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February 21st, 2024 at 02:13 pm
Just a quick check in – the month is flying by! I bought a car 12 years ago with 100,000 miles on it and drove it for another 100,000 miles, so really can’t complain! Because that car lasted so much longer than I expected, I have had many years to save up for a new car to buy it in cash, so technically it’s not monthly spending since it came from the expected earmarked car savings. The old car has been needing increasingly expensive and more frequent repairs, and it finally developed an issue that would probably have required significant engine disassembly ($$$) costing way more than the total car value. There will be an increase in my car insurance, but that should go back down after a couple years as this car gets older.
The pantry clean-out challenge took a step backwards when I had some relatives visiting. I did stock up on various food options to have on hand in case of different food preferences and some dietary restrictions. Now that everyone left, I am back on the wagon and working my way through some leftovers. I also brought leftover cookies in to work, because I don’t need to be eating a whole tin of cookies solo!
January 20th, 2024 at 12:43 am
General pantry challenge wins, since I’m not posting in detail every day:
-Made mushroom stroganoff from a cup of leftover sour cream from the fridge
-Ate most of a noodle meal packet I was gifted months ago, although the seasoning was quite odd
-Took some vegetable stir fry that past me froze in Tupperware at some undetermined date to work for lunch
- Finished 5 plant-based chicken nuggets and a small microwave bag of pre-sauced vegetables from the depths of the freezer
-Working my way through a large frozen tomato sauce tub that didn’t turn out very well. I have been incorporating this into other strongly flavored dishes such as curry, etc to improve the taste
- On the last box of old cereal, though this one is very sugary and so I am going through it slowly in small portions
And I have used up various other odds and ends. My fridge is emptier and the freezer is starting to have more space in it. I have made a couple stops to pick up groceries here and there on different days, which I will summarize here:
Frozen broccoli: 3.49
Stroganoff sauce mix packet: 2.19
Mushrooms (for stroganoff): 3.35
Giant total: 9.03
Two cans of baby corn at 1.29 each: 2.58
Egg noodles: 1.39
Rice noodles: 1.59
GO total: 5.56
I kind of fell off the pantry challenge wagon on that one; I wasn’t out of canned vegetables or rice noodles yet, but was getting a little tired of making myself eat down less favorite items from the kitchen and decided to splurge and make a nice plate of pesto noodles after a long work day
Back to Grocery Outlet today
Tortilla chips (for nachos) 2 for one deal: 4.98
Broccoli crowns (fresh) 1.8 lbs for 3.66
Tomatoes, 1.15 lbs for 3.44
Block of cheese: 3.49
2 bags of shredded cheese at 0.78 each: 1.58
Coffee creamer: 3.49
GO total: 20.64
I am going to freeze that shredded cheese because that was an insanely good deal and I will use it. I’m on my last bag of pantry shredded cheese from the freezer now.
Total grocery spending for the challenge: 35.23 listed above plus 34.55 previously = 69.78 so far, day 23 of the pantry clean out challenge.
I’m not counting coffee, snacks I buy at work, or eating out (rare). That’s not bad for one person and sometimes a second person joining me for meals (boyfriend, he also takes turns cooking for both of us on days we spend together). The real goal for the pantry challenge is to make sure I use up what I have to minimize food waste from things going bad, and this had definitely made me more mindful about checking what I have first before shopping. I plan to continue working on this
December 3rd, 2023 at 03:16 pm
Costco update- trip # 2 (November)
This entry is a little delayed, but better late than never! I went to Costco once in November, mostly to get easy snacks to donate to a community event, although I did pick up a couple items for myself that were good deals. I was very pleasantly surprised by their pesto, it is EXCELLENT and comparing it to the store brand as a I do here is probably incorrect. To get a similar quality you would probably need a premium brand. Prices here are for my go-to local grocery store chain, store brand when available, unless specified. Let’s look at the savings:
Large 22 oz basil pesto: 9.49 (3.99 for 8 oz at store, so 10.97 for equivalent amount, saving of 1.48)
Cliff Bars 26 count 12.97 (16.99 for 12 count at the store, so 36.81 for equivalent amount, saving of 23.84)
Easy mac large 6 count 10.49 (17 for an 8 pack at Walmart, so 12.75, saving of 2.26)
Large black olives, 6 cans, on sale for 7.99 (1.89 each, 11.34 for same quantity so 3.35 savings)
Shin black microwave ramen, 12 count, For 12.69 (7.98 for 4 pack at Walmart, 23.94 for 11.25 savings)
30 frozen spinach frittatas for 12.99 (6 for 5.98 at Walmart, 29.90 for 30, savings of 16.91)
Basmati rice, 50 lbs for 19.69 (18.97 for 20 lbs at Walmart, or 47.42 for 50 lbs, savings of 27.73)
Total savings this trip: 86.82 Year to date: 162.96
As you can see, the largest savings are from buying premade and individually packaged processed foods, which I rarely eat myself but occasionally buy for certain family or community events. If I only compared the costs of my own personal use groceries, the cost savings would be much less dramatic. It’s also fair to question if I would have actually paid the sticker price and bought the same goodies for these events at the regular store, and the answer in some cases is probably no, or I would have bought less of them. That said, I really did get the value of being able to contribute more to these events for the same price, so I think this is a fair way to calculate the value to the Costco shopper.
