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Frugal efforts, nonfrugal week

May 23rd, 2019 at 06:38 pm

This past week wasn’t super frugal due to some fun summer activities, but much appreciated to get away for a couple days! I think road trips are still one of the cheaper ways to vacation though.

Frugal things for the week:
- Saved almost $100 booking through AirBnB instead of using the regular rental website for the same exact place
- Used a travel mug and resisted stopping for snacks on the way there or back
- Used up some odds and ends for dinner after getting back, putting off a grocery store run for another day
- Got seven new books at a free book exchange
- Cancelled Amazon prime. I got this as a 30 day free trial initially, but now was being charged monthly and don’t use it much

Now that the weather has definitely settled into summer territory, I need to sort and box up my winter clothing and go through my box of shorts and T-shirts to figure out what will still work for this year and what needs to be replaced. My go-to black work flats finally fell apart (literally, pieces fell off), and I need a pair of summer-appropriate black heels, but I’m going to inventory and make a list to avoid duplicates. Yard sale season is starting around here.

Tax return, monthly interest savings

April 21st, 2019 at 12:23 am

Just a quick update. Received hefty federal and state tax returns due to an error in the withholdings when I switched jobs. I applied the (larger) state refund to my student loans and well as covering an $860 car repair bill. My car is a 2003, but my mechanic felt like it was worth doing this work based on what good shape it is in and the fact these models routinely get to 200,000 miles (it’s at 156,000 now). Have honestly put very little money into this car in the last 7 years, and some of the bill this time was for expected maintenance costs (replace the battery, fix flat tire, replace belts, etc).

I’m expecting a $1000 federal return, which will also go to student loans.

According to my calculations, I’m saving $132 a month in interest based on the principle paid off so far.

February spending

February 24th, 2019 at 10:02 pm

This has been a pretty spendy month so far, with variable spending at $778.25. This doesn’t include regular bills, charitable donations, extra debt repayment, or work-related expenses, some of which will eventually be reimbursed, but it does include discretionary budget categories like groceries.

Unusual extra spending: $75 for a nice used desk chair to replace an old one that broke. $30 for a filing cabinet for my home office area. $70 for a nice Valentine’s dinner and drinks, with tip. This is more than a typical date for us, but every once in a while it’s fun to dress up and splurge on trying something new. (We roughly take turns paying for things.) $65 for some new bras and a dress to replace worn-out items.

Grocery spending was around $200, which isn’t too bad, although it could probably be lower for one vegetarian who doesn’t buy imitation meat and cooks at home a lot. Buying coffee and cafeteria snacks remains an area for improvement, even though I do keep some snacks at my desk and avoid pricey Starbucks coffee. Even the cheap stuff adds up!

Other spending included things like gas, forever stamps, mailing packages with Valentine’s candy for friends, liquor for a social gathering, a copay for dental work, and Hulu and Washington Post online subscriptions (don’t count these in the regular bills category because they’re definitely discretionary entertainment expenses) .

Private Loan Payoff, Repayment Strategery

December 10th, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Still here, still bad at posting regularly! Life is busy but good. Financial updates:

Been putting a big chunk of each paycheck toward my only private loan, and I mailed a check for the final payoff balance on Saturday! It usually takes at least a week for payments to show up. Looking forward to getting down to one loan servicer to deal with! Very grateful for the private loan though- they offered much lower interest during the years while I was still in school.


Payment for a side project came through, $685 after taxes. I sent this to my federal loans as an extra payment, but it’s also a test to see if my payoff strategy will work. With the federal loans I have a big balance and a lot of interest accumulated in one “account,” but it’s actually made up of multiple smaller loans taken out at different times. Any extra payment is applied to interest first, so I’m really hoping if I designate it to go to a certain loan within the account (loan #1) that means that once the interest on only loan #1 is covered, it starts hitting principle. This will make a HUGE different in how long it will take and how much total interest I’ll pay.

My goal is to eventually refinance (6.55% is insane), but I’m reluctant to lose the federal protections and IBR option until I’ve been at my job for at least year and find out for sure they plan to renew my contract. If I have to pay ALL the accumulated interest on the federal loans before the principle starts to go down, may need to rethink that plan. So far based on some preliminary research it looks like rates as low as 4% would be possible.

Net worth, private loan, blog related rambling

November 5th, 2018 at 06:17 am

It’s been a while- life is good but busy! I Financially I’ve been chugging along and trying to minimize spending to focus on loan payback.

The website for my private loan doesn’t give you the actual total, just the remaining principle balance. You have to call or write for the actual balance. Regardless, once the principle is gone it will stop generating interest and I’ll probably just let my autopayments finish it off, so I guess it doesn’t matter. My current principle balance is $13,297.

I know a lot of the bloggers here like to track their net worth, but I’ve never bothered to calculate mine because it was so far in the negative and at points in training I wasn’t even able to keep up with the interest. Now that I have a job that will let me make actual progress, I decided to bite the bullet and see. Not pretty- 181,459 in the red. I don’t plan to track this closely, but do like that it also captures contributions to retirement. The net worth number only includes the principle balance of the private loan. On a happy note, I did finally hit my silly personal goal of having at least $1000 per year of my age in retirement savings.

Even when I’m not posting much I always follow the blogs here (been reading this site for years before I finally made my own account). I agree with CB in the City that is seems like a lot of regular bloggers have drifted away- hope everybody is okay! (Definitely not complaining- I’m obviously terrible about blogging when life stuff comes up.) Still wonder about Ima Saver sometimes. I remember when I first found this website, Ima Saver, Boommeyer, whitestripe, and Ceejay were the blogs I really followed, and now Ceejay is the only one still active. Life gets busy, interests change, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some regular bloggers eventually stop for privacy reasons when people in real life find their posts, but it does make you wonder if something else happened to them.

