Waiting for the Great Leap Forward

A life and personal finance blog from a recently turned 30 years old female

Ah, retail December 10, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — greenmint @ 5:38 pm
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Last night, BF and I splurged a little bit. He had to stop by his parents house to pick up some things that he had ordered, and it just happened to coincide with my arrival home from the train, so I stopped by as well. We left the puppy with his parents for a few hours, and went to dinner at one of our favorite local pub-type places. We also decided to stop by Target, as there were a few random present-type things that we wanted to look for/get – swap gift for my work, Toys for Tots present for his, A few Christmas toys for the dog.

Target was fine, we got what we needed and proceeded to the checkout counter, where we had the most….interesting cashier I’ve ever had. He was a young kid, definitely still in high school, and I don’t know of he was just new to the whole concept of how to behave when dealing with the public, or if there really was something not right with him. It started when I pulled out my ridiculous bundle of cards to search for both my target card and the target gift card that I had received a few months ago when I opened up the account. First, he told me that I had too many cards. Then, he started asking questions. Who was the iTunes gift card for? Who were the horse calendars for? Then, finally, as my patience was wearing thin, we finished up and headed out. “Have a nice night!” we say, to Target boy. “I won’t – this place sucks. Working sucks.” is his reply.

I can’t convey the sheer ridiculousness of it all here – his demeanor, his tone, everything, was just very strange and semi-rude. Luckily, I was in a pretty good mood (credit the 2 glasses of pinot noir I had at dinner for that!) and didn’t really take offense to his behavior, but still – is this the way the youth of America think that they can act in a business setting?

 

The bed that BF built December 9, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — greenmint @ 3:35 pm
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Back before BF and I moved in together, I was living with my grandmother. This had originally been intended to be a temporary thing, but I ended up staying for close to 3 years. When I first moved in, I was staying in her guest room, on the ancient and increasingly uncomfortable double bed. About a year and a half ago, when it didn’t seem like I was leaving anytime soon, I decided to purchase myself a new mattress and box spring, and ditch the bed frame in favor of one of those bare minimum frames, to make a little more room. Everything went well, except….the minimal frame was on wheels. On a hardwood floor.

It was a constant adventure about the moving bed. Things would fall down behind it and get seemingly lost forever. Blankets constantly needed to be re-adjusted. When we made plans to move, one of the things that BF and I both agreed on was that we needed a real bedframe, and quickly.

It was a pleasant surprise, then, when we moved into our new place and realize two things – 1. That our new bedroom was carpeted and 2. That the wheels on the bed frame locked into place. If I had known this, I might have saved myself a lot of irritation over the past year. But, regardless – I was now content to not spend any more money and just deal with the bed frame as it was, particularly since we’ve been tentatively planning to purchase a larger, Queen sized mattress in the semi-near future – in a year or 2, perhaps. I figured that we could just get a bed frame that would make up both happy then.

Oh no, says BF. Sometime in September, he decided that he wanted a project. He is an engineer by trade (and by nature), and quickly got to work sketching out plans to create a bed. He bought the wood, and the screws, and borrowed some tools from his father, and spent the better part of a weekend working on it. After a few weeks, he had the pieces mainly done, and went to put them together, and realized….that he had measured incorrectly. So, then, the bed frame pieces sat in our hallway for the better part of 2 months. He finally, finally finished bed construction last weekend, and, while I certainly do not love the bare, scratched wood monstrosity he has created, I’m trying to be supportive because I know how much he enjoyed doing something like this.

The thing I am less supportive about? Total cost. All told, after buying wood, and replacement wood, and screws, and replacement screws, and who knows what else, the bed frame alone has cost us almost $200. BF promises that when spring comes, we can drag the thing outside and sand it a little bit and put some stain on it, in an attempt to make it a little better looking, which will only be an additional expense.

Not happy about all of this, particularly when I know I could have gotten something that I wanted at IKEA for a whole lot less money and time, but trying my best to bite my tongue and be supportive, since it was a project, and he did put a lot of effort into it.

 

Minor Woo December 2, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — greenmint @ 10:49 am
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Lots going on in my world right now.

I feel a lot better about my job situation now, than I did a few weeks ago. I’ve had some good conversations with my current boss, as well as the CEO, and I feel a lot more solid about what my role in the company is, and will be in the future. Things are shifting around, and while I won’t get to go back to the job I was doing for most of 2008 anytime in the near future, I will get to take on some new responsibilities and challenges, and overall, I think some of the new stuff will be both more interesting and a better fit for my skill set.

Another good piece of financial news: I’m very, very close to finishing my Master’s degree, and have simply lacked the time/motivation to do so. Its a priority to my job that I do finish it, so they are willing to work with me to make that happen. The details have yet to be ironed out, but the general idea is that they would let me take some regular, 9-5 time to take a class, if necessary, and would also contribute financially to the remaining credits, either outright or as some sort of a bonus. This is fabulous, because one of the things that has been holding me back is my desire not to accrue any more student loan debt. Now I just need to get moving on it, and contact my (former?) advisor and see what the process is to get enrolled for Spring classes.

I paid off the Target card in full yesterday, largely because I could, and I needed to mental boost of actually paying something off, rather than just making a dent in it. I’m also making pretty good progress on the Bank of America card. Its all a little bittersweet, though, because Christmas is coming, and as much as I am trying to cut back and control costs, and not over-do it, my giving nature is geting the better of me. Yesterday, I spent $260 on the Gap Card, which had previously been paid off, and $80 on the Old Navy card, which was also cleared. I also have a $50 J. Crew rewards card that needs to be used by 12/15, and I know I’m not going to be able to just spend the $50, its going to go slightly over. But, I have the money budgeted to pay off those store cards again by end of the year, and should hopefully be entering 2009 with no balances on store cards! I should also have the Bank of America and Chase cards paid in full a few months into 2009, which will give me a really good feeling of accomplishment.

