Archive for the 'budget ftw' Category

27
Jun
08

Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness…

..but it sure as shooting can sometimes buy peace of mind.

Ever since last night and Morty’s demise, I have been all sorts of anxious. Yes, hi, I’m Mary Sue, and I’m addicted to my computer.

I worried and fretted and did the math several times over. And this morning, doing the math YET A-FREAKING-GAIN, I realised:

1) I have enough money. This is why God designed the Emergency Fund.
2) This was interfering with my ability to concentrate on my work.

I got on the phone with a local place that does certified Mac refurbs, and I’m picking up my new baby tonight, a 12″ G4 iBook. And a wire to transfer eleven years of writing from Morty to the New Baby.

*A note on naming conventions:

I name stuff. It’s a thing. Computers are always, ALWAYS male. Because computers are a pain in my butt. Morty was actually named after a character in the film “Undercover Blues” starring Kathleen Turner and Dennis Quaid.

13
Jun
08

Vacation Planning for Folks With Fluctuating Incomes

In 20 short days I will be hopping a plane and going up a mountain in California, only coming down to go to a Giants game. There will be meat cooked in pits and beer in kegs and more relatives than I could ever hope to remember their names.

I understand some people have this thing called ‘vacation pay’, where their jobs actually pay them to go away. Me? Not so much. That week in July I will be earning no money at all.

Oh, sure, I could not take a vacation and just work my booty off and earn! earn! EARN! My goals in life do not include a heart attack by age 30. No, my goals include maintaining family ties as well as can be done when I’m making my home 700 miles from Home.

So, off I go to the 90-somethingth Fourth of July barbeque and ‘campout’*.

I will still have expenses, though. Not just for gas, eating out, and some of the beer (I am NOT drinking Budweiser, no matter how much crap I have to take from my uncles). When I’m on vacation, my landlord doesn’t stop charging me rent or utilities, and neither does my cell phone provider, my car insurance, et cetera. Now, in the past I didn’t pay attention to that, and just ate a lot of beans and rice and put stuff on Ye Olde Credit Card.

Ye Olde Credit Card is in Ye Olde Tiny Pieces at the bottom of Ye Olde Landfill, so that’s not an option.

The Planning I Did Done for My Vacation:

  1. Figured out I wanted to go at a specific time. This was easier for me since, you know, the Fourth of July is a static date in my world.
  2. Calculated the number of pay periods out the vacation was from current date.  Since my budget isn’t monthly but is based on pay periods, this is important.
  3. Calculated how much it costs me per week to live.
  4. Divided how much it costs me per week to live by how many pay periods left.
  5. Put that amount away in savings every pay period.

Methodical. Simplistic. Boring. The older I get, the more I absolutely LOVE it when my finances are boring.

In other news, Uncle Sam finally gave me back my $600. I had all these plans, ranging from virtuous (bills! Invest! STUDENT LOANS!) to silly (LIPSTICK! In BRIGHT ORANGE!). I’ve got a CD maturing tomorrow, too. I’mna going to sit on it for a while. It’s earning interest in my savings anyway.

 

*My folks built a house on the ancestral property about 8 years ago, so instead of sleeping in the back of a pickup truck, I now get to sleep in a v. comfy pillowtop bed, wake up, shower, and then go down to the campfire, kick my cousins and godsibs out of their cots onto the dirty ground, and have breakfast. This is so awesome I just can’t tell you.

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.

29
Apr
08

Partying Like a Fangirl

This weekend was chock-full of Fangirl Fun. The kind where I have three different inkstamps on my hand (what the hell is up with the ink pads at McMenamins? Seriously, I showered twice and washed my hands dozens of times, and there’s still a rubber ducky there!)

Friday night was the Jonathan Coulton show. Mind you, the last time I went to a concert was in 2002 and it was Neil Diamond. JoCo closed with Sweet Caroline, so it was kind of similar. AND his first song was about IKEA.

Why the delay between concerts? Because I don’t like spending 27.50 (plus 4.15 for a pint) for a few hours unless I know I’m going to be entertained. And JoCo did that. I mean, when you introduce songs like, “This is a song about a giant squid that hates itself”, you’re kind of in for humor. Paul and Storm, who I had never heard of before, also brought the entertainment. HOWEVER Paul and Storm gave out a snack cake to people who could produce a d20, and I’d left my bag at home. So no laptop to keep me entertained during the loooong wait for the show to start, no iPod for the same distraction… AND NO DICE!

Saturday I was supposed to head out to Forest Grove to the Ren Faire, but Killer Migrane o’ DOOM decided I had to crawl into the living room (which has better light-blocking curtains than my room) and wear my sunglasses inside. Which meant I missed the Alexander James performance. Which makes me MAD. The migrane went away in the early afternoon, and I ran out to Target to pick up a game for my DS using a gifty card my mother sent me last month. I got stalked by store security, which is a rant for a whole ‘nother blog. HOWEVER! Cute interlude: The young man who sold me my DS game (Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, bringing me up to owning a total of 3 DS games, THANKS MA!) also went to the JoCo show. And it was his girlfriend who had the d20 in her bag. He’d given it to her 3 years ago as a good luck charm. Everyone say it with me: Awwwwww!

