Since I am able to anticipate a need for money during the time while I’m student teaching when I won’t have my primary stream of income (my part-time retail job), I don’t want to plan on using my Emergency Fund for that time. So, I’ve opened an ING Savings account that (once funded!) is going to serve as “income” for February, March, and April. Obviously, I’ll still try to make side income during that time, but I can’t count on making a certain amount, so the bulk of it should be in place before February gets here.
How much will I need in it?
Enough to cover my fixed expenses:
- $200.04 for health insurance
- $71.49 for JuicePlus+
- $9.99 for CreditKeeper (allows me monthly access to my credit report, notifies me when inquiries are made, etc.)
At $281.52 a month, my fixed expenses will total $844.56 for the three months of student teaching.
I’ll also need enough to cover my variable expenses:
- gas (the amount I will need will depend in large part on the location of the school I’m assigned to): for now, I’ll say $175 a month, so $525
- spending money (for entertainment, random expenses, etc.): approximately $100 a month, so $300
Grand total? $844.56 + $300 +$525 = $1669.56
If that were my only big upcoming expense I would feel pretty confident that I could come up with the $278.26 that I would need to set aside each month between now and then. I’m actively pursuing side income, I’m trimming my expenses, etc. I’m on a roll!
I had my visit with the periodontist yesterday, and I’m going to need gum grafting. There are two spots that need it, but one side can wait for a while (hopefully a few years). One area, though, needs to be taken care of in the next six to eight months. The pricetag? $1367! My meager dental insurance plan covers routine cleanings, but that’s about it. There’s a chance it could cover a touch more, but since there is a $500 maximum, I can’t count on it. I think most oral surgery procedures aren’t included, either, so I’m not holding my breath.
That’s a total of $3,036.56 that I need to come up with in the next 6-8 months.
My current plan is that all side income will be split evenly between these two goals. Additionally, I’ll be trying to maximize the amount of money from each paycheck that can go to these causes, both upfront when I receive my paycheck and with any money that is leftover from my spending allotment.
I’m going to need to get creative!!
We’re nine days into August, and the month is off to a good start financially (measured in habits, progress, and dollars). There are three key reasons I’m kicking it into high gear:
1. I won’t have any regular income when I’m student teaching in the spring. I will still try to squeeze in a few babysitting jobs, and I might get to work a Saturday or two at the store, but I need to prepare for that time as if I won’t have any income. I have an ING savings account designated for February-April. So far, I’ve only been making tiiiny contributions, but I’m ready to step it up. I’ll need to account for regular fixed expenses (health insurance, CreditKeeper, and JuicePlus), variable expenses (gas), and spending money.
2. I have had a few health issues over the last few months. While I’m hopeful that my health concerns can be taken care of relatively easily, the presence of the issues has meant that I’ve:
a) made initial appointments for my specific concerns (one with family doctor, one with a periodontist)
b) scheduled a physical to get a more comprehensive look at my health and body (I’ve never actually had one, I’ve relied instead on my annual OBGYN visit)
c) considered the financial impact of the results of these appointments (maybe just the immediate cost of these appointments if they don’t require follow-up visits; more likely, there will be follow-up visits or treatments)
3. My American Express is expiring at the end of the month. I have an incredibly generous uncle who gave me an American Express to use for gas and schoolbooks. It has been a game changer over the last few years in school! It expires at the end of this month, and I doubt that I’ll be getting a new card in its stead. I have a flurry of emotions about this. I feel enormous gratititude for having had the card, even though I’ve felt guilty for having it, too. I’m eager to be more financially independent (after all, I’m 26, living with my parents, and still not paying my own car insurance…), but I’m a little stressed about the upcoming cost of gas for my commute (even though I think it’s reasonable that I should be paying for it). So I’m some mix of grateful, stressed, and relieved.
So, given these three motivators, what am I doing in response?
1. I’ve rekindled my relationship with no-spend days. Here’s what the month has looked like so far:
August 1: No Spend Day!
August 2: No Spend Day!
August 3: No Spend Day!
August 4: Gas Only
August 5: No Spend Day!
August 6: $5.00 for a drink and a tip (celebrating with the bridal party of a wedding I was in; I mainly joined the group because a dear friend from Boston was in town; totally worth it!)
August 7: No Spend Day!
August 8: $15.01 for lunch for my boyfriend and I (at our favorite restaurant in Atlanta, LaFonda Latina, while we were in town for the day for his doctor’s appointment; I LOVE their fish tacos!)
August 9: No Spend Day so far!
