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

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 2011 Net Worth

Emergency Fund: $6,453.97
Checking: $211.95

Computer Fund: 656.06
Travel: $336.76
Medical/Dental: $353.31

School: $352.54
Roth IRA: $9,037.98
401k: $6,777.64
Sharebuilder: $152.90
Total Positive: $24,333.11

Rent: PAID
Groceries/Utilities: $200.00
Phone: $60.00
Subway: PAID
Credit cards: $126.93
Student Loan: $4,675.27 (from over $19k)
Total Negative: $5,062.20

Net Worth: $19,270.91

Is it really December already?  Can't deal.  *ETA: Looks like I was exhausted when I was running numbers last night, because I left out a whole savings category.  See above for corrected numbers.  Thanksgiving was insane, and work now is even crazier.  Slaving away all weekend, too.  Oy.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November 2011 Net Worth

Emergency Fund: $5,999.44
Checking: $416.96
Travel: $336.56
Medical/Dental: $586.98

School: $352.28
Roth IRA: $8,916.43
401k: $6,862.70
Sharebuilder: $197.09
Total Positive: $23,668.44

Rent: $250.00
Groceries/Utilities: $200.00
Phone: $60.00
Subway: $PAID
Credit cards: $582.24
Student Loan: $4,783.58 (from over $19k)
Total Negative: $5,875.82

Net Worth: $17,792.62

I made a lot of extra money this month by selling off a lot of pieces I found stagnating in my jewelry box and closet -- about $760.00 worth.  After ebay and paypal fees, plus a couple small refunds, that's still over $600 or so right into my E-Fund.  Work is crazy right now, so more later!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October 2011 Net Worth

Emergency Fund: $4,853.68
Checking: $206.74
Travel: $301.27
Medical/Dental: $486.57
School: $131.11
Roth IRA: $8,365.13
401k: $6,310.79
Sharebuilder: $202.00
Total Positive: $20,857.29

Rent: $PAID
Groceries/Utilities: $100.00
Phone: $PAID
Subway: $PAID
Credit cards: $334.85
Student Loan: $4,895.01 (from over $19k)
Total Negative: $5,329.86

Net Worth: $15,527.43

I'm just going to ignore my retirement accounts right now. As for my bank accounts, my saving could be better. I've been spending a lot more than I plan to, in part because I haven't been packing my lunch. It does help that I've been too busy to do as much shopping as I'm usually capable of doing. This past week, I worked both Saturday and Sunday, which was sort of a bummer, but the overtime made it a little sweeter. This month I'm going to work on packing my lunch and implement a NO NEW CLOTHES OR TOILETRIES rule and work toward some of my savings goals.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

September 2011 Net Worth

Emergency Fund: $4,468.79
Checking: $92.27
Travel: $301.02
Medical/Dental: $261.32
School: $0.67
Retirement: $240.25
Roth IRA: $8,773.18
401k: $6,707.36
Sharebuilder: $190.73
Total Positive: $21,035.59

Rent: $PAID
Groceries/Utilities: $200.00
Phone: $60
Subway: $PAID
Credit cards: $244.53
Student Loan I: $5,094.52 (from over $19k)
Student Loan II: $0
Total Negative: $5,599.05

Net Worth: $15,436.54

Obviously, the stock market is on its way down again, which is fine. I did some fund shuffling, which is whatever. Considering I didn't have an income for 2 weeks in August, I'd say I did pretty well.

Monday, August 1, 2011

August 2011 Net Worth

Emergency Fund: $4,000.00
Checking: $375.83
Travel (aka Other People's Weddings): $0.92
Medical/Dental: $500.71
School: $0.59
Retirement: $300.77
Roth IRA: $9,619.68
401k: $7,556.32
Sharebuilder: $249.92
Total Positive: $22,604.74

Rent: $PAID
Groceries/Utilities: $218.00
Phone: $60
Subway: $59
Credit cards: $297.05
Student Loan I: $5,366.82 (from over $19k)
Student Loan II: $0
Total Negative: $6,000.87

Net Worth: $16,603.87

Because of my career change, I'm missing a couple weeks of pay. I've also taken almost a 50% cut in pay in order embark upon this change, which I'm obviously ok with, but my bank account and ego are going to be hurting. My first day at my new job is today. Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

And now, an update.

