November Budget Summary


Rent10500Total is 2100
Gas 100-44Yay low prices!
Our groceries/eating out310+23

Eating out w/friends50-241 friend
Eating at school50-27a lot of chai lattes
Cell120-11I pay for mine & bf's
Health/Dental Insurance109+1092 months payment


Car Payment3700

Capital One Payment200-170

Visa Payment200+100


Yearly Expenses


Misc Health200

Oil Change150

Car Registration120

Misc Car170


School Books330

Renter's Insurance8.250


Misc Household9+74holder/bulb remover

Christmas Tree3.500





Dry Cleaning200

Entertainment20+22books, movie

Account Fees0+6for transfers
Misc0+38fixed jewelry/stamps


The biggest expenditures I had this month were from Christmas gifts (of course) and household items (I bought a toothbrush holder and a broken light bulb remover. The holder definitely wasn't a necessity, but we were using a drinking cup and it was annoying me. The bulb remover was a necessity, since we've had a broken bulb in our dining room chandelier for months now).

As for gifts, I didn't technically spend any money on friends (I used store credit, and I got some great deals!), but I did spend a fair bit on my bf and family.

I still don't feel like I got enough for my bf. :( (Especially since I already gave him one of the presents! I couldn't help myself) I have two practical presents left (an alarm clock and a book on investing), but he deserves so much more. I'll have to shower some love on him to make up for it. Gallons worth of love (maybe one gallon, I only have so much in me ;)), since I have to make up for the lack of presents AND my very bad mood (courtesy of finals).

This month should be much cheaper for gas (since I only have to drive to school twice, and I'll have one 80 mile trip down south), but likely not so cheap for entertainment. It's my 25th birthday, and I intend to have fun! Not extravagant fun, but over $20 worth! Hopefully I'll be celebrating more than my age... maybe some good grades too? :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Had to emerge from my hiatus to wish my fellow Americans a Happy Thanksgiving! (and to procrastinate from studying. Ahh, procrastination, how I love thee)

What am I thankful for?

  • my boyfriend, who is always there when I need a backrub, someone to rant to, or someone to help me with flashcards the day before an exam ;)
  • my friends, who love me for who I am
  • my family, who always find time to help me figure stuff out
  • my (large) apartment & (reliable) car, without which I would feel claustrophobic (I couldn't live in a tiny place with another person! It would drive me crazy), and frustrated (since LA's public transit system sucks)
  • my education & no-hassle loans to finance that education
  • the internet, which makes everything a million more times convenient, and lets me write this fun blog, and gives me access to infinite amounts of information
  • my favorite entertainment: books, video games, & good tv/movies
Have I left anything out? Oh, thank you muchly, tasty turkey! ;)

Have a wonderful 4-day weekend, everyone!


I'm going on a blogging hiatus from now until December 1st (when I'll post my budget chart/month recap) and then probably from December 2nd to the 18th.

My finals are the first couple weeks of December, so I'm trying to remain focused. Maybe I should turn off the internet in my apartment. :p

I'll miss the blogging world, but hopefully I'll come out of it with excellent grades! Wish me luck :)

Done with Christmas!

Christmas cards: check; I'm mailing them today or tomorrow. My bf paid for these!

Christmas presents
: Done!

I have $88 cash to spend.
Bf: book on investing; plushie from Shana Logic; alarm clock; DVD; dress shirt (170) -- yes, I bought $100 more in gifts for him!! I feel bad that I spent more money, but finally feel like he's getting everything he deserves, so... eh.
Mom: GPS & carrying case (40)
Dad: giving him my Ipod; DVD (8)
Sister: figure collection; 4 plushies; lots of little stocking stuffers (66)
Bf's Sister: dress ($24)
Total = $308; over budget by $220!

I have $235 in Revolve gift cards to spend (~$39 per person)
Friend 1: clothing from Revolve ($22.08)
Friend 2 & hubby: video game for him; DVD for both; clothing from Revolve ($13.80)
Friend 3 & bf: clothing from Revolve ($27)
Friend 4: clothing from Revolve ($26.68)
Friend 5: clothing from Revolve ($12.88)
Friend 6: clothing from Revolve ($27.60)
Total = 130.04 in Revolve credit; $0 out of pocket! (leaving me with $100 to buy my friend's Jan b-day present, and maybe a little something for myself!)

