Archive for March, 2008


I am breaking my $50/month entertainment budget to get the special 2fer tickets to Disneyland. For $66, you get admission (on 2 separate days) to Disneyland and to California Adventure.

If you are a Disney fan like I am and you live in Southern California (or Northern Baja California), definitely check out this deal. It’s probably the best deal you’ll get, seeing as how most Disney tickets sell for, at the very least, 95% of full ticket value.

I also want to go to DisneyWorld in Orlando before the cruel, cruel years strip me of the magic of Disney. That will be one pricey trip.


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Spring (or shoe?) fever

So about this clothing hiatus that is saving me C.A.S.H...

I want out! I don’t know what it is (Spring shoe fever? Single Ma blames the weather) but all of a sudden I’ve been bitten by the I-want-new-shoes bug.

Here are the shoes I’d like if the Shoe Fairy suddenly showed up with her magic wand (made of $$$).

J.Crew Blythe Peep-toe Heels in Dark Poppy, $168.00

Banana Republic ‘Perla’ Sutton chain-link open toe pump in Espresso, $138.00


J.Crew Twyla Midheels in Platinum Gold, $175.00


The brown pump would be most work-appropriate and the gold sandals would be wonderful for spring or summer, but I have to admit that the red peep-toes are my favorite.

Which of the three pairs would you choose?

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I am so, so excited about the movie that’s coming out in May. Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda – you ladies have been missed! (By the way, I love the photo below – head-to-toe black is always NYC chic, but don’t they look gorgeous in color?)


It’d be hard to pin down my favorite moments… but I’ll try! And all those hours of watching SATC in my dorm room was not a complete waste of time, as I’ve garnered quite a few nuggets of wisdom from the show.

My favorite moments & lessons:

1. When Carrie realizes that she’s spent $40,000 on shoes but could not secure a loan on her own to buy out her share of the co-op after she breaks up with Aidan.

Personal finance lesson for the gals – don’t be the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe! Manolos can’t fund a retirement.

2.  When Carrie tells off Big at the top of her stairs right before she leaves for Paris to meet Aleksandr Petrovsky.

Love lesson for the boys – don’t take her for granted and don’t play stupid games! One day a famous Russian artist just might come and sweep her away to Europe.

3. When Charlotte tearily tells Harry that she loves him at the Jewish get-together. She’s okay with not getting married (and for Charlotte – that’s REALLY love when she’s willing to take marriage off the table, even temporarily) as long as they get back together. AndHarry says no. And you see Charlotte’s face fall. And then he gets on one knee…

Love-life-lesson: Trust in God’s plan and have patience. And when it happens, it’ll be amazing no matter what.

4. When Samantha gave up her hair appointment to Miranda and offered to babysit Brady.

Friend lesson: The best present isn’t about money.

5. When Trey shows up at the last minute to Charlotte’s Town & Country photo-shoot.

Money-life lesson: Money can’t buy you love (unless you define love to be really nice Park Avenue classic 6, in which case, money DOES buy you love!).

What were your favorite SATC moments & lessons?

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I remember when I got my first dividend a year or so ago… I think it was for $36.–

Now, I just took a quick look at my investment summary, and apparently I’ve received $166.35 in dividends for 2007 and $70.06 for year-to-date 2008.

So.. not life-changing amounts. I don’t even notice them much because I automatically re-invest all my distributions, but – they are there, evidence that I am the OWNER of some tiny fraction of a company (or, since I invest in funds, very tiny parts of many, many companies), and when that company has PROFIT, as a shareholder I have CLAIM to some (again, tiny) part of its net income.

Saving is important, yes, but I’ve always saved. It’s only when I took the step towards investing that I found personal finance so much more fun (I spent the last several nights reading books on asset allocation).

Here’s the ad copy – clever, no?


*I am neither affliated with, nor do I endorse, Citigroup’s Women & Co. in any way. I am not a financial adviser – please do not rely on this blog for financial advice.

**The first thing I thought upon seeing the ad was – “wow – those cheekbones” and, “love the coat.”

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It’s been over a year since I did a hair post, so… lo and behold, the hair post of 2008!

Inspired by a comment from reader Stacy:

One thing that I discovered was eating up a chunk of money is my hair. I tallied up how many times I got my hair cut and highlighted last year — not many, and the total cost came to $530 with tips! This is for four haircuts and three highlights, at not even very expensive salons and when I was trying to go a long time between each salon visit. This also doesn’t include hair products — on which I don’t always buy the drugstore versions, but I do wait until I can get a deal (a Redken buy two get two free special was the last one!) and then stock up. I have thin hair that is very hard to make look nice, so basically my philosophy was to do as much as I could to make it look good…

So…I hope I don’t sound like a snob here. Most girls I know spend WAY more than this on their hair. What do you think? Thanks!

I tallied up my own hair costs… I have thick wavy hair that tends to frizz up even if there is no humidity what-so-ever. I never dye my hair (it’s so dark that the stylist would have to strip out all my natural color, then deposit the new color – I can’t just get highlights or lowlights like a light brunette or a blond can).

