All posts by Joy

Monthly Spending

Total Non-investment & Non-rent spending for Jan: $1778.34

Investment $: $4062

($3000 Roth 2008, $1050 Sharebuilder, $12 Sharebuilder fees)

Rent: $1050

Total Spending in January: $6890.34

Things I still owe money for that I should have paid this month:

1. Dermatologist Bill: $160
2. Driver’s Insurance $200
3. Two fix it tickets for late registration: $20

Things I’m owed money for
1. AT&T bills for past 3.5 months, owed over $300 from previous company
2. $200 — I need to send in paperwork to old health insurance for doctor’s visits I paid for before my insurance card arrived (should offset dermatologists bill)
3. 10 hours of work (I need to file an invoice asap) at news company at $25 an hour, $250

—-
What I spent Money on This Month…

$201.41: Verizon Wireless Bill (my minutes went way over last month, grr)

$67.85: Safeway (Groceries)

$62.76: Longs Drugs (drug store)

$129: Health Insurance

$.97: Bank of America “Keep the Change Transfer” to savings

$44.03: Safeway (Groceries)

$19.08: Safeway (Groceries)

$81.31: Haircut

$55: Brazilian Waxing (ouch it hurt)

$28.71: Brunch for two

$1050: Rent

$6.17: 24 Hour Fitness Dues (i’m not sure why I owed any more money this month, but I’m too lazy to complain about a $6.17 charge. They just better stop charging me now.)

$.75: Parking

$2.98: Bank of America “Keep the Change Transfer” to savings

$106.41: AT&T Phone Bill (that I didn’t owe that my old company needs to still reimburse me for!)

$.59: Bank of America “Keep the Change Transfer” to savings

$31.77: Longs Drugs

$.23 Bank of America “Keep the Change Transfer” to savings

$71.29: Whole Foods (groceries)

$15.47: Dry Cleaning (spend too much on this.. long story I’ll explain later)

$1.24 Bank of America “Keep the Change Transfer” to savings

$113: Hair Color

$23.71: Whole Foods (Groceries)

$7.40: Safeway (Groceries)

$.89: Bank of America “Keep the Change Transfer” to savings

$19.46: Lunch for Two

$.54: Bank of America “Keep the Change Transfer” to savings

$65.80: Lucky (Groceries)

$.20: Bank of America “Keep the Change Transfer” to savings

$500: Transfer to Sharebuilder Investment

$15.77: Whole Foods (Groceries)

$.23: Bank of America “Keep the Change Transfer” to savings

$71.33: Cable/Internet Bill

$33.19: Whole Foods (Groceries)

$6.50: Lunch

$1.31: Bank of America “Keep the Change Transfer” to savings

$500: Transfer to Sharebuilder Investment

$50: Transfer to Sharebuilder Investment

$12: Sharebuilder Monthly Fees

$6.99: lunch

$.01: Bank of America “Keep the Change Transfer” to savings

$75.60: Piazza’s Fine Foods (Groceries)

$30: Gas

$.40: Bank of America “Keep the Change Transfer” to savings

$37.82: Bookstore

$.18: Bank of America “Keep the Change Transfer” to savings

$3000: Roth IRA Investment for 2008

$91.20: Smog Check & Oil Change

$20.09: Walgreens (drug store)

$14.06: Clothing

$2.74: Bank of America “Keep the Change Transfer” to savings

$26.07: Dinner for Two

$18.26: Whole Foods (groceries)

$1.67: Bank of America “Keep the Change Transfer” to savings

$161.34: New Cell Phone

————————————-

Other than investments, my largest cost was obviously groceries…

TOTAL MONTHLY SPENDING ON GROCERIES

$441.98: Groceries

That’s actually not as bad as I expected, considering how often I go food shopping. I did really good on NOT spending a lot of money on clothing this month. However, I do owe money for various bills I’ve yet to pay. That will come out of my February salary.

