Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekly Check-Up 4/30/2012

A special thanks to Ginna at My Pretty Pennies who created the Weekly Money Check-Up.
Picture from My Pretty Pennies

May 2012 Budget

A lot of things have happened this month that are disrupting my finances (and life in general) and will continue to do so throughout the next month as well.  While April hasn't ended, I've started looking forward at creating my budget for the next month and would like to share what that looks like.

In the last month, Emily at EvolvingPF directed my attention to the concept of living wage (  It's an interesting idea, although I live well below those numbers for my area.  I've just been trying to find a way to work my thoughts on that into a future post.

Now on to May's Budget:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Striving Towards Goals (Why I Save)

Presentation went well!  *Big sigh of relief* And now back to life...

The one thing about grad school is that it certainly pushes you to work harder than you ever thought you could.  I think I dreamed about my presentation the little bit of time I actually closed my eyes last night.  I have been working through what I wanted to say all day as I was finishing the slides.  I was hoping that I would be able to just go home and crash after the talk.  Unfortunately, it seems that I've ingested just a little bit too much caffeine in the last 24 hours for that to happen...

So instead I'm sitting comfortably curled up and watching TV via hulu and enjoying it.  I have mentioned before that my internet access and my climbing membership are two things I pay for because I really value them, even if I don't need them.  While I think it is important to be realistic about what our needs truly are and fulfill them first, it's also okay to spend a little bit of the money you have earned.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekly Check-Up 4/23/2012

A special thanks to Ginna at My Pretty Pennies who created the Weekly Money Check-Up.
Picture from My Pretty Pennies

I wish I was a minimalist...

I spent most of the weekend moving boxes and some furniture and getting it organized and things put away.  Moving is probably about half done at this point... and I'm sore.

I tend not to buy a lot of things.  Clothing, shoes, accessories... I feel like I've more or less stopped shopping for the past few years unless I was replacing clothing that had worn out.  But after moving a chunk of my stuff over to the new apartment it certainly seems like I own way to much stuff.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I'm Moving!

This has been a rather hectic month - even more so for my budget.

I've been talking about moving in with some roommates for some time now but it's going to happen within the next two weeks!  I had been planning for this to happen sometime over the summer but I'm excited to get it done before it starts to get really hot.  (My current apartment doesn't have AC and lugging furniture around in +90˚F heat is not what I call a good time.)  By moving in with roommates I will be saving quite a bit of money each month that I'm hoping to direct immediately towards my emergency fund.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why I'm NOT Saving for Retirement

Almost every PF blog I have ever read has discussed IRA's and other retirement options at length.  It's common wisdom that you need to be setting money aside every paycheck to go towards retirement.  However, I haven't started to save for retirement...yet.

Don't get me wrong, I'd really like to be saving for retirement!  I'd love to be following all of the wonderful PF advice available and I've been working towards it!  Since entering the world of personal finance I've definitely made progress ( from my days of living paycheck-to-paycheck.  I even opened a separate account to hold my emergency fund! (

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekly Check-Up 4/16/2012

A special thanks to Ginna at My Pretty Pennies who created the Weekly Money Check-Up.
Picture from My Pretty Pennies 

Separating the Emergency Fund from other Finances

I opened a separate savings account at a credit union a little over a year ago.  This was a step I took because of all the great finance blogs that I'd just started reading.  I also starting direct depositing money into it from each paycheck. For the rest of 2011 I kept the emergency fund in my spread sheet where I budget and track cash flow.  When I made a new spreadsheet for 2012 I left the savings account holding the emergency fund off of the sheet, effectively hiding it from view.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tracking Spending and Net Worth

I started tracking my net worth by accident.  What I was trying to track was which credit card needed to be used at which part of the month such that I didn’t accrue any interest (aka such that I would be able to pay all my bills off in full.)  I was living paycheck-to-paycheck and while I wasn’t in debt, I didn’t have my finances under control.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Grad School Secrets: Delicious Food on a Budget

Food is a widely variable expense as it not only depends on what types of food you eat but also if you cook for yourself, warm up microwave meals or go out to eat frequently.  I think cutting down on food costs is often the quickest way to keeping more cash in your wallet.  Here are some things I do to keep food costs down.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Younger Relatives and Exposure to Personal Finance

I've mentioned that my parents didn't give of my siblings and I much of a financial education.  In addition the only "finance" course was about two weeks long as part of a high school math class.  I'm an engineer. I LOVE math.  I HATED the finance section of math and didn't understand a thing.  Somehow the idea of compound interest and exponential growth revolved so much around math that the main message of personal finance got lost completely in confusing equations.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ditch the car to save money!

Many people think that they NEED to have a car.  I live in southern California, the place of carmageddon  and I'm here to tell you, you can do just fine without a car.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Grad School Secrets: Furniture on a budget

As a perpetual student I've moved across the country and around the world several times.  This results in having to find the basics again and again and, as always, with practice you start to get pretty good at it.  Here are some of the thing's I've done to save money.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Graduate School: Funding

I’m super frustrated right now.  To explain why I’m so frustrated I’m going to have to back up and explain a little bit about the funding situation in pursuing a PhD.  What I have to say probably varies across the disciplines, but here’s a glimpse of the funding madness of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Weekly Check-Up 4/2/2012

A special thanks to Ginna at My Pretty Pennies who created the Weekly Money Check-Up.
Picture from My Pretty Pennies  

How I budget in "weeks"

As I mentioned earlier, I budget in weeks and months.  Yesterday we saw a look at my monthly budget for April.  So why do I then also budget in weeks?

I have a really hard time sticking to a budget over the entire month.  If I budget a specific amount for food, I’ll easily go through it in the first two weeks of the month.  To avoid these issues, I give myself a weekly “allowance” that goes towards everything I need to pay for during that week (Monday – Sunday).

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My Budgeting Madness & April 2012 Budget

I’m very excited because I have $30 to spend on groceries today!  I budget on a weekly basis with the week beginning on Monday (to force any weekend fun money to come AFTER groceries and other important purchases have been bought for the week).  

I also budget on a monthly basis, because I get paid on a monthly basis and I like to look at improvement one month at a time.  Otherwise it looks like my financial status is fluxuating wildly.  I realize that I’ve overly complicated the whole budget thing, but what can I saw, I’m an engineer.  The important thing is that I’m budgeting and I’ve found a system that works for me.  (Most of the time anyways...there is always room for improvement!)

Where I come from: Reaching for your financial goals, while struggling to make ends meet

First thing I would like to do is to thank Jana from the
 for this post (  This has spurred me to once again try this blogging thing.  She has so eloquently written about something that I too struggle with.  While I don’t wish to discuss that here, I really want her to know that her writing about her struggles has been deeply appreciated.

While I know that I’ve ended up in the financial blog land because of different reasons than most I’d like to back up a bit and explain a little bit about me.  I think a few things are important to know about me as we start this conversation.