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April 24th, 2022 at 08:31 pm
Pantry challenge update so far:
-Used up some odds and ends of leftover sauces by making homemade fries from a potato and having a dipping sauce buffet for them
-Rescued a cup of leftover disappointing crepe batter from the fridge, jazzed it up with various seasonings, had a nice savory pancake
-Mixed in the noodle pack from another weird instant noodle flavor with my own seasonings, egg, and some vegetables and a packet of leftover soy sauce from old takeout
I love trying new spice mixes on sale, but not all spice blends are created equal, so I am also going to try to use up my more disappointing seasonings, and replace them with better ones next time. So far on the list I have a surprisingly lackluster harissa, a blandish creole seasoning, and some very corriander-heavy curry powder that came in a large bag forever ago. These are still useable, it just takes more effort to blend them in with other flavors. I have started a list in my personal recipe binder of preferred brands of certain spices where I have found it matters. The expensive ones are not always the winner!
April 21st, 2022 at 07:48 pm
Hello everyone! I am still around and reading the blogs, though it has been a while since I posted.
Financially, I have switched my focus from student loan payoff to retirement savings catchup.
My kitchen (er, whole apartment) has been in serious need of some spring cleaning, which I finally got around to starting this week, and I realized that I have a lot of food items that I have been kind of ignoring. Some were pandemic buys, some I was gifted, some were purchased to try a particular recipe, a few things were inherited when my cousin moved away because they would otherwise have gone in the trash. In the spirit of reducing food waste, especially with food prices so high, I will be trying to use some of this up over the next couple weeks. I started this AM by using an old, gross-flavored microwave noodle packet, discarding the seasoning, and mixing the plain cooked noodles with some tomato and scrambled egg for breakfast. Delicious!
Now you could certainly argue, why plan to use up your pantry staples when food costs are high and the world is still uncertain? One is that I don’t find that even shelf-stable or frozen foods really stay good forever, so if you hold onto things too long they tend to get wasted more for various reasons. Likewise seasonings go stale or tasteless over time, etc. I would rather things it up and intentionally restock every so often, because I feel like it’s less wasteful. I also have limited storage and freezer space, so using up older or random less-favorite items will make space to stock up on other things when they go on sale.
I stopped at the grocery store today for a quick bare bones trip, and I might pick up a little more supplemental produce sometime this weekend at the farmer’s market to help round this out. I bought:
Package of 16 fluffy white dinner rolls – 2.99
18 count cage-free eggs – 4.89
2 sleeves of garlic bulbs at 2/$5 – 5.00
With tax it came to $13.00 even
The rolls were a weird impulse purchase because I rarely eat bread, but I am thinking I will use them for mini slider sandwiches, snacks just with butter, and maybe mini French toast. Garlic and eggs are serious staples in my cooking. I probably won’t try to post every meal, because I eat a LOT of stirfry with random different seasonings and you will all be bored, but I will try to check in with the highlights.
If anyone else wants to join me and share their best creative use-it-up triumps, let me know!
August 17th, 2021 at 09:34 pm
This has been a spendier month so far. $250 for car repairs, 6 month car insurance payment came out, and I have scheduled an eye appointment to get a new Rx so I can order more contacts. Also have a minor medical procedure coming up in late August that I am sure will involve some out of pocket cost, though not sure of the exact amount yet.
On the fun spending side I finally decided to get a bicycle, to see if I can run more local errands on it when I don’t have time to walk several miles round trip and for another exercise option this fall if delta keeps getting worse. I found a basic used bike in good condition for $100 online and spent another $30 for a helmet and bike lock. Pretty sure I haven’t been on a bicycle since I was 12, but it came right back! Was not expecting how much it uses the butt muscles though, so I will probably need to do more practice rides closer to home before I venture too far into town.