(Note: I don’t consider savings contributions or my three drafted bills–health insurance, CreditKeeper, or JuicePlus–as “spending”)
2. I’ve actively pursued side income. My most effective means of earning extra income tends to be babysitting (as opposed to Amazon.com sales, consignment sales, etc.). Here’s what the month looks like so far:
August 1: $100 babysitting
August 3 & 4: $200 for helping my aunt at her school (she’s a principal), $75 for helping my grandmother (we spent 12 hours going through items in her kitchen/desk area)– both of these payments should be considered gifts more than income because they were more generous than they should have been!
I had another babysitting job for the 8th, but my Little Sis had to take it for me (thanks!!) because I was later getting home from Atlanta than I anticipated.
I have 7 or 8 other babysitting jobs scheduled for the rest of the month. Some are only for two hours, some are all day. For three of the gigs I am giving up 3 hours at work to be able to babysit. In each of these cases, the babysitting job was 5 or more hours, so I decided the trade was worth it. So that means I can’t consider all of my babysitting income as “above and beyond” my current work schedule, but most of it will be!
I have a few other goals for the month, side-income-wise:
- take at least 4 additional pieces to the consignment store (and check to see if my couple of pieces from Spring sold; probably not very much $ even if they did)
- add at least 3 items to Amazon.com
- let the families I regularly babysit for know my schedule/availability for September
3. I’ve gotten ready to open a Roth IRA. The timing (ie, yesterday’s stock market + the recent credit rating downgrade) is throwing me for a loop, but I’m all ready, otherwise. I’d like to know that even if I have a health setback I have a retirement savings account in place. I have filled out the application at Vanguard, moved the $1000 from ING to Bank of America… now I’m just waiting to make it happen. I don’t know what’s best… invest without thinking of timing, wait a couple months for things to settle, purchase while things are low… who knows??
This month has felt good financially because I have been more proactive. I also feel like the more I trim my expenditures, the more I can save until student teaching AND the less I’ll have to save for while I’m student teaching. I hope I can ride this momentum for a while!
I just finished a five-day weekend that was everything I hoped it to be: I spent time with my boyfriend, caught up with several friends, handwashed things that were overdue to be cleaned, washed my sheets, and found things to get rid of!
190. A stack of tags from the items I have purchased for work this year. I get everything at a discount, I’m required to wear the clothes for work, and I have received $600 in gift certificates from my boss to be used for the store (with my discount). So, I’ve gotten several new pieces of clothing in 2011. I’ve made a point to only get things I would have enjoyed wearing even without the job (even if I wouldn’t have purchased them) and things that I can wear after I have I stop working at the clothing store. Some of the tags have extra thread and buttons, but most are just tags that I have no reason to save. [In other news, the only non-work related clothing item (that isn't a bridesmaid dress) I have purchased this year is a pair of flip flops on sale for $3 at Old Navy. I haven't even been denying myself, I just haven't been interested in more clothing. That's a fun realization for halfway through the year!]
191. A tiny, stuffed, pink, striped monkey. This was kind of a joke in my Christmas stocking this year. It’s pretty cute. Now, it’s niece pup’s favorite new toy!
192. A broken poly folder.
193. A tote bag.
194. A plaque (gross word!) about daughters.
195. A pair of blue capris. These are several years old. They look a little awkwardly short on me, but they’re perfect for Littlest Sister, who is about four or five inches shorter than me.
196. A green notebook. My boyfriend needed a notebook last weekend, so I gave him this one, which was the last third of a notebook I had used for a course last fall and another class this spring.
197. – 201. Expired medicines. Note to self: do not purchase a larger bottle of medicine because it has a better price per unit. You won’t use 150 tablets of Aleve before the expiration date!
202. The case for a journal I own. I don’t use the case now that I use the journal. It did a nice job keeping the journal in good shape before I began using it, though.
203. Four hairbands. Littlest Sister was packing for a trip and needed a few hairbands. I’m still working on a pack of 30 or so that I got a few years ago.
204. My television. This one was an accident. I don’t watch much television, and I probably won’t ever get cable, but I did love having this tv (with built-in DVD & VHS players) for watching movies. My parents were storing it in their garage, and they accidentally got rid of it thinking it was theirs when they cleaned out last weekend. The bummer is that the same reasons that make it seem like I shouldn’t own a television (no cable, infrequent watching) are the reasons I loved having this older one and are the reasons why I won’t replace it. Oh, well!
204 down, 161 to go!
