Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Credit Card Mish-Mash

So I paid off my Capital One card last month, which was lovely. One less card to worry about! It was nice not having to pay that bill in July.

Except. Um. Apparently there was a lingering interest charge of $3.43 sitting there. The only reason I check it is that Ella commented on my last post suggesting I check my statements for the next few months for that very issue. (Thanks Ella! I am loving your new PF blog too!) Unfortunately, I incurred a $15 late fee for not paying my balance. Fortunately, I called Capital One, nicely explained what happened, and asked if they would remove the late fee. They did it, no questions asked. So, there are two lessons here-one, check your statements even after you pay off the card. Two, it never hurts to ask. :)

Which brings me to my last question: have any of you ever cancelled a credit card? I'd like to cancel my Capital One card and just keep the card associated with my credit union open. I don't plan to use it unless a dire situation arises, but that one is linked to my checking and car loan, so I see that balance often. I know people say not to close accounts, but I'm wondering how much damage to my credit it would do to just close the Capital One card once and for all. Thoughts from those more knowledgeable than me?

Monday, July 26, 2010

I am ready for August...

...for many reasons. My trip to Portland. The end of summer school. Going to visit my sister in Utah. Getting to start over on my grocery, gas, and entertainment budget. Clothes shopping(!!)

But honestly, it's mostly because my credit card debt will be history as of August 4th. As in done. Finished. No more.

I can't wait. I am so excited not to have that hanging over my head and to be able to tackle my car loan with intensity (Gazelle-like or otherwise). I'm counting down the days and thinking about making the payment online.

Hurry, August, hurry!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

To Buy List

I made a rule that I wasn't allowed to go clothes shopping until my credit cards were paid off...these are the only exceptions I have made since last August:
*1 pair of tights (it was December and I wanted to wear boots and a dress on New Year's Eve)
*1 bra-I decided to buy this during the semi-annual sale this month since it was on sale for $15.99. I'll buy a few more next month, but I figured it was worth breaking my rule in order to get the sale price.
*1 shirt-I bought a shirt yesterday to wear to the Dodger game. It's blue and white striped and super fun and summery. It was $9.95 at H&M. I shouldn't have bought it, but I am in love with it if that helps.

And that's it! Victoria's Secret coupons have kept me stocked in free underwear, I received a Marshall's gift card at Christmas that I used to buy a dress and a pair of dress shoes, but other than that I haven't updated my wardrobe in a year. 

Needless to say, I have a shopping list. 

In fact, here it is: 
*Black skirt-I just need a basic one, straight, plain and knee length for work.
*Black sandals-my leather flip-flops are in a sorry state. I have had them for two summers and they are on their last...legs? Toes? Heels? You get my drift. 
*Black Flats-These were on my list but I was able to get them for free thanks to Me in Millions. :)
*White tanks-I need to replace my lacy camisole that I wear under many of my shirts...it's not really white anymore. I also need a plain white tank for the same reason.
*White cardigan-I had to ditch my old one because it was yellowish under the arms (yes, I know that's charming, but it's the truth).
*2-3 bras-I need to replace some of my older ones. This is a NEED, not a want.
*Jeans-I want a pair of straight leg jeans, sorta skinny. I have a friend who works for Paige Premium Denim as a designer who said she can get me a pair for $50, which I am planning on taking her up on. AWESOME.
*A few basic jewelry pieces-a necklace, a pair of earrings or two, and sometime in the future I'd like a new watch. But that is something I'll save up for in the months to come.
*Dresses-I'd like a few new dresses that I can wear for both work and fun...this will be dependent on finding some that I like, but dresses are my favorite thing in the world.
*Lavender nail polish-I've wanted this for months, but put it off until my debt is paid off.
*Stila eye shadow-I'm almost out of my staple color that I like to swipe on my eyes when I am too lazy to really do my eye makeup. But it's shimmery and lovely and I'd like to replace it.

I am going to look for most of these items from Marshall's, Ross, and Nordstrom Rack, and should be able to get a reasonably good deal that way. I also want to start gathering coupons for The Limited, Express, and a few other stores that I might hit up in my hunt for these items.