On the saving side, I have started investing in a few Vanguard ETFs in addition to my 401K deductions, using the budget category that was previously going toward student loans. (Also reallocated some of that budget item to donations). I decided to just start on my own, and I will probably get around to finding an advisor to help rebalance things down the road when the world isn't so weird. I am splitting things between the VTI (whole US stock market), a large-cap ETF fund, and this month I am also adding a Vanguard small-cap fund. Down the road I might try to find a dividend-focused fund as well, but these three seemed like a reasonable way to at least get started in the market. My 401K is managed separately and can't be transferred to Vanguard.
Those of you who do your own investing- what do you choose? How did you decide?
June 30th, 2021 at 02:08 am
I did some spending today on clothing – I very rarely shop, but now that we are going back to in-person life I knew I would need to update some pieces that are just plain worn out. I am still wearing a fair number of clothes I had in college, and that was over 10 years ago!
I spent a total of $96.36 on a cute work-appropriate summer dress, two pairs of basic shorts, and 4 short-sleeved shirts. All of these items were on sales or clearance, but are basic pieces that will work well with other things I already have. I am working on being more brutally honest with myself and paring down on clothing by donating things that don’t fit right, are unflattering, I don’t really wear, etc.
June 26th, 2021 at 11:25 pm
While I figure out my new longer-term budget and goals, thought I would do some spending snapshot posts, since I am always curious about other people’s day-to-day spending.
Today I spent about $4.50 at the cafeteria at work for eggs and hash browns for breakfast and a banana I saved for lunch. Brought coffee.
On the way home I stopped for groceries:
1 dozen pasture-raised eggs- 4.99
Sharpie markers- 2.89
Earl grey tea bags (50)- 7.09 (This is my fancy splurge tea!)
18 dishwasher pods- 2.79
6 pack of ramen noodles- 1.59
2 noodle packs- 1.29 x 2
1.5 lbs loose mushrooms- 5.95
5 garlic bulbs-2.50
1.2 lbs ginger root-3.50
0.15 lbs small hot peppers- 0.60
1.85 lbs tomatoes on the vine- 3.68
Except for the sharpies, these are all regular staples that I will definitely use up. I ususally grocery shop once every 1.5-2 weeks or so. This is a lighter haul to push me to be creative in using up things I have.
Planned meals (groceries combined with things on hand)
Vegetable pie with Indian spiced sauce
Vegetable stir-fry with egg (default weeknight meal)
Recipe link: https://old.reddit.com/r/EatCheapAndHealthy/comments/o0iweb/my_cheap_ass_chilaquiles_recipe/
Possibly potato pancakes with a side of mini oranges
May try to make a bean-based "meatloaf" with things from the pantry on a day off
June 15th, 2021 at 04:14 pm
I paid off my student loan! I should receive an official letter within 20 days, but the payment has already been deducted from my account and the balance on the web portal is listed as zero. Somebody posted asking how I paid this off, so some reflections on the process:
First, I have been very lucky. My parents helped me with undergrad tuition and I have worked part time jobs for other spending money since high school, so I never had any other debt prior to entering professional school. I always knew I would be paying for that myself with student loans and spent years saving up. Growing up, my parents worked very hard and drilled into me that having debt is NOT a normal part of life and paying non-mortgage interest is a waste of money, so it never occurred to me to take a car loan for example. When I bought my used car I had X amount of money to spend on it and that was my budget, period. I was going to get the best used car I could with that amount of money, but ONLY as much car as I could with that money, no matter what a junker that might be. I know it’s a privilege to be able to operate that way since some people have to take a loan to be able to get any transportation at all to get to work, but I do think it helped me that my parents made it clear that as far as possible, if you can’t afford something you change your lifestyle BEFORE you change your budget. I did not have to help support my family financially, which is obviously also a huge advantage.
I am also lucky that I have not run into any major health emergencies, major car accidents, etc during this process. Everyone has car repairs, etc that pop up from time to time, but I have been able to direct most of my financial effort to loan paydown. My family members have also not needed any major financial assistance during this time. I don’t have any expensive chronic medical problems right now.
