Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

Looking back at 2013: Blogging about Money January 8, 2014

Filed under: General Blogging,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 9:45 pm
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Happy New Year!  I had some big things happen this past year, and I’m looking forward to some even bigger things this year!

I’ve been posting my yearly changes in assets and debts for the past few years now.  You can check out my money reviews for 2012, 2011, and 2010.  How much did my assets and debts change this past year?  Check it out:

Assets:

  • Liquid assets (checking and savings accounts):  +$25,825
  • Retirement (401(k), Roth IRA, Rollover IRA):  +$36,845
  • Car (edmunds.com private sale value): -$2,916 (I’ve been including this in networth for the past 5 years.  Recently lowered the “condition” I’m considering it, since it’s been beat up a bit over the years).

Debts:

  • Student Loans: Reduced  payoff balance by $3,989 (I wasn’t aggressive with my payoff like I thought I would be)
  • Credit cards: I pay them off every month, but if I want to be exact, I have $185 less to pay off as of the same time last year.

Change in net worth since last year:  +$63,558. Looking good.

This is probably the last year I can easily do these comparisons, since I’m getting married this year!  Some of that cash in savings will be put to good use, but not too much!  Plus, we’ll probably be taking the approach of “yours, mine, ours” with money, so tracking everything will be a little more difficult.

WordPress put together a review of my blogging for 2013.  Turns out I only published 22 posts.  I guess no one can accuse me of posting too often!  My blogging this year covered a few different topics.  There was, of course, personal finance.  And as with last year, I had a decent share of posts about fitness.  I also threw in a few general updates about things happening in my life.

I started the Graduate’s Guide to Being a Grownup series, but it sort of fizzled out after just one post on retirement plans.  I promise to get that back up and running in 2014, and definitely want to hear what you’d like me to write about.

I reviewed Helaine Olen’s book, Pound Foolish about the dark side of the Personal Finance industry.

I also wondered if my Roth IRA conversion was a bad idea, and took another look at health insurance options.

I’ll post separately a wrap up and review of my fitness posts and activities for 2013.

In the meantime, let me know:  How did your 2013 end up?  Are you excited for everything happening in 2014?

 

End of September, time to recap September 28, 2013

I promise I’m still here.  I’ve got a few updates.

Fitness:

Last Sunday was the Tavern to Tavern 5k.  I ran it last year, but it was a different route this year.  I wasn’t sure I was ready, because I’d been traveling, then sick, so I wasn’t fully in tip-top training.

Major upside of this race:  I have a new personal record for my 5k time!  I’ve got a pace just over 10-minute miles.  Next goal, get the pace under 10-minute miles!

Downside of the race:  I’ve become a bit of a road race connoisseur (read: snob).  I was disappointed they didn’t have a water stop (I found out afterward that the person in charge of the water stop got stuck in traffic).  Also, there were no signs saying how far we were (1 mile, 2 mile, etc.)  Luckily, I did have a general idea of where I was based on the voice-over on my iPod (it has Nike+ and reports approximately how far I’ve gone).  Another weird thing, they had blocked out an area across the street from the Tavern for the race, but then didn’t use it for the post-run party, and instead had a crowded, long line leading into the Tavern.  It seemed like a waste of blocked off space!  Lastly, and most importantly, there wasn’t quite enough police coverage.  I understand that local residents HATE when road races get in the way of Sunday morning traffic.  But there were plenty of intersections along the route where cars were just going right ahead and nearly running over runners.  SCARY!

Wedding:

In case you missed my last post, I’m engaged!  I’m trying to not let the whole planning process stress me out.  The good news is I have some stuff nailed down.  I’ve got the date blocked off, the ceremony and reception locations reserved, the wedding dress (I still need to get it altered), I’ve asked my bridesmaids to be my bridesmaids (and they’ve picked out dresses), and I have a vague guest list made.  The next steps near term are to make a few phone calls with some local photographers, and actually get serious about our guest list.  And then we can meet with the manager of the reception location to nail down our food and drink options.  Yes, this wedding seems to actually be taking shape.  Still in the works long-term will include finding a florist (or identify alternative options for getting flowers), and calling hotels to get them to put aside a block of rooms.  But I’m not worrying about these just yet.  Anything else I should think about? (Besides our registry and our honeymoon, both of which I’m not even close to planning out yet)

Careers:

My sorority (yes, I was in a sorority) at MIT hosted a “career night” where local alums were invited to come chat with current students about resumes, interviews, job fairs, etc.  They had a panel where alums could give more advice.  I was proud to be able to share the gospel of personal finance to the ladies there:  Save your money.  Take advantage of the 401(k) plans and matches at your new jobs.  Spend less than you earn.  You know, the usual.  But it got me thinking, I’d love it if my sorority hosted another event focused solely on personal finance.  I think I’ll ping the alumni relations chair and suggest it.