Last we talked, I had quit my job without another lined up.

Let's rewind.

It was a Monday morning. I wasn't feeling great, so I decided it was an ideal opportunity to use a sick day. A to-do list for the day: watch "Do the Right Thing" (a Spike Lee joint), determine the ideal ratio of honey to cinnamon when eaten straight from a cup, file fingernails into squovals, and finish an application for a job posting I saw the day before at a company to which I've sent no less than seven applications over the past several years. Check, check (the answer is half and half), check, and check.

Fast forward to Saturday - I'm trudging through the mall on an epic search for a dress to wear the following weekend to a friend's wedding in the hottest place on earth, and I get an e-mail asking me to come in for an interview. I wasn't sure this day would ever come, and I am over the moon. I abandon my search and spend the rest of the weekend obsessing over strategy. Should I take the first available interview or the last? My instinct was last. I decided to take first. On Wednesday.

Now, how to handle my current job? I had already used a sick day last week. My options: (i) lie, and tell them I have a doctor's appointment, (ii) tell them I have an interview and that I need the morning off (awkward...), or (iii) put in my notice, and then tell them I have an interview and will be taking the morning off. I choose door number 3 and give my notice Monday afternoon. Am I that confident that I will get the job? No. I just decided my job didn't fit into my plan anymore, and I had nothing to lose (except money).

I am obsessive in my preparation for the interview. Barely sleep. The morning of my interview, it's hot and sweaty. I'm dressed as if I'm a circa 1992 day-trader. I'm an hour early so as not to be late. I spend the hour trying to slow my heart at a hotel across the street. I walk in an acceptable 5 minutes early. The interview is 45 minutes long. I know I say a few things they like, and I know I am also very awkward for a few choice moments. I am unsure. I craft a 2 sentence thank-you e-mail in 45 minutes.

The next couple days I am made aware that they are checking my references. I am hopeful, but not too much.

On Saturday I fly to the wedding in hottest place on earth with an old dress that is admittedly too snug. I worry I may go deaf on the plane back (faulty Eustachian tubes). I try not to mention my interview too much for fear of embarrassment if I don't get the job, but it manages to come up in nearly every conversation. I imagine the humiliating conversations this could lead to at the wedding of whichever friend gets married next.

The following week at work is awkward. I angst over a hand-written thank-you note I write them to remind them of my existence. By Friday I am thanked for my e-mail and note. In a dramatic turn of events, one of my references forgets to call them back. Drama! I fix it, and all is well.

On Monday afternoon at work we are treated to a sushi lunch by a company kissing ass. There are also, strangely, fortune cookies. My fortune states, "Expect a change for the better in job or status in the future." I share it with a co-worker who grabs my hand and is sure it is a sign.

On the train home that day, I check my phone and see an e-mail from one of the people who interviewed me. "We are pleased to offer you..."

I'm frozen. I'm smiling. I can't believe it's finally happening.

So there it is. I have to pass a background check, so there's still that, but barring some freak finding, I will probably start the first week of August.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 2011 Net Worth

Emergency Fund: $3,834.65
Checking: $226.63
Travel (aka Other People's Weddings): $50.92
Medical/Dental: $350.71
School: $250.59
Retirement: $325.77
Roth IRA: $9,901.84
401k: $7,620.00
Sharebuilder: $239.35
Total Positive: $22,800.46

Rent: $PAID
Groceries/Utilities: $218.00
Phone: $60
Subway: $59
Credit cards: $485.98
Student Loan I: $5,588.78 (from over $19k)
Student Loan II: $0
Total Negative: $6,411.76

Net Worth: $16,388.70

You'll notice that I drained my travel fund due to a wedding this past weekend. I also went on a bit of a shopping spree while I was there because I didn't have any shoes to wear. I mean, I own shoes, but strangely a grand total of zero shoes that could be considered either "dressy" or even "dressy casual", despite being employed full time. I was also ill-equipped for any ambulation with a pair of tortuous J.Crew flip-flops. TRASH. Luckily I found the following stores: Payless, Nine West, and Naturalizer for all my wedding weekend shoe needs. The Payless heels were actually comfortable (wha???) with a 3" heel (WHA???). I normally can't walk in anything over 1.5", but I think I understand now that it's the mid-range that gives me problems, because it puts more pressure in the arch reason maybe? I actually have no idea, but these were fine. Oh, and I bought a dress at Macy's on clearance. So add a total of about $150 to my credit card tally (it hasn't hit yet).