After 4 years of school I spent another 5 years in paid training, where I made between $48K-almost $60K by the end with yearly raises and some opportunity for limited moonlighting in the last few years. I was living in a medium cost of living city. That is not a bad salary, but definitely not enough to pay the full payment and interest on 200K+ in debt, so I was on income-based repayment during that time and my balance was actually increasing after my monthly payments due to the interest rates. All of my loans were federal. After building my emergency savings back up for a year or two, I moved to a place with cheaper rent to free up more of my budget for repayment, joined this website, and got more focused on paying down my smallest higher-interest grad plus loan by squeezing some extra money out of my budget categories every month.
A few years ago I fully finished training and received a huge salary jump with my new job (more than doubled), which is when I really started making progress. I moved to a new area but was able to keep my core living expenses, such as rent, essentially the same. I increased my personal budget a little, such as buying nicer gifts and pasture-raised eggs and springing for a WSJ subscription, and upped my charitable giving a little, but my monthly personal spending is overall pretty similar, under 50K a year before debt repayment. I drive the same used car (the blue book value is around $1300 now). Most of my furniture is from craigslist. I buy a lot of my clothing and household items used not just to save money, but because it seems better for the environment when there are so many perfectly good items already available without manufacturing more. I don’t eat meat and mostly cook at home, which keeps the food budget low. Possibly because I spend so much time working and spent so many years as a cheap student, I never really developed any expensive hobbies- I am happy just cooking at home for a date or going hiking, going to a museum, etc. Books mostly come from the library. I don't take expensive vacations. Basically, this allowed me to take my entire salary increase and direct it right to my loans every month. My increased salary also helped me qualify to refinance my student loans to get a lower interest rate. I had a very good experience going through CommonBond, but there are a lot of similar refinancing companies out there.
At my new job I have also had opportunities to pick up extra shifts for overtime, etc which went to my loans. This is the first job I have ever had that offered any retirement matching, so I did start contributing enough to get the full match.
I am very grateful to have paid this off. It will give me a lot more flexibility career-wise not to have to worry about how to make a huge loan payment every month, although I like my current job and don’t have any plans to leave right now. There’s still a big psychological benefit in knowing you don’t HAVE to stay if things change in the future. I am planning on using some of the money that is freed up to increase charitable giving and retirement savings. It is also a relief to know that if I do get married in the future, I won’t have to have the “guess how many hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt I have” talk!
Finally, I will say that although there are some things I would do differently ( refinancing earlier, etc), I would take out these loans again in a minute if I went back in time. Money isn't everything, and the experiences I have had because of my education and the ability to do a job I love for my entire life was totally worth the financial discipline of repayment. Realistically I would not have been able to do this career without taking out these loans for school. I know that is not true for everyone and many people regret their educational debt, but for me it was totally worth it.
May 30th, 2021 at 02:30 am
Current student loan balance:
Current balance: $12,867.40
Current interest: $32.77
I am looking seriously at potentially paying this off in the coming month. My usual payment is about $2300 and I already planned to pay another $5,000. Which would bring me down to under 5K. I am tempted to pay this off from savings. The market is really high now anyway to invest and it would be a big psychological milestone to finish paying off this debt!
Otherwise work has been pretty busy, which means less time for spendy projects/hobbies at least! Today I spent about $45 total for groceries at the farmer’s market and grocery store and saved 10 cents/gallon on gas with a grocery points reward card.
April 10th, 2021 at 07:09 pm
After April payments were applied, my student loan balance is down to just under $20,300! (A previous post with exact numbers got eaten by the website and now the lender site is down for maintenence, but close enough!)
I am tempted to throw more money at it to get below the $20K mark, but have a big tax payment coming out of my account April 15, so may just be patient. I am not sure why my employer withholdings are so wrong when I request zero exemptions every year.
