BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
BeyondtheWrap
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Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:38 pm
Location: NYC

Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Sun Jun 01, 2014 10:41 am

MAY 2014

INCOME: 1488
5 Paychecks: 1388
Employer Health Insurance: 100

EXPENSES: 2052
Housing: 1200
Groceries: 134
- Food: 98
- Supplies: 20
- Personal: 17
Transportation: 112
Cell Phone: 109
Health: 151
- Insurance: 116
- Supplements: 34
Entertainment: 343
- Meals out: 51
- Socializing: 246
- Candy: 12
- Travel: 34
Education: 3

SAVINGS RATE: -37.9%

My spending was high this month. Good thing I had a lot of extra money sitting in my checking account as an emergency fund.

My increased housing spending was due to the fact that my mom can no longer pay for my house's bills. We had planned that my brother would move back in, but I just found out that he will actually not be. However, 2 of my other immediate family members have their eyes on the space; the near future of this is still uncertain. If no one moves in, I will have to cut some bills to make it more affordable for me as one person.

I refilled my cell phone minutes as I do once a year in May.

My socializing expenses were high due to extra parties.

I have good news on the income side: I got a new job! I interviewed for it at the end of April, received an offer at the beginning of May, and began working during the last week of May. It is a paid internship doing marketing analysis. It pays slightly more than I was making before. The difference might be apparent next month when I start getting paid from it. So my income will go up a little; unfortunately, I will be giving up my health insurance. I am also still working at my old job one day a week to diversify my income streams and to help with my currently increased expenses.

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Chris
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Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by Chris » Sun Jun 01, 2014 4:09 pm

Wow, May was a pretty big month for you.

Will the new job affect income and expenses in other ways? For example, might you tax-free commuter benefits?

BeyondtheWrap
Posts: 559
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Location: NYC

Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Sun Jun 01, 2014 4:44 pm

Chris wrote:Will the new job affect income and expenses in other ways? For example, might you tax-free commuter benefits?
Unfortunately, no. At this company, interns are paid by the hour and receive no benefits other than paid sick time (and that one is only because of a new law).

At least it's a casual workplace, though, so I don't have to buy work clothes.

BeyondtheWrap
Posts: 559
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Location: NYC

Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:48 pm

JUNE 2014

INCOME: 1670
4 Main Paychecks: 1327
4 Side Paychecks: 324
Employer Health Insurance: 20

EXPENSES: 2039
Housing: 1200
Groceries: 169
- Food: 141
- Supplies: 21
- Hygiene: 7
Transportation: 112
Cell Phone: 16
Health: 53
- Insurance: 36
- Medicine: 17
Entertainment: 489
- Hobbies: 350
- Socializing: 95
- Meals out: 44

SAVINGS RATE: -22.1%

So it turns out that I will have the house to myself. I was able to reduce my future housing expenses by closing the storage unit; hopefully my brother continues paying his own car insurance as well. However, I still put more money than necessary into the account that pays the household bills just in case. Without the storage and car insurance bills, I probably don't need to put in more than $900, but I'm being cautious since this is a new change.

With my new job, I no longer have health or dental insurance. I still have accident insurance though.

I'm still working my old job one day a week for the additional income. The strange thing is I don't feel like I'm working six days a week; the old job no longer feels like a job but more like a weekend activity.

My cell phone expense of $16 is because I decided to replace my cell phone with a new one, same model, that I bought on eBay. The hobby expense of $350 is for improv class.

BeyondtheWrap
Posts: 559
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:38 pm
Location: NYC

Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:06 pm

JULY 2014

INCOME: 1555
4 Main Paychecks: 1297
4 Side Paychecks: 258

EXPENSES: 2856
Housing: 1100
Groceries: 152
- Food: 88
- Supplies: 64
Transportation: 112
Health: 1121
- Insurance: 16
- Supplies: 34
- Dentist: 1070
Entertainment: 371
- Electronics: 16
- Socializing: 301
- Meals out: 53
- Candy: 1

SAVINGS RATE: -83.7%

I spent a lot of money this month, especially because of that dentist appointment. I kind of regret waiting until I didn't have insurance anymore, but oh well. At least that expense will be absent next month.