Online Classes

I'm thinking about taking an online fiction writing class in January. I've been wanting to try my hand at writing a novel for a while, but so far haven't found the motivation to start. I used to write all the time when I was younger, but somewhere along the way I just stopped. I write plenty for school, but nothing for myself.

I saw the movie Twilight yesterday, which I know is based on a book written a few years ago (I'm planning to read it soon; I'm interested to see whether I'll loathe or love it, since there don't seem to be too many opinions falling in between. I like strong female protagonists. I've heard Bella is not one. So you can guess which side I'm leaning towards already). The author said the idea came to her "in a dream." I don't doubt that; I have so many dreams where, upon waking, I lie there thinking to myself "this would make a great story." I've never written any of those dreams down, but I want to start!

But, the class is $89. Is an online class worth that? I guess if it gets the creative juices flowing... then yes? I'm sure I can come up with the money somehow.

Health and Dental Insurance

My insurance has now been paid up until 2/01/09 (costing $218).

I am SO tempted to just cancel the insurance (I haven't been/needed to go to the doctor in at least 6 months). But I drive so much, I know it would be stupid. I also have a friend who got cancer at 22, so... you never know.

I'll keep paying it (begrudgingly). But I can't WAIT to get a full-time job again with those delicious pre-tax health benefits (and flex spending plan!). I really took that for granted.

If only my bf's company would recognize opposite sex couples as domestic partners! Then I could just piggyback onto his benefits.

Friends are Expensive

My friend asked me yesterday if I would go with her to an autograph signing this morning and I agreed... It's not really my thing, but she was really excited about it, and she was getting ridiculed by everyone else for wanting to go, so I felt bad.

It was a (semi) amusing experience (even though the stupid celebrity didn't show up), but MAN was it expensive.

She came late last night, because she lives an hour away and the signing was 20 mins from my apartment. I ordered Indian for us when she came... She just picked at it (she's so skinny, I assume that's just how she eats, because I know she likes Indian), but thankfully I didn't order much more than usual. My bf paid for it (which is becoming a regular thing, and my guilt grows by the day :\)... and she didn't offer to pay a cent. My bf would have definitely turned down her money, but I felt she should have at least offered (especially since I told her we were getting it for the 3 of us). Isn't that common courtesy? It always bugs me when people don't do this.

We had to get up at 5:30 this morning to get in the line, and after going to bed at 2:30 (I had a few school related things to finish up, and the three of us watched a movie), I felt like death. I drove us to the signing, nearly having an accident in the process (driving while drowsy = not smart). She bought me a chai tea latte and a chocolate chip muffin, which I appreciated. We then found parking and proceeded to stand in line... for two hours. When we were finally informed that the celebrity wasn't coming out, we went to the car... where I paid $18 for parking. She said she wanted to pay, but then realized she didn't have cash. She said she would pay me back (in a MONTH, when I next see her), but who's betting she won't remember?

Now I'm at work, struggling to stay awake. I had to spend $4 on another chai latte to keep me from putting my head down on my desk and just snoring away.

So, in total $22 was spent on parking and coffee (I also drove 20 miles, so you can throw in the gas), and $50 was spent on food. That's $72 since last night at 10! Ugh.

I was glad to be there for her, and she thanked me profusely for going with her, and I know money is tight for her (although she doesn't pay rent, so it's a little hard to sympathize), and even though outings with friends can be expensive, I still love them, AND I know this annoyance and frustration is partially because I'm so. freaking. TIRED. (maybe blogging while drowsy = not smart, too?) But I still felt the need to vent.

Phew. Ok, I'm done.

Signs Point to... Change!

