Saturday, January 07, 2017
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
I never recapped last year's income and expenses, so here's a very simplified version:
|Salary and bonus and 401k match||$144,061|
|Investment income and interest||$42,515|
|Blog income (net of expenses)||$1,018|
|Housing incl. utilities, phone, internet and other household expense||$26,465|
|Food and liquor||$14,881|
|Entertainment & subscriptions||$1,911|
|Travel (incl vacation)||$5,244|
|Taxes (Payroll deductions and payment of 2014 taxes owed)||$55,482|
A few observations:
I continue to be amazed at how much income I get from my investments alone. It is more than Sweetie's salary at the moment! Every time I see that investment income, it is another reminder of how important it is to save money and invest it wisely.
Food and liquor is very high, but I cover all of that for both Sweetie and me. We eat dinner out from time to time, but not all that often. We've been using Blue Apron for a couple of years to encourage us to cook at home more. Blue Apron isn't super cheap, but it's cheaper than takeout or eat-in restaurant meals. Where I've been splurging a wee bit is on lunch, sometimes spending over $10 by going to a more upscale place and buying a drink instead of just having water from a cooler in the office.
Gym-- I pay in advance for 2 years at a time, so the true annual cost is only half this amount.
Medical/dental includes Sweetie's coverage, and an expensive crown.
Taxes-- I owed taxes in 2014 due to the extra income I had from selling my condo, so that was a hit this year.
Other miscellaneous includes things like haircuts, art supplies, postage, etc.
I saved 34% of my gross income, which is good, and I never particularly felt like I was having to make an effort to save-- if anything it's been the opposite, feeling like I could give myself permission to spend a little extra from time to time. But I try to keep that feeling in check! I am thinking a lot about early retirement and trying to balance that against enjoying life now. Always a tough question!
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Might be my longest ever lapse in blogging! Plenty to catch up on but I will check in with a couple of positive bits of news.
Monday, January 25, 2016
Given the title of this blog, you’d think I’d write more often about my actual wallet. I’ve been using the same one for most if not all of the time I’ve been writing this blog. In this post from almost 10 years ago, I talked about my wallet and what was in it. The contents today would be almost identical, except for the Blockbuster video card!
For those who don’t click through the link, my daily carry wallet is a small nylon zippered card size pouch that I bought at Muji many years ago. It has a flap pocket on the outside secured with a Velcro tab— I keep my Metrocard in there as it’s easy to slide it out when I ride the subway. The zippered part has a little mesh divider to keep my coins separate from my cards and cash. I always have 2-3 credit cards, drivers license, gym card and a few other cards in there, as well as cash. The cash has to be folded in half, which isn’t ideal but I usually don't mind. I also stuff receipts in there, so the wallet can get a bit crowded sometimes and I regularly clean it out and reorganize it.
This wallet system has really worked for me— it’s lightweight, very pocketable, and unobtrusive. I’ve gotten so used to it, I rarely have trouble digging around to find anything even though it is small and a bit cramped. And the wallet has been surprisingly durable given that I am using it so much.
But nothing lasts forever— the velcro tab on the outside hasn’t really worked for a while, but now, more importantly, the zipper is tearing. In anticipation of this day, I”ve been checking Muji on a regular basis to see if they sell anything like this anymore but they don’t. And now that I’ve been more desperately looking for a replacement, I’m discovering that one one else really has anything like it either! Everything I've seen is too big, too small, lacks pockets, has too many pockets, etc. So I’ve been trying to open up my mind to the idea of using a different kind of wallet.
I’m trying to remember the other wallets I used earlier in my life. The earliest one I remember is one of those Velcro-closure wallets with contrasting trim, made out of the same sort of woven synthetic fabric as many backpacks. That would have been what I used in junior high, and maybe into high school. Sometime in high school I was given a full size women’s wallet, in a faux leather grey and black pattern, made by Liz Claiborne. I think I used that into my college years.
After college, I had a period where I used a pocket size Filofax to carry my cards and bills, and just put coins in my pocket, which was one of the reasons I always hated shopping for clothes, as many women’s pants don’t have pockets!
At some point, I started preferring a small pouch style wallet, starting with a little card size one made of some kind of Guatemalan or Mexican textile, which I probably received as a gift. It was cute and colorful, and I still have it somewhere. Because that wallet was so small, I supplemented it with a leather card holder from Coach to store things like insurance cards, business cards, and backup credit cards that I don’t use as often. The Mexican textile pouch was replaced with the Muji pouch.
I’ve experimented a little with other wallets. When one of my grandfathers died, I was given a wallet he’d owned— a pretty typical fold-over men’s wallet. I tried using that briefly but never really liked it that much. I also tried to used a different style of Filofax that had a full zipper around it and more pockets, as the idea of combining a notebook and wallet into one always seemed appealing, but in practice I found it too bulky.
The other wallet I currently own and use on occasion is a Bellroy passport wallet. Bellroy advertises a lot online, and I was sucked in enough by it to purchase their Travel Wallet. It’s actually a brilliant wallet— I love how it can hold boarding passes, all sorts of currencies, a passport, an extra SIM card (even though I haven’t had a use for that in years), and even comes with a mini pen. But I only use this wallet for international travel— if I'm not bringing my passport with me, the wallet just seems too big to carry all the time. Despite the size, I did try to carry it as an everyday wallet for a few days, mainly because I just loved it so much I wanted to touch it more often! The leather is really nice, and I wanted to break it in more. But the problem was that it had no space for coins. Most of my pants do have pockets at the moment, but I really don’t want to walk around with change jingling in them. And I don’t want to have to use a separate change purse. I use my coins as much as possible each day and don’t accumulate them but I still need someplace to put them.
