Graduated Learning: Life after College

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

No-Spend November: Week 4 Recap November 30, 2011

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 11:15 pm
Tags: , ,

I figured I’d wait until the end of the month, since there’s a little more than 4 weeks in the month.  So, here we go:

Tuesday Nov 22:  I gave in and got soup at the work cafeteria.  $2.55

Wednesday Nov 23:  Driving home to NJ for Thanksgiving.  Some traffic made me decide to take a detour and look for a pit stop.  Found a random tiny diner to use the facilities, then felt bad for just using their place for the bathroom, so I bought a $2.25 burger.  Not worth the cost, but oh well.  Was on the road for quite a few more hours (boo traffic) so I guess it was good that I ate something.  Also, tolls (tallied up on my Fast Lane) for that trip:  $9.90

Thursday Nov 24:  Thanksgiving!  The only thing I spent was time with my family 🙂

Friday Nov 25:  My mom gave me an early Christmas gift:  a visit to her local hair salon so I could get highlights to blend away the gray hairs!  The hairdresser was pretty surprised at how much gray hair I had.  But I think she did a good job camouflaging it!  So, that was “free” as a kind gift from my mom.  I think she knew I wouldn’t do it otherwise!

The family tradition is going to a local shop run by a high school friend’s aunt.  That’s the only place we went, so we avoided the insane Black Friday shoppers.

Later that night, I drove with my younger sister to my older sister’s house to hang out with her and her husband.  On the way back to my parents’ house, noticed my gas tank was getting low.  Fuel up costs:  $33.86

Saturday Nov 26:  The thing about coming home is that we get a little spoiled.  Fun things included:  Going to the movies! We saw Arthur Christmas.  It was super cute, and really funny!  The kind of movie that I probably could only have seen with my family 🙂

Afterwards, we went to a local Mexican restaurant that we love.

My parents were awesome enough to pay for the movie and dinner.  Hooray them!  Thanks 🙂

Sunday Nov 27:  Didn’t want to leave!  Love being with my family.  Stopped partway home to grab a coffee and a small fries from McDonald’s to keep me awake and keep my stomach from growling.  $2.12.  Total cost of tolls for drive back to Boston:  $14.30 (I took the Tappan Zee Bridge both directions, they only charge going South/East)

Monday Nov 28:  Brought my lunch.  But I got tempted by all the Cyber Monday sales.

I had won a gift certificate from Cuddl Duds by entering their “Quote of the Day” contest.  (You can still submit your quotes for a chance to win!), and I also knew they were having a Cyber Monday sale of 30% off…I figured it was my best chance to get a good deal!  I went for the top and the leggings from the Activewear Lightweight clothing.  After discount and gift certificate, $9.80

Then, I was on the Kohl’s website, and realized that there was a slightly different selection of Cuddl Duds for sale.  There was some overlap between sites.  So, that made me decide I’d get the Activewear stuff directly from Cuddl Duds, but then I caved seeing the insane sales plus extra 20% off (making most other options cheaper than buying direct) plus free shipping, so I went for the ActiveLayer Top, then the Climatesmart Top and Pants.  I went a little nuts.  My logic was, hey, it’s cheaper on the Kohl’s website, but I have the gift certificate on the Cuddl Duds website, and only some things are available on each site….

My brain went crazy.  At least I got some good deals.  And if I regret these decisions, I can always return it (though, who am I kidding, I probably wont).  Total expense on  $47.98

Oops.  Why did I buy all this?  My reasoning is that they’re good for outdoor activities, so between skiing, winter walks, and shoveling, I’ll get good use out of them.

Tuesday Nov 29:  Brought my lunch.  But then realized I needed shampoo/conditioner for my now color-treated hair.  Not sure how much it matters, but I wanted to make sure my highlights lasted!  And while I was at CVS I saw a coupon for $1.50 off any deodorant, so I picked up a new one while there.  I guess I cheaped out on the hair care, because I only spent $5.81 at the store.

Wednesday, Nov 30:  Last day.  I brought lunch.  But because of all the driving I did this month (i.e. a round trip between Boston and central New Jersey) I had to fill up the gas tank again.  $33.99.

This final “week”:  $162.56.

What a month!  I didn’t do as well as I hoped.  I caved a few times when it came to dining out or buying lunches.  And I spent more on gas than usual due to the extra driving.  Expenses I didn’t include throughout was rent, utilities, transfers to savings/retirement accounts, student loan payments, and my gym.  Why?  Well, most of those transactions are automatic, so they just happen on the days they’re scheduled for.  Yeah, my gym membership is charged every month.  $27/month.