Random blogger meetup:

Leslie is in town for the Massachusetts Indie Comics Expo.  And Deena already lives in Boston.  So it’s a perfect chance for the 3 of us to meet up!  My expectations for tonight is that I will find out that Leslie’s last name is Freslie.  Stay tuned.

Well, that’s the latest from me.  Up ahead will be Birthday Fondue (just like last year, and the 4 years before that) and I’ll try to get back on the blogging train with more posts for the Graduates Guide to Being a Grownup series.

So, what have you been up to?  Have you become a road race snob like me?  Have any new running or fitness accomplishments to share?  Any advice for my wedding planning (what am I not thinking of that I should be)?  Had any opportunities to spread the word on personal finance to unsuspecting friends?

 

Major life event update August 25, 2013

Filed under: General Blogging,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 2:39 pm
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I haven’t posted in a while.  But I’m sure you’re used to that by now.

I wasn’t quite sure how to tell you guys this exciting news:

This happened:

Engaged!

Yep, we’re engaged!  Very happy :)

You may have already heard through twitter.  Or if you’re a friend in real life.  I guess it’s been about a month since we got engaged.  Sorry it took me so long to tell you guys!

Yes, I’ve started planning.  And trying to keep costs down!  I know how quickly wedding expenses can build up, so I’ll try to be careful!  We’ve already got a few things figured out (ceremony location, reception location, wedding date), but there’s plenty of things we still need to deal with (guest list? flowers? music? honeymoon?)

I know there will be some up and downs.  And lots of opinions.  But come our wedding day, it’s going to be AWESOME.

The one book keeping me sane right now is A Practical Wedding, written by Meg Keene, the woman behind apractialwedding.com.  I first heard about the book/website from Revanche (A Gai Shan Life)  awhile back.  And so right after I got engaged, I bought myself a copy of the book.  And apparently the book is so good that my good friend Sarah (of Sarah and Michael fame) also ordered me a copy! (I thanked her for it and returned the extra copy)  She said it really helped keep things in perspective for her.

So, I’ll probably be blogging a bit about my wedding planning.  And my attempts to keep costs under control without making things look cheap or tacky!

What are your favorite wedding planning books/blogs/websites?  What advice did you hear a lot?  And what advice did you actually take?

 

Money: 2012 Year in Review January 9, 2013

Filed under: General Blogging,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 10:28 pm
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Happy New Year!  It’s 2013! I’ve been posting my yearly changes in assets and debts for the past few years now.  One thing I noticed this time around is that the changes in my liquid assets and my student loans are just about the same as they were last time around. How much did my assets and debts change this past year?  Check it out:

Assets:

  • Retirement (401(k), Roth IRA, Rollover IRA):  +$28,369
  • Car (edmunds.com private sale value): -$938 (I know there’s a lot of debate over including cars in net worth calculations.  I initially included it to make myself feel better about my auto loan, to balance out the ugly dip in my net worth).

Debts:

  • Credit cards: I pay them off every month, but if I want to be exact, I have $713 less to pay off as of the same time last year.

Change in net worth since last year:  +$55,194. Booya!

It turns out, I didn’t post very often.  Only 26 posts!  And quite a few of them talked about fitness.  That became quite a focus for me this year.  (More on that in a separate post).  Though I definitely thought about money and fitness together!

Looking back at my old personal finance related posts….remember the Approved Card from Suze Orman?  I wasn’t a fan.

I shared my story about getting into and (partially) out of student debt.

I confessed that I have a strange relationship with shopping, especially when it comes to Kohls.

I’m trying not to sweat the small stuff, and keep thinking about the big picture.

My nagging tendency was in full force when I told you that there were NO EXCUSES when it comes to opening an IRA.

I tackled the yearly concern of Benefits Open Enrollment.

I converted my traditional IRA into my Roth IRA.  Which also means that the networth numbers will be lowered in the next few months when I have to pay taxes on the converted amount.  Shhhhh.  Don’t worry, I have the money saved to pay the taxes, but we’ll recalculate things later.

And, even though this is more in the fitness than the personal finance category, I’m really glad I did the Walk For Hunger last year.  I look forward to doing it again in 2013!

I mused on twitter that I might try to pay off my entire student loan balance by the end of the year.  Not sure yet if I’ll actually do it, but I do have a plan in mind.  The cool part about that tweet?  The amazing, personal finance queen Gail Vaz-Oxlade replied to my tweet asking how I would do it!  So that might become a 2013 personal finance goal.

Happy New Year! How was your 2012?  What were your big events (positive or negative) for 2012?  What are your big plans for 2013!  Please share your own blog posts (if you have them) in the comments, I want to make sure I read all of your year-end wrap ups and your 2013 goals!

