Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thank Goodness for the End!

I'm so glad that this year is drawing to a close. It's just been a rough year and t being over brings me stupid amounts of hope and joy.

It's been tough. A lot of things have changed for me but I have to say, one thing is nice.... my life isn't ruled by money and debt any more. I paid off a lot of money this year, and though I have a long way to go, I am finally settling into my chosen career. I'm happy with what I'm doing and you can't put a price on that. Sometimes I still get unsettled and concerned, and I still don't know if I can financially make this all work, but I'm going to continue to work my butt off and try. And, like I said, happy is good.

So, lets take a quick look back to the goals that I set for myself for the year. Here they are:

Financial Goals

Pay off all non-student loan debt - DONE! No more credit cards or loans!

This is my credit card and my scooter loan and it currently stands at around $6500.

Get Net Worth below -$20,000 - DONE! It's around -$18,000 now

This would mean increasing by Networth by about $7000.

Get Emergency Fund to $2,000 - DONE, but it's at $1800 now because I just paid bills

This currently stands at just under $500.

Get Student Loan to below $20,000 - NOT DONE - It's at around $23,000 still.

This means paying off $3,811 of my loan.

2009 Goal:
Reach my Target Weight - NOT DONE. I lost 8lb though so I'm happy.
I gained about 20lb over the last year and a half and my target weight means that I need to lose 13 of them.

Be Published in a National Magazine - NOT DONE. I tried.

This was a tentative goal for last year and I am still hoping that it occurs.

Go to a different country other than England - NOT DONE - Rough year

I love to travel, and go to England often because my family lives there. This year I would really like to go to a different country as well as the UK. I'm shooting for France, but we have no firm plans.

Go on two auditions - DONE if you count voice overs. I actually also was filmed as an extra so I consider that fine.

I've done a little acting before, and I went on one audition in 2008, so I'm going to do it twice in 2009. It really helps me get outside of my comfort zone and I would love to get more stage experience.

Learn Basic French - NOT DONE. I suck.

I've wanted to do this forever but never actually set it as a goal.

Read 2 Books per Month - NOT DONE. I'll be beefing this one up. See below.

I have a bookcase full of unread books and I really want to knuckle down and read more. I'm a tad embarrassed about how little I read these days.

Get a Voice over agent - DONE. I have one. I never get work though :-)

This is a really big goal and one that I hope to accomplish fairly quickly. I've done voice over work before and I really love it. I would like to sign with an agency because it's a hard market to break in to.

Get this blog to over 200 subscribers - NOT DONE. 55 of you are awesome though and I love you.

At the moment I have 40 subscribers.

2010 Goals

Financial Goals

1. Get Emergency Fund to $3,000 and maintain it at that level.

2. Do not carry a balance on any credit card for the whole year.

3. Break even as a freelancer by covering all living and discretionary spending.

4. Pay enough extra on student loan to reduce payments to $400 a month.

Personal Goals

1. Read all of the unread books on my bookshelf by the end of the year. That is a total of 63 books. This is going to be a real challenge, but I'm determined to try. Some of them are fairly short :-)

2. Learn basic french. This is a repeat goal. I'll try to do better.

3. Finish a pair of socks every month. I love to knit and I want to be better about making socks, for myself and other people. There really is nothing quite like hand-knit socks.

4. Work with Chris Kayser. I have a list of Atlanta Theatre "stars" that I want to work with, and he is at the top of the list.

5. Submit a resume to Cirque du Soleil. I've been trying to pluck up the courage to do this. Have to really really try.

6. Climb the scary ladder at the Tavern. It's very tall, very wooden, very rickety, and it goes from angled to vertical. I swear I won't let it beat me this year!

So there we have it. Another year finally drawing to a close. Good riddance and good luck!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gigs and Fun Times

Well, this month has been busy on and off.
I've had several days of work and a few other random gigs came up, like being an extra on a TV Show shoot. As it stands right now, I'm $118 from covering bills, and a fair bit more shy of covering gas, food, and miscellaneous expenses. I've been having as frugal a christmas as possible, but there really is only so much that you can do.

I got some good news on the work front, though. I'll be Stage Managing a show at a really good theatre. It's 8 weeks of work and thats a huge load off my mind. I'll be picking up as much additional stuff as I can, but the concept of pretty much covering my bills for nearly two months is huge to me. I'm very excited. I'm also hoping that if I can keep busy with some other things, I can even start to replenish my depleted emergency fund a little. It really needs to be above $3000 and it's about to slip below $2000. Having a decent emergency fund is the key to keeping your sanity while freelancing. So I'm hoping to take this work opportunity to top it back up a little. We'll see if that works!

Happy holidays, all.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sometimes Working, Sometimes Not!

The lack of updates aren't because I've been too busy or because I'm dead, I just suck really.

I've managed to get my monthly bills down to $1215 and I did not manage to make that much money during October or November. A lot of November's issue was down to timing. I have money coming, but the checks did not arrive yet. I'm hoping that will mean I can break even during December. I'm working on a new plan. I'm trying to make $45 a day, either with scheduled work or with the extra work that I do for one of my friends, or the online work I do for KGB.

KGB is actually pretty neat. I don't make a ton of money, but I certainly can do some while watching TV. It's a system where people text questions to a phone number, and "Special Agents" online find the answers. The neat thing is that I can log in and work anytime for as little time as I want or as long as I want.

I've been doing some freelance work here and there. It's sporadic and I'm expecting that it will be for the next two months. I'm really loving freelancing though. I may be broke, but I'm so very much happier.

I'm also keeping out of consumer debt. I have none at all and my credit score just came back as a 769! All that hard work certainly paid off! Now, I just have to get that pesky student loan gone.

I'll try and update more. This week I've got work scheduled for every day so far. Hopefully nothing will fall through and I'll have a productive and profitable week!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Changing the Game

Okay so sometimes life throws you curve balls. Granted, mine throws me a lot of them.

This new one is kinda fun and very scary though. 10 days ago I lost my job. It was an amicable separation, though the timetable was moved up a bunch. I took a months severance and gracefully exited. That severance went straight into my emergency fund, and that combined with some other money I have saved means that I have enough money to cover four months worth of bills, assuming I make absolutely no money at all.

