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Weekly Blog Post #12- Work Bonus and a Weekend Getaway


I hope everyone is having a great Tuesday!

I want to share with everyone some great news- I got a bonus and a (small) raise! I had my evaluation with my boss a few weeks ago at the end of March. Per company policy, every employee is evaluated once a year. At my evaluation, I was given a 2% raise (which is guaranteed for cost of living increases) and a 3% merit bonus (which is the max you can get based on performance). After a couple weeks, I finally received a check for the bonus on Friday for $1,600 (after taxes). That was a pretty fantastic feeling; It’s nice to just feel appreciated, let alone be rewarded with a check, as well, is amazing.

You may be asking what I did with my check and the answer is nothing. I had the bank deposit it directly into my savings account where it will allow me to feel much more comfortable with a larger slush fund to carry me through (especially now that I have roof problems). And even though my raise is only going to amount to $20 extra dollars a week, every little bit helps, right?

As for this past weekend, GF finally received her Valentine’s gift, which was a get-away to a B&B where we’ve gone in the past (read about my poor V-Day planning here). The place (for anyone who lives in the area- Asa Ransom House) has an amazing old-timey charm and very romantic setting. We’ve been here on multiple occasion, but never for more than 1 night. Here I am in our room:


We decided to wait to go for a couple of reasons- 1) the place offers buy one night, get one night free during the month of April 2) the nicer spring weather would allow us to get out and enjoy some outdoor activities and 3) my mother’s birthday was during the previous week and we could use part of the weekend to celebrate with my parents. And let me tell you- this past weekend was GORGEOUS. We took advantage of the great weather and did a budget friendly activity- we went to the zoo! I personally love going to Zoo’s and so does my GF, so for the $20 it costs, total, it was an awesome and frugal half day well spent. Here we are in the Buffalo Zoo’s new rain-forest exhibit:


As for celebrating my mother’s birthday, over the years I’ve learned one very important thing about my mother- the only gift that she ever wants is to have her family together. This goes for birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, really any holiday at all. I know this will make me sound cheap but I’ve done everything from cards, to small thoughtful gifts, to large practical gifts in the past and they just don’t do anything for her, so this year, instead of a gift, we spent Saturday afternoon and night at dinner and drinking at her favorite hangout. My dad ALWAYS pays, meaning that I/we didn’t, but I know that the time we spend together as a family means more to my mother than any gift or dinner is worth.

All in all, the weekend ending up totaling about $300 for me. I spent $150 on the room (not including a $100 deposit. One night plus fees and taxes for both nights), 1 dinner at the B&B ($90, a stipulation to get the second night free) and $60 in gratuities (I REALLY like it here and the service is top notch). For the $300, if it was a trip that had we taken not a couple months ago, I would have been hesitant to take (hey, it could be $300 more on my debt!) but was very much worth the price tag and very much worth trying to strike a balance in my life.

And, finally, to anyone interested in my current debt amounts:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid Off
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$24,119.47$3,717.77
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,924.45$3,272.57
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$7,498.52$2,851.66
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$2,234.10
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00

Have a great week!


  • Reply Jasmine |

    Congrats on your bonus/raise and I’m glad you had a nice weekend!!

    Side question, I’m not sure if you’ve already discussed it, but since Ashley’s posts have been focusing a lot on her loans, I was wondering your take. How do you pay extra to your loans? Do you encounter the same issues?

    • Reply Matt |

      Hmmm… good questions. To save myself time from writing it all out, I posted a comment on this which explains how I pay down my Navient student loans.

      TBH, I haven’t had any problems. I think it’s dumb how I have to plan around when my automatic withdrawal and statement dates, but that’s besides the point. Every time I’ve made it payment, my statements have matched what I intended the payment to do.

      I do it all over the web, instead of sending hard copy checks and the fact I never consolidated my loans are the only reasons I can think why people have had problems when I don’t.

  • Reply Jessica |

    This cracks me up! You came to my ‘hood for your weekend getaway, and me and hubby just returned from Erie for our anniversary weekend 🙂

      • Reply Matt |

        HA! Too funny! We LOVE the Erie Zoo, too! It’s so small, quaint, has amazing landscaping and you can walk through it without it taking up a whole day- we usually see everything within an hour or two. O and the fact it only cost 6 or 7 per person to get in doesn’t hurt either.