I'll need to be contributing more to my dental fund soon because I'm having some major, now DAILY, pain in a certain region or 3. One of the items is a decade-old restoration, and I knew this day was coming. Another is a break, and the last is possibly some decay under a filling. In any case, I anticipate I won't be done with this until I'm several thousand down. When it rains it pours, right?

Also: I put in my notice at my job. WHAT. I know. No, I don't have another one lined up. Please hold all questions until next month, when hopefully I will have more answers.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

June 2011 Net Worth

Emergency Fund: $2,532.27
Checking: $535.09
Travel (aka Other People's Weddings): $400.59
Medical/Dental: $300.44
School: $250.39
Other: $69.62
Roth IRA: $9,454.72
401k: $7,497.45
Sharebuilder: $221.01
Total Positive: $21,261.58

Rent: $PAID
Groceries/Utilities: $218.00
Phone: $PAID
Subway: $20.00
Credit cards: $40.04
Student Loan I: $5,588.78 (from over $19k)
Student Loan II: $0
Total Negative: $5,866.82

Net Worth: $15,394.76

Huge drop in my Roth IRA this month, which I know is fine, but it still makes me frowny-faced. I picked up more Talbots stock after the big drop last week. I can't afford for them to go out of business. Mama needs her boat-neck, three-quarter-sleeve pima cotton tees.

Might be in a for a big change next month. I'll keep your posted.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May 2011 Net Worth

Emergency Fund: $1,400.83
Checking: $121.42
Travel (aka Other People's Weddings): $350.26
Medical/Dental: $250.19
School: $200.18
Roth IRA: $10,075.48
401k: $7,476.09
Sharebuilder: $166.44
Total Positive: $20,082.47

Rent: $PAID
Groceries/Utilities: $218.00
Phone: $70
Subway: $20.00
Credit cards: $309.68
Student Loan I: $5,955.06 (from over $19k)
Student Loan II: $0
Total Negative: $6,572.74

Net Worth: $13,509.73

This past month went relatively well. However, I broke down last week and went on an online shopping binge (a couple of charges have yet to hit my card). I'm waiting for the packages to arrive so I can make the walk of shame to the post office for returns. And that's quite literal since I have no car, and the post office is exactly one mile down the busiest street, main-est street you can imagine. Well, at least I didn't dive into any final sales.

I also, despite all odds, exercised restraint when I decided against purchasing a Clarisonic (it's like a Sonicare, which I love and fully support, but for your face) (note to self: BRILLIANT - start making prototypes of skin brush head attachments -- ideas for materials: old sweaters, brillo pad, gerbil). I was THISCLOSE. What could possibly compel me to want to buy this thing? You know how this shiz goes. One minute I was minding my own business, eating an (2) Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches (sad face), and the next I was loading my cart with the deluxe model with additional brush heads. I don't know how I snapped out of it, except, oh yeah, my skin is objectively good without one, and if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And it was $225.

Speaking of broke, I conveniently stopped updating our joint spending spreadsheet right before my spending spree. Not only is that dishonest and sad, but it's also not helping me control my spending if I'm not doing it. It's like weighing yourself... which reminds me... food post coming up.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


As a frequent recipient of migraines for the past, oh, 17 years of my life, you'd think I'd have effective solutions up my sleeve. My "solution", as it were, has always been the old 3 advil, cup of coffee or tea, then off to bed to writhe in pain and nausea while praying for sleep or death.

