Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Hiatus

Season's Greetings, readers!

I had plans to post a few entries this week, but unfortunately, the holiday season has crept up on me! This has turned out to be one busy week. I'll be away from blogging for the rest of 2012 as I will be traveling, spending time with my family, and seeing old friends.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

See you in the New Year....

Friday, December 14, 2012

Best of the Blogosphere: 12/14/12 Edition

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: Sometimes we all need reminding that the holidays should be more about family and celebration and less about presents and the perfect party. Simple Family Finance offers 14 ways to simplify Christmas and enjoy the holidays. Bonus: Molasses cookie recipe!

Best Financial: Ninja over at Punch Debt in the Face does a great job showing how you really don't need to spend your entire income on such a huge home. Just because one CAN get a large loan doesn't mean one HAS to!

Best DIY: If I had a real Christmas tree, I'd take Apartment Therapy's advice and create cool things out of tree trimmings!
Best Before & After: Apartment Therapy showcased this reno earlier in the week. I'm truly amazed (as usual!) by the transformation of this Brooklyn studio featured on theSweeten.

Best Random: Thank you, Design Sponge, for creating a city guide to one of my favorite places in the US - Iowa City! Shout out to my alma-mater, Go Hawks!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Shower Curtain Fun!

A few days ago, I debuted a new segment called Fifty Deco. In this new monthly post, I'll be showing you what I bought each month using my decorating budget of $50. As promised, today I'm going to show you the results of November's $50 purchase in action.

In November I spent my entire decorating budget of $50 on a new yellow and white shower curtain from West Elm. I put up the shower curtain yesterday, and I really do love the yellow theme I am starting to bring together in my bathroom. One slight problem - my bathroom is tiny and does not have windows, so the lighting in there is horrible for taking pictures. There is only so much Photoshop can do. Plus, I don't have a good wide-angle lens to help me get a larger perspective of the room. I did my best with these limitations, so here it goes:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fifty Deco: November 2012 Recap

This is the debut post in a new segment I like to call Fifty Deco. Crazy name, huh? Well, I can’t really come up with anything else to describe my $50 a-month decoration budget. The obvious ones are, well, OBVIOUS. Like “Decorating on a Budget” or “Frugal Design” or “Frugal anything.” Or I thought about “Monthly Decoration Money” because I will be writing about what I spend my $50 on in monthly intervals. So here is me trying to coin a new phrase. Fifty Deco. I kind of like sounds like a catchy radio phrase, “And stayed tuned for Fifty Deco after the break!”

Anyway...In this segment I will feature the item(s) I purchased this month on apartment decoration, organization, and miscellaneous DIY. I’ll tell you why I bought what I did, where I got it, and what I paid for it.

Why $50? That’s an easy answer. When I got done figuring my monthly budget for 2013, I realized I could only allot $50 to decorating each month. Even though I can now afford to live in my own studio in one of the most expensive cities in the US, I didn’t just all of a sudden become Miss Moneybags. I still have student loan debt that I’m paying off and I am not a shopper by nature. Some months I’ll only buy one item and other months I might skip buying anything in favor of saving for a larger purchase.

First up for November 2012: West Elm Shower Curtain

West Elm
Total = $49.82 ($39.00 + $10.82 in shipping)

I tried to purchase this in the West Elm store in Georgetown. Sadly, this particular store doesn't carry bath items! Grrr....

Items I’m considering for next month: mason jars, picture frames, and a shelf for the kitchen.

Stay tuned for a post later this week showing my shower curtain in use in my awesome pad!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Best of the Blogosphere: 12/7/12 Edition

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: Ever feel like your emails don't achieve their purpose? Unclutterer describes four steps to uncluttered email communication.

Best Financial: I just want to say KUDOS to Little Miss Moneybags for paying off all of her students loans! Such a great accomplishment. I'll be there in a few years, hopefully.

Best DIY: When I was a kid I used to cross-stitch. I never thought about cross-stitching a chair, but how cool is this from Ikea Hackers?
Best Before & After: One of my new favorite blogs is called Better After. This blogger collects "Before and After" entries from all over the web. I love the second dresser refresher pictured here. It would go with my globes!

