financial discussions with the girl next door

Chicago Plans! August 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlnextdoorfinance @ 9:54 pm

I have a lot to report, but unfortunately not much time in which to do it! I did a great job of keeping track of all of my receipts and recording all of my spending transactions in July, but not so great of a job on not spending money! If I have a chance I’ll post more on that one day.

But the more important part for right now is that I have a job! I don’t start until early September, and it is contingent on me finishing my MA this summer. That won’t be a problem, I’ve been in contact with my adviser and it will be done by the end of this month. However, that does me I’m going to have very little free time for other things!

This week my friend and I put in an application for an apartment, and we found out today that our application has been approved. I had to have my dad co-sign, since my friend and I both have minimal credit history, so that was sad. But it’s okay, everyone has to start somewhere! I pulled my credit report a few weeks ago and the only things listed are my credit card (4 years of being paid on time every month), my student loans from this year (which I’m not even required to start paying back until 6 months after finishing school), and a utility bill that an old roommate didn’t pay (the last bill in my name, which she told me was taken care of) that I paid off when I found out it was in collections – that was about 3 years ago. Those are literally the only things on my credit report, so I can understand why they felt I have insufficient credit history. It really sucks that when you pay your bills on time, they don’t get reported to credit agencies! But I’m veering off topic here. The company and landlord are drawing up a lease, and hopefully we can sign and start moving in next week!

Between moving, finishing my thesis, and starting a new job I’m not sure that I’ll have time to update again in the near future – but once I finish the thesis and start this job, money will be fun to think about again! I’ll post when I can with more updates.


July tracking and spending – first update July 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlnextdoorfinance @ 11:44 am

I got a small notebook (about 3×2) to keep in my purse and record all spending and income. So far my plan is to use one sheet for each day, and force myself to write down each transaction. I have never, ever kept a checkbook register. I’ve never felt any need to – I’ve always been good with my money, plus I log into internet banking nearly every day so I always know my balance within a few dollars. Also, I very rarely wrote checks, so there was never a question of outstanding checks I had forgotten about. Now I never write checks (I haven’t even had a checkbook in years). If I must have a check, I use ING. However, for 99.5% of purchases I have not had any problems paying with cash or credit/debit. So writing down every transaction is going to be a new experience for me!

My grand total for July spending so far: $0.25.

Tomorrow I’m flying to Chicago and staying there for three days. Monday and Tuesday will be spent looking at apartments with my soon-to-be-roommate and hopefully signing a lease somewhere. Therefore spending will probably be somewhat high during the next three days due to transportation and eating out in the city.

I’m also listing income in my notebook register. Or rather, I’m listing hours worked and any cash I receive. If I find money or receive gifts, that will be recorded for that day in my notebook. I think I’m going to make an Excel spreadsheet where I can record all numbers from my notebook once every week or so. I haven’t decided on the best way to do this (or on what categories I want to group spending into), and I expect that it may take a few months before I have any real system in place.

I recently read through this guy’s “Eating Well On $1 A Day” experiement . I’ve never seen the kind of coupon bargains he finds at stores around here, but when I find new grocery stores in Chicago I might give it a go.

It also just occurred to me that since I’ll be getting a job instead of starting a PhD program this fall, I can return to my savings goals for the next 20 years. I’m not sure how do-able having a net worth of $100k in 2 years will be, but I will have a good idea once I am hired in Chicago.


Goals for July June 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlnextdoorfinance @ 10:45 am

The past year has been pretty crazy – going back to school, going into debt, not making much money, and not knowing what the future holds.

Starting 01 July, I am going to get back on track! I’ve begun applying for jobs in Chicago, and I will be there for a few days next week to look at some apartments in person.

Here are my goals for July:
*Sign a lease in Chicago to start 01 August
*Find a job in Chicago
*Track all income and spending (I’ve gotten really bad about not doing this!)
*Make a plan for organizing that tracking – since I no longer use Wesabe, I need to find a new method
*Don’t buy things unless absolutely necessary!

I had to buy a new cell phone this week, and bought an iPhone 3Gs. Since the new iPhones are out, the old ones were on close out. Until this week I had never accessed the internet from a phone or had a phone capable of downloading apps. If anyone has suggestions for a budgeting/tracking app (preferably a free one!) that I should check out, please let me know!