I had been toying with the idea of buying a small place locally this summer or fall, since things seem to be going okay with the job and in this area rents are no cheaper than a mortgage. However, I have decided to just rent for another year when my lease comes up in July- the housing market has gone crazy and I am not willing to overpay. I'm not in a hurry. I suspect in another year when the world is fully reopened, a lot of people who freaked out and panic-bought houses with outdoor space during quarantine will realize they don't want to spend the time/money maintaining them when there are other entertainment options, and I may be able to get a reasonable deal.
March 28th, 2021 at 06:40 pm
I’m not a big online shopper and with no in-person social events, most work meetings moved to zoom, and only my BF ever coming into my apartment, I have put off a lot of routine purchases. Since this is a personal finance site, I figured I’d post a few spending snapshots now that they world is slowing reopening with vaccination. These don’t include regular budget categories, just variable expenses. I’m not a spender by nature and have stopped budgeting discretionary categories strictly as my income has gone up. Occasional spot checks show it averages out to about what I would have budgeted. The time spent to track it closely honestly just hit diminishing returns, and I think that time would be better spent figuring out how to reduce recurring fixed expenses or invest better, etc.
March spending snapshot:
Grocery spending- 210.73 (does not include occasional takeout)
190.73 – grocery stores
20? - farmers market. Not sure exactly because they take cash
121.29 – Replacing a flat tire
38.99 – baby shower gift from friend’s online registry
55.80 – clothing category. $25 to have a winter coat I like repaired by a local clothing shop (torn in 2 places) and $30.80 for a work-appropriate spring/summer dress and a nice shirt I can wear with dress pants or a skirt.
I think I am going to try to buy most of my clothing second hand. It seems better for the environment to reuse things that have already been manufactured, and since I donate my unwanted/ill fitting clothing, it seems logical to support the same system by buying from those sources. Secondhand clothing in my area also supports local-owned shops and individuals making a couple extra bucks on ebay. I also like that there’s more variety available that way, especially during seasons where the fashion of the moment is unflattering or unappealing. It is a mental adjustment to pay secondhand store prices for used clothing rather than yardsale or Goodwill prices though, even though I know it’s still a huge savings compared to buying it new and the difference is necessary to support the overhead of the business.
March 4th, 2021 at 07:37 pm
The pantry challenge did make me use up some stuff that has been hanging around the cabinets a while! It wasn’t all successful- I ended up throwing out ¼ bag of dal that was contaminated and one of the old muffin mixes I made had gone bad somehow and was inedible, but better to find that out and clear out the space. I did stock up pretty well the other day when it ended- I realized I like having plenty of staples so it is never urgent to grocery shop if work runs late, weather is bad, etc.
March payments posted to my debt.
Student loan update:
Total due: 27,533.85
Interest rate: 3.21 %
Daily interest: 2.42
I am waiting to hear how much I might owe for taxes, but if my withholdings are closer to the mark this year and I don’t get a big tax bill I will probably throw some cash I am holding for that at this loan.
Some of you may remember I refinanced my federal loans last January to lower the interest rate from 6.8% to 3.21%. According to my tax documents this year I paid $2,532 in loan interest in 2020. This is a savings of $2832 compared to continuing to pay the old rate.
February 13th, 2021 at 11:56 pm
So far I have been using up the casserole I mentioned from my last post, a couple slices of leftover pizza from the fridge, a loose packet of instant oatmeal, and a fancy Asian ramen package from the back of the cabinet. Tonight I made a curry with potatoes, cauliflower, and rice. The potatoes are definitely approaching their use-by time so I see more potatoes in the future. The curry will make a meal for tomorrow too. I also found a box of chocolate popsicles crammed in the freezer for the occasional random chocolate cravings.
