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Money Diary #003 - February in Review

Time passes by so quickly when we don't expect it to! In January, I was heads down taking two grad classes during the winter session. It was a struggle doing presentations and papers, but I am paying so much for grad school the hustle has to be #worthit. Plus read more below about how I also hacked my tuition payment by using a credit card (yeee yeee).

Right after winter session ended, I spent a family weekend in Atlanta, coinciding perfectly with Black History Month. Then Valentine’s Day came and went, and I went on an annual ski/board trip with friends. I thought that with all my traveling, I would be massively over budget- but surprisingly, I didn’t do too bad! My major expense in Feb? Still grad school, by far.

Here's where I landed in February (numbers rounded for simplicity):

Highlights by Bucket:
1. Grad School Savings & Payments
     - $5,290, Tuition payment 2 of 3.

     - $132.25, Plastiq's 2.5% fee for payment via credit card

Last month I shed a single tear over how I was NOT making this tuition money work for me, and a year into the game, I’m changing the way I play. I did two things: 1. Opened a new Amex credit card with a $300 signup bonus for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months. 2. Paid via Plastiq*. Plastiq allows me to pay tuition via a credit card, in exchange for a flat 2.5% fee. The fee was canceled out by the signup bonus, with extra left to use as I please. ~Boom. So, part of my travels this month will be paid off by strategically using my "tuition"! With a 0% APR on the Amex card, I can let the $5K hang out like an interest free loan. ~Cha ching. *If you are interested in Plastiq, sign up using my referral code 1128917 to get the 2.5% fee waived on $500.

2. Home
     - $236.25, a couch that was worth every penny! It is now sold out on Wayfair, and I know I would’ve regretted not buying it.

I renamed this category since it’s more fitting to just call it “Home” related spending. Having factored in my HOA increase for the year, I felt good about purchasing the couch. I am also glad that gas and water is covered in my HOA bill, so the winter and heating costs haven't affected me much.

3. Necessities
     -  ($121), MTA Refund. In December (yes, 3 months ago) I was charged incorrectly for my monthly Metrocard twice. It took more hours than necessary but I finally got the $121 back in my pocket.

4. Fun & Frustration
     - ($233), Repayment for the airfare I purchased for my dad. This helped make the spend on this category go down.
     - $512, Ski trip, this covered 3 days of transportation, lodging, equipment rentals and lift tickets for Killington, VT.
     - $300, skincare. I transferred money to my mom, who has amazing skin and a noteworthy skincare regime, to help me purchase some Shiseido and korean skin care products. This purchase will last me for the full year. Her connections also provide me many travel sized versions for free. Looking forward to it!
     - $206, ultrasound scan. I went to get an ultrasound to check on a health condition and have another scan scheduled in six months. After speaking with my HDHP provider, I believe that this scan should be upfront charge should be refunded to me. I’m more than a little scared for these scans and their implications (and overthinking everything), but until the next scan I’ll just do my best to be healthy, active, and just not think about it.

Honestly, February went by pretty seamlessly. I went from being overloaded with school and work to now a more manageable level. This vibe has already carried over into March, and I feel like I’m thriving instead of just surviving work+school+life. Now I have time to meal prep better and work out!
Also in Feb, I regained one of my favorite hobbies: reading. I *forgot* how much I love to read until I borrowed some required class readings from the public library versus buying them. I make the time to read on my commute (instead of listening to music/podcasts) and right before bed (instead of using my phone).

A book I just borrowed from the library is Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I never read this book because I thought it was just a gimmick on how to get rich quick (as a kid, I remember seeing too many infomercials featuring the author and I found him inauthentic). I just started reading this today, and I feel like the tides have changed... We’ll see! I may write a blog post it.

Thanks for reading. See you next time!


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