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Archive for August, 2008

Research is paying off!

August 26th, 2008 at 02:51 pm

Tracking my money has opened my eyes. So far the bulk of my income goes towards clothes and food. Now that I know I can make changes accordingly.

I got my check from my research study, $205.30 into my extra income earned for the month! Yay, that will help with the areas I went over. I'm going to deposit it into my bank account today.

I also completed one more research study yesterday and I will be getting $50.00 in the mail. I looked up a few more last night, I'll send out emails today and see if they're still recruiting. Hopefully I can make some extra income for next month.

I also found $1 in the parking lot this morning!

Do I have Chase written on my forehead?

August 25th, 2008 at 03:20 pm

So this week has been hectic. I'm over my food budget and clothing budget.

I've been covering and doing two jobs since my coworker left. They just got someone new to cover so hopefully they don't need me to do a ton of training.

I also has a longtime friend ask me to co-sign a loan for him. I don't know if anyone has been in this position before, but it's a bit unnerving. I want to help my friend but I have to take a step back and wonder, why is he in the position?

Here's a little background: I've known him since high school and he's had a crush on me since then. We became friends in high school and even though we went to different colleges, we've always kept in touch. We never dated because I've always considered him a friend and was never attracted to him.
So when he asked for me to cosign, I thought about all his bad spending habits. He loves shoes and buys expensive sneakers and italian leather shoes. He also love brand name clothing and would never leave his home in anything less. I mean he's always dressed very well, but he can't afford it on his income.

Now he says he needs money for grad school and to buy a new car. Why didn't he think about that before you spent $400 to $600 on shoes!? I have a shopping addiction but I always had enough money to at least make the minimum payments on my credit cards. I never missed a payment becuase I knew that I wanted a home later in life and I needed good credit to get loans for grad school. My friends knew this, so they all know I have good credit. I guess that made me the Loan Center of the group(yeah right!).

This is the 7th person in the last year whose asked me to cosign a loan! I told him no as nicely as I could. I just have to wonder if I have Chase written across my face. They all seem to want to use my good credit. Furthermore why would a friend put another in a position like that? If I was in the same position, I would be embarassed to let my friends know that I was so irresponsible, I can't get a loan on my own.

Not sticking to the Budget

August 19th, 2008 at 06:35 pm

Yesterday, I was so busy that I wasn't able to pack lunch or plan to pack for this week. Now I'm spending like crazy on food.

Breakfast coffee: $2.50
Muffin: $1.63

Lunch: $5.00

Today, I had breakfast at home but still went out to lunch with co-workers.
Lunch: $7.00
Then I bought snacks: $3.00

There goes the food budget.

I also went shopping:
I needed new sheets because I believe in changing your sheets frequently. However all the washing is wearing the fabric.

I spent $79.24 on 2 sheet sets and an extra pillowcase set.

I also bought a pair of jeans and a shirt :$64.80, a pair of cute flats: $34.99, and a cute French Connection top: $59.00.

Well there goes the clothing budget.

Research Studies-an untapped source for extra money

August 18th, 2008 at 04:20 pm

I work in a major city near many hospitals, so I am exposed to numerous research studies. I've signed up for quite a few and they have always been a steady source of extra income. I not only like the idea of making some extra funds, I love knowing I have a small part in finding a cure or treatment for some disease.

Before I talk about where you can find research studies, I want everyone to be aware of what they entail (based on my experiences).

Sleep studies pay the most, but they are also the most demanding. Some are 1 week long others are 30 days long. You can get paid from $200 to $6000. You spend the entire time in the sleep facilities of the hospital and there are usually no windows, no cell phones, and no watches. You are not allowed to know the time. Some studies require you to be awake for 72 hours (at different times) while you lay in bed. There will be someone to entertain you so that you can stay awake during this time. You are allowed to read, play board games and maybe watch DVDs (no TV) in between testing. I've done a few and they are stressful.

Nutrition studies are fun because they provide you with meals. They usually require that you keep a food diary. They do not pay as much as the sleep studies but they are not as stressful.

There are sensory studies, they stimulate a sense (visual or auditory) and gauge your response. This might entail getting and MRI, while they play a certain type of music or after you watch a particular DVD. You may also do computer task to test your memory. These studies usually collect info that may help stroke victims who lose some sensory abilities.

All human studies (Clinical Trials) are approved by a certified board (IRB). You get a copy of the study protocol and numbers that you can call to verify that they are approved. This board makes sure that although some subjects may feel discomfort, no harm will come to the subjects because of this study.

If anything were to happen, the hospital will absorb all the health costs. If you have health insurance, they may work with them to cover the remaining costs. I have never had any issues where I needed further medical attention due to participating in a study. This is caution is geared toward people who have a preexisting condition and need more attention after the study.

These are just a few of many different types of studies that are out there. Here are a few more things you should know:

Many studies offer parking reimbursement if you drive in.
If you purchase any items because of the study, save your receipt, you will be reimbursed (You should ask the study coordinator at the screening visit about their reimbursement policy). For example: you are on a low carbohydrate diet study and buy Crystal Lite to drink with the prepackaged lunch your study provided.