In searching around online for a new wallet, of course those Bellroy ads starting popping up again so I took a peek at their website… and lo and behold they have a new wallet that is designed to hold coins: the appropriately named Coin Fold. After much deliberation, I ended up ordering one. It holds flat bills, cards, a SIM card should I ever have a spare again, and there’s a clever little coin pocket. I’ve been mentally enacting how I would use this wallet in my day to day habits. I think it will hold what I need it to hold, but will it be awkward to use? Will there be enough space for the coins? Will I be able to pluck them out efficiently when I’m trying to pay with exact change and there are 10 grumpy people in line behind me at the deli where I get lunch? As of this writing, that remains to be seen… and I know I’ll have to adjust to one feature this wallet is missing, which is that there is no separate external pocket where I can stash my Metrocard. Will I be able to whip out my Metrocard fast enough without fumbling in front of the turnstile?
It’s funny how nothing is ever perfect in life. If you say you want A, B, C, and D, you’ll only find things that have A, B, and C, or A, B, and D, or B, C, and D… plus E, which you never cared about before, but now you are swimming in doubt because maybe E is better than A anyway, or is it??? I have probably looked at a hundred wallets, and all I really want is the one I have, even though I’m lusting over this new thing because it’s made of pretty leather.
Don't think it hasn’t occurred to me that I could repair the zipper on the Muji wallet… but it pains me to think how much a tailor would probably charge me to replace that 3 inch zipper— less than a new wallet for $100, probably, but I’m sure the price vs. value would still annoy me, and I’d be hearing my mother’s voice in my ear, saying “see, I told you you should have learned more about sewing!” Though if I presented her with my Muji wallet and a 3-inch replacement zipper and asked her to fix it, she’d probably be totally annoyed, as she often was when I was a kid and would ask her to sew together fantasy wallets and notebook covers of my own design. Some things just aren’t fun to sew, even if you love sewing.
So we’ll see if this creature of habit can form a new habit with a new wallet… which will still be an open wallet, of course!
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
So, how crazy is it that the Powerball jackpot is $1.3 billion? Sometimes it seems like all anyone is talking about, though David Bowie's unfortunate death has managed to change the subject this week, at least among most of my friends on social media...
Anyway, for all that I try to be a creature of logic when it comes to finances, I had my little moment of madness last weekend when I decided to drop $10 on Powerball, when the jackpot was "only" $900 million. I of course knew I wouldn't win, but it's hard not to fantasize about these things, and while the odds of winning are incredibly tiny, even incredibly tiny odds are better than the absolute certainty of not winning if you don't enter. And since my lottery spending pattern is to spend about $10 every few years when the whim strikes me, I don't feel like I'm throwing away too much money.
It's funny to read some of these articles that try to tell you the best times to play the lottery-- actually, I should say "try to read," as I feel my brain getting numb pretty quickly. I guess the ideas fall into various categories-- since the winning numbers themselves are totally random, the best you can hope for is to strategize about not having to share the prize, or doing some sort of analysis of the cost/benefit of buying a ticket at different jackpot levels. No matter what, you are working with odds of winning that comparable to odds of being hit by lightning while standing on your head while serving as the first democratically elected president of the United Kingdom.
What struck me after I read the back of my Powerball ticket more closely is how relatively worthless the secondary prizes are for getting a few of the numbers right. After the jackpot, it drops to $1,000,000 (5 numbers right), and then $50,000 (4 numbers plus the powerball number), and then $100 (if you get 4 numbers, or 3 numbers plus the powerball number right). $1 million would be amazing and pretty life changing for most people, even if it's only about half that by the time you take out taxes, and even less if you take it all in cash up front. But I'm not sure it would be enough to make me feel comfortable quitting my job and changing careers. $50,000 definitely wouldn't be enough.
The other thing that interests me about lottery fever is how people talk about what they'd do with the money. at this huge a jackpot level, most people can't even get their heads around it. But they usually seem to start with thoughts of giving a lot of money to friends and family, which is nice. It makes you wonder about people who are billionaires already-- there are plenty of extremely expensive luxuries they can spend their riches on, and lots of charitable ventures, but even they must struggle to put a dent in it sometimes. I can only hope I someday have the problem of figuring that out myself!
If you've bought a ticket, good luck!
Wednesday, November 04, 2015
I was thinking about how I started learning to save money when I was a kid. At some point, my parents opened a savings account in my name, and I had a nice little bank book. No ATMs back then-- you had to bring your bank book to the teller, who would record your transactions in it. When I got money as a gift, or from my first babysitting jobs, some of it went into that savings account.
Monday, October 05, 2015
For a long time, my cell phone bill hasn't been a major part of my personal finance decision making. I've had an iPhone 4S for almost 4 years, on the minimum AT&T phone/data plan, with my contract long over. I was paying something like $0.10 per text message, because I texted so rarely that it seemed like a better deal than the $4.99 a month it would have cost me for unlimited messages. So I thought I was doing the right thing, financially speaking.