Wednesday, July 30, 2008
~$20 Metro commute (to and from work)
~$50 Weekend entertainment costs
~A week’s worth of utilities
Yay for trips to visit family!
Since this is my “vacation” for the summer, I intend to enjoy myself, but visiting family instead of going on a trip where I would have to spend money on food, hotel and entertainment is good for my budget. Airfare is my major expense for this trip. My goal for 2009 is to take a trip out of the country to somewhere I have never been before for a minimum of four days. I'll go into more detail on that when I update my goals. But for this year, other expenses take priority over traveling to other countries or locales. So Florida, here I come.
Does anyone have any ideas for inexpensive tourist things to do in Tampa?
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Do you have a store at which you are making an effort to curb your spending?
Image: Target Website
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I came to the realization not too long ago, that I need to learn how to be more handy. I am a little embarrassed to say I don't even own a hammer. So I am thinking about purchasing a small tool set so I won't have to call someone every time I need to do a minor household task that requires a tool like a hammer. Here is one pictured above that I was saw on Target's website. I like the idea that the tool set is girly-looking and part of the proceeds of the tool set go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Now I just need someone to show me how to use these tools so I don't hurt myself or hard surfaces like the walls of my apartment...
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
- Should I open a Roth IRA with Vanguard or Fidelity?
- Is it wise to get a target date or life-cycle fund IRA since I don’t feel comfortable balancing a portfolio of investments yet?
- How long will it take to reach my goal of having $5,000 in my emergency fund?
- Why does identity theft seem to be running rampant these days?
- Why are there so many applications on Facebook and who actually has the time to use them?
- Why does the professional organization I recently joined charge for every event, workshop or training they offer, don’t they know that the cost is prohibitive for young professionals?
- Why am I, a full-grown woman looking forward to watching teen targeted shows this fall like Gossip Girl?
- Why does bronzer (when properly applied) make almost everyone’s face look better?
- Why is the cost of housing so expensive in cities I like such as New York, San Francisco, and Washington?
- Why are people so obsessed with celebrity babies?
- Where did the idea of putting 20% down on a house purchase come from and why are so few people in the position to do that today?
- How long will it take for the economy to rebound?
- How can I learn how to dance as well as Joshua or Will on the reality show, “So You Think You Can Dance”? I know I’m not the only one who watches…
- Why isn’t all water free?
- Will a graduate degree make a large difference in my earnings over my lifetime?
- Why is Apple always ahead of the curve on technology such as the iPhone and the Mac Air?
- Is it really cost effective to drive a hybrid of any type?
- Why isn’t gym built into the work-day like in elementary school since Americans as a whole are overweight and suffer from obesity related diseases (type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc.)?
- Does networth really matter or is cash flow more important?
- Will the American dollar regain its strength in the global market?
Click here to see my first edition of 20 (Random) questions. Do you have a random question you’d like someone to answer?
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
“Wachovia Corp. lost a staggering $8.9 billion in the second quarter of this year, leading the nation's fourth-largest bank to cut its dividend and slash 6,350 jobs in response to mortgage-related losses.
Wachovia is being hurt by its $25 billion acquisition of California's Golden West Financial Corp. in 2006, a California lender known for novelty mortgages that are now defaulting at a higher rate than more traditional mortgages.
Shares of Charlotte-based Wachovia dropped at the market's opening today but rose in mid-morning trading. The market as a whole mirrored Wachovia, diving at the opening bell on earnings from American Express Inc., Apple Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc., all of which failed to meet analyst expectations. "
Now large banks like Wachovia are suffering? I sure hope our next president is prepared to deal with these economic issues…
Monday, July 21, 2008
~Starbucks - $7
~Metro - $20
~H&M - $38
~West Elm (floor pillow) - $35
~CVS (snacks, etc.) - $13
~Dunkin Donuts - $5
~Eyebrows - $10
I went into H&M after work on Friday and of course ended up buying something: some black shorts and black flats which I buy once a season b/c I wear them practically everyday. I outlined in this post that black shorts were an item I intended to add to my summer wardrobe b/c as odd as it sounds, I didn't have any.
Note: I didn't include my rent, renter's insurance, and other misc. bills because none of them actually cleared though they were mailed over the weekend.
