Friday, April 18, 2014


If you had told me five years ago that I would be eating quinoa with avocado and calling it an acceptable lunch, I would have…. Well. I would have asked you what the hell quinoa was.


Today I had the unexpected pleasure of learning how many people in my office pronounce it “vayse” and how many people pronounce it “vahse.” I’m in the vahse camp.


In my continuing efforts to maintain my position as Favorite Aunt I have had my niece and nephew come and stay with me for overnights, separately, for Fun Times with Auntie. When my 9 year old niece came to stay I bought her a cupcake and a bag of cookies and took her to a movie (Muppets Most Wanted). Then in the morning we got donuts for breakfast and went to the flea market where she bought a bunch of little glass animal figurines (a girl after my own heart). And THEN we went to the trampoline park. When my 11 year old nephew came to visit I took him to a baseball game and then we went out to dinner at this kind of cheesey arcade gamey place (where, for about $40 worth of tickets, he got a pair of wind up chattery teeth). Then in the morning we got donuts for breakfast and went to the flea market where he bought a crossbow and a Samurai sword and a lighter and I think I just figured out why my sister said she doesn’t want me to take him to the flea market anymore.

Speaking of Muppets Most Wanted, how awesome was that A Chorus Line reference? I wonder how many people got it.


Last Friday night I went out to see my friend Lisa perform in Foreverland, which was just spectacular. And this is going to sound like a backhanded compliment but I usually hate live music. If I’m going to a bar and I hear there will be live music, I’ll pick a new bar. I don’t go to shows because I get tired of standing and bored of watching music. But anyhow I USUALLY hate live music, but I LOVE Foreverland. Enough to have seen them FOUR TIMES. This last time was 80s night, so the boy and I got dressed up in our 80s finest. I bought him some 80s finest at the Salvation Army, but he gets full credit for making a trip to Old Navy for the sole purpose of purchasing a purple headband. And I wore… stuff I just had lying around, which basically justifies every impulse buy EVER. And I grew up watching my sisters do their hair so I knew how to attain some killer 80s bangs.
I’m pretty excited to have a boyfriend (BOYFRIEND) who will dress up with me.


Ugh. I actually wrote this post yesterday when words like quinoa and donuts didn't make me feel queasy and then today I had to leave work after an hour and a half because I felt so sick. Waves of nausea and cold sweats and having to call a lyft to take me home since I couldn't drive. The worst part was that I was in the middle of seeing a patient and had to excuse myself, ask one of the docs to take over my appointment, and cancel the rest of my day. Every once in awhile I get annoying nonspecific symptoms and abdominal pain so bad that I cannot function and it's super embarrassing and inconvenient. Especially when I'm IN THE MIDST OF A WORKDAY. Ugh. I'm cranky.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Shopping Trip

I knew traffic was going to be terrible so I stopped at Ross on my way home from work tonight. Oh darn.

Question: Do I need this extremely practical travel purse? Hear me out. I'm going on a trip to Ireland in May and I'm thinking maybe I do. I like that it has a shoulder strap and a zipper. My regular purse is of the over-one-shoulder variety and I'm thinking perhaps I'll need my hands free to hold my beer and pet the sheepies. Anyway I bought it. It was $40, which is a bit steep at Ross, but it's The Sak and seems to be leatherish and sturdy and I dunno I just like it. For traveling! See the handy passport pocket?
Quarter for scale
I also bought a dress for my sister. I had sent her an orangey-pink dress for her baby and she was really excited when she first pulled it out of the box, "Oooh, it's just my color! I lo- oh, wait." So anyhow I saw this dress today and I thought maybe she'd like it.
I also got her this little floofy sweatery thing.
Not to wear together, but knowing my sister she actually might. I usually don't buy clothes for people that they wouldn't be able to return, but my sister kind of lives in the middle of nowhere and I want to send her a dress. I realized that I like the picking out and sending enough to justify the fact that it might not work out every time. I'm sending my sister these things and maybe it'll fit and she'll love it, or maybe not. And if not she can give them away to somebody else or cut them up to make new playclothes for the Von Trapps or whatever.
Even if I bought her a dress from Macy's where they have a great return policy she still wouldn't be able to return it for months since she lives nowhere near a Macy's of any sort. The point is that I thought of her and sent her something I thought she'd like and that makes me feel good, so yay. (It's this logic that led me to buy my other sister a purple dress from Belk when I was in Carolina.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

dolla dolla bills y'all

I recently took my car in for its 245,000 mile service. It was a minor service, which cost me $62 last time. But this time I had a surprise need for new brakes. The mechanic called me “You need new brakes, is that okay?” Me: Um. YES. Yes please. BRAKES. Give me the newest brakes that you have. BRAKES ARE IMPORTANT.
Anyhow, my “minor” service now consisted of new brakes and fixing a valve to the tune of just over seven hundred bucks. Which, that was fine.  I cheerfully slapped down my credit card, because BRAKES. My 1997 Honda is still chugging along (I hope I didn’t just jinx her), but this unexpected major expense got me thinking about money and how I manage it, which, incidentally, is not very well.

