Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010.

Goodbye Christmas 2010. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. Mine consisted of family, friends, food, sweets, naps, then repeat.

So I'm back after 20 days. Here's the holiday shopping damage rounding up a bit, I'm scared!

My immediate family:
Brother: $60 (3 T-shirts/Ammo, he's a gun collector)
Mom: $75 (A Really Nice Jacket for Europe/Gloves)
Dad: $65 (T-Shirt/Ammo/Socks)
Mom & Dad: $30 (Family Picture and picture frame)
Our 2 Dogs: $13 (2 Rawhide bones/Toy)
TOTAL: $243

Boyfriends family:
Boyfriend: $230 (Car Audio Deck/ipod Nano)
Little Brother: $40 (gym shorts/socks)
His Mom: $60 (nike jacket/picture and picture frame)
His Dad: $40 (gym pants/picture and picture frame)
His Grandma: $40 ($30 cash/picture and picture frame)
His Grandma #2: $40 ($30 cash/picture and picture frame)
TOTAL: $450

5 of my gal pals: $40 (Pajamas at $7 each)
White Elephant Gift: $28
TOTAL: $68

Friends Kids: Thankfully my boyfriend covered most of the cost this year
Friend's Daughter: $50 (Target Gift Card)
Godson & Friend's Son: $40 (Target Gift Card)
TOTAL: $90

Gift Wrap/Boxes/Bows:
TOTAL: $15


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2011: The Year of Paying Off Debt?

According to the Chinese Calendar it'll be the Year of the Rabbit, I'm hoping that it's also the year I pay off all/most of my debt!

I do have some hurdles a.k.a expenses in the beginning of the year. Then I could really focus.

Traveling will be the death of me if I keep it up. I really don't plan on traveling to far off places after my Europe trip. I hope the next trip I take will be paid in cash and I'll be basking in debt-freeness.

I have Miami booked late January 2011. I'll be in Florida for work and a few co-workers suggested a side trip, which I said yes to. I will only be there from a Saturday - Monday, and I plan on keeing my spending down. Flight is paid for by my work, but I'll have to take care of hotel and expenses.

Second one is a trip to Europe with my mom in mid-February 2011. I booked this a few months ago and it's $1779 out of my pocket. I'm currently paying it in installments taking advantage of a bill me later option with 0% financing if paid in full by 2/2011. I've knocked a little more than $900 of that so I'm getting closer to paying it off.

We'll be there for seven days, so it's a fairly long trip. My mom said she'll pay for most of the daily expenses like food, but I'd like to bring a comfortable amount of money with me as well for just in case.

After that I've developed a plan of action for the rest of the year. I hope to stick with it.

So some of my favorite financial blogs include:
Free Money Finance
Get Rich Slowly
Blogging Away Debt
*My main motivation to start a blog, she's almost at her goal and she started with $38k in debt.
DINKS (Dual Income No Kids) Finance
Enemy of Debt
The Financial Philosopher
*I really like this blog as well. It's not numbers and formulas type of blog, but it pretty much reiterates meaning before money and purpose before planning. I know I'm in debt, but the Europe trip I talked about above is something I've wanted to do for a long time, and to do it with my mom makes it even that much more meaningful. By the way, we booked it because I turned 25 this year and she turns 55 next year (we'll be in Paris on her birthday).

I plan on linking a few articles as I go along with this blog. I absolutely love these blogs.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Savings Breakdown & Christmas Shopping.

Now for the "okay" news. I do save. I save for emergencies and for retirement. Could I save more? Heck yes. Have I dipped into my emergency fund for non-emergencies? Sadly yes.

One thing I learned working in the retirement financial industry is that it's important to save as early as possible. I've seen the best situations ($500k and upwards retirement accounts) and the worst ($10k or less in retirement accounts, totally dependent on social security and pension). $10k in your retirement account and you're retiring today?! I get awfully worried for people who walk into our office and have that much.

I feel like saving for retirement is a "slowly, but surely kind" of thing. And I know it's important so I guess that's a start.

So here is the breakdown of my savings:
ING Savings
$115.00 Per Paycheck
$451.00 in Account

* At one point it was up to $2000+, but I've spent most of it on non-emergencies. It still is a little cushion, which feels nice to have.

3% Per Paycheck ($45)
$5,617.51 in Account

** I have a company match up to 6%. I was contributing at 6%, but felt like I needed a little more take home pay to pay down debt. I know I'm not taking advantage of free money, but I didn't feel comfortable with my take home pay amount, so I've kept it at 3%.