Recently, my headaches have been cluster in nature (from what I can tell), and what sucks about those is that I'll have them for daily for weeks sometimes. You know it's a wonderful day when you wake up with the same headache you went to sleep with. They're not as completely debilitating as migraines, but they make it very difficult to behave in a friendly manner (aka doing my job), be productive, or enjoy myself.

I haven't been able to find anything to even take the edge off of migraines or cluster headaches without involving unconsciousness. Until now. I was watching Dr. Oz one afternoon (... not that I do that frequently) (... not that there's anything wrong with that) and he brought up pepper spray as a way to take the edge off cluster headaches. WHAT. AND IT ACTUALLY WORKS. WHAT?!?!! I read the reason it works, and frankly, I don't give a rat's ass WHY it works (ok, yes I do, look up how ben-gay works), I just thank god that it does. Don't get me wrong, the headache is still there, but for a sweet 20 minutes or so (I haven't really timed it), it is dulled. I haven't tested it on a migraine, but it's definitely effective for cluster headaches. So that's that. I would post this in my HG section, but I sort of feel like that's cheating.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Insurance Underwriting and Low-carbing

As part of our life insurance underwriting process we had blood tests and health histories taken to determine coverage and premiums, etc. My health history went for pages, but I was determined that my numbers be square and small. For that, as I am [still] reading Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taub, I decided to go on a low-carb extravaganza for two weeks prior. Breakfast on the weekends: bacon and eggs! Other days: pepperjack cheese. Many other meals: Canned chunk light tuna in olive oil with bagged cole slaw mix and avocados, seafood curry with cauliflower and mushrooms... and even calf's live and onions on one beautiful night. Two weeks and many, MANY avocados later, here's how my numbers shaped up:

Total cholesterol: 164 mg/dl
LDL cholesterol: 67 mg/dl
HDL cholesterol: 71 mg/dl
Ratio: 2.3

Triglycerides: 132 mg/dl

Not bad, no? Triglycerides weren't great, but for the record, last February they were 183, and my cholesterol ratio was 2.8. Improvement! I was disappointed that my fasting glucose was "not valid due to glycolys" and that my A1C wasn't tested, but I'm hopeful (...not too hopeful) those were down. Poundage was lost (6), but I gained most of it back when I fell hard off the wagon 2 or so weeks ago. Diabetes is all over my family tree, so after seeing these numbers, I think I'm going to get back on the low-carb gravy boat for another month or more and report back with another set of numbers... maybe.

And because it's Monday, a song for your enjoyment:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Holy Grail: Bags

This is the third in a series of HG ("Holy Grail" posts). For all HG posts, click here.

I have a weakness for leather bags. I love smelling and fondling them. Yes, it's disgusting, but I can't help it.

My first bag-related memory is circa 1989 -- a Dooney and Bourke mental snapshot. The stiff, duck-emblazoned, forest green number my mother had. I distinctly remember thinking WHY. My, how times have changed.

My HG for bags is.. you guessed it, Dooney & Bourke. I visted the Factory store in New York last year, and holy god, I was in my own personal hell of unquenchable desire. I purchased the Dillen Tear Drop Hobo in T-moro/Tan and the Florentine Vachetta Leather Satchel in Natural. No, I didn't need two, but I fell victim to the BUYNOWMORE holiday frenzy. The Classic Calf's Leather Satchel in Saddle (or Coral) is featured heavily in my dreams, as well as the newest Florentine Vachetta Satchel in Natural, and anything from the Alto line. I bought a "vintage" small Black/Brown Dooney Satchel off ebay last year, and...wow, I don't need anymore bags.

My crunchier choice is Roots. As a sensible female, I LOVE cross-body bags, and Roots has the mother of all sensible cross-body bags: the flat leather Village bag. The design basically speaks for itself, but what it is is a small, flat bag to be worn across the body. And now that they've released an orange bag with gold-tone hardware, HOLD ME BACK.

Look at those front pockets. Phone. I-pod. Keys. Chapstick. A turnlock?? What the what? Amazing. They tried to expand this line with a slightly larger satchel, but I find that the larger size is cumbersome and sort of defeats the whole purpose of this light, efficient bag.

