Happy New Year!

Goodbye 2008... the year I quit the job I'd had since graduating so I could concentrate on law school, found a new one (part-time), finally visited England to meet with the bf's family, celebrated our 4th year anniversary, cut my hair short, racked up a lot of debt buying a crazy number of purses, turned around and paid that debt off within a few months (with the help of this blog, which I started in July)... and so much more!

Hello 2009... hopefully the year I get rid of the credit card debt for good, lose some weight, and buy a condo (?!? we'll see ;)).

Hope everyone has a fun-filled new year's eve and day... stay safe! :)

New Feature for AAA Members!

I just got a postcard in the mail from AAA - they're adding free identity theft monitoring for premier members! The features include one free Experian credit report, free daily Experian credit monitoring, free e-mail alerts, free fraud resolution support, and free $10k in identity theft insurance coverage.

I was paying $12.99/mo to Bank of America for credit monitoring up until a couple months ago, so it'll be nice to have monitoring for free (albeit from only one of the reporting agencies).

I know some people don't think AAA is worth it, but I love them... they've saved my (and my friends') butts numerous times... not to mention just having that card in my wallet makes me feel a million times safer!

Last Weekend of Freedom Comes to a Close...

It's already next weekend that I have to get back to studying! I feel like I've been really unproductive... I know it's my vacation and I'm allowed to relax and have some fun, but this is the only period without school or work I'll have for a looooong time. So I want to squeeze all I can out of it! But I notice the more pressure I put on myself to be productive, the less productive I end up being! Vicious cycle.

I have gotten some things taken care of... but unfortunately they involved spending money. The latest expenditure was a new set of pots and pans (the old ones were literally falling apart - the handle came off of a couple!). We bought the old ones at Ross; this time I bought a nice, dishwasher safe, stainless steel set from Amazon. It was 3x the price of the Ross set, but I want them to last... hopefully 5+ years (is that a stretch?). I also bought t-discs to go with the Tassimo beverage maker I got for Christmas (that I decided to keep). And I want to buy new sheets... and a coffee table, which I've been lusting over for the past year. But I'm trying to talk myself out of it.

With or without the purchase of a coffee table, I'm dreading reviewing my budget for December. It's going to look terrible! Thinking about that and having to push myself back into law school mode are making me want to eat all the chocolate in the house. And there's a lot, thanks to Christmas. Sigh...

Final Review of December Goals

With only a couple days left in the month, I thought I'd take a final look at my goals, see how many I've accomplished and how many I have left... and figure out a plan to effectively tackle them all before next Thursday!

I took care of
all my Christmas and School goals. I dropped one class and substituted it for a volunteer program that will give me 1 credit, let me do some good for the community, and won't require any papers or exams. I also signed up for a 6 week writer's workshop class (to hone my creative writing skills, and to let me have some fun again with school. Because law + school doesn't spell fun... it spells hell. Ha..ha. :p)

I've done ZERO exercise the past week... with my bf being on vacation (and it being so cold), I don't feel compelled to exercise... I want to snuggle! But I need to tear myself away from the cozy bed and laziness, and at least try to get on the exercise bike daily.

They're the same goals I posted last week, just broken down in days. The finance related goals are in green.

Note: I'll be keeping a running update of these goals over the next week...

  1. Go on the exercise bike for 30 mins & continue reading Twilight -- Failed! I did have a productive day... helping my relative move more stuff into her new place, and a few hours playing video games (hey, a girl's gotta relax ;)).
  1. Go on the exercise bike for 30 mins & finish reading Twilight. -- Failed! Spent most of the day with my dad, and the other half playing video games.
  2. Go to yoga. -- Failed!
  1. Go on the exercise bike for 30 mins & start reading Air.
  2. Go to the gym.
Note: I've been pushing most of my goals down... because I've been so busy helping my relative move and... well, playing video games. heh. I still have two more days!! I think I can finish everything up... I hope?!
  1. Go on the exercise bike for 30 mins & continue reading Air.
  2. Go to the gym.
  3. Go to yoga.
Another day of helping my relative move (who knew she had so much stuff!!), and playing video games. I might have to push some of these goals to after New Year's... At least I still have a couple days of vacation left!
  1. Go on the exercise bike for 30 mins & finish Twilight. -- Failed. The no exercise streak continues. :p
  2. Have the carpets cleaned (I'm going to hold off on this goal for now; the carpets may not need it) and assess the lighting problems in our second bedroom. DONE wrote a letter to landlord asking him to send electrician
  3. Confirm how many hours I will be working during spring semester. DONE
December Goals now January Goals...
  1. Clean the house, organize loose papers, get rid of excess. Working on it
  1. Return Revolve purchases. DONE
  2. Clean out closet and donate clothes. DONE
  1. Return shoes to shoes.com. DONE
  1. Clean the house, organize loose papers, get rid of excess. DONE
  2. Sell all my books from this term on Amazon, Ebay, or Half.com.
  3. Switch Dental HMO to PPO & Health PPO to HMO. DONE
  4. Call and/or write Macy's and Capital One re: removing negative marks from credit reports
  5. Buy new contacts (6 month supply). Maybe go in for an eye exam?
  6. Get my glasses fixed at Lenscrafters (I need them tightened and a scratch to be removed)
  7. Finish Twilight. -- I'm giving up on this! Ugh. It's too much of a chore... On to better books!
"Plan a exercise/blogging/studying schedule for Jan and Feb, and another one from March onwards if I go back to working full-time." --> this is a goal I'm going to work on right now! :)