Bought a New Verizon Wireless Cell Phone

It’s funny how the cell phone companies make it seem like you get some extra special deal on buying a new phone every two years. I guess some people like to get replacements of their gadgets every two years, but I tend to hold on to my electronics for longer than that. My iPod? I don’t plan on replacing it for a long time. Heck, if it still works, I’ll use it when I’m 50.

But cell phones… dare I keep one longer than two years? Never. Well, the truth is this time around I actually lost my last phone (about a month ago) and despite being confused as to where on earth I put it, I’m splurging on a new, discounted-with-two-year-contract phone.

My tastes in gadgets (and everything else) tend to go by looks first, features second, quality third. That’s not always the best way to pick out a big-ticket item. Luckily with phones there aren’t that many options… which makes it somewhat easier to shop and decide.

Yesterday I checked out the latest Verizon phones at their Circuit City store and was hoping to fall in love with one that would be free after the rebate and my contract discount. Of course, I fall in love with one that will cost me $129 after the various discounts. Oh bother.

After trying to get my heart set on one of the cheaper phones, I did some research on the different phones and decided I really, really, realllly wanted the $129 one. At least this year I did research, right? Last time I got a Verizon brand phone and despite being black and shiny it was a crappy phone. This time around I’m going for an LG (that supposedly gets good battery life and decent phone quality).

Was I totally stupid to spend $129 on a phone when I could have got one for free (or perhaps even found my old one that’s likely hiding somewhere in my room… or at a friend’s house?)

I can’t wait to get the phone. I ordered it online, so it comes next week.

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I spent ONLY $12.91 at Target.

Someone, anyone, give me a gold star.

I walked around the entire store as always, even though I went in to buy a notebook, a sponge and tape. I picked up a few items and then forced myself to put them back down as I wandered around. Holding the item is half of the excitement of shopping. I don’t actually have to buy it.

I kept telling myself “no” (in my head, of course) and I made it out of the store with exactly what I had intended to buy (well, I bought a special soap-holding sponge scrubber thing, but I still did a good job.)

A for effort. A- for end result.

Crap. I got pulled over.

I can’t blame anyone else for this mishap. My registration expired… a while ago. However, I paid the $120 registration fee at the DMV (which, I think included a late fee) and was to get my smog checked by Jan. I had until Jan 1 to get my smog checked and get my stickers for my plates.

Of course, being the procrastinating idiot that I am, I waited a little too long to get this done. I received one ticket (for $35) for my expired registration while my car was parked in a public lot. So I finally got around to getting my smog checked THIS MORNING. I paid $90 for my smog check & an oil change that was overdue.

Ten minutes later, I was driving on the freeway and I got pulled over.

I showed the cop my smog receipt and the little registration card (that may or may not have been expired… I’m a bit confused about whether it expired on the 1st of the month, or at the end of the month.)

The worst thing was that somehow my insurance card had gone missing. I kept it in my glove compartment, but the robbers threw everything out of my glove compartment when they went through my car last month. I thought I had put everything back, but apparently my insurance information was missing.

So now I have this “notice to appear” paper that says that I have an infraction for an expired registration and it also notes that I did not have insurance on me, though neither the infraction or misnomer boxes are checked for that. I’m not sure what that means.

The cop said that I should get my sticker and then go to any police department with the paper. He didn’t really explain whether I’m going to owe a zillion dollars or if I just need to prove that I’m actually registered to avoid paying.

This really sucks because today I decided I’m going to start being really tight on my budget and living with a minimal amount in my checking account. I figure I’ll spend less if I pretend I have less to spend. Simple psychology ought to do the trick.

Except now I’m worried I’m going to get an overdraft fee because of all of these unexpected expenses. That’ll teach me to stop procrastinating, eh?

I owe quite a bit of money for different things… $200 for health insurance… $150 for my cyst removal bill… $35 for my ticket… and now who knows how much more for this other ticket-type-thing.

