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Archive for July, 2014

Prepping for cheer camp

July 30th, 2014 at 05:36 am

Next week is cheer camp. 14-16 hour days of non-stop cheering. Since I'm coaching, there will be much less energy used, but I'm still going to need to be prepared. We'll need to provide 7 of our own meals that week (4 of which are breakfasts, lunch the first/last day, and dinner the last day). I'm not a big breakfast eater to begin with, so it shouldn't be too bad. Right now, my plan is granola/cereal bars for breakfast and a pb&b sandwich for lunch the first day. The team is eating out lunch/dinner the last day, so I'm budgeting myself 10 for each meal. There is a sale on pretzels and Triscuits, so I plan on a box each with two ziploc baggies, so I can proportion out sizes for the day. I'm also going to get two boxes of fruit snacks since those are already packaged out. I'm going to bring $80 cash - $40 for meals/incidentals and $40 for spending money at the camp store. My goal is to come in under this, but I don't want to feel deprived if there is something that I want to get. I've noticed that if I give myself a spending allowance, I'm much less likely to spend because I end up deciding I can live without it whereas if I know I can't walk out with anything, then I really want everything (and usually end up caving)! Twisted logic, but whatever works...

Has anyone figured out how to put more days in a week?

July 29th, 2014 at 11:19 am

I was looking at my fall schedule and it's a hot mess. 3 days/wk babysitting, 3 days/wk cheer practice, 2 days/wk other cheer practice, Saturday practices/games, and my normal full-time job, plus occasional Saturday shows with Sunday dance practices. Obviously, I'm going to have to work out the practice/babysitting situation, but I think it's safe to say that none of my weekday obligations will end before 9 or 10 pm.

What on earth does this mean, finance-wise? That I need to plan, plan, plan!! In the past, it's always been so easy to grab McDonald's or Taco Bell on the way to practice. Since I'm trying to save (and keep the weight off), I'll need to have food. Since I will not have time to run home, I'll need to have both lunch and dinner planned. Dinner will have to be something lighter, but filling enough to hold me until I get home around 9 or 10.

Any quick and easy ideas out there? Preferably ones where you can eat on the go as most of those dinners will probably be in my car...

On a more positive note, I texted SO because I was feeling really overwhelmed/my schedule will leave me very little time for him, and he was ridiculously supportive. That's something I'm not at all used to, but it was a very nice surprise.

Vehicle Maintenance

July 25th, 2014 at 06:49 am

My show Saturday is a solid 3 hours away, so I'm thinking that if SO is up for an adventure, we make a day of it by visiting something new in that area. My car, however, is overdue for an oil change. Since I'd like to get that done before, I talked to my dealership this morning. They can't fit me in today or tomorrow, so I'll have to do the oil change elsewhere, but I'm also due for my 7500 mile maintenance which was quoted at about $240. I can definitely cash flow this, but once again, it means that less is going to debt than I hoped for.

I'd started a Car Fund (Capital One Savings sub-account), but it only has about $40 bucks in it which would cover the oil change that I have to get done today. Should I use this money or just cash flow the oil change too in order to let the car fund continue building up?

No More Gym!

July 24th, 2014 at 08:55 am

I would say that this was a tough decision, but it really wasn't. Given my schedule and the exercise I get between polynesian dancing, coaching cheer, and outdoor activities with SO, I've decided to cancel my gym membership. I have gone twice in the past 6 weeks, and both times, I've left class early. There is a pretty basic, but usable gym in my work building, so no more membership! That's 30/month more for debt repayment.

Vegas Vacation Update

July 23rd, 2014 at 09:46 am

Just thought I'd give an update on where I'm at with vacation savings. I'm on track for a lovely (hopefully no additional debt added) vacation. I have to give a huge shoutout to the blogger who suggested MyVegas rewards. That and the Social Rewards are going to be a big help. Here's what I have planned:

MyVegas Rewards (An online slots games that lets you accrue loyalty points to redeem for real rewards at MLife properties): My mom and I are both playing, so we'll have 3 each to redeem. My mom did two nights at Monte Carlo and I linked one night to that, so 3 of our nights there will be comped! I'm still debating the other 3 rewards, but I'm leaning towards 1 ticket each to KA (a Cirque show) and then 2 buffet passes for my last reward. I'm trying to convince my brother to play enough for a BOGO ticket to KA, so I can get all 4 of our seats at once without too much hassle. 4 Cirque tickets for about 80 bucks? I'll take that Smile

Social Rewards (An online rewards program where you tweet, share, and instagram photos that earns you money to spend at Caesar's properties): This program is a little more tedious as it takes a long time to build up the money. I have $40 from this program alone, plus $100 from the Total Rewards Visa I got. That money will all go towards meals. I've found a couple of good, low-cost restaurants that come highly recommended.

