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Saturday, February 17, 2007  

No more

Obviously I am no longer posting to this blog. I found that I wasn't enjoying the time I spent on it, therefore not a great use of my time. For the time being I am leaving it up in case people come across the old posts and still find them helpful. Please check out the other blogs I have linked instead.

Monday, November 20, 2006  

Hiatus Over!

I'm alive! Sorry for the hiatus, I have not had much financial news to write about lately. I find that keeping this blog more regularly had both positive and negative effects on me. On one hand it definitely made me more motivated to do behaviors like bring my lunch to work, but I feel like it made me too obsessive as well. For someone with a salaried job it can be frustrating being too focused on money when you're money is basically spent the some way every month. Even though I have been doing a lot of freelance work lately I haven't collected payment on most of it yet and even when I do get paid it will just all go into savings.

Really ever since I purchased the lot I've been in a bit of a financial limbo - the lot had been my main financial goal since I started working and now that I've made the down payment my savings no longer have a clear goal. After the down payment I'm left with only 2k in my emergency savings so I definitely need to continue to put money into that in order to have the 6 month cushion that Suze Orman suggests. But having a large emergency savings just isn't a goal that I am able to get too fired up about. I know that I am lucky to have a "boring" financial life right now but I admit I wouldn't mind a little excitement!

Monday, October 16, 2006  

Free Fun Weekend Activities

I often feel frustrated on the weekend when I realize there is so little to do for free, especially activities to do with friends. Spending money kind of gives you an activity to do together. That's why bars make so much money, even though you know you are paying as much for a glass of wine as you usually do for the entire bottle having somewhere to go makes it a fun activity rather than just - well, sitting around at home drinking wine.
Here's a list of my favorite ways to entertain myself on the weekend for free:

  • Go on a bike ride: This is my number one free activity (of course I did have to pay for the bike). I'm not going to lie though, often we go on bike rides to try out a new restaurant and therefore spend money. But at least we're getting some entertainment out of the free ride there and back.

  • Go to the lake front trail: OK, this is another bike-riding activity but a different one and it could also be a walking or rollerblading activity. Many cities have a place like this for people to walk or bike.

  • Go to the library: I love to go to the library to check out books or sit around and read magazines. This is a great way to spend free time but usually a solo activity, not a social one.

  • Go to the zoo and botanical gardens: Here in Chicago we hare very lucky to have both of these places for free! I know most zoos aren't free, but I think it is more common to have gardens with free entrance.

  • Go to the dog park: I am aware that some people might find it strange to go to the dog park without a dog. However I will not be held back from watching cute animals just because I happen to have a cat! The dog park can offer hours of free adorable entertainment.

I would love to hear what everyone else does!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006  

Embrace The Cheapness!

I have a reputation at work for being cheap. Not wanting to eat out, not spending a lot on clothes, and always taking advantage of leftover breakfasts and lunches from meetings. If you are more frugal than the people around you they will probably start to notice and likely tease you about it. It might make you feel embarrassed and just want to do what everyone else is doing to fit in. But I say embrace the cheapness! If they want to tease you who cares? And I've found a benefit to having this reputation- I have had coworkers offer to buy me starbucks if I go pick up their drink. They would never think to strike this deal unless they knew I would go for it (I'm not one to pass up a free iced latte). If someone receives a coupon they don't want guess who is the first one they offer it to?
Taking control of your spending is not always the easy road to take. I sometimes feel jealous of my coworkers with better and newer wardrobes. It almost makes it more frustrating that I can afford to eat out every day or shop a lot more if I wanted to but I know that's not the best use of my money and what is really going to make me feel happy. So instead of dwelling on what I'm not doing I try to focus on what I am - and know that it's best for me despite the judgments others may make.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006  

Why I Purchased an Empty Lot Instead of a Home

OK I know what you're thinking - empty land is not a usual purchase for the early 20s blogger set. Buying a lot often means farmland or the very wealthy building the mansion of their dreams.

To start off my story: I have always loved all forms of design. I inherited this from my father who is an architect that primarily works on custom homes. His tastes are very similar to mine and I grew up a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired home filled with mid-century modern furniture. I have always dreamed in living in a home that my father designed. One just because I know he could create the most amazing, Dwell-worthy house I could imagine but two just because I love the idea of being at home in something that he created.

Of course building a custom home is expensive, and I'm nowhere near ready to even buy a condo at this point. But what is (sometimes) cheaper than a house? The land that it sits on. I realized that buying a piece of property for my future home would be a step that I could pursue now, and begin to pay for as I save for the house that will go on it. My property is in an area I would describe as "soon to be up and coming" and I feel that prices there will rise at a much faster rate than my savings. So may as well start with the property now and if it no longer works for me in the future I can always sell it. For this reason I feel confidant that it was a good financial decision for me, and I like knowing that when it's time to build the house I will not have to bear the entire weight of a loan for a lot as well as the construction.

Debt-Free No More!

Previously I prided myself on being debt-free - but now I am actually happy to announce I have entered a new (though debt-ridden) stage of life. This week I purchased a lot (as in a plot of land)! Clearly this is a big financial move that requires a lot of thought and planning but I didn't want to write about it here before it actually happened. Now that it's mine I'm planning to write a series of posts about how I came to my decision and the process of looking for a lot. I see a lot of blogging about purchasing real estate but never empty land. So if you're interested stay tuned for many posts on this topic in the future!

Monday, September 25, 2006  

Why you don't have to stick to your budget all the time

Budgeting is a daunting task to so many people because they feel that every penny must be accounted for and that they're a failure if they don't meet all of their goals. First of all never forget that figuring out where your money goes is a fluid process, you will need to adjust your budget as you figure it out more realistically.

But the fluidity that must exist with budgeting is not what I wanted to write about today, I sat down to write about how I stick to my budget - most of the time - and that most of the time is good enough. I have started using cash to limit my food spending. Because I love reading real numbers on other blogs I'll tell you that my food budget is $60 per week. This includes going out on weekends and everything that accompanies that like cab fare. I spent the vast majority of that number on weekends.

Last week thursday rolled around and all my coworkers decided to go out for sushi. I felt like having a social lunch, and more than that was absolutely desperate to get out of the office that day. I only had $7 cash left- not enough for this lunch out. But I did it anyway. I am lucky that I'm in a position where that extra money on lunch is not going to make or break me. So I went over my lunch budget for the week. It's not a huge deal and it doesn't blow my whole month. I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch and didn't feel bad about it. The point of a budget is be aware of these little extravagances and make them the exception rather than the norm. You are not a failure if your budget doesn't work out all of the time. Work towards all of the time, but most of the time is definitely good enough.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006  

I got a raise!

Here to share some financial good news- I just had my one year review and I got a pretty nice raise - a little more than %15 above above my previous salary! And even better they told me it starts last week so that it my pay will increase from my one-year anniversary exactly.

How did I get such a fat raise? Well first of all I do an awesome job! Actually I should write a post about my advice for all of you at your first jobs out of school — since I've been here a year I'm at least sort of qualified to give advice, right?
But I have something more specific that I did that all of you can do: I asked for my review. When I realized a year was coming up I figured out the exact date I had started then emailed the higher-ups about a week before reminding them that my one year was coming up and asking for a review. I think a lot of people just sit back and wait for the boss to approach them but this is not a good move. After all, why would your company be eager to pony up more money? I casually asked a co-worker who started on the same date I did if her review was the same day as mine- she said no one had mentioned a review to her. And now a week later I know she is still sitting back waiting for them to say something while I'm enjoying my higher paycheck.

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