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Archive for April, 2009

Recession fatigue

fatigue

Not just any run-of-the-mill fatigue – I think I’ve got a case of Recession Fatigue.

Some symptoms / realizations:

  • It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve decided to spend more money rather than saving all my dollars for emergency fund. Did that for several months, then realized that the end of the recession is very far off. I am much happier and much more able to keep a consistent level of savings when I’m not going for broke (figuratively speaking) every month.
  • News have become depressingly similar. The bad news is bad. The good news is only good because it’s not as bad as people expected. Talk about the power of low expectations.
  • Feeling surprisingly sanguine about the whole economy and the job market (although I realize that as a single young person, it’s much easier for me to say that than if I were a parent with dependents). If I lose my job, I will adjust. I will survive. I’ll do better than survive.

Do you have recession fatigue? What are your symptoms?

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Total luxury

A fluff  ‘n fold laundry service will stop by my apartment tomorrow morning.

Laundry is one of my least favorite household activities. So while sending laundry out is definitely a luxury ($1.50 per pound), it is one which I appreciate, deeply.

Do you outsource any household chores?

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For several months there, I’ve been able to save $2,000 per month (over 50% of my net income).

Those days are over for a while. I’ve made a conscious decision to spend more money on the things that are important to me (of course, a less charitable characterization would be that I’m inflating my lifestyle!). Namely, they are:

1. My own place. Living alone will definitely be a luxury – I pay $750 to share a 2 bedroom apartment, but a studio or a 1 bedroom will cost me $1,000+. But I’m really excited in the apartment search, and it’ll be so nice to finally experience living on my own.

2. Dance classes. For the longest time I’ve put off taking salsa and tango because I thought the money is better served going into my emergency fund. But dance is just about the only form of exercise I can enjoy doing for long periods of time (unlike, say, the treadmill, when every. single. minute. crawls at a snail’s pace.), so I view this as an investment in my health.

3. Fun + travel. I’m going to try to squeeze in more weekend trips. Despite having lived in California for years, I really haven’t seem much of the area at all. I’ve been to more COUNTRIES than I have to the different locales in the Golden State. This oversight must be remedied.

4. Applications. I am gearing up to retake my test and apply to graduate school. School visits, interviews, application fees, etc. etc. all add up. But that’s okay. I’m not going to worry about that expenditure too much. Money that must be spent, must be spent.

For now, I shall put out of my head the $100K tuition bill. I hope, if I get a good enough GMAT score, I can ‘score’ some scholarship money. Too bad there’s no Foundation for the Advancement of Bad Puns! Har har har.

At the end of the day, like Mom said, money’s meant to be spent on the things that matter.

Speaking of Mom, I’d like to give my parents a trip to Santa Barbara or Solvang (perhaps this summer for Dad’s birthday?). My uncle said that my mom has been telling all her relatives about my Vegas present to her. That makes me happy, because that’s how I know she really appreciated the gift (or more importantly, the sentiment).

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Thanks to one of Marshall’s awesome PR reps, I am hosting my FIRST EVER blog giveaway with a $50 gift card.

If you haven’t heard of The CUBE, you should check it out. It’s a “boutique” section built right inside Marshalls with shoes, accessories, and clothes.

Marshalls and The CUBE has teamed up with Kelly (aka Liam) of “OMG Shoes”. Kelly’s latest song will be available to download for free on this CUBE Facebook application: http://www.facebook.com/CUBE. Here’s the link to the video itself:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_YvesLycys

Marshalls is one of my favorite places to shop (and where I got these cute Nine West heels), so I’m very happy that one of my readers will get to go shopping… for free! 🙂

To enter:

1. Post a comment here about your favorite find at Marshalls. Or, if you haven’t shopped there before, tell us what you would LIKE to find.

2. Please be sure to include your email address (it will be private – only I can see it) so I can contact you if you win.

The winner will be determined by lottery (i.e. random selection) in a week. All comments must be in by 7PM Pacific Monday, May 4. I will announce the winner Tuesday.

Good luck!

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I think I found it (?)

Update: The apartment rented out before I can get my application in. Oh well. Just means the next one will be even more perfect. Right?

An upper unit studio on a sunny, tree-lined street. Kitchen (with refrigerator!), bathroom, good-sized closets, designated underground parking and a secured access building. $895 rent + $995 deposit.

The only things it doesn’t have are 1. hardwood floors (which, I know, is by no means a need, only a want! Carpet’s cozier, but I’ve always thought hardwood floors are more… grown-up?), and 2. shorter leases (the management website said 1-year leases only).

But it can’t hurt to ask, so I’ll call them tomorrow to try to negotiate a 9 month lease.

If I can’t, I might have to continue with my search… but I do hope we can work something out. The good thing is that I think I’ve narrowed down the general area (within 3-4 blocks) where I’m searching. So even if this studio isn’t meant for me, I’m reasonably confident that something else will open up.

It was pretty fun to visit apartments on the weekends. But I can only imagine how much more detail-obsessed and nervous I would be if I were looking for a place to BUY.

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1. The situation:

Saw some pictures of a 1 bedroom / 1 bath – fabulous location, awesome amenities including balconies and fitness center / spa, gorgeous building with gated entry and underground parking and tons of space (the ad said huge closets!).

2. The issue: The price (and the one-year lease).

The cheapest 1bed/1bath in that complex starts at $1,250, and that’s after amortizing the one-month free deal. I may be able to negotiate a 6-month rent, but that’d probably include a $50-$100/month premium (which would put it really out of my budget).

3. The considerations:

$1,250 is actually a really good price – I’ve seen similar places go for $1,500 in the same area (do I sound as if I’m rationalizing?). But – $1,250 still a big fixed expense. Another consideration – do I really need all those wonderful features such as the fitness center, balconies, spa room, etc.? I’ve gone without granite counters in my kitchen so far, surely I can do so for a while longer. Must balance need vs. want…

4. The budget:

My current budget for the new place is $1,000 for rent and a six-month lease. I may be able to “afford” up to $1,500 in rent and still save some, but I’m a huge fan of keeping my fixed expenses low at this point in my life.

5. The question: Can I afford to increase my budget and pay more to live in a nicer apartment?

6. The real questions (thanks to Single Ma!):

  • Will this purchase delay progress towards my financial goals?  YES
  • Will this purchase result in consumer debt?  NO
  • Will I regret this purchase in a month?  I don’t think so (I’ll be too busy enjoying my balcony!) But if I lose my job, I’d really rather not have such an expensive place.

7. The answer:

I need to think about this. If I decide that I can’t afford it, I probably won’t even visit this building (or similar ones) in person. No use falling in love with an apartment that’s out of my budget!

*Don’t you love how at the end of my 7 steps I haven’t really answered my question? Heehee.

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1. Whenever something happens, you think, “is this blog-worthy? And how do finances factor into it?”

2. You can write about the relationship between money and well, everything (for example, Sex and the City, Mother’s Day, weekend plans with boyfriend, and cheerleading).

3. You stop at buying just one pair of shoes because you know you will have to blog about it (a whole new outfit might be kind of difficult to explain to the pf blogosphere).

4. When pay day comes, your first reaction is: more money for investments & savings!

5. You write about personal finance in your personal journal and scrapbook economic news (wait, you mean that’s just me?)

6. It’s fun making up budgets for all sorts of different scenarios.

7. New articles keep harping on how young people don’t save, but you are worried about saving for retirement.

8. A big-time blogger comments on your post and it’s like a celebrity sighting. (Hi Jonathan!)

9. You love playing around with online personal finance calculators.

10. You don’t even remember what life was like before PF blog. (kidding! Sort of.)

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