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Successes & Not Such Successes

July 28th, 2014 at 08:28 pm

While I have been keeping up with my budget, these past two months I've consistently gone over in a few categories, especially dining and clothing. But in other areas I've done extremely well, and I can afford to be spending money, so I'm trying not to worry about it too much. This month I've already spent a little over $100 in clothes; however I'm planning on returning some shorts and several items were needed (yoga shirt, yoga pants, hat). And I love dresses haha.

Because of my camp job I get a free Y membership, so I've been going to as many yoga classes as I can fit in (sadly, I can really only go on weekends). Besides that I've done a lot of hiking and have been going to free events around my town.

I have a passive goal to spend as little as possible on furniture for my apartment next year. I've acquired lots of living room furniture from my aunt and family friends; I'm collecting Target and BB&B coupons because I may want an ottoman, storage containers, drawer system, and rug. I'm planning on a new mattress pillow top being my most expensive purchase. I finally finished making my futon bedframe, so it now has two sections that are 12 1/2 inches high and 25 inches wide (for storage). Dad had all the hardware, tools, and stain and he paid $3 per 2x4 (we used 4 pieces) but he didn't let me pay him back. And I cleaned off a plastic drawer set that my father found in the trash.

I've acquired a lot of Amazon gift cards from Bing and Swagbucks and I'm planning on using that to buy my hair products; I also have had a few $25 PayPals. Finally, I tried out my first credit-card-for-a-reward play, with good results. REI was offering a $100 gift card if members opened a Visa with them. Since I had been considering buying a membership anyway ($20 for life), I figured this was the time to do it.

After one purchase on the card, I received my gift card. Then they put out a promotion for a $20 gift card when you spend $100+. Just today I went in to buy the North Face Recon backpack, which will work for both school and hiking. I had been planning on buying this backpack anyway, and at $99 it was the perfect price, but better with a $100 gift card! I added a face sunscreen stick to bump me over the $100 mark (also something I had needed to buy). After applying the gift card I paid $13.63 (with my REI credit card) and received the $20 gift card. Nearly like a $7 profit! The only catch is you have to use the gift card between certain dates, but if I can't think of something I need I will buy my father his Christmas gift.

Not too shabby. Now the trick is to refrain from buying new clothes and going out to eat so much--it's hard when I have so many staff dinners and invites from friends, combined with no self control when it comes to yummy food!

New Apartment Stuff & Organization

May 3rd, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Today was a good day--spent time with family and friends, it was Free Comic Book Day, and my cat is sleeping on my feet right now. I've had the last few days off, after coming home from school Thursday night. Tomorrow I need to organize my life before it gets crazy again on Monday. (I'm working two jobs in May--the part-time retail I've had since high school and the tour guide position I got this year--before camp starts in mid-June.)

Organization. It's one of those things I aspire to but often fail at...this blog is case in point. I'm great at organizing books, filling out my agenda, and getting my work done on time. Everything else I fail at, even though clutter stresses me out. I get very attached to things and it often feels bad to let material things go...it's something I'm working on. But besides actually doing a budget for the rest of May and mapping out the next few weeks and writing some late birthday thank yous, I want to tackle at least one shelf or drawer tomorrow!

One of the things I've been a little obsessed with lately is the apartment for next year. I'm sad to be done with dorms but excited to be moving on. It's also been a bit stressful, both while we were searching (with four girls, there were a lot of differing criteria) and now that we've signed (I won't go into them, because I'm hoping those issues can be worked out soon). My room, which we drew straws for, is the second smallest at 11x9, with a small closet...it's still bigger than my room at home and I'm kind of excited for the organization challenge!

Currently, my rent is $750 a month (that may be changing a little given one of the issues we're having...we'll see.) I'm responsible for my food, transportation, school expenses, and any entertainment or other personal expenses. My parents said they would pay up to $1000 a month for rent and utilities, but I'm hoping to cover utilities if I can, and if I have any surplus money I hope to pay for a month or two. (I paid $750 for last month's rent already...we lucked out and didn't have a security deposit or other fees.)

I'm a little torn between splurging on nice, uniform furniture items that I can use in a future apartment, or mixing and matching what I can find and dealing with the fact that it might not look so nice. Currently, I'm leaning toward the latter.

One of the most expensive things was promising to be the bed. I didn't want to take my mattress from home because I do plan on coming back a few times a month (my laundry is more expensive than on-campus and I often miss my cat) as well as a few weeks at Christmas so I can work. My parents have an old-ish full-size futon that is in the den, and they said I could have it if it was comfortable enough. Last night I put it to the test. With my twin-size egg crate and mattress topper it's actually not too bad, and my twin xl comforter surprisingly fits perfectly. My parents said I can borrow two or three of their queen-size sheet sets.

I was a little apprehensive and I'm going to give it a few more nights, but I think this will work! Dad said he'd help me design and make a bed frame that can fit storage underneath, and I figure if I end up feeling uncomfortable I can buy a new mattress pad (I found one with good reviews on Overstock for about $60) or get a camping pad or something. And my cat seems to like it...he's been sleeping on it all day!

Does anyone have advice for college apartment living? Sleeping on a futon? Clever storage ideas? I'd love to hear them!

Christmas Spoils!

December 26th, 2013 at 08:39 am

I won't be telling you EVERYTHING I got. Some of it is irrelevant, just really nice gifts. But a decent amount is useful, or is actually money.

I got a drying rack. My roommate already has one, so it's going to the "apartment pile" in the attic, with the four wooden chairs (found in trash), silverware (grandparents' old set), iron and ironing board (from Christmas last year), and odds and ends.

Also got a travel mug (yay! I've been needing one of those); Illustrator, Indesign, and Photoshop (vital for my classes and if I want to freelance, but super expensive, so thank you mom and dad); tissues, toothpaste, chapstick, throat lozenges; new gloves; some of my rather expensive DevaCurl products. A super nice gift from my aunt was a pair of Facet sunglasses from Smith...so beautiful, and originally $119 but she gets 50% off Smith Big Grin (I must get some of my money-obsession from her!)

As for actual money, I received a $50 from one set of grandparents, my annual check for $250 from my other grandparents, and $10 from my aunt. All $310 will be added to my apartment fund. Once I get paid for the study I did (should be around $230) that will be added to the same bucked in my Capital One 360; expecting the check this week or next. Since I'm adding all this money in and my checking count is getting a little thin, I'm deleting my automatic monthly deposit of $50 to the apartment fund. Hopefully I can add it back in again soon!

Paid off my interest on my unsubsidized loans this morning. So that's $17.59 gone from the checking account but it drops my debt down slightly, to $13255.18.

The other day I cashed in my MyPoints--first time doing so--for a $10 Target card. I'm thinking I'll buy myself new boots once it arrives. (I'm also almost at enough for a $25 PayPal credit from Swagbucks, woohooo!) I'm also getting some surprise cash back on my Bank of America credit card (should be around $8-9, if all goes well), which is nice. Have some dollars that will be going into my Extra Money bucket at the end of the month as well Smile

That's it for now, I think!