Sunday, March 23, 2014

Booze and $

So for Lent I've given up drinking. I feel fantastic (although I have cheated 2x), but it's also cutting back on my restaurant bills, which is great because that's one of my biggest expenses (outside of rent of course).  I think even when Lent ends, I'd like to cut back to drink only 1 day a week. I just feel a lot better, and booze at restaurants is so expensive. I rarely drink at home. In NYC everyone mostly meets their friends out, not at their apartments. So it's expensive. I wish I lived somewhere where people hung out at each others' houses. I would save so much $.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

2013 Breakdown

Today I analyzed where my income went in 2014. It's pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. Even Mr. Money Mustache would be mostly cool with it I think. So taxes ate up 36% of my gross income, I saved 37% of it and I spent 27%. I saved 55% of my net income. Not too shabby. Of course some of that is because I get a bonus in December and I therefore end up saving it all because I have zero opportunity to spend it. In reality I don't spend that much of it. This is a pretty standard year in that 1/3 of my gross income usually goes to each of these categories.

F-You Capital One! Hello, Chase!

So this month (post bonus) has been a how shall I call it? hmm. Spending orgy is probably accurate, haha. Anyway, combined with my business travel expenses, I'm about $500 from the $10,000 limit on my Capital One platinum whatever card. I never applied for this card -- it switched over when HSBC sold their card portfolio to C1. So I applied for a credit limit increase. I got rejected!! I was so mad. I pay in full on time every month on that card and every other card. Always have. Never have had a late payment. AND they told me my credit score is 793. I called and got bumped up to talk to a credit supervisor but they're idiots over there and can't tell me why I got rejected.

I had been thinking about ponying up for the Platinum Amex (it has good travel benefits like they reimburse the fee for the Global Entry program which I've been meaning to enroll in for forever because I'm gold on American and they will add me to their TSA Pre list if I do). Anyway, the Platinum Amex is $400 a year. Even w/ the monetary benefits (I figure I could get about $300 worth out of it), I feel silly spending that on a credit card.  Plus, I love getting cash back. I just got a $500 credit added to the C1 card as a cash back reward.

So I went on CreditKarma and found another cash back card. The Chase Freedom (I know anyone reading this now is like duh of course). Credit Karma has some really useful tools. It showed me that barely any of the cardholders have even the limit I have on C1. I think the C1 cards are more for people who don't spend as much, have worse credit, etc. I'm probably ideal for the Amex, but because I want to keep earning that sweet cash, I got the Chase Freedom card. And I'm pretty sure that they gave me a credit limit of $28K, which sadly I actually might need at some point because of all my work expenses (i pay them and then get reimbursed). There's no annual fee on the card, so it's a win-win.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Starting off the New Year

To kick off the New Year, I met with my Learnvest financial planner. I really like her and value her advice. This year I'm tackling the same problem as last year which is getting my cash surplus invested. It sounds ridiculous, but I haven't even gotten last year's increase invested and now I have a big chunk to invest again this year. I can't keep up. I get so nervous about dumping a lot into the market. But once I set up auto investment, I can truly set it and forget it. It's just that to get the cash invested in a timely manner I would have to be making large buys each month. Right now I'm only going in about 10K at a time, which is not doing much to make a dent in my stash.

I have also convinced my planner that I don't need to replace my full income in retirement or even 85% of it. I know the exact number that I spend each year, and what part of that is for housing (almost 40%!), so in today's dollars I need about 60K a year with a mortgage and 36K a year without one. Of course that # doesn't include inflation.  If I used the Mr. Money Mustache formula I would need to save 25x the amount I need each year, so either  $1.5 million or $900K.  I think to be safe I would only be comfortable with the higher #. The planner's target number is going to be more like $2 million, but that's better than the like $4 million she is currently targeting which is most likely never going to happen.

