Monday, February 28, 2011

Where did all my money go? Oh food I loathe you.


That image just told you how much I spent in the past two months on food alone. $851 on food. It sucks working in a grocery store and getting a discount. I look in my cabinets at home and they are pretty stocked but I just don't make any food. I spend 13 hours a day doing work related things (bus, walking, 9 hours of work, etc.) and I come home and I'm just exhasted and I end up falling asleep on my couch and then wake up two hours later and then hop into bed and go to sleep until I have to get up for work the next day.

I have to be strategic about what I make to eat, especially when I take it to work because I have a 2 hour ride to work and I can't have anything spoil. I've found a lot of different things that wouldn't spoil. Rice, canned goods, and the like most likely wouldn't spoil by the time I get to work, but I am just lazy. It needs to stop because it is quite literally eating away at my budget and my money.

Since I am in such a rot when it comes to food I am going cut my food budget by $50 so I can get back on track. I am 2 months behind on my budget for food, so I am cutting my budget to $150 a month to get back on track. It'll take me 9 months to get back on where I am supposed to be. In March I am going to try to eat my way through my cabinets. I look at them and they are pretty stacked. I think that I could go into April without spending any money on food and, still not completely eat my way through all the food in my cabinets. Cross your fingers boys and girls.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Moment of Zen: NYC apartments are built the right way.

I still can't believe the price for an apartment in New York City. A friend of mine I'm visiting is paying $1,200 a month of a studio apartment. It's a little bit bigger than my living room back in Philly. It's about 400 sq. feet, and it used to be the landlord's living room. So she is paying $1,200 a month for a living room. As I sit here and look around the room I realize that, this is all you need. Minimalism at it's finest.

It doesn't have a kitchen, but she has a table with an electric stove top burner, a mini fridge, a shelf to store food, and a mircowave. No more washing 4 or 5 pots because there is only one burner, so you really can't cook a full on buffet. Just cut up a bunch of stuff and throw it all into one pan and you got yourself a meal. As an avid cook I would LOVE to have a huge kitchen with all the assorted gadgets, and pots and pans but, really, this is all you need. A burner, a pot, and a place to store food. Everything else about it is just amazingly minimal too.

With this studio she can wake up and already be in her "office" on her computer. It's all here, everything you could actually need in an apartment. A bed, a table, closet, dresser and all the kitchen stuff I already mentioned. Everything is placed in the right way where the place doesn't look too cramped but every necessity is here.

If she didn't have a short term lease on the place I'd help her make this place seem even bigger. The ceiling are quite high so you could even make the room a double decker (think bunk beds but other things at the bottom like a table with a computer) and basically do everything in half the space it is in now. It would be an amazing project, and a lot of people in NYC should be doing it. And that ladies and gentlemen is my moment of zen I've found in the chaos of New York City.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Maybe it's time to minimize

After working at a movie store of 2 years I somehow seemed to amassed very close to 400 movies. That is a lot of movies. I never seemed to care until I wasn't at that job anymore and realized that I really didn't need all of these movies. Up until recently I've been in love with my movie collection. Now I'm just annoyed by them. I have a rack that holds about 180 movies then plus two HUGE piles of movies that seriously never get watched. They're taking up much needed room from my apartment that can be used for something else. The goal now? To  have just that rack of movies and nothing else. It's condescending 101, and it's hard. I want to have the movies that I love to death still in my collection and the rest that I just kind of bought because I thought the movie was ok and it was cheap. I've spent a lot of money on these movies (probably close to $2,000 if not more), and I know once I trade them in I won't get anywhere close to that but I am ok with that now. I just want the space. Why all of sudden the big change? Well one of my roommates has Netflix, so whenever I want to watch a movie I turn on the Xbox and there is a couple hundred movies at my fingertips and that is all I really need. I am keeping just the movies that I absoultey love and that is it. I haven't bought a movie in 6 months and I don't plan on buying another one for a very long time. It saves me a lot of money. So much so is that movies were the #1 thing I bought last year minus rent and food. That is crazy to think now but then it didn't matter that I was dropping money like a sailor curses. I've finally got my ish together and my budget is working rather well where this month ONE paycheck paid ALL of my expenses for the month. I have 2 more checks coming in this month which is crazy to think that I have 2 whole paychecks to myself if I wanted but I'm hopefully killing two of my loans by the end of the year so everything extra is going straight to them. It feels good man, real good.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Are you waiting too long to buy a house?