I tend to go in cycles. For awhile I’ll put everything on my credit card and studiously pay if off every month. And then I’ll start feeling like that is a Bad Idea because technically I’m spending imaginary FUTURE money when I use my credit card which can be dangerous and spin out of control. So then I’ll start paying cash and using my debit card, but then an unexpected expense will pop up and I’ll start getting nervous about the payments I have on auto debit so I’ll ‘borrow’ some money from my savings to pad my checking account a little bit and then I’ll start putting a few things here and there on my credit card and then I’ll go fully back to credit carding but I never feel like I’m completely settled in a successful way of budgeting.

This just won’t do. As of today I am implementing a new system.

Setting aside lofty financial goals (retirement) and other expenses (student loans), I came up with a couple lists of things I have observed about myself. My financial strengths and weaknesses, if you will.

Things I cannot do:
1.       Save money in my checking account- Can’t do it. I don’t know where it all goes but it’s like my account is a leaky bathtub. If it the money’s in my checking account it won’t be there for long.
2.       Save money in my savings account if it is easy to get to- Transfer money to checking, you say? Don’t mind if I do! And then: leaky bathtub phenomenon.
3.       Trust myself to keep an accurate calculation of all of my spending- I have my student loan payments and a couple other expenses on auto debit and I’m forever nervous that I’ll spend too much from my checking account and end up being overdrawn.
4.       Accurately calculate- Because let’s be honest.
5.       Pay for everything with cash or debit- See items 4 and 5.

And, to make myself feel a smidgen better. Here are some things I CAN do:
1.       Maintain a small ‘buffer’ of money in my checking account- I do an embarrassing amount of math every month to MAKE SURE I have more money in my checking account than I have things it is slated to cover.
2.       Save money in a savings account that is difficult to get to- I do save money. I do!  It is safer if it is difficult to access (It is safEST if I don’t even know it is there. Which explains why I've put cash in milk bottles and squirrel them away in hiding places so that I eventually forget about them (or have I?)), so now I have an account that isn’t affiliated with the bank where my main checking account is and I also don’t have a card for it or mobile access on my phone. I have weekly automatic debits set up that transfer money from my checking account to my savings. To access that money I would have to transfer it BACK to my checking account and THEN use it. For some reason that extra step helps the money actually stay in the savings account and not get bathtubbed away.
3.       Pay off my credit cards on time and in full- My mom taught me to always always ALWAYS pay off my credit card ON TIME and IN FULL. Always. Thus far there has only been one instance wherein I did not do this. It was during the time in my life when my crazy ex was being a human suckerfish and siphoning away all of my money/energy/self-esteem and I was trying to keep my whole situation from unraveling completely so I got a tad behind on some things. I couldn’t QUITE pay off my credit card bill one month and so I had to let the balance sit there and the fees start accumulating until I was moving and starting school again and trying to get things back in some semblance of order. So I womanned up and …  uh. Asked my mommy for help. She looked over my bank statement and SIGHED AND SHOOK HER HEAD (if you knew my mom you’d understand that this is actually quite terrifying and an awful punishment in and of itself). Now I always pay off my credit cards on time and in full. Always.

Okay, so I know you are waiting on bated breath to hear about my NEW SYSTEM. Taking into account what I am able to do and what history has learned me that I am definitely unable to do, here is my new system:

1.       Pay for most things with my credit cards- and obviously pay off my credit cards on time and in full
2.       Maintain only a small buffer of money in my checking account to make sure I’m never overdrawn when my auto debits and other payments go through- any extra money in checking gets transferred into savings
3.       Always have enough money in savings to cover the amount of my credit card spending at the time it is credit carded

In that way it’s like I’m using my savings account as a SUB-checking account, if you will. Pay for stuff with my credit card, pay my credit card off with my checking account, but have enough money overall so that I’m not actually going into debt when I use my credit card.
I’ll keep only enough money in my checking account so as not to ever be overdrawn because any extra money in there will just disappear. So instead of keeping it there and fighting against its natural tendency to disappear, I’ll transfer any extra dollars to the external savings account.
Technically I suppose AM spending future money that I haven’t earned yet because I pay my credit card off with the money from my checking account which I earn each payday. But I DO have the money, it’s in savings, it exists. And if I needed to I could take it out and apply it to my credit card payment, but I'd rather keep it in savings and apply my new money from payday to my credit card. If this makes any sense at all.

I was talking about this with Sunny and she told me that she has a system of three accounts: checking, savings, and spending. On payday the money goes into her checking account. Then she transfers a certain amount into her spending account to, uh, spend. And then if there is leftover money at the end of the month in her checking or spending, it goes into savings. Maybe I should have talked to her first and I wouldn't have come up with my system of buffers and credit carding, but we all deal with our leaky bathtubs in different ways. What's yours?