Right now I have $600 in my checking account. I’m supposed to get paid Monday for my work… so that would bring me up to $3900. BUT I plan on putting $1000 of that in a special ING savings account for taxes. That leaves me with $2900, and I have to pay rent in a few days. So I’m at $1850. Not so bad, but after I pay all those bills, plus my phone bill, plus the cable/internet bill, plus the gym bill, plus buy a new phone in two days (my old one is lost and I am eligible for the discount on a new phone on Monday)… well, I won’t have much money left for food.

At least this setup will keep me from spending money on clothes I don’t need!
At least that will keep me from

Millionaire Matchmaker – Bravo’s Latest “Reality” Show

If you haven’t had a change to catch Bravo’s latest reality show: Millionaire Matchmaker, you’re not missing much. Take a bitchy Yenta from New Jersey, Patti Stranger, whose entire life is dedicated to helping super-wealthy men find the girl of his dreams. Surely it makes for a good business. She charges anywhere from $10,000 to $150,000 a year to hook up the hotties and the notties (oh god, did I just quote a Paris Hilton movie title?).

The men who appeared on the television show were actually fairly attractive, but one has to assume for every attractive-yet-single millionaire willing to appear on TV, there’s another ten whose reflection would likely crack mirrors.

Overall, the show greatly offended me. The men, surprisingly enough, did not offend me at all. Sure they wanted women who were perfect everything and had unreasonable expectations, but what really got me is this woman, Patti, has no freaking clue what men actually want. She thinks she does, of course. Being that the matchmaking service is LA-based, looks matter a lot (even more than they would elsewhere.) At the beginning of the show they film her going through a series of headshots and she says “definitely not” to a women who is wearing glasses. You can’t see the photo up close, but the women certainly doesn’t look fugly. She just doesn’t have a glamor shot like some of the other girls. Given the right makeup, hair stylist and photographer, her pic would probably look just as “hot” as these other girls.

Meanwhile, this women definitely has a very narrow concept of attractiveness (ironically, she’s very unattractive). Redheads? They’re out. She even asked a redhead if she’d dye her hair brown.

The only thing I’ll give them credit for is that they did want to get women with an education. In the end, though, this proved difficult. And too much education wasn’t good either. They’d take women of top-notch pedigree (a graduate of the Ivies, etc) but not someone who used Dr. in front of their name while introducing herself.

Episode one featured two men… #1 “Sex Toy Dave” – a millionaire who made bank by selling – you guessed it – sex toys. On the Internet. His snazzy house featured such things as a view and a stripper pole in the middle of the living room (awesome). Of course, Patti wanted the stripper pole gone. Her interior designer suggested moving all sex related things to a “sex toy room.”

Ultimately the gal Dave picked, who I must say was actually a relatively good choice for him, was not offended by the stripper pole (though she was a little good two shoes and was slightly off put by it. She wouldn’t try it out herself.)

Meanwhile, the other guy was an older (46 year old) options trader. A Yale grad. He was a bit disillusioned with the type of gal he should be with. Patti wants to get these guys “younger” girls, but not with a 20 year age difference.

But her method of natural selection seems to go against this. She put the two men in a room with a dozen or so women and let them all have at it. The most impressive women got asked out on solo dates with the two guys.

Mr. Options Trader picked out a very hot, young brunette with blue eyes. Sex Toy Dave chose a women who seemed really cool. She had the Ivy pedigree, a great smile, she was laid back, and pretty but not in a porn star sort of way.

Still, in the end the pair didn’t work out. He was too much of a party boy for her.

I don’t really understand why these men spend thousands upon thousands of dollars asking this woman to find the perfect women for them. Maybe they’ll get laid (though that’s against the rules until they’re in a committed relationship) but find the perfect woman, i’m not so sure.

First off, any women who wants to be in the “Millionaire’s Club” is in it for the wrong reasons. Unless you literally find women on normal dating sites and think they’re perfect for someone rich, and ask them to join the “club” without the intention of marrying rich, you will get gold diggers and more gold diggers. Do these men really want that? Eh, maybe they do. They have all this money and sometimes it’s nice to spend it on designer clothes for your special lady. I guess.