I had a radical thought the other day. Are people waiting too long to buy a house with increasing housing prices and (theoretical) lower income? I say theoretical because I'm talking about inflation. Lets take my old house for instance.

The facts:

Purchased for - $80,000 (in 1998)
Sold for - $170,000 (in 2010)
Increase In Value - 212.5%
Increase In Value(Yearly) - 17.7%
Increase In Value(Monthly) - 1.475%

So say you have the 10% ($8,000) for the down payment and you decided you want to save up some more. Say $200 a month every month. But the house increases in value 1.475% every month so you're theoretically losing 1.475% a month while saving more up. So that $200 the first month becomes $199.05 the second month and $198.10 the third and so on. So you saved up $2400 by the end of the year but actually you saved $2000. You just lost 2 months worth of work because you waited. Now inflation comes into play. Say you want to save up for 2 years. That is $4000($4800 actual) but now with inflation of your income is anywhere from 3-5% less then it was last year. so say your boss was nice and gave you a 1% (my one job called this the "I can't live anymore raise") increase in your pay for the next year but inflation is 3%. Meaning you lost 2% of your $2000 which is $1960. So now you think you saved up $4800 but in reality you only saved up $3960. A whole $860 lost because you waited! That could of bought you a nice couch and coffee table in your new home, but no you waited.
I'm not saying saving more up is a bad thing. Just be aware about all of this when you're working your ass off attempting to buy a house. Now I leave you with some home buying tips I like.

  • Have anywhere from 10%-20% of the total value of the house as a down payment.
  • Wait for higher interests rates. I'd rather pay $140,000 for a house with 16.6% interest then $180,000 for a house with 8.2% interest so I could refinance and still have a lower price AND interest rate.
  • Don't buy too much house. If you are single, don't buy a 4 bedroom house. Seriously, how many offices do you need?
  • Stay where you live for at least 5 years. Because by then your house probably will have appreciated enough where you would make a profit from selling it as apposed to taking a hit. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why are you declaring bankruptcy? Seriously?

A couple months ago I had the opportunity to go with someone to a bankruptcy hearing. They asked me to go for some moral support since it really isn't the greatest thing in the world to basically have your life stamped as a complete mess and you need the government to bail you out. They let everyone sit in on some of the cases just to see how the process works. I was interested in how the process went, so I sat down and just listened to the stories. Some were just mind boggling dumb.
4 out of the 15 that I heard I wanted to stand up and say, "Don't let them declare bankruptcy. They are just lazy!" When I heard that money was the number 1 reason marriages fail I didn't believe it, but if these hearing were any indication, it seems like it's the only reason. I heard six different cases were the loss of money turned into a loss of marriage.
One guy in particular was $20,000 in debt from a failed business. He lived with his parents, and was currently unemployed. $20,000!? In the economy that we're in he could probably ask to differ on his loans, get a job then pay off his debt before 7 years. The fact is he just didn't want to do. Declaring bankruptcy is serious business. You pretty much get flagged from everything except those payday loans and 99.25% APR credit cards. It would be a climb but it's possible to pay it off before the 7 years are up and you wouldn't have bankruptcy looming over your head. If this guy has $20,000 in debt and say he pays $10,000 in interest over 7 years that would equate to $360 a month he would have to pay to be out of debt in 7 years. That could be done even with the messily income that I earn. The fact that he didn't want to sit down and figure it out and just took the bankruptcy as the easy way out infuriates me.
I wish that bankruptcy wasn't so cut and dry and that people that just want an easy way out shouldn't be able to do so. If you amassed a huge debt and there is no way that you could pay it off then I can see bankruptcy is the way to go. But some people just need to sit down and figure it out before they do something that is as self destructive as bankruptcy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Love Drop

J. Money over at Budgets Are Sexy started a company that gives back to people in need. With donations they help people with medical bills, student loans, and the like help pay them off. It only costs $1 a month at the minimum to help send money to those in need. $1 a month isn't anything but it could help change a life to someone in need. The first real love drop starts on January 1st. So if you can spare $1 a month (it gets billed yearly so $12 gets charged at once) I say check it out and help some people. As the slogan for Love Drop, "Spend a dollar, change a life". Here is the link to Love Drop if you're interested in checking it out. I am still getting my finances together and I'll probably be joining at the beginning of the new year. Hope to see some people joining!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Updating Posts

Sorry for no updates on Friday and Monday. Working 12 hour shifts killed my time to write. Will be writing a new post for Wednesday I swear.