Moving forward, I'm going to try to get the housing spending more under control. I think I should start just paying the bills directly instead of using my mom's account as a middleman, because currently I can never predict if the account will have enough money in it at the right time, since there are too many hands in it. If I use my account, I know I have enough money.

My income will be going down soon, because I am quitting my second job and will reduce my hours at my main job to free up time for school.

My life-happiness levels are currently about the highest they've been in a few years. I credit this to increased socializing, engagement in my hobby, autonomy and seeing results at home, a better job, summertime, and not answering the phone when my father calls. When school starts again in the fall, I will most likely lose some of this good feeling due to loss of free time, but it's a nice thing to have once in a while to remind me what I'm working towards.
Last edited by BeyondtheWrap on Sat Aug 30, 2014 6:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

BeyondtheWrap
Posts: 559
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Location: NYC

Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Sat Aug 30, 2014 11:54 am

AUGUST 2014

INCOME: 2156
5 Main Paychecks: 1657
5 Side Paychecks: 500

EXPENSES: 1713
Housing: 915
Groceries: 156
- Food: 87
- Supplies: 69
Transportation: 112
Health: 16
Education: 56
Entertainment: 447
- Socializing: 218
- Meals out: 65
- Travel: 54
- eMusic: 100
- Electronics: 2
Charity: 10

SAVINGS RATE: 20.6%

I really got to work on my housing expenses this month. I cancelled my TV and landline service, since I hadn't watched TV in months and I hardly use the phone anyway; besides, I still have my cell phone. I kept the Internet service. I also cancelled the payments from my mom's account and switched them to my own, so I no longer have to stress about my mom's account being constantly overdrawn.

From now on, I will be paying housing expenses as I go, whereas before I was trying to contribute an average. This will cause my housing expenses (rent, gas & electric, internet, and homeowners insurance are paid monthly) to be relatively low most months and ridiculously high in a few (when they also include flood insurance or water, which are paid annually).

Now I'm starting school again, so I quit my side job and reduced my hours at my main job from 8 to 7 hours per day, so my income will be significantly lower in the upcoming months.

IwantLess
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Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by IwantLess » Sat Aug 30, 2014 10:24 pm

Nice. That's one of your best month's in a while. I want to live in NYC for that price :D What does the socializing cost consist of? Like eating out and drinks?

BeyondtheWrap
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Location: NYC

Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Sun Aug 31, 2014 2:34 am

Yeah, I am very lucky to have such a low housing cost thanks to my situation, which is that I live in a house that my parents bought decades ago, so there is no mortgage. (I'm sure the Midwesterners on this forum would laugh at what we consider cheap, though!) If my housing expenses were too high, I would probably have to take on a roommate, which I'd prefer not to do.

Mini-rant: It makes me somewhat annoyed when I see posts on other web sites in which people say things like, "You need $250,000 just to get by if you live in NYC!" Like, haven't they heard of poor people? There's more to NYC than the Upper East Side. End mini-rant.

Re the socializing, yes, that's exactly what it is. Bars, restaurants, and delivery food. As long as I'm with friends (eating out by myself goes in another category). I mostly use cash for those things, so I don't break it down further. While the cost is very high by ERE standards, I accept the price I pay for something that greatly contributes to my happiness. I've tried the alternative, and I don't like it.

BeyondtheWrap
Posts: 559
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Location: NYC

Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Wed Oct 01, 2014 11:22 pm

SEPTEMBER 2014

INCOME: 1191

EXPENSES: 1024
Housing: 516
- Rent: 265
- Insurance: 94
- Gas & Electric: 157
Groceries: 138
- Food: 89
- Supplies: 18
- Personal: 32
Transportation: 125
Health: 24
- Insurance: 16
- Medicine: 8
Haircut: 15
Entertainment: 206
- Socializing: 171
- Meals out: 35

SAVINGS RATE: 14.0%

In most months, the housing category will include a charge for Internet as well. It was absent this month because I recently changed my payment method to Auto-Pay, which charges my account 20 days after the bill date.