Extra loan payment

September 14th, 2018 at 07:52 am

I’ll have to write a longer post later, but the student loan pay-down goal continues. I’ve gotten a few extra checks recently to throw at it:

Side project payment: $250
Comcast refund: $20
Rental deposit refund from old apartment: $935
Total: $1205

New Job, New Budget

August 5th, 2018 at 08:07 am

There has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding my budget with my job ending, so I haven’t been posting much. I’ve just started a new job and should be able to start working on my financial goals again soon. Moving to a new state and renting a new apartment definitely requires cash up front, so I’m glad I had a large savings cushion for this kind of thing!

The new budget is starting to come together. My old rent had gone up to $1195, and the new place is $1225/month for two bedrooms instead of one. The one-bedroom apartments in the area I found that were nice without major problems were around the same price, and it would be nice to have a guest room for friends. My internet bill went from $75 (Comcast monopoly) to $40/month for Verizon, although I did have to buy a special router. Honestly, I would have paid slightly more just to dump Comcast- the way they treat customers in areas where they have a monopoly is infuriating. Waiting to see the actual cost of utilities at the end of this month, but I’m going to budget $150 to start.


It looks like my car insurance should drop substantially now that I have dedicated parking in the suburbs instead of street parking in a major city. It’s already pretty low compared to my friends – I was shocked by what some of them pay without a major accident on their record. Based on the initial online quote, I’m looking at saving $290/year.

My new job comes with a significant raise, but I won’t see the exact take-home number for a while because they pay once a month. It also comes with a retirement match of 5%, which I’ve never had before and definitely plan to take advantage of.

I have some unusual spending planned in the next few months- a few pieces of furniture for the new place and some wardrobe updates, since I need to dress very professionally at my new workplace. Otherwise I am looking to keep spending low and start working on my next student loan target: my only private loan. It had negligible interest for 5 years, but it went up to 6.4% recently, making it similar to the federal loans. It is also by far the most annoying to deal with, as you have to mail in payments by check and address updates, etc by mail. The starting balance is $26,589.54. The monthly payment plan is $222/month for 10 years, but I obviously don’t want to be paying for that long!

Still around, plans on hold

March 18th, 2018 at 03:49 pm

Still here!

I’m still here and reading the blogs, but took a break from posting for a while because my current job will be ending this summer and I’ve been job hunting. Until I have a new contract, I decided to slow down the extra payments to my student loans and to stockpile some extra cash on top of my current emergency fund instead.

There have been a few expenses related to this -got a new interview outfit and shoes, since I hadn’t bought a suit in years and they were looking a little dated. Looking professional and feeling confident was definitely a good investment though, and I did get it on sale! I’ve also paid $2230 in professional and licensing fees so far this year, which are not negotiable for my position and are required for any future jobs as well. A tax refund of $500 went toward these fees.

Retirement Progress

January 14th, 2018 at 08:43 am

Contributed $200 leftover in other budget categories to the IRA, bringing 2017 contributions to $2140. I have a $150 check in hand to deposit and send in as well, so after that the I’ll need $710 to meet my goal of $3000 for the year. My employer still owes me an additional $150 for overtime, they’re just slow to pay since it comes from a separate cost center. Still need $560 after that. Would love to get this done this month so I can file my taxes at the end of January. That will make it easier to reapply for IBR in February. Really looking forward to knocking the retirement goal out so I can go back to chipping away at my student loans. As a side note, my IRA balance reached $1,000/year of age for the first time ever with how high the market has been lately. It will probably dip down again, but kind of a neat milestone.

Today should be a low spend day. Currently making food to bring with me to work this afternoon. I plan to stop on the way in and get a replacement travel mug (mine disappeared, probably because a lot of us had the same style which caused confusion). This should also help cut down on splurging for coffee on long days, or at least get me the refill rate.

Quick check-in, retirement progress

January 3rd, 2018 at 04:08 am

Yesterday was a no spend day. I was going to stop for some over the counter medication, but traffic and parking were terrible, so I came straight home after work and found a little bit left in my medicine cabinet! Brought food and coffee to work.

I also got a check for some previous overtime in December- $260 for retirement savings. Current total before this deposit is $1535, with a goal of $3000. The plan is to switch back to paying down debt after meeting this goal.

Just to put things in perspective, I also have $3195 of unavoidable education expenses coming up in 2018 (required for my career), which I’ve had to save up for.

Back to the usual routine

December 27th, 2017 at 03:06 pm

Merry belated Christmas! I've been away visiting relatives this season, but now it's back to work and back to more ordinary financial matters after an expensive time of year!

Although there were increased holiday expenses (gifts, uber to holiday parties that had alcohol, extra gas for travel, etc), there was also some financial good luck. In December I was able to pick up some overtime that should be about $150 after taxes and received a couple of gift cards. I also talked to a salesman with some questions about one of the bigger, more practical presents for a family member, and he gave me a $75 discount that I didn't even request!

I'm hoping to keep the rest of the month as frugal as possible by continuing the battle against high utility bills; using my efficient space heater, lots of blankets, and dressing in layers to minimize turning on the central heat. I'll also be weatherstripping this week.

Today I slept too late to make lunch, but managed to grab coffee from home on the way out the door and just spent $1.10 on a snack in the cafeteria to hold me over until I got home to cook dinner. I cooked from the freezer and pantry since I just got back into town and may try to put off grocery shopping for a few more days.