After moving into virtually every occupation, women are being afflicted on a large scale by the same troubles as men: downturns, layoffs, outsourcing, stagnant wages or the discouraging prospect of an outright pay cut. And they are responding as men have, by dropping out or disappearing for awhile.
As a woman, this is encouraging me to keep funneling money into my emergency fund. Like other single 20-somethings, dropping out of the workforce is not an option. I am hopeful like everyone else, that the economy will rebound, but who knows how long that will take?
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Here are 6 reasons why I am leaning toward biting the bullet and applying to school:
- I am single with no children which would make putting all of my energy into my studies much easier than it would be in the future. I also have the option of moving to another city without too much hassle since my family isn’t in DC anyway and a lot of my college classmates/friends relocated after graduation.
- I currently live in a city that has several high caliber colleges only a short Metro ride away from where I live.
- I am young, so it is a reasonable assumption that I can aggressively pay down student loans I incur while I am still relatively young.
- Obtaining a degree now that I have some work experience under my belt, would add to my chances of obtaining a management level position in my field (or another field) in a reasonably short amount of time.
- Scholarships could defray the costs of attending school.
- I love school! Oh wait, I said that already.
Here are 6 reasons why I am considering waiting a few more years to go to school if at all:
- Incurring more debt turns my smile upside down. The more I am learning about pf, the more I am starting to dislike the term “good debt,” debt is debt!
- Attending school would leave me less time for my personal interests like blogging, working on other types of writing, and serving on the board of a non-profit organization in my hometown.
- Regardless of whether I attend school part time or full time, I won’t have time for my side-gig. I’ve drastically cut back my hours for the summer, but working my side-gig during the holidays does come in handy for purchasing Christmas gifts and other low-priority expenses.
- I’m not sure if my cum laude college GPA would be high enough to get me a full ride to any of the schools I am considering so far.
- Going back to school would put a crimp in my savings and debt reduction goals. My retirement savings, which I plan to make a focus in 2009 and beyond could also potentially suffer because of lack of (or reduced) income for the time period that I am a student.
- I dislike being in debt! Oh wait, I said that already also.
No decisions will be made today, I took the LSAT this past December and was sorely disappointed with my score, so though I don’t want to completely give up on that goal, I am wondering if another degree like an MBA or MPA might be a good fit for my goals and interests also. In the mean time: I will continue to do research on programs and schools that interest me, finally complete a personal statement (which can be adapted based on my final decision), and rack my brain for a professor I can track down for a decent letter of recommendation when the time comes. I will revisit conundrum this September when fall actually arrives.
Is anyone else out there being held back from taking the jump and going back to school because wariness in taking on more debt?
Friday, July 18, 2008
"With gas prices at record highs, a new report on walking couldn't come at a better time. The site Walk Score has just released a list of America's 10 most walkable cities. Some cities on the list aren't surprises — note New York and Portland, Oregon — but others are not known for being pedestrian friendly (see LosAngeles). However, in the case of L.A., although many of the surrounding regionsare indeed heavily car-dependent, a number of neighborhoods nearer to the city's center are highly accessible, earning scores above 90. A project of civic software group Front Seat, and advised by the Sightline Institute, the Brookings Institution and Google, Walk Score ranks 2,508 neighborhoods in the largest 40 U.S. cities, with the goal of helping people locate housing in walkable areas. The group points out that walking is not only a great way to reduce our carbon footprint, but it also carries important health benefits. "
At this point in my life, I could not live in a city that wasn't highly walk-able. For one, I actually enjoy walking and for two, I don’t own a car. Do you live in a walkable city, does your city's walk-ability impact your driving habits?
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Last Saturday, I attended an event on homeownership at my alma mater here in DC where Singletary was the keynote speaker. Just as she does in her column and books (she has published a few), she told attendees to get back to the basics and to stop their high consuming habits. The event overall was great, but I liked Singletary's keynote the best. The event had different workshops focused on issues such as the merits of home ownership vs. renting, information about loan options, specific information about DC area properties, opportunities to talk with agents, etc. Here are a few pf gems she discussed in her presentation that may not be new to most people, but hey most people (myself included) aren't completely debt free so there is nothing wrong with reinforcement.
Michelle's Advice on how to feel better about your personal finances:
Order your steps to wealth
- Have an emergency fund. Life is filled with large and small emergencies, so its best to be prepared.
- Have a life happens fund. There are times in life that don't qualify as an emergency, but were not alloted for in your budget.