 

Hello new blog readers! April 14, 2012

Filed under: General Blogging — Stephanie @ 10:37 pm
Tags: , , ,

Well, this was quite the surprise.  There I was, minding my own business, when I see a tweet mentioning me and a bunch of other Boston bloggers.  Apparently, TNGG loves our blogs?!  I had no clue what that meant.  So naturally, I clicked the link.  Which brought me to a post on Boston.com, written from the group The Next Great Generation.  The post listed a bunch of blogs written by 20-something Bostonians.  The instructions?  Subscribe to these blogs.  NOW!

You can see the whole post here.

I felt honored!  And of course I immediately told all my friends.

So, new readers.  What can you expect from me?

Like the article said, I’m usually talking about personal finance.  I often write about financial decisions I’m trying to make, new financial websites I’ve tried, or career/personal finance books I’ve read.  I’ve recently started branching out a bit beyond finance to fitness.  I’m also hoping to start writing about Boston events and places a bit more.

I always welcome questions, comments, and suggestions!

So, are you one of the new readers?  Or have you been reading my blog for a while?  Either way, I hope you stick around!

 

Holiday Spending March 12, 2012

Filed under: General Blogging,Just for Fun — Stephanie @ 10:44 pm
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I know.  When you think of holiday spending, you think of the ridiculous amount of money people plunk down for Christmas (and Hannukah) presents.  Followed closely by Valentine’s.  Debt Ninja had a guest post from Jenna at Adaptu about it.

And I’m not immune from holiday spending.  Heck, I splurged on the Xbox holiday bundle for my boyfriend (which is a bit of a boomerang gift…I wanted it, too!)  I’m a big fan of giving gifts, as long as I have a good idea of what to give!

But the other thing that stands out for me is holiday apparel.

What?  Is that a thing?  Yes.

Take, for example, a holiday party I attended last year.  Festive apparel and costumes were encouraged.  So, I wore things like this:

Holly socks in bright red shoes

A jingle-bell ring I picked up at Davis Squared

And the obligatory green on red (green short-sleeve sweater over a red long-sleeve sweater)

There’s something about dressing for the holiday that makes me feel extra festive!

 

I’ve got Halloween pajama pants and two different pairs of socks (don’t worry, I don’t wear the pajamas in public!)

Red heart earrings for Valentine’s Day

And most recently, on a trip to A.C. Moore for sewing supplies, I caved and bought myself some St. Patrick’s Day socks for $1.  Big spender!

Whether  it’s obvious (like the earrings or ring) or more secret (like the socks), I really love dressing up in holiday colors and designs.  Since it’s usually frowned upon to wear Halloween costumes to the office, wearing fun socks is my own way of secret celebration.  So every once in a while, I’ll pick up a new pair of holiday socks.

How do you celebrate holidays?  Do you buy lots of stuff at the party store every year?  Or have a collection of holiday decorations and swag you pull out every year?

Do you have a stash of holiday socks like I do?  Wear all green on St. Patrick’s Day, orange and black on Halloween, and red on Valentine’s Day?  Because I do! :D

 

11 things + 11 things March 4, 2012

Filed under: General Blogging,Just for Fun,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 5:54 pm

I’ve been tagged.  Twice.  By Eric at Postgrad Agenda and by Make Love, Not Debt.  So it’s about time I answer these questions!  The rules are that you answer the questions, then make up new questions and tag people to answer those questions.  I’m going to answer all 11 of each of their questions (22 total) then come up  with 11 new questions.

Questions from Eric at Postgrad Agenda:

1. If you worked in your current job until retirement, would you be happy?

I’m assuming the question is if I’d be happy to stay at the same company until retirement.  I’d be happy as long as I continue to be challenged and learn new things.  My happiness in my career is contingent on gaining additional responsibilities and expertise.  I love working with my colleagues and learning a lot from them, and hope I can continue to grow.

2. What are three things you do that you wish you could change?

I wish I could change my procrastinating habits:  case in point, this post is LONG overdue!
I also wish I could stop putting myself down.  I think I tend to look at myself and find all the flaws (physically, intellectually) instead of embracing all the good in myself!
I wish I could change my addictive behavior when it comes to computers/video games.  I will stay on my computer way too late or play a video game for hours.  It’s bad news.  Go to bed!

3. What do you enjoy doing more than anything?

I love spending time with my family and friends.  Especially if there’s delicious food around :)

4. Do you think everyone is born with the potential to change the world, or just a few?

I think everyone has the potential, but not everyone gets the opportunity.

5. How would you like to change the world?

I’d like to change the world by increasing access to education and knowledge.  I don’t know how to achieve it, but I think education is a good way to start.