February 11th, 2021 at 11:13 pm
I am not doing a tradtional eat-from-the-pantry challenge, but I would like to focus on using up things I already have to rotate stores and avoid waste. Today’s grocery shopping included less overall food but was not super cheap because I took the opportunity to stock up on some longer-term items instead, like sesame oil (on sale!) and some spices that will last a long time. I will try to post occasional updates on what I’m making/eating. I did forget cornstarch and they were out of the coffee creamer I was looking for, so I will probably do a small stop for those things at some point before the next big grocery trip. (Notes- pescatarian/mostly vegetarian, and I do intentionally pay more for pasture raised eggs and oat-based coffee creamer)
6 pack of plain bagels- 2.00
2 dozen Happy Eggs- 9.38
Coffee creamer- 3.50
8 oz light cream- 1.39
Sunflower oil – 3.79
6 pack ramen noodles- 2.89
Sesame oil – 3.00
Bay leaves (dried)- 3.79
Garlic chipotle seasoning mix – 2.79
Garlic salt- 1.59
2 star fruits on super clearance- 0.46!
2 small yellow onions- 0.70
Ginger root- 1.29
3 lb bag mandarin oranges- 4.99
1.85 lbs tomatoes- 4.86
1.85 lbs mushrooms- 7.38
Total: 56.00 after round up donation
Tonight I am making this: https://www.thefrugalgirl.com/wp-content/https://www.savingadvice.com/blogs/cp/uploads/2011/09/Shrimp-Veiness.pdf but with just mushrooms, leaving out the shrimp. I also added some carrots I had in the fridge. Already had rice, butter, dill, lemon juice, garlic, and stock cubes. I cut the recommended amount of butter in half. The recipe will make leftovers for lunch.
I did not buy things I would usually pick up - frozen vegetables, tea, pasta. This should motivate me to dig a little deeper in the freezer/cabinets to use what I find
February 4th, 2021 at 08:33 am
My regular payment and extra payment posted to the student loan for February, and the current balance is $34,849.90.
Daily interest is down to $3.06/day. According to my tax documents, I paid $2,532.49 in interest for 2020. Ouch, but this would have been WAY more if I hadn't refinanced last January from federal loans at 6.8% to a private loan at 3.2%. At this time last year I was paying $11.59/day in interest. It is starting to feel like an end is actually in sight.
I have been doing some extra work that should be $500 before tax, but will be paid out quarterly (in a few months).
Speaking of taxes, I suspect I will have to pay something, but am hoping it will be less than the $8K tax bill last year! I have been saving some extra cash for this year just in case, so if I don't owe a lot I may be able to move that over to debt.
In other news, my laptop suddenly died, as in wouldn't turn on at all. I took it in and something in the charging mechanism broke, which they said would cost so much to fix it wouldn't be worth it. Being computerless was definitely not an option with multiple pressing work deadlines, so I went to Best Buy to look at laptops. I found a reasonable model that had what I am looking for there for $620, but they didn't have it in stock. Since I couldn't afford to lose a day of work time waiting for something to be shipped, I decided it was worth at least checking at another local store that carries a very small number of laptops and found the same model there on clearance for $420! It's not damaged, it was on clearance because they are making room for this year's newer model that is coming out.
February 2nd, 2021 at 05:32 am
I have been on a library reading spree in January using their ebook option through the Libby app. To buy the same ebooks on Amazon, I would have spent $105.83 in January alone!
January 4th, 2021 at 03:32 pm
Student loan update
Total due: 43,128.76
Interest rate: 3.21 %
Daily interest: 3.79
I have been thinking about my goals for this year, but it's hard to plan without knowing how things will go in the world. Keeping my current 2021 financial goals simple:
-Pay off student loans
- Start investing in non-retirement accounts (have been investing in 401K concurrently with debt paydown)
November 6th, 2020 at 01:26 am
Student Loan update:
Interest rate: 3.2%
Current interest balance: 0 (just cleared a payment)
Daily interest cost: $5.15
November 3rd, 2020 at 12:51 am
Like most places in the US, my area is seeing the worst surge in Covid cases since this whole thing started. Although so far no new lockdowns have been announced, anyone with common sense will be planning to stay home for most of the winter except for work, essential shopping, and outdoor activities. We also get real winter weather/snow here during a regular year- all the more reason to be prepared to stay home.
