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 Post subject: Kivrin's Fiscal Fitness Journal - 2009
PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 11:37 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:29 pm
Posts: 19
Okay, here goes. Apologies in advance for the massive, tmi, brain dump of a first post. I promise to be more concise in the future!

My name is Kivrin, and I'm 25. I'm a full-time student, and a part-time employee. I owe $6983.04 (principal) in student loans for undergrad, and have $1299.00 (yes, exactly) in credit card debt (1 card).

I'm very lucky in that I live basically for free (no rent or utilities, occasional grocery trips), and my situation is stable. I have a car, a cell phone, and a website, all of which are within my budget--the biggest expense is the car: $50/month in gas, $600/year insurance, $80/year for AAA, as well as tuneups and maintenance; my cell phone is $88/month, and I pay $12/month for webhosting (the cell phone bill is actually less than $88, but I round up so that it and the webhosting add up to $100--just a personal preference for budgeting ease). I also have to pay $2000/semester in tuition for grad school, but that's also affordable.

My goals are to pay off the credit card by the end of June 2009, put $1000 in my emergency fund by August 2009, pay off my student loans by the end of August 2010, and have $10,000 in my emergency fund by January 2011. I've worked the numbers, and I think my goals are doable, although the $10,000 emergency fund might be pushing things a little bit--but I'm still going to try!

Since I'm a student, I only work full-time during the summer, which is when I make the bulk of my money, and why my goals are so centered around that time. Last year, I made $1300/paycheck, for five paychecks, during the summer. When I was figuring out the numbers, I used that as a basis, but I just found out today that I will be getting a raise, which means I might be done with my debts sooner than I'd thought!

I use zero-based budgeting, and try to account for every single expense I can think of.

For my credit card, I am paying $300/month in April and May--more when I can--and the final payment ($700) in June. I have already paid off about $800 on this card in the past two months, so I feel like I'm really making progress. I'm not sure how much I can expect from my tax refund, but know that most (if not all) of that money will be going into paying off this credit card.

The main reason that the credit card is my first priority--aside from the astronomical interest rates on it--is that I used to not have any credit card debt! I had paid it all off and wasn't using it, then took it on vacation with me, and of course ended up charging more than I thought I would. It felt great to not have any credit card debt, and I look forward to not having any again. I've already taken it out of my wallet and have not charged anything for two months.

In July, once I've paid the credit card off, I will start funding my emergency fund (to $1000) and paying my school loans. This summer, my main focus will be on the loans, then in October, I plan to start contributing more to my emergency fund. I am looking forward to getting this loan down below $5000. My ultimate goal is to have $10,000 saved by the end of 2010, at which point I should be graduating.

What I'm most excited for after I'm debt-free is being able to save money for fun stuff. I'm a big planner, so I've written out a sample budget for myself to keep motivated, and just seeing how much money I'll be able to allocate for gifts for others, charity, travel, retirement savings, and so on makes me so excited!


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 12:05 am 

Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:29 pm
Posts: 19
Got my paycheck today--$280. Quite a bit more than I was expecting, actually, so I'm pretty happy about that. I put $75 into my car fund to pay for gas and a tune-up, paid my cell phone bill and the next three months of webhosting, and threw $55 at my credit card, which gets the balance down to under $1250.

I also got to put $25 aside for my upcoming (in May) day trip to Disneyland!

Tomorrow I'm doing some babysitting. That money will probably all go toward Disneyland, with the bulk of my late-April paycheck going to my credit card bill.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:07 am 

Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:29 pm
Posts: 19
I'm happy to report that, after my babysitting gig on Friday, my trip to Disneyland about half funded! I have enough for the entry, and within the next few weeks have enough for gas (I'm only a few hours away), food, hotel, and the unlikely-but-possible souvenirs.

On the not-so-happy side, I've just put about $100 on my credit card. The bright side is that this will feed the roughly 15 people coming to my house for Passover dinner later this week. I'm making all the food (several courses) from scratch, so that's all I'll be charging--and with the amount of extras and leftovers I'm likely to have, I may not need to go grocery shopping for a while yet.

I've also received word that my expected tax refund is approximately 1700, which is more than my credit card balance. Obviously, I'm not counting my chickens or going on a spending spree (or adding to my credit card debt), and I'm still making payments on my card as planned, but this will be such a help in moving forward. Depending on when the check arrives, it will either go to paying off whatever remains on my credit card, or starting my $1000 emergency fund, or even making a nice dent in my student loan payments.

I am doing a little bit of babysitting this week (maybe $40, which, frankly, I'll probably spend on a haircut), but my next actual paycheck won't come until the 17th. I'm thinking it'll be about $400, of which $300 will go to my credit card as planned, with the remainder finishing off the funding for my Disneyland trip. Obviously anything left over from the trip will go to the credit card as well, but that's not until May, anyway.

Basically, this week has some good news and saving, some bad spending, and a bit of waiting.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 8:30 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2009 4:56 pm
Posts: 50
Sounds like you are doing great and starting your life out on the right track!