I bought one Groupon for $32 worth of burgers for $16 which will be our lunch on the one day we travel outside the strip. I've reserved a car for $40 which we'll use to see Red Rock Canyon and downtown for the Fremont St. Experience.

My mom also offered up her credit card rewards. With these, I got 3 5-day power passes (admission to several attractions and events which can be visited multiple times throughout the trip) and our round-trip shuttle from the airport. I'm also hoping to swing two GA tickets to a comedy magic show downtown, so I only have to pay for two (which I've read can easily be found discounted or as a bogo).

Other things I've already paid for include the Tournaments of Kings show and our last two nights at Luxor. For those nights, we'll be in separate rooms at a discounted rate where my mom and brother will each get a free dinner, free drink, and free dessert in honor of their birthdays.

The last big item to cross off is tickets to Jabbawockeez. MyVegas offers these, so I may get the brother to play a little more and earn his ticket and use my last reward on one, so I'd only have to pay for one of those.

I have about $800 of the $1500 cash I'd like to have saved. From my calculations, I'll end up just shy of $2000 cash for the trip. I've also accounted for the checked bag fees, incidentals, hotel holds, and daily gambling. Anything else I may be missing?

Update: I wrote this earlier in the week, and just remembered I also have a $200 gift card for use on the trip. Score!!

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

July 22nd, 2014 at 05:45 am

It's payday...which just means it's time for another round of allocating my money to everyone but myself...

I will be so glad when the vast majority of my paycheck is mine and mine alone.

My new 401K enrollment has taken effect, so my consistent paychecks from now on will be about $50 more than I had guessed.

After paying my car, 2 student loans, 2 credit cards (one of which will be completely paid off), and the phone bill, plus funding my various savings accounts, I will have a grand total of $75 in the bank which is my money through next paycheck. I've decided to have a semi-tough conversation with SO about dating on the cheap and as somewhat of a concession, any shows I do from now on (got another this coming Saturday) will go half to fun money, half to debt repayment. I think this will be a good compromise since I don't currently allocate fun money to myself because this way, I won't totally resent not being able to go out, but I'll have to work for it if I want to be able to do more expensive activities.

Sometimes, I get so frustrated with dealing with this whole financial mess, but then I just try to remind myself that I'm setting up future me for success.

NSW Update 2 and a free lunch!

July 21st, 2014 at 07:19 am

Happy Monday everyone!

I had a very slight bobble, but am still doing pretty well. I had to put $15 gas on Saturday for my show. I was hoping to make it to payday (tomorrow), but alas... I took it out of the cash I had on hand, so this morning, I put $260 into my bank. As soon as it hits, it goes to Chase CC. With my paycheck tomorrow, I'll clear the Total Rewards CC (it's already hidden away) and put some to Chase in addition to regular bills.

I feel like I'm getting back on track, although I'm upset with myself for ever getting off in the first place.

We're having a goodbye lunch today for a valued employee, so free pizza Smile Yay!

NSW Update

July 18th, 2014 at 06:50 am

Doing well so far! I've managed to resist several temptations. I also got reimbursed for a cheer course I had to take for the coaching gig, so I'm I sitting on 165 to put in the bank. I'm waiting because after tomorrow's show, I'll have another $100. That's a $265 snowflake to the credit card I stupidly racked up!

I'm seriously looking forward to the first weekend to myself that I've had in who knows how long. Saturday, I'm thinking my Zumba class, TV catch up, and my dance show. Sunday is lazing around minus the 3 or so hours of babysitting I need to put in organizing the boys' attic.