I have been thinking about my pandemic-related spending lately. I would like to be intentional about investing in things that will improve my quality of life in the winter without overspending on unhelpful things. I am not much of a decorator/shopper to begin with, so some of these things have probably just been overdue since I moved in a couple years ago but now seem more urgent.
Spending so far:
After months on the laptop, finally dropped $170 on a real monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Already making a huge difference- I am much more productive and should have done this sooner!
Coffee table for the living room
USB webcam for zoom meetings
More stamps and cute greeting cards to send surprise mail to friends and family
Items I am planning/considering:
New lamps for my dark, cave-like living room
Additional pantry stocking up
Backup laptop charging cord
Will probably buy more kindle books over the winter as the library ebooks have had very long waits since this started
A pair of knee-high boots
More underarmor style leggings for under my clothes. Really want to keep spending time outdoors all winter to exercise and fight off the blahs
Need to inventory/try on winter clothes, donate those that don’t work and make a list for any missing items (may need some new jeans/socks/1-2 sweaters due to attrition)
Getting a cracked computer screen repaired
Cute teapot/tea set. This is totally frivolous but fun
Pedometer app to make sure I am getting enough activity in
Recommended items I love:
- Electric blanket! So cozy/luxurious feeling and really cuts heating bills!
Tea kettle – somehow much cozier than microwaving the water
What items have you bought to make the time at home more comfortable? Recommendations?
October 7th, 2020 at 10:58 pm
Today on the way home from work I was tired and tempted to get takeout, but it seemed daunting to order online ahead of time from my phone and I didn't really want to wait around a bunch of people.
Came home instead and ended up making a quick, comforting (and frugal!) grilled cheese with veggies inside and a cheesy French toast to use up a leftover slice of slightly stale bread.
This is why I usually save takeout for specific cravings or social occasions...can usually make something just as satisfying in half the time in the comfort of home.
September 25th, 2020 at 02:24 pm
It has been a while since my last debt update. Student loan balance is listed below- the next regular payment is $2,388 which is scheduled to automatically deduct on Oct 3. I will also be making an extra payment after getting paid at the end of the month, barring any emergencies, so hoping to see the total drop below $70K.
Current principal: 73,087.15
Current interest balance: 102.74
Current total balance: 73,189.89
Daily interest: 6.42
Interest rate: 3.2 %
I worked some mandatory overtime this week due to a coworker calling out sick. Was not thrilled at the time because I had plans, but at least the extra money will help with my goals!
Spending was way up this month up due to a relative with a (nonmedical) emergency, but that should be a one-time expense and I am lucky to be in a position to help. On the personal spending side, I am looking to make my apartment a little more winter-ready before the weather gets bad, especially because I don’t know what flu season is going to look like and we might all end up spending a lot of time at home if there is a surge. So far I impulse bought a basket to keep my remotes and phone charger in ($7 at Aldi) and ordered about $10 of supplies to do some minor repairs. I’d like to replace my bedding at some point- bought it in a rush after my prior comforter was ruined during my last move and have never found it very cozy, but I’m picky about this and willing to wait for something I love. I also bought a book that was highly recommended and not available through the library- $3 for a used copy + $3.99 shipping. At least one other person I know has already asked to read it after me, so feels worth it.
I was already planning to order the next kindle book in a series I’ve been reading when it comes out Oct 1. It is listed at $3.99 and I have $2 in digital credits from Amazon for choosing no-rush shipping. (I try to shop locally, but sometimes specialized items are only available online.)
August 28th, 2020 at 05:45 pm
I went grocery shopping - was out of eggs and low on fresh produce. I spent $44.75 on the following items:
1 loaf of Italian bread
1 dozen free range eggs
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 2L diet coke
1 packet instant mushroom gravy
6 pack ramen noodles
1.29 lbs loose potatoes
1 head of cauliflower
2 cans of black olives
3 lb bag of mandarin oranges
1.67 lbs loose mushrooms
1 sleeve of garlic (5 bulbs)
2 lbs tomatoes
0.5 lb ginger root
Microwave popcorn (6 bags)
I also spent $10 earlier in the month, I think on some kind of produce.
