A super-late update on my super-boring finances, how fun is that

I last talked about my boring finances waaay back in 2010.  Since then I have:  gotten tenure, quit my job, gotten engaged, moved across the country from Hell to Paradise, planned a wedding, gotten married, and gotten a new job… and gosh, a lot has happened in five years.

So, you may be wondering, how has all of this affected my boring finances?

student loans:  These were due to be paid off in 2018.  I got rid of them in 2013 mostly because of the loan servicer changing to one whose interface SUXXORED.

Wedding/Honeymoon: Thank every one of the gods and goddesses that the planning is over.  The wedding was a blast!  Everything was great.  The pictures came out wonderfully, the food was tasty, there was some laughter, nobody killed each other [despite the swordplay].  When I look at the photos of that day, all I see is love.

We paid for the honeymoon (and the wedding) ourselves, thanks to our savings and a windfall from my partner’s job.  Thanks also to both sets of parents who gave us cash gifts they could afford, thus freeing anybody from arguing about loans or who got to make decisions.  We <3 you, parents.  Cash is always appropriate.

We went far away on our honeymoon, and because it was our one-and-only honeymoon, we sprang for business class on the long-haul flight (both ways).  We haven’t done this before, and it was really worth it. Business class really cuts down on the amount of pain we’re in after a long flight (although it doesn’t completely eliminate that phase of the flight where every part of your body hurts, but it does make it shorter and less severe!).  By ‘long’ flight I mean over ten hours.

We ate everything, we stayed at nice hotels, we did touristy stuff, we loved it.

Car: I had to buy one when I moved to Hell in 2008.  Paid it all off on my junior professor salary.  It’s slightly the worse for wear at the moment, but still going quite strong.

house down payment:  Nope.  Since we moved to Paradise, we can’t afford a house.  I am just as happy renting in a place that I love, and I’m glad I didn’t try to buy in Blasted Wasteland.  Because now I would own a house in Blasted Wasteland.  Ugh.  Or I would have had to unload it on some other poor sap of a junior faculty person and then they’d be stuck there.

retirement:  After some time off between jobs, my retirement account is a bit anemic for my age.  Yipes!  But now that I’m employed full time with benefits again, I’m going to try to make up for lost time.  (I know that compound interest means I can’t, really, but I can only work on the future.)  Starting in Jan., I’ll be putting THE MAX you can put in each year.  It’s kind of a scary-large amount of money.  But it seems like the right choice.  My overall retirement amount is very small so far….

How our joint finances work:  Big changes here, due to my unemployment and then re-employment, us moving, my partner changing jobs, and getting legally married.

We’ve got a joint account for savings for our next life adventure, whatever that may be.  We’ve already had a wedding and we’re priced out of real estate.  Maybe my partner will make a career change?  We also each have individual checking and savings.  My partner pays all the bills and occasionally I chuck some money his way.  He’s paying more than half, since his salary is about 2.3 times mine.  I’m on his health insurance, which is way nicer than the one at my work, and turns out to be the same price or cheaper for much better service.  We are each other’s beneficiaries on stuff like retirement accounts and life insurance (free through work).

We used to have method one of sharing finances, but these days we have no spreadsheet at all.  One big thing that has changed is that with legally tying the knot, all our finances are legally “ours” instead of his-n-hers.  We still use them mostly as his-n-hers, which is fine, but our thinking is much closer to “enh, it’s your money too” than we used to be.  But now we’ll be doing taxes as married-filing-jointly, and my lower income will help offset his higher tax burden.  Because we had some complex tax things go on, I leave the taxes up to him, because his job had a bunch of wacky tax implications with stock options and things I do not understand.  Maybe in 2016 our taxes will be simpler and I will go back to understanding them.

So, uh, yeah?  How are your finances?  Any changes in the last 5 years or so?

I bought shoes

My feet are so happy that they have new shoes.  This whole walking around and my feet not hurting thing is amazing.  Why did I put it off for so long?

I know why: I hate shopping and the few times I tried to buy expensive shoes I couldn’t get anybody to pay attention to me to sell things so I just left.  I am very high maintenance when it comes to shoe buying, in that I need someone to tell me what to get.  (Zappos was also a bust after several failed attempts at purchasing the correct size– I really do usually need to try things on.)

