Archive for May, 2008

30
May
08

When did I become a lipstick whore?

I have three different lipsticks and a lip gloss in my bag right now, at least two more lipsticks at home, and I’m contemplating purchasing another one!

Seriously, until about, oh, a MONTH ago, I didn’t wear makeup except once-twice a year!

And these aren’t cheap, neither, I’m shelling out between 5-15 a pop on these bad boys.

 

How did this happen?

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24
May
08

Seriously.

I need to think about budgeting in fried catfish. Because once a month I get a craving, and itwinds up costing me about $30 when I’m all done.

Good thing budgets are flexible little critters.

16
May
08

Adventures in W-4s

Last year’s taxes (and the huge checks I wrote to the Feds and the State) reminded me again that those of us with fluctuating incomes need to be a bit more proactive with our tax withholding.

Last month, after I remembered “Hey, I’ve only got one job now!” I used the 2008 W-4 Calculator from the IRS to re-do my numbers. This is a lot more detailed than the little worksheet attached to the W-4 form itself, and takes into account retirement disbursements, unemployment, multiple jobs, and other sources of income.

When you hit ‘Calculate’, it will come back and tell you exactly what you should put on your W-4. I At my main gig, I went from 1 exemption plus $24 to 0 exemptions… and it’s pretty much the same withholding.

*shrug*

Even if you have been at the same gig for ever and ever and ever, it can’t hurt to take a look and crunch the numbers.

14
May
08

Three Bubbles that Burst

Full Disclosure: I like the Mental Floss blog so much I subscribed to their magazine. And it’s the first magazine I’ve subscribed to since, uh…. 1998? Mental Floss’ eclectic and esoteric mix of history and pop culture makes it the definition of ‘geek’.

Such as their article Three Bubbles that Burst, which will give you the lowdown hoedown on the Tulip Mania of 1636, the South Seas Corporation dramarama of the 1700s, and Beanie Babies of the 1990s.

All three are cautionary tales that every frugal financial wizard should take to heart. *nods and cuddles her Peace bear*

13
May
08

Travel Fund Balance: $0

I took a three-day weekend and ran up to Seattle.

Then ran around Seattle.

Then ran in circles around a statue in Seattle.

It’s a thing I do.

Why was I in Seattle, you are probably asking yourself. Was it to build homes for low-income families? Cure cancer using a toothbrush and estuary water? Start a band and restart the grunge movement?

Um, yeah, hi? No. Emerald City Comic Convention. As the banner over the escalators stated, it is the largest Con in the PNW*. AND I managed to stay within budget. Yay me! Although one of the things that aided in that was 1) the lines for the ATMs were HUGE, 2) I am not paying $20-100 bucks for a scribble, and 3) the limited edition print of Hellboy in Pancakes was gone when I wandered back on Sunday, which saved me $240.

I will do a real roundup later of the folks I gave shiny rocks to (including the awesome conversation I had with Wil Wheaton), but quick shoutouts to The Color M girls and the folks at Desperado Comics.

*Pacific Northwest, to you out of towners.

05
May
08

Personal Finance in the Singular Form

All y’all who are happily partnered can just go ahead and sit this post out. Go make a phone call or send a gushy email to your lovemuffin, okay?

I need to talk to the single folks out there.

Yeah, hi, how you doin’? I bet you’re noticing what I’ve noticed in the PF world– it’s wedded (ha! pun.) to the idea that all people needs must be hooked up in pairs to get your debt reducing/retirement saving going.

I am happily, obsessively single. I like my personal space, I like my personal time, I like not having to clean up after anyone who’s not me and I like being able to pick the movie and not have to worry about whether or not the person in the chair next to me thinks it sucks.

PF World is really, really into this whole life partner deal, nu? Pretty much every single beginner’s article I read, and most of the intermediate and advanced ones, assume you will need to discuss financial decisions with your partner.

Well, in this dance, much like Billy Idol, I am Dancing With Myself.

[Pause so all our inner 12 year olds can stop giggling.]

It gives me a lot more freedom, and it also comes with some restrictions. I was able to take a second job without contemplating the impact on my romantical relationship, on the account I didn’t have a romantical relationship. It also means that I will probably have to put off some big things, like purchasing my own home for longer as I’m going to have to come up with the down payment all by my lonesome, which will impact my retirement, et cetera, freakoutium.

Being single also means that any misteak in my monies is all my own fault, and there’s nowhere else to spread the blame. That can be really big and scary when you start to think about it.

So, here’s what I’ve learned about dealing with personal finances while being single, which I am passing on to you:

  • Do not use another person’s timeline – If you start thinking, “Oh, look, Blogger X paid off eleventy-gabillion-gajillion dollars of debt and bought a new house with cash and built a two-year emergency fund in just six months, when in that same amount of time I only paid off $1500,” you will be full of FAIL. We do not want you full of FAIL. We want you full of WIN. And flavor. Build your own timeline with realistic goals and benchmarks based on your own personal situation, and focus on your own successes.
  • Stick-to-it-ness is dependent on the individual – You could have fifteen life partners* all nagging you on to save money, and that would mean bupkiss when faced with cash in your pocket and Something Shiny in front of you. It’s your money, step up and take ownership of it. You need cheerleaders? Get a blog, we’ll all root you on.
  • Learn, Let Go, and Move On – You are going to screw something up royally at some point. Do not beat yourself up over it, and most importantly DO NOT GIVE UP. Learn from your mistake, let go of the money that’s been lost, and move on. You’ll do better next time.
  • Take Care of Yourself – Physically, mentally, and spiritually, folks! It’s just a fact, if you’re single and you are down for the count, there is no one to pick up for you. So get yourself checked out by a doctor regularly, reduce stress in your favorite way (I like blowing up little Lego Jedi with my Nintendo DS), and try some meditation stuff from whatever spiritual path you’re comfy with.

And, if for some reason you decide to leave the blissfully single state** for a fantastic new adventure in partnered life, well, I hear tell a fiscally competent and confident person is considered dead sexy.  So work it, darlings!

 

*But I think that’s illegal in most places.
** I hear it happens sometimes. Not sure why you’d want to, but it’s a strange world we live in.

02
May
08

Payday! Woo hoo!

As of today, I have:

  • 46.67 in my car fund
  • 203.71 in my travel fund
  • 97.51 in the Sonic Screwdriver fund
  • 53.86 in the clothes fund
  • 696.58 in my Emergency Fund
  • $0 credit card balance

This is pretty confounded momentous, folks, because just six months ago I was at $0 in any of those funds and about $3,000 in credit card debt despite working two jobs and having no fun, ’cause I had no time for fun.

My mother, during our last weekly check-in call, actually was worried that I seemed to be spending so much money. It feels a little like that to me, too, sometimes. I figured out why last night when I was hanging out with some coworkers— in the past, all my spending would be splurged within a day or two of getting a check, given to restaurants and grocery stores and comic stores and little trinkets of uselessness. Then, for the next week or two, I would be living like a college student on beans, rice, and ramen, just waiting for that check to roll in to repeat the cycle.

Now that I have more concious control of my spending, I’ve stopped the boom and bust cycle. I have goals and benchmarks and contingency plans.

This is pretty freakin’ AWESOME, yo.