Best Random: Design Sponge features some of the best examples of decorating with family heirlooms. I really love incorporating meaningful pieces into my decorating scheme and hope to draw attention to fabulous pieces owned by my relatives.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Studio Before & After Teaser

Over the weekend I took a bunch of pictures of my new place. In the interest of not sharing the entire set of pictures I have of my new (and somewhat organized) apartment, I'm going to give you a little "before & after teaser" of my new place.

Let's refresh:

There is still work to be done, like hanging pictures, but I love the look so far!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Take That, Debt!

Today, I made an extra payment towards my debt of a whopping $950!! Eat it, debt! This means by the time 2013 rolls around, I will have paid off around $19,000 of debt in ONE YEAR. SERIOUSLY? How is that even possible?

<---Why thank you, David Brent!

To see how I did this, I went back over my payments. I discovered a few key things:
1) I made quite a few large payments that significantly lowered my principal balance.

  • April 7, 2012 - $2,800 (money I had saved from when I was in school + tax return of about $700)
  • June 5, 2012 - $1,175 (graduation money + waitressing money)
  • June 19, 2012 - $2,300 (my first paycheck at my new job)
  • August 6, 2012 - $1,162 (birthday money + income from selling crap)
  • September 15, 2012 - PAID OFF GRAD LOAN #1
  • November 30, 2012 - $950 (security deposit returned + waitressing for the week)

These large payments alone total $8,387.
2) I put every extra penny of income towards my debt. This included monetary gifts and income from my side job as a waitress.

The rest of the balance was diminished by small weekly payments ranging from $50 - $500, depending on the week. I came up with this money by living in a cheap apartment and by putting all of my waitressing income towards debt. My second-job income since August netted me a total of $3,523.

If you add that to the large payment of $8,387 above, the total now becomes $11,910! This is all WITHOUT my income from my day job being used to bring down my debt.

3) I budgeted monthly debt payments to come out of my paycheck.

Finally, I put some of my monthly salary towards debt. I budgeted the minimum payments of $121 (undergrad loan) and $152 (remaining grad loan) to be paid from the money I made at my full-time job. This ensured that I would always pay the minimum payment on my debts every month.

I am simply AMAZED by this. It was both easy and it wasn’t. The hard part is working the second job. I do love waitressing on most nights. It gives me the chance to be social. But it does make me tired.

BUT, the easiest part was putting this system in place. I made a budget. I paid the minimum payments along with rent and other bills. Then, I decided that anything extra that came in would go towards paying off that debt. After that, the system just started working for itself. That’s what the debt snowball concept is all about. You knock one debt off and then you hit the next debt with an even larger snowball.

Best of the Blogosphere: 11/30/12 Edition

BOB is back after the Thanksgiving break!

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: The Washington Post did a piece on a DC tiny house community called Boneyard Studios. I've been following the Boneyard blog for a while and what they are doing is definitely an interesting idea. I don't think I could live in a space this small, but it is fun to think about how you could really simplify your life by living smaller.

Best Financial: Fabulously Broke in the City outlines 7 steps to becoming financially solid by 30. With the big 3-0 only a few years away, I've done some, but not all of these.

Best DIY: Not exactly a new post, but I did see this on Pinterest this week. I Am Momma Hear Me Roar DIY's a fabric floormat. Totally cool.

Best Before & After: This gaudy bedroom gets an extreme makeover, as featured on Design Sponge.

Best Random: How can you not love the Grumpy Cat? The owners are giving proceeds from t-shirt sales to a local charity. Love it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Moving Accomplished!

I’ve finally moved!

Moving week went by so fast, and Thanksgiving felt like a blur. My parents were here to celebrate the holiday (I cooked the turkey) and over the weekend they helped me move. Once we got everything in it looked like this:
Boxes, boxes everywhere!

What a mess! It looks better now, but there is still a lot of stuff I have to put away.

A few things I learned from this move:

1. Moving over a long weekend is definitely the way to go. BUT...

2. Moving during Black Friday is a bad idea. I had legitimate errands to run on a day that I would normally stay at home. I hate shopping malls and large department stores on normal days. Why, oh why, did I move during the biggest shopping weekend of the year? I encountered rabid consumers, rude and frustrated salespeople/cashiers, and crowded spaces. Not my idea of a good time.

3. If you see on the news that someone in a Virginia Sears (yes, I went there to get a good deal on a vacuum and it is amazing) store stabbed someone with a paring knife, don’t be surprised. The red light special a half hour after the store opened on Thanksgiving evening was a KNIFE. “Attention shoppers: Red Light Special on level two. If you are 21 or older, come claim your free paring knife.” My parents and I decided it was time to pay for the vacuum and get the hell out of dodge.