Chicago! June 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlnextdoorfinance @ 9:22 am

I’ve been thinking about this nonstop for the past couple of weeks, and I’m now 99% sure I’ll be moving to Chicago next month (or early August). And by 99% sure I mean, barring some crazy unforeseen circumstances, I will be in living Chicago within 2 months!

I’m not sure yet what this will mean from a personal finance perspective. It definitely means a lot of great job opportunities . . . but it also means a lot of new expenses. I don’t even want to think about what heating bills will be like in the winter!

We are looking at 2 bedroom apartments in northern Chicago – does anyone have any advice or comments about the area or about good prices for rent, etc? How much do utility bills run in Chicago?

I have enough money in savings to last me a solid six months or more, but I would really like to find a job within the first month or two! As fun as it would be to have the last month or so of summer to explore the city while the weather is nice, I know that I wouldn’t fully enjoy it since I would be worrying about money.

Please leave comments or suggestions for me, I need to know what kinds of things I should be thinking about or researching for this move!


Chicago? June 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlnextdoorfinance @ 10:17 am

Well, the past couple weeks have been interesting. I’ve found out that I cannot teach classes on campus this fall, due to low enrollment. Which means I really have no reason to stick around here for another year.

A friend and I have been talking about moving to Chicago and being roommates for over two years. He moved up there about a week ago, because he got a great job offer.

Now I’m really torn – should I stay here, continue trying to get research done, apply for more PhD programs, and see what happens . . . or should I move to Chicago, find a job, and put off a PhD indefinitely.

I’ve been browsing through job listings in Chicago and have found quite a bit of stuff I’m interested in, so I’m leaning toward looking for a job. My main reason for considering PhD programs is because it would open more doors into the field I’m interested in. If I can break into the field without a PhD, there’s really no reason not to start working.

I’m working at summer camps (as a desk clerk 20 hours per week, not a full-time camp counselor) for five weeks starting next week. I think I’m going to take advantage of that time to start putting my resume out there and applying for jobs around Chicago.

My lease here is up in August. I can renew it if I decide to stick around for a while longer, but if I do decide to go to Chicago, the timing is pretty much perfect.

Thoughts? Suggestions?


Summer Jobs May 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlnextdoorfinance @ 11:48 am

In addition to working at baseball games and filling in for the secretary role, I filled out paperwork yesterday to be a desk clerk at a couple of summer camps on campus. I worked as a camp counselor at these camps for a few summers, and though I loved that experience, I definitely don’t have time for that this year. I think working at the desk will be a fun way to still be sort of involved with camp, make a little extra income, and still not be tied up with work all summer. The job mostly involves sitting at the desk watching the main entrance to the building (which is usually locked) to make sure strangers don’t come in, and checking in parents, guests, etc., who come to visit the camp. Hopefully I’ll be able to use some of my time at the desk to work on my summer research also – especially when my hours are later in the evening, so not much is going on around the building.

Have you ever intentionally worked part-time jobs instead of a full-time job? What were the circumstances around it? For anyone who is a student, have you found any interesting or unusual summer jobs this year?


Summer! May 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlnextdoorfinance @ 9:47 am

I have decided to stay here and work next year, and put off starting a PhD program until Fall of 2011. This week was finals week, so I am finished with all of the coursework for my MA! I still have to complete my thesis over the summer, but the classroom portion is finished. I’ve had a crazy, crazy semester, but I did manage a 4.0 – sorry that the blog wasn’t much of a priority during this time, but school had to come first. (I also had no life.)

I told myself that I was going to take a week or so off before I start working on anything this summer but . . . I should know me better than that. :) Yesterday I worked at a baseball game, and today I’m subbing for the secretary at a place where I volunteer in town. Tomorrow I’m working at baseball again. I think I’m going to stick to these temporary summer jobs, at least until I figure out whether I will be teaching full-time this fall. If I’m going to teach full-time, there is no reason to get a full-time job over the summer that I will have to quit in August.

So, now I’m trying to figure out my summer goals. Obviously, working on and finishing my thesis is pretty high up on that list. I’d like to make at least enough money to cover my living expenses for the summer. I think I’m going to start tracking my expenses again, also. I haven’t closely tracked my expenses in about a year, since Wesabe switched to their new format. (I didn’t like the new format, so I stopped using Wesabe.) I don’t spend a lot of money, but I miss having a budget.