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Archive for December, 2007

I don’t know… can I?

Oy!

I was cleaning today and realized that my jackets & coats alone take up ALL of my closet. In my defense, my closet is seriously tiny. But maybe it’s not such a bad thing to hold off on buying clothes for a while.

At the very least, it’d be great for my budget. If I don’t buy any clothes for six months, I can probably save at least $300 or $400 (assuming that I don’t spend that money on something else). $300 is not a make-or-break amount of money, but it’s big enough that it’ll make a difference in my down payment.

Would I rather have a new dress or a house?

Must ask self that question several more times. Especially with all the after-Christmas sales going on.

Would I rather have a pair of herringbone pants or a house?

Would I rather have a satin A-line skirt or a house?

Would I rather have some round-toed pumps or a house?

Hmmm…

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2008 goals: onwards & upwards

After crunching the numbers and mulling over what is “aggressive but realistic” versus what is “wishful thinking,” I’ve came up with a short but ambitious list of S.M.A.R.T. goals. The big picture is simple: I will focus on saving for short- to mid-term goals (down payment, grad school, car, etc.) and continue to save for retirement. My goals are specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and timely, and I’m going to get it done. (And YOU are going to hold me accountable. 😉 )

Short- to Mid-Term

Save $21,000, with $12,500 in regular savings (money from my paycheck), and $8,500 in “extra” savings (bonuses, raises, tax refunds, gift money, etc.) Right now my goal is to save $800 for January, $1,100 for February and March, and $1,050 from April ’til December.

Retirement

I’ll max out the Roth IRA ($5,000 a year). I’ll have to save $500 a month from February to Novemeber. (I won’t be eligible for a 401(k) until 2009, and its hard to save money during December/January… all those presents!!). This is a perfect opportunity to concentrate on pulling together a down payment.

Debt

My only debt is my student loan, at $160/month. Because it’s an interest-free loan, I am not going to pay it off early. Instead, my money can work harder for me elsewhere. Eventually I’ll buy a new car, but the down payment comes first.

Spending

Who can forget about this category? Heehee. All save and no spend is a sure way to derail a budget, so I made sure that I left room for fun stuff. My top non-negotiable: massage! I’ve been going to a massage therapist regularly for the last several months, and I love her.

Bottom Line: I will save/invest $26,000 this year. Stretch goal: if I hit all of the above goals and still have money left over, I’ll… put more money into the down payment fund (or go on vacation. Hmm… the vacation sounds better, no?). It’d be sweet if I can save $25,000 for down payment, or $30,000 total. But that’s obviously above & beyond and pure gravy.

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WSJ mention

Check this out: Well-Heeled got its first media mention ever (that I know of)! 🙂 And from the Wall Street Journal, no less!

Apparently this blog falls under the “juicy diaries” category. 

Juicy. Personal finance. I never thought those three words would end up in the same sentence!

Congrats to Krystal, Mollie, Beachgirl, and Nicole, and Eric – they were also featured in the article.

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New Year = New Job

I am happy to report that I have accepted a new job. I’m proud of myself for taking action to make such a change in my life. I prayed alot. Things beyond my control aligned for me, but I also sought out the opportunity, and made sure that I was ready when it appeared.

I’m excited about this new position, and about other new activities I’m going to undertake: I want to volunteer, read more often, take advantage of all the wonderful museums that are around me, buy fresh produce at farmers markets, poke around thrift stores, see friends, hang out with boyfriend, visit Mom & Dad, go watch movies, start exercising regularly, and just take better care of my body and my mind in general.

I feel quite lucky and blessed right now.

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Learning to care

I’d like to think that I’m a good daughter, a good friend, a good girlfriend, a good colleague. I’d like to think that some day I’ll make a good wife, a good mother, and still be a good friend, a good whatever-I’m-doing. I’m a law-abiding, tax-paying, GDP-contributing member of society. Those aren’t small things. They are not to be dismissed. They are what keeps our world humming along. But despite all that…

The thing is, there is so much injustice and sickness and calamities in this world. It’s impossible to warp my head around it all. There are things going on that you think no benevolent God would ever allow. (But just because I think that, doesn’t mean God’s not there.. does it? That what I ask everytime I talk to Him…or Her). And I don’t think I can do anything to help – from global warming to genocides to cancer to Laotians who fought a secret war for the U.S. and are now forgotten by their once-allies. Or that anything I can do is so small that it really doesn’t matter.

Does one afternoon volunteering at a soup kitchen matter? Will carrying groceries in a canvas tote instead of a plastic bag matter? Does a $10 donation to Amnesty International matter? It adds up, right? If 10,000 people each donated $10 that would be a $100,000 donation. But instinctively it doesn’t feel like I’m doing anything except writing a pittance of a check (and getting my canvas tote dirty).

In so many things, I feel, you’re not in it to win it. You’re in it to try to stem the bloodloss, to whittle down the destruction before the next wave after unrelenting wave hits. (Not to suggest that steming the losses is not a noble quest – it is, but it’s just a quest that never ends. It’s just one more obstable course after the other.) Is that a depressing way of looking at the world? I don’t know… I don’t think I am unduly pessimistic (on a related note, I smile. alot).

At the end of it, I know that it doesn’t matter how badly I feel about something, if I’m not willing to take action on it. (And that realization makes me feel even worse). But I think that whatever action I take will be too insignificant to produce any sort of observable or lasting change.

There are people who devote their professional lives (many times at great personal cost) to help the impoverished, the down-trodden, the forgotten. That’s something I’m going to try to do better in 2008 – is to care more. Because I think I am too wary to care about the bigger things. What is the use of caring when you can’t make a change? Of course, how can I make a change if I don’t care enough to take action? And you see this cycle of inaction that I seem to have gotten stuck inside…

So I try to love CB the best I can, to nourish the relationships I have with Mom, my family, the best I can. To keep my friends the best I can. I try to be good for the people who are close to me, in my life. I try not to hurt the people I love. If that’s all I can do (and who really actually accomplishes that?), can that be enough?

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$75 at Bloomingdales

I just spent $75 at Bloomingdales.. and prior to this day I’ve never even set foot into that store.

It’s not even for myself. One of my friends and I each got a $75 gift card to Bloomies for our assistant, who has been a LIFESAVER in more than one situation (including one weekend where he stayed til 1 AM on Saturday and Sunday helping us finish up something). $150 is a nice way of saying “Merry Christmas / thank you / without your help we wouldn’t have been able to leave the office for three days straight”… and I’m glad to do it.

I suggested Bloomies because he mentioned that he got his cufflinks from there… so I thought that it’s a place he will definitely appreciate having a gift card to.

I know that it shouldn’t matter how much gifts cost and that it’s the thought that counts, but still. Sometimes there’s nothing that expresses that thought so well than cold, hard, spendable, cash (in the form of an artfully boxed gift card).

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Amazing grace (period)

…is ending.

Just got my first bill from good ‘ol alma mater… the due date for the first payment is January 1, 2008. Happy New Year’s! Time to pay the piper!

From now until 2017, I’ll have to commit $160 every month to pay back my college loan. NOT complaining, though, I basically lucked out with an interest-free loan. And let’s face it, <$200 a month is a very feasible repayment when I think about the many, many college grads out there who are saddled with bigger loans.

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