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 Post subject: how?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:16 am 

Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 2:04 am
Posts: 102
Location: Finland
I'm curious, how did you come to the conclusion that 10,000$ is right for you regarding the emergency fund?

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Fortes Fortuna Adiuvat


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 4:52 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:29 pm
Posts: 19
A lot of good news lately! First, I just found out that I got a $1000 scholarship to pay for my classes this summer! This will cover about 85% of my tuition, and is $1000 less that I have to scrounge up (I stupidly completely forgot about summer tuition being due way beforehand, so I was freaking out for a few days last week).

Second, I way underestimated how much my paycheck would be! Instead of making a $365 payment to my credit card, I made a $450 payment; that and the money I got from the state brings my credit card debt all the way down to $810. I think my new goal is to get this all paid off by May--hopefully even before I get charged interest for the month.

As my bank balance stands now, I am almost 90% funded for my Disneyland trip. My next paycheck (5/1) will finish that off nicely, as well as pay my remaining summer tuition balance, another $200 or so on the credit card, and will be the start of my emergency fund!

@JonasAberg, the short version of the story is that $10,000 for my emergency fund started off as kind of a guess--it's a nice number to have in the bank--but is actually enough to pay for about 7 months of expenses (this includes $1000/mo in rent, which I don't pay now).


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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 7:35 am 

Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:29 pm
Posts: 19
Got my paycheck, made my last credit card payment!

I got a nice tax refund, which helped bring that credit card balance way down, and started my emergency fund. I now have $730 for my emergency fund--my goal is to get to $1000 by the end of June, then put it on hold to make a dent in my student loan payments. I had planned to have a bigger emergency fund at this point, but I had to put the money to use--$90 for a new computer cord, and $120 for labor and parts after a flat tire.

My Disneyland trip is fully funded, which is good because I leave tonight. :) I also have money in my accounts for this month's cell phone and webhosting bill, gas money, and the remainder of my summer tuition. I was also able to go to dinner with a friend, and of course, pay for those emergencies. So far, so good.

Up next: more pre-saving on my monthly bills (I'm going to try and cover my cell phone, web, and gas for June and July with my remaining paychecks this month), getting that emergency fund back up, and my first big student loan repayment.


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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 8:13 am 

Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:29 pm
Posts: 19
I got back from Disneyland a whopping $8 under budget. Go me!

I saw my pay stub today, and I think my raise finally came through! I was expecting along the lines of $650, but got $725 instead--I'll take it.

Earlier, I said that I wanted to cover my June and July bills with this month's paychecks, and I now have June all covered. I put a bit of money back into my emergency fund (it's up to $750), but most of my money went to my student loan repayment--$500 down, $6500 to go. I'm going to try and get that taken care of by my birthday, in February, but we'll see. It'll definitely be gone by next fall, though.

I'm expecting a small paycheck at the end of the month (my pre-raise estimate was $350, so maybe $400), which will go to July bills, my health insurance co-pay/deductible/what-have-you, and groceries. I'm also going to put money toward my summer allowance for discretionary spending--summer is the only time that I regularly go out to eat or get coffee, and I like to budget for that. Anything extra will go to inching that emergency fund back up. See you in two weeks.


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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 2:41 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:29 pm
Posts: 19
Because I'm an hourly employee with a sometimes-wacky schedule, I have to estimate how much money I'm expecting each pay period. Usually, I'm pretty good at it, within $5-10 or so, but after my raise, I have been so far off. Once I start working full time this summer, it'll of course be easy to figure my numbers out, but for now I'm still using data from old pay stubs and extrapolating from there. When I last posted, I said that my pre-raise estimate for my paycheck this week had been $350, but with the raise it would probably be $400 or so; in reality, it was around $550. I think probably I was off when looking at how many hours I though I'd work.

That said, I did put the money to good use. I put the money towards July's bills (car, website, phone), my health insurance, summer allowance, and groceries--I had to spend more here than I'd planned because I needed to restock my vitamins, which was a good $20 right there. The leftover money for the emergency fund came to $95, so I'm pretty happy with that.

Here's where I stand now on the important things:
credit card: 0!
student loans: 6525.71
emergency fund: 845.00
summer spending money: 65.00
bills: covered for June and July

In June, I have a babysitting job and a short work week, then the start of the full-time summer season. I'm not even going to guess (publicly) what my paychecks will look like in June, but I can say that they are destined for my August bills, student loans, emergency fund, and savings for my fall class tuition.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 12:21 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:29 pm
Posts: 19
The past month has been kind of good-news, bad-news for me. I've had three (yes, three) flat tires in the past month, so I've gone and replaced all of my tires, to the tune of most of my emergency fund. Good news is that I have finally started working full-time, and got my first full-time paycheck yesterday. I was able to put in some money to cover August bills, student loan, and fall tuition, just not as much as I would have liked. On the bright side, just as my emergency fund is hanging in around $0, so is my credit card debt, so that's something.