4. Having a carpenter for a dad is awesome. I knew this before, but I can never give my dad enough praise for solving all of my apartment-related problems. Break on a knob on your dresser? No problem, he’ll just put on new ones. You want only one divider on that Ikea shelf? No problem, he’ll do his own Ikea hack. And my favorite: You want to hang a curtain rod that is 12 feet long where the wall has no space for the middle bracket? No problem, he’ll just suspend it from the ceiling. No big deal. I love my dad!

5. Thanks for washing all of my dishes, Mom :)

More pictures to come as I get things put away!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Moving Week!

Moving week has arrived! I've been busy organizing, packing, and making lists. I've rented the moving truck and reserved the freight elevator. Now it is just a matter of putting the plan in motion!

Over the years, I've learned a lot about moving. Here is my top five list of advice for movers.

1. Don't buy boxes. It is a waste of money. Stop by your local grocery store or favorite restaurant. See if they can hold boxes for you when they get their shipments in. If you work in a large building, ask the shipping center. In my building there is a central shipping center for all of the companies located in our building. Shipments come in every day, which means they have a lot of boxes that they would just throw away.

2. Pack a separate bag for your essential items. I mean toothbrush, toothpaste, shower items, and clothes. You will want these things immediately and it is a pain to search your boxes for these. I use a small rolly-bag that I use as a carry-on when I fly. It fits just the right amount of stuff.

3. Change your address (online!). This may sound obvious, but with our lives existing so much in the interwebs these days, it is important that you remember to update your address in ALL of your accounts. Filling out the change-of-address card at the post office isn't enough and hasn't been for a long time. No matter what, though, there is always one or two accounts I forget about and end up discovering the error months later.

4. Make a shopping list. If you are anything like me, you try to use up all of the perishables in your apartment before you move so you have less to carry. I try to do this with any items that could "run-out." Obviously, this means food, but I also try to not buy any extra bottles of shampoo, bars of soap, and cleaning supplies right before I move if I can avoid it. Before I move I make a list of the things that I need to buy right after the move, which usually includes these perishable items.

5. Pester your landlord about that security deposit. Don't ever give up on getting a security deposit back if you have cleaned and followed all of the check-out rules! Security deposits are quite large in most cases, and they should actually GROW if your landlord is operating by the book. Most states require that landlords put security deposits in an interest-bearing account. Fight for your money!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Best of the Blogosphere: 11/16/12 Edition

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: Sometimes we all need a moment of zen. Nothing puts me in a more relaxing mood than the sound of rain. Listen to rain all evening long at Rainy Mood.

Best Financial: Listen to Ninja at Punch Debt in the Face. Take advantage of employer matching!

Best DIY: Why yes, I would like to make my own room spritz! Thank you, Design Sponge, for these great recipes. My allergies thank you!

Best Before & After: This studio apartment via Apartment Therapy gives us another idea (Hanging panels? Happy thought, indeed!) of separating a small space into "rooms."

Best Random: Again, Apartment Therapy, you know exactly what I need to read. I'm thinking of switching to a Mac when I buy my next laptop. Here is a good post on what you need to know about switching.

There will be no Best of the Blogosphere post next week because I AM MOVING! Yay!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I'm a GLOBE Trotter!



Better Homes & Garden
What a corny title for this post, huh? So obviously I'm intrigued by the idea of decorating with globes. I love to travel and this would be a great way to bring that part of my personality into my apartment. I have one globe that I've never quite figured out how to display without taking up coveted table-top space. As you can see with these examples, the globes are displayed on top of the bookshelf. A perfect place! What would I put up there anyway? Probably nothing!

I'll have to keep my eye out for vintage globes in different sizes at flea markets and second-hand stores!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sometimes You Can't Avoid Clutter

This is what happens when you are in the middle of moving out and your roommate has to buy things to replace your stuff:

Isn't this great living room decor? NOT.
My roommate and I have about two weeks left of this limbo situation. I'm moving over Thanksgiving and she is getting a new roommate on December 1st. For now, we have to deal with this weird transition phase where we have boxes and belongings in various stages of disarray. This makes the anti-clutter gene in me go slightly crazy. For comfort, I look at Animals Hugging. Enjoy.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Best of the Blogosphere: 11/09/12 Edition

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: Design Milk looks at the world's thinnest house. This is obviously simple living, but I don't know if the quality of living would be that great!