  1. I haven't bought a piece of clothing since October 5th ($73.27 for a belt that I may still take back). That's a month and a week of clothing-no-spend days. :) Pretty good (for me)! My goal is one year of spending no money on clothes! (um, undergarments don't count)
  2. I've sold two purses, and plan to sell at least two more by the end of the year.
  3. I'm happy with my wardrobe. And once I lose weight, I'll be even happier (I can finally fit into all my pants!)
  4. I'm being very conscious about using the things I have before I go out and buy something new. (like bathroom things - I used to always pick up a new bodywash at the drugstore only to return home and discover I had two already in reserve)
  5. My bf and I are making sure to only buy what we can eat, and not let anything spoil.
  6. I'm eating healthier (well, except for tonight, gulp), counting my calories, and exercising daily!
  7. I'm getting into the habit of going to yoga at least twice a week!
  8. I haven't charged anything on the credit cards in months!
  9. I'm cutting back on the number of meals out with friends (though unfortunately this means seeing them less)
Hopefully I can keep all this up, and add weekly trips to the library to the mix (rather than buying books on Amazon; I love having my own personal library, but it takes up tons of space, and it costs a lot of money, especially since when I have the time, I read a book a night!), AND start writing (short stories, poems, eventually move up to a novel - it's always been a dream!), then I'll be making some REAL progress! :)

Credit Score Woes

I should probably stop checking my credit score obsessively, but I have been, and I'm really frustrated!

When I checked in early September, I had a score of 632; in October, 636; and today... 622! Since September, I've paid off my Mastercard (around $8000), paid down $1000 on the Visa, and opened one new card (Capital One, which houses the $999 balance transfer from the Mastercard). Other than that, as far as I know, everything has remained the same. So why is my credit score not improving??

Maybe I'm just being impatient. The bulk of the Mastercard wasn't paid off until mid to late October, and I know it takes about 30 days for changes to impact the score. So maybe I'll be in for a nice surprise come the end of the month?

I'm going to take a deep breath, and put this out of my mind until December 1st. Then if my score is still going down, I'll take things from there.

Mid-Month Review


Gas 10032.57

Our groceries/eating out310300.61

Eating out w/friends500

Eating at school504


Health/Dental Insurance1090

Car Payment370370
Capital One Payment20030
Visa Payment200300

Dry Cleaning200





Below $8000!

I received the funds from a purse ($550) and a purse organizer ($26) I sold... now I just need to transfer the funds to another account and then I can make a second Visa payment (I paid $300 at the beginning of the month). Coupled with the $25 check from ACO (I did get paid for a survey after all!!) and $3 check from Pinecone, my Visa balance should fall below $8000! I'm excited; I feel like I'm making progress. :)

Temporary Insanity

I've been mulling over my home buying idea, and I've decided I need to push it out of my head. I need to focus on my priorities (namely, paying off my credit cards and reaching the goal for my emergency fund) before even beginning to think about buying a house.

In 6 months, I'll re-assess my job and financial situation, and take a peek at the market again. I know I'll have my Visa mostly paid off by then, my credit score will be better, I'll have a tax refund, and I'll likely be working full-time. Maybe my bf and I can shoot for a house that's around 200k by December '09.

I Want to Buy a House - Now

Has anyone heard of Redfin? I read about it over at LA Land. They allow you to do a very simple, straightforward search of all the houses for sale in a particular area. What do I love about them? They don't hide the ball! The site is informative and easy to understand. They have listings for the area I'm interested in, but unfortunately they don't provide service for it (hopefully they'll expand out there soon!). So I think I'll have to go through the realtor.

To give you a little perspective, where I live, 1 bedrooms go for no less than $399,000. This area has 3 and 4 bedroom homes for $200,000 and below (they're selling for the price they sold for in the early '90s)!! I'm shocked. I know it's not the greatest area, but I'm sure there are pockets of "good" somewhere in there. I would love for the prices to go down even further, but I've heard that we're almost reaching bottom as far as home prices are concerned in SoCal.

My bf and I talked about it very briefly last night. Basically my idea was - buy a house, let my relative live in it and pay us rent (her new job is within 2-5 miles of the majority of the available houses). Then she could have a nice place to live, and if she wanted to move, we could always get another renter, or sell the house and (at least) get our money back.