Could someone explain to me these CVS "ECB"s? Are ECBs coupons, and how do I get a hold of them? I'm part of the CVS rewards program, but I've never done anything with it, and I've been seeing posts on tons of blogs mentioning all these items they've gotten for free!

I better put some of my week's vacation to good use... start figuring out how to acquire all these cheap drugstore goodies. :)

Christmas Aftermath

I got an awesome beverage maker for Christmas from my bf's parents... and I can't get it to work! :( I was thinking that would be the way to wean me off of my weekly craving for Starbucks (saving me a good chunk of change in the process), but I got so frustrated tinkering with it last night that I think I'm just going to have take it back. (Though if anyone has any experience with Tassimo machines and knows some kind of trick, I'm open to hearing it! I followed the instructions carefully and got my bf to help, but the cup only gets filled a tiny amount! And the cleaning process would only work 2 times, not the recommended 4). Well, at least I have the Starbucks gift card that my mom gave me to fall back on. ;)

I also got a Borders gift card, so I was able to buy a new calendar and some books (Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, #24 on the "books to read before you die" list). His parents said they wanted to get me a Kindle (which was a very sweet thought), but they were all sold out... I think I'll have to buy one for myself sometime next year (either a Kindle or a Sony Reader). At first, I was opposed to the idea, because I love the feeling of a paperback in my hands. But wow, would that clear up a lot of room! No more books on the shelves! Instead, 100s of books all in the palm of my hand. :)

I got a lot of other really wonderful gifts... and I ate a lot... talked a lot... It was nice, but I just feel really exhausted today. I'm going to spend the day helping my relative move some heavy things into her new place, and then hopefully I can spend tonight cleaning... and relaxing. I'd prefer just relaxing, but it's hard to do that when you're surrounded by clutter. It's driving me crazy!

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas Eve everyone! :)

I'm hoping to relax and stuff my face tomorrow... should be fun. ;) Hope you all get to do the same!

I'll be back to blogging on Friday or Saturday.

Busy week

I'm taking it easy today, just cleaning up and organizing the apartment (our place turned into a pigsty during finals!), but things are going to be hectic until Friday.

Tuesday, 12/23: Helping relative move; Friend's Christmas party
Wednesday, 12/24: Christmas Eve w/my family
Thursday, 12/25: Christmas Day with bf's family

From Friday until January 5th, both my bf and I will be off... I'm not sure what we're going to do with ourselves! Knowing us, it's going to be movies every day... we were talking about doing a Star Wars and Matrix marathon, since we've only seen some of the movies once or twice. My bf's sister is in town for the week from the UK, so we'll probably have her over a lot. Maybe we can wipe the dust off of Rock Band and play that a bit. :)

Hopefully we can keep the spending down to a bare minimum... I'm pretty much broke until my loan payment comes in on the 9th. :(

My B-day Haul

My dad gave me the Costco 2 year 24 Hour Fitness membership for my birthday... hopefully this will help me lose those 20 pounds!

My bf got me the pretty Free People shirt over to the left.

I got a few books, lotion, and jewelry from friends (combo Christmas/b-day presents, as usual), and money from my mom and grandparents (which will be used to finance my online clothing purchases from the last couple weeks).

Overall, a very lovely birthday. :)

Fun Weekend!