Best Financial: Are dollar stores really cheaper? In my hometown, definitely! Simple Family Finance tests out this theory.

Best DIY: This cheap table is turned into a lovely stand. Via Amber Interiors.

Best Before & After: How cool is this little closet-turned-bar? Via theSweeten.

Best Random: I had to pick two for this category this week. One is a tutorial on how to choose color from Apartment Therapy. The other is advice on how to group together artwork on a wall from Annechovie. Both of these will help me out when I move and need decorating advice!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Furniture for a New Place

I both love and hate Ikea. I love the simplicity of their items and the affordability. But I also hate that it is generic and mass-produced. Unique items are most often found at thrift stores and antique shops. They have character and can really add that special something to a room. But I can't stand it when the love of unique and antique items leads to clutter. I hate clutter!

What I propose to do with my new place is start simple, with basic items from Ikea, and then be on the look-out for those unique pieces that catch my eye. This will make the hunting more fun! I can already see myself browsing Miss Pixie's, a local DC second-hand/antique shop, for that curious table or picture frame.

I have two larger pieces of furniture in my apartment that I'm replacing with Ikea pieces. First, I have a TV stand that is just too big and quite the pain to clean:

I'm replacing it with this:

Next, is my futon. I'm not in college anymore. It is time to ditch the futon for a proper couch. I replaced the crappy metal frame a few years ago, but the mattress has held up for 10 years. I'm amazed at what a great purchase this was. Well worth it! But it is time to say goodbye to you, dear futon:

I'm replacing you with this loveseat:
One more item that I'll be purchasing is a larger Expedit shelving unit from Ikea. This is to separate my bedroom from my living room in my studio. 

Now, you'll notice a pattern here. I seem to be going for ALL WHITE. That is sort of scary. I've never gone for white before. I've stuck mainly with black items. I am a little nervous about this much white, but I figure I can change up the colors in the room easier if I have white furnishings. Right? Eek!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Studio Colors: Bathroom Edition

I’m so excited to live in my own place (and decorate it) that I've already started coming up with ideas for color schemes! I’m a lover of primary colors, and that is evident in my choices for my three rooms: red, yellow, and blue.

A few weeks ago I had an inspiration for my bathroom: gray/yellow/black/white! This will be PERFECT considering that I have enough black and yellow items (my alma mater’s school colors). I've gone back and forth with whether I should get a yellow shower curtain, because perhaps that would be too bold. But why not go bold? If I add enough yellow accents, I hope it will mute the overpowering gray/blue tile! Here is what I’m thinking for the shower curtain:

West Elm

Now, I don't have anything else planned beyond the shower curtain, so the rest of the room will be pretty bare for a while! Here's some inspiration from the interwebs to get me started:




Friday, November 2, 2012

Best of the Blogosphere: 11/02/12 Edition

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: Learning to think differently is easier said than done. Leo over at Zen Habits gives us some good reasons for why we ought to try.

Best Financial: Beating Broke lists five foods you shouldn't waste your money on. I'm guilty of buying the last two items, sadly.

Best DIY: Genius. Absolute genius! A litter box Ikea hack!

Best Before & After: This reno took three years. Man, was it worth it! Via Design Sponge.

Best Random: I've been thinking about color combinations a lot lately, thanks to this post from Apartment Therapy.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

New Apartment Photos

I finally have photos of my new place! Today I signed the lease and inspected my new studio. I'll officially move in a few weeks when my parents are here for Thanksgiving. The only phrase that can encompass my excitement is this: hell yeah! My new place is everything I dreamed and more. It beats my current place in every way. Even though this isn't a brand new building, management has done a good job cleaning and painting the place. I'm so happy with the appliances in the kitchen and bathroom. Such a step up from what I have now! My current place is so run-down and dingy that it makes my new studio look like heaven on earth. Oh, and the heat actually works! No more space heater!

As promised here are the photos. Because it was almost completely dark by the time I got to my new studio for the inspection, the photos didn't come out as bright as I had hoped even with the flash. Oh well, these will do for now!