During my commuting, I listen to music on my iPod. For headphones, I use earbuds because they are easy to store and carry when not in use.

Recently I had the idea that when I purchase a new pair of headphones (at RadioShack), I should buy the one-year protection plan for them as well. Then, when I return them for another pair, I buy the plan for the new pair as well, and so on, so that I only ever have to pay the price of the plan and not the headphones themselves. If you get the cheapest headphones they have, this strategy works even better, because not only are the headphones more likely to break in the first year, but the protection plan is also cheapest for them.

How has this worked out for me so far? In June 2013, I bought a pair of headphones. They worked pretty well until June 2014 when I noticed that the sound tended to become quieter when the wire moved around or had pressure put on it. I figured that was a good enough reason to return them, so I did, and took my credit in the form of a gift card. Then at the beginning of July, I used the gift card toward the purchase of a new pair of headphones and also bought the insurance for them. The headphones stopped working after about three weeks. So I returned them at the beginning of August for another pair of headphones and bought the insurance for them. Again, they only lasted about three weeks, and I returned them for a new pair at the beginning of September and bought the insurance.

Why are they suddenly breaking so much more quickly? This never used to happen to me. They usually last well over a year. I doubt the newer products sold at RadioShack are that inferior, since the last few purchases were the same brand as the one I purchased in 2013. I doubt I'm storing them in my bag improperly, since I did the same thing in 2013.

Maybe it's the fact that my commute to work became longer when I switched jobs this summer. For my old job, the commute was either 2 short bus rides or a long walk and a short bus ride, and I often remained standing while on the bus. For the new job, I have a short bus ride and a long subway ride, and I mostly sit now. During the winter months I normally keep my iPod in a chest pocket on my jacket, but during the summer I keep it in my pants pocket, causing more pressure and bending of the wire near the jack. I'm thinking this was the culprit, though I'm not sure. For about a week near the end of September I was keeping my iPod in my shirt pocket, trying to be careful, but it still stopped working eventually. Maybe my attempt began too late to prevent the inevitable.

So I'll have to return this pair now for another pair. This time I'll be certain not to keep it in my pants while listening.

Also, speaking of music, you may remember that I have a subscription to eMusic, for which I pay $100 per year. Back in the first page of this journal, forum members anomie and DebtSlaveNoMore suggested I get rid of it. Now I probably will, because eMusic just announced that they will no longer be offering mainstream music; once again, they will only have independent music. I still have most of a year left before my subscription comes up for renewal again, so I'll stay on eMusic until then. Hopefully they have enough artists that I've heard of, and maybe I'll discover that I like something I haven't yet heard. Either way, this will probably be the end of that annual expense.

I will most likely not switch to a streaming service because they are useless to me without my Internet access, which I only have at home whereas I listen to most of my music on the go.

5to9
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Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by 5to9 » Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:15 am

I am surprised you are getting so little use out of your headphones. Maybe buying a higher quality pair, or preemptive reinforcement of the wire near the jack would help? I have an iPod charging cable that was showing some wear, and I reinforced it with some Sugru putty and it has been going strong for another two years.

On the music streaming services, rhapsody does let you download albums and listen to them offline.

BeyondtheWrap
Posts: 559
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Location: NYC

Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:58 pm

OCTOBER 2014

INCOME: 1575
5 Paychecks: 1475
Gift: 100

EXPENSES: 1186
Housing: 557
- Rent: 265
- Gas & Electric: 157
- Insurance: 94
- Internet: 41
Groceries: 115
- Food: 103
- Supplies: 10
- Personal: 2
Transportation: 152
Health: 54
- Insurance: 16
- Medicine/Supplements: 37
Entertainment: 309
- Socializing: 250
- Meals out: 49
- Candy: 10

SAVINGS RATE: 24.7%

I exchanged my broken headphones for new ones again at the beginning of the month. I've only been using non-pants pockets for my iPod, and the headphone wire hasn't broken yet, so my theory seems to be holding so far.

