Tag Archives: living

No Cable TV for Now, Fast Internet Instead

Since I’m determined to read more, get out of the house more to see friends and exercise, and generally not be a lazy couch potato, I decided to avoid getting cable for the time being. Instead, we’re getting 50MB internet and skipping cable altogether.

The cable bill for the first year wouldn’t be that bad, but then I’d get used to it and have to pay the ridiculous fees charged after the first 12 month rates expire. It really is ridiculous to pay $100+ per month for cable television when most of the shows are available through other means. I even already have Amazon prime which offers many shows and movies as part of the membership. There’s also the option to buy Hulu Plus or Netflix if this isn’t enough.

Instead of the cable membership, I splurged on a waterproof case for my Kindle ($70) so I can come home after work, fill up the tub, and read myself silly. Better that then starting mindlessly at the screen. I figure if I’m desperate for television I can sign up for the local gym, which offers tv screens in every cardio machine… at least then I’ll be able to get healthy while watching television instead of the opposite.

Buy vs Rent: A New Thought

We’re moving in together. For real this time. For better or worse, we found out the place he’s currently living in is not a legal dwelling and thus he must move out. We were planning on moving in together this year, but this also expedites the planning and upcoming move.

While it might be dumb to consider buying something together now, I have a few ideas that could make this concept be more logical than irrational. Even though I occasionally mention moving back east at some point, the reality is that I want to stay in The Bay Area. I want to live here forever and have my kids born and grow up here. Continue reading

Relationship & Life Next Steps: Moving in Together

I’m 28 and this March my boyfriend of 6+ years will turn 30. Even though I’m quite content with my current arrangement — living with two roommates and paying $650 a month in rent, while my bf lives at home in the back of his grandparents/mothers house.

But I’m also wondering, what’s next?

I’m ready to take the next step and move in with my boyfriend, and he’s ready to move in with me, minus the logistics. My rent situation right now is financially smart, and he’s not even paying rent (which works since he’s working PT and quitting soon.)

Looking at our options:

Stay in our current situation until we get married: Rent will stay $650 / month for a while, my landlord rarely increases rent and I just had a $15 / mo increase. Probably the smartest move. We’ll move in together in 2013/2014 after we get married.

Rent a 1br Apartment: This will likely cost $1600 – $2000 / month. Even split between the two of us, that’s $800 / mo at the very cheapest, more likely $1000 / mo for each of us.

Buy a 1br Condo: $600k? It’s hard to figure out the exact costs of owning a 1br condo, but it seems like this will end up being quite a bit more than renting given HOA, taxes, and other fees.

Buy a house w/ an in-law: My bf’s parents currently do not own property. His mom lives in her parents house, and his father rents an in-law. His mother could feasibly help us out with a downpayment, and his parents could live in an in-law on our property and pay us rent.

Still, the best plan seems to be to stay in my current living situation. Paying $650 a month in rent means I can possibly save $50k per year. The second my living situation changes, my hope of saving $250k by 30 disappears. The house I want to buy when I have a family will likely be $1.5M, and my bf currently has $0 in savings, so it’s up to me to be able to afford that. If I can get to $500k in savings by 35, maybe I can buy a $1.5M house. I’m not sure if that’s enough, and I’m also not sure I can get to $250M in savings by 35 — I think if I spend the next seven years living with roommates, not with my boyfriend, I could do this. But that’s a long time, and I really want to start living my adult life with my boyfriend in our own place, so we can invite friends over for dinner and such, and so I can stay with him and not have to worry about not having my things and having to run home before going to work in the morning.

Meanwhile, if I save $500k by 35, I’ll be able to buy my (nice) childhood home outright in New Jersey! It’s crazy how cheap the housing is there.

20-Something Life in The City vs. The Burbs

It’s Sunday morning, and I roll out of bed after a much-needed full night of rest and stare out my window. One roommate is up, clanking around the kitchen, but otherwise, there is just a slight breeze that can be heard through the windows and silence.