Of course, there are problems. Big problems. I have no money for a down payment. My bf does, but I would feel so uncomfortable asking or letting him pay the whole amount (it wouldn't feel like "ours" even I gave him half the down payment somewhere down the line). I could get a full time job ASAP, and could probably get 10k together in half a year. Are the home prices still going to be this low in 6 months? The second problem is my credit. It sucks right now. The payments to my credit cards are helping, but I have 2 late payments that (I assume) are dragging it WAY down. I can make it a priority to call the companies and try to negotiate with them to remove the marks. But how high does my score need to be to get approved for a mortgage loan with a good interest rate? I know it's much harder to qualify now than it used to be. My bf has a good credit score, in the mid 700s. But I read that if there's a borrower and co-borrower, they'll look at whomever's score is lowest?

So there's a lot to think about. I should really not be thinking about it until after I finish my final paper of the semester and get my finals out of the way. But that takes me all the way to mid-December. My relative is looking for a place to rent now. I guess we could let her stay for a couple more months, until my credit score is improved and I have money saved up for a down payment? I'm not sure. Is this a stupid idea? My bf is making good money (almost at 6 figures) and has zero debt, and if I went back to full-time work, I could be making a little over half of that (but I have tons of debt). Can we make this work?

Looking to buy Christmas gifts?

Shopbop has 30% off all full-priced merchandise today and tomorrow with code Earlygift! There are a couple of things I'd love to pick up for myself, but I won't.... I won't be clothes-shopping for myself for a very long time. Thankfully the urge to do it isn't as strong as it used to be... now I'm (mostly) sated by window-shopping, online or otherwise. :)

Speaking of Shopbop... I bought a pair of William Rast jeans there over the summer which I love... but I've been having major issues with the button - 2 months ago it popped off, I got it resown, and then 2 weeks ago the top part popped off the screw! I had to put it back on with superglue! When my bf heard about it, the first words out of his mouth were "so much for expensive equals quality!" There are some brands where the 'you get what you pay for' saying does ring true (my Sevens, for example. I could wash them a million times and they'd never lose their shape. And I've had them for a while, and no problems with button/zipper). But I also have a pair of Bongo jeans from Ross ($16!) that I wore for years and are still sitting in my closet, perfectly wearable. (if I could fit into them, that is!)

Anyway, I guess it's no surprise... sometimes you don't get what you pay for... you can find quality at Ross for under $20, and you can find crap at boutiques for over $200. If only finding cute clothes that fit well at Ross wasn't so exhausting! Men have it so easy, with their curve-less bodies. Hmph.

WAFF (aka Warm & Fuzzy Feelings)

My bf, as far as I know, doesn't read this blog, but I felt compelled to spread the warm fuzzies for him anyway. :)

He knows that I've made a budget and am trying hard to stick to it (and really must! or risk being flat-broke), and he says he's very proud of me for it, and for making a commitment to this blog. At the same time he also wants me (and us) to enjoy life. Once I deplete my/our food & entertainment budget, he's been stepping in for everything - taking me out to nice restaurants, buying Chai Tea Lattes on late night Starbucks runs, buying video games, renting movies, whatever.

I haven't been the nicest person the last couple weeks (I'm stressed about finals, the holidays, money), and for that I'm sorry (he knows, but a public declaration can't hurt ;)) and -- I love you!

I look forward to the day when he either (a) goes back to school or (b) starts his own company and I can pay for everything and pamper him for a couple months! ;)

Worldpoints Redeemed

I finally redeemed the points I was talking about in this post. I found out I could get $250 CASH for 25k points. That definitely makes more sense than getting gift cards. I'm going to buy gifts for everyone with my saved $88 and my $270 credit at the online clothing store, and then if I run out of money, I'll dip into the $250. Hopefully I'll have extra money left over at the end, and I can make a mini-payment to my credit card. :)

Pinecone Research

I got my first check today from doing surveys! How much did I get????

..............ok, it was only 3 dollars. But I'm just starting out! And hey, $3 could pay for one meal at school. I guess I'll put whatever I make from surveys into my emergency fund. Hopefully more will be coming soon!


I was looking at the money I have left in my checking account, and my budget and I'm a little scared I won't be able to make it until my next loan payment (in January). Figured it would be best to get it down on paper (uh, blog type-paper) to see if I really have anything to be scared about.