So, total amount of money I consciously spent this month?  $438.05.  Not exactly no-spend, eh?  Some of these expenses were unavoidable (I need gas to drive to work!), some were splurges (going out to dinner, buying myself a new wardrobe of Cuddl Duds).  I’m planning on continuing to bring lunch to work as much as possible (though tomorrow we’re going out for a colleague’s retirement party…but Friday, I promise I’ll bring lunch!).  I know next month will be expensive, with more retirement parties, holiday parties, and Christmas gifts.  I haven’t started shopping for gifts yet, and I’ll try to not be too extravagant, but I do tend to spend a lot on other people for Christmas.  We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

So what do you think of my no-spend November?  Impressed at how little I spent?  Disappointed at how much I spent?  Or was that the exact amount you predicted I’d spend?


No-Spend November: Week 3 Recap November 23, 2011

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 12:29 am
Tags: , , ,

I think I’m losing steam.  Also, I’m realizing this month is not very no-spend, what with all the spending I’m doing…

Tuesday Nov 15:  Was sick of bringing in sandwiches and leftovers.  Call it no-spend burnout.  Bought the taco salad at lunch.  $5.87  Good news is that kept me pretty full all day, I think I didn’t even need dinner!

Wednesday Nov 16:  Back to the sandwiches.  No Spend.

Thursday Nov 17:  We had a section meeting, so we got lunch coupons for the cafeteria.  Used it to buy two large bowls of chili and a granola bar.  No spend (of my money!)

Friday Nov 18:  Ate the second bowl of chili for lunch.  I’m a chili fiend! Dinner time, boyfriend and I wanted to go out to eat.  So we did.  Got some Thai food at a local restaurant.  A few appetizers and entrees (and a little leftover to eat the next day) + tax + tip:  $40.

Saturday Nov 19:  Didn’t do much of anything, just relaxed all day.  Staying home means no-spend.

Sunday Nov 20:   Met up with some old friends in Cambridge.  Ate at Abigails.  $14  Wasn’t very impressed with the service, or the prices for that matter.  But I was willing to go since I hadn’t seen these friends in awhile.

At church, put $1 in the collection plate.  I’m a cheapskate.

My car’s gas tank was running on empty, so I had to fill up.  Luckily, I had enough gas to get to the cheap station near home.  $37.

Monday Nov 21:  Brought salad for lunch, but was craving something warm.  So I bought a cup of soup in the cafeteria to supplement my meal.  $2.55.

As you can tell, I’m not doing so great at this no-spend thing.  Total this week was $100.42.  My mom’s been following along, and was worried that I was starving myself or being ridiculous with my lack of spending.  But I assured her, I’ve just been cutting down on bought lunches, really.  And avoiding going anywhere near Target or the mall…

Looking ahead, the expenses will definitely be another tank or two of gas, a few more lunches if I can’t get my lunch-packing act together.  The only shopping I’ll be doing this weekend will be at local shops, trying to go with the Shift Your Shopping movement.  And I wont be shopping anywhere that opens before 10AM on Friday 🙂

I’m very much looking forward to this Thanksgiving break.  Family and Food?  Two of my favorite things!

Will this weekend be no-spend for you?  Or will you be spending up a storm at all the Black Friday sales?


No-Spend November: Week 2 Recap November 15, 2011

Filed under: Boston,Food,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 9:49 pm
Tags: ,

So, week 2 of No-Spend November.  I haven’t given up just yet!

Tuesday Nov 8:  Went to a 401(k) presentation sponsored by the young-employee network at work during lunch…and lunch was provided!  I think I already knew most of the stuff they talked about, but it’s always good to get a refresher on retirement investments!

Wednesday Nov 9:  Brought my lunch.  But then on the way home from the gym that night I filled up my car tires (for free) but didn’t have a tire gauge to confirm my tires weren’t overfilled (which I did discover they were, had to let them out quite a bit), so I bought a tire gauge and some valve caps to replace ones that had fallen off.  $4.55

Thursday Nov 10:  Stayed home sick again, so I didn’t need to pack or buy a lunch.  No spend!

Friday Nov 11:  Brought my lunch.  Went out with some friends from work for drinks/dinner.  Beer, burger, fries (plus tax and tip):  $15.55

Saturday Nov 12:  Wanted to use up the $20 in Kohls cash that was expiring.  Bought these shoes (in brown).  With the sale, the Kohls cash, and a coupon, I paid an extra $3.79.  (and when I got home, I put TWO pairs of old shoes in the donate pile!)  Then went to the grocery store so I could buy yogurt for the banana bread recipe I wanted to make.  Saw English Muffins buy 1 get 2 free, so I let the deal seeker part of me win out. $6.58

Went out for dinner at Tu Y Yo (SO DELICIOUS!) with another couple.  Boyfriend paid for our half of the meal (it was his turn to pay, we trade off who pays).

