Guest Post: Fabulously Broke in the City on Budgets 101 (Part 2/3)

Our Guest post on Budgets 101 continues with Part 2. Click here to view Part 1.

OtherBlogs_FB.png Today’s Guest Blogger is Fabulously Broke, who writes a blog called: Fabulously Broke in the City, which is a lifestyle blog with a focus on personal money management and debt. She also writes for two other blogs: The Everyday Minimalist, a blog about “Living with less, but the Best” and Style on a String, “Because style has nothing to do with money. This is Part Two in the Series of: How to get started on your 2010 Money Resolutions. ————————————————- Maybe you don’t have a fund per se, but you had planned on getting rid of your debt this year. Well, how can you cut back if you donít know where your money is going? Letís say you have no idea how much you owe, or what you have to pay each month to get out of it.

1. Know what your debt number is

How much do you owe? You donít know? Well start opening those credit card bills, and writing down the minimum amount due, the total debt you owe, as well as the interest rate. Once every letter has been opened, and not chucked into a trash bin by your desk, tally up the totals. It may come as a shock at first (or maybe not), but the first step to getting out of debt, is knowing what your debt number is. Let it sink in. Reflect on it for a day to strengthen your resolve to eliminate it, and then start making a plan to get rid of it.

2. Find out how much you make, NET per month

I am not talking about how much you make in a salary per year. Thatís your ìgrossî salary. Letís say you make $40,000 a year. $40,000 divided by 12 months = $3333.33 GROSS per month You donít actually bring home that amount each month. Your ìnetî salary is how much you actually bring home to your bank account to use to spend for each month, net taxes and other fees. Look at your pay stub, and you might see something like : $1300 bi-weekly, which is $2600/month. That is your NET monthly salary.

3. Create a rough budget from your NET monthly salary

If you bring home $2600 a month, allocate the amount into all of your fixed categories, which are areas that do not change from month to month, like rent, or your car payment. After that, allocate the rest into your variable categories, which are areas you can change from month to month, like groceries, utilities, gas money, and eating out or shopping. This is a good way to see what you have left, after you pay the piper (rent, car payment, debt repayment), and it may surprise you. But we arenít done yet. A budget is useless if you donít know what you actually spend each day.

4. Start tracking your daily expenses

Every single time you spend money on something, be it on a credit card, debit card, or using cash, WRITE IT DOWN. Once you add up all the numbers at the end of the month, you can see whether you stayed within your $2600/month net salary, or if you went over.

5. Start making changes after your analysis

Look at where you went over. You said you only really spend $100 a month eating out, but your daily expenses show that you spend $300 a month! You said that you only spend $200 a month shopping for clothes, but itís actually $450! Once you know your real numbers, and what you thought the numbers would be, you can start cutting back in areas and being more conscious in your spending. Still feeling unsure? Check out my budgeting spreadsheet here. I created it with all of the above in mind, and even wrote a little How-To that goes along with it. Even better, all of the proceeds from the sales of this FB Budgeting Sheet for 2010 will go to the Make-a-Wish foundation.

Donít forget!!

To save some money for Emergencies

You should save at least $1000 in your bank account while you are clearing your debt for emergencies, preferably 3 -6 months. I saved $1000 when I was getting out of debt, but now I see the need for at least 3 ñ 6 months in my current case. It also helps if you have low living expenses, because you are on the hook to save less for basic living expenses. But it is up to your discretion depending on how steady your income and job is.

Sign up & take advantage of your company retirement matching plan

Ask questions and start learning about your company retirement plan, if you are lucky to have one. They usually offer a 50% match on your retirement savings or a 100% match. All you have to do, is save the required amount, and your company will chip in and match the amount you save. This means that you can get FREE MONEY.

Don’t be discouraged if you falter here and there.

It’s all part of the learning process. We all make mistakes, the thing is to pick yourself up from it.
Check back next week for our final installment of Budgets 101 with Part 3 of 3!

Tulsi is the New Green

Eats

Green tea that is. More on that later…let’s start with breakfast.

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I did another no-cook breakfast (thanks to my continued lack of kitchen, which prob won’t be done till Monday at the earliest).

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I also had 1/2 Christmas Blend + 1/2 Peppermint Creme coffee to drink.

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For the eats, I made a quick yogurt parfait with Stonyfield OIkos Vanilla Greek yogurt with Bear Naked Fit Triple Berry Crunch Granola and some hemp seeds. Though I do miss my hot oatmeal quite a bit, this stuff is the shiz-nit! I am really loving it!

I basically noshed and sipped tea all day at work – food/drink-wise. (I worked my hiney off!)

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I tried a new tea – Organic Tulsi tea by Organic India in Sweet Rose. It was fabulous! The tea was gentle and the rose was more of an aroma to me than a taste. I really enjoyed it.

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Have you heard of Tulsi tea before? Tulsi is the new Green (tea).

My co-worker, who is Indian, told me that tulsi is supposed to be anti-stress and help prevent colds. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’m hoping it is!

According to the tea box, “Tulsi is revered as a sacred plant infused with healing powers….(and) helps your body relieve the negative effects of stress

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For lunch I had a hickory smoked turkey sandwich with co-jack cheese, baby romaine, toasted on Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat.

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I had a half container of marinated kale with lots of sesame seeds. It was soooooo good! I think I liked it better than the sammie!