Speaking of ears, this month I had what seemed to be an ear infection, so I decided to take advantage of the free health services at my school. The nurse called in a prescription for some antibiotic ear drops, so I had my first experience buying prescription medication at the pharmacy without insurance. It cost $17.24 (I was told I got a discount because I didn't have insurance), which was pleasantly lower than I was expecting. Good thing I didn't need anything expensive from there.

I spent more on transportation than usual this month in what you might call an overreaction to the arrival of Ebola in NYC. I added money to my MetroCard thinking I would take the express bus instead of the subway, but that decision didn't last long.

I spent a lot on socializing, and I regret nothing.

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m741
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Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by m741 » Mon Nov 03, 2014 11:23 pm

I also get limited use out of headphones (earbuds in particular). I think a lot of it has to do with how you carry them. I've noticed that earbuds last a lot longer for me with a smartphone than they did with an mp3 player, and I think that's because it's more difficult for the smartphone to get in a position that stresses the wire. With an mp3 player I was seeing 3 months/set of earbuds. Now I see 6-7 months. I just buy the cheapest pair, 7-$10, so they're easy to replace.

You might consider a switch to Amazon Prime if you replace your music subscription (of course, there are other free options). But the selection is good, you can download the prime-eligible music and listen to it without streaming, and there's other benefits to the membership, like free shipping on small orders.

BeyondtheWrap
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Location: NYC

Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Thu Nov 20, 2014 10:58 pm

Despite a good effort to position this most recent pair of earbuds so as not to damage the wire, they only lasted about six weeks, so I got a new pair, same kind but different color.

I also have recently taken interest in credit card churning and manufactured spending (to which I was introduced in this thread, and I am just getting started. I will not include the money flying around through this hobby when I do the calculations for this journal. I do not include credit card rewards in my income here, since that will increase my visible savings rate and may make me less motivated to save. I just think of them as extra. I will also not include incidental expenses incurred by this hobby such as card fees as I consider them covered by the rewards I earn. I will still record my other expenses here even if they are used to earn rewards.

jennypenny
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Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by jennypenny » Fri Nov 21, 2014 6:52 am

BeyondtheWrap wrote:Despite a good effort to position this most recent pair of earbuds so as not to damage the wire, they only lasted about six weeks, so I got a new pair, same kind but different color.
I put clear nail polish over the areas on the wire that usually fray. It's not perfect and makes the wire a little stiff, but it works for a while.

BeyondtheWrap
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Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:52 pm

NOVEMBER 2014

INCOME: 1225

EXPENSES: 1766
Housing: 513
- Rent: 265
- Insurance: 94
- Gas & Electric: 93
- Internet: 61
Groceries: 227
- Food: 124
- BJ's Membership: 54
- Personal Care: 18
- Household Supplies: 14
- Pet: 23
Transportation: 112
Health: 69
- Insurance: 16
- Supplements: 53
Hobby: 400
Entertainment: 423
- Meals out: 22
- Socializing: 383
- Electronics: 4
- Candy: 15
Clothing: 14

SAVINGS RATE: -44.2%

Wow, the expenses are high this month. I don't have a good explanation why, it's just that I ended up making a bunch of normally occasional purchases all at once. I stocked up on some food, stocked up on some supplements, paid my BJ's membership, registered for a class, bought a shirt, and went out to socialize a lot.

For next year, I enrolled in one of the Obamacare health insurance plans, a bronze plan. My subsidy almost covers the whole thing. Still, I'm not sure if I'll actually make use of the plan.

In more personal news, my slightly younger sister has moved back in with me and brought her cat (I paid for some of the cat's expenses this time so that the house would be ready upon move-in). We'll see if this lasts.

BeyondtheWrap
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Location: NYC

Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Thu Jan 01, 2015 8:16 pm

DECEMBER 2014

INCOME: 1200
4 Paychecks: 1100
Gift: 100

EXPENSES: 1025
Housing: 419
- Rent: 265
- Gas & Electric: 93
- Internet: 61
Groceries: 116
- Food: 70
- Supplies: 30
- Personal Care: 16
Transportation: 100
Health: 68
- Insurance: 36
- Pharmacy: 32
Clothing: 72
Hobby: 25
Other: 14
Education: 29
Entertainment: 180
- Socializing: 162
- Fast food: 7
- Candy: 11

SAVINGS RATE: 14.6%

I was able to almost completely cut out my fast food spending because I had stocked up on some microwavable convenience food (for those days when I don't have leftovers to bring to work).