        I hope you enjoyed Erie! It’s gets a bad rap sometimes (“Dreary Erie”) but I enjoy it. It’s small, pretty safe and has a ton of activities to do during all times of the year. Now, if only we didn’t get so much snow…lol.

  • Reply Sue |

    Congrats on the raise & bonus!!! Glad you took some time away and enjoy life – and you are right – we mom’s only want time with our family – not more “stuff” (at least I do)!!!!

  • Reply Walnut |

    Props to you on the bonus and stashing it away until the full cost of the roofing repairs is a good call.

  • Reply Janelle B |

    As a mom of grown kids, I am in 100% agreement with your mom on the gifting thing. I appreciate cards, phone calls, texts, and thoughtful gifts from my kids, but I would really rather they save their money and come on over for a meal or just to hang out and visit. I never think that makes them sound cheap; I appreciate that they know what I value and love most on such occasions.

  • Reply Jenny |

    Wow, having to pay 90$ for a dinner to get the second night, makes it sound not free at all. Still sounds like a pretty good deal for the weekend though, and sounds like you had a great time. Hope this is making you feel a little better about the balance between enjoying life and paying off debts quickly.

    • Reply Matt |

      You’re right, Jenny, but TBH we definitely splurged at dinner which isn’t something we normally do, but on this occasion we had some reasons to celebrate. So we ordered a couple of the most expensive items on the menu and we got drinks. The value of dinner was way more inflated than what we usually do, but that’s the point of celebrations! And it is making me feel better, much better 🙂

      • Reply Jenny |

        Ahh, glad you cleared that up. You had to buy a dinner, which you ended up spending 90$ on, rather that being required to pay for a 90$ dinner. The way I read it the first time, it seemed like a very poor deal from the b&b.

  • Reply Den |

    Great news – congrats on the raise and bonus! I love all the details about your trip with your GF and your visit with your mom – sounds like you are getting the life balance just right.

    I think it’s great you socked away the money for the roof, but maybe…..if the roof doesn’t cost as much as you think it might…..you could use a little bit of that money for seed money for the rest of your life balances? Put $100 in your “fun money” account to meet friends occasionally….or $50 for some new to you clothes? I think it’s legit to use a small portion of a bonus to take care of some fun stuff too. Just my two cents!

    • Reply Matt |

      Thanks, Den- and I think so, too. This si first a small step in trying to find a balance, but I feel like I’m on my way there.

      I was also thinking about using some of the money for “fun” or for clothes, but I think I would feel safer with it tucked away, even if the roof damage and repair costs are minimal (knock on wood). Starting in May I was going to budget for the fun, at least, anyways, so I don’t know…I guess the money will be there if I ever need it.

  • Reply Fee |

    So I just realised you are so close to having paid off $60k & owing less than $50k! That’s incredible! You should definitely use these two achievements as a reason to celebrate (using your fun money) your progress.

    Again, massive congrats on the payoff and sharing more of ‘you’ in your posts – they’re a great read all the way in Australia!

    • Reply Matt |

      Thanks Fee! That’s a great idea, expect, well… I haven’t started budgeting for the fun, yet. But, I will have it in May! And (hopefully) I’ll hit the 50K milestone in the beginning of June, so it will certainly be an option to celebrate if I feel like I need/want to.

      Thanks for reading, btw! All the way from Australia, very cool!

  • Reply Jean |

    Congrats on your merit increase & bonus. It’s always nice to get that little pat on the back/be recognized for your hard work. I’m also glad to see that you’re working on having more balance in your life.

    Sounds like you had a great weekend. Have you thought about a zoo membership? If you enjoy it, that could be something you could do occasionally and not feel like you had to spend the whole day there. They might also offer a reciprocal membership to zoos. Is a membership tax deductible? I have memberships to our local art institute & historical society – offers me tons of benefits, plus I can write off my membership fees at tax time (just a bonus, IMO).

    My parents just want everyone together as well. But I’m curious: do you offer to leave the tip when your dad pays? My dad used to always insist on paying for everyone, but since he’s now retired it doesn’t happen EVERY time – but when it does, I still offer to leave the tip. Parents can be funny about that, though. My dad paid for my lunch AND gave me ‘gas money’ when I had to take him to a dr appt a few weeks ago (got his eye dilated so he couldn’t drive home).

    I am enjoying the more personalized posts – keep it up!

So, what do you think ?