- Pay off debt. I believe Michelle regularly uses the phrase: debt is slavery and I am begining to agree with her.
- Invest in a retirement fund. Even those people blessed with children shouldn't depend on them to take care of them in retirement. I'm sure most people would like to live as well, if not better than they currently do when they retire.
- Invest in your children's college education (if you have them). Knowledge is power, and one of the greatest things you can do for your child is invest in their education. But not at the expense of your own retirement! If you don't have children, you can invest in furthering your own education, or that of a relative (niece, nephew, cousin, godchild).
- It helps you to use your money on the things that really matter to you. When you are not worrying about bills and debt, you can free up your time to pursue your own dreams or even just figure out what those dreams are.
- It let's you to control your money instead of your money controlling you. Enough said!
- It will tell you if you are living beyond your means. What is really the point of "keeping up with the Jones'?"
- It helps you to meet your savings goals. Whether its for a rainy day, a vacation, or a home, savings is the cornerstone to building wealth.
- It helps you to leave a legacy. Don't we all want to leave a legacy to our loved-ones besides debt? I know I do.
- Decrease your debt. I don't want to bein debt forever, do you?
- Budgeting better. This can keep you from wasting money you didn't know you were wasting in the first place!
- Owning a home. a major way most people build wealth.
- Investing. Your last name doesn't have to be Buffett to invest, we all can.
Reinforcement is important, and I enjoyed hearing Michelle's get "back to basics" message, though it wasn't necessarily new information to me. Home ownership is a goal that is at least two years away, but it's never too early to gather information for when I am ready to take the step. In the mean time, I will be infused with inspiration and resolve to be debt free by reading my favorite pf blogs and Michelle's column.
If you have $100,000 or less in your name in any one bank, you have nothing to worry about. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., an independent agency of the federal government, will insure up to $100,000 per depositor per insured bank or savings association.
For more information, read this Washington Post Q & A article: What To Know About Your Accounts.
I know my assets are relatively small (but growing), but reassurance that my money is available should I need it is very important to me. I am a total news junkie, but even I am having to tune out all of this news coverage on America's failing economy. I like to be informed but not inundated...
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Metro has set a new all-time record high for ridership, surpassing the previous record from 2004 on the day of President Reagan's state funeral. Metro says it counted 854,638 riders on Friday, beating the old record by 4,000 passenger trips. Officials attribute the spike to a Washington Nationals baseball game, a Women of Faith Conference at the Verizon Center and tourists visiting the city. So far, 20 of Metrorail's top 25 highest ridership days in its 32-year history have been recorded this year. Many of the busiest days are generated by baseball games or big events like the Cherry Blossom Festival or the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. But ridership has been steadily increasing as high gas prices push more people to take Metro trains instead of driving.
Looks like I’m not the only one forgoing driving to save money.
Monday, July 14, 2008
I did pretty good with my spending this weekend:
- $10, Metro Smart Trip Card
- $3.85, Starbucks (it was Friday and I splurged...)
- $7.50, Laundry detergent, etc.
- $0, Lunch (free lunch at a home ownership seminar I attended)
- $0, Dinner (thanks to my Mother and Godmother with whom I went out to dinner)
- $8.00, OnDemand movies
- $0, Coffee, fruit tart (thanks again to Mom for treating)
- $0, walk to the outdoor market (food, artists, vendors) in my neighborhood (Not carrying around money helps to avoid spending temptation)
Friday, July 11, 2008
I like gadgets, but I like saving money and decreasing my debt more. A phone plan that would accomdate all of the iPhone's features is simply not in the budget right now.
Is anybody out there planning on purchasing an iPhone or any other type of cell phone/PDA in the immediate future?
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I was recently given several pieces of artwork from my Dad that were in my Grandparents house (may they rest in peace). This makes me happy for two reasons: (1) I can be reminded of all of the cherished memories I have of them when I look at the walls of my apartment (2) I don’t have to spend money to adorn my walls. Even some of the ideas I outlined in this post still have a cost.
Now here is the problem: I live alone and am short, and hanging pictures is really a two person job because of my small size. Not to mention the fact that I am terrified of putting a hole in my wall by accident. I'm not too handy (though I plan to work on this), I don't even think I own a hammer... I am a little embarrassed to ask my neighbor to help me hang my pics so I’m waiting either for a relative or a friend to visit me to help me hang them.