Housing was lower this month because the homeowners insurance was not due this month. I promise it will be back with a vengeance, though. Also, the Gas & Electric was lower because they recalculate it a weird way.

As I wrote in a previous post, I am starting to strategically use credit cards to maximize my rewards. I applied for a few new cards in October and November. Since then I've been setting up my main spending methods and conducted a few test runs, but I haven't yet scaled up my efforts.

I also bought my first stock this month. I was thinking about how the low gas prices are making oil stocks cheap, so I read through a forum thread on the topic. After looking at its historical performance, I decided to invest $1000 in SDRL. That may not have been the best idea, since the company isn't doing too well, but we'll see.

I finished another semester of graduate school. I will be finished with my master degree in one year. I'm also still at my internship that I started seven months ago. I feel like I should be looking for something else, since I'm not learning very much here, it's only tangential to my preferred industry, and there's not much opportunity for advancement. I don't want to be stuck without anything when I graduate again. At the same time, I like it here because it's a very easy, low-stress job; I prefer to get my excitement from my non-work activities anyway. If I switch to another industry, I'll likely have to start over with another internship, and internships in my preferred industry tend to be a worse deal than the great one I currently have (full-time, paid, non-temporary). I guess I should just see what's out there, and maybe I will find a better deal.

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Chris
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Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by Chris » Mon Jan 05, 2015 2:27 am

BeyondtheWrap wrote: I also bought my first stock this month. I was thinking about how the low gas prices are making oil stocks cheap, so I read through a forum thread on the topic. After looking at its historical performance, I decided to invest $1000 in SDRL.
Congratulations, and hold on tight!

What's your plan? Is this a long-term investment or do you have an exit point in mind?

BeyondtheWrap
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Location: NYC

Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:28 pm

Chris wrote:
BeyondtheWrap wrote: I also bought my first stock this month. I was thinking about how the low gas prices are making oil stocks cheap, so I read through a forum thread on the topic. After looking at its historical performance, I decided to invest $1000 in SDRL.
Congratulations, and hold on tight!

What's your plan? Is this a long-term investment or do you have an exit point in mind?
I am tentatively planning on selling most of it when it reaches a one-year high and keeping some for the longer term.

BeyondtheWrap
Posts: 559
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:38 pm
Location: NYC

Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:56 pm

JANUARY 2015

INCOME: 1376

EXPENSES: 1443
Housing: 527
- Rent: 265
- Gas & Electric: 93
- Internet: 61
- Insurance: 107
Groceries: 120
- Food: 86
- Personal Care: 14
- Supplies: 20
Transportation: 112
Health: 83
- Insurance: 36
- Pharmacy: 47
Entertainment: 390
- Socializing: 224
- Travel: 17
- Electronics: 112
- Fast food: 20
- Candy: 17
Education: 36
Charity: 100
Tax Preparation: 75

SAVINGS RATE: -4.9%

I had become so used to having RadioShack as my place for headphones, I purchased a RadioShack gift card back in December for over $100 (at a discount, of course), expecting it to last me a few years. Soon after, I learned of RadioShack's plans to declare bankruptcy and that I would have to use my gift card soon or it would become worthless. So I used it on RadioShack.com (because it's cheaper than in the store) and purchased as many pairs of my headphones as I could. That is why my Electronics spending was so high this month.

BeyondtheWrap
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Location: NYC

Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Sun Feb 01, 2015 3:00 pm

jennypenny wrote:I put clear nail polish over the areas on the wire that usually fray. It's not perfect and makes the wire a little stiff, but it works for a while.
I bought some clear nail polish to try this technique, and it doesn't seem to be stiffening the wire much. Maybe the nail polish I got at the dollar store is of inferior quality. Do you have to use a lot of it and reapply it regularly?

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