So what does this mean for me? Well, I'm now officially a full time independent theatre technician. Meaning I do freelance tech work for a living. I'm hoping to get booked for some work soon, though when you hit the circuit full time, it takes a bit to warm up and get your name out there. I have two days of work booked for November and will be doing some other on the side things to hopefully make a bit more money.

Budget-wise, the focus of this blog is now going to be on meeting my monthly goal. I need to make $1265 a month in order to cover all my bills. This includes $600 that I pay towards my student loan every month. I'll be starting each month at zero. Bear in mind though, this does not include food or gas. This is just my bills. I'll be keeping my incidental expenses as teeny tiny as I possibly can.

At the end of the month, if I didn't make my goals, I'll be pulling from my emergency fund to make up the difference. I'm hoping that I won't have to do that much though.

So there we go. I walked to the edge and I jumped. Now lets just hope my parachute opens!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Another New Project

I've had a project in mind for a while now.

Working in theatre, a lot of crazy crazy stuff tends to happen. So I've always wanted to write down the insane stories that I have.

And so, Backstage Diaries was born. I'll be posting my insane stories here, and maybe stories from other people too!

Backstage Diaries

Friday, September 25, 2009

All Gone!

So today I made the very last payment on the last little bit of my credit card debt. I am now officially out of consumer debt. The only money I owe is my student loan that is not interest bearing (I owe it to my parents).

This is huge for me. My finances are under control. I'm starting on a new budget on October first that will skyrocket my savings, which will allow me to finally not panic when bad things happen, and hopefully I'll be able to travel home next year. I can also start paying down my student loan significantly. I'm also upping my spending money a little too, because, well I think I've earned it!

I'm still working extra jobs and trying to make some extra money because I like being busy, and because I need to keep building my technical theatre resume. That means working nights and weekends and keeping my regular 9-5 job too. I'm not out of the woods yet, because I'm not out of debt yet, and $25,000 is a huge sum of money that I still have to pay off. But I have three and a half years to do it, I'm not paying interest, and I make enough money that I don't have to struggle with my bills. So here is what really made the difference for me:

I got a roommate. Monthly savings : $480

I cut my grocery bill as low as I could. Monthly Savings : $200

I stopped buying things that I couldn't afford. Monthly savings : $300

I snowballed my debt. This allowed me to pay off thousands of dollars in just over a year.
I purged assets I wasn't using, like my camera, books, clothes. I stopped eating out and drinking out.

I worked my ass off to get where I am and I have to say, I'm really proud. Right now, I'll be out of debt sometime around February 2013 and I plan on making it sooner than that if I can. I'm still going to be blogging about my money stuff and my financial goals. So with that, here are my current savings goals that I'm working on:

Emergency Fund to $3000 (Currently at $235)

Travel Fund to $3600 (Currently at $109)

Medical and Dental Fund to $1000 (Currently at $1)

Car Maintenance Fund to $1000 (Currently at $1)

2009 Roth IRA to $1500 (Currently at $195)

I'm certainly not done yet with my goals, but it feels good to have interest coming in, not going out for a change! Yay me!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

The American Express credit card is paid!
I just put in a chunk of money on that and some on my ING overdraft, which leaves my overdraft at $810.33. My consumer debt is now under $1,000 and I am so stoked!
I haven't even put my money from my paycheck on it yet. I'm about to be a seriously happy girl.

I'm trying not to jinx it, because the universe has a tendency to smite me... but I'm so close to only having my student loan to deal with. So very very close!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Things have been hectic as usual, working as much as possible and getting the debt down.
I've cleared my Bank of America credit card. This started with a balance of over $6,000. Now it's all gone! I only have $280 left on my American Express and $1100 on my Overdraft from ING. If all goes as anticipated, I'm looking at having this all done by September 15th. That's in 26 days!
Pending mass chaos, this means I am on track to start working on my Student Loan and things are going really really well.

I plan on starting to do some pretty hefty saving to try and work on the whole buffer thing. My student loan payments will be set at $600 so I'll have some breathing room, which is really great.

I'm working hard on getting more technical theatre work, which is a big goal of mine. Basically, all is well in finance land.

Friday, July 31, 2009

In the Interest of Full Disclosure

In the Interest of Full Disclosure

So I have a confession to make. I fell off the wagon a bit. I have a lot of good planning when it comes to my finances, but every so often I can get surprised by bills.

My checking account has a low interest overdraft on it and the first thing that happened was I started going over my spending budget for various reasons.

It's so easy to swipe a card and think everything will be covered next paycheck, and then to find out you are actually wrong and you've gone over.

So I maxed out my checking account overdraft to the tune of about $1200 over several months. I was doing mostly okay chipping away at it, until I had a $500 vet bill followed by a $280 dentist bill.

These wiped out my emergency fund and there wasn't enough to cover the rest. I also had to make a few purchases that will be reimbursed later.
A lot of this was me screwing up. I had a few times where I was buying food or drinks that I shouldn't have. I bought some birthday gifts which weren't part of my budget. Basically, I screwed up.
So going forward, I have pretty much wiped out my Bank of America credit card. I have one payment of $261 left to make on it, which is fantastic and I am SO proud of myself. I am next going to have to clear this overdraft, so I am a little further behind than I wanted to be.
This means no bold rejoicing yet.

From here on out, I'm doing something kind of bold. I'm moving to the cash system for my spending budget. I'm giving myself an allowance for spending and I'm sticking to it. If I don't have the cash, well, that's my tough luck.

I'm sure to get about $500 from various sources in the month of August, and I'm picking up more hours at one of my part time gigs, as well as working another part time gig. So things will start picking up and I expect swift progress. I'd like to clear these overdrafts, or at least get them manageable by September, though that feels a touch optimistic.

Regardless, it's time to get this show on the road. I'm so close I can smell it!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What a Difference A Roommate Makes

My new roommate moved in with me a week or so ago and it was a really great idea. She and I keep pretty different schedules so we are out of each others way, and I'm now paying half the rent I was and will soon be splitting the utilities. Where is all of this extra money going? Why, on debt of course! I'm not even budgeting for it, instead I'm counting it as "extra income" so that I can throw it straight at my debt. It should help me get caught up with everything much quicker and I confess, it's nice to have someone else around.