Being tiny has its advantages but hanging art isn’t one of them…
I still haven’t made it over the Steve and Barry’s to add to my summer wardrobe and it looks like I’m not the only one who hasn’t according to Madame X’s post at My Open Wallet: Compare and Contrast
I have a second job at a retail clothing store, but it’s more so because I like getting my work clothes at a discount and having a little extra pocket money, the need to pay bills with the extra money. But it looks like more people are depending on second jobs to get by according to Escape Brooklyn’s post: Second Jobs
Sometimes when you loan a relative money, you just have to chalk it up because you won’t be getting it back like J at Budgets Are Sexy discussed in the post: I loaned my uncle 100 and I will not be getting it back
I was considering writing a post about this subject, but Squawk Fox did it so well, I don’t have to. Check out: 10 free ways to get into fitness this summer which is a part of the Summer Fun Guide series by the Personal Finance Network
A post on Wise Bread advises buyers to beware weak banks that offer high interest rates
All of us should consider giving back to others in need as Spilling Buckets describes in the post: Why we closed prosper.com and Opened Kiva.org
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
"Everyone knows the G.I. generation of World War II and the baby boomers who followed. And everyone knows the late-20th-century demographic labeled with the non-label generation X. But the next generation, a growing force in presidential politics, the job market and the spread of social networking, is harder to define. Lumped under millennials or generation Y, some in their 20s and early 30s say those titles and others ginned up almost daily in a brand -obsessed pop culture confuse them. They are unsure what most encapsulates their experience....No doubt it has always been difficult for generations to accept labels and generalizations. But some in the post-X generation say their puzzlement over their collective identity is more pronounced because their formative experiences have been so splintered."
Do you or 20-somethings you know identify with the term Generation Y?
Monday, July 7, 2008
I got lax during the month of June with using my credit card and my balance crept up some. But I have a new resolve and plan to have at least 2,000 of my credit card debt paid off by the end of the year. Once I have my EF up to 1,500 (not a month’s worth of living expenses but a small cushion is better than none at all). I will resume the more long-term goal of 5,000 in Emergency savings in January. It makes no sense to have more than a months worth of expenses saved up and still have credit card balances to pay off. I will then throw as much money as I can on my credit card balances because I am determined to have them paid off by this time next year. It’s time to buckle down and get this monkey off my back. I can comfortably afford to put $500 a month toward credit card balances if I curb my impulse spending.
A person seeking an Olympic medal and a person seeking to pay off debt both need:
- Focus and Drive. You have to have single minded focus to pay off large amounts of debt. If your focus strays, you are more likely to incur more debt. If your focus strays in competition, you are likely to lose.
- Visualizing Yourself Reaching Your Goal. Like any other goal, actually visualizing your goal is key in accomplishing it. Visualize a zero balance on your credit card statement as you would visualize yourself crossing the finish line in a race.
- Good coaching. Whether it be from a financial advisor, trusted friend, or blogging community, everyone needs coaching at some point to reach the goal of paying off major debt, just as you would need coaching to beat your opponent in a gymnastics competition. An objective person that can see the good and bad things you are doing to meet your final goal is very helpful in accomplishing that goal.
- A Plan of Attack. Just as a relay team has a plan of attack and knows how to play up the strengths of differerent members of the team at various points of the race, you need a plan to pay off debt. Whether you are paying off high interest debt first, or concentrating on paying off debt by amount, you need to devise a plan and stick to it to pay it off in a timely manner.
- Know Your Opponent. Credit card companies, retail stores and other outside forces can suck you right back into a cycle of debt, so its good to know your opponet so you won't fall pray to their advances. Say no when you are offered a discount to open a store card when the cashier is ringing you up. Don't use that credit card just because you are racking up frequent flyer miles if you a carrying a large balance. Stay vigilant because there are deterrants everywhere to impede on your progress.
My closest brush to athletic competion was winning a gold medal in my brief run as figure skater while I was around 10 years old. I have forgotten all of the spins and jumps I so painstakenly practiced to win that medal, but I do remember that feeling of winning and the pure joy that goes along with that. I want to have that feeling again when I win this battle against my debt.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Fewer than one in five workers will be able to maintain their lifestyle upon retirement, with women being at a disadvantage because of their longer life spans and lower pay, according to a study released Tuesday. On average, employees are projected to replace just 85 percent of their income in retirement, compared to the 126 percent they would need when factoring in inflation, longer life spans and medical costs, the study by Hewitt Associates found.