I had an awesome weekend... and because it was my birthday, I got to enjoy all the fun for free. :)

Friday my bf took me out for a pre-birthday dinner where we shared foie gras (I know it's really cruel what they do to the geese... but I love the stuff. It's a very guilty pleasure), octopus, short rib ravioli and steak... all delish!

On Saturday, I went roller skating with friends (for the first time in years), had Japanese food for dinner with more friends (my dad and bf graciously paid for everyone; thankfully it was really inexpensive - around $100 for 10 people!!), and then went to karaoke until 2 in the morning!

Then today I went shopping with my bf for a few more presents (after sleeping half the day away), and afterwards went to Costco to pick up a yummy chocolate cake. We put b-day sparklers on it when we got home, and each ate a slice. We also watched Bolt (cute movie) and finished wrapping the rest of the presents. So now I'm officially, totally DONE with everything Christmas related. This makes me sound a bit bah humbug, but I'm looking forward to the day after Christmas. December is filled with lots of fun, but also lots and lots of stress... the day after Christmas marks the first day of my stress-free one week vacation. I'm looking forward to it!

2009 Goals

I'm going to try to keep these simple, so I have a chance of accomplishing them. And I already have a (overwhelmingly) comprehensive goals list. ;)

  1. Lose 20 pounds. I'm aiming for June. Lose it and keep it off!
  2. Go back to working full-time. No earlier than February. I want a salary of at least 55k (what I was making before), though preferably 60k+.
  3. Increase my credit score to at least 700. Achieved 4/09! :)
  4. Save $2000-3000 in my vacation fund. For my UK trip in the fall.
  5. Pay off all credit card debt. Achieved 3/09 (w/bf's help :))!
  6. Start writing for fun regularly. I want to (eventually) try to write a novel, but for now my goal is just to devote some time every day to writing fiction for my own benefit.

School Books

I just bought my books for spring semester -- total came to $210. And that's buying them all used, from Amazon. Had I bought them used from the school bookstore, I would've paid $150 more! New would've been a whopping $264!

I've paid $400+ for books before, so I guess I should be happy. But I might get there yet... I still have one book to buy (couldn't find it on Amazon) and may buy a few supplements (though I'm still torn on whether or not these are a waste of money. I think I buy them because they've become like a safety blanket to me; I hardly ever use them... even though I probably should. Maybe using supplements while studying can be a 2009 goal? :p).

This unfortunately had to go on my credit card... but I'll pay it off as soon as my loan funds arrive (second week of January!).

December Goals, revisited

  1. Wrap Christmas Presents
  1. Re-evaluate my Spring course load. I might drop one class and substitute it for a 1 unit volunteer thing.
  2. Sign up for Creative Writing online class for fun.
  3. Buy books for spring semester.
  1. Go to yoga (at least) 2x/week
  2. Go to the gym (at least) 2x/week
  3. Go on the exercise bike for 30 mins daily & finish Twilight and Air
  1. Call and/or write Macy's and Capital One re: removing negative marks from credit reports.
  2. Return shoes to shoes.com
  3. Return Revolve purchases
  4. Confirm how many hours I will be working during spring semester.
  5. Sell all my books from this term on Amazon, Ebay, or Half.com.
  1. Buy new contacts, if I need them.
  2. Get my glasses fixed at Lenscrafters (I need them tightened and a scratch to be removed)
  3. Switch Dental HMO to PPO & Health PPO to HMO.
  1. Have the carpets cleaned and assess the lighting problems in our second bedroom.
  2. Clean the house, organize loose papers, get rid of excess.
  3. Clean out closet and donate clothes.
  4. Plan a exercise/blogging/studying schedule for Jan and Feb, and another one from March onwards if I go back to working full-time.
  5. Have fun at my b-day party! :)

Updated Sidebar

Likely no one noticed, but I changed my car loan beginning balance to reflect my actual purchase price... When I first started the blog, I set the beginning balance at what my balance was at that time (because I had that number readily available). It makes me feel better to see the payments I've made over the last 3 years, and know that 62% has been paid off!

Back to the UK

The second significant thing that happened this month is that my bf's mother got engaged... and wants us to come to the wedding next summer. They live in the UK, and while I'm absolutely ecstatic to go back (we visited for the first time in June), I also have no idea how I'm going to pay for it.

I think it's pretty much definite that I need to go back to working full-time next year. That way I can fund this trip, and start making some real progress on the Visa (maybe even start paying back my bf!).