The runners up are Cole Haan and Coach. Love many of the Cole Haan designs, but there's always something lacking for me. Coach is very sturdy, but I don't know... Dooney for president.

April 2011 Net Worth

Wow. My last net worth update was in August. Since then, a lot has changed. Most noticeably, I'm basically a blank slate as far as savings. Where did it all go, you ask? According to my calculations (er, quick mental montage of the past 6+ months), my favorite online retail establishments, most probably. It was all rather quick and...horrifying. Anyway, a new season, a new start. Onward!

Emergency Fund: $500.06
Checking: $190.00
Travel (aka Other People's Weddings): $200.00
Medical/Dental: $100.03
School: $ 100.03
Roth IRA: $9,802 (I only contributed about $550 last year because I knew the picture would be complicated by my spouse's earnings.)
401k: $7,285.09
Sharebuilder: $178.30
Total Positive: $18,355.51

...which is almost EXACTLY where it stood in August 2010.

Rent: $PAID
Groceries/Utilities: $218.00
Phone: $60
Subway: $20.00
Credit cards: $45.26
Student Loan I: $6,062.63 (from over $19k)
Student Loan II: $0
Total Negative: $6,405.89

Net Worth: $11,949.62

In order to simplify things, I excluded the joint account we have that contains our > $2k tax refund.

You'll notice I added a "School" savings category, and it's because I am thinking about going back to school. Wavering back and forth, really. Quivering at the thought. As someone once told me, I'm not really cut out for grad school (rude, no?), but the option's there if I want it.

My financial goals for this year are as follows:
  • Save at least $1k/month;
  • Open an IRA; and
  • Record all spending.
Both the husband and I have been doing that last item for the past couple weeks, and I find that it really helps to keep me honest.

As of November, the husband's income has risen enough to make me ineligible to make Roth contributions. Since I have been gleefully flinging my money out the window anyway, I hadn't given it much thought. Now it's time to get down to business and start saving up to open that IRA. What about a 401k at my current employer, you ask? I can't believe it, but as of March, I am now eligible to enroll. Barf. I won't do it. Can't make me. As soon as I find something, ANYTHING else, I'm done-zo.

The final item of business is housing. We've been jonesing to move ever since our rowdy neighbors moved in upstairs. We've lived here for 3 years, and decided we don't need this much space. Our lease is up in June, and we ALMOST decided to move (we even put a [refundable] deposit down). Right now we live in a 2-bedroom apartment in a nicer area. Not downtown, not fancy, but safe and T-accessible. The unit is definitely priced below other 2-bedrooms in the area for various reasons, but our plan was to downsize and move into a 1-bedroom or a junior (glorified studio). The problem is that, even with a $75 rent increase this year, we can't find a cheaper place in an area I'd be comfortable living (eg. close to public transport since we don't have a car, not overrun by students, and not terrifying after dark), even though we're willing to downsize 1-2 rooms. We are willing to pay a bit more for a smaller place if it would give us some quiet, but we can't find a place like that. WTF, right?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Weekend Wear

This is the second in a series of HG ("Holy Grail" posts). To see the first, click here.

My HG of weekend wear is Lands End. I like my weekend clothes to be comfortable, slightly less refined than work wear, cheap, and able to withstand frequent washing. Enter the regular original shaped (having challenges naming your fits, much?) 1x1 rib top. Crew neck, v-neck, short sleeved, long sleeved -- I have them all in many colors.

And when I'm feeling sporty, the pima polo:

It's less bag-like in person. Last year it had a little strip of polka-dotted grosgrain ribbon around the interior of the collar, but not this year. What the hell, LE?

Both of these styles have held up great for the past year, despite frequent beatings. They're fitted enough so that it's obvious I'm a woman, but not so fitted as to give away the texture of my bra.

For fun summer polos (...as opposed to serious?), my favorite is Lilly Pulitzer.

For pants, I like Land's End the cords in winter. I'm also a huge fan of the 7" old-lady shorts for summer. Last year they had some with 4 buttons down each side -- an embellishment that deludes me into thinking they look age-appropriate on a 26 year old. The higher rise makes your shirts lay flatter across the front AND prevents them from sagging. And in case you were worried about looking even a little sexy, don't worry, these have the added benefit of a little strip of elastic in back to ensure maximum Mom Jean effect.