Obviously, I will need to budget more for these items...my plan is to use my summer school money to pay off my debt and then see what's left to add to my shopping fund. Normally I'll budget between $40 and $60 per month for shopping, but I am planning to budget between four and five hundred dollars to get these items. I'll still have more summer school money coming in September, but I am hoping to use almost all of that to start paying ahead on my car payments. I feel good about this amount and the items on my list...we'll see how I do next month. The anticipation of being able to shop is making my drool. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July is out of control...

Well, actually I am out of control. But it feels better to blame July.

It's only the 20th and I have already spent all my envelope system money (used for eating out)...plus another 33 bucks. And realistically I'm going to spend some more in the next 14 days (I don't get paid 'til August 4th).

I am ten bucks over on my grocery budget already. This one, I think I can make work for the next two weeks...but it'll be close and might involve some, shall we say, creative, meal planning.

Luckily, I always leave a cushion in my budget for unexpected expenses. So I'm still okay and have a little more breathing room. But it's a yucky feeling to be off the budget. Most of it is laziness...too much of my eating out money got spent on coffee and breakfast when I didn't feel like making it. The curse of summer school, I guess. I've been really good for months, and I am SO close to being out of credit card debt-I can't let it fall apart now!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's my lucky day!

Last week I was reading Me in Millions, the personal finance blog of a 20-something in Virginia. I love that I read PF blogs around the country and that we "know" each other, even though none of us really do. :) Her blog is great and I recommend it! Anyway, she had her first giveaway, a $60 gift certificate to CSN.com, which sells just about everything. I entered and (if you haven't guessed), I won!! I'm so excited!

I actually planned on buying a pair of Aerosole wedge sandals, but upon further research I ended up with these Naturalizer black flats:
I love Naturalizer shoes-so comfortable, but also cute and really well made. Black flats are on my to buy list...my old pair are falling apart and these are a staple of my work wardrobe. They were $57.40, and since the gift card was one time use, I felt good about using almost the whole amount, but not spending any of my own money. I haven't shopped since last August (minus a gift card at Christmas), so it was fun to browse through the site and get to pick out something for free! Plus, I am happy with the purchase-cute and functional...now when I finally get out of credit card debt I will have more money to buy other things that I want/need since the black flats can be crossed off the list. Hurray! And thanks again to Me in Millions! :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Keepin' it Clean

Along with getting my finances in order, I'm working on keeping my house more clean and organized lately. Overall, it's going pretty well. Dishes still pile up sometimes, and I don't always get everything put away before bed, but my place is much more orderly than it had been in the past. My latest "trick" to keeping things clean is the fifteen minute spurt. Sometimes, the thought of cleaning is nauseating. Like, I can't imagine getting up and doing all the cleaning I need to do...either I'm tired, busy, or just plain lazy. But, I can usually convince myself to get up and clean for 15 minutes. Whatever gets done is done, and something is better than nothing. 

Honestly, it's pretty amazing how much gets done in 15 minutes. I just did it now and I was able to put away all my stuff from my weekend trip (actually away, not just throw into my bedroom or the bathroom), hang up some laundry, put away the five pairs of shoes I had scattered around the house, make my bed, and clear off the coffee table. I also do little things, like close the shower curtain and closet doors, which just makes the house look a little more presentable. Is there still more cleaning to do? For sure. But for the amount of time and effort, it was definitely a worthwhile venture.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ikea Trip!

So, my roommate and I have lived in our apartment for two years this month. When we first moved we spent a good amount of money on furniture, art, and of course basic necessities. Lately, we've been finding ourselves saying, "It's been two years, maybe we need new..." I changed our shower curtain liner last week (we cut it in half, since the opening to our shower is really narrow. So that was actually free, since I found the other half in our linen closet.) We washed our bathroom curtains, since they were looking rather dingy. And today we went to Ikea, in search for new curtains for our dining room. We've sorta hated our dining room curtains since about a week after we bought them, and decided to replace them.

We didn't find curtains, but we did buy new cutting boards ($2.99), a new bamboo plant ($1.99) and some more art for our place. We bought these prints, along with frames to add some color. I actually love these and I'm really excited to put them up!
We also bought this poster with a blue frame. This is a big one. My vote is to put it over the stove in the kitchen, since we have literally nothing on the walls in there. We'll see what the roommate wants to do though.