My part time work has tailed off this month as my theater has closed while they rebuild the stage, but I hope to go back to working extra there next month, which will also help greatly with the debt repayment. As things go, I'm doing quite well. I do need to cut the spending down as I now have an overdraft due to a vet and a dentist bill. I should be able to clear that quite quickly though. I had to wipe out my emergency fund for the vet so that's a bit sucky. But hey, perseverance is key and I'm sure it'll all be okay!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Where Have I Been?

Falling down with exhaustion and slacking on the blog entries. 
I feel like a terrible person because I look at my blog every day and I never get to posting. 
The whole money thing is plodding along. I'm making good progress but I still wish it were moving along faster. 
I've taken another step and gotten myself a roommate. Anna moves in mid-July and she'll be covering nearly half of the rent. I'm really happy about this because I'm still sticking with my budget, which means her share of the rent will go directly on debt repayment as though it is extra. 
I've been working 60+ hour weeks working in the Jungle and then also working at the Theatre. I also have another show opening soon which I am working on for free. It's a great show and a good resume builder so I'm pleased I'm doing it. 
I'm also working on a garden which has been bringing me a lot of joy. I wish I had more money to spend on it, but I can't justify too much so I'm taking my time and growing a lot of things from seed. I have this really great vision of the garden but I'm not sure I'll be able to pull it off. 
I'll have a NetWorth update for you soon, but as a good update, consumer debt is due to be paid off by September 15th with no extra going towards it. I'm pretty sure that it will be sooner than that, but I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch to be on the safe side. 

Soon I will have a yard sale. Soon I will clear out Anna's room. Soon I will finish my to-do list. But most of that is going to have to hold up just a touch while I work my ass off and collapse every night!

Monday, June 1, 2009


I'm working hard. Really hard. And it's really starting to pay off!
I've nearly got that credit card under $3,000 which feels really really good. I'm working a bunch of extra hours at my part time job over the next month and that will allow me to hit the card even harder.
As things stand, with no extra money going on the card other than money from my full time job, I will have it paid off by October 15th! I'm anticipating that I'll have it paid off sooner because I am still putting extra monies towards it.
I'm also maybe getting a roommate towards the end of the year. A really good friend has been staying with me and I love having her around. She might need a new place in October and if she does, I've told her I would love to have her move in. That would cut a huge chunk out of my living expenses which would be incredibly beneficial to me.
After this card is paid off, I have a really awesome master plan for getting financially stable. I'm worn out and a bit stressed, but I'm making great progress.

I've got my Networth nearly updating and I will be putting that up soon. Expect to be wowed by my awesomeness. It was a good month :-)

Monday, May 18, 2009

April Net Worth Update

I know this is late, but I've been swamped as usual. It's been a good month as far as making progress goes. This was the state of the union as of April 30th, so this is actually better than it looks.
I should be seeing my Net Worth go up a lot each month, as I continue to make progress on my debt. I hope that I can keep this up. Andrew asked me today when I think I will start feeling stable or seeing things turn around and for that, I am aiming for the end of the year. Just have to make it that far.


Car Value - $2,730 (No change)

Prosper Loans - $190 ($200)

Cash Savings - $187 ($0)

Roth IRA - $67 ($34)


Student Loans - $25,695 ($23,781)

BOA Credit Card - $4,523 ($4, 617)

Scooter Loan - $69 ($944)

Net Worth

- $27,113 (-$28,378)

Increase of $1, 265 which is 4.46%

The big plan right now is to get this credit card taken care of and to keep chipping away at the Student Loan before I attack the student loan with full force. I have to get it paid off by April 2013, but I want to get it gone much faster than that, as those are big payments that I would rather be putting towards something that brings me happiness.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

And Then There Were Two

Last Friday I made the final payment on my scooter loan. This was a 36 month loan that I managed to pay off in just 16 months.

I am so ridiculously proud and happy that it's done. It was really important to me to get that cleared, and it wasn't just about the money. That was the last tie to my accident last year. Now it's all over and done with and I can finally move on with me life.

Now I'm left with the two biggest debts. I have a credit card with about $4,500 charged to it to pay off, and then my student loan of over $25,000. This student loan isn't a real student loan but money I borrowed from my parents over the last 7 years. I'm working hard on getting both paid off. Right now I'll be throwing everything I can at that credit card as it's my last interest bearing debt.

With the extra work I do, and with working at my new company, I'm hoping to pay somewhere around $1,000 a month on the two debts. I'll be putting big lump sums on the card, and making smaller payments from my part time job on the student loan.

This is the rocky part. This is where it's harder to get to having a debt paid off and get that high that comes from making a final payment. I know I can get out of the credit card this year and I fully intend to.

I've worked so hard on this and it sucks working 60 hour weeks and never spending any of the money I earn. I hate it sometimes, but the end will justify the means. One day, those pay checks that I work so hard for will really be mine.

Friday, May 1, 2009

So Beautifully Close

Today I got paid at both my part time job and my full time job. The best thing about this is that I was able to put some extra money on my scooter loan. And now it stands at a balance of $69.27.

No I didn't miss a zero. $69.27 is all that is left of that debt. I will be able to pay it off next Thursday. I am so happy and excited! After this, I get to start putting money towards my credit card and my student loan. I am focusing on the credit card primarily because it has interest on it. If I manage to make the payments I think I can make on it, I'd estimate it at being paid off by the middle of October.

That would be so very very wonderful if I could make that happen. To have all of my consumer debt gone this year would be a dream come true. Then I would be able to blow through this student loan in just over two years.

So now comes the time to set a new and realistic goal about when I can get out of debt. We are looking at January of 2012. This may seem a way away, and it feels like forever. But it's a year and three months sooner than I thought.

Let's see if I can meet my own challenge!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Growing Snowflaking Opportunities

One of the hardest things I deal with when paying off my debt is that I want to be making greater and faster progress.