It’s all too tempting to remain in my bed another hour longer as there really isn’t anything to jump out of bed to do. In order to get anywhere, I have to drive at least 10 minutes away. To get to the city, it’s an hour drive give or take. So, while I’d love to head to Golden Gate Park for a run, instead, I lie in bed, and imagine what it would be like to live in the city.

When I moved out to the Bay Area in 2005, I always assumed I’d end up in San Francisco. But, instead, I’ve managed to live just about everywhere within an hour radius around the city and never in it.

There’s a part of me that feels like I need to experience city life now, before I get “old” and have a family and a reason to trap myself in the ‘burbs. Right now, there’s a piece of satisfaction with life I’m missing, and I think that has a large part to do with not living in the city. I want to be able to go to a figure drawing open session on Tuesday night… or Thurs night. And make new friends that are my age who like to go out and do… things.

Right now, I’m in a coffee shop in San Francisco near the Lower Haight, and the energy here is so city Sunday. Soft music plays, people are talking, reading, enjoying the day. Through the glass in front of me are four women, probably in their early 30s, enjoying a relaxing lunch, the SF version of Sex & the City (more hoodies, ponytails, but probably similar conversation.) And I want that… I want a life outside of work and watching reruns at my boyfriend’s house.

July 1 I have the opportunity to move… I can either stay close to work, or… maybe it’s the right time to make the move to the city. It would mean an hour-long commute to work, and more expensive rent, but it could also mean finding the missing link between my life today and my happiness.

What do you think? Do you live in a city or suburbs? Does living in a city help one be happy and feel more connected in her 20s/30s?

What Salary Buys Happiness in Your City? $75k or $160k?

Today, the Wall Street Journal attempted to figure out just how much money (yearly, salary-wise) you need to be happy in any given city in the US. The article is quite relevant to the money tiffs my boyfriend and I have been having over how much a person / family needs in the Bay Area to be happy.

The whole concept is based on a study that says once people earn $75k, any additional income does not improve their happiness. But we all know $75k goes a lot further in the middle of nowhere than in Times Square. The WSJ attempted to figure out what $75k means across the US based on the cost of living.

Of course, my city is the second most expensive in the country, requiring an income of $118.5k to be happy. Only New York, which would require an income of $163k for the same level of happiness, is more expensive (and much more expensive at that, though I feel quality of life in the Bay Area is much higher.)

The chart is an interesting comparision of just what equals a really good salary in different parts of the country. This is the first year I’m, in theory, earning $120k (though likely only earning a little more than half of that due to on-and-off contract work) and I can attest to the fact that this is the first year I feel happy with my salary and quality of life. I’m living cheaper than I have to in order to save money, but that’s more because I’m going to end up earning $80k this year and not $120k. I can see that extra $40k just pushing me up to the amount where I’d feel stable, would be able to spend a little on things like… a car that has functioning air conditioning, and still not break the bank.

Hmm, maybe I should move to Dothan, Alabama.

Then again… they need to factor in how happy people are in each city to figure out the true cost of happiness where people live. In the Bay Area, I think happiness is cheaper because there’s so much to do outside – for free – and weather is generally decent enough to spend a good chunk of the year outside. Whereas, in Chicago, you may need less money to hit this target salary of fiscal happiness, but then that happiness is much more expensive… to keep yourself entertained all year long, you have to pay a lot more.

What do you think? What salary would you need to make in your city to reach the ultimate “happiness” a salary can offer before the excess is just luxury, without affecting your emotional state?

Follow Up to: Tips for Making More Money Long-Term for 20 Somethings

A few days ago, I wrote a post about how to make more money over your entire life. The trick? Believe you “need” more money than you do now and approach your life’s choices based on that need… then save the difference in what you get vs. what you actually need. Always live below your means. Ok, this isn’t revolutionary advice, but I got some interesting comments from my readers, and I wanted to respond.

Anonymous #1, from Kentucky, said “I like the idea behind this advice. I also agree to an extent. On the other hand, it’s not just career choice that will determine the amount that you make, but geographic location as well. A $120,000 per year job to you is more like $60,000 per year here.”