This photo is taken from the far wall of the main room. If you go straight from this vantage point, you'll enter the walk-in closet. If you turn to the right from this perspective, you'll see the large window at the other end of the main room.

Bonus closet right across from the front door.
Main room: This is taken from the wall with the large window. The kitchen is on the right, out of frame. The second photo of the main room is taken from the wall shown in the first main room photo.

Closet: When you enter the walk-in closet, this is what you see.
It comes with hooks!
Bathroom: Upon entering the walk-in closet, the clothing rod (in photo above) is on the left, out of frame in this picture. These shelves on the right are opposite the clothing rod. In the second photo you can see the blue tile. It is not as ugly as I remember it. But I'm still not quite sure how I will decorate this bathroom!
How great are these shelves? Right?!
Help! I don't know what colors accent this gray/blue tile.
Kitchen: This kitchen makes me so happy. New stove, new counter, new fridge. I'm in heaven.

Look at that brand new refrigerator!
A gas stove - yay!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Just a quick update letting you all know that I am safe and dry in DC! I lost power, but it is back on now. I probably won't post anything until tomorrow or Thursday. Stay tuned for pictures of my new studio. I'm heading over to inspect the place on November 1st!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Best of the Blogosphere: 10/26/12 Edition

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: There are a few people I know (cough*Mom*cough) that could use this helpful de-cluttering advice from The Everyday Minimalist.

Best Financial: Compound interest is the best when it comes to your investments. If you don't believe me, ready this post at my pretty pennies.

Best DIY: I'm in love with this painted Ikea rug over at House Tweaking.

Best Before & After: Bravo, Casey, for this great organizational before and after! Via Waffling.

Best Random: The apartment of DC blogger Skyla (Sanity Fair) is definitely an inspiration. My new place will have the same kind of floors, a big window, and a walk-through closet. It is so much fun to see what she has done with her small space!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Monthly Tracking: Join the Fun!

I started tracking my monthly expenses after reading Your Money or Your Life. One of the fantastic pieces of advice this book gives you is that it is important to understand where your money is going and how much you are taking in. Out of all of the spreadsheets I have created, this is by far the easiest.

I created my Excel tracking sheet based on the template from Your Money or Your Life, but I’ve edited the expenditures to match my spending habits. Others will have different expenses, but the important thing is to start understanding where your money goes, and tracking it definitely tells you.

To get in the habit of tracking my expenses, I started carrying around a small notebook. I write the date, then an “In” and “Out” column. Under each column I write down what has come in and what has gone out that day. I’ll then record the numbers in my monthly tracking Excel file when I have time.

Here is what my monthly tracking sheet looks like:

At the end of the month, I end up with a picture of my finances for that month. I then use this picture to calculate my Net Worth.

So why do I track my expenses?

That's easy: by tracking my expenses, it shows me how I am spending my money and allows me to see where I need to make a change. You can see that in this month, I spent $91.08 going out to eat/happy hours. I had set a budget of $60 for this, so I overshot that by $30. Oops. This tells me that either I need to update my budget and allot myself a little more than $60, or reign in my spending for the next month.
I don't always hit my goal, but at least I see where I'm not meeting my expectations. This spreadsheet also shows me that almost $300 is going to minimum payments on my student loans. Seeing this every month is another motivator for why I want that debt paid off. I could be putting $300 towards retirement or a trip! Alas, that money is tied up in student loan repayment.
I recommend that everyone track their expenses in some way. Set up a system that works for you and then stick with it!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New Apartment Update: Getting Closer!

In just a week, I will sign the lease for my new apartment! A studio of my own!

My excitement has made it harder to wait, but I've found that looking for decorating inspiration helps. I have a preliminary vision for what the two main rooms in the apartment will look like. The main room is fairly large and can be sequestered into a living area and a sleeping area. This is my floor-plan inspiration:
For color in the main room, cobalt blue has caught my eye lately. I think I can add some touches of this striking color to the black and navy decor that I already own. I do think I’ll need to throw in some other pops of color, but I won’t really know what that secondary color should be until I see the room all put together. Here is my cobalt blue inspiration:

For the kitchen, I’m going with black, white, and red. I have a few red kitchen items that I can put on display. I like the look of this kitchen:

I'm signing my lease on November 1st and will be able to take pictures of the empty apartment then. I'll post those in my next apartment update. Getting closer!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Best of the Blogosphere: 10/19/12 Edition

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living:
Urban Turf showcases what 275 sq. ft. housing would look like in DC. I love it!

