Saturday, May 28, 2011
I'm thisclose to being done with all the moving related things that need to happen so I can get back to blogging. I'm looking forward to it! Here's my checklist of things still to do:
- Finish packing the apartment (truly, it's more than 90% done)
- Return cable modem
- Change address everywhere
Since I've been scatterbrained as of late with everything that's going on, I want to do a little crowd-sourcing. To make sure I don't miss anything, would you leave a comment reminding me of all the places I should think of to change my address? I've given my new address to my landlord (for return of security deposit) and work (for sending COBRA documents), and I've done it with the post office and the two magazine subscriptions I have. Bank accounts, etc. will happen this week. Where else might I forget to change my address?
How have YOU been?
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Most of us experience being low on money – or downright broke – often, particularly around the end of the month when the paycheck hasn’t come through yet. Advising someone not to worry about it is a waste of time. While we all wish that our lives didn’t revolve around money, the truth is that it often has to. There are some ways to make life a little less stressful when you don’t have enough money to go around, though.
Create a Mini-Budget
Look at any money that you do have, however little. Get out a piece of paper and allot portions to food, rent, and other bills. Food and rent are the two most important expenses you have. Stick to this budget and avoid any temptations to splurge on anything.
If it comes to having to decide which bills not to pay, pay your rent first. You can live without utilities, but you have to have a place to live. If you don’t have rent, your order of importance with utilities is: electricity, gas, phone, water. Find out if your water can be cut off. In many places, it is illegal to cut off your water, even if you don’t pay. If it is this way in your area, leave your water bill dead last.
Get Your Loans Back
If you’ve loaned money to family or friends, ask for it to be repaid. Don’t let sob stories guilt you. You are having just as hard a time with money as any of them. Even if they can’t pay back the entire amount, ask for anything that they are able to pay on it. Any little bit will help you.
Keep Your Eyes Open
When you’re out where there’s high foot traffic, keep an eye out for money on the ground. This may seem insignificant, but those pennies and dimes you find could add up to dinner one night. Stick your fingers in payphone change slots. Look around the drive-thru at restaurants, where people drop change and don’t pick it up. There are often quarters underneath drink and candy machines. Don’t walk by a penny just because it’s a penny. It’s still money.
Use Cards with Benefits
While it’s ideal to use only cash during a time when you’re broke, to avoid building up a lot of debt, you can actually save yourself a little money by using cash back cards for your necessities. Just don’t go overboard. Buy only what you absolutely need.
When you’re broke, stop worrying about buying health-conscious foods. Just make sure that you eat. If you can get a hamburger for less than you can get a couple of carrots, eat the hamburger. Gaining a couple of pounds is better than acquiring malnutrition. Also try to get yourself invited to dinners with family and friends – most of them will probably be more than willing to feed you.
Look for Yard Sales
If you find yourself in immediate need of something like clothing or housewares, drive around and look for yard sales. Many people sell things for just a few cents and most are willing to negotiate even on those prices.
Free Cell Phone Time
If you absolutely must have your cell phone during this time, make sure you are only using your free minutes and texts. You should have a way to get in contact with people, but don’t overdo it and get yourself huge overage fees.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
- Movers have been booked and the deposit paid. The total cost (packing, shipping, delivery, insurance, etc) is around $4,000 right now. After looking more closely at the new apartment, I'm going to see if I can shave off a few unnecessary pieces of furniture (or pieces that can be replaced with used items for cheaper than it costs to move them). Despite the size of our library, most of what we're leaving behind are bookshelves - we found them all for free or cheap and none of them are absolutely fabulous. I'm still really relieved that we're hiring movers instead of driving ourselves in a Uhaul.
- Public transportation vs. a car. While getting around in Minneapolis is certainly possible via public transportation, I think we will probably end up getting a car. Peanut's been managing just fine getting to work, but the jobs I'm looking at are unfortunately not located right downtown, and I'm not sure I can face a 15-minute walk in sub-zero temperatures when winter hits. If/when we do get a car, it will be used, between $6,000-8,000 and paid for in cash.
- Cost of living. Peanut's salary dropped by about 20% (compared to the salaried position he had last year), mine might drop by as much as 40%. Our cost of living will drop by at least that much, and our standard of living will vastly improve, so it seems to work out. Still, it's kind of heartwrenching to think of the difference in my paychecks. I'm even more thankful now that we took one of the cheapest apartments we saw.
We're in the last long haul of our long distance relationship. The next time we see each other will be when I leave New York, suitcase in hand, on a one-way ticket. The next few weeks will be the most difficult, because I am so ready for this period of transition to be over.
What are you up to?
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
We have an apartment in our new city, and Peanut is living there with a borrowed mattress and dishes from his parents. It's a big apartment, and about half what we're paying in New York - and it's within walking distance to his office, so he doesn't have to drive his dad's gas-guzzler.
Things here are about half packed - a little more than half, maybe. I'm running out of things to pack that I won't need between now and the move date, so that's good. I'm going slowly to have time to declutter and clean along the way.
We have one piece of furniture to sell and two to give away, but otherwise we're taking everything with us. We shouldn't need to purchase much when we get there, other than a rug for the dining area to protect the carpet. And maybe a vacuum, since there's carpet.
Here's the moving checklist I'm working off of:
- Book movers and buy one-way plane ticket. Find somewhere to stay for one night.
- File change of address with post office. (Magazine subs have already been updated with the publisher.)
- Pack everything we own.
- Cancel Internet, return cable modem, get refund.
- Cancel electric/gas.
- Complete NYC Bucket List.
- Clean after movers leave with everything we own. Putty nail holes in walls.
- Schedule walk-through with current landlord.
- Get security deposit back.
- Bid farewell to the Big Apple.