Meanwhile…

Anonymous #2 said “that was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read! …No offense, but you are still a kid and have a lot to learn. Don’t get me wrong, you are way ahead of most other 20-somethings (not hard to do in this day & age, though!), but be careful about advice you are giving (or taking). Also – you could reach your $100K goal MUCH easier if you moved to a place with a lower cost of living.”

While one commenter loved my advice and the other hated it, both had a similar comment on how my choice to live in California makes it more difficult for me to reach my financial goals. I disagree.

I’ve lived in many different parts of the country through my life, though perhaps never the places where the lifestyle is extremely cheap. But I’m not sure how much a move would save me, unless I moved back home and lived with my parents.

My rent right now is $630. With utilities that adds up to maybe $700 a month. Granted, in Detroit, according to Craigslist ads, I could get similar room in a 3br shared apartment for around $350 a month. I don’t know Detroit so can’t compare my nice neighborhood to the offerings on CL, but let’s just say the rents for a room are half what I’m paying now.

Everyone seems to think living in California is impossibly expensive. It’s not. It IS expensive if you want to buy a house here. Gas is a little higher than in the rest of the country. State tax is higher than some other states. Ok, it’s not the cheapest place to live. But there are also a lot of opportunities for work here, especially in the areas where it costs more to live. So salaries do, to an extent, compensate for the difference. As my first commenter said, $60k in Tennessee is maybe equal to $120k in California. I’m not sure I agree with that math, but there’s obviously some truth in it. I COULD move to a cheaper place, make less money, spend less on rent, and save the same amount. But I would have a very hard time finding a job in my industry outside of this area. If you’re in an industry you can work in anywhere, then by all means, live somewhere more affordable. That doesn’t change my argument that you should always think you need more money than you do, and that this thinking will help you earn more in the long run.

Now, commenter #2, who has worked as a hiring manager, made a good point. He/she said that once a candidate for a job refused to take the job unless given $5k more than the offer. Eventually, the company hired someone else. OK, I never said “be stupid.” If you really want a job, are unemployed, and have no other options (if you “walk” will you be unemployed for another six months? Or are there other opportunities on the table) then take the job. My logic still works, though. If you think you need $x more per year, then you might get a side job, or seek out freelance income to meet your goals. You don’t NEED to make the extra money through your day job. It doesn’t hurt to push a little in negotiating but always be realistic. I took a big risk during my negotiations for my current job and it paid off. I was really nervous that it wouldn’t, and I got lucky. I also knew that I was by far the top candidate for the role and my company really wanted to hire me. I also did not get what I asked for, but I quickly accepted a realistic offer that was still much higher than I was making at my previous job.

In comparison, I look at friends of mine in their 20s who are living at home or living in cheap apartments and thinking that they only need to make enough to cover life month to month. The fact is that your future salary is largely determined by what you make before it (not always, but having a strong salary history helps.) If you spend your 20s making a smaller income because you do not see a reason to strive for more earnings, then you will be at a disadvantage in your 30s. Again, I’m not saying this works for every field… some fields have set salaries. You can still make extra money. If you’re fortunate enough to not be in debt in your 20s, take advantage of this and save as much as you can. The best way to save more is to make more. That’s the math I believe in.

Commenter #2 also asked “Do you have a net worth goal you are aiming for by the time you are 30? Don’t you think NET WORTH is a better goal than just “savings?” I keep track of mine yearly. I just looked back to what it was when I was 30. I did NOT have $100K in the bank then, but the net worth was $170K.”

I am not sure what factors into Net Worth to be honest. Right now I’d say my “Net Worth” is my bank account… that is, the combination of my savings, Roth IRA, stocks, CDs, and other investment accounts. I don’t own a home (again, that’s one of the things that is too expensive for me, living in California) but I own a used car (it’s worth maybe $2k, but I don’t bother including that in my networth because I’ll use it until it stops working) and a few other gadgets and things that I don’t count.

So, commenter #2, what was that extra $70k including for your net worth at 30? Did that include a house? That makes complete sense, especially since you have a family. Since I’m single and could move to a job in another city at any moment, it doesn’t make sense for me to own. So my whole Net Worth IS my bank accounts.

Thanks for all your thoughtful comments!