I am on a partially fixed and partially not fixed income. I have a full time job with a set salary, a part time job that pays hourly and fluctuates, and then other income streams.

These other income streams are probably the most important part of my income. Some are passive, some require a lot of work. These are the ones that have the potential to always help me. Some make me just a few cents, some can give me a lump sum payment of a few hundred dollars (if I'm super lucky).

So what am I working on in my "spare time"?

Voice Over Work

I have been doing voice overs for a while. I have a professional demo online and I am always looking for work. This can pay really well when I get gigs, but a lot of the work I have done for free while I build my portfolio. This is the kind of thing that can get me lump sums if I get the work. I'm currently looking for an agency so that I don't have to chase gigs myself all of the time.
I also find it really really fun.


When I have a little spare time, which is rare, I take a few minutes to fill out surveys on CashCrate. With their awesome referral program, I am able to make extra money each month. True, when you start out you might not earn much, but snowflaking is about adding in little bits to make a bigger whole.


Do you know how to do something not many other people know how to do? I write articles on eHow. Granted, this starts with you just making pennies, but it's passive income. Once an article is written it's on the site and generating income. If you have a large library of articles, you can potentially do very very well. There is a really nifty list of requested articles if you are looking for inspiration. I've written articles from How to Get Around a Necklace Allergy to How to Make Felt Sales

I read a lot of books, and when I am done with them I am really brutal. If I know I won't read it again, I instantly put the book up for sale on My old building used to have a trash or treasure section where people would leave things for other people to take and any time there were books, I would go through them and grab them to sell online. I can usually make three sales a month or so with them. It's not a lot, but again, every little helps!

Distilled Rose Herbal Tea

I have a fledgling online company that I am still working on getting off the ground. I make herbal tea blends and sell them at my Etsy Store. Once I get this off the ground and start marketing the company it has the potential to be a good earner for me.

So how about you? Do you have any great extra income ideas that work for you?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

And the Beat Goes On...

I admit, I am sad that my updates on here have been infrequent and I know that I'm not the most thrilling read right now. But I do appreciate everyone sticking with me and here's a state of the union update.

Last night we finally moved the last of the things from our old loft. Though it was a great place to live, it ended up costing us an absolute fortune. We got a fair bit credit card happy with decorating it, and we really were living beyond my means.

My new apartment is lovely and I am so happy about it. It's not perfect, but it's much more my style. Now, of course, it is absolutely filled with stuff. I have a lot of unpacking and sorting things out to do.

It's hard. There are things that I want to buy for the new place. I want a smaller microwave. I want a couple more orchids (I collect them), I want to get some plants for the yard, I want a curtain rod and curtains. I also want a new couch, since Andrew will eventually be taking the day bed that I am currently using.

I can't have these things right now. I don't have the money and I have to force myself to wait until I do. Sure, I could throw that stuff on a credit card, but how would that help? I'd just feel guilty.

In looking over my finances, I realized that making those huge student loan payments wouldn't be feasible or logical right now, so I am back on my Snowball. I was able to make another payment on my scooter loan to get that paid down. Now, even if I just went back to the minimums, it will be paid off by December. I think I can actually have it paid in full by June.
I'm sending extra money towards my student loan at this point, and I'll be working on some other strategies to try and make some additional income.

I also got the notice today that the lawsuit against me has officially been settled and that the dismissal papers are on their way to me. I can't explain how happy that makes me. I am so utterly relieved by that. I can't wait to actually get those papers in the mail. I will be baking up a storm in a little bit for my lawyer.

I'm working on very slowly rebuilding my emergency fund. It was completely decimated because of the lawsuit and not having it makes me really really edgy. But, I will persevere and hopefully I can have it back up to a sizable amount by the fall.

In the sidebar of the blog, I've got a list of debts and goals now that I am updating frequently. These are to keep me more accountable towards my goals and because I'm not hiding anything. I know I'm in debt, you know I'm in debt, thats why I have this blog. It's full disclosure time.

With the loft out of the way, I have more time to work on other projects now. I will try and make this one of them.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New Project

Andrew suggested that I try and focus a little more on my artistic pursuits to alleviate some stress. With that, I happily announce the launch of my newest project. This is a little personal and fairly deep in to my soul, but the man has the occasional point.

Words Across a Page

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

March Net Worth Update

Well it was all going so well and now I'm utterly screwed. I had to pay a $3500 lump sum payment and as a result of me having to borrow some money from my parents, they have now put me on what feels like an impossible payment plan for my student loan. I honestly feel lost, like I'm never going to get out of this. But I've felt like that before and I've made progress so I just have to buck up, work really hard, and knuckle down and get this taken care of. Because I had to empty all my accounts, my NetWorth has taken a pretty bad hit.

Here is the break down for this month:


Car Value - $2,730 (No change)

Prosper Loans - $200 ($205)

Cash Savings - $0 ($732)

Roth IRA - $34 ($20)


Student Loans - $25,781 ($23,781)

BOA Credit Card - $4,617 ($4, 559)

Scooter Loan - $944 ($1,210)

Net Worth

- $28,378 (-$25,863)

That's a 9.72% backslide.

So now, I'd on an incredibly tight budget. I have to add in paying my parents $500 every month to a budget that was already tight. This means that I won't be able to focus on my interest bearing consumer debt, which drives me nuts. Because taxes are due this month, my new budget will go into effect in April.

I just moved to a new apartment that is cheaper and my husband and I have separated out our living expenses since we are living apart right now. I would normally pay $1100 for our living expenses. Now that I have moved I'm estimating my expenses to be:

$825 - Rent
$35 - Water
$20 - Internet
$50 - Power
$50 - Gas

$960 - Total

Then I have some joint expenses that I share with my husband and my share of these is:

$65 - Phone
$38 - Insurance
$65 - Joint Credit Card

$168 - My share

So that's $1,128 for living expenses and joint bills. This is a little more than I have been paying, but if we can get rid of our stupid joint credit card or at least get those payments down lower, or if I can keep my utilities low because I am estimating conservatively, then I think I will mostly be okay. I'm going to be piling as much extra money as I can on to my scooter loan and then my credit card in the hopes that I can get those paid off, though current projections put that at 15 months away if I pay no extra.