Which is why I now have a new $100 pair of sandals and then two $200 pairs of shoes after the shoe guy realized I didn’t bat an eye-lash at $189 for a pair of shoes.  It’s worth $200 to me to not have to try on a million pairs of shoes (assuming I could have found cheaper good shoes if I’d been looking myself) given that I buy shoes so infrequently and hate shopping so much.  I think the salesman got an extra kickback from the $100 Cobb Hill sandals as well, but I’m ok with that!  My feet don’t hurt!

How much was the damage?  $527 for three pairs of shoes, including tax.  How did I spend that much without blinking an eye?  Well, right before getting them I deposited a travel reimbursement check for $538.  It’s like the money was already spent!  Yeah yeah, I know, bad thinking. But I only buy shoes once every few years. I need these mental tricks to keep from being a miser.

And I did put off buying shoes for far too long.  I mean, my feet were hurting because my two pairs of work shoes were worn down because I have had them for YEARS.  Since before I got pregnant (I have a three year old), and possibly quite a while before that– I can’t actually remember when I got them.  Similarly, my brown sandals that I love but are no longer made were falling apart.  (You may remember I replaced my black sandals for #2’s wedding, but it’s too cold to wear them to work!)  When you have two pairs of work shoes, two pairs of sandals, and a pair of hiking boots… they kind of need to be replaced more frequently than I’ve been replacing them.

So that’s me.  I spent a lot all at once on super expensive shoes that I will wear for far too long.  Am I frugal?  Am I a miser?

What I am is someone who should buy shoes more often because she shouldn’t have to marvel at her feet no longer hurting.

Do you put off any purchases for far too long?  What gets you to finally spend?

 

I suspect I might be a time minimalist

A lot of folks seem to be overwhelmed with everything they’re trying to do in life.

I often feel a bit overwhelmed at work, but since my brain shuts off after a certain amount of hard thinking and I start making mistakes, I hit actual hard limits on work work, and am thus forced to do things that are not part of my regular paid labor.  But I don’t feel overwhelmed with the things I need to do in non-work.

When I look at the lists of things that other people are trying to fit into their days… I realize that there are a lot of things that I just don’t do.  I don’t get in a morning jog.  I don’t work out after work.  I don’t clean the house (except when company is coming).  I don’t have a particularly onerous commute.  I don’t watch much tv and I’m way behind in Netflix watching (we really ought to decrease our subscription).  We don’t do date nights.  I don’t do mani-pedis.  I definitely don’t do book clubs.  Nor do I do girl’s nights out, except the occasional once every two years shopping trip.  I’ve been considering getting my hair highlighted because I don’t need to look old when I’m not teaching, but have been turned off by the time commitment even more than the monetary commitment (I noticed at a recent conference that my prominent female economist colleagues almost entirely have one shade of hair color– they dye but don’t highlight).  I don’t have hobbies other than the blog and mostly brainless romance novels (I’ve been assuming that my brain will be up to say, Malcolm Gladwell level non-fiction, while on leave but it really isn’t yet) at the rate of one or two a week (mostly before bed or while in the restroom).  We pile responsibilities and habits on our kids as soon as they’re able to take over them (DC1 most recently is in charge of cleaning hir bathroom).

I’m just not trying to do as much stuff as a lot of people.

I don’t think that’s better or worse than other folks.  Just like I don’t think having stuff (that you can afford) is in any way worse than not having stuff, despite what the minimalist movement suggests.  I try to pack stuff in at work and look towards my leisure time (including home production) to contain the chores I don’t mind doing (food, laundry, finances) and have everything else pretty much unplanned.  So it doesn’t feel like I’m missing out.  Maybe I am.  I’m sure I could fit more stuff in my leisure time if I made an effort to organize it, but I’m not sure that would make me any happier than being my standard lazy disorganized self.   Really, so long as I’m getting enough sleep and my kids are getting enough attention (and DH and I get enough together time) and everybody is healthy and happy and doesn’t smell too bad, we’re good.

I do, however, wish I were more productive and organized at work.  I’m just going to have to keep working on that.

Sunshine and answers to questions

A gai shan life tagged us with questions.  Here are our answers.

1. What’s the best thing you’ve purchased or been given in the past six months?

The services of my wedding planner

We just replaced the tires on our car.  That’s pretty cool in the way that we no longer have to refill the tires with air every 2 weeks.  I guess.