Not too long ago, my friend Ashely, who blogs at Little Red Writings, sent me a link to this article from Crazy Sexy Life. I was in the midst of feeling overwhelmed and preoccupied about the “big picture” things, like finding health insurance, and I had put organizing and simplifying by the wayside; they could wait–no, must wait, I thought–until I could get it together enough to focus on the “little” things, like the state of my room. The article, “4 Ways to Create a Holistic Home,” identified the basic tenets of holistic living, such as “conscious eating, preventive and alternative medicine, and simplicity.” The kicker for me, though, was this bit:
“And now our home is coming to the forefront as another component of holistic living. More people are realizing that their home can be a source of healing – a place of essential change. Our home is second to our body as our physical dwelling on Earth…. The energy patterns within you – physically, mentally and emotionally – are also present within your home.“
What a great reminder that physical surroundings are well worth my attention!
That said, I’m back at the Decluttering Challenge.
For starters, I pulled out my box of sentimental/historical keepsakes. I’ve got one box, which is about 18 x 12 x 11 or so, that I keep odds and ends of memories or key items that represent the years I’ve lived in, such as a handful of National Geographics, my childhood babydoll, and a few important newspaper front pages.
174. A trophy. I got this as a senior in high school for playing on our church basketball team. We lost every game except one, in which we beat the top-seeded team in the first game of the playoffs. (In church leagues, all teams, even bad ones like ours, go the the playoffs. ) I don’t need a trophy to remind me of how much fun we had.
175. A stack of photographs from September 11, 2001. I printed these off the internet in high school, hoping to preserve the images of that day. They’re not great quality, they’re thumbnail size, and I could easily get similar photos off the internet.
176. A plaque about sisters. I love my sister, but I haven’t ever really used/displayed this stone plaque.
177. & 178. Two cassettes. I thought it might be interesting to keep these. I’ve decided it isn’t really that interesting, especially as one didn’t have any sentimental value and the other only mildly did.
179. A VHS of Pretty Woman. Same story as above.
180. Miscellaneous papers from my high school graduation. I saved the diploma, the program, and the speech I made. I ditched the other little things.
181. A real pumice stone. A friend brought this back for me from South America. It had been a while since I had had it on display, I had gotten fuzzy on the details of where it came from, etc.
Then, I moved onto returning things to others that I’ve had in my room for some reason (even if they’re multiples, I’m just counting them as one):
182. A golf shirt that belongs to my boyfriend.
183. Two pencils that belong to my mom for her crosswords.
184. A couple of washcloths that belong to the family, not to me.
185. A shirt someone mistakenly believed belonged to me.
I found a few more things that were actually mine to part with:
186. A pair of white denim cropped pants. My sister gave me these last year to try; they don’t fit me very well.
187. A men’s white T-shirt. It has seen better days.
188. A copy of my Social Security card. I realized I have both copies, so I’m giving one to Dad to put in his safe deposit box.
189. A beloved 3/4 sleeved top. It has a sailor look to it and two little gold buttons on each shoulder top. It has about eight or nine little holes in it, but they hadn’t stopped me from wearing it. Now that it is clearly too short from way too many washings (over years and years), it had to go. Sigh…
This has been an all-around productive day. It started with Sunday School, then lunch to celebrate Father’s Day. Since our return to the house, I’ve washed all of my dirty clothes (aside from hand wash things), shredded a number of papers, found many things to get rid of, watched the last few holes of the US Open, and napped. I love days like this!
The last few months have been a testament to my imbalance. The semester is over, and the story ends well, I suppose: classes finished successfully, commitments largely upheld, friendships still in tact, my family and boyfriend still love me… but the gettin’ there wasn’t much fun!
Here’s how the story goes: I was motivated in January. Blogging was keeping me accountable, I was raring to go, and I was feeling on top of things. In February, classes started. I overloaded, taking five courses instead of three or four. I had to spend 50 hours observing in a local classroom, and you can’t just log those hours whenever you want. High school students aren’t in class at 10pm! I was working at the clothing store 120+ hours a month to fill in for my boss during her maternity leave. Plus, I was spending an hour to an hour and a half in the car each day. Did I handle it with grace? Not quite. Did I take care of my body? 5-6 hours of sleep a night isn’t ideal for me, and I know too well that a Zaxby’s grilled cheese kids’ meal is $3.80 including tax. :/
Why dwell on last semester? Because it looks strikingly like next semester! I’ll be taking 5 classes, working a good bit (I’m thankful for the income!), and spending another 50 hours observing in a classroom. And truly, I wouldn’t change any of those factors. Overloading is allowing me to get an Endorsement in Gifted & Talented Education in addition to my teaching certificate. And overloading saves me from having to take summer classes. Yes, I’ll be working a lot, but it has been so helpful with all of the extra expenses that have come up: bridesmaid dresses here and there, application fees for my teaching certificate, hosting bridal showers for friends… all things I want or need to do and might otherwise have trouble affording. The problem wasn’t necessarily my schedule, full as it was. The problem was that I was frazzled, underprepared, and constantly feeling behind.