If you are afraid of blood draws or IV's then most (NOT ALL) research studies are not for you. They usually require blood and urine samples. The blood they take is less than what you would donate.

The study coordinator should go over the entire study (the risks and benefits) before you sign or commit to the study. They should also know your medical history and they do this by asking you a series of questions.
Before any blood draw the nurses/research coordinator should take your blood pressure and temperature.

You must qualify for the study and they determine your qualification via a telephone interview or a screening visit (sometimes you are paid for the visit).

Parents can sign their kids up for studies. These are less invasive studies and require the parent be present for all study visits.

Some studies are very particular; they only want men, or only postmenopausal women, or premenopausal women, or women who are not on birth control etc. Just read the eligibility requirements before you call or email the recruiter.
If you are not healthy and have a preexisting condition, you can find a research study.

You should participate in a study that suits you. If you have a hard time staying on a diet, do not sign up for a calorie restricting nutrition study.

Most importantly, you are a VOLUNTEER! Even if you are getting paid, you can withdraw at any time. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, do not hesitate to withdraw. If you do not like the nurse, request another or withdraw if the entire study team makes you uncomfortable.

Here are a few resources to find research studies in you area:

Craigslist: They are usually listed under et cetra jobs, volunteer section, or healthcare section. You can go to GOOGLE type: your city craigslist research.
Example: Boston craigslist research study

Clinicaltrials.gov: You can type in your city AND healthy.
Example: Boston AND Healthy

Browse your closest hospital's website. They most likely have a research study.

Universities, Medical, Psychological, Dental schools in you area are also conducting research studies. Go to their websites or type in the name of the school and "research studies."

Good luck if you look into studies and let me know if you have any questions. I'll try my best to answer them.

I'm Calm Now

August 15th, 2008 at 10:43 pm

Ok, so I feel better now because of the advice and encouragement to keep up with the budget from fellow bloggers.

One of my co-workers, who was hardworking and really good at her job, is leaving. That means, I have to pick up her slack because her replacement is inept. At least she's not moving too far away. Silver lining: I got free lunch because we went out to thank her for all the work that she's done and the department head paid. I'll miss herFrown

I paid the electric and cable bills today. The cable was fine but the electric was $20 dollars over budget. I think it's because my mom now refuses to turn off the hallway lights when we go to bed. She really thinks that we will not find our way to the bathroom (of course that's completely unreasonable because we've lived here for 10 year). Then there's the issue of not turning off the TV when leaving the room. I can't stand that, it's a waste of energy. W should all make an effort to reduce our carbon footprint.

I also sent the minimum payment for my small school loan today. The company in charge of my loan has really lax communication skills. They do not send the statements in time; so as paranoid as I am, I check every two weeks to make sure it's not due and I'll be charged a late fee.

I also signed up for two research studies. They are both long term. One pays $5000 if I qualify! I hope I can do it. The only downside is I get paid when I complete the study, which is 2 years long. The other study is also 2 years long but I get paid each visit ($50 visit 1 then $25/visit).

I'm really trying to get some extra income because I'm so over budget this month.

Over Budget and Frustrated

August 15th, 2008 at 02:34 pm

Ok so I knew that this was an experimental budget. I never had one before and I wanted to set limits and make adjustments for the budget for next month. It's just frustrating to see how much money I just spent!

I bought books at B&N that I could not find at amazon.com, overstock.com or half.com--grand total $65.01 for 2 books! What a rip off! At least there was no shipping fee.

Then I registered to take a grad school exam next month--$210! Oh yeah and if I cancel, I only get $105 back! If I reschedule the date, I pay an additional fee.

No wonder many students do not want to continue their education, they can't afford it! So today's spending comes to $275.01 from the miscellaneous portion of my budget(which was $100). It gets better, I have to drive for 1.5 hours to get to the testing site. So the cost of driving adds to the equation.

I'm just gonna suck it up, I mean it's an investment in my future. Hopefully I can continue my education and make way more money than I am now with my new degree.

At least it's FRIDAY!Smile

Time for a change

August 13th, 2008 at 03:42 pm

Yesterday was a NO SPEND DAY, yay!

I also decided to start going to the gym on a regular basis since I was already paying membership fees. I want to lose a few pounds. In addition to going to the gym, I will watch what I eat. I'm not going to deny myself my favorite foods. I will instead portion them better and try to eat more healthy meals. (More fruits and veggies)

I want to go back to school. I do not have my dream job and the possibility of promotions are slim. So I'll look into different grad schools and the programs out there over the next few weeks.

Interesting week

August 11th, 2008 at 02:58 pm

So work has been a blur of project after project. My list is still long and I have one big one I'm still working on but I need to call some consult some specialists before I can continue.