I'm going to have to start querying and trying to find side jobs again, which is a scary prospect when you are already working 50-60 hours a week.

I'll make it work somehow, I always do. I'm passed the panic and just into anger and frustration now. Next month my network won't look much better. But I should start to see some progress in May.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Update and Thanks

Thanks so much for the outpouring of support over my recent financial woes. 
I'm trying to find the bright side of all of this. The only one that I can see is that I can finally put this accident behind me and things will hopefully be calmer from here on out. 
I rounded up all the money that I needed, but my Networth took a significant hit and I've had to do some major rewiring of my budget. I'll post on that soon.

Today is moving day. I'm heading into a smaller and less expensive apartment and I am really really happy about it. This new place has some quirks, and there are some things that aren't terribly convenient, but it's going to be great for my finances. 
I'm already trimming things out of my budget, like just getting Internet for $20 a month instead of adding in cable for an additional $40 a month. Im very hopeful that this new apartment will feel like the home I've been craving since we left our old apartment. 

With taxes also due in April, Im not going to be able to get on track until May. May is when I can implement my new budget properly and start sticking to it. I'll also be able to work on paying down debt in May. I'm thinking that it'll be time to start querying and looking for freelance work again if I can. 

Thanks all for the support. Networth update coming soon!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


A while ago I was served papers that I was being sued for my scooter accident last yer, you know, the one that nearly killed me and plunged me into financial disaster.

Well, today I learned that I am going to need to settle the lawsuit for about $3500. This is the biggest backslide ever. I'm having to scramble to find it because I have ten days to pay it. I'm emptying all of my account, borrowing money from my family (who aren't happy about that at all and may disown me), and basically just trash everything I've worked so hard for.

I hate this so much all I want to do is curl up in a tiny ball and cry.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I've mentioned before that my husband and I have a really nice big loft. Well, now we're having to downsize. With him being out of town for a year it makes no sense to live in such a big and expensive place.
I'm currently looking for apartments that would trim $300-400 a month off our expenses. It means looking for something a bit older, more eclectic maybe.
So many people are trying to do the same thing because of the economy... downsize to something less expensive.

Of course, I would much rather buy a house but lets not expect miracles.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Where I Was and How I Saved $300

So my dear sweet Apple MacBook was having issues. It wasn't holding a charge and the screen wasn't staying up on it's own. I use my computer a lot and the poor thing had just gotten worn out.
I had made a hard decision last year to shell out $130 for the AppleCare extended warranty.
I hate these and I normally never purchase them, but I thought that it might be a good idea just this once since my computer is a big part of my livelihood.
So I finally caved and took it in last week.

Boy am I glad I had AppleCare. That repair bill would have been $430. It paid off this once! So now it's back and I can actually get all of my work done!

Most of the time I don't recommend buying an extended warranty, but if it's a laptop computer it might just be a neat idea!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

February Net Worth Update

Well, I only had a 1.91% increase in my Net Worth this month, while I work on getting caught up on some bills and adjusting to my new income level. I am also missing a check from last month that usually lops a big chunk off of my debt. I'm expecting it any day now. It's also the last time I'll receive that check, which is a sad thing. Luckily, my new income level will cover this "loss".

Here is the break down for this month:


Car Value - $2,730 (No change)

Prosper Loans - $205 ($219)

Cash Savings - $732 ($620)

Roth IRA - $20 (New!)


Student Loans - $23,781 (No Change)

BOA Credit Card - $4,559 ($4, 704)

Scooter Loan - $1,210 ($1,400)

Net Worth

- $25,863 (-$26,286)

You can see the handy chart in my sidebar that links to my NetWorthIQ profile.

So, having done my budget for the foreseeable future, I'm estimating that I'll be able to pay off my non-student loan debt by the end of September. I'm going to have to really knuckle down and make this happen, but it certainly looks like a possibility.

After that, I'll be heading into Student Loan Mode. I'm very lucky that this is not an interest bearing loan, but I have to have this paid off before I am 30 so I have a limited amount of time to take care of it, and the longer it takes me to get started, the bigger those monthly minimum payments are going to be.

I'm also working on saving more. I'm working on my emergency fund and want to get it to $3,000 as soon as I can. I'm also putting a little of my side income into my travel fund and my IRA. I finally have an IRA! I'm not contributing much to it right now, but I will ramp it up over time. When I get my emergency fund fully funded, I'll be diverting some of those savings to it.

I want to save for a house really badly, but I know that I can't really do that right now. I have to get this debt taken care of. I'll try and bump that up too once I'm not paying interest any where!

I'm predicting that March will be another slow growth month for me. I should be able to do much better than February though. I know I'm getting close to having my scooter loan paid off now and when I can start taking chunks out of that last credit card it is going to feel so unbelievably rewarding.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Savings Rate Drops

I'm a huge fan of ING Direct. I love that I have sub accounts there. I keep my CD and my Roth IRA there.

But recently, my once wonderful savings rate has dropped to 1.85%. It's very disappointing. I know that ING is usually the first to drop rates and the last to raise them, but I've never seen them this low. It's very disappointing. I'm tempted to move my savings over to another company, but I'm so used to ING and it would be a serious pain to move everything.

So I'll stick it out for now and keep plugging away at building my savings. It's a shame that it's going to take me longer to hit my goals. Even though it is small, passive income interest is one of my favorite things. I guess you can't always have everything!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spring is in the Air - Time to Attack the Utilities!

Spring is coming soon to Atlanta, which means that it's getting be about time I turn off my central heat and stop using the dryer so much.

My darling husband, whom I adore to distraction, has taken a job out of state that involves him being out of town most weekdays. Since in a few months he'll need to start paying rent elsewhere, we're going to be having an increase in our living expenses. I can tolerate a lot more extremes of heat and cold than he can, so I'm going to be trying to get the utilities as low as I can while he is gone.

So this means no more central heat and air, no more dryer, I'll be back to power stripping everything and I'll try and use less lights. I also need to be a bit more conservative of water.

Last month our utilities were $286.41 and I am determined to cut that by at least 50% if not much much more in the coming month.

