Budget Lexicon

Tips for living a fabulous life on a budget

Saving Money Tip: Rethink Where You Live June 4, 2008

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One of the biggest challenges that I faced when I decided to start saving money was my rent. I lived in a sorority for two years in college, so when I graduated I decided to live by myself. I soon found that paying rent and bills by myself started to add up and there was not a lot left over for saving.

I had two choices – to get a roommate or move to less expensive apartment. I found an adorable studio apartment for a steal on Westside Rentals. My studio is located on one of the most expensive streets in LA; my rent includes a private garage with storage, all my utilities, and the largest kitchen that I have ever had in an apartment.

I have included a few pics to prove that if you really look, you can find a great apartment on a budget. These pics are kinda old because I have had repair men going through my apartment and did not have time to take new ones.


Saving Money Tip: Start Thinking About Your Financial Goals May 19, 2008

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Personal Finance for Dummies begins by asking you about your short-term and long-term financial goals. It might sound very basic, but this question really made me stop and think. Before reading this book, I was a typical twenty-something spending my paychecks and not thinking about where I financially wanted to be when I turned 30. I realized if I didn’t start paying attention, I probably would not be buying real estate or doing any extensive travel.

I decided on a short-term financial goal of a European vacation next summer and a long-term goal of buying a condo. One of the most interesting arguments in the book was that only things that appreciate in value should be financed, like education or real estate. Things that depreciate in value should be paid entirely in cash, like cars and vacations. While I think that the concept is correct, I think it would be really hard to buy a car in cash and save for a condo. But considering my other goals…it will be a long time before I even start thinking about a new car.

If you haven’t started thinking about your long and short term financial goals – now is the time to start. If you are unsure of what you want, start saving approximately 10% of your paycheck. You can at least start an emergency fund and will be on your way when you decide what your goals are.


Saving Money Tip – My Take On Take-Out May 5, 2008

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Middle East Feast – $3.99 (ready-made)
Okami California Roll – $2.99 (ready-made)
Thai Style Pasta Salad – $3.99 (ready-made)
Gnocchi al Gorgonzola – $3.99 (frozen)

Sometimes after a long work week, I really enjoy a Friday evening in with good take out and a glass of “TV wine” (usually Two Buck Chuck). It is really nice waking up early Saturday morning feeling refreshed – ready for a long run, brunch, and a day of errands.

It seems like I can never find good take out for less than $10-$15. A great way I learned to save money and eat healthier on take-out nights is to make the grocery store my take-out restaurant of choice. Both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have robust ready-made and frozen food sections that are great for “take-out” Friday night dinners.

I also try to keep my freezer stocked with my fav frozen take-out so I don’t have to run out for an impromptu take-out night.

My fav take out items from Trader Joe’s are the Middle East Feast – $3.99 (ready-made), Okami California Roll – $2.99 (ready-made), Thai Style Pasta Salad (ready-made)- $3.99, and Gnocchi al Gorgonzola – $3.99 (frozen).


Saving Money Tip – What Does Recession Mean To You? April 28, 2008

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Technically, we’re not in a recession yet, but we are definitely heading there. As young women in our twenties without families or mortgages, we wonder whether the recession really effects us?

Not to be a barer of bad news, but the answer is yes. Gas and food prices have been skyrocketing, job layoffs are on the rise, and more renters are being displaced because leasing companies have been losing their buildings (mortgages do not only effect home owners).

Okay, now that I have scared you, please take a step back from the ledge and remember the best defense is a good offense. The best offense for recession is to have 3-6 months of savings in a high yield savings account. This savings can protect you if you lose your job, are forced to move, etc.

If you do not have any savings yet, take a deep breath, and realize that now is the perfect time to start. The first step to develop saving plan is paying off any residual credit card debt. If you were to lose your job, this debt could get significantly out of control. Also, carrying a large balance on your credit card effects your credit rating.

A great way to figure out how to save or chip away at that credit card debt, is to analyze your bank statement. You can see where you are spending the most money and develop ways to reduce this spending. I will also be including a weekly Budget Lexicon “saving money tip” to help you get on your way.