This brings my monthly total to 207.29. Should not need anything else before Sept 1.
In the interest of transparency, I did have some food spending from my entertainment budget- a medium pizza ($9) and some fancy groceries for a special birthday dinner for the boyfriend.
I still have a bunch of food leftover from this month’s shopping, but I prefer to keep things on hand, especially during the pandemic. I am okay with this level of grocery spending, although as you can see there are things that could be cut further in a pinch.
August 5th, 2020 at 09:18 pm
So far the grocery challenge is going pretty well. I did spend $1 for a box of frozen broccoli cheese bites at the dollar store today to get up to the card minimum. They were a good deal and will get eaten eventually.
Based on how things are going so far, will definitely need to pick up more vegetables this month. The challenge is making me more aware of food waste. Today I found three potatoes had rotted on the bottom half.
July 30th, 2020 at 07:23 pm
This is inspired by East Coast Saver’s August grocery challenge, but will be modifying it a little. My goal isn’t a certain number, it is just to track things closely to get an accurate picture of my actual grocery food spending. It’s hard to tell because I do a lot of socializing with food (less since Covid, and only in an outdoor distanced manner) and also tend to pick up small gifts at the grocery store, like doughnuts for the office or pet treats, that skew my tracking. I don’t grocery shop on a set schedule either, so that makes it even harder to tell what my actual spending is. It feels like groceries have gotten more expensive during the pandemic, but without hard numbers, may just be perception.
My goals this month: track all spending on food for me (household of 1). Will not include gifts, cards, household cleaning products, etc and will not include any takeout if I get some. Eat almost exclusively at home, pescovegetarian. Do splurge on pricier animal products, like free range eggs.
I did a huge stockup today because I needed to do some other errands near/in a few stores anyway and have been putting off grocery shopping for a while. Hoping I will just need a small fill in trip here and there. Some of the cost is a little misleading because it will last longer than a month. I got:
Jumbo family pack rice noodles
Rice sticks x 3
Frozen wonton wrappers
Large sliced water chestnuts x 3
Bamboo shoots x 6
Mixed vegetables can x2
Jumbo coffee creamer x2
Mushroom gravy mix x2
Annie’s boxed mac and cheese x2
2 lbs butter
Garlic salt x 2
Instant mashed potatoes x2
Large bottle olive oil
Assorted pastas x 6 (on sale)
Jar garlic alfredo pasta sauce x2
Regular grocery store:
Bag of shredded cheese x 2
Block of cheddar (small, on sale)
2 dozen eggs
Frozen cauliflower x3
Frozen french fries
$1 veggie frozen pizza
6-pack ramen noodles
Bottled dipping sauce
5lbs jasmine rice
Earl grey tea (50 ct)
Louisana tea (100 ct)
Whole fresh cauliflower
2 lbs whole mushrooms
Total stock up: 151.54
The teas, rice, noodles, and cheese will definitely last more than a month.
I won’t be posting detailed meal plans, but will try to post updates that include what my diet is like with this shopping. Today was coffee with creamer, unsweeted iced tea, rice noodles with vegetables and egg, and a little leftover frozen breaded cauliflower. Have not been super hungry with the heat, but may have grilled cheese or egg on toast for dinner to use up some bread.
June 3rd, 2020 at 10:35 pm
My student loan dipped under $100K this month! Currently at $97,805.21. Daily accrued interest is at $8.59. I remember how far away that seemed when I started this blog. Will keep chipping away at it- especially with all the economic uncertainty looming, can't wait to get this paid down!
May 13th, 2020 at 06:36 pm
Long time no update! Have been chipping away at debt, working, and mostly socializing by phone/zoom as we are still under a lockdown where I live. Looking back at my last entry, I can’t believe how quickly time has flown since this whole crazy thing started.
After various delays due to staff being out at home, finally received reimbursement for $1500 of work-related expenses from earlier in the year (mostly airfare for business travel, all pre-Covid). I applied this to my student loan, along with a check for some accrued overtime from the last quarter.