Current amount in checking: $4800.00
Income this month: ~470
Income in December: 0
Total Income = $5270
Nov Budget: $3207.25 - 2649.25 = $558
Dec Budget: $3207.25
Jan Budget: $1050 (rent) + 370 (car) (my loan funds won't come in until mid-Jan, so have to cover early month expenses): $1420
Total Expenses = $5185.25

Wow, that's cutting it close. :\ And that means whatever groceries we buy in December have to last me at least a week into January...


I'm very impatient to make a payment on my Visa card and to pay off the first braces payment that just posted on my Mastercard. I'm waiting for the billing cycle to begin on the Visa (it just ended on 11/2), and am doing the same for the Mastercard (since it's telling me I exceeded the number of payments I can make in a month! I didn't know there was a limit. That's stupid!).

I also have money coming from Paypal on Friday (about $550 - I sold 2 things on ebay!) which I'll apply to the Visa as soon as it clears.

I'm going to only make a $30 payment to the Capital One card (the minimum is $15 and there's 0% interest) so I can put the extra $170 towards the Visa. I think I'll do that next month as well (that'll mean $740 + 550 = 1290 paid off by end of December!). I'll have to play catch-up on that card from Jan-April (when the 0% interest expires), but by then I should be making more money and it won't be a problem.

I feel like an idiot when I look at that Visa and know I could've had it paid over the summer... instead I racked up a balance on the Mastercard and had to deal with that instead. After swearing to myself I would never rack up a balance on that card!! Ugh... never again -- and I mean it.

Remember to Vote!

I'm getting chills about the election today. I voted via absentee ballot weeks ago, but I'm sort of wishing I could have gone out to the polls and gotten my sticker! I've heard all the long line stories, but hey, if I can wait 2 hours at Disneyland for a ride, I can wait x hours to do my civic duty!

I was watching a video on CNN the other day and saw this Starbucks commercial. I didn't realize it was Starbucks when I first saw it, and it made me tear up! I look forward to the day when every single American goes to the polls and votes. Even if you know your vote won't make a difference when it comes to the presidential election, remember all the STATE elections on the ballot! (i.e. in CA, we have several VERY important, divisive propositions. Every vote matters.) And doesn't it give you joy to exercise your right to vote, especially considering all the other countries who don't have that right? Something to think about.

Anyway, happy election day, America! :)

Update: Three cheers for President Obama! Watch his brilliant acceptance speech here.

Christmas Cards

My bf and I just got one stressful holiday thing out of the way - we bought our Christmas cards! Usually we scramble at the last minute to find cards, personalize them, and send them out... this year is going to be different, all-around! :)

We decided to buy a 25 pack of photo cards from Tiny Prints. It was $58 (including shipping and envelopes) -- a lot cheaper than $5 cards from Papyrus. We did some photo cards last year too, but we had to print out the photos and then attach them to the cards. With Tiny Prints we just uploaded a photo and personalized the inside, and voila! They'll arrive in plenty of time for us to add handwritten notes, if we want.

Now I just have to work on getting the present list finished... It's well on its way to completion though. I'm pretty sure we'll have the presents bought and wrapped by December 1st. I love that!

Rewards Points & Gift-giving

I have a little over 27,000 points from my Visa card. I'm debating what to do with them. I could cash them in for a $250 gas card. I could cash them in for two $100 Visa gift cards to give as presents (but I would lose $50 - the gift cards that aren't tied to a specific store are more "expensive"!). Or I could get 5 $50 store gift cards.

I guess my first dilemma is - should I use the points on myself or on others? Then the second dilemma is - what should I put those points towards?

As of December 1st, I'll have about $88 stashed away for gift-giving, $270 in credit from Revolve Clothing, and 2 presents already purchased (one with a gift card I didn't know I had from Circuit City, and the other a present I forgot to give last year). I have 16 people I need to purchase gifts for, with my bf being the most important, then my family, his family (who also have ALL their b-days during December, ugh!), and my friends. He says he just wants something "cute and little" for Xmas (which, imo, is a lot harder to pull off than the big presents I usually get for him). He'll mostly foot the bill for presents for his family (and still very kindly lets me add my name to the card), and halves presents to my family.

I feel like giving gift cards would be too impersonal... except to maybe 1 or 2 people. (like the husband of my good friend) Maybe I should get the $250 gas card for myself, and then use the extra $250 in cash to buy more presents?

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