I think if it weren’t for Patti, this show wouldn’t be quite so offensive to me. But she’s just a nightmare. She wants the men to change for women who she think would make good wives and mothers. What ever happened to pay someone to find someone who might like you for the way you are? Or… you know… just find them.

Patti’s club website: The Millionaire’s Club, is subtitled: Where successful men come to meet their beautiful and intelligent wives as girlfriends. Honestly, the site looks skanktastic. It’s one step above escort service.

Stolen Credit Card

Did I mention that my car got broken into a month or so ago? I thought all that was stolen was $4 in cash and two checks (for $400 and $50). The $400 check was canceled and sent to me again. My aunt refuses to cancel the $50 check (that was a gift) because she thinks I’m stupid for leaving my car door open with the checks in it. Fair enough.

So… apparently I am really stupid because I must have left this Amazon.com Credit Card lying around in my car as well. I kept meaning to throw it out… I signed up for it on a win wim (I wanted to buy perfume, they had a $30 if you sign up for a card now deal, and I couldn’t resist at the time). But I keep one credit card because I know how I get with bills in general (if I could put all my late fees into one investment account I’d be rich by now.)

Anyway, these crooks stole the card that I hadn’t even activated. I didn’t find out about it until today when I received a bill for the card. $103 of charges. Interestingly, all the charges are at a gas station about 30 minutes north of here. I guess my car thieves travel to my ‘hood to break into cars at night. The fuckers.

The good news is that the customer service people were nice about it and won’t make me pay for the charges, or so they say. I’ll see about that in 14 days when I get the papers I have to sign, and then I’ll find out if I don’t have to pay it.

At least it was my credit card and not my atm card.

Oh Boy! A $600 Rebate!

I’m a little excited about getting a $600 rebate this spring, thanks to the tax rebate package that passed today. While I’m not their ideal rebate grantee (I’ll likely invest the funds, maybe into my Roth, which now has $2000 left until I max it out for 2008, though) it will make it easier to buy a few new spring pieces to my wardrobe without feeling terribly guilty about my spending (to be honest, guilt and financial logic never stopped me from spending anyway).

The good news w/ the rebate is that even if I end up owing money on taxes for 2007, I’ll actually still get a rebate or… break even.

Sweet.

I wish this happened every year!

Don’t Let Me in a Grocery Store Again, Ever.

Aisles upon aisles of tantalizing packaging torment me until I can’t help but spend on edibles that I may or may not need.

How is it that I go into a grocery store planning on picking up eggs, milk, perhaps a few apples and a sweet potato, and leave with a $70 bill?

I’ll tell you how…

$2.69: Milk, 1/2 gallon
$4.79: Flaxseed Meal (to try putting in a shake. Or to bake with. If i ever learn how to bake.)
$2.13: two red garnet yams (yum)
$5.99: String cheese (a good snack. i ran out of string cheese a while back. i needed more)
$2.99: bath salts (yea, I know, I don’t need these, but… they smell so pretty, and they were only 2.99!)
$14.99: vanilla whey protein powder (i’m experimenting with protein powders. i got a small sample of this brand the other day and liked it. so i decided to buy more.)
$2.91: two pink lady apples (who can resist a pink lady?)
$3.99: figs (they were on sale. They have fiber. They called to me.)
$1.19: one sweet potato (well, my third one, counting the red garnet yams)
$19.99: a strainer. (I needed a new one since I keep burning myself trying to pour hot water when I cook pasta. This one is special. You can boil things in it.)
$2.69: yeast… in case I ever want to use the bread tin I bought the other day.
$2.99: frozen peaches (for a shake?)
$2.89: liquid egg
$2.24: four kiwis (i say a kiwi a day keeps the doctor away.)