The weekend went well, although there were scattered thunderstorms. I hadn't seen my BF for a while because he was travelling on business, but we got to spend the weekend togeter. Smile I'm helping him look for a condo to buy and it's time consuming because he's so picky. I'm happy for him though, he's finally going to move out of the house he rents with 4 other guys (can you say party house) and he'll have nice place to live.

He asked me to move in with him when he gets the new place. Can I confess that I was petrified! I'm afraid of commitment and he knows this. I've had a bad relationship in the past that made me shrink away from investing my heart so fully into someone else. I think that there should always be a piece of you that belongs to you. After you've given to your partner, your family, even your kids...there should always be a piece of you that you keep for yourself. In nurturing that piece, you won't feel unappreciated or run down. I mean no one can take of yourself like you can.

I say all of this to justify why I told him no. I'm not ready to leave my mom until I feel like she can fully function on her own. I could still pay for all her bills if I live with him, but then I would not have all the great times I'm having with her now. I also know that I would go back to my old ways if I lived with him. He makes waaayyyy more money than I do and he wants to pay for everything. So I'll eventually think it's okay to go shopping and I'll get into old habits. Plus I want to be on my own for a while. I don't want to have to depend on someone. I love him but I want to wait until I'm ready.

So as I was reading some of your blogs, I noticed people were doing online surveys for extra cash. I 've decided to be part of an ON CALL list to make extra cash. I get paid $2/hr when I am not at work (including weekends) to be avaialbe in case there is an emergency and I have to come in. So I'm getting paid even when I'm not at work! I also finished up a research study. It was about 2 weeks long and I'm expecting $200 for participation. I think I'll save half and put the other half towards bills. I'll look into survey sites and more short term research studies for extra income.

Lower Interest Rates and My Shopping Habits

August 6th, 2008 at 05:24 pm

So yesterday I called my credit card companies and tried to lower my intetest rates.

Good news first:
Cap1 was lowered to 7.9%! YAY!
Disc will remain at 0% until Sept 19th. Then it goes to 15.99% Frown

Not so good news:
Amx will remain at 15.99%.

My plan of action is to not carry a balance on the cards that are paid off (Amx and Disc). If I pay my entire bill, I can avoid fiance charges.
I will try my best to pay off Cap1 as soon as possible.

Then I will call back at the start of October and ask for a lower rate.

So as I have revealed, I am a recovering shopaholic. I've also read some interesting blogs which helped me realize that I'm not alone. The difference is that the people I've read about have a stronger willpower than I do.

I will shop on impulse and it doesn't even matter which store! I could be in Barney's New York or Forever21 or the supermarket...I always end up getting way more than I plan to. At first I feel elated and excited about my new outfit or the ingredients for the 14 new recipies I HAVE to try, then guilty I just spent the money that could have gone into my savings. (PS I've stopped kidding myself about the 14 recipies)

So I've avoided large shopping areas and I always take along a frugal friend (They are on the brink of extinction in these parts)when I go shopping.

Biggest hurdle: FRIENDS!
They are a bad influence on my finances.

The Beginning...

August 4th, 2008 at 10:55 pm

Here I am evaluating what got me to this point and slowly I am coming to terms with it.

I worked hard in college and paid my way through school. I never spent more than I had, so I left school with only $14,000.00 of school loans. That was the good ole frugal days.

When I started to work I had more money than I was use to coming in and so after all my bills were paid (thank God i had enough sense to pay the bills first!), I spent all my money on material things. I got a car(which I didn't need), more clothes than I knew what to do with, shoes, bags, and the list goes on.

Then my mom got sick. I moved back home, sold my car and started to pay for everything in the house. In the midst of this I realized that throughout my life I had been in a yoyo relationship with money. I either saved like a miser or spent money like I was worth millions! I never just spent in moderation for my needs. I associated looking good with being successful, but had no savings account to show for it!

I think realizing that I could lose my mom and there would be no one but me to save myself got me thinking. How dare I expect my mom to save me from my self-inflicted financial demise!?

So I am taking responsibility for myself.
I am proving to the people around me that although young people may not always make the right decisions, they can learn from mistakes. I have learned from mine and I hope this blog helps me chronicle my journey to a healthy relationship with money.

Monthly Spending Plan-August 2008

Groceries/Meals $110.93/$40

Household Bills
TV $55.98/$136
Electric $90.03/$136
Laundry Supplies $0/$136

Self Care
Clothing/Shoes $478.47/$140
Hair $0/$140
Gym $82/$140
Beauty $4.95/$140

Movies/Club $19.45/$20

Credit Monitoring $5.99/$529.99
Phone $49.35/$529.99
Macys $52.17/$529.99
Amx $0/$529.99
Capital One $72.17/$529.99
Discover $0/$529.99
Medication $0/$536.99
Small School Loan $50/$529.99
Big School Loan $220/$529.99

Miscellaneous $337.79/$100

Total Expenses $1895.14

Savings Plan
ING Direct $1075/$2000
BofA $800

Total Income $$2331.00