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Wrapping up the semester

December 13th, 2006 at 09:48 pm

Heh - hopefully everyone likes the pun in the title for this entry. And yes, it's almost Christmas and my first semester of grad school is almost over. Of course, I have a final paper due at 11:59pm today and an accounting take-home exam due at 11:59pm on Monday.

Still, this semester has been fantastic - I've learned so much, and I've been able to apply it at work. Now the trick is to get my grades before December 27th so I can take advantage of my employer's tuition reimbursement program. If I miss the deadline, I'll be out several thousand!

Of course, in addition to classes, I need to do some Christmas shopping. As of today, December 14th, I have yet to purchase a single present. Would anyone like to suggest possible gifts? I live in Boston, so I have access to pretty much any store imaginable. Of course, there's always gift certificates and EE savings bonds, but I'd love to get a little bit more creative this year.

Here's the list of people I'm shopping for:

1) My Mom - mid-50's, enjoys reading, listening to NPR and crossword puzzles. Museum educator.

2) My Dad - mid-50's, enjoys reading non-fiction historical texts (go figure), home-improvement projects and The Beach Boys. An architect.

3) My Sister - late-20's, newlywed. enjoys frogs, cookbooks and white wines. High school english teacher.

4) My Brother-In-Law - mid-20's, newlywed (see above). Enjoys Bob Dylan, Stephen King and thick wool sweaters. Retail banker.

5) My roommate - mid-20's, enjoys The O.C., shopping and starbucks.

So, anyone want to post some gift suggestions? I guess my range is about $30-40 a person. I'd truly appreciate it, as I've been totally preoccupied with school lately!

I'm no match for Starbucks

November 4th, 2006 at 05:13 pm

So, grad school is going pretty well. I'm not going to jinx myself by mentioning specific grades, but let's just say that I'm happy right now. It's funny b/c I had serious doubts about whether I'd be able to do any of the work. My undergraduate major was Film/Video Production and my minor was Literature. When I graduated in 2002, I didn't even know what an MBA was.

At any rate, being in the program has turned my world upside down. The pro: my coworkers (90% of whom are Vice Presidents) seem to have a newfound respect for me. The con: I have absolutely *no* free time anymore.

Of course, this is a finance blog, so what would this entry be without a little something about my monetary status? Well, my recent downfall has been Starbucks. I never used to drink coffee in the afternoon, but now by 2pm I'm trucking off to the nearest Starbucks. Of course, this puts a pretty big dent in my wallet. I also find myself going 2x a day on weekends as well.

So, once again I'm turning to the readers out there for advice:

Does anyone have any advice for people who work full-time and attend school part-time on weeknights? Where do you find the energy to give both work & school 110%?

Of course, it could be far more difficult:
Some students have work, school -and- children! I can't even begin to imagine how exhausting that could be.

My Achilles’ heel - grocery shopping

August 30th, 2006 at 04:16 pm

I've always considered myself to be a fairly thrifty individual. I rent videos from the library instead of going to the movie theater. I use public transportation whenever possible (or I walk). I'll even wear clothes long past their expiration date. My goal is always simple: save as much as possible.

The only thing that really cuts into my budget is grocery shopping. I guess you could say it's my Achilles' heel. Here in my neighborhood there is only one supermarket -- Whole Foods (or Whole Paycheck as some of its patrons call it).
It's totally normal for my grocery bill to add up to $50 (for 1 person!) and it'll only last me 5 or 6 days.

Here's what I tend to buy:
1) A carton of Orange Juice ($2.59)
2) A carton of Milk ($1.99)
3) Brown Cow Yogurt ($.69/each) 6 containers
4) Sweet Vermont Bread ($2.99)
5) ZBars (1 box 8.99 - 18 bars)
6) Puffins (2.59)
7) Chicken Breast (about 5.99 for a 1lb+)
8) Soy Boy Tofu (1.99)
9) Ice Cream - Cherry Garcia (2.50)
10) Pre-packaged sliced chicken ($5)
11) Pre-packaged sliced cheddar ($5)
12) Frozen Pizza ($4)
13) Amy's Vegetarian Pot Pie ($2.50)

I know I'm doing something very wrong, as I can see that many people on this blog can sustain an entire family of three on the same amount.

Does anyone have any tips or advice? The only thing that really prevents me from buying in bulk is that I don't have a car and the subway only goes to one other grocery store (it's about a 20 minute ride out, and everything has to go in a huge backpack).

I'd really like to continue spending the same amount - I just want more to show for it. Any advice (recipes, coupons, links, etc. would be truly appreciated).

Thanks in advance!

Necessary vs. Optional: You Decide

August 22nd, 2006 at 08:58 am

Lately I've started dividing my expenses into two categories: Necessary and Optional. Next to each item in my check register, I write one or the other. At the end of the month, I just add up the "optionals" to get an idea of how much money I'm spending.

This is a pretty basic approach to budgeting, and it's far from an original idea - but I do find that it makes a fun challenge. Can I spend less this month than I did last month?

Now of course, the tricky part is deciding what really is necessary or optional. A wedding present for my coworker went under necessary, yet a trip to the pharmacy went under optional. There's no real science to this - and I think everything really falls somewhere inbetween the two. Shades of gray.

At any rate, my optional spending for August at this point is exactly $59.66 and it includes junk food, movie tickets, a trip to the local bar and a haircut. Not bad - last month's optional expenses total was well over $200.

So how do you feel about this? What do you consider a necessary expense?

Welcome! First entry.

August 15th, 2006 at 09:21 am

Today is August 15th, 2006. I will begin grad school in three weeks (part-time MBA program). After a summer of Starbucks coffees, iTunes downloads and trips to Whole Foods, I'm ready to buckle-down and make the most of my paycheck. My goal is to save as much money as humanly possible, thus greatly reducing my dependence on student loans to cover grad school tuition costs.

I'm going to write about everything - secrets on how to save money, entries about when i stray from my budget, benefits of contributing to 401ks... anything!

My goal is to pay for at least 1/3rd of grad school in cash. Are you with me?