I'm looking forward to the extra money, but feeling ill at ease at the thought of juggling school and work again. I really have to lock down a reasonable work/study/exercise schedule that I can stick to... I think it's the only way I'll be able to handle it (and not return to my old stress-spending ways!).

I have 6 (maybe 7) months to fund a $3000 vacation fund (or $2000 at bare minimum). Assuming I start work again in February, I would have to save about $600 per month. Hopefully that's possible??

My relative is moving out!

Two other significant things have occurred this month (besides my spending and studying). I'll get to the second one in another post...

Finally, finally (one year and 2 months later...), my relative has found a place to live, signed the lease, and is now in the process of moving out of our apartment. I should be happy, but to be honest, I have very mixed emotions. For one, how do I know she won't come back? How do I know she can actually afford this place and be 100% financially independent? The upside of her living with us was that she was no longer coming to me, asking for a "loan." She was consistently giving me money for her cell phone bill. She was helping out with groceries, laundry and cooking.

She says she's thoroughly budgeted for this, but I heard her talking to another relative, saying money was "tight." She's entitled to some privacy, but I really wish I could see this budget of hers, know how much money she was making at her job, or at least know the amount of the rent at this new place... It would give me peace of mind. Especially when she handed me a $100 bill for my birthday. I tried to impress on her that, above all else, I want her to be able to make it, even if that would've taken a few more months of living with us, no presents, no chipping in with the groceries, etc. But I think at this point she's feeling very embarrassed about the whole thing (and no, I don't help -- when we've gotten into arguments I've explicitly told her "you embarrass me") and just wants to get out on her own and not impose anymore.

So I'm worried, and also have to admit to feeling a bit sad about losing the companionship. I got used to having her around in the afternoons, even if I was generally in a foul mood when I saw her. I have my bf, but he works a long day; I'm lucky if I get to see him before 10pm. That worked out when I had class until very late, but now that I've been taking some day classes, I've been coming home much earlier, and it gets lonely sometimes. And despite my annoyance that she was STILL around, she always tried to be especially cheerful in her interactions with me (which mostly annoyed me even more... but sometimes it was nice).

I'm also now faced with the fact that we really have little use for our second room. Back in September, my bf and I talked about getting a roommate, but I'm reconsidering since (1) it would require speaking to our landlord (whom I really dislike) and (2) our rent would be increased. And we'd have the lack of privacy, potential friction, stress, theft... I have a host of concerns about living with a stranger. And a host of concerns about living with a friend, which was a disaster the one and only time we've done it, at our previous apartment (thank god for a 6 month lease!). Broke Grad Student has a post about it... Our issues fell under #1, 2 and 3, with some additional problems that came with my bf living there along with my friend.

We could move our computers to that room... so we could have a bedroom that's solely for the bed, and another room that's for working. I shouldn't say we have "little use" for the room -- it can and will be used, but that space isn't necessary. (You might ask why we got a 2 bedroom to begin with, and that's because the 1 bedrooms we looked at were tiny, and only several hundred less than this place).

Anyway, it's a lot to think about. And I assume I will start to feel happy (both for her and myself) once she has all her stuff moved out and isn't sleeping here anymore. I'm going to do what I can to help... maybe I can encourage her to start her own pf blog. It's been an eye-opening experience for me; maybe it can be for her too. :)

I'm back!

As of last night, I'm officially on winter break! Yay!

I intended to crack open a bottle of champagne as soon as I got home to celebrate, but instead my bf left work early (well, early for him - 8:30), and we celebrated with Fatburger and Rubio's. It was already fattening (and delicious!) enough, I didn't want to add to it with the alcohol. Maybe I'll save the bottle for New Year's... or my birthday, which is now just a few days away!

It was excrutiatingly painful to be away from the blog for so long... I don't think there will be any more hiatuses in my future! Every little thing became "ooh, I wish I could blog about that." So, next time finals roll around, I'll save an hour each day to write posts. It'll also keep my spending in check -- that was definitely something I needed the past few weeks. I went a little crazy with Christmas (and Christmas sale) spending!! :( Revolve Clothing, a store I LOVE (and no, I didn't get paid to say that!) has been, and still is having a 33% off sale. It's applicable towards their sale and full-price merchandise... and the day I got the online coupon (the day after my first -- and most stressful -- final, where I was left with a super uncertain "I could've failed or gotten an A" kind of feeling)... well, I poured my stress out onto the sale, and scoured the site for cute stuff.