Current Loan snapshot:
Student loan balance (3.21%):
Daily interest: $9.23
The regular monthly payment of $2,388.76 that will autodebit on the 26th. Getting close to five digits! Will continue to throw any extra money in the budget at it, but I somehow owed quite a bit on federal taxes this year, so waiting for that check to clear my account this month. Still trying to figure out why the withholdings were too low, even though I didn’t claim any exceptions/dependents and money was withheld for taxes on every check, even for overtime.
April 1st, 2020 at 09:15 pm
The state is under a stay-at-home order, so apart from going to work (considered an essential industry) and infrequently to the grocery store, I’m at home. Have worked a couple extra shifts and there will probably be more overtime as people get sick/quarantined and need to be replaced.
Financially, I don’t spend a lot on going out anyway, but of course that is down to zero. I have been avoiding the cafeteria at work as part of social distancing (that’s one way to cut out unnecessary coffee spending!) Also cancelled a trip to see friends and would have otherwise spent money on date activities, but being in a long-distance relationship means no travel = no dates.
Areas I’m spending more:
Groceries! Picking up extra things to leave on the porch for my parents when I do shop to minimize how often they have to go out. Also bought a few extra things that I usually wouldn’t due to shortages of my usual products or to avoid making a second trip to another store to get something more cheaply.
Gifts: Sent some gifts or gift cards (ordered online) to friends and relatives who are furloughed right now or on fixed incomes
Donations: Pretty worried about the food banks and animal shelters, both due to not having their regular fundraising activities and the increased demand they will probably see in this tough economic situation.
Working on using up things in the pantry, to minimize food waste AND shopping trips. Today I focused on a big bag of dal that’s been languishing in the cupboard for a couple years. Made something similar to this recipe, but added half a cup of rice as well: https://myheartbeets.com/instant-pot-green-moong-dal/ The bag is still about 1/3 full, but it’s a start! It wasn’t amazing, but it was certainly edible and filling! May freeze part of it for later.
Anyone up for a use-up-the-pantry challenge?
Student loan balance (3.21%):
Principle: $114, 229.67
Daily interest: $10.04
February 15th, 2020 at 08:27 pm
It’s about time to do review recurring monthly expenses. I try to do this at least once a year, to see if better deals are available and try to keep fixed monthly bills in check. Auto insurance is a great deal around here and should stay the same (I was mildly injured by another driver this year, which weirdly goes through your own auto insurance per our state laws, and Geico was very helpful. Great customer service. Can’t say the same for the medical billing people at the ortho clinic, but that’s another story). Renters insurance is bundled. Medical, dental, and vision insurance premiums are determined through work. I locked in a promotional $40/month rate for home internet for two years a few months ago. Disability insurance will go up a little because I’m adjusting my policy, but that’s worth it. Need to look into getting a better deal on my cellphone plan, but I’m nervous something will get messed up with my keeping my current number, which is essential. Honestly the headache of that has been putting me off. My regular monthly student loan payment went up by around $400/month when I refinanced, but when you factor in the lower interest rate and the fact the term switched from 10 to 5 years, this was a savings overall.
Other financial housekeeping goals for this year: Need to sit down and figure out/change how my 401K is allocated. They automatically put me in an age-based fund when I was hired, but the mix is probably too conservative (too many bonds) for me. I should also probably move some of my savings into the market to earn better interest, but I’m pretty conservative about having a liquid cash cushion for emergencies.
Recently sent some extra money that had gradually built up in other budget categories toward my student loan.
Consolidated student loans:
Daily interest cost: $10.65
February 5th, 2020 at 12:17 am
Really loving this new "daily interest" display on the student loan website. I sent in the $550 cash back bonus as mentioned before, and also $3354 from extra shifts/side work in the last several months. The daily interest cost is now $11.26, for a saving of 33 cents per day/$9.90 a month. That's more than my Hulu subscription!