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Archive for January, 2008

January 08 report

I’ve been good about keeping track of my money.. so I’m feeling proud just ’cause of that.

Spendng $$$: I budgeted $1958.16 per month, but only spent $1,651.62 (fixed: $1,134.75, variable: $516.87, and irregular: $0). My unofficial goal is to keep my monthly spending lower than 1 paycheck’s net amount, which I have done this month. So I’m pretty happy about that. I can’t get careless, though, because I have alot of upcoming expenses (car, insurance, memberships, etc.). Cash flow will be lower in February.

Saving $$$: I saved*** a total of $1,000 ($500 Roth, $500 MMF). That’s only 4% of my annual goal of $26,000 in savings. Of course, I made that goal with bonuses/raises/gift money/tax refunds in mind, but it’s still a little disconcerting to find the year 1/12 OVER but I’ve only made 4/100 of my goal.

For February, I resolve to kick things up a notch! There’s the $500 Roth contribution, then $1,100 to MMF. This will bring me to $2,600, or 10% of my goal. Much better.

I’ve already made my appointment for my monthly massage.. but maybe I can postpone it to March. (It hurts to even type this). Your thoughts?

***I define “saved” as money that has been deposited into accounts OUTSIDE of my regular savings account or checking account. In this case, my saving vehicles are my retirement portfolio & money market fund. I still have money leftover from paying all the bills in the savings account, but that money is earmarked for very short-term expenses or to serve as cash cushion. So I don’t consider it saved money at all.

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Thank God for small blessings

One of the best feelings in life has got to be when you’re just drifting off to sleep (or s-l-o-w-l-y awaking)… that in-between moment when you are conscious enough to enjoy the feeling of a luxurious sleep but still sleepy enough to, well, luxuriate* in your sleepiness.

Come to think of it, it’s no small thing at all.

*Is that even a word? Should I be ashamed that I’m not sure if I just made up a word after graduating from a pricey liberal arts school?

**Miss Noodle has kindly informed me that luxuriate is, indeed, a bona fide word. Oh validation, have you ever tasted so sweet.

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Death by cupcake

I spoke too soon…

So, it appears I would NOT be under budget for food after all.

Tonight after work I went to my local grocery store and bought vanilla, chocolate bars, cupcake liners, flour, baking soda, and confectioner’s sugar for a grand total of $16. So I went over budget by around $15.

I made cupcakes.

That’s RIGHT! Finally, I’m ready to graduate from Betty Crocker cake mix and see what a cupcake from scratch taste like. I’ve had a fascination with cupcakes for a long time.. they are so delicious, with generous frosting-to-cake ratio, small enough that I never feel bad about eating 2 (or 3.. or 4), and just so darn cute.

Then I found this website: cupcakeblog.com. I decided to try my hand at the Devil’s Food Cupcake with Chocolate Buttercream. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find unsweetened cocoa powder at the store, and I was too lazy to drive in search of that ingredient, so I just bought some bars of bittersweet chocolate, melted it in a water bath, mixed it to the best of my ability (I don’t have an electric mixer either), and convinced myself that some chocolate chunks in the batter will only add to the chocolate-y goodness.

It came out okay… a little too crispy around the edges and not quite fluffy enough (hand-beating couldn’t get up the speed to get enough air in the batter.. but I tried!). But the frosting was AMAZING. A little too runny, but I chilled it in the fridge for a bit to thicken it up. I could not stop licking the frosting off my fingers.

For my first cupcake-baking attempt, I give myself an A for effort. Probably a B(+?) for execution.

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What’s your food budget?

Wow. Thanks to everyone for the TJ’s suggestions.. more stuff to check out on the next grocery run! 🙂

January isn’t over yet, but I’ve bought all the groceries I’ll buy for this month – not to mention that next weekend will be February, so I don’t expect to buy any more food until Saturday or Sunday.

With a revised food budget of $220 ($110 each for Dining Out & Groceries), I spent $218.55 ($124.17 groceries, 94.38 dining out)… barely squeaking by. I’ve increased my budget $20… my original budget of $200 felt a little tight for me.

I’m curious – so I’m posing a question to all the 20-something female bloggers (my demographic!) out there: what’s your overall food budget (groceries + dining out)? It’d be helpful if you can also list your area of residence to provide context – food would be much more expensive in NYC than in the Mid-West.

Update: I’m still on the Clothing Hiatus… even though I saw some really cute things on sale at J. Crew. One month (almost) done… 5 more to go.

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One word (or two): Trader Joe’s.

Seriously. That store’s frozen foods section is a God-send for me. The products are so tasty and easy to make (and dare I say, as healthy as frozen foods can get) that it’s not worth for me to go out to restaurants unless I’m looking for ambiance or really really amazing food.

In short, Trader Joe’s has made it possible for me to have quick, delicious meals. Let me introduce you to two products that totally make my day (or dinner):

Vegetable Melange with Seasoned Butter Sauce: It is amazing. Just add a couple tablespoons of water in a pan and heat up the veggies. The carrots, peas, cauliflowers and corn all heat up to perfection – the buttered sauce coating every tiny piece of veggie. I get it for $2.29/bag at my local TJ’s.

Teriyaki Chicken: Already cooked. All you have to do is to throw the chicken pieces in the microwave, warm up the sauce, then drizzle it on. I go the extra (but totally worthwhile) step of saute-ing the chicken in a pan and then put the sauce in so that the chicken is nicely browned and the sauce thickens and really coats the meat. $5 for a bag, and very bit as good as your local take-out.

Yummmmmmm.

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$150 in my pocket!

I just called my car insurance company and got my 6-month premium lowered from almost $850 to a little over $700. My monthly payments will be almost $25 cheaper.

That $25 will probably be (more than) eaten up by rent increases when my lease is up in the summer. Oh well.

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