Aiming for a No Spend (Almost) Week

July 16th, 2014 at 06:17 am

I remembered my lunch today Smile So I am trying not to spend any money between now and next Tuesday when SO gets back. I do have a doctor's appointment today, but since I use my FSA and it's already deducted, I'm not including that. I think Saturday evening will be the hardest as I will be headed to WV for a show. I will have to remember to pack some snacks to take along. I'll try and just do a quick post each evening with how I did that day.

To start things off, I actually seriously debated picking up rummikub on the way home. I've taught the boys phase 10 and some easy card games (Battle and Speed). They've really taken to it, and I think the older one would be really good at Rummikub. Since I will have them this afternoon and it will probably be too hot to go outside, I immediately started rationalizing getting it to teach them. But I will resist. We'll stick to the card games they know for now.

Interesting Evening Last Night

July 15th, 2014 at 08:05 am

So my officially official SO is leaving tonight for a week, so I'm hoping to make up for some of the financial damage I've been doing by making this a No Spend Week. I'm not exactly off to the best start. This is pretty much one long story leading to why I have to spend money on lunch today despite buying groceries last night. So if you're short on time, that's the gist of it. If not, read on!

Since SO is leaving today, I wanted to see him last night. My schedule is pretty hectic during the week with babysitting 3 nights and cheer the other 2. I was going to have him over after babysitting, but decided to check with the parents to make sure they were okay with it. While the dad had no opinion, the mother seemed uncomfortable with the idea, so I volunteered to go to his place if they could just be home about 10 so it wouldn't be super late when I got there. Since the MIL is in town, the mom said it'd be fine to leave them once they were in bed. I went through their bedtime routine and packed my work clothes and cheer practice clothes for today and left. About an hour later, I get a panicked call asking where the younger one was because he wasn't in bed. After 15 minutes and a few more panicked phone calls, they found him sleeping on the dining room chairs (there's a tablecloth on the table draping down a bit, so they didn't see him the first time going through the house). It'll be interesting to see how things are handled in the future since this scare. Normally, my hours end somewhere between 9 & 10 depending on bedtime. When I was single, I usually just destressed and went to bed, so it didn't matter if the parents stayed out late because I was home. Now, they will have to decide between their date nights and just allowing him over.

Anyways, back to the lunch thing. In my packing, I completely forgot to account for food for today, so even though I have plenty at home, I will need lunch and dinner. Since I go straight to cheer from work, I'll need something to last me until 9 tonight. While I'm normally the type to eat every 3-4 hours, I'm going to try going for a big, filling lunch and toughing it out until I get home.

Confession Time :(

July 10th, 2014 at 08:50 am

This is really hard for me to write, but I'm totally failing at this whole debt payoff thing. I'd been doing so well, but lately I've had my fingers in so many peanut butter jars that it doesn't feel like I'm making progress on any of them.

I tried the credit card rewards thing recently to get some extra cash for Vegas, and I will admit, it's not for me. I'm definitely not ready to be trusted with multiple cards even if they all have relatively low limits. It makes it too easy to justify those new dresses or the $100 PetSmart run (both of which I did over my supposedly 'no-spend' staycation). So those are getting paid off over the next two months and then put away.

I did start my moving fund. And I've got another show this weekend, so I guess those are good baby steps. I think part of the issue is that I've also recently started dating someone and since neither living situation is conducive to privacy, we usually end up doing stuff out that costs money. Since I never had much of an entertainment budget, this has totally derailed my spending as we alternate who pays. Any ideas on cheap, fun dates?

Minor emergency

July 2nd, 2014 at 08:54 am

So last night, my brother went to the emergency room. He's okay. Unfortunately, he has a fairly common medical condition that puts him into a lot of pain. It has occurred 3 times already, and every time has landed him in the emergency room. Of course, my emotions were already running rampant over the U.S. loss to Belgium, so when I got the text message that he was on his way in, I freaked out and drove home. Not a huge deal, but I probably could have waited since I'm going home tomorrow for a 5 day staycation. My goal is to not spend more than $50 on activities and only fill my tank up one and a half times (it'll be empty-ish when I get there, plus since it's cheaper, I like to top it off when I leave). He's feeling much better, although the pain is still pretty intense at times.