Happy saving!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Spending It

I have some expenses coming up that are discretionary but I really should take care of them. Case in point - new mattress and couch because they are hurting my back. I can only sleep on one side of the mattress now. I'm off today, hopefully to finalize my choice for a new one. Think I have found the couch I want as well. But once I update the couch, I realize that the coffee table is quite scratched and while the matching side table is perfect, if I get a new coffee table it will no longer match. So that's two more pieces of furniture. Also, I don't have overhead lights in almost every room of my apt. So it's dark. The table lamps aren't cutting it. I plan to buy ceiling fans with lights and have them installed. So that all adds up. I'm not really excited about these purchases, but I feel like I kind of need to make them.

I am thinking of making a big "purchase" that I am excited about which is going in on a shared beach house. If I can pay a reasonable amount each month, I plan to do this, probably starting in March or so. That would be money well spent in my view.

I've been reading about the clothing fasts people are doing on the MMM forum. I'm thinking about joining, because that would help pay for the beach house. Yay for intentional purchasing!

Happy holidays to everyone!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Favorite Time of Year?

In theory, I should be super happy right now. I literally wait for this moment all year long. I found out my bonus and it is higher than last year by 16%. I know how fortunate I am to be well-compensated for doing my job. I know there are people who work just as hard, and sometimes in dangerous or uncomfortable jobs, that are paid much less. That said, I just feel tired and burned out. Work is still very busy and while we finally hired someone to support me so I'm not the only person on my teams, that person was on vacation all this week.  The crowds are bringing me down too. I guess I'm really starting to learn/believe that my career/job and saving/building a nest egg are the most important things.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Privilege & Poverty

If you read certain ladyblogs like I do, you will hear the word privilege a lot. I always knew that I'd probably qualify as privileged but I never realized what the opposite of economic privilege -- poverty -- is truly like. Although I make a hobby studying both ends of the economic spectrum, poverty and what it must be like was never so clear to me as when I read this recent blog post that is getting a lot of attention called "This is What It's Like to be Poor"

I thought about the contrast between being poor/unprivileged and my rather privileged existence through the lens of something that happened to me this week. I went running in my hood last weekend 2x (also a privilege to have a safe space to run outside) and I somehow ended up inflaming a joint in my lower back. By Monday morning, walking, sitting and standing were all painful. By Tuesday, my colleague told me "call my chiropractor right now!" at about 2:30 in the afternoon. Just having access to that knowledge -- who to call for help, is a privilege. And then the even bigger privilege -- my private health insurance for which I pay $200 a month in premiums and i'm sure my job pays at least 2x that, covers every visit I need with not even a co-pay. My fancy insurance also reimburses me 1/2 of my weekly $200 therapist bill, for a therapist who is out of network (in network therapy is $30 a visit). And I've been going to my therapist for about 4 years now. Weekly. And insurance has never said anything. But back to my back issue. Because I have a white collar office job, I was able to just shoot off an email saying I'm leaving at 4:00 to go get my back fixed. If needed, I could even have worked from home for several days that week (except when I had business meetings). That flexibility is a privilege. My boss' only response was feel better. Plus, if something crazy were wrong and I had to be out of work for months and months, I have private long term disability insurance that I purchased on my own and I have another LTD policy through my job. I could get paid for not working for years. Finally, if I were permanently disabled, I could live for free with my mom forever probably. And she would help me navigate and advocate for me to ensure I got all the benefits a disabled person is entitled to.

When you open your eyes, it is easy to see the privilege around you. For example, I woke up this morning thinking how wonderful to have a quiet, safe and serene place to sleep and live.  I don't have to have roommates. I get to live in the exact neighborhood that I want to. Crime is not an issue (knock wood). I have easy access to everything I need -- from fantastic food to health care, and I don't even need a car to access it. But if I did, I could afford to buy and maintain one.

I think it's important to keep our eyes and ears open to be aware of our own privileges and ry hard to understand those who may not have them and figure out wayswe can help them overcome challenges that arise from their situation.