Sun Nov 13:  Went to church.  Intended to put some money in the collection plate, but I didn’t have any cash on me, so I gave a measly 60 cents.

Mon Nov 14:  Brought leftovers to work.  So, no-spend!

So, this past week, I spent a total of $31.07.  (check my math?)  Not too bad.  I’m realizing that this No Spend plan is really more of me training myself to bring my lunch and think twice about purchases.


No-Spend November: Week 1 Recap November 8, 2011

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 8:10 pm
Tags: ,

So, many of you remember I decided to try a No-Spend November.  How did I do?

Tuesday Nov 1:   Success!  Brought my lunch, didn’t spend anything.

Wednesday Nov 2:  Success again!

Thursday Nov 3:  Super tempted by the chili they have every Thursday in the cafeteria.  But I resisted!

Friday Nov 4:  Stayed home sick, slept almost all day, so I didn’t even eat that much

Saturday Nov 5:  Got my haircut.  My last haircut was in June, my hair was just looking bad.  Yes, excuses.  $35 + $7 tip:  $42

Also on Saturday, I went with some friends to a wine tasting event at the Danforth Museum of Art.  Donation/ticket price:  $65.

Sunday Nov 6:  Went to work to make up some time from my Friday off.  Had to fuel up on the way home.  $37

Monday Nov 7:  Brought my lunch again.  Woooooo!  No spending.

So, the first 7 days, I’ve managed to avoid paying for lunches.  However, I have already spent $144 in these 7 days.  (not including online transfers like rent, utilities, and other bills).  Granted, I wont be buying more gas for 300-400 more miles, so while it’s a common (and pretty much unavoidable) expense, it won’t happen for a little while.  As for the Saturday expenses:  I could have gotten my haircut in October.  And I probably could have waited until December.  Or gotten a friend to cut it.  But I didn’t.  I found I had time that I could set aside for that, and took advantage of that time.  Plus I got in a really good walk to and from the hair salon!  As for the wine tasting, I had already given a maybe/yes to my friend coordinating it, and I felt bad backing out.  Plus I wanted to go 😛  Good news about those two expenses, though, is that they wont happen again this month!  (or probably for a while!)

I’m going to try to keep up the no-spending all month.  I might end up spending more money this month, but I’ll try my hardest not to!

So, how did you do so far?  What are your No-Spend November rules?  Do you have exceptions?  And maybe do we realize that I’m more or less just tracking expenses publicly while trying to build up the habit of packing my lunch each day?


No-spend November: Can it be done? November 5, 2011

Filed under: Boston,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 1:32 am
Tags: ,

I decided to try out having a no-spend month.  And what better time than November?  No-spend No-vember!

Why did I start this quest?  I think there were a few reasons.

If you recall, my last blog post was about having a spendy weekend.  I bought stuff that I (mostly) needed, some stuff that I just wanted.  But it was a lot of money all in one weekend.

I also realized that I’ve been buying lunches at work A LOT.  Those costs add up.  AND, cafeteria lunches are not really the healthiest options.  So I was looking out for my wallet and my waistline!

And maybe I wanted to join in on a movement like the No-Shave November, more often called Movember.   It also inspired the guys at How To Do Everything to have a Beard Sprint.  And since I’m a lady, I couldn’t grow a beard.

Plus!  Brad from Enemy of Debt is also having a no-spend November!  His goal is No Restaurants for all of November.  With my main “no-spend” category being cafeteria food, I think this is a good goal to work with!

What are the rules?  There are always rules with these sorts of anti-spending challenges.  My main one is:  don’t buy lunches at work.  And while I rarely buy coffee, I also will not let myself be tempted by my need for caffeine.

Obviously, I’ll still be paying rent, paying bills, and buying gas when my car is running on empty or buying groceries when it’s my turn to fill the fridge.  And, to be honest, I’m really just focusing on not buying food while at work.  But the no-spend mentality is also going to be weighing on me all month.

I’ve already got a problem with this weekend.  I was planning on getting a long-overdue haircut.  And I’m attending a wine tasting with some friends.  (I’ve gone every year since the first year I wrote about it).

One last November habit I’m trying to build:  Using my Wii Fit every day.  To at least weigh in and take the balance test.  Then maybe a few activities to get in shape.  Between my better eating habits (not buying lunches) and my exercise, maybe I can get back to my college weight!

So can it be done?  And if I just consolidate my spending to one day a week, will you forgive me?  Are you in Enemy of Debt’s No Restaurant November?  Will you join us in our pledges to avoid spending?


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