So I'm throwing this out there as a challenge. See what percentage you can knock off of your utilities in the next month! I think anything over 20% is a great great step!

Extra money from this for now will go towards paying down a joint debt that my husband and I have. We're looking forward to some serious financial progress this year!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How it Feels to Not Worry

Since I got this new job, I've not found myself worrying about my personal finances. It's uplifting and strange. I had gotten very used to pinching pennies and freaking out all the time.

I know I am still in a lot of debt, and I know that I need to knuckle down and pay it off, but I'm not worried any more.

True, I'm sad that I'm not working full time in my preferred field, but I have to say that this whole decent income this is not half bad.

I know that I need to keep it under control and not let the extra money go to my head.

I think that once I get out of debt all the way I'm going to feel really really good. This is a pretty big win right now. I like that I am not scared all the time about money.

So how are you doing? Have you had any big wins?

Friday, February 13, 2009

All Grown Up

Today I opened a Roth IRA with ING Direct. I can't believe I now have retirement savings. This is a big big step for me. I will be opening a 401(k) with my new company when they implement the program.

I won't be contributing to it very heavily right now, as I'm still working on paying off debt, but once I fully fund my emergency fund I'll be contributing a lot more to that and saving for a house.

Still no news on what my paycheck will be like, so I haven't worked on my new budget yet.

I'm going to be moving out of our loft soon, though, to try and find somewhere more economical.

Big step for me. Big, huge, grown up step.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

January Net Worth Update

Sorry this is a little late, but here is my Net Worth Update for January.

I had another standard month, with my Net Worth growing another 2.87%, or $778. This is the strongest increase, but I'm fairly happy with it.

Here is the break down for the month:

Here is the break down for this month:


Car Value - $2,730 (No change)

Prosper Loans - $219 ($226)

Cash Savings - $620 ($487)


Student Loans - $23,781 ($23,821

BOA Credit Card - $4,704 ($4, 701)

Scooter Loan - $1,400 ($1,985)

Net Worth

- $26,286 (-$27,064)

So I am doing well with my 2009 goals so far. Since the new job pays more, I am anticipating that I will do a good job of meeting all of my goals.

I confess, I've been a bit splurgy lately. I decided I was going to go ahead and blow my first paycheck before I got into buckling down and paying off my debt. I know that isn't the most responsible thing to do. There is a bit of guilt from it, but it was nice to have fun for a week or two.

I still don't know exactly what my paychecks will be yet. I'm waiting for my first one before I redo my budget. I'll be starting a Roth IRA as well as increasing my savings to 7%, as I give my savings account a raise every time I get one.

I'm anticipating my Net Worth to be pretty similar next month to this month, but after that I am anticipating making some heavy progress!

Here are some past Net Worth reports

Monday, February 9, 2009

Retirement Planning Opinions Needed

I’m 25 and have no retirement savings. I am working diligently on paying off my debt and should have everything interest bearing taken care of by September. I’ve started a job with a new company and they don’t currently offer a 401(k) plan, but are anticipating starting one in 6 months. I’d really like to start working on retirement savings and I’m wondering if I should start a private 401(k), or a Roth IRA, or wait for my company to start their program, or some kind of combination. I would love to know what you recommend and if you also have any companies that you recommend I pursue these accounts with.

I'm hoping that I can get this taken care of by the end of February. 

In other news, the new job is keeping me very busy, but it's going pretty well so far!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I'm Not Dead Yet

Sorry for the silence. New job has a schedule that I'm not used to it yet. I'm a fair bit overwhelmed but should return very soon. Thanks for the patience. I'll be back friday at the latest. 

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Frugal Food : Hot Chocolate

I make this wonderful thing called Heart Attack Hot Chocolate. I love it, my husband loves it, my friend Amee seemed fairly fond of it. I make it from scratch with ingredients that I have around the house and it saves me from buying expensive drink mix.


2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1C - 1 1/2 C Milk

Cost per Serving : Approx $0.40

Pour the milk in a pan and set over a medium heat. Stirring as much as possible, add the other ingredients. Mix well and continue to heat until warmed through.

You can add a little peppermint flavoring if you want it minty, or for real Heart Attack Hot Chocolate, top with marshmallows, whipped cream, and grated chocolate!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Last Day Off

Today was my last day off until April. 

It scares me to think that starting Monday I'll be working 60 hour weeks at two different jobs. Lets also tack on one of the scariest things. My husband took a new job in Florida, 5 and a half hours away. He'll be working down there 5 days a week and coming back on weekends. 

I'm quite terrified, but we're committed to making it all work. This means that we're going to have some serious changes to our budget and the way that we handle our money. I'm hoping that we'll be able to make more progress on some of the joint goals that we have over the next few months. 

I'm sure going to miss him, though. 

Monday, January 26, 2009

Have You Checked On Your Car Insurance Lately?

Car insurance is one of those necessary evils. We all hate to pay it, but you've got to do what you've got to do. 

Now, everyone knows that your driving history effects your premiums. If you have a ticket or an accident on your record, you'll be paying more every month. However, those only last for three years. So if you've ever had a speeding violation or a traffic incident, make sure that you know the date that they will be coming off your record. 

Why is this important? Because if it comes off before your insurance policy gets renewed, you won't automatically get those savings until the next term. But, if you call them and ask them, they can adjust your policy. 

I have joint insurance with my husband, and we both have small violations coming off our record in the next two months. If I call and check in with my insurance company, I will likely be able to knock 10% or more off the cost of our premiums. 

So, if you know you've had an infraction, give your insurance company a quick call and see when it's due to come off your policy. Every little helps!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday Frugal Food: Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce

Pasta with a red sauce is one of the most frugal foods I know. This recipe is for a basic tomato sauce that can also be used in things like lasagna, or as a base for pizza.


1 Large Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Very Small Can Tomato Paste
1 Normal can of Tomato Puree
1 Tsp Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Dried Basil
2 Garlic Cloves (finely chopped)

Cost per Serving : Approx $0.62

This is ridiculously simple. Take all of the ingredients and put them in a pan. Cover the pan, turn on a low heat, simmer for 20 minutes. That is all there is to it. You can add veggies like bell peppers or onions if you have some left over that need using up, but this sauce holds up really well on it's own. This will keep in the fridge for more than a week, or you can freeze it in Tupperware and defrost as needed.