The first purchase I was happy with, because I had a birthday check from my grandmother to cover it (and how could I not be happy getting something that was originally ~$300 for under $100??). But then I started noticing that certain items I was looking at were nearly out of stock (only 1 left), and I convinced myself I had to buy it, if at least to try it on and send it back!

The purchases are now steadily showing up in my mailbox, and it's making me feel a bit ill. I have a little more birthday money to cover them, but I'd really rather put that money in my emergency fund.

So, now that I've confessed (I feel cleansed!), I'll also adamantly declare that all the purchases (other than the first one, my grandma's present to me) will be returned (um... as soon as they all arrive. I think I still have 2 packages to go).

Whew. I think I should've titled this post "I'm back... and badder than ever." Sigh. At least it's been a cheap month gas and food wise... Being a study-hermit has its perks.

Should I open another 0% interest balance transfer credit card?

Sorry for the flurry of posts. But since I'm resuming my hiatus starting tomorrow, I have to write as much as I can today! ;)

I opened a Capital One card back in October that gave me 0% interest for 6 months and a small $1000 opening limit. I transferred $999 from my Mastercard. It currently has $969 sitting on it. A couple weeks ago, I got an offer from Wamu with 0% interest on balance transfers until January 2010. They charge a 3% fee on balance transfers. I assume I would still get between a 1000-2000 limit, since my credit score is better than it was in October, but not by much. (If I was somehow able to get a $7000 limit, and I transferred the bulk of that from my Visa card, I would save about $500 in interest charges ($700 minus the 3% fee)).

I could transfer the balance from the Capital One, and have it be interest free for an extra six months (saving me $23 after the fee) . After 1/10, the APR will switch to 9.99%, which is a better rate than Capital One (it will be 12.99%).

Also, I need some leverage with Capital One, since I want to try to get them to remove a negative mark that they posted on my credit report over the summer. I figure I have zero negotiating power when the only card I have with them is nearly maxed out.

So what do you guys think? Should I open the Wamu card, or throw the offer in the shredder?

December Goals

  1. Buy Christmas Presents
  2. Wrap Christmas Presents
  3. Mail Christmas Cards
  1. Study for at least 6 hours/day -- 12/1 to 12/8 for 12/9 Final (make flashcards, review notes, review outline, do practice hypos w/bf, do practice multiple choice)
  2. Study for at least 6 hours/day -- 12/10 to 12/16 for 12/17 Final (make second half of flashcards [including important case names, as mentioned in Prof's review session], review notes, review outline, do practice essays & multiple choice)
  1. Go to yoga (at least) 2x/week
  2. Go on the exercise bike for 45 mins daily & finish The Secret History, Twilight, and Air
  1. Mail clothing back to Revolve
  2. Mail broken Xbox 360 to Microsoft
  3. Make restaurant reservation for b-day party.
  4. Make appointment with doctor.
  5. Get braces tightened.
Winter Break - 12/18 to 12/31
  1. Have the carpets cleaned and assess the lighting problems in our second bedroom.
  2. Clean the house, organize loose papers, get rid of excess.
  3. Clean out closet and donate clothes.
  4. Sign up for Creative Writing online class.
  5. Buy new contacts, if I need them.
  6. Get my glasses fixed at Lenscrafters (I need them tightened and a scratch to be removed)
  7. Re-evaluate my Spring course load. I might drop one class and substitute it for a 1 unit volunteer thing.
  8. Call and/or write Macy's and Capital One re: removing negative marks from credit reports.
  9. Switch Dental HMO to PPO & Health PPO to HMO.
  10. Return shoes to shoes.com
  11. Confirm how many hours I will be working during spring semester with boss.
  12. Sell all my books from this term on Amazon, Ebay, or Half.com.
  13. Buy books for spring semester.
  14. Plan a exercise/blogging/studying schedule for Jan and Feb, and another one from March onwards if I go back to working full-time.
  15. Have fun at my b-day party! :)

Credit Score Increased!

As I mentioned in this post, I've been checking my credit score obsessively on Credit Karma for the past several months.

I'm very happy to report that there's finally been an increase!! My score is still not great, but at least it's leaning towards decent. I'm now at 648.

Hopefully, I can negotiate with Capital One and Macy's to get my two negative marks removed, and that coupled with the repayment of the Visa will lead me towards 700+ in the months to come!

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