This is another reason not to delay saving for retirement just because you are young. It’s unfortunate, but I think a lot of Baby Boomers around my parents age simply won’t be able to retire when they want to because of insufficient retirement savings. I’ll be so happy when I crush my consumer debt so more of my money can be funneled into my retirement fund.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
I’ve read a few articles recently in the New York Times about the economic woes we have recently been experiencing:
Deepening Cycle of Job Loss Seen Lasting Into ’09
Starbucks Announces It Will Close 600 Stores
Car Sales at 10-Year Low
Banks Trimming Limits for Many on Credit Cards
Photo: The New York Times article, Car Sales at 10-Year Low, Fabrizio Costantini
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
- What were you doing 10 years ago? I was preparing to start high school 10 years ago (aged 14) in my hometown of Philly. That particular summer, I went on a 14 day trip to Africa and Italy with a group of students where we performed a play and stayed with host families. We spent the whole summer learning about the countries we were visiting and practicing the play. That is one of the most defining experiences of my adolescence.
- Five items on today’s “to do” list: (1) Write a press release for the nonprofit I volunteer for (2) Purchase train ticket to travel to Philly for the weekend (3) Return my library books (4) Revisit my personal statement for my 1st grad school application (5) Return a few phone calls
- What snacks do you enjoy? Soft pretzels and water ice (yes both of them together!), mint sandwich cookies, watermelon, clementine oranges
- What would you do if you were a billionaire? I would pay off my parents and grandparents mortgages and other outstanding debts, pay off my own debts, purchase a few properties, invest a large chunk of it and give a sizable amount to charities I believe in. I would then take a year off, travel the world, start at least one business and write the next great American novel (I don't really have to be a billionaire to do this I guess).
- Where would you live? Hmm…so many places come to mind. I’d like to have a home in the Philadelphia area because I love the city and the benefit of being in close proximity to other cities I like, NYC and DC. I’d also like to have home in West Africa and an apartment in Italy.
Now, I’ll tag Forest at Forest on Finance.
I am well aware that most people make assumptions on you based on how you look. But I can’t tell you how frustrating it is in work situations for people to assume that because you are young (and look younger in my case) that you are somehow brain deficient. I feel that being a younger member of the workforce makes me have to exert more effort to prove my value to my older colleagues. In my experience, people don't necessarily think that having fresher ideas and a different perspective make you an asset to the team. Yes, I graduated from college less than 5 (4,3...) years ago. Yes, I was an infant, toddler, preschooler in the mid-eighties. Yes, I regularly check my Facebook profile and can send a text message faster than some people can utter a sentence. Yes, I've had my own cell phone since high school. No, I don't really remember a time without cable television. But I am also well-read, have a curious nature and am a hard worker.
I will never forget in one instance at my previous job when I was at a meeting with our client and other staff members that one person asked me if I was an intern and another just out-right asked me how old I was. I know that I would not have been asked either question if I were older, or looked older. It does not help that I am also short so just about everyone tends to tower over me. It didn’t matter to the people that asked me these (rude in my opinion) questions that I had a suit on like my other co-workers or that regardless of whether or not I was working as a regular employee or an intern, that I was indeed still working. Since I don’t anticipate growing any taller at age 24 or looking older anytime soon, I just have to deal with it, but it’s still frustrating to experience.
I appreciate that in my current job my superiors respect and welcome my ideas and opinions despite my youth. But I still run into questions about my age when I meet new colleagues such as when I attended a conference for work last week. I got asked several times during that conference if I was a student…Oh well, I guess I could have worst problems than looking young for my age.
A few things I try to do in the work place to not be treated like a professional despite my age are:
- Dress in a professional (yet fashionable manner).
- Contribute ideas and comments while in meetings.
- Try to do tasks before being asked.
- Remain friendly (and professional) at all times.
Everyone is a work in progress and these are things I still need to work on:
- Being more assertive.
- Gaining more credentials (taking courses and workshops in my field, obtaining a graduate degree).
- Being more proactive and gain a reputation as a problem solver at work.
Has anyone else ever faced difficulties with youth bias as a young professional? Does anyone else have any tips on how to make yourself more of an asset at your job despite being early in your career?