 

The puppy November 17, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — greenmint @ 2:35 pm
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puppy
One thing that BF and I have been talking about for quite a while, even before we officially moved in together, is getting a dog. His parents have 4 shelties that he is very attached to, and my parents have a Jack Russell Terrier that is known as the 3rd, and favorite child (really, my sister and I don’t mind). We’ve always been concerned, though, that our work-heavy schedules wouldn’t be conducive to giving the dog a good home. Regardless, this weekend, we became the proud parents of Diesel. He is a 9 month old JRT, formerly owned by a friend of BF’s mother, who had decided that she couldn’t manage him anymore.

It was sort of a spur of the moment decision, but after having played with him a few times, we really just fell in love. And, yes, we work a lot, but we are dedicated to taking him for walks when we do get home. I’m in the process of trying to find a dog-walking service that will come and take him for approximately a 1/2 hour walk in the middle of every day. For this week, we are getting various family members to help out and make sure that he gets plenty of chances to go outside.

We didn’t have to pay anything for the dog, and he also came with a large crate (which he dislikes) and some toys and food. We’ve gotten more supplies from my mother, and so far, have only had to spend about $40 out of pocket on him, in the form of a retractable leash. The dog walking places that I’m looking into seem to be between $15 and $20 for the 1/2 hour visit, but I think thats a fairly reasonable price to pay. Yes, he will be an expense, but he will also enrich our lives so much – we’ve both felt a little lonely not having an animal companion in our new home. I’m sure I’ll have much more to say on the topic of pet costs in the future!

 

Happy Election Day! November 4, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — greenmint @ 12:47 pm

 

Traveling for Work October 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — greenmint @ 10:51 am

I’m back in my cozy office in Boston today, but the first part of this week found me riding the train to Philadelphia, for a Conference. This was the first time I’ve traveled for work in over a year, and the very first time I’ve gone to one of these sorts of things by myself – usually I have at least 1 other co-worker with me. It was an interesting experience for me, to see how the dichotomy of my newly furgal self plays with the reality of being reimbursed for my expenses.

The way my company works is that, when you are traveling for work, all of your food and travel expenses are reimbursed. Its pretty generally understood, though, that we are not a wealthy company, and that you should not be overly extravagent in your eating or spending. Still, knowing that the money wasn’t coming out of my pocket made me spend a little more freely than I might have otherwise.

For example – I took the Amtrack Acela train, rather than the Metroliner – I’ve taken the Metroliner Regional before, and its pretty much a nigthmare. It stops about a million times in Connecticut, and adds at least an hour to the trip from Boston to New York City. The Acela makes many fewer stops, and is much more geared towards business travelers – it has outlets at all the seats for you to plug in your laptop, and much more comfortable chairs. I very much appreciated the speed, particularly on my return trip when I was tired and just ready to be home. But, if I had been paying for it myself, I most likely wouldn’t have paid the extra money for the comfort and convenienve of the Acela.

The Hotel I was staying in had a seemingly overpriced restaurant in it. I gave some thought to finding something a little more interesting, and a little more reasonably priced, to eat on Monday, but the combination of the rain, the cold, and the unease at being by myself lead me to just staying where I was, and paying $38 for a small salad, a pasta dish and a glass of wine. If it had been my own money, I know I would have sought out something more interesting to spend that kind of money on.

I also treated myself to a Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate at Starbucks – again, something that I’ve all but eliminated from my regular spending, but which I felt no qualms about when someone else is paying for it.

All told, my expenses for this trip came to about $630 – that includes hotel, train tickets, meals and taxis. It feels a little bit indulgent, but I also know that its no where near the sorts of things people at bigger companies do – on one such business trip a few years ago, we went out with the representatives from one of the biggest companies in our business, and he literally bought drinks for a group of 10 of us all night long – endless flowing alcohol that the company would be picking up the tab for.

It feels almost like a moral issue to me – when you are traveling for business, you should be compensated for being comfortable, and maybe even a bit above what you would normally do if you were paying for it youself, given that you are sacraficing time with your family and friends. But the crazy expense accounts that some people have just seem irresponsible, particualry when you realize that those costs are just being passed on to the consumer.

Food for thought, anyway.

 

I feel panic October 14, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — greenmint @ 8:14 am
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Maybe its just a sign of the times, but I can’t help it – I am spending an awful lot of time feeling panicky and sick to my stomach lately. I just can’t stop thinking about everything – how on earth I am going to pay down my debt, and still pay rent, and school loans, and utilities, and eat. And then, I get news like this and it just destroys my world. Now, really, in the grand scheme of life an extra $2 a day isn’t catastrophic – but I already have my budget so tightly allocated, trying to find an additional $40+ a month to pay for parking just makes my head hurt. I’ve long-ago cut out my daily Starbucks run. I’m down to buying lunch maybe once every three weeks. We aren’t going out to bars, or movies, or dinner at all anymore. The only places to cut money are from my debt repayment plans, and, wow, I can not even express how much that sucks.

I found out about this little fare hike yesterday afternoon, and have literally not been able to stop thinking about it since then. I feel like something has to give, financially, but I’m just not sure what. I am at the point where I could literally spend an entire day reimagining what I would do with the money I project I will earn in the next few years – different debt allocation, different priorities, “what if?” scenarios galore.

I just feel very helpless and out of control right now.

 

 
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