Thursday, May 07, 2009

To Test or Not to Test

Maybe because I'm on the cusp of turning 30 but once again I'm contemplating graduate school. I've mentioned on numerous occasions that if I wasn't doing what I was doing I would be a librarian. Well maybe this is the time for me to pursue.

The problem/obstacle/hurdle is the GRE. I'm a TERRIBLE test taker and the schools I would apply to all require it. I tried a year ago to take a Kaplan prep course and that was a complete disaster. I signed up for an in person class and it kept getting canceled for lack of enrollment so they gave me a big discount and put me in online learning class. But it was hard to get through the material with guidance. So I gave up on pursuing grad school.

Now I'm looking again. NYU offers a class through their continuing education program. But do I really want to spend $760 for a course plus sacrifice my Monday nights for 7 weeks this summer? Is it really now or never for me when it comes to going to grad school or not? Maybe I should pursue a program/school where I don't have to take the GRE and my work experience will be enough?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Public Service Announcment: Postal Increase

Postage Increase THIS MONDAY. Effective Monday, May 11, postal rates will increase slightly. The price of a First Class letter stamp will increase from 42 cents to 44 cents (so stock up on those Forever stamps this week!). I know most of you don't care because most of you don't use stamps but I just wanted to share.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

All That I Can't Have

I completely understand why people don't stick to their diets. Now when I think about food all I think about it is all that I can't (or shouldn't) have.

I've never been the type to eat a lot of crap. You won't find me with my hand in the cookie jar or eating lots of sweets and treats. But apparently the foods I like, for me, are also bad for me.

I LOVE potatoes. Trainer says I can't have it because it has too much starch.

I get salt cravings. Trainers says no sodium. So I can't even have Chex Mix which is a lot healthier than the Lays potato chips I used to devour.

I could eat pasta every day because it is inexpensive and easy to cook. Trainer says I have to cut the pasta from my diet.

I used to not eat breakfast regularly. I started eating 2 pieces of raisin bread and a smoothie that I would blend every morning. Trainer says no more raisin bread and I need to curb my intake of fruit (fructose sugar) and yogurt (dairy).

Every day I drink 8-16 ounces of Naked Juice. Trainer says I should only be drinking 4 ounces because of the fructose.

One of my favorite snacks is to take a graham cracker and put a piece of cheese and pepperoni on top. Trainer says no graham crackers and american cheese is the worse kind of cheese to eat.

I make a kick ass shrimp and corn chowder. Trainer says I shouldn't be eating corn.

It's just hard to discern when you are taught that fruit is good for you but if you eat too much fruit then you are having too much sugar. Yogurt is supposed to be good for you but it's bad because it's dairy.

So I don't get it. What am I supposed to eat? If these are all the things I can't eat what the hell can I eat? No wonder I'm hungry all the damn time. All the things I want to eat I've been told I shouldn't eat. I am so frustrated. Some days I just want to say fuck it, I'm not going to eat anything...but wait, can't do that because if I fall below 1200 calories my body will be in starvation mode. It's just too much to think about. What happened to the logic that you could eat what you wanted in moderation if you balanced it with working out? I can deal with the pain and soreness my body is experiencing from working out. But I draw the line when it comes to my food.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Living On Less Challenge - Results

For the month of April in addition to not using any of my credit cards I also did a living on less challenge. Honestly I think I just picked a good month to do the challenge. There were a few factors that made living on less, less of a challenge.

1. April this year had 3 paychecks instead of 2 (normally May has 3 paychecks). So even though I put 5% of my first paycheck for the month and 10% of my second paycheck for the month in to savings I still had that third paycheck.

2. I did a bunch of balance transfers at the end of March/beginning of April. So the combination of moving debt around actually left me with a few extra dollars to spend. I didn't spend the money but I had it just in case. I'm prepping to make larger credit card payments on the cards that I used to consolidate debt.

3. I got my federal and state refunds. I used the federal refund to pay off a credit card and then balance transferred 2 other cards to the 1 card I had paid off. State refund I used for some car repairs. This is all money I hadn't budgeted in to my monthly budget. But the car repair cost was also not something I had budgeted for and was still able to pay while living on less.

The harder question is could I live on less every month? Every month could I put in to savings an additional 5-10% of my gross salary? And sadly I think the answer is no. I think this challenge proved that if I'm forced to live on less I could. But every month I don't have the factors that I had this month to make it easier to live off less. I have some major expenses coming up (Trip to St. Thomas in a few weeks, cruise in October, etc.) that I need pay for so that 5-10% is going towards that. October is the next month I get 3 paychecks so I may do the "living on less" challenge again?

For those who took part in the challenge, how did it go? Would you do it again?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Suze Orman Challenges Over

I finished my 3 Suze Orman challenges.

I took one week in February and I didn't spend any money. No eating out for lunch or dinner. No random trips to the grocery store. And I wasn't tempted in that week to spend either. I estimated I saved $50-$100 by not spending for a week.

I took the month of March and I didn't spend money going out to eat. I did have a few friends treat me to a birthday meal here and there to compensate. I was tempted to eat out, especially when I was tired and didn't want to cook. But I didn't give in to temptation. I estimated that I would have saved $300-$500 by not eating out for a month. I say would have saved because I spent what I would have saved on groceries. When your home isn't stocked with food it actually takes about 2 months to realize a saving on the eating out vs cooking at home expense. And eating out is one of my largest expenses second only to travel.

I took the month of April and tried to not use any of my credit cards. This was a tough challenge and I failed. I used my credit card to pay for some future trips. On the positive, at least those trips will be paid off by the time I take them because I'm paying on them now.

The challenge is over and I estimate I saved $500-$800. I'll be honest. It doesn't FEEL like I saved that much money. But that's because I spent the money elsewhere. The extra money went in to my savings and towards paying down credit card debt. So although the money is not in my hands it was used wisely.