Loans

I picked up my cap and gown yesterday.

 

I’m not quite sure how I felt about it. I’m stuck in this weird limbo of needing to be done with school but terrified of what comes next. When I physically held my cap and gown, there was no definable feeling. When I took it out of the package and held the Class of 2014 tassel, I can say I felt a twinge of giddiness.

Inside the package were two papers. I can’t remember what the other one was (maybe because I was so shocked by the second sheet).

It was information on how to start paying my loans back.

 

What.

 

Are you kidding me?

 

I can’t even begin to think about paying back loans yet. I’m not even sure how much I have in loans! I’m pretty sure its around 40k but still. My goodness. I can tell you that my “nondescript” feelings immediately went out the door and I hit all the emotions from angry to panic to shock and back again.

 

I understand why its included. After graduation comes paying back your loans. The sooner you get on top of that, the better. But at the same time, I really needed a minute to breath.

 

I plan on continuing this post-grad and into the young professional part of my life so get ready for my journey through loan payments…yikes.

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Finishing up classes means chocolate.

I’ve noticed that my life, at least in college pretty much directly parallels itself year to year. I wrote the post below around a year ago. (I’ve attached it below because I liked the message it had about budgeting and I wanted to reiterate it again!)

And low and behold, I’m finishing up classes AND my college career. Stress is at a all time high. And I am splurging on my budget here and there to enjoy the things I need to keep going. Mainly coffee. And some chocolate although apparently I’ve “matured” and prefer black coffee as a comfort food and fuel.

Coffee on campus, from my favorite shop, runs about $2 a cup plus a $1 tip (because they’re really nice people and always smiling so they make my day. Plus they play awesome music.)

I know I should be more careful with my spending on these types of things but when the stress levels get high, my finance stress is often outweighed by keeping my sanity.

What type of things do you splurge on?

 


 

And Salsarita’s and cookies and coffee and anything else to keep me going as the last few classes and projects draw to close.

This week, about halfway through, I decided to ease up on my budget. I allowed myself a few coffees on campus, a delicious chocolate mousse with strawberries and Salsarita’s during a group meeting for dinner tonight.

I think budgeting can sometimes be like a diet. As you may remember, I am an avid follower of nutrition, eating healthy and being fit. I know very well that most people cannot starve themselves of sweets and delicious goodness that may be high in calories, fat or bad stuff, without breaking every once in awhile. To combat those breaks in diets, to make sure you don’t consume every thing in your path, you allow them more from time to time to counteract the urges and prevent huge splurges.

How is this tied into budgeting? Well, to keep from one day spending everything I’ve saved on a silly purchase or even on multiple purchases is by allowing little slips from time to time. Now, I don’t mean by breaking the budget. What I mean is instead of attempting to spend the least amount of money, allowing myself to spend the few extra dollars on a couple coffees or bagels on campus to get me through the week.

$526!

That’s my tax refund at the end of the day. Around half of the federal taxes I paid last year. Not too bad! Of course, I’d always like more ;) but something I didn’t expect to get back!

 

Just a quick update on that! What will I do with all this money?! Probably pay rent ;)

TAXES!

Everyone’s favorite time of the year right? This year was definitely a rude awakening of how far I’d strayed from budgeting and smart spending last year.Taxes - FortyorlessYup. That’s how much I made last year. How much of that is in my account? I don’t know…like $5. Seriously though where did all that money go?!

I do not have 4,559.93 (total after everything taken out) anywhere.

Last year I definitely was, shall we say, a little more frivolous in my spending. I did help out paying my rent though when I could. My rent was $660 a month. Yikes, I know. But it include utilities already and had a bus to campus/was close enough to walk so it was nice.

I’m not sure how much I’m getting back on my tax return yet but I know it won’t magically make 4,559.93 appear in my account though!

Gas Prices Part Two!

So I did a little experimenting with my gas and my trip to and from school. I typically make one round trip. I stay on campus all day, basically every day. This is because I’m really busy, not because I’m trying to save money although not traveling back and forth multiples is definitely friendly to the pocket.

I drive, on average, about 85 miles a week (14 trips 5.5 mile trips to school + odds and ends trips). Most of the other places I need to visit other than campus and home, are with a mile of school so going to the grocery store does not add that much to my overall mileage.

I am able to make all of this on 3 gallons of gas, so at around 3.79, that’s only a $1.37 over the ten dollar budget I set for myself. My poor father would have a heart attack if he saw this. He’s a mechanic and has lectured me on keeping my gas at least at a quarter of tank. My tank is small, 12 gallons I think. So 3 gallons is not far off from that quarter tank mark. The issue that lies within only putting 3 gallons is is that I never have a surplus of gas in my tank, usually. Unless I don’t drive as much one week. So I’m always on the brink of empty. Which is bad for the fuel pump and that’s not good. Although I have an excellent mechanic who would help me out at any point and never make me pay for repairs (THANKS DAD<3) I know that’s not how the real world works for all of you so this week, I’m taking a chunk of of my groceries (going to eat just leftovers and make due with what I have in my storage) and putting it toward gas. If I put $20 in gas, that should put me at a quarter of the tank after my normal week of driving. This way, I can just put $10 in each week on top of that! I’d much rather eat a little bit more sparsely one week than trash my car in some way!

 

 

 

My Budget

So although I try to spend $40 a week, I do have other costs. The $40 is what I try to limit my weekly spending to. Overall though, $40 a week, my monthly spending ideally looks like this:

  • $400 – rent
  • $50 – utilities
  • $40 – weekly budget

This brings me in at $490 each month. I get paid bi-weekly for most of my jobs, monthly for one. On average my paychecks range from $200-$300 dollars. When I receive my monthly stipend for my work with my school’s student government, it jumps up to around $500. So ideally, I should have around $200 saved each month if the budget works.

