"Secret skimping is out, like false bosoms." - Marjorie Hillis, Orchids on Your Budget, 1937.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I could sleep when I lived alone

This move is draining my purse. Life is draining my purse.

Life is change. I know it. I've accepted it, and maybe I even embrace it a little [begrudgingly]. But this is kind of unacceptable that all these huge expenses are coalescing into a trinity of awful:

  • We just bought a mattress for about $750.
  • My weight-loss program will cost almost $700 for just 8 weeks, which, as you now know, is almost the price of a mattress.*
  • My rent is about to increase $300 per month.

Seriously, I've got to seriously think about getting a part-time job...seriously.

On a completely unrelated note, how does everyone feel about bridge (the card game)? I know it's screams "grandma" in a huge way, but don't you think it's about time for a come-back?

*I lost 4.5 lbs this week.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Prosper and ShareBuilder

It's been a busy weekend, finance-wise.

I signed up for Prosper yesterday (if you're not familiar with it, here's a recent article from CNNmoney.com -- it's pretty exciting.). They're running a promotion through June 30th where, if you sign up as a new lender through a referral link, both referer and refered will receive a $25.00 credit to their accounts. You'll notice I've added my own Prosper referral link in the side-bar to the right for anyone interested in signing up. I'll update with a detailed progress report as soon as I see some action.

As for ShareBuilder, I actually ran into a promotional code for a $50.00 credit (!) with any new ShareBuilder account. On the first screen after you click "Get started today," check the box that says "I'm responding to a promotion," and a blank will appear where you can type either of the following codes:


After that, all you have to do is either set up an automatic investment of at least $50.00, and your account will be credited in 4-5 weeks.

I'll keep you posted with any updates!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

ING referrals

If you somehow managed to make it this long without opening an account with ING Direct, I have no idea how you did it, but I'm here to tell you that you should get off your duff and open one.

Before I opened my account last year, I had one large mass of money in my brick-and-mortar money market account. I really didn't have any goals for it except to see it grow, which it did at a sluggish pace of about 1% APY.

When one of my friends referred me to ING, I was kind of uncomfortable with the thought of opening an online account... but then I realized that I wasn't a dinosaur and I should stop being such an old person. I opened a savings account, and the rest is history.

Currently the interest rate is at 3%, which is infinitely better than you'll find at most banks. So here's the deal: if you use one of the links below to open a savings account at ING and make an initial deposit of at least $250.00, ING will immediately credit your account with $25.00, I'll get $10.00 for referring you, and you'll have your own referral links to hand out. These links are single-use only and expire on August 2nd, so please leave a comment letting me know which link you've used, and I'll replace it with a fresh one. Thanks!

Referral Link #1
Referral Link #2
Referral Link #3
Referral Link #4

As I've said before, I recently set up some "sub-accounts" with ING, and it's been a wonderful way to track my savings while planning for the future. ING is the most user-friendly online bank that I've ever used (I also tried Capital One), it's secure, and I trust them, which is probably the most important factor when money's involved.

Friday, May 23, 2008

[Almost] June Net Worth

I've been paid all the money that I expect to receive until June 6th, so I thought I'd do a little check-in. What you're seeing is the result of the up-front new apartment expenses, combined with the fact that I am starting a "medically supervised weight loss program," which is just fancy talk for a money pit. It's so expensive, the weight I'm losing should be gold-plated.

Emergency Fund: $5,200.78
Checking: $61.00
ING Funds (total): $1,946.00
Roth IRA: $3,300.00
401k: $415.00
Total Positive: $10,922.78

Rent: Pre-paid
Credit card: $427.55
Student Loan I: $13,751.58
Student Loan II: $901.00
Total Negative: $15,080.13

Net Worth: -$4,157.35

The whole thing's tumbling down

On a bit of a tangent, my boyfriend now has an assistant. Since I work in that capacity in the same field right now (not for him, though), it makes me feel weird (read: "less than") when he mentions the fact that he's got one.

We're the same age, and we've known each other since high school, so we've always been on the same plane, but now it feels like he's got a direct, first-class ticket, while I'm sitting with the screaming babies on a connecting flight to hell. Not to mention the contentious gender issues. I know I shouldn't bring work into the bedroom, but until now, our relationship has always been equal.

Forget salary inequalities...what do you do when your partner is more important than you are?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Marriage and investments?

I'm currently angsting about the fact that I decided to wait until 2008 to open a Roth IRA. At the time, I was panicking about my high student loan balance, so I took a few thousand and threw it at that. The more I think about it, the more I know I should've used it to fund a Roth IRA for 2007.