Check out these other frugal recipes:

Stuffed Acorn Squash
Cheese and Egg Wrap

Friday, January 23, 2009

How Much Do You Pay for a Haircut?

I have a question..... how much do you pay for a haircut?
I have long, fine hair. It's hard for me to do anything with it in the mornings because it doesn't hold a style. Because of this, I rely on really good haircuts that make my hair look okay, but don't require maintenance.
I had one of these cuts yesterday. I go to a really great salon and my cut costs me about $55, and then I usually top on top of that.
Is this extreme? I know that I am working on my finances and being frugal, but should I be cutting back on my cuts too?

How much do you pay for a haircut?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tides are Turning

I've had a really bad 8 months. Lets not kid around here. It's been pretty horrible. 
There have been times when I've wanted to pack in this blog, to give up on any goals and dreams that I'm trying to pursue, and just hide with the covers pulled over my head. 
But I feel like I'm getting close to a shift. I'm about to go back to having two jobs again. I'll still be working in professional theatre, but I'll be doing that part time while I work a new full time job at a strong and steady web company. 
I'll be doing online technical support. The pay is good, and the company seems really nice. It means that I'll be able to get a strong grip on my finances. I may even be able to pay my non-student loan debt off as early as September. This is a huge deal to me. It also means I can pay off my student loan on time. 
It means I'll be back to sixty hour weeks until April when I will drop back to 50 hours. 
The other reason I feel like the tides are turning is that something good and random may have fallen into my lap. I've been looking at doing voiceover work for a while and haven't gotten round to getting my demo recorded. Today one of my friends, an actor around town told me that he had referred his agent to me about a small acting gig that she was looking for someone to do. 
This is a little out of the ordinary for me, I don't act primarily, but I have in the past. So I called her, she asked me to come in and do an audition tape, and she's sending it to the client today. I should find out tomorrow whether or not I get it, but she does seem pretty confident, which was nice. I had a lot of fun doing it. 
If this pans out, it's a foot in the door to more work. I'm going to be sending this agent my headshot and resume, and my demo if I ever get it recorded. We'll see if anything good comes of it!

So it feels like things might finally be working out. Now all I have to do is remain calm while I wait for that phone call!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday Frugal Food : Stuffed Acorn Squash

This is a yummy and healthy vegetarian dish. It goes great with a side salad or a soup. 


2 Acorn Squash
1 Small Onion
6oz Mushrooms
1/2 C Breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 Tsp Thyme
1/2 Tsp Parsley
Dash of Salt
Dash of Pepper

Cost per Serving: Approx $2.50

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the top of the acorn squashes and scoop all of the seeds out. Place the squashes cut side down on a baking tray and bake or 30 minutes.
In the meantime, finely slice the onion and mushrooms. Melt the butter in a pan and sautee the mushrooms and onions over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes, until softened. Mix in the herbs and spices and set aside. 
After the squash is finished baking, pull out of the over and set right side up. Mix the breadcrumbs into the onions and mushrooms, then generously fill the squash with the mixture. Bake for another 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. 

Check out this other Frugal Recipe:

Friday, January 16, 2009

How to Cancel TV without Giving It Up

I have cable TV and internet, and I'm seriously considering giving it up. Yes, I love my CNN, Food Network and Bravo, but I've come to realize that TV is not only a huge time waster for me, but an unnecessary expense. I pay an extra $25 a month on top of internet for my basic cable, but most of the time when I watch TV, I'm doing it through my computer.

This is because I have the double whammy of Internet TV.... and


I pay $9.71 for Netflix and I only get one movie a month. I also only normally watch one movie per month. This is because what I really get out of Netflix is the Instant Queue feature. Netflix has tons of TV shows that have been released on DVD to watch on your instant queue. You can watch as many as you like and they stream directly to your computer. My husband and I have watched the first four seasons of The Office, I've watched the first season of 30 Rock, and there are a bunch of other shows we are hoping to work our way through.

Hulu is a website that offers many many shows right after they have aired. Some shows only have the last episode, or the last five, but a few have entire seasons worth on there. I watch Private Practice, Grey's Anatomy, Top Chef, Legend of the Seeker and several others. They even have The Daily Show. The best part is that it is completely free.

So when you're looking to squeeze a few more dollars out of your budget, consider making a quick call to your cable company and dropping your TV service. The internet is all you need!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Income Stream : Distilled Rose Teas

Last year I sold my bath and beauty company. I'd spent four years building it up, and I'd gotten everything I wanted out of it. I had developed a great product line that I was happy with. I was happy when I found someone else to take it over, and Cottonwood Herbals have been carrying my products ever since.

Now, after several months of thinking, I'm ready to start a new company. I've been batting the idea of creating an herbal tea company around for years and now I've taken the plunge. Today I started Distilled Rose Teas! I'm starting with just a few kinds of tea, but I'm hoping to build up to maybe 20 different teas.

I'm hoping that I'll start getting orders soon! Starting your own business is a great way to form an alternate income stream and to be creative.

Have you ever considered starting your own business?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Book Review : The Four Hour Work Week

I admire Timothy Ferriss. A lot.

When I picked up The Four Hour Work Week, I wasn't expecting to gain much from it. I know that a lot of the book is about outsourcing your life or creating a product that will essentially get you nice and rich, so I didn't think I would be too inspired. 

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised though. Tim has a lot of really good ideas about managing your work flow, and his ideas and examples of mini-retirements are really great. I've always said that I would love to spend 6 months in one country and then move to another and explore the world that way. This is something that Tim believes you can do and indeed has done himself.

What I really gained from this book, was inspiration. Tim is obviously a very smart and capable person. He has an interesting view of the world and a lot of good ideas. I liked hearing his story and was very intrigued and inspired by his life. I won't be taking a lot of his advice, but I'll certainly be recommending his book as a worthwhile read for anybody!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday Frugal Food : Cheese and Egg Wrap

Having contemplated long and hard I have decide to make Saturday frugal recipe day. Without further ado, here is a great quick and easy lunch recipe that costs pennies to make.