I do rely on my parents for healthcare, phone bill and car insurance. These are three huge costs that I know not everyone has parental support on so your budgets might definitely look different in that regard.

My weekly budget break down looks like this:

  • Gas – $10
  • Groceries – $20
  • Norbert – $5

I like to budget out for under $40 a week so that hopefully 1) I don’t spend it all or 2) in case something comes up, I have a little bit of wiggle room. I also find myself trying to keep my groceries below the $20 as well. If I can cut costs anywhere, I try to (buying non name brands, shopping at Aldi <3 or eating simple for a couple meals) so that I can save money and give myself even more wiggle room but also to change my behavior when it comes to shopping again (more on this in a later blog).

Gas Prices

This year I moved off campus, about 5.5 miles off campus – a 13-15 minute commute. Along the way there are and ten stoplights and train tracks. Sometimes the commute can take longer due to traffic and the start/stops I encounter the long way kills my gas. And the price of gas? Well that kills my wallet.

With gas prices hovering between $3.60-$3.80 pretty consistently around me, I barely get 2.5 gallons for the $10 I try to keep my gas spending to. Thankfully, my car does get great mileage about 30-35 miles per gallon, highway. City, I’m not 100% sure what that is. It’s been pretty close (I’m pretty efficient when I drive). That definitely helps. However, not really enough.

 

As gas prices increase, it’s getting harder and more expensive to be a commuter. The whole reason moving off campus was to save money on rent and now I’m interested to see if my extra spending on gas, still makes the moving off campus still budget-friendly.

Cheap eats around campus

 

I wanted to update an old cheap eats post. Because the prices AND size changed! The container is slightly smaller and it now rings in at $5.17! Boo a dollar more AND smaller! It’s still a great deal. Still makes it to two meals, but an extra dollar when you’re spending only $20 on food, is a big deal.

 

This “small” serving of lo mein, General Tso’s chicken and white rice cost me $4.11 from one of the on campus dinner halls, The Ritz.

I managed to only down a little less than half of this so I have enough left over for definitely another meal and even maybe a little snackage. Definitely worth the $4.11, especially when you split it between the three times I’ll be eating it. ($1.37)

Not bad for campus food!

Knowing the cheap deals around campus definitely helps out when it comes down to going home to make lunch or studying for an exam later in the day. Figure out what your campus can offer you that’s budget-friendly!

Update: This did, in fact last me another session of munching and one meal! Woot, woot!

Shopping Trips

Now, I am all for retail therapy. I love just going out and buying things. It usually is for other people, like making someone’s favorite food or getting them a present. I’m also one of those people that if I see something that reminds me of you, I’m probably buying it and giving it to you the next time I see (birthday, holiday or not). So that kind of shopping = right up my alley but not = to being broke and budgeting. It’s definitely been a demon of mine for as long as I’ve had money to spend.

 

The organized, planned out kind of shopping is my worst nightmare. It’s so hard for me to wrap my head around planning out exactly what I need, when I need it vs. what I have already. I love the idea of nice, planned out menu and nice planned out schedule of when I buy what house products but the reality is, getting to there is absolutely overwhelming to me.

 

I think that’s why the show Extreme Couponing gives me anxiety. Too much planning, organization and just…ah! It’s stressing me out just thinking about it!

 

I stalk a-many bloggers and their designs (mostly via Pinterest, check out my Menu Planning/Shopping Guide Design Board) in hopes some day I will either 1) be able to create my own that I use religiously or 2) pick one and put it to use. Until then though, I sit and “ohh” and “awe” over them and their extreme organizing skills.

 

This week, I’m starting small. I am doing a little bit on menu planning and organizing! Instead of going in blind and guessing what I need for this week’s meals, I’m going to do an inventory on what I already have. Baby steps, people! Hopefully once I get an accurate reading on what exactly I do have, I can continue to keep track of it and apply it properly to my grocery lists.

 

I started simple – working from my pantry to my refrigerator, to my freezer to my spice cabinet. I broke each area into their own section and listed how much or roughly how much I had of each. I hope to also use this as a reference as to where I keep items. Look at me trying to be all organized and stuff!

 

 

Resurrection

After tediously working to bring this site back to life (technical difficulties, you will forever be my nemesis), I am excited (and humbled) to be resurrecting this project. It’s something I had been telling myself I was going to do for some time now but a class I’m taking this semester gave me the final push to get myself in gear and start posting again.

 

A lot has changed since we last chatted. The main points though, have remained the same:

  1. I am a college student
  2. who is broke and
  3. needs to get my financials (back) in line.

For a step back in history check out my first post, here, explaining the reasons behind this blog. Don’t worry though, I’ll be revisiting these ideas again in a future post. I want to examine how I’ve changed over these past couple of years (holy moly, I started this blog almost two years ago!) and how my future is taking shape.

In brief though, as the title of the blog suggests, my plan is to live on forty dollars or less each week. Granted my life style has changed a little since first starting. I’m paying my own rent and utilities (or trying to) so those need to be accounted for in my budgeting as well. Also, I’m graduating in two and half short months *gulp* and I need a plan for how to get ready to start out in the real world.

It’s not just about saving money anymore so I’m not so broke. It’s about changing my lifestyle to better prepare myself for putting on my big kid pants.

Stay tuned for an updated budget, budget cooking and tips and tricks I pick up in my journey to more efficiently budget my life and finally.

 

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