I still haven’t gotten gas at Costco yet, because the first trip I didn’t need it and this time I went with a friend who also wanted to go and they drove, but I will definitely include this if I can time a future trip with a fill up! I don’t use that much gas in general as I drive a small car and live near work and the grocery store.
There has not been much food waste so far, which is one issue I am specifically trying to avoid as a single person. Will also say that one downside of Costco is that there seems to be a lot of packaging and plastic on everything compared to the regular local grocery store chain.
August 30th, 2023 at 01:32 pm
August has been an expensive month for car repairs! For reference, I drive a 20 year old car that has been “new to me” for about 10 years. It was purchased in cash for somewhere around $7-8000 at that time. With inflation, an online calculator says 8K would be around $10,400 today (which is crazy!). This has been a very reliable car which now has about 180,000 miles on it. I have not had to put much into the car over the years beyond routine maintenance.
This month it developed some electrical and oil leakage problems, which ended up costing:
207 for a battery replacement
494 for electrical system repair, fixing the oil leak, and an oil change
27 to replace a burned out headlight a week later
360 in rental car fees since I had to keep driving to work at dawn’o’clock with no public transportation
And some uber fees to drop off/pick up, which I consider more the cost of being single
In total, $1,088. A lot for one month, but a lot less considering the 10 years of reliable transportation with no car payments. Hoping to get at least another couple years out of it. And as my mechanic pointed out, I couldn’t buy the same car for that today. Driving an older car for 10 years, I have had plenty of notice to save up in my car repair/replacement fund
April 21st, 2022 at 08:48 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 10:34 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 03:08 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 27th, 2021 at 12:25 am
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 05:14 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.
April 10th, 2021 at 08:09 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 07:40 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 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.
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 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?
September 25th, 2020 at 03:24 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 06:45 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 10:18 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.
June 3rd, 2020 at 11:35 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 07:36 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 10:15 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!
February 3rd, 2020 at 07:19 pm
As I mentioned in my last post, I refinanced my federal student loans with CommonBond. They disbursed the check to Great Lakes at the end of January, but I am still waiting for the payoff to go through on the website. The estimated payoff period for that is Feb 4-mid February because they physically mail a paper check and it can take some time to receive and process it. Meanwhile, my new private loan is officially active, so I’m updating my loan chart:
Consolidated Student Loan:
Principle: $131,916.00 Interest: $46.36 Total balance: $131,962.36
As part of the refinancing deal I got a $550 signup bonus, which I’m submitting as my first extra payment. This company clearly focuses on a certain type of borrower, because my daily interest cost for the loan is listed right there next to the balance on my account statement. ($11.59/day, ouch). Looking forward to watching this go down!
January 20th, 2020 at 04:09 pm
I finally pulled the trigger on refinancing my government student loans. My application was approved and the scheduled date for everything to go through is in late January. My current servicer, Great Lakes, takes forever to process payments, so I don’t expect the process to be finished until early Feb. I have one final payment to Great Lakes in process right now for $1,944 (usual monthly amount), then in February I will start paying the new company. This will lower my interest rate from 6.55% to 3.2% fixed, which will obviously be a big help. The new loan is on a 5 year repayment term. There are no penalties for making extra payments to the new servicer, so I plan to continue to pay it down aggressively. I should really have done this sooner, but I was hesitant to lose the option of going to IBR if something happened like a job loss, etc when my total balance was more like $250,000.
I got soft quotes from several of the major companies before ultimately choosing CommonBond. The fixed interest rate quotes I received were all the same, but CommonBond’s customer support really impressed me, they had the best “what if you run into unexpected life emergencies” policies, and they had the best referral bonus, which is sent out 3 weeks after your loan is disbursed and you make your first payment to them. That said, friends have used Laurel Road and Sofi and also been happy with them. Amazing how customer service improves when you are the actual customer, rather than the Dept of Education being the customer and you being the annoyance they have to deal with to keep that sweet government contract money...