1 Large Flour Wrap or Tortilla
2 Eggs
1/4C Grated Sharp Cheddar
1 Tablespoon Water
Pinch of Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil for frying

Cost Per Serving : Approx. $1.48

Heat the oil in a shallow frying pan or omelet pan. In a bowl, beat the eggs and add the water and salt. Pour the eggs into the pan and cook over a medium heat. When one side has set (about two minutes), flip over and scatter the cheese on the cooked side. Cook for a minute or so more until the cheese starts to melt. Put in the middle of the tortilla, roll up, and enjoy!

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Easy Income from House Sitting

I've been trying for a while now to make extra and sporadic income to supplement my regular paychecks. I'm not really in a position to take on something with set hours, but I can do additional one shot work, or something that I can do on my own schedule.

I live in a building that contains about 60 units. We have a community message board that people are often advertising different events or services on. I decided to put up a note that I would be able to do some loft sitting... checking mail, feeding cats, watering plants etc. I had a bunch of people pull off the tabs with my number and email address, and a couple of weeks ago I got an email from someone who is traveling a lot right now and wants someone to keep an eye on things for them.
I'm charging a monthly fee to check their mail, make sure nothing in the loft is leaking, and fax them their rent bill.
Because they are in the same building as me, the impact on my daily life is minimal. I will be able to check in on things for them whenever I have a few spare minutes. It's the perfect little side job.

Is this something that you could do in your building or your neighborhood? Why not print up a flyer or two and see if you can provide this service to someone who lives near you!

What other low impact ways do you make extra money?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

5 Tips for Surviving Next Christmas

The holidays are finally just about over. But before Twelfth Night hits, it's a good idea to look around and take one finally step in your holiday celebrations. By spending about an hour planning for next year, you will be able to reduce at least some of the stress that will hit you in December when you realize you weren't as prepared as you thought you were!

1. Put all of your wrapping supplies, leftover cards and small decorations in a labeled box and put them away.

2. Decide how much money you will be spending on Christmas next year and set up a savings account with a monthly automatic transfer to help you reach that goal. I recommend ING Direct.

3. Save any new holiday recipes you discovered and put them away with the decorations. Also put away things like cookies cutters.

4. Instead of jumbling holiday lights up into a big mess, wrap them in a coil that you fixin place with cable ties so that getting them out will be easier next year.

5. Think of everything you wanted for Christmas that you didn't get this year. Make a list somewhere of these items, or put them in an Amazon wish list so when people ask you later in the year what you want for Christmas, you'll have an answer.

Monday, January 5, 2009

December Net Worth Update

December was another great Net Worth month for me.

I managed to increase my Net Worth by $973. Part of this was because the value of my car increased a little. I also managed to pay off another credit card and made a couple of extra payments so that I could accomplish some of my 2008 goals.

Here is the break down for this month:


Car Value - $2,730 (2,480)

Prosper Loans - $226 ($222)

Cash Savings - $487 ($385)


Student Loans - $23,821

BOA Credit Card - $4,701 ($5,039)

Scooter Loan - $1,985 ($2266)

Net Worth

- $27,064 (-$28,037)

So, as you can see, I hit my 2008 goal of getting my Net Worth below -$28,000. I actually smashed through it pretty nicely.

My goal for 2009 is to get my Net Worth below -$20,000.

The next thing I am working on, though, is getting my scooter loan paid off. If I made all of the regular payments on it, I would get it paid off in 19 months. I am aiming to pay it off in closer to 5 months, maybe less if I work really hard at it.

My Savings accounts remain lower than I would like, so I am also hoping that I will be able to beef them up during the year. Right now, I have just under $500 saved. I want at least $2,000 put away by the end of the year. I would also like to have more money in my travel fund.

My full Net Worth report can be found here.

Click here for past Net Worth Reports.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Poll for Future Saturday Content

Now that the new year is here, I am hoping to make a couple of changes on this blog and I have a questions for you. What would you like to see as the Saturday weekly post from me?

I have a little poll here and would really appreciate it if you could take a moment to vote on what you would like in the comments!

The choices are:

Frugal Handy Tip
Household Handy Tip
Frugal Food Recipe
Book Review
Other (Please make a suggestions!)

Thanks so much!

Friday, January 2, 2009

2009 Goals

I'm a really goal oriented person. I did pretty well on my 2008 goals, only missing one of them. This year I have set several goals, and I have broken them up into financial and personal. So, here is the plan for 2009.

Financial Goals

Pay off all non-student loan debt

This is my credit card and my scooter loan and it currently stands at around $6500.

Get Net Worth below -$20,000

This would mean increasing by Networth by about $7000.

Get Emergency Fund to $2,000

This currently stands at just under $500.

Get Student Loan to below $20,000

This means paying off $3,811 of my loan.

Personal Goals

Reach my Target Weight

I gained about 20lb over the last year and a half and my target weight means that I need to lose 13 of them.

Be Published in a National Magazine

This was a tentative goal for last year and I am still hoping that it occurs.

Go to a different country other than England

I love to travel, and go to England often because my family lives there. This year I would really like to go to a different country as well as the UK. I'm shooting for France, but we have no firm plans.

Go on two auditions

I've done a little acting before, and I went on one audition in 2008, so I'm going to do it twice in 2009. It really helps me get outside of my comfort zone and I would love to get more stage experience.

Learn Basic French

I've wanted to do this forever but never actually set it as a goal.

Read 2 Books per Month

I have a bookcase full of unread books and I really want to knuckle down and read more. I'm a tad embarrassed about how little I read these days.

Get a Voice over agent

This is a really big goal and one that I hope to accomplish fairly quickly. I've done voice over work before and I really love it. I would like to sign with an agency because it's a hard market to break in to.

Get this blog to over 200 subscribers

At the moment I have 40 subscribers.

So that's the plan. We'll see how I do and I'll post progress as I make it. I know I'm being super ambitious with a few of these goals, but I think it's important to aim high.

What are your goals for 2009?