20-something care package

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My lovely mom sent me some goodies on Wednesday. They totally made my week! Included: 

  • Canvas purse with faux ostrich leather, perfect for carrying a book, some sunscreen, a water bottle…or wine…to a park. Already used it to go out this week! In Denver, it gets crazy cool at night, so I always need a sweater. Big purses are put to good use here!
  • Sports bra and cotton shorts, perfect for lounging around the house during 100 degree heat waves. FYI: 100* with no humidity > 80 with 80% percent humidity. Don’t miss that part of Chicago.
  • Cotton dress, perfect for a summer BBQ.
  • Cotton loose fitting tank, ideal for summer nights at a bar with a sunny patio.

Last night we went to a local spot, the Fainting Goat, which I’ve heard raves about since we got here, but I’ve never made it. Our guy friends go there for happy hours weekly and I’m going to make it priority to make it to them after seeing this place. The patio is on the top of the three story bar and is gorgeous and allows attendees to enjoy the sunset over the mountains. White shorts with the light top hit the spot for each of the 100 degrees we were enjoying.

Huge thanks to my mom for keeping me stylish and in tough with the light cotton hippie wears. She’s the best and I can’t wait to see her next week in Georgia!

What’s in your ideal 20-something care package?

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Book Club: MWF Seeking BFF

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{pic from the author’s website, go buy the book so she won’t get mad at me for stealing images!}

Book Club Score: we didn’t give scores this month as the author was in the house, but we all went around and talked about sections of the book that every one connected with.
My Score: N/A – see below.

Book club this month had a special twist – the author of our selection joined us! Rachel Bertsche was an absolute doll, a ball of friendly and funny energy, and she clicked immediately with our book club. We were thrilled to have her and our conversation about the book was all the more interesting because she shared what other books clubs thought as well. Having her there was like a crowd-sourced answer session with girls all over Chicago.

 

I should note that I didn’t read the book yet as I was nervous it would make some big life changes more scary. More on that to come, but I’m thrilled to pick the book up after every single girl in my book club said, “You have to read this book. It’ll make any situation with girls and new friends easier.”

As a twenty-something author, all of us were in awe of her humility despite having written a book! Especially in the digital age, that a freaking BFD. Big Effing Deal. I think we were all surprised that we’d each experienced things similar to what was in the book and struggled with the same challenges – finding our post-college tribe of friends. 

Go buy the book – MWF Seeking Bff – read for your book club and laugh with girl friends, new and old. Then say hi to the author on her blog, Twitter or in person at book events all over Chicago and other cities. 

Have you read the book? Did you struggle with finding girl friends and navigate a similar landscape as Rachel does in her book? Leave a comment, I’m fascinated to hear other girls’ perspectives!

 

 

Let’s talk money – in-depth and longwinded

I’m a worrier, it is what I do. I worry about money, I worry about job stability, I worry about budgets, I worry about bills, to put it simply, I worry. To help quell my worrisome ways, I like to dedicate a substantial amount of energy to the things that I can control. Hmmm, are you sensing a theme here?

Anywho, my worrying ways are usually really funny and mostly irrational. I have a great job, I am fairly cautious with my money, I split bills with Leo, and I have almost no debt. And the debt that I do have is 100% interest free. Under no circumstances (except for school loans, so I guess that’s one circumstance. whatever.) will I not pay to borrow money – interest is the devil, I’m not interested. But budgeting – thats a real worry of mine. Last year, my finances were horrific (in my eyes). Sure, no debt and some savings and I bought a car. BUT, I also spent an ridiculous amount on shopping. Do you use Mint.com? You should for one year to fully grasp your spending habits.

I did it and now I’m assessing. I don’t like starting budgets on January 1st. It is so close to the holidays and starting your year off worrying about how much money you spend on the holidays is no fun. Buying presents for others makes me happy, I shouldn’t feel bad about it. Here’s the other trick – February is a short month meaning your money will go further if you are a salaried employee. Those two days? It counts.

Please note, for all of 2010 and part of 2011, I had two jobs. Cutting that second income was rough but it makes me be way more cautious. So, looking back last year on where my money went:

  • 22% Home (Rent, Home improvement, Furnishings, etc.)
  • 21% Auto and Transport (Bought a Car, Insurance, Public Transit, Gas)
  • 14% Shopping (this is a real zinger. need to cut this number by a third this year)
  • 11% Food and Dining (I’ll break this down later)
  • 10% Travel (went to some great places this year)
  • 7% Bills & Utilities
  • 5% Non-categorized (Not sure what this is, but by going through my Mint account at the end of each month I can categorized these charges and understand where this dinero is going.)
  • 10% Other stuff that adds up  

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For the month of January – here’s what it is looking like:

  • 30% Home
  • 24% Food & Dining
  • 16% Auto and Transport (Me and the City of Chicago got in a fight about parking tickets…that was most of this amount and the City won, it always does)
  • 8% Shopping (Late Christmas Gifts, hobbies)
  • *These percentages do not include savings

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For the rest of the year, I have some big goals budget-wise:

  • 25% Home
  • 20% Food
  • 15% Travel (Atlanta, Colorado and maybe Costa Rica? We’ll see!)
  • 10% Savings
  • 8% Shopping
  • 8% Auto & Transport
  • 8% Everything else (gym, hair, entertainment, student loan)
  • 6% Bills & Utilities

To get to this budget, I’ll be investing in more important things (travel, eating good food, loving my home) and be careful. No self-deprivation here, only prioritization. One month in to the year, I’m confident that I’ve done really well without really trying. To be honest, I’ve spent more on shopping (in cash only) because I pay for groceries and Leo pays me back in cash. It’s called lying to Mint.com and it is a terrible habit that I have. Oh well!

How are you tracking your 2012 financial goals? Are you a Mint user? Lover? Hater? Cheater?