6. What have you done so far to make that change?

Not much.  Though I try to teach people about personal finance :P

7. Fiction or non-fiction?

I’m always hooked on personal finance books!  And books about interesting science discoveries.  So sign me up for Non-Fiction. Though I would read a good fiction book, if anyone has some suggestions!

8. Have you succumbed to the Apple influence? Why or why not?

I had the same iPod (or a repair/replacement) since college, until it finally kicked the bucket late last year.  And since then I’ve been using my new iPod Nano.  And I have iTunes.  And I’m always tempted to take my parents up on their offer to get me an iPhone.  But I never do take them up on that offer.  I think the stuff Apple makes is really cool, but I fear having it would make me less productive (too many distractions).  Not sure if that means I’ve succumbed or not!

9. What would you consider yourself an expert in?

Well, I’m not an expert in personal finance, but among friends, I’m definitely a resource.  And I think I’m pretty good at the Materials Science stuff that I’m working on.  And I’d probably consider myself an expert at making puns.  Or at least an expert at making people groan at the puns I try to tell :)

10. What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’d like to think getting into MIT and then graduating in four years from MIT are two things I’m pretty proud of.

11. Ideally, what’s next in life for you?

I have no idea.  I’d love some big happy changes, but I’m content with small happy life :)

And from Make Love, Not Debt:

1.  Have you ever been ripped off and for how much?

Last year I was parked in a lot with signage that I assumed meant I could park there.  Apparently the tow trucks in Allston had a different interpretation of the sign, and they stole my car away and held it for ransom (that’s at least how I see it).  So having to pay this sketchy place, IN CASH, for my own car seemed like a bit of a rip off.  Especially since I thought I was in the right.

2.  Do you have pets? Are they awesome?

I don’t have any pets.  I hope to get a dog when I have a house and yard more suited for one.  I’m ridiculously allergic to cats, so that’s not going to happen.  So, my future dog is awesome.  That’s already a given.

3.  What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

African or European?  Apparently someone actually tried to calculate it.

4.  Why are most children’s musicians terrible?

I think you’re just listening to the wrong children’s music.  Go with artists like Raffi, Fred Penner, and albums like Snacktime from the Barenaked Ladies and a lot of stuff from They Might Be Giants.

5.  What’s the most offensive thing about the $5 bill?

That it’s not a $50 bill?

6.  Prior to Jeremy Lin’s current basketball greatness, he was staying on his brother’s couch because he didn’t have a definitive contract with the New York Knicks. Was the couch long enough to fit an out-stretched Jeremy Lin?

I have no idea.  My guess is regardless of if he fit, he probably wasn’t very comfortable.  I’ve fallen asleep on the couch with plenty of room to stretch out, and I’ve woken up as quite a mess.

7.  What’s the least you’ve purchased with $100?

I’m not sure.  I know that the next thing I’m planning on purchasing with ~$100 is a FitBit Ultra :P

8.  What’s a reasonable amount of money to spend at a strip club?

Zero dollars.  Ew.

9.  How much do you tip the bartender? Really? That’s it?

I rarely go to bars.  I’ll usually give them a dollar or so per drink.  I’ve even given a tip when I asked for ice water because I felt like I’d be a jerk not to.

10.  How much would you pay for the perfect hamburger?

Maybe $15 max?  But I’d be okay with a $7 hamburger.

11.  Is an iPad worth it?

I only ever really want an iPad when I’m on travel and everyone else has their Kindles, Nooks, and iPads.  It’s gadget envy.

And now, here are the questions I want answers for:

1.  What would you do if you won $10,000?  How would your answer change if it was $1 million?

2.  Is your current job anything like what you thought it would be when you were younger?

3.  What store/brand are you unable to resist?

4.  What’s the last book you read?

5.  Who do you most admire among your friends and family?

6.  What’s your go-to recipe for dinner?  Dessert?

7.  What’s your least favorite food?

8.  Which Disney character do you think you are most like?

9.  What board game do you love to play?  Do you dominate at it?  Or do you always lose?

10.  What’s the longest distance you’ve ever walked/jogged/run?

11.  What clichéd phrase drives you the craziest?

Who to tag?  I’ve already seen Elizabeth, Serendipity, Big City…Beer Budget, Fabulously Fru-girl, eemusings (the Abstract Aucklander, Annabelle (twice!), Nicole, Bridget, and Andrea participate in these.  I’m not going to make any of them make a new answer list (unless they want to!).

So, I’ll tag some new people who (to the best of my knowledge) haven’t been tagged yet.  Hello Below Her Means, Deena Dollars, Stacking Pennies, Paranoid Asteroid, My Pretty Pennies, Money Maus, Penny Pinching Pro, Fig, ShtinkyKatJulia, Mariel, and Katie.  You’ve been tagged!

Anyone else who wants to answer these questions, either in a comment below or on their own blogs is welcome to.  I can’t wait to learn more about you!

 

 
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