- Clean kitchen fan before even considering packing it. Ew.
- Remember to pack a week's worth of necessities in carry-on suitcase. Belongings won't arrive for 14 days. Will need more than two pair underwear, especially if I think I might get a job interview during that time.
- Of course, NOW everyone wants to come visit for the last time. After I've packed the blankets and stuff.
- What recipes will enable me to eat an entire bottle of ketchup in a month?
- It irritated me a lot that Peanut wanted to save every package that every computer part ever came in - it's not like we have a ton of storage space here. I am SO GRATEFUL that I gave in. It'll be a snap to move three flat-screen monitors in their original boxes.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Business expenses $3.89
Dance expense $54
Food—dining out $55.329
Student loans $453.83
Total spending: $6,311.05
Clothing - I'm a little irritated by this. I just bought jeans in January, and they were a great deal, except they were AWFUL and got so stretched out after one wearing I could have used them for maternity jeans - at nine months along. I dealt with it for three months by rolling the waistband down so they'd stay up and then I broke down and went to Old Navy and got two pair that actually fit.
Dance Expense - I went to three classes last month and now that I'm paying per class instead of buying 10-class cards, it seems pricier!
Food spending in general was high but we're working on that to bring it down.
Moving - that's half our security deposit and credit check fee.
Rent - we are now paying dual rent. More on that in a future post, but at least it's only for May and June.
Transportation - ouch! That's what driving will do - gas prices hurt! I'm wondering if we can get around owning a car after all. Moneyapolis does it, and while I'm not sure I'm going to be a fan of biking, I'm going to give it a shot.
Travel - that's pretty much the last of the plane tickets for this long-distance period. I have one more to buy - a one-way ticket out of New York after the movers are booked. Goodbye to bleeding money!
1. Spend less eating out. Well, that was a hilarious joke that's been. We are at a seven month high for eating out, in part because of Peanut's lunches out but also because of all the good-bye meals we've been having. It's insane.
2. Deal with Evil Internet Company. I did not do this - I took another look and realized I could deal with it in May instead, so I put it off. :p
3. Serious hardcore decluttering and cleaning. Success! I've gotten rid of a TON of clothes and a lot of houseware items as well. Nothing helps declutter like the threat of moving. Peanut and I also moved the living room furniture and swept behind and underneath everything so I won't be embarrased when the movers come.
4. Three yoga classes. I made it to two. Which is two more than I made it to the month before, so I give myself a B on this.
5. Use stuff up. So-so - I'm throwing out a lot of stuff that I don't love or don't think I'll get around to, and making an inventory so I won't accidentally buy more moisturizer before I use up everything I have. It occurs to me that this must be a problem extreme couponers face!
1. Continue decluttering while packing. My goal is to take a cart full of donations to Goodwill every weekend. I've done this twice so far!
2. Start deep cleaning. After the movers leave I will have a day or so to clean the apartment but I want to start doing some cleaning now. This is stuff like cleaning out the refrigerator, bleaching the shower knobs and caulk, patching nail holes, sweeping underneath/behind furniture, magic-erasering marks from lightswitch plates and cupboards, wiping down vertical blinds, and all the other misc bits and pieces that take much longer than you expect. I'm watching marathons of Doctor Who and Castle, and it's the perfect activity to go along with it.
3. Yoga classes when possible. I was amazed at the difference I felt after class last month, even when I felt like I was too tired or sore to go. My evenings are filling up but I'm going to do what I can here.
4. Book movers. I've had one company come out to do an estimate, one company provide an estimate based on an inventory, and another one scheduled for this weekend. We're looking at an outlay of around $4,000 for full-service moving, which is astounding. We could move ourselves for about half that, but the idea of finding friends to come help us pack up a truck, driving the rental truck on the interstate for several days, and finding friends to unload was keeping me up at night. Plus Peanut would have to take several days off work. It may not be the most frugal move ever, but it's given me a lot more peace of mind.
6. Spend less overall. Our spending has really been out of control lately and I want to rein it in. Especially on the eating out front!
1. Single-task. Not doing so great with this, although since I'm spending so much time offline, I'm not guilty of watching Twitter and a TV show and writing emails all at the same time.
2. Participate in The Happiness Project. Going pretty well, although I'm not actively doing the weekly projects.
3. Be able to do headstand in yoga. Haven't even thought about it.
4. Save enough to hurt a little. Despite the outflow of cash we're distributing, we are growing our savings.
5. Change our net worth by the value of our student loans. I'm no longer sure what this is going to look like with the move and all.
6. Prepare to leave my job. Going well. I've started handing over a lot of responsibility and making lists of priorities for my replacement.
7. Declutter -- ideally, reduce our possessions by about 1/3. Two trips to Goodwill in April, and another load already started, plus a bunch of things sent to recycling.
8. Organize digital photos and finish physical scrapbooks. A little progress made here!
9. Take up a crafty hobby. On hold since all my non-essentials are basically packed.
10. Create a bucket-list of New York adventures and start checking them off. I'm focusing on people right now, but I hope to check some things off this weekend.
11. Read through my library. Going okay, actually - I identified a couple books I am not going to take with me, so if I want to read them I have to do it now.
Monday, May 2, 2011
I love the idea of a worry swap! I think I'm totally trying this with my sister next week.
Squawkfox on what's worth it from Costco. A case of someone writing my post before I got around to it. And with photos!
Simple things you can do to make your life better. I like the 30-day list, understand your big why, and employ the clean slate approach options - they definitely make my life better.
I always thought business cards were kind of lame, but I totally use them all the time now. Maybe I'll get some blank business cards now that I'm about to be unemployed. My current cards have QR codes on the back that I can update to keep them fresh, but how much cooler to personalize a card to someone on the spot?