So, the game plan is to use this summer to work on balance. Keep working toward all the goals that I established earlier this year, keep making progress toward living more simply. This summer is looking really nice. I will be working about half-time and doing some babysitting. My boyfriend and I will go to about a wedding a month, which will provide nice chances for us to spend time together on mini vacations. I’ll spend a week at the beach with my family in July, with a dear friend’s wedding as a fun endcap to the week. One of the families that I babysit for regularly asked if I’d be willing to take their cute girls to the pool some. Yes, please!
I’m eager for the satisfaction that I find in paring down, taking care of my body, delighting in my relationships, and feeling prepared. And I’m excited to find ways and habits that help these processes keep going on the days where I’ve got a full plate, not just the ones where I’m poolside and fancy-free. Here I go!
I was helping my mom look for something in her closet tonight, and I peeked inside a few of her purses that she’s not currently carrying to see if I could find what we were hunting for. I found some junk–receipts, a couple of tubes of old lipstick, a few earring backs–but I also found a few gift cards! I called to check the balance on the six cards. The verdict?
Barnes & Noble: $15
Macy’s Store Credit: $46.77
Office Max Store Credit: $5.77
We never found what we were originally looking for, but after finding $75+, we weren’t too disappointed. The best part, for me, aside from the sheer satisfaction of finding they had positive balances, was that she let me keep the Office Max, Barnes & Noble, and Whole Foods cards. (She reasoned that she wouldn’t have discovered the cards if I hadn’t; that’s not really true, as she would have when she switched purses, but I am thankful she’s sharing! And what great places for me, they’re right up my alley!)
It has been a whopping five weeks since I last posted, and man, can I ever feel it! I started the semester February 1, and as the momentum of the semester got rolling, things got tougher for me. At first I felt too overwhelmed to be blogging, then it seemed like a catch-up post would take more effort than I could muster, and then I just decided to give it a while, thinking somehow that blogging was a part of the equation that could stand to go (temporarily), thinking it might be a burden. I think I figured wrong on that point, as I had been feeling so much more productive, more accountable, and more connected to the conversations going on on the internet during the time I was blogging. I’ve still been reading the posts of others–and loving what they’re saying!–but I have let other things get in the way of my own blogging, and I miss it!
Here is what I’m up to these days:
- daily commute, which totals anywhere from 1hr 10m to 1hr 40m
- five classes (four on campus and one online)
- 15-25 hours of work per week
- 30+ hours (since February 22) observing in a high school classroom (in random 2 to 5 hour chunks)
- babysitting once or twice a week
My spring break is this week, and in many senses it is the perfect storm–well, perfect calm–for me. For a lot of reasons that are not of general interest, I don’t have to go in to work until Thursday, I won’t be observing in the high school classroom because they’re on spring break, and I actually get a FIVE commute-free days in a row. What to do with myself?!
Today, I babysat. Tomorrow and Wednesday will probably be some mix of getting some school work done (to relieve pressure in the coming weeks), dropping things off for consignment, taking the dogs on a walk or two, and finding a few things to purge. I love it!
I’ll spare you a dense recap of my last five weeks. Here is the gist of it:
- I hit my goal of $2000 in my ING savings accounts by the end of February
- I set (and met) a goal of getting to $2500 in ING savings by the end of March (currently at $2552)
- the inside of my car has been a mess (need to get back on track with that resolution)
- I’ve been putting 50% of all side hustle toward health insurance and 10% of it toward retirement savings
- For my paychecks, I’m putting $100 toward health, 10% to retirement, 10% to emergency, 10% to irregular
- I have been reading a couple of books (personal finance ones & Free Food for Millionaires,per Lindy’s recommendation)
- I’m still recording my expenditures
- it isn’t that I’ve been bad about recording my exercise, it is that I haven’t been exercising…
- my dining out is out of control
- I’ve had so much fun ooohing and aahhhing over the pictures of my friends’ babies
- I’ve gotten to go visit my boyfriend a few times on the organic farm where he’s working (love it there!)
- I’ve realized I’m worse with cash than with my debit card (and I want to keep thinking on why that is and what I should do about it)
- I’ve had a few bad moods that were purely products of my messy room, so that’s got to be taken care of
- discovered that there’s a growler station near my house, and I love that!
- I’m looking forward to a few upcoming weddings of friends (and associated festivities) starting at the end of April
That’ll do for now! I’m excited to get back in a rhythm here!