PF class assignments

My first assignment for my online PF class required me to keep a week-long spending journal.  Each transaction was to be marked want or need.  I found out that I spent twice the amount on wants than I did on needs–yikes!!

The latest assignment is to do a budget–something I’ve struggled with in the past.  I tend to fill out one on Quicken (and I did the same on MS Money when I was using that before) but never really check if it’s working or not.  I update it with only a vague idea of how to do so, and I know it doesn’t help my spending at all because it’s a tool I don’t know how to use.  I hope this will change after I complete the assignment, and I will have a budget that is relevant and helpful.

Frugal Pitfalls: Postage

One of the reasons I rarely shop online is because you have to pay shipping. Now if there’s a free shipping deal and I’m not buying something wearable, I have no problem shopping online at a trusted store. And if the store offers a ship-to-store option, to me, that offers the best of both worlds: the online stores have a bigger selection of items and picking the shipment up at a local store is easy and free! Two stores I know of that have this option are Borders and Walmart.

But rather than buying books (free shipping or not) at Borders, I have been looking for more frugal ways replenish overstock my book supply. I used to get excited when Borders would send me a 40% off coupon in my email, thinking what a great deal it was. (And sometimes it is, if you are purchasing a new book.) But since then, I have discovered PaperBackSwap. Not only do I get to get rid of books I don’t want that are cluttering up my shelves, but I can also request almost any book I want, given that it’s not too new/popular.

Here’s where the pitfall comes in. I have been justifying my use of PaperBackSwap because the books are free–and they are free. What’s not free is the postage you pay when mailing out your own old books. This month, I am over-budget on postage. It’s easy to think, well it’s only $0.64, no big deal, but after mailing out 10 books at varying weights to different locations, it adds up! I even use the cheapest rates and no additional services to keep the cost down, but it still has been too much this month.

I never thought that postage would be a budget category that I would overspend!

Feeding my monsters

Since I’ve now got a paycheck that isn’t immediately eaten up by rent, I am doing the smart thing and divvying it up as soon as I get it.  I made a pretty little pie chart to reflect my current divisions.

These percentages are subject to change; for one, after my emergency fund is fully funded, I’m going to increase my retirement percentage.

I’m also excited (in a weird way) to be beginning to feed the debt monsters.  I have student loans that just sit there, increasing from interest.  I’m not worried about all of them, because the interest rates are very low and/or they’re subsidized, but the ones with the scarier rates need to be fed some snowflakes.