Roth IRA
$50.00 (6 Contributions Per Year)

* Opened this up assuming I would fund it nicely. $300 a year is not nice I know.

So I'm pretty much done with Christmas shopping. I'll admit I'm pretty giving during this time of the year, maybe too much for my own good. Last Christmas 2009 was my first Christmas with a full-time job so I went crazy and blew about $1000 on my family (my mom, dad and brother). I calmed down this year, but I'm still having trouble watching my spending allowance per person. I've improved promise!

I'll be updating my savings and debt on a regular basis, maybe every two paychecks? Next up, my favorite financial blogs.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Debt Breakdown.

Why am I exposing my finances to the blog world?

Well, I have been stagnant about paying down my debt. I am in the most oppurtune time of my life. I have a job in this economy and very little financial responsibility (when many are juggling rent or mortgage, kids, bills and debt).

After almost two years in this position making almost $40k a year I have barely made a dent in my debt, in fact I've added some on.

At the end of the day I want to set an example for other twenty-somethings that we should live within our means, save for our futures, all the while being grateful for what we have.

So here is the breakdown of my finances:

Chase Rewards CC

*** My regular use credit card to get cash back rewards. I make it my top priority to pay off this credit card in full each ending statement month. I charge gas, groceries, necessities on this. It has a higher balance right now because I charged Christmas gifts on it as well. It is however, a credit card so I added it to my list of debts.
The balance hurts a bit, just proof that when you do use a credit card for everyday purchases, you do tend to spend more in comparison to paying in cash or using your debit card.

Best Buy CC
0% with term expiring in 7/2011

** Best Buy and the wonderful financing options which leads to temptation and buying a snazzy Nikon DSLR camera for my trips. Obviously I didn't have $600+ to drop so I charged it. Note to Self: If you can't pay for the purchase in cash, don't buy it, even if that means 0% financing. Excess, excess, excess!

Citi CC
0% with term expiring 1/2012

** Ouch. This $1210 bill is from a Las Vegas trip this past September. Did I have the time of my life? Yes. Did I make wonderful memories? Yes. But with a $1210 price tag. I actually charged this on a Capital One card I have, but had to do a balance transfer with an introductory 0% rate. Why? Because I couldn't pay the bill in full! And my Capital One card had a rate of 14%! Spent way too much for a 3-day weekend. Shame, shame, shame.

Student Loan 1

Studen Loan 2

Student Loan 3

** And last, but not least my student loans. These I regret the most.

Why the regret you ask? Student loans are for education and to better your future, right? It's available to those many college students who are doing it all on their own and truly need the financial help.

We'll for me, I could have avoided student loans. I was blessed enough to be 100% fully backed financially by my parents. Books, tuition and housing fully funded by my wonderful parents. Mind you, they aren't rich, but they work hard.

I didn't pick a private school and stayed in the California UC/CSU school system. But the 18-year old me took out a few loans anyways. I even had a part-time job all throughout college.

So the bulk of my debt are these student loans.

I feel like an idiot, I feel guilty and I'm here to make it right.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

25 years old and $13+ in Debt.

I turned 25 years old 12 days ago.

And I am $13,933.34 in debt. It feels both good and bad to write this. Bad because the number is huge to me and good because I'm finally admitting to it.

I've decided to write this blog about getting rid of debt, saving more, strides and hopefully just a few mistakes.

A few things about me:
- I am 25 years old.
- I work a full-time job in a financial retirement company. It's my first job out of college. I graduated in December 2008 and I've been here since March 2009.
- I am salaried at $39,655 per year. This number is before any deductions or taxes.
- I live with my parents in a major city in Southern California.
- No husband or kids.

I have a problem.

What motivated me to write a blog of my own is that I've been reading a lot of financial and debt journey blogs. Very empowering.

Second, this past Monday I spent $65 on Hello Kitty stuff at Yes, I paid with my debit card, but after I pressed submit I said to myself "Seriously?!", why am I buying this stuff? I like things. No doubt I love my family, friends, boyfriend and traveling more, but I like stuff too. And I need to stop.

I think everyone is aware of the basic fundamentals of finance: save money, spend within your means, don't get into debt. But you know what we're human in a consumer-driven society. But I must be accountable and work on striking a balance.

Next blog I'll break down my current debt.