But seriously, I freaking love those shorts. Just make sure your shirt is long enough to cover half of your butt, and you're golden.

Shoes. I'm sort of crazy about shoes. Not that I love them, just that I have incredibly high expectations, and that leads me to being UBER selective in what I'll even consider wearing. Since my main mode of transportation is my feet, I can't deal with anything remotely irritating or painful. L.L. Bean's Camden Driving Mocs are tight like a glove out of the box, but stretch to your foot within a couple hours.
They don't have the best shelf-life, but to be fair, I do wear them everywhere. I also like Etienne Aigner loafers, but they haven't proven themselves just yet for long-distance walking. In the winter I wear my Sudini boots mentioned in my work wear post.

Next up, handbags.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It's a new year, and...

I've continued to live off the wagon.

Yes, it's simultaneously delicious and painful to dig into my hard-earned cash to pay for my ... garbage habit. But as I sit here browsing Talbots.com, free-shipping coupon in (e-)hand, I've realized I've learned enough about value as it relates to ladies' goods to share some of my hard-bought knowledge.

What follows is the first in a series of HG (holy grail) posts. Sure, my HGs will only apply to a small group of sensibly-dressed, sturdy women, 25-45, but I worked hard to find my HGs, so I intend to share.

Before we get started, I should mention that my modus operandi is to search relentlessly for THE PERFECT THING, and then buy 21 of that thing and only that thing. The thing in question then comprises my entire collection of that type of thing. So I'm sort of an expert. Make sense?

First up, we have WORK WEAR:

As I alluded to above, Talbots really won me over last year. It's not your mother's Talbots anymore, but it's not your daughter's either. Talbots is what happened when J.Crew got her period. It's like if J.Crew had a baby -- as in, if J.Crew got knocked up and had to hold down two jobs to pay for organic baby food and yarn to knit outfits for her cockapoo -- you get the picture: Talbots is J.Crew grown up.

...Anyway, my work HGs include various incarnations of the pima tee -- long-sleeve, short-sleeve, balletneck, or turtleneck -- which are slim, but not tight, and come in 5,000 colors. Though Talbots is trying, J.Crew still wins for the most forward-thinking color palette (if I can use that term to describe color). Talbots wins for quality and cut, though.

On the bottom half, my HG is a pair of heritage-fit twill pants. The heritage cut is supposed to be the "granny" cut, but I find it to be the most modern. Again, they're slim, but not tight, and the higher cut is very flattering (it's important to note that they don't have the dreaded saddlebag/jodhpurs void on the sides). I've given the lower, signature-fit a chance, but they don't they don't hold a candle to the heritage-fit. Can any woman honestly say low-cut pants are more flattering? Unless you're slimmest at the hips (...eh?), I think not.

A variation of this outfit would involve a Charming cardigan set, by far my HG of cardigan sets. The Charming cardigan is basically Talbots' answer to the J.Crew Jackie cardigan. The Talbots version is more flattering and feminine, with a slightly lower cut and a teensy bit more length.

And if I need to dress it up, I'll throw on a Grace-fit jacket (I have a few), and voila, I'm only slightly under-dressed.

Simple, yes. Boring, maybe. But I'd rather put on my "uniform" than stand shivering in the nude, reinventing the wheel.

(And Talbots, if you mess with my formula, I will crush you.)

My HG footwear is similarly easy: Sudini Ashland or Storm shooties. I can't figure out the difference between the Ashland and the Storm, but I own both in various colors: chocolate leather, chocolate suede, black suede, and another chocolate leather as a backup. They're perfect. I love the aesthetic: classic almond toe, small buckle, and with a 1 3/4" heel, I can walk miles in them. I can't generally wear heels -- they hurt, and they usually make me look like a lumbering gorilla -- but these work. The black leather still eludes me. It's my white whale.

Next post, WEEKEND WEAR.

(stay-tuned, and by all means, comment with your work favorites.)