2. What’s your favorite snack? (No one gets to say fruit.)

I like crunchy salty things.  I also like dark-chocolate covered edamame and pretzels.  Cheez-Its go well with red wine.

But what if fruit is my favorite snack?  Bananas are quite possibly the world’s most perfect fruit.  Also I love apples and dried dragonfruit (and in season, what’s more wonderful than cherries?).  Other than that, chocolate and nuts.

3. What form of exercise do you hate the most. (“All” is a perfectly acceptable answer.)

Almost ALL of it, most ESPECIALLY if it’s outside.  Yuck.

Tie between running and tennis.  Both of these because I tend to pass out in the heat (really, just standing in a tennis court outside is gawd awful) and also running makes my lungs burn and my throat dry out and I want to die.

4. If you could afford/manage to live anywhere, where would it be?

Here in the same area where I already live, but with a lot more money so we could afford to buy a cool place in a cool location.

Paaaaridise.  Also with a lot more money.  :)

5. What’s the geekiest hobby or pastime you have?

There are sooooo many answers to this.  Right now I’d say Magic: the Gathering (a collectible card game).  Specifically, I only really understand (and play) a version called Commander or EDH (which I just found out stands for Elder Dragons with Highlander rules [There Can Be Only One of each card in your deck]).*

My first deck was built for me by my partner.  It’s easy to play but doesn’t win a lot (mono white).  All you do is put equipment on creatures and then attack.  Then I built another deck (green/white) with lots of help from 2 people, which is quite a winning deck if I pilot it right.  It’s a fast mana-ramp to awesome fatties.  Then I recently built a deck all by myself, which I am still trying to figure out how to tweak right.  Mono blue flying wizards.  I hate it when people take control of my stuff and then beat me with it (a danger with the green/white deck because it has huge creatures).  I don’t have the brainpower for more than 2 colors in a deck yet, nor do I have the working memory to deal with a deck with lots and lots of synthesis.  My partner tends to play this way but he has 20 years of experience on me; I’m doing well for a beginner!  If you have read this far without going into a coma then I’m pretty surprised.  Also I’m starting to get interested in card art; I like the Ravnica lands and some stuff by Veronique Meignaud, who hasn’t done a lot of art.

*Another form, drafting, is SUPER hard.  I’ve tried it but I have enough trouble when I know what’s in my deck beforehand!

When my free time isn’t taken up with kids, anime is my geekiest hobby.  When my freetime is taken up with kids um… my only two hobbies are blogging and reading novels.  Which do you think is geekier?

Feel free to leave your answers in the comments, or comment on our answers, whichever.

What’s on your iPod?

This video because I am a huge nerd.  Also this video (NSFW!) because it is the funniest thing in the whole world.  Kanye’s song Power.  Albums and songs by Monty Python, MC Frontalot (quite a lot of songs), U2, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (singing Handel), Kathleen Battle, Michelle Branch, OAR, old Madonna, TMBG, Jessie J, Jonathan Coulton, the Muppets, P!nk, the Police, the Lion King, and the complete soundtrack of Labyrinth.

Podcasts about books and video games and other nerdy stuff and general stuff (some from maximumfun.org).  A photo of my cat.  A photo of my coolest pair of shoes.  A cartoon.

#2 does not have an ipod.  It is very sad.  Hir DH mostly keeps audio books on his mp3, and the occasional wait wait don’t tell me podcast or splendid table podcast.  We outnerd #1.  NPR nerdz!

What about you?

 

Why my internet searching is no good for conversations in polite company

I was having a little pillow talk with DH about how I suck these days at making polite small-talk (this may or may not have been related to spending time with his extended family).

He was all, you’d think with that blog and all that time you spend on the internets you’d have plenty of topics of conversation.

And I was all, we-lllll, not really.

I mean, what do we talk about on the blog?

Feminism.  Nope.  Not in polite company.

Racism.  Nope.  Ditto.

Bragging about kids.  Not with his family (who have their own kids), not at toddler birthday parties, no siree.  Not a chance.

Money.  I wish.  I do get to talk about this with DH’s father, but for the most part this is not a topic of conversation to bring up with DH’s family because we’re doing really well and they don’t want any suggestions.  They really don’t.  Similarly taboo at toddler parties.  Back when we did parties in cities people would ask me about personal finance, investing, and/or the economy once they found out I was an economist, but that hasn’t happened in years.  Maybe because they know they’ll see me again and don’t want to talk about their own finances?  Or maybe because nobody wants to go near talking about politics in polite company (for good reason) in a polarized red-purple state.