After Target, I went to the Kennedy School and saw National Treasure: Book of Secrets. $3 for the film and $3 for the pint ’cause it was happy hour. Not as good as the first, but it was kind of fun. Although I was playing Super Mario Bros. while I was waiting and had just cussed my way through the tilty mushroom section… if you’ve seen the film, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen it… MOVING ON!

Sunday! Ah, Sunday. Sunday was the Stumptown Comics Festival. I had a budget of $40 for this shindig, which included the $6 entrance fee, and I managed to stay well within budget using my Super-Sekrit Fangirl Comic Convention Budget Strategy.

My Super-Sekrit Fangirl Comic Convention Budget Strategy is this: Only give money to vendors who treat me as an intelligent consumer, instead of Obviously Someone’s Girlfriend, Because No One With The Boobies Likes The Comics.

I traded shiny rocks for comics from:
+ John Aegard for his Greeter series and some of the Comfort Guides. The Greeter comics are HYSTERICAL. Especially, you know, if you’ve recently been w2rking at a Big Box Store.
+ Paul Guinan for Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate. This also caused me a bit of Fangirl Brain Freeze, as I was totally jabbering along with the guy behind the table, and then I glanced at his name badge and realised I was jabbering nonsensically to PAUL GUINAN OMG!
+ Nolan C. Kidwell who has no website that I can find was super-awesome to talk to AND his comic comes complete with recipies! YAY!
+ I did not give the Ommatidia folks shiny rocks, but they gave me a free comic that is AWESOME. So I am filled with shame I did not trade shiny rocks for more of their work. I AM SHAMED! But I see that Brendan Adkins is now a resident of the Rose City, ergo at some point I will see him and give him shiny rocks and possibly cookies.
+ Random plug for my folks at Bridge City Comics, who were there but I trade them shiny rocks all the time, not just during the fest.

And that, my lovelies, is how you party like a fiscally sound fangirl. \o/

21
Apr
08

When Sonic Screwdriver Funds Attack!

I’ve moved from a monthly-based budgeting system to a paycheck-based budgeting system, since (knock wood and the crick don’t rise) I’ll be on a predictable dollar amount biweekly paycheck system through  July 1.  Worst case scenario is July 10th I’m back on a catch-as-catch-can fluctuating weekly paycheck system.

Which would suck, and suck hard, but I’ve done it before.

One other thing I did was rename my nine different INGDirect savings accounts to include the dollar amount I need to sock in there per paycheck. It should save me a lot of time and math and guesswork, get me back on track for steady savings for specific goals, and be another check on my indiscriminate dipping into the Sonic Screwdriver Fund because I’ll know that my tab on my last comic store spree will take three paychecks to work off.

Yes, comics are budgeted under ‘essentials’, but finishing up my collection of all the Spider Jerusalem TPs? Not.

But it did fill me with great joy and the desire to start jumping on cars.

I did dip into it yesterday, though. Because I logged into the Kingdom of Loathing chat channel /radio and one of the local folks asked, “Are you going to JoCo at the Mission on Friday?”

I stared at the screen and couldn’t figure out what she was talking about. Then it clicked. Jonathan Coulton. Mission Theater and Pub. Friday.

Tickets… $20. Plus Ticketmaster’s blood money.

Then I thought to myself, I thought, “WANNA SEE JOCO! And Sonic Screwdriver Fund is not for sitting and looking pretty. That’s what savings is for. Sonic Screwdriver Fund is to go do shiny things with shiny people!”

Hanyoldways, I has ticket to JoCo on Friday and yooooou (probably) don’t! Neener.

 

10
Apr
08

Of Stimulus Checks

Last year us Oregonians got kicker checks, wherein the state refunded us a portion of our paid taxes. Part of mine went to the iPod sitting here on my desk (replacement, budgeted for), part went into savings, and the rest went to various charities I always wish I could give more money to.

Well, I owe the Feds a whole bunch of money. And I wrote the check. It’s just waiting here on my desk until April 14th, because compound interest is sexy OMG.

Since I have my taxes here on my desk, though, I thought I’d give those economic stimulus calculators the real numbers instead of the ones I kind of guessed at.

Apparently, I owe Uncle Sam $630 and he’s going to give me back $600. But not until June.

DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH INTEREST I COULD EARN ON $600 BETWEEN APRIL AND JUNE?!?!

Grrr.

27
Mar
08

Doing Something Different

 I bought some tights the other day from Freddie’s. Thinking that the wee sizing chart on the back was actually, you know, ACCURATE and CONFORMING TO REALITY.

 I got the tights home, pulled them out of the package, realised that they decided a 5’4″ woman over 250 lbs was the exact same as a 6’1″ woman over 200 lbs, held the waistband of the tights over my head and kicked at the toes that were, right hand to God, dragging on the floor, and decided these weren’t going to work.

So, here’s  where I did something different: Instead of keeping the tights forever just because, you know, I bought them, I returned the tights to the store for a refund.

I am so proud of myself I could just spit.