My boyfriend will start his last year of law school in the fall. Right now he's got a summer associate position at one of the top firms in this city, and in all probability, they'll hire him after graduation. The starting salary is huge -- it alone is too large to qualify for a Roth IRA. Add my salary to that, and it's hopeless. Knock wood, but if we get married in the next few years, that only leaves 2 or 3 years of Roth IRA funding I can do. Not the worst problem to have, I know, but I just opened it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sleep Accessories

I went mattress shopping this past weekend and felt overwhelmed by my ignorance. I realize that I have no idea what a good price looks like for a mattress. I found one that was comfortable enough, but it was $600.00 (just for the mattress!).

Could anyone fling any mattress-pricing-related advice in my direction?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

That's the sound of a [wo]man working on the chain gang

I was just speaking with a colleague whose story highlights the importance of staying out of credit card debt, or at least having a plan to pay it off.

She's in her early 30s with 3 credit cards, and she carries a balance on all of them. She says she pays the minimum balance on them, and sometimes tries to pay a bit more, but she has no plan. She's basically living paycheck to paycheck (unnecessarily) and charging food (is that $2 muffin really worth $5?). I recommended Dave Ramsey's book as an inspirational tool for her situation, but I'm not sure she was seeking advice.

She did say something that really struck me: "I'm not worried; I'll get out of debt sometime."

Unless you're taking steps to be proactive about doing something, "sometime" will never come, and your debt will just keep mounting. Unless it's concrete -- unless you have a plan -- unless "sometime" becomes "today," or "December 31st," or "in 3 years," it's not going to happen.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Furniture shopping!

As I scour my Domino magazine back-issues, I realize how expensive furniture is. No one ever told me that a nice chair can cost a few hundred dollars.

($700.00 chair from IKEA!)

Anyway, I was looking at Victorian-era furniture at the antique market, and I found a few pieces with beautiful bones, but awful upholstery. I found a stained "couch" for $125, and a regal chair (with dark green velvet) for $150.00. I'm not really into velvet, but if I was a whiz at upholstery, I'd have swooped up those items in a heart beat.

Has anyone ever completed such an undertaking?

Where does the good go

As I am in the market for any household-goods frugal finds, I decided to stop by my local antique market to browse. There was a lot of framed work, which I would've loved to get, had it not been so ugly. There was one nice piece, but it was $995. No thanks! I did find some sheet music that I thought would look nice matted and framed, though that might get expensive. These range in date from 1918 to 1933, and they were each between 4 and 10 dollars. Thoughts?

For a couple dollars, I founds these photos at a small antique store last year (plus a ring and a necklace). It's sort of weird displaying family photos that aren't your own, and I'm not sure how to do it. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Also, I really like jadeite and milk glass, but I couldn't find anything in good condition. I think it had all been picked through. I got these clear green glasses with opaque tops at Anthropologie for $12.00 each. Decidedly not frugal, but they're beautiful, and I'll be using them on my future vanity.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I Gotta Move

I have a lot of free time. I have no commitments except to my full-time job and my boyfriend. I spend a lot of time wasting time, not even pretending to do anything productive. Now, all of the sudden I'm 24, and I feel that I've accomplished little since college graduation.

It seems that all this idle time is pretty counterproductive. As I mentioned in prior posts, I'm thinking about getting a part-time job. Since my rent is going up about $300 per month, I'll need some extra cash to avoid feeling strapped. More importantly, I'm alone a lot, which is turning out to be not so healthy for me.

Right now, I interact with an office of about 9 other people, and I see my boyfriend for a few hours over the weekend. And that's it. It's awful, but I don't have friends. I expect a part-time job to provide me with more (i) companionship of people around my own age, (ii) money, and (iii) perspective. Being alone all the time does nothing for that third one.

If anyone would like to share a related experience, I'm all ears.

May Net Worth

Checking: $345.00
Money Market: $4,519.20
ING Accounts: $1,364.06
Roth IRA: $3,132.27
401k: $311.52
Total Positive: $9,672.05

Credit card: $639.16
Student Loan I: $13,919.34
Student Loan II: $998.59
Total Negative: $15,557.09

Net Worth: -$5,979.89

My savings clearly took a big hit this month because of my Roth IRA and the new apartment. The up-front costs for me alone were over 2k (!). Instead of replenishing my savings with my $600.00 rebate as I had originally planned, I put it towards my loans. I also got $100.00 from my grandmother for my birthday, and it's just sitting in my checking right now until I figure out what to do with it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Quick review of Geezeo

I held out on jumping onto the new web-based financial organizers bandwagon for long enough. I decided to try Geezeo because, so far, they're the only site with the capability to add investment accounts.


I was able to easily add my main banking information, but when I tried to enter my ING information, it didn't recognize the bank (I think they did have ING Direct - CN, though... but isn't that Canada? In any case, it didn't work).

After "finding" my retirement account information, it never logged it onto my page. Weird.

I thought they also gave you the ability to add student loans, but apparently that feature isn't available yet.


Basically, the way it's functioning for me, it's just a really convoluted method of checking my bank balance. But they already have a website for that. When they add student loans, maybe I'll be back.