________

$72.47
+ CA sales tax of $3.13

Grand Total: $75.60

Gah! I’ve spent so much money on groceries this month. I’m trying to be good and not go out to lunch and dinner always, but I think I’m actually spending more now that I’m going to the grocery store on a weekly basis. Even though I am eating healthier…

In other quasi food-related news…
I bought three shares of McDonald’s stock today. My gold ETF is up and my small cap risk is way down. I decided to put $3000 in my Roth IRA for 2008, so when I’m ready for retirement, at least I can say that I tried to be smart and I put in $7000 before I turned 25. I’ll see if I can get the other $2000 in sometime over the year. More on that later.

Phone Call with AT&T

The only good thing out of this situation is that I was able to call and speak with a rep from AT&T last night (so I wasn’t spending more of my Verizon cell phone minutes to deal with the saga (see here and here.)

After barking at this women for over a half hour, it seems I got somewhere. Well, sort of. She explained to me that since my account was canceled on December 24, the charge that just showed up on my statement was for Nov – Dec. Also, since my billing cycle ends on the 21, I will have one more charge appear on my account for the three days between the 21 and 24, but the rep couldn’t tell me yet how much that would be for.

As far as canceling auto pay, she said she’d gladly do that, but it usually takes one billing cycle before that’s put into effect (so, in other words, it doesn’t really matter if i do that because there’s only one more billing cycle left).

What really frustrates me is that this all should have been taken care of in October, if the women at AT&T handled our phone request properly and transfered the account then.

At the end of the conversation, I realized that trying to get reimbursed from AT&T for the charge was going to be impossible. So instead, I asked if they could send me a bill for the last three months charges, so at the very least I could forward this on to my boss so I could be reimbursed.

That sounds so simple, right?

Well… I’m told that it costs $5 per bill to have them sent to me, but I could go online to see and print them for free. I bitch at her for another 10 minutes, explaining that I can’t get into the online account because it’s under my bosses’ name with HIS information and password. She finally goes to talk to her manager and puts me on hold for another 5 minutes. Then she comes back and says she’ll mail the bills out to me. Jackpot. Well, sortof.

That’s about all I can do for now. I’ll send the bills off to my boss the second I get them and hopefully will get the $300+ back that has been withdrawn from my account.

All I can think is thank goodness I was able to make this call at night when my minutes are free!

AT&T will never, ever, ever get my business again.

AT&T Will Not Stop Billing Me!!!

Perhaps some of you remember the saga of my previous employer and the cell phone bill that kept showing up on my bank account.

In short — for my full-time reporting gig, I bought a cell phone through AT&T for work — my boss told me to do this and he would reimburse me. That all went over fine.

A few months and a firing later, the nightmare began. On the last day of work, after a long conversation with AT&T on the phone, it sounded like the account would be transfered to my boss and all would be fine.

But then the auto pay bills started showing up on my bank statement. One in December, then one in January. I finally called AT&T and after 3+ hours on the phone with them (which ended up costing me something like $100 on my Verizon cell phone that I used to call them) you’d think everything would be solved. They talked to my boss again and he re-gave them permission to transfer the account to him.

Oh… but what shows up on my bank statement this month? ANOTHER $106.41 charge from AT&T. WTF?? My boss is supposedly reimbursing me for the last two months ($109 and $106) but I haven’t gotten that check yet, and now I have to bother him and the accounts woman again asking for more money to be expensed and…

I am just so frustrated and I don’t know what to do. Not only is this costing me lots of money (which will hopefully be reimbursed at some point), it’s also costing my boss lots of money. As soon as the account is transfered to him, he was going to change the monthly plan to the lowest cost one, so he wouldn’t have to pay $106 a month. Except they just can’t seem to figure out how to transfer it to him.

Add in to the mix that this former boss of mine just had a heart attack. It’s not exactly the best time to be bugging him with this… but I also can’t keep getting charged $106 a month for a phone I no longer have!

What should I do?? Do I have any rights here? I don’t want to spend another zillion hours on the phone with AT&T because it seems that gets me nowhere.