We split the cost of the posters and frames. I bought the bamboo and cutting boards and roomie is going to buy some large spoons, since ours mysteriously disappeared (seriously, how do you lose spoons!?!). So anyway, my share came out to $37. I am happy with that amount...definitely not breaking the bank and adding a lot of color to our apartment. Yay!

Monday, July 5, 2010

$20 Ice Cream

So last night the roomie and I decided to walk to Rite Aid to get some ice cream before the fireworks. So, I grabbed $20 from my cash stash (or the envelope system, if you prefer). I didn't have any smaller bills, so I slid the twenty into my back pocket, grabbed my phone and sunglasses and headed out.

I ordered a double scoop-one mocha almond fudge and one cookies and cream. I reached into my pocket to get my cash...not there. Tried all my other pockets...gone. Argh!! Apparently between pulling out my phone to text friends about meeting up my money was dislodged. Luckily the roommate paid for my ice cream, but since there were tons of people on 2nd Street, I'm sure my money was long gone. Booooo.

I mean, the ice cream was delicious...but probably not twenty dollars worth of delicious. Oh well. :/

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I booked my flight to Portland!

Today I went online and bought my ticket to Portland for August 17th-21st. I am flying out of Long Beach (YES! So much easier than LAX), and my grand total came to $215. I budgeted up to $300, so I am happy with this amount. I also just researched and it looks like JetBlue does not charge a checked bag fee...nice! I will have to double check that as it gets closer, but that's definitely a plus. I'm so excited to go on a trip and to see my friend Shelley! We've already talked about a hike, a trip to the Oregon Coast and the Tilamook Cheese Factory. We want to do a picnic in Washington Square park and of course check out a microbrewery or two. :)

Anyone else have any Portland suggestions?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Taking Advantage of Summer Vacation

Thanks to the holiday weekend, my direct deposit went in yesterday, which is technically five days early. Hurray! Because of 16 hours of extra pay (coverage and professional developments during the first week of summer), plus my yearbook adviser stipend, I was able to bring in about $500 extra this month, even with the furlough days taken off my check. YES! This is good, because July is going to be an expensive month. And it's all fun stuff, which I am okay spending some money on.

Fun Stuff:
*Buy plane ticket to Portland to see my friend Shelley in August (budgeted $300, hopefully I can get it cheaper).
*Camping in Sequoia: Budget for campsite, food, gas, and a sleeping bag. I am hoping to spend no more than $100 on this, since I can split costs with friends going. I may borrow a sleeping bag so I can save some money there.
*River trip: My best friends family always goes on a vacation, and somehow I have been invited for the last five years or so. :) I am just going for a long weekend, so the expenses are food, gas for my car, and some cash to cover the gas for the boats and jet skis. I am not sure how much this will be, but it shouldn't be too crazy.

I am really excited about all of these trips! I love to go places, and I definitely feel like I am taking advantage of my summer vacation. Also, none of these trips are outrageous-definitely bargain vacations. Because of careful budgeting, I was still able to pay $570 on my credit cards this month. If I can keep my other costs down, I might be able to throw a little extra at my debt at the end of the month, but I'm okay with it if I can't.

I am excited that my total credit card debt is under $2,000. That means that I should be able to pay off my credit card debt in full next month, using my summer school income. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Vacation isn't just about relaxing...

I am exceedingly proud of all I accomplished today, and the beauty of having a blog is that I have a place to shamelessly brag about all I got done.

*Six loads of laundry (lights, darks, brights, sheets, towels, and delicates) washed, folded, and put away
*Cleaned out and reorganized all dresser drawers and closet
*Cleaned kitchen (dishes, counters, sink, floor)
*Watched my Netflix movie and three episodes of thirtysomething
*Talked on the phone with three people I wanted to catch up with
*Met with my friend Adam to plan our camping trip in a few weeks

I know this is weird, but this might be my favorite day of vacation so far...I love feeling accomplished and having a clean house. Granted, I don't want to spend every day of my vacation like this, but I'll feel pretty satisfied when I go to bed tonight.

I'm famous!

Okay, not really. But I am the topic of Almost Frugal's weekly post, "This is what frugal looks like." Check it out!