As of today:
credit card: 0
student loans: 6375.71
emergency fund: 26.11 - it served me well
tuition savings: 50
bills: covered for July, part of August

As usual, I have high hopes for my next paycheck. Obviously, getting that emergency fund back up is important; I'm aiming to have that back at about $500. I'm also going to toss another $500 to my fall tuition, then cover the remainder of my August bills. The rest I'll probably throw at my student loans, as I'm now about $200 short on where I wanted to be. Hopefully nothing else will go wrong in the next two weeks....


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 1:32 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:35 am
Posts: 1148
Location: Maryland
I'm glad you had your emergency money to pay for your tires. Doesn't that make you feel good? Now, true, you just have to get it back up to where you were. I hope nothing else happened in the next couple weeks.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 8:27 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:29 pm
Posts: 19
Yes, peachy, I'm very glad my emergency fund was there. I'm also happy to report that in the past month, nothing has gone (majorly) wrong!

I did put $500 from my last paycheck towards tuition, as well as $500 from this paycheck, and plan to do the same for my next two paychecks. That will cover my tuition/fees for the semester, as well as a parking permit and some other incidentals. Since I am on a payment plan, I have to fork over about $440 every month through October; since I have/will have the money sitting in a savings account, I might even make a few bucks in interest.

I've got my August bills covered, and will use part of my next paycheck for September's bills--hurrah for living off of last month's paycheck! In other good news, I've finally gotten my emergency fund up to the magical $1000 mark, and even tossed some extra money at it, so it's sitting at its highest ever, $1050.

Since my first priority was the emergency fund, I didn't put as much into my student loans as I wanted to, although I did get them down to an even $6000, and I might even be able to get to $5000 over the next month, which would be just amazing. The payoff for that, as well as the increase in my emergency fund, will slow down considerably after 2-3 paychecks, as my full-time status will end, and I'll be back working part time. My dream is to get rid of the student loan by my birthday (end of February), but know that it's more likely going to hang around until end of May/beginning of June, at which point I'll be working full time again, and will knock it out.

I'm also saving now to buy a few small gifts for my summer staff. $50 from this paycheck, as well as the next two, with the remainder at the end of August going to my emergency fund.

So, to sum up:
credit card: still 0
student loans: 6000.00 (I love these round numbers)
emergency fund: 1050.84 (mustn't forget those pennies)
bills: covered for August
tuition: 611.88 in my savings account, waiting for my August pay-date
gifts: 50


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:08 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:29 pm
Posts: 19
Just found out I'll have to pay $336 more than I'd expected for tuition this semester due to the fee increase we've been served. Saving $500 for four paychecks would have paid for the semester and then some (nearly $300 left for a parking permit and a few supplies); now, it'll put me $40 short of tuition. On the bright side, the extra money doesn't come into play until my October payment, so I have the time and opportunity to fiddle with the rest of my finances and/or make some money. For now, I've adjusted my plan for where my next few paychecks are going so that I can put in $600 to tuition. This extra $100 is coming from my student loan repayment--how's that for irony.

I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I'll have the student loan debt until May or early June of 2010, which I'm okay with. I'll for sure get it down to $5000 by the end of August, which will make $2000 that I've paid off since May. My last big paycheck will come through in September, so my goal is another $500 that month, then however much I can thereafter. I've guessed at being able to pay $500/month through May, but that will probably need tweaking as my work hours shift around. Obviously, my first priority will be keeping current with my regular bills, gas for the car, etc., but judging from the spring semester, it's possible. My official final deadline for that debt is July 1, 2010 (really, the end of June), when I can use my first full-time paycheck of the summer to kill whatever debt remains.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:47 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:29 pm
Posts: 19
I just checked my bank balance, and my paycheck has already come through, so I'm all done allocating for the next two weeks.

I put $600, as planned, toward my tuition. I now have $1210 of $1650 for the fall semester, $438 of which is due in two weeks. I'll add another $600 to this fund from my next paycheck so that it can earn some interest for me, and I don't have to worry about finding the money during the school year. My last two payments are due in mid-September and mid-October, with the October payment being the big one. I'll still have enough money to at least buy a parking permit.

I've put aside the money to pay my bills through September, as well as enough (per my estimates, of course) for gas money for August. My emergency fund is up another $50, to $1101.96, thanks to interest earned last month, and I have $105 in my staff gifts fund.

My happiest news is that I was able to put in a little bit extra toward my student loan repayment, so I now owe $5470, which makes my goal of $5000 by the end of the month very achievable--I've budgeted another $500 payment from my next paycheck for that. After that, I'll probably slow down to $500/month, rather than $500/paycheck, which will put me right on schedule for getting rid of this loan next June, barring emergencies, etc.

In sum:
student loans: 5470.00 (not quite as round as, but much nicer than, my estimated 5500.00)
emergency fund: 1101.96 (I earned interest!)
bills: covered for August and September
tuition: 1212.19 in my savings account, all done with the next paycheck
gifts: 105


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 5:21 am 

Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:35 am
Posts: 1148
Location: Maryland
Sounds like things are moving right along. Keep up the good work.


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