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Later in the day, I was feeling the stress of the work day and brewed up some more Tulsi tea. I took just a couple quick minutes between conference calls to savor my tea and take some deep breaths. I felt much better for it.

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Some dark chocolate helped, too.

For an afternoon snack, I had some more snacks.

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I was kind of saving the rest of my kale for lunch tomorrow but decided to go ahead and eat the rest today.

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I also had an organic banana….

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…and a 1000 layer cracker.

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Oh and another mini piece of dark chocolate.

I cheated on EIM again for dinner and went back to Earthfare. The way I see it, I could prepare food somewhere random like in the bathroom or the sunroom and wash my plasticware in the bathroom sink whilst attempting to let as little food as possible go down the drain…OR, I could let Earthfare handle the dishes. I chose the latter.

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I’ve been getting tired of the balsamic dressing I’ve been using but luckily the nice people at Earthfare opened a new salad dressing (Sun-Dried Tomato) for me. Yay!

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Hubby and I got some random stuff and shared it: vegan chili, salad (romaine, babyspin, purple cabbage, carrots, sprouts, broccoli, cucumber, hard-boiled egg, bell peppers, celery), a blueberry mini loaf and a vegan chocolate chip muffin.

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Nom nom…

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NOM! The vegan muffin was amazing! I totally loved it!

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Since I loved the Sweet Rose flavor so much, I decided to get another Organic India hot tea – Chai Masala! The $1 off coupon I found at Earthfare was pretty awesome. I can’t wait to try this new flavor! Cold, cold, go away, come again another day!

Kitchen Update

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Here’s the latest on the kitchen. Our contractor stopped by today and sanded down some spots where the paint was off on the cabinets. He put the mini desk back in place, and they put the drawers back into the cabinets.

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Here’s why I can’t cook. My stove and microwave are in our freakin living room! Ugh…sorry for the mess people. Things will look better once our cabinets are installed and we can get things organized.

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They also started installing our “peninsula”. It’s basically a kitchen island, but it’s attached to a wall, so we’re calling it a “peninsula.” lol

We have a lot more work lined up for the weekend. I’m hoping things are complete by next week! So exciting!

Bake Sale Update

The amazing Fran Costigan of The Natural Gourmet Institute, dairy-free baker extraordinaire, has joined the Online Bake Sale for Haiti! I first heard about Fran when I saw her Chocolate Cake to Live For (vegan) on the Get Fresh with Sara Snow show. Her recipe was the first vegan recipe I was thrilled to try and I knew as soon as I saw it that I had to try it some time. I haven’t tried the recipe yet but I hope to soon. In fact, whenever I finally make a trip to NYC, a trip to the NGI and a class with Fran will be on my agenda.

Thanks so much for joining the bake sale Fran! :)

Have you ever baked anything vegan? If yes, what’s your favorite vegan thing to bake? If no, why haven’t you tried any vegan baking recipes yet?

I Cheated on EIM…A Little

I kept breakfast cook-free.

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Coffee, Vanilla Oikos, Bear Naked Fit (hubby picked the granola out).

How awesome is this granola! I love the little fruit puffs…they melt away! So neat! Great flavor!

I’m loving these colors together.

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I tried a new frozen meal today – Helen’s Kitchen – Hearty Bean Chili , which seems to be based on tofu steaks. I wasn’t sure what tofu steaks were but I soon found out.

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Nutrition

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Yay recycling!

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High points – yay GMO free!

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Recommended garnish. Nice!

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The tofu steaks were like rectangles of a nice, firm tofu. I l liked them.

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I enjoyed the chili with an AB&J – Barney Butter (almond butter) and organic pomengranate jelly on Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat. I don’t think I remember PB&J style sammies being this good! New lunch staple maybe?

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Four pitted dates a co-worker brought in. It amazes me how sweet dates are! They are sweeter than chocolate!

And here’s where I cheated a little…

As much as I love this Eat in Month Challenge, I really don’t see myself eating a week’s worth of frozen/processed foods. I decided to go out, but to stay as close to home-cooked food as possible.

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I thought, hey…I could go to the grocery store and get a bunch of veggies to prep a salad, but why dirty up knives, cutting boards, and plateware I can’t easily clean (the bathroom sink is TINY!). I also figured I could heat a can of soup up, but same problem…where to clean!?

Hubby and I went to Earthfare and I got an affordable dinner – salad and vegan minestrone soup.

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Soup was awesome!

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Salad: baby spin, romaine, carrots, purple cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, sprouts, feta, balsamic dressing. Nomalicious and REAL food!

Though the frozen meals I’ve been eating have been as unprocessed as possible, I still think there’s no replacement for REAL food. I prefer to use frozen meals and processed foods occasionally, rather than the majority of the time.

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I was not able to resist the cookie bar. As hubby pointed out, I could buy a pack of 6 cookies to take home and eat or I could just get one. It felt like cheating but it felt so right!

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More photography practice.

Now you see it…

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Now you…well you see it’s “ghost”. This is called “ghosting” – where you sort of see an image, but it’s almost see-through, like a ghost!

Anywho, the ghost did not disappear…not into thin air at least. I ate it and it was delish! Yummers!

I can’t wait for more baked goodies next week. I see so many things I want to bid on!

Speaking of the Online Bake Sale for Haiti…we have 53 bakers guys! You are all wonderful! Thanks for supporting the bake sale by offering to bake and/or even just spreading the word through blog posts, tweets (#bake4haiti), and word of mouth. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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