There’s still food.  I can totally talk about food.  That’s like the one conversation I was able to participate in over break at DH’s (though I had several opportunities to discuss toddler poop, but chose not to– that’s all on me).  Food is what I talk about when I have to make conversation with a job candidate whose area of research I have no knowledge of.  I like food.  Food is awesome.

Books… I don’t normally talk about books because I sort of only read Spec Fic (and recently I’ve added regency romance).  It’s always exciting when I find out someone else is a Spec Fic reader, but I’ve had work colleagues I’ve known for years and it’s only recently that one of us has come out as a science fiction/fantasy reader.  That’s always exciting, but it’s something one doesn’t talk about.  I recently found out that my RA also comfort reads Georgette Heyer.  But romance reading is something one talks about even less than fantasy!  Most people seem to discuss book club books in polite company and I really don’t read or enjoy them.

In truly nerdy company I used to be able to discuss anime, but nobody watches it and what with the kids and all I don’t really have time to either.  (Though DH and I have been slowly making our way through the third season of Natsume Yujincho.  Apparently if you stop watching anime for a while new seasons come out!)

Interestingly, with the exception of anime, these are all topics I can and do discuss with my family on a regular basis, with politics added as an additional topic when my extended family gets together.  Families are all so very different.

Once the topic of weather has been completely exhausted, I’m a pretty dull person in polite company.  That’s why we have the blog.

What do you talk about when you make small-talk?  Is it anything at all like what you talk about on the internets?  Where do you get topics of IRL conversation?

Mornings at Casa Grumpy with #1

6-something:  DH gets up and takes a shower along with other morning ablutions

6-something a little later:  DC1’s alarm goes off and ze gets up, does zir morning teeth brushing, potty, etc. and gets dressed

somewhere between 6:45 and 7am: DH returns from his shower which wakes me up

7:  I hop out of bed, do my morning ablutions, grab cereal and milk and check my email and my online comics and the blog while eating.  DC1 is generally dressed at this point but if ze has been distracted, I go, “hey!” on my way to morning ablutions and ze finishes getting dressed.

7:08:  I put my used mug back at the sink and while in the kitchen check that DC1 has gotten breakfast, usually a cereal bar, and has put hir lunch (that ze made the night before) in hir lunch bag (sometimes ze leaves it in front of the microwave, so it’s a spot check).  Take my lunch and DC2’s lunch out of the fridge (both made the night before) and put it on the island.

7:10:  If DC2 hasn’t gotten up, DH puts hir clothes on.  (If DC2 has gotten up, ze goes potty, eats breakfast, usually a banana but sometimes cereal (which either DH or I get for hir by request), and gets dressed).  I get dressed.

7:15: DH or I make sure DC2’s lunch has been taken out of the fridge and put next to the door.  I make sure I have my lunch and it’s in a bag in my bag.  I double check that I didn’t need to get my external harddrive.

7:18:  Everybody gets rounded up to go to the car.  Last minute checks that we have everything.  DH puts a sleepy DC2 in the carseat while I grab a banana or cereal bar and give it to hir (unless ze woke up on hir own, in which case we have a spirited discussion about shoes or jacket and are just a little bit silly before being strapped into the carseat and we end up leaving a little late).

7:20:  DH goes back in and locks the door to the house, we exit the garage.  I turn on NPR.

Somewhere between 7:30 and 7:40 depending on traffic:  Drop off DC1 at dropoff.

2 min later:  Take DC2 in to daycare.  Check in.  Put bag and lunchbag and water bottle away (if DC2 is not groggy, ze does half of this).  Take DC2’s coat off.  Take DC2 to the potty if that didn’t happen at home.  Throw away the banana peel and part of the banana if DC2 ate what ze wanted in the car, help DC2 to the table to finish if that’s what ze wants.  Give DC2 a big hug, tell hir that I’m going to work and daddy is going to work too and at the end of the day daddy will pick up DC1 and then DC2 and then we’ll all go home.  Kiss and bye!  (At this point ze is generally, “yeah mom, whatever, cya.”)

8:00:  Roll into work.

And a bonus:  Mornings at Casa Grumpy with #2:

Morning:  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz