winners for free fabric softener. Easy peasy.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Want it so bad!

Oh boy! I've been wanting an iPad for a long time. Like the iPhone, I've waited to see what the 2nd generation would be like. I held out for the iPhone 3Gs and then splurged on the 32GB. Glad I did! I have nearly all my music on there plus loads of apps and pictures! It was worth the wait. Oddly, when the iPhone 4 came out I wasn't tempted by it at all. I don't really do the face to face skype thing, so the new features weren't worth much to me. So now...the iPad 2 is coming on March 11. It's one sleek little machine for sure! I budgeted so that I can get the 16GB iPad with 3G connection. You'd be surprised how many conferences I go to that don't have free wi-fi. The 3G is a must for me. I could totally get the 16GB iPad 2, but I probably won't be able to see the difference between the old and the new graphics, I don't need the face-time application, and I don't need a 10 inch digital camera/video recorder. I do like the idea that it's lighter in weight. That's about the only real selling point for me and I'm not sure how much I'd notice it. are my 2 more realistic options as I see it...
Option 1:
Buy the 16GB iPad 1 for $529. That's $100 cheaper than the 16GB iPad 2. That leaves me $100 in the budget for accessories/3G subscriptions.
Option 2:
But a refurbished 16GB iPad 1 for $479. That's $150 cheaper than the iPad 2. Leaving me $150 in the budget for accessories/3G subscriptions.

Accessories I'm pretty sure I would buy right away include the the $30 camera adapter/SD card thing and a case which I should be able to get for less than $20 on A 3G subscriptions is $15-25 for 30 days. Let's say I spend $50 on accessories. Option 1 leaves 3 months of 3G. Option 2 leaves almost 7 months. Does anyone know of a reason to NOT buy refurbished from Apple? Gotta's looking pretty good right now! And if the iPad 1 drops in price even more after the iPad goes on sale, I will be one happy girl!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Maybe these will give me wings!

Look at those bright white shoe laces! I finally have a new pair of running shoes. Yay! My first pair of Brooks brand runners. Everyone says they're fantastic. Here's hoping! I got a great deal too and you know how much I love a deal. No running outside today because my sinuses are at risk of exploding any minute now. It's a bit odd...only the right side of my head is bothering me. It hurts so bad. Sudafed isn't even helping. Sad sad sad.

In other news...BOILER UP! Purdue 75 Illinois 67. Woohoo!

Don't forget to leave a comment on the post below if you want to get a free bottle of fabric softener. Free is good!