Monday, April 27, 2009

Things that make me happy, but don't cost me money

  1. Having a good laugh with a friend over something silly (can't be serious all the time).
  2. Spending time with my family (my biological fam and people I've claimed as family over the years).
  3. Figuring out a new way to wear something I already had in my closet.
  4. Sunny days.
  5. Hot cups of green tea (all year-round, I'm weird like that).
  6. Seeing progress toward goals.
  7. Finding a DVD at the library that I wanted to see for a while.
  8. Unexpectedly seeing a friend in a random place or setting.
  9. Riding (I don't drive much) through Rock Creek Park (in DC) or Fairmount Park (in Philly) on a sunny Spring day with the windows down.
  10. Hearing my favorite song of the moment on the radio.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Life Balance, Maintaining Relationships and My Finances

I admit, it is a budget stretch when I do certain things like take an occasional trip out-of-town, or travel to my hometown on a regular basis to attend to family commitments and keep up with my friends that still live there. But though I’m not perfect, I do save money monthly, I do save for retirement, and though I have a fairly large amount of debt (largely student loans and some credit card debt), I have very good credit.

So I will be taking a few weekend trips between now and December. If a friend asks me to go to dinner or a happy hour while the weather is warm, if I’m free, I will go. I will be attending at least one family reunion this summer. I will be visiting my father in Florida in the near future (maybe in May?). I’ve learned that it sometimes costs money to maintain relationships with people. I don’t want to look back on my twenties and say, “I saved a bunch of money and got out of debt, but I didn’t make time/spend some money to maintain relationships with my family and friends.” I don’t want to miss family reunions, baby showers, weddings, cookouts, traveling with my aging grandparents and traveling with friends while I’m young. I'll do what I believe I can afford without incurring more debt. I will get my finances in shape, but I will do in on my own terms in a way that suits my life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I May Take A Weekend Trip In June

My friend asked me the other day of I'd like to take a long weekend trip to Las Vegas in June. I am seriously considering it (I'm 85% sure I'll go). I don't plan to take any major trips this year so this might be the second (My NYC birthday day trip was the first) of a few long weekend trips I'll take between now and the end of the year. My friend has taken charge of finding us the best deal (trip planning is not my forte...). Here is a tentative budget:


Hotel -$150

Food-$100 (I'm not a big eater or alcohol drinker)

Spending Money/Sightseeing-$200

Misc Transportation (Taxis, Airport Shuttle)-$100

TOTAL -$900

After more research is done, I'll see if this budget is realistic. The goal is to put the money together for this trip without touching my emergency fund, because a traveling jones is really not an emergency...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Opened Roth IRA

After going back and forth over whether I should hold off on this goal a while longer, I decided to open a Roth IRA. I will transfer $200 per month into my Roth IRA for the remainder of the year. Why do I have an extra $200 in my budget you may ask? It's not really extra, my private student loan from college recently went into deferment (nearly $300 per month) because of my in-school status as a part-time graduate student. So, I've decided to use this money I'm already accustomed to paying out each month into a Roth IRA and the remainder will most likely be diverted to my credit card balance. My student loans are not a financial focus for this year but I hope to be able to accelerate payments in 2010 and beyond. For now, I'll keep chipping away at my other financial goals, which I've discussed in detail before like adding to my emergency fund, paying off credit card debt and contributing to retirement funds. When I do start paying my student loans again in 2010, after my graduate program is over, I plan to increase my income and decrease unnecessary expenses in my budget.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My 1st Year of Blogging

I've been kind of swamped with school and work lately and realized a little belatedly that I've been blogging for a year now. April 4th of 2008 was my first post on Small Budget, Big Style. Blogging has made me think more seriously about my finances and I've gained a lot of inspiration from reading some of the excellent personal finance blogs out there (see my blog roll for my regualr reads). On the personal and financial front, since I started this blog:
  1. I continued to contribute to my 403b through my job.
  2. I recently met my short term emergency fund goal ($3,000).
  3. I've paid off credit card debt, but still have a ways to go before its eliminated completely.
  4. Started graduate school part time.
  5. Started to set aside money to open a Roth IRA.
Blogging has also been an effort to write on a regular basis. My focus has not been on my finances lately, but I plan to pay more attention to my financial goals so I can see real, measureable progress by the end of the year. I appreciate all of the nice comments I've received over the past year and appreciate those that have me on their blog rolls (If anyone wants to trade blog links, please leave a comment or email me). I look foward to bringing more frequent, thoughtful content and positive financial progress updates very soon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Brief Hiatus Until Next Week

I have let my graduate school class get the best of me and have to catch up on assignments and reading. Getting a quiz every class period makes my class a higher priority than usual at the moment. That along with the fact that I have never taken this type of class before is daunting. Regular posting will resume by mid-week next week. I clearly need to do a post on time management along with others I have in mind because I have not been managing my time wisely...