Best Financial:
Check out this handy debt payoff tracker at Man vs. Debt.

Best DIY:
This could also be called Before & After, but how could I resist putting up this bizarre lamp-turned-cute from Young House Love?

Best Before & After:
This is some killer repurposing via Apartment Therapy.

Best Random:
Again, from Apartment Therapy. I'm so inspired to decorate with cobalt blue!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Budget Breakdown

In my last post I talked about how I modified the “Envelope System” for my own personal use. Today, I’d like to talk about how I customized a budget that I found on the blog Small Steps for Big Change.

Like all personal finance matters, money is deeply personal, which is why I never apply a one-size-fits-all approach. I loved the way Small Steps for Big Change developed her budget, so I decided to modify it for myself to keep track of my expenses. Here is my current budget for 2012:

Note that I have 4 major categories: Income, Savings, Bills, Expenditures. I’ve separated bills from expenditures because “bills” are required, but fixed spending (rent, student loan payments) and expenditures are items that are not fixed (food, restaurants). One could argue that food is a fixed expense, but for the purpose of my budget I’ve kept it in the expenditures section.

For the Income section, I have calculated the after-tax amount and ONLY use that amount when I budget for the month. Items that I have taken out pre-tax are my DC Metro Card, contributions to my work retirement account, and allocations to a medical flexible spending account (FSA). This is why you won’t see a line item for doctor visits or prescription medications in my budget.

The Savings section is comprised of those expenses that I am saving for. One is my retirement, so I list my monthly Roth IRA contribution here. Another is a trip to Germany that I will take next summer. I list both the Roth IRA and the Germany Trip separate from the monthly expenses. I do this because the money I am saving for those goes into two separate accounts.

Under Savings I also include a “Yearly Expenses” section. This was probably the most complicated section to come up with, and I have actually significantly revised it for 2013. I found that it took about six months of record keeping to notice what expenses are yearly and what expenses are monthly. An example of a yearly expense that I forgot about: my safety deposit box. That’s a line item that I have added in for my 2013 budget that is not listed here. Because this section got so complicated, I created a separate excel sheet for “Yearly Expenses.” I’ll address this separate spreadsheet further down in this post.

Next up is Bills. This is fairly straightforward. I’ve noted that all of these expenses come out of my checking account. I use my checking for these because this is where my paycheck gets deposited. Expenditures also come out of my checking account, and since I use an envelope system for these expenses, I take out cash from my checking the first of the month.

And that is it! You can see from this budget that I have $670.44 left over every month. Right now, all of that money goes towards paying down my student loans. That seems like a lot of money to have left over, but because I’ve discovered a few more yearly expenses and things I need to save for in 2013, the “leftover” amount will drop. Especially when I get my own place and my rent goes up.

Now back to the “Yearly Expenses” section under Savings:

You can see that I started keeping track in July 2012, so the record only goes until December 2012. This was a trial run and has helped me come up with my 2013 Yearly Expenses spreadsheet. Here, the gray cells are the amount I contribute each month to each future expense, with total on the far right. The white section is where I keep track of spending. The very bottom tells me how much I have left to spend. I've set up excel to do the addition for me, using a simple =SUM( ) formula. This works because I don't need to get three haircuts, buy gifts, etc. on one day. This money goes in and out throughout the year. I haven't yet come to a situation where I don't have the money in my savings account to cover the items I've listed here.

You will note that on my main budget page, I indicate which account will receive the money I need to deposit in order to pay for my yearly expenses:

I deposit the money into the savings account that I used to pay my credit card each month. This means that for these yearly expenses, I use my credit card. This works great for me - I earn mileage points by using my card and I don’t have to worry about not having money in the account to pay for it as I’ve already transferred the money in (on a bi-monthly and automated schedule). I record when I spend the money in my “Yearly Expenses” spreadsheet, but not in the yearly budget spreadsheet. The budget spreadsheet merely tells me how much money I need to put in to the account I use to pay my credit card. 

There you have it! How I keep track of my money - monthly and yearly. It is working well so far, but I have had to make adjustments along the way, just like I'm sure you will! This takes a while when you are first getting started, but once you have the system in place it is really simple and you will thank yourself for putting in the work! Because now, your money will work FOR you!