A year ago I splurged and paid $200+ to professionally straighten my hair. It’s been nice and straight and much more manageable, but I don’t know if I want to pay such big $$$ to re-do the procedure. Some people have complimented me on my hair’s “body” and “waves”, but unless I’m willing to spend 10+ minutes in the morning working on it, it just looks messy.

If I make the chemical straightening a once-a-year thing, I’d be looking at a ~$400 annual hair budget:
Straightening: $250
Shampoo & conditioner: $10 a set x 4 = $40 (I use drugstore stuff without any sulfates)
Haircut: $20/cut x 3 cuts = $60 (I gave up my lovely little hair boutique)
Total: $350, maybe with another $50 tossed in for incidentals.

That’s about $30 a month on hair. HAIR. Dead cells! (But such pretty dead cells).

So my current plan is, wait until my hair gets so unruly that I can’t stand it anymore, then go get it straightened again. I think I can hold out at least ’til May.

Readers – how much do you spend on hair? Gentlemen are welcome to chime in!

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Since it’s Monday…

I’m keeping a countdown ’til Friday!

And so the cycle continues.

I’m almost out of my shampoo & conditioner – that makes me very excited because it means that I can finally buy new ones. I also can’t wait ’til I’m done with all my lotions (at this point, it’ll take me YEARS to go through them), because I’ve been eyeing a new pack of body butters at Costco.

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Since it’s Friday…

I’m silently jumping up and down for joy.

Today, I am going to go to work. I am going to eat one (or two) delicious Trader Joe’s tamales ($1.99 for pack of two). Heat ’em up real nice and imagine you are in a restaurant. Seriously – they are that good.

After work, I’m picking up CB at the train station.

Then, we might have dinner at a little Thai restaurant nearby, or make something at home if I’m feeling especially virtuous.

At night, we’ll go to the museum for an hour right before it closes. I have a membership (part of my education budget), so we can get in for free.

What will you do this Friday?

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This money story is of Beachgirl, a long-time pf blogger who is “living the American Dream” and “paying off some debts in order to do it.” Here she tells us how she did it.

I’m 27, live in the DC-metro area, and work as a consultant. I was lucky in that my mom taught me starting from a young age about money and how to be responsible with it. When I went to college and got my first credit card, I was smart and only charged what I could pay off. I’ve never had a balance on my credit card, except when it was a 0% interest rate. Even then, I make sure to pay it off fully before any interest would kick in.

When I graduated from undergrad, I only had about $9,000 in student loans. However, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after I graduated, so I went to grad school. While I don’t regret my decision to go to grad school (it helped me get where I am today), I amassed a total of $45,000 in school loans.

Most of the debt ($40,000) was federal loans and I able to consolidate them at 2.625% for 30 years. The last $5,000 was a private loan with a variable interest rate. When I started paying on it in November 2004, the rate was about 4%. When I paid it off in March 2007, it was over 8%.

My parents are having some financial difficulties due to my dad’s illness. He lost his job and is now applying for disability. Having rarely worked for anyone that provided retirement benefits, they have very little saved for retirement. They are also without medical insurance, which is too expensive for them to pay for themselves. They have borrowed money from me, which I am more than willing to do. I know they would do the same for me if the roles were reversed.

My goals are to pay off my debt and continue to save money so that I can provide a better future for myself and my parents.

Even though financial experts may advise caution in helping out family members financially, like Beachgirl, I can’t imagine NOT helping my parents if they really needed it. Beachgirl is facing what many Americans may face in the coming years as Baby Boomers become older… I guess all we can do is save & pray.

Please check out her blog at beachgirlsbudgetblog.blogspot.com for more!


See here for more Money Stories

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Is it just me, or can retirement experts really be downers?

So this book tells me that a million is not enough. This calculator ups it a notch and tells me what is enough: $4 million. Okay, well, I can save and save and count on the stock market to get me there, right? Not so fast!, this expert says. According to his (very sound analysis), stock returns will mostly likely be lower in the future than it has in the past. The real return of equity may hover around 3.5%.

It’s enough to make a girl want to throw up her spreadsheets and go buy shoes instead. But I can’t. Time is on my side – now. It won’t be forever.*

So if I save save save – with a hope and a prayer -and a cooperative market (down when I’m in the accumulation phase (i.e. now) and high-flying during my withdrawal phase), I’ll get there.

*Doesn’t that sound like the tagline for an appropriately depressing personal finance tome?
Your Financial Clock is Ticking: How to Save for Retirement Before It’s Too Late and You Wind Up On The Streets Eating Government Cheese

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It’s now the middle of March, and I still haven’t bought any clothing, shoes, or accessories since the end of December 2007.

Which means I made it through after-Christmas sales, New Year’s Day sales, Holiday Clearance sales, and now am in the process of resisting Spring sales.

Which means, I really, really want to buy something!!

I stopped by Target this weekend and was instantly assailed by lovely print frocks and jersey dresses and cute ballet flats, all under $20.

Me walking out of the store with only cookies & cereal = willpower!

P.S. A big thank-you to everyone who commented and delurked. It’s awesome to know a little bit more about my readers. 🙂

P.P.S. The Save-O-Meters have been updated. It’s a slow & steady journey but I will get to the finish line.

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