Monday, April 13, 2009

Really? REALLY?

Around these parts, when it rains it POURS. I'm sure that you're sick to death of hearing me whine about all the super fun vet bills I've been paying for. So, instead of complaining about my dogs I have something new to complain about: my car!

I know that it's not really a new complaint, but last week it decided that it had started for the last time. Well - the last time until I took it to the shop to get it fixed.

According to my dad my car was a textbook case of "dead starter". Which in wallet-speak translates into "an easy $400 bill that you will have to pay. BWA HA HA!". OK, maybe not that last part, but that's sure what it sounded like to me in my head.

Good thing I have an E-Fund that is large enough to help me pay for this bill without incurring any more debt (except that I put it on my credit card for now - I'm going to get some points and make a massive payment from my next paycheck). If you don't have an E-Fund set up yet - DO IT NOW. I cannot tell you the happiness that it has created in my life. When I run out of food and money at the same time? My E-Fund is there for me, holding my hand, telling me that it's all going to be OK.

My BFF Hilda and I worked out a budget together the other day, and while I agreed to cut my car fund savings per month (it was a fairly unreasonable amount anyway) I put my foot down and told her that there was no way I was going to stop putting $200 a month into the general E-Fund and $100 a month into the Dog E-Fund. She was not only impressed that I had an E-Fund, she was also completely impressed that I had set up a fund just for the dogs. But, really, can you blame me? I don't know that I can handle another month like March (it was really expensive, dude!) without any help. Probably I would cry and be forced to move back home with my parents where I would probably cry some more.

But, back to my car. The $400 made my heart skip a beat, until I realized that with a new starter:
  1. My car will start up every time I decide that it should. Yay!
  2. I can put off buying a new car. Yay!
  3. This still might be something I can own:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Big Big Move

I'm in the process of packing up and moving (again). I'm relocating to California about a year and a half after I intended to, and money has become a real issue since I don't have a job officially lined up yet.

On the bright side, I have lined up a roommate. But the prospect of being unemployed is a daunting one. I'm the type of person who has grown accustomed to working three jobs at a time, and the economy in my current college town is dying. Not slow. Not yet dead. Actually dying. There are no jobs to be found anywhere, even at the fast food joints. Though college students do receive preferential treatment for employment, the places for menial work specialize in paying high school wages.

So, I am pretty much officially destitute. The good news is, I was hired for a summer internship where all my expenses (like food, room and board) are being covered. I'll be working as a Residential Assistant for a summer program specializing in gifted students, and so for one month of work I'll be receiving about $1,800. I do get the weekends off, during which time I plan to come back to Kansas City and work at my old job in the cosmetics emporium. They'll pay me $8.25 an hour, which isn't great, but I can work 16 to 24 hours a week and have a take home pay of about $115 or so. $460 isn't a lot, but every little bit helps.

I did call them and tell them I would be returning home for a few months and wanted to work. School ends May 6 and I'm not required to report to the job until June 1, so I'll have three and a half weeks to generate some serious income. My goal is to earn $1500 between now and when I actually leave for California.

I am also in the process of selling my car. After checking market values and making reasonable adjustments for the economic situation, I think I can get $2,000 for it. It's six years old, with 140,000 on it, which equals out to a little over 20,000 miles per year, and the car still works fabulously. It looks as though the tenants who took over my duplex in Lenexa will probably purchase it. I'll take the money with me to California and added together with my money from the internship and the cosmetics emporium, I'm hoping to have $5,000 stashed away.

It is a lot of money, especially by my standards, but there are a lot of expenses I'll having coming up. I'll need to make my budget around that figure and excluding any student loans or pell grants because I have no idea what I'm actually going to receive once I enroll in the college out there. And I do have a concern that $5,000 might not be enough. Automatically, $1,000 will have to go towards the deposit. My roommate is currently scouting out places and we're positive we've found the ideal place to meet our needs, but the rent itself is going to be about $650 a piece before utilities, and that's considerably cheaper than the place she had initially picked!

I also imagine it's going to cost about $300 to get my car re-registered. Traditionally, my dad has covered the licensing and registration for my car as my annual birthday gift, but I don't think I should stake on that continuing since I'll be several states away and it won't be the matter of convenience for him it was before. And if my consumption in Emporia is indicative of anything, I need to be prepared to spend about $200 for the utilities. Already I'm aware of $1,500 in pending charges, and moving is going to cost me about $550, which is still way cheaper than I thought initially. It will cost $140 (taxes included) to rent a U-Haul, $150 to buy the trailer to haul the U-Haul and I'm estimating $160 for gas. The remaining $200 or so should cover food and other miscellaneous expenses. Since my dad will likely be the person driving across the country with me, I'd like to be able to pay for his meals as well as my own, and if I have enough left over, pay for his return ticket to Kansas City although he has a free flight through Midwest. Just a kind of, "Thanks, Dad," if I can.

So, already I know a good $2,050 or so will be committed elsewhere. I'd also like to give myself a little breathing room because my student loans won't come in until August or September, and the rest of that money needs to support me until then. I need to plan on $1,500 in living expenses per month; this means for July and August I'll need $3,000 left over after the move, just